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60

SOLDIERS ASKING BIBLES.

Majesty's Service,' printed upon it in large capitals) to the advance camp in front of Sebastopol, there to ascertain whether the soldiers really needed Bibles, and how they would receive them. It was evening when I arrived. The cannonading from the town was unusually heavy that night, and shot and shell were firing and bursting on either side of us, though providentially none reached our camp. In the course of our conversation, the officer who entertained me remarked, he had lost his Bible that he brought with him from England, and a good lady at Constantinople had given him another, which he valued very much. I then said, that was the object of my visit, to learn if there were not other officers and soldiers who also wished the Bible. He did not doubt I would find many such. Thus encouraged, I set out by moonlight to walk around our little cluster of tents, comprising one division only, while the whole encampment stretches fifteen miles along the hillsides, and through the ravines around. In the first tent I entered there were three soldiers, and when I inquired if they were all supplied with Bibles and Testaments, one poor fellow, lying on the damp ground wrapped in his blanket, raising himself up, said, 'I would like very much to have one, sir;' then the others expressed the same desire; and as I gave them each a Testament, they thanked me with heartfelt gratitude for coming so far to give them the Word of Life; and would not let me go without receiving some gifts of nuts and almonds from them in return. In the next tent I found three others, and one of them shivering with the ague; and upon repeating the same question, he roused up, and said, 'I would like very much to have a Bible: I had one when I left England, but I lost it at the battle of Alma; and since then

A SOLDIER'S OFFERING.

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I

I have had nothing but a prayer-book, which I plundered from the knapsack of a dead comrade at Inkerman.' accordingly offered him a Bible, remarking that it was our custom to sell to those who were able to buy, and give freely to those who were not. 'I have money,' said he, ' and would gladly pay for it: I should value it the more. How much shall I give?' I said, 'Whatever you choose.' He handed me at once 3s. 6d. sterling, or seven shillings in our money. I gave him back twenty-five cents, saying it was too much for a poor soldier to pay. 'Oh, no,' said he, 'keep it all. I give it all as a free-will offering to the American Bible Society.' I gave the others Testaments, and as I left they pronounced many blessings on my head. for bringing them the Word of God, saying, 'The last thing they would throw away again on their march would be the Bible.' In the next tent I met with a like reception. One soldier said he wished to have a Bible, 'and,' said he, 'I rather think I will take two; for I am quite sure my brother, who is out on duty in the trenches, would like to have one also;' and he handed me out 4s. or one dollar of our money, saying, he was very thankful to receive them for that; and one, sitting beside him, politely took off his cap to me, and said,,' Now I can enjoy the Word of God too; for though I cannot read myself, I can hear it from this man, and it will do me as much good as him. We have been in all the battles together, and, thank God, we have both been preserved. But can you not come tomorrow night, when the others will be in from the pickets? I am sure they would all like to get Bibles of you. Oh, sir, if we could only have the like of you to come and see us in our tents, and speak a kind word to us, how thankful we would be!' I was pleased, too, to notice the re

62

STOCK EXHAUSTED.

spectfulness as well as kindness with which they received mea stranger, bearing the Bible. I remarked, 'The medals voted by Parliament for those engaged at Alma and Inkerman are coming soon.' 'Yes,' said they, and we will be glad to get them; but we would rather have your Bibles.' I said, 'Then I hope you will read and treasure them, as the word of God which maketh us wise unto everlasting salvation.' 'Never fear that,' says one, 'I have a sister at home, who sends me a good tract every time she writes to me; and I have read and kept them every one, and now I have the Bible, which is better than all.' As my little stock was thus so soon exhausted, I returned to my tent, rejoiced that I had been privileged to distribute Bibles and Testaments to those noble soldiers in camp on the field of Inkerman, and prayed that God would abundantly bless His Word to their spiritual good.

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In the morning early, at the beating of the morning drum, I hastened down to Balaklava, where my good friends were delighted to hear of my unexpected success, both with officers and soldiers, and they heartily thanked God for it. Rev. Mr Hayward said at once he would take 1000 Bibles and Testaments for distribution, and would send us in return a part of his stated collection at the church service. Rev. Mr Campbell also wished 600, and many more would be required by the other chaplains. Mr Matheson also begged that he might be constituted agent for the work, as he regarded it even more important than distributing tracts to circulate the Book of God. And,' said he to me, we have the Word; now we only want the Spirit; we must have earnest prayer for that.'

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"I then called upon the chief of police, for the purpose of obtaining access to the Russian prisoners, and supplying

RUSSIAN PRISONERS.

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them with the Bible. I found the officer himself was out, but his deputy was sitting behind the desk, and it seems he had received intimation that I was coming, for he asked immediately, 'What is it you wish, sir? Is it anything I can do as well? I rather think it is something in the missionary line, isn't it?' I replied, 'Yes; I wished to see the Russian prisoners, and give them the Bible, if they desired it.' 'Well,' said he, 'I always like to help on the good cause, and will be glad to accompany you.'

"We accordingly took with us an interpreter, and proceeded to the guard-house. The sentinels on duty demanded our business. He stepped forward and said, 'We wish to see the Russian prisoners. This man is a missionary this is .Mr Upton, and I am deputy-provost ; and whatever is done well, or whatever is done ill, I will be answerable for it.' The sentinels immediately stood aside, and we entered the guard-room. Here were eleven prisoners, only one of whom could read; and upon asking him if he would like to receive a New Testament, he expressed great desire to have it, and when I gave it in his hand he manifested much thankfulness, and said he would not only read it himself, but would also read it aloud to the others, that the word of God might be multiplied. The officer insisted upon it that he must receive and value it as the Book of Salvation, and he replied with many expressions of gratitude for so precious a gift. And when I thanked the officer for his kind assistance in the matter, 'Not at all,' said he, 'these things do me as much good as you.' And I am happy to add that I have received the same generous aid, in furtherance of my Bible efforts, from all the English

64

RETURN TO CONSTANTINOPLE.

officers in every department of the service. I then obtained an order from the commissariat for a return passage, and in two days reached Constantinople, where I gave a full report of my visit before the committee of the Auxiliary Bible Society, which held its meeting on Tuesday last; and so great was the interest manifested, that it was at once voted that we jointly send a colporteur to labour in that important field. I have also written to Paris, to gain permission from the Emperor for a like work of Bible distribution among the French troops, which I doubt not will be readily granted."

"CONSTANTINOPLE, Jan. 4, 1855.

"This morning I have sent a small supply of Bibles and Testaments to the chaplains at the Crimea for immediate distribution, instructing that they be sold, in each instance, where the soldiers are willing to purchase, and only given in special cases of need. I find Mr Barker, agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society here, a most excellent and efficient man, with whom I can entirely harmonise and co-operate in all my Bible movements.

"Yesterday I received a letter from Dr King, at Athens, giving an account of the terrible ravages of cholera there for the last two months, and fully approving the wisdom of my decision in coming directly to Constantinople, as, besides the great exposure of life, I could have accomplished absolutely nothing there. He adds, moreover, that the work of issuing the modern Greek New Testament has been delayed at least two months by reason of the scourge. I deeply regret to announce the sudden death of Mrs Everett, of this mission, since I last wrote,

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