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form a very good counterpart, except in speciousvess of ma
generally transact the business of states.. If they feel such sur. prise, however, they have only themselves to thank for the ignorance of so obvious a fact, as that mean and selfish passions predominate in human nature, that these must operate in all ranks of mankind equally, and almost in the same manner, and that consequently, in what are called public men, they will operate just to the extent of their larger sphere and opportunities. It is but to look at the portrait of a private and subordinate man's character through a glass that will magnify it to the dimensions of the public man's condition, and we have the latter character placed fairly before us. This expedient, of magnifying the features of the private and vulgar character, is perhaps even the best way of obtaining a true idea of what assumes so much importance under the title of a public character; for if we look directly at the public character itself, it is placed in a situation so much above the ordinary level, and in so peculiar a light, that we view it under a kind of optical deception, by which the coarse lines and features acquire a certain fallacious smoothness of appearance.
If the character of men in the higher stations be thus for the most part truly represented by a multitude of characters in all the lower ranks, the public, on which these men have laid so many imposts during their lives, is but little obliged by the attempt to lay a new tax on its time and money, by vo, lumes of tedious detail, after they are gone, of their commonplace qualities and actions. But there is just now and then an individual, among these persons in public life, who combines such extraordinary talent with depravity, or it is possible (for the thing has happened) with high virtue, or who has transacted business in such uncommon circumstances, that it may be fairly claimed for him to be an object of considerable attention, after his mortal agency has ceased. The curiosity which would feel but little interest in looking at those public productions, briars, nettles, and thistles, would be strongly excited at sight of the banyan, for its remarkable appearance; and still more of the manchineel and the upas, for their qualities, if the latter were more than a fabled phenomenon; it would be considerably excited, if even a very ordinary tree were seen growing out of a crevice at the top of a high tower, or in any other strange situation.
The character of Lord Macartney appears to have been of so different a composition from that of the vulgar tribe of men of office, that, independently of the singular embassy which has given the chief notoriety to his name, a patriot would be gratified to see a compressed discriminative sketch of his life
exhibited to the nation, as, in a good degree, a standard by which to estimate men in high stations, and we wish it might not imply a hope which it is foolish to cherish if we add, exhibited as a pattern for the imitation of such men. But though we feel so little hope of its being imitated, we are gratified in contemplating the one individual example of disinterestedness, prudence, and inflexible and courageous probity. To have the very possibility of such a character thus practically evinced, is something in these times; and if it be useless, as it will of course, for operating any amendment, it will at least warrant the aggravated. censure of what is incorrigible.
While readily acknowledging Lord Macartney's claim to a respectable place in the public records of the nation, we cannot bring ourselves to applaud the egregious sample of book-making before us. Mr. Barrow's part of this immense heap of printing forms the basis, and reaches only a third of the way up, in the quality of a memoir of Lord M. The stratum over this is an Appendix, about 200 pages thick, composed of official documents. The best layer consists of extracts from two printed, but not published works, ou Ireland and Russia, measuring 159 pages. Superincumbent on all this, bis Lordship's Journal of the Embassy to China; up to the height of 370 pages, forms the lofty summit of this amazing tumulus, (we use the Latin term) this perfect Silbury Hill of biographical literature. After our readers hare heard thựs much, we defy them to guess what is coming next. They are next to be told, that Mr. Barrow announces a grand réserve of materials, “ a very varied and voluminous correspondence, and many curious and interesting papers on different subjects, which he has no doubt will be found, at some future day, worthy of being communicated to the world ;" and that the whole of the two treatises concerning Ireland and Russia, from which he has taken a portion that is charged at not much less than half a guinea, in the price of the present work, are likely to be added to the mass. So that the public, who it is true have in their libraries hardly a single hook of the smallest value produced by the labours of all the greatest men of all ages and nations, who have no one business of concern of their own to attend to, who necessarily have lustrums and centuries of vacant time on their hands, in the nine hundred and odd years to which human, life is now generally protracted, and who have such a spontaneous produce of corn, and so few taxes, that they are actually sinking under the universal load of idleness and superfluous money, may now be consoled with the expectation of perhaps five costly quarto volumes, substantially
have been of knowless, howe had perhapsho will be will be him,
about Lord Macartney. We have read it somewhere on the authority of the Rabbins, that Methuselah was a wonderfully ignorant and silly Esquire, considering how long he had lived ; it was undoubtedly because Lord M. and Mr. Barrow did not live in those times; and we regret to think how many scores of unprofitable years, which he spent dozing in his arm-chair from having just nothing at all to think of, might have been entertained and improved, if this prodigious manufacture of knowledge had but been the privilege of that period. It is useless, however, to deplore the condition of our remote ancestors; and we had perhaps better he thankful for our own, and that of our posterity, who will be sure to find henceforward, that every diplomatic nobleman will be provided with a humble friend, who can write and compile him, in due time, into a pair or two of portly volumes.
