Goldsmid, Frederick John (DNB12)

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GOLDSMID, Sir FREDERICK JOHN (1818–1908), major-general, born on 19 May 1818 at Milan, was only son of Lionel Prager Goldsmid, an officer of the 19th dragoon guards, and grandson of Benjamin Goldsmid [q. v.], Jewish financier. He early showed an aptitude for foreign languages, and after education at an English school in Paris he passed through King's College school to King's College, London. In January 1839 he received a commission in the East India Company's army, and in April joined the 37th Madras native infantry. In August 1840 his regiment was ordered to China, and there Goldsmid served as adjutant in the actions at Canton and along the coast, for which he received the Chinese war medal. In the course of the campaign he first turned his attention to the study of Oriental languages, for which he showed a marked faculty. Returning to India in 1845 he qualified as interpreter in Hindustani; he was appointed interpreter for Persian in 1849 and for Arabic in 1851. In the last year he obtained his company, and was promoted assistant-adjutant-general of the Nagpur subsidiary field force. Shortly after, thanks to the influence of General John Jacob [q. v.], Goldsmid entered the civil service, first as deputy collector and then as assistant-commissioner for the settlement of alienated lands in the newly acquired province of Sind.

On his return to England in 1855 he volunteered for active service in the Crimea, and was attached to the Turkish contingent at Kertch under General Sir Robert Vivian [q. v.]. Here he soon acquired a knowledge of Turkish. In recognition of his services he received the Turkish war medal, the order of the Medjidie (4th class), and a brevet majority in the army. He returned to India in 1856, and took up judicial work at Shikarpur. Subsequently he served on the staff of Sir Bartle Frere [q. v.], then chief commissioner of Sind, and during the Mutiny he distinguished himself in various dangerous missions.

In 1861 Goldsmid first became connected with the great scheme for linking up East and West by telegraph. In that year he arranged with the chiefs of Baluchistan and Makran for telegraph construction along the coast of Gwadar; his success in the negotiations was acknowledged by the Bombay government. In 1863 he was promoted brevet lieut.-colonel. In 1864 he was selected to superintend the gigantic task of carrying the wires from Europe across Persia and Baluchistan to India. He accompanied Col. Patrick Stewart when laying the Persian Gulf cable, and later proceeded by way of Bagdad and Mosul to Constantinople. There, after protracted negotiations, he carried through the Indo-Ottoman telegraph treaty. In 1865, on the death of Col. Patrick Stewart, he was appointed director-general of the Indo-European telegraph, and at once started for Teheran to assist in negotiating a telegraph treaty with the Persian government. For his services in securing the Anglo-Persian convention he was made a C.B. in 1866, and received the thanks of the government of India. From Teheran he travelled overland to India and back again to Europe to settle tho terms of admission of the Indo-European telegraph to the European system. Subsequently Goldsmid personally superintended the construction of the telegraph line across the whole extent of Persia. Of that arduous work he gave an interesting and characteristically modest account in 'Travel and Telegraph' (1874).

After resigning tho directorship of the Indo-European telegraph in 1870, Goldsmid was appointed in tho following year a commissioner for the delimitation of the boundary between Persia and Baluchistan, and his award was eventually accepted by the Shah's government. In the same year Goldsmid was entrusted with the even more delicate task of investigating the claims of Persia and Afghanistan to the province of Seistan. A full account of the proceedings of the commission is contained in the voluminous collection of papers, entitled 'Eastern Persia' (1870-72), which was edited with an introduction by Goldsmid, and published under the authority of the India office in two volumes in 1876. It was a singular testimony to Goldsmid's tact and ability that despite the determined procrastination of the Persian commissioners a temporary settlement of this thorny question was reached, but not till the British commissioners had twice visited the disputed territory. The arbitral award was published at Teheran on 19 Aug. 1872; Persia was confirmed in the possession of Seistan, while a section of the Helmund was left in Afghan territory. The strict impartiality of the award satisfied neither party, but it had the desired effect of keeping the peace. For his services Goldsmid was created a K.C.S.I. in 1871, and received the thanks of the government of India. He retired from the army on 1 Jan. 1875 with a special pension and the rank of major-general.

Goldsmid's public career was not ended. In 1877 he was appointed British representative on the international commission to inquire into Indian immigration in Reunion. A joint report was issued in February 1878, and a separate report in the following April. In 1880 Goldsmid accepted the post of controller of crown lands (Daira Sanieh) in Egypt, and witnessed the outbreak there in September 1881. In June 1882 he was despatched by Lord Granville [q. v.] on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople ; and on his return to Alexandria he rendered useful service in the campaign of 1882 by organising the intelligence department, for which he received the thanks of Viscount Wolseley and the war office. On his resigning the control of the crown lands on 1 May 1883 the Khedive bestowed on him the Osmanie decoration of the second class and the bronze star.

On leaving Egypt, Goldsmid accepted from Leopold II, King of the Belgians, the post of 'administrateur dé égué de l'association intemationale' in the Congo, and he undertook the organisation of the administrative system in the new state. But soon after reaching the Congo Goldsmid's health broke down, and he returned to England on 31 Dec. 1883. Thenceforth he resided mainly in London, devoting himself to literary work connected with his Oriental studies, and taking an active interest in various religious and philanthropic institutions. He died at Brook Green, Hammersmith, on 12 Jan. 1908, and was buried at Hollingboume, Kent. On 2 Jan. 1849 he married Mary (d. 1900), eldest daughter of Lieut.-general George Mackenzie Steuart, by whom he had issue two sons and four daughters.

In addition to the works already mentioned, and to many pamphlets and reviews, Goldsmid published 'Saswi and Punhu,' a poem in the original Sindi, with a metrical translation (1863), and an authoritative life of 'Sir James Outram' (2 vols. 1880; 2nd edit. 1881). His knowledge of Eastern languages placed him in the forefront of Oriental critics. He joined the Royal Asiatic Society in 1864, and was an ordinary member of the council for brief periods between 1875 and 1889. He held the post of secretary from November 1885 to June 1887, and that of vice-president from 1890 to 1905. He was also a vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society, and presided over the geographical section of the British Association at the Birmingham meeting of 1886.

[The Times, 13 Jan. 1908; Journal, Royal Asiatic See, April 1908, art. by T. H. Thornton; Geographical Journal, Feb. 1908, art. by Sir T. H. Holdich; Sir Frederick Goldsmid, Travel and Telegraph, 1874; Sir Frederick Maurice, Campaign of 1882 in Egypt, 1908, p. 21; L. Fraser, India under Lord Curzon and After, 1911, p. 117.]

G. S. W.