« 이전계속 »
either upon England or upon France ; the former was soon preferred; her fleet was then riding triumphantly in the Mediterranean ; and Paoli summoned a meeting of his countrymen, and proposed a union of Corsica to the crown of Great Britain. The project was received with acclamation, and ratified with joy ; but, as the success of the British has already been noticed in the lives of Sir John Moore and Lord Nelson, another detail of it may be spared here.
There is now left but little to add to the life of Paoli, and that little is to be told with pain. Some disagreements occurred between him and the British authorities, which became so unpleasant that, sooner than remain offensive, though he had hoped to have remained in peace, he forsook his native land, and became a voluntary exile, first in Italy, and afterwards in England. At Leghorn he lost the remains of his fortune by mercantile failures; and in London was discountenanced by the Court, and unrelieved by the government. He settled, first in an obscure lodging near Oxford-street, and afterwards in a small house in the Edgware Road. Here it is that the account of his epitaph is incorrect : from this period, his life was certainly retired ; it was also dig. nified, as far as personal bearing can justify that quality of praise; but it was by no means affluent, and far from what it ought to have been. The common opinion was, that our government had treated him ill, and nothing has been advanced to extenuate the charge: he was honourably patronised while there appeared a likelihood of ailvantage from his services, but publicly neglected when there remained nothing to be acquired froin his labours. His life, therefore, may be cited as an example of the fickleness of fortune, and the ingratitude of political associations.
RIGHT HON. SPENCER PERCEVAL, M.P.
Of the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and first Lord of the Treasury, only a succinct account can be here given ; for his talents were in no respect strikingly superior to his station, and nothing in his public actions appears signally original. He is to be classed amongst that thick-set host of statesmen, who manage the great trust confided to their care with such complicated harmony, that it is almost impossible to discover any one paternal mover of the good measures they may happen to enforce, or detect any personal responsibility for the evil they may occasion. Such a ministry can be adequately treated of in history alone ; for, as the interest it excites is col. lectively produced, it cannot be portioned out in the individuality of a memoir. The honours which followed Mr. Perceval's death gave him a distinct rank in the order of this work; but it cannot be suppressed, that those honours were mainly provoked by a spirit of sympathy for the tragical means and unprecedented grounds upon which he forfeited his life ; accordingly, in the following sketch it is simply proposed to supply the reader with his character as a statesman, and that end will be accomplished by shortly enumerating a few of the acts which he supported, when in office.
Descended from an ancient family, which had been connected with the public service of the country for upwards of a century before his time, he was born on the 1st of November, 1762, at the house of his father, John, second Earl Egmont, in South Audley-street, London. After passing through Harrow school, he entered himself at Trinity College, Cambridge; and after proceeding M. A. became a member of Lincoln's Inn. He went the midland circuit, and pleaded in the Court of Chancery, as well as in the King's Bench; but his practice was never extensive. The noiseless preferment to which he rose must therefore be ascribed, in a great measure, to the political influence of his family. His first official rank was counsel to the Admiralty ; his second, counsel to the University of Cambridge. He obtained a silk gown in the thirtieth year of his age; was nominated Solicitorgeneral in 1799, and rose to be Attorney-general in 1802. This post he resigned upon the accession of Mr. Fox to power, in 1806, and with that event, his career as a lawyer may be said to terminate, and his course as a minister to begin.
His first introduction into Parliament, a circumstance which resulted from the patronage of his family, occurred during the year 1797. Northampton was the place he sat for, and he continued to represent that borough, without intermission, until the day of his sudden death. Taking his seat on the ministerial benches, he avowed the principles of a Tory, and soon earned praise for the aid he gave to his party. Dispassionate in his manner, reasonable in his style, and resolute in his language, he gradually rose by unpopular declamations to become the adopted champion of the high churchmen ; and while he vindicated every practice and doctrine of Protestant ascendancy, repudiated those measures by which a liberal body in the state proposed to reconcile religious animosities, and pertinaciously upheld a system of administration, impure in many of its sources, and most burthensome in all its effects.
