« AnteriorContinuar »
OF Anthony Hamilton, the celebrated author of the Grammont* Memoirs, much cannot now be with certainty known. The accounts prefixed to the different editions of his works, down to the year 1805, are very imperfect; in that year, a new, and, in general, far better edition than any of the preceding ones, was published in Paris, to which a sketch of his life was also added; but it contains rather just criticisms on his works, than any very novel or satisfactory anecdote concerning himself. It is not pretended here to gratify literary curiosity as fully as it ought to be, with regard to this singular and very ingenious man: at the distance of almost ninety years (for so long is it since he died), this is scarcely possible; some effort, however, may be made to communicate a few more particulars relative to him, than the public has hitherto, perhaps, been acquainted with.
Anthony Hamilton was of the noble family of that name: Sir George Hamilton, his father, was a younger son of James,
*For uniformity's sake, the writer of this sketch has followed the Memoirs in the spelling of this name; but he thinks it necessary to observe, that it should be Gramont, not Grammont.
Earl of Abercorn, a native of Scotland. His mother was daughter of Lord Thurles, and sister to James, the first duke of Ormond; his family and connexions, therefore, on the maternal side, were entirely Irish. He was, as well as his brothers and sisters, born in Ireland, it is generally said, about the year 1646; but there is some reason to imagine that it was three or four years earlier. The place of his birth, according to the best family accounts, was Roscrea, in the county of Tipperary, the usual residence of his father, when not engaged by military or public business.* It has been always said, that the family migrated to France when Anthony was an infant; but this is not the fact: "Sir George Hamilton," says Carte, "would have accompanied his brother-in-law, the Marquis of Ormond, to France, in December, 1650; but as he was receiver-general in Ireland, he staid to pass his accounts, which he did, to the satisfaction of all parties, notwithstanding much clamour had been raised against him." When that business was settled, he, in the spring of 1651, took Lady Hamilton and all his family to France, and resided with Lord and Lady Ormond, near Caen, in Normandy,† in great poverty and distress, till the Marchioness of Ormond, a lady whose mind was as exalted as her birth, went over to England, and, after much solicitation, obtained two thousand pounds a year from her own and her husband's different estates in Ireland. This favour was granted her by Cromwell, who always professed
* In September, 1646, Owen O'Neale took Roscrea, and, as Carte says, "put man, woman, and child to the sword, except Sir George Hamilton's lady, sister to the Marquis of Ormond, and some few gentlewomen whom he kept prisoners." No family suffered more in those disastrous times than the house of Ormond. Lady Hamilton died in August, 1680, as appears from an interesting and affecting letter of her brother, the Duke of Ormond, dated Carrick, August 25th. He had lost his noble son, Lord Ossory, not three weeks before.
+ Hence possibly Voltaire's mistake, in stating that Hamilton was born at Caen, in his Catalogue des Ecrivains du Siécle de Louis XIV.
the greatest respect for her. The Marchioness resided in Ireland, with the younger part of her family, from 1655 till after the Restoration; while the Marquis of Ormond continued for a considerable part of that period with his two sisters, Lady Clancarty and Lady Hamilton, at the Feullatines, in the Fauxbourg St. Jacques, in Paris.
It appears from a letter of the marquis to Sir Robert Southwell, that, although he himself was educated in the Protestant religion, not only his father and mother, but all his brothers and sisters, were bred, and always continued Roman Catholics. Sir George Hamilton also, according to Carte,* was a Roman Catholic; Anthony, therefore, was bred in the religion of his family, and conscientiously adhered to it through life. He entered early into the army of Louis XIV., as did his brothers, George, Richard, and John, the former of whom introduced the company of English gens-d'armes into France, in 1667, according to Le Pere Daniel, author of the History of the French Army, who adds the following short account of its establishment: Charles II., being restored to his throne, brought over to England several Catholic officers and soldiers, who had served abroad with him and his brother, the Duke of York, and incorporated them with his guards; but the parliament having obliged him to dismiss all officers who were Catholics, the king permitted George Hamilton to take such as were willing to accompany him to France, where Louis XIV. formed them into a company of gens-d'armes, and being highly pleased with them, became himself their captain, and made George Hamilton their captain-lieutenant. Whether Anthony belonged to this corps, I know not; but this is cer
* That historian states, that the king (Charles I.) deprived several papists of their military commissions, and, among others, Sir George Hamilton, who, notwithstanding, served him with loyalty and unvarying fidelity.
+ They were composed of English, Scotch, and Irish.