Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/265

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Lawrence
Lawrence
259

duties at Moradabad. The revenue survey was devised by Robert Merttins Bird [q. v.], to obtain the information necessary to enable the government to assess the land-tax fairly. The assessment had previously been much too high; cultivators sank beneath the burden, and land went out of cultivation. Although Bird had obtained the approval of the government to a revised periodical assessment, correct surveys of the land were indispensable ; unfortunately after some years of trial their cost seemed prohibitive. Bird took counsel with Lawrence, and by reduction of establishment, careful selection of staff, and infusion of personal energy and enthusiasm into the work, succeeded in reducing the cost to a practicable limit. Lawrence was promoted to the rank of full surveyor on 2 June 1835, and became a captain on 10 May 1837. Lawrence now enjoyed a well-paid appointment. The 'Lawrence fund,' which their father's death in May 1835 made very useful to their mother, was firmly established, and, after a long engagement, he married, at Calcutta on 21 Aug. 1837, his cousin, Honoria, daughter of the Eev. George Marshall. He was now employed on the survey of the district of Allahabad, and his wife, to whom he owed much of his success in after-life, accompanied him in all his field journeys. In the summer of 1838 Lawrence was on the point of fighting a duel with the author of a memoir of Sir John Adams, which Lawrence had reviewed adversely. Fortunately his brother-officers of the artillery thought it unnecessary to proceed to a meeting, but the incident is memorable for the noble letter dissuading him from action which was written to him by his wife.

Preparations were made in the summer of 1838 for the Cabul campaign, and at Lawrence's request his services were placed at the disposal of the commander-in-chief on 29 Sept. On his way to the Indus he accepted the offer of a Calcutta paper to write occasional notices of military events for one hundred rupees a month, but characteristically stipulated that the honorarium should be paid anonymously to certain charities, which he named. Owing to the abandonment of the siege of Herat by the Persians, the army of the Indus was reduced, and Lawrence's services with it were not required. Through the influence, however, of Frederick (afterwards Sir Frederick) Currie, he was appointed, on 14 Jan. 1839, officiating assistant to George Clerk, the political agent at Loodiana, to take civil charge of Ferozepore. His friend Currie in announcing the appointment to him wrote : 'I have helped to put your foot in the stirrup. It rests with you to put yourself in the saddle.' Pecuniarily the appointment was less valuable than that he had held in the revenue survey, but a political appointment on the frontier and during a campaign opened better prospects.

During the time that Lawrence administered the little district of Ferozepore he rebuilt the town, with a wall and a fort ; he settled boundaries, and he wrote for the 'Delhi Gazette' 'The Adventurer in the Punjaub' and 'Anticipatory Chapters of Indian History.' On 31 March 1840 Lawrence was appointed assistant to the governor-general's agent for the affairs of the Punjaub and the north-west frontier. In November of this year came the Cabul disaster, and Lawrence found his hands full in preparing succour for Jalalabad and managing the Sikhs at Peshawur, whither he had been sent in December to join Major Mackeson, the senior assistant political omcer. His part was to obtain aid from the Sikhs in support of an advance to Jalalabad, and to organise the arrangements. But it was not until April 1842 that Pollock was able to advance, and, much to Lawrence's disappointment, Mackeson went with the force to see it through the Khyber, and Lawrence was left at Peshawur. He was, however, allowed to accompany the expedition to the further side of the Shadee Bagiaree, where, always a zealous gunner, he assisted in getting two guns into position, and then returned to Jamrood and Peshawur to send on supplies, and arrange with Avitabile, the Sikh general, to hold the mouth of the pass.

When it was decided that the British should go on to Cabul, Lawrence changed places with Mackeson, and was given the command of the Sikh contingent in addition to his duties as political officer with Pollock's force. On his joining the expedition at Jalalabad he saw something of Havelock, and attended some of the religious meetings which Havelock held for his men. Here also he received the welcome news of the safety of his brother George, who was among the prisoners detained as hostages by Mohamed Akbar Khan, and had been sent on parole to make terms for their surrender. Pollock moved forward on Cabul on 20 Aug. Lawrence, in command of the Sikhs, took part in the battles of Tezeen and Haft Khotal, and entered Cabul with Pollock on 16 Sept. 1842, two days before Nott's force arrived from Ghazni. A few days later his brother George and the other captives came in. On 12 Oct. Lawrence started with the forces of Pollock, Nott, and Sale on his return to India. At Ferozepore they were met, amid general rejoicing, by the commander-in-chief and the governor-general of India.