1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gerard Hamilton

Richard Cumberland, in Memoirs (1806-07; 1856) 120-21.



Hamilton, who in the English Parliament got the nick-name of Single-speech, spoke well, but not often, in the Irish House of Commons. He had a promptitude of thought, and a rapid flow of well-conceived matter, with many other requisites, that only seemed waiting for opportunities to establish his reputation as an orator. He had a striking countenance, a graceful carriage, great self-possession and personal courage: he was not easily put out of his way by any of those unaccommodating repugnances, that men of weaker nerves or more tender consciences might have stumbled at, or been checked by; he could mask the passions, that were natural to him, and assume those that did not belong to him; he was indefatigable, meditative, mysterious; his opinions were the result of long labor and much reflection, but he had the art of setting them forth as if they were the starts of ready genius and a quick perception: he had as much seeming steadiness as a partisan could stand in need of, and all the real flexibility that could suit his purpose or advance his interest. He would fain have retained his connection with Edmund Burke, and associated him to his politics, for he well knew the value of his talents, but in that object he was soon disappointed: the genius of Burke was of too high a cast to endure debasement.