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A WIDE circle of family and friends, together with numerous societies, religious, charitable, and scientific, have to mourn the loss of General Robert Maclagan, R.E., who died in London on April 22, in his seventy-fourth year. In his life and conduct he was as modest as he was hardworking and trust worthy. Amongst his friends many were persons of distinction, whilst the family to which he belonged may fairly be termed remarkable, and has for more than one generation commanded the respect and esteem of their fellowcitizens in Edinburgh. Hence we believe that a short account of the General's kindred and services will interest a number of our readers.
Maclagan's most intimate friend, the late Sir Henry Yule, calculated that Scotland supplied one-third of the officers of the Bengal Engineers, and that of the Scotsmen a third came from Aberdeenshire. He was generally accurate, but we think Edinburgh cannot have been far behind the northern county, for even in this notice three men are mentioned who came from the capital or its neighbourhood Richard Baird Smith, Henry Yule, and Robert Maclagan.
The first was born at Lasswade on the last day of 1818, and went to India in 1836. When he died in 1861, after a career crowded with brilliant service," he was Master of the Mint in Calcutta, C.B., and A.D.C. to the Queen.
Henry Yule was born at Inveresk in 1820, appointed to the Bengal Engineers in 1838, and died
in 1889. His career in India was sufficiently distinguished, but his reputation is world-wide as a geographer and man of letters. He received on his deathbed the compliment of election by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres as corresponding member, and thanked them in a few touching Latin words, the last sentence being, "Cum corde pleno et gratissimo moriturus vos, illustrissimi domini, saluto." Whereon "D. M.," in the 'Academy' of March 29, 1890, at the end of some appropriate verses, remarked :
"Moriturus vos saluto,'
Breathes his last the dying scholar,
Robert Maclagan, third son of the late Dr David Maclagan, was born at Edinburgh on December 14, 1820. Dr David began life as a surgeon in the army, and served under Wellington in the Peninsular War. He retired in 1816, and commenced private practice in Edinburgh, where he had the rare honour of being President of the College of Surgeons, and also of the College of Physicians. He lived on intimate terms-we quote from the 'Scotsman '1 with "James Abercromby, the Horners, Jeffrey, Cockburn, Murray, Ivory, Fullerton, John Allen of Holland House, Daniel Ellis, Charles Maclaren, the GibsonCraigs, sire and sons. He belonged to the Established Church of Scotland, was a warm advocate of civil and religious liberty, and
1 June 8, 1865.
was a faithful but kind father. And he is not yet forgotten. Some of our readers can doubtless recall a picture of father, mother, and seven sons marching with scrupulous regularity and solemnity every Sunday to St George's Church; and those who relieved the tedium of proceedings with a little play still remember the awe with which, as backsliders, they received his disapproving glance.
His sons all grew to man's estate. The eldest, Sir Douglas, we need scarcely say, does many things well. Not to mention his professional attainments, he is an archer, an angler, and a sportsman of repute; a man of highly culti vated mind, a poet, and a sweet singer. He too has held the offices of president of both the great medical colleges, is surgeon of the Queen's Bodyguard, and a professor in the Edinburgh University. In 1887 he was knighted in recognition of his eminent position and of his valuable public services. The second son, Philip Whiteside, who died at Berwick-on-Tweed in 1892, was first an army surgeon; he was an enthusiastic botanist, and devoted to good works, whereby he gained the affectionate respect of his neighbours. Passing Robert (the subject of this notice), the next son was David, who for many years managed various insurance companies; he wrote 'The History of St George's Church from 1814 to 1873,' and 'The Life of Sheriff Cleghorn,' and was prominent in connection with the Patriotic Fund at the time of the Crimean War. The fifth son, William Dalrymple-miles olim inter Indos-is now, after a career as brilliant as it is unusual, Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan. John Thomson, the sixth son, after some service in India, is now, we
believe, Foreign Mission Secretary to the Church of Scotland; whilst James M'Grigor, the youngest son, was for a time in the Indian medical service, and afterwards became officer of health for Hexham and Haltwhistle: he died in 1891.
And now, before passing from family detail, it is interesting to note that the Dalrymples of Langlands and Orangefield in Ayrshire were ancestors both of Robert Maclagan and of his wife Patricia Gilmour. One of these Dalrymples and his connection the Earl of Glencairn were patrons of Robert Burns, by whom the Rev. William Dalrymple is mentioned in several satires, always with respect. This worthy pastor, who with his father-in-law held between them continuous charge of the parish church of Ayr for the extraordinary period of a hundred and twenty years, baptised both Robert Burns and Sir Douglas Maclagan.
