Frederick P Gibbon.

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humorous — side of strange and embarrassing ways of
life, to do nothing and say no word that would discourage
or hinder her husband's work.

Her writings prove that she was no mean narrator.
They are full of bright descriptions of Indian scenes, of the
interesting people she comes across, the kind English folk,
the picturesque native assistants, the clergyman's widow,
and the Hindu girls of the Orphan Refuge in Calcutta.
Though the excellent work of this school was for the benefit
of native girls alone, Mrs. Wilson, its founder, has also
earned the gratitude of Europeans, for the impression
made upon the newly-married couple was partly responsible
for the scheme of the Lawrence Asylums, with which the
names of Henry and Honoria Lawrence are for ever asso-
ciated, the living memorial to their goodness when the
conquest and pacification of the Sikhs has become a matter
of history.

Before leaving home she had given Letitia a solemn
promise that she would do what lay in her power to confirm
that trust in God which was already her lover's possession,
to help him and be helped by him on the rugged path, to
lift his thoughts in times of tribulation above his sorrows
and discouragements. And the strong man was glad so

50 The Lawrences of the Punjab

to be guided. His love for his wife, ardent as it was from
the first, burned the more brightly after each successive
3'ear. There was no disillusion.

Honoria Marshall left her home firmly resolved to share
in the labours and worries of her hard-worked husband.
" You can't drag your wife about in the jungles," said
John, but the wife settled that for herself. She could help
him, and where she could not help she would not hinder,
and he was so careless and unsparing of himself that he
needed some one to look after him. While at Gorakhpur,
before marriage, he used to be too absorbed in his work to
have leisure for meals. He would invite people to dinner
and omit to make any provision for them, whereupon his
neighbour, Mr. Reade, would come to the rescue time after
time. But, whatever might be lacking, " no man ever sat
at Henry Lawrence's table without learning to think better
of the natives," said one who had partaken of his hospi-

" You bid me describe him," writes the wife to her friend,
Mrs. Cameron. " I will try. He is thirty-one but looks
older, is rather tall, very thin and sallow, and has altogether
an appearance of worse health than he really has. Dark
hair, waxing scanty now, high forehead, very projecting
eyebrows, small sunken eyes, long nose, thin cheeks, no
whiskers, and a very pretty mouth. Very active and alert
in his habits, but very unmethodical. As to dress and
externals, perfectly careless, and would walk out with a
piece of carpet about his shoulders as readily as with a
coat, 1 and would invite people to dinner on a cold shoulder

1 Sir John Kaye has told how, ten years later, just after the
honour of knighthood had been conferred upon Henry Lawrence,
they were walking together in Regent Street, and it gradually
dawned upon the unsophisticated Irishman that his attire was
calculated to attract attention. He was wearing " an antiquated
frock-coat, and an old grey shepherd's plaid was crossed over his
breast." "They must think me a great guy," he observed to his
companion, and was straightway conducted to the nearest tailor.

Henry Lawrence's Love Story 5 1

of mutton as readily as to a feast. There now, I do think
you have an impartial description of my lord and master." 1

Here is an extract from a letter to Letitia (now Mrs.
Hayes) .

" Dearest Lettice, — When I think of the being to whom I
am joined, I wonder where such an one came from, and I
take delight in analysing the heart laid open to me. I
never saw a being who had so right an estimate of the true
use of money. He literally is but a steward of his own
income, for the good of others. But he has ever a higher
generosity ; he never blames others for faults he is himself
free from. You know his perfect transparency of character.
I suppose since he was born it never entered his head to do
anything for effect, and his manner is precisely the same
to all ranks of people. ... No one sees his imperfections
more clearly than I do, so I do not judge blindly, nor do I
hesitate to tell him when I think he is wrong. But his
faults may be summed up in very few words. He wants
method ; he is occasionally hasty ; and he is too careless
of appearances. But if you were to see how his temper is
tried by the nature of his work, you would not wonder at its
giving way. And this fault is clearly mending. Indeed,
I often wonder at his forbearance. I sometimes fear lest
my love for him should become of that idolatrous kind that
brings chastisement on itself; yet surely I look on him as
the gift of God, and never I think were my prayers so
fervent as now that they are joined with his. His un-
professing simplicity of conduct often checks my wordy
tendency, and makes me weigh the practical value of my
feelings before I give them utterance." 2

