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His legal attainments must have been of prospects. But he went all the same, and the slightest description ; and when we shared the triumphal progress of Jung read that he had been engaged in Bahadur through Bengal and Northern twenty-three murder cases,
India back to Nepaul, taking part in an ders what proportion, if any, of them es- almost unexampled succession, for those caped the gallows. There can be little days before the visits of British royalty, of doubt that Laurence Oliphant's own hand elephant-drives and tiger-hunts. The reis recognizable in this selection of his sult was, that he came back with the career ; for no youth of parts, and least material and the ambition to write a book of all the son of a Chief Justice, would which was destined to launch him on a have seriously settled down to the pros- still wider world of adventures. pect of practising in Colombo, with its His book and his letters belonging to petty business and small pecuniary tempta- this period reveal Oliphant as a young man tions. But it was a pleasant life in pass. thoroughly enjoying himself amid the ing. Colombo was not then the dull trad- novelties and surprises of life, fond of ing port that it has since become in its hunting, flirting, and fun generally, but struggle against odds for a mercantile ex- tempering his pleasure by a dash of good. istence. The European community, if humored cynicism from which he did not smaller, was less mixed, and could count exempt even himself. That he had a as one family. The defunct Ceylon Rifles, deeper nature, which was the dominating with its convivial mess at Slave Island, was one, he scarcely as yet appears to be constill a hospitable power in Laurence Oli- scious. In a religiously constituted family phant's days. Adventurous spirits like like the Oliphants, exchange of spiritual himself were coming out to Colombo, at- confidence is the rule—a practice not altracted by the prospects of sport and ways conducive to either edification or coffee-planting which were then beginning honesty ; and Lady Oliphant very speedily to be talked of at home. Among these took rm if Laurence in his absence were the Bakers, Samuel and Valentine, omitted for long to open his inner mind who were frequently about Colombo in to her. Lady Oliphant's queries, howthese years; and the small society was ever, extract some illustrations of her son's leavened by easy and unaffected gayety. more serious moments during their Indian “Lowry was everywhere, in the centre of tour. everything, affectionately contemptuous of
“ It is difficult," he says, “ to practise habits papa's powers of taking care of himself,
of self-examination riding upon an elephant, and laying down the law, in delightful with a companion who is always talking or ease of love and unquestioned supremacy, singing within a few feet; but it is otherwise to his mother.” With our fuller knowl- in a palkee, which is certainly a dull means of edge of Laurence Oliphant, we know that conveyance, but forces one into one's self
more than anything." Ceylon was too small an island to contain him ; but as we look at the pleasant pic- In the cramped recesses of this vehicle he ture of his Eastern life as Mrs. Oliphant discerns his chief shortcomings to be bas sketched it, we feel thankful for his flexibility of conscience, joined to the escape from this Armida's Garden. Could power of adapting myself to the society there ever have been a risk of Laurence into which I may happen to be thrown;" Oliphant's going down to posterity as and as a result, the more I see of my Queen's Advocate or Junior Puisne, or own character, the more despicable it apeven as successor to the respected wig of pears, a being so deeply hypocritical that Sir Anthony himself?
I can hardly trust myself.” But he winds An escape, however, was soon provid- up by the frank admission that this coned. Jung Bahadur, after his notable visit fession “is honest as far as I know, but to England, put in at Colombo on his way I don't believe in it implieitly.” Oliphant home, and interested, and was interested evidently had as little implicit belief in by, the young advocate. An invitation to himself as he had in the world on this his accompany the Minister home to Nepaul earliest introduction to it, and he is moved was offered and eagerly accepted, although by a sort of genial scorn for both. He is friends of the Oliphants shook their heads quite sure that the world is a humbug; he over an expedition which did not seem more than half doubts whether he is not likely to promote Laurence's professional one himself.
