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friend in Ireland, Mr. Smith, alludes play. fully to several of the lighter productions of that gentleman, whose pen was diligently employed on literary as well as political matters.
“ MY DEAR SIR, “ I have taken possession of one of your packets, and will forward the other as you desire. Peter Parallel* is a very pleasant fellow; and tells serious truths with considerable humour, I need not tell you how much my son admires The Vision,* for I know that he has told you this himself. But though I too thought highly of it from the first, you either must have improved it, or I appear to have done it scanty justice. But the fable of The Rights of Waters * continues to be my favourite; and
lowing extract of a letter to his cousin Nagle, written in October, 1777, during the visit of Mr. Fox to Ireland, is an instance :
“ I am heartily glad and obliged to you for your letter, and for your kind remembrance of me when you happened to see so many of my most particular friends in so remote and sequestered a spot as the Lake of Killarney. Ned Nagle told me that they were at your lodge, but your letter only expresses that you dined with them. Whenever you saw them I am sure that you passed a plessant day; and I may venture to say, with no less certainty, that
isfactions of the Lake of Killarney were heightened by meeting you there, and by your obliging attention to them. Don't you like Charles Fox? If you were not pleased on that short acquaintance you would on a further; for he is one of the pleasantest men in the world, as well as the greatest genius that perhaps this country has ever produced. If he is not extraordinary, I assure you the British dominions cannot furnish any thing beyond him. I long to talk with him about you and your Lough."
* These passages have reference to political essays, of which Mr. Smith was the author. The “ Rights of Waters," here this you certainly have retouched, and to good effect. Your manuscripts too are in high request. Miss
declares that if she was a Naiad, she would be afraid of you; though I have made her confess that there is nothing satyrical in your gallantries. C-says your French is exquisite ; and as he is a Frenchman, and no flatterer, he may probably be trusted. I am no competent judge of this matter ; but I certainly think your English is exquisitely tender. I write in haste, but hope I have said enough to prove that if the Muse should present you with any further pledges of attachment, they might be sent to nurse here with every prospect of a good reception. You must not, however, become a poet, or a gallant, even of the Naiads. Nature meant you, or I am mistaken, for something more respectable and useful. Yet I must confess that the compliments and regards with which I am charged, are intended for the poet. But I, who am an old politician, naturally direct my adieux to the embryo statesman, &c. &c. « EDM. BURKE.” spoken of so favourably by Mr. Burke, formed an ingenious parallel with the course of human life, in which, from the order of things established by the Great Creator of the universe, it is ordained that some must swim on the surface, some at the bottom of the
great stream of society, more especially civilized society ; but that the dispositions are not so fixed as not to exhibit continual fluctuations and changes of position. It was a blow at the principles inculcated by “ The Rights of Man," and similar productions.
* These manuscripts were juvenile poems-one addressed to the Naiad of Brynkinelt in North Wales, in commemoration of the excellence of the water of a spring in the demesne of Lord Dungannon ; another inscribed to the Naiad of Tears, being an imitation of Gray's lines, “O lacrymarum fons,” &c. These lines Mr. Smith had likewise paraphrased in French.
As a mark of respect for his unwearied labours, and the interest which he took in the public cause, events of importance on the continent connected with the war, were communicated to him as to a cabinet minister, by a special messenger.
When the news of the surrender of Valenciennes arrived, a communication of this nature found him at the little theatre of Chalfont-St.-Peter, a few miles from Beaconsfield, when he interrupted the performance for the purpose of reading aloud the contents of the dispatch to the audience, pointing out, as he proceeded, the importance of the conquest; and giving money to the humble orchestra to drink his Majesty's health, ordered them to play God save the King, which was accompanied by the audience in chorus.
The information forwarded on this occasion, and other civilities of a similar nature shown him by the Ministry, usually came through the channel of Mr. Dundas, with whom, of all the members of the cabinet at this time, he was most intimate, and for whom he had the greatest regard, arising as much from real respect for his talents, as for knowing him to possess qualities which form the surest pledges for the excellence of the heart.
This gentleman exhibited another instance of an eminent British Statesman, detached not merely from the law as a study, but from the active practice of it almost in the highest rank of the profession in his native country, to aim at a still higher prize in the lottery of political life in England. He was a younger son of the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland, and applying himself diligently
to forensicpursuits, attained the important postof Lord Advocate at the age of thirty-four. Nearly about the same time he commenced his career in Parliament, as member for the county of Edinburgh, and the American war breaking out immediately afterwards, he thought it his duty to support the views and measures of ministry in that unfortunate contest. Under Lord Shelburne's Administration, however, he accepted the office of Treasurer of the Navy, and, on this account, was charged, as all statesmen are at some period or other of their lives, with inconsistency in quitting his former opinions on that topic, as well as with political ingratitude in deserting the falling fortunes of his original patron, Lord North. It was in this situation that he formed that intimate acquaintance, both personal and political, with Mr. Pitt, which continued with uninterrupted regard for the remainder of their lives, and which tended so materially to his own political success. With him he was thrown out by the coalition ministry in 1783; with him he again returned to power and resumed his office, in addition to becoming President of the Board of Controul under the new system of government for India ; with him he debated side by side the great and trying questions agitated during the revolutionary war; and with him he quitted office in 1801, when unable to acquire for the Roman Catholics of Ireland those concessions which had been indirectly promised.
Soon after his return to power, in company with his great friend as first Lord of the Admiralty, having been, in the mean time raised to the peerage by thetitle of Viscount Melville, a dense cloud burst upon his head, and seemed for a moment to overshadow his fame. This was the tenth report of the commissioners of naval inquiry, who, in their examination into the business of the various offices in that department, charged him, if not with peculation, at least with mismanagement of the public money intrusted to his care, in his former office of Treasurer of the Navy. This shade however passed away, and has left nothing of stain behind it. Of any thing like guilt he was fully acquitted by the House of Lords, on the impeachment to which the charge gave rise; and the utmost censure to which he is amenable, is, perhaps, some degree of irregularity and negligence, arising rather from the misconduct of others than of his own, and against which it is difficult for any minister in a leading department of the state to guard, whose unavoidable confidence in his deputies in office, is ungenerously abused.
As a Minister he was sagacious, acute, practical in his views, unwearied in the duties of his office, fond indeed of performing them, and not difficult of access. The country is indebted to him in no inconsiderable degree, for a variety of measures and sug. gestions, many of which, however, remain yet to be appropriated to the rightful owner. The India department seemed to be for some years almost his
His knowledge of it was necessarily much more extensive and minute than that of any other man in or out of Parliament, except Burke, while in acquaintance with the details of the local governments there, he possessed from his official situation