Montague, John

, fourth earl of Sandwich, son of Edward Richard Montague, lord viscount Hinchinbroke, and Elizabeth only daughter of Alexander Popham, esq. of Littlecote in the county of Wilts, was born in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, Nov. 15, 1718. He was sent at an early age to Eton school, where, under the tuition of ‘Dr. George, he made a considerable proficiency in the classics. In 1735, he was admitted of Trinity college, Cambridge, and during his residence there, he and the late lord Halifax were particularly distinguished for their college exercises; and were the first noblemen who declaimed publicly in the college chapel. After spending about two years at Cambridge, he set out on a voyage round the Mediterranean, his account of which has recently been published. Mr. Ponsonby, late earl of Besborough, Mr. Nelthorpe, and Mr. Mackye, accompanied his lordship (for he was now earl of Sandwich) on this agreeable tour, with Liotard the painter, as we have noticed in his article (vol. XX.) On his lordship’s return to England, he brought with him, as appears by a letter written by him to the rev. Dr. Dampier, “two mummies and eight embalmed ibis’s from the catacombs of Memphis a large quantity of the famous Egyptian papyrus fifteen intaglios five hundred medals, most of them easier to be read than that which has the inscription TAMttlN a marble vase from Athens, and a very long inscription as yet nndecyphered, on both sides of a piece of marble of about two feet in height.” This marble was afterwards presented to Trinity college, and the inscription was explained by the late learned Dr. Taylor, in 1743, by the title of Marmor Sandvicense.

Being now of age, he took his seat in the House of Lords, and began his political career by joining the party then in opposition to sir Robert Walpole. On the formation of the ministry distinguished by the appellation of broadbottom, he was appointed second lord of the admiralty, Dec. 15, 1744. In consequence of the active part which he took in raising men to quell the rebellion in 1745, he obtained rank in the army. His political talents must at | this time have been acknowledged, as in 1746 he was appointed plenipotentiary to the congress to be holden at Breda, and next year his powers were renewed, and continued till the definitive treaty of peace was signed at AixJa-Chapel!e in Oct. 1748. On his return he was sworn of the privy- council, and appointed first lord of the admiralty; and on the king’s embarking for Hanover, he was declared one of the lords justices during his majesty’s absence. In. June 1751, he was displaced from the admiralty, and did not again hold any public office till 1755, when he became one of the joint vice-treasurers of Ireland. In April 1763, he was again appointed first lord of the admiralty; and the death of lord Hardwicke causing a vacancy in the office of high steward of the university of Cambridge, lord Sandwich became a candidate to succeed him, but failed, after a very close contest. In 1765 he was again out of office, but in 1768 was made joint-postmaster with lord Le Despencer. In Jan. 1771, under lord North’s administration, he was a third time appointed first lord of the admiralty, which he held during the whole stormy period of the American war, and resigned only on the dissolution of the ministry which had carried it on. His conduct in the admiralty was allowed to redound greatty to his credit. He reformed many abuses in the dock-yards; increased the establishment of the marines set the example of annual visitations to the dock-yards was the promoter and patron of several voyages of discovery; and upon the whole, his attention to and knowledge of the duties of the naval department, although sometimes the objects of jealous inquiry, had probably never been exceeded.

In 1783, under the coalition cabinet he accepted the rangership of the parks, which he held only until the following year, and then returned to the calm satisfaction of a private station. In 1791, a complaint in the bowels, to which he had been subject, obliged him to try the waters of Bath; but, receiving no benefit, he returned to his house in town in the latter end of February 1792, where after languishing for some weeks, he died April 30.

The earl of Sandwich,” says his biographer, “was rather to be considered as an able and intelligent speaker, then a brilliant and eloquent orator. In his early parlia* mentary career, he displayed uncommon knowledge of the sort of composition adapted to make an impression on a popular assembly; and from a happy choice of words, and | a judicious arrangement of his argument, he seldom spoke without producing a sensible effect on the mind of every impartial auditor. In the latter part of his political life, and especially during the American war, his harangues were less remarkable for their grace and ornament, than for sound sense, and the valuable and appropriate information which they communicated. His speeches, therefore, were regarded as the lessons of experience and wisdom. He was never ambitious of obtruding himself upon the house. He had a peculiar delicacy of forbearance, arising from a sense of propriety; which, if more generally practised, would tend very much to expedite the public business by compressing the debates, now usually drawn out to an immeasurable and tiresome length, within more reasonable bounds. If, after having prepared himself on any important question, when he rose in the house any other lord first caught the chancellor’s eye, he sat down with the most accommodating patience; and, if the lord, who spoke before him, anticipated the sentiments which he meant to offer, he either did not speak at all, or only spoke to such points as had not been adverted to by the preceding speaker. Whenever, therefore, he rose, the House was assured that he had something material to communicate: he was accordingly listened to with attention, and seldom sat down without furnishing their lordships with facts at once important and interesting; of which no other peer was so perfectly master as himself. During the period of the American war he was frequently attacked in both houses for his official conduct or imputed malversation. When any such attempts were made in the House of Peers, he heard his accusers with patience, and with equal temper as firmness refuted their allegations, exposing their fallacy or their falsehood. On all such occasions, he met his opponents fairly and openly, in some instances concurring in their motions for papers, which his adversaries imagined would prove him a negligent minister; in others resisting their object, by shewing the inexpediency or the impolicy of complying with their requests. In the parliamentary contest, to which the unfortunate events of the American war gave rise, he is to be found more than once rising in reply to the late earl of Chatham; whose extraordinary powers of eloquence inspired sufficient awe to silence and intimidate even lords of acknowledged ability. Lord Sandwich never in such cases suffered himself to he | dazzled by the splendor of oratorical talents; or ever spoke without affording proof that his reply was necessary and adequate. In fact, his lordship never rose without first satisfying himself, that the speaker he meant to reply to was in error; and that a plain statement of the facts in question would dissipate the delusion, and afford conviction to the house. By this judicious conduct his lordship secured the respect of those whom he addressed, and commanded at all times an attentive hearing.

In his private character, his biographer bears testimony to the easy politeness and affability of his manners his chearfulness and hospitality the activity of his disposition and his readiness to perform acts of kindness. Of his morals less can be said. He was indeed a man of pleasure, in all the extent of that character; his most harmless enjoyment was music, in which he was at once a man of taste, a warm enthusiast, and a liberal patron. He is said to have been the author of a pamphlet, entitled “A State of Facts relative to Greenwich hospital, 7 ’ 1779, in reply to captain Baillie’s” Case of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich,“published in 1778. Since his death has been published,A Voyage performed by the Earl of Sandwich round the Mediterranean, in the years 1738 and 1739, written by himself." This was edited by his chaplain the rev. John Cooke in 1799, with a memoir of the noble author, from which we have extracted the above particulars. This noble lord’s narrative is less interesting now than it would have been about the period when it was written, and is indeed very imperfect and unsatisfactory, but the plan and execution of such a voyage are creditable to his lordship’s taste and youthful ambition. 1


Memoir as above. Collins’s Peerage, by Sir E. Brydges. Month, Rev. vol. XXXlll. N. S.