Beneath the Banner by F. J. Cross

Produced by Imran Ghory, Stan Goodman, Josephine Paolucci and PG Distributed Proofreaders BENEATH THE BANNER BEING NARRATIVES OF NOBLE LIVES AND BRAVE DEEDS BY F.J. CROSS _ILLUSTRATED_ “I have done my best for the honour of our country.”–GORDON SECOND EDITION 1895 _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_. GOOD MORNING! GOOD NIGHT! TRUE STORIES PURE AND BRIGHT. In
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Produced by Imran Ghory, Stan Goodman, Josephine Paolucci and PG Distributed Proofreaders






“I have done my best for the honour of our country.”–GORDON






In this work will be found a Series of upwards of sixty Chats with Children, suitable for morning and evening reading. The book abounds with anecdotes, and contains numerous illustrations.

_Ready about May, 1895_.


_Only a Nurse Girl_,–ALICE AYRES

_A Slave Trade Warrior_,–SIR SAMUEL BAKER

_Two Working Men Heroes_,–CASE AND CHEW

_The Commander of the Thin Red Line_,–SIR COLIN CAMPBELL

_A Sailor Bold and True_,–LORD COCHRANE

_A Rough Diamond that was Polished_,–JOHN CASSELL

“_A Brave, Fearless Sort of Lass_,”–GRACE DARLING

_A Friend of Lepers_,–FATHER DAMIEN

_A Great Arctic Explorer_,–SIR JOHN FRANKLIN

_A Saviour of Six_,–FIREMAN FORD

_A Blind Helper of the Blind_,–ELIZABETH GILBERT

_A Great Traveller in the Air_,–JAMES GLAISHER

_The Soldier with the Magic Wand_,–GENERAL GORDON

“_Valiant and True_,”–SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE


_A Man who Conquered Disappointments_,–SIR HENRY HAVELOCK

_A Friend of Prisoners_,–JOHN HOWARD

_A Hero of the Victoria Cross_,–KAVANAGH

_The Man who Braved the Flood_,–CAPTAIN LENDY

_A Temperance Leader_,–JOSEPH LIVESEY

_A Great Missionary Explorer_,–DAVID LIVINGSTONE

_From Farm Lad to Merchant Prince_,–GEORGE MOORE

_A Man who Asked and Received_,–GEORGE MUeLLER

_A Labourer in the Vineyard_,–ROBERT MOFFAT

“_The Lady with the Lamp_,”–FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

_For England, Home, and Duty_,–THE DEATH OF NELSON

_A Woman who Succeeded by Failure_,–HARRIET NEWELL

_A Martyr of the South Seas_,–BISHOP PATTESON

“_K.G. and Coster_,”–LORD SHAFTESBURY

_A Statesman who had no Enemies_,–W.H. SMITH

_Greater than an Archbishop_,–THE REV.C. SIMEON

_A Soldier Missionary_,–HEDLEY VICARS

_A Lass that Loved the Sailors_,–AGNES WESTON

_A Great Commander on a Famous Battlefield_ THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON

_A Prince of Preachers_,–JOHN WESLEY

_Some Children of the Kingdom_

_The Victor, the Story of an Unknown Man_







On the night of Thursday, 25th April, 1886, the cry rang through Union Street, Borough, that the shop of Chandler, the oilman, was in flames.

So rapid was the progress of the fire that, by the time the escapes reached the house, tongues of flame were shooting out from the windows, and it was impossible to place the ladders in position. The gunpowder had exploded with great violence, and casks of oil were burning with an indescribable fury.

As the people rushed together to the exciting scene they were horrified to find at one of the upper windows a girl, clad only in her night-dress, bearing in her arms a child, and crying for help.

It was Alice Ayres, who, finding there was no way of escape by the staircase, was seeking for some means of preserving the lives of the children in her charge. The frantic crowd gathered below shouted for her to save herself; but that was not her first aim. Darting back into the blinding smoke, she fetched a feather-bed and forced it through the window. This the crowd held whilst she carefully threw down to them one of the children, which alighted safe on the bed.

Again the people in the street called on her to save her own life; but her only answer was to go back into the fierce flames and stifling smoke, and bring out another child, which was safely transferred to the crowd below.

Once again they frantically entreated her to jump down herself; and once again she staggered back blinded and choking into the fiery furnace; and for the third time emerged, bearing the last of her charges, whose life also was saved.

Then, at length, she was free to think of herself. But, alas! her head was dizzy and confused, and she was no longer able to act as surely as she had hitherto done. She jumped–but, to the horror of that anxious admiring throng below, her body struck against the projecting shop-sign, and rebounded, falling with terrific force on to the hard pavement below.

Her spine was so badly injured that although everything possible was done for her at Guy’s Hospital, whither she was removed, she died on the following Sunday.

Beautiful windows have been erected at Red Cross Hall, Southwark, to commemorate her heroism; but the best memorial is her own expression: “I tried to do my best”–for this will live in the hearts of all who read of her self-devotion. She had tried to do her best _always_. Her loving tenderness to the children committed to her care and her pure gentle life were remarked by those around her before there was any thought of her dying a heroic death. So, when the great trial came, she was prepared; and what seems to us Divine unselfishness appeared to her but simple duty.



Sir Samuel Baker, who died at the end of the year 1893, aged seventy-three, will always be remembered for the splendid work he did in the Soudan during the four years he ruled there, and for his explorations in Africa.

In earlier life he had done good service in Ceylon, had been in the Crimea during the Russian war, and had superintended the construction of the first Turkish railway.

Then, at the age of forty, he turned his attention to African travel. Accompanied by his wife, he left Cairo in 1861; and, after exploring the Blue Nile, arrived in 1862 at Khartoum, situated at the junction of the White and Blue Nile. Later on he turned southward. In spite of the opposition of slave owners, and without guide or interpreter, he reached the Albert Nyanza; and when, after many perils, he got safely back to Northern Egypt, his fame as an explorer was fully established. His was the first expedition which had been successful in penetrating into Central Africa from the north. On his return to England he was welcomed with enthusiasm, and received many honours.

In the year 1869, at the request of the Khedive of Egypt, Sir Samuel undertook a journey to the Soudan to put down the slave trade.

He was given supreme power for a period of four years. In December, with a small army of about 1500 men, he left Cairo for Gondokoro, about 3000 miles up the Nile, accompanied by his wife. It was a terrible journey. His men fell ill, the water in the river was low in many places, and the passage blocked up. At times he had to cut channels for his ships; the men lost heart; and, had the leader not been firm and steadfast, he would never have reached his destination.

On one occasion he found his thirty vessels stranded, the river having almost dried up. Nothing daunted, he cut his way through a marsh, making a progress of only twelve miles in about a fortnight. At the end of this time he found it was impossible to proceed further along that course, and had to return to the place he had left and begin again.

Still, in spite of all obstacles, he made steady progress.

At Sobat, situated on the Nile above Khartoum, he established a station, and had a watch kept on passing ships to see that no slaves were conveyed down the river.

One day a vessel came in sight, and keeping in the middle of the river would have passed by without stopping. But Sir Samuel, having his suspicions aroused, sent to inspect it.

The captain declared stoutly he had no slaves aboard. He stated that his cargo consisted simply of corn and ivory. The inspector was not convinced, and determined to test the truth of this statement. Taking a ramrod, he drove it into the corn. This produced an answering scream from below, and a moment later a woolly head and black body were disclosed. Further search was made, and a hundred and fifty slaves were discovered packed as close as herrings in a barrel. Some were in irons, one was sewn up in a sail cloth, and all had been cruelly treated.

Soon the irons were knocked off and the poor slaves set free, to their great wonder and delight.

Sir Samuel arrived at Gondokoro on the 15th of April, 1871. Already two years of his time had expired. In addition to checking the slave trade, he had been commissioned to introduce a system of regular commerce. He set to work at once to show the people the benefits of agricultural pursuits. He got his followers to plant seeds, and soon they were happy enough watching for the green shoots to appear.

But before long they began to suffer from want of food. The tribes round about had been set against them by the slave hunters, and would supply them with nothing; so that Baker, in the midst of plenty, seemed likely to perish of starvation. However, he soon adopted energetic measures to prevent that. Having taken official possession of the land in the name of the Khedive he seized a sufficient number of animals for his requirements.

The head man of the tribe and his followers were soon buzzing about his ears like a swarm of wasps; but seeing he was not to be frightened by their threats they showed themselves ready enough in the future to supply him with cattle in return for payment.

His own soldiers were nearly as troublesome as the natives. They were lazy and mutinous; the sentries went to sleep, the scouts were unreliable, they were full of complaints; whilst round about him were the natives, ready to steal, maim, and murder whenever they could get an opportunity.

His life was daily in danger; and, so as not to be taken unawares, he organised a band of forty followers for his personal service. On these men he could always rely. They were proud of the confidence placed in them, and were ready to go anywhere and do anything. By a strange perversity they were nicknamed “the forty thieves,” though they were amongst the very few who were honest.

