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LITERARY AND MISCELLANEOUS.
Sir Richard Musgrave.-Sir Robert Calder.-Mr Palmer-Major Scott Waring.-Lord Chief Baron Dundas.-Kotzebue.-Blucher.
SIR RICHARD MUSGRAVE should perhaps have been mentioned in the literary part of these biographical notices; for it is chiefly as the historian of the different rebellions in Ireland from the arrival of the Eng lish till the conclusion of that which broke out in 1798, that he is in any degree deserving of notice. Little of his early history is known. In 1780 he married the daughter of Sarah, Baroness Waterpark in her own right, and about the same time became a member of the Irish Parlia. ment, but soon after resigned his seat for the lucrative office of Collector of Excise for the city of Dublin; and was in 1782 created a Baronet, by the style and title of Sir Richard Musgrave of Lismore in the county of Wexford, and province of Leinster. One event of his life is peculiarly extraordinary. When acting
as sheriff of his county, during a disturbed period, a prisoner, regularly convicted by a jury, was committed to his charge for execution. But the hangman had decamped, and no person could be found to officiate in his place. In this grievous dilemma, the worthy Baronet was reduced to the fatal necessity of completing the sentence of the law with his own hand. Throughout the whole of his life he continued a strenuous advocate for the preponderance of English councils and interests in the affairs of Ireland, and a furious enemy to the Catholic religion, which, in all his writings, he labours to represent in the most odious and horrible colours. In his history, if it may be so called, of the late rebellion, he is the uniform apologist of the most violent measures resorted to on that unhappy occasion. Of the mis
guided and unfortunate men who took up arms in defence of what they conceived, however erroneously, the cause of their country, he speaks with the envenomed bitterness of a political partisan; maliciously exaggerating their crimes, and concealing whatever in their character was calculated to soften the darker features of insurrection. One side of his picture is all light, and the other all shade. The government, according to him, could do nothing wrong; and his countrymen never did any thing that was right. He could conceive no better method of redressing the grievances of the people than by military execution; and treated with contempt every other right but the right of oppression. Like the Indians of Louisiana, he thought the surest way of reaching the fruit was to cut down the tree. We are told that Sir Richard Musgrave was hospitable and good natured. This may be; but there is a contempt of truth, and spirit of acrimony and malice in his writings, which it is impossible to reconcile with any estimable qualities of the head or the heart, and for which perhaps the best apology is the time when he wrote. He died in April 1818.
Sir ROBERT CALDER. This officer, who, in any other age but that which produced Nelson, and witnessed the unparalleled triumphs of the British Navy, would have been reckoned a successful commander, was born at Elgin, in Scotland, in June 1745, and received the rudiments of his education at the school of his native town. When only fourteen, he entered the navy as midshipman, and, in 1766, accompanied the Honourable George Faulkener, as Lieutenant of the Essex, to the West Indies; but it was not till many years after that he obtained the rank, first
of master and commander, and then of post-captain, in the navy. During part of the American war he was employed in the Channel fleet; and in 1779 married Amelia, the only daughter of John Mitchell, Esq. of Bayfield Hall, in the county of Norfolk. In 1782, he commanded the Diana, repeating-frigate to Rear-Admiral Kempenfelt, and, at this period, was doomed to witness the disgraceful flight of the British fleet, under Sir Charles Hardy, before the combined squadrons of France and Spain.
At the breaking out of the war with France he was again called into employment, and appointed First Captain to Admiral Roddam's flag, then hoisted on board the Barfleur. He afterwards commanded the Theseus, 74 guns, which formed part of Lord Howe's fleet in 1794; but having been dispatched with Rear-Admiral Montague's squadron to protect a valuable convoy destined for the colonies, he did not participate in the brilliant victory of the 1st of June. In 1797 he was more fortunate; and acted as Captain of the fleet, under Sir John Jarvis, at the memorable battle fought off Cape St Vincent on the 13th of February. Being selected to bring home the Admiral's dispatches, he received the honour of knighthood as a reward for his services during the engagement, where he was understood to have displayed very superior seamanship. In 1799 he obtained the rank of Rear-Admiral by seniority; in 1804 became Admiral of the White, and in 1805 was employed by Admiral Cornwallis, who then commanded the Channel fleet, to blockade the harbours of Ferrol and Corunna; a service which he performed with great diligence, notwithstanding the manoeuvres of the Brest fleet, and the inadequacy of the force under his command.
