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JOHN ABERCROMBY.-PATRICK ABERCROMBY.
Mirror; and who afterwards gave to the world another work of a similar kind, the Lounger, published in 1785 and 1786. To these papers he was a very valuable contributor, being the author of ten papers in the Mirror, and nine in the Lounger. His papers are distinguished by an ease and gentlemanlike turn of expression, by a delicate and polished irony, by a strain of manly, honourable, and virtuous sentiment." Mackenzie states that they are also characterized by an unaffected tenderness, which he had displayed even in his speeches as a barrister, and adduces the following specimen :-"There is one circumstance," says Mr Abercromby, in debating whether long or short life be most desirable, "which with me is alone sufficient to decide the question. If there be anything that can compensate the unavoidable evils with which this life is attended, and the numberless calamities to which mankind are subject, it is the pleasure arising from the society of those we love and esteem. Friendship is the cordial of life. Without it, who would wish to exist an hour? But every one who arrives at extreme old age, must make his account with surviving the greater part, perhaps the whole, of his friends. He must see them fall from him by degrees, while he is left alone, single and unsupported, like a leafless trunk, exposed to every storm, and shrinking from every blast." Such was not destined to be the fate of Lord Abercromby, who, after exemplifying almost every virtue, and acting for some years in a public situation with the undivided applause of the world, was cut off by a pulmonary complaint, at Falmouth, whither he had gone for the sake of his health, on the 17th of November, 1795.
ABERCROMBY, JOHN, the author of several esteemed works on gardening, was the son of a respectable gardener near Edinburgh, where he was born about the year 1726. Having been bred by his father to his own profession, he removed to London at the early age of eighteen, and became a workman in the gardens attached to the royal palaces. Here he distinguished himself so much by his taste in laying out grounds, that he was encouraged to write upon the subject. His first work, however, in order to give it greater weight, was published under the name of a then more eminent horticulturist, Mr Mawe, gardener to the Duke of Leeds, under the title of Mawe's Gardeners' Calendar. It soon rose into notice, and still maintains its place. The editor of a recent edition of this work says, "The general principles of gardening seem to be as correctly ascertained and clearly described by this author, as by any that have succeeded him." And further, "The style of Abercromby, though somewhat inelegant, and in some instances prolix, yet appears, upon the whole, to be fully as concise, and at least as correct and intelligible, as that of some of the more modern, and less original, of his successors." Abercromby afterwards published, under his own name, The Universal Dictionary of Gardening and Botany, in 4to.; which was followed, in succession, by the Gardeners' Dictionary, the Gardeners' Daily Assistant, the Gardeners' Vade Mecum, the Kitchen Gardener and Hot-bed Forcer, the Hot-house Gardener, and numerous other works, most of which attained to popularity. Abercromby, after a useful and virtuous life, died at London in 1806, aged about eighty years.
ABERCROMBY, PATRICK, historian, was the third son of Alexander Abercromby of Fetterneir, in Aberdeenshire, a branch of the house of Birkenbog in Banffshire, which again derived its descent from Abercromby of Abercromby
1 Nos. 4, 9, 18, 45, 51, 57, 65, 68, 87, 90, 104. 2 Nos. 3, 10, 14, 23, 30, 47, 74, 81, 91.
in Fife. Francis, the eldest son of Abercromby of Fetterneir, was created Lord Glassford in 1685; but as the patent, by an extraordinary restriction, was limited to his own life only, the title did not descend to his children. Patrick Abercromby was born at Forfar in 1656, and was educated at the university of St. Andrews, where he took the degree of Doctor in Medicine in 1685. His family being eminently loyal, the young physician is said to have changed his religion, to please James VII., who consequently made him one of the physicians of the court. A proceeding so adverse to all propriety, however loyal, and accordant with the temper of the times, was speedily and severely punished; for, at the Revolution, Abercromby was deprived of his appointment. For some years after he appears to have lived abroad; but he returned to Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne, and devoted himself to the study of national antiquities. In 1707, he published a translation of M. Beauge's very rare book, L'Histoire de la Guerre d'Ecosse, 1556, under the title of, The History of the Campagnes 1548 and 1549; being an exact account of the Martial Expeditions performed in those days by the Scots and French on the one hand, and the English and their foreign auxiliaries on the other: done in French by Mons. Beauge, a French gentleman; with an introductory preface by the Translator. In the preface, the ancient alliance between Scotland and France is strenuously asserted. This curious French work, which gives a complete account of the war carried on by the Popish government of Cardinal Beatoun, aided by the French, against the English under Protector Somerset, was reprinted in the original by Mr Smythe of Methven for the Bannatyne Club, 1829, along with a preface, giving an account of Abercromby's translation. The great work of Dr Abercromby is in two volumes, folio, entitled, The Martial Achievements of the Scots Nation. He tells us in the preface, that, not venturing to write regular history or biography, he had resolved to relate the deeds of all the great men of his country, in a less ambitious strain, and with a more minute attention to small facts, than is compatible with those styles of composition. He also, with great modesty, apologises for his manner of writing, by saying, "When my reader is told that 'twas my fate to spend most part of my youth in foreign countries, to have but viewed, en passant, the south part of Britain, and to have been conversant with Roman and French, rather than with English authors, he will not expect from me those modish turns of phrase, nor that exact propriety of words, Scotsmen, by reason of their distance from the fountain of custom, so seldom attain to." The first volume of the Martial Achievements was published, in 1711, by Mr Robert Freebairn, and shows a respectable list of subscribers. About one-half of it is occupied by the early fabulous history of Scotland, in which the author, like almost all men of his time, and especially the Jacobites, was a devout believer. It closes with the end of the reign of Robert Bruce. The second volume appeared, with a still more numerous and respectable list of subscribers, in 1715; it was partly printed by Freebairn, and partly by Thomas Ruddiman, who not only corrected the manuscript, but superintended its progress through the press. This is said by Chalmers to have been the first typographical effort of Ruddiman. Abercromby's Martial Achievements is upon the whole a very creditable work for a Scottish antiquary of that period; the author is not superior to the credulity of his age and party, but he is eminently industrious, and his narrative is written in an entertaining style. The work shows a wide range of authorities, and is liberally interspersed with controversial discussions of the points most
contested by antiquaries. Dr Patrick Abercromby died poor in 1716, or, as other writers say, in 1726, leaving a widow in distressed circumstances.