What with sickness and fighting and losses encountered on the way up the river, Baker’s force was now reduced to about five hundred men, in place of the twelve hundred whom he had once reviewed at Gondokoro. Still, he did not despair of accomplishing, with God’s help, the mission on which he had been sent.

In January, 1872, with his wife and only two hundred and twelve officers and men, he started south on a journey of three or four hundred miles into the region where the slave trade was carried on with the greatest activity.

He had arranged with one of the chiefs to supply him with two thousand porters to carry the goods of the expedition; but when the time came not a single man was forthcoming. So his soldiers had to be their own carriers for a time. At a later date he was enabled to hire five hundred men to assist him to transport his goods, and presented each with a cow as a reward for his services. All took the cows readily enough, but sixty-seven of the carriers did not appear at the time appointed. The others were extremely desirous of going to look after them; but Baker, knowing their ways full well, thought it better to lose the services of the sixty-seven men rather than to allow this; for he felt sure if they once returned to search for their companions there would be no chance of seeing a single one of them again.

After many perils he reached the territory of Kabbu Rega on the Victoria Nile. The king was apparently friendly at first. But on several occasions the war drums sounded, and although no violence was actually offered yet Sir Samuel thought it well to be on his guard.

He therefore set his men to work to build a strong fort. They cut thick logs of wood, and planted them firmly in the ground, prepared fireproof rooms for the ammunition, and were in the course of a few days ready in case of emergency.

These preparations had been made none too soon.

[Illustration: Burning the king’s Divan and Huts.]

A few days later a very strange thing happened. The king sent Sir Samuel a present of some jars of cider. This he gave to his troops. A little while afterwards one of his officers rushed in to say the men had been poisoned.

It was really so. The men who had drunk of the cider were lying about in terrible pain, and apparently dying. At once Sir Samuel gave them mustard and water and other emetics, and they were soon better. But he knew that trouble was at hand.

Next morning he was standing at the entrance to the fort with one of his men when a chorus of yells burst upon his ear. He told his bugler to sound the alarm, and was walking towards the house to get a rifle when the man beside him fell shot through the heart.

The fort was surrounded by thousands of natives, who kept up a continuous fire, and the bushes near at hand were full of sharp-shooters. But the fort was strong, and its defenders fought bravely; the woods were gradually cleared of sharp-shooters, and the natives, ere long, broke and fled.

Then Sir Samuel sent a detachment out of the fort, and set fire to the king’s divan and to the surrounding huts to teach the people a lesson for their treachery.

But the place was full of foes. A poisoned spear was thrown at Sir Samuel, and every day he remained his force was in danger of destruction, so he determined to go on to King Riongo, whom he hoped would be more friendly.

It is wonderful that the party ever got there. First of all it was found that they would probably be a week without provisions; but, happily, Lady Baker had put by some supplies, and great was the rejoicing when her forethought became known.

Then it was discovered that the country through which they had to pass was full of concealed foes. From the long grass and bushes spears were constantly hurled at them, and not a few of the men were mortally wounded. Sir Samuel saw several lances pass close to his wife’s head, and he narrowly escaped being hit on various occasions.

But, at last, Riongo’s territory was reached. The king was friendly, and for a time they were in comparative safety.

By April, 1873, Baker had returned to Gondokoro, and his mission ended. It was, to a great extent, the story of a failure, so far as its main purpose was concerned, owing to the opposition of the men who were making a profit by dealing in slaves; and who, whilst appearing to be friendly, stirred up the natives to attack him. But, failure though it was, he had done all that man could do; and the expedition stands out as one of the most glorious efforts which have been made against overwhelming odds to put an end to the slave trade.



The large gasholders, which are often a source of wonder to youthful minds as they rise and fall, are the places in which gas is stored for the use of our cities.

By day, when they are generally receiving more gas than they are giving out, they rise; and again at night, when less is being pumped into them than is going out for consumption in the streets and houses, they fall. The gasholder is placed in a tank of water, so that there is no waste of gas as the huge iron holder fills or empties.

Now it was in one of these gasholders that a few years ago two men did a deed that will live. Here is the brief story.

The holder was being repaired, the gas had been removed, and air had been pumped into it instead of gas so that men could work inside, and the holder had risen about fifty feet. Two men were working inside the holder, one a foreman, and the other a labourer named Case, the latter in a diver’s helmet. They were standing on a plank floating on the water. Fresh air was being pumped down to Case, who, so long as he kept on the helmet, was perfectly safe.

All at once the foreman found he was beginning to feel faint, so he told the labourer they would go up to the top for fresh air. But he had not the strength to carry out his purpose. The raft was pulled to the ladder by which they were to get out; but he was unable to ascend, and fell down in a fainting condition.

Then the labourer, regardless of the danger he was running, unscrewed his helmet, into which fresh air was being pumped, and, placing it quite near his fallen comrade, enabled him to get some of the air. The foreman tried in vain to get Case to put on the helmet; and his own strength was too slight to force him to do so. Indeed, he was in such a state of weakness that he fell on the raft, and knew no more till he once again found himself in a place of safety.

Now let us see how the foreman’s rescue was effected, and at what cost. The men at the top of the holder had by this time become aware that something was wrong below; and two men, Chew and Smith by name, at once volunteered to go down below. They reached the plank, got a rope round the foreman’s body, when they too began to feel the effects of the gas, and ascended the ladder, whilst the foreman was being hoisted up by means of the rope. Smith reached the top in a fainting condition. Chew never arrived there at all; for just as he got within a few feet of safety he became insensible, and fell down into the water below and was drowned. Meantime, Case had become jammed in between the plank and one of the stays; and so, when at length they removed him, life had passed away.

Such deeds are so often done by our working men that they think nothing about it. They do not know that they are heroes–that’s the best of it! It is a fact to be thankful for that everywhere throughout the land, beneath the rough jackets of our artisans and labourers, beat hearts as true and fearless as those which have stormed the fort or braved the dangers of the battlefield.



It was the 21st Of October, 1808. Colin Campbell, not yet sixteen, had joined the army as ensign; and the battle of Vimiera was about to begin.

It was his “baptism of fire”. Colin was in the rear company. His captain came for him, and taking the lad’s hand walked with him up and down in front of the leading company for several minutes, whilst the enemy’s guns were commencing to fire. Then he told the youngster to go back to his place.

“It was the greatest kindness that could have been shown to me at such a time; and through life I have felt grateful for it,” wrote Colin Campbell in later life of this incident.

Soon after, the regiment to which he belonged formed part of the army that retreated to Corunna, when our troops suffered such terrible hardships. Colin Campbell had a rough time of it then. The soles of his boots were worn to pieces, and so long a time did he wear them without a change that the uppers stuck firmly to his legs; and, though the boots were soaked in hot water, the skin came away when they were taken off.

After the battle of Corunna,–when the British brought to bay, turned and defeated their foes,–it was Colin’s regiment that had the honour of digging the grave in which their heroic commander Sir John Moore was buried.

Battle after battle followed ere the French troops were driven out of Spain, and Colin Campbell, young as he was, fought like a veteran.

At Barossa his bravery brought him into special notice, and at the San Sebastian he led a storming party, and was twice wounded in doing so.

First of all he was shot through the right thigh; but though a storm of bullets was flying about, and men falling thick around him, he was up again, and pressed onward only to be again shot down.

For his gallant conduct on this occasion he was specially mentioned in the despatch that the general commanding the forces sent to the Duke of Wellington.

A few weeks later the troops moved on, and fought at the battle of Bidassoa, Colin Campbell being left in the hospital to recover from his wounds.

But so little was it to his liking to stay in the rear that he escaped from the hospital, and managed not only to fight at Bidassoa, but to get wounded again!

He was, of course, reproved by his colonel; but who could be seriously angry with a youngster for such conduct? So when he was sent back to England to get healed of his wounds, he was made a captain at the early age of twenty-one.

Among the first things that Colin Campbell did when he received his captain’s pay was to make his father an allowance of L30 or L40 a year; and later on it was an immense satisfaction for him to be able to provide both for his father and sister.

In the Chinese war of 1842 he was in command of the 98th Regiment. The tremendous heat of the country during the summer terribly thinned the ranks of his forces, and he lost over 400 men in eighteen months. He himself was struck down by sunstroke and fever; but, owing probably to his temperate and careful habits, he soon recovered.

After the Chinese war, Colin Campbell was busy in India, and at Chillianwallah was wounded in the arm. It was in this battle he narrowly escaped with his life. The day after the fight, when he was being assisted to take off his uniform, he found that a small pistol which had been put in his pocket without his knowledge was broken, his watch smashed, and his side bruised. A bullet had struck him, unperceived in the heat of the battle, and his life saved by its force having been arrested by the handle of the pistol.

In 1849 Colin Campbell was made a K.C.B. (Knight Commander of the Bath); so we must henceforth speak of him as “Sir” Colin.

March, 1853, saw Sir Colin Campbell in England; but though he had passed his sixtieth year, most of which had been spent in his country’s service, his rest was not of long duration, as in 1854 he went out to the Crimea in command of the Highland brigade, consisting of the 42nd, 79th, and 93rd regiments. Sir Colin was proud of the splendid troops he commanded, and at the battle of the Alma they covered themselves with glory.

