Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.

PREPARED FOR HIS WORK.                      49



“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and
who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I: send me.”—Isa. vi. 8

IS evangelistic apprenticeship was now at a close.
He had obtained “ a good degree, and great bold­
ness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Even
if he had accomplished little he had learned much.
By constant and prayerful study of the scriptures and the best
divines, he had greatly increased his intellectual and spiritual
stores. His mind was braced by severe discipline, his judg­
ment matured by deep reflection, and his gift of utterance
developed by exercise. His knowledge of the truth kept
pace with his growing insight into human nature; and the
frequent rebuffs he met taught him to add tact to straight­
forwardness in dealing with men. His faith, like his person,
was sturdy, stalwart, and full of robust health ; his assurance
was as clear and calm as a summer morning; and his con­
secration to God was entire. In his consuming zeal for the
salvation of men he was willing to go anywhere or do any­
thing at the Master’s call. Born a soldier, every inch of
him a man of war, he was not the less fitted for camps and
the rougher scenes of life, now that he stood clad in the
whole armour of God, “a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
The man of prayers, and tears, and love to souls, had his
humble part to play in the gathering of the armies of the
nations; and though that part nobly performed finds no
place in the annals of the Crimean struggle, the record of
the missionary’s campaign is on high, and its results, when
disclosed in the last great assembly of the human race, will
doubtless receive a nobler reward than the perishing laurels
of earthly fame.

Our evangelist happening to witness the departure of
soldiers for the Crimea in 1854 was deeply moved by the




sad farewells. This changed the current of his thoughts
and sympathies; and although he did not cease to pray for
the perishing millions of China, his heart went with the
soldiers, and he began to lay the matter before the Lord.
The more he thought of the peculiar circumstances of a
soldier‘s life, its hardships, its snares, its constant risk and
peril, its need of counsel and of the cross, the more he
prayed and longed to go as a herald of mercy to the camp,
the field, and the hospital, in the distant East, to share his
joy with the weary, the wounded, and the dying. How
this could be brought about he had no idea. His desire
was known only to God; but he believed in the Hearer of
prayer, and continued to wait at the throne of grace.

The call for which he was praying came from an unex­
pected quarter, and it came stamped with the broad seal of
a special providence. It happened in this way. One day
he received a letter, which in substance ran thus : “If you
are still in the mind to go to the East, reply by return of
post, and please say when you could start.” The letter
was from the Rev. J. Bonar, convener of the Colonial Com­
mittee of the Free Church—a gentleman whom Duncan
Matheson had never seen, and did not know. Surely, he
thought as he read Mr. Bonar‘s note, there is some mistake
here. Yet he felt as if the hand and voice of God were in
it, calling him to the scene of conflict. He went and told
the Duchess, saying that there was clearly a mistake, but
that he was willing to go. “ How strange !“ exclaimed her
Grace ; “ I have been praying that God would incline you
to go, and others have been praying also. If there is a
mistake, I will send you myself.” He wrote to Mr. Bonar,
and ascertained that the letter was intended for another of
the same name, a Gaelic-speaking licentiate of the Free
Church, who had been employed for some time among
the navvies. The Countess of Effingham, desirous of send­
ing a missionary to the Highland Brigade, had requested
Mr. Bonar to find a suitable agent for the work. Mr.
Bonar wrote to the Rev. D. Matheson; but the letter going
astray, a clerk in the Post-ofnce had written on it, “ Try
Huntly,” and so it came into the hands of the wrong
D. Matheson, according to the proposing of man, but the
right D. Matheson, according to the disposing of God.

AT BECKENHAM.                                 51

Mr. Bonar, glad to find a fit man ready to undertake so
arduous a mission, requested him to come up to Edinburgh
and arrange for taking his departure for the East, in con­
nection with the British and Foreign Soldiers’ Friend Society.
He whose “kingdom ruleth over all,” and who “holdeth
the seven stars in his right hand,” overruled the mistake of
the Post-office for the accomplishment of a great purpose.

With characteristic decision he went up to Edinburgh the
day after he received Mr. Bonar’s letter, and without an hour’s
delay, entered into engagements with the Society to go to
the East as a Scripture-reader. At the same time he received
a commission from the Free Church Colonial Committee,
and a recommendation “ to their brethren at Constantinople
or other places where Providence may cast his lot.”

The following scrap was found in his room after his
departure : “ I surrender father, sister, brothers, myself,—
all, all that concerns me, into thy hands, O my God. For
the past, I bless Thee. For the present, I praise Thee. For
the future, I trust Thee. My feet shall stand within thy
gates, O Jerusalem. Nights end. Partings close. I am thine,
0 Lord, wholly thine.—Nov. 8th, 1854.” This was counting
the cost.

At the quiet rectory at Beckenham, a green spot to him
ever after, he was received with unbounded kindness; and
the parting blessing of the venerable servant of Christ, Dr.
Marsh, was fresh on his heart to his dying day. In con­
trast to this was the discouraging language of certain minis­
ters of the gospel, who, meeting him at another stage of his
journey, warned him against speaking to the soldiers about
conversion. “ You will be expelled from the camp, if you
do,” said they. He replied, that he was going to the Crimea
for the very purpose of telling the unconverted soldiers that
they needed to be born again, and by the grace of God he
would do it, be the consequences what they might. In this
way he experienced light and shade.


“London, 11th November, 1854.
“ I have met with kindness such as I never felt on earth,
and have met with some of the Lord‘s dear family in the
highest ranks of life. Surely goodness and mercy follow

E 2



me. I feel it—I know it. My heart is stayed on the Lord;
it is truly humbling and cheering. Letters come daily from
persons I have never seen. My destination is in the mean
time Scutari. My whole energies will be devoted to my

dear countrymen.....I long to get to my work.

I feel no shrinking. I commit my way to the Lord. I go
his errand. I seek his glory ; it is enough. Do seek to
rejoice that He counts me worthy to go. I am calmly
resting on his arm. I feel no fears. Truly I am not alone.
He bears me up. Clouds, trials, darkness may come; yet
all works for good. Dear father and sister, be of good
courage, for I am for ever the Lord’s.”

“London, 15th November, 1854.

“ I long for my work. I see the need great and pressing.
I seek no rest till I get it on high. I know to his own God
will be a Shepherd, gently leading and guiding them. Never
did I feel so much as now the power, the deep sustaining
power of grace. Ah, dear sister, it is sweet to be passive in
the Lord’s hand; to know his grace, to enjoy his smile.
I offer myself to the Lord. I may meet rough tossing,
billows heaving, seas swelling; yet the throne, the crown,
the kingdom on high—that is our goal—that is enough for

“Off Cape St. Vincent, 22nd November, 1854.

“My dear, dear Jessie,—How I shall write you just
now I know not, the motion of the steamer is so great. Still
I am anxious to send you a few lines as we expect to be in

Gibraltar to­morrow.....It seems as if the Lord

were giving me such displays of his goodness as to compel
me to say, ‘This God is my God for ever and ever; He
will be my guide even unto death.’ On getting aboard the
steamer, I saw my luggage safely put away, and was then
conducted to my berth by the steward. I knelt down in it,
and committed myself, you, father, friends, and all on board
to the Lord. Felt deeply and calmly reposed. And here I
mark his hand—I got a cabin to myself, whilst the other
passengers were placed two and two together. The scene
as we steamed down the Mersey was truly exciting to most;
to me it was not. My thoughts were on my work, home,
the need of close walking with God; all these pressed on

A SABBATH AFLOAT.                          53

me. I walked the deck alone, yet not alone. I write a
note to you. The pilot left us. The wind freshened and
we sped onward. Night settled on us, and still I was on
deck. Oh, it was strange, passing strange, to me; and most
of all to watch the phosphorus light dancing on the crest
of every wave far behind. I went below as night stole on,
and, committing all to the Lord, fell calmly asleep.

“Sabbath morning dawned, and with it a raging sea, rolling
mountains high; each wave as it broke on the vessel’s side
made her quiver from one end to the other; but the wind was
favourable and on we sped. I felt that there was no Sabbath
on board. All was bustle and confusion. The light-hearted
gaiety of souls without God. I had tracts and Bibles with
me; these I went and gave the poor sailors, who had none.
Never did I see such gratitude expressed; it saddened my
inmost heart. Once and again I have asked to be the means
of saving souls in this vessel, and it may be the Lord‘s will
to do it. How solemn a matter to be saved ! How deeply
momentous the issues that hang on not being saved. Not
saved, though the Bible is read; the Spirit strives; sermons
are preached; providences are sent—solemn thought! Shut­
ting myself in my cabin, I hope I had something of the
real Sabbath-keeping spirit. Yea, I dare not question it,
for I felt borne up and calmly stayed upon the Lord.

“We had one fearful day going through the Bay of Biscay.
Most of the passengers were sick. I felt rather qualmish;
but kept on deck, for I was anxious to see the ocean in all
its fury—and certainly the Bay of Biscay is the place to see
this. Now and then as a wave broke on the vessel, the
noise resembled thunder, but I felt no fear; for ‘He holdeth
the sea in the hollow of his hand,’ ‘ His ways are in the
sea’ was forcibly opened up to me. Who would look for
a path in the sea? And yet so strange are his dealings
(and to me they have been so) as to look like the opening
of a way in the sea.

“My one grand desire is to go and tell of Christ and Him
crucified, looking for the descent of the Holy Ghost to own
the word for the conversion of souls. I am compassed about
with a great cloud of witnesses. The eye of Israel’s Shep­
herd is upon me. Months, years, glide on; eternity seems
at hand. For a while, earth has been losing much of its



attractions for me; and heaven with its undimmed purity,
its endless pleasures, its streams of bliss, its unwithering
crown, and its blessed God, grows sweeter and sweeter.”

At Constantinople he was received with much kindness
by Messrs. Thomson, Turner, and McKutcheon, of the
Free Church Mission to the Jews. Bitter was his disap­
pointment on finding that military law strictly forbade his
going to the Crimea, and it only remained for him to return
home, as other missionary agents had done. That night was
spent in prayer ; towards dawn, as he tells, he felt in his
heart as if God had heard his cry, and would open up his
way. Next day accompanied by Mr. (now Dr.) Thomson,
he applied to Admiral Boxer for permission to go to the
scene of strife; and contrary to all expectation that officer
at once granted him his request. Great was his joy and
gratitude, and cordially did he praise God for “having
touched the Admiral’s heart.”

