Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 24.djvu/240

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Hamilton
Hamilton
226

fol., Paris, 1803–10. The 'Outlines from the Figures .. upon the Greek Vases of the late Sir W. H., with Borders drawn and engraved by Thomas Kirk,' London, 1804, 4to, is a selection from D'Hancarville's 'Antiquités etrusques' and Tischbein's 'Collection of Engravings,' &c. From 1772 to 1784 Hamilton presented to the British Museum various Greek and Roman antiquities (Brit. Mus. Guide to the Exhibition Galleries), including a colossal head of Herakles, found in the lava at the foot of Vesuvius (Ellis, Townley Gallery, i. 331). Hamilton purchased from its finder, Gavin Hamilton, the huge marble krater known as the 'Warwick Vase' (now in a greenhouse at Warwick Castle), and presented it in 1774 to George, earl of Warwick (Michaelis, Ancient Marbles, pp. 112, 664). He also purchased the famous 'Portland Vase,' originally in the Barberini Palace at Rome, from Byres the architect, and sold it in 1785 to Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Portland, for eighteen hundred guineas (cp. A. H. Smith, Cat. of Engraved Gems in British Museum, 1888, p. 228). Some of the gems collected by Hamilton were sold by him to Sir Richard Worsley.

Hamilton left Naples to visit England in 1772, when he was made knight of the Bath (3 Jan.), and disposed of his collection to the British Museum. He again came to England in 1784, and in London, at the house of his favourite nephew, the Hon. Charles Greville, made acquaintance with Amy Lyon, who was then living with Greville under the name of Emma Hart [see Hamilton, Emma]. At the end of 1784 Hamilton returned to his embassy, and invited Emma to visit him at Naples. She arrived there with her mother, 'Mrs. Cadogan,' on 26 April 1786, and lived with him as his mistress from the end of the year. In 1791 Hamilton came to England and married Emma Hart on 6 Sept. at Marylebone Church. He was at all times kind and indulgent to her. In the same year the Hamiltons stayed with William Beckford at Fonthill Abbey. They afterwards paid Beckford a memorable visit, in company with Nelson, in December 1800 (Britton, Illustrations of Fonthill Abbey, p. 28). In 1791, also, Hamilton was made a privy councillor. Hamilton, who had returned to Naples in 1791, suffered from bilious fever in November 1792, and had frequent later attacks. In September 1793 Nelson arrived at Naples with despatches to Hamilton from Lord Hood, and was introduced to Lady Hamilton. Nelson is said to have called Hamilton 'a man after his own heart.' In 1798, after the battle of the Nile, Hamilton entertained Nelson at a ball and supper which cost two thousand ducats. When the king and queen fled from the French from Naples to Palermo, in December 1798, Hamilton accompanied them, and sent off his vase collection in the Colossus to England. On 24 June 1799 Hamilton came back to Naples. The French government there was now overthrown, but Hamilton's health and energies had been for several years enfeebled. He was now superseded as British envoy, and presented his letters of recall on 22 April 1800. The Hamiltons, after a tour on the continent with Nelson, arrived in England on 6 Nov. 1800. Hamilton now tried to get compensation from the treasury to the amount of 20,000l. for his losses of works of art, &c., and expenses at the time of the flight to Palermo. At the suggestion of his kinsman, Beckford, he offered to take instead a peerage, which, on Hamilton's death without male issue, was to devolve on Beckford and his heirs, Beckford privately undertaking to allow Hamilton (and to his widow) an annuity. Nothing came of this curious scheme, but Hamilton obtained an annual pension of 1,200l. on the Irish establishment. This pension ceased at his death. In 1802 Hamilton was made D.C.L. of Oxford. From October 1801 to 1803 the Hamiltons partly lived at Merton in Nelson's house, called Merton Place (Walford, Greater London, ii. 520), and had also a London house, 23 Piccadilly. In 1802 Hamilton complained that his wife gave up her whole time to Nelson, and that visitors made his London house seem 'like an inn.' He even hinted at a separation. These differences seem to have been adjusted, and Hamilton died quietly at his Piccadilly house at 10.10 a.m. on 6 April 1803. His wife was at his bedside, and Nelson held his hand. He was buried at Milford Haven. In character Hamilton is described (Southey, Life of Nelson) as being a mild and amiable man. From studying antiquities he had learnt (he said) 'the perpetual fluctuation of everything,' and that the present hour was the sweetest in life. 'Do all the good you can upon earth, and take the chance of eternity without dismay.'

Hamilton had no child by his second wife. To his nephew Charles Greville, his sole executor, he left more than 7,000l. and his Swansea estate. Before his death he had assigned (4 Feb. 1801) to a trustee for Lady Hamilton's benefit all the furniture, goods, &c., in his London house. He also left her an annuity of 800l. for life charged on the Swansea estate, and a legacy of 800l. He left 100l. as a legacy to 'Mrs. Cadogan,' and a portrait in enamel of Lady Hamilton, and two guns, to Lord Nelson, in token 'of the great