Amory, Thomas

, esq. the son of counsellor Amory, who attended king William in Ireland, and was appointed secretary for the forfeited estates in that kingdom, where he was possessed of a very extensive property in the county of Clare. Our author was not born in Ireland, as it has been suggested. It has been conjectured that he was bred to some branch of the profession of physic, but it is not known that he ever followed that or any other profession. About 1757 he lived in a very recluse way on a small fortune, and his residence was in Orchard street, Westminster. At that time also he had a country lodging for occasional retirement in the summer, at Belfont, near Hounslow. He had then a wife, who bore a very respectable character, and by whom he had a son, who practised many years as a physician in the north of England. On the same authority we are tpld, that he was a man of a very peculiar look and aspect, though at the same time he bore quite the appearance of a gentleman. He read much, and scarce ever stirred abroad; but in the dusk of the evening would take his usual walk, and seemed always to be ruminating on speculative subjects, even when passing along the most crowded streets.

In 1751, on the publication of lord Orrery’s remarks on the. life and writings of Dr. Swift, the following | advertisement appeared in the Whitehall Evening Post, Dec. 12, 1751; but we have not been able to discover that the pamphlet was ever printed:

Soon will be published, A Letter to lord Orrery, in answer to what his lordship says in his late remarks in praise of Swift’s sermon on the Trinity; being an attempt to vindicate the divinity of God, the Father Almighty; and to convince his lordship, if he has a mind open to conviction, that the tritheistic discourse preached by the dean of St. Patrick’s, is so far from being that masterpiece my lord Orrery calls it, that it is ija reafity the most senseless and despicable performance that ever was produced by orthodoxy to corrupt the divine religion of the blessed Jesus. By Thomas Amory, esq.

In 1755 he published “Memoirs, containing the lives of several ladies of Great Britain.” “A history of antiquities, productions of nature, and monuments of art.” “Observations on the Christian religion, as professed by the established church and dissenters of every denomination.” “Remarks on the writings of the greatest English divines: and a review of the works of the writers called Infidels, from lord Herbert of Cherbury to the late lord viscount Bolingbroke. With a variety of disquisitions and opinions relative to criticism and manners; and many extraordinary actions. In several letters,” 8vo.

The characters of the ladies celebrated in this work are truly ridiculous, and probably the offspring of fiction. They are not only beautiful, learned, ingenious, and religious, but they are all zealous Unitarians in a very high degree; as is the author himself. At the end of the history of these memoirs, he promised a continuation of them, which was to contain what the public would then have received with great satisfaction, and certainly would still, should the Mss. luckily remain in being. His words are as follow:

N. B. In an appendix to the second volume of this work, the reader will find an account of two very extraordinary persons, dean Swift, and Mrs. Constahtiu Grierson, of Dublin.

“As to the dean, we have four histories of him, lately published: to wit, by lord Orrery, the Observer on lord Orrery, Deane Swift, esq. and Mrs. Pilkington; but after all the man is not described. The ingenious female writer comes nearest to his character, so far as she relates; but her relation is an imperfect piece. My lord and the | remarker on his lordship have given us mere critiques on his writings, and not so satisfactory as one could wish. They are not painters. And as to Mr. Swift, the dean’s cousin, his essay is an odd kind of history of the doctor’s family, and vindication of the dean’s high birth, pride, and proceedings. His true character is not attempted by this writer. He says it never can be drawn up with any degree of accuracy, so exceedingly strange, various, and perplexed it was; and yet the materials are to be gathered from his writings. All this I deny. I think I can draw his character; not from his writings, but from my own near observations on the man. I knew him well, though I never was within-side of his house; because I could not flatter, cringe, or meanly humour the extravagancies of any man. I am sure I knew him better than any of those friends he entertained twice a week at the deanery, Stella excepted. I had him often to myself in his rides and walks, and have studied his soul when he little thought what I was about. As I lodged for a year within a few doors of him, I knew his times of going out to a minute, and generally nicked the opportunity. He was fond of company upon these occasions; and glad to have any rational person to talk to: for, whatever was the meaning of it, he rarely had any of his friends attending him at his exercises. One servant only and no companion he had with him, as often as I have met him, or came up with him. What gave me the easier access to him, was my being tolerably well acquainted with our politics and history, and knowing many places, things, people and parties, civil and religious, of his beloved England. Upon this account he was glad I joined him. We talked generally of factions and religion, states and revolutions, leaders and parties. Sometimes we had other subjects. Who I was he never knew; nor did I seem to know he was the dean for a long time; not till one Sunday evening that his verger put me into his seat at St. Patrick’s prayers, without my knowing the doctor sat there. Then I was obliged to recognize the great man, and seemed in a very great surprise. This pretended ignorance of mine as to the person of the dean had giverr me an opportunity of discoursing more freely with, and of receiving more information from the doctor than otherwise I could have enjoyed. The dean was proud beyond all other mortals I have seen, and quite another man when he was known.