Losing no time, he embarked on board a transport con­
veying soldiers, and quickly found himself steaming up the
Bosphorus, and entering the Black Sea. By order of the
Admiral, he was entitled to share cabin accommodation
with two chaplains; but when night came these gentlemen,
forgetting the law of love, thrust him out. A kind-hearted
engineer gave him his berth in the forecastle, but he could
not sleep. The conduct of the soldiers and sailors was more
than he could endure ; it was like “ hell let loose,” and he
was glad to escape on deck, where “ under the starry vault
of heaven he spent the night, thinking of heaven and home,
praying for needed grace, and feeling assured that the un-
slumbering eye of Israel’s Shepherd would watch over him,
and all would be well.” At break of day on 5th December
they sighted the Crimea, and when they reached Balaklava,
the troops were ordered on shore at once, as an attack was
expected from the army of Liprandi. “ All was mirth and
excitement. We could distinctly hear the booming of the
cannon, not in mere holiday salute, but in deadly earnest.
What a tide of feeling rushed through my mind, as I thought
of mothers weeping for their sons, wives for their husbands,
and sisters for their brothers, whom they should see no
more, and of the brave men fallen in battle, their bodies

THE STATE OF THE ARMY.                   55

buried in the common pit near the field of strife, and their
spirits passing from the roar of battle into the immediate
presence of God. Turning to my text for the day, I was
cheered when I found it was, “The Lord preserveth those
that love Him.” I felt I was nerved for whatever might
befall me ; and stranger though I was,—knowing no one,
as a messenger of peace, with a lion heart I stepped on
Crimean soil.

“Alma had been fought, and Inkermann won. The thin
red line had been formed on the plains of Balaklava, and
the grand death-charge had been made. But the very
elements had risen in arms against us. It would be im­
possible to describe the state of the army at this time. The
hospitals were crowded; many were dying. Day after day,
ship after ship with its load of suffering was despatched to
Scutari. Many of those you met were in rags. Most were
emaciated and smitten with hunger. Some were almost
shoeless ; many had biscuit-bags instead of trousers, whilst
others had newspapers tied round their legs; and often such
was the wretchedness that you could not distinguish officer
from man, or recognise the best known.”

Matheson, with characteristic generosity, immediately
gave away all the clothes he could spare, and then began
to distribute his spiritual stores in the shape of tracts and
Bibles, of which latter there was a great scarcity in the
camp. The books and especially the Bibles were received
with the greatest eagerness, and read with wonderful earnest­
ness. Some 25,000 tracts, selected by the Tract Society,
by Mr. Drummond, of Stirling, and by Miss Marsh, were
quickly put into circulation.

“January 25th, 1855.—How shall I describe the scenes
I hourly see. I shrink from it; they are truly appalling.
The condition of our army is sad. Yesterday 600 were
brought sick from Sebastopol, and conveyed on board ship.
I took my stand in the midst of them, and spoke to them
of the only all-sufficient Saviour. Many listened with
interest, and at last the gushing tears told a way had been
found to the heart. My heart was like to break. Oh, I
have often felt since coming here that the one thing needed
is the Holy Ghost. All looked haggard and worn. Death is
thought nothing of. I had a long conversation with an officer

56                          HECTOR MACPHERSON.

yesterday. He speaks of the demoralisation of the army
as truly awful, and says swearing and ungodliness are in­
creasing. Since I came here I have not gone ten paces
without hearing profane swearing. And yet there are hope­
ful appearances.....The taking of Sebastopol is no easy

task. There seems as yet no recognition of the Lord’s
giving the victory. The men are greatly dispirited; yet,
strange to say, long for nothing so much as a battle. I can,
and do at this moment, hear the roll of the cannon. At
every shot my heart leaps, for usually some one is hurried
into eternity. 0 happy people whose God is the Lord.
Truly I feel it, and can really say thoughts of heaven are
growing sweeter and sweeter every hour. I long for rest,
yet am resigned to his will. 0 how fondly my affections
twine around home and friends! Huntly!—I cannot, I will
not forget it. I see other scenes; I possess other friends ;
but the dear saints in Huntly and in Scotland have the

largest place.....I feel there is nothing I more need

than the prayers of all who love the Lord. I cannot tell
what I may have to undergo. All is in the Lord’s hands.
I need a close, calm, and holy walk with Him. One needs
to be always ready here, for it is a death-stricken scene.
My comfort in my work is, ‘ He shall see of the travail of
his soul, and shall be satisfied.’ Come, Lord Jesus : come
quickly. Amen.”

Mr. Matheson was not slow in seeking out men of his own
spirit in the army. His first acquaintance was Hector Mac-
pherson, drum-major, 93rd Highlanders, a soldier both of
his country and of the cross, of whom our missionary used
to tell the following story:—One day a chaplain, newly
arrived, called on the sergeant, and asked his advice as to
the best method of conducting his work. “ Come with
me,” said Hector, “ to the hill­top. Now, look around you.
See yonder the pickets of Liprandr’s army. See yon bat­
teries on the right, and the men at the guns. Mark yon
trains of ammunition. Hear the roar of that cannon.
Look where you may, it is all earnest here. There is not a
man but feels it is a death struggle. If we don’t conquer
the Russians, the Russians will conquer us. We are all in
earnest, sir; we are not playing at soldiers here. If you
would do good you must be in earnest too. An earnest



man will always win his way.” Such was the advice of
Queen Victoria‘s servant to the servant of Jesus Christ.

Hector and Duncan on the first Sabbath after the arrival
of the latter retired to a ravine, and there amid the deafen­
ing roar of cannon, which the missionary thought was
always worse on the Lord’s day, they read, and prayed, and
sang together the old battle-song of David and Luther :

“ God is our refuge and our strength,
In straits a present aid;
Therefore, although the earth remove,
We will not be afraid.”

Here making intercession for their friends at home, for
their country, and for the army, they found a Bethel; and
for a moment almost forgot that they were in the presence
of one of the greatest woes of earth. “ Thus we had many
a pleasant hour together,” says our missionary; “ and the
only strife we ever had was about the soldiers’ scanty meal
which we divided between us, each insisting that the other
should have the larger share. Our watchword, without which
we never met or parted, was ‘The Lord reigneth.’”

Mr. H. Macpherson, writing of his friend says, “ Our
first interview took place on a ridge within the entrench­
ments of the 93rd Highlanders, which ran along the north
side of the plain of Balaklava, opposite the harbour, and
about a mile from the village, and which formed the key of
the base of the siege operations of the British army. I was
standing watching the movements of the Russian forces,
who appeared as if designing to threaten our position, when
I noticed a stranger in the attire of a civilian approaching,
who from his clean white breast and respectable dress, con­
trasting with our rags, I concluded was a minister or lay-
missionary, newly arrived. This supposition led me to
resolve on exercising caution as to committing myself to
him, feeling that unless he was a man of God, and had
thoroughly counted the cost, resolving in dependence on
promised grace to throw his whole soul into the work, he
would neither gain the attention nor win the heart’s affec­
tion of British soldiers; for carrying their life in their hand,
they are above every class of men prejudiced against and
opposed to mere official piety and ecclesiastical hirelingism.
As these thoughts were passing through my mind, the



stranger advanced, and in his own unreservedly frank and
manly way introduced himself, saying with real feeling,
‘Oh, Hector, man, I am glad to see you. How are you?’
Suspicions quickly vanished, and I feel grateful to the
Disposer of every event that in the thick of deadly strife on
the plain of Balaklava, I first met Duncan Matheson, who
became my fond, fast friend for life. The report I had
received from a worthy minister of the gospel in Scotland,
of Mr. Matheson’s character, I found to be in no degree
exaggerated, and I reckon it one of my most highly-prized
privileges on earth that ever I became acquainted with such
a man. Since that day many a happy and profitable hour
have I spent in his company; and it has been my rare
privilege to be associated with him in evangelistic labours
in many towns, villages, and rural parishes of Scotland. I
could not fail to respect him for his great ability; I admired
his sterling worth; his unwearied, self-denying devotedness
in the cause and service of God, his manly frankness and
unflinching courage, and his large-hearted sympathy with
distress, all tended to endear him to me in the bonds of
closest friendship. Never had the British soldier a more
true, loving, and devoted friend than Duncan Matheson. I
believe there is not a British soldier now alive, who served
in the Crimea, but would heartily subscribe to my testimony
in his favour; for all, both officers and men, knew, and
loved, and respected him. As to the fruit of his labours in
the Crimea, the day of God will declare. My own convic­
tion is that he laboured more abundantly, and accomplished
more real good among the troops, than all the others, with
the exception of the Rev. J. W. Hayward, a noble minister
of the Church of England, who devoted his time, his talents,
and his fortune, to the promotion of the temporal and
spiritual benefit of the soldier. With this zealous and
faithful servant of Christ, Mr. Matheson was most intimately
associated; they were daily together, and went hand in hand
in all labours of love.

“Happening to mention to my friend, just after we made
each other’s acquaintance, that the first clause of the first
verse of the 93rd Psalm had been a comfort to my soul,
Mr. Matheson, feeling the power of the truth in his own
heart, and realising its appropriateness in the circumstances



in which we were placed, seized it as a watchword; and
ever after, wherever and whenever we met, ‘ The Lord
reigneth’ became the pass­word between us.

“ Wherever I met my dear friend I was sure to find him,
like his Master, going about doing good; sometimes laden
with Bibles, sometimes with tracts and other suitable books,
and seldom without some temporal comforts for the sick
and wounded. Many of the sick, wounded, and worn-out
soldiers, was he the means of relieving, and who, but for
his devoted, kind, and sympathising efforts, would have
sunk into the cold embrace of death. He was the trusted
friend of all, French, Turks, and Italians, as well as his own
countrymen. Soldiers of every grade and nationality looked
on him as their special friend. How he managed to pro­
cure in a time of famine so many comforts for the starving
soldiers was a mystery; but none knew better than he,
‘Where there is a will there is a way.’ His tact and
genial frankness made him a favourite with the captains
of the mercantile steamers employed by the Government,
some of whom were truly Christian men. By the graphic
and touching descriptions of the destitution and sufferings
of the soldiers in the entrenchments, backed by his own
evident sympathy, he reached the warm hearts of the
seamen; and the never-failing result was a thorough search­
ing of the vessels for everything that could be spared for
the benefit of the suffering soldiers.

“ Entering the encampment of the 93rd Highlanders one
icy cold winter day, he observed our destitution of fuel
either to cook our rations or warm our persons. The great
majority of us were clothed in rags; some without shoes;
others without a cap to cover their heads from the pelting
of the pitiless storm; and some of us with more mud than
clothing attached to our bodies. After a few words of
loving sympathy he said, ‘ Hector, I must try and help
you.’ But what could he do in such a case ? Why, next
day he returned, and informed me that he had made an
effort and succeeded in procuring several tons of coals from
the different steamers in the harbour of Balaklava, which
were conveyed to the camp as soon as possible. This is
one instalment of many noble acts of kindness done to the
sufferers in that terrible winter. For the relief of the men


who were exposed not only to the hail of the enemy’s fire,
but to the fierce blasts of winter, almost without a rag to
cover them, he laboured incessantly and unweariedly, until
his gigantic efforts broke his constitution down.

