Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/579

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Vincent
Vincent
569


minister of war (1868-70), and in the same year 'Elementary Military Geography, Reconnoitring and Sketching.' Although only a subaltern of two and twenty, he was also soon writing in service magazines and was deUvering lectures at the Royal United Service Institution. He next visited Italy to learn the language. In 1872 he was sent to Ireland in command of a detachment of his regiment. There much of his time was devoted to hunting, to private theatricals, and to addressing political meetings in which he expressed broadly liberal views on the Irish question. Next year he resigned as lieutenant his commission in the army. On 3 May 1873 he entered himself a student at the Inner Temple. Excursions to Russia and to Turkey in the course of 1873 and 1874 extended his range of languages and knowledge of the politics of the Near East. He issued in 1873 'Russia's Advance Eastward,' a translation from the German of Lieutenant Hugo Sturman, as well as an Anglo-Russian-Turkish conversation manual for use in the event of war in the East.

Vincent, who was called to the bar on 20 Jan. 1876, and joined the south-eastern circuit, was sufficiently interested in his new profession to publish immediately 'The Law of Criticism and Libel' (1876); but he never devoted himself to practice. He illustrated his versatUity by publishing for 1874 and 1875 'The Year Book of Facts in Science and the Arts' (2 vols. 1875-6). On the outbreak of the Russian-Turkish war in 1876 he joined, as a representative of the 'Daily Telegraph,' the Russian army, but suspicion of intimacy with the Turks prejudiced his position. During 1874-5 he was captain of the Berkshire militia, and from 1875 to 1878 lieut.-colonel of the Central London rangers. While filling the last office he studied volunteer organisation, and promoted a series of conferences for the purpose of securing more generous treatment from government. In 1878 he published a volume on 'Improvements in the Volunteer Force.' From 1884 to 1904 he was colonel commandant of Queen's Westminster volunteers, and he brought the regiment to a high state of efficiency.

Questions of law and police meanwhile absorbed Vincent's interest. In 1877 he entered himself at Paris as a student of the faculté de droit, and after completing a close examination of the Paris police system he extended his researches to Brussels, Berlin, and Vienna. The experience fitted him for appointment in 1878 to the newly created post of director of criminal investigation at Scotland Yard. With infinite energy he reorganised the detective department of the London police system, and for three years he never left London for a day. His current duties were soon rendered arduous by Fenian outrages and threats. At the same time he formed plans for the reform of criminals and the aid of discharged prisoners. From 1880 to 1883 he was chairman of the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage. In 1880 he pubhshed a French 'Procedure d'Extradition,' and in 1882 'A Police Code and Manual of Criminal Law,' which became a standard text - book. From 1883 he edited the 'Police Gazette.' His interest in his detective work was abiding, and he bequeathed a hundred guineas for an annual prize, the 'Howard Vincent cup,' for the most meritorious piece of work in connection with the detection of crime.

In 1884 Vincent resigned his association with Scotland Yard, and turned his attention to politics. A tour round the world led him to repudiate the liberalism towards which he had hitherto inclined, and developed an ardent faith in imperialism and protection. He was soon adopted as conservative candidate for Central Sheffield ; and at the general election in Nov. 1885 he defeated Samuel Plimsoll [q. v. Suppl. I] by 1149 votes. This constituency he represented until his death, being re-elected five times, thrice after a contest in July 1886, July 1892, and January 1906, and twice unopposed in 1895 and 1900. Soon after entering parliament he joined the first London county council, on which he served from 1889 to 1896. Into politics Vincent carried the industry and persistency which had characterised his earlier work. He was soon a prominent organiser of the party, becoming in 1895 chairman of the National Union of Conservative Associations, in 1896 chairman of the publication committee of the conservative party, and in 1901 vice-chairman of the grand council of the Primrose League. Inside the House of Commons he was indefatigable as a private member, and although he was never invited to join an administration he had remarkable success in converting into statutes private measures of his own or of his friends' devising. To his persistence were mainly due the Acts dealing with the probation of first offenders (1887), saving life at sea, merchandise marks (1887), when immigration (1905), and the appointment of a public trustee (1906). To the last measure Vincent devoted many years'