ABERCROMBY, SIR RALPH, a distinguished general officer, under whom the British arms met their first success in the French revolutionary war, was the eldest son of George Abercromby of Tullibody, in Clackmannanshire, a gentleman of ancient and respectable family, and of Mary, daughter of Ralph Dundas of Manor. He was born at Menstrie, in the parish of Logie, on the 7th October, 1734. His education seems to have been regarded with more care than was usually manifested by the Scottish country gentlemen of the early and middle parts of the last century. After passing through the customary course at Rugby, he became a student, first in the university of Edinburgh, and subsequently in that of Göttingen. He entered the army, as cornet in the 3rd dragoon guards, May 23, 1756, and became a lieutenant, in the same regiment, in the year 1760; which rank he held till April, 1762, when he obtained a company in the 3rd horse. In this regiment he rose, in 1770, to the rank of major, and, in 1773, to that of lieutenant-colonel. He was included in the list of brevet colonels in 1780, and, in 1781, was made colonel of the 103rd, or king's Irish infantry, a new regiment, which was broken at the peace in 1783, when Colonel Abercromby was placed on half-pay. It may be noticed, in passing, that he represented the shire of Kinross in the British parliament from 1774 till 1780; but made no attempt to render himself conspicuous, either as a party-man or as a politician. In September, 1787, he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and next year obtained the command of the 69th foot. From this corps he was, in 1792, removed to the 6th foot; from that again to the 5th; and in November, 1796, to the 2d dragoons, or Scots Greys.
On the breaking out of the French revolutionary war, Abercromby had the Local rank of lieutenant-general conferred on him, and served with distinguished honour in the campaigns of 1794 and 1795, under the Duke of York. He commanded the advanced guard in the affair of Cateau (April 16, 1794), in which Chapuy, the French general, was taken prisoner, and thirty-five pieces of cannon fell into the hands of the British. In the reverses that followed, the British army escaped entire destruction solely by the masterly manœuvres of Abercromby, who was second in command. He was wounded at Nimeguen, in the month of October following; notwithstanding which, the arduous service of conducting the retreat through Holland, in the dreadfully severe winter of 1794, was devolved wholly upon him and General Dundas. Than this retreat nothing could be conceived more calamitous. The troops did all that could be expected from them in the situation in which they were placed. Oppressed by numbers, having lost all their stores, they made good their retreat in the face of the foe, amidst the rigours of a singularly severe winter, resembling more that of the arctic circle than that of the north of Germany. For the removal of the sick, nothing could be procured but open waggons, in which they were exposed to the intense severity of the weather, to drifting snows, and heavy falls of sleet and rain. The mortality, of course, was very great. The regiments were so scattered, marching through the snow, that no returns could be made out, and both men and horses were found in great numbers frozen to
He was born in 1705, called to the bar in 1728, and died, June 8, 1800, at the advanced age of ninety-five, being the eldest member of the college of justice.
death. "The march," says an eye-witness, "was marked by scenes of the most calamitous nature. We could not proceed a hundred yards without seeing the dead bodies of men, women, children, and horses, in every direction. One scene," adds the writer, "made an impression on my mind, which time will never be able to efface. Near a cart, a little further in the common, we perceived a stout-looking man and a beautiful young woman, with an infant about seven months old at the breast, all three frozen dead. The mother had most certainly died in the act of suckling her child, as, with one breast exposed, she lay upon the drifted snow, the milk, to all appearance, in a stream drawn from the nipple by the babe, and instantly congealed. The infant seemed as if its lips had just then been disengaged, and it reposed its little head upon the mother's bosom, with an overflow of milk frozen as it trickled down from its mouth. Their countenances were perfectly composed and fresh, as if they had only been in a sound and tranquil slumber." The British army reached Deventer, after incredible exertion, on the 27th of January, 1795; but they were not able to maintain the position, being closely pursued by a wellappointed army, upwards of fifty thousand strong. They continued their progress, alternately fighting and retreating, till the end of March, when the main body, now reduced one-half, reached Bremen, where they were embarked for England. Nothing could exceed the vigilance, patience, and perseverance of General Abercromby during this retreat, in which he was ably seconded by General Dundas and Lord Cathcart; nor did the troops ever hesitate, when ordered, to halt, face about, and fight, even in the most disastrous and distressing circumstances.
