Noble Deeds of the World's Heroines
by Henry Charles Moore
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Noble Deeds of the

World's Heroines






4 Bouverie Street & 65 St. Paul's Churchyard



In these pages I have tried to show how women, old and young, in many ranks of life, have proved themselves in times of trial to possess as much courage and daring as men. Some of these 'Brave Women' died for their Master's sake, whilst others, in His cause, passed through dire peril and grievous suffering. All of them counted not their lives dear unto them, so long only as they might do their duty. I have designedly omitted many familiar heroines in the hope of winning attention for some whose deeds have been less widely recognised.

H. C. M.














It was two o'clock in the morning when this cry was heard in Union Street, Borough, London, and the people who ran to the spot saw an oil shop in flames, and at a window above it a servant girl, Alice Ayres, screaming for help. Some rushed off to summon the fire-brigade, but those who remained feared that before it could arrive the place would be gutted.

'Jump! jump!' they shouted, and stretched out their coats to break her fall. But instead of jumping Alice Ayres disappeared from the window. There were other people in the house, and she was determined not to seek safety for herself until she had made an attempt to save their lives.

Hurrying to the room where her master, mistress, and one child slept, she battered at the door, and awakening them warned them of their danger. Then through smoke and flames she sped back to her own room, where three children slept in her charge. She gave one look out of the window, but the firemen were not yet on the scene.

'Jump! jump!' the crowd shouted.

But Alice Ayres ignored the entreaties, for she had determined to save the children or die in the attempt. Her first idea was to tie two sheets together and lower the children one by one; but, finding that the sheets would not bear their weight, she dragged a feather bed to the window and dropped it into the street. Willing hands seized it and held it out, expecting her to jump; but she disappeared again, returning, however, a moment or two later, with a little white-robed child in her arms. Holding her at arms' length out of the window, she glanced down at the bed, and seeing that it was ready, dropped her. A tremendous cheer from the crowd told her that the little one was safe.

Then she snatched up the second little girl, but the poor mite was terrified, and throwing her arms around Alice's neck cried piteously, 'Don't throw me out of window!' So tightly did the child cling to her that Alice had great difficulty in getting her into a proper position to drop her on to the bed, but she succeeded at last, and another loud cheer from the crowd announced that she had saved two lives.

Scarcely five minutes had elapsed since the fire broke out, but the contents of the shop were such that the flames spread at a fearful rate, and the onlookers knew that if Alice Ayres did not jump quickly she would be burned to death.

'Jump! jump!' they shouted excitedly.

But there was a baby lying in the cot, and back Alice Ayres went, brought it safely through fire and smoke to the window, and dropped it out. She had saved three lives!

Weakened by the heat and the smoke, Alice Ayres now decided to leap from the window, and the anxious people in the street watched her in silence as she climbed to the window sill. She jumped, but her body struck one of the large dummy jars above the front of the shop and caused her to fall head foremost on the bed, and then topple over on to the pavement with a sickening thud. Quickly and tenderly she was lifted on to a shutter and carried into a neighbouring shop, where medical aid was soon at hand.

In the meanwhile the firemen had arrived. They had come as soon as they were called, but they arrived too late to save the other three inmates of the house from perishing in the flames.

But the interest of the crowd was centred in the condition of Alice Ayres, and as she was being removed to Guy's Hospital there was scarcely a man or a woman present whose eyes were not filled with tears. Many followed on to the hospital, in the hope of hearing the medical opinion of her condition, and before long it became known that she had fractured and dislocated her spine, and that there was no hope of her recovery.

Alice Ayres died at Guy's Hospital on Sunday, April 26, 1885, aged 25, and at the inquest, when her coffin was covered with beautiful flowers sent from all parts of the land, the coroner declared that he should not be doing justice to the jury or the public, did he not give expression to the general feeling of admiration which her noble conduct had aroused. In the hurry and excitement of a fire there were few who had the presence of mind to act as she had done, or who would run the risks she had for the sake of saving others. He deeply regretted that so valuable a life, offered so generously, had been sacrificed.

In the Postmen's Park, which adjoins the General Post Office, there is a cloister bearing the inscription, 'In Commemoration of Heroic Self-Sacrifice.' Within it are tablets to the memory of heroes of humble life, and one of the most interesting of these is that on which is inscribed:—'Alice Ayres, daughter of a bricklayer's labourer, who by intrepid conduct saved three children from a burning house in Union Street, Borough, at the cost of her own young life. April 24, 1885.'


The steamer Georgette had sprung a leak while on a voyage from Fremantle to Adelaide, and the captain knew that there was little hope of saving his ship. But there were forty-eight passengers, including women and children, and to save these and the crew was the great desire of the captain. The ship's lifeboat was lowered, but this too was in a leaky condition, and the eight persons who put off in it were drowned before the eyes of their friends on the Georgette.

Seeing, soon, that there was absolutely no hope of saving his vessel, the captain decided to run her ashore, hoping by that means to be able to save all aboard her. The vessel grounded some 180 miles south of Fremantle on December 2, 1876; but she was some distance from the shore, and it seemed to the captain that no boat could pass through the surf which would have to be crossed to reach land. He swept the coast through his glass, but not a house or human being could he see, and he gave up all hope of receiving help from the shore.

A boat was launched, but it had scarcely quitted the steamer's side when it capsized, and before the crew could right it and bring it back to the ship an hour had elapsed. Once again it was lowered, but it capsized again in two and a half fathoms of water, and the women and children who escaped drowning clung to the overturned boat, and called to those aboard the steamer to save them. But help did not come from that quarter.

Grace Bussell, the sixteen years old daughter of an English settler who lived some twelve miles from the point opposite to which the Georgette had gone ashore, was riding through the bush, accompanied by a native stockman, and coming out towards the edge of the cliff saw the steamer in distress, and witnessed the overturning of the small boat. Horrified at the position of the poor people on the upturned boat, she moved her horse forward and descended the steep cliff.

It was a terribly dangerous act, for had the horse slipped both beast and rider would have fallen to certain death. Behind her, on his own horse, rode the stockman, which of course made the danger greater.

But Grace Bussell made nothing of the danger she was undergoing, her sole thought being to reach the drowning people as quickly as possible. The passengers and crew of the Georgette, watching her with a strange fascination, expected every minute to see her fall and be killed. To their astonishment she reached the beach in safety, and rode straight into the boiling surf. The waves broke over her, and it seemed impossible that she would ever reach the upturned boat and rescue the exhausted people clinging to it. Once the horse stumbled, but Grace was a skilful rider and pulled him up quickly.

As she drew near to the boat, closely followed by the stockman, hope revived in the hearts of the shivering women and children clinging to it, and when at last she was alongside every mother besought her to take her child. Quickly she placed two little ones before her on the saddle, and grasping hold of a third she started for the shore. The stockman, with as many children as he could hold, rode close behind her.

The journey outward had been difficult and dangerous, but now that her horse was carrying an extra load it was infinitely more so. However, she proceeded slowly, and although on one or two occasions they were nearly swept away they reached the beach in safety.

Having carefully placed her living load on dry land, she rode again into the raging sea. Her progress was slower this time, but she returned to shore with children on her saddle and women clinging to her skirt on each side.

Drenched to the skin and exhausted by the buffeting of the surf, Grace Bussell might have pleaded that she had not the strength to make another journey, but again and again, accompanied by the stockman, she rode out into the dangerous sea, and not until four hours had passed, and the last passenger was brought ashore, did she take a rest.

Hungry, tired, and shivering with cold, she sank to the ground; but she soon noticed that many of those whom she had saved were more exhausted than she, and that unless food and warm clothing were given them quickly they would probably die.

So, rising from the ground, she mounted her dripping horse and galloped off towards home. The twelve miles were covered quickly, but on dismounting at her home Grace fainted, and it was some time before her anxious parents could discover what had caused her to be in such a drenched and exhausted condition.

When at last she told the story of the shipwreck her sister got together blankets and food and rode off to the sufferers, whom she carefully tended throughout the night. At daybreak Mr. Bussell arrived with his wagon, and conveyed the whole party to his home, where they remained tenderly nursed by mother and daughters for several days. Mrs. Bussell, it is sad to say, died from brain fever brought on by her anxiety concerning the shipwrecked people whom she had taken into her house.

Grace Bussell's bravery was not allowed to pass unnoticed. The Royal Humane Society presented her with its medal, and a medal was also bestowed upon the stockman who had accompanied his mistress down the steep cliff and on her many journeys to and from the upturned boat.


