Mitchell, Sir Andrew

, knight of the bath, and a distinguished ambassador at the court of Berlin, was the only child of the rev. William Mitchell, formerly of Aberdeen, but then one of the ministers of St. Giles’s, commonly called the high church of Edinburgh. The time of his birth is not specified, but he is said to have been married in 1715, when very young, to a lady who died four years after in child-birth, and whose loss he felt with so much acuteness, as to be obliged to discontinue the study of the law, for which his father had designed him, and divert his grief by travelling, amusements, &c. This mode of life is said to have been the original cause of an extensive acquaintance with the principal noblemen and gentlemen in North Britain, by whom he was esteemed for sense, spirit, and intelligent conversation. Though his progress in the sciences was but small, yet no person had a greater regard for men of learning, and he particularly cultivated the acquaintance of the clergy, and professors of the university of Edinburgh. About 1736 he appears to have paid considerable attention to mathematics under the direction of the celebrated Maclaurin; and soon after began, his political career, as secretary to the marquis of Tweedale, who Wc-s appointed minister for the affuirs of Scotland in 1741. He became also acquainted with the earl of Stair, and it was owing to his application to that nobleman that Dr. (afterwards sir John) Pringle, was in 1742 appointed physician to the British ambassador at the Hague.

Though the marquis of Tweedale resigned the place of secretary of state, in consequence of the rebellion in 1745, yet Mr. Mitchell still kept in favour. He had taken care, during that memorable period, to keep up a correspondence with some eminent clergymen in Scotland, and from time to time communicated the intelligence he received; which assiduity was rewarded wiih a seat in the House of Commons in 1747, as representative for the burghs of | BamfF, Elgin, Cullen, Inverurie, and Kiiitore. In 1751 he was appointed his majesty’s resident at Brussels, where, continuing two years, he in 1753 came to London, was created a knight of the bath, and appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at the court of Berlin* There, by his polite behaviour, and a previous acquaintance with marshal Keith, he acquired sufficient influence with his Prussian majesty to detach him from the French interest. This event involved the court of France in the greatest losses, arising not only from vast subsidies to the courts of Vienna, Petersburg!], and Stockholm, but also from the loss of numerous armies. Sir Audrew generally accompanied the great Frederick through the course of his several campaigns, and when, on the memorable 12th of August, 1759, the Prussian army was totally routed by count SoltikofT, the Russian general, it was with difficulty that he could be prevailed upon to quit the king’s tent, even while all was in confusion.

From a very recent writer, we have some account of his mode of living and general conduct while at Berlin, which was highly honourable to his sense and spirit. When he first arrived at Berlin, he had occasioned some perplexity to those who invited him to their houses, for he played no game of chance, so that his hosts constantly said to each other, “What shall we do with this Englishman, who never plays at cards” In a short time, however, the contest was, who should leave the card -table to enjoy the conversation of sir Andrew Mitchell, whose understanding, they discovered, was no less admirable than the virtues of his character. His bon-mots came into circulation, and were long retailed. Thiebault has recorded a few which, as he says, explain rather his principles than his understanding. On one occasion that three English mails were due, the king said to him, at the levee, “Have you not the spleen, Mr. Mitchell, when the mail is thus delayed r” “No, Sire, not when it is delayed, but often enough when it arrives duly.” This alludes to his being frequently dissatisfied with his own court. During the seven years’ war, in which, as we have already noticed, he constantly served immediately under Frederic, the English government had promised Frederic to send a fleet to the Baltic, for the protection of commerce, and to keep off the Swedes and Russians; but as this fleet never made its appearance, the Swedes were enabled to transport their army without | interruption to Pomerania, together with all the necessaries for its support, and the Russians conveyed provisions for their troops by sea, and laid siege to Colberg, &c. All this could not fail to give umbrage to Frederic, and he incessantly complained to sir Andrew, who found himself embarrassed what reply to make. At length the ambassador, who had before been daily invited to dine with the king, received no longer this mark of attention; the generals, meeting him about the king’s hour of dinner, said to him, < It is dinner-time, M. Mitchell.“” Ah gentlemen,“replied he,” no fleet, no dinner“This was repeated to Frederic, and the invitations were renewed. Frederic in his fits of ill-humour was known to exercise his wit even at the expence of his allies; and the English minister at home expressed to sir Andrew Mitchell a wish that he would include some of these splenetic effusions in his official dispatches. Sir Andrew, however, in reply, stated the distinction between such kind of intelligence, and that which properly belonged to his office; and the application was not repeated, by which he was saved from the disgrace, for such he considered it, of descending to the littlenesses of a mere gossip and tale-bearer. We shall only add one more repartee of sir Andrew Mitchell, because, if we mistake not, it has been repeated as the property of other wits. After the affair of Port Mahon, the king of Prussia said to him,” You have made a bad beginning, M. Mitchell. What! your fleet beaten, and Port Mahon taken in your first campaign The trial in which you are proceeding against your admiral Byng is a bad plaister for the malady. You have made a pitiful campaign of it; this is certain.“” Sire, we hope, with God’s assistance, to make a better next year.“” With GocVs assistance, say you, Sir I did not know you had such an ally.“” We rely much upon him, though he costs us less than our other allies."

In 1765, sir Andrew came over to England for the recovery of his health, which was considerably impaired, and after spending some time at Tunbridge Wells, returned in March 1766 to Berlin, where he died Jan. 28, 1771. The court of Prussia honoured his funeral with their presence, and the king himself, from a balcony, is said to have beheld the procession with tears. 1

1 St. James’s Chronicle, Feb. 177 1. Tijiebault’s Original Antedates of Frederic II. vol. II. p. T7, &c.
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