Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Arnold, William Delafield

ARNOLD, WILLIAM DELAFIELD (1828–1859), Anglo-Indian official and novelist, the second son of Thomas Arnold, D.D., was born at Laleham, 7 April 1828, and was educated at Rugby. He was elected a student of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1847, and in the following year proceeded to India as ensign in the 58th regiment of native infantry. He soon became an assistant commissioner in the Punjab, and in 1856 was appointed by Sir John Lawrence director of public instruction. The department was new, and its organisation fell entirely upon Arnold, who, after much invaluable service, was obliged to quit India on sick leave, and died at Gibraltar on his way home, 9 April, 1859. His wife, Frances Anne, daughter of Major-general Hodgson, had died shortly before in India. Their joint memories are celebrated by his brother Matthew in 'A Southern Night,' one of the most beautiful memorial poems in our language. Arnold's name is further perpetuated by an annual distribution of medals, bearing his likeness, to the best pupils in the schools which he founded, provided from a fund subscribed by his fellow-workers in the Punjab. He is the author of 'Oakfield, or Fellowship in the Fast,' a novel in two volumes, published in 1853 under the pseudonym of 'Punjabee.' It depicts the struggles of a young officer of exceptional culture and seriousness to elevate the low tone of the military society about him, and the trials and problems forced upon him by this peculiar form of quixotism. It is well written and deeply interesting, imbued in every line with the spirit of the author's illustrious father; but, as is usually the case when the ethical element largely predominates, is open to the charge of insufficient sympathy with types of character alien from the writer's own. He also translated Wiese's 'Letters on English Education' (1854), and published in 1855 four lectures, treating respectively of the Palace of Westminster, the English in India, Caste, and the Discovery of America.

[Prospective Review, x. 274-303; information from Miss Frances Arnold.]

R. G.