Henry Lawrence was now the head of an establishment,
nearly one thousand strong, and as the work of super-
intendence necessitated constant journeys up and down

1 Life of Sir Henry Lawrence, vol. i. pp. 1 53-1 54.

2 Ibid. vol. i. pp. 1 60-161.

52 The Lawrences of the Punjab

the North-Western Provinces, the bride could hardly be
said to have a home. She found comfort in the thoughts
that " though I may not interrupt him by speaking, I can
sit by him while he works at his maps and papers," and
that " his situation gives him considerable power for
benefiting others. It is pleasant to think how many of
those about him owe their comfortable and respectable
situations in life wholly to him."

" But you will desire rather to know," she wrote to Mrs.
Cameron, " how I find my own spiritual condition affected
by this new world. Certainly I miss very much the out-
ward observances of religion, and its public institutions ;
but with these we have also left behind much of the wood,
hay, and stubble that deface piety, where it is professed
by the many. It is a position to try our motives, for,
situated as we are, there is nothing to be either gained or
lost by religion, there is no temptation to profess more than
we feel, or to deceive ourselves by setting down excitement
for piety." l

To another friend: " Yet there are advantages here too,
and piety, if it flourish at all in such a life, is more likely to
be simple and healthy, than where we are in the excitement
of religious bustle. You know we used to argue this point
at home, where I have impertinently told you, that your
religious dissipation was as bad as other peoples' worldly."

His assistant at Gorakhpur has given us some idea of the
bride's luxurious life during her early days in the East. 2
He describes her great gifts, her cheerful character, and
happiness in sharing her husband's work. Captain and
Mrs. Lawrence shared " a tent some ten feet square, a
suspended shawl separating her bedroom and dressing-
table from the hospitable breakfast-table ; and then both
were in their glory." In the north of the Gorakhpur

1 Life of Sir Henry Lawrence, vol. i. p. 151.

3 Kaye's Lives of Indian Officers, vol. ii. pp. 283-284.

Henry Lawrence's Love Story 53

district a jungle tract had to be surveyed, adjoining the
Terai, that belt of malarious forest — a preserve of the tiger
and the elephant — that separates Nepal from Hindustan.
Lawrence's party attacked one side, the assistant's the
other, and they met and connected the survey in a spot
where the dews were so heavy that the beds were wet
through each night, and fires had to be kept alight to
scare away tigers and wild elephants. What then was the
assistant's surprise to find Mrs. Lawrence sharing the peril.
" She was seated [writing letters ! ] on the bank of a nullah,
her feet overhanging the den of some wild animal."

By the close of the year 1837 the Gorakhpur district was
surveyed and the Lawrences set out for Allahabad, the
next district on the list. It was the fate of Henry Lawrence
that in whatever place he stayed, during his thirty-six
years' wandering service, he never left except amid general
sorrow. The lads of the English school at Gorakhpur
missed the friend who had never been too busy to take an
interest in them, who had found them places in the Survey
Office when too old for school, and who, when work was
over, had hired ponies and sent them off for long rides for
the good of their health and for the joy that it gave him to
make others happy. 1

Among the coincidences that abound in the record of
these brothers' lives the case of the second Henry Lawrence
is remarkable. Soon after Henry Lawrence's first arrival
in India he received letters intended for another lieutenant
of the same name, of the 19th Native Infantry, and this
state of confusion continued for years. Now came to
India a letter from Letitia beginning " Dearest Henry and
Honoria," and this was opened and partly read by the
other Henry Lawrence before he realised that it was not

1 " For every child he met in my own family, in the Missionary or
other public schools, he had a word of kindness or encouragement."
— Mr. Raike's Notes.

54 The Lawrences of the Punjab

his. For he also had married a wife with the name of

About this time a second war with Burma threatened,
and there was also a talk of " that constant bugbear " a
Gurkha invasion of British India. Henry Lawrence at
once remembers that he is a soldier.

