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in his presence ; and to attempt a jest on those subjects, was to incur his serious reproof and displeasure. He has gone to receive the reward of these virtues too early for a country which will severely feel his loss, for his afflicted family and his sorrowing friends, but not too soon for himself, since it was the unceasing labour of his life to improve to the utmost the large opportunities of benefiting mankind with which his situation invested him. Others of his rank might be more missed in the resorts of splendour and of gaiety frequented by persons of distinction. But the peasant, while he leans on his spade, age sinking to the grave in hopeless indigence, and youth struggling for the means of existence, will long miss the generous and powerful patron, whose aid was never asked in vain when the merit of the petitioner was unquestioned.
FROM THE EDINBURGH WEEKLY JOURNAL, Oct, 27, 1819.
FATE has, during the last twelve months, deprived the Scottish Peerage of some of its noblest names. The three premier Peers, Dukes of Hamilton, Buccleuch, and Lennox, and the Earl of Errol, (eldest of the Scottish Earls,) have been successively removed from the scene. Of these, with the exception of the Duke of Hamilton, there were none whose age prepared their friends for the fatal change. The others were in the prime of life, or little past it; in mature manhood, fitted by experience for council, and not disqualified by age active exertion. To this melancholy list we have now to add Lord Somerville's name, ranking among the most ancient of the Scottish Barons by right of birth, and entitled by every personal quality to the deep and affectionate regrets of his countrymen. The following particulars regarding this lamented nobleman have been communicated to us from good authority.
John, the fifteenth Lord Somerville, succeeded to his uncle in 1796. There were circumstances respecting his family property, which may be linteresting to the general reader as well as the antiquary. The original source of the family was from a bold Baron of Somerville in Normandy, who followed the banner of William the Conqueror to the battle of Hastings. He was rewarded with ample lands, the remnant of which, comprehending Somerville-Aston, in Warwickshire, still considerable, though much dilapidated and encumbered with debt, descended to Somerville the poet, the friend of Shenstone and the author of The Chase, &c. A younger brother of the warrior of Hastings, and who had also fought in that memorable battle, attended the Court of Malcolm Canmore, bearing a falcon on his arm, and had the fortune to become that Prince's Grand Falconer, and to obtain a grant of the lands of Linton in Roxburghshire, for some gallant exploit, which tradition states to have been the slaying of a huge serpent, appealing for the truth of the tale to a very ancient monument, over a door of the parish church, on which there is certainly a beast engaged with an armed knight, though the shape of the animal resembles a wolf, or bear, more than a snake.
The Somervilles rose to eminence in Scotland, then sunk, and then again emerged into conse
quence; so that Lord Somerville's immediate ancestor, who retained a part of the ancient family patrimony, was a man of considerable wealth. At this time Somerville the poet was in distress for ready money, which the Scottish Lord Somerville advanced in sufficient quantity to remove his embarrassments ; in consequence of which, and having no heirs of his own, Mr Somerville settled on the Scottish and ennobled branch of his family, the ancient family estate of Somerville-Aston, in Warwickshire. And thus by a singular contingency, the estates of two families, whose ancestors were brothers during the reign of William the Conqueror, were united in the eighteenth century. Nay, what is yet more extraordinary, the chateau and dependencies of Somerville in Normandy were on sale about 1790, or thereabouts, and were nearly purchased by the subject of this Memoir. But the state of property in France was then becoming much disturbed, in consequence of the approaching revolution ; and a wild report had arisen among the peasantry, that the English desired to make the Duke of York Duke of Normandy, and that the English barons, who had left that country in the suite of William the Conqueror, were to reclaim their estates there. The idea of purchasing the chateau of Somerville was therefore relinquished, otherwise Lord Somerville might have stood in the unique circumstance of representing his Norman, his English, and Scottish ancestor, by possessing some part of the inheritance of each of the three lines.
Soon after his accession to the title, Lord Somerville was elected one of the sixteen representative Peers of Scotland, and sat in two successive Parliaments in that capacity. He was appointed President of the Board of Agriculture, an office which he filled for several years, with much honour to himself and eminent advantages to the objects of that institution. Before Lord Somerville succeeded to his title, he had already made himself remarkable by his zeal in agricultural pursuits, and indeed in every object which could promote the national welfare and general comfort of the people. He was early distinguished by the favour of his Sovereign George III., or rather, if we may use the terms as distinct, by the friendship of that revered Prince.
His Majesty, shortly after Lord Somerville's succession to his title and estates, took an opportunity to let him know that he was not ignorant how his time had been employed. “The pursuits of agriculture,” said the King, “ particularly become an English gentleman, and I wish more of the British nobility displayed the same zeal for public improvement.” Lord Somerville's appoint