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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 25 CLXXX. THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF ADDRESSIXG THE EDINBURGH SPEARMEN. THIS scene, with Duddingston Househis lordship's residencein the distance, refers to what has been already related in our notice of Mr. Bennet, Lieut.- Colonel Commandant of the battalion of Spearmen. The appointment of the Earl to the Command in Scotland gave a new impulse to the warlike spirit of the volunteers. The following graphic sketch of that stirring era occurs in '' Lockhart's Life of Scott :I' " Edinburgh Was converted into B camp : independently of a large garrison of regular troops, nearly ten thousand Fencibles and Volunteen were almost constantly under arms. The lawyer wore his uniform under his gown; the shopkeeper measured out his wares in scarlet; in short, the citizens of all classes made more use for several months of the military than of any other dress ; and the new Commander-in-Chief consulted equally his own gratification and theirs by devising a succession of manceumes, which presented a vivid image of the art of war, conducted on a large and scientific scale. In the sham battles and sham sieges of 1805, Craigmillar, Preston, Gilmerton, the Crosscauseway, and other formidable positions in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, were the scenes of many a dashing assault and resolute defence; and, occasionally, the spirits of the mock-combatants- English and Scotch, or Lowland and Highland-became so much excited that there was some difficulty in preventing the rough mockery of warfare from passing into its realities. The Highlanders, in particular, were very hard to be dealt with; and once, at least, Lord Moira was forced to alter, at the eleventh hour, his programme of battle, because a battalion of kilted Fencibles could not, or would not, understand that it was their duty to be beat." At one of the King's birth-day assemblages, which were then numerously attended in the Parliament House, on the health of the Commander-in-Chief being given, Lord Moira addressed the meeting, congratulating them on the spirit and unanimity which pervaded the country, and concluded by proposing the following toast :-" May that man never enjoy the land 0' cakes, who is not willing to shed his blood in defence of it." During his stay at Edinburgh, his lordship was highly popular ; and much gaitp prevailed. The following notice of one of the entertainments we find in a journal of the day :- " On Friday evening (June 14, 1805) the Countess of Loudon and Afoiral gave a grand fite at Duddingston House, to above three hundred of the nobility and gentry in and about the cityamong whom were, the Duke of Buccleuch, Earl of Errol, Earl of Dalhousie, Earl of Roden, Lord Elcho, Count Piper, Sir John Stuart, Sir William Forbes, Sir Alexander Pumes, Sir James Hall, Countess of Errol, Countess Dowager of Dalhousie, Lady Charlotte Campbell, Lady Elizabeth Rawdon, Lady Helen Hall, Lady Stuart, Lady Fettes, Admiral Vashon, and a great number of the naval and military gentlemen, most of the judges, etc. The saloon was elegantly fitted up with festoons of flowers, and embellished with an emblematical naval pillar, on which were the namw of Hme, Duncan, St. Vincent, and Nelson. The dancing commenced at ten o'clock, and was The Counted wm the first, north of the Tweed, to introduce those laconic invitation cards, now common enough. Their concise style-"The Countess of London and Moira at home"- astonished and puzzled several of the good folke of Edinburgh to whom they were forwarded. VOL. 11. E
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26 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. continued with great spirit till near two in the morning, when the company sat down to a most elegant supper, in four different rooms, where they were served with a profusion of the best wines, and a most superb dessert. After supper, the dancing recommenced with redoubled vigour, and w a continued till an hour after sunrising.” In 1806, when the Opposition came into power, Lord Moira was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance. In 1810 he was nominated Governor of the Charter-house. The Earl being generally popular, and having zealously exerted himself in favour of the Prince of Wales, when the parliamentary inquiry into his financial embarrassments was going on, he thus stood high in the favour of the Regent. Accordingly, on the assassination of Mr. Percival in 1812, he was empowered by his Royal Highness to form a new Ministry. With this view Lord Grey, Grenville, Erskine, etc., were consulted by his lordship ; but, as is well known, the proposed arrangements came to nothing. Soon after this the Prince Regent conferred the Order of the Garter on the Earl; and in 1813 his lordship was appointed Governor-General and Commander- in-Chief of the forces of British India. He remained nins years in the East ; and during that period brought two important wars to a satisfactory conclusion, and managed affairs with the utmost credit to himself and advantage to the country. As a reward for his services, he was created (on the 7th December 1816) Viscount Loudon, Earl of Rawdon, and Marquis of Hastings, and twice received the thanks of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, as well as ’of both Houses of Parliament. In consequence of ill health the Earl was recalled, at his own desire, in 1822. He returned to England, but without having enriched himself by his long residence in a country wThich had proved a source of wealth to his predecessor. During the summer of 1823, his lordship and family paid a short visit to Loudon Castle,’ their residence in Ayrshire, This affair gave rise to much local speculation at the time. In a small volume of poems, by John Ramsay, Kilmarnock, 1836, the event is celebrated in a poem of some length, entitled “ Hope and Despair ; or, the Loudon Campaign.” In this burlesque effusion the poet satirises his military townsmen without mercy. In a prefatory note he says- “If half that old Fame detailed of the preparations made at Loudon for their entertainment was true, such a slaughter had not taken place since the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. Many went from feelings of respect to the noble veteran ; others, whose sentiments we had an opportunity of knowing, were attracted by somethiug of a very different nature; and some had even promised to use their influence to get their friends and acquaintances introduced to be sharers of the spoil.” It appears that Fame had indeed prodigiously magnified the “preparations made at Loudon ;” and it is on the well-merited disappointment which “the guzzlers” experienced that the humour of the poet hinges. “ Slow murmuring hameward cam’ the squad, Their bellies swamp, their hearts richt sad ; The very Major swore-‘By G-d, And brocht a stain and odium bad, It wa9 a shame, On Hastings’ name.’ “ The drummer raised his plaintive wail, The rocks gave back the doleful tale j Yea, and the sober evening gale That swept alang, Bore far away, o’er hill and dale, The mournful saug.”
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