Imatges de pÓgina

tirely, Lord St. Vincent was overlooked; but he too well knew the rules of the service to let Sir Sidney slip through his hands. . All his anxiety was respecting the feelings of Nelson. On this subject he thus wrote to Lord Spencer from Gibraltar.

“ An arrogant letter, written by Sir Sidney Smith to Sir William Hamilton, when he joined the squadron forming the blockade off Malta, has wounded Rear-Admiral Nelson to the quick, (as per enclosed, which compels me to put this

) strange man immediately under his lordship’s orders, as the King may be deprived of his (Lord Nelson's) valuable services, as superior to Sir Sidney Smith at all times as he is to ordinary men. I experienced a trait of the presumptuous character of this young man during his short stay at Gibraltar, which I passed over, that it might not appear that I was governed by prejudice in my conduct towards him."

This is a severe sentence passed upon our hero; but we really cannot help thinking that the disclaimer of prejudice, so energetically put forward, was rather premature. The bitterness with which he styled the hero of Acre this young man does not speak highly of the gallant old Earl's utter

freedom from prejudice. We wish, for the sake of his own reputation, that he had not made use of this waspish expression; but it must not be too much dwelt upon, considering the vast merits and the eminent services of the veteran commander.

There was always something peculiar in the manner of Sir Sidney Smith-a peculiarity that, with the malevolent, would admit of a very wide construction :-that it often found a very ungenerous one, is lamentably but too true. Without meaning anything that approaches to disparagement in reference to the manners of Sir Sidney's cotemporary brother officers, we are bound to state that, from his infancy, he had much of the deportment of the courtier in his carriage, and a little of the petit-maitre in his appearance. He had had already, at a very early age, great success – he was ardent in his imagination, and fluent in his speech. These are sometimes dangerous gifts. They are too often great betrayers -leading to a promptitude of action, and a recklessness of expression, that the very sober-minded may often deem an approximation to incipient insanity. We thus find Earl St. Vincent, in his well-disciplined mind, suspicious of Sir Sidney Smith's conduct, and designating him as “ а strange man.” That he appeared, at times,





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strange, is as undoubtedly true as that he sometimes did strange things—but this strangeness led to very glorious consequences.

The good old admiral goes on to remark:

“ I even, in fact, had good reason to be dissatisfied with Sir Sidney Smith, who is stated' to have commenced his command before Alexandria by counteracting the system laid down by his lordship,' and which always,” says Earl St. Vincent, “appeared to me fraught with the most consummate wisdom;" and he adds, “ my only apprehension is, that Sidney Smith, enveloped in the importance of his ambassadorial character, will not attend to the practical part of his military profession.”

May we be permitted to remark, that this borders nearly upon the ungenerous ? Why found an imputation so injurious upon a mere ex parte and unproved statement? But the sequel is the best refutation to this attack. Sir Sidney did not, "enveloped in the importance of his ambassadorial character,” omit “ to attend to

' the practical part of his military profession." Lord Nelson's system must, undoubtedly, have been good, because it was Lord Nelson's; but that Sir Sidney Smith's could not have been bad, we have the best and most popular of all testimonies to prove-success.

Again, Earl St. Vincent, in the following abstract of a letter to Nelson, complains, for the first time, of his health, and cause of dissatisfaction from home.

“ I am not well, and have great cause for dissatisfaction from higher quarters. He (Sir Sidney Smith) has no authority whatever to wear a distinguishing pennant, unless you authorise him, for I certainly shall not. Your lordship will therefore exercise your discretion on this subject, and every other within the limits of your command. I have sent a copy of the orders you have judged expedient to give Sir Sidney Smith (which I highly approve of) to Lord Spencer, with my remarks ; for I foresee that both you and I shall be drawn into a tracasserie about this gentleman, who, having the ear of ministers, and telling his story better than we can, will be more attended to."

We do not like this. It is petulant and womanly. Down with the miserable stripe of bunting in an open and seaman-like manner; if it be an assumption on the part of Sir Sidney, down with it—but let us have no pining at or whining about it. But this, we are sorry to say, appears to us to

be of a piece with the sneer upon his being the gentleman. Do those, who really are gentlemen, ever attempt to convey a taunt by imputing to another the fact that he is a gentleman ? If this be used by the Earl as a term of reproach, what then must he himself have been ?

If it was meant as a sarcasm, it is a sarcasm of a most villanous taste, and decidedly as wanting in point as it is in good-nature.

But then Sir Sidney had “the ear of the minister,” and could tell his own story better than either Earl St. Vincent or Lord Nelson. It is distressing to see two renowned leaders drivelling about this. He could not tell his story better than either the hero of the Nile or of the Cape. When he had a good tale, it told itself well; but, in his despatches, we do not find any very alarming bursts of eloquence. They are decidedly less forcible and elegant than we should expect from such a man.

And shortly after, in another letter, he says

“ I fancy ministers at home disapprove of Sir Sidney Smith's conduct at Constantinople; for, in a confidential letter to me, a remark is made, that our new allies have not much reason to be satisfied with it. The man's head is com

' pletely turned with vanity and self-importance.”

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