“This may appear strange to many; but it must be to | those who are not acquainted with me. I was so far from having a vanity to be known to Dr. Swift, or to be seen among the fortunate at his house (as I have heard those who met there called), that I am sure it would not have been in the power of any person of consideration to get me there. What I wanted in relation to the dean I had. This was enough for me. I desired no more of him. I was enabled by the means related to know the excellencies and the defects of his understanding; and the picture I have drawn of his mind, you shall see in the appendix aforenamed; with some remarks on his writings, and on the cases of Vanessa and Stella.

“As to Mrs. Grierson, Mr. Ballard’s account of her in his memoirs of some English ladies, lately published, is not worth a rush. He knew nothing of her; and the imperfect relation he got from Mrs. Barber is next to nothing. I was Intimately acquainted with Mrs. Grierson, and have passed a hundred afternoons with her in literary conversations in, her own parlour. Therefore it is in my power to give a very particular and exact account of this extraordinary woman. In the appendix you shall have it.”

These promised accounts, however, have not yet appeared.

The monthly reviewers of the time having given an account of this work unsatisfactory to the author, he published (for there can be little doubt but he was the author) a pamphlet entitled “A letter to the Reviewers, occasioned by their account of a book called Memoirs. By a lady.” 3vo. 1755. This lady signs herself Maria de Large; and subjoined are some remarks signed Anna Maria Gornwallis.

In 1756 he published the first volume of “The life of John Buncle, esq. containing various observations and reflections made in several parts of the world; and many extraordinary relations,” 8vo, which may be considered in some measure as a supplement to the Memoirs; and in 1766 appeared the second volume. Both parts exhibit the same beauties, the same blemishes, and the same eccentricities. It has been thought, that in the character and, adventures of Mr. Buncle, the author intended to sketch his own picture; and perhaps there may be some truth in the conjecture. Both the Memoirs and Life have been reprinted in 12 mo, the former in two volumes, the latter in four. It is said also that he published many political and religious tracts, poems, and songs.

Counsellor Amory, the grandfather of the doctor, and | father of our author, was the youngest brother of Amory, or Darner, the miser, whom Pope calls the wealthy and the wise; from whom came lord Milton, &c. He married the daughter of Fitz Maurice, earl of Kerry; sir William Petty, another daughter; and the grandfather of the duke of Leinster, a third. He died at the age of 97, in 1789. 1


This account is much abridged from the preceding edition of this work; but the editor hesitated long in admiting even what is now given. If we may judge from Mr. Amory’s writings, the amusement they may afford cannot fail to be checked by the recollection that they are the effusions of a mind evidently deranged. He appears to have travelled in search of Unitarians, as Don Quixote in search of chivalrous adventures, and probably from a similar degree of insanity. See —Gent. Mag. vol. LVIII. 1062, LIX. 107, 322, 378.