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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, disposal, as President of the Board, he set about accompiishing the great objects he had in view. Among his first proposals was a statistical account of England similar to the one then in progress for Scotland ; but this he was compelled to abandon, from a fear on the part of the Church, that such an exposure of the tithe system as it would necessarily involve, might prove injurious to her interests. All remonstrance was vain-the heads of the Establishment were inexorable, Thus discouraged, he had recourse to county reports-and in this way accomplished partially the object in view. Shortly after the institution of the Board, the following lines-too curious to be omitted-went the round of the newspapers :- “THE FARMER’S CREED. BY SIRJ OHNS INCLAIRB,A RT., President of the Board of Ap‘dture. Let this be held the farmer’s creed : For stock seek out the choicest breed ; In peace and plenty let them feed ; Your land sow with the best of seed ; Let it not dung nor dressing need ; Enclose and drain it with all speed, And you will soon be rich indeed.” Sir John continued President of the Board for a period in all of thirteen years, during which the most active and useful measures were pursued, and much benefit conferred on the country. On the earnest recommendation of the Board, Sir Humphrey Davy was induced to undertake his well-known lectures on Agriculture, in relation to chemistry, by which the light of science was for the first time thrown upon the art of cultivating the soil, Among the numerous individuals patronised and brought forward by the president, were the celebrated road improver, Macadam-and Meikle, the inventor of threshingmachines.’ Deprived of Sir John’s superintendence, the Board gradually declined, and was finally abolished. Although he had not entirely coincided with the foreign policy of the Administration, the call to arms in 1794 was responded to with alacrity by the patriotic Baronet. In an incredibly short space of time he appeared in the field at the head of the “ Rothesay and Caithness Fencibles,” so called in compliment to the Scottish title of the Prince of Wales. The uniform of this body consisted of bonnet, plaid, and trews, from a belief that the latter was The threshing-machine was considerably improved by the late Mr. John Paton, an unassuming but ingenious millwright at Stewarton, in the county of Ayr; and we believe it is to him the country owes the invention of sheet-iron sieves for sifting meal in corn-mills, in place of the handsieve, whereby 80 much manual labour is saved. These, after three years’ experiment, he brought to great perfection, and they are now in general use. Mr. Paton was cut off suddenly in the prime of life, in January 1829, much regretted in the district where his abilities and private worth were well known. His character a8 a pious, exemplary member of society was fully and feelingly adverted to in a sermon preached on the occasion, from these words-“For me to live is Christ, but to die is great gain,” by the clergyman of the parish, the Rev. Charles B, Steven, A.N.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 67 more ancient than the beltid plaid (or kilt) worn by the other Highland regiments. His opinions on this subject he embodied in a pamphlet; and in a song, written by him for the Caithness Fencibles, the idea was not forgotten- “ Let others brag of philibeg, Of kilt, and belted plaid, Whilst we the ancient trews will wear In which our fathers bled.” A few years after the Fencibles were embodied, Sir John raised another corps for more extended service. This regiment, at first six hundred, and afterwards one thousand strong, was called the ‘‘ Caithness Highlanders,” and served in Ireland in suppressing the Rebellion.‘ During the volunteer period, he commanded the Camp at Aberdeen, and as usual on every subject that engrossed his attention, he published several pamphlets on military matters. One of his essays was entitled “ Cursory Observations on the Military System of Great Britain,” in which the tactics of Napoleon were investigated, and improvements in the British system suggested. Sir John had no seat in Parliament from 1794 till 1797, when he was returned through the interest of the Prince of Wales, for Petersfield, in Hampi shire. The treasury was then exhausted, while its demands were increasing, and barriers almost insurmountable appeared in the way of negotiating a new loan. In this dilemma Pitt had recourse to his advice, and the result was the scheme known by the name of the “ Loyalty Loan ” the germ of several subsequent financial measures. So long as war seemed unavoidable, the Baronet gave his support unhesitatingly to the ministry; but at length, conceiving that peace was practicable, from the disposition of the French Directory, he readily entered into the scheme of a new administration, attempted in 1798 under the Earl of Moira. This, however, came to nothing; and, throughout the remaining years of Pitt’s retention of power, he took a lively interest in all the financial measures of Government, and stood forward almost alone as the champion of economy and retrenchment. When the Union with Ireland was in progress, he made a bold but unsuccessful effort to have the number of Scottish representatives au,pented to the amount since accomplished by the Reform Bill. When party changes had settled down after the reign of “AI1 the Talents,” convinced from the conduct of the First Consul-who had abolished all aemblance of deliberative government in France-that safety only consisted in the vigorous prosecution of the war, Sir John entered warmly into the measures of Government ; and, during the Premiership of Perceval, had the honour of being sworn a member of his Majesty’s Privy Council, Much, however, as he admired the general capacity of that minister, he sincerely regretted the coun- When the expedition to Egypt waa undertaken, s considerable body of the Caithness Fenciblles One of them, named Siclair, was the soIdier of the 42d For this service Si volunteered into regimeni of the line. regiment who took an eagle from the Invincibles at the battle of AIexandria. John procured him promotion.
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