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is given with the avowed intention of doing him great honour. Although, however, we are pretty sure that no such perfect character ever existed, we admit that much of Lord Macartney's public conduct was highly praiseworthy; and as he is allowed, on all hands, to have been an uncorrupted British governor in the East Indies, we shall bestow upon his history a degree of attention, proportioned rather to the singularity of such a character, than to the importance of any other quality in which he could be said to excel.
George Macartney was the son of an Irish gentleman of respectable fortune, and was born at Lissanoure in the year 1737. As Dr Johnson pronounces it a kind of fraud, not to mention who the tutor was of a man of distinguished talents,' Mr Barrow commemorates, as the preceptor of his hero, a certain Dennis, an Irish parson, in whose house he lived for some years, and had access (of which he freely availed himself) to a library of books upon heraldry and genealogy. The prevailing bias of great minds may frequently be traced to some accidental circumstance in early life ; and we presume, that Mr Barrow will thank us for suggesting, as a speculation worthy of his attention, whether Lord Macartney may not have derived from his early acquaintance with Clarencieux and Rouge Dragon, that propensity to titles, and unshaken love of the court and every thing about it, which constantly formed so conspicuous a part of his character through life. After taking a degree of Master of Arts at Trinity College, Dublin, he came over to London, and entered at the Temple, where he formed an intimate acquaintance with Burke, Dodwell and other eminent men. Having no intention, however, of studying the law, he soon went abroad,“ to collect,' says Mr Barrow, 'whatever information was to be procured as to the physical strength and the resources of the several states of the Continent, and the character and politics of their respective courts; ? in short, he made the grand tour; was much charmed with Switzerland, being him. self of a poetical and musical turn; and saw Voltaire at Ferney, with whose society he was greatly delighted.' He also made the acquaintance of the late Lord Holland, through whose interest he was, soon after his return, appointed envoy to the court of St Petersburgh (which Mr Barrow will always call Petersbourg), and instructed to bring about, if possible, a renewal of the commercial treaty. This was certainly a creditable mission for so young a man (he was then only 27); and the more so, that he was appointed at a moment when, from the recent change in the government, and the elevation of Catherine to the throne, the councils of Russia were observed by other nations with peculiar anxiety. The manner in which he acquitted himself, is just one of the disputed points that Mr Barrow takes all his own way, and, with the
its of Phimself, a to prosent and
candour of modern biographers, leaves us to decide upon a statement of his patron's defence, without any detail of the accusation. At first, no doubt, every thing went on well. Sir George (for he was knighted upon his appointment) made a speech to the Empress on his presentation, which was greatly admired by the court, and which Mr Fox and Mr Burke were good-natured enough to praise for its uncommon neatness ; purporting, that she had all sorts of perfection, and reigned over half the world. He then ingratiated himself, very sedulously, with Mr Panin, the prime mi. nister, and began to propose the treaty. Panin expounded his own views for the extension and improvement of the Russian Empire; the principal of which were a confederacy in the North, founded upon the ruin of the French interest in Sweden, and a war with Turkey. He proposed, that England should accede to both these objects; and especially, that she should furnish money to bribe the Swedish Diet; in return for which, a strict alliance with Russia, and a treaty of commerce, were very much at her service. Upon both of these points, the Russian cabinet was firmly Tesolved that England should accede to their views; that she should both pay for the intrigues at Stockholm, and allow a Turkish war to be a casus fæderis. Sir George saw many objections to the first : but the expence of the thing, evidently the only consideration wor:h noticing, in an economical view, never struck him. He details in a despatch, quoted by Mr Barrow we presume for its political acumen, how, by spending money in Sweden, we should raise the price of her cominodities, and thus perpetually injure our own commerce. Nevertheless, so great was his abhorrence of French influence, fortified, says his biographer, by the dislike of Frenchmen which he had acquired on his travels, and which never left him through life, that he prevailed on his employers to send money from time to time for the purpose of bribing the Diet; and, though no precise statement is given of his negotiations upon the other point, it is abundantly obvious, that Russia did not yield it, because a despatch is printed in the appendix, written just before his departure, and repeatedly alluding to the Turkish clause as a difliculty remaining for his successors. By such means, a commercial treaty was, after much discussion, agreed upon; and Sir George, who speaks of it in terms of extravagant praise, and, indeed, lauds his whole conduct almost as profusely as if he were writing the life of a friend, overjoyed at haying brought about so great an affair, proceeded instantly, and without any instructions, to sign it. Partly on this account, and partly because an article was inserted, reserving to Russia the power of making regulations for the encouragement of her trade and navigation, . en reciprocité de l'acte de Navigation de la Grande
Bretagne,' the English ministry highly disapproved of Sir George's conduct, and refused to ratify the treaty. With some difficulty an alteration of the exceptionable clause was obtained. Our cabinet required, that the Russian commissioners should receive new full powers': but Sir George said, that he found this 'as impossible, as it would be to heave Pelion upon Ossa;' and he once more risked his own safety for the public service,' by signing the amended treaty without instructions. Whether it was, however, that a change had happened in the Foreign office, or that our ministers did not like to have so signing an envoy, the ratification was sent, and at the same time another gentleman was appointed ambassador at Petersburgh. Some clespatches, complaining of this, and of the other treatment he had received, are printed by Mr Barrow. They are very long, very plaintive, and very full of his own importance and praise. He is conscious of having acted in all things intrusted to his care, with the utmost integrity, vigilance, and activity, having exerted every talent which nature and education have given him, for the service of his sovereign and the interest of the public;' he is also “convinced of being able to prove, that no man in his situation could have obtained what he has done.' He intimates, that it is generally believed at Petersburgh, that he will not be permitted to depart, so great is his credit there! but this he prays God earnestly to forbid; and, notwithstanding all this, and a great deal more, he is very angry at any one thinking him dissatisfied. Quite the contrary : he is, like Sir Fretful Plagiary, rather extremely well pleased. (1. 