“ But what he chiefly aimed at was the spiritual and eternal
welfare of his fellow-men. The soldiers understood this;
and whenever he spoke to them of salvation they listened
with respectful attention. They knew he was no mere
official hireling, but a man who loved their souls; and not
a few through his instrumentality, by God‘s almighty and
distinguishing grace, have been prevented from going down
to an unblest eternity. In his love to souls he forgot him­
self. Often have I had to make a cup of coffee to relieve
his fainting frame, after a weary day’s tramping through
the mud, laden with provisions for the benefit of others
whom he deemed in more absolute need than himself. A
more unselfish man I never knew. With the exception of
the late Rev. W. C. Burns, I never knew one so entirely
devoted to the good of others. The amount of mental and
physical labour he went through in the Crimea was truly
marvellous, and was enough to break down the most robust
constitution. However wet or cold, or however violent
the storm, he was always on the move, and always with
a special and important purpose. On one of the most
tempestuous and piercingly cold nights I ever experienced
in the Crimea my regiment received orders to move eight
or ten miles to the south of our entrenched position, under
cover of the darkness of the night, to dislodge a body of the
enemy from a threatening position they held under the
covert of a high ridge. We were absent till mid­day fol­
lowing. Matheson was informed of this expedition, and
such was his sympathy with others, that although, had he
chosen to consult his own ease and comfort, he could have
secured protection from the inclemency of the weather, he
remained exposed in our original position until our return.
I shall never forget the joy he manifested when he saw us
all safely return without a single casualty, with the exception
of some of the men’s ears having been bit by the frosty

“Mr. Matheson was well fitted by personal experience,
and much owned by God, in encouraging, comforting, and


strengthening the Christian soldier in the Crimea, both
officers and men. It was a special evidence of his own
living Christianity that he was a sincere lover of all in
whose spirit, temper, and deportment he could discover the
impress of Christ‘s image, without distinction as to sect or

For a time he lodged on board ship; afterwards he took
up his abode on shore. There he found a wretched lodg­
ing in an old stable, of which he took possession with right
good cheer, remembering that his Master was born and
cradled in as mean a place. It was too well ventilated, for
the fierce wind blew in at a hundred crevices in wall and
roof, and often as it whistled through the crannies overhead
it seemed to mock the shivering missionary. In an unoc­
cupied corner he erected a rude and comfortless bed, on
which at the close of each day’s overwhelming labour he
laid him down to rest, but more frequently to pray than sleep.
To increase his discomfort the stable was infested with rats,
and not a night passed but whole armies invaded his couch
and rendered him sleepless and miserable. But “ necessity is
the mother of invention ;" our missionary, whose wits often
began where other people’s end, found means of relief.
Amongst the stores lying in one end of the stable he dis­
covered an immense quantity of lucifer matches, which the
British Commissariat in its wisdom had laid up here. Tak­
ing a large supply to his bedside our Scripture-reader drops
asleep with a box in one hand and a bundle of matches
in the other. By and by, in the silence and under cover
of night, the hungry Russian hordes stealthily issue from
their entrenchments, and attack the person of the hapless
foreigner. The not unexpected sortie awakens the slumber­
ing Scotchman, who instantly fires his rare artillery; and
amidst the horrid noise, the phosphorescent blaze, and the
sulphureous stench, enough to put the Cossacks to flight, the
enemy scamper off in all directions, leaving the missionary,
for the present, master of the field.

Yet in this rude dwelling he was contented and thankful;
and even feared it was too good to last long. “ My room,’’
he says, “is quite a sight. I have paper for glass in the
windows; in some of them not even that. My furniture
consists of a bed, which also serves for a chair, a Russian

62                   DAILY LIFE IN THE CRIMEA.

chest of drawers, and the hay for Mr. W------’s cow. A

jelly jar, a brown earthen basin, and a Turkish jar are my
dishes. I have a sort of lamp for making my coffee. My
pocket knife cuts my bread, and it also serves for eating my
egg with ; a stick serves as a spoon to stir the sugar with; and
a bottle serves for a candlestick. I rise early, light my lamp,
make my coffee, clean my boots, sweep my room with a few
Turkish feathers, and I can tell you I was never happier in
my life. I have a perfect palace, and I have decorated
the walls with copies of the ‘ Illustrated London News. ’
I fear it is too good to last, but it is in the Lord‘s hand. How
contented I feel with all, and how well it is that I learned
when young to help myself. I am happy as a king, yea ten
thousand­fold more so than one without grace.’’

From his journals and letters it is not difficult to form
some conception of his daily life in the Crimea. Rising
early he prepares his breakfast, and seeks refreshment to his
spirit in meditation and prayer. Whilst he intercedes for
all, the Sardinian army lies upon his heart like a prophet’s
burden. Having thus renewed his strength, he carefully
selects tracts and books for distribution. His next step is
to visit the harbour, where his loud, hearty voice wakens the
echoes in many a bluff, kind response on board ship.
Humour and pathos are keys to open the heart of Jack,
and the missionary is master of both. A sick soldier is in
the crisis of disease, and he succeeds in procuring some
delicacy for the prostrate warrior. Another whom he met
the day before suffers from a threatening cough; an old
woollen shirt may save the poor fellow’s life. Away he goes
with his cargo of stores, temporal and spiritual, and trudges
through unfathomable mud till he reaches the camp. In the
hospitals he ministers to the sick and wounded with the
skill and tenderness of a woman; and when by gentle
touches of humanity he has smoothed the sufferer’s pillow,
he tries to point to Jesus, and allure to heaven.

As he passes through the camp he hails everybody, and
is hailed in turn; for his is the peculiar gift of knowing
everyone, and making himself known to all. Now you
hear him talking in his broadest Doric to some countryman,
and anon he is jabbering in broken French or Italian. Under
cover of a cool, easy, off-hand exterior he conceals an

IN THE MARKET.                                63

intense desire to say some good, strong thing bearing on
eternity; and rarely is the opportunity missed of making the
home-thrust right under the fifth rib. Sometimes he is
repulsed, but he knows conscience is on his side. Some­
times he is answered with a smile, and “ Ah, sir, that is all
very well, but it won‘t do here.” This is a good opening for
the missionary’s heaviest shot. “ But death is here, and how
are you going to meet God ?’’ Occasionally he is met with
a raking fire of profanity, and is put to grief and silence.
He tries all his keys into the locked heart. Perhaps the
man was once at the Sabbath-school; perhaps he has a
mother, the traces of whose love even sin can hardly
obliterate. He finds an opening at length, and the man
who met him with swearing and laughter goes away in
tears. Onward amidst the tents the missionary holds his
way, a strong sower scattering good wheat upon the waters,
—the folly of reason, and the wisdom of faith. Sometimes
his heart faints within him; but he quickly renews his
strength in fellowship with some one of his godly friends.

After a hard day’s work he makes his way to the market
at Kadi Keni, to “ forage" for dinner. Here too he often
does some business for his Master. Frequently, indeed, he
stands for hours amidst a crowd gathered out of many
nations, and endeavours to find an entrance for the word of
life. On returning home, he cooks his meal only to find
that his appetite is gone. But dinner or no dinner his day‘s
work is not yet done.

The last hours of the day are spent in writing his journal,
and in attending to a vast correspondence by letter. Many
write him from all parts of the three kingdoms, inquiring
about their relatives and friends in the army. Not one
scrap is neglected, and an answer is duly sent. Com­
missioned by the sick and wounded, he writes on their
behalf to wife, or mother, or sister, or affianced one, far
away. Besides all that he must prepare his quarterly report,
and not forget the claims upon his pen of his numerous
friends, whilst the public ear must be gratified by stirring
letters in the newspapers and religious periodicals. His
writing is not done in an easy chair and slippers; it is
subject to frequent interruption by visitors from the allied
camps, for whom the old stable begins to have rare attrac-



tions. Be he soldier or navvy, Sardinian or Turk, officer or
man, the missionary is at his visitor‘s service. The pen is
laid aside for the employment of his most effective weapon,
—frank, genial, copious, and forcible speech. His words
are often quaint in the extreme, but they are as nails
fastened in a sure place. The oddity of his sayings may
provoke a smile; but he is a wise fisher of men, and knows
how to bait his hooks.

Such then is his daily life in the Crimea ; and ere the last
sand of the glass has seen him rise from his knees to creep
into his corner for the night, it is no more than truth to say
that the work of two days has been pressed into one.

A few extracts from his published journals may be here
given :

“ April 10th. At Sebastopol. A sheet of fire as it were
encircled it; the engines of death poured forth their deadly
volleys,—the sun shone forth brightly, marking forth each
embrasure in bold relief in the devoted city. It was a
trying sight, and finding no opportunities of usefulness,
owing to the excitement prevalent, I retired early to my
quarters, anxious that the day might soon arrive when the
alarm of war should be heard no more, and the din of battle
be for ever hushed.

“April 14th. Took farewell of the Hospital Ship, where
for nine weeks I had been living. My work on board was
pleasant and painful—far more pleasant than painful; for I
sought to know amongst them nothing else ‘save Jesus
Christ, and Him crucified.’ I had spoken to many of them
about their souls—had prayed by their sick beds, and given
them many tracts, and the result of all the judgment of the
great day shall bring to light. May it be found that the
arrow of conviction had reached some heart, and that souls
there had been ‘born again to God.’

“April 16th. On board Transport No. ------to visit the

soldiers invalided for England. Many a poor sick man
seemed to revive at the prospect of once again meeting
those he loved in his native land. The scene could not be
described; it was pleasure mingling with pain; they were
going home, yet leaving many friends behind. They had
high hopes, yet many fears. I had known most of them
during the winter, and the most devoted of all my friends



and the best loved was amongst them. Gladly was I wel­
comed each day I went on board ere they started, and the
supply of tracts given for the voyage was highly valued. To
each I gave a Testament for reading on the voyage, the gift

of Colonel L------, and had, to remind them of the Crimea,

to write my name in each. I parted with them with much
sorrow, which I believe was mutual. As I saw the vessel
leave the harbour a tumult of feelings filled my heart. These
veteran sick soldiers were leaving the land where they had
known so many trials—met so many difficulties—seen such
deadly work. I could only commend them to the care of
Him who holdeth the winds in the hollow of his hand, and
who could guide them safely to their own fatherland.

“April 18th. I am distributing tracts on the wharf—met
a soldier who had been long confined to hospital. I had
met him before, and had gained his confidence. He asked
me to go aside and talk with him. I did so, and his first
inquiry was for a Bible : he said he had never read it, or
had one to read, being deeply opposed to it, now he felt
the need of reading it for himself. I had much conversation
with him about the need of spiritual religion, and com­
mending the Lord Jesus to him and giving him my last
Bible, bade him for the present farewell, as he had to go to
his battery on the following day.

