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to be an examination in about a fortnight, and that he will be very busy till then. This is the last of the Woolwich letters that has been preserved ; there is a gap in the correspondence ; and the next letter is dated from Plymouth, in February 1817. We know, however, the result of the examination for which he was preparing; he again took a step, and entered the second academy. “By Christmas of the year in which he joined,” says General Larcom, “he entered the second academy. Here it perhaps was fortunate, that instead of being thus early launched into military life, a pause occurred, during the short peace from the summer of 1814 till the escape of Napoleon from Elba ; after which, in July 1815, he left Woolwich for the corps of Royal Engineers.” Joining the academy in 1813, he became in 1815 a member of the corps, notwithstanding a considerable interval, during which the course of promotion was arrested. Having advanced to the second academy within ten months, he entered the first soon after, and having stepped up all the rounds of the ladder in about a year,—a progress which many took several years to make,-he stood waiting and fully prepared for a commission.
“Much of this success," says General Larcom, doubtless to be attributed to the admirable preliminary education he had received, but much also to a character of determined perseverance, and to the vigorous and well-regulated mind he brought to bear on all subjects. To this it was probably due that he never became exclusively a mathematician, but advanced equally in all the various branches of study, being at that time, as he continued through life, distinguished for general intelligence, and for aptitude to seize on information
of every kind.
kind. His mathematical character at Woolwich has been thus well and justly sketched by his friend and master, Professor Barlow. “Mr Drummond, by his amiable disposition, soon gained the esteem of the masters under whom he was instructed ; with the mathematical masters in particular, his reputation stood very high, not so much for the rapidity of his conception, as for his steady perseverance, and for the original and independent views he took of the different subjects which were placed before him. There were among his fellow-students some who comprehended an investigation more quickly than Drummond, but there was none who ultimately understood all the bearings of it so well. While a cadet in a junior academy, not being satisfied with a rather difficult demonstration in the conic sections, he supplied one himself on an entirely original principle, which at the time was published in Leybourn's Mathematical Repository, and was subsequently taken to replace that given in Dr Hutton's Course of Mathematics, to which he had objected. This apparently trifling event gave an increased stimulus to his exertions, and may perhaps be considered the foundation-stone of his future scientific fame. After leaving the academy, he still continued his intercourse with his mathematical masters, with whom he formed a friendship which only terminated in his much-lamented death.'
“This remarkable combination of good qualities,” continues the General, “was early appreciated by the admirable discernment of the. Lieutenant-Governor, General Mudge, whose judicious encouragement it gained.” We saw a confirmation of this in the letter of Professor Jardine: “ Colonel Millar informed me,
that Colonel Mudge said to him, that you were just such a student as he wished, and that if you continued
your ambition and your industry, there was no doubt of
your future success.” When this was written Drummond had been only four months at the academy. He himself seems to have been unaware that human discernment could go so far or so swiftly, and disposed to ascribe his success in some measure to the introductions he had received, and the friendships he had formed. We have seen him attributing his standing well with Mudge to the good offices of Christie, and his advancement in some measure to the good offices of Mudge. It did not occur to him that the governor; a discerning man of the world, having marked him from the first as one of the right stuff," was bound thereafter to watch and promote his progress. Mr Christie's good-will turned on the favourable opinion he had formed of his character and abilities. In short, to a man like Drummond, introductions are of importance only in so far as the acts of friendly recognition to which they may lead, support the courage; and so far as they may serve to disclose, at once, merit which sooner or later must assert itself.
THE CORPS OF ROYAL ENGINEERS.
In the Corps of Royal Engineers—which Drummond next entered—the conditions of progress were different from those established at the Woolwich Academy. At the academy the principle of promotion was superiority as tested by competition ; in the corps the principle was seniority as tested by standing. There, everything gave way to excellence ; here, excellence gave way to priority. An officer might distinguish himself ; promote himself he could not—a highly objectionable rule. Where merit has to wait its turn, and by waiting is sure to get it, the inferior person must often be in the superior position, and merit itself frequently die out or desert in the period of expectancy. While seniority waits, senility is in office. It is, however, a good feature in the organisation of the corps, that it ignores the system of purchase. Promotion can be got by waiting, but not by money.
Prior to 1763, the duties of engineers in the British army were discharged by officers taken from the
regulars; but in that year the Engineers were formed into a regiment or corps, grouped in battalions and companies. In 1783 the corps was made a Royal corps, with a distinctive uniform, the Royal Academy at Woolwich being assigned for the education of its cadets. Its head-quarters were established at Chatham, and its management put under a special department of the War Office, whose head is the Inspector-General of Fortifications. At once the scientific and the best paid branch of the military service, it consists of about 380 commissioned officers, the same number of noncommissioned officers, and about ten times that number of rank and file. It is scattered all over the world in times of peace, engaged in a variety of public services. Among the most important of its achievements is the Ordnance Survey of Britain and Ireland, concerning which we shall have a great deal to say hereafter. Of its commissioned officers many have taken high rank in the scientific world, and even of its non-commissioned officers not a few have won the like distinction.
Such is the corps which Drummond entered as a commissioned officer, on leaving Woolwich in July 1815. Of his earlier years in it the information is scanty. When his letters recommence in February 1817, we find him at Plymouth engaged in “military and mathematical studies,” and in the study of Latin and Greek, “ with two hours a-day devoted to general literature."* He was expecting to go to Chatham in March ; and there is a letter to his mother, written from that place on the 9th of April. “Since my arrival here,” he says, “I have had little time to spare ; but in order that you may fully comprehend the truth of this assertion, I shall give you some account of our duties. In the first place, then, there are four schools where the privates are instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, fortification, and practical geometry. To these four schools four subalterns are appointed, who ought to attend them between half-past six and nine A.M., the
* Letter, 1st February 1817, to his mother.