The 42nd (the Black Watch) were the first of the three regiments across the river Alma. Whilst ascending the height on the Russian side of the river, Sir Colin’s horse was twice wounded, the second shot killing it; but he was soon mounted on another horse, leading his men to victory.

The Guards and Highlanders strove in friendly emulation who should be first in the Russian redoubt; but Sir Colin, well ahead of his own men was first in the battery shouting:–

“We’ll hae nane but Highland bonnets here!” and his troops rushed in after him like lions.

The terrific charge of these fierce Highlanders, combined with their dress, struck terror into the hearts of the Russians; who said that they thought they had come to fight men, but did not bargain for demons in petticoats!

“Now, men,” Sir Colin had said before the engagement, “you are going into battle. Remember this: Whoever is wounded–I don’t care what his rank is–must lie where he falls till the bandsmen come to attend to him…. Be steady. Keep silent. Fire low. Now, men, the army will watch us. Make me proud of the Highland brigade!”

At the conclusion of that well-fought day the commander-in-chief, Lord Raglan, sent for Sir Colin. His eyes were full, his lips quivered, and he was unable to speak; but he gave Campbell a hearty handshake and a look which spoke volumes.

That was a joyful day for Sir Colin.

“My men behaved nobly,” he writes. “I never saw troops march to battle with greater _sang froid_ and order than these three Highland regiments.”

The Alma had been fought on 20th September, 1854, and on the 25th October was fought the battle of Balaclava, memorable for the “Thin Red Line”. It looked, at one time, as if the heavy masses of Russian cavalry must entirely crush Sir Colin’s Highlanders; and their commander, riding down the line of his troops, said: “Remember, there is no retreat from here, men; you must die where you stand”.

“Ay, ay, Sir Colin, we’ll do that,” came the ready response. Now, it was usual, in preparing to receive a cavalry charge, for soldiers to be formed in a hollow square; but on this occasion Sir Colin ranged his men, two deep, in a _thin red line_, which has become memorable in the annals of the British army. The Russian cavalry were advancing, but, instead of the masses which were expected to make the attack, only about 400 came on.

Sir Colin’s men, fierce and eager for the onset, would have dashed from behind the hillock where they were stationed, but for the stern voice commanding them to stand firm in their ranks.

The Russians hardly waited for their fire. Startled by the red-coated Britishers rising up at the word of their leader, they broke and fled; and the men of the 93rd, who, but a little before, had made up their minds to die where they stood, saw as in a dream their enemies scattered and broken; and the cloud of horsemen which had threatened to engulf and annihilate them, make no effort to snatch the victory which seemed within their grasp.

Before the Crimean war was over, Sir Colin resigned his command, and returned to England, as a protest against an affront he had received.

Honoured by the Queen with a command to attend her at Windsor, he was asked by her Majesty to return to the Crimea; and the veteran assented at once, declaring he would serve under a corporal if she wished it.

The Russian war was soon concluded; and Sir Colin thought that at length he had finished soldiering. But it was not to be. In the summer of 1857 the Indian Mutiny broke out, and on 11th July he was asked how soon he could start for India. The old soldier of sixty-five replied that he could go the same evening; and on the very next day, Sunday, he was on his way to take command of the British army in India.

As the Mutiny is alluded to briefly in the story of Havelock, I will only state that Sir Colin’s vigorous, cautious, skilful policy ere long brought this fearful rebellion to a close.

For his able conduct of the war he was warmly thanked by the Queen; and at its conclusion was raised to the peerage, under the title of Lord Clyde. Colin Campbell was an admirable soldier, firm in discipline, setting a good example, ever thoughtful for the comfort and well-being of his men, sharing in all the hardships and perils they passed through. It is, therefore, not surprising that his men loved him.

Not that he was by any means a perfect man. He had a temper–a very hasty and passionate temper too, and one that troubled him a good deal; but he was on the watch for that to see it did not get the better of him.

Here is an entry from his diary of 5th March, 1846, showing something of the character of the man. “Anniversary of Barossa. An old story thirty years ago. Thank God for all His goodness to me’! Although I have suffered much from ill health, and in many ways, I am still as active as any man in the regiment, and quite as able as the youngest to go through fatigue.”

Let us just glance at the way this victor in a hundred fights regarded the approach of death.

He prepared for his end with a humility as worthy of example as his deeds in the army had been. “Mind this,” he said to his old friend General Eyre, “I die at peace with all the world.”

He frequently asked Mrs. Eyre to pray with him, and to read the Bible aloud.

“Oh! for the pure air of Heaven,” he once exclaimed, “that I might be laid at rest and peace on the lap of the Almighty!”

He suffered a good deal in his last illness, and at times would jump up as if he heard the bugle, and exclaim:–

“I am ready!”

And so; when he passed away on the 14th August, 1863, in his seventy-first year, “lamented by the Queen, the army, and the people,” he was quite ready to meet that last enemy, death, whom he had faced so often on the field of battle.



All who, forgetful of self, have striven to render their country free and glorious are true heroes. Of those who have been ready to lay down their lives for the welfare of Great Britain the number is legion. From them let us select one as a type of thousands of brave men who have helped to make Britain mistress of the ocean.

Thomas Cochrane, son of Lord Dundonald, took to the sea as a duck takes to the water. When he first went on board ship the lieutenant cared neither that he was Lord Cochrane nor that he was related to the captain of the ship. He did not spare him one jot; but made him do all kinds of work, just as if he had been plain Tom Smith. And so it came to pass that he got a thorough training, and, being a smart youth, was soon promoted.

Cochrane had the good fortune on one occasion to meet Lord Nelson, who in course of conversation said to him, “Never mind manoeuvres; always go at them”.

This advice he certainly followed throughout his life; and he began pretty early too. For being in command of a sloop of 158 tons, called the _Speedy_, with fourteen small guns and fifty-one men, he happened to come across a good-sized Spanish vessel, with thirty-two big guns, and over 300 men. The Spaniard, of course, was going to seize on the little English ship, and, so to speak, gobble it up. But Cochrane, instead of waiting to be attacked, made for the Spaniard, and, after receiving the fire of all her guns, without delivering a shot, got right under the side of the _Gamo_ (so the vessel was called), and battered into her with might and main. The Spaniards did not relish this, and were going to board the tiny English craft, but again they were forestalled; for Cochrane with all his men took the _Gamo_ by storm, killed some, and frightened others; and ere long a marvellous sight was witnessed at Minorca, the great _Gamo_ was brought by the _Speedy_ into the harbour, with over 263 men on board, hale and hearty, whilst Cochrane never had a fifth of that number!

Ship after ship he took, till his name became a terror to the Spaniards and French; for he was so audacious, that no matter how big was the vessel he came across, nor how small his own, he “went at them,” as Nelson had told him to do; and many a stately prize brought he home as the result of his daring and bravery.

One of the most gallant deeds he did was in connection with the defence of Rosas. Times had changed since the events related above, and Great Britain was now helping Spain in her struggle against France.

When he got to Rosas the place was within an ace of surrender. The French had pounded the defences into a deplorable condition.

Fort Trinidad, an important position, was about to be assaulted, the walls having been well-nigh beaten down by the fire of the enemy.

Cochrane however, with an immense quantity of sandbags, palisades, and barrels, made it pretty secure. But he did a cleverer thing even than this. There was a piece of steep rock, up which the besiegers would have to climb. This he covered with grease, so as to make it difficult to get a foothold, and planks with barbed hooks were placed ready to catch those who were rash enough to seek their aid.

The assault was delivered–up the rock came the French, and–down they tumbled in dozens and hundreds. Those who caught hold of the planks were hooked; and, to crown all, a heavy fire was poured into them by the British.

During the siege the Spanish flag was shot away whilst a heavy cannonade was going on; but Cochrane, though the bullets were whistling about in every direction, calmly stepped down into the ditch, and rescued the flag.


When he was not fighting his country’s battles at sea, he was besieging Parliament to bring about reforms in the Navy. This naturally brought him a good many enemies amongst rich and powerful people, who were making plenty of money out of the Government, and doing nothing for it. So, when these persons had a chance of bringing a charge of conspiracy against him, they were right glad of the opportunity; and in the end Cochrane was sent to prison.

Some there were who believed in his honour and uprightness. His wife was in all his trials a very tower of strength to him. The electors of Westminster, who had sent him to Parliament, never ceased to have faith in his truth and honour, and re-elected him when still in prison. Yet, for all this, it was between forty and fifty years before his innocence was completely proved!

In 1847, however, he was restored to his honours by her Majesty the Queen; and in 1854 he was made a Rear Admiral of England.



“I were summat ruff afore I went to Lunnon,” said John Cassell.

He had called to see his friend Thomas Whittaker, who was staying at Nottingham, and John was announced as “the Manchester carpenter”.

He was dressed on the occasion in a suit of clothes which a Quaker friend had given him; but Cassell being tall and thin, and the Quaker short and stout, they did not altogether fit!

