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From the North 'British Review,
LIFE OF LORD HILL.
side, devours the adventures of the daring voyager, though he has, perhaps, no pui.
pose of ever straying from his own home. The Life of Lord Hill, G. C. B., It has long been a proverbial truth, that Commander of the Forces. By the
no teaching possesses equal force with the Rev. Edwin Sidney, A. M., Author teaching by example; and this is precisely of the Rev. Rowland Hill, and Sir the biographer's method of teaching. The Richard Hill, and Chaplain to the due execution of his task may therefore be Viscount Hill. London, 1845.
a matter of much delicacy, where foibles There are few departments of litera- or vices, having been interwoven dangerture which are more pleasing and instruc- ously with great talents and virtues, require tive than biography. Especially in perus- to be carefully separated from them, and ing the Life of any man who has been to be made the subject of faithful warning gifted with great qualities by nature, and and reproof. But the duty is less arduous, exposed, in his career, to difficulties and as well as more agreeable, when a biogradangers which he has braved and sur- pher is so fortunate, as Mr. Sidney has mounted, we experience an emotion of the been, in the choice of his subject, and liveliest kind. It may be that the distance when his chief aim becomes merely that of is a wide one between the subject of the giving to his countrymen such a delineation biography and the reader, both in rank of an amiable and noble character, that and in habits and education. But all the nation—and especially the generous these adventitious circumstances avail not youth of the nation—may admire as they even to diminish the deep interest of the read, and unconsciously prepare themselves, reader, arising from that strong sympathy when called on, to imitate what they adwhich knits together the whole family of mire. man: and thus it is, that the peaceful We think this has evidently been the civilian hangs in breathless suspense over aim of Mr. Sidney, and that to a very conthe fate of the soldier in battle, though he siderable extent he has succeeded. No himself expects never to see war but in one can read his volume without bedescription; and the student, by his fire-ling impressed at the close of it, with VOL. VI.-No II.
equal respect and admiration for the discovering this disaster, he flew to one of character of Lord Hill. But we cannot the regiments who had been thus betrayed, help feeling, that a narrative, embracing and who were burning to wipe off the disso many scenes of adventure, and so many grace, and with that regiment, supported great achievements, would have yielded by some other troops, he retrieved the more instruction and entertainment to the wavering bartle by a bold and vigorous student of Lord Hill's Life, if a fuller state-charge, headed by himself. All this we ment had been generally given of his indi- learn from Colonel Napier, writing the vidual concern in the chief of these. We general history of the war: and all this, at observe, indeed, that Mr. Sidney, in his least, should have been contained in any preface, appears to refer to official des- biography which was to do full justice to patches, as containing the particulars of Lord Hill
, and to show the British army Lord Hill's military exploits. But these with what intuitive promptness he could do not, in our estimation, supersede the meet those sudden emergencies in which necessity of exhibiting in the life of Lord the indecisicn of a moment might have Hill, at least the more interesting details cost the loss of a battle, and with what of his own personal share in the great cam- varied resources both of prudence and darpaigns in which he played so conspicuous ing he could bear up against apparently a part. Nor do we conceive that Mr. overwhelming dangers, until at length he
. Sidney himself viewed them in that light. compelled reluctant Fortune to his standYet we fear he has trusted more than ard, and snatched a brilliant victory, as it enough to this supplementary reading; or were, out of the very jaws of defeat. else he is unconscious how unsatisfactory Upon this memorable battle there are is the meagre representation which he but a few sentences bestowed by Mr. Sidney gives of some of the most interesting pas- |(p. 267) which intimate, indeed, that Soult sages in the life of Lord Hill, in which his made a desperate attack, and that he was achievements may be said to have been gallantly repulsed by Lord Hill, and suffered catalogued by his biographer, rather than severely; but which tells us little more than narrated.