422.) It is amusing enough, to see Mr Barrow eagerly publishing these and other compositions, which he seems to consider as highly creditable to Sir George's powers of composition. It is no doubt most wretched taste to talk in official despatches of Pelion .and Ossa; to compare the Navigation-act to the bow of Ulysses ; or to say, that something is as difficult, as · counting the billows of the Baltic, or numbering the trees in the forest of Onega.' But surely it is somewhat more absurd to admire these passages, when written by another, and force them into a narrative as proofs of ' his eloquence and fancy. . Upon leaving Russia, Sir George returned to England ; and, as the gentleman who had been appointed to succeed him declined the employment, Sir George was named as ambassador ; but, for some reasons which do not appear, he resigned the appointment almost immediately, and very properly gave up at the same time the warrants for plate, equipage, money, &c. which he had got,' receiving' (says his biographer) no advantage of any kind from his appointment, except their Majesties' picture, which he particularly desired he might be allowed to keep,-set
ting thus an example of disinterestedness, perhaps the only one of the kind in the diplomatic history of this country.' So judi. cioas a personage could not fail of pleasing the courtly; and accordingly he was soon after made happy by the hand of Lord Bute's daughter, a seat both in the English and Irish parliament, and the office of chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. His official conduct in this situation, forms the second era of Mr Barrow's narrative, and is, as usual, altogether perfect. . The administration of Lord Townsend, in which he bore so active a share, was distinguished by the very beneficial change then effected in the Irish government, of obliging the Lord Lieutenant to reside, and freeing the country from the dominion of Lords Justices. It is needless to add, that the period was a turbulent and factious one; and the ministers seem to have been fully satisfied with Sir George Macartney's management of the House of Commons. Of his oratory in that assembly, Mr Barrow gives several specimens, which certainly do not prove him to have excelled. We are told, indeed, that he was one of the few who could keep Mr Flood in order « by his manly and spirited retorts;' and of these a sample is given, which Mr Barrow is wone derfully delighted with. Mr Flood had made some allusion to the order of the White Eagle, and its bluetsh ribband, which Sir George had received from the king of Poland, and used of course to wear, and the spirited reply' consisted merely in saying, at great length, that the extraordinary proofs of distinction which adorn his person,' are · badges of honour, not of shame and disgrace.' He, perhaps, showed only his usual prudence, in confining his speeches, much as his biographer admires them, to the Irish senate. In both the Houses of this country, he observed a constant silence; and seems to have discovered here, that ' if more attention were paid to business, and less to speaking, the country would be no sufferer though we should have fewer fine speeches.'
Upon his return from Ireland, he was made a Knight of the Bath, and Governor of Toome Castle, worth 13001. a year ; but well merited by his disinterested conduct in giving up a larger sinecure to accommodate the Lord Lieutenant during his administration. Mr Barrow, indeed, is never satisfied, and complains of this as a scanty reward for such services as Sir George's. But he was soon after made Governor of Grenada, and an Irish Peer. When he reached the island, he found it distracted with religious animosities; and we heartily wish that certain governors would attend to the example which he set in checking and composing these pernicious differences wherever they are to be found. The two parties were Scotch protestants and French papists; and to
such a height had their feuds proceeded, though the enemy was at the gates, that the former being the most rancorous, had ac, tually resolved to demolish all the Catholic churches. Lord Macartney, far from taking part with these wretched bigots, these slave-drivers, who presumed to persecute men for points of doctrine, immediately set about restoring harmony, by his firm and just, yet conciliatory behaviour to all parties; and in a short time succeeded so well, that no distinction of sect, or faction, or even nation, remained, to interrupt the gallant efforts which the island made against the French invasion in 1779. Let the rulers of a certain larger island, menaced with attack from the same quarter, and torn in pieces by religious differences, deign to take example by this Governor of Grenada. He was no patriot ; he heartily despised every thing romantic and speculative ; he cared nothing for rights, except perhaps the privileges of the peerage, and valued the people according to their various ranks and quarterings : he was as complete a courtier as any of the ministers to whom we allude : bred up in office, and running the regular course of promotion like themselves; he was, in fact, made of the very same stuff, with only a little more sense and discretion: he is, therefore, a fair example to hold up for their regard; and they may follow it without any fear of deviating into enlarged, or liberal, or uncommonly enlightened views.
Notwithstanding the greatest efforts of spirit and loyalty on the part of the inhabitants as well as the military, and a disposition of the force, apparently very judicious, they were compelled to yield to immense superiority of numbers, and could not even obtain a capitulation. Count d'Estaing behaved with great harshness, and allowed his men to plunder freely. Lord Macartney lost his plate and other property, with all his papers, and was carried a prisoner to France. He was soon released; and, on his return to England, was employed on a confidential and secret service in Ireland ; after which he went into Parliament, as was his constant practice, during the short intervals of his official employments. He was thus always in sight, and in the way, and was able occasionally to render little services to the party he belonged to; that is to say, the ministry for the time being. This, indeed, was his golden rule—the corner-stone of his political system. We should have discovered it merely from the dates of his vari. ous appointments and promotions; from seeing that one ministry knighted and sent him to Russia, that another gave him the red riband and a sinecure, and employed him in Ireland ; that from their successors he got an Irish peerage and two governments; while a subsequent cabinet, lasting a most auspicious length of time, showered down upon this happy courtling, two embassies,