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HAMILTON Sir William - Autograph Letter Signed 1801 to the astronomer William Herschel

  • £975.00

Sir William HAMILTON (1730-1803)

Autograph Letter Signed (“Wm Hamilton”) to Mr. Hershell [the astronomer William Herschel], a letter of introduction for the Duke of Noia, continuing with the proposal by the King of Naples [Ferdinand IV] to give Herschel a position in Naples.
3 pages 4to, Piccadilly, 21 April 1801. 
The Duke of Noia and his Brother, Friends of mine, and of the first nobility of Naples, I find are going to make you a visit in company with Sig.r Baldi one of the first musicians in Europe & that I brought from Palermo in Sicily and lives in my House. I know your goodness to all strangers who are curious to see you & your famous Telescope but any civility you may please to shew the bearers of this Letter will add to the obligations I have already to you. I believe I have now finished my Foreign Career & I hope to have an opportunity of paying you a visit in the course of next summer at Windsor. The troubles at Naples prevented my writing to you a proposal of the King of Naples & Gen.l Acton his Majestys first Minister who had agreed to give you a proper situation at Naples to pursue your astronomical observations in the clear atmosphere of Naples, & where you certainly cou’d do more in one year than in ten in this thick air. Shoud [sic] it ever suit you to make the trial I believe I have still interest enough at the Court of Naples to ensure you a comfortable residence there whilst you are making your observations & the King would certainly purchase of you the Telescope you bring with you provided you made a Neapolitan Eleve that was sufficiently instructed to make a proper fist of it after your departure. . .”
Sir William Hamilton had left Naples the previous year, bringing to an end his thirty-six year tenure as British ambassador at the Court of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. His return journey to England, travelling overland with his wife Emma and her lover Horatio Nelson aroused much comment, not to say scandal.
Hamilton and Herschel shared an interest in music – Herschel was a composer as well as an astronomer – but, inevitably, Herschel achieved fame after his discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781. He was also famous for making telescopes, making improvements and constructing larger and larger telescopes to assist in his observations. He did not travel to Naples, but spent the last decades of his life in his house in Slough (here conflated with nearby Windsor).
The letter has neat traces of mounting to the verso, but is otherwise in excellent condition.


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