A terrible accident had occurred in one of the streets of Noyen. The men engaged in repairing a sewer had, on finishing their day's work, neglected to take proper precautions for the safety of the public. They had placed some thin planks across the opening, but omitted to erect a barrier or to fix warning lights near the hole, with the result that four workingmen, homeward bound, stepped on the planks and fell through into the loathsome sewer.

An excited crowd of French men and women gathered round the hole, but no one made any effort to rescue the poor fellows. Soon the wives of the imperilled men, hearing of the accident, ran to the spot, and with tears in their eyes begged the men who were standing round the opening to descend and rescue their husbands.

But not a man in the crowd was brave enough to risk his life for his fellow-men. They would be suffocated and eaten by rats, was their excuse, and the frantic entreaties of the poor wives failed to stir them to act like men. Women were crying and fainting, men were gesticulating and talking volubly, but nothing was being done to rescue the poor fellows from the poisonous sewer.

But help came from an unexpected quarter. Catherine Vasseur, a delicate-looking servant girl, seventeen years of age, pushed her way to the front, and said quietly, 'I'll go down and try to save them.'

It seemed impossible that this slightly built young girl could rescue the men, but her willingness to make the attempt did not shame any of the strong fellows standing by into taking her place. All they did was to lower her into the dark, loathsome hole. On arriving at the bottom she quickly found the four unconscious men, and tying the ropes round two of them gave the signal for them to be hauled up.

The few minutes' work on the poisonous atmosphere was already telling upon her, and finding herself gasping for breath she tied a rope around her waist, and was drawn to the surface. The women whose husbands she had saved showered blessings upon her, and the other two implored her to rescue theirs. She replied that she would do so if possible, and having regained her breath she again descended.

A third man was rescued, but before she could attend to the fourth she felt herself becoming dazed. She decided to go to the surface again, and return for the fourth man when the fresh air had revived her. It was necessary that she should be drawn up quickly, but the rope which had been tied around her waist had become unfastened, and it was some minutes before she found it. When she did find it she was too exhausted to draw it down to tie around her. For a few moments she tugged at the heavy rope, but could not draw it lower than her head.

There seemed to be no escape for her, when suddenly a bright idea occurred to her—she undid her long hair and tied it to the rope. Then she gave the signal to haul up.

Cries of horror and pity burst from the onlookers when they caught sight of the brave girl hanging by her hair, and apparently dead. Quickly untying her, they carried her into the fresh air, where she was promptly attended to by a doctor, who eventually succeeded in restoring her to consciousness. She received the praise bestowed upon her with the modesty of a genuine heroine, and was greatly distressed at having been unable to save the fourth man. The poor fellow was dead long before his body was recovered by the sewermen, for none of the men who had witnessed Catherine Vasseur's heroism had been brave enough to follow her example.


It was at 11.25 on the morning of Thursday, March 30, 1899, that the steamship Stella left Southampton for Guernsey with 140 passengers and 42 crew aboard. Most of the passengers were looking forward to spending a pleasant Easter holiday at Guernsey or Jersey, but a few were natives of the Channel Islands returning from a visit to England.

For the first two hours the voyage was uneventful, but at about 1.30 the Stella ran into a dense fog. The ship's speed was not reduced, but the fog-horn was kept going. There is nothing more depressing at sea than the dismal hooting of the fog-horn, and it is not surprising that some of the ladies aboard the Stella became nervous. These Mrs. Rogers, the stewardess, in a bright, cheery manner endeavoured to reassure.

Mary Rogers' life had been one of hard work and self-denial. Eighteen years previous to the Stella making her last trip Mary Rogers' husband had been drowned at sea, and the young widow was left with a little girl two years old to support; and a few weeks later a boy was born. To bring her children up carefully and have them properly educated became Mrs. Rogers' chief object in life, and to enable her to do this she obtained her position as stewardess.

Her experience of the sea had been slight, and for five years after becoming stewardess she scarcely ever made a trip without being sea-sick. Many women would have resigned the appointment in despair, but Mary Rogers stuck to her post for the sake of her children. Ill though she might herself be, she always managed to appear happy, and to attend promptly to the requirements of the lady passengers. When at last she was able to make a voyage without feeling sea-sick, her kindness to the ladies in her care became still more noticeable. In foggy or rough weather her bright, sympathetic manner cheered the drooping spirits of all who might be ill or nervous. At night she would go round, uncalled, and if she found any lady too nervous to sleep she would stay and talk to her for a time.

Only a few months before the Stella's fatal trip, a lady passenger assured Mrs. Rogers that her bright, cheery sympathy had done much to make her trip pleasant. 'Well, you see, ma'am,' Mrs. Rogers replied, 'I don't believe in going about with a sad face, and it is such a pleasure when one can help others.'

At this time Mrs. Rogers' prospects were very bright. Her children, whom she declared 'any mother might be proud of, they are so good,' had grown up, and her daughter was to be married in the summer. In three years her son would finish his apprenticeship to a ship-builder, and it was settled that then she was to retire from sea-life and live with her daughter, continuing, as she had done for several years, to support her aged father. But the days to which she was looking forward with pleasure she was never to see.

For two hours the Stella ran through the dense fog on this fatal March 30, and at about ten minutes to four the captain was under the impression that the Casquets lay eight miles to the east. But suddenly they loomed out of the darkness, and almost immediately the Stella struck one of the dreaded rocks. Instantly the captain saw that there was no hope of saving his ship.

'Serve out the life-belts!' 'Out with the boats!' 'Women and children first!' were the orders he shouted from the bridge.

Mrs. Rogers did not for a moment lose her presence of mind, and by her activity many women were saved who would in all probability never have reached the deck. The ladies' saloon was long, but the door was somewhat narrow, and being round an awkward corner there would have been a fearful struggle to get through it, had a panic arisen. But Mrs. Rogers, by her calmness and promptitude, prevented anything approaching a panic, and got her passengers quickly on deck.

To all who had not provided themselves with them she gave life-belts, and then assisted them into the boats. The last boat was nearly full—there was room for only one more—and the sailors in charge of it called to Mrs. Rogers to come into it.

Before attempting to do so she took a last look round, to see that all the ladies were gone, and saw that there was one still there, and without a life-belt. Instantly Mrs. Rogers took off her own, placed it upon her, led her to the boat, and gave up her last chance of escape. But the sailors who had witnessed her heroism did not wish to pull away without her.

'Jump, Mrs. Rogers, jump!' they shouted.

'No, no,' she replied, 'if I get in, the boat will sink. Good-bye, good-bye.'

Then raising her hands to heaven she cried, 'Lord, have me!' and almost immediately the ship sank beneath her.

Seventy lives were lost in the wreck of the Stella, and the news of the terrible calamity cast a gloom over the Easter holidays. An inquiry was held to determine the cause of the ship getting out of her course, but the result need not be mentioned here. One thing that soon came to light was the story of Mary Rogers' heroism, which sent a thrill of admiration through all who heard it.

Her well-spent life had been crowned with an act of heroism, and her memory is deserving of more than the tablet which has been placed in the Postmen's Park.



The Red Republicans had risen. The factories and private residences of the wealthy inhabitants of Buzancais were in flames, and owners of property, irrespective of age and sex, were being dragged from their hiding-places and murdered.

For some months it had been rumoured that the Red Republicans, aggrieved at the high price of bread, intended to rise and kill all who possessed wealth; but the people of Buzancais paid no attention to these rumours, and were consequently unprepared to defend themselves when, on January 14, 1853, the rising occurred. Had they banded themselves together, they could have quelled the riot, but, taken by the surprise, the majority sought safety in hiding.

Meeting with no resistance, the Red Republicans pushed through the town, leaving behind them a trail of fire and blood, and came at last to a big house where lived Madame Chambert and her son.

Madame Chambert was a kind old lady, and generous to the poor; but the Red Republicans, inflamed by wine which they had stolen from various houses, forgot her good deeds, and remembered only that she was wealthy. And because she was wealthy they were determined to kill both her and her son.

Madame Chambert and her son were in the drawing-room when the infuriated mob burst into the house. It was useless to attempt to drive them out, as all the servants, with the exception of Madeleine Blanchet and a man, had deserted them. At last the armed mob, their blouses stained with blood and wine, rushed into the drawing-room hurling insults at the poor old lady, and charging her with crimes which she had never committed.

Madeleine Blanchet fainted on hearing her mistress so grossly insulted, but the man-servant rushed at the ringleader and knocked him down. The half-drunk murderers were eager to kill the Chamberts at once, plunder the house, set light to it, and pass on; but as they stepped forward to kill the old lady her son fired his gun and killed one of them.