Being soon after joined by RearAdmiral Stirling, with five sail of the line, a frigate and a cutter, making his whole force fifteen sail of the line, two frigates, a cutter, and a lugger, he put to sea for the purpose of intercepting the French and Spanish squadrons on their return from the West Indies. On the 22d of July, the combined fleet, consisting of twenty sail of the line, three fifty gun ships, five frigates and two brigs, hove in sight about sixty leagues to the west of Cape Finisterre, and bore down in order of battle. After a sharp action of four hours, he captured an 84 and a 74, and then thought it necessary to bring to the squadron for the purpose of securing the prizes. "The capture of two ships from so superior a force," says Mr Southey in his Life of Nelson, "would have been considered as no inconsider able victory a few years earlier; but Nelson had introduced a new era in our naval history; and the nation felt, respecting this action, as he had felt on a somewhat similar occasion. They regretted that Nelson, (who had gone in pursuit of them) with his eleven ships, had not been in Sir Robert Calder's place; and their disappointment was generally and loudly expressed."
Influenced by this state of the public feeling, Sir Robert Calder demanded a court-martial, which was accordingly granted, and assembled on board the Prince of Wales, in Portsmouth Harbour, on the 23d of December. The witnesses on behalf of the prosecution being examined, Sir Robert Calder read a long defence; and the Court having deliberately weighed and considered the whole case, were of opinion, that Sir Robert "had not done his utmost to renew the engagement, and to take or destroy every ship of the enemy." There was perhaps something hard
in this finding, and certainly it is the first instance of an officer having been put upon his trial for gaining a victory; but it tended to encourage the idea, that a British Admiral ought never to be satisfied with partial and indecisive success, and was in perfect keeping with the lofty notions of our maritime ascendancy, which teach us on every occasion to look for complete victory.
Sir Robert Calder was some time afterwards appointed Port-Admiral at Portsmouth, and died at Holt, in the county of Hants, on the 31st of August 1818, being then in the 74th year of his age.
JOHN PALMER, Esq.-Most men are endowed by nature with some talent or faculty in greater perfection than the rest, or with a peculiar aptitude for a particular pursuit or profession, in which alone they are fitted to excel; while on a few, and but a few, nature confers the rare distinction of a plastic versatility of character, which readily accommodates itself to circumstances, and enables them to do, in many things, what others are only fitted to do in one. Of the truth of this last remark, Mr Palmer was an example. Equally qualified to manage a theatre and to direct the complicated machinery of the Post-Office, we find the same man, at one period of his life, superintending the amusements of the gayest city in the empire; at another projecting a new system of internal communication; aiding commerce by his contrivances and regulations; and at length accomplishing and perfecting his original plan for facilitating the intercourse, not only between different parts of the kingdom, but with all the nations of the world.
John Palmer, the son of a respectable brewer, was born at Bath
in the year 1742. He was originally destined for the Church; but from an aversion to the clerical profession was brought up to his father's business, to which he applied himself so closely as to injure his health. At this period, Bath, which had already become a place of fashionable resort, was totally unprovided with that essential requisite, a regular theatre, the disciples of Thespis having no better accommodation for exhibiting their performances than an old ruinous barn. To remedy this defect, a subscription was raised for building a new play house, upon the understanding that the proprietors of the old one would apply their premises to some other purpose, the moment the new one was completed. But the play ers chose to forget this understand ing; and when the new house was opened, a competition took place, which threatened ruin to both parties. The subscribers became disheartened, and withdrew, one by one, leaving the whole management in the hands of Mr Palmer senior. From this moment all opposition ceased, and the new theatre became the sole point of universal attraction. But the house was still unprotected by law, and a very severe act at that time existed against the public exhibition of dramatic performances. To obviate this inconvenience, the elder Mr Palmer presented a petition to both houses of Parliament, and his son John was sent to London to solicit the act as it is called; and this he managed so well, that at the end of two or three months he returned home, armed not only with an act of Parliament, but with a patent, conferring the title of Theatre Royal. But his difficulties did not end here. A sedition took place among that genus irritabile," the actors, upon some disgust they had taken at the
acting manager; but instead of endeavouring to conciliate them, the subject of this notice immediately proceeded on a theatrical tour, recruited a new corps dramatique, and dismissed the mutineers. We mention these things as characteristic of the man, and as exemplifying that turn of mind which he afterwards displayed in such perfection in matters of vital importance to the internal prosperity of the country. It is highly to his credit, that, notwithstanding the singularity of his character and pursuits, he was highly respected by his fellow-citizens, who soon after conferred upon him the highest civic office in his native town.
