Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

additional matter, in a way to give un- | as admiration. Lady Elliot, clever, highbroken continuity to the narrative. Con- spirited, and imaginative, was not, like one sciously, or unconsciously, whilst profess- who filled her place in after years, ing merely to edit • Notes from Minto Man

“ Blessed with a temper, whose unclouded ray uscripts,' Lady Minto produced a valuable

Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day.” memoir, when, under this title, she printed the substance of the work before us for To a want therefore of home sunshine, it private circulation, in 1862. It now, in its is possible that we may in part ascribe the completed shape, presents a full-length and fact that the letters written from home deal striking portrait of a remarkable member chiefly with news, with politics, or with adof a remarkable race. The very sarcasm vice, while those addressed there by the levelled at the Elliots in the palmy days of absent sons are confined to matters affectWhig patronage, as • The Scotch Greys,' ing their studies and pursuits.' was in some sort a recognition of their tal- The two elder brothers, Gilbert and ents and energy.

Hugh, were brought up together. From The Right IIonourable Hugh Elliot, who 1762 to 1764 they were under the care of a concluded a distinguished career of public private tutor, Mr. (after Sir Robert) Lisservice as Governor of Madras, was the ton, at Twickenham. Towards the end of second son of Sir Gilbert Elliot, the third 1764 they were placed in a military school baronet, whose family was ennobled in the near Paris, where they had Mirabeau for a person of the fourth baronet of the same schoolfellow, and David Hume, to whom name in 1797.* He was one of five chil- they were specially commended, as a prodren two brothers, two sisters, and him-tector and friend. At the end of two years self. Ile was born in 1752, but Lady Minto (1766) they were removed to Edinburgh, has been unable to discover anything mate- where they pursued a multiplicity of studrial relating to him prior to 1762. The first ies, natural and moral philosophy, matheten years are almost a blank; the family matics, chemistry, classics, &c., under the correspondence is entirely silent as to their superintendence of Professor George Studomestic doings. • In none is there any art, besides taking lessons in drawing, fencallusion to favourite haunts, to gardens or ing and dancing. In 1768 they went to grounds, to dependents or pets, nothing to Oxford and were entered at Christ-church, show affection for home as a place. Strong which was then, as now, the college most in family affection, however, has been ever request for young men of family and forthe characteristic of the race.' Lady Minto tune. Hugh did not keep terms enough to delicately suggests, that, if the unsettled entitle him to a degree, and in 1770 we find life of the parents, divided between Lon- him and his brother at Paris, mixing in that don, Edinburgh, and two or three other society which has been so happily hit off in places, will not account for the phenom- two sentences by Sydney Smith: “There enon, it is possible that the home itself used to be in Paris, under the ancient rémay not have been of the kind to make gime, a few women of brilliant talents, who itself remembered with unmixed pleasure. violated all the common duties of life, and •Sir Gilbert' (she says) was a grave, gave very pleasant little suppers. Among highly cultivated man, immersed in politics, these supped and sinned Madame d'Espiand, like all fathers of his time, seems to nay, the friend and companion of Rousseau, have inspired his family with as much awe Diderot, Grimm, Holbach, and many other

literary persons of distinction.' This was Long prior to this creation the family had belonged to the Scotch Noblesse de robe. The first the lady who especially attracted Gilbert, baronet (creation of 1700) held the title of Lord and the brothers were favoured guests in Minto as a Lord of Session, and was subsequently the salons of Madame du Deffand, Madame appointed Lord Justice Clerk. also appointed Lord Justice Clerk, and held the Geoffrin, and the rest of the pleasant but same title. The first Earl was successively viceroy wrong'set to which Sydney Smith alludes. of Corsica, envoy-extraordinary to Vienna, presi. Their reception by Horace Walpole, then dent of the Board of Control, and Governor General

at Paris, was characteristic: "As soon as of Bengal. General Elliot, Lord Heathfield, was descended from a common ancestor.

were equipped,' writes Hugh,

we

6

we

waited on Mr. Walpole, who seems to be to his military knowledge, made valuable as dry and cold a kind of gentleman as ever friends, and left the best possible impression I saw.

