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the bank and completely commanded the river, thinking that some of the enemy were endeavouring to make their escape with treasure, let fly a rattling shot which had very near sunk the boat. This unwelcome salutation was about to be followed by another when the voice of our friend was heard exclaiming,
Don't fire! It is I ; it is Captain Salkeld !" Luckily a repetition of the words re-echoed through the trenches, just in time to prevent the second shot which might have proved of fatal consequence, and Captain Salkeld came safe on shore where he was met by the officers who had run to the beach at the report of the gun.
On the 18th, the fort was occupied by the British. Into the hands of the victors there fell the twenty-five lakhs that had been hoarded within the fort (and to which by the way, a claim was made by Perron) besides some 164 pieces of cannon. Among the latter was a brass gun of 43 tons celebrated in history as the great gun of Agra. It was the intention of Lord Wellesley to send this trophy to England as a present to King George III, but when the gun was embarked on a country boat, it sank into the depths of the Jumna from whose sandy bed it has never since emerged. In one or two buildings in the Fort the visitor will notice that the lovely marble lattice-work has in some places the appearance of being damaged by cannon-shot.
THE YOUNGER HESSING. In Grant-Duff's History of the Mahrattas the author has incorrectly described John Hessing as an Englishman and George Hessing as his son by a native mother. As we have already seen, George was the nephew of Major Derridon and Madame Perron. His mother, Anne Derridon, was doubtless of mixed descent, but a pure “native ” she certainly was not. Born about 1781, he was known among the Indians as Jorus Saheb just as George Thomas used to be called
Jowrůj. " The son of a soldier, a soldier must be, says an old song, and George saw service early. Before attaining his eighteenth year, he had distinguished himself in conjunction with Fidèle Filose in cleverly capturing Sindhia's father-in-law, Ghatkai Rao by name, who was defying his son-in-law's authority. On his father's retirement George succeeded to the command of his brigade the strength of which he increased from four to eight battalions. Then accompanying Sindhia to Malwa he was sent out to defend Ujjain which was being threatened by Jeswant Rao Holkar. Although this was during the rainy season when the Nerbadda had overflowed its banks, Hessing marched forward with surprising rapidity. He was soon attacked by Amir Khan, the noted Pindari Chieftain, and kept busily engaged until the latter was joined by Holkar who had in the meantime defeated a Captain MacIntyre at Nūri, a place twenty-seven miles off. Holkar, however, finding himself less successful against Major Brownrigg, by whom he was repulsed, hurried up to assist Amir Khan in making an assault on Hessing's entrenchments. Here at Ujjain Hessing sustained a severe defeat, his line being broken by Holkar's cavalry charges and his troops annihilated. Of his eleven European officers, eight (Captains Graham, Urquhart and Macpherson and Lieutenants Montague, Meadows, Lany, Doolan and Haddon) were killed while three others (Derridon, Duprat* and Humpherstone) were taken prisoners, George himself
* Duprat (or Dupont as L. F. Smith calls him) was a French officer under Perron. In command of five battalions of infantry he attempted to surprise by night the camp of Amrait Rao, the Peshwa's brother from whom the Bais (widows of Mahadaji) had sought protection. Failing in his attempt, he was defeated with great loss (1798). The Chief was then induced to come for negotiation to Poona when it is said, Captain Drudgeon treacherously attacked and defeated bim-even opening fire on the defenceless ladies' tents ! Not long after this Drudgeon fell into disgrace and was saperseded by Duprat.
escaped to his father to the Agra fort. Thither he had not long before sent on four battalions, and now received orders to march with them against George Thomas ; but
; through these, the gallant Irish Raja, himself fleeing to Hansi soon cut his way. Hessing again returned to Agra, made over the four battalions to Perron and succeeded his brother-in-law, Sutherland, in command of a brigade. But for a higher promotion he had not long to wait. In July 1803, the elder Hessing died and the younger became Commandant at Agra. References to his brief career of three months at that citadel will be found in the account of its investment by Lake. Suffice it to say that, although deposed by his mutinous troops, he was at the last moment put forward to negotiate terms for the garrison.
Of George Hessing, Colonel Skinner has said, that he was "too rich a man to defend the fort well." His fortune was estimated at five lakhs, besides money in the East India Company's funds. After his surrender, he retired to Chinsurah, then in the possession of his father's countrymen, and here he buried his son, a lad of some four summers. A flat grass-embedded stone in the old portion of the cemetery, which was visited by the Calcutta Historical Society four years ago, bears the following inscription :-“ To the memory of R. W. Hessing, the son of Colonel G. W. Hessing, in the service of D. R. Scindhiah, who died 27th July 1806, aged 3 years, 8 months and 28 days.” Very probably this baby-boy, then of eleven months, had lived through Lord Lake's siege of Agra !
George Hessing subsequently came down Calcutta where, early in 1826, his death occurred in a house at Garden Reach, the fashionable suburb in those days. He is interred in the South Park Street
cemetery under a monument in the form of a domed chamber surmounted originally by five urns, one crowning the top and the others standing at each corner of the roof (the urn on the summit still exists), and surrounded by a spear-headed railing. The structure is a graceful one, although it cannot for a moment be compared with the grand mausoleum at Agra beneath which his father reposes. George He sing's monument has recently, owing to its historic associations, been renovated by Mr. G. O'Connell, the energetic Superintendent of the Cemeteries under the Calcutta Christian Burial Board. Here is the inscription it bears :-“This monument is erected to the memory of Colonel George William Hessing, eldest son of the late Colonel John Hessing, who departed this life 6th January A. D. 1826, aged 44 years. Deservedly lamented by all who had the happiness of his acquaintance and more immediately by his family to whom he was an affectionate parent and sincere friend Blessed are the meek in spirit for they shall see God.
It should not fail to strike anybody that the Scripture text quoted (or rather misquoted) above, forms a curious medley of the three separate beatitudes referring respectively to “the meek”, “the poor in spirit” and "the pure in heart.” In any case having regard to “the eternal fitness of things ” it may be observed, with all reverence, that the attribute of meekness seems not particularly appropriate to a Commandant or Killahdar!
CONCLUSION. George Hessing's widow, Anna, survived until 31st August, 1831, when her death took place at Barrackpore. She was buried at Calcutta, probably in her husband's grave, but there is no inscription to
Her estate was a comparatively large
one valued at something below two lakhs and including some houses at Deegah. The Burial Register gives her age as thirty-eight only, so, in that case, she was too young to have been the mother of the little boy interred at Chinsurah. She left three sons : John Augustus
who had married, at Calcutta in 1826, Miss Jane Brightman, the daughter of a once well-known merchant; William George, and George William who, named after his father, also followed the profession of arms. He married in 1831 a widow-lady, Mrs. Maria Ormsby. A daughter bearing the name of Magdalena (or Madeline) so common in the family and described at the time of her wedding as of Stockwell, Surrey, was married on 27th March, 1832, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, to Colonel John Geddes of the retired list. At Calcutta Amelia, the widow of William Hessing, (described as an
up-country trader”), was buried in 1832 (aged 36) and eight years later, a Miss Harriet Jane Hessing. Head Teacher of the Calcutta Central School, aged 40. A young man of this name is said to be now employed as a signaller in the Government Telegraph Department. But there can scarcely be anybody still living who entertains recollections of the youthful Eurasian Commandant of Agra Fort. Portraits of George Hessing and Robert Sutherland-fine, handsome-looking fellows-appear among those of other “ Free Lances " in Mr. Keene's book.
“Their bones are dust,
Their swords are rust,
And their souls are with the saints, we trust."
E. W. Madge and K, N. DHAR, M.A.