Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde
Chapter X From Simla to Westminster Abbey


The Mutiny had come to an end, although there was still a ground-swell of disturbance on the Oude frontier opposite Nepaul, in Bundelcund, and in some other districts of Central India. It was not until the end of May, 1859, that Lord Clyde could confidently state that the last embers of rebellion had been extinguished, and that the provinces of India which during the preceding two years had been the scene of so much lawlessness, bloodshed, and disorder, were now subsiding into a state of profound tranquillity.

The oldest soldier on active service of all the army in India, so strong was Lord Clyde’s constitution that from the day he first took the field until the accident which befell him on the Nepaul frontier a few days before the termination of the final campaign, he had never suffered a day’s illness. His vigour and energy had been extraordinary; the heat which prostrated so many of his followers was borne lightly by the tough and seasoned veteran, who despised all luxury, lived in a small tent, was content with the rations of the soldiers, and cheerfully bivouacked with them under the stars. But now that the stress of campaigning was over, and when, he had reached Lucknow from the Nepaul frontier, the irritation of the broken rib, which was among the injuries he received in the accident that befell him before Burgidiah, resulted in a sharp attack of inflammation of the lungs. For some days he was very ill, and his surgeon Maekinnon found him the reverse of a docile patient, for he hated medicine and could scarce be induced to remain quietly in bed. He gradually, however, recovered; and then, urged by Lord Canning to betake himself for rest to the hills, he left Lucknow with the headquarters on March 1st and proceeded by way of Agra and Delhi to Simla. At Delhi he spent several days investigating with the keenest interest the scenes of the memorable struggle there, and everything connected with the operations before that fortress. At Umbala he reviewed the troops quartered in that station, and reached Simla in the last week of April. His great work accomplished, he had a right to believe that there had now come an end to the cares which the rebellion entailed on him. In the bracing atmosphere of the hills he looked forward to a perfect restoration to health, and to the early realisation of his cherished hope of spending his last years with friends at home. But scarcely had he settled himself at Simla when tidings reached him of a grave danger confronting the Government of India. When in November, 1858, the assumption of the Government of India by the Crown was announced, some of the soldiers of the Company’s European troops had set up an alternative claim for a free discharge or a bounty on re-enlistment into the service of the Crown. The law-officers of the Crown decided that the claim was inadmissible; and therefore a not unnatural discontent was engendered which finally culminated in the regrettable disturbance familiarly known as the “White Mutiny.” It was well for the Government that in Lord Clyde there was available to meet the crisis a man who understood and sympathised with the nature and prejudices of the soldier. An actual collision was imminent, and as Lord Clyde informed the Viceroy, “no one could tell what would be the effect of a collision on the remainder of the local army, and on the native mind throughout India.” A proclamation of a temporising character issued to the local European troops at Meerut produced a good effect, as establishing what the Commander-in-Chief termed the “tranquillity of expectation” in place of open discontent. But it was manifest, from the reports received from the stations where troops of the late Company’s European force were serving, that the feeling of dissatisfaction was general; and the Government, recognising how wide was the agitation, became convinced of the necessity of granting a discharge to every man who desired it. With a strange inconsistency the Indian Government, notwithstanding that the law-officers of the Crown had decided that the alternative claims of the soldiers were alike inadmissible, granted them their discharges, but obstinately refused to give a bounty on re-enlistment, a concession which nine out of ten men would have accepted contentedly. The outcome was a study in the art of “how not to do it.” The Company’s European troops took their discharges and came home almost in a body,—from the Bengal Presidency alone came seven thousand men—most of whom had been fairly acclimatised to the Indian climate. The recruiting sergeants in Charles Street re-enlisted them for the Queen’s service as they landed or even when the transports were coming up the Thames; and the great majority of the men who had been John Company’s soldiers were back in India as soldiers of the Queen among the first reliefs. The operation, involving as it did the cost of the double voyage and the enlistment money at home, was not a brilliant sample of economy. The simpler method would have been to give the men the two guineas per head bounty, which was all they asked to transform them from Company’s into Queen’s soldiers. The disaffection of the local European troops made a great impression on Lord Clyde, and he expressed himself to the Viceroy on the subject in the following terms: “I am irresistibly led to the conclusion that henceforth it will be dangerous to the State to maintain in India a local European army. I believe, as a consequence of this recent experience, that it will be unsafe to have any European forces which do not undergo the regular process of relief, and that this consideration must be held paramount to all others. We cannot afford to attend to any other considerations than those of discipline and loyalty, which may be constantly renovated by the periodical return to England of all the regiments in every branch of the service.”