The whole mob now rushed at Monsieur Chambert, who escaped from the room, but was caught before he could find a hiding-place, and hacked to death.

In the meanwhile Madeleine Blanchet had recovered consciousness, and going to her mistress, whom she had served for nine years, she hurried her from the room to seek a place of safety. But in the hall they came face to face with the murderers returning from committing their latest crime. 'Death! death!' they shouted, and attempted to strike the old lady, but Madeleine Blanchet, with one arm around her waist, received the blows intended for her.

'Go, go, my poor girl!' Madame Chambert murmured. 'I must die here. Go away.'

But Madeleine Blanchet refused to leave her, and shouted to the cowardly ruffians, 'You shall not kill my mistress until you have killed me!'

Still parrying the blows aimed at her mistress, she implored the men not to be such cowards as to kill a helpless old lady. This appeal and her devotion to her mistress touched the hearts of two of the Red Republicans, who declared that the old lady should not be killed while they could strike a blow in her defence. Guarded by these two men, Madeleine Blanchet carried her mistress to a neighbour's house, where a hiding-place was found for her.

Assured that her mistress was safe from further molestation, Madeleine Blanchet hurried back to the house, which the rioters were looting, and saved many treasures from falling into their hands. This dangerous self-imposed task she performed several times.

The Red Republicans' reign at Buzancais was terrible, but it was short. Scores of them were arrested, and Madeleine Blanchet was one of the witnesses for the prosecution. She told of the attack upon her mistress's house and the murder of her young master, but not a word did she say concerning her own bravery. The President of the Court had, however, heard of it, and was determined that her heroism should not be unknown because of her modesty.

'We have been told,' he said to her, 'that you defended your mistress with your body from the blows of the murderers, and that you declared that they should kill you before they killed your mistress. Is that true?'

Madeleine replied that it was, and the President, after commending her for her bravery and devotion to her mistress, declared that if there had been twenty men in Buzancais with the courage she had shown, the rioters would have been quickly dispersed and the terrible crimes averted. The story of Madeleine Blanchet's heroism spread rapidly throughout France, and the Academy made a popular award, when it presented her with a gold medal and five thousand francs.


On October 14, 1881, a gale raged throughout England, and in all parts of the country there was a terrible destruction of lives and property. Round our coasts ships were wrecked, and the number of lives lost at sea on that day was appalling, while on shore many people were killed by the falling of trees, chimney-pots and tiles.

In Sutton, Lancashire, the gale raged with tremendous fury, and the children in the local National School, frightened by the roaring and shrieking of the wind, could pay little attention to their lessons. Hannah Rosbotham, the assistant mistress, was in charge of the school, the head mistress being absent through ill-health. She was very popular among her pupils, and knew them all intimately, having herself lived all her life in the village, and having been educated at the school in which she was now a teacher. She calmed the more timid of her pupils, and endeavoured to carry on the school as if nothing unusual were happening outside.

While she was teaching the bigger children, the infants (little tots of three and four) were sitting in the gallery at the further end of the room in the care of a pupil teacher. Over this gallery was the belfry, a large stone structure. It had weathered many a storm, but none had equalled this gale. Suddenly about 11 o'clock Hannah Rosbotham was startled by a loud rumbling, grinding noise, and almost at the same moment a portion of the belfry crashed through the roof and fell in pieces upon the poor little children in the gallery.

Immediately there was a stampede. The pupils and the pupil teachers rushed terror-stricken into the wind-swept playground, every one anxious for her own safety. But Hannah Rosbotham did not fly from the danger; she thought only of the little children in the gallery. The air was filled with dust, but she groped her way to the gallery staircase, which was littered with stone, wood and slates. Hurrying up she found, to her great joy, that many of the little ones had escaped injury. Some were crying, but others sat silent and terror-stricken, gazing at the spot where several of their little friends lay buried in the ruins.

Having hurried out the children who had so wonderfully escaped injury, she set to work to rescue those who lay injured. And the magnitude of the task which lay before her may be realised from the fact that sixteen-hundredweight of belfry-ruins had fallen through into the gallery. Quickly and unaided Hannah Rosbotham tore away the timber, stone and slate that were crushing the little sufferers, whose pale faces and pleading voices filled her heart with anguish, but gave strength to her arms. As she knelt tearing away with her bare hands the mass of ruins, fragments of stone and slate fell continuously around her, and she knew that at any moment she might be struck dead. The gale was still raging, and as she glanced up through the hole in the roof she saw the part of the belfry which had not yet given way. A continuous shower of fragments fell from it, but if the remaining portion were blown down simultaneously, she and her infant pupils would be crushed to death.

Working with tremendous energy she set free one by one the terrified young prisoners. Some were very little hurt, and were able to hurry away into the playground, but there were others who had been severely injured, and these she had to carry away.

At last her task was done, and happily without any serious results to herself. Although she had been throughout her brave work surrounded by danger she escaped with nothing more serious than a few scratches.

When she came into the playground with the last of the children she had rescued, she found that the villagers had arrived on the scene. They had heard of the accident, and had come to seek their children, and having found them alive they joined in showering praise and blessings upon Hannah Rosbotham. Now that all danger was over the brave young schoolmistress—she was only twenty years of age—broke down and cried hysterically, but before long she was calm again, and started out to visit at their homes the little ones whom she had saved.

Such bravery as Hannah Rosbotham had shown could not of course escape recognition. The Albert Medal was presented to her on January 11, 1882, and later the Managers of the Sutton National School gave her a gold watch, on which was inscribed their appreciation 'of her courageous behaviour in rescuing the school-children during the gale of October 14, 1881, that destroyed the roof of the school, and for which act of bravery she has been awarded the Albert Medal by Her Majesty.'





Alone among cannibals! One can scarcely imagine a more terrifying experience for a white woman. No matter how friendly people around might be, the knowledge that they were by long habit cannibals, whose huts were adorned with human skulls, would be sufficient to strike terror to the heart of the bravest. One woman is known to have experienced this trying ordeal, and she was a missionary's wife.

In the life of that noble missionary, James Chalmers,[1] we get glimpses of a woman who was indeed a heroine, and who had the unpleasant experience of being left for a time, without any white companions, in the midst of cannibals. This was Jane Chalmers the martyr-missionary's first wife.

Jane Hercus was married to Chalmers in October, 1865, and in the following January they sailed for Australia on their way to the South Sea Islands. At the very outset of their missionary career danger assailed them. A gale sprang up in the Channel, and for a time it was believed that the ship and everyone aboard her would be lost. Providentially, however, their vessel weathered the storm, although so much damaged that she had to put into Weymouth, and remain there a fortnight for repairs. On May 20 they arrived in Adelaide, and in August sailed from Sydney for the New Hebrides; but while approaching Aneiteum, to land some passengers, the ship struck an unseen reef, and could not be got off until some days had elapsed. Temporary repairs were made, and with men working at the pumps day and night the ship slowly made her way back to Sydney. After six weeks' enforced stay at Sydney, Jane Chalmers and her husband made another start for their destination, which, however, they were not to reach without further danger.

On January 8 the ship struck on a reef which surrounds Savage Island, and became a total wreck, but happily, without loss of life, as the passengers and crew managed to get off in the boats. They reached shore in safety, but although Jane Chalmers was ill for some time, neither she nor her husband were discouraged.

Six weeks after the wreck of the ship, Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers left on a schooner for Samoa, and during the voyage Mrs. Chalmers' health improved. After a six weeks' stay at Samoa Chalmers and his wife sailed for Rarotonga, and on May 20, 1867, arrived there. In that beautiful island Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers settled down at once to work. 'The natives,' Mrs. Chalmers wrote, 'have to be treated in all things more like children at home than men. They soon get weary and discouraged in any work, but a few words of praise or encouragement put fresh spirit within them.' Missionaries had laboured at Rarotonga before the arrival of the Chalmers, and the work was not exactly the type which James Chalmers desired. He longed to be a missionary to the heathen; but it was not until he had spent ten years at Rarotonga that his desire was gratified by his being appointed to New Guinea, then a comparatively unknown land, the people of which were savages of the most degraded type.

At Dunedin, where the Chalmers stayed for a time, Mrs. Chalmers was frequently urged to remain behind until her husband was settled in his new home. 'No,' she replied on every occasion 'my place is by my husband's side.' And so this brave woman, in spite of the protestations of her friends, went forth with her husband to live among cannibals. The first native who spoke to Mrs. Chalmers on their arrival at Suau was wearing a necklace of human bones, and wishing to be gracious to her, this same cannibal offered her later a portion of a man's breast ready cooked! Signs of cannibalism were to be found everywhere, and the chief's house in which the Chalmers took up their residence until their own was built, was hung with human skulls. Such sights as Jane Chalmers witnessed were bad enough to appal any woman, but she bore up bravely, and was soon busy learning the language from a young warrior, whom, in return, she taught knitting and tatting. Both she and her husband made friends quickly, and some of their new friends, intending to please them, invited the missionary and his wife to a cannibal feast.

