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At length Mr. Palmer, after an interval of some years, determined, undismayed by his former defeat, to apply once more to parliament for redress; and it must be allowed, that he never displayed greater perseverance and abilities than upon this occasion. He had taken care to make his pretensions known from one end of the kingdom to another; he canvassed almost every member of parliament, either by himself or others, and as his cause was good, and his friends full of enthusiasm, the best founded hopes were entertained of success.
His eldest son, Major (now Lieutenant-Colonel) Palmer, who had succeeded him as M.P. for Bath, was entrusted with the management of this delicate and interesting business.
Accordingly, on May 12, 1808, in a committee of the whole house, after a short introductory speech, it was moved by him, “ That this House is of opinion, that Mr. Palmer is entitled to 21. 10s. per cent. on the net revenue of the post-office, exceeding the sum of 240,0001., to be paid up from the 5th of April, 1793, and during his life, according to the provisions of his appointment of 1789 ; deducting the sum of 30001. ayear, received subsequently to the 5th of April, 1793.”
This proposition was opposed by Messrs. Long and Rose, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Attorney-General ; but supported by Lord Henry Petty, Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Windham, &c.; and, after a long debate, carried against Ministers by a majority of 86. In a committee of supply, leave was soon after given to bring in a bill to secure to the subject of this memoir the benefits of the late vote; and it was soon after moved and carried, “ that a sum not exceeding 54,7021. Os. 7d. be granted to His Majesty, to be paid to John Palmer, Esq., being the balance of the per centage due to him on the net revenue of the post-office, from the 5th of April 1793 to the 5th of January, 1808."
the smallest degree." - On the same question ' being put to the Earl of Chesterfield, he replied, “ I desire to abide by the answer given by Lord Walsingham.”.
The House of Lords having, by its votes and proceedings, exhibited a certain degree of hostility to Mr. Palmer's claim, it was now determined by his friends, not to bring in a separate act for remuneration. On the contrary, the business was completely effected, by introducing a distinct clause for this purpose in the Appropriation bill, which precluded the possibility of a negative from the other chamber of parliament. A very large claim had been made for arrears, but it was deemed impolitic to urge this in the present state of public affairs.
After this final decision, by which 54,7021. was secured to Mr. Palmer, his mind appears to have been entirely at rest concerning pecuniary matters. Certain it is, that he had lost a very considerable sum, under the head already alluded to, which many supposed he was to the full as much entitled to as to the money which had been voted; but on the other hand, his per centage, which he still retained, became daily more productive, and as he lived about eleven years in the enjoyment of it, his reward, although granted with a niggard and reluctant hand, must, on the whole, have proved very handsome.
The subject of this memoir had also the satisfaction, in his declining years, to behold his family flourishing around him. His eldest son, the lieutenant-colonel, had attained considerable rank in the British army, in which he had distinguished himself as an officer of cavalry, by his valour and good conduct. Another son had conducted himself with great gallantry in the navy; and, after obtaining prize-money to a considerable amount as a post-captain, he had now settled in life, and married the great niece of his former patron, Admiral the Earl St. Vincent, with whom he obtained an ample fortune. At length, amidst every prospect of future happiness for his family, he resigned his breath at Brighton, in 1818, in the 76th year of his age.
Mr. Palmer, in point -of person, approached the heroic size. His eyes, which were full of fire and expression, denoted a certain energy of mind which proved characteristic of
him during the whole of a pretty long life. He was conciliatory and pleasant in no ordinary degree in his intercourse, and it is not a little creditable to his talents, that he proved successful in all his plans. He not only perfected and simplified the complex machinery of the post-office, encreased the revenue, and
facilities to commerce, but at the same time secured and rendered in some measure sacred, the remittances and correspondence of the public, by putting an entire stop to mail-robberies. A higher eulogium to his memory cannot possibly be paid, than what occurs in the minutes of the evidence of Mr. Francis Freeling, who now so worthily presides over the post-office department:
“ I always conceived I was best serving the interests of the public, by following the plans laid down by Mr. Palmer.”
The remains of this gentleman were deposited within the precincts of a city, which himself and his father had so essentially contributed both to embellish and enrich. The corpse was accordingly brought from Brighton to Bath, where it was deposited in the house of Mrs. Ricketts, sister to the venerable Earl St. Vincent, a lady with whom he was connected both by friendship and alliance. From her mansion the body, in due time, was removed, in funeral procession, attended by the mayor and members of the corporation. The chief mourners consisted of his two sons, Colonel Palmer, M. P., and Captain E. Palmer of the royal navy, together with his nephew, Mr. Bartlett.
PATRICK BRYDONE, Esq.
F. R. S. OF LONDON AND EDINBURGH, AND F. A.S.
It is greatly to be lamented, that the materials for a life of this ingenious gentleman are scanty and incomplete. We know little of him indeed, but from his travels; and even in respect to these, he does not appear to have communicated to the public an account of all his peregrinations.
Mr. Brydone, who claimed his descent from an ancient family in the North of England, was born about the year 1741, and received an excellent education at one of the universities. His first wishes were pointed towards the profession of arms; but he chiefly distinguished himself by his tours in foreign countries. At the commencement of these, Dr. Franklin had aroused the curiosity of mankind by his discoveries in electricity; and when the subject of this memoir first set his foot on the Continent, he was provided with the best instruments that England could furnish, for the purpose of making discoveries as to the precise state and temperature of the air on the summits of the highest mountains of Europe. He accordingly visited Switzerland as well as Italy, and crossed both the Alps and Appenines. In these excursions, he often witnessed phenomena not uncommon in the regions just alluded to; for more than once he beheld a thunder-storm bursting under his feet ! His apparatus, and his experiments, acquired for him the reputation, not of a philosopher, but of a conjurer, amidst the habitable recesses of the elevated summits to which we have - just alluded; while his talents and conversation charmed all whom he approached.
It was in the year 1767, or 1768, that Mr. Brydone accompanied Mr. Beckford of Somerly, in Suffolk, in a scientific excursion to the Continent. He afterwards travelled with the late Mr. Fullarton, then only seventeen years of age, to Italy,
, and some of the islands of the Mediterranean. In the course of these voyages and journeys, he was introduced to the first order of society; and it is evident, indeed, that every attention and information possible to be communicated by the higher circles, was most readily afforded. A certain degree of eclat was accordingly obtained for our traveller; and on his return · to England, an account of his journey was expected with a certain degree of impatience. The public were accordingly gratified soon after by a very masterly publication; and in 1790, a second edition of the “ Tour through Sicily and Malta,” in two volumes, octavo, made its appearance.
This work consists of a series of epistles addressed to his friend William Beckford, esquire, the first of which is dated “ Naples, May 14, 1770.” Both Sicily and Malta were then almost considered as non-descripts; and the author, indeed, very modestly observes in his preface, “Had there been any book in our language on the subject of the following letters, they never should have seen the light.” It may be fairly doubted, after the lapse of near fifty eventful years,
whether there be any publication of a similar kind so deserving of otice as the one now under consideration.
Letter I. contains an account of the climate of Naples, which is here termed one of the warmest and most inconstant of all Italy. According to his account, it disagreed with all English valetudinarians, particularly young people, who found themselves far better at Rome, which, although colder in winter, was deemed more healthy. The former, however, is stated to be eligible in summer, as the air is constantly refreshed with sea-breezes; and in 1769, Fahrenheit's thermometer never rose higher there than 76., while at the latter it was at 89.: at the end of January, it stood at 36. ; at Rome, it fell to 27.; so that the difference between the two extremes of heat and