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Towards the close of that period, the Admiral's favour began to fade apace with the colours of his unitorm ; and the battle of Culloden was total annihilation to him. When the news of that victory reached England, a new object presented itself to the public favour; and the honest Admiral, in every sign-post, made way for the more portly figure of the glorious Duke of Cumberland.
The Duke kept possession of the sign-posts a long time. In the beginning of last war, our Ad. miral in the Mediterránean, and our Generals in North America, did nothing that could tend, in the least degree, to move His Royal Highness from his place; but the doubtful battle of Hamellan, fol. lowed by the unfortunate convention of Stade, and the rising glories of the King of Prussia, obliterated the glorious Duke of Cumberland as effectually as His Royal Highness and the battle of Culloden had effaced the figure, the memory, and the renown, of Admiral Vernon.
The Duke was so totally displaced by His Prussian Majesty, that I have some doubts whether he met with fair play. One circumstance, indeed, was much against him; his figure being marked by a hat with the Kevenhuller cock, a military uniform, and a fierce look, a very slight touch of the painter converted him into the King of Prussia; but what crowned the success of his Prussian Majesty, was the title bestowed upon him by the brothers of the brush, The glorious Protestant Hero ; words which added splendor to every sign-post, and which no British subject could read without peculiar sensations of veneration and of thirst. For two years The
glorious Protestant Hero was unrivalled; but the French being beat at Minden upon the 1st of August 1759, by the army under
Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, the King of Prussia began to give place a little to two popular favourites who started at the same time, I mean Prince Ferdinand and the Marquess of Granby. Prince Ferdinand was supported altogether by his good conduct at Minden, and his high reputation over Europe as a general; the Marquess of Granby behaved with spirit and personal courage every where; but his success in the sign-posts of England was much owing to a comparison generally made between him and another British general of higher rank, but who was supposed not to have behaved so well. Perhaps, too, he was a good deal indebted to another cir. cumstance, to wit, the baldness of his head.
The next who figured in the sign post way was the celebrated John Wilkes, Esq. This public honour conferred on him was also an effusion of gratitude; for he was supposed to have written the Earl of Bute, who was both a Scotsman and a favourite, out of power, and to have resisted and explained the illegality of general warrants. Besides, he fought a bloodless duel with Earl Talbot, and was shot in the cause of liberty by Mr. Martin of the treasury. All these were great weights in the scale of popularity ; and though Mr. Wilkes never attained the glory either of Adnjiral Vernon orthe Duke of Cumberland, yet his visage has filled many a sign-post, and much ale and gin has been sold under his auspices.
These are the last whom the people of Great Britain have thought worthy of being so honoured ; and though the thing itself may seem ludicrous, yet the tale has a moral, by no means flattering to the well-wishers of this country. We have been now for five years employed in attempting to reduce our rebellious colonies; we have been two years at war with France, and one with Spain; many troops have
been raisėd, many millions have been expended; expeditions without number have been planned and supported, and the most powerful fleets have been fitted out that the coasts and dock-yards of England ever beheld ; yet, during this long period, with so many opportunities, and so much force, we have not an admiral whose head would sell a single can of Alip, nor a general whose full length would procure custom for an additional pot of porter.
That this expression of public gratitude may be sometimes misplaced, I will by no means deny; but still this tribute paid by the people is more likely, than any other circumstance, to be a sure proof of real merit. The sovereign may be misinformed as to the deservings of those whom he is pleased to bonour; and although, in the present reign, no substantial mark of unmerited favour has been conferred, yet every body remembers the late general Blakeney, who gave up Minorca, made a lord for defending it, merely to support a sinking administration. What reliance can be had on the thanks of parliament as a proof of public merit, may be learned from the answer of a gallant sea-officer, not an admiral, who, upon being told that the house of Commons meant to give him thanks for his intrepid and successful conduct on the coast of France, swore, if they did, he would instantly resign his commission.
Perhaps, at that time, some recent instance of party-injustice and partiality had brought the thanks of parliament into disrepute; but, be that as it may, I shall never think our affairs, either by sea or land, in a prosperous condition, till I see the sign-posts of England filled with fresh figures of generals and admirals. When that happens, it will be a sure proof that our affairs have taken a favourable turn, and that some of our commanders have, at last, acted in
a manner suitable to the troops and treasure with which, from the beginning of this war, they have all been so liberally supplied.
No. 83. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1780.
In a paper published at Edinburgh, it would be improper to enter into any comparison of the writers of this country with those on the other side of the Tweed: but, whatever be the comparative rank of Scottish and English authors, it must surely be allowed, that, of late, there have been writers in this country, upon different subjects, who are possessed of very considerable merit. In one species of writing, however, in works and compositions of humour, there can be no sort of doubt that the English stand perfectly unrivalled by their northern neighbours. The English excel in comedy ; several of their romances are replete with the most humorous representations of life and character, and many of their other works are full of excellent ridicule. But, in Scotland, we have hardly any book which aims at humour, and of the very few which do, still fewer have any degree of merit. Though we have tragedies written by Scots authors, we have no comedy, excepting Ramsey's Gentle Shepherd; and though we have tender novels, we have none of humour excepting those of Smollet, who, from his long residence in England, can hardly be said to have acquired in this country his talent for writing; nor can we, for the same reason, lay a perfect claim to Arbuthnot, who is still a more illustrious exception to my general remark. There must be something in the national genius of the two people which makes this remarkable difference in their writings, though it may be difficult to discover from what cause it arises.
I am inclined to suspect, that there is something in the situation and present government of Scotland, which may, in part, account for this difference in the genius of the two countries. Scotland, before the union of the two kingdoms, was a separate state, with a parliament and constitution of its own. Now the seat of government is removed, and its constitution is involved in that of England. At the time the two nations came to be so intimately connected, its great men were less affluent than those of England, its agriculture was little advanced, and its manufactures were in their infancy. A Scotsman was, therefore, in this situation, obliged to exert every nerve, that he might be able to hold his place.
If preferment, or offices in public life, were his object, he was obliged to remove from home to a city which, though now the metropolis of the united kingdoms, had formerly been to him a sort of foreign capital. If wealth was the object of his pursuit, he could only acquire it at home by great industry and perseverance; and if he found he could not easily succeed in his own country, he repaired to other countries, where he expected to be able to amass a fortune. Hence it has been remarked, that there are more natives of Scotland to be found abroad than of any other country.
People in this situation are not apt to indulge themselves in humour; and few humorous cha. racters will appear. It is only in countries where men wanton in the extravagancies of wealth, that