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SEPTEMBER 1, 1820.
MEMOIR OF SIR HENRY TORRENS.
SIR Henry Torrens, the present ad- he had recovered from his wound he rejutant-general, is a native of Ireland, joined his regiment, just as the army and was born in the city of Londonderry, was advancing to the attack and stormin 1779. His father the Rev. Thomasing of a strong line of redoubts, by the Torrens, and his mother, a lady of con- possession of which the enemy held the siderable beauty and accomplishments, island in subjection. After assisting in died while he was yet an infant, leaving driving the French from these important him and his three brothers under the pro- positions, and in finally expelling them tection of their grandfather the Rev. Dr. from St. Vincent's, Sir Henry Torrens Torrens. Of his affectionate care, how- was for six months employed in constant ever, they were also soon deprived ; and skirmishing with the natives of the young Henry was placed under the guar- Carib country, who, having joined the dianship of his uncle, the Rev. Dr. Tho- French interest, took refuge in th mas Torrens, who was a fellow of the uni- mountains and fastnesses. At this time versity of Dublin, and one of the most though only holding the rank of lieudistinguished of his day for literary at- tenant, he was entrusted with the comtainments and colloquial powers. Being mand of a fort. destined for the army, Henry was sent, The extensive operations and the splenat an early age, to Bates' military aca- did achievements by which, in the latter demy in Dublin. Here he was remark- years of the struggle against France, able for the warmth of his social feel- the British troops decided the fate of ings; and in consequence of his ever Europe, have in a manner obliterated buoyant and joyous spirit, he was known from the public the Colonial conquests among his youthful companions by the with which the revolutionary war comfamiliar appellation of Happy Harry. menced. Yet never did the British In November 1793, when he was about soldier display more courage, or sustain fourteen years of age, he commenced more hardship, than during the attack his military career, and obtained an en- upou the French West India islands signcy in the 52d regiment. In June under Sir Ralph Abercrombie. Even 1794, he was promoted to a lieutenancy the officers were unable to obtain any in the 92d. regiment; and in December better fare than the salt rations issued 1795, was removed to the 63d regiment. froin the stores; nor in that burning With this corps he joined the expedition climate could they ever venture to reunder Sir Ralph Abercrombie, for the fresh themselves by sleeping without reduction of the enemy's Colonies in the their clothes. In what manner Sir West Indies.
Henry Torrens bore himself during the During this arduous service, our difficulties and hardships of this his first young soldier was happy in having fre- campaign we have already attempted to quent opportunities of distinguishing state, and shall merely add two facts, himself. He acted with the grenadier as marking the opinion entertained of battalion at the taking of St. Lucie, and his conduct by those who witnessed it. was wounded by a musquet ball, in the On the return of the troops to Jamaica, upper part of the right thigh, in an ac- the general rewarded his services by a tion which took place on the 1st of May company in one of the West India corps 1796, during the siege of Morne For. then forming; and on one - occasion, tuné. This wound compelled him to when quitting the regiment with which remain behind, while the army under he had been acting, the non-commisSir Ralph Abercrombie proceeded to sioned officers and soldiers under his the attack of St. Vincent's. At such a command insisted upon bearing him period, however, the pain and danger in triumph upon their shoulders, as a of a premature removal appeared pre- rude but touching mark of their attachferable to inactive security; and before ment and admiration. New MONTHLY MAG.–No. 80. VOL. XIV.
In 1798 Sir Henry Torrens returned his company, just before the comto England; and at the close of that mencement of that action, in which he year embarked for Portugal, as aid-de- was so desperately wounded. A concamp to General Cuyler, who com- siderable time afterwards he revisited manded the British auxiliary army sent Alkmaar, and calling at the inn he had to protect that country from the threa- so abruptly left, received his papers and tened invasion of the Spaniards under his purse, which had been with scruFrench influence. While holding this pulous honesty preserved. situation he was removed from the West On his return from Holland, Sir India corps to the 20th regiment of Henry Torrens was promoted to a mafoot; and hearing that his regiment jority in one of the fencible regiments was to form a part of the force destined then raising. The formation of the for Holland, under the Duke of York, corps devolved upon him as being the he immediately relinquished the advan- only officer possessing permanent rank; tages of his staff situation for the post of and he subsequently embarked with it honourable danger. He served in all for North America. Here he remained the different actions of this sanguinary until the autumn of 1801, when having campaign, during which the British effected an exchange to the 86th, then army sustained its high character, though in Egypt, he joined and took the comthe object of the expedition failed. The mand of the corps in that country: inundation of the country, and defeat When the expedition to Egypt had of the Austrian army upon the Rhine, effected its object, Sir Henry Torrens which enabled the French to assemble marched his regiment across the Dea force four times more numerous than sert, and embarked at a port of the Red ours, compelled our troops, after many Sea for Bombay. Here he was taken a desperate struggle, to evacuate Hol- extremely ill in consequence of a coup de land. In the last of these contests, soleil, and was obliged to take his paswhich was fought between Egmont and sage to England, in order to save his Harlaam, Sir Henry Torrens was again life. The ship in which he embarked desperately wounded. A musquet ball for Europe touched at St. Helena; the passed quite through his right thigh and climate and the society of that island lodged in the left, from which it was restored him to health, and gave a new found impossible to extract it, and impulse 10 his feelings: and he prosewhere it still remains, subjecting him at cuted the voyage no further. times to great uneasiness.