Nevertheless, it was not long before the Chalmers were in great danger of losing their lives. The vessel which had brought them to New Guinea was still standing off the island, and the natives, in an attempt to capture it, had one of their number killed. For this they demanded compensation from Chalmers, who, of course, was in no way responsible for the man's death. Chalmers promised to give them compensation on the following day, but the natives demanded that it should be given immediately, and departed very sulkily when their request was refused. Later in the day a native warned Chalmers that he, his wife, and his teachers from Rarotonga had better get away to the ship during the night, as the natives had decided to murder them early in the following morning. Chalmers told his wife what the native had said, and added, 'It is for you to decide. Shall we men stay, and you women go, as there is not room enough for us all on the vessel? or shall we try all of us to go? or shall we all stay?'

'We have come here to preach the Gospel and do these people good,' Mrs. Chalmers replied. 'God, whom we serve, will take care of us. We will stay. If we die, we die; if we live, we live.'

Then the teachers' wives were asked if they would like to go aboard the ship, but their answer was that whatever Mrs. Chalmers did they would do. Therefore it was decided that they should all stay.

During the night the little band of Christians could hear the war-horn calling the natives together, and the shouts of the cannibals as they came in from all parts.

In the meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers had made up in parcels the compensation which they intended to offer the people; but when, at four o'clock in the morning, the chief arrived to make a last demand he declared that they were not sufficient.

'If you will wait till the steamer comes I may be able to give you more,' Chalmers said, 'but at present I cannot.'

'I must have more now,' the chief declared, and departed.

The attack was now expected every minute, but hour after hour passed and the natives did not re-appear. At three o'clock in the morning Chalmers turned in, but he had not long been asleep when his wife discovered the cannibals approaching. Chalmers, aroused by his wife, ran to the door and faced the savages.

'What do you want?' he asked.

'Give us more compensation,' the leader replied, 'or we will kill you and burn the house.'

'Kill you may, but no more compensation do I give,' Chalmers answered. 'Remember that if we die, we shall die fighting.'

Then Chalmers took down his musket and loaded it in sight of the cannibals, who, having seen the missionary shoot birds, feared his skill. They withdrew and discussed what to do. For about an hour and a half the band of Christians waited for the attack to be made. Many of them were, naturally enough, much distressed at the thought of being killed and eaten, but throughout this trying time Jane Chalmers remained calm, assured that whatever might happen would be in accordance with God's will.

But the Chalmers' life-work was not yet ended. The chief of the village decided that they should not be killed. 'Before this white man came here with his friends I was nobody,' he said to the men who had assembled from other parts of New Guinea. 'They have brought me tomahawks, hoop-iron, red beads and cloth. You have no white man, and if you try to kill him, you kill him over my body.'

It would have been only natural if Jane Chalmers, after the experiences she had undergone, had decided that she could no longer live at Suau; but no such thought ever entered her head. Some months later she did as not one woman in a million would have done—remained for six weeks among cannibals with not another white person in the place.

Her husband sailed away to visit the native preachers at other villages, but she remained behind because she did not think it right that they should both leave their Rarotongan teachers so soon after the disturbances already described. The natives promised Chalmers, before he departed, that they would treat her kindly; and although the temptation to kill and eat her must often have been great, they kept their promise. But nevertheless she knew that her life might be ended at any moment, and it is easy to imagine her feelings when, one night as she was preparing for bed, she heard a commotion outside the house, men and women shouting and screaming loudly. One of the teachers went out to discover the meaning of the uproar, and returned with the comforting news that there was an eclipse of the moon, and that the natives were alarmed because they believed it would cause many of them to die.

The cannibals were very proud of having taken care of Mrs. Chalmers, and received with a conviction that they had well earned them, the presents and thanks which her husband, on his return, bestowed upon them. At the same time Mrs. Chalmers' pluck in remaining among them made a great impression on the cannibals, and caused them to have more confidence than ever in the missionaries.

But although Jane Chalmers was as full of courage and faith as when she arrived at Suau the trials and excitement of the life she had led there began to impair her health. Nevertheless, she did not complain, and when the mission at Suau was established on a sound footing she accompanied her husband on a voyage along the coast to visit places where a white man had never yet been seen; but eventually it became plain to herself and her husband that she needed rest and nursing. Accordingly she sailed for Sydney, to wait there until her husband could follow and take her to England. But they never met again. The doctors at Sydney pronounced her to be suffering from consumption, and held out little hope of her recovery. She, however, was very hopeful, and believed that before long she might be able to return to her husband at New Guinea. But this was not to be, and this heroic woman passed away before her husband's arrival.

[1] James Chalmers, his Autobiography and Letters, by Richard Lovett, M.A. (Religious Tract Society.)


'The White Man's Grave' and 'No White Man's Land' are the ominous names that have been bestowed on several unhealthy countries where Europeans have been compelled to reside; but there were none, fifty years ago, more deserving of being so described than Ashantee, Dahomey, and the Yoruba country. Nothing but the prospect of growing rich rapidly would persuade a white man, unless he were a missionary, to live in any of those countries, and a European woman was almost unknown there.

One of the first white women to risk the dangers of the Yoruba climate was Anna Hinderer, to whom belongs the honour of being the first of her colour to visit Ibadan. It was not, however, a mere visit that she paid to this unhealthy West African town; for seventeen years she lived there with her husband, devoting herself almost entirely to educating the native children.

Her mother died when she was five years old, and it was probably owing to her own childhood being sad and lonely that Anna Martin, afterwards Mrs. Hinderer, early in life began to take an interest in the welfare of poor and neglected children. In 1839, when only twelve years of age, she went to live with her grandfather at Lowestoft, and soon made two lifelong friends. They were the Rev. Francis Cunningham, Vicar of Lowestoft, and his wife, who was sister of that noble Quakeress, Elizabeth Fry. The friendship began by Anna Martin asking Mrs. Cunningham to be allowed to take a Sunday School class. She feared that being only twelve years old her request would not be entertained, but to her great joy it was granted at once. A little later she went to live with the Cunninghams, and was never so happy as when assisting in some good work. When only fourteen years of age she started a class for ragged and neglected children, and eventually she had as many as two hundred pupils. Many other schemes for the happiness of children were suggested by her, and, with the aid of Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, successfully carried out.

Anna Martin had long wished to be a missionary when she made the acquaintance of the Rev. David Hinderer, who had returned to England after labouring for four years in the Yoruba country, which stretches inland from the Bight of Benin almost to the Niger Territory, and is bordered on the west by Dahomey. Anna Martin was deeply interested in all that Mr. Hinderer told her of his little-known land, where lived some three million heathen, broken up into many tribes, but speaking one language. Before long the missionary asked Anna Martin to become his wife, and on October 14, 1852, they were married at the old parish church of Lowestoft.

Seven weeks after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer started for Africa, and arrived at Lagos on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Hinderer had suffered greatly from sea-sickness throughout the voyage, and three weeks after her arrival at Lagos she had her first attack of African fever. It was a sharp one, and left her very weak, but as soon as she was sufficiently strong to travel they started in canoes for Abeokuta. This was indeed a trying journey for a young woman who had been accustomed to the comforts of a well-to-do English home; but she had, of course, made up her mind to bear hardships in her Master's service, and whether they were sleeping in a village or in a tent pitched by the river-side, with fires lighted to keep wild beasts at a distance, she made no complaint. Sometimes she was home-sick, but these natural fits of depression soon passed away.

On arriving at Abeokuta Anna Hinderer had another severe attack of fever, which, as she stated in her diary, edited many years later by Archdeacon Hone, and published with the title Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, left her so weak that she could hardly lift her hand to her head. Her husband was also down with fever; a missionary with whom they were staying died of it; and, a few weeks later, another missionary passed suddenly away. A more gloomy beginning to a young worker's missionary career there could scarcely have been, but Anna Hinderer was far from being disheartened, and was eager to reach their destination.

At last they arrived at Ibadan. Mr. Hinderer had made known that he was bringing her, and when the news, 'the white mother is come,' spread through the village, men, women and children rushed out to see her. Very few of them had ever seen a white woman, for, as already stated, Anna Hinderer was the first to visit Ibadan, and their curiosity was somewhat embarrassing. They followed her to her new home, and for days hung about in crowds, anxious to catch a glimpse of her.

