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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/368

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a house on shore in the immediate neighbourhood. He was at this time in very weak health, and retained the command only in deference to the wishes of the Grenvilles. On the change of ministry, in March 1807, he at once requested to be relieved, which was accordingly done on 24 April.

For a few years he occasionally attended in the House of Lords, speaking on naval questions. His last appearance there was in 1810; after which, retiring, as Sheridan had happily said, ‘with his triple laurel, over the enemy, the mutineer, and the corrupt,’ he resided for the most part at Rochetts, exercising a kindly hospitality to his friends, and an autocratic, though genial, sovereignty over his dependents. His wife, after a long illness, died in February 1816, leaving no children. In his later years his memory would seem to have partially failed, if we may judge by the apocryphal anecdotes he is described as telling (e.g. Brenton, ii. 354, where the rescue of the two slaves at Genoa in 1769 is transferred, with many changes of detail, to Tunis, which the Alarm never visited); his health, too, was much broken and he was extremely feeble; nor did he derive any permanent benefit from a change to the south of France for the winter of 1818–1819. On the coronation of George IV he was promoted to be admiral of the fleet, 19 July 1821, the king personally sending him the bâton with heavy gold mountings: the honour was the more marked as, by the established usage of the navy, there could be only one officer of the rank, which was already held by the Duke of Clarence. After a few days of excessive weariness and unrest he died, without pain, on 14 March 1823. In accordance with his will his body was buried at Stone in Staffordshire; a monument to his memory, more conspicuous for ornament than good taste, was erected at the public expense in St. Paul's. As he died without issue the earldom became extinct; his sister's son, Edward Jervis Ricketts, succeeded to the viscounty, changing his surname to Jervis.

The critical state of domestic and continental politics in the early part of 1797 and the great numerical superiority of the Spaniards enhanced the fame of the battle of St. Vincent, and gave the victorious admiral a reputation which appears above his merits. As a tactician Jervis can scarcely be placed in the first rank; on the other hand, his reform of the discipline of the navy, his numerous improvements in the organisation of our ships and fleets, his suppression of the mutinous spirit among the seamen, give him a special claim to distinction in a field in which he has no equal. It required a man of extraordinary force of mind and character fairly to enter the lists against the peculation and inefficiency of the dockyards, and the civil administration of the navy. That he was not entirely successful may be attributed to the enormity of the evil, to the great value of the interests at stake, and to the influence of many of the offenders. Their outcry, though absolutely false in its spirit, left its mark on his reputation, and has impressed on the popular mind a prejudice against naval officers being at the head of the naval administration. No doubt St. Vincent's inflexible idea of the sacredness of the trust confided to him led him to seek his end by most peremptory ways, careless of the feelings he wounded, when he might have avoided opposition by a more diplomatic policy. One who knew him well has recorded that he was far from always ‘preserving an unruffled command of his temper or of himself,’ and that ‘on stirring occasions of unofficer or unseamanlike conduct, or when retarded by laziness or factiousness, a torrent of impetuous reproof in unmeasured language would violently rush from his unguarded lips’ (Tucker, i. 370, 380). He had, too, a certain grim humour, in which he occasionally indulged at the expense of those who were powerless to retort. On the other hand, when an act of zeal, skill, or gallantry merited his approval, it was given ungrudgingly, in the warmest, most enthusiastic, most flattering manner [cf. Faulknor, Robert]; and in his private relations, though careful and economical, he was kindhearted and generous, always ready to assist those whom he conceived to have any claim on him.

In person he is described as of middle height and strongly built. His portrait, by Sir William Beechey, belongs to the Fishmongers' Company; another by Beechey belonged to Admiral Sir William Parker; one, full length, by Hoppner, is in St. James's Palace; another, by Hoppner, belongs to the corporation of the city of London; one, by Cotes, as a young man, belongs to the Earl of Northesk, who has also one by Romney, showing him in middle age. One by Carbonnier, taken at an advanced age, is engraved in Brenton's ‘Life;’ and one, still older, from a drawing in outline by Chantrey, is given in Tucker, vol. ii. The frontispiece of Tucker, vol. i., is an engraving after the Parker's Beechey.

[The Memoirs of the Earl of St. Vincent, by Jedediah Stephens Tucker (2 vols. 8vo, 1844), is faithful and trustworthy during the later and most important part of St. Vincent's career. Tucker's father, Benjamin, was secretary to St.