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SEPTEMBER 1, 1823.


MRS. HAMILTON's life was one of those which are beneficial to every human being excepting that one who has to compile a biographical memoir of her. Her virtues were of that humble and retiring kind which shun the glare of public observation, and which grow most luxuriantly in solitude: her talent, more useful than brilliant, was exerted for that circle of affectionate friends by whom she was surrounded, and beyond which she never wished to stray. Of such persons what is to be said but that they lived beloved, and died lamented; and to apply to them those praises and that regret which have become so trite that their sincerity is almost questionable? We feel that our duties are confined to a mere chronicle of the days of her birth and death, and to a list of her works.

Mrs. Eliz. Hamilton was born at Belfast in the year 1758. She was the youngest of three children. Her father was a younger branch of an ancient and respectable Scottish family, some of whose members are known to have taken an active part in the resistance which the Covenanters made to the unjust attempts of a tyrant to impose upon them a yoke to which every honorable and conscientious feeling forbade their submission. Her grandfather found himself compelled to fly from his native country, and settled in Ulster, where he became a large landed proprietor. Her father was for some time engaged in commercial business in London, which the declining state of his health compelled him to relinquish ; and, returning to Ireland, he died of a typhus fever in 1759.

Mr. Hamilton's wife was a lady of Scotch family, though also resident in Ireland, where she was married. Upon her husband's death she sent her daughter, the subject of this memoir, to Mrs. Marshall, her sister, and the wife of a Scotch minister residing near Stirling. Here Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton was educated with great care and affection, and her amiable temper and ready parts soon repaid all the pains which were bestowed upon the cultivation of her mind. Her aunt, a very sensible and good woman, took care that all the advantages which could be derived from the instruction and the society of Glasgow and Edinburgh should be communicated to her niece; and by occasional visits to both those cities her education was completed, and she formed many valuable acquaintances.

Her brother Charles left England, in 1772, to go to India as a cadet, where his progress was rapid, and highly creditable to him. Sir William Jones particularly distinguished him by his regard, and his publication of the Hedaya is at once an honorable monument and a proof of his high abilities. Miss Hamilton went to reside with her uncle and aunt at a small house called Ingram's Crook, near the celebrated Bannockburn, where she passed her days in exercises of piety and usefulness.

Her inclination for writing first displayed itself in a contribution to a magazine published in the neighbourhood, containing an account of a VOL. 1. Sept. 1823, Br. Mag


Highland Tour. She afterwards wrote a novel, which was not distinguished for any merit. Her brother's return, in 1786, seems to have been the cause of her writing the Hindoo Rajah, a work full of talent and information, for which she was probably indebted to him. This brother died in 1792, just as he was about to return to India.

Miss Hamilton's literary pursuits after this became more visible. In 1796 the Hindoo Rajah was published. Her next work was the Modern Philosopher, published in 1800, and written chiefly at Bath, whither she was driven to settle by the gout, to which she thus early became a martyr. In 1801 the first volume of the Letters on Education was produced, and raised the writer still higher than before in the esteem of the most elevated characters. From April, 1802, to September, 1803, Miss Hamilton and her sister wandered over Wales, Westmorland, and Scotland, during which excursion Agrippina was prepared. At Edinburgh, where she met with great distinction, Miss Hamilton and Miss Edgeworth were introduced to each other, and their regard soon ripened into a cordial friendship. In 1804 Miss H. finally settled in the northern capital, and had a pension conferred on her by the crown, as an acknowledgment that her literary talents had been meritoriously exerted in the cause of virtue and religion. In 1806 she published Letters to the Daughters of a Nobleman, whom she had assisted for six months in forming proper arrangements for their education. The Cottagers of Glenburnie appeared soon after. This work is perhaps one of the most useful in its effects, as well as the best in its execution, that Mrs. Hamilton produced: it is an animated satire upon the manners of the small Scotch farmers, a set of people who, with seeming admirable qualities, are often remarkable for their personal filth. This reproach is, however, fast wearing out, and its removal may be ascribed, in no small degree, to Mrs. Hamilton's well-directed and well-meant reproofs. In 1812 her last work, of any magnitude, was produced, under the title of Popular Essays on the Elementary Principles of the Human Mind.*

In 1815 Mrs. H. lost many of her oldest friends, and, her own health declining, she left Edinburgh for Harrogate. Finding the waters of this place of no avail, she pronounced her malady mortal, and prepared for the great event of death as became her Christian life.

Miss Benger has written a very interesting life of Mrs. Hamilton, to which we are indebted for more of the particulars of this memoir, and from which the following passages are extracted:

She sunk into a slumber that prefigured death; and, finally, without a struggle, breathed her last on the 23d of July, 1816, having newly entered her sixtieth year. Her remains were interred in the church at Harrogate, where a simple monument, with a suitable inscription, has been erected to her memory, as a last offering of affection from her devoted sister.'

In society, and especially at home, Mrs. Hamilton was a charming companion. Of anecdote she was inexhaustible; and in narrative dramatized with such effect, that she almost personated those whom she de

• We have not particularized Exercises in Religious Knowledge, for the use of young persons in the House of Industry, Edinburgh, nor Hints addressed to the Patrons and Directors of Public Schools, 1815. **

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