“ April 20th. Spent the afternoon with Colonel------,

sick on board ship. Rarely, if ever, have I spent such a
hallowing hour. He told me much of the Lord’s kind
dealings with him, and the marvellous way He had led him
since called by his Spirit to be a partaker of the glorious
gospel of the ever-blessed God. He has done much for the
spiritual welfare of his men, and returns to England beloved
by all, yet his loss is deeply regretted. Before leaving he
made me a present of several copies of the Scriptures in all
the languages of the East, and a goodly number of English
and French Testaments.

“April 22 nd. In the evening with the Rev. Mr. G------,

railway chaplain ; held open-air service; the attendance was
good, most being soldiers. It was sweet to sing songs of
praise on the outskirts of Balaklava, and pleasant to hear
the voice of prayer amidst the round of oaths and blasphemy
from the huts around.




“In the front, at ------ battery, met one of the most

pleasing trophies of grace it has been my privilege to wit­
ness, in the case of bombardier------. Truly the meeting

was a joyous one to both. He has charge of the hospital
attached to the battery, and every good influence he brings
to bear on the invalids. It has been his custom, in case he
should be taken prisoner, to carry his Bible in his breast
with him to the trenches or on the march—as he remarked,
‘ if taken prisoner he should at least have one to speak to
him.’ Yes, and I believe he hears and follows the voice as
few, very few soldiers are found to do. We walked long
together, and next day he visited me, and we had prayer
and reading the Word. A pleasing trait in his character is,
he supports an aged father in the Highlands of Scotland,
and that very day gave me seven sovereigns to transmit for

“ A Russian officer, taken prisoner a few days ago, called
on me, and through an interpreter asked for a Bible. I pre­
sented him with one, for which he seemed very grateful.
An opportunity of giving the Russian Testaments now and
then presents itself, and it is embraced.

“ April 29th. A good few were wounded last night in the
trenches by a sortie made from Sebastopol. They were
brought to hospital to­day, and to those not seriously hurt
I gave a Testament. Poor fellows ! they seemed much
softened and melted. I was, and have often been, much
struck by their calm endurance of pain, and their unwaver­
ing fortitude.

“ A corporal of artillery called on me for tracts and books,
for himself and a few comrades attached to the siege-train.
They have not the same time many others have, and it
was the more pleasing to see their desire for reading.

“ Visited Main Guard, and presented each soldier on
guard with a Bible. I found confined a soldier trans­
ported for life. In a fit of intoxication he had seized a
musket and fired it, wounding a man. I spoke kindly to
him of his condition as a sinner in the sight of a holy God,
and tried to open up the heart-cheering, soul-comforting,
soul-saving truth—‘ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all
acception, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners—even the chief:‘ the strong man was unmanned

A VICTIM OF CHOLERA.                         67

and bowed to the dust. It seemed deeply to touch his
heart—the message of mercy carried to him, and the kind­
ness in visiting him. I presented him with a Bible, which
in his solitary confinement he promised to read, and took
farewell of him, to see him no more on earth—in the earnest
hope that he might yet be a trophy of redeeming love—a
diadem in Immanuel’s crown, in the day when He maketh
up his jewels. It seemed on leaving as if I could sing with
a joyous heart :

“ ‘ There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.’

“ Presenting a Testament to a sailor, he said, ‘It/s of no
use to offer me that; I hate my work and everything else;
my life is a torment to me; and, alas, it’s all one thing.’
Argued with him, if this was so bad a world, would it not
be wiser to seek a better one to come ? and urged on him
the necessity of doing so. He took the Testament with the
promise of reading it.

“ Visited by Quarter­master-sergeant. We spent the after­
noon together in reading and prayer.

“ Attended and took part with the Rev. G. G------, at the

funeral of a man killed by accident ; it was a heart-touching
scene. In the evening, just as the sun had sunk, we moved
beyond the lines ; the grave was already made, and the
busy hum of voices could be distinctly heard in the camp.
As we stood in prayer around the grave, the gentle breeze
bore the sound of the cannonade distinctly towards us. The
company gathered were select and numerous, and I believe
every one felt as we stood by the open grave, we were in
the midst of strangers—far from home, friends, and country.
As the address proceeded, marked impressions were made,
and I believe I am right in saying, the Lord was with us of
a truth.

“ Visited by a sergeant of the------at three o’clock p.m.,

and by ten he was dead. Whilst with me I could see
symptoms of cholera on his countenance, but little, ah, little
did I think, when speaking to him, he would be so soon
in eternity. This terrible scourge has again broken out in
our army. We are surrounded on all hands by death and

f 2

6S                            A FRIEND IN NEED.

disease, and life is felt to be most uncertain. How solemn
to see the mighty mass hurrying to the grave—how solem­
nizing to see such crowds marching to eternity. Even
during my stay in this land I can look back and see tents
re-crowded, but not by those I had known; ranks filled,
but not by those to whom once and again it had been
my privilege to address the gospel message of salvation.
Thousands have passed away, as the leaves in autumn or
the snow-flakes before the sun. Often when sinking at
heart, have I wished I could cry in the ears of God-taught
souls at home, ‘ What meaneth thy sleep ? Are you girding
yourselves for the conflict ? Are you wrestling with the God
of Jacob and prevailing?’ Ay, and it has come with deeper
force, as I have seen the Lord during the last few months
gathering home his children from the army, and leaving it
well-nigh forsaken of those who fear his name.

“ All things at present speak loudly, and urge to instant,
deep, believing, persevering prayer for the descent of the
Holy Ghost, that waters may break out in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert:—

"‘ Then shall the earth yield her increase;
God, our God, bless us shall.
God shall us bless ; and of the earth,
The ends shall fear Him all.’”

In Mr. Hayward, an English chaplain and devoted
minister of Christ, he found a true friend. In all his
troubles Mr. Hayward came to his help. When about to
be evicted from his humble dwelling, the good chaplain
interfered, and he was allowed to remain. When the priest
at Balaklava attempted to stop the distribution 01 tracts,
his faithful friend withstood the priest, and the work went
on. They laboured much together. Laden with material
and spiritual comforts, they often sallied forth in company
to visit the sick, the wounded, and the dying. Sometimes
they did their cooking together, the Rev. chaplain trying his
culinary skill in making a pudding of biscuit, while the lay
missionary washed a few potatoes which he had been for­
tunate enough to procure about the ships. At every juncture
in the war they retired to a lonely spot to pray; and never
could Matheson forget the impression made upon his heart
when as they knelt Hayward would raise his noble counte-



nance toward heaven, and amidst the thunder of the cannon
plead with a voice full of emotion, “Lord, prepare those that
are appointed to die.” They organised a service in which,
besides prayer, praise, and preaching, Hayward introduced
the practice of reading all round. This gave additional
interest to the meeting; and it was pleasing to see a General
and a navvy reading each his verse in turn. The devoted
chaplain spent his private means in promoting the good of
the soldiers. At length, exhausted by his great labours, he
fell ill, and was obliged to leave. In his last sermon—a
memorable one—he told his audience he had changed his
mind in regard to the apostolical succession; he now be­
lieved that all who brought souls to Jesus were of the true
apostolical succession. His friend, our Scripture-reader,
assisted in conveying him on board ship, and they laid him
gently down upon the quarter deck beside other sick ones,
to whom the afflicted chaplain began to speak of Christ.
There Matheson and Hayward parted, with such pangs of
sorrow as large and true hearts only feel. The two faithful
soldiers of the cross now worship and serve where the din
of war is hushed for ever, and the weary are at rest.

Sad were the sights witnessed by the Scripture-reader
every day. Hundreds of sick and wounded were brought
down to Balaklava,—famished, emaciated, clothed in rags,
many a noble form, a total wreck from lack of timely aid.
He wept at the sight. The sufferers fixed their eyes on him in
touching appeal, and many uttered a piercing cry for water.
He did what he could. Some of them he saw die on the
wharf. On board many lay huddled together under the
open hatchway. Some lay on bags of biscuit—anywhere,
anywhere in the hurry and helplessness. “Scotland I'll
never see again,” was the heart-piercing lament of a poor
Scotch soldier laddie. Ah, no ! Poor boy, he never did
see Scotland again. A Lincolnshire lad whom he sought
and found was unable to speak a word. “Your mother
bade me seek you,” said the missionary. At this word
the dying soldier suddenly revived, and exclaimed, “ My
mother ! 0 my mother!“ It was the last flicker of the
candle. He said no more, and died. The last tender
throb of his heart was given to her who had known its
first gentle beat.

70                    BURIAL OF DEAD TRACTS.

Suffering does not necessarily soften and refine. Feelings
and affections are tender plants : unless care is taken, rough
winds blight and kill them. A heart-hardening process in
the army was only too apparent. One day the missionary,
marking the conduct of a burying party who had cast the
dead into a pit with no ordinary levity, admonished them
with much feeling and impressiveness. A party of soldiers
was one fine day seen playing at cards in the trenches. A
shot laid one of them low. Instantly they rose, and carrying
the dead man away, returned in a few minutes and resumed
the game. Despite all this callousness of heart, the mis­
sionary often succeeded in making an impression even to
tears. In particular, he knew how to reach the hearts of
his countrymen, and not seldom did he unseal the fountains
of emotion by an allusion to Auld Scotland, the scenes
of boyhood, the parish school, a question in the Shorter
Catechism, or the 23rd Psalm, “ The Lord’s my Shepherd;
I'll not want,” learned at a mother‘s knee.

He was very careful in respect of the matter contained in
the tracts he put into circulation. By whomsoever issued he
cared not, provided only they contained the truth as it is
in Jesus. A great heap of Popish trash, full of Mariolatry,
coming into his possession, he was at a loss how to dispose
of them. By the help of a party of soldiers, he dug a deep
trench. “ There,” he says, “ we gave them decent burial;’’
adding with grim humour, “ We read no burial service over
them, and dropped no tears; but quietly said in our hearts,
‘ Let the memory of the wicked rot.’ Such was the burial
of dead tracts. Another heap, “ all about schism, and not
at all about Christ,” he thrust into a Russian furnace, at
which he and a friend warmed their toes. In all conscience
they knew enough already about schism in the Crimea ;
what they needed was union with Christ and peace. A
third parcel of rubbish he took out in a boat, and cast the
dangerous lies into the sea. “ We put poison out of the way
of children,” says he. This, verily, was soldier­like work.

One night, weary and sad, he was returning from Sebas-
topol to his poor lodgings in the old stable at Balaklava.
He had laboured all day with unflagging energy, and now his
strength was gone. He was sickened with the sights he had
seen, and was depressed with the thought that the siege


was no nearer an end than ever. As he trudged along in
the mud knee-deep, he happened to look up and noticed
the stars shining calmly in the clear sky. Instinctively his
weary heart mounted heavenward in sweet thoughts of the
“rest that remaineth for the people of God,” and he began
to sing aloud the well-known scriptural verses :

“ How bright these glorious spirits shine !
Whence all their white array ?
How came they to the blissful seats
Of everlasting day ?