He had proved himself humble in ways that admit of
no doubt, but the humility was not inconsistent with a
readiness to undertake responsibility. Few great men
have been so free from conceit — in the objectionable sense
of the word — yet his self-confidence was sublime. In a
man of less sound judgment the manner of showing this
would have been amusing, for the fear of being laughed
at rarely deterred him from speaking out. Seven years
before his marriage, while still an obscure lieutenant
of twenty-four years of age, he had not shrunk from
advising the Governor-General to reconsider the order
substituting bullock for horse draft in the foot artillery.
Having stated his arguments clearly and forcibly he begged
his lordship to " pardon the intrusion and impute it to my
anxiety to see the foot artillery, to which I am attached,
in a state of efficiency, which I fear can never be the case
so long as the field guns are drawn by bullocks." No
sooner, then, did he hear of the preparations for war with
Burma than he resolved to give the Governor-General and
the Commander-in-Chief the benefit of his experiences in
that countrj 7 . He mapped out for their edification a plan
of campaign, complete to the last detail of commissariat,
baggage and draught animals, boats on the Irrawady, and
number and class of guns, and penned another letter dealing
with " The Quartermaster-General's Department, engineers,
surveys, roads, canals, and statistics," urging the appoint-
ment of a staff corps, and outlining a system for " inter-
secting the country with canals, roads, and railroads."

The rumours of war were happily unfounded, and he

Henry Lawrence's Love Story 55

again immersed himself in the work of the survey, until on
August 9, 1838, he was officially ordered to hold himself
ready to rejoin his troop. The storm was about to burst
on the western, not the eastern, frontier, and all the talk
was now of Kabul. He begged leave to join the army at
once in any capacity, and, ever busy with new schemes
and reforms, he lost no time in sending a recommendation
for the raising of a corps of guides, to be composed of the
best material, of picked men noted for courage, endurance,
and resource. He quoted examples of heavy losses and
hardships due to lack of early information, and demon-
strated that such a corps, costing comparatively little,
might not only save the lives of thousands in case of a
frontier war, but also be the means of avoiding enormous

Here he might have stopped with advantage to the
success of his scheme. The rest of his proposals, however,
" looked just like a job from a very clumsy hand," as the
Quartermaster-General wrote to George Lawrence, in
commenting on the brother's naive advice. Such was
Henry's simplicity and directness that he, a brevet captain
and a regimental lieutenant, went on to recommend to the
Commander-in-Chief the four officers to be selected for
the proposed guide corps. No subterfuge, no diplomacy
about this. A viceroy would hesitate before conferring his
patronage on four men at once ; not so the lieutenant. No
grandparent cares to be taught the method of sucking eggs,
even should the youngster be a genius — and be in the right.
Small wonder then that the communication was pigeon-
holed. Eight years later, when Henry Lawrence was
acting in the capacity of regent to an emperor, he was able
to raise his own corps of guides and appoint his own officers,
and that wonderful corps was not slow to justify its

He awaited in vain the order to rejoin his troop, and his

56 The Lawrences of the Punjab

wife, rejoicing that he was not yet to be taken from her,
said not a word to discourage his military ardour. She had
hardly realised that her husband was a soldier only
temporarily engaged in civil employ ; but Henry was his
father's son and the trumpet-call had aroused the hereditary
instinct. A year had passed and the wife was about to
become a mother, and what must have been her inmost
thoughts as she wrote his letters, correcting the expressions
as the thoughts tumbled over one another — penning at his
dictation urgent requests that he might be allowed to go
to the front to work his guns. Honour and duty called
him awa}'. He belonged to the Horse Artillery and his
comrades were going into danger. There was his place,
with them, and he must not stay in ignoble safety. Mrs.
Lawrence was cast in no less heroic mould than her husband,
and she bowed to the call of duty. " When Henry's troop
was ordered to march, he volunteered to join, nor could I
object to his doing what was obviously his duty ; though
I clung to the hope that he would not be allowed to quit
his office." x

More sublime even than her perfect unselfishness in those
days of trial was the remonstrance addressed to her husband
when he was about to commit the greatest wrong of a
life singularly free from sin — the act upon which Henry
Lawrence must have looked back with most regret. He had
entered into a controversy with the biographer of General
Sir John Adams. The exaggerated measure of praise
given to that able and popular general and the apocryphal
records of his marches and campaigns provoked him, as a
student of military history, to correct certain statements.
Admitting that General Adams was a fine soldier he took
the biographer to task for making his hero the equal of
Wellington, and, in some respects, the superior. He had
no wish to belittle Adams, for whose achievements and
1 Life of Sir Henry Lawrence, p. 197. Letter to Mrs. Cameron.