this. It is from other sources that the ad. Take, for instance, the important battle mirers of Lord Hill must gather those parof the Nive or St. Pierre. The battle was, ticulars which justly entitle Napier to say, by the common consent of both the French in concluding his observations on this and the English armies, one of the most battle, after having narrated not merely bloody of the whole war. It was also one of its result, but Lord Hill's personal share the most glorious to Lord Hill, who fought in achieving the victory, that it was gained and gained it with his own troops alone, by him “after a manner that, in less eventagainst one of the ablest of the French ful times, would have rendered him the commanders, Soult, who vigorously assailed hero of a nation."'* him with a force of nearly thrice his num- We shall make but one other prefatory bers. The events of the day were full of remark. We regret to observe occasional vicissitude, and were repeatedly ominous instances of the bad taste in writing which of disaster, calling forth all Hill's talents, mistakes the turgid for the sublime; and not merely as a skilful general, but also as we must add, that while contemplating the a brave soldier. In any circumstances, it rare modesty and simplicity of Lord Hill's must have been a most arduous task to character, we are the less prepared for sustain the eager attacks of the French, such a style on the part of his biographer. confident in their valor, their numbers, Indeed the indulgence in that style iends and their leader; but, unhappily, the as- to defeat the laudable object with which it tonishing misconduct of two British col- has evidently been adopted, of giving greatonels, in different parts of the field, who er force to noble sentiments. When, therewithdrew their respective troops from ac- fore, it was the praiseworthy purpose of tion at the most critical moment, unex- Mr. Sidney to condemn atheism and infipectedly aggravated the difficulties of Hill's delity in the most forcible terms, he would position to such a degree, that, with an in- have succeeded better by the use of lanferior leader, all would have seemed irre- guage fitted to convey some definite nieancoverably lost. He had stationed himself ing, than he has done in saying that on a mount, in the rear of his troops, from through them "all that is destructive aswhich he could descry the movements of the contending forces. In the instant of * Napier's PENINSULAR WAR, vi., 409.
sumes a giant form of rank luxuriance, ter, that the grateful affection which he poisoning the air and veiling the light, then felt for this amiable lady, continued whence a darkness covers the heavens, an enduring sentiment in after life, and broken only at intervals by the lightning- was repeatedly exhibited after the delicate flash and thunder-peal of anarchy and school-boy had grown up into one of the woe."-p. 21. -p
most renowned warriors of his time. But we hasten from these few prefatory It is interesting to learn that the same observations which we have felt it our love of horticulture, and the same fondness duty to make, and we shall now give a for pet animals, which characterized him short sketch of the life of Lord Hill, ac- in alter life, were already exhibited by him companied with such extracts from the when at school, where his little garden work of Mr. Sidney as appear to be most prospered, and his little favorites throve, interesting
better than those of any of his companions. The late Rowland Lord Viscount Hill, But there is another characteristic of his, was born at the Hall, in the retired village which comes with something like surprise of Prees in Shropshire, on the 11th of upon those who have been in the babit of August, 1772, and was thus the junior by associating the name of Hill so closely three years of Wellington and Napoleon, with the battle-field. both of whom were born in 1769. His family was old and respectable. Among almost feminine. One of the boys happened
“His senejbility,” says Miss Winfield,“ was his ancestors was that Sir Rowland Hill
to cut his finger, and was brought by Rowwho was the first Protestant Lord Mayor of land Hill to my mother to have it dressed; the city of London. That worthy gentle- but her attention was soon drawn from the man appears to have distinguished bis civic wound to Rowland, who had fainted.” career by his charitable munificence, and his shrievalty by a contest with the House And even after his military career had of Commons, who committed him to the commenced, when it happened that a prizeTower for an alleged infringement of their fight between Humphries and Mendoza authority, in over-zealously asserting the was exhibited near the windows of his privileges of the city.
lodgings, such was the effect produced on At the birth of Rowland Hill, and for a him by the brutality of the scene, that he long period afterwards, his father was him- was carried fainting out of his room. So self a younger brother, though he ultimate- little does there require to be in common, ly succeeded to the family baronetcy and between the most heroic courage and the estate. He had sixteen children, of whom coarse and vulgar attribute of insensibility ten were sons. Rowland was the second to the sight of blood and suffering. He son. Two of the sons died in childhood. explained afterwards, in reference to the Most of the others entered the army, and carnage which he had witnessed in war, their father was spared to see five of the that he had still the same feelings as at number, all of them gallant men, survive first, “but in the excitement of battle the dangers of the Peninsular war, and the all individual sensation was lost sight bloody field of Waterloo.
