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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


62 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. panied by his brother, then in bad health, and who died on the journey. On his return he married Sarah, daughter of Alexander Maitland, Esq. of Stoke Newington, near London, a gentleman of Scottish extraction. The lady was heiress of a considerable fortune, and had many suitors; but her choice was influenced inadvertently by a rival, who, having just returned fyom an excursion in the Highlands, unfortunately for himself related the feat which had been performed at the hill of Ben Chei1t.I After marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair took up their residence at Thurso, where his attention was chiefly occupied for a short time with a work on the Sabbath, but which, by the advice of Dr. Adam Smith, was never published. The friendship of this eminent philosopher he had early obtained, and to this circumstance he probably owed his taste for the study of political economy. Among the first of Mr. Sinclair‘s literary productions was an essay entitled ‘‘ Observations on the Scottish Dialect,” the object of which, while it afforded one of the fullest collections of what are called “ Scotticisms,” was to facilitate the acquisition of a purer style of English among his countrymen. A deficiency in this respect was then considered a formidable barrier to the success of a Rorth Briton in the capital. The essay was well received, not only as an ingenious, but useful and amusing production. During its progress he had the honour of forming the acquaintance of the great English lexicographer, to whom he was introduced by Boswell. The Parliamentary career of Mr, Sinclair began in 1780, having been chosen, at the general election, M.P. for Caithness. The prospects of the country were then extremely gloomy. The American war had proved ruinous-the ministry were unpopular, and a pdwerful opposition existed in the Commons. Not coinciding with the alarmists, whose views he conceived to be anti-national and violent, he at first gave his support to the cabinet of Lord North, with whom he was for some time on the most friendly terms. The first of Mr. Sinclair’s political pamphlets appeared in 1782, entitled, “Thoughts on the Naval Strength of Great Britain,” and was intended to dispel the gloom into which the nation had been thrown by the desertion of her ancient allies the Dutch, and the formidable aspect of the marine of France. This publication was peculiarly well-timed, and the victory of Admiral Rodney over De Grasse, on the 12th April, happening a few days afterwards, the author was highly complimented from all quarters for his sagacity, and the solidity of the opinions he had advanced. This pamphlet he followed up by another Previous to Sir John’s tour to the Continent he had entered into a matrimonial negotiation with Miss Maitland. His proposal was accepted; the marriage contract drawn up; and nothing more required than to name the day : but Mrs. Maitland felt insuperable repugnance to the removal of her daughter from her own neighbourhood, and insisted on a promise from her future son-in-law, that he would reside permanently in England. To this condition public spirit withheld him from consenting ; and tu he now considered the engagement brokeu off, he made his excursion to the Continent On his return, however, he learnt, with equal surprive and satisfaction, that Miss Maitland did not approve, BS he had supposed, of the arbitrary stipulation made by her mother. He intimated his readiness to renew his addresses-a favourable answer waa returned, and the maniage was celebrated on the 26th March 1776.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 63 regarding the management and improvement of the navy. Previous to the’ resignation of Lord North, owing to various causes, among which was the insincerity of the Cabinet on the subject of peace, Mr. Sinclair had become so sensible of the necessity of a change, that he was a principal promoter of the St. Alban’s Club, whose deliberations led to the formation of the Coalition ,Ministry. - In the parliamentary histov of this year, an instance of watchful attention to his country falls to be recorded. Owing to a very unpropitious season, a general failure of the crops throughout the northern counties had occurred, and the people were reduced to severe distress. By the exertion of Mr. Sinclair a grant of ;ElS,OOO was obtained from Government, by which the inhabitants of fifteen counties were preserved from starvation. Another measure gratifying to Scotland, obtained in 1782, and in which Mr. Sinclair deeply interested himself, was the repeal of the act prohibiting the use of the national garb. On his next visit to Caithness, attired in the full Highland costume, he had left his carriage, and was enjoying a ramble on foot, followed bya crowd of natives, one of whom, in his simplicity, assured him that if he was (‘ come in the good old cause, there were a hundred gude men ready to join him within the sound 0’ the Bell 0’ Logierait !” After the accession of the Shelburne Ministry, and when overtures for peace came to be entertained, much discussion ensued on the state of the national finances. In the opinion of Mr. Sinclair, very mistaken notions were entertained and promulgated on the subject, both in and out of Parliament, tending to injure Britain in the estimation of her opponents. At this juncture, he came forward with a pamphlet (‘ On the State of our Finances,” which took a comprehensive, accurate, and well-founded view of the resources of the country. This was succeeded by another, containing a plan for the re-establishment of public credit. These speculations give rise to a more extended and laborious production, published in 1784, his “History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire” -2 vols. 4to. This work at once established the reputation of its author as a financier and economist. It was r’eceived with the highest encomiums abroad 8s well as in England, and passed through several editions. On the dissolution of Parliament in 1784, in consequence of the system of alternate representation, and the unexpected opposition of Mr. Fox as a candidate, occasioned by the Westminster scrutiny, Mr. Sinclair lost his seat for the northern burghs. He had, however, secured his return for Lostwithiel, in Cornwall, and took his seat accordingly. Some members of the corporation visiting London, embraced the opportunity of waiting on their member. After expressing their satisfaction in complimentary terms, one of them, contemplating the tall figure of Mr. Sinclair, observed that they were glad to be able to look up to their representative. “I assure you,” answered Mr. Sinclair, ($1 never shall look down on my constituency.” By the death of Mrs. Sinclair, in 1785, he was so deeply affected as to propose abandoning public life altogether. In order to divert his attention, he set
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