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Arr. I.-1. Life of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch. By
ALEXANDER M. DELAVOYE, Captain 56th Foot (late
90h L.I.). London-Richardson & Co.: 1880. 2. Records of the 90th Regiment (Perthshire Light Infantry).
By ALEXANDER M. DELAVOYE. London: 1880. These volumes contain two very remarkable biographies ;
cach constituting a valuable contribution to history, and full of interest and incident. If their respective titles had been the Adventures of a Scottish Laird ' and the Fortunes of a Scottish Regiment,' the contents would not have belied the description.
One of these volumes is the Life of • Thomas Graham of Balgowan,' better known to this generation as Lord Lynedoch. The second is devoted to a ' History of the 90th Regiment,' which Lord Lynedoch raised in 1794. The story, in both volumes, is told with a simplicity which adds to its interest. In the first, the hero is mainly left to give his own account of his adventures, through his letters and memoranda. The second is composed of the annals of a gallant regiment which had its part in most of the important military events in which our troops were engaged since its embodiment, and which at this day has lost none of its renown. But, unpretending as the biographer's task is, we doubt if Scott in the full vigour of his powers could have produced a tale of fiction more replete with every clement of
A mere outline of the argument or plot of the first of these volumes will indicate at once the dramatic ingredients it contains : and with it, for the present, we are chiefly concerned. It exhibits the life of a Perthshire country gentleman, of fair
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estate and good family, who until he was forty-four years of age had lived on his property, hunted, shot, and farmed like his neighbours, until he was overwhelmed by a sudden blow in the death of his wife, to whom he was devotedly attached. Thenceforth his old haunts and pursuits became distasteful to him : he left his home, and wandered over Europe in search of distraction of thought, until chance brought him to Toulon, when that place was seized by the British troops in 1793. Having as a volunteer exhibited some aptitude for military tactics during the siege which followed, an avidity for a soldier's career sprang up within him. He returned home and raised a regiment at his own charges, in which he held the position of colonel; and the regiment so raised has carried the fame of British arms to the ends of the earth. After waiting for nearly fifteen years for permanent rank in the army, which during that period was withheld from him, he at last obtained it under circumstances full of singular interest; and we read how he subsequently inscribed his name on the roll of Britain's greatest commanders. When the war was over, the veteran survived to enjoy his reputation and honours for thirty years, and died fifty years after he had first gone in search of the career-perhaps the grave-of a soldier.
This far from exhaustive table of contents indicates the remarkable life of a remarkable man: too little known to his countrymen, partly because his strictly military career was short, and partly from his own unassuming nature. But no one can peruse this record, admirably compiled from his own writings, without being impressed by the clear and lucid vigour of his thoughts, and the unaffected simplicity and magnanimity of his nature. He had not an ignoble tinge in his devotion to his country, and admitted no rival to share it. Few heroes have come out so well from the ordeal of their own recorded words. Though simple, he was a thorough man of the world, familiar with the languages and the best circles of Europe; but the dignified abnegation of himself, combined with a manly tenacity of what he felt to be becoming, which we find in these letters, denote true loftiness of mind. While they show him firm in his resolve, and rapid in conception and action, they have the freshness and unconsciousness of a well-conditioned schoolboy. Add to this a bold, undaunted spirit, which brought him through dangers which few would have surmounted, or perhaps encountered, and we recognise the lineaments of a leader of men. But this is not a mere romance, nor a mere biography. It is a history which embraces the most exciting period, and some of the most exciting events,
through which Europe ever passed. In some of these Graham was only a looker on, and acts the part of a narrator of considerable power; in many of them he bore an active part; and it may thus not be uninteresting to our readers if we fill up in some detail the brief outline we have given, and follow 'out the narrative before us in some of its most striking features.
Thomas Graham of Balgowan was born in the year 1748 : he died in the year 1843. He was thus a year older than Charles Fox, had seen the commencement of the American War of Independence, and outlived the passing of the first Reform Bill by eleven years. An eventful life, even if it had not been marked by a personal share in some of the great occurrences it covered. His father, Thomas Graham of Balgowan, was a well-descended landed proprietor in Perthshire who married Lady Christian Hope, sister of the Earl of Hopetoun. Thomas was the third of his sons, the two eldest having died early. His education was commenced under a private tutor, who himself was destined to some literary fame, and a tomb in Westminster Abbey. He was the well-known James Macpherson, the supposed translator of Ossian. His instructions do not seem to have infused into his pupil much of the poetic temperament; but Graham's command of easy and powerful language, and his high, well-balanced sense of rectitude and honour, show that his early studies and the formation of his character had been committed to conscientious and able hands.
He entered Oxford as a gentleman commoner of Christchurch in 1766.