So much for family history. The subject of our sketch was educated at the High School and University of Edinburgh, and afterwards at Addiscombe, where his career was specially distinguished. We get a glimpse of him and of his father, who was present at the public examination, in a letter, their joint production, to the home in Edinburgh. It is commenced by the younger man: "We have just returned from Addiscombe : everything is now over, and Robert Maclagan, Esq., rejoices in the power of adding H.E.I.C.S. to his name, as well as calling himself an Engineer officer." His father, supplementing this, has recorded with justifiable pride the encomiums passed by the Governor, Sir Ephraim Stannus, and the compliments paid by Colonel Pasley, R.E., who "expressed to me the pleasure he would have in
Robert being under his command at Chatham.. Robert has just gone to perform his duties as chairman of the cadets' festival in a most respectable coffee-house in Piccadilly."
After two years at Chatham, Maclagan arrived in India at the end of 1841-an anxious time, for affairs in Afghanistan were not prospering, though the extent of our disasters was not then known. Lord Ellenborough, who succeeded Lord Auckland on February 28, 1842, was at once confronted with the bad news, and decided to recover our prestige and then to withdraw from that country. By the end of the year these objects were in great measure attained; and the Governor-General proceeded to Firozpur to welcome the returning forces. Nothing that ceremony or display could add was wanting on the occasion. An army of reserve was formed, which Maclagan was ordered to join. He was employed preparing and decorating boat-bridges on the Sutlej, over which the army passed in safety, but the works were carried away by a flood within a week.
When the camp was broken up, Maclagan was employed roadmaking on the southern slope of the Himalaya, and experienced the pleasure, not to be fully appreciated save by those who have for a time been deprived of it, of seeing pure streams flow through undulating land. He described his sensations thus: "This morning's march was about nine miles, and I crossed, for the first time in India, a little clear burn, with stony bed. The pleasant sound of its ripple, with the fine scenery before me, made me feel at home," &c.
He was not allowed to enjoy
such prospects long, for in May 1843 he was posted to the Delhi canals under Captain W. E. Baker, whom he accompanied in August to the dry and thirsty region of Sind, then ruled by the able but eccentric Sir Charles Napier. Baker, afterwards Sir William, was a great geologist, who inspired his assistants with some of his own zeal, and Maclagan seems to have been an apt pupil. He suffered, however, from fever, and in 1845 was obliged to apply for transfer to the NorthWest Provinces, whither Baker had preceded him. Sir Charles wrote kindly: "I am very sorry to lose you, and still more for the reason. I do hope your health will recover in India, and no word of mine shall be wanting if I can serve you." But these plans were altered owing to the outbreak of war with the Sikhs. Maclagan was appointed assistant field-engineer and ordered to Firozpur, for which place he set forth, but was halted at Bahawalpur to await Sir C. Napier, who was to be second in command of the army of the Sutlej. Whilst there, news of the battles of Múdki, Firozsháh, and Sobráon arrived, first in that mysterious way whereby in the East it is so rapidly transmitted, but afterwards it was confirmed by letters. When Napier arrived they pushed on to Lahore, pausing at Firozpur to see the captured Sikh guns. Carriages were sent to bring the party in. "The first is a large coach, once Runjeet Singh's, a regular hackneycoach, panels green and yellow. This team urged by a couple of postilions." The other a palkeegarry,1 in which "the mules [were] driven four-in-hand. About twenty miles more in three stages to our camp at Lahore, where I
1 A palankin coach-i.e., like a palankin on wheels. VOL. CLVI.-NO. DCCCCXLVI.
left Sir Charles's party and proceeded to the Engineer camp.'
