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MEMOIRS OF SIR W. LOCKHART, OF LEE,
COMMONLY CALLED AMBASSADOR LOCKHART.
With a portrait. BIOGRAPHY may be termed the history of the human mind, by the study of which men may become acquainted with characters, and the different manner in which peculiar mental energies operate and influence the conduct of individuals.
Sir William Lockhart, commonly called ambassador Lockhart, descended from an illustrious line of ancestors, who had long acted a conspicuous part in Lanarkshire, was the third son of Sir James Lockhart of Lee, one of the senators of the College of Justice, in the reign of Charles I. was born in 1621, died 1676.
The first incident that tended to mark the character of this singular man, occurred at a very early period of his life.
He had been put under the care yol. xii.
of a pedagogue at Lanark, who exercised his authority with the most despotic severity. Having coinmitted some boyish trespass, young Lockhart, who had been witness to the humiliating indignities that others were obliged to undergo on similar occasions, could not brook the idea of submitting to them. In order to fhun this, he fled and concealed himself for some days among the woods, supporting himself on wild plants, and the occasional supply that some eountry people gave him. His father, informed of this, was highly incensed against him, raised a possé of people, aid sent them out in quest of him, with the ferocious pedagogue at their head. They surrounded the wood as in a royal Asiatic chace; and being thus hemmed in on every side, he had no other way to escape, but by throwing himself from the top of a steep rock, many fathoms high, into a small river below. Regardless of peril, as he ever afterwards was, when it stood in the way of his designs, he hesitated not on this occasion, but took the leap, and, by a fortunate chance, a million, at least, to one, he escaped unhurt. No one durst follow him; and he'made the best of his way to Leith. There he took fhipping for Holland, where, unfriended and unknown, he supported himself by labour, without complaining for some time to any one.
At the time when this incident happened, he was in che thirteeenth year of his age. He returned home in the year 1636 ; but finding his situation there far from agreeable, he soon went to France, and entered into the service; where, by the singular gallantry, intrepidity, and judiciousness of his conduct in every enterprise that was intrusted to him, he was quickly ad. yanced to the rank of captain of horse in that service, He once more returned home ; but having met with a cold rebuff from Charles II, he remained in the country for some time, then resolved once more to go abroad. With that view he went by the way of London to visit his father, then a prisoner in the tower, and to obtain permission from the Protector to travel. Cromwell was no stranger to the uncommon talents of Mr Lockhart, and gave him the most Aattering reception. Among many other favours he conferred, with a view to attach Mr Lockhart to his interest, he offered to bestow upon him for a wife, Miss Robina Sewster, his own neice, a lady whose singular accomplishments had attracted the warmest regards of this enterprising Scotsman. He accepted the offer with gratitude. He married this lady in April 1654, who continued his faithful companion during the remainder of his life.
Being now so nearly connected with the Protector, his character and talents became still better known to him, and Oliver knew well how to avail himself of these to the greatest advantage. He had been for some time at a loss to find a proper person for discharging the important duties of ambassador at the court of France, at that time the gayest, and, under. the influence of Mazarine, the most intriguing cabinet in Europe. He was determined that his am. bassador should be received with the same honours, and treated with the same respect, as ever the royal ambassadors had been; but, to effect this, great talents, and much address were necessary. Lockhart he found to be the very man, as if he had been created by heaven
for that purpose, and he resolved to invest him in that very delicate office.
It is the peculiarity of great minds, not only to be able to distinguish great talents where they exist; but also to know how to proceed, so
as to avail themselves of these talents in the highest degree: Cromwell, on this occasion, showed the vast superiority of his powers in this respect. He easily saw that the elegance of Sir William's person and address, were well calculated to attract the admiä ration of a luxurious court, while the strength of his judgement was capable of penetrating the designs of the crafty priest, and the firm intrepidity of his mind enabled him to carry into execution whatever his judgement approved. He saw also that his candour and rectitude of mind were such as to render it, not only safe, but prudent, to entrust him with almost unlimited powers. He was therefore first knighted, and then by a commission dated the 30th of December 1655, appointed ambassador to France, with full powers to act in all things as he saw proper, and without any limitation of expence.
By the brilliancy of his appearance, and the splendor of his retinue, he captivated the heart of the young monarch, and became the admiration of the court of France; while, by his quick conception, and delicate address in the management of affairs, he soon obtained an ascendency over the cardinal minister, that no other person ever could boast of. France was at that time tired of war, and was upon the point of making peace; but this was by no means the wih of the Protector.
Sir William soon
prevailed on them to alter these intentions. He offered such a powerful afsistance from Britain, as would insure the capture of many valuable places from the Spaniard, all of which he stipulated should remain with France excepting Dunkirk. The treaty on these terms was concluded in July 1656. The British forces under the command of able generals performed wonders. Many places were taken ; and after some hesitation on the part of France, Dunkirk' was attacked and compelled to surrender. Turenne with the French troops, took pofsession of it. The king of France and the cardinal entered the place; and during the intoxication of this success, they disco. vered evident intentions of paying little respect to the stipulations of the treaty, hoping to retain the place to themselves.
Cromwell, however, aware of the little reliance that was to be had to the words of that court, had suspected they would act in this manner, if ever it fhould be in their power; and therefore had provi. ded against it. Having, by an adequate bribe properly administered, opened a correspondence with the French secretary of the council of war, he was very soon informed of the real intentions of the cabinet ; and with his usual promptitude, he resolved to coun. teract their designs. He immediately dispatched a special messenger to Sir William, charged with instructions written with his own hand, well knowing that they would be instantly carried into execution in the most proper manner. Sir William no sooner received these, than he posted his army upon an eminence, detached from the French, and in such a manner that they could not be surprised; then taking