Lord Clyde had been intending to tender his resignation and return to England about the end of February, 1860, when events occurred which were to detain him some months longer in India. In the spring of 1859 the English and French Ministers to China, finding that the Chinese Government were raising obstacles to their visit to the capital for the purpose of exchanging ratifications of the treaty of the previous year, put themselves in the hands of the Admiral in command of the British Squadron. The attempt to force the passage of the Peiho and seize the Taku forts was repulsed so severely as to necessitate the return of the expedition to Shanghai. It was obvious that the enforcement of reparation would necessitate a joint expedition on a large scale to be undertaken by England and France. The troops and material of the former Power were to be, supplied mainly from India, and Lord Canning was empowered to make the necessary arrangements acting in concert with the Commander-in-Chief. The latter made the wise suggestion which was acted on, that Sikh troops would be more useful in China than either Hindostanis or Madrassis. His recommendations in regard to the clothing and provisioning of the 'force proved most valuable; and his sendees were so essential that Lord Canning, who depended greatly on his counsel and recommendations, prevailed on him to delay his departure for some months longer. In the beginning of October Lord Clyde left Simla, and inspecting the military stations on the way joined at Cawnpore the camp of the Viceroy who was accompanied by Lady Canning. After a visit to Lucknow the Viceregal tour was extended through the military stations of the NorthWest Provinces and the Punjaub to the frontier at Peshawur. Lord Clyde, who had shared in most part of this expedition, then accompanied the Viceroy to Calcutta, where on the eve of his departure he issued the following soldierly and modest farewell order:

“On leaving this country I take the opportunity of thanking the officers and soldiers of the two services for their valour and endurance, so severely tried, especially in the early part of the insurrection. History does not furnish a finer display of heroical resistance to many adverse conditions than was shown by the British troops during those mutinies. The memory of their constancy and daring will never die .out in India; and the natives must feel that while Britain possesses such sons the rule of the British Sovereign must last undisputed. Soldiers, both British and native, I bid you farewell; and I record as my latest word, that the bravery and endurance of which I have spoken with admiration, could not alone have insured success. That success was owing in a great measure to your discipline, which is the foundation of all military virtues, and which, I trust, will never he relaxed.”

India had relapsed into a state of profound peace and security: the Chinese expedition under the efficient command of Sir Hope Grant had embarked; and his work accomplished, Lord Clyde gave over the command to his successor Sir Hugh Rose and sailed from Calcutta on June 4th after taking a final and touching farewell of Lord Canning, Honours met him before he reached his native land. On his arrival in Paris the Emperor Napoleon summoned him to an audience; the Duke of Cambridge hastened to announce to him that her Majesty had graciously conferred on him the colonelcy of the Coldstream Guards. He reached London in time to take his seat in the House of Lords, and to speak and vote in favour of the Bill for the amalgamation of the armies of India. Nothing could he more flattering than his reception by all classes of his countrymen, but with the retiring modesty which characterised him, he shrank from all attempts to make him an object of popularity. The freedom of the City of London had already been conferred upon him in his absence by a vote of the Court of Common Council and soon after his return he and Sir James Outram were the recipients of Swords of Honour presented by the conscript fathers of the city, followed by a banquet at the Mansion-House. A few weeks later, when the thanks of the House of Lords were voted to the China force whose exertions had resulted in a satisfactory peace, Lord Clyde declined to receive the tribute paid him for his services in the preparation of the expedition, unless it was shared in by his coadjutor Lord Canning.

After a visit in Paris to his old Crimean comrade General Vinoy, he travelled on the Italian battlefields of 1859 and held some pleasant interviews with Della Marmora and Cialdini, old soldier-friends of the Sardinian Contingent in the Crimea. In the autumn of 1861 he was selected to represent the British military service at the manoeuvres of the Prussian army, and on the termination of the manoeuvres he had the honour of being received by the Royal Family at Briihl. In .November of the same year he accompanied Sir John Lawrence to Windsor on the occasion of the first Chapter of the newly established order of the Star of India being held by Her Majesty, and was installed as a Knight of the Order.

But in the midst of these triumphs a twofold blow was to strike his heart. Ever since leaving India he had maintained an affectionate correspondence with Lady Canning. That cherished friend he was now deprived of to his great sorrow. Her constitution impaired by the climate and by the anxiety which she had suffered during the strain of the Mutiny, Lady Canning fell a victim to an attack of fever. Lord Clyde’s last letter to her arrived after her death, and was acknowledged by Lord Canning, who expressed in a few touching words, “how cordially she whom he had lost reciprocated the regard Lord Clyde entertained for her.” A few months later Lord Canning himself, on whose constitution, enfeebled by climate, labour, and anxiety, disease had made rapid inroads, died on the day of his arrival in England, Of the many who followed to their grave in Westminster Abbey the remains of the first Viceroy of Queen Victoria’s Indian Empire, none mourned him more deeply than did his former Commander-in-Chief, who had been his associate in the triumph of restoring British ascendency in the East. By the grave of their dead master and friend Clyde and Outram stood arm in arm, both destined at no long interval to be laid in the earth now covering the coffin of their revered Chief.

