Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Bernard, Charles Edward

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BERNARD, Sir CHARLES EDWARD (1837–1901), Anglo-Indian administrator, born at Bristol on 21 Dec. 1837, was son of James Fogo Bernard, M.D., of 16 The Crescent, Clifton, by his wife Marianne Amelia, sister of John, first Lord Lawrence [q. v.]. He was educated at Rugby, which he entered in 1851, in company with his cousin, Alexander Hutchinson, eldest son of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence [q. v.], and C. H. Tawney, whose sister he afterwards married. In 1855 he accepted a cadetship at Addiscombe; but in the following year he received a nomination to Haileybury in the last batch of students at that college. After gaining prizes in mathematics, Persian, Hindustani, and Hindi, he passed out in 1857 at the head of the list for Bengal. His early service was in the Punjab, and afterwards in the Central Provinces, where he was secretary under two chief commissioners, Sir Richard Temple [q. v. Suppl. II] and Sir George Campbell [q. v. Suppl. I]. The latter appointed him his secretary in 1871, when he became lieutenant-governor of Bengal; and he accompanied the former as secretary in his famine tour through Madras and Bombay in 1877. In the following year he became secretary to the government of India in the home department. In 1880 he officiated as chief commissioner of British Burma, being confirmed in 1882. Except for a short interval, he held that office until his retirement in 1887. This long period included anxious negotiations with Thibaw, king of independent Burma, the brief war that ended in Thibaw's deposition, the annexation of the upper province, and the tedious process of pacification. Sir Charles Bernard came back to England in 1887, in order to take up the appointment of secretary at the India office in the department of revenue, statistics, and commerce. He finally retired in 1901, after a continuous service of forty-three years. He died on a visit to Chamonix, on 19 Sept. 1901, and there he was buried. He was created C.S.I, in 1875, and K.C.S.I. in 1886. He married at Calcutta, on 23 Oct. 1862, Susan Capel, daughter of Richard Tawney, rector of Willoughby, Warwickshire. His eight children survived him. The eldest son, James Henry, after following his father into the Indian civil service, died of cholera, together with his wife and other members of his household, at Chinsura, Bengal, in November 1907.

Bernard was possessed of inexhaustible energy in both body and mind. At Rugby he was prominent in the football field, and at Calcutta he won a cup for single rackets. In India he had the reputation of being the hardest worker in a hardworking secretariat; and at the India office it was said of him that he undertook the duties of every subordinate in his department, including those of the messenger. In 1887 he delivered an address before the Royal Scottish Geographical Society at Edinburgh on 'Burma: the New British Province.' In 1889 he compiled a valuable report on Indian administration during the past thirty years of British rule, which was laid before Parliament. In 1891 he wrote a confidential minute on opium, in view of a debate in the House of Commons in April of that year. In 1893 he saw through the press the posthumous memoirs of his friend, Sir George Campbell. In politics he was a liberal. The Bernard Free Library was built as a memorial to him at Rangoon.

[Personal knowledge; Sir Richard Temple, Men and Events of my Time in India, 1882; J. H. Rivett-Carnac, Many Memories, 1910; Sir Henry Cotton, Indian and Home Memories, 1911; Sir Charles Crosthwaite, The Pacification of Burma, 1912.]

J. S. C.