The trousers were too short, and the hat too big; accordingly, John’s legs came a long way through the trousers, and his head went a good way in at the top. “It was something like taking a tin saucepan with the bottom out and using it as a scabbard for a broad sword,” remarked one who knew him. He had on an old overcoat, and a basket of tools was thrown over his shoulder with which to earn his food in case temperance lecturing failed.

When John remarked that he was “summat ruff,” the gentleman at whose house Mr. Whittaker was staying nearly had a fit; and after he had at length recovered his gravity he ejaculated, “Well, I would have given a guinea to have seen you before you did go”.

Yet John Cassell was a diamond–though at that time the roughest specimen one could come across from the pit’s mouth to the Isle of Dogs. His ideas were clear cut; he had confidence in himself, he meant to make a name in the world,–and he _did_.

John Cassell was born in Manchester in 1817. His father, the bread-winner of the family, had the misfortune to meet with an injury which entirely disabled him, and from the effects of which he died when John was quite young. His mother worked hard for her own and her son’s support, and had little time left to look very particularly to the education of her boy. He, however, grew up strong and hardy.

It is true that when he ought to have been at school he was often at play, or seeing something of the world, its sights and festivities, on his own account. True, also, that he tumbled into the river, and nearly ended his career at a very early age. Still he survived his river catastrophe; and, though he gained little book learning, possessed such a good and retentive memory, and was so observant, that his mind became stored with vivid impressions of the scenes and surroundings of his youth, which he related with great effect in after-life.

He had, of course, to begin work at an early age. First of all, he went into a cotton factory, and later to a velveteen factory; then, having a taste for carpentering, he took to it as a trade, though he was at best but a rough unskilled workman, tramping about the country, and doing odd jobs wherever he could get them.

One day John Cassell was working at the Manchester Exchange when he was persuaded to go and hear Dr. Grindrod lecture on temperance. The lecture seems to have bitten itself into John’s mind; for a little later on, in July, 1835, after hearing Mr. Swindlehurst lecture, he signed the pledge. That was the unsuspected turning-point of carpenter John’s life.

After this he attended meetings and took an active part on the platform, and became known as “the boy lecturer”. Though he was dressed in fustian, and wore a workman’s apron, he spoke effectively, and his words went to the hearts of his hearers. His originality of style, too, pleased the audiences of working people whom he addressed.

In 1836 John Cassell made his first move towards London.

He worked his way to town, and lectured on the road. He carried a bell, and with that brought together his audiences.

At times he was very roughly handled by the crowd; yet this had no effect upon him, except to make him the more determined.

His clothes became threadbare, his boots worn out, his general appearance dilapidated; but he got help from a few good people, who saw the hero beneath his rags.

He was three weeks accomplishing the journey; and when he arrived in London spent the first day in search of work, which he failed to obtain.

In the evening, seeing that a temperance meeting was to be held in a hall off the Westminster Road, he went to it; and asked to be allowed to speak. Some of those on the platform viewed with distrust the gaunt, shabby, travel-stained applicant. But he would take no denial, and soon won cheers from the audience. When he stopped short, after a brief address, someone shouted “Go on”. “How can a chap go on when he has nothing to say?” came the ready reply. That night he had no money in his pocket to pay for a bed; so he walked the streets of London through the weary hours till dawn of day.

Other temperance meetings he addressed; for his heart and mind were full of that subject. After one of the meetings a gentleman questioned him as to his means; and, finding the straits he was in, asked if he were not disheartened.

“No,” replied John; “it is true I carry all my wealth in my little wallet, and have only a few pence in my pocket; but I have faith in God I shall yet succeed.”

Struck by his manifest sincerity, the gentleman introduced him next day to a friend who took a warm interest in the temperance cause.

“Which wouldst thou prefer, carpentering or trying to persuade thy fellow-men to give up drinking, and to become teetotalers?” he asked.

Without hesitation John Cassell replied:–

“The work of teetotalism.”

“Then thou shalt have an opportunity, and I will stand thy friend.”

John Cassell now went forth as a disciple of the temperance cause. Remembering his experiences on the way to London he furnished himself with a watchman’s rattle, with which he used to call together the people of the villages he visited.

A temperance paper thus speaks of him in 1837:–

“John Cassell, the Manchester carpenter, has been labouring, amidst many privations, with great success in the county of Norfolk. He is passing through Essex–(where he addressed the people, among other places, from the steps leading up to the pulpit of the Baptist chapel, with his carpenter’s apron twisted round his waist)–on his way to London. He carries his watchman’s rattle–an excellent accompaniment of temperance labour.”

Cassell had a great regard for Thomas Whittaker. It was an address given by this gentleman which had first made him wish to become a public man.

When he called on Mr. Whittaker in Nottingham, as already related, after some conversation had taken place, he remarked:–

“I should like to hear thee again, Tom”.

“Well,” remarked Whittaker as a joke, “you can if you go with me to Derby.”

John accepted the invitation forthwith, much to his friend’s chagrin, who was bothered to know what to do with him; for he was under the impression that some members of the family where he expected to lodge would not give a very hearty welcome to this rough fellow.

This is Mr. Whittaker’s narrative of the sequel:–

“We walked together to Derby that day. At the meeting he spoke a little, and pleased the people. When the meeting was over, he said:–

“‘Can’t I sleep with you?’

“‘Well,’ I said, ‘I have no objection; but, you know, _I_ am only a lodger.’

“However, go with me he _would_, and _did_. That was the man. When John made up his mind to do a thing he did it; and to that feature in his character, no doubt, much of his future success may be attributed. The gentleman at whose house he met me at Nottingham, and who was ashamed of him, subsequently became his servant, and touched his hat to him; and John has pulled up at my own door in his carriage, with a liveried servant, when I lived near to him in London.”

John Cassell was now in the thick of the fight. In those days the opposition to the Gospel of Temperance was keen and bitter. Sometimes there were great disturbances at the meetings, sometimes he was pelted with rubbish, at times he did not know where to turn for a night’s lodging. It was, on the whole, a fierce conflict; but John was nothing daunted.

It is, of course, impossible to sum up the amount of a man’s influence. John Cassell scattered the seed of temperance liberally. Here is a case showing how one of the grains took root, and grew up to bear important fruit.

The Rev. Charles Garrett, the celebrated teetotal President of the Wesleyan Conference, writing several years after John Cassell’s death, says:–

“I signed the pledge of total abstinence in 1840, after hearing a lecture on the subject by the late John Cassell. I have therefore tried it for more than thirty years. It has been a blessing to me, and has made me a blessing to others.”

How to cure the curse of drink, what to give in its place when the pleasures of the glass were taken away–that was the problem which many have tried to solve. None more successfully than John Cassell.

At a meeting in Exeter Hall he suddenly put a new view before his audience. “I have it!” he exclaimed.

“The remedy is education. Educate the working men and women, and you have a remedy for the crying evil of the country. Give the people mental food, and they will not thirst after the abominable drink which is poisoning them.”

He had hitherto been doing something to assist the temperance cause by the sale of tea and coffee, and he now turned his attention to the issue of publications calculated to benefit the cause.

Having, at the age of twenty-four, married Mary Abbott, he became possessed of additional means for carrying out his publishing schemes.

Cheap illustrated periodicals began to issue from the press under his superintendence, and copies were multiplied by the hundred thousand.

He never forgot that he had been a working man, and one of the first publications he started was called _The Working Man’s Friend_.

It is not necessary to say more. Though John Cassell died comparatively young–he was only forty-eight when his death took place in 1865–he had done a grand life’s work; and the soundness of his judgment is shown by the fact that works which he planned retain their hold upon the people to this day.

John Cassell had his ambitions, but they were of a very simple kind.

“I started in life with one ambition,” he said, “and that was to have a clean shirt every day of my life; this I have accomplished now for some years; but I have a second ambition, and that is to be an MAP., and represent the people’s cause; then I shall be public property, and you may do what you like with me.” This latter desire he would doubtless have realised but for his early decease.



She was not much of a scholar, she could not spell as well as a girl in the third standard, she lived a quiet life quite out of the busy world; and yet Grace Darling’s name is now a household word.

Let us see how that has come about.

William Darling, Grace’s father, was keeper of the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland. Longstone is a desolate rock, swept by the northern gales; and woe betide the ship driven on its pitiless shores!

Mr. Darling and his family had saved the lives of many persons who had been shipwrecked ere that memorable day of which I will tell you.

On the night of the 5th September, 1838, the steamer _Forfarshire_, bound from Hull to Dundee, was caught in a terrific storm off the Farne Islands. Her machinery became damaged and all but useless, and the vessel drifted till the sound of the breakers told sixty-three persons composing the passengers and crew that death was near at hand.

[Illustration: Longstone Lighthouse.]

The captain made every effort to run the ship in between the Islands and the mainland, but in vain; and about three o’clock on the morning of the 6th September the vessel struck on the rock with a sickening crash.

A boat was lowered, into which nine of the passengers got safely, whilst others lost their lives in attempting to do so. These nine were saved during the day by a passing vessel.

