Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, Anthony

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HAMILTON, ANTHONY (1646?–1720), author of the ‘Mémoires du Comte de Grammont,’ third son of Sir George Hamilton [see under Hamilton, James, first Earl of Abercorn] by Mary, third daughter of Walter, viscount Thurles, eldest son of Walter, eleventh earl of Ormonde, was probably born at Roscrea, Tipperary, about 1646. Anthony Hamilton's eldest brother, James, was groom of the bedchamber to Charles II, and colonel of a regiment of foot; he died of wounds received in a naval engagement with the Dutch 6 June 1679, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected to his memory by the Duke of Ormonde; his eldest son was James Hamilton, sixth earl of Abercorn [q. v.] The second brother, George, was page to Charles II during his exile, and after the Restoration was an officer of the horse guards till 1667; he then entered the French service with a troop of horse who were enrolled in the bodyguard of Louis XIV, and known as the ‘gens d'armes Anglais;’ he was made a count and maréchal du camp, and was killed at the battle of Saverne; he married Frances Jennings, afterwards Duchess of Tyrconnell [see under Talbot, Richard (1630-1691), Duke of Tyrconnell}}], and had by her three daughters. These two brothers are frequently mentioned in the ‘Mémoires.’ Thomas, the fourth brother, was in the naval service, and is perhaps the Thomas Hamilton of whom a biography is given by Charnock (Biographia Navalis, i. 310–11, where he is confused with his eldest brother, James); he is said to have died in New England. Richard, the fifth, is separately noticed. John, the sixth, was a colonel in the service of King James, and was killed at the battle of Aughrim in 1691. Anthony Hamilton had also three sisters, of whom the eldest was Elizabeth, comtesse de Grammont [q. v.]

Anthony Hamilton probably accompanied his brother George to France in 1667, as we hear of him in Limerick in 1673 holding a captain's commission in the French army and recruiting for his brother's corps. He appeared as a zephyr in a performance of Quinault's ballet, the ‘Triomphe de l'Amour,’ at St. Germain-en-Laye in 1681. In 1685 he was appointed to succeed Sir William King as governor of Limerick, where he arrived on 1 Aug., and soon after went publicly to mass, which no governor had done for thirty-five years. He was at this time lieutenant-colonel of Sir Thomas Newcomen's regiment, but was advanced, on Lord Clarendon's recommendation, to the command of a regiment of dragoons and sworn of the privy council in 1686. About the same time he was granted a pension of 200l. per annum, charged on the Irish establishment. With the rank of major-general he commanded the dragoons, under Lord Mountcashell, at the siege of Enniskillen, and in the battle of Newtown Butler on 31 July 1689 was wounded in the leg at the beginning of the action, and his raw levies were routed with great slaughter. Hamilton succeeded in making good his escape, and fought at the battle of the Boyne, 1 July 1690 (The Actions of the Inniskilling Men, pp. 37–8; A Farther Account of the Actions of the Inniskilling Men, pp. 60–1; Great and Good News from His Grace the Duke of Schomberg's Camp at Dundalk, 1689; Story, Continuation of the History of the Wars of Ireland, p. 30). He is probably the Colonel Hamilton mentioned by Luttrell (23 Dec. 1690) as the author of an intercepted letter to King James ‘giving an account of the desperate condition of the garrison of Limerick.’ He does not appear to have been present at the battle of Aughrim. It is not clear when or how he obtained his title of count. The Count Hamilton who was in the service of the Roman catholic elector palatine, Johann Wilhelm, in 1694–5, is another person (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, ii. 149, iii. 454; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. 264–5). The rest of his life appears to have been spent chiefly at the court of St. Germain-en-Laye, where he wrote some touching verses on the death of King James (6 Sept. 1701). He lived on terms of the closest intimacy with the family circle of the Duke of Berwick, as many letters printed in his correspondence testify. He is said to have been naturally grave and in later life sincerely religious, and to have had little readiness of wit in conversation. He never married. He died at St. Germain-en-Laye on 21 April 1720.

