Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > Memoir and Letter Writers > The writer and his work
  Question of the trustworthiness of these Memoirs Memoirs of Sir John Reresby  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

X. Memoir and Letter Writers.

§ 19. The writer and his work.


The subject of these Memoirs was an ill-formed man—it was said that he had the face of an ape—and his character was thoroughly worthless. He does not appear to have possessed even the most elementary feelings of honour, as he is proved to have been a cheat. Doubtless, his attentions had compromised mistress Hamilton, or her brothers would not have been anxious for the marriage, as the lady had had many more eligible suitors. It may be said that Hamilton has performed a feat in making so showy and profligate a man passable as the hero of his book; but even he is not able to speak highly of Gramont as a husband. The author certainly had ever before his eyes the great aim of putting his sister in a prominent position, and wiping out of existence any discreditable rumours respecting her. In this he has succeeded, and she stands out as the one woman in the book of whom nothing ill can be said. Many of the women described in the Memoirs, such as Castlemaine and Shrewsbury, probably deserved every ill word that could be said of them; but we may hope that some, at least, of the others were less vicious than they are painted; for Hamilton was one of those authors who will not lose a point that adds to his picture to save a reputation, and no scandal was likely to be scrutinised too keenly by him in order to prove it untruthful. We have seen that at least one pure woman—Evelyn’s friend Mrs. Godolphin—lived for a time in a court which was a hotbed of corruption; but even she, because she was not like other ladies, is treated with contempt in these Memoirs. 16    50
  It is not necessary to analyse the contents of so well known a book as the Gramont Memoirs. They will always be consulted with interest, for they turn a searchlight upon the inner history of a period, which, indeed, owes the bad reputation it bears largely to their revelations.   51

Note 16. Miss Hobart is made to say “Alas! poor Mrs. Blague! I saw her go away about this time twelve month in a coach with such lean horses that I cannot believe she is half way to her miserable little castle” (chap. IX). [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Question of the trustworthiness of these Memoirs Memoirs of Sir John Reresby  
 
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