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t DIFFICULTIES OF LADY HAMILTON. 31
man very properly removed his daughter from her instructress's roof, without even condescending to give the usual quarter's notice. In the year 1801 the Rev. William Nelson, writing to Lady Hamilton, took occasion to observe that— “Now we have secured the peerage, we have only one thing to ask, and that is, my promotion in the Church, handsomely and honourably, such as becomes Lord Nelson's brother and heir-apparent to the title. No put off with small, beggarly stalls. Mr. Addington must be kept steady to that point. I am sure Nelson is doing everything for him. But a word is enough for your good, sensible heart.” In 1805 there was nothing to ask, and the Rev. Mr. Nelson forgot that Lady Hamilton had a heart at all. Nothing to ask, did we say? Yes, there was bread to ask for a fallen and a starving woman. Not far from the Merton turnpike, and within a few miles of London, there is to be seen a field, upon which once stood the home of Nelson and his mistress. It was left, with its debts and liabilities, to Lady Hamilton. These were large enough, for extravagance accompanied the meridian of her life as it had characterised the dawn. The Government proving obdurate to the last, the owner of Merton was dismissed from the place. She went to Richmond, . and then took temporary lodgings in Bond-street. Hence she was chased by importunate creditors, and for a time hid herself from the world. In 1813 we find her imprisoned in the King's Bench, but charitably liberated therefrom by a city alderman. Threatened . again with arrest by a coachman, in sickness of heart
the unhappy woman escaped to Calais. Here the English interpreter gave the refugee a small and wretchedly furnished house. What follows completes the romance of Lady Hamilton's life. There is sublimity in the moral. An English lady in Calais was in the habit of ordering meat daily for a favourite dog. She was met on one occasion at the butcher's shop by the English interpreter. “Ah, madame, madame,” said M. de Rheims, “I know you to be good to the English. There is a lady here that would be glad of the worst bit of meat you provide for your dog.” M. de Rheims received permission to supply the poor woman with whatever she needed, but he dared not reveal the sufferer's name, for he had promised secrecy, and she was too proud to see visitors. Through the charitable kindness of the English lady (let her name be recorded for the credit of her countrywomen; she resided in Brighton, and her name was Hunter), wine and food were supplied to the pauper until she became too ill either to eat or drink. M. de Rheims intreated the poor wretch again and again to see the lady who had been so good to her. Finally she said she would, if the lady were not a woman of title. Mrs. Hunter came—the poor patient thanked and blessed her—and so Lady Hamilton died; “beautiful,” says her humane visitor, “even in death.” ls the lesson told P. Not yet. Mrs. Hunter desired to bury the remains according to English custom. She was laughed at for her importunities upon the subject, and Emma Hamilton was placed in a deal box without inscription, her pall being a black
HER, DEATH AND BURIAL, 33
silk petticoat stitched on a white curtain. No English Protestant clergyman could be found in Calais, but an Irish half-pay officer was sent for, and he read the burial service. The ground in which the body lies interred is now a timber-yard; it ceased to be a public cemetery in 1816, and Lady Hamilton had found her resting-place in the January of the preceding year.
“The Earl of Nelson” (it is written) “went over to demand Lady Hamilton's property, but found only the duplicates of trinkets, &c., pledged, and which he wished to take away without payment, He declined repaying any expenses that had been incurred.” - " - .
Fit ending to the poor nursery-maid's history !—
August 22, 1849,
“READ now and then a romance to keep the fancy wnder,” was the counsel of a writer who knew something of life and human nature, to a friend bent upon a visit to the Antipodes. The wisdom of the advice is acknowledged by every living man beyond the age of thirty. Novels may concentrate action, excite interest, touch the heart, but they cannot heighten the power of imagination. It is reality that astonishes: fiction dares not, if it would, be half so bold. What if we should tell the reader that—say a century and a half ago—there lived a man in England who in his youth gave himself up to riot, gambling, and debauchery, who, driven at last to desperation by absolute beggary, quarrelled with an acquaintance, fought and killed him, who was tried, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death, yet managed to escape unhurt to the Continent; who, in the course of his wretched wanderings, became known and marked at every notorious gambling house in Europe; who was publicly expelled, first from Venice, then from Genoa, and finally from indulgent Paris itself; who, venturing to visit the capital of France, encountered a prince of the blood royal at a public gaming-table, and won his friendship; who, trading upon the necessities of that prince, succeeded in obtaining the highest consi
JOHN LAW. 35
deration in France—for his wife, the adulation of women in whose veins poured the richest blood of the land—for his son, the companionship of a King—for himself, the obsequious worship of millions? What if we should go on to say, how, in order to obtain but a moment’s interview with this sublime adventurer, a duchess bade her coachman overturn her carriage at the great man's gate, and a marchioness, with the same intent, on the same spot, raised a cry of fire; how, in the course of a very few months, the convicted murderer, the beggared outlaw, the outcast gambler, became the owner of more than one magnificent estate in France, and generously filled the land of his adoption with wealth beyond the power of man to calculate or enjoy; how, in an hour, as if by the breath of an avenging angel, the fabric fell, the bubble burst, and the proud architect himself was fain to sneak in obscure hiding-places lest they should take his worthless life who but an hour before had knelt to him adoringly as before a god; how, finishing his wild career precisely as he commenced it, he eluded again the hands of justice, again walked up and down and through the world, eating the foul crumbs that might be gathered in the common gambling booth, until he reached, poor as at first, that very city of Venice, which he honoured with his death, as before he had polluted it with his living presence? What, we ask, if we were to narrate this tale, and fill up the sketch with all the incidents necessary to complete the startling history? Who would listen patiently to the ravings of one who, for want of better employment and greater skill, must
needs communicate the inspirations of some feverish