He cleared up a little when he of his disposition and accomplishments. heard that we had some French acquain- At that time, remarks Lady Minto, his love tance, and did not depend entirely upon for the profession of arms amounted to a him for introduction. In the same letter passion, and, resolved to gratify it at all he describes their visit to Madame de hazards, he proceeded from Vienna to WarBoufflers, whom they found at her studies saw to place his sword at the disposal of in her bedchamber, and were told by her, Stanislaus Augustus, King of Poland, whose after talking about English and Scotch au- Court is truly described as then the most thors, that, if she had time, she would set brilliant and dissipated in Europe, although about translating Adam Smith's Moral his dominions were overrun by the armies Sentiments,' giving as a reason, il a des of three great Powers, and both throne and idées si justes de la sympathie.'

monarchy were tottering to their fall. In the autumn of 1770 Hugh, instead of Considering the heroic efforts and terrible returning to Oxford with his brother, pro- sacrifices of the Poles so repeatedly renewed ceeded to Metz, where a camp had been since their cause has been utterly hopeless, formed for the instruction of the Duc de it is a fair subject of speculation why they Chartres, to study military tactics; for his were incapable of striking a bold blow for chosen profession was the army, and the their independence, when, although gravely compulsory change of destination was the threatened, it was still unshaken and entire. first and greatest disappointment of his life. In September, 1772, Hugh Elliot writes to In strict keeping with the practice of this his father : period, Scott describes Waverly as joining • I have met with a very favourable reception his regiment a captain, “the intervening here. The King's person and manner are striksteps of cornet and lieutenant being over- ingly engaging and manly. I never was so leapt without difficulty' and Hugh Elliot moved with any scene as with the first aspect of espected to begin active service in the this Court. Remorse or despair get the better command of a company. So early as 1762, of the forced cheerfulness with which they enbeing then in his tenth year, he had been deavour to reil the approach of ruin, slavery, nominated to an ensigncy in a newly-raised and oppression. But these only prompt them regiment by the colonel, General Scott, i to complaints; not one man is bold crough to and in accordance with the usual privilege draw his sword in the common cause. All the or (more correctly speaking) traditional blood that has been shed in the numberless conabuse, his time would liave counted from federations was only the consequence of private the date of the commission, and his promo-piques and jealousies, fomented by the intrigues

of France. tion have gone on precisely as if he had

• I could not help expressing my surprise to never been absent from his duties. It is a the King (the last time I was with him) that he curious circumstance connected with this did not raise his standard in some part of the nomination that it was denounced by kingdom, as I was sure, from my own feelings, Wilkes in the famous No. 45 of the North that he would soon have an army of volunteers, Briton. Whether on account of the re-able at least to defend his person from danger. sulting notoriety, or from an unwonted im- He took me by the hand, and said, “ Ah ! mon pulse of public virtue, or some less justifi- cher Elliot, nous ne sommes pas des Anglais.". able and more occult motive, Lord Barring- He is now reduced to the greatest distress, as ton, Secretary of War when Hugh proposed his revenues are entirely in the hands of his to join, refused to ratify the appointment, enemies : he has hardly wherewithal to pay bis and the utmost degree of favour that could household servants, much less an army.' be obtained for him was the nominal rank Leaving this degenerate monarch and deof captain, which it was hoped would enable voted race to their fate, he looks about for him to enter a foreign army with advan- the place where fighting was most likely to tage. In this, too, he was disappointed; be had, which just then happened to be and it is strange that he and his friends Moldavia, where a Russian army was conshould have been so imperfectly acquainted fronted by the Turks ; but, hostilities being with the rules of the Austrian service as to deferred by the unexpected prolongation suppose that they would or could be set of an armistice, he took a trip to Constantiaside in favour of a young foreigner, be his nople, much to the displeasure of his father, personal recommendations what they might. who, naturally enough, complained of in