The _Forfarshire_ meantime was the sport of the waves, which threatened every minute to smash her in pieces.

Before long, indeed, one wave mightier than the rest lifted her bodily on to the sharp rocks and broke her in two. Her after-part was swept away, and the captain, his wife, and those who were in that portion of the vessel, were drowned. The fore-part meantime remained fast on the rocks, lashed by the furious billows.

That morning Grace was awakened by the sound of voices in distress, and dressing quickly she sought her father.

They listened, and soon their worst fears were confirmed. Near at hand, but still quite beyond reach of help, could be heard the despairing shrieks of the shipwrecked crew.

To attempt to rescue them seemed quite out of the question. That was apparent at once to William Darling, skilful boatman though he was, and brave as a lion.

The sea was so terrific that it was ten chances to one against a boat being able to keep afloat.

But Grace entreated: “Father, we must not let them perish. I will go with you in the boat, and God will give us success.”

In vain Mrs. Darling urged that the attempt was too perilous to be justified, and reproached Grace for endeavouring to persuade her father to run such unwarrantable risks.

William Darling saw plainly how many were the chances against success. Even if the boat was not at once swamped, two persons alone, and one of them only a girl, were insufficient for the work; for, supposing they reached the wreck, they would probably be too exhausted to get back.

No, duty did not demand such an act; and for a time he declined to put out.

But Grace was quite firm. This girl of three and twenty, never very robust, had marvellous strength of will; and, her mind being set on attempting the rescue, she prevailed over both her father’s judgment and her mother’s entreaties; and into that awful sea the boat was at length launched. Though every billow threatened to engulf the frail craft, yet it nevertheless rode through the mountainous waves and drew near the rock where the helpless men and women were standing face to face with death. When it was sufficiently close to the shore William Darling sprang out to help the weary perishing creatures, whilst Grace was left to manage the boat unaided.

It was now that her courage was put to the severest test. At this critical moment the lives of her father and all the survivors depended upon her judgment and skill.

Well did her past experience and cool nerve then serve her. Alone and unaided she kept the boat in a favourable position in the teeth of that pitiless gale; and as soon as her father signalled to her she waited for an opportune moment and rowed in. Ere long, in spite of the fury of wind and wave, they had got all aboard, and rowed back in safety to the lighthouse.

The passengers who were rescued told the story of Grace’s courage; and soon the tale was in every newspaper.

George Darling, Grace’s brother, speaking of this deed fifty years after, says: “She always considered, as indeed we all did, that far too much was made of what she did. She only did what was her duty in the circumstances, brought up among boats, so to speak, and used to the sea as she was. Still she was always a brave, fearless sort of lass, and very religious too–there’s no doubting that. But it was never her wish that people should make so much of what she did.”

A great deal was made of the deed certainly, but surely not too much. A subscription was set on foot, and L700 presented to her, besides innumerable presents.

Four years later Grace died, much lamented by all who knew her.

Doubtless many a time, before and since, faith as strong, and bravery as heroic, have been shown, and have passed unrecorded and unnoticed by men. But duty performed in simple faith and without expectation of reward brings inward peace and joy greater than any outward recognition can give.

* * * * *


Whilst these pages were passing through the press the news came of the bravery of another Grace Darling in a far-off land.[1]

[Footnote 1: See letter of Rev. Ellis of Rangoon in _Times_ of 25th May, 1894.]

Miss Darling was head mistress of the Diocesan School at Amherst near Rangoon, and her pupils were bathing in the sea when one of them was bitten in the leg by a shark or alligator. Alarmed by this terrible shock she lost her balance and was being carried away by the tide when her sister and the head mistress both went to the rescue. Miss Grace Darling had succeeded in getting hold of her when she too was bitten and disappeared under the water. The sister behind cried out for help, at the same time seizing the head mistress and vainly endeavouring to keep her head above water. In the end some native sailors came to the rescue and dragged all three out, but Grace Darling and the favourite pupil whom she had endeavoured to save were both dead.



Of all forms of disease leprosy is perhaps the most terrible. The lepers of whom we read in the Bible were obliged to dwell alone outside the camp; and even king Uzziah, when smitten with leprosy, mighty monarch though he was, had to give up his throne and dwell by himself to the end of his days.

In the far-off Sandwich (or Hawaiian) Islands in the Pacific Ocean there are many lepers; but the leprosy from which they suffer is of a more fatal kind than that which is spoken of in the Bible.

So as to prevent the spread of the disease, the lepers are sent to one of the smaller islands, where there is a leper village, in which those who are afflicted remain until their death.

When a shipload of these poor creatures leaves Honolulu for the little Isle of Molokai there is great wailing by the relatives of those sent away, for they know the parting is final.

The disease is not slow in running its course. After about four years it usually attacks some vital organ, and the leper dies.

Until the year 1873 the lot of the lepers on their help them, that all hearts were turned in love towards him.

He first made the discovery when he had been at Molokai about ten years. He happened to drop some boiling water on his foot, and it gave him no pain. Then he knew he had the leprosy.

Yet he was not cast down when he became aware of the fact, for he had anticipated it.

“People pity me and think me unfortunate,” he remarked; “but I think myself the happiest of missionaries.”

In 1889, sixteen years after landing at Molokai, Father Damien died.

When he was nearing his end, he wrote of the disease as a “providential agent to detach the heart from all earthly affection, prompting much the desire of a Christian soul to be united–the sooner the better–with Him who is her only life”.

During his last illness he suffered at times intensely; yet was patient, brave, and full of thoughtfulness for his people through it all, and looked forward with firm hope to spending Easter with his Maker. He died on the 15th April, 1889. “A happier death,” wrote the brother who nursed him in his illness, “I never saw.”

There, far away amongst those for whom he gave his life, lie the remains of one of the world’s great examples, whose name will ever be whispered with reverence, and who possessed to a wonderful extent “the peace which the world cannot give”.



The passage to the North Pole is barred by ice fields and guarded by frost and snow more securely than Cerberus guarded the approach to the kingdom of Pluto.

For three centuries and more the brave and daring of all nations have tried to pass these barriers. Hundreds of men have been frozen to death, hundreds have died of starvation; and yet men continue to hazard their lives to find out this secret of Nature.

One of the bravest arctic explorers was Sir John Franklin, who, after many wonderful adventures, finally died with his companions amid the frozen seas of the north.

As a little boy, “life on the ocean wave” was to John Franklin a delightful day-dream. Once when at school he walked twelve miles to get a sight of the sea and a taste of the salt air; and such was his desire for a seafaring career that although his father was at first very much opposed to the idea, yet when he found how strongly Franklin had set his heart upon a sailor’s life, he got him a place on a war-ship where John took part in the battle of Copenhagen.

Then he was shipwrecked on the coast of Australia, did some fighting in the Straits of Malacca, and was present at the great battle of Trafalgar.

After this he had his first taste of Arctic adventure, having received a commission from the Government to explore the Coppermine, one of the great rivers of Canada, which discharges its waters into the Arctic Ocean. Down this river sailed Franklin and his companions. They encountered rapids and falls, and all kinds of obstacles, and met with many dangers and disasters.

The first winter they were nearly starved to death. They stayed at Fort Enterprise; but, long before the spring returned, they found their food was all but finished, and the nearest place to get more was five hundred miles away, over a trackless desert of snow. One of their number, however, tramped the whole weary way, and brought back food to his starving leader and companions.

Next summer, Franklin descended the river to its mouth, and embarking in canoes he and his followers made towards Behring Strait, from which they were ere long driven back by their old dread enemy–starvation. For many days on their return journey they had nothing to live upon but rock moss, which barely kept them alive. They became so worn and ill that they could only cover a few miles a day, and Franklin fainted from exhaustion.

For eight days they waited on the banks of a river which it was necessary to pass, but which they had no means of crossing. One of the men tried to swim across and was nearly drowned, and despair seized on the party, for they thought the end had come. But there was one man among them who could not believe God would leave them to perish, and spurred on by this thought he gathered rock moss in sufficient quantities to preserve their lives; and, hope springing up again, they made a light raft on which they passed over to the other side.

Then Franklin set off with eight men to get assistance, whilst others remained to care for the sick. He and three companions only arrived at Fort Enterprise. They had to endure a fearful journey, during which they ate their very boots to preserve life. To their bitter disappointment when they got there they found the place deserted! Then they attempted to go to the next settlement; but Franklin utterly broke down on the way, and was with difficulty got back to Fort Enterprise. Here they were joined by two of the party who had been left behind, the others having perished on the way.

The night of their reunion, the six survivors had a grand feast. A partridge had been shot, and for the first time during an entire month these men tasted flesh food. Later on, sitting round the fire they had kindled, words of hope and comfort were read from the Bible, and the men joined heartily together in prayer and thanksgiving. Shortly after, friendly Indians arrived with supplies of food, and Franklin with the survivors of his party returned safely to England.

After this, Franklin made other expeditions, gaining fame and honour by his explorations, and was for seven years Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania.