The mission-house was not an attractive or comfortable place. It consisted of one room, 30 feet by 6. Anna Hinderer had to exercise her ingenuity in making it appear homelike. How she managed to do this we gather from the following extract from a letter written by Dr. Irving, R.N., who visited Ibadan shortly after they had settled down:—

'Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer at present live in such a funny little place; quite a primitive mud dwelling, where no two persons can walk abreast at one time. And yet there is an air of quiet domestic comfort and happiness about it that makes it a little palace in my eyes. It is unfortunate, however, for my temples, for in screwing in at one door and out at the other, forgetting to stoop at the proper time, my head gets many a knock. At one end, six feet square, is the bedroom, separated from the dining-room by a standing bookcase; my bedroom is at one end of this, formed by a sofa, and my privacy established by a white sheet, put across for a screen at bedtime.'

In a very short time Anna Hinderer became popular with the women and children, and set to work to learn the language. The boys being eager to learn English she would point to a tree, pig, horse, or anything near by, and the youngsters would tell her the Yoruba name for it. In return she told them the English name. But long before she had acquired anything like a useful knowledge of the language she managed to make the women and children understand that Sunday was a day of rest, and was delighted to see that many of them followed her example and gave up their Sunday occupations. The women were indeed deeply attached to her. If she looked hot they fanned her, and whenever they saw that she was tired they insisted upon her sitting down. When she had an attack of fever they were greatly distressed, and constantly inquiring how she was progressing.

Having at last acquired a fair knowledge of the Yoruba language, Anna Hinderer started a day school for children, and to nine little boys who were regular in their attendance she gave a blue shirt each, of which they were immensely proud. A little later she prevailed upon a chief to allow his two children to come and live with her. One was a girl six years of age, and the other her brother, two years younger. Throughout the day the little ones were very happy, but towards evening the girl wanted to go home. She was evidently frightened, and was overheard saying to her brother, "Don't stay. When it gets dark the white people kill and eat the black." Both, then, ran off home, but returned the following morning. A few days later the boy, in spite of his sister's warnings, stayed all night. The girl left him in great distress, and at daybreak was waiting outside the mission-house, anxious to see if he were still alive. Her astonishment on finding that he had been treated as kindly after dark as during daylight was great.

It was no easy task to manage a school of native children, but, nevertheless, the experience she had gained among the Lowestoft children made the task lighter than otherwise it would have been. 'Happy, happy years were those I spent with you,' she wrote to Mr. Cunningham, 'and entirely preparatory they have been for my work and calling.' She managed to impress upon her dusky little pupils that it was necessary to wash more than once or twice a week, and that they must keep quiet during school and service.

One day while her husband was preaching he referred to idols, and quoted the Psalm, 'They have mouths, and speak not.' No sooner had he said this than Mrs. Hinderer's boys burst into loud laughter, and shouted, in their own language, 'True, very true.'

Soon after their temporary church—a large shed covered with palm leaves—had been completed and opened there came a period of trial. Mrs. Hinderer's horse stumbled and fell upon her, and although no bones were broken she found later that she had received an injury which troubled her until her death. No sooner had she recovered from the shaking she had received, than her husband had a bad attack of fever. It was believed that he would die, but she nursed him day and night, and eventually had the great joy of seeing him recover. But soon she was seriously ill. Inflammation of the lungs set in, and for a time her life seemed to be drawing to a close, but she recovered, and was before long once more at work among the women and children.

It was about this time that Mrs. Hinderer wrote to her Lowestoft friends:—'You will not think me egotistical, but this I do think, if I am come to Africa for nothing else, I have found the way to a few children's hearts, and, if spared, I think I shall not, with God's blessing, find it very difficult to do something with them. My boys that I have now would never tell me an untruth, or touch a cowry or anything they should not. This is truly wonderful in heathen boys, brought up all their lives, hitherto, in the midst of every kind of deceit.'

After a stay at Abeokuta for the benefit of her health, Anna Hinderer returned to Ibadan, to find the new church and mission-house finished. The natives had taken great interest in the building of the mission-house, and, soon after the Hinderers' return, the head chief, accompanied by his wives and a host of attendants, came to see it. They received a cordial welcome, but so many people swarmed into the house that Mr. Hinderer began to fear it would collapse, and had to keep out scores who wished to enter. The chief found much to amuse him in this European-furnished house, and was immensely amused when for the first time he saw himself in a looking-glass. His wives were shown round by Mrs. Hinderer, and arriving at the bed-room they pointed to a washstand and asked its use. For reply Mrs. Hinderer poured out some water and washed her hands. Now the chief's wives had never before seen soap, and to dry their hands after washing was a proceeding of which they had never heard; therefore each became anxious to there and then wash their hands in European fashion. Water was splashed about the floor and wall, and when they wiped their hands the indigo dye from their clothes ruined the towel.

Anna Hinderer, although frequently in bad health, continued her work among the children with unabated enthusiasm, and in November, 1885, she had the joy of seeing eight of them baptized. Two months later the state of her health made it imperative that she should proceed to Lagos for a rest. Her husband accompanied her, but both were eager to get back to their work, and were absent for only a few weeks. But during that short time much had happened at Ibadan. The natives had begun to persecute the converts, and some had forbidden their children to attend the church or mission-school.

One girl who refused to give up attending church was shamefully treated. A rope was tied round her body, and she was dragged through the streets while the mob beat her with sticks and stoned her. As she lay bleeding and half dead the native idols were brought out and placed before her. 'Now she bows down,' the mob cried; but the girl answered. 'No, I do not; you have put me here. I can never bow down to gods of wood and stone who cannot hear me.' Eventually, after suffering ill-treatment daily, she ran away to Abeokuta.

For the next seven months Anna Hinderer continued without ceasing to teach the children, nurse those who were sick, and adopt any little girl-baby who had been deserted by her inhuman parents. Then Mr. Hinderer, after six months' illness, was stricken with yellow fever, and it became imperative that he should go to England for his health's sake. On August 1, 1856, Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer sailed from Lagos for home. And yet Anna Hinderer did not feel as if she were going home, but that she were leaving it, for Ibadan was beloved by her. Husband and wife were in bad health throughout the voyage, and the captain's parting words to the latter as she went ashore at England were:—'You must not come to sea again; it cannot be your duty. A few more voyages must kill you.' Nevertheless, two years later, Anna Hinderer and her husband, restored in health, were back at Ibadan.

Two years of hard work followed. The school was filled, the natives had ceased from persecuting the converts, and the prospects of missionary work were brighter than ever, when suddenly the news came that the fiendish King of Dahomey was marching on Abeokuta. Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer were at Abeokuta when the news arrived, and at once they hastened back to Ibadan, although there was a danger of being captured and tortured by the invading force. They reached Ibadan in safety, only, however, to find that the chief of that place was at war with the chief of Ijaye, a neighbouring town. The place was full of excitement and a human sacrifice was offered, the victim, prior to the ceremony, walking proudly through the town.

Anna Hinderer and her husband could at first have made their way to the coast, but they decided to remain with their converts and pupils. It was a bitter war, and soon the Hinderers were cut off from all communication with their fellow-missionaries in the Yoruba country. Supplies ran short, and they were compelled to sell their personal belongings to obtain food for themselves and the children. 'We sold a counterpane and a few yards of damask which had been overlooked by us;' runs an entry in Anna Hinderer's diary, 'so that we indulge every now and then in one hundred cowries' worth of meat (about one pennyworth), and such a morsel seems a little feast to us in these days.' Many of the native women were exceedingly kind to Anna Hinderer in the time of privation. The woman who had supplied them with milk insisted upon sending it regularly, although told that they had no money to pay for it.

For four years the Hinderers were almost entirely cut off from communication with the outer world, but they continued their labours unceasingly throughout this trying time. The girls' sewing class had, however, to be discontinued, for the very good reason that their stock of needles and cotton was exhausted. It was a time of great privation, but Anna Hinderer, although frequently compelled to endure the gnawing pangs of hunger, always managed to keep her native children supplied with food.

At last relief came. The Governor of Lagos had made one or two unsuccessful attempts to relieve the Hinderers, and in April, 1865, devised a means of escape. He despatched Captain Maxwell with a few trustworthy men, to cut a new track through the bush.

It was a difficult undertaking, but successfully accomplished, and one night, about ten o'clock, the Hinderers were surprised to see Captain Maxwell enter the mission-house. He brought with him supplies, and also a hammock for Mrs. Hinderer's use on the return journey.