Henry Lawrence's Love Story 57

character he entertained sincere respect, but he feared that
the effects of these eulogiums upon readers imperfectly
acquainted with history, and incapable of forming a correct
and well-balanced judgment upon things military, would
be to lower the greatness of Wellington rather than to
raise Adams to the level of the great Irishman.

The controversy attracted wide attention and, unable
to meet the arguments of his young antagonist, the bio-
grapher descended to personalities and abuse. Finally
he characterised certain of Lawrence's statements as
" calumnies " and " untruths."

It is hardly surprising that a man of so sensitive a tempera-
ment and of so quick a temper should have contemplated
an appeal to the ordeal of trial by combat, but that the
intervention of the dearly-loved wife, the mother, who but
a few weeks ago had given birth to her first-born, should
have been, not disregarded certainly, but unavailing,
comes as a shock.

Great must have been the pride, and keen the smart, to
uphold him in wrong-doing in the face of this appeal.

September 26, 1838.

My Husband, — You did to-day what you never did before, —
when I came behind you, you snatched up what you were writing,
that I might not see it. All I did see was, ' My dear Campbell.'
Dearest, though your entire confidence in me has been a prize
beyond all price, yet I do not forget that you have a right to act
as you please, to communicate or withhold your correspondence;
and if you deem it best not to let me know the subject, you will
never find me complain or tease you. But, my own love, I cannot
help surmising the subject of to-day's letter, that subject which
has not been an hour at a time absent from my mind for three
weeks nearly. Ever since the few unforgettable words that passed
between us, have I been struggling in my mind to decide what I
ought to do. The words have often been on my lips, and the pen
in my hand to address you, and as often has my heart failed me;
but I cannot rest till I speak openly to you, and it is better to do
so thus than in talking. On the question of duelling, I will not
dwell on the reason of it — all that you admit; nor on the improba-

58 The Lawrences of the Punjab

bility of this matter becoming more serious, for that does not affect
the general question; nor on the heart-scald I feel, and the injury
this does to your wife; these are woman's feelings, — men must act
on a different view. No, my own most-beloved husband, I only
put it on the ground of fearing God, or fearing man. I know that,
to a man, the imaginary disgrace that attends an open declaration
against duelling is bitter and agonising; but is not " crucifixion "
the very word Christ applies to these mental sufferings, and that
to which He calls us? You said, ' A man who submitted to the
charge of untruth would be spit upon.' Was not Christ literally
spit upon for us ? Oh, darling, our Advocate on high feels for these
trials. The human shame attending the death of a criminal is always
spoken of as aggravating the sufferings of the Cross; thus showing
us that our Saviour can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
It is only by looking to Him that we can gain strength for these
trials; but from Him we can obtain it. You may think I put the
matter too seriously; but is it more seriously than it will appear
in the hour of death and day of Judgment ? Do not imagine that
I cannot enter into your feelings. Is your honour, your peace,
your well-being, less dear to me than yourself? Nay, dearest;
but when I see you do, not only what I think wrong, but what
your own mind condemns, can I help speaking?

To any other fault you may be hurried ; but there is deliberate
sin, not only in giving or accepting a challenge, but in intending
to do so. Oh! consider these things; and before you decide on
anything, pray earnestly that God may direct you. If I have
exceeded what a wife ought to say, you will forgive me.

Indeed, dearest, I have tried to persuade myself that it was
my duty not to interfere; but my conscience would not let me
believe this. 1

The heart-burning, the sense of shame and unworthiness,
as he read his wife's words may be imagined, and the
reverence and awe with which he would afterwards treasure
that evidence of holy love. He knew, as he read, that his
wife was right, and he worshipped her the more, yet
hardened his heart and told himself again and again that
no other course was open to him. Happily he was saved
from himself, for the artillery officers through whom the
challenge was sent decided that the provocation was not
sufficiently grave to justify a challenge.