His father died in the following year, leaving him a competent estate, but placing him until he came of age under the guardianship of his uncle, Lord Hopetoun. When he left Oxford in 1768 he was advised by Lord Kinnoul (a very kindly and sensible letter from whom is printed in this collection) to spend some time in travelling on the Continent. He followed this advice, and thereby acquired an advantage which afterwards was in great measure instrumental in raising him to distinction. He spent several years abroad, and became a perfect master of French and German: an attainment which during the troubled condition of Europe in subsequent years was of rare occurrence even in well-born circles. Tall and large of limb and powerful of frame, he returned to take possession of his paternal estate in 1772. He was addicted to all sorts of athletic sports, an admirable horseman and a keen sportsman, and capable of enduring the severest exercise, exposure, and fatigue. In the same year, at the age of twenty-four, he contested the county of Perth in the Whig interest against Colonel Murray, a brother of the Duke
of Athol, but without success on this occasion. But his country life and his Whig politics were both destined largely to colour his after career, in a direction little expected at the time.
On December 26, 1774, Mr. Graham married the Hon. Mary Cathcart, second daughter of Lord Cathcart. The light in which the young Laird of Balgowan was regarded in the Perthshire circles may be judged of by a sentence from a letter of his father-in-law, Lord Cathcart. Mary,' he wrote, • has married Thomas Graham of Balgowan, the man of her * heart, and a peer among princes.' Of the bride our principal knowledge is derived from a masterpiece of Gainsborough, which now hangs in the Scottish National Gallery, the grace and beauty of which shows how charming a subject he had for his pencil. She is described as very accomplished, and as having mixed much in continental society with her father, who had been Ambassador at the Court of Russia.
Of events which occurred during Graham's married life we have few or no details in this volume. For eighteen years of unbroken happiness he seems to have followed his old country pursuits. Even his political aspirations remained dormant, though the Duke of Athol had married Mrs. Graham's sister, and the brothers-in-law were on the best of terms. But in 1792 the blow fell which was to change the whole current of his life. Mrs. Graham, whose health had been for some time precarious, had been residing at Nice during the autumn and winter of 1791. A sea voyage had been recommended by the medical advisers; and while the vessel was anchored near Hyères, Mrs. Graham died on July 26, 1792. The shock to Mr. Graham was aggravated by the rough and unfeeling treatment which the coffin containing her remains met with from the French Custom House authorities. The calamity to the bereaved husband was irreparable. He broke up his establishment at Balgowan, nor did he resume it for twenty years. The couple had no family, and in the absence of any ties at home he began the aimless wanderings which were to terminate so remarkably. It is said that the portrait by Gainsborough, which we have mentioned, was nailed up in a wooden packing case, and never saw the light again for fifty years.* The death of Mrs. Graham created much sympathy in a wide circle of relations and friends. A letter is quoted in this collection from Queen Charlotte to
* Mrs. Graham was twice painted by Gainsborough, at first in cabinet size; and the artist was so much pleased with his sitter that at his own request the larger portrait was taken.
Lady Cathcart, written on the occasion, in which the Queen expresses her sympathy in very simple and feeling terms, which do honour to her kindness of heart.
Mr. Graham spent the autumn of 1792 with his friends Lord and Lady Stormont at Cowes, and then proceeded to hunting quarters at Brooksby; but finding his solitude insupportable, he obtained, through General O'Hara, a passage in one of the Government ships to Gibraltar, where the fleet, under Lord Hood, was expected to assemble, in the prospect of active hostilities. During his residence in France, in the earlier part of 1792, he had carefully observed the temper of the people and their rulers. Events were gradually hastening on to that crisis of European conflict which they rapidly reached. Graham was, as we have seen, a Whig in politics, but experience and reflection had not led him to the same practical conclusions in point of policy as those adopted by Fox and Grey. In a very calm and well-expressed memorandum of his own he has recorded the general tenor and grounds of his views. Speaking of his voyage to Gibraltar in the spring of 1793, he says:
During the voyage I had time to consider of my future plans, after satisfying my curiosity about Gibraltar. I had, in unison with the sentiments of those political friends to whose judgment and opinion in general I was sincerely attached, deprecated the hostile interference of Britain in the internal affairs of France; but what I had seen in my journey through that country the preceding year, and the apparent determination of the rulers to force their democratic opinions on every other European Government, made me consider that war was not only inevitable, but was just and necessary for the defence of our Constitution. I therefore heard with great satisfaction that a powerful fleet was immediately to rendezvous at Gibraltar, and proceed up the Mediterranean under the command of Lord Hood.'
The policy of the war with France in 1793 is a worn-out question, relegated to debating societies, and not worth solving now, so utterly have the conditions and relations of civilised intercourse between nations altered. It is vain, of course, to
, speculate, after the event, on what might have been. As far as the results to this country can be reckoned up, they were altogether calamitous. We had no concern with the form of government the people of France preferred, and the European concert to impose a government on France only aggrandised her to a pitch she never otherwise could have attained. We spent millions of the money of this country and the lives of thousands of her sons, and placed the nation in the greatest peril she had seen since the Armada, with no other result than