Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 19.djvu/387
[Ann. Reg. 1849; Gent. Mag. 1850; Hansard's Parliamentary Debates; Aberdeen Journal, 28 Nov. 1849.]
enjoyed the respect of all parties, for his love of justice, kindly feeling, and plain, straightforward honesty. Though a tory of the tories, he ‘never allowed his political creed to cloud his fine judgment and keen sense of right and wrong, and his manly spirit was readily engaged in favour of the poor, the weak, and the persecuted.’ He warmly supported catholic emancipation; and when the Duke of Wellington incurred great unpopularity in 1830, Forbes pronounced in the House of Commons a warm panegyric on the duke's conduct. Forbes was one of the earliest to advocate the claims of women to the franchise. In the session of 1831 he asked upon what reasonable grounds they could be excluded from political rights, pointing out that ladies had the power of voting for directors of the East India Company, and maintaining that if the right of voting was grounded on the possession of property, there ought to be no distinction of sex. Forbes was a strong opponent of the Reform Bill of 1831–2. During the debates in the former session he spoke of the measure as ‘the vile Reform Bill, that hideous monster, the most frightful that ever showed its face in that house.’ He promised to pursue it to the last with uncompromising hostility, and if it were carried to abandon parliament. He put forward an urgent plea for Malmesbury. The borough, after much angry discussion, was left with one member only. Forbes vainly contested Middlesex against Joseph Hume at the general election of 1832. He was most distinguished in connection with India. From his long residence in the East, he knew the people intimately, and he spent a large portion of his fortune in their midst. In parliament and in the proprietors' court of the East India Company his advocacy of justice for India was ardent and untiring. One of his last acts was the appropriation of a very large sum of money to procure for the inhabitants of Bengal a plentiful supply of pure water in all seasons. His fame spread from one end of Hindostan to the other. When he left India he was presented by the natives with a magnificent service of plate, and twenty-seven years after his departure from Bombay the sum of 9,000l. was subscribed for the erection of a statue to his honour. The work was entrusted to Sir Francis Chantrey, and the statue now stands in the town hall of Bombay, between those of Mountstuart Elphinstone and Sir John Malcolm. It was the first instance on record of the people of India raising a statue to any one unconnected with the civil or military service of the country. An address, signed by 1,042 of the principal native and other inhabitants of Bombay, expatiated upon his services to the commercial development of the country and the improvement in the position of the natives. In his private charities Forbes was most liberal; he was also a munificent contributor to the leading public charities of Scotland. Forbes was of a bluff but kindly nature, diffident as to his own merits, of a straightforward and manly character. On the death of his uncle in 1821 Forbes succeeded to the entailed estates of the Forbeses of Newe, and was created a baronet by patent in 1823. He married in 1800 Elizabeth, daughter of Major John Cotgrave, of the Madras army, and by that lady he left four sons and two daughters. He died in London 20 Nov. 1849.
FORBES, Sir CHARLES FERGUSSON, M.D. (1779–1852), army surgeon, was born in 1779 and educated to the medical profession in London. He joined the army medical staff in Portugal in 1798, was gazetted next year assistant-surgeon to the royals, served in Holland, at Ferrol, in Egypt, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, and through the Peninsular war, having been appointed to the staff in 1808 and made deputy inspector-general of hospitals in 1813. He retired in 1814 with that rank and the war medal with five clasps, and commenced practice as a physician in Argyll Street, London. He had graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1808, and joined the College of Physicians of London in 1814, becoming a fellow in 1841. In 1816 he was appointed physician to the newly founded Royal Westminster Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye in Warwick Street, Golden Square, having George James Guthrie [q. v.] as his surgical colleague. In 1827 some difference of opinion arose between Forbes and Guthrie as to the treatment of inflammatory affections of the eye; the subject was noticed in the ‘Lancet’ adversely to Guthrie, who commenced an action for libel against the journal, but abandoned it on learning that Forbes had been subpœnaed as a witness. Having been insulted at the hospital by one Hale Thomson, a young surgeon in Guthrie's party, Forbes challenged the former to a duel. It was fought with pistols on Clapham Common at half-past three in the afternoon of 29 Dec. 1827; when each had fired twice without effect, the seconds interposed, but another encounter was demanded by the principals, which was also harmless. The seconds then declared the