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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


68 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. tenance given to the “ Bullion Committee.” On the subject which it involved, Sir John both spoke and published to considerable effect ; and when the motion of Mr. Horner came to be decided, he had the satisfaction of seeing it negatived by a large majority. Sir John’s speech on the bullion question was among the last delivered by him in Parliament. Having become much embarrassed in his private affairs in consequence of his numerous speculations and improvements, in which self-interest had formed no part of his calculations, and by the unsuccessful prosecution of certain claims on the East India Company, he was induced, in 1811, to accept the office of Cashier of the Excise in Scotland, with a salary of 52000 a year. Perhaps the most unpopular measure in which the Baronet engaged was his advocacy of the “ General Enclosure Bill,” The extensive cornmow of England he conceived to be one of the greatest drawbacks to extended cultivation. In a national sense, his views were highly patriotic ; but the people were not easily to be persuaded, where an alienation of their rights was to be the only immediate and obvious consequence. After several attempts, seconded by all the influence of the Agricultural Board, the measure was finally abandoned in 181 2 ; although, by the more expensive process of private bills, the object contemplated by the general bill has been partially carried into effect. For some years after retiring from Parliament, Sir John resided almost constantly in Edinburgh, devoting himself chiefly to literary labours, and superintending the education of his family, in the amusements even of the youngest of whom he took great delight. The number of his pamphlets’ published during these years show how laboriously he laboured in disseminating his opinions on subjects of public interest. In 1814 he removed with his family to Ormly Lodge, near London. Embracing the opportunity afforded by the peace, he next year visited the Continent, to prosecute certain inquiries respecting the prices of grain, and other matters connected with agriculture; and although his stay was abridged by the escape of Napoleon from Elba, he was enabled on his return to communicate, in his “ Hints regarding the Agricultural State of the Netherlands, compared with Great Britain,” a variety of interesting intelligence. When the victory of Waterloo restored peace, he again visited the Continent, and repaired to the field where the great contest had been decided. The result of this tour, in addition to his favourite agricultural inquiries, was a “History of the Campaign,” by Baron Muffling, a Prussian General, with whom he had been acquainted-to which was added an appendix of interesting particulars collected by himself. At Calais, on his return home, Sir John met with Sergeant Ewart,l of the Scots Greys, whose gallantry in capturing A Print of Sergeant Ewart, in which the hero is represented on horseback, at full speed, bearing away the captured colours, was published by Waugh and Innes of this city, and an immense number of copies sold. Ewnrt, who belonged to Ayrshire, on revisiting his native county, not long after the battle of Waterloo, was publicly entertained at the two principal towns-Ayr and Kilmarnock. Notwithstanding the arduous struggle in which he was engaged, and the fact of his
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 69 one of the French eagles was much spoken about. .Through his interest the gallant soldier was promoted to an ensigncy in a veteran corps. In 18 17 Sir John disposed of his villa near London, and returned to Edinburgh, where he afterwards continued permanently to reside, The only other political topic of paramount importance in which he took part was the renewal of the “bullion question.” He opposed Sir Robert Peel’s bill to the utmost ; and in 1526, aided by the pen of Sir Walter Scott, under the signature of Mu- Zuchi i&lagrmtheT, eucceeded in rousing an effectual resistance, in so far as his own country was concerned, to the threatened extinction of the small note circulation. In 1830, the “Scottish Patriot,” then far advanced in years, paid a last visit to his native county. He was received with the most affectionate attention ; and, on his return, his parting with old friends, many of whom accompanied him considerable distances, was in the highest degree affecting. He died at his house in George Street, in December 1835, and was interred on the 30th, in the Royal Chapel of Holyrood. From this rapid sketch of the life of Sir John Sinclair, a very imperfect idea can be formed of the multifarious labours in which he was incessantly engaged, Besides the works already mentioned, he was the author of several other extensive productions, among which may be mentioned the ‘‘ Code of Health and Longevity,” the “ Code of Agriculture,” etc., while his miscellaneous pamplets and papers, on political and other subjects, amount to nearly four hundred? In politics he was decidedly independent. His opinions were invariably the result of accurate information and of deep reflection. As a financier, his knowledge was comprehensive and sound; and his “History of the Revenue of the British Empire ” may be still looked upon as the best ‘authority that can be having killed three of his opponents before he succeeded in carrying off the trophy, he escaped without a wound. He is understood to have attributed much of his success to the superior training of the horse which he rode. This animal, in consequence of his own having taken ill, he procnred only the day before the engagement, and from its small stature, and being entirely unacquainted with its disposition, he felt a corresponding want of confidence on entering the field, The conflict had not long commenced, however, before he became sensible of the superior mettle of hi charger. Of its aptitude in attack and defence he had several striking instances. In the deadly combat maintained in capturing the standard, and at the moment the sabre of one of his opponents was poised with deadly aim, the little animal suddenly reared ; and he not only escaped the blow, but, from the advantage of position, was enabled to cut down his antagonist. For example, ‘‘ Address on the Corn Laws ”--“91an for Rewarding Discoveries for the Benefit of Society”-“On the Means of enabling a Cottager to keep a Cow ’I-“ Culture of Potatoes ’I-“ Sketch of a system of Education ”-“ On the Political State of Europe”-“On pmerving the Dress, the Language, the Music, etc., of the Ancient Inhabitants of Scotland ’I-“ Address to the Mercantile Interest ”-‘‘ On the Distresses of the Times ” (1816)--l‘ Plan for promoting Domestic Colonisation, by Agricultural Improvements (1819) “Address to the Reformers of Great Britain” (1819)--“0n the Causes of our National Diatresses” -“Letter on Mountain Dew”-“Hmts 89 to a Metallic Currency and a Free Trade”-“On the Cure and Prevention of Cholera, Fever,” etc. (1826)-“ Gretna Green Marriages ”-“Thonghts on Catholic Emancipation ”-‘‘ On infant Schools ”-“Plan for enabling Government to reduce Four Millions of Taxes ” (1830)--“ Fingal, a Tragedy, in Five Acta ”-“Hints on the Tithe Question,” etc. etc. Almost no question of any importance escaped his notice. These embrace subjects the most varied.
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