2 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 16


"30th August, 1864.—To-morrow, alas l being my last day at the Horse Guards, I went to take leave of his Royal Highness. Nothing could be more gratifying than his reception of me. He said, Major Ramsay, I regret extremely, by the rules of the Service, being obliged to part with you. What can I do for you P' As I had heard of no appointment vacant, I merely said I hoped at some future period to be employed again. The Doke then shook hands with me, and said, Major Ramsay, your conduct hero,—indeed, your whole military career, has been most satisfactory.' Here is a delicious story, told me by an old lady whom I had met somewhere, which has cheered me up in my sorrow. When a girl, she used to dine with her parents at an annual Christmas dinner, given by Mr. Murray, of Albemarle Street, to his literary friends ; Disraeli the elder and his family were always there. After dinner, the children were allowed to play a round game together; but alto! the first year, they all refused to play with Master Ben. Evidently at a very early age he was de- termined to gain the mastery, and, of course, at that age he had no scruples. He must then have foreshadowed what he is reported to have said of his great political rival, viz., that lie was undoubtedly a great man, but never could be a successful politician, because he was overwhelmed with principle, and had not one redeeming vice."

We have rushed in medial Me with this passage, which will be found at page 84, Vol. II. ; first, because it gives us an op- portunity of supplementing the Commander-in-Chief's terse eulogy, by saying that it is easy to infer from these " Rough Recollections " that Colonel Ramsay is not only a cool, brave man, and a zealous soldier, who would have served his country

as effectually with his sword as it was his lot, for the most part, to serve it with his pen ; but that he is also, with all his love of fun and merriment, a thoughtful and high-principled gentle- man, whose keen appreciation of the ludicrous never leads him to transgress by a hair's-breadth the thin line which separates honest humour from buffoonery. Secondly, and we regret to have to say so, because it gives us an opportunity of warning the reader that when. he has arrived at and finished this passage, he would do well to read no more that day in this book, nor on any subseq uent day either. For when the author left the Horse Guards, he left, it would seem, his good (literary) genius behind him.

Henceforward, we find little 'Isom than common-place accounts of common-place tours on the Continent; healthy reading, beyond all question, if yawning be conducive to health. But the first volume, and the second, up to the story of " Master Ben's" early development of an infirmity which he did not altogether cease to practise on friend and foe alike when he came to man's estate, are capital. They are as full of good things as an egg is of meat, and the writer's easy verve marks him for a past grand- master in the art of story-telling. His stories or anecdotes may be roughly divided into those which record his own gay rather than grave experiences, and those which record some amusing or interesting incident in the career or character of the distinguished men with whom he has made acquaintance. There are those, no doubt, who will detect among these anecdotes some which are not entirely free from that "ancient and fish-like smell " which Trinculo noticed in crouching Caliban. But these veterans are few in any case, and to the great majority of

Colonel Ramsay's readers will appear as fresh as his own more strictly personal reminiscences. In reviewing a book like this, "'Rough Recollections of Military Service and Society. By Lieutenant-Colonel Balcarres D. Wardlaw Ramsay. 3 vols. London and BdinbarglA : W. Blackwood and B0139. 1882.

there is nothing for it but quotations, if the reviewer's main object is, as ours n:ost certainly is, to set the claim of such a book to be road, in the strongest possible light. To quotations, therefore, we shall have recourse, without stay or stint. Here is one from military " high-life," so to speak. Sir Robert Garrett, who had been, very much to his own disgust, selected to command at Calcutta, when Sir Colin Campbell moved up country to stamp out the Mutiny, was always, in spite of his vexation thereanent, extremely kind to young officers arriving from England :—

" I remember, one day," writes Colonel Ramsay, who at that time held the important post of Acting-Adjutant-General of H.M.'s Forces in India, "he saw a young officer in the 7th Hussars standing on the ramparts, apparently in a disconsolate attitude. Sir Robert's kindly feelings were excited, and he said,' Poor fellow, he does not know where to go to I recognised the young gentleman, Gassy, Gore, and said, ' You had better leave him alone, Sir Robert. He is well able to take care of himself.'—' Nonsense, nonsense!' said the General ; and riding up to the young officer, who was standing in a careless manner, with his hands in his pockets, and his mouth open, said, "Do you want anything, youngster P'— Nothing, Sir,' was the answer.—' Can we not help you in any way ?'—' No, Sir.'—'What the D—1 are you doing there, gaping about ?' said the worthy General, getting irritated.—' Taking it all in,' said the gallant hussar, looking blandly round and on the irate General.—' You be —,' said the

General, and away we rode, leaving the renowned Gussy still taking it all in."