It was somewhat of a surprise to the gallant officer to find that the missionaries for whom he had performed a difficult and dangerous journey were by no means anxious to return with him. It was the more surprising as it was plain that both were in very bad health. Mr. Hinderer declared that he could not possibly leave his mission at seven hours' notice, but he joined the captain in urging his wife to go, assuring her that it was her duty to do so. At last she was prevailed upon to avail herself of the means of escape. She was overcome with grief at leaving her husband shut up in Ibadan, and her distress was increased by her inability to say 'good-bye' to the little native children to whom she had acted a mother's part. They were asleep, and to have awakened them would have been unwise, for there would certainly have been loud crying, had the little ones been told that their "white mother" was leaving them. Their crying would have been heard beyond the mission-house compound, and the news of Mrs. Hinderer's approaching departure would have spread through the town, in which there were probably spies of the enemy.

Seven hours after Captain Maxwell arrived he began his dangerous return journey, his men carrying Mrs. Hinderer in the hammock. They proceeded by forced marches, keeping at the same time a sharp look-out for the enemy, who would, they knew, promptly kill any Christian who fell into their power. On several occasions they suddenly found themselves so close to the enemy that they could hear their voices, but, fortunately, they were not discovered. On the third day, however, they heard that their departure had become known to the enemy, who was in hot pursuit. It was a terribly anxious time for the invalid missionary, but Captain Maxwell and his men were determined that she should not be captured. Silently and without halting once, even for food, they hurried on hour after hour, and finally arrived at Lagos, having done a six days' journey in less than three and a half. So carefully had Captain Maxwell's men carried Anna Hinderer that she was little the worse for the journey, and after a few days' rest sailed for England. Two months later her husband followed.

In the autumn of the following year Anna Hinderer and her husband returned to Ibadan, where they were received joyfully. Anna Hinderer resumed her work with all her former enthusiasm and love, although she found before long that she had not sufficient strength to do all that she had done formerly.

Two years later the chiefs of the neighbouring tribes decided to expel all white men from their territory, and they urged the Ibadan chiefs to adopt a similar policy. The only white people in Ibadan were the missionaries, and these they refused to expel. Announcing their decision to the Hinderers, the chiefs said: 'We have let you do your work, and we have done ours, but you little know how closely we have watched you. Your ways please us. We have not only looked at your mouths but at your hands, and we have no complaint to lay against you. Just go on with your work with a quiet mind; you are our friends, and we are yours.'

Another two years of hard work followed. The schools were flourishing, and among the pupils were children of the little ones whom, many years previously, Anna Hinderer had taken into her home and cared for. The chiefs continued to be friendly, and only one thing was wanting to make Anna Hinderer perfectly happy. Frequent attacks of fever had so weakened her that she began to feel that the work was beyond her strength. Her husband, too, was never free from pain. They recognised that they could not live much longer in Africa. Gladly they would have remained and died at Ibadan, but for the knowledge that their work could now be better carried on by younger missionaries. So with a sad heart Anna Hinderer bade farewell to the people among whom she had bravely toiled for seventeen years. She had lost the sight of one eye, and the specialist whom she consulted in London assured her that had she remained much longer in Africa she would have become totally blind.

Although in a very weak state of health Anna Hinderer was not content to remain idle, and in her native county of Norfolk began to interest herself in factory girls and other children of the poor. She was always cheerful, and few people knew how much she was suffering from the effects of years of hard work and privation in a pestilential country. She died on June 6, 1870, aged forty-three; and when the sad news reached Ibadan there was great sorrow in the town, and the Christian Church which she had helped to plant there forwarded to her husband a letter of consolation and thankfulness for the work which she had done among them.


Ann Judson was not only the first American woman to enter the foreign mission field, but also the first lady missionary, or missionary's wife, to visit Rangoon. She was the daughter of Mr. John Hasseltine, of Bradford, Massachusetts, and was born on December 22, 1789. When nearly seventeen years of age she became deeply impressed by the preaching of a local minister, and decided to do all in her power towards spreading the Gospel. Sunday Schools had been started in America about 1791, but they were very few. Bradford did not possess one, and probably it was not known there that such schools existed anywhere. Ann Hasseltine, being desirous of instructing the children in religious knowledge, adopted the only course which occurred to her as likely to lead to success; she became a teacher in an ordinary day school.

When she had been engaged in this and other Christian work about four years, she made the acquaintance of Adoniram Judson, a young man who had recently been accepted for work in the East Indies, by the newly formed American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Before they had known each other many months, Judson asked Ann Hasseltine to become his wife and accompany him to India. He did not conceal from her that in all probability her life as a missionary's wife would be full of hardships and trials, but, after considering the matter for some days, she promised to marry him, providing that her father gave his consent. Judson wrote to Mr. Hasseltine, and after stating that he had asked his daughter to become his wife, and that she had consented, continued: 'I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in the hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamation of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?'

Mr. Hasseltine gave his consent, and on February 5, 1812, his daughter was married to Adoniram Judson. It had now become known throughout the United States that Mrs. Judson intended to accompany her husband to the mission field, and in all quarters her intention was denounced. She was accused of being both imprudent and lacking in modesty. These attacks caused Ann Judson considerable pain, but they did not weaken her determination to accompany her husband. They sailed for India on February 12, and landed at Calcutta on June 18. On the voyage they had for fellow passengers some Baptist missionaries, and the result of their intercourse with them was that ten days after their arrival at Calcutta they were baptised. By this step they lost the support of the Board of Commissioners who had sent them out, but aid was soon sent them by the American Baptists.

Missionary work in India was almost at a standstill when the Judsons arrived at Calcutta. The East India Company had issued an order, withdrawn, however, in the following year, forbidding missionaries to carry on their work in the Company's territory. The Judsons received notice to depart before they had been in the country many months, and were undecided where to go. They were anxious to settle in Rangoon, but everyone assured them that Lower Burma was not yet ripe for missionary work. The Burmese were described to them as little better than fiends, and stories were told of Europeans who had met with torture and death at their hands.

Nevertheless, the Judsons sailed for Rangoon, and in July, 1813, were ascending the Rangoon River, delighted with their first glimpse of the country. On either side of the mighty river was dense jungle, extending far inland. Here and there along the banks were small fishing villages, with quaint little wooden huts built on tall poles to prevent their being flooded or invaded by tigers, cheetahs or snakes. Near every village were several pagodas whose spires rose above the jungle; and there were many pagodas standing far from any habitation.

As the Judsons drew near to Rangoon they saw on the hill, near by, the great Shway Dagon Pagoda with its tall, gilded spire shining in the sun with a brilliancy that was dazzling. But soon they turned from gazing at the Mecca of the Burmese Buddhists to view the town, a big collection of bamboo and mat huts protected by forts with guns, which the people fondly believed would utterly destroy any foreign fleet which dared to ascend the river. Many trading vessels were riding at anchor off the city, and canoes of various sizes and design were passing to and from them. It was a busy scene, made bright by the gorgeous turbans of the rowers, and the brilliant attire of high officials.

Mr. and Mrs. Judson landed at Rangoon not only unmolested, but with a friendly greeting from the natives. These swarmed round them smiling pleasantly, and exhibiting none of the appearances of atrocity-perpetrators. The women were greatly interested in Mrs. Judson, and when she smiled at them they laughed merrily. This unexpectedly pleasant reception greatly cheered the Judsons, and made them eager to begin work. But before they could do this they had to learn the Burmese language, not a word of which they knew. They could not obtain an interpreter, for the reason that no one, with the exception of a few merchants, understood English. The European merchants who at that time lived in Burma were, with scarcely an exception, men of poor character. A missionary was the last person these men would welcome or help.

Having settled down in their home, Mr. and Mrs. Judson began to learn the Burmese language, a difficult task, considering that they had neither dictionary nor grammar to assist them. Mrs. Judson, having to buy food and superintend her servants, soon learnt a few Burmese sentences, but her husband was learning the language scientifically, with the intention of eventually translating the Bible into Burmese. When both knew sufficient Burmese to make themselves understood, they engaged teachers to help them with their studies.

Two years passed, and Mr. and Mrs. Judson were still learning the language. In September, 1815, a son was born to them, but to their great grief he died eight months later, through want of medical attention. When the child was buried, some forty Burmese and Portuguese followed the body to the grave.

In December, 1815, Mr. and Mrs. Judson began to make known to the people the Gospel they had come to Burma to preach. Until then they had wisely refrained from doing so, knowing that mistakes they might make in their speech would bring ridicule upon their religion. But now that they were confident of their knowledge of the language they started hopefully on the work of winning converts.

