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your ambition and your industry, there was no doubt of your future success.”
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.
hours of instruction. At half-past nine the men go to their field duties, and continue till twelve; go again at one, and remain till half-past five. We dine at six, so that there is little or no time left for other occupations ; besides that we have plans, &c., &c., to do.” These are such details as would be communicated from a new station. It is probable that in July 1815, after getting his commission, he returned to Scotland on a visit to his relations; that he was thereafter stationed with a company of the Engineers at Plymouth, where there were the means of military instruction; and that he joined the head-quarters at Chatham for the first time in March or April 1817.
“ At Chatham,” says General Larcom, "a new world opened on him ; the practical application of varied and almost universal knowledge brought by Colonel Pasley to the aid of military science offered the highest attraction to a mind like Drummond's. It was here also that he first became acquainted with Major, now LieutenantColonel, Reid, whose talent and services he regarded with admiration, with whom acquaintance soon ripened to intimacy, and whose friendship he cherished to the last. The writer of this notice has seen him in Ireland in later years, and, amid. other cares, dwell with animation and delight on the movements of the British Legion, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Reid then held a command in Spain, and apply to the campaign the strategic rules and precepts he had gained from his early military reading.”
Colonel Reid, who afterwards became Colonel Sir William Reid, Governor of Malta, was a Scotsman, and had been educated at the same school with Drummond's brother James, “He was all through the Peninsular war," says Drummond in one of his letters," and has
gained for himself a brilliant reputation.” The reputation was not merely military; he was devoted, like his youthful admirer, to scientific inquiries, and was the first to propound, though not in a fully developed shape, the circular theory of storms.
In the autumn of 1817, Drummond made a journey to France. “ His military fervour," says General Larcom,“ led him to obtain leave of absence for the
purpose of visiting the army of occupation, and attending one of the great reviews. Many humorous adventures and difficulties in this first visit to a foreign country formed the subject of amusement afterwards; but he always remembered his tour in France, because it first brought him into acquaintance with his future friend and colleague, Major-General Sir John Burgoyne, then commanding engineer, with a division of the army.” During the visit he made a copy of a work by Sir John Burgoyne, then in manuscript, “ Memoranda on some of the Practical Operations of a Siege.” This was no holiday amusement. The manuscript is a long one, and illustrated by numerous carefully-drawn diagrams.
On his return from France, he settled to the routine of the Chatham course of instruction. He studied with enthusiasm the literature of his profession. “Jomini and Bousmard,” says Larcom, “were his favourite authors, and often has the morning light surprised him in deep discussion on the details of Waterloo and the strategy of the recent campaigns.” He also began again to indulge his taste for “making things,” which he could now do without being troubled by considerations of cost.
His first invention seems to have been a pontoon, which he designed in the spring of 1818. There is a description of it in the Larcom Memoir, communicated