While the French were making those gigantic efforts at home, which confounded all previous calculations in European warfare, they also made unexpected struggles abroad. They repossessed themselves in the West Indies of Guadeloupe and St. Lucia, made good a landing upon several points in the island of Martinique, and made partial descents on the islands of St. Vincent, Grenada, and Marie Galante. In these various incursions they plundered, in the several islands, property to the amount of one thousand eight hundred millions of livres (about £72,000,000). To put an end to these depredations, a fleet was fitted out in the autumn of the year 1795, for the purpose of conveying a military force to the West Indies; sufficient for not only protecting what yet remained, but recovering that which had been lost. The charge of the land troops was given to Sir Ralph Abercromby, with the appointment of commander-in-chief of the forces in the West Indies. In consequence of this appointment, he took the command, and hastened the embarkation; and, although the equinox overtook them, and, in the squalls that usually attend it, several of the transports were lost in the Channel, the fleet made the best of its way to the West Indies, and by the month of March, 1796, the troops were landed and in active operation. St. Lucia was speedily captured by a detachment of the army under Sir John Moore, as was St. Vincent and Grenada by another under General Knox. The Dutch colonies, Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, on the coast of Guiana, likewise fell into the hands of the British about the same time, almost without stroke of sword. The remainder of 1796 having been thus employed, Sir Ralph made preparations for attacking, early in 1797, the Spanish island of Trinidad. For this purpose, the fleet sailed with all the transports, from the island of Curacao on the morning of the 15th February, 1797, and next day passed through the Barns into the Gulf of Bria,
where they found the Spanish admiral, with four sail of the line and one frigate, at anchor, under cover of the island of Gaspagrande, which was strongly fortified. The British squadron immediately anchored opposite, and almost within gun-shot of the Spanish ships. The frigates, with the transports, were sent to anchor higher up the bay, at the distance of about five miles from the town of Port d'Espagne. Dispositions were immediately made for attacking the town and the ships of war next morning by break of day. By two o'clock of the morning, however, the Spanish squadron was observed to be on fire. The ships burned very fast, one only escaping the conflagration, which was taken possession of by the British. The Spaniards, at the same time that they had set their ships of war on fire, evacuated the island. The troops, under Sir Ralph Abercromby, were of course landed without opposition, and the whole colony fell into the hands of the British. Sir Ralph next made an attack upon Porto Rico, in which he was unsuccessful, and shortly after he returned to Britain, and was received with every mark of respect. He had, in his absence, been complimented with the colonelcy of the second dragoons or Scots Greys, and nominated governor of the Isle of Wight. He was now (1797) advanced to the dignity of the Bath, raised to the rank of a lieutenant-general, and invested with the lucrative governments of Fort George and Fort Augustus.
The disturbed state of Ireland at this time calling for the utmost vigilance, Sir Ralph Abercromby was appointed to the command of the forces in that unhappy country, where he exerted himself most strenuously, though with less success than could have been wished, to preserve order where any degree of it yet remained, and to restore it where it had been violated. He was particularly anxious, by the strictest attention to discipline, to restore the reputation of the army; for, according to his own emphatic declaration, it had become more formidable to its friends than to its enemies. During this command he did not require to direct any military operations in person; and the Marquis Cornwallis having received the double appointment of lord-lieutenant and commander-inchief of the forces, Sir Ralph transferred his head-quarters to Edinburgh, and, on 31st of May, assumed the command of the forces in Scotland, to which he had been appointed.
In the year 1799, an expedition having been planned for Holland, for the purpose of restoring the Prince of Orange to the Stadtholdership, Sir Ralph was again selected to take the chief command. The troops destined for this service being assembled on the coast of Kent, sailed on the 13th of August, under convoy of the fleet which was commanded by Vice-Admiral Mitchell; and, after encountering heavy gales, came to anchor off the Texel, on the 22d of the month. On the 27th, the troops were disembarked to the south-west of the Helder point, without opposition. Scarcely had they begun to move, however, when they were attacked by General Daendels, and a warm, but irregular, action was kept up from five o'clock in the morning till five in the afternoon, after which the enemy retired, leaving the British in possession of a ridge of sand-hills stretching along the coast from south to north. In this day's evolutions, the enemy lost upwards of one thousand men, and the British about half that number. Encouraged by this success, Sir Ralph Abercromby determined to seize upon the Helder next morning, when he would be in possession of a seaport, an arsenal, and a fleet. The brigades of Generals Moore and Burrard were ordered to be in readiness to make the attack early in the morning; but the garrison was withdrawn through the night, leaving a considerable train of