Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


405 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. myself to their notice. In forming my list for voting at the general election, I consider myself bound, in honour and gratitude, to give my support to those lords who have uniformly befriended me, in preference to new candidates who may now come forward, and from whom I have hitherto received no countenance. ’ Should the arrangement I may ultimately make for the disposal of my votes not accord with your lordship’s wishes, I trust you will do me the justice to believe that I am not actuated by factious motives, nor by any want of respect for your lordship.-I have the honour to be, my dear Lord, your lordship’s most obedient humble servant, NAPIER. Whitehall, 27th Octo6er 1806. “ The Right Hon. EARLS PENCERet,c . etc. etc.” I‘ MY DEAR LORD-I have had the honour of your letter of the 21st instant, and am much concerned at the contents of it, as I ani very apprehensive that the new candidates who intend to offer themselves for the Representation of the Scotch Peerage, and are supporters of Government, will not be disposed to give their support unless they can expect support in return.-I have the honour to be, my dear Lord, your lordship’s very obedient humble servant, SPENCER. “Edinhcryh, 30th October 1806. “LORD NAPIER.” “ MY DEAR LORD-I have this moment had the honour of receiving your lordship’s letter of the 27th instant. I certainly cannot expect the votes of candidates from whom I may withhold my support ; but I trust that such as I may be ready to change votes with will be equally inclined to do so with me.-I have the honour to be, my dear Lord, your lordship’s most obedient humble servant, NAPIER. “ The Right Hon. EARLS PERCERet,d . etc. etc.” Lord Napier was not undersized, though he appears rather diminutive between his gigantic companions in the Print; and a certain air of nobility set off a figure of goodly proportions. He was remarkable for an eagle-eye ; and, we must add an eagle-noee, which Kay has rendered perhaps rather prominent, by placing the other features too much in abeyance ; yet the characteristic expression of the portrait is so marked as not to be mistaken. His lordship is represented in his uniform as Colonel of the Hopetoun Fencibles. When not in regimentals he generally dressed plainly, but with the nicest attention to propriety, although in his day the garb of gentlemen was of the most gaudy descriptionconsisting very frequently of a crimson or purple coat, green plush vest, black breeches, and white stockings. The anecdote related in Lockhart’s Li,fe of 8cott, as illustrative of Lord Napier’s finical taste, is altogether apocryphal.’ No one who knew his lordship could “Lord and Lady Napier had arrived at Castlemilk (in Lanarkshire), with the intentionof staying a week ; but next morning it was announced that a circumstance had occurred which rendered it indispensable for them to return without delay to their own seat in Selkirkshire. It was impossible for Lady Stewart to extract any further explanation at the moment, but it turned out afterwards that Lord Napier’s valet had committed the grievous mistake of packing up a set of neckcloths which did not correspond, in point of date, with the shirts they accompanied ! ” [That the above ridiculous story was current as a jest, in some circles, is true, but it had no foundation in fact. Our informant, whose authority is not to be doubted, is “perfecUy positive Lord and Lady Napier never were at Castlemilk in their lives, and almost as positive they were nut acquainted with Lady Stewart.” The circumstance alluded to, but not fully explained, by Mr. Lockhart, of Lord Napier having been the person who induced Sir Walter Scott to reside for some period of the year within the bounds of his sheriffdom of Selkirkshire, was alike honourable to the Lord-Lieutenant, and to the illustrious Sheriff himself, who, as his biographer frankly admits, feeling that Lord Napier was clearly in the right, cheerfully adopted the suggestion, and planted his immortal staff where it became the pmsidium at once, and the duke decus of the Forest ; and Lord Napier may be pardoned for having been, in those times of threatened invasion, BS enthusiastic in his duties of Lord-Lieutenant as was the Sheriff in those of a volunteer cavalry officer.]
Volume 8 Page 567
  Enlarge Enlarge  
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 409 believe him guilty of such an absurdity; for, with all his preciseness in matters of duty, and his sensitive notions of etiquette, he entertained a much greater dread of rendering himself unbecomingly conspicuous, than of any ridicule that could possibly arise from an oversight in the punctilio of dress. He was particularly kind and attentive to such young persons as appeared bashful ; and, that they might feel more at ease, lost no opportunity of engaging them in conversation. Lord Napier married Maria-Margaret, eldest daughter of Lieut.-General Sir William Clavering, K.B. By this marriage his lordship had nine children. He died in 1823: and was succeeded by his eldest son, William-John eighth Lord Napierl-a spirited and benevolent nobleman, long eminent in the south of Scotland as an improver in store-farming, and as a benefactor of the Forest. He died in his forty-eighth year, at Macao, in China, October 11, 1834, of a lingering fever, brought on by anxiety in the performance of a high official duty, as Chief Superintendent of British Trade in that empire, and which was increased by the harsh treatment he received from the Chinese government. In company his lordship was far from reserved, The figure to the right of Lord Napier is an excellent likeness of old MAJOR PILMER. He was a native of Fifeshire, and commenced his military life as an ensign in the 21st Regiment of Foot. He had seen a great deal of service, and served along with Lord Napier during the war in America, where he was wounded. He retired from the army on the half-pay of a Captain, and resided in the neighbourhood of Cupar-Fife, where he had at one period a small estate; but which, it is believed, was entirely dissipated while he was abroad, His appointment in the Hopetoun Fencibles, by which his half-pay was relinquished for the full pay of a Major, was obtained through the influence of Lord Napier. There was something rather remarkable in the appearance of Old Pilmer. His regimentals were none of the newest, and his boots-which the artist has hit off with great precision-were of a curious and antique description. They had been so often mended and re-mended, that it is questionable whether, like Sir John Cutler's stockings, any portion of the original remained, While stationed at Aberdeen, along with the Rutland Fencible Cavalry, the officers of that corps used to amuse themselves occasionally at the expense of Major Pilmer and his boots j and Pilmer at last became a standard and expressive appellation amongst them. " You have got your PiZmers on to-day ! " was a common remark to any one whose boots were a little the worse for wear. The Major, who was L worthy old soldier, relished his bottle and a joke at table, and did not feel at all out of humour at the allusions to his Pilrners. The third figure represents MAJOR CLARKSON, another veteran. He at one time possessed the estate of Blackburn, in Linlithgowshire. He entered 1 Captain Charles Napier, R.N., who lately distinguished himself in the service of the Queen of 3 6 Portugal, and the late Lord Napier were cousins.
Volume 8 Page 568
  Enlarge Enlarge