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by his friend, Captain, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel, Dawson :-“The various inventions to supersede the use of the old pontoon led Drummond to consider the subject, and he made a model of a form like a man-ofwar's
's gig or galley, sharp at both ends, and cut transversely into sections for facility of transport, as well as to prevent it from sinking if injured in any one part. Each section was perfect in itself, and the sections admitted of being bolted together, the partitions falling under the thwarts or seats. The dockyard men and sailors to whom he showed it said it would row better than
any boat except a gig; and it was to be light, and capable of being transported from place to place on horseback."
I am unable to say what was the fate of this invention. On the 27th of March 1818, he writes to his mother that he is busy on the model and a memoir, which is to be sent with it to the head office. I shall let you know," he says, “ what success my memoir meets with. But there is no wish at the office to bring forward anything of that kind.” What he saw there a few days later, deepened the feeling that the InspectorGeneral was indifferent to the inventiveness of his officers. "When I was at the Engineer Office, a few days ago, I found Major Blanchard's model with his memoir, and a letter addressed to General Mann, in the anteroom. The box had been opened, only one of the models taken out; his memoir apparently had not been looked into, for within the first leaves was the letter I have just mentioned unopened."* At this time he expected to have his own model finished within a week. By the end of May he had finished both it
** Letter to Mrs Drummond, April 4, 1818.
and the memoir, been to London with them, and returned to Chatham. From a letter dated May 31, 1818, it appears that on presenting his model he had “experienced a gracious reception;" that there were altogether four models to be submitted, of which one, by a Major Lewis, was not yet prepared; and that a board of officers was to be appointed to consider the four plans. One of the models was by Major Blanchard. Whoever the fourth competitor may have been, it was a distinction for a subaltern to be able to compete with a reasonable prospect of success with officers so old in the service as Major Lewis and Major Blanchard. That Drummond had such a prospect appears from the fact that a high opinion of his design was entertained by his friend Colonel Reid, a man of great ingenuity. “If the plan is not approved,” says Drummond, “I may safely say it will not be laughed at. Whatever, then, may be the result, it may be for good—it cannot do me harm.” It undoubtedly advanced his reputation.
“Several other inventions,” says General Larcom,“ are remembered as belonging to this time, which show the activity and readiness of his mind, and the interest with which he addressed himself to his new duties. But in reference to bridge-making, an anecdote may perhaps be preserved which brings out other qualities of the man. He was charged with the construction, for practice, of a bridge of casks, in the rapid current of the Medway at Rochester Bridge, and having previously made piers of the casks in the still water above the bridge, it was necessary to move them through the rapids to get them below the bridge. The piers were, as usual, lashed two and two for security; but one remained, and as its removal was likely to involve some danger, Mr Drummond determined to go on it himself.
“There were two soldiers on the pier, one of whom showed a little apprehension at setting off. Drummond placed this man next himself, and desired them both to sit quite still, They passed through the arch in safety, when the man who had previously shown apprehension, wishing by activity to restore himself to his officer's good opinion, got suddenly up to assist in making fast to the buoy ; in an instant the pier upset ; all hands were immersed in the water, and the man who had caused the accident, being on his feet, was thrown from the pier and drowned. Mr Drummond and the other man clung to the pier, and Mr Druminond afterwards described his sensations, when finding his body swept by the current against the underside of the pier. His last recollection was a determination to cling to one side of it, in hopes the depression of that side might be noticed. This presence of mind saved him and his comrade ; for, as he expected, a brother officer (Fitzgerald), noticing the lowness of one side, sprang from a boat upon the other, and immediately the heads of poor Drummond and the sapper appeared above the water. Drummond was senseless, with the ropes clenched firmly in his hands."
Having sent in his memoir and model pontoon, and arranged his affairs at Chatham, he proceeded to Woolwich, where his old college friend Dawson was established. By this time Drummond had been appointed to the company of the corps stationed in Edinburgh, and only waited near London lest he should be called to give explanations before the board of officers appointed, or that was to be appointed, to consider the pontoons. It does not appear whether the board ever met or came to a decision. By the beginning of July, when he proceeded to Edinburgh, nothing whatever had been done.
“ His duties at Edinburgh,” says General Larcom, “offered nothing to engage his attention, relating merely to the charge and repair of public works ; but he was happy in being again thrown among his family and friends, and more, in the opportunity again afforded him of pursuing the higher studies in which he delighted, at the college and in classes, and among the scientific society of his native city.* He found the duties, however, so trivial, and the prospects of the service so disheartening, that for some time he meditated leaving the army for the bar, and had actually entered his name at Lincoln's Inn with this view.” That he should have been disheartened, is not surprising. In his letters in the spring of 1818, he complained of his prospects, and longed for, what he saw no chance of, active employment. If that feeling could spring up at Chatham, it must have grown in Edinburgh. And in the interval he had suffered various annoyances from those in authority, too slight to be recorded here, but which would tend to engender disgust at the service. The indifference of the head office to the pontoon inventions would not diminish the feeling.
It is a curious speculation what his career would have been bad he embraced the profession of the law. When, at a later date, he gave up science for politics, it was the complaint of many that he was deserting his natural calling
He was in every respect," Sir John Herschel has said to me, “a most excellent person. There was but one ground of complaint I ever had against him—that he deserted science. That was his natural field, and he had every qualification for the highest eminence in it.” Sir Thomas Larcom tells me
* We have a glimpse of one class of his occupations during this stay in Edinburgh. The Rev. A. Craig, of Buccleuch Place, encloses, at Mrs Drummond's request, his account for services in reading Greek with Lieutenant Drummond for the three months ending March 25, 1820. “I cannot speak in too high terms,” he says, “ of Lieutenant Drummond's talents and diligence while he read with me, and I was very sorry that his studies were rather prematurely interrupted by his being so suddenly called off.”
that he has known Dr Romney Robinson, the astronomer of the Armagh Observatory, to break into censure of Drummond for “ deserting science,” as he called it ; ending by the reflection, that if his poor friend had not committed that one fault, his life might have been spared to the country. And yet, when Drummond became political, he had all the success that could be commanded by a specialty for politics. The fact is, his talents were so great, and his cultivation so general; his sense so sound and manly, and his sympathies so warm and generous; he combined high intellectual with the best personal qualities, and, being an indefatigable worker, must have succeeded in anything to which he deliberately chose to apply himself. Probably, had he in 1819 “ deserted” the military service for the law, he would only the sooner have been brought into political life. I cannot doubt that he would have attained forensic eminence.
His own views as to the spirit in which a man should choose and enter the profession of the law, happen to be preserved. A friend being desirous to join the Scotch bar, Drummond, in a letter from Plymouth, urged several reasons against his doing somthe chief being that he had not the natural qualifications to attain eminence in the profession. “ Were his nature and energy of such a kind as to justify any reasonable expectations of his distinguishing himself at the bar, I should say no more.
No situation could be more honourable or respectable. But I am convinced, and 'tis useless to conceal it from him, if he has not already found it out, that he must alter materially, or he is not suited for the bar. To succeed in so arduous a. profession, he must enter it with all the ardour of enthusiasm and determination to succeed; he must