The Life of Admiral Viscount Exmouth
by Edward Osler
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He then passes to another subject. It was a trait in his character, that, through all his success, he never forgot his early friends.

"When I sat down, I intended to commence by letting you know that I have heard from —— of the last week's illness and decease of our early, and I believe almost our oldest friend, ——. He states, that he died, by God's mercy, free from pain; that his suffering was not much, and he bore it patiently, with a calm mind, keeping his senses to the last few hours. That you had paid your old friend a last visit, from which, he says, he appeared to be quite revivified; that his eyes sparkled with inward joy, and that he had asked kindly after me; that he went off at last in a kind of sleep, without a struggle, and had felt all the comfort which could be given him by a sincere old friend. I was very glad to hear that you had given him the comfort of taking leave of him, for I readily believe he ever felt for you unabated friendship, and for myself also. I think we must have known him above three-score years. I am sure you will derive pleasure from having shown him that your friendship could only end by his death."

In the last week of December, 1831, after an extraordinary exemption from such trials in his own family, he lost his youngest daughter. Little more than two months elapsed, when on the 2nd of March the warning was repeated in the almost sudden death of a grandchild, daughter of his eldest son. He communicated this event with the reflection—"We have long been mercifully spared. Death has at length entered our family, and it behoves us all to be watchful."[16]

In the spring of this year he was made Vice-Admiral of England, and was honoured at the same time with a very flattering letter from his Sovereign. This he immediately enclosed to his elder brother, to whom he knew it would give pleasure. Of the appointment itself, he remarked, "I shall have it only for one year." He held it but for a few months.

In May, Sir Israel Pellew was on his death-bed; and Lord Exmouth, though he now travelled with much difficulty and pain, could not refuse himself the melancholy satisfaction of a parting visit to one with whom he had been so closely and affectionately united. Their brother came up from Falmouth on the same errand, and on this painful occasion they all met for the last time. He then returned to his home, which he never left again.

He cherished a very strong attachment to the Church; and for more than thirty years had been a member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which he joined when the claims of the society were so little appreciated, that only principle could have prompted the step. It might therefore be expected that he would feel deep anxiety when the safety of that Church was threatened. But upon this subject his mind was firm; and in one of the last letters he ever wrote, dated August 28th, he declares his confidence in the most emphatic language. After some personal observations to the friend he was addressing, one of his old officers, he alludes to the cholera, then raging in his neighbourhood; "which," he says, "I am much inclined to consider an infliction of Providence, to show his power to the discontented of the world, who have long been striving against the government of man, and are commencing their attacks on our Church. But they will fail! God will never suffer his Church to fall; and the world will see that his mighty arm is not shortened, nor his power diminished. I put my trust in Him, and not in man; and I bless Him, that He has enabled me to see the difference between improvement and destruction."

Not many days after, he suffered a most violent attack of the illness he had long anticipated. The immediate danger was soon averted; but the extent of the disease left not the smallest hope of recovery. He lingered until the 23rd of January, calmly waiting the event which his gradually increasing weakness convinced him was inevitable. Sustained by the principle which had guided him so long, his death-bed became the scene of his best and noblest triumph. "Every hour of his life is a sermon," said an officer who was often with him; "I have seen him great in battle, but never so great as on his death-bed." Full of hope and peace, he advanced with the confidence of a Christian to his last conflict, and when nature was at length exhausted, he closed a life of brilliant and important service, with a death more happy, and not less glorious, than if he had fallen in the hour of victory.

Lord Exmouth was buried at Christow, the parish in which are the family mansion and estate of Canonteign. The flag under which he fought at Algiers was used for a pall, and a young oak, to bear his name, was planted near the grave; a suitable memorial for a British seaman.

Two noble line-of-battle ships, the Algiers and the Exmouth, of 91-guns each, and fitted with screw propellers, of which one is just now commissioned and the other just launched, preserve in the navy the memory of his name and victory, and may yet be commanded by officers trained by his care, and formed by his example.


[14] The plate bore the following most flattering inscription:—

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EDWARD, VISCOUNT AND BARON EXMOUTH, And a Baronet, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Of the Royal and distinguished Order of Charles the Third of Spain, Of the Royal Sicilian Order of St. Ferdinand, and of Merit, Knight of the Royal Sardinian Supreme Order of the Annunciation. Knt. Gd. Cross of the Royal Sardinian Order of St. Lazarus & St. Maurice, and of the Royal Military Order of William of the Netherlands, This Tribute of Admiration and Esteem Is most respectfully presented by THE REAR-ADMIRAL, CAPTAINS, AND COMMANDERS, Who had the honour to serve under him At the memorable VICTORY gained at ALGIERS On the 27th of August, 1816, Where, by the Judgment, Valour, & Decision of their distinguished Chief, Aided by his brilliant Example, THE GREAT CAUSE OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM Was bravely Fought, and NOBLY ACCOMPLISHED.

[15] "Discharged, dead." The mark by which a man is reported dead on the ship's books.

[16] It is a remarkable fact, that after the death of his daughter, seven members of the family died within three years.


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