Then in 1845, when he was in his sixtieth year, he went out in the service of the Admiralty to attempt the passage through the Arctic Ocean. Leaving England in May, 1845, in command of the _Erebus_ and _Terror_, with a body of the most staunch and experienced seamen, he sailed into the Arctic Seas. They were last seen by a whaler on the 26th of July that year, and then for years no word of their fate reached Great Britain.

Not that England waited all this time before she sent to discover what had befallen them. The Government was stirred into action by the pleadings of Lady Franklin. Expedition after expedition left our shores. America and France joined in the search. Five years later was discovered the place in which the _Erebus_ and _Terror_ had first wintered; but it was left for Dr. John Rae to find out from the Esquimaux in 1854 that the ships had been crushed in the ice, and that Franklin and his companions had died of fatigue and starvation.

The final relics of the Franklin Expedition were discovered by McClintock and a party of volunteers. Starting from England in a little vessel called _The Fox_ he and his crew passed through a hundred dangers from shipwreck, icebergs, and other perils. But at length, in April, 1858, they found on King William’s Island the record which told plainly and fully the fate of Franklin and his companions.

[Illustration: RELICS OF THE FRANKLIN EXPEDITION. 1. Loaded Gun. 2. Fragment of Ensign. 3. Anvil Block. 4. Portable Cooking Stove. 5. Chronometers from _Erebus_ and _Terror_. 6. Medicine Chest. 7. Testament 8. Dipping Needle.]

The document contained two statements, one written in 1846, mentioning that Sir John Franklin and all were well; and a second, written in 1848, to say that they had been obliged to abandon the _Erebus_ and _Terror_, that Sir John Franklin had died in June, 1847, and that they had already lost nine officers and fifteen men.

Other traces of the sad end which overtook the expedition were also found. In a boat were discovered two skeletons; and amongst other books a Bible, numerous passages in which were underlined, showing that these gallant men in their last hours had the comfort of God’s Word to support them when earthly hopes had passed away.

The object for which Sir John Franklin had sailed, viz., the discovery of the North West passage, had been attained, but no single man of the expedition, alas, lived to enjoy the fruits of the discovery.



In the waiting room at the head quarters of the London Fire Brigade, in Southwark Street, London, is an oak board on which are fixed a number of brass tablets, bearing the names of men who are entitled to a place on this “Roll of Honour”.

From amongst these let us take one, and tell briefly what befell him. It will serve as a sample of the dangers which beset the fireman daily in the pursuit of his duty.

“Joseph Andrew Ford,” so runs the official record, “lost his life at a fire which occurred at 98 Gray’s Inn Road, at about 2 a.m. on the 7th of October, 1871.

“Ford was on duty with the fire escape stationed at Bedford Row, and he was called to the fire a few minutes before 2 a.m., and proceeded there with the utmost speed.

“Before he reached the fire, three persons had been rescued by the police, who took them down from the second-floor window by means of a builder’s ladder; and, on his arrival, there were seven persons in the third floor, six in the left-hand window, and one in the right-hand window.

“He pitched his escape to the left-hand window, and with great difficulty and much exertion and skill succeeded in getting the six persons out safely (the woman in the right-hand window being in the meanwhile rescued by the next escape that arrived, in charge of fireman W. Attwood); and Ford was in the act of coming down himself when he became enveloped in flame and smoke, which burst out of the first-floor window; and, after some struggling in the wire netting, he fell to the pavement.

“Ford was evidently coming down the shoot when his axe handle or some of his accoutrements became entangled in the wire netting; so that, to clear himself, he had to break through, and, while struggling to do so, he got so severely burned that his recovery was hopeless.

“It was a work of no ordinary skill and difficulty to save so many persons in the few moments available for the purpose; and, when it is mentioned that some of them were very old and crippled, it is no exaggeration to say that it would be impossible to praise too highly Ford’s conduct on this occasion, which has resulted so disastrously to himself.

“He was thirty-one years of age when he met his death, and he left a wife and two children to mourn his loss.”

That’s all the official record says–simple, calm, straightforward–like Joseph Ford’s conduct on that night.

I suppose that next morning two pairs of bright little eyes were on the watch for Joseph Ford; and perchance four pattering feet ran to the door when the knock came; and that two little minds dimly realised that father had been called to a far-off country, where some day they would see him. And it may be that a brave woman, into whose life the sunlight had shined, was stricken with grief and bowed down. But all I know for certain is, that Joseph Ford died in the performance of his duty. He did a brave night’s work. Six lives saved from the angry flames–old and crippled some of the terror-stricken folk were–and he took them down so carefully, so tenderly, and landed them all safely below.

His work was over. He had saved every life he could; and glad of heart, if weary of limb, he turned with a thankful mind to do just the simplest thing in the world–viz., to descend the escape he had been down so many times before.

He was young and strong; safety was only thirty feet or so below; and the people were waiting to welcome and cheer the victor.

Only thirty feet between him and safety! Yet the man was “fairly roasted” in the escape.

Men have been burnt at the stake and tortured, and limbs have been stretched on the rack, and people have been maimed by thumbscrews and bootscrews, and put inside iron figures with nails that tear and pierce. All this have they suffered in pursuit of duty, or at the bidding of conscience; and of such and of brave Joseph Ford there comes to us across the ages–a saying spoken long ago, to the effect that “he that loseth his life shall save it”: and we need to remember that saying in such cases as that of Fireman Ford.



“A fine handsome child, with flashing black eyes!” Thus was Elizabeth Gilbert described at her birth in 1826; but at the age of three an attack of scarlet fever deprived her of eyesight; and thenceforth, for upwards of fifty years, the beautiful things in the world were seen by her no more.

Her parents were most anxious that she should take part in all that was going on in the household, in order that she should feel her misfortune as little as possible. So she lived in the midst of the family circle, sharing in their sports, their meals, and their entertainments, and being treated just as one of the others; yet with a special care and devotion by her father, Dr. Gilbert, whose heart went out in deep love towards his little sightless daughter.

Bessie was fond of romping games, and preferred by far getting a few knocks and bumps to being helped or guided by others when she was at play. She was by nature passionate, yet she gradually subdued this failing. She was a general favourite; and, when any petition had to be asked of father, it was always Bessie who was put forward to do it, as the children knew how good were her chances of being successful in her mission.

She was educated just like other girls, except that her lessons were read to her. She made great progress, and was a very apt pupil in French, German, and other subjects; but arithmetic she cordially disliked. Imagine for an instant the drudgery of working a long division sum with leaden type and raised, figures; think of all the difficulty of placing the figures, and the chances of doing the sum wrong; and then it will not cause surprise that the blind girl could never enjoy arithmetic, although in mental calculation she showed herself later on to be very clever.

When she was about ten years old, the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria visited Oxford, where Bessie then lived with her parents. On her return home Bessie exclaimed: “Oh, mamma, I have _seen_ the Duchess of Kent, and she had on a brown silk dress”. Indeed, the child had such a vivid imagination that she saw mentally the scenes and people described to her.

And, so though no glimmer of light from the sun reached her, the child was not dull or unhappy. She listened to the birds with delight, and knew their songs; she loved flowers and liked people to describe them to her; and she was fond of making expeditions to the fields and meadows.

But as Bessie grew up she began to feel some of the sadness and loneliness natural to her lot. Her sisters could no longer be constantly with her as in the nursery days; and though she made no complaint, nor spoke of it to those around her, yet she felt it none the less keenly.

By this time her father had become Bishop of Chichester.

When Bessie was twenty-seven years old an idea was suggested which was the means of giving her an object in life, and affording her an opportunity of doing a great work for the blind.

It was her sister Mary who first spoke about it, having seen with sorrow how changed the once happy blind sister had become, and longing to lighten her burden.

Bessie listened to the facts which were set before her of the need that existed for some one to give a helping hand to the blind in London. She made many inquiries into the condition of the sightless, and then thought out a scheme for helping them.

Some of her friends considered it a great mistake for her to undertake such a mission. “Don’t work yourself to death,” said one of her acquaintances.

“Work to death!” she replied with a happy laugh. “I am working to life.”

But if a few were opposed, her parents, brothers, sisters, and the majority of those she loved, were in hearty sympathy.

So in May, 1854, Bessie commenced her life work. Seven blind men were given employment at their own homes in London; materials were supplied to them at cost price, they manufactured them, and received the full price that the articles were sold for.

This, of course, entailed a loss; but Bessie had been left a legacy by her godmother, which gave her an income of her own, and a large portion of this she continued to devote throughout her life to helping the blind.

A cellar was rented in New Turnstile Street, Holborn, at a charge of eighteenpence a week. A manager, named Levy, was engaged at a salary of half a crown a week and a commission on sales. He was a blind man himself, and a blind carpenter was engaged to assist in making the storehouse presentable.

It was a small beginning, certainly, but it was not long ere Levy’s wages were largely increased, and trade began to grow in response to Miss Gilbert’s efforts. From the cellar in Holborn a move was made to a better room, costing half a crown a week; and then, within little more than a year from the commencement, a house and shop were taken at a rent of L26 a year.

The increase in expenses as the scheme developed rendered it necessary to ask for public assistance. By the bishop’s advice a committee was formed, and money collected.