Whatever originally suggested the idea, he seems to have been early impressed with the possibility of greatly improving the communication between different parts of the country; and, accordingly, in 1782 or 1783, he presented a memorial to the Lords of the Treasury, explaining his plan, and pointing out the advantages of which it would be productive, both to commerce and to the revenue. This having met with due attention from Mr Pitt, Mr Palmer removed with his family to town, in order to facilitate his negociations with the Minister. He had stipulated for 2 per cent. for life on the future increased revenue of the Postoffice; but that he should not receive a shilling if his plans did not succeed. The terms were consider. ed fair, the trial was made, and the scheme succeeded beyond all expectation. Under his management, the annual revenue rose from L.150,000 in 1783, to L.600,000 in 1798.
The jealousy engendered by success had, however, created him great and powerful enemies, by whom attempts were made to deprive him of the fair reward of his labours and combinations. But he had the cou
rage to appeal to Parliament for redress, and the appeal was not made in vain ; for a resolution of the House of Commons, of date the 12th of May 1818, declares, "That this House is of opinion, that Mr Palmer is entitled to L.2, 10s. per cent. on the net revenue of the Post-Office, exceeding the sum of L.240,000 to be paid up from the 5th of April 1793; deducting the sum of L.3000 a-year received subsequently to the 5th of April 1793." The balance of the percentage thus declared to be due to him, and which he afterwards received, amounted to L.54,702. But no pecuniary reward could have been so gratifying as the eulogium pronounced upon him by Mr Sheridan: "None but an enthusiast, said he, could have made such an agreement; none but an enthusiast could have carried it into execution; and I am confident that no man in this country, or any other, could have performed such an undertaking but that very individual, John Palmer."
Mr Palmer sat in Parliament as member for his native city, in the representation of which he was succeeded, a considerable time before his death, by his eldest son, Colonel Palmer. Another of his sons rose to the rank of Post Captain in the Lavy, and married the great niece of his former patron, Admiral the Earl of St Vincent, with whom he obtained an ample fortune. At length, after witnessing the complete success of all his plans, and the advancement of his family, the subject of this memoir died at Brighton, in 1818, in the 76th year of his age.
MAJOR SCOTT WARING.-As a pamphleteer and parliamentary speaker, this gentleman acquired a considerable degree of notoriety during the celebrated trial of War ren Hastings, in which he took a
VOL. XII. PART I.
very warm interest; but of late years his name has hardly been mentioned, and, indeed, he appears to have taken but little share in any political proceedings of a recent date. Mr Scott was a native of Scotland, and early in life entered into the service of the East India Company. While in India, he appears to have recommended himself to the particular notice of the Governor-General; and, when it was certain that an impeachment was resolved on, he was selected and sent to England by Mr Hastings as his private agent. Soon after his arrival, he procured a seat in the House of Commons, where he appeared as the authorised representative and champion of the Governor-General; in which character he assumed a high tone of defiance, and had the temerity to throw down the gauntlet to his enemies, and to dare them to the contest. If by this means he expected to intimidate Mr Hastings' accusers, the result proved that he was wofully mistaken: Burke, Fox, and Sheridan, were not men to be moved from their purpose by the big and bullying words of an Indian Major: while the mighty torrents of invective, afterwards poured forth against the unfortunate Governor-General, were certainly rendered more irresistible and overwhelming by the premature and imprudent rashness of his accredited defender.
In another department, however, he laboured with more success. In order to influence the public voice in favour of Mr Hastings, innumerable pamphlets were written and circulated, either by himself or under his immediate direction; and in higher quarters, more powerful means were said to have been employed in his favour. No expedient, in short, was left untried, to array the public sentiment on the side of the