Napier arrived on March 3, 1846, and two days later Gough reviewed the army prior to its return to our own provinces. Viscount Hardinge, who was present on the occasion as private secretary to his father, has described the scene. After mentioning the various regiments on parade and their recent losses in action, he has recorded that the GovernorGeneral approached the gallant 50th, "the dirty half-hundred," and presenting their old mander, told them how proud he was of their behaviour in the late battles, where they had lost 300 killed and wounded. The men received Napier with deafening cheers, which were taken up and repeated by every regiment on the ground. Sir Charles was so overcome that his speech failed, and he could only wave his hand in acknowledgment. His dress was remarkable—a pith helmet, a native leather jacket, and breeches and long boots. It was, moreover, believed that this costume had never been changed since his arrival in
When the main body of our troops had marched, Maclagan was attached to the force which was left in occupation, and was employed on the defences of Lahore in case of attack by the Sikh army. When Napier heard this, he gave our young engineer, to whom he had evidently taken a fancy, the following characteristic advice:
"Well, take my word for it, Maclagan, you'll have fighting here before long. We English are bold and brave in battle, and can carry everything before us then, but we are too easily
lulled into a sense of security when the fighting is over. Here you may be in peace and quiet without a comforts-take a glass of beer-and thought of danger; enjoying all your all that sort of thing, and the blow may come down like a sledge-hammer. It's my opinion they'll attempt to surprise you in Lahore. I've been receiving information daily chiefly through moonshees, natives, and others, and it's my opinion that will be the case. Look now at the Sikh army that has been disbanded. There may be 150,000 of them, and they're all armed; having probably 120 or 130 pieces of cannon. There are 70, Sir Henry tells me, in this placeopen, exposed to view-besides those that may be concealed. Well, these men have all dispersed for the present. Are they at all more friendly disposed towards us than they were, think ye? And the others that have been entertained here - do ye think they can be highly pleased with 6 Rs. a-month, instead of 12, with golden bracelets and all that? Don't fancy for a moment that they've all settled down permanently in quiet. They'll watch your proceedings here, and it's my belief they'll attempt to surprise you. And the only way to be prepared is to keep every man drilled at his proper post, and to have constant examination of the state of your defences. And in as far as in you lies, Maclagan, you look to this. You take the advice that I can give you from my experience. I can't be talking in this way to Col. an officer of rank and experience. He would only put his tongue in his cheek. But I do to you. my experience. You are young, and may be guided by When I was in the north of England, Nottingham was to be attacked at the same time
with Sheffield. It was not attacked;
and on the trials it came out that the only reason of this was that they had seen we were on our guard. I was prepared on every point, and had every man trained at his proper post; and that's the only way to avoid confusion and disaster at the time of an
1 These extracts are from Maclagan's diary.
2 Rulers of India. Viscount Hardinge, by his son Charles, Viscount Hardinge (Clarendon Press), p. 130.
attack. If you are on your guard in that way, though it be in the dark, every man will know his place and immediately be at it; and if not, you will be surprised: they will be rushing in all directions and in confusion; then every man will run to the front and fire, not knowing where. But do your utmost to have everything in order and prepared for such an event; and increase your own exertions, if you see any tendency to carelessness and disregard of danger. I'll be coming back some day to let you out. There will be plenty for you to do here. Now's the time for you to distinguish yourself."
No attack, however, was made, and Maclagan having continued to suffer from fever, was sent to Simla, where he met many eminent men. Besides the GovernorGeneral, Lord Hardinge, and the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Gough, the names of Henry Lawrence, Robert Napier, Henry Marion Durand, Herbert Edwardes, and others are found in his diary. He also attracted the attention of James Thomason, Lieut.-Governor of the North-West Provinces, by whom he was chosen to be Principal of a college to be established at Rúrki for the preparation of young men as civil engineers. The wisdom of the selection was justified, and to this day Maclagan's arrangements, with but slight modification, are in force at the Thomason College.
Rúrki was then a specially interesting station as headquarters of the Ganges Canal; but in India, work seldom goes on long without interruption. In 1848 In 1848 the second Sikh war broke out, and Maclagan was desired to march a corps of beldars (diggers) to the scene of action. Verily, the mistakes which are made even by persons of experience are
astounding. To send such men to oppose the warriors of the Khálsa, who had fought us as we had never in India at any rate been resisted before, was to expect the lamb to fight the lion. Fortunately for the coolies, they were stopped when almost within touch of our army, and on their way home they heard the sound of the guns at Chilian wála.
In 1852 Maclagan returned to England on leave, having visited Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Constantinople, Athens, and Venice. After a short rest, he was deputed to America to study her systems of education, travelling out with Sir Charles Lyell, the eminent geologist, who introduced him to Mr Ticknor and other celebrities on arrival at Boston. He met Longfellow, Lowell, Dana, Sumner, Asa Gray, Prescott, and Agassiz; and all was new and mostly delightful. Journeying to Montreal, he seemed much impressed with the business qualities and chaff of a gentleman who travelled in "Ross's Premium Soap"; and on his return to Boston he went to church one Sunday at the Sailor's Bethel, and has thus described the scene and performance: "Behind the pulpit a large picture of a vessel in a stormy sea off a rocky coast-flag Bethel. An angel high up in the clouds, an anchor in another part of the sky. The whole service, prayer and preaching, very melancholy: the prayer in extravagant language, bad grammar, and to the accompaniment of excited movement of body and head; the preaching having to do with everything save the text, and, when discoursing about the elect on whose account the world was saved from destruction, containing such language as: "God would
1 Afterwards first Lord Napier of Magdála.