Although he failed in his main object of stability of purpose and want of self-conentering the Austrian army with rank, be trol, and enjoined an immediate return to had every reason to congratulate himself on England. To this Hugh respectfully but his visit to Vienna, where he added largely. I most positively demurred. It would be, he

urged, to the lasting disgrace of his country | Janissary who escaped by the famous leap and his name if, after so many months' so- at Cairo; although Elliot does not appear journ with the Russian army, he, the only to have been mounted, for a family tradition English oflicer similarly situated, should adds that he crossed the river holding on to leave them on the very eve of battle; and the tail of a Cossack's horse. The most he announced the resolution, on which he lattering accounts of his conduct certainly furthwith acted, of joining the division of reached England in the best-authenticated Count Soltikoff, which was about to attack shape, but the desiderated rank in the a strongly-fortified place on the Danube, British army was withheld, and he and his promising to return to England as soon as friends naturally felt much aggrieved; for it was made clear that the desire of obey- it was not until the Duke of York became ing his father's orders, and not the desire Commander-in-Chief that the practice of of avoiding danger alone, makes him quit promotion per saltum was suppressed; and the field. There are abundant indications many of our readers must remember a that he brilliantly distinguished himself in Scotch story of no very ancient date, of this expedition, although Lady Minto con- somebody asking why a child was crying, fesses her inability to supply the details. and being told, It is only the Major crying Marshal Romanzow writes to the British for his parraițch.' A late Colonel-Comminister at Petersburgh:

mandant of the Life-Guards began his mil

itary career at Westminster School. One He [Elliot] arrives at my head-quarters just advantage of the system was that officers as the list negotiation was coming to an end. He learns that the war is about to recommence, actual command and responsibility till they

were less frequently placed in positions of and begs to be employed. Just at this time arrived letters from his father, enjoining him to had attained manhood and completed their return to England. Not being of the metal of general education. Another was, that disthat officer to whom a Marshal replied, on his tinguished merit and eminent fitness might asking leave of absence at the opening of a cam- be recognised and marked out for rapid paign, under pretence of order of recall from promotion : as in the case of Wolfe, who, Iris parents

- Honour thy father and mother, had he been left to rise regularly through that thy days may be long in the land ” *. - he the surbordinate grades, would never have conjured me to attach him to a corps which I be-commanded a regiment at Fontenoy or lieved would be soonest engaged. I sent him to have fallen, in his thirty-third year, at the Wallachia. There he learns that the Turks are head of a victorious army before Quebec. in the neighbourhood of Silistria. An engage- Marlborough and Wellington are striking ment takes pluwe, and in the General's report to illustrations of the same argument. me of this affair, he tells me such wonders of Mr. Elliot, that I could not refrain from making of Lord Barrington — in other words, of

Under all the circumstances, the refusal mention of him to my Sovereign.'

the North Ministry or the King to confer The sole result of Lady Minto's diligent the coveted rank, can only be accounted for inquiries and research is a passage in the on the supposition that Sir Gilbert, the fourth edition of Tooke's Life of Cather- father, was no longer reckoned among their ine the Second, in which, describing the friends. Horace Walpole, writing in Febs!ırprise of the Russians by the Turks in ruary, 1773, mentions him as the man the campaign of 1773, he says, “An Eng- “whom the King most trusted next to Lord glishman named Elliot, in the service of Bute, who, nevertheless, had acted disconRussia, distinguished bimself in an extraor- tent for the last two years ;." but raises a dinary manner at Giurgevo.

doubt wbether the refusal of the commission with no less agility than boldness over the was the cause or effect of this discontent heads and sabres of the Spahis, and fell by describing the course taken by Sir Gilinto the river, which he crossed by swim- bert on a popular question against the Minming.' We must suppose that he made his istry as originating in revenge or pique. spring from an elevated ground, like the The affair grows more and more inexplica

ble, when we learn that the same man who *The refusal of a celebrated Irish patriot to fight was denied the due recognition of his merits a duel on the ground of the possible deprivation to and qualities, and the appropriate field for his wife and daighter, gave rise to the following their display, sinultaneously received an epigram by T voore: – .Some men in their horror of slaughter

appointment which

any

other ambitious Improve on the scripture command,

young man similarly situated would have And honour their wife and their daughter preferred, and which his family would un

That their days may be long in the land.' It got into print through the indiscretion of an Amer- tember, 1773, it was notified to him that he

doubtedly have preferred for him. In Sepican traveller, and created a lasting feud between the patriot and the bard.

