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brought certain charges against Colonel Napier, who was ordered to report to the Home Minister. These charges were brought during the absence of Colonel Napier in England. Lord Goderich, the Home Secretary, must have been satisfied of the falsity of the accusations, but he yielded to the influence brought to bear upon him. He offered to Colonel Napier the Residency of Zante, which was a higher command, but the latter considered that his reputation required his restoration to his former command. This being refused him, he left the employ of the government, and retired to private life..
During his residence at Cephalonia, he lost his mother, to whom he was devotedly attached. This affliction was followed by the death of his wife in 1833, after his return to England. His grief was very great. Six months after the sad event he wrote to his sister :
“I am cheerful with others; my grief breaks out when alone ; at no other time do I let it have its way; but when tears are too much checked there comes a terrible feeling on the top of my head which distracts
lowness then seems past endurance.”
When his wife died he was residing at Bath. After her death, he removed to Caen in Normandy, and devoted all his time to the education and training of his daughters. He endeavored to make them religious, as the foundation of all excellence. He taught them to keep accounts, that they might guard against extravagance. He made them industrious, that they might not be unable to work if they were poor, nor disposed to waste their time, if rich. Ile learned them to cook, that they might be more competent to manage their servants, and able to provide for themselves, in the event of such a course becoming necessary.
In 1834, having been tendered the government of a distant colony, he married again in order that his children might have some one to care for them during the time he would be compelled to devote to his duties. The government, however, refusing to afford him the proper support, he declined the appointment.
He was now tried in a severe school. He had invested a large portion of his savings in American bonds, and the shameful repudiation of them by some of the States, reduced him, with numbers of others, to a condition of complete poverty.
In 1838, he urged his claims for promotion. He had been passed over by the government, and little or no notice taken of his valuable services. Governments are always ungrateful, and none has ever been more so than that of Great Britain. Sir William Napier went to Lord Fitz Roy Somerset, and insisted upon justice being done to his brother. He was frankly told that his brother had been represented at the Horse Guards, “as an impracticable man who quarrelled with everybody.” Sir William was not slow to refute the charge, and the result was that Colonel Napier was made a General, and a Knight of the Bath, and in 1839 received the command of the Northern District. Upon being summoned to Court to be invested with the ribbon of the Bath, he made the following entry in his journal :
“ In the midst of embroidery, gold lace, stars, orders, titles, and a crowd of soldiers, I met many an old comrade of the Peninsular War, worn, meagre, greyheaded, stooping old men, sinking fast. I too have one leg in the grave. When we had last been together, we were young, active, full of high spirits, dark or auburn locks. Now all are changed, all are parents, all full of cares. Well, the world is chained hand to hand, for there were also young soldiers there, just fledged, meet companions for their young Queen; they too will grow old, but will they have the memory of battles when like us they hurry towards the grave? There was our pretty young Queen receiving our homage, and our shrivelled bodies and grey heads were bowed before her throne, intimating our resolution to stand by it, as we had stood by it when it was less amiably filled; I wonder what she thought of us old soldiers ! We must have appeared to her like wild beasts, and I dare say she looked at us as she looks at the animals in the Zoological Garden. Lord Hill is old, and has lost his teeth ; poor Sir John Jones looked like a ghost ; and Sir Alexander Dickson is evidently breaking. Thinking how these men have directed the British thunders of war, I saw that death was the master, the brilliance of the Court vanished, and the grim spectre stared me in the face; his empire is creeping over all! Yes! we are in the larder for worms, and apparently very indifferent venison.”
In the midst of his new happiness, Sir Charles did not forget the brave drummer who had saved his life at Corunna.
he was informed that he was to be made a Knight of the Bath, he wrote to ascertain if he was entitled to supporters. "If so," he said, "one shall be a French drummer, for poor Guibert's sake."
While here, we may mention that Guibert's conduct in saving Major Napier's life was ultimately the cause of his losing his own. Napoleon upon hearing of the act, awarded Guibert the Cross of the Legion of Honor. A person falsely pretending to be the real preserver of Napier, got a decision in his favor, and deprived Guibert of his reward. The drummer, enraged at the injustice done him, deserted, was captured and shot.
