Napier Terrace, N1

Place name

Sir Charles James Napier (August 10, 1782 – August 29, 1853), officer and veteran of the Peninsular War in Iberia against Napoleon Bonaparte between 1807 – 1814, and described by historian Tom Holland as a “woke Victorian general” for his later exploits in India. In 1841, as Major General of the Indian army he conquered Sindh in what is now Pakistan. Napier was supposed to have despatched to his superiors the short, notable message, “Peccavi”, the Latin for “I have sinned” (which was a pun on I have Sindh) which later appeared under the title ‘Foreign Affairs’ in Punch magazine on May 18, 1844. The true author of the pun was, however, Englishwoman Catherine Winkworth, who submitted it to Punch, which then printed it as a factual report. Napier later made comments questioning the morality of the Sindh adventure: “If this was a piece of rascality, it was a noble piece of rascality!”. As Commander-in-Chief of India, Napier worried that British and Indian officers weren’t mixing, and foretold of the rebellion in 1857. In his posthumously published ‘Defects, Civil and Military of the Indian Government’ (Westerton, 1853) he wrote: “The younger race of Europeans keep aloof from Native officers … How different this from the spirit which actuated the old men of Indian renown.” He was also the great great grandson of King Charles II and his statue occupies one of the four plinths in Trafalgar Square. The street itself was first occupied in 1851.

 

 

 

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