was to be Minister Plenipotentiary at the

He sprang

Court of Bavaria, and he was named to an account, by a young English traveller, that post accordingly in April, 1774. He of an evening at her house, when a Salade was at Warsaw when the first intimation à la Génoise was concocted, with much fun reached him, and he seems to have lost lit- and laughter, by some of the most brilliant tle time on this occasion in obeying the members of her society. Prince Potemkin's urgent recall of his father, for his first de interest in Bavaria seems to have been limspatch from Munich is dated June 23rd, ited to the concerns of a few pretty women. 1774. In a letter to Marshal Romanzow The first of a long series of letters from he ascribes the appointment to the favour- Dr. Mesmer opens with a trait which is able impression produced in England by more entertaining than anything that folthe Marshal's praises of his gallantry, add- lows:-“Un remède contre les nerfs doit ing, • Pardon me if I regret their effect, fort intéresser votre nation !since the King has judged that they render- The contents, it is added, are often pured me worthy of an advancement very far posely disguised under an involved style, from ordinary in this country at my age; initials standing for names. Thus, a correalthough I feel highly flattered by this dis- spondent, writing from Ratisbon, states tinction, it is with pain that I find myself that “les nouvelles particulières d'ici se récompelled to let start alone two of my duisent à peu de choses, les amours de M. countrymen, who are setting out to search de B. et de la Comtesse C. sont finis quant for you on the banks of the Danube.' à l'extérieur, ils s'aiment encore, mais

The opinion entertained of him and his n'osent se le dire. Le directeur de Madlle. new profession by his companions in arms C. la porte à renoncer à son inclination pour may be collected from the tone in which he M.qui la demande en mariage. Elle déclare is addressed by a lively Russian Colonel and qu'elle renonce à lui, la bouche le dit, le diplomatist : —- What, you desert the ban-cæur ne le pense pas ; ils s'aiment toujours, ner of Mars, and submit to the yoke of et n'en sont que plus malheureux. Les politics! But these rumours must be pure amours du gros L. et de Madame d’Y. sont fiction. What! this Elliot, this amiable, finis et assez mal, car ils n'ont pu venir à sociable, light, gay, gallant, fine gentleman l'amitié après leur rupture; ceux de N. consent to be immured in cabinets! Why, avec R. sont plus tranquils,' etc. etc. it is a larceny perpetrated against society. The first impression, we can well believe, All my ideas are confounded by it. The left on the uninitiated reader, is that the lively and careless Elliot is, then, about to letters of the alphabet have taken to disorassume the sombre and phlegmatic air of a derly courses. But Lady Minto goes on to minister. After such a phenomenon I do say, that after a careful examination, order not despair of seeing some day or another rises out of chaos, and something like a the Pope in the uniform of an hussar!' vision of the social life of the Bavarian The illustration is not a happy one, and the Court dawns upon the mind. It pretended writer, Colonel Petersohn, who was then to be a Versailles in miniature, and boasted acting Russian chargé d'affaires in the of a Montespan in the person of a Madame Danubian provinces, might have known that de Torring-Seefeld. • The scene of the the post of Minister neither implied nor chief pleasures of the Court was Nymphenrequired much gravity or solemnity. If burg, a country palace of the Élector's this was so at most places and in ordinary which Pöllnitz describes in his letters as a times, it was emphatically so at Munich lieu enchanté ; gardens, waters, woods, when Hugh Elliot became resident there. bunting-grounds, diversified its delights. There was then (remarks Lady Minto) lit- Three times a week during the summer the tle or no business of any interest depending Electress held a court there, when tables between the Courts of Munich and of Lon- for play were prepared in the galleries, don. But any lack of interest in the polit- while, for those who preferred them, gilded cal correspondence of the British legation gondolas floated on the lake, and pony at Munich was amply made up by the pri- phaetons driven by a cavalier" were at vate letters which came from or passed the orders of the ladies who chose a moonthrough it. The only difficulty in dealing light drive through the woods. These with these is where to stop in our selections. moonlight drives must have been almost as In turning them over, the eye is caught by pleasant as the game called Scampativos, names of such celebrity or notoriety as played at Le Petit Trianon. The party would delight the heart of a collector of were divided into couples by the queen, or a autographs; but experience obliges us to lady chosen by lot, who gave the signal by confess that less imposing personages might clapping her hands and calling out " Scamoften have written better letters. Madame pativos, when the couples were to vanish du Deffand gives us nothing so amusing asl in different directions for a quarter of an

[ocr errors]

hour, at the end of wbich they re-assembled, But yon little god, upon roses reclining, and any couple that had run against or We'll make if you please, sir, a friendship of crossed the track of another paid forfeit.

