Sidor som bilder


to be made, were his best teachers. And in this university he took a high degree. Even in his school days he was noted for a dogged perseverance, which instead of shirking wrestled with difficulties and threw them. He might have had a cavalry appointment without examinations. But he declined it, “lest it should be supposed a Lawrence could not pass for the artillery.” He was known as a quiet, thoughtful lad, no hand at sport. But this was not for want of spirit. There were then visible germs of character which afterwards ripened into splendid fruit. We see him challenging the school-bully who declined the encounter; taking the part of a crushed, spiritless usher; flying like a tiger at a big fellow who had dared to pry into his sister's letter ; trapped into breaking a window and instantly confessing it; behaving rudely to a smaller boy and frankly acknowledging it; saving sixpences for an old beggar; carrying bundles of left-off clothes through the streets of London to an old lady.

In February, 1823, he first arrived, an artillery cadet, in Cal. cutta. Just at this critical point a series of good influences issued in deeper religious convictions, which determined his character for life. What were those influences ? Chief among them was that of his aunt, Angel Knox, who lived several years in the family, and acted the part of a second mother to the children. She used often to get them into her bed-room for prayer. Her life told even more than her words. Henry gives, in a story told to his own child, a beautiful delineation of her character, from which we learn that she was small in person, and feeble,-neither pretty, nor clever, nor rich, but an angel of unselfishness and benevolence. Neither her own delicate health, nor rain nor snow kept her from the wretched dwellings of the sick and poor. When a very little boy, Henry often accompanied his aunt on these visits of mercy, and perhaps then silently drunk in that spirit of charity which never left him, and often passed over the limits of prudence. A second good influence was that of his elder sister Letitia, to whom he was specially attached. Similar tastes and views drew them much together. Her approval was one of his most prized rewards. Who can doubt that such influences prepared the way for the more direct means which were soon to be used ?

At Dum Dum, near Calcutta, where Henry Lawrence was stationed, he met with a good chaplain, the Rev. G. Craufurd. This clergyman paid special attention to young officers fresh from home. He had already been the means of the conversion of Lewin, an early friend of Lawrence's. At Lewin's persuasion, Henry Lawrence joined a party at Fairy Hall, a house which the chaplain had taken for officers of religious character. Such a step required a good deal of courage in those days. It was taking a side. We

do not wish to overstate the amount of change which took place in Lawrence's character at this period. Perhaps a chief attraction in Fairy Hall was the quiet and the leisure which it gave for reading. But he was thus saved from gay company: the steady habits of his youth remained intact: and his nearest associates were earnest Christians whom he was forced to respect. His religious character was hardly avowed for some time. But an atmosphere of prayer, personal influence, attention in sickness, told on him surely, though perhaps imperceptibly to himself at the moment. “ Among the loving memories of his eldest sister, nothing is more distinct than this, that he attributed his first deep impressions of religion to his intercourse with Mr. Craufurd." In a letter to her he says : “ Lewin has turned an excellent religious young fellow; indeed, I am quite surprised at the change; his whole care seems to be what good he can do. And of course he is designated a Methodist; but I wish we had a few more such Methodists....... I only wish I was like him.” On matters of personal religion he was ever reticent by nature: his life said more than his lips. In after years his wife spoke for both. A brother officer describing him at Dum-Dum says: “He mingled as freely as ever with his old associates, locking up the sacred fire in his heart, but exhibiting its effects,”—we never met with a neater version of fruits meet for repentance,—"in self-conquest, increased affection for his fellow-creatures, and more earnest application to his professional duties and studies."

One of the things we have mentioned as explaining Henry Lawrence's success was his stern, unceasing toil at self-improvement. He was determined to make up for the deficiencies of his early home, where the only literature was Josephus, Rollin, Hannah More, and Hervey's “ Meditations among the Tombs.” At every interval of quiet in his busy life we find him giving himself up to study, especially on historical, Indian, and military subjects. Heread thoughtfully, asking, Why did this succeed or that fail? He thus laid up a vast stock of material for future action. At Dum-Dum the youth of sixteen abstained from everything like extravagance, shunning the billiard-room as well as the regimental hunt and theatre. He speaks of himself as “wading through Gibbon's • Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'

An officer says, “ The last work he had in hand, I well recollect, was the Universal History,' in twenty or twenty-one volumes, which he read through." Eight years later, during another break in active service, we find him similarly employed. A friend present at the time " recalls the studious and retired life he led ; reading the native languages, etc. ; neither joining in the amusements of the rest, nor even showing much enthusiasm in his profession, but

[ocr errors]

steady and regular. Still, though not sociable with us, we all entertained a high opinion of his honour and judgment." Another officer says, referring to the same time, 6. His mind even then was greatly improved by a judicious course of reading, and by the habit of reflection and self-examination. He especially applied himself to military history, with a view to comprehend the strong and weak points of the tactics of all who have excelled in the art of war.” Again, thirteen years later still, when he had two years of complete rest as resident in Nepaul, he read systematically, as well as wrote on Indian subjects for the “ Calcutta Review." In these details we discover the secret of his fame, which was not genius, but thorough preparation and assiduous self-culture. A character that early impressed him was that of a forgotten hero of Indian story, Sir Thomas Munro. We should like to quote his own description of Munro, which is not more high than just. “Munro was an extraordinary man, and, I think, without exception, the very best servant the Company ever possessed. Had he been placed in similar circumstances he would have been a Wellington. His fertility of mind, coolness, and straightforward determination to effect whatever he was employed in, always insured success. As a civilian he was worth a mint of the common stamp; and as a soldier, his letters in early life, and his short career at the head of a handful of men during the Pindaree war, show him to have been of the first order. As a statesman and a soldier, his conduct of the Burmah war, for it was he that was the life and soul of it, speaks volumes. He had an eye and thought for every contingency."

