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Significant Scots
Brydone, Patrick


BRYDONE, PATRICK, F.R.S., the well known author of A Tour in Sicily and Malta, one of the most entertaining works in the language, was the son of a clergyman in the neighbourhood of Dumbarton, and born in 1741. Having received an excellent university education, which qualified him for the duties of a travelling preceptor, he was engaged in that capacity, first by Mr. Beckford, of Somerly in Suffolk, and afterwards Mr. Fullarton, who was known in after life as commander of a large body of troops in India, and finally as one of the three commissioners for the government of Trinidad. His excursion with the former gentleman took place in 1767-8; the latter, in 1770. In the second tour, he visited Sicily and Malta, which were then almost unknown to the English. Having written an account of this journey in a series of letters to Mr. Beckford, he was induced by a consideration of the uninformed state of the British public upon this subject, to publish his work in 1773, under the title of "A Tour through Sicily and Malta." This work is not only a most original and amusing narrative, but it contains a great deal of scientific knowledge, especially regarding the temperature of the air, which was the object of Mr. Brydone's particular study. For the purpose of carrying on his scientific observations, he travelled with an apparatus as perfect as could then be procured, or as it was possible to carry in the luggage of a traveller. Having returned to England in 1771, he obtained a respectable appointment under government, and after the publication of his travels, which procured for him no common share of reputation and respect, was nominated a member of several learned societies, particularly of the Royal Society, London. In the transactions of this learned body, are several papers of Mr. Brydone, chiefly on the subject of electricity, of which he was a profound student, and a close and anxious observer. He spent the latter part of his life in retirement, at Lennel House, near Coldstream, where he was visited by the most distinguished persons in literature and public life. The author of Marmion has introduced into that work, the following episode respecting Mr. Brydone: -

"Where Lennel's convent closed their march:
There now is left but one frail arch,
Yet mourn thou not its cells;
Our time a fair exchange has made;
Hard by, in hospitable shade,
A reverend pilgrim dwells,
Well worth the whole Bernardine brood,
That e’er wore sandal, frock, or hood."

Patrick Brydone died at Lennel in 1818, at an advanced age.


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