We will briefly notice the several parts of this work in their order.— The Memoir confines itself very strictly to its professed subject, the public life of Lord M. And indeed, after reading the whole of this publication, we view him as so entirely and exclusively a public character, that we have not the slightest curiosity about his private life. From almost the time of his being at school, his ambition was directed toward the employments of the state; and this continued to be his leading passion through his whole life. Having set in for a statesman, his studies, his habits of thinking, and the cast of his language, took the character appropriate to office. The whole intellectual and moral man grew into a political shape, wonderfully tallying, as if made on purpose, with the shape of the British state and constitution. He was very much like a tree trained and nailed to the wall of a building, perhaps vigorous and productive, but losing the free and various form of nature, in its adherence to the flat and the angles to which it is affixed. Though always desirous of public employment, he had nevertheless too much dignity and principle to seek it by cringing to the powerful, or intriguing with the profligate. Both in the earlier and later periods of his life, his only method was to place in the view of those at the head of government the proofs of capacity and virtue, in such a way as to indicate a willingness to be honourably employed. And as to the execution of the high offices in which he was engaged, we must be speaking of an extraordinary man when we say, we sincerely believe that, toward the close of his life, he would have been willing, as he avowed to a person who solicited materials for writing his biography, for every circumstance of his official conduct to be universally known.
His p eparation for his intended political career was on a liberal and comprehensive plan, involving a variety of botla solid and graceful accomplishments; to which he added, during his travels, an intimate knowledge of the courts, and politics, and national characters, of the several states of Eu. rope. On returning to England in 1764, at the age of about 28, he was prevented from taking a seat in the House of Commons, by being appointed envoy extraordinary to the court of St. Petersburgh, where barbarism was acquiring a thin varnish of splendour from the talents, and corruption a large accession from the vices, of Catharine, with whom the English government were anxious to establish some regular and permanent commercial relations. Former negociators had failed in the attempt; and it cost Sir George Macartney, with all his intelligence, insinuation, and patience, the greater part of a year of the utmost assiduity and solicitude to accomplish the object. When he had gained it, he was rewarded for his indefatigable zeal, and for several thousand pounds of his own money expended for the purposes of his commission, by the coldness and censure of the persons in power in England. He returned home with injured health, and a mortifying conviction that it is a very thankless thing for talent and integrity to serve stupidity and perverseness. By some odd caprice of his employers, it was soon after offered to him to return to Russia as ambassador extraordinary, which he declined in an honourable manner. “He voluntarily and without any requisition returned the warrants for a service of plate, usually granted to ambassadors, the equipage-money, and every other emolument, receiving no advantage of any kind from his ap- . pointment, excepting their majesties' pictures, which he desired he might be allowed to keep, setting thus an example of disinterestedness, perhaps the only one of the kind in the diplomatic history of this country.” Vol. I. p. 30.
His next eminent public station was that of chief secretary of his native country of Ireland, in which he is described as acquitting himself with great dignity, amidst a scene of turbulence and excessive political corruption, and evincing his disinterestedness by waving a place of 2000l. a year. He did, however, in the end, accept one of a little upwards of 1000l. per ann. as a reward for several years of laborious exertions. This we should have condemned as the acceptance of a sinecure, but that he sold it a little while after, to enable himself to pay a debt which he had contracted purely for the public service while in Russia, In 1775 he was advanced to the Irish peerage, and made governor of Grenada and Tobago, where he displayed great address in conciliating the parties whose feuds had distracted the colonies, and afterwards a signal degree of gallantry and military skill (though, as far as appears, quite a stranger to the military service) in defending the
istand of Grenada, for a while, with a most diminutive force, against the powerful and ultimately successful attack of the base and treacherous D'Estaing.
Not long after his return to England, he was appointed to the most difficult of all his employments, the government of Madras; on which he entered in 1781, at a most critical period, when the peninsula was ravaged by the victorious and destroying armies of Hyder Ali, a year or two before the death of that tyrant. .
He remained several years in this arduous station, and displayed an elevation of character with which it would be unfortunate for any preceding or conteniporary individual, in high office in the East, to be compared. It is hardly possible to imagine a more grievous complication of difficulties thạn that in which he found himself involved, as soon as he had landed on the Coromandel coast. The country was overrun to every point by the troops of the atrocious savage, whom they pleased exactly in the proportion in which they revdered it a wilderness, and a graye of its inhabitants. The British army was diminishing, unpaid, and almost mutinous, and scarcely afforded him'a hope that Madras, itself could long be saved from the enemy. The native ally, the nabob of the Carnatic, was but an useless and vexatious friend to the English, and an odious oppressor of his own subjects. The treasury was empty; a famine impended ; and by the perverseness of the admiral, Sir Edward Hughes, tlie coast was at once deprived of the means of importing provisions, and exposed to the attack of a French fleet, commanded by the singularly brave and active, but ungenerous Suffren. The condition of the inhabitants was coming fast to a crisis, of which the following extract describes only a part of the horrors.
- The morning of the 15th October threatened an approaching storm, upon which the squadron put to sea and disappeared. The settlement: was now doomed to suffer a new and most severe misfortune. The gale speedily commenced, and continued to blow with increasing violence till midniglit. Several large vessels were driven ashore, others foundered at their anchors, and all the small craft, amounting to nearly one hundred in number, were either sunk or stranded in the course of the night. The following morning presented a most melancholy spectacle ; the shore was covered with wreck and dead bodies; and the whole of the rice, amounting to 30,000 bags, was irretrievably lost. This dreadful blow seemed to be decisive of the fate of the presidency, Even the firm mind of Lord Macartney was shaken, and despondency seized on every soul. This, however, was not a time for inaction. Not a moment was suffered to be lost without deliberating what measures should be taken for averting the desperate necessity of surrendering or abandoning Fort St. George to the enemy. But whatever measures might be resolved upon, the government had the melancholy truth before it, that no human effort could