After such an experience, it was scarce- had he been so disposed, prospects of a ly to be expected that Oliphant would high career in the service of the State. have long settled down to bis legal duties llis“ Journey to Khatmandhu” had made in Colombo. After the boundless elbow- Oliphant's name familiar to publishers ; room of the Indian empire, with its great and during his stay in Edinburgh for the cities, its Maharajahs and Sultans, and its purpose of studying Scots law, he had barbaric pearl and gold, Ceylon is a very made the acquaintance of the editor of small microcosin indeed, and Oliphant and “Maga," Mr. John Blackwood, who his mother were soon on the way to Eng. promptly recognized the possibilities of a land. Here he brought out his book, set- valuable contributor in the remarkable tled himself down to a fashion of legal young man ; and a connection, valued by studies, now aiming at the Scots Bar, now both sides, was then formed, which reat the English one-sometimes plunging mained unbroken through the varying into the pleasures of society, at others tak- changes of Oliphant's future career. About ing a turn at “slumming,” and reading a year after his return from Russia, he put John Foster the Baptist essayist, a writer into Mr. Blackwood's hands “The Rusmuch affected by the intellectually spiritual sian Shores of the Black Sea,” which, imof the day. He got much enjoyment- mediately meeting the desire that existed he always contrived to get enjoyment for information upon the Eastern queswherever he was, and under whatever cir- tion, quickly ran through a number of cumstances—and may have done some editions. Nor was it inerely literary disgood, but he was doing nothing to lay the tinction that was brought by the journey foundations of a solid professional career. and the book. Soon after a mounted orHis book was a very clever one, and derly startled Half-Moon Street by riding thought highly of by all Anglo-Indians, up to the door of Oliphant's lodgings, among whom it excited an interest in and summoning him to an immediate inLaurence Oliphant which lasted through- terview with Lord Raglan. out his whole career, and served to crystallize many recollections of the brilliant where I found not Lord Raglan, but Lord de
“I accordingly proceeded to the Ordnance, young man who had flitted across the Ros, who questioned me minutely about Se. orbit of Anglo-Indian society for a brief bastopol. I gave him all the information I
could, and sent him my sketches, extracts Oliphant's next expedition was
from my journal, and everything I could think
useful. There were a couple of old Engineer which, though commonplace enough in Colonels (one of them afterward identified as our days, deserved to be regarded as an Sir John Burgoyne), all three poring over a adventurous undertaking in the 'Fifties.
chart of the Crimea. They are evidently going Accompanied by a friend-Mr. Oswald to try and take Sebastopol, and I recommend
ed their landing at Balaclava and marching Smith-he set out for Russia, and after
across, which I think they will do. Lord de visiting the capital and the great fair at Ros was immensely civil. I think Lord RagNijni-Novgorod, formed the plan-wild lan ought in civility to make me his private enough it must have seemed to those to secretary. It would be great fun. I met Lord whom he communicated it—of making his de Ros again this morning, and had a long
talk with him. I did not mention my anxiety way south ward to the Crimea and the to get out. It is very ticklish saying anything shores of ihe Black Sea. They travelled about one's self on such occasions, and I must by water down the Volga and the Don, just bide my time and qualify myself-be able and after getting constantly grounded on
to answer the lash, as you always say." pericartes or sand-banks, they reached It is difficult to see how, in a military Taganrog, “having accomplished in five expedition, this ambition could have been days and nights one of the most wild, un- gratified, and nothing came of these intercouth, and unfrequented journeys that views with the army authorities, although eren Russia can boast of." They visited Oliphant was able to turn his special inthe Crimea and Sebastopol, the fortifica- formation to good account in writing for tions of which were even then attracting the press. It was in a sphere very differEuropean attention, and thus became pos- ent from the Crimea that Oliphant first sessed of information which in a short found official employment. Lord Elgin, time was destined to make Oliphant the with whose family Oliphant's had some confidential adviser of Ministers and com- friendship, invited Laurence to accompany manders-in-chief, and to open up to him, him as secretary on his special mission to