The time to which they had long looked forward had arrived, but the success which they had expected was not achieved. The natives listened attentively to everything Mr. or Mrs. Judson said to them, but their answer was usually, 'Our religion is good for us, yours for you.' Some laughed, good-humouredly, at the idea of the missionaries expecting them to give up the religion of their forefathers for that of the white kalas[1] from across the sea, and others declared that they were mad. No one, however, suggested that they should be forbidden to attempt to gain converts. It did not seem worth while interfering with them; for what Burman living in sight of the Shway Dagon Pagoda, and near to the monasteries where he had learnt the precepts of Guatama Buddha, would even think of forsaking his religion?

This indifference of the Burmese was very disheartening to the Judsons, and when a year had passed without their having made the slightest impression upon any native they might well have been discouraged. But this was far from being the case, and in October, 1816, they were able to look forward with still greater confidence to seeing their labour crowned with success. The printing press which they had long been expecting arrived, and two Burmese tracts which Mr. Judson had prepared were printed and circulated. One was a clear explanation of Christianity, the other a translation of the Gospel according to Matthew. The result of the wide distribution of these tracts was not such as the Judsons had expected. One or two Burmans made a few enquiries concerning the subject of the tracts, but when their curiosity was satisfied they showed no further interest in the matter. Three years of steady hard work followed. Mrs. Judson continued her efforts to win the women, and gathered around her every Sunday a large number to whom she read the Scriptures. Her husband had in the meanwhile finished his dictionary of the Burmese language, a work for which successive generations of British officials, merchants and missionaries have had cause to be thankful, and in 1819 began to preach on Sundays. Hitherto he had been speaking to individuals; now he addressed himself to crowds.

The place in which he preached was a zayat or rest-house, a big one-room building erected for the convenience of pilgrims who came to worship at the Shway Dagon Pagoda. There was no furniture in the place, and the pilgrims, or any one else who cared to enter, squatted on the floor, or, if tired, lay down and slept. Here, before a crowd of men, women, and children, all, from the old men of seventy to children of three or four, smoking big green cheroots, Mr. Judson preached Sunday after Sunday, and on April 30, 1819, made his first convert. Two months later, on June 27, the convert was baptized.

The Judsons, refreshed by the knowledge that their six years' toil in a sweltering, unhealthy country had not been wasted, continued their work joyfully, and soon had further cause for thankfulness. Several natives were baptized, and the Judsons had every reason for believing that their little band of Christians would increase rapidly.

Then their work received an unexpected check. The news reached Rangoon that the King of Burma was highly displeased at the conversion of his subjects, and intended to punish both missionaries and converts. No sooner was this known than the Judsons were deserted by all but their converts; the people who had flocked to hear Mr. Judson preach in the zayat no longer went there, and the women ceased to attend Mrs. Judson's gatherings.

Mr. Judson suspected that the threats emanated from the Governor of Rangoon, and not from the king, and, therefore, he started off, accompanied by a young missionary who had recently joined him, to the capital, to ask the king to prohibit any interference with them or their converts. His majesty not only received them graciously, but promised, if Mr. Judson would come with his wife and settle in the capital, to give them his protection and a piece of ground on which to build a church.

Mrs. Judson's ill-health prevented their accepting that invitation at once. Besides attending to her domestic duties and her native classes she had learnt the Siamese language, and with the aid of a native had translated into Siamese her husband's Burmese tracts. The Burmese territory in the Malay peninsula had formerly belonged to Siam, and after its annexation to Burma many of the Siamese came to live at Rangoon. Several thousands resided there at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and it was that they might hear the Gospel that Mrs. Judson learnt their language. Suffering from over-work and the unhealthiness of the city—in those days Rangoon was a pestilential place—Mrs. Judson sailed for Calcutta, and proceeded to Serampore. She was back again in January, 1821, after six months' absence, but during the long rainy season she had such a severe attack of fever that it was evident that to save her life she would have to return to America for a complete rest.

After two years in America she returned to Rangoon in good health; and Mr. Judson now decided to avail themselves of the King of Burma's invitation to settle at Ava. Leaving the Rangoon mission in charge of his assistant missionaries, he started with Mrs. Judson on the long journey up the Irrawaddy to the capital. But before they had proceeded far war broke out between England and Burma. The Burmese were possessed of the belief that they were the greatest military power in the world, and, confident that they had nothing to fear from the English, encroached upon the possessions of the East India Company. Other acts of aggression followed, and the Company decided upon reprisals. Several battles were fought on the frontier, and the Burmese under Bandoola won two or three victories. Mr. and Mrs. Judson on their journey up the Irrawaddy met Bandoola proceeding in great state to take command of his army. They were questioned by the Burmese general's men, but on explaining that they were not British subjects but Americans, and that they were proceeding to Ava by command of the king, they were allowed to continue their journey.

On arriving at Ava the king and queen treated Mr. Judson very coldly, and did not enquire after Mrs. Judson, whom they had previously desired to see. This was a discouraging beginning for their new work, but the Judsons settled down to it, praying that the war might soon be ended. But the end was far off. On May 23, 1824, the news reached Ava that an English force had captured Rangoon. It had apparently not occurred to the Burmese that the English might attack them elsewhere than on the frontier, and the news of their success filled them with amazement and indignation. An army was despatched at once with orders to drive out the invaders.

The king now became suspicious of Mr. Judson. He knew that the missionary had declared that he was not a British subject, but America was a land of which he knew nothing. The only white nations of which he had any knowledge were England and France, and he was under the impression that after the downfall of Napoleon the French had become British subjects. His courtiers were equally suspicious of Mr. Judson, and one managed to discover that he had recently received some money from Bengal. This money was a remittance from America which had been forwarded through a Bengal merchant, but the king and his advisers at once came to the conclusion that Mr. Judson was a spy in the employ of the English.

An order for his arrest was issued immediately, and an officer, accompanied by a 'spotted face,' or public executioner, and a dozen men proceeded to the Judsons' house. The 'spotted face' rushing in flung Mr. Judson to the ground and began to bind him.

In terrible distress Mrs. Judson besought the officer to set her husband free, but all the notice he took of her was to have her secured. When the ropes had been tightly bound around Mr. Judson the 'spotted face' dragged him out of the house. 'Spotted faces' were almost invariably criminals who had been sentenced to the most degraded of duties—executing their fellow men. So that they should not escape from the work to which they were condemned, small rings were tattoed on their cheeks, forehead and chin. Loathed by all classes, the 'spotted faces' treated with great barbarity all who came professionally into their power. The man who had bound Mr. Judson made the missionary's journey to the prison as uncomfortable as possible. Every twenty or thirty yards he threw him to the ground, and dragged him along for a short distance with his face downwards. On arriving at the prison allotted to men sentenced to death, Mr. Judson was fettered with iron chains and tied to a long pole, so that he could not move.

Mrs. Judson was left at her home, with a number of soldiers outside to prevent her escaping. But these men were not satisfied with keeping her prisoner; they added to her misery by taunting her, and threatening her with a horrible death. For two days she endured this agony, but on the third she obtained permission to visit her husband. Heavily fettered, Mr. Judson crawled to the prison door, but after they had spoken a few words the jailors roughly drove her away. She had, however, seen enough of the prison to make it clear to her that her husband would die if he were not speedily removed from it. By paying the jailors a sum of money she managed to get him removed to an open shed in the prison enclosure. He was still fettered, but the shed was far healthier than the prison.

Having attained this slight relief for her husband, Mrs. Judson now did all in her power to obtain his release. She called in turn on the various members of the royal family and the high officials, assuring them that her husband had done nothing to deserve imprisonment, and asking for his release. Many of the people were sympathetic, but none dared ask the king to set the missionary free, for his majesty was infuriated by the news which reached him, now and again, of the success of the invaders.

At last, in the autumn, Bandoola arrived at Ava. He had been summoned from the frontier to proceed towards Rangoon to drive out the British, and on arriving at Ava he was received with wild enthusiasm. Even the king treated him with respect, and allowed him to have a free hand. Mrs. Judson, seeing Bandoola's power, determined to appeal to him for her husband's release. She was given an audience, and after hearing her petition, Bandoola promised that he would consider the matter, and dismissed her with the command to come again to hear his decision. The gracious manner in which she had been received filled Mrs. Judson with hope, but on calling for Bandoola's reply two days later she was received by his wife, who said that her husband was very busy preparing to start for Rangoon; as soon as he had driven out the English he would return and release all the prisoners. It was a terrible disappointment, but Mrs. Judson did not break down, although her health was far from good. She continued doing as she had done for many months, trudging two miles to the prison with her husband's food and walking back in the dark. Every morning she feared to find that her husband had been murdered, for the news of the British successes continued to reach Ava, and the people were in a state of excitement, and continually vowing vengeance on the white kalas. However, her worst fears were not realised. Her husband remained in chains, but, as he was not treated very harshly, she began to hope that the Burmese would release him when the war was ended.

