Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

ceived from his correspondent, while working out his theory of gravity and the lunar irregularities, for the latter of which Flamsteed bad supplied him with not fewer than 200 observations. Sometimes, however, when Flamsteed, from the ill state of his health, had not been able to supply Newton with observations at the moment he wanted them, the peevishness of the latter was manifest in his style of writing. Flamsteed, indeed, has remarked, as we have seen, that Newton's conversation also was not always of the most engaging kind, since he was sometimes so presumptuous as to ask him 'why he did not hold his tongue ?'

The extraordinary letter of the 6th of January, 1699 (No. 43), was the first manifestation of that petulant bearing which gradually led to an open rupture. We might perhaps be charitably disposed to attribute this to the effect of that distressing malady, which overwhelmed Newton for a time in 1693,-a malady rashly ascribed by some to mental aberration, but which was clearly occasioned by want of sleep, want of appetite, excessive restlessness, and great nervous irritability; all brought on no doubt by deep thought and intense application. Something, on the other side, must be ascribed to that fretful and querulous tone, and occasional deficiency of courtesy and respect, which every reader must have noticed on the part of Flamsteed, and the exhibition of which can only be palliated by his frequent suffering from constitutional ill-health. But making all allowances for both on the score of temper, it would still be difficult to find any excuse for the overt acts of meanness, injustice, and ingratitude, of which Flamsteed had but too much reason to accuse Newton, more particularly in the latter years of his life. The only explanation that can be given, and which indeed the documents now brought to light seem fully to bear out, is, that this great man, having surrendered himself into the hands of certain self-interested persons, who took advantage of the infirmities of age, was prevailed on to acquiesce in a line of conduct which, in his better days, he would have spurned at.

Finally, we fully agree with Mr. Baily, that however lamentable it may be to find such eminent characters as Newton, Halley, Gregory, and Arbuthnot, exhibited as they appear in this volume, yet ‘ a proper regard for truth and justice' forbade any suppression, at the present day, of the many curious and important facts which these manuscripts have, for the first time, brought to light.

ART.

Art. V.-The Life of Admiral Viscount Exmouth. By Edward

Osler, Esq. London. 1835. 8vo. W E have learned from several sources, but most distinctly

W from a paragraph in a clever contemporary magazine, * that this Life of Lord Exmouth, though 'undertaken,' as the preface announces, with the sanction of his elder and only surviving brother,' Mr. Samuel Pellew of Falmouth, has been written without the concurrence, and published against the wishes of his lordship's more immediate family-nay, that one of his lordship’s sons, the Dean of Norwich,+ had announced his intention of writing the life of his father-an intention which, as has been stated in stronger language than we are inclined to repeat, it was hardly fair in Mr. Osler to forestall, and, as far as he could, to frustrate.

To this Mr. Osler has replied, that besides the sanction of Mr. Samuel Pellew, the late viscount (the admiral's eldest son), knew and approved the intention; and that his second son, Captain Fleetwood Pellew, revised the whole MS. and furnished the subjects for the engravings.'-- Metrop. Mag., Nov. 1835, p. 81.

These statements a little surprise us, because we happen to know that the late viscount expressed a formal disapprobation of the early publication of any life of his father, and it is hardly possible that he and Captain Pellew should be ignorant of what had reached even us, that their brother, the Dean of Norwich, did intend to produce, in a fit season, a life of their father, and was, for that object, in possession of all the family papers, as well as of materials contributed by some of Lord Exmouth's private friends. We, therefore, suspect that Mr. Osler must have mistaken or been misinformed as to the late viscount's sentiments, and that Captain Fleetwood Pellew was induced to revise, only when he found that he could not prevent, the publication, from a very natural desire to see that it did not contain any misstatement injurious to his father's memory.

But, however all this may be, the question would be one rather of private delicacy than of literary interest, and we should certainly not have alluded to it at all, if the result did not seem to us to affect the value of the book itself. No reader can have followed the course of Mr. Osler's biography without observing this important drawback on its merit-that while it is sufficiently copious in such particulars of Lord Exmouth's life as might naturally be supplied by the recollections of an elder brother, belonging to a different profession, and now in his eighty-second

* The Metropolitan Magazine for October last.

+ The magazine says, the · Bishop of Hereford,' but this is certainly a mistake for the Dean of Norwrch, whose intention of writing his father's life we ourselves remember to have heard spoken of shortly after Lord Exmouth's death.. VOL. LV. NO. CIX.

K

year, year, yet it is too obviously deficient in the details of the later and more distinguished portion of his lordship's public career, as well as in those points of private and personal interest which constitute the chief charm and value of biography as contradistinguished from history. We are by no means dissatisfied with the way in which Mr. Osler bas, in all other respects, performed his task, nor do we hesitate to repeat the preference that we recently expressed in our review of the Life of Mackintosh, for-ceteris paribus—a biography written by a pen more impartial than that of a near relative can ever be: but we are nevertheless of opinion that Mr. Osler would have acted with better taste, and have done more justice to himself and his hero, if he had not proceeded without the fuller sanction' and more substantial assistance of those members of Lord Exmouth's family who not only have the best right to sanction such a publication, but must also be in exclusive possession of all the documentary evidence of his public life, as well as of the most copious illustrations of his private character-by the absence of which, Mr. Osler's view and treatment of his subject has been, in our opinion, rendered, in some points, narrow and imperfect.

