Aidé, Charles Hamilton (DNB12)

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AIDÉ, CHARLES HAMILTON (1826–1906), author and musician, born in rue St. Honoré, Paris, on 4 Nov. 1826, was younger son of George Aïdá, son of an Armenian merchant settled in Constantinople, by his wife Georgina, second daughter of Admiral Sir George Collier [q. v.] His father, who acquired in Vienna a complete knowledge of languages, travelled widely, was admitted to good society in the chief capitals of Europe, came to England during the regency, and was killed in Paris in a duel when Aidé was four years old. His elder brother, Frederick (b. July 1823), was killed by an accident at Boulogne in 1831. Brought by his mother to England, Charles was educated privately at East Sheen and at Greenwich till at the age of sixteen he was sent to the University of Bonn. Subsequently he obtained a commission in the British army, serving with the eighty-fifth light infantry until 1853, when he retired with the rank of captain. After a spell of foreign travel he settled in England, living chiefly at Lyndhurst in the New Forest with his mother, till her death at Southsea on 12 Oct. 1875. Subsequently he took rooms in Queen Anne's Gate, London, where he entertained largely, his guests including the chief figures in the social and artistic world of France as well as England. Many months each year were spent abroad, in Egypt and every country in Europe except Russia. In after-life he shared with his cousins, Colonel and Mrs. Collier, Ascot Wood Cottage, Berkshire.

A man of versatile accomplishments and with abundant social gifts, Aidé, who spoke and wrote French as easily as English, devoted himself with equal success to society, music, art, and literature. From early youth he composed poetry; his first published volume appearing in 1856, under the title of 'Eleanore, and other Poems.' 'The Romance of the Scarlet Leaf' followed in 1865, and 'Songs without Music; Rhymes and Recitations' (2 edits. 1882; third enlarged edit. 1889). His volume of poems, 'Past and Present,' appeared in 1903. Many of his poems ballads, 'The Pilgrim,' 'Lost and Found' and 'George Lee,' found their way popular anthologies. Aidé was also a prolific musical composer, and set many of own verses to music. 'The Danube River,' 'The Fisher,' 'The Spanish Boat Song,' and 'Brown Eyes and Blue Eyes' were among songs by him which won a general repute.

At the same time Aidé made some reputation as an amateur artist, exhibiting at many of the London galleries sketches which he made in foreign travel. But his chief energies were devoted to fiction, and novels came regularly from his pen for some fifty years. His first novel, 'Rita,' appeared anonymously in 1856 (French translation, 1862). Some eighteen others followed, the most popular being 'Confidences' (1859; 2nd edit. 1862, 16mo); 'Carr of Carlyon' (3 vols. 1862; new edit. 1869); 'Morals and Mysteries' (1872). short stories; and 'Passages in the Life of a Lady in 1814-1815-1816' (3 vols. 1887). 'The Chivalry of Harold' was published posthumously in 1907. Aidé's novels mainly dealt with fashionable society, and although they lacked originality or power, were simply written under French influence and enjoyed some vogue. Meanwhile Aidé turned his attention to the stage. On 7 Feb. 1874 'Philip,' a romantic drama in four acts from his pen, was produced by (Sir) Henry Irving at the Lyceum theatre, Irving taking the title role. On 12 June 1875 (Sir) John Hare with Mr. and Mrs. Kendal produced at the Court theatre 'A Nine Days' Wonder,' a comedy, adapted from a simultaneously published novel (Joseph Knight, Theatrical Notes, pp. 43-7). Aidé also published in 1902 seven miniature plays in a volume entitled 'We are Seven; Half Hours on the Stage; Grave and Gay'; the last, called 'A table d'hôte,' is in French. Aidé died in London, unmarried, on 13 Dec. 1906, and was buried in the churchyard of All Souls, South Ascot.

A portrait in oils, painted at Rome by Duke Sante della Rovera, and exhibited at the New Gallery in 1907, is in the possession of the artist.

[The Times, 17 and 21 Dec. 1906; Pratt, People of the Period, 1897; G. Vapereau, Dict. Univ. dos contemporains, 1893; J. D. Brown, Biog. Dict. of Musicians, 1886; Biograph, March 1880; Biog. Mag. August 1887; Lord Ronald Gower's My Reminiscences, 1882, and Old Diaries, 1902; Allingham's Diary, 1907; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]