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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


102 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Peerage by patent dated December 21st of that year, by the title of Viscount Melville, of Melville, in the county of Edinburgh, and Baron Dunira, in the county of Perth. Neither the important services which Lord Melville had rendered his country, nor his own well-known disinterested and generous nature, could protect him from a prosecution-persecution we had nearly said-instituted ostensibly on the grounds of public justice, but which was carried on with a spirit of bitterness, that, to say the least of it, was calculated to create serious doubts as to the purity of the motives of those with whom it originated. On the 8th of April 1805, his lordship, who had previously held for a short time the appointment of First Lord of the Treasury, was accused in the House of Commons, by Mr. Whitbread, of having misapplied or misdirected certain sums of public money, with a view to his own private advantage and emolument. Articles of impeachment having been preferred, his lordship was brought to trial before his Peers in Westminster Hall, on the 29th of April 1806. The result was a triumphant acquittal (12th June following) from all the charges. In truth, the utmost extent of any blame imputable to him was, that he had placed too much confidence in some of the subordinates in his office. After his acquittal, Lord Melville was restored to his place in the Privy Council, from which he had been removed pending his trial, but he did not again take office. From this period he lived chiefly in retirement, participating only occasionally in the debates of the House of Lords. His lordship died very unexpectedly in the house of his nephew, Lord Chief Baron Dundas, in George Square, on the 29th May 181 1 ; hTing come to Edinburgh, it is believed, to attend the funeral of his old friend Lord President Blair, who had died suddenly a few days before, and was at the moment lying in the house adjoining that in which Lord Melville expired. His Lordship was distinguished in his public life by a singular capacity for business, by unwearjed diligence in the discharge of his numerous and important duties, and, as a speaker, by the force and acuteness of his reasoning. In private life his manners were affable and unaffected, his disposition amiable and affectionate. A striking instance of the kindliness of his nature is to be found in the fact, that to the latest period of his life, whenever he came to Edinburgh, he made a point of visiting all the old ladies with whom he had been acquainted in his early days, patiently and perseveringly climbing, for this purpose, some of the most formidable turnpike-stairs in the Old Town. In his person he w-as tall and well-formed, while his countenance was expressive of high intellectual endowments. The city of Edinburgh contains two public monuments to Lord Melville's memory. The one, a marble statue by Chantrey, which stands in the large hall of the Parliament House; the other a handsome column, one hundred and thirty-five feet high, situated in the centre of St. Andrew's Square. This noble pillar is surmounted by a statue of his lordship, fifteen feet in height. Lord Melville married first, Elizabeth, daughter of David Rannie, Esq., of
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Volume 8 Page 150
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