To Henrietta Bulkeley, one of the duchess's sisters, whom he sometimes addresses familiarly as ‘belle Henriette,’ Hamilton seems to have been particularly attached. Five charming letters from him to this lady (Mlle. B***) are extant (Œuvres, ed. Renouard, iii. 148; Adolphe Jullien, Les Grandes Nuits de Sceaux, p. 18). Some of his best verses are also addressed to this lady and to her sisters, the Duchess of Berwick and Laura Bulkeley. With the Duke of Berwick he carried on a regular correspondence during his campaigns in Spain and Flanders (1706–8). His verses are usually graceful, but hardly poetical. They consist principally of epistles and songs addressed to various ladies. Passages of verse are not unfrequently introduced in his prose letters, of which practice the celebrated ‘Epistle to the Comte de Grammont’ is the most remarkable example. His epistolary style is uniformly easy and sprightly and often brilliant (Œuvres, ed. Renouard, vol. iii.) For the entertainment of his friends, and particularly of Henrietta Bulkeley, Hamilton wrote four ‘Contes,’ designed to satirise the fashionable stories of the marvellous. These are: 1. ‘Le Bélier,’ written to furnish a romantic etymology for the name of Pontalie, given to an estate belonging to his sister, the Comtesse de Grammont, in substitution for the too commonplace Moulineau, the principal incident being a contest between a prince and a giant for the daughter of a druid. 2. ‘Histoire de Fleur d'Épine,’ satirising the popular imitations of the ‘Arabian Nights' Entertainments,’ which were written, as Hamilton says, in a style ‘plus Arabe qu'en Arabie.’ 3. ‘Les Quatre Facardins,’ a fragment in the same style, completed by the Duc de Léon for Renouard's edition of Hamilton's works (Paris, 1812, 8vo). 4. ‘Zénéyde,’ in which the nymph of the Seine recounts her history; also a fragment, and completed by the Duc de Léon in Renouard's edition. He also wrote a fifth ‘Conte,’ ‘L'Enchanteur Faustus,’ in which Queen Elizabeth reviews a series of beauties from Helen to Fair Rosamond; ‘La Volupté;’ and some fragmentary pieces entitled ‘Relations de différents endroits d'Europe,’ and ‘Relation d'un Voyage en Mauritanie.’ About 1704 Hamilton wrote the ‘Epistle to the Comte de Grammont,’ announcing his intention of writing the ‘Memoirs’ of the count (ib. iii. 1 et seq.). Hamilton sent the letter to Boileau, from whom he received a very complimentary reply on 8 Feb. 1705 (Œuvres de Boileau, ed. Gidel, iv. 242). He probably began the composition of the ‘Memoirs’ about the same period, deriving the materials direct from the count. The work is mainly occupied with the ‘amorous intrigues’ at the court of Charles II during 1662–4; it is written with such brilliancy and vivacity that it must always rank as a classic. Grammont died in 1707, and the book appeared anonymously in 1713. It became what Chamfort (Œuvres, ed. 1824, iii. 247) called it, ‘le bréviaire de la jeune noblesse.’ The Abbé de Voisenon thought it a book to be regularly re-read every year (Œuvres, ed. 1781, iv. 129). Voltaire's estimate is more discriminating: ‘de tous les livres celui où le fonds le plus mince est paré du style le plus gai, le plus vif et le plus original’ (Œuvres, ed. 1785, xx. 101). That a foreigner should thus prove himself more French than the French is a unique phenomenon in the history of literature. Hamilton also executed a free paraphrase in French Alexandrines of Pope's ‘Essay on Criticism,’ a copy of which he sent to Pope, and which Pope very handsomely acknowledged, 10 Oct. 1713 (Pope, Works, ed. Roscoe, vi. 215). It remains in manuscript, with the exception of a brief extract appended to Renouard's edition of Hamilton's ‘Works’ (1812). Hamilton was accustomed to write their letters for several of his lady friends, and in particular for his niece the Countess of Stafford, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's friend. A few of these letters are extant in his correspondence (Works, ed. Renouard, iii. 199 et seq.)

The principal editions of the ‘Mémoires’ are: (1) ‘Mémoires de la Vie du Comte de Grammont. Contenant particulièrement L'Histoire Amoureuse de la Cour d'Angleterre sous le Règne de Charles II’ (with an ‘avis du libraire’), Cologne, 1713, 1715; Rotterdam, 1716; the Hague (with ‘Discours Préliminaire’), 1731 or 1741; Utrecht, 1732, 12mo; (2) ‘Mémoires de la Vie du Comte de Grammont’ (Bibliothèque de Campagne, ed. E. A. Philippe de Prétot, vol. vi.), the Hague and Geneva, 1749, 12mo; (3) ‘Mémoires du Compte (sic) de Grammont,’ Amsterdam (?), 1760, 12mo; (4) ‘Mémoires du Comte de Grammont. Nouvelle edition. Augmentée de Notes et Éclaircissemens Nécessaires. Par M. Horace Walpole’ (dedicated to Madame du Deffand), Strawberry Hill, 1772, 4to (very rare, only one hundred copies having been printed); (5) London, 1776, 8vo; (6) Paris, 1780 (D'Artois collection; on vellum, only three copies printed), 3 tom. 18mo; (7) London, 1781, 2 tom. 12mo; (8) London, 1793, 4to (with 72 portraits); (9) London, 1811, 2 tom. 8vo (with biographical notice and 64 portraits engraved by E. Scriven; revised and edited by A. F. Bertrand de Moleville, with notes drawn in part from Sir Walter Scott's edition of the English translation, as to which see infra); (10) ‘… accompagnés d'un appendice contenant des extraits du journal de S. Pepys et de celui de J. Evelyn … d'une introduction et de commentaires, &c., par G. Brunet,’ Paris, 1859, 12mo; (11) ‘… avec une introduction et des notes par M. de Lescure’ (Nouvelle Bibliothèque Classique), Paris, 1876, 12mo; (12) ‘Réimpression conforme à l'Edition Princeps, 1713. Préface et Notes par B. Pifteau. Frontispice, Six Eaux-fortes par J. Chauvet. Lettres, Fleurons, et Culs-de-Lampe par L. Lemaire,’ Paris, 1876, 8vo; (13) Paris, 1888, 8vo (with portrait and thirty-three etchings by Boisson, from compositions by Delort, preface by Gausseron). There is also an English translation by Abel Boyer, a very slovenly performance, London, 1714, 1719, 8vo; revised and edited anonymously, with notes and illustrations by Sir Walter Scott, 1811, 8vo; reprinted, London, 1818; again, in Bohn's extra volume, London, 1846, 8vo; new and revised edition, illustrated by Boisson, after Delort, London, 1889, 8vo. A German translation appeared at Leipzig in 1780, 8vo.