Lo ! these are they from sufferings great,
Who came to realms of light,
And in the blood of Christ have washed
Those robes which shine so bright. “

Next day was wet and stormy, and when he went out to
see what course to take, he came upon a soldier standing
for shelter below the verandah of an old house. The poor
fellow was in rags, and all that remained of shoes upon his
feet were utterly insufficient to keep his naked toes from
the mud. Altogether he looked miserable enough. The
kind-hearted missionary spoke words of encouragement to
the soldier, and gave him at the same time half-a-sovereign
with which to purchase shoes, suggesting that he might be
supplied by those who were burying the dead. The soldier
offered his warmest thanks, and then said, “ I am not what
I was yesterday. Last night, as I was thinking of our miser­
able condition, I grew tired of life, and said to myself, Here
we are not a bit nearer taking that place than when we sat
down before it. I can bear this no longer, and may as well
try and put an end to it. So I took my musket and went
down yonder in a desperate state about eleven o’clock; but
as I got round the point, I heard some person singing,
• How bright these glorious spirits shine,’ and I remembered
the old tune and the Sabbath-school where we used to sing
it. I felt ashamed of being so cowardly, and said, Here is
some one as badly ofr as myself, and yet he is not giving in.
I felt he had something to make him happy of which I was
ignorant, and I began to hope I too might get the same
happiness. I returned to my tent, and to­day I am resolved
to seek the one thing.” “ Do you know who the singer
was?” asked the missionary. “No,” was the reply. “Well,”



said the other, “it was I;" on which the tears rushed into
the soldier’s eyes, and he requested the Scripture-reader to
take back the half-sovereign, saying, “Never, sir, can I take
it from you, after what you have been the means of doing
for me.”

He says he did not find many real Christians in the army.
There were a few stars of the first magnitude, and they
shone conspicuous in so dark a sky. Our lay missionary
was not long in discovering those who feared the Lord;
and he found in them true friends. The first time he
entered the tent of Capt. Hedley Vicars, he observed that
although the officer was absent at the time, his Bible lay
open upon a sort of table made of an old box. Thus the
godly Vicars showed his colours, the open Bible intimating
to all who entered on what terms they might have his fel­
lowship. “His manliness and whole-heartedness,” says
Mr. Matheson, “ struck you at once. There was nothing
morose or gloomy about him ; nothing to repel. He re­
tained the freshness of boyhood with wisdom above his
years. At our first meeting my heart was glued to him at
once.” In his journal he writes : “ March 19th. At Sebas-
topol. Met with Dr. Cay and Major Ingram in Vicars’
tent. We had prayer and reading the Word together. It
was to us all a well in the desert, a bright spot amidst
surrounding gloom. We blessed God on hearing that a
day of national humiliation and prayer was appointed. Cay
and Vicars accompanied me on my way. After Cay left us,
Vicars and I stood on the plateau above Sebastopol, the
doomed city as it was often called lying in its beauty before
us. The sky was without a cloud : the sea was as calm as
a pond. It was on one of those sweet evenings you never
can forget. Our conversation was on the purity, blessed­
ness, and endless peace of heaven, where the din of battle
shall never be heard, nor the strifes of earth be known.
We expressed to one another much longing to reach it.
Speaking of some who had gone, we remembered Peden at
the grave of Cameron exclaiming, ‘ O to be wi’ Ritchie !
and our feeling was the same. We could hardly part. He
agreed to meet and spend a day with me at Balaklava.”

On the day fixed for the meeting Hedley Vicars was
taken home to his God. Matheson was overwhelmed with



grief, and could only exclaim, “ Dear, dear Vicars !“ As
he stood beside the grave on the day of burial he felt in his
inmost heart as if “another link had been snapped on earth,
and another bond formed in heaven.”

One of his best friends was Bombardier M’L., a warm-
hearted Highlander and a Christian. Just as the alarm was
sounded and the men were called to arms, Mr. Matheson
on entering the Bombardier‘s tent found him buckling himself
for the fight and putting his Bible into his bosom, saying,
“ If I fall, it will be there : and if I am taken prisoner, it
will speak to me, and I can never be weary with such a
companion.” One day when they had retired to a quiet
spot for prayer and reading of the Word of God, a shell
dropped at their feet. On this they went a little further off;
but again the exercises were disturbed by another terrible
invader which fell beside them, shaking the very ground
beneath them. “ Never mind,” said the soldier, “ it is only
the devil trying to spoil our enjoyment : let us go on.”
They had just resumed when whiz, whiz; with a loud fall a
thirty-two pound shot lay beside them. The missionary
was alarmed, but the soldier calmed his fear by quietly

“Not a shaft can hit
Till the God of love sees fit.”

This brave man, Matheson used to tell, once stood alone
by his gun in the midst of an assailing Russian host, and in
a hand-to-hand encounter maintained his ground till the
enemy was driven back, one of the Russians with whom he
grappled falling dead at his feet.

The missionary, peaceful though his part of the business
was, occasionally experienced danger, and had his narrow
escapes. One day, when conversing with a godly officer in
a retired spot, the latter said, “ We have been long enough
here, let us move away.” No sooner had they removed
than a 13-inch shell dropped and burst on the very spot
where they had been standing. “ God had cared for us,” he
says, “ and we were safe.”

“At Sebastopol during the unsuccessful attack on the
Mamelon. It was a fearful night. Thousands were hurried
into eternity, and yet our soldiers marched cheering to the
trenches, and seemed totally unconcerned. The mail had

74                   GOING TO THE SLAUGHTER.

arrived just ere they marched, and you could see them
reading the letters from home. Two hours after, they were
dead or dying. There seemed to reign an utter recklessness
of life, and I could hear the wild oaths as they marched
bandied about in the ranks. I had an opportunity of speak­
ing a few words to some of them, and during part of the
night remained with the outlying sentries, in one of whom
I felt special interest. At midnight went to the tent of

Bombardier------, and had prayer with him. In the morning

all was calm, save now and then shot from some heavy gun,
and the wounded were carried away in great numbers. It
is in such scenes as these one can truly appreciate the reign
of righteousness yet to arise on this benighted world, and
long and pray for its speedy advent.”

One day, 17th June, we find him speaking about the
“one thing needful” to “a large draft for the Rifles, mostly
boys,” newly arrived. On landing they are drawn up and
ranged, before “marching to the front;” and as he slips out
and in among them, giving them Testaments and speaking
in his own hearty, affectionate way about home, and battle,
and death, and eternity, he is pleased to mark unwonted
signs of emotion, and remarks that “it seemed as if their
hearts had got tender when brought so near the seat of
conflict.” These boys were going to be butchered on the
morrow at the Redan. “Next day,” he adds, “I was at
Sebastopol, and some of these very men were carried past
wounded, whilst others had been killed in the fight.”

“Attended and took part in the meeting, specially with
reference to the expected assault on the morrow. The
worthy chaplain’s address was most solemn, affecting, and
impressive. It was indeed a night of deepest feeling, and
much of the Lord’s presence was enjoyed.”

In reference to the disastrous attack on the Redan, he
writes in his Journal:—“June 18th. Early in the morning
went to Sebastopol. I trust higher and holier motives than
those of mere curiosity led me. Was eye-witness to all the
proceedings of the fatal morning. It produced feelings that
cannot be expressed; to hear and see the deadly conflict,
and be witness to the dead and dying carried past, enduring
their sufferings with calm fortitude and unmurmuring silence.
Spoke words of kindness to a few; and sought, as able, to

sailors and navvies.


tell others the lesson to be learned, viz., to seek the Lord,
who only could grant victory, and put no confidence in an
arm of flesh. When the fury of the storm had passed,
and something of a depressing calm was felt, looked in at

------Hospital, but could not stand the sight. Some had

limbs amputated; others hands off; and many were suffer­
ing from unextracted bullets. There are events in every
man’s history he can hardly forget, and through grace, I
should like to retain the many lessons taught me on the
18th of June, before Sebastopol.”

He was well received by the sailors in the harbour of
Balaklava. When not admitted on board he left a parcel
of carefully selected tracts to be distributed among the men.
One day a soldier refusing a tract, a sailor with the wonted
frankness and good humour of Jack stepped up and said,
“ If he won’t, I will,” adding for the encouragement of the
missionary, “ Thank ye, sir; I like a good yarn.” Captain

T------, master of a transport, used to hoist the Bethel flag

on his ship, and Matheson held service on board.

He was also called to minister to the navvies of the Army
Works Corps, among whom cholera had broken out. As
early as five in the morning he was astir with his Bible and
his medicine. His counsel and aid were in great demand,
for the navvies had taken it into their heads that no medi­
cines were so effective as his. Something, no doubt, was due
to “the effectual fervent prayer” which “availeth much.”
This opportunity of usefulness was seized with his usual
promptitude and good sense; but the work sometimes
proved more than even his strong frame could bear.

Mr. Gymgell, chaplain of the Army Works Corps, being
taken ill of cholera, our missionary watched him till he died.
Through the long weary hours of his last night on earth,
Matheson sat by his bedside ministering to him, till at
length, as it drew towards the dawn, the faithful chaplain,
breathing out faith and hope, peacefully fell asleep in
Jesus. On the Scripture-reader devolved the last offices
of friendship, and keen were his feelings in transmitting
the sad tidings to the widow and children far away. Just
as the sun was setting they buried him in a quiet spot
near the grave of Admiral Boxer, and Matheson addressed
all those present with more than ordinary impressiveness

76                 ILLNESS—TRIP TO TREBIZOND.

and power. He felt as if the disease had fastened on him­
self, and he spoke with the light of a near eternity in his

Utterly prostrate, he reeled home to the old stable, and
crept into his comfortless bed, where he lay sick, helpless,
and alone for three days and three nights. Growing worse
hour by hour, he was at length no longer able to rise for
his only comfort—a drink of water; and despairing of life
he turned his face to the wall to die. This the hour of his
extremity was God’s opportunity. The Lord sent an angel
to minister to him in the person of Mr. Medley, a gentle­
man in the Commissariat, who had formerly been a London
City - missionary. Happening to come to the door, he
discovered the forlorn condition of the Scripture-reader,
ran to his relief, and never left him till he began to recover.
“ It was the sound of Mr. Medley’s voice singing psalms,”
said our missionary, “ that first brought me to myself, and
from that moment I began to get better.”

