Page:Once a Week, Series 1, Volume II Dec 1859 to June 1860.pdf/379

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366
[April 21, 1860.
ONCE A WEEK.

him to be, through every hour of his life, as unremittingly bent on his object as Columbus himself. The pertinacity was the practical state of his mind as long as it retained its full vigour: and yet his father was not unreasonable in distrusting his steadiness, before it became manifest that this was a man who must have his own way.

Rajah Brooke (OAW).png
From the Bust by T. Woolner, in the possession of T. Fairbairn, Esq.
At sixteen he went to India as a cadet. Here he showed himself a born-soldier, as people say. He so distinguished himself in the first Burmese war as to receive the thanks of Government. He was severely wounded—shot in the lungs—and thereby transferred from the beaten way of Indian soldiership to his own wild path of life. He was ordered home to be nursed; recovered, travelled over a great part of Europe; embarked for India; was wrecked in the Channel, and so delayed by the accident as to reach India after his leave of absence had expired. No doubt he might easily have got his appointment renewed; but he preferred letting it go: and for the next eight years he seemed to lead an idle roving life. It was a somewhat different case from this. It was during those years, between l830 and 1838, that he formed and matured the conception of his enterprise, and strove earnestly, but in vain, to embark in it. He thought, he studied, he waited, he worked with tongue and pen, to bring about a relation between himself and some of the Malay tribes whom he perceived to have been depressed and corrupted by Dutch misgovernment, and by our desertion of them in the surrender of Java to Holland. In passing among the islands of the Eastern archipelago, his poet’s soul was first touched with the beauty of the scenes in which men were living; and next, his generous heart was moved by the evidences that those men were not what they had been. Traces of a higher ancient civilisation met him in all directions; and the cruelty and vileness of Dutch rule abundantly accounted for the deterioration of the people. It is well that Brooke ultimately wrote an account of his observations and his views; and that a portion of his statement was published early, and the whole at a later time; for it enables us to understand his projects, and secures him from the charge of mere thoughtless roving, out of which a scheme of action might or might not grow. He went out at last, not to do business in science, art, commerce, or gold-digging; nor yet as the sport of accident. He had a general notion of establishing an understanding with some Malays,