The government of the island of St. A circumstance occurred at this time Helena was at this time held by Colonel which deserves to be recorded. On the Robert Patton, a gentleman in whom 2d of October 1799, a severe action was the military character was united with fought near Alkmaar, and some of our that of the philosopher and man of letofficers, amongst whom was Sir Henry ters. In the works which he has given Torrens, imagining that they had pur- to the public, profound and original rechased security for a few days, rodeflections are conveyed in a style of classic into that town for the purpose of view- elegance. In his “Historical Review ing the place, and enjoying the rarity of of the Monarchy and Republic of a good dinner. While this dinner was Rome," and in his “ Principles of Asiain preparation, Sir Henry Torrens sat tic Monarchies,” the influence of prodown in the coffee-room to make some perty upon society and government is exnotes in his journal ; but seeing Major plained and illustrated in a very masterly Kemp, then aid-de-camp to Sir Ralph manner. The principles established in Abercrombie, ride hastily into the town, the latter work have been adopted by he started from his unfinished task, to Mr. Mill in his excellent History of ask the news. From Major Kemp he British India. The publications of learned that the French had made an Governor Patten, however, have not unexpected advance upon the English attained a circulation at all commensutroops, and that the division to which rate with their merit; for, to borrow he was attached was under orders for his own language, “ A work of investiimmediate action. Without waiting to gation and research it is almost imposreturn for his papers and his pocket- sible to render entertaining or popular. book, containing berween forty and The precious ore of truth lies deep, and fifty pounds, which he had left on the must be dug for: the flowers which attable, he mounted his horse, and in a tract general admiration are all gathered moment was at full speed. He arrived on the surface.” in time to place himself at the head of We shall not enter into the abstruse
disquisition whether talents are here- the field, but for talent, discretion, and ditary in families; but we believe it will integrity in the conduct of affairs. The be generally conceded that, under fa- Duke of Wellington, then Sir Arthur vourable circumstances, parents may, to Wellesley, saw his rising talents, and a certain extent, succeed in impressing appointed him his Military Secretary. their own characters upon their chil. In this capacity he embarked with the dren. The daughters of Governor Pat- expedition to Portugal in 1808, and was ton acquired the accomplishments of present at the battles of Rolleia and Vi. their father. Some notion of their at- miera. When the Duke of Wellington tainments may be gathered from the was superseded in his command, he recircumstance that, while they resided in turned with him to England; and was Scotland, previous to their settling at again to have attended him in the same St. Helena, they were the only females capacity, when that consummate Geadmitted into that brilliant coterie of neral recommenced his glorious career. wits and philosophers, the members of But the situation of Military Secretary which have since acquired so much to the Commander-in-chief being, with. celebrity as the conductors of the Edin- out solicitation, offered to him just at burgh Review. Our readers will be pre- this moment, prudence weighed with pared to anticipate that in the society of the father of a rising family against the Government House, Sir Henry Torrens ardour of the soldier, and domestic conwas exposed to other wounds than those siderations induced him to forego the of war. He became enamoured of Miss more active operations of the field, and Sally Patton, and married at the early to accept the office. How he discharged age of twenty-four. In this instance, the difficult and arduous duties which however, reflection and reason have now devolved on him, it is almost unsanctioned the instinctive impulse of necessary to state.
Under the immedithe heart; and the most fortunate events ate inspection, and guided by the disin Sir Henry Torrens' meritorious and tinguished talents, of his illustrious and prosperous career, are his touching at royal master, we may venture to say, the island of St. Helena, and forming a that at no period of our military history congenial and happy union,
were the arrangements of the British i Where mind preserves the conquest beauty won."
