[Memoirs of Count Grammont.]
London: John White, 1808. Item #05520
A Rare Series of Plates depicting the Characters of Seventeenth Century England and France
[HAMILTON, Anthony]. [Memoirs of Count Grammont.] A series of thirty-nine stipple plates printed in colors. [London: John White, 1808].
Quarto (11 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches; 299 x 216 mm.). A rare set of thirty-nine color printed stipple plates to the "Memoirs of Count Grammont" edition of 1808, each plate bearing the date 1 July 1808 and the address of John White. Added are six colored plates: Elenor Gwynn (no. 1 on list); Somer Hill (no. 8 on list); Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland (no. 13 on list); [Nell Gwynn] (no. 18 on list); Elizabeth, Countess of Chesterfield (no. 43 on list), and Susan, Lady Bellasys (no. 45 on list).
Original boards uncut, expertly rebacked in black calf. Engraved bookplate of Clarence S. Bement (1843-1923) & oval black leather bookplate of Joseph Widener (1871-1943) on front paste-down. Housed in a full crimson levant morocco slipcase, spine with five raised bands lettered in gilt in compartments.
A wonderful collection of color printed stipple portraits of English & French nobility & characters of seventeenth century life in England and France.
Philibert, Count de Gramont (1621–1707), was a French courtier and soldier, known as the protagonist of the Mémoires written by Anthony Hamilton (his brother-in-law). He was a younger half-brother of Antoine III of Gramont and uncle of Catherine Charlotte de Gramont, princess of Monaco. He was 80 years old when he supplied his brother-in-law, Anthony Hamilton, with the material for his Mémoires. Hamilton said that they had been dictated to him, but no doubt he was the real author. The account of Gramont's early career was doubtless provided by himself, but Hamilton was probably more familiar with the history of the court of Charles II, which forms the most interesting part of the book. Moreover, Gramont, though he had a reputation for wit, was no writer, and there is no reason to suppose that he was capable of producing a work that remains a masterpiece of style and of witty portraiture.
His biographer Hamilton was far superior as a writer to the comte de Gramont, but he relates the story of his hero without comment, and no condemnation of the prevalent code of morals is allowed to appear, unless by an occasional touch of irony. The portrait is drawn with such skill that the count, despite his biographer's candour, imposes by his grand air on the reader much as he appears to have done on his contemporaries. The book is the most entertaining of contemporary memoirs, and in no other book is there a description so vivid, truthful, and graceful of the licentious court of Charles II. There are other and less flattering accounts of the count. His scandalous tongue knew no restraint, and he was a privileged person who was allowed to state even the most unpleasing truths to Louis XIV.
When the Mémoires were finished, it is said that Gramont sold the manuscript for 1500 francs; and kept most of the money for himself. Fontenelle, then censor of the press, refused to license the book from considerations of respect to the strange old man, whose gambling, cheating and meanness were so ruthlessly exposed. But Gramont himself appealed to the chancellor and the prohibition was lifted.
Two of these plates are held in the British Library:
John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester. BM 1896,1118.79 Color Stipple Engraving
Sr. John Denham BM 1896, 1118.80 Color Stipple Etching
1. Eleanor Gwynn.
2. Prince Rupert.
3. Lady Robarts.
4. Miss Bagot.
5. John, Earl of Rochester.
6. Thomas Killigrew.
7. Miss Jennings.
8. Somer Hill? [No title]
9. Sir Charles Lyttelton.
10. Miss Brooks, Lady Whitmore.
11. Lady Southesk.
12. Mrs. Hughes.
13. Barbara, Duchefs of Cleveland.
14. Duchess of Cleveland.
15. Miss Stewart, Duchess of Richmond.
16. Miss Temple.
17. Countess of Shrewsbury.
19. Nell Gwyn.
20. Mary Kirk.
21. Mrs. Davis.
22. Le Ct. Antoine Hamilton.
23. Catharine of Braganza.
24. Louis XIV.
25. Philibert Comte de Grammont.
26. Duke of York.
27. Charles the Second.
28. Miss Hamilton, Lady Grammont.
29. Duchess of Newcastle.
30. Miss Price.
31. Miss Brook, Lady Denham.
32. St. John Denham.
33. Albert, Prince Aremberg.
34. Mrs. Hyde, Lady Rochester.
35. Cardinal Richelieu.
36. Le Mares chal de Humieres.
37. Duke of Ormond.
38. Princess of Orange.
39. Marechal de Turenne.
40. Madame Royale, Daughter of Henry IVth of France.
41. Jacob Hall. the Rope Dancer.
42. Lord Russell.
43. Elizabeth, Countefs of Chesterfield.
44. Earl of Chesterfield.
45. Susan, Lady Bellasys.