For the benefit of his health he took a trip to Trebizond,
of which he speaks in a letter to his sister. “ I wrote you
that I was going to Trebizond. I did go, and was absent a
week. I cannot tell you how much better I was for the trip.
It was in the ‘ City of Aberdeen ’ I went, and the passage
was beautiful. It would be impossible for me to describe
the beauty of Trebizond and the adjacent country. I
hardly thought such gorgeous scenery was to be seen on
earth. Should I be spared to return I may be able to con­
vey some idea of it to you. I was most taken up about its
spiritual condition, which is sad in the extreme. Of 60,000
inhabitants there is only one Englishman, the British Con­
sul. The Americans have a missionary there doing a good
work ; but as he had gone to Constantinople I did not see
him. I left a letter for him and some books. Some of the
converes I saw and was much pleased with them. I felt, 0
how deeply ! the want of knowing their language; for as I
walked through the city given up to idolatry, I wished I
had been able to preach ‘ Christ and Him crucified.’ The
sight of so many thousands believing a lie gives one an
interest in missions such as many speeches could not give.
The Turks in Trebizond I found to be most inveterate
against Christianity ; but their days are numbered. . . .

THE SARDINIAN ARMY.                       77

Although only a week absent I had many friends wearying
for me, and once again I was glad to see them and enter on
my work. All friends here, however, must be held very
loosely, for they soon remove, or are taken away.”

The market­place, Kadi Keni, situated about a mile from
Balaklava, was a stirring spot. English, French, Italians,
Turks, Jews, Maltese, and others, assembled here. The
Jews were extremely debased, but the Maltese, if possible,
were more wicked still; for they were sometimes caught in
the act of spoiling the dead. The market was just the
place for our Scripture-reader: here he did much business
for his Master. No Jew was more bent on making gain
than he was on winning souls; his constant cry was, “ Who
will buy the truth?”

At Kadi Keni he met officers and soldiers of the Sar­
dinian army, and made their acquaintance. “ From the
day that the compact, brave, accomplished, and well-
behaved Sardinian army set foot on Crimean soil,” he
writes, “my heart was set on doing them good, and I
prayed that God would enable me to spread the word among
them. Knowing that God could bless one text as well as a
thousand, I committed to memory from the Italian New
Testament that gospel in miniature in John iii. 16 : ‘For
God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.’ I went out, and standing
amongst them repeated the passage, and then passed from
group to group with my little gospel message. Then I took
the New Testament and went out reading it as best I could,
till a deep interest to possess it was called forth, and the
time had come for its distribution."

Cholera, too, came to clear the way for the servant of the
Lord Jesus. Many soldiers of the Sardinian army were
taken ill: there was a lively demand for the medicines, of
which Mr. Matheson had a large store, and very soon his
services were held in as high repute by the Italians as by
the English navvies. He saw the door of access opening;
he felt assured the Lord was answering his prayers ; and so
incessantly and lovingly did he labour among them, that he
came to be named, “The Sardinians’ Friend.” His kind­
ness won a way into their hearts; prejudices gave way; he


became a universal favourite, and many of the Italians
received the Word of God at his hands, when they would
have rejected it at the hands of any others.

In his journal of June 1st he writes: “ Began the distribu­
tion of Italian New Testaments in fear and much trembling.
Opening after opening presented itself, and the avidity with
which many received them was remarkable, whilst others
sternly refused them. One officer asked for a copy, and
assisted me to supply all his company, remarking, ‘ A better
book they could not possess.’ “ Again, June 2nd, “ Took a
large bag full of Italian New Testaments to market­place,
Kadi Keni. Met many Sardinians, and on presenting them
with the Word was offered by nine-tenths payment for them.
Some sternly refused. The joy of others was great.”

Day after day the interest increased. One walked five
miles in the darkness of night to knock at the old stable
door and get the Word of God. Another came begging
the whole Bible, because he had found the New Testament
so good. “ I have a great treasure now,” said another, as
he put the book in his bosom, and went away. At five in
the morning the missionary is aroused by Sardinian soldiers
seeking the Word of God. They were going to join the
advance, and feared losing their only opportunity of pro­
curing a copy. A Waldensian corporal lying ill at this
time, in answer to the kind inquiries of the Scripture-reader,
said, “ The source of all true courage is, whilst the body is
on earth, the soul is in heaven,”—a truly Waldensian and
martyr-like view of the matter. “Spoke to the Sardinian
guard,” Matheson writes in his journal, “and told them of
the only Saviour of sinners, and gave each of them a New
Testament. They said they would take them home to Italy.
Visited by seven Sardinian officers, who wished to have
Bibles. As an army of reserve, they said they had much
time for reading, and would take their Bibles home as a
memorial of English affection and of the Crimea.” Two
Tuscans, burning with zeal for liberty and Italy, enlightened
and able to speak English fluently, visited the stable, and
heard the good old story of freedom through Jesus Christ
A Tyrolese, of noble countenance, who had fought under
Garibaldi at Rome, and shared the perils of his flight,
received a copy of the Word, and became attached to the



missionary. Thus the work went on day by day, despite all
the efforts of the priests, who did their utmost to stop it.

Duncan’s frank, genial disposition, and intense sympathy
with the Italians in their aspirations for national liberty and
unity, were largely instrumental in opening the door for the
Word of God among the Sardinian troops. God gave him

favour with the officers. Dr. S------, who could speak English,

became his friend. That gentleman had been led to em-
brace Protestantism by reading the Bible, and comparing
the religion of Rome with the truth. He introduced Mr.
Matheson to other officers, who invited him to dinner. The
missionary made a speech, Dr. S. being interpreter. After
depicting in glowing colours what he firmly believed would be
the future of a free and united Italy, whose flag should one
day be unfurled on the Capitol of Rome, he proceeded to
speak of the gospel as the greatest glory of a nation, and
Jesus Christ as the only true liberator of men. His sincerity
and enthusiasm carried all their hearts as by storm, and
thenceforth “ The Sardinians’ Friend” enjoyed all but un­
bounded liberty and respect in carrying on the work of the
Lord in the Italian army.

Thus his field of labour was constantly widening, and
knowing that the day of opportunity would soon close, he
pressed into every breach with indomitable courage and
unquenchable zeal, till at length in the capture of Sebas-
topol he saw a certain indication of the end of his mission.
His account of the final bombardment and assault deserves
a page.

“Balaklava, 10th September, 1855.

“The din of battle has been hushed for a time, and I
have found a little leisure to write. I hardly know where to
begin, and I do not for a moment conceive I shall be able
to give you any right idea of the transactions of the last few
days. My last told you of the mighty preparations going
silently and mechanically on for the final assault. For days
and days nothing was seen but the transit of ammunition,
and the transport of gabions, &c, for the front. The fire for
some time back every night had been truly terrific. It seemed
the Russians well knew how our works were coiling them­
selves around their devoted city, and if they could not pre-



vent this, they seemed determined to annoy us. What was
often thought to be the re­opening of the bombardment was
only meant to allow the French at the Malakoff and us at
the Redan to finish the works under cover of it. On the
morning of the 6th it seemed as if all batteries had opened.
Gun after gun sent forth its deadly charges, and during
the whole day nothing else was heard but the whiz of shells
as they flew through the air. The accuracy of our aim was
remarkable. In one minute you could count nine shells
bursting upon the parapet of the Redan, and the Malakoff
seemed entirely shrouded in a sable covering of smoke and
dust. Thus it continued during the day, and as evening
had settled on us, one of the Russian ships in the harbour
was seen to be on fire. Slowly the flames flew up the
rigging, and soon the burning fragments were scattered
around. It was a brilliant sight. The dark night—the
horizon lighted up for miles—the city seen as if by day—
the sound of the rifles, as they went off, pop, pop, in the
advanced works—the heavy cannonade—and the star-like
fuses of the shells, as they rolled through the air, made
it all awfully imposing. For hours the ship burned, and
when morning broke you could see the hulk burned to the
water’s edge, and the other vessels lying lazily in the spot
where they have so long been.

“ If the fire of the 6th was heavy, it was as nothing to the
fire which opened on the 7th. Every spot seemed to possess
a gun, and from every side the smoke, fire, and noise were
terrific. It seemed as if all the guns and mortars in the
French left went off at one moment. Volley after volley
shook the air, and the whole seemed as made of living fire.
For a short time it seemed as if they had spent their fury,
and as if the work were done. The guns were only cooling.
In a little while they burst forth with greater fury than
before. Thus during the whole day it continued. There
seemed no slackening, no flagging, no wearying. Now and
then the Russians replied, but it was feeble and faint—not
one shot for the thousand given. Thousands of spectators,
chiefly, yea, almost all, soldiers, crowded the heights, where
a passing glimpse could be had as the smoke cleared away.
It was touching to see them in little groups discussing the
probability of an attack, and their remarks were often of a



mellowing cast. Grey-haired soldiers felt certain of it,
though all was kept profoundly silent, and it sent a strange
thrill through the heart to see some of the young, only
joined a few days before, gambolling to the sound. During
the night there was no cessation, and the rockets flew at
intervals, kindling the city in various places. Sleep was far
from our eyes. The night seemed long and dreary, and the
sighing of the wind on the fierce blast seemed to sound in
the ears like sighs deep and loud from a sepulchre. At
length morning broke, cold and cheerless. The sun now
and then seemed ready to shoot forth, but kept back, as if
afraid of shining on the work of the bloody day. The wind
was strong, and carried the dust in whirling eddies through
the camp. It blew well-nigh a hurricane, and seemed ready
to carry all before it. We approached Cathcart’s Hill, and
found the whole line guarded by our dragoons. One could
scarcely stand for the cold, and yet the interest of the
moment absorbed every thought. The cannonade seemed
still fierce, and now and then through the strange mingling of
smoke, fire, and dust, you could catch a glimpse of the two
spots of interest—the Malakoff and the Redan—greatly bat­
tered, and only now and then firing a solitary shot, as tokens
of being yet unsubdued.