of." Rowland was first at school at Ightfield, In the spring of 1790, his parents called a Shropshire village, and thence, at the his attention to the necessity of choosing a age of seven or eight, he was sent to Ches- profession, and indicated a wish that he ter, where he won the affections of his should adopt that of the law. His reply, school-fellows in a remarkable degree. addressed to his mother, has been preservThis arose not merely from his affectionate ed, in which he states modestly and gently and gentle disposition, but from the gal- his " dislike to the law," and says, "the lantry with which he was always ready to profession which I should like best, and assist any comrade who had got into a hope you and papa will not object to, is scrape, at the same time that he was him- the army.” This called forth a letter from self the least likely to be involved in one his father, full of good sense and kindness, on his own account. At this period of which we wish we could extract for the life he was of delicate constitution, and he benefit of parents who may be thwarted by was thus thrown more than usually upon the a son's disinclination to civil life. immediate care of Mrs. Winfield, wife of Shortly after this an ensigncy in the 38th one of the masters of the school. It is regiment was procured for young Hill, who one of the delightful traits of Hill's charac- also obtained leave of absence to go to
Strasburgh, where he attended a military ment thus raised was the 90th, which was academy, and remained till 1791. In that destined afterwards to be most honorably year he obtained a lieutenantcy, and soon associated with the name of Hill. afterwards returned to England. In 1792 In 1796, Hill, now holding the rank of he was with his regiment, the 53d, in lieutenant-colonel, went with the 90th to Scotland. In 1793 he raised an indepen- Gibraltar, then commanded by his old dent company, chiefly in Shropshire, and friend General O'Hara. Whilst here an obtained a captain's commission. He was incident occurred which not only showed desired to carry this company to Ireland, the confidence of his commander, in inand Mr. Sidney takes occasion to mention trusting him with a mission of importance the following rather curious anecdote in and delicacy, but also the intense ardor connection with his visit to that country with which Colonel Hill devoted his whole
energies to the performance of the duty, “I remember his telling me, that on going whatever it might be, with which he was to the house of an eminent literary gentleman, charged for the time. General O'Hara to pass a night, he was shown to his room be despatched him with a verbal communicafore dinner, and being about to dress, he look- tion for the British ambassador at Lisbon, ed round for the usual washing apparatus, but could see nothing of the sort. Just as he announcing expected war with Spain. So was on the point of making an effort 10 obtain rapidly was this anticipation realized, that, these requisites of the toilet, he heard to his in the words of Colonel Hill himself, “ Begreat surprise and amusement a creaking in fore I could return, hostilities had comthe floor and a trap.door gradually opened, menced, and it was with difficulty I got through which ascended, by a steady invisible back to the garrison of Gibraltar-not only movement, wash-hand-stand, basin, towels, from the declaration of war, but also in hot water, and all other due accompaniments. He used to say he never met with a parallel consequence of the illness occasioned by to this, except in the house of a gentleman great exertion to accomplish the duty I was who had a railroad made from his kitchen to employed on for my respected general." his dining-room, to send in the dishes quick | The same spirit which prompted Hill, in and hot."
the discharge of a most unostentatious
duty, to sacrifice health itself, in order to This latter sentence points out a new accomplish his mission, also animated him field of utility for railroads, and one which, in the camp, on the march, or in the battlewe will venture to say, has never yet been field, and gives the true key to the secret conjectured even by Mr. Stephenson him- of the remarkable success which afterwards self.
so often crowned his enterprises. At the siege of Toulon, Captain Hill In 1800 he was raised to the rank of had repeated opportunities of distinguish colonel, and, with the 90th, he formed part ing himself, which he embraced and im- of the troops who were employed under proved. On one of these occasions he Abercromby in the expedition to Egypt. made a very narrow escape. Having as- During a rendezvous of the troops at Gibcended a tree for the purpose of observing raltar, Colonel Hill, being indisposed, was the movements of the enemy, General forbidden to eat any thing but fresh meat. O'Hara, on whom he was in attendance, And he used to mention afterwards, that had occasion to call him down. His place the price of such meat was at that time so was taken by his brother aide-de-camp, excessively enhanced, that he was obliged Captain Snow, who was immediately shot to give £3, 12s. sterling for a turkey, and in the tree and mortally wounded. Hill £1, Is. for a fowl. An invalid's impahimself was slightly wounded in the right tience to get well could scarcely fail to be hand, and O'Hara was wounded and made stimulated by the cost of a diet like this. prisoner.
But a still more remarkable circumstance, It was at Toulon that Hill became ac- in connexion with diet, is mentioned as quainted with the celebrated Thomas Gra- having occurred during this expedition. ham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, who serv- For it appears that, in consequence of ed there as a volunteer, and laid the foun- some freak, apparently by way of burlesque dation of his future renown. In the follow- on the deficiency of provisions, " a pair of ing year, 1794, Graham raised a regiment boots were dressed, boiled, and roasted of infantry, and offered Hill the majority of with lemon, for dinner in the gunroom.” it, on condition of his raising a certain Unfortunately it is not stated how much of quota of men, which he did. The regi- this dish was eaten, or whether the guests