Such was the political character of Mr. Perceval, when the death of Mr. Fox, in 1806, dislodged the Whigs from place, and he strangely ascended to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. This unexpected change was accounted for in a way, which, if true, was far from honourable. The report has been currently received, but never positively authenticated; nevertheless, it may be maintained, that when the differences between the Prince of Wales and his consort first broke out, Mr. Perceval was retained as a professional adviser to her Royal Highness, and in that capacity undertook the composition of a book, which was intended to convince the public, not only that the lady was innocent of the charges brought against her, but was even entitled to insti. tute complaints for certain injuries offered to her state. As
it seems pretty clear that a work of this nature was actually printed, the doubtful part of the story is, whether Mr. Perceval bartered for his preferment to the Exchequer by engaging to suppress a pub. lication so obnoxious. The point lies in the mysteries of political intrigue, and we can only proceed to describe the public course of the new minister. He took the lead of his associates, and had the arduous task of counteracting a powerful parliamentary oppo. sition, made doubly formidable by a series of disagreeable enactments, and disastrous events. Almost the first proceeding of Mr. Perceval's administration was egregiously censurable : apprehensive of the assistance which it was in the power of Denmark to lend to the prosperous cause of France, he despatched a British feet and army to Copenhagen, without a solitary provocation, seized upon the naval force of that peaceful ally, and escorted it by superior violence to England. An enmity had thus been scarcely sown with the Danes, when the foundations of a war were laid with the Americans, by an arbitrary refusal to deliver up a few sailors who had been seized on board the Chesapeake frigate, upon the presumption of their being British subjects. Our foreign connexions were additionally embarrassed, in, 1808, by a declaration of war from Spain; and though Sir Arthur Wellesley did honour to our arms by the victory of Vimeira, yet the defeat of General Whitlocke at Buenos Ayres, and the fatal retreat of Sir John Moore's army from Corunna, threw a gloom over the affairs of the country.
Our naval exploits, * too, failed to strike with their usual splen.
* To the general adversity of our martial adventures about this period, there was one siguad exception, which cost the life of a gallant officer, George Nicholas Hardinge, Captain of the San Fiorenzo. He has been honoured with a national monument in St. Paul's Cathedral, and is, there. fore, appropriately a biographical subject for these pages. He was the second son of the Rev. Henry Hardinge, Rector of Stanhope, in the county of Durham, and was born at Kingston-upon-Thames, in the month of November, 1781. Being adopted by his uncle, George Hardinge, who was a Welsh Judge, he was sent to Eron School in his ninth year, and first designed for the bar. Betraying, however, not only an aversion to all study, but almost an incapacity for any serious impressions, and obtaining no distinction but for rough wit and a bold reckless spirit, his relations were thrown into some apprehensions for his professional success, when in his twelfth year he took a sudden incliration to the life of a sailor. Some expostulations
dour ; while in domestic matters, the parliamentary disputes concerning the droits of the Admiralty, the impeachment of the Duke
were resorted to with a view of shaking this propensity, but as it appcared to be deeply founded, he was allowed to become a midshipman on board, the Meleager, in 1793. His station was the Mediterranean, and he had, consefuently, a share in the various achievements by which that sea was distinguished at the close of the last century. The most flattering accounts are preserved of his conduct: he was remarkable not only for bravery, but for habits the most diligent, piercing talent, and an energetic spirit. In 1801 he was shipwrecked on board the Aigle frigate, off the Isle of Planes, on the coast of Africa, and soon aster received a Lieutenancy from Sir Sidney Smith, in consequence of his gallantry while commanding a gun-boat at the siege of Acre. These services were also honoured with the public thanks of the commanding officer, and a gold medal. But it was not until Earl St. Vincent becaine first Lord of the Admiralty that Hardinge was placed in a rank fitted for his character. Being made a master and commander in 1802, he was appointed Captain of the Terror bomb-ship in the following year, and rendered the most effectual assistance to Admiral Sir James Saumerez, who professed himself unable to pronounce a sufficient eulogy upon his zeal and courage. In 1804 he was removed to the Scorpion, and captured the Atalante, a Dutch war sloop, off the Texel, with such spirit and ability, that he was immediately gazetted a Post-captain, and presented with a sword, valued at 100 guineas, by the Committee of Lloyd's Coffee House. Hardinge obtained great praise for epistolary eloquence; and the reader is, therefore, presented with an extract from his own account of this engagement. It was addressed to his Admiral, and, after some accurate introduction, proceeded thus :—"I had the good fortune, or, as it has been considered by some, the honour to be the first man who boarded her. She was prepared for us with broad nettings up, and all the other customary imple. ments of defence. But the noise and alarm so much intimidated her crew, that many of them ran below in a panic, leaving to us the painful task of combating those whom we respected most. The decks were slippery, in consequence of rain, so that grappling with my first opponent, a mate of the watch, I fell, but recovered my position, fought him upon equal terms, and killed him. I then engaged the captain, as brave a man as any service ever boasted; he had almost killed one of my seamen. To my shame, be it spoken, he disarmed me, and was on the point of killing me, when Mr. Williams, the master, came up, rescued me at the peril of his own life, and enabled me to recover my sword. At this time all the men were come from the boats, and were in possession of the deck. Two were going to fall upon the captain at once, I ran up, held them back, and adjured him to accept quarter. With inflexible spirit he disdained the gift, kept us at bay, and compelled us to kill him. He fell covered with honourable wounds. The vessel was ours, &c. &c.”