him.' No one was better qualified to shine in scenes and pastimes of this kind than our

It was idle for Elliot to draw logical or young minister, then in his twenty-third metaphysician's distinctions. Distinguons, year; but he does not appear to have been as Lady Minto suggests, is easily said ; much attracted by them, and he certainly

but under certain circumstances it reoffers a plausible excuse for his want of gal- quires a strong head and a subtle wit to do lantry when he writes: There is not one it.' Delta, though wanting in neither, was good-looking woman in this place — by not to be put off with (wbat Sir Peter Teagood fortune, for I should be in great dan- zle would call) noble sentiments. She reger of learning to talk en Pastor Fido; plied: “Vous êtes vraiment singulier! such is the style of this country.' Ir. Hell bien éloignée de vous taxer d'impolitesse, has no fury like a woman scorned,' there votre lettre et la belle franchise qui y règne bade fair to be abundance of first-rate furies m'a fait beaucoup de plaisir; du reste, in Munich the day after Elliot's presenta- j'oubliais de vous faire des remerciments des tion; for Mr. Liston, who did duty as sec- conseils que vous me donnez. Je les trouve retary in an unofficial capacity, in a letter grands et beaux, et vous avez raison ; mais describing the ceremony, speaks of the on s'ennuie parfois avec toutes ces combinai• barefaced advances' and masculine at- sons. Excusez si je vous dis que vos réflextacks' to which his chief was exposed, add-ions sont une suite de votre depart.” At ing, “ What I admire the most is that he all events, if she was to take up philosophy, has contrived not to make enemies of those she wished to hear him philosophise. “Que he has refused — a point wbich is surely not je voudrais vous entendre discourir ; quelles •to be managed without difficulty. It may réflexions ! quelle variété ! et tout cela be inferred from a subsequent letter that avec Liston, votre chien et les champs pour the difficulty was not entirely overcome:

les seuls auditeurs." ; • He (Elliot) has indeed too much good

Her letters, always lively and amusing, sense, and is much too well bred to dis- were mostly addressed to him at Ratisbon, cover the least symptoms of dispprobation whither he had retired, on leave, to econoto the person concerned; but it is difficult mise, and philosophise. His philosophy, to reject the addresses of almost every wo- principally exhibited in railing against the man in the place without giving offence to roguery and falsehood of mankind and wosome, and his dislike to the society in gen- mankind, elicits a brace of maxims worthy eral is betrayed by a constant preference of of Rochefoucauld or. Vauvenargues from English ideas, and English things.' the biographer: 'While a young man does

Some forty years since a handsome and not pay his debts, all men are rogues to accomplished Englishman became so much him; while he makes love to twenty wothe rage of Paris, that when, from a wound men, the faithlessness of the sex will be his in a desperate duel, he appeared with his favourite theme.' arm in a sling and the sleeve of his coat It was in the second year of his first mistied with ribbons, the ladies came out with sion that Elliot's military ardour broke out sleeves tied in the same manner, à la C- in a manner that, but for an opportune The Bavarian maids of honour paid a still check, would have abruptly cut short his higher compliment to Elliot. They sent to diplomatic career before it had commenced his tailor for an old court coat of his, with in right earnest. In July or August, 1775, the avowed intention of dividing the velvet he expressed to Lord Suffolk, the Secreand embroidery amongst themselves. One tary of State in charge of the foreign deof these corresponded with him under the partment, an earnest desire to join the army pseudonyme of Delta, and succeeded so far in America as a volunteer. Lord Suffolk's in getting the better of his indifference as answer was kind and considerate. After to drive him into a proffer of friendship and hinting that the time might arrive when a laboured attempt to prove its great supe

such an example might be of essential serriority to love. But where lives or ever vice, his Lordship adds : . but at this molived the

young and passionate woman who ment I should not act with the regard I feel would not agree with Moore's Laura :

for you if I did not dissuade you from quit

ting the walk you are in, in which you do "Oh, never ! she cried, could I think of en- so well, and are so likely to be advanced.' shrining

Sir Gilbert showed no sympathy with a. An image whose looks are so joyous and dim; 1 chivalrous feeling, which he terms Quixotic,

:

« ElőzőTovább »