His latest honour was the highest to which a British officer can attain. In an Extraordinary Gazette published on the 9th of November 1862,—the twenty-first anniversary of the birth of the Prince of Wales—it was intimated that the Duke of Cambridge, Sir E. Blakeney, and Lords Gough and Clyde were promoted to the rank of Field-Marshal. If Colin Campbell had served for over forty-six years before attaining the rank of major-general, his subsequent promotion had been exceptionally rapid, since in eight years he had run up through the list of general officers into the highest position of the military service.

With the exception of health, Lord Clyde had “all which should accompany old age—honour, love, troops of friends.” But he was visibly, if gradually, breaking up. He had never spared himself when duty called, but when the strain slackened with the extinction of the mutiny, his constitution began to fail. His illness in Lucknow after leaving the Nepaul frontier was the first premonition of decay. During his stay in Simla he had begun to relax his custom of early rising and to manifest an indisposition to take his morning walk; while a casual cold, of which a year earlier he would have thought nothing, resulted in a sharp attack of influenza accompanied by fever and inflammation of the eyes. When on his subsequent tour up-country with the Viceroy, he began to evince a disinclination for the saddle, and preferred, contrary to his old predilection, to be driven in a wheeled vehicle. Later, after returning to Europe, he suffered much at times from fever and ague which he traced back to the old Walcheren days; and in the end of 1861 he had a serious illness which left him permanently enfeebled even after he had been pronounced convalescent. Yet he was still able to make long journeys, and he commanded the Volunteer Review on the Brighton Downs on the Easter Monday of 1862, when some twenty thousand men were in the field. He expressed his surprise at the steadiness and intelligence of the citizen soldiery. “It was not,” he wrote, “a simple affair of marching past and saluting, but a readiness of movement and facility of change of position not always surpassed by the oldest and most practised troops.” This was the last occasion of his appearing at the head of troops in the field.

The end of the old warrior came at last somewhat suddenly. Derangement of the heart had been discovered. and in May, 1863, he had an attack of so alarming a character that his medical advisers recommended him to put his affairs in order. Near the end of June he went to Chatham to be with his dearest friends General and Mrs. Eyre. There he gradually grew worse. Almost to the last his memory would revert to the Highland soldiers who were always so eager to follow where he led, and he would express his gratitude for their staunch fidelity to the Chief who loved them so well. When the news of his illness reached the Queen, her Majesty directed Sir Charles Phipps “to say in her name everything to her old, loyal, faithful servant that could be said of sympathy and sincere regard.” “He was,” added Sir Charles, “a very great favourite of her Majesty; and if he still can listen to such expressions, it may soothe him to hear how deep is the Queen's feeling for him.” After several rallies, it became evident about noon of the 14th of August that Lord Clyde was sinking fast; and half an hour later, while his sister, General and Mrs. Eyre, and his faithful soldier-servant White knelt around him, the veteran of many battles calmly passed to his rest.

In accordance with Lord Clyde's desire that his funeral should be devoid of all ostentation, preparations were made for his interment in Kensal Green Cemetery. But the Government, rightly interpreting the public feeling and in unison with the ecclesiastical authorities, held it fitting that a national tribute should be paid to his memory by according to his remains a grave in Westminster Abbey. Thither accordingly without ostentation all that was mortal of him who had died the foremost soldier of England was borne on August 22nd; and with every demonstration of respect from the highest and noblest of the land and in the presence of a great company of his friends and followers, Lord Clyde was laid to his rest among the brother-warriors, the statesmen, and the other illustrious men who sleep around him. On a plain stone marking his grave is inscribed the following epitaph :—

BENEATH THIS STONE BEST THE REMAINS OF COLIN CAMPBELL, LORD CLYDE, WHO, BY HIS OWN DESERTS, THROUGH FIFTY YEARS OF ARDUOUS SERVICE FROM THE EARLIEST BATTLES IN THE PENINSULAR WAR TO THE PACIFICATION OF INDIA IN 1858, ROSE TO THE RANK OF FIELD-MARSHAL AND THE PEERAGE. HE DIED LAMENTED BY THE QUEEN, THE ARMY, AND THE PEOPLE, 14th august 1863, IN THE 71ST YEAR OF HIS AGE.

THE END


Return to Book Index Page


 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast