« AnteriorContinuar »
Next day happened to be the 4th of July, in honour of which occasion there was a parade of the available military force, which prudence and due regard for international considerations forbid us to describe. The declaration of independence was read, and a good speech was made, in which all that could be said for America, and little or nothing offensive to other nations, were combined.
Maclagan visited and was much pleased with the Military Academy at West Point, where he made acquaintance with Colonel Lee. The situation is described as most desirable, and the students as being soldierly and smart.
On returning home, he was promoted in 1854 to be captain, and next year he married Patricia, fifth daughter of Patrick Gilmour, Esq. of the Grove, Londonderry. They left England in 1855, arriving in India at the end of the year, and went to Rúrki, where college work was resumed and continued till it was interrupted by the Mutiny.
Though that station escaped the horrors of the crisis, yet, with Meerut and Delhi at no great distance, the situation was sufficiently serious, and demanded efficient precaution. Baird Smith was the senior officer, bold and sagacious, whilst under him Maclagan was most useful, always maintaining a calmness which was of immense value. The workshops were made defensible, and accommodation in them was provided for
women and children; and here were born Baird Smith's daughter and Maclagan's eldest son. The garrison, though containing but ninety Europeans, some of whom were civilians, patrolled the country round, and restored confidence to the wavering. Captain Maclagan's firmness, and his kindness to those in distress, have made a lasting impression on persons who were present, amongst whom Mrs Baird Smith and Lady Chesney have recently referred to these qualities in terms of deserved admiration. The former has remarked that his "resolution, his sleepless care for all, and his special tender care for all who were left most lonely, are hardly to be described"; and that his conduct then is an unfading light in her memory of a time of sore distress.
The capture of Delhi, however, soon restored tranquillity: the College was reopened, and work went on as usual till 1861, when Maclagan was appointed to the Punjab as chief engineer, and was promoted to be Lieut.-Colonel. He held this appointment till he retired in January 1879, with the exception of some periods of leave, when his place was taken by Colonel Alexander Taylor. During these eighteen years, many important works were completed, whilst others were commenced. Railways and canals have greatly altered the condition of the country, mostly for the better; whilst many minor works of much use and convenience were constructed. Within the same period some noteworthy events occurred, with which General Maclagan was more or less concerned, of which we may mention the reception of Amir Sher Ali Khán of Kabul in 1869; the visit of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh to Lahore in 1870; the death of Sir Henry Durand, Lieut.
Governor of the Punjab, at the close of the same year; the ceremonies connected with the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales in 1876; and the war with Afghánistán in 1878.
Before the General left Lahore, the native members of the P.W. Department established a prize or scholarship to preserve his memory in the Punjab, a circumstance which afforded him much gratification.
On return to England he joined many religious and scientific societies, and contributed articles to various periodicals. In concert with Colonel Yule he wrote a Memoir of General Sir W. E. Baker; and he was engaged on a Life of Akbar, which we may hope to see published hereafter.
General Maclagan was greatly interested in the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper's Hill, of which his brother-officer Sir Alexander Taylor is President, and he was rarely absent on prizeday, when the successful students are nominated to the Indian P.W. Department. He attended many ceremonies, of which some were public, others private: amongst them we may mention the service in Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Queen's Jubilee (June 21, 1887), various gardenparties at Marlborough House, and a visit to Edinburgh in April 1890, when his name was enrolled amongst the Honorary Doctors of Laws, as an old alumnus of whom the University was most justly proud.
The degree was at the same time conferred on Sir John Fowler, Bart., the eminent civil
engineer, and on James Anthony Froude, the historian and man of letters, whose vivid imagination and beauty of style have acquired for him so distinguished a position amongst the authors of this century.
Other ceremonies of a different nature became more frequent as time went on old friends and comrades died, and Maclagan was most particular in paying to them the last token of respect. Sir Robert Montgomery, the successor of Sir John Lawrence in the Punjab, died in 1888; Sir Henry Yule died in 1889; followed in a fortnight, on January 14, 1890, by Lord Napier of Magdala, whose funeral at St Paul's was an impressive public spectacle, and a signal testimony of national regard.
General Maclagan had fair health till Christmas 1892, when he suffered from bronchitis and congestion of a lung, and it may be questioned whether he ever fully recovered from this illness. spent next summer at Lochearnhead, where he was again taken ill. After a time he was removed to Edinburgh, and later to London, with the view of wintering abroad; but his strength was unequal to the fatigue of a long journey, and he went instead to Torquay. There, after a period of uncertainty, unfavourable symptoms were developed, and he returned to London, where he died in perfect peace, leaving to his family and friends the satisfaction of retaining in their thoughts and affections the memory of his use ful, unselfish, and blameless life.
THE END OF THE STORY.
FROM UNPUBLISHED PAPERS OF THE LATE GENERAL SIR R. CHURCH.
AFTER the capture and execution of Ciro Annichiarico, related in November 1892 of this Magazine, Francavilla regained its normal condition as a quiet little country town. The crowds who had gathered from the country round dispersed to their homes; no traces remained of the ghastly scene in the little Piazza; the churches, there and everywhere, resounded with Te Deums; the gates of the cities were adorned with triumphal arches; the troops had a couple of days' holiday, and then escorted the General and a company of his friends (among whom was his brother, come from Florence to pay him a visit) from place to place in the province. They were welcomed everywhere with speeches and shouting, presented with the freedom of the city here, with a sword of honour there.
Still stragglers from the brigands were found by the peasants, and brought in from caves and forests; and there are curious stories of such captures, of which one shall be related here.
Two officers were returning from Taranto to Lecce one night. A dark and stormy night it was, and very glad were they to see the twinkling of a light at no great distance, as they were crossing the plain not far from Manduria, famous for its holy well, "della Madonna di Misericordia." Also, we are told, "the inhabitants of Manduria are distinguished for their love of order, urbanity, and hospitality." The twinkling light led them to a poor little masseria; but poor though it was, the two officers were glad of shelter. So they put
their horses into the stable and entered the house. The only inhabitants were an old man and his little granddaughter. An "old old man," bent and bowed, with a queer brown face, all seamed and crossed with wrinkles, who regarded the uninvited guests with small favour, muttering to himself and shaking his head, as he shot furtive glances at them out of his little ferrety eyes; and after informing the officers that he had nothing to give them to eat, and no beds to offer them, he threw a log on the hearth, lay down on a heap of straw in one corner of the room, where the child was already asleep, and appeared to follow her example.
The young officers took it very coolly, shook streams of water from their hats and cloaks, pulled a bench in front of the fire, devoured such refreshment, in the shape of bread and sausage and wine, as they had with them, and then pulled out their cigars and prepared to make a night of it. An hour had passed, when the door of the masseria was pushed open, and another guest, after standing silently for a moment on the threshold, came forward and joined himself to their company. was very tall, with a muscular sinewy frame, showing great strength and activity, gaunt, brown, with dark glittering eyes which minded the officers of those of a hungry wolf, and hands disproportionately large, even for his great height. Also, one finger was wanting on the right hand. All this the officers were able to note as he shook his long brown cloak and slouched hat, before putting
them on again. They saw also that he carried a carbine, and that in his belt were stuck three pistols and a curved and curiously embossed hunting-knife; while round his neck and on his breast were hung several relics, a small black cross, a silver death's-head, and two figures of the Madonna, embroidered in crimson silk.
The officers glanced at one another: they did not like this apparition; but what was to be done? They were far away from headquarters, there were no other inhabitants of the masseria than a feeble old man and a child. Besides, they had no commission to arrest suspicious wayfarers, and it was by no means certain whether a whistle might not fill the house with armed confederates, if they showed mistrust of the stranger.
So it seemed best to salute him, to make way for him on the bench, and to take out fresh cigars. The stranger returned their civilities, and remarks upon the weather followed, while the thunder growled, the lightning came in fitful flashes, and the rain pattered steadily on the roof. Presently the stranger tried a new topic. "Signori miei,” he asked, while his wild glittering eyes seemed to gleam from under his slouched hat in a way to make one shudder, "do you know General Giorgio?"
The officers turned and looked at him at this unexpected question, "Sì, signore," answered they.
If these had not been young officers, new to their work, they would have recognised by the silver death's-head round his neck, and the curious characters traced on his long black-handled knife, that this was no follower of General Church, but a guapo, a brigand, and, worst of all, one of the sect of the Decisi. But as it was, though they doubted whether any amount of sheep's clothing would make him anything but a wolf, there was the possibility, they thought, of his being a gendarme in disguise returning from some secret mission to headquarters, like themselves. At any rate, it seemed best to accept the statement.
"Signori," he said, "when next we meet I hope you will bear witness that you found me busy in the General's service." To this they answered with a gesture, and the stranger went on: "Yes, yes, I have done good service against Ciro Annichiarico. Ah, his time is over now! Eighteen years he was king of these provinces and more, but, per Santo Diavolo, his head is off at last, and his reign is over! Che briccone! what a rascal! and now we are free, thanks to General Giorgio. And I have served him so well! Ah, when we meet at headquarters you will see, you will see!
They made some reply to this, and the conversation conversation dropped. Now and then one or another threw a fresh log on the hearth, and lit a fresh cigar. Now and then the two officers made some remark to each other in French, but otherwise they sat still and silent, till the crowing of the first cock made them all start.
"It will soon be daybreak. What kind of night is it now? The thunder has ceased," said one of the young men, rising; and, followed by his comrade, he went to
the door, opened it, and stepped out side. It was still raining, and "dark as a wolf's throat," and they returned to the fire to wait till daylight. But where was their strange companion? They had left him sitting on the bench, staring at the smouldering fire, cigar in mouth, carbine in hand. They stirred the logs till flames shot up and lighted the room. They seized a splinter, and, using it as a torch, searched every corner. He was not there! Yet the room possessed but one door, and its only window was but a few inches square, and, moreover, full fifteen feet from the ground. They looked in vain for a ladder, or even a chair to mount by, and the bench stood exactly where they had left it. As to the old massaro, he was snoring on his heap of straw, and there was not a cupboard or chest, or corner, which offered any chance of concealment.
"What do you think about it?" asked one, with an involuntary shudder.
"Per Bacco I don't know what to think," answered his companion, gloomily. 'Brigands in flesh and blood are all very well, but as to this
"Since Ciro is dead, upon my word I think it was the devil himself," said the other. "Could any mortal have escaped in such a fashion?"
They went to the door again and looked out. The rain had ceased, and a faint greyness showed that dawn was on its way. Every now and then a gust of wind shook the trees, bringing down a shower of drops. Otherwise, everything was still and quiet.
"Let us leave this place,' "said the two young officers. "Holà, amico!" to the sleeping massaro ; "wake up and tell us our way to Lecce."
The old man got up and came forward, glancing timidly round
him, and hurried off to fetch the horses. The little girl crept after him, and both listened with frightened eyes as the officers told the adventure of the night. Then exclaiming, "O Madonna, protect us! It was doubtless the devil himself. If he should return? O poveri noi!" the massaro seized the child by the hand and hurried off into the woods which stretched like a belt round his house, leaving the two young men staring after him in amazement! However, as there was no use pursuing him down unknown paths, they saddled their horses, took the widest road, and arrived at Lecce in safety in time for breakfast.
Presently they were summoned to General Church's room, and found him, map spread on table, ready to listen to their report, which they gave, winding up with a full account of the night's adventure, and an inquiry as to whether the mysterious stranger was really in the General's service.
The General leaned back in his chair and laughed. "Why, gentlemen," said he, "don't you know the meaning of the death's-head? Have you never seen the blackhandled dagger of the Decisi, with emblems inscribed on the blade? Well, you never saw the papers and things found at Grottaglia and San Marzano, so how should you? That fellow, from your description, must be Occhio Lupo of the seventeen Murders a nice name, is it not?—and you must go after him. Come to me at sundown for instructions, and each of you provide a dozen men. You won't want more, now that Ciro is dead."
When they returned, General Church showed them on his map that there were two roads which reached the masseria from Lecce, and directed that each of the officers should take one, with his