Washington ; and throwing over an offer Ministerialists. If I see pretty girls in the of Mr. Delane to go to the seat of war as
galleries who are friends of mine (the galleries " Times” correspondent, and dismissing members and draw caricatures of them, which
are always full), I go up there and criticise illusory promises of Lord Clarendon to do they throw down into members' laps peatly something for him in the East, he started folded, who pass them to the original,- by on the first of many subsequent journeys which time I have regained my seat, and the to America. Lord Elgin's object was to
demure secretary remains profoundly political
and unsuspected. I find nothing so difficult make a commercial arrangement with the
as keeping up my dignity, and when a Bishop United States in the interests of Canada, or a Cabinet Minister calls, I take their apoloof which he was then Governor-General ; gies for intruding as if I was doing them a and a treaty was “ floated through on
favor. I am afraid of hazarding a joke unless champagne,” as was not unjustly said at the dignity of the office was so well sustained
I am quite sure it is a good one. I suppose the time, which served in the future as the by Bruce, that they are scandalized by a larky basis for a good deal of diplomatic diffi. young cove like me.” culties. In the festivities of Washington No one who has met the writer will Laurence Oliphant was in his element, have any difficulty in appreciating the making friends everywhere, and revelling fidelity of this portrait which the young in the racy society which gathered together secretary has drawn of himself. It is in the Capitol in those days. The treaty Laurence Oliphant down to the heels. It effected, he accompanied his chief back to was characteristic of the man that he took Canada. He was appointed Superin. in situations of life, which to most people tendent-General of Indian Affairs, “hav- would have presented grave and formal ing as my subordinates two colonels, two aspects, with a light-hearted volatility ; captains (all of militia), and some English while others, which to the majority of us gentlemen who have been long in the ser- would be fraught with supreme absurdity, vice, and who must look rather suspicious- were treated as of the utmost moment and ly at the Oriental Traveller's interposi- seriousness. With all the nonchalance and tion.". It is not so long ago since he frivolity with which he credits himself, himself gave an account of his Western ad- Oliphant, however, must have done use. ventures while occupying this post in the ful work to secure the continuance of Magazine, that we need dwell upon them Lord Elgin's favor in other scenes of here again ; and indeed his real work statesmanship. It is not one of the least seems to have lain in the immediate vicin- puzzling enigmas in this perplexing career ity of the Governor-General. A picture how a chief of the can't-you-let-itof his life in his letters at this time is alone” Melbourne school of statesmen, however so lively, that we must give a and an impulsive secretary who was always brief quotation from it :
brinming over with energy, should have ." My life is much like that of a Cabinet rowed so long and so well together. Minister or parliamentary swell, now that the
The official career in Canada which lay House is sitting. I am there every night till open before him was not for Laurence the small hours, taking little relaxations in the Oliphant. He was offered to have his shape of evening visits when a bore gets up: secretaryship continued by Sir Edmund fast and the drive in (from Spencer Wood), Head, who was Lord Elgin's successor, etc., detain me from the office till near one. and he still had his native superintendentThen I get through business for the next ship in his hands, but all these were three hours-chiefly consisting of drafting let thrown over, and he was back again in ters, which in the end I ought to be a dab at. . . I also append my valuable signature
It was then he pub
England in 1855. to a great deal without knowing in the least lished “Minnesota and the Far West ;'' why, and run out to the most notorious gos- and while he was bringing out the book, sips to pick up the last bits of news, political he was also doing bis best to induce Lord or social, with which to regale his Excellency, Clarendon to send him as an envoy to who duly rings for me for that purpose when he has read his letters and had his interviews. Schamyl to concert a general rising of CirThen he walks out with an A.D.C., and I go cassia and the Caucasus against Russia. to the House. There I take up my seat on a Lord Clarendon was unable to comply, or chair exclusively my own next the Speaker, perhaps