By 1856, Miss Gilbert thought her work far enough advanced to bring it under the notice of Her Majesty, who, having asked for and received full particulars, sent a very kind letter of encouragement with a donation of L50.

This gracious acknowledgment of the work in which Miss Gilbert was engaged not only gave sincere pleasure to the blind lady herself, but helped on her scheme immensely. And the Queen did more than contribute money: orders for work were sent from Windsor Castle, Osborne and Balmoral; and the blind people delighted in saying that they were making brooms for the Queen. The benefit to the blind was not confined to what Miss Gilbert was doing herself, but general interest in their welfare was excited in all parts of the kingdom.

Naturally, many difficulties had to be encountered. Blind people applied for work who wished for alms instead; and arrangements necessary for carrying out so large a scheme entailed a good deal of labour on Miss Gilbert’s part. Yet she was very happy in her mission, which attracted numerous friends occupying positions of eminence.

Miss Gilbert herself gave L2000 to the Association as an endowment fund, and others contributed liberally too. One day a strange old lady came to see her, and left with her L500 in bank notes. She did not even give her name; and a further gift of L500 was received the same year from a gentleman who felt interested in the work.

Up to the close of her life, which ended in 1885, Elizabeth Gilbert continued to take an active interest in the affairs of the Association. Notwithstanding her own weak and failing health she laboured on, winning the love and gratitude of the blind, and accomplishing a great work of which any one might feel justly proud.



For many years past men of science have been engaged in ascending far up amongst the clouds for the purpose of finding out as much as possible about the various currents of air, the electrical state of the atmosphere, the different kinds of clouds, sound, temperature and such matters.

One of the most eminent balloonists of modern times, Mr. James Glaisher, was many times in danger of losing his life whilst in pursuit of knowledge miles above the earth.

His first ascent was made from Wolverhampton on the 17th of July, 1862. It was very stormy at the time of starting. Before he and Mr. Coxwell got fairly off they very nearly came to grief; for the balloon did not rise properly, but dragged the car along near the ground, so that if they had come against any chimney or high building they would probably have been killed.

However, fortunately, they got clear and were soon high up above the clouds, with a beautiful blue sky, and the air so pleasantly warm that they needed no extra clothing, as is usually the case when in the upper region of the atmosphere. When they were about four miles high Mr. Glaisher found the beating of his heart become very distinct, his hands and lips turned to a dark bluish colour, and he could hardly read the instruments. Between four and five miles high he felt a kind of sea sickness.

Mr. Coxwell began to think they might be getting too near the Wash for safety, and they therefore came down quickly, and reached the earth with such force that the scientific instruments were nearly all broken. In their descent they passed through a cloud 8000 feet (or over a mile and a half) thick!

On the 5th of September, 1862, Mr. Glaisher and Mr. Coxwell made one of the most remarkable ascents in the history of ballooning. It nearly proved fatal to both.

Up to the time they reached the fifth mile Mr. Glaisher felt pretty well. What happened afterwards is best described by himself.

“When at the height of 26,000 feet I could not see the fine column of the mercury in the tube; then the fine divisions on the scale of the instrument became invisible. At that time I asked Mr. Coxwell to help me to read the instruments, as I experienced a difficulty in seeing them. In consequence of the rotary motion of the balloon, which had continued without ceasing since the earth was left, the valve line had become twisted, and he had to leave the car, and to mount into the ring above to adjust it. At that time I had no suspicion of other than temporary inconvenience in seeing. Shortly afterwards I laid my arm upon the table, possessed of its full vigour but directly after, being desirous of using it, I found it powerless. It must have lost its power momentarily. I then tried to move the other arm, but found it powerless also. I next tried to shake myself, and succeeded in shaking my body. I seemed to have no legs. I could only shake my body. I then looked at the barometer, and whilst I was doing so my head fell on my left shoulder. I struggled, and shook my body again, but could not move my arms. I got my head upright, but for an instant only, when it fell on my right shoulder; and then I fell backwards, my back resting against the side of the car, and my head on its edge. In that position my eyes were directed towards Mr. Coxwell in the ring. When I shook my body I seemed to have full power over the muscles of the back, and considerable power over those of the neck, but none over my limbs….I dimly saw Mr. Coxwell in the ring, and endeavoured to speak, but could not do so; when in an instant black darkness came over me, and the optic nerve lost power suddenly. I was still conscious, with as active a brain as whilst writing this. I thought I had been seized with asphyxia, and that I should experience no more, as death would come unless we speedily descended. Other thoughts were actively entering my mind when I suddenly became unconscious, as though going to sleep. I could not tell anything about the sense of hearing; the perfect stillness of the regions six miles from the earth–and at that time we were between six and seven miles high–is such that no sound reaches the ear. My last observation was made at 29,000 feet…. Whilst powerless I heard the words ‘temperature’ and ‘observation,’ and I knew Mr. Coxwell was in the car, speaking to me, and endeavouring to rouse me; and therefore consciousness and hearing had returned. I then heard him speak more emphatically, but I could not speak or move. Then I heard him say, ‘Do try; now do!’ Then I saw the instruments dimly, next Mr. Coxwell, and very shortly I saw clearly. I rose in my seat and looked round, as though waking from sleep, and said to Mr. Coxwell, ‘I have been insensible’. He said, ‘Yes; and I too very nearly …’. Mr. Coxwell informed me that he had lost the use of his hands, which were black, and I poured brandy over them.”

When Mr. Coxwell saw that Mr. Glaisher was insensible he tried to go to him but could not, and he then felt insensibility coming over him. He became anxious to open the valve, but having lost the use of his hands he could not, and ultimately he did so by seizing the cord with his teeth and dipping his head two or three times.

During the journey they got to a height of 36,000 or 37,000 feet–about seven miles–that is to say, two miles higher than Mount Everest, the loftiest mountain in the world.

The year following Mr. Glaisher had a narrow escape from drowning.

He and Mr. Coxwell started from the Crystal Palace at a little past one o’clock on the 18th of April, 1863, and in an hour and thirteen minutes after starting were 24,000 feet high. Then they thought it would be just as well to see where they were, so they opened the valve to let out the gas, and came down a mile in three minutes. When, at a quarter to three, they were still 10,000 feet high Mr. Coxwell caught sight of Beachy Head and exclaimed: “What’s that?” On looking over the car Mr. Glaisher found that they seemed to be overhanging the sea!

Not a moment was to be lost. They both clung on to the valve-line, rending the balloon in two places. Down, down, down at a tremendous speed they went; the earth appeared to be coming up to them with awful swiftness; and a minute or two later with a resounding crash they struck the ground at Newhaven close to the sea. The balloon had been so damaged that it did not drag along, and though most of the instruments were smashed their lives were saved.

Much valuable scientific information has been obtained by Mr. Glaisher, and by those who, like him, have made perilous journeys into cloudland.



“That great man and gallant soldier and true Christian, Charles Gordon.”–THE PRINCE OF WALES.

Charles George Gordon was born at Woolwich on the 28th of January, 1833.

In early life he was delicate, and of all professions that of a soldier seemed least suitable for him. At school he made no mark in learning.

He was a fearless lad, with a strong will of his own. When he was only nine years old, and was yet unable to swim, he would throw himself into deep water, trusting to some older boy to get him out. He was threatened on one occasion that he should not go on a pleasure excursion because of some offence he had committed; and when afterwards he was given permission he stubbornly refused the treat–circus though it was, dear to the heart of a lad.

After passing through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich he obtained in 1852 a commission as a Second Lieutenant of Engineers, and was sent out to the Crimea in December, 1854, with instructions to put up wooden huts for our soldiers, who were dying from cold in that icy land.

On his way he wrote from Marseilles to his mother; and, after telling her of the sights and scenes he has witnessed, mentions that he will leave Marseilles “D.V. on Monday for Constantinople”.

Whilst in the Crimea he worked in the trenches twenty hours at a stretch times without number.

Once when he was leading a party at night he was fired at by his own sentries. On another occasion he was wounded in the forehead, and continued his work without showing any concern. He found it dull when no fighting was going on, but when there were bullets flying then it was exciting enough.

He was mentioned in the official despatches, and received from the French Government the Cross of the Legion of Honour.

Five years later Gordon was fighting with the English and French armies in China. Shortly after he was made commander of a force that was commissioned by the Emperor of China to put down a rebellion of the Taipings, of so dangerous a character that it threatened to overturn the monarchy.

Gordon had only about 3000 men, chiefly Chinese; and, notwithstanding the fact that when he took over the force it had just been demoralised by defeat, he soon proved himself more than a match for the rebel hordes. From one victory to another he led his men on, and cities fell in quick succession before him. His name ere long began to have the weight of an army in the mind of the rebels. Major Gordon, in fact, had made a great mark in the Chinese Empire.

On the 30th April Gordon was before the city of Taitsan, where three months before the same army which was now under his command had been defeated.

Three times his men rushed into the breach which the big guns had made. Twice they were hurled back; but for a third time Gordon urged them on, and their confidence in his leadership was such that they went readily; and this time, after a swift, sharp conflict, the city was won.

