صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



happy such a benevolent work was designed on the part of the American Bible Society, and hoped it would still further have an influence to promote good feeling and Christian fellowship between England and America. Whereupon I took my leave, thanking his Lordship cordially for his kind expressions and entertainment. I then proceeded at once with the letter in hand (having 'War,' and on Her 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 hill



sides, 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 I have had nothing but a prayer-book, which I plundered from the knapsack of a dead comrade at Inkerman.' I 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 twentyfive cents, saying it was too much for a poor sol

[ocr errors]



dier 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 to-morrow 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 respectfulness as well as kindness with which they received me, a 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.

"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 1,000 Bibles and Testaments for distribution, and would send us in return a part of his stated col. lection 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.'

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

« السابقةمتابعة »