We regret the more this deficiency in Mr. Osler's materials, because his work proves that he would have made a satisfactorythough not a brilliant-use of a larger store. He has considerable merits; his style is simple and clear—his feelings are amiable-his principles sound-he is sensible, impartial, and unaffected-he seems not unacquainted with the technicalities of a naval life, and is, upon the whole, no unworthy biographer of a British admiral. If he be in some points obscure, and in others mistaken,-if he sometimes seems to expand trifles to the neglect of more important matters,---we think we can generally trace these blemishes to the state of bis materials. Unfortunately they are peculiarly observable towards the latter parts of the volume, where Mr. Osler shews himself to be but imperfectly acquainted either with the details of that admirable system of discipline and economy with which his lordship conducted the nautical duties of his command, or with the vast variety of civil and political objects which, in those momentous times, enlarged the sphere, complicated the duties, and surcharged the responsibility of the commander-in-chief of a British fleet. * We shall have occasion to notice some of Mr. Osler's deficiencies and omissions on these points, in the course of giving our readers sonie idea of his easy and pleasing narrative of the principal events of Lord Exmouth's useful and honourable life.

* These are not the opinions of us alone. The best naval authority on such points (to whom we have been indebted for many valuable remarks) says, "Mr. Osler does not do full justice to Lord Exmouth's great talent in calling forth the resources of his feet,-his tact in husbanding the stores, and his indefatigable and successful exertions in keeping his fleet' [in India and the Mediterranean] 'in repair, and in constant readiness for immediate service, without the assistance of a dock-yard, and at a time of a great scarcity of nayal stores. Too little notice is also taken of the manner in which he managed extensive diplomatic business in circumstances of great difficulty, when we had hardly a minister on the continent.” Osler's * Originally Norman,' says Mr. Osler, but on no other authority, that we can discover, than that the name was formerly speiled “Pelleu. We rather believe the name and family to be aboriginal Cornish.

It would far exceed both our limits and our object to follow Mr. Osler through the details of his lordship’s services : a full account of them would be almost a general history of the naval wars of half a century: we shall select such events and passages only as appear to us to exbibit some peculiar touch of the individual character of the man,—with this additional reserve, that as we approach more recent times we shall be shorter in our observations, as the events must be fresher in the recollection of our readers.

It has been sometimes stated that Lord Exmouth sprang from the lower ranks of society; and it is very certain, and very honourable to him, that he was altogether the maker of his own fortunebut he was of a gentleman's family,* which had been for centuries settled in the west of Cornwall. The earliest, however, of the family, of whom anything is certainly known, was distinguished for his loyalty and sufferings in the great rebellion, and a small antique piece of plate belonging to him, and bearing the date of 1645, is still preserved. His son, Lord Exmouth's great-grandfather, was a captain in the navy. His grandfather was an extensive merchant and shipowner, and a considerable landed proprietor both in Cornwall and in Maryland-part of the town of Annapolis Royal stands on what was, before the revolt of the colonies, the estate of the Pellews. The father, however, was the youngest of six sons, and seems to have had no other patrimony than that great and bountiful field of English enterprise, the SEA, which his forefathers had ploughed with respectable success, and from which his son was to reap so rich a harvest of affluence and honour. He himself does not seem to have attained any higher station than the command of one of his Majesty's post-office packets on the Dover station, where he died in 1765, leaving six children, of whom EDWARD, born on the 19th April, 1757, was the second son. The second marriage of their mother soon rendered these children doubly orphans, but they had for some years the protection of their grandfather, by whom Edward was successively sent to the best schools of the country, where he proceeded so far in classical learning as to be able to construe Virgil, and obtained at least, to use Dr. Johnson's phrase, Latin enough to grammaticise his English.' Slight and fugitive as may be the literary acquirements which a boy can have made at the age when, to make bim a good sailor,

he should be sent to sea, they may be of incalculable advantage to his future life, by predisposing him to cultivate his mind in intervals of leisure, and by preparing him for that higher class of duties and that superior station in society, for which—as in the case of so many of our naval heroesma sailor boy of very humble beginnings may be ultimately destined.

When in his fourteenth year young Pellew, rather against his grandfather's wishes, but prompted by a happy instinct, determined to be a sailor, and we have reason to believe, though Mr. Osler does not mention it, that the patronage of Lady Spencer (grandmother of the present Lord) was exerted in his behalf. He was accordingly in the year 1770 received into his Majesty's naval service, on board the Juno, Captain Stott, which was commissioned for the Falkland Island armament; and when she was paid off he followed Captain Stott into the Alarm, in the Mediterranean. Captain Stoit, who had been boatswain with Boscawen, was an excellent seaman, but had, as is too generally the case with persons thus promoted, retained some habits not suited to his present rank. He kept a mistress on board—a midshipman of the name of Cole, a special friend of young Pellew, happened to displease this woman, and was in consequence irregularly and unjustifiably turned out of the ship. Pellew, with the early firmness and generosity of his disposition, made common cause with his oppressed friend and insisted on sharing his fate ; they were both put on shore at Marseilles-penniless but their spirited conduct attracted the notice and approbation of the late Captain Keppel and Lord Hugh Seymour, then lieutenants in the Juno, and laid the foundation of a friendship between them and Pellew which continued through their lives. Lord Hugh even had the kindness to advance them money to bear their expenses home, and among the services rendered to his country by that amiable man and distinguished officer, it is not the least that his sagacity and generosity probably preserved Pellew to the naval glory of his country. Captain Stott, on reconsideration, appears to have repented of his harshness, and he gave the lads such testimonials of their general good conduct and abilities, as saved them from the ill consequences which would otherwise have probably followed so unlucky a début in a service of which, after all, subordination is an indispensable sequisite. It is delightful to find in the sequel a more unexceptionable proof of Pellew's magnanimity-many years after, when he had attained the rank of post-captain, he happened to fall in with a son of Captain Stott, then dead. He took the youth under his protection, and did every thing in his power to promote his interests. At a later period, and after Lord Hugh Seymour's death, Pellew had also the pleasure of receiving one of his sons in his

flag-ship,

« НазадПродовжити »