feared to commit himself to a and members (I have made it my business to know them Dearly all) come and tell me the spirit so forward and adventurous, but he news, and I am on chaffing terms with the Op. referred him to Lord Stratford de Redposition, and on confidential terms with the cliffo ; and Oliphant, with his father Sir Anthony, who had now retired from the gular one. He accompanied Mr. Delane Colonial Bench, was soon on his way to of the “ Times” to America upon some the East. But the Great Elchi was not journalistic enterprise, the object of which more amenable than the Foreign Office, can only be guessed. While in the Southand nothing came of Oliphant's recom- ern States, he chanced to hear of the exmendations. Oliphant. however, was al- pedition which Walker, " the filibuster,'' lowed to accompany Mr. Alison of the was fitting out for Nicaragua. The temptaConstantinople embassy on a mission to tion was too strong for Oliphant, and he gather information along the Circassian at once enrolled himself in the number of coast, and he spent some time with Omar Walker's followers. We cannot suppose Pasha's force, and joined in the action on that he had any enthusiasm in the enterthe Ingour, and some other engagements prise, or set any store by the prospects of the campaign. In the Magazine, Oli- held ont to the adventurers ; but the exphant, after his return, gave a very graphic pedition was risky, daring, and novel ; it account of his Circassian travels ; but would supply an excellent subject to write from a letter which Mrs. Oliphant gives about ; and that was enough for Laurence we may take the following characteristic Oliphant. The expedition was a failure anecdote :
so far as Laurence Oliphant was concerned, “By the by, I never told you I had made a
and it would have been well for his chicf battery. Skender Pasha, the officer in com- in the end had it proved equally abortive . maand, thought I was an officer from my hav, for himself. A British squadıon lay across ing a regimental Turkish fez cap on, and asked the mouth of the San Juan river ; and me if I knew where a battery was to be made when the filibustering vessels were boardabout which he had orders. It so happened ed in search of Englishmen, Oliphant was that I did, because I had been walking over the ground with Simmons (now General Sir readily detected and carried on board the Lintorn Simmons) in the morning ; so Sken, flagship, where he found a
" Scotch der told off a working party of two hundred cousin' in command of the squadron, who men, with two companies of infantry and two field pieces, put them under my command, took good care that he should not be again and sent me off to make the battery. It was allowed to associate himself with the Nicaabout the middle of a pitch-dark night, slap raguan enterprise. under the Russian guns, about two hundred We next find Oliphant again occupying yards from them. Luckily they never found us out, we worked so quietly. I had to do
a position on Lord Elgin's staff, this time everything, --line the wood with sharpshoot on the warlike mission to China, which ers, put the field-pieces in position, and place was intended to bring the Celestials to the gabions. Everybody came to me for orders their senses. As he himself not so long in the humblest way. In about three hours I had run up no end of a battery, without hav. ago, has described to our readers his ex ing a shot fired at me, while Simmons, who periences on that expedition, as well as. was throwing up & battery a few hundred the narrow escape which he had from asyards lower down, had a man killed. Both sassination in Japan, we shall merely refer these batteries did good service two days the reader to Mrs. Oliphant's volume for after. The difficulty was, none of the officers this period of his life, and to the numerwith me could speak anything but Turkish. Afterward Skended Pasha was speaking to Sim.
ous fresh letters by which she illustrates, mons about it, complaining of the want of in. it; for we must press on to more important terpreters, and instancing the English officer phases of his career. We must give, howwho made the battery not having an inter.
ever, the following story, on Mrs. Olipreter ; so Simmons said, ' Ce n'est pas un officier, ce n'est qu'un simple gentleman qui phant's authority, indicating as it does the voyage, which rather astonished old Skender mystic tendencies which were already beI think Simmons looks on the 'Times' corre- ginning to manifest themselves in his spondent with a more favorable eye since that nature : experience." In addition to his communications to
“ Sir Anthony's death was entirely unex. the “ Times,” and his contributions to pected, and occurred, I believe, at a dinner.