The department to which General Napier was appointed in 1839, was an important one. It comprised eleven counties, and was full of Chartists, who were then contemplating a rising. An outbreak was confidently expected, and might come at any moment. The force under General Napier was very small, and had been imprudently scattered over a large area. Forty-two troopers at Halifax were quartered in twenty-one distant billets, and in some cases were even separated from their horses. Where barracks were provided they were of such a character that the troops were exposed to great danger in occupying them. Not only were the men thus exposed to the danger of being cut off by mere handfuls of resolute Chartists, but they were, by their separation, deprived of the ability to act in harmony, and were exposed to the danger of being seduced from their duty by the threats or promises of the mob.
This was the danger against which General Napier had to contend upon his very entrance upon his command. He began with the determination that the military should not be overthrown anywhere, and immediately set about concentrating his forces. He encountered great difficulty in doing so. Men of property became alarmed at the withdrawal of the troops from their immediate neighborhood and endeavoured to prevent it; but Sir Charles was firm. He told them that they must depend upon themselves to keep the rioters at bay until he could bring up his troops ; and succeeded in convincing them that without having his troops all in hand, he could render them no assisttance. Before he granted detachments, he required the magis
trates to provide barracks where the men could be kept together, and proper care paid to their health and comfort. He invited prominent leaders of the Chartists to visit his barracks, and inspect his troops, and impressed them with a sense that they were no match for him. His chief care was to avoid coming to hostilities, for he dreaded an effusion of blood. With him mercy always tempered justice. He might have shot or ridden down the rioters without caring for them, but he was too humane for that. He aimed to show them the utter folly of taking up arms against the government, hoping by such a course to overawe them. "Many a man," he said, "will join a row that will not begin one, and many a man would begin one when he sees no force arrayed against him, who would never attempt it if he sees there must be a fight.” When the Chartists leaders talked of their physical force, he exclaimed :
“ Fools! we have the physical force, not they. Who is to move them when I am dancing around them with cavalry, and pelting them with cannon shot? What would their one hundred thousand men do with my one hundred rockets wriggling their fiery tails among them, roaring, scorching, tearing, smashing all they come near? And when in desperation and despair, they broke to fly, how would they bear five regiments of cavalry carpering through them? Poor men! poor men ! how little do they know of physical force.”
When he discovered that the Chartists of England and the Liberals of France were carrying on a regular correspondence, he did not hesitate to declare that the design of each was to get money from the other. Events have proved the correctness of his judgment.
His military rule in the Northern District was marked by the happiest results, and placed him high in the estimation of his countrymen. His wisdom, courage, energy, firmness, and above all his moderation, went far towards warding off the terrible blow aimed at his country's liberties. All this was done under great personal trouble. He was a constant sufferer from his wounds, and for a while it seemed likely that he would be entirely deprived of the power of breathing through his nose. This terrible affliction did, however, befall him, and in spite of the horror with which he had always looked forward to it, he bore it bravely and even cheerfully, thanking Heaven that his trials were no worse. He was also threatened with the loss of his sight. The contemplation of it was dreadful beyond description. He recalled the sufferings of his mother, who had been blind previous to her death, and tried to comfort himself with the remembrance of her Christian resignation. Outwardly he was calm and tranquil in all his trials. Not a murmur, not a word of repining passed his lips, and it is only from his journal that we gain an insight into his feelings.
This was the man to whom in his fifty ninth year, while smarting under the sense of injustice and neglect, success came after so many years of waiting. He was offered a place on the Indian staff, and at once accepted it.
He reached India just after the disastrous termination of the war in Affghanistan, and when the English were undergoing their greatest reverses. The native princes were forming a deep and wide spread conspiracy, which had for its object the total destruction of the British power in the East. The Governor-General and his assistants were incapable of meeting the storm, and it required the will and heart of Charles Napier to strike terror into the Ameers, and keep them in subjection. He was at first given the command of the force stationed in Scinde, to cover the retreat, or assist the movements of the English at Cabool. As the difficulties between the government and the Ameers increased, he was given the chief command in Scinde. He suspected the conspiracy of the princes, and did not rest until he had discovered it. When the conquest of Scinde was resolved upon, he was for prompt and vigorous measures. When it was seen by the Governor-General that war must ensue, he was ordered to advance. He at once crossed the Indus at Roree, and established himself in a position to prevent the retreat of the Ameers to the hill country. Then arranging a part of his force so as to hold the lines he had occupied, he pushed forward rapidly upon the enemy. His own equipment consisted of a small portmanteau, a pair of canteens, two camp tables, a bed, and a private soldier's tent. His advance was sudden and swift, and he came upon the Ameers before they had prepared to meet him. Some he awed into submission, and others he forced to give pledges for their good behavior.