Henry Lawrence's life looks as if it followed some previous plan. The parts fit like the pieces of a machine. Each period, with breaks between, was a natural training for the next, and the whole for the last.

His first experience of active life was in the Burmese war, 1824 to 1826. Craufurd's present was Scott's Bible, a volume of which the young campaigner took with him, and promised to read. The last recollection was Craufurd kneeling on board ship, and commending him in earnest prayer to God. Henry Havelock made his first campaign in the same war. The two met again at the relief of Jellalabad in the Cabul war; and both fell at Lucknow, one the defender, the other the deliverer of the garrison. Henry Lawrence now studied in practice, as before in books.

He had an eye for weak points and false movements on both sides. Looking back to this time he says, “We were six months preparing to move a force of ten thousand men, most of our cattle having been procured from the banks of the Nerbudda, in Central India, at least a thousand miles from Chittagong." Twelve years later, hearing rumours of another Burmese war, he addressed a memo. rial to Government, embodying the results of his experience. His cardinal idea was that a small force, thoroughly efficient, was far preferable to a large one burdened with baggage. He proved himself a trusty soldier. The general could rely on any work entrusted to him being done; and often afterwards we find his own hand put to the drag-ropes of the guns. After the capture of Arracan we find him visiting the wounded privates in hospital. In this war he was attacked by the fever which shook his fine constitution, and the effects of which never wholly left him. The British force was decimated by disease. Seventy out of two hundred officers, and a third of the army died. Lawrence was driven first to Cal. cutta and then to England. He never forgot Craufurd's tender, mother-like nursing.

The next two and a half years were spent at home in regaining health. Evidence of deepening religious character is supplied in the fact that he proposed family-prayer in his father's house. Very modestly the delicate task was done. He also joined the Trigonometrical Survey in Ireland, in order to perfect himself in surveying, an important preparation for the next stage of his life. While at home he met with his future wife, Honoria Marshall, a fair Irish maiden, from the banks of Lough Swilly. We are not told whether she had “a good mother," but she was a good girl.

In February, 1830, he again lands at Calcutta, with his brother John, who much against his will had adopted a civilian career. Two years more of successful study, and we find Henry in the Revenue Survey, to which he is appointed through his brother George's influence with Lord Bentinck. His five years in this work were among the most important in his life. The Revenue Survey was undertaken in order to just taxation. In India the bulk of the revenue comes from the land-tax. Nominally the State is the only landowner ; the holders are only tenants. Practically the tenants are owners, holdingthe land so long as they pay the tax levied by Government. Hence the importance to both sides of an equitable assessment. The English formed and carried out the idea of an assessment founded on a minute and thorough survey, which was to include statistics not only of the extent but of the quality of the soil and everything necessary for the object in view. The costliness of the work endangered its continuance. Lawrence organized it anew on a workable footing, combining economy with efficiency, getting larger results at less cost. A good system was not all. He worked hard himself,—too hard, --and made others work. An officer in the same department complained that “his 'confjunded' zeal had given them twice as much to do as formerly. The head had hauled them over the coals for not doing more work, and pointed out that Lieutenant Lawrence had done twice the amount, and they must do more or leave.” A native surveyor, who refused to go back some ten miles to revise a serious miscalculation that had been discovered in his work, was laid upon a native bed by order of Henry Lawrence, and car. ried by bearers to the spot, where he was turned out to rectify his error. The man was obstinate ; refused to re-observe his angles, and returned to camp. Lawrence "ordered him up into a mango-tree, where he kept the recusant, guarded by two Burkundazes with drawn swords, until hunger changed the mind and temper of the surveyor. He ultimately proved an excellent worker."

Henry Lawrence was learning how to govern Asiatics. One of his best friends closed an exhortation to moderation in work thus : _“You must not measure too many villages, or too long remain abroad in the day; or else any promotion you get will not assist you long." But the chief value of this period to him was, that he now first came into contact with the people of the soil, and acquired the habit, which he never lost, of living much among them. A military officer sees nothing of the real people of India. His intercourse is with a peculiar class. In civil work Lawrence met the people in their villages and fields, listened to their grievances, became familiar with their condition and wants, and acquired that sympathy with them which lasted through life. One lesson he learned was the power of roads. “Push on your roads,” he would say, "open out your district. The farmer, the soldier, the policeman, the traveller, the merchant, - all want roads. Cut roads in every direction.” There is no grander monument of British energy and beneficence in India than its system of imperial highways.

Towards the end of this time he married, August, 1837. Here is a fragment of a love-letter, a right manly one : “My thoughts have been busy fancying all concerning you; and I fixed it as I wished, that you were making one of my dear mother's party this Twelfth Night, who are around her too-deserted hearth; recalling, in a measure, days long gone by, when the sons and daughters crowded round her. You have already, my precious Honoria, a daughter's interest in my mother's heart; and, I trust, feel towards her as a child to her parent. She has ever been to us all a kind and too-indulgent one, and we have hardly ministered to her as we might and ought to have done, when money is but a small matter, and the giving it requires more delicacy by far than taking; and I feel that because it is our mother is somewhat beholden to us in a pecuniary way that we are the more called on to be watchful and jealous over ourselves, and do all in our power to soothe her in her widowhood; for her heart must indeed

« FöregåendeFortsätt »