And here is another, so to speak again, from military " life below stairs." Colonel Ramsay served originally in the Scots Greys, from the Greys he passed into the 14th Light Dragoons, from them to the 3rd West India Regiment, and then joined the 75th Foot. When he joined the last regiment, it was quar- tered in barracks, with a troop of the 7th Hussars, whose " ser- jeant-major was a very fine gentleman :"—

" Very often, coming in tired from hunting or shooting, and dozing in my arm-chair, I used," says Colonel Ramsay, " to be awakened by the cavalry stable-call, and thinking of old times in the Greys, rush out, finding my way to the troop before I was half.awake. The serjeant.major said to me, ' You seem very fond of our side of the barracks ; were you ever in the Cavalry, Sir P'—I replied, 'Yes, ser- jeant-major ; in the Scots Greys.'—' Ah,' he said, meditatively, Greys! Greys! I was once quartered with them. A most respect- able, heavy-dragoon regiment, Sir.' "

The brace of laughable stories which we shall now quote will recall Charles Lever's merriest vein. " I remember," says Colonel Ramsay, who, much to his delight, had been made acting adjutant to a squadron of his regiment, at that time the Greys, and billeted at Bristol, " I remember one day putting the men through the sword exercise, a great number of people look- ing on, amongst whom were several old half-pay officers. Generally, I ordered it by fngleman, but on this occasion my evil genius tempted me to give the word of command. I got on very well until we arrived at the points, when I insisted on a fourth point. The men were all at the third point, and no one moved, I shouted out once more, ` Fourth point!' riding ' towards the men, when an old trooper, the son of a tenant of my father's, who had known me as a child, said, in what he meant to be a low tone, but which was plainly heard all over the There is just nee fourth point, Mr. Balcarres.' My self- esteem as an acting adjutant received a rude shock." Our author's second fiasco on the parade-ground is even more amus- ing than this. It occurred soon after his joining the black regiment named above, his drilling having up to then been that of a cavalry officer. "I had no trouble," he says, " with the parades, two of which daily the commanding officer was obliged to attend, according to standing orders. I invariably handed them over to the adjutant, until one day, the adjutant being sick, I was compelled to take the command. I was somewhat apprehensive. There was an important order to read, and I had to form square. I broke down, and fairly clubbed the men. The blacks all burst out laughing, and said, ` This new captain he know nothing ; he no good ; he ride horse at home. Let us go back to barracks And away they all went, shouting with laughter, leaving me and some dozen young officers standing in the middle. Two companies of the

88th, Connaught Rangers, were close by, preparing to fall in for parade, and they absolutely shrieked with laughter." We

can quote no more samples of Colonel Ramsay's strictly per- sonal recollections, but must remark that they are all so uni- formly good, that our selections can lay no claim to be in any sense the pick of his well-stocked basket. But in his worst scrapes the reader will find himself laughing with Colonel Ramsay. Only once have we found occasion to smile at him. Having quoted from Lord Ellenborough's speech on the renewal of the Charter of the East India Company his Lord- ship's answer to the question, "Could not the Govern-. ment be conducted from Simla ?" "Yes, just as the Government of Rome was conducted at Capua, and with• the same results," Colonel Ramsay's note on this answer' runs thus :—" Curiously enough, Carthage was substituted in the report in the daily papers ; but Capua was what the noble lord said, and rightly, too, as it was called 'Altera Roma,' and hero Hannibal's army became demoralised." We fail to see the soluitur. Blunder for blunder, Carthage will serve as well as Capua, as the Government of Rome was never conducted at Capua, any more than at Calcutta, and we can only conjecture that Lord Ellenborough was thinking of Tiberius, and said, or meant to say; Capri.

We feel the same difficulty with regard to the second division of Colonel Ramsa.y's good things that we felt with regard to the first. Where, to reverse the old saying which the poet Gray took for a motto to his famous Cambridge election squib, it is "Never a barrel the worse herring," choice is as long as art is said to be, and, as we have space for only one quotation, we take, quite at random, our author's sketch of Havelock :— " He had a great deal of kindly humour about him, and was much liked by many wild youngsters who were not in the least of his way of thinking. He mixed freely with the members of the Military Club, dining at the table d'h6te, and enjoying his cool glass of wino as much as any one else. Many a kindly pat on the shoulder. he used to give, as ho retired for the night, to some fast youngsters, who he knew were going to sit up late playing cards, admonishing them to go to bed early. I remember one youngster in the 9th Lancers, whom he specially liked, and to whom he invariably said, My son, go to bed.' I mention these little traits of character, as 1 know it has been represented that Bavelock was a narrow, gloomy Puritan and water-drinker. Nothing could be further from the fact.. Certainly he was a devoted Christian, and if you went into his room or tent at any time, you would see his Bible lying open, which he constantly studied ; but this made him neither morose nor ascetic. On the contrary, he mixed freely in society, and enjoyed it very, much."

We must, however, call particular attention to the chap- ter headed, " Sir Colin Campbell." Colonel Ramsay, like that rough-and-ready warrior, is a Scotolnau, and would. probably care little for a compliment paid to himself at the expense of his " brither .Scots," But Scotchmen made on his model are not so plentiful as blackberries, for he combines with the solid virtues which so honourably distinguish the great majority of his countrymen a due proportion of certain other good qualities, with which that same majority are not universally credited. We may remind him, too, that he has his own authority for saying that once upon a time, after mess with the 42nd Highlanders, he told a good story of something a Yankee had said about the kilt, and found himself in a moment on the floor, and his friends, poor Maimish, who was after- wards drowned in the Alma, and Montgomery," pitching into him, and swearing that if he had not been a Scotchman, they would have murdered him." We have only now to thank Colonel Ramsay for the pleasure that his book has given us, and to express our firm opinion that if the last 200 pages of his second volume were cancelled, his Rough Recollections, thus lightened, would deserve, and might possibly obtain, almost as much popu- larity as the well-known work of his namesake, Dean Ramsay,