army more ably or successfully con
ducied. During the eventful war, upon In 1803 Sir Henry Torrens rejoined the issue of which depended not only his regiment in India, and remained in the fate of England, but of Europe, nothe field until he was again driven from thing could inore strongly contribute to the country by extreme and dangerous its success than an active and skilful illness; in 1805 he returned to England, direction of our powerful resources, and obtained the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, and attention to the comfort of the soldier. was employed in the Staff as Assistant That no one was more fitted for these Adjutant-general for the Kent district; arduous duties than the present Comand in 1807, he joined the expedition mander-in-chief, is not only proved by against South America, as Military Se- the unanimous voices of the army and cretary to the Commander of the Forces. the nation, but by the glorious and triAt the attack of Buenos Ayres he re- umphant termination of the late sanguiceived a contusion from a musket-ball, nary and protracted struggle. And while which shattered a small writing appara we thus pay a deserved tribute to the tus which was slung to his side. When illustrious character at the head of the this unfortunate expedition returned army, we cannot withhold his due porfrom South America, Sir Henry, was tion of applause from the Secretary, Sir examined as a witness on the trial of Henry Torrens. His talents, and his General Whitelock. His situation now laborious attention to the multifarious became painful and delicate in the high- duties of his office, have been universally est degree, being compelled by his oath acknowledged; while his conciliatory to make known the truth, and bound manners and kind attentions have proby honour not to divulge the confiden- cured him the love of his friends and the tial communications of his chief. His respect of the whole army: From the evidence is published with General duties of his office during four years of Whitelock's trial; and it is only neces the most active period of the war, he sary to say in this place, that he obtain- was not a single day, scarcely even a ed the highest credit by the manner in Sunday, absent ; and never failed, either which it was given.,
in winter or summer, to rise at five Sir Henry Torrens had now establish- o'clock in the morning. These exered a character not only for gallantry in tions were rewarded by his appointment,
in 1811, to a company in the 3d Guards; the honour of receiving you, on this in 1812, by his being made aid-de-camp occasion, as their guest in your native to H. R. H. the Prince Regent, with city. The compliment paid to you this the rank of colonel; and in 1815 (having day is not, permit me to say, of a trivial obtained the rank of major-general in nature ; for it falls to the lot of but very the brevet of the previous year), by an . few public men to obtain such an unappointment to a regiment. He was equivocal and ample testimony of esteem also honoured with the medal awarded and approbation as is now conveyed to for the battles of Rolleia and Vimiera, you. We rejoice in receiving you and with the distinction of Knight Com- amongst us; and we reward you with mander of the Bath. But promotion the universal, unqualified esteem and and honours were not the only sweet- approbation of all the most respectable, eners of his toil. In his delightful villa liberal, and independent gentlemen who at Fulham every domestic endearment inhabit the soil from whence you sprung. awaited his return after the cares and The gentlemen of this city and neighlabours of the day. It was impossible bourhood who now surround you, and for his marriage io be otherwise than greet your welcome, are not insensible happy. Sir Henry Torrens possesses an to your qualifications as a military offienlightened intellect and a feeling heart; cer in the field ; they know and duly and in Lady Torrens, excelling in music, appreciate your early promise of heroism in painting, and in dramatic literature, evinced in almost every quarter of the gifted with the powers of reasoning no world - both in the East and in the less than with the principles of taste, West, at the Helder-in Egypt-and in
And blest with temper whose unclouded ray Portugal, where the matchless Welling
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day, ton himself announced your rising fame we recognize those qualities which, from by appointing you to the most confidenthe constitution of our nature, a man of tial situation on his staff. Yet still the an enlightened intellect and feeling heart present source of their gratification is is constrained to admire and to love. your incomparable conduct in discharge Lady Torrens has, with great success, of your most important duties as Chief directed the powers of her fine under- Secretary to His Royal Highness the standing to the most useful of all objects, Duke of York, under whose military that of practical education. She has six administration, aided by your talents and children; and it is impossible to con- advice, the armies of the United Emtemplate the quickness of their under- pire have been organized in a manner standings, and the docility of their dis- unparalleled for excellence in ancient or positions, without feeling how much modern times, and which has mainly inay yet be done for society, by early contributed to the wide-extended tritraining, and a proper attention to the umphs and glory of the British nation. circumstances which are calculated to These sentiments, most humbly expressawaken the inind and to regulate the ed through me, will mark to you, Sir temper.
Henry Torrens, the disposition of your Sír Henry Torrens presents a particu- countrymen in this part of Ireland." lar exception to the general maxim, that During this address, Sir Henry Torrens' a “prophet is without honour in his two brothers, the Rev. John Torrens, own country.". In the autumn of 1818, Archdeacon of Dublin, and Robert Torhe revisited the city of Londonderry, rens, Esq. Chairman of Kilmainham, sat the place of his nativity. On this occa- beside hím, under feelings which deprivsion he was invited to a public enter- ed them of utterance. We can conceive tainment in the town-hall. Two hun- no scene of prouder triumph or more dred gentlemen of the first character in pure delight. the city and county assembled to greet Sir Henry Torrens has been recently his return. Sir George Hill, the mem- appointed to the situation of Adjutantber for the city, was in the chair. When general. His health, which had sufthe cloth was removed, he rose to pro- fered from excessive exertion and close pose the health of Sir Henry Torrens, confinement while he was Military Seand addressed him in these words :
cretary, is now entirely restored. If this “Major-general Sir Henry Torrens : memoir of his life should appear to wear
“On the part of this numerous and the colour of panegyric, the reader will most highly respectable assemblage of be aware that the cause is to be found your friends and fellow-citizens, I am in the subject, and not in the writer. directed to express to you the very great It is not his fault if a statement of facts gratification which they feel in having is the highest praise.