Gordon, Pryse Lockhart (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

GORDON, PRYSE LOCKHART (fl. 1834), writer of memoirs, was born 23 April 1762 at Ardersier, Inverness-shire, where his father, the Rev. Harry Gordon, was minister of the parish. After his father's death (15 March 1764) his mother went to live with her father in Banffshire. Young Gordon was educated at the parish school of Banff, and subsequently at the university of Aberdeen, where he did not remain long, obtaining a commission in the marines at the age of fifteen. He was principally employed in recruiting, and seems to have seen no active service except a few cruises, which yielded him, he says, 17l. in prize-money. In 1792 he obtained a commission in a regiment raised by the Duke of Gordon, and after five years' service in Scotland was allowed to accompany his friend Lord Montgomery, an invalid, to Italy, where he remained until 1801, returning to find his regiment disbanded. He obtained employment at Minorca; but as he was on the point of embarking, 'my good fortune threw in my way an amiable young widow,' and rendered him independent of military service. After living at Banff Castle and in London, he went to Sicily with Lord Montgomery in 1811, and remained there until 1813, when he was prostrated by a sunstroke. The following year, after the peace, he took up his residence at Brussels, where he remained until his death, which probably took place some time between 1834 and 1840. In 1823 he wrote a guide for travellers, entitled 'A Companion to Italy,' the success of which led to the appearance of his 'Personal Memoirs' in 1830. This is a very entertaining book, written with good taste and simplicity, and containing many interesting reminiscences of notable persons known to the author, including Lady Hamilton, Rodney, Porson, Dr. Charles Burney, and Perry of the 'Morning Chronicle.' The peculiar interest of the work, however, arises from its sketches of picture and antiquity hunting, at a time when, owing to the disturbed state of the continent, great bargains were to be had, and connoisseurs were especially liable to be imposed upon. Gordon himself obtained for Dr. Burney the copy of Lascaris's Grammar, the first Greek book printed, which is now in the British Museum. His account of its acquisition is the most exciting passage in his book, except perhaps the description of the condition of the English residents at Brussels on the eve of Waterloo. His reminiscences of Rodney are remarkable for the positive assertion that Rodney, upon his return to England, volunteered to Gordon an acknowledgment of his acquaintance with Clerk of Eldin's essay on naval tactics, and his indebtedness to it. In 1834 Gordon published 'Holland and Belgium,' an entertaining book, negligent, and even ungrammatical in diction, but of permanent value for its notes on the Belgian revolution and its causes.

[Gordon's Personal Memoirs, 1830.]

R. G.