But the end of the war was a long way off, and in the middle of February it became known that the English had quitted Rangoon and were marching to Ava. Mr. Judson was immediately taken from his shed and flung into the common prison—one room occupied by over a hundred prisoners—loaded with five pairs of fetters. It was the hot season, and Mr. and Mrs. Judson knew that he could not live long in that place. Indeed, he was quickly attacked with fever, and Mrs. Judson, growing desperate, so persistently implored the governor to allow her to remove him that at last he consented. Mr. Judson was removed speedily to a small bamboo hut in the courtyard, where, made comfortable and nursed by his wife, he recovered.

In the meanwhile Bandoola had been killed in action, and his successor appointed. The latter was a man of fiendish tastes, and he decided before proceeding down the Irrawaddy to take up his command, to remove the prisoners from Ava, and have them tortured in his presence. So Mr. Judson and two or three white traders were taken away to Amarapoora. Mrs. Judson was absent when her husband was removed, and when she returned and found him gone she feared that what she had been long dreading had happened—that her husband had been killed. The governor and the jailors protested, untruthfully, that they did not know what had become of him; but at last Mrs. Judson discovered where he had been taken, and started off with her few months' old baby and her native nurse-girl to find him.

Travelling first by river and then by bullock-cart, she arrived to find her husband in a pitiable state of health, caused by the ill-treatment he had received from his warders on the march from Ava. He was in a high fever, his feet were terribly swollen, and his body covered with bruises. Mrs. Judson obtained permission to nurse him, but on the same day her child and nurse-girl developed small-pox. She nursed all three patients, and to her great joy they all recovered. But the strain on her fever-weakened strength had been great, and she felt that her life was quickly drawing to a close. But she bore up bravely, and journeyed to Ava to fetch her medicine chest.

Neither she nor her husband knew of the intention of the Burmese general. It was never carried out, for he was suspected of high treason, and promptly executed.

Time passed, and the King of Burma becoming alarmed at the advance of the English towards his capital, sent his representatives to treat with them. Mr. Judson accompanied them to act as interpreter. He was not in fetters, but he was still a prisoner. On his return he found that his wife had been again ill with fever, and had been delirious for many days. But the prospect of peace being soon declared cheered the much-tried missionaries, and gave them fresh strength.

The terms offered by the English general had been refused by the King of Burma; but when he found that the enemy would soon be at his capital he quickly agreed to them, and sent the first instalment of the indemnity down river to the victors. Mr. Judson was sent with the Burmese officers to act as interpreter, and when the money had been handed over to the English he was set free, after having undergone twenty-one months' imprisonment, during seventeen of which he was in fetters. That he had managed to live through that long imprisonment was due to his wife's bravery and devoted attention. She had suffered more than he, and her constitution, ruined by fever, privation, and anxiety, was unable to withstand the illness which attacked her soon after she had settled down again to missionary work.

She died on October 24, 1826, aged 37, and the husband whom she loved so dearly was not at her bedside. He was acting as interpreter to the Governor-General of India's embassy to the court of Ava, and did not hear of her illness until she was dead. The baby girl who had been born in the midst of sad surroundings only lived for a few months after her mother's death.

[1] Foreigners


The boy or the girl who does not at an early age announce what he or she intends to be when 'grown up,' must be a somewhat extraordinary child. The peer's son horrifies his nurse by declaring that he intends to be an engine-driver when he is 'grown up,' and the postman's wife hears with not a little amusement that her boy has decided to be Lord Mayor of London.

These early aspirations are rarely achieved, but there are some notable instances of children remaining true to their ambition and becoming, in time, what they had declared they would be.

Sarah Hall, when quite a little child, announced her intention of becoming a missionary, and a missionary she eventually became. She was born at Alstead, New Hampshire, in 1803, her parents being Ralph and Abiah Hall. They were refined and well-educated, but by no means wealthy, and Sarah would have left school very young, had not the head-mistress, seeing that she was a clever child, retained her as pupil teacher. Quiet, gentle, and caring little for the amusements of girls of her own age, her chief pleasure was in composing verse, much of which is still in existence. The following lines are from her 'Versification of David's lament over Saul and Jonathan,' which was written when she was thirteen years of age:—

The beauty of Israel for ever is fled, And low lie the noble and strong: Ye daughters of music, encircle the dead And chant the funereal song. Oh, never let Gath know their sorrowful doom, Nor Askelon hear of their fate; Their daughters would scoff while we lay in the tomb, The relics of Israel's great.

At an early age, as already stated, she expressed a wish to be a missionary to the heathen, and the wish grew stronger with increasing years. But suddenly it became evident to her that there was plenty of work waiting for her close at hand. 'Sinners perishing all around me,' she wrote in her journal, 'and I almost panting to tell the far heathen of Christ! Surely this is wrong. I will no longer indulge the vain, foolish wish, but endeavour to be useful in the position where Providence has placed me. I can pray for deluded idolaters and for those who labour among them, and this is a privilege indeed.' She began at once to take an active part in local mission work; but while thus employed her interest in foreign missions did not diminish, and the death of the two young missionaries, Wheelock and Colman, who went to Burma to assist Mr. Judson, made a deep impression on her. Wheelock, while delirious from fever, jumped into the sea and was drowned, and Colman, after a time, died at Arracan from the effects of the unhealthy climate. On hearing of Colman's death she wrote 'Lines on the death of Colman,' the first verse of which is:—

'Tis the voice of deep sorrow from India's shore, The flower of our Churches is withered and dead, The gem that shone brightly will sparkle no more, And the tears of the Christian profusely are shed. Two youths of Columbia, with hearts glowing warm, Embarked on the billows far distant to rove, To bear to the nations all wrapped in thick gloom, The lamp of the Gospel—the message of love. But Wheelock now slumbers beneath the cold wave And Colman lies low in the dark, cheerless grave, Mourn, daughters of India, mourn! The rays of that star, clear and bright, That so sweetly on Arracan shone, Are shrouded in black clouds of night, For Colman is gone!

These lines were read by George Dana Boardman, a young man, twenty-four years of age, who had just been appointed to succeed Colman at Arracan. He obtained an introduction to Sarah Hall, and in a short time they became engaged. They were married on July 3, 1825, and thirteen days later sailed for Calcutta, where they landed on December 2. The war in Burma prevented their proceeding to Rangoon, so they settled down at Calcutta, to study the Burmese language with the aid of Mr. Judson's books. At this they were engaged almost continuously until the spring of 1827, when they sailed for Amherst, in Tenasserim, a newly built town in the recently acquired British territory, to which Mr. Judson had removed with his converts soon after the conclusion of the war.

The Boardmans' stay at Amherst was, however, short. Towards the end of May they were transferred to another new city—Moulmein. A year before their arrival the place had been a wide expanse of almost impenetrable jungle; now it had 20,000 inhabitants. Wild beasts and deadly snakes abounded in the jungle around the city and, across the river, in the ruined city of Martaban, dwelt a horde of fiendish dacoits, who occasionally made a night raid on Moulmein, robbing and murdering, and then hurrying back to their stronghold. The Boardmans had been settled in their bamboo hut barely a month when they received a visit from the dacoits. One night Mr. Boardman awoke, to find that the little lamp which they always kept burning was not alight, and suspecting that something was wrong he jumped out of bed and lit it again. The dacoits had entered, and stolen everything they could possibly carry off. Looking-glasses, watches, knives, forks, spoons, and keys had all disappeared. Every box, trunk, and chest of drawers had been forced open, and nothing of any value remained in any of them. This was the first home of their own that the Boardmans had ever had, and to be robbed so soon of practically everything they possessed was indeed hard. They had, however, the satisfaction of knowing that the dacoits had not, as usual, accompanied robbery with murder. But that the dacoits would have murdered them had they awoke while they were plundering was plain. Two holes had been cut in the mosquito curtain near to where Mr. and Mrs. Boardman and their one-year-old child lay, and by these holes dacoits had evidently stood, knife in hand, ready to stab the sleepers if they awoke. It was a great shock to Mrs. Boardman, who was in bad health, but soon she was joining her husband in thanking God for having protected them.

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