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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
Angelo Tremamondo, Esq., Riding-Master


As his almost unpronounceable name indicates, was a native of Italy. He came to Edinburgh about the year 1768, and was the first public teacher of riding in Scotland, having been appointed "Master of the Royal Riding Menage," for which he had a salary from Government. The people of Scotland are proverbial for a hatred to long names ; so in then- hands Angelo dwindled down to plain "Ainslie," and Tremamondo was unceremoniously discarded. " Ainslie " lived in Nicolson Square, and was reputed to be wealthy. Having accidentally got a small piece of steel into one of his eyes, nearly all the physicians in Edinburgh were consulted, but without effect. At last Tremamondo was directed to Miller, the famous occulist, who succeeded in restoring him to his sight; but, unfortunately for the Italian, he succeeded also in becoming his son-in-law very soon after. The Doctor, perhaps, loved Miss Tremamondo well enough, but it afterwards appeared he had likewise "cast an eye" on her papa's purse ; and, thinking that the old fellow did not " tell out" fast enough, a lawsuit was the unhappy consequence. Like all other lawsuits, where there is anything like a fat goose to be plucked, it was carried on for a length of time with various success. Kay's MS. mentions that, when Tremamondo received the first summons from his friend of the lancet, he was transported into a regular tornado of passion. He tore down a picture of his daughter which hung iu the parlour, and, dashing it in pieces, threw it into the fire. While the old Italian and his son-in-law were thus pulling aud hauling, the daughter, like a too sensitive plant, died of a "broken heart." Tremamondo died at Edinburgh, in April, 1805, aged eighty-four.

Of the Riding-Master's early history, very little is known; but from a work published by his nephew in 1880, entitled "Eeminiscences of Henry Angelo," we are made acquainted with the fact of his having an elder brother of the same profession, and who resided principally in London.

In these reminiscences Angelo the younger speaks very highly of his father, Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo—not only was he the best "master of equitation," but one of the most "scientific swordsmen of the day;" and so well proportioned in lith and limb, as to be equally fitted for a "gallant in love, or a hero in war."

Angelo the elder was a native of Leghorn. His father being a wealthy merchant there, intended him for the counting-house, but the ledger had no charms for the handsome Tremamondo, who determined to push his fortune by other means. He accordingly visited various parts of the Continent, and soon found his way to Paris, at that time if not now the gayest and most polite city in the world; and so effectually did Tremamondo cultivate every external accomplishment, that he became proverbially one of the most elegant men of the age, "the gayest of the gay."

Not long before he left Paris, a public fencing-match took place at a celebrated hotel, at which were present the most renowned professors and amateurs of the science. Tremamondo was persuaded by the Due de Nivernois to try his skill. No sooner had he entered the lists than a celebrated English beauty, Miss Margaret Woffington, the well-known actress, presented him with a bouquet of roses, which, as we are told, he placed on his breast with the most exquisite gallantry, and, addressing the other knights of the sword, exclaimed, "This will I protect against all opposers." Tremamondo fenced with the best of them, but none could disturb a single leaf of his bouquet.

While in Paris, Treaiamondo had formed an acquaintance with a French officer, who boasted much of his fencing abilities. Motives of jealousy induced him to waylay our hero one night, who happened to be only armed with a couteau de chasse, a small sword usually worn in undress. Tremamondo, acting on the defensive for some time, at last made a home-thrust at the officer, who fell, and there was every reason to think he was mortally wounded. The officer was taken home. Next day Tremamondo visited him, and although he found him in bed gasping, he did not think there was enough of alteration in the officer's countenance for so serious an injury. He immediately suspected there had been deception, and, throwing the bed-clothes suddenly off, discovered the officer's cotte de maille. The officer ashamed at his cowardly conduct, and dreading the stigma, implored secrecy and forgiveness.

Shortly after our hero's arrival in London, he married Miss Masters, whose father had commanded the Chester man-of-war. About the year 1758, he was engaged by the Princess Dowager of Wales, "to teach the young princes the use of the small sword, and subsequently to teach them to ride in the menage."—"During this time," continues Angelo the younger, "my father frequently took me thither, when he attended his royal pupils, and I rarely came away without a pocketful of sweetmeats." At an interview with the King, on which occasion Tremamondo displayed the various styles of riding on his favourite horse Monarch, among others that of riding the "great horse," his Majesty was pleased to declare that Angelo was the most elegant horseman of his day; and it was in consequence of this interview that the King persuaded Mr. West, the celebrated artist, when he was commissioned to paint the picture of the "Battle of the Boyne," to make a study of Tremamondo for the equestrian figure of King William. He also sat to the sculptor for the statue of King William, subsequently set up in Merrion Square, Dublin.

While in London, Tremamondo was challenged to a trial of skill with a Dr. Keys, reputed the most expert fencer in Ireland. The scene of action was in an apartment of the Thatched House Tavern, where many ladies and gentlemen were present. When Tremamondo entered, arm-in-arm with his patron, Lord Pembroke, he found the Doctor without his-coat and waistcoat, his shirt sleeves tucked up, and displaying a pair of brawny arms—the Doctor being a tall athletic figure. After the Doctor had swallowed a bumper of Cogniac, he began the attack with great violence. Tremamondo acted for some time on the defensive, with all the grace and elegance for which he was renowned, and after having planted a dozen palpable hits on the breast of his enraged antagonist, be made bis bow to the ladies, and retired amid tbe plaudits of the spectators.

Angelo the younger relates another anecdote of his father, which he calls "a fencing-master's quarrel." Shortly after Tremamondo's appointment as fencing-master to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, a Mr. Eedman, an Irishman, who bad been formerly patronised by tbe royal family, was continually abusing Tremamondo for a foreigner, and for having supplanted him. They met one day in the Hayrnarket, where words ensued, and then blows—the Irishman with a shillelah, and the Italian with a cane. On this occasion also, Tremamondo was victorious, having broke bis opponent's head; but next day, to wipe off the disgrace of having fought like porters, be challenged bis rival to meet him with swords, but Eedman answered that be would put him in "the Crown Office," and immediately entered an action against him in the King's Bench, which ended in Tremamondo having to pay £100 damages, and £90 costs.

So much for the gallant Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo. We find little more recorded of him than that he was acquainted with almost all the celebrated characters of his day, whether of the "sock and buskin," or the gymnastic "art of equitation." He was generous in the extreme, and Angelo the younger bad an opportunity at his father's well-replenished table of forming a most extensive and interesting acquaintance.

Old Dominico died at Eton in 1802, aged eighty-six, and was so much in possession of his faculties that be gave a lesson in fencing the day before his death.


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