party to which he had gone in his usual health. “ Blackwood,” Oliphant described his I have been told that, being at sea at the time, Circassian experiences in the “ Transcau- Laurence came on deck one morning and in casian Campaign of the Turkish Army, formed his comrades that he had seen his which was published soon after his return
father in the night, and that he was dead
that they endeavored to laugh him out of the to England. The next adventure in which impression, but in vain. The date was taken he signalized himself was a still more sin- down, and on their arrival in England it was
New SERIES. – VOL. LIV., No. 2, 17
found that Sir Anthony Oliphant had indeed he disliked them all, followed a system of died on that night—which," Mrs. Oliphant
“ free selection," and sought for views to drily adds, “ would be a remarkable addition, if sutficiently confirmed, to many stories of á supply the place of dogina. As is comsimilar kind which are well known."
monly the case with men who pursue this Even so, but how rarely does the confirma- torious fact that the practice of Christian
, tion prove sufficient !' In Oliphant's case, ity never has squared, and never will square however, the story has its significance.
Then followed three years of restless with its precepts in an imperfect world, activity, literary work, and many
made a great impression upon Oliphant's Continental excursions. He made the ac- mind, leading him ultimately first to seek quaintance of the Prince of Wales as his for, and then to construct, a system which Royal Highness was passing through this time we find nothing in his letters
might reconcile the two. But down to Vienna on his tour to the East, and the that would not justify us in classing him interest with which he then inspired his Rosal Highness remained unimpaired until the time he accompanied Lord Elgin to the end. Henceforth, from whatever the time he accompanied Lord Elgin to scenes or from whatever quarter of the He astonished his fellow-members of the
China a change was evidently working. globe he had come to “ Took in" for a moment upon English society-perhaps to
Embassy, when they first met him on have a laugh over it-he received the board ship, by talking of " matters spiritual Prince's cominands to visit him and relate and mystical, singularly different from the his adventures.
themes that usually occupy such groups. One of his most remarkable expeditions during these years had been attracted during his stay in the
There can be little doubt that Oliphant was that made to the camp of the insurgent Poles, in which he ran no small risk of and though he does not appear to have
States by the spiritualist” movement ; being shot had he fallen into the hands of had any sympathy with it in its better the Cossacks, who were on all sides hemming in the patriots ; but with Laurence
known and more vulgar aspects, there can Oliphant danger only lunt a novel and ad- be little question that it gave his mind a ditional zest to the adventure. His wan
propulsion in search of the mystic and derings of these days were duly recorded supernatural. He was beginning to seek
for a sign. in the pages of " Maga," with which his connection was becoming more close and "I would willingly," he writes to his mothfrequent.
er during the China period—“ I would will. A seat in Parliament had naturally been ingly go into a dungeon for the rest of my days one of the objects of Oliphant's ambi- if I was vouchsafed a supernatural revelation
of a faith ; but I should consider myself posi. tion, and he had felt his way with several tively wicked if upon so momentous a subject burghs in Scotland, keeping his eye, how. I was content with any assumptions of my ever, steadily upon the Stirling group, erring and imperfect fellow.creatures when which his father during his lifetime had against the light of my own conscience." canvassed for him, and which accordingly As yet all was mere inquiry, mere specureturned him in 1865. But before we say lation, with little result upon conduct or anything about his parliamentary career, action. Laurence Oliphant, outside him. and about the position which he occupied self, was the brilliant man of the world, in society at this time, we must go back amusing himself as much as he amused for a moment to trace Oliphant's inner others, and none the less that he had a history. We have seen him during his keen eye for the foibles, the shams, and earlier youth encouraged, even ordered, the hollowness of the society amid which to lay open his soul to his mother; and he moved. He was everywhere, saw whatever disadvantages may be inseparable everything and laughed, not ungenially, from this system of confession, it neces- in his sleeve at most things. Yet those sarily enforced habits of introspection. who knew him at his gayest, knew also His letters down to the time of his voy- that there was a serious side to his charage to China suggest a mind accustomed acter. One night a little group of memto dwell much upon religion, without bers were wrangling in the lobby of the being to any notable degree penetrated by Commons about a Scriptural quotation. its influences. Having been brought up “ Here is Oliphant,” said one, as Laurence in none of the definite Christian creeds, came out—“ be always carries a New