Of the ‘Contes’ the following are the chief editions: (1) ‘Le Bélier, Conte,’ Paris, 1730, 12mo; (2) ‘Les Quatre Facardins, Conte,’ Paris (?), 1749, 12mo; (3) ‘Histoire de Fleur d'Épine,’ Paris (?), 1749, 12mo; (4) ‘Œuvres Diverses du Comte Antoine Hamilton’ (the ‘Lettres et Épîtres’ and ‘Zénéyde’), London, 1776, 12mo; (5) ‘Contes d'Hamilton’ (D'Artois collection; vellum, three copies only printed), Paris, 1781, 8vo; (6) ‘Le Bélier, Fleur d'Épine, et Les Quatre Facardins’ (‘Le Cabinet des Fées,’ vol. xx.), Amsterdam, 1785, 8vo; (7) ‘L'Enchanteur Faustus’ (‘Voyages Imaginaires, Songes, Visions, et Romans Cabalistiques,’ vol. xxxv.), Amsterdam, 1789, 8vo; (8) ‘Contes d'Hamilton’ (without the continuations, and prefaced by Anger's biographical notice, vols. xiii. and xiv. of a ‘Collection dédiée a Madame la Duchesse d'Angoulême’), Paris, 1815, 3 tom. 16mo; 1826, 2 tom. 32mo (in ‘Collection de Classiques Français’); 1828, 32mo (in ‘Collection des Meilleurs Romans Français et Étrangers’). (9) ‘Contes d'Hamilton avec une notice de M. de Lescure’ (‘Petits Chefs d'œuvres’ ser.), Paris, 1873, 12mo; (10) ‘Fleur d'Épine’ (part of a volume of reprints edited by M. de Lescure and entitled ‘Le Monde Enchanté’), Paris, 1883, 8vo. An English translation of the ‘Contes’ appeared under the title of ‘Select Tales. Translated from the French,’ London, 1760, 2 vols. 12mo; another, entitled ‘Fairy Tales and Romances. Translated from the French by M. Lewis, H. T. Ryde, and C. Kenney,’ in Bohn's extra volume, London, 1849, 8vo. There is also a German translation of the ‘Contes’ in ‘Die Blaue Bibliothek,’ vol. ii., Gotha, 1790.

The following collected editions of Hamilton's work were issued:

  1. ‘Œuvres du Comte Antoine Hamilton,’ Paris and London, 1749–1776, 7 tom. 12mo.
  2. ‘Œuvres Complètes du Comte Antoine Hamilton’ (with historical and literary notices and additional pieces by L. S. Auger), Paris, 1804, 3 tom. 8vo.
  3. ‘Œuvres,’ with ‘Notice sur la Vie et les Ouvrages d'Hamilton’ (unsigned), 1812, 3 tom. 8vo; 1813, 5 tom. 18mo; 1825, with biographical notice signed D. (Depping), 1 tom. 8vo; 1825, with biographical notice by J. B. J. Champagnac, 2 tom. 8vo.

[The earliest consecutive account of Hamilton's life is the ‘Avertissement’ to an edition of the Mémoires published in 1746, Paris, 12mo, and which may also be read in Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 3. Biographies more or less elaborate are also prefixed to the collective editions of his works. Besides the works cited see Cunningham's Story of Nell Gwyn, 1852, App. ii.; Quérard's Dict. Nouvelle Biog. Univ. Littéraire; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 7; Carte's Life of Ormonde, iii. 584; Arlington's Letters, ii. 332; Gabriel Daniel's Hist. de la Milice Françoise, 1721, ii. 247; Dict. des Théâtres, v. 538; Mémoires du Comte de Grammont, ed. Horace Walpole, 1772, p. vi n.; Fitzgerald's Narrative of the Irish Popish Plot, 1680, p. 5; Ferrar's Limerick, 1st ed. 1767, p. 39, 2nd ed. 1787, p. 59; Lenihan's Limerick, p. 210; Clarendon Correspondence, i. 336, 422–3, 488–9, 553, ii. 1; Archdall's Peerage of Ireland, v. 119.]

J. M. R.