1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gerard Hamilton

John Courtenay, "Rt. Hon. Gerard Hamilton" New Monthly Magazine 7 (April 1817) 232-33.



Mr. G. H. was of a most jealous and irritable temper, and would fain be thought a man of gallantry to the last. I shall relate a ludicrous instance on this topic. — He and I passed an evening at Lady W.'s: Mr. P. the present Earl of C. was there. She produced a favourite little dog, which she fondly hugged and caressed, and desired P. to kiss it, which he laughingly refused, and said it resembled a rat. Mr. H. instantly looked discomposed; I could not guess the reason: but as we returned home in his carriage, the mystery was explained, as he earnestly asked me if I had noticed P.'s contemptuous expression, as he certainly alluded to him for deserting Mr. Pitt on the Regency Question. I endeavoured to persuade him to the contrary but in vain. He requested me to call on him the next morning, which I did; he still dwelt on the same circumstance, (jealousy, I perceived, was the true motive,) and avowed his intention of calling on P. for an explanation, and enjoined me secresy till he had formed his determination. He appeared too angry and serious for me to attempt laughing him out of this whim; I therefore immediately called on Mr. P. and mentioned Mr. H.'s surmise and high displeasure. He thanked me repeatedly for my kind interference, and at once explained the ludicrous mistake. The spaniel it seems that Lady W. had caressed had been given her by Colonel S.; as P. and he were rivals, whenever a love quarrel took place between her ladyship and P. she fondled and kissed the dog to vex him, and this was the reason of his calling it a rat; that he never could have the least idea of alluding to Mr. H. whom he had always been taught to esteem and admire from his boyish years; and besides, the word "rat," in a political sense, might more justly be applied to himself.

The next morning I again called on Mr. H. well knowing his nervous impatience, and could scarcely keep my countenance. Perceiving it he immediately accosted me in his usual familiar manner: "Courtenay, I see by your face that you have got some d—d piece of buffoonery in your head." I then gave him the explanation verbatim, at which he was highly pleased. P. called on him the same day, and we dined together at Mr. H.'s soon after, and not a word more passed on the subject.