1 Life of Sir Henry Lawrence, vol. i. pp. 192-194.




Etawa — Fever and Home Leave — His Irish Temperament — ■
Marriage — Bad News from Kabul.

John Lawrence had been for more than seven years in
one or other of the Delhi divisions, when the quality and
finish of his work were marked by the same Mr. Bird, who
had already noticed, and put to good use, the qualifications
of the elder brother. Here was another Lawrence who
revelled in hard tasks, and who seemed made for the
wielding of power. So the head of the survey called the
Delhi magistrate to Etawa as settlement officer for that
district, and this step brought the brothers into the same
field of labour, though separated by hundreds of miles.
Etawa provided John's first experience of real famine, and
the lesson was not wasted. Here an attack of jungle fever
might have deprived India of her ablest civilian had not
his strength of will prevailed. He defied the doctor, who
had declared that the patient could not hope to live another
day, and with a bottle of Burgundy and a strong will as
medicine, he rose from his bed and resumed his work.

He was, however, unfit for further duty, and as three
months at Calcutta failed to set him right, he decided to
return to England, and arrived home in the spring of 1840.

It was not the home he had left. His father was dead,
Letitia was married, his brothers and sisters were scattered
abroad, but he was welcomed by a mother's love, and


60 The Lawrences of the Punjab

thankfulness that this, her fourth son, was following in the
footsteps of the others. Few mothers have had such
reason to be proud of their children, and when she reflected
that it was the widow's poverty that called forth the self-
denial of the four sons she would hardly regret that the
generosity of her husband's nature had prevented his
becoming wealthy. She might have dwelt less in their
thoughts had she stood in no need of their help. The
" Lawrence Fund " had grown apace, and the interest
therefrom sufficed to keep Mrs. Lawrence in comfort.
John, the unmarried civilian, was now the largest con-
tributor to, and manager of, the fund. He had more of
the Scottish temperament than his brothers, and was the
financier of the family. Since Henry's marriage he had
also taken the essentially " Irish " brother's financial
affairs in hand, greatly to the profit of Henry and Honoria.

By many that knew him only in his official capacity as
dispenser of justice and overseer of labour, John Lawrence
was accounted a stern man, who, unsparing of himself,
would demand the full tale of bricks from those over whom
he was placed in authority. " When he is in anger," said
one of his native settlement officers, " his voice is like a
tiger's roar, and the pens tremble in the hands of the
writers all round the room." 1 Yet the first journey he
made from Clifton was a pilgrimage to the grave of the old
nurse, Margaret, who had held his hand in the darkened
room, and whose devotion he never forgot.

Those who had the privilege of his friendship would not
have been surprised by this proof of affection. It was their
good fortune to see him at play, often rough and boisterous,
at times gentle and kindly; now and then concealing the
tenderness of his affection beneath a veil of chaff, for
John Lawrence had his share of the family's Irish blood.
The humour-loving side of his character was displayed
1 Bosworth Smith, vol. i. p. 99.

John Lawrence Finds a Wife 61

during a visit to his sister, Mrs. Hayes. His love for Letitia
was evident enough, but his was not the conventional
method of expression, and a friend of Mrs. Hayes has
recorded her surprise at his playfulness. " He would
romp with her and keep up a perpetual chaff, finding a
continual source of fun in the age and peculiarities of Mr.
Hayes, for whom he had nevertheless a great respect,
though he used to take great delight in teasing her about
him, and saying that he was the very model of a decoy
Thug." 1 It may be explained that Mr. Hayes was a
venerable clergyman.

To the last he abhorred overmuch conventionality,
classing as " cakey-men " all that pride themselves upon
the correctness of their attitude towards the little things
that do not count.

The same lady tells how his store of anecdotes of Eastern
life and adventure would keep them interested night after
night. In the morning he would amuse them by narrating
his escapades at some party on the previous evening, his
pretended object being the search for the " calamity."
By this term he referred to the future Lady Lawrence,
and the three qualities he demanded of this unknown
personage were good health, good temper, and good sense.
Though not considered necessary, good looks would be

Online LibraryFrederick P GibbonThe Lawrences of the Punjab → online text (page 5 of 28)