Europeans were fighting both with him and with the rebels. In the breach at Taitsan he came across two of the men he formerly had under his command. One was shot during the assault; the other cried out, “Mr. Gordon! Mr. Gordon! you will not let me be killed”. “Take him down to the river and shoot him,” said Gordon aloud. Aside he whispered, “Put him in my boat, let the doctor attend him, and send him down to Shanghai”. He was stern and resolute enough where it was necessary, but underneath all was a heart full of love and pity.

During this war the only weapon Gordon carried was a cane; and men grew to regard this stick as a kind of magic wand, and Gordon as a man whom nothing could harm.

On one occasion when he was wounded he refused to retire till he was forcibly carried off the field by the doctor’s orders.

After he had put an end to the rebellion the Emperor of China wanted to give him a large sum of money; but Gordon, whose only object in fighting was to benefit the people, refused it, and left China as poor as he had entered it. He had various distinctions conferred upon him by the emperor, and the English people gave him the title of “Chinese Gordon”.

A gold medal was presented to him by the emperor. Gordon, obliterating the inscription, sent it anonymously to the Coventry relief fund. Of this incident he wrote at a later period: “Never shall I forget what I got when I scored out the inscription on the gold medal. How I have been repaid a millionfold! There is now not one thing I value in the world. Its honours, they are false; its knicknacks, they are perishable and useless; whilst I live I value God’s blessing–health; and if you have that, as far as this world goes, you are rich.”

He returned to England and settled down at Gravesend, living quite simply, and working in his spare moments amongst the poor. To the boys he was a hero indeed. That was but natural, seeing he not only taught them to read and write, and tried to get them situations, but treated them as his friends.

In his sitting-room was a map of the world, with pins stuck in it marking the probable positions of the ships in which his “kings” (as he called his boys) were to be found in various parts of the world. Thus, as they moved from place to place, he followed them in his thoughts, and was able to point out their whereabouts to inquiring friends.

It is no wonder then that the urchins scrawled upon the walls of the town, “C.G. is a jolly good feller”. “God bless the Kernel.”

He visited the hospitals and workhouses, and all the money he received he expended on the poor; for he believed that having given his heart to God he had no right to keep anything for himself. He comforted the sick and dying, he taught in the Ragged and Sunday Schools. He lived on the plainest food himself, thus “enduring hardness”. He even gave up his garden, turning it into a kind of allotment for the needy.

He had one object in life–to do good. His views were utterly unworldly and opposed to those generally held, but they were in the main right.

In 1874 Gordon went to Egypt, and at the request of the Khedive undertook the position of Governor-General of the Soudan, in the hope of being able to put down the slave trade.

He was beset with difficulties, and “worn to a shadow” by incessant work and ceaseless anxiety; but he would not give up.

In all his trials he felt the presence of God. As he watched his men hauling the boats up the rapids he “_prayed them up_ as he used to do the troops when they wavered in the breaches in China”.

Once his men failed in their attack on an offending tribe; and, believing they had been misled by the Sheik, wanted to punish him; but Gordon saw the other side of the man’s character–“He was a brave patriotic man,” he said; “and I shall let him go”.

Here was his hope. “With terrific exertion,” he writes, “in two or three years’ time I may with God’s administration make a good province–with a good army and a fair revenue and peace, and an increased trade,–also have suppressed slave raids.” He felt it was a weary work before him, for he adds: “Then I will come home and go to bed, and never get up till noon every day, and never walk more than a mile”. No wonder he was worn and tired, for he moved about the Soudan like a whirlwind. He travelled on camelback thousands of miles. In four months’ time he had put down a dangerous rebellion that would have taken the Egyptians as many years–if, indeed, they could ever have done it at all.

This is the kind of way in which he won his victories. On one occasion with a few troops he arrived at a place called Dara. That great slave trader Suleiman, who had given Sir Samuel Baker so much trouble, was there at the head of 6000 men. Gordon rode into the place nearly alone, and told the commander to come and talk with him. Utterly taken aback the man did as he was requested, and afterwards promised obedience.

It is true he did not keep his promise; but after fighting several battles Suleiman was at length taken prisoner by Gordon’s lieutenant; and so many were the crimes and cruelties that he had committed that he was condemned to death, and thus the slaves of Africa became rid of one of their worst oppressors.


The work begun by Baker was continued with great success by Gordon. He estimated that in nine months he liberated 2000 slaves. The suffering these poor creatures had gone through was appalling. Some of them when set free had been four or five days without water in the terrible heat of that hot country. Every caravan route showed signs of the horrible trade, by the bones of those who had fallen and died from exhaustion, unable to keep their ranks in the gang.

So great was the effect which the thought and sight of these sufferings produced on Gordon that he wrote in March, 1879: “I declare if I could stop this traffic I would willingly be shot this night”.

Later on he was to give his life for these people; but the hour was not yet.

When Gordon was in Abyssinia King John took him prisoner. Brought before his Majesty, Gordon fairly took away the breath of the monarch by going up to him, placing his own chair beside the king’s, and telling him that he would only talk to him as an equal.

“Do you know, Gordon Pasha,” said the king, “that I could kill you on the spot if I liked?”

“I am perfectly aware of it,” replied Gordon calmly; “so do it, if it is your royal pleasure.”

“What! ready to be killed?” asked the king incredulously.

“Certainly. I am always ready to die,” answered the pasha; “and so far from fearing your putting me to death you would confer a favour on me by so doing.”

Upon this his Majesty gave up the idea of frightening him.

At the end of 1879 Gordon was free from the Soudan for the second time. In 1876 he had left it, as he thought, for good; but, as it turned out, it was only for a few weeks’ holiday in England, and then back to quell the rebellion.

Even now it was destined that he should soon return once again and finally. But during the breathing time that now came to him, so far from leading an easy life or “never getting up till noon,” he was in all parts of the world, from China to the Cape, from Ireland to India, still on the old mission of endeavouring to do a little good wherever he was.

Leopold II., King of the Belgians, who had a profound regard for Gordon, greatly desired that he should go out to the Congo; and in January, 1884, he was just preparing to start in his Majesty’s service when on the 17th of that month a telegram from Lord Wolseley arrived, asking him to return to England.

At six o’clock next morning he was in London; and the same day, having received instructions from the Government, he was on his way for the last time to Khartoum.

The Egyptian garrisons of the Soudan towns were sore beset by the legions which were gathering beneath the banners of the Mahdi, who, flushed with victory, was threatening an eruption into Lower Egypt itself.

To extricate these garrisons without bloodshed if possible was Gordon’s object. It was a forlorn hope; still if any one man could accomplish it Charles Gordon was that man.

But ere long it was found even beyond his powers; for after sending off a portion of the Khartoum population in safety down the river, the Mahdi’s legions closed in upon him, and Khartoum was in a state of siege.

For nearly a year he held the city against all the forces of the enemy; and meantime Great Britain was stirred with a vehement desire to save the life of this devoted man.

In the autumn of 1884 a force under the command of Lord Wolseley was sent out to relieve Khartoum.

Whilst the British troops were slowly forcing their way up the river and across the desert, Khartoum was enduring a death agony.

By January, 1885, the city had been reduced to starvation. Donkeys, dogs, rats, everything indeed in the way of flesh, had been consumed; even boot leather, the straps of native bedsteads, and mimosa gum did not come amiss to the sorely-tried garrison.

Famine had produced lack of discipline on the part of some of the troops; and Gordon foresaw well what the end must be, though without a fear for himself.

You can read for yourself from the reproduction of the last page of his diary, written on the 14th December, 1884, his own estimate of the length of time he could hold out; and, though he managed to keep back the enemy for another month, yet on the 26th January, 1885, whilst yet Sir Charles Wilson and the British troops were fighting their way up the river Nile to his relief, Khartoum fell.

In the early dawn of that day the Mahdi assaulted the town in overwhelming force–whether helped by treachery is not exactly known; and before his well-fed, well-trained hosts, the feeble worn-out garrison gave way, the walls were scaled, the city taken, and the hero who had won the affection of many nations fell amidst the people he had come to save.


It was on the whole a happy and fitting end. The mind cannot conceive Gordon rusting out; and the man lived so much in the presence of God that death was a welcome visitor.

“Like Lawrence,” he wrote, “I have tried to do my duty”; and England confessed that right nobly he had done it.

Let those who wish to testify their love and veneration for this great man remember the Gordon Home for Boys at Chobham, which was founded to perpetuate his name. It is situated in the midst of Surrey; and here are to be found over two hundred boys rescued from the streets of our great cities.

The bracing life they lead in their country home soon brings the colour to their cheeks, and the training they receive fits them for becoming useful citizens and valuable servants of the State. Most of them join the army, and the Gordon boys are now to be found serving the Queen in every land.



One of the most glorious of the many battles of the British navy was fought on the 10th and 11th September, 1591, by Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Grenville, in his ship _The Revenge_, against a great fleet of Spanish vessels. The fight was described by the gallant Sir Walter Raleigh, from whose account (published in November, 1591) the facts given in the following narrative are taken.