“By seven a.m. the Light Division had marched. By
eleven the other divisions had assembled, and marched to
their respective posts. They wound down the various ravines
in good order, and seemingly knowing the desperate nature
of the work they were to do. I saw several soldiers’ wives
weeping after them as they went. Each man carried forty-
eight hours’ provisions. Their advance could not be seen,
for the wind carried the dust and smoke in darkening
columns, shrouding all well-nigh in midnight darkness. It
was blowing into our works, and straight away from the
Russians. A large building burned in Sebastopol, and yet
it was scarcely noticed, so eagerly did all look for twelve
o’clock. It came. We heard the crack of musketry at
the Malakoff, and the cannonade still went on. In a few
minutes the report, ‘The Malakoff is taken,’ reached the
camp. The 3rd Division in reserve gave three hearty
cheers, which could be distinctly heard through the camp
above the din of all. The opposition at the Malakoff was


82                   THE ATTACK ON THE REDAN.

faint. In ten minutes the eagles of France floated on it.
It seemed unexpected. The French works were so near
it—one bound, and it had fallen. All eyes turned to the
Redan. Here, in a moment, the battle raged. Such hot
musketry has rarely been seen. Our men mounted its
parapets, and were hurled into the ditch below. Man
after man ascended, and one officer, mounting the parapet,
waved his sword and cheered them forward. He was soon
laid in the dust. Mass after mass pressed forward, and,
over the dead bodies of their comrades, got within. They
had gained it, but the dense mass of Russian infantry
poured in countless thousands upon them, and one battery
within, unseen, played hard The Russian force, in leaving
the Malakoff, poured into the Redan, determined to make
it the final settling ­ground. The few of our soldiers that
got a footing made a noble stand, but they were as a drop
in the sea, or a leaf in the forest, compared with the dense
masses that came against them. They had to retire, and
yet time after time they rushed to the assault, and kept
the enemy from gaining one inch of ground. Between the
Malakoff and Redan the contest fiercely raged. Victory
seemed to hang tremblingly in the balance, and moments
passed as hours—so deep was the suspense. At three
o’clock the wounded began to be carried up. It was a
sad and melancholy procession. The Woronzoff Road was
one continuous stream—officers and men all alike. Some
walked themselves, limping, whilst the blood oozed from
their wounds, and now and then, as the wind threw the
cloak or covering a little aside, you saw the pale cold face
of some one who had gone from the battle to the judgment
seat. As I stood marking the sickening sights, three
soldiers’ wives rushed down the ravine, asking after their
husbands, and presenting a dreadful spectacle of misery
and grief. A ball from some of the Russian batteries fell
close beside them, and they had to run with all speed to
the rear. The wind still blew, and the cold continued
intense. Now and then it lulled for a moment, and the
sun burst brightly forth. All was silent along the French
right, and only our batteries and the French left kept up
the fire.. The mark was still the Redan. It was evident
the Russians were losing heart.

RETREAT OF THE RUSSIANS.                     83

“Night closed on the scene, and the wind died away. The
reserves were marched off for the work of the coming day.
The town was on fire in several places, and the shipping
seemed without a gun. Explosion after explosion took
place. At two o‘clock—one louder than the rest. Part
of the Redan had been sprung. The Highlanders, who
behaved nobly, held in reserve for the next assault, entered,
and found it evacuated. The Russians had fled, and, what­
ever else may be said, made a masterly retreat, displaying
the most consummate generalship. As they went, they
fired all behind them, and our men were not allowed to
follow, which was well, for yesterday explosions were taking
place the whole day. In the night they had sunk their
shipping, so long the terror of the Allies, and the cause of
so many deaths. The eye had got so long accustomed to
the sight of these mighty vessels, and now it is cheerless to
see the waves gently cresting over the spot where they were,
and to glance at the large bay without a speck, save a few
harmless steamers cowering under the guns of the opposite

“ Yesterday, we had our first quiet Sabbath in the Crimea.
How pleasant, how calm, how refreshing it dawned upon
us ! Before, all used to be bustle, and the cannonade kept
no Sabbath, and had respect to no commands. Not a gun
was now heard. The stillness of death seemed to reign, and
the deepest interest to be felt in knowing who had or had
not survived. Many a sad blank was found, and I had to
weep specially over one friend who had only arrived from
England two days before, and who fell at the first attack.
He was an officer of the Rifles, and if honoured with a
tombstone, the epitaph truly may be, ‘He walked with
God.’ Only a few entered the town yesterday, and our
troops moved cautiously, there being so many mines
springing. It is all mined. Not a building remains un­
injured. Shot and fragments of shell pave every spot.
Buildings have been scattered in ruins, and what has been
left the flames have devoured. It has a desolate, dreary
aspect, and the wind howls hideously through its deserted
streets. The dead lie all around, and heap upon heap
meets the eye at the various points of sharpest contest.
Yesterday and to­day, the last offices are performing for the

G 2


dead, laying them in graves on the spot where many of
them fell. The stern tide of war has mercilessly swept
them away, and left many to deplore their loss. Friend
and foe lie together, and Sebastopol is in the possession of
our army. It has been got at a dear rate, and the price of
it has been much blood. How many thousands, yea tens
of thousands, have found their graves before it, there to
await till the trump of God shall summon the sleepers to
arise ! When I think of the mingled joy and weeping the
sound of this victory shall produce at home, my soul is
filled with deepest feeling. I feel greatly it will be laid to
the bravery of our army, and to the skill of our com­
manders ; but those whose hearts are filled with divine light,
and who know anything of the tremendous difficulties over­
come, and the magnitude of the struggle, will give all the
glory to the Lord, to whom it belongs.”

The following letter to Mr. P. Drummond, Stirling, will
furnish some idea of his work, and the free course of the
word of God in the Crimea.

“Balaklava, Sept. 20th, 1855.

“My dear Mr. Drummond,—Now that the town of
Sebastopol has fallen, and the din of battle for a time has
ceased, I have found a little leisure to write to you. And
first I desire to thank you very sincerely, in my own name
and that of others, for the many kind grants of tracts you
have sent from time to time, since December last, and to
assure you all have been widely scattered, and in many
cases gratefully received. I also enclose you a thank-
offering from a few friends of £7 10s., to help you forward
in your work. The silver and the gold are the Lord’s, and
as such we cast it into his treasury.

“ I hardly knew from what point to start to let you know
of my work since entering this field of death and blood­
shed. It has been an eventful, thrilling, soul-trying time;
and yet in the midst of all, much of the seed of the king­
dom has been scattered—seeing since 4th December last I
have given away—tracts, 52,000; Bibles, 622; Testaments,
1477 ; French Testaments, 770; Bibles, 32 ; Italian Testa­
ments, 4300; Bibles, 200; Welsh, Russian, and German
Testaments, 173 ; books for officers, 450.



“ The work has now and then been pleasant, yet seldom
has a joyous heart been known, seeing so much abounding
iniquity and such an utter recklessness to the things of
eternity. You cannot think what a vast wilderness of un­
godliness our army is. You cannot move a step without
hearing that name, dearer to you than all others, continually
blasphemed. Gambling has been carried on in the hospital,
the camp, the trenches, to an amazing degree ; and the
curse of our country, drunkenness, is widespread indeed.
The sufferings of last winter were not overdrawn, nor was
the lesson to be taught ever learned. Judgment hung
heavy on us, and it passed away unheeded. The Lord had
a few holy witnesses in our army, but most of these were
taken away by death, the bullet, or removed to England.
No widespread blessing has ever descended, and tens of
thousands have passed to the judgment-seat. The sins of
our nation were punished in our army; and a slumbering
church started for a moment to sink into a deeper sleep
than before. Often when ready to faint have I been sus­
tained by the blessed truth, ‘ All that the Father hath given
shall come;’ and some measure of faith in the omnipotent
power of the Holy Ghost has revived the drooping heart,
and enabled me more urgently to present Christ and Him
crucified to dying men. Few have cared for the soldier’s
soul; an exception here and there with joy may be made—
but Popery and Puseyism have had it much their own way.
The means to meet the wants have been totally inadequate,
and every barrier has been thrust in the way of those that
would. Evangelism has met with little favour, and Rome
has plied her arts with untiring assiduity. What has tended
much to demoralize our army has been the almost total
extinction of the Sabbath. The Crimea has, I may say,
known no Sabbaths. True it is, for a few minutes the form
of parade-service has been gone through, and the men
instantly hurried to fatigue. Let those who would like to see
what Britain would be without Sabbaths visit the Crimea,
and they will see the soul-destroying effects of it. The
poor soldiers long for it to recruit their over­worked systems,
but the demands of man cannot afford it, and the ceaseless
toil must go on. I wish to draw a vail over much that I
have seen in the Crimea these ten months. The scenes

86                 WORK AMONG THE SARDINIANS.

witnessed, and the dark pictures presented, often make the
blood run cold, and draw tears from the eyes. Sure am I
if it were really known at home by those who know the
value of their own souls, they could not but cry, weep,
pray, beseeching the Lord to open the windows of heaven
and pour down a great and an abundant blessing. One
cannot but admire the calm endurance of our army, and
stand amazed at their contempt of danger, and the un­
flinching bravery ever manifested ; and oh, how well it were
if a real deep and abiding awakening took place ! then it
would be bravery drawn from a right source, and endurance
of suffering the result of right principle. Much prayer
ought to be made for our neglected army, for it is high time
to know the real spiritual state of it, and to awake out of
sleep regarding it.

“ You are aware, in the end of May the Sardinian army
landed here. Hearing of its coming I had sent for thou­
sands of Italian Testaments, not knowing but the Lord
would open a way for their distribution. I began the work
with much prayer, yet in great fear and trembling. At first
it went on slowly. Many prejudices had to be removed,
and much wisdom to be evinced. Cholera broke out
among them, and many hundreds died. It softened them
much ; soon group after group called on me for the Word,
sometimes thirty in one day. Since the 1st of June it has
continued; one brought his companion, and another his
brother, till 1500 have so visited me. I cannot give you
any idea of their eagerness to possess the Word. I have
known many come miles for it; and never have I seen
such joy as they manifested while gazing on the precious
gift. Had I time, it would be pleasing to me to send you
more details, for it has been a glorious, cheering work.
Time after time I have gone through their camp, and seen
some in little groups reading it, others in their tent; and in
the hospital nothing else is read. Many officers have
visited me, written me, or sent for Bibles ; and in some
regiments every officer, from the colonel downwards, has got
a copy, whilst most of the medical staff have also been
supplied. A spirit of earnest inquiry is at work with some,
and an apparently anxious desire to know the truth by
most. Wondrous are the ways of God. Italy, long shut, is



opening; Popery is losing its power; the mask is being
torn; light thrown around ; and who can tell the amount
of blessing the 4700 copies of God‘s Word given to the
Sardinian army may be the means of accomplishing? It
is touching to hear them say often, ‘ My father, my mother,
or my sisters, possess not this, and if I return they shall
have it.’ Those that have been invalided and sent home
carried it with them ; and, as they embarked, have held it
up to me, saying, ‘This is my memorial of the Crimea.’
The work is still going on, and I expect, if the door is still
open, to circulate 1000 more. Opposition was at one time
greatly threatened. A Maynooth priest in our army tried
to stir the Sardinian priests against the work, but ere his
plans were fully matured he fell sick, and had to leave.’
One thing is clear, Sardinia is lost to the Pope, and every
fresh bull fulminated is making the breach wider and wider.
Oh for living men for Italy to preach the everlasting
gospel, and for the descent of the Holy Ghost from on
high to call the dead to life ! It presents a glorious field.
It is ripe for the harvest. Who will enter in and raise
the standard of the cross, so long trampled in the dust;
yea, buried under forms, traditions, and soul - destroying
ignorance ?

“ I cannot find time to tell you of the progress of the
truth in Turkey. The only ray of hope is in the American
Mission amongst the Armenians, which is greatly prospering.
The Turk is what he was. There is no more opening of
his mind to receive the truth. His enmity to Christianity
is as deep as ever, and the effect produced by the presence
of the Allies is bad indeed. As a nation they are dying
out; evidently doom is written on Mahomedanism, and it is
well. Gladly would I see the Crescent prostrate in the
dust, and a Christian state raised on the ruins. The time
is fast hastening on; the night is passing; the day breaketh.
Soon the cry shall be heard throughout earth’s millions—
‘ Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.’

