|Obituary thought to have been printed in an Edinburgh
Tragedy is common enough in war, but the
motor accident is something which invention has brought in its train, and
will it is to be feared persist.
George Milne Harper's short and buoyant frame was well known in
the Old Quadrangle, in the Union and in many debating societies some forty
years ago. His cheerful bearing and happy smile , so well remembered by
those who knew him then, continued throughout his life. He came to Edinburgh
from Dollar Academy and studied arts, taking an honours degree in history in
1905. He was keen, always a hard and painstaking worker, serious in mind. He
had, too, a strong religious sense. As a debater he was always interesting,
and one or two of his Union speeches, besides many at the Historical
Society, are still remembered. He had time, too, to cultivate the social
side of University life, made many lasting friendships and was popular with
all. In those days sports were less specialised than in recent years, but he
would golf, play tennis, walk, dance and enjoy a social picnic - all with
equal zest. In India, tennis was his game, and it reached a high standard.
Harper passed into the Indian Civil Service in 1905, and went to
the United Provinces the following year. There he spent 35 years - a full
term of service. In the words of the Government of the U.P. Gazette
Extraordinary - published after his death - almost his -
"entire service until promotion in the last three years to the post of
member of the Board of Revenue was spent in the Districts of the Province.
He earned respect and affection in all the posts which he held, whether in
the discharge of his official duties or in the equally important social
relations which a Collector or a Commissioner must establish and maintain."
And again, he brought -
"to all with whom he came in contact those qualities of energy,
cheerfulness and vitality which were his until the end of his life."
In 1941 Harper received the honour of CIE and on retirement at the
end of the year he was appointed President of the United Provinces Public
Service Commission - a body of three created by the India Act 1935, which
the principle(sic) function was to handle recruitment for all the
provincial services. The appointment was for five years but was terminated
by death in rather less than two. The other members were and Indian ex-High
Court Judge and a Muslim ex-Chief Engineer.
Sir Harry Haig, late Governor of the United Provinces, described
Harper as - "balanced in temper, reliable in judgement and loyal in
support." These are qualities which his old Edinburgh friends will
recognise, as they developed in his student days. He learned the measure of
his own powers, and rarely if ever attempted attempted anything beyond them.
Harper was killed while motoring from Lucknow to Allahabad on 1st
December 1943. He was not the driver of the car. Throughout his career he
maintained the highest tradition of the ICS. In the United Provinces - for
Indians and Europeans alike - the sense of his loss is heavy. For those that
loved him - in India, at home and elsewhere in the Empire - there can be
only regret, tempered with pride.