“Wishing you all success, and seeking for you much of
the hallowing, humbling grace of the Eternal Spirit, I am,
in much haste, your affectionate friend,

“ Duncan Matheson,”



From September till the winter set in he continued his
labours—not, however, without frequent interruptions from
sickness and prostration. “Many say, Rest; take things
easier,” he writes at this time. “I cannot rest, for it is a
mighty graceless army, and needs most tremendous exer­
tions. Oh that I might be the means of saving souls !“
Much did he feel the loss of Christian friends. “ Captains
Craigie, Vicars, and Beaufort are gone. Lieut. Wemyss
died on his way to England, and has his grave in the
waters of the Bosphorus. I feel it much—keenly, deeply.
Oh how cheap is life here 1 You sorrow for one, for many,
and next day you sorrow for more, till the mind gets quite
hardened. Many talk of hundreds dying as if it were
nothing. Most look not into eternity, and know not the
value of souls. I often think it is well I counted the cost
ere coming here. I have not been disappointed. It is
useless to think of trials, if the Lord prosper you in your

work.....You and others fear for me. I alone fear not

for myself. Am I not in the Lord‘s work ? Can anything
happen without his permission ? If I live, let it be to his
glory. If I die, may it be for his glory. I am not my own.
I know there is victory through the blood of the Lamb;
and what after all is death? The entrance to eternal rest—
the door to God’s right hand.”

Again and again he is smitten down by the combined
effects of fatigue, exposure, and want of material comforts.
In a letter he says: “ Since I last wrote you I have known
what it is to be laid low. Indeed, when I wrote you I felt
rather unwell, but thought I should rally, as I have often
done. I was seized with violent diarrhoea, accompanied
with fever, which continued nearly eight days, five of which I
was totally confined to bed. A few days after I took ill my
kind friends, Drs. Derriman and Brown, pitched a tent for
me at their hospital, and their attention to me was unre­
mitting. Through the mercy of God, I am restored again,
and in my own house, and at my work. Many of the poor
Sardinians called on me during my illness, and I had to
hand them copies of the Word of God from my bed.
Indeed every one was exceedingly kind. Most of those
who sought to labour are now either dead or left. The
doctors say I ought not to remain another winter here on

STORES FOR DISTRIBUTION.                     89

any account, as those exertions I have through grace been
enabled to make must recoil on the system. This is in the
Lord’s hands.”

His privations were often well-nigh past endurance.
Often had he suffered the gnawings of hunger, till at length
he lost his appetite entirely. “How gracious the Lord is,”
he says in a letter to his sister; “ the last two days I had
the delicious pleasure of being hungry.” Again, “I am
getting sorely out of clothes. Last week I got a present
of a new pair of boots sent from England. Next day they
were stolen. I had my last shirt on. I could not find
another ; but a staff doctor called, and made me a present
of one yesterday. So the Lord provides.”

At length his failing health compelled him to leave the
Crimea, and return to Scotland, where he arrived about the
end of the year.

After spending six weeks at home, he set out again
for the East, rejoicing, and counting himself more highly
honoured than if he were the ambassador of a king. His
connection with the Soldiers’ Friend Society had ceased on
his return home; but, liberally aided by the Countess of
Effingham and others, he went forth absolutely his own
master, and with an eye single and full of light. Feeling
assured that he was called by the great Master to seize an
opportunity such as might never recur, he girt up his loins,
and at once prayerful as well as self-reliant, cautious as
well as enthusiastic, he took his way to the scene of his
former labours and sorrows.

His stores of Christian literature for gratuitous distri­
bution were immense, varied, and judiciously selected.
Besides Bibles, tracts, and other books in the several
languages of the East, he carried with him a considerable
number of copies of the Shorter Catechism with proofs, in
Italian, under the title of “ Compendium of Christian
Doctrine,” and also Paleario’s “ Benefits of Christ’s Death,”
in the same language. His own countrymen were not
forgotten. At Gibraltar, Malta, and almost everywhere a
slow lumbering voice would be heard asking, “ Hae ye ony
Bibles wi’ Psaums?” Knowing and sympathising with the
likings of his countrymen, he was fully prepared to supply
honest Sandy’s want.

90                               DR. JOHN BONAR.

It may be worth while to notice that his services were
eagerly sought at this time by more than one Missionary
Society or Committee. The “ Jews’ Conversion Com­
mittee “ offered to “employ him as an assistant missionary
of the Committee at Constantinople, at a salary of ;£150
a year.” At the same time the Free Church Colonial Com­
mittee desired to secure his services for the East; but
fearing lest he should be trammelled in his work, he
declined every offer, in order that he might be free to
carry out his own peculiar mission in his own way. Dr.
John Bonar, convener of the Colonial Committee, again
wrote him in noble, generous words of encouragement.
“ You go,’’ he writes, “ to unfurl the Lord‘s banner in the
sight of assembled nations. You go to breathe words of
peace from the Prince of peace amid the din of war. You
go to sow the incorruptible seed of the Word, which liveth
and abideth for ever, amid the very things which beyond
all others show the vanity and uncertainty of all earthly
and human things. You go to speak to men of their souls
and of eternity, in the midst of the very things which may
summon them to that eternity while you yet speak. You
go to give the word of life to those to whom it is a sealed
fountain at home; and, in a word, to do good to all as you
have opportunity. Going on such an errand, and called to
fulfil so important a mission, we bid you God speed.”


“London, March 6th.

“ I long much to get away. I have got everything for
my mission I could desire. To­day I have been at Beck-
enham. I have got forty copies of Captain Vicars’ Life.
Mr. Moody Stuart went to the Edinburgh Bible Society,
and got ;£25 for me for French Bibles. Mr. Learmouth
has paid for 1000 Bibles for me.”

“March 14th.

“ At sea, off the Spanish coast. We are nearing Gib­
raltar, and on getting ashore I expect to post this letter for

you, that it may relieve any anxiety you may feel......

To be united to Jesus is the one great thing. What is all
else beside? A dream—a shadow—nothing. To­day I
was led to think of my awakening and after-life. What a



miracle of mercy it has all appeared. To be used at all by
the Lord is truly wonderful. Yea, it is all his grace—his
own peculiar dealing. I long for nothing more than spiritual
life. It seems to me, looking at the work to be done and
the greatness of eternal things, as if I had not yet really
begun to live. What an amount of time have I lost. How
little it has been really occupied for the Lord. How little
accomplished. Life, life, the endless life of grace, is all I

need, and all I want.............

It is difficult to write with the motion of the vessel. We
speed on our voyage. Such is life. Yes, we are passing
along. How soon shall it be all done here.”

After touching at Malta, where his soul was vexed at the
sight of the Popish mummeries of Good Friday, he reached
Constantinople on the 31st March. Here he began the
work of scripture distribution at the Sardinian Hospital
at Yenikoi, where there is a great rush on the part of the
Italian soldiers to obtain copies of the Word of God, Doc­
tors, officers, and men are waiting for him, and their joy
is great on seeing their old friend with his precious stores.
Day after day he passes, and the work seems to grow.

He again proceeds to the Crimea.

“Crimea, June 16th.

“ I do not anticipate staying long in the Crimea. All
will depend on my entrance amongst the Russian soldiers.
In all my previous journeys the Lord has graciously pros­
pered me, and I hope in this I shall be able to sing the
same song, and talk of the same goodness. Since my
arrival it has been an incessant whirl. I would I could get
rest! But it cannot be. The doors are too open, and the
readiness to receive so great, that it must be “now or
never.” I expect a thousand French Bibles soon from
London. I have already given above five thousand copies
of the Word in all languages. Oh for the breath from on
high! My heart is set on the Lord. I love his service. I
seek grace to glorify Him. Soon all will be done. It is
passing away.”

In the arduous work of scripture distribution in the Sar­
dinian army he received no small help from an Italian priest,



who had been favourably impressed by the dying testimony
of his nephew Paolo, a young soldier converted by reading
a copy of the New Testament given him by Mr. Matheson.
When counselled by his uncle to confess, Paolo replied that
he had confessed his sins to Jesus Christ, and having re­
ceived forgiveness, he needed not to confess to man. His
beautiful death touched the heart of the priest, who appears
to have been a quiet, kind-hearted man.

Early in 1856 some of the Sardinian officers had written
to the principal newspaper in Turin, and challenged the
priests to come to the Crimea, if they dared, and stop the
circulation of the Scriptures. On this an accomplished
Jesuit was sent, who on his arrival threatened to have the
fellow hanged who was, contrary to all law and order,
spreading heresy and Bibles among the good soldiers of
Italy, and the children of the Pope. Matheson providen­
tially discovered the Jesuit and his scheme, and informed
certain officers (his friends), who outwitted the priest, and
he was obliged to sneak away as he came.

One day he found his spiritual stores exhausted. A ship
with a fresh stock of books was seen for days in the offing; but
stormy weather prevented all access to the vessel. Becoming
impatient he got a boat, manned by several stout Aber-
donians, and taking the tiller himself, he put off to the ship.
In the face of a tremendous sea they endeavoured to make
way to the vessel; and when all but baffled, the missionary,
in his bluff, hearty style, cheered them on, saying, “Row,
boys, row; I'll, may be, tell this yet on the Castle-gate of
Aberdeen." They succeeded in reaching the vessel, got the
books, and returned to the harbour in safety.

In the report of the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge, Mr. Matheson, in reference to his work among
the Sardinian soldiers, says : “ My house at Terrikoi was
literally besieged, and day after day I had to return to Con­
stantinople for fresh supplies. On the return of the steamer
many were awaiting me on the quay, and sometimes all my
books were gone before I could reach the Locanda. Many
fresh invalids, scarcely able to walk, applied to me there;
and instead of any opposition being thrown in my way by
those in command, I was greatly aided by them; indeed
they were the first to ask for Bibles. ... In six days I had



given away 500 Bibles—46 of these to officers. At Terrikoi
I did not offer one copy; all were asked for; and pleasing
indeed it was to bestow it on one and another and another,
who remarked, ‘I was robbed of mine at Milan;’ or, ‘I
have long desired one to take home, seeing that in my dis­
tant village it cannot be found.’

“The work being completed there, I hastened to the
Crimea; and if the interest at Terrikoi was great, it was far
transcended by that manifested on my arrival here. Soon
the object of my mission ran like wildfire through the camp,
and singly, in couples, in groups, yea, in masses, I was
visited. In one day seven hundred thus came to me, and
were supplied. Officers of all grades called for Bibles; and
I have in my possession very many letters sent me by some
of them in high standing for the Word. It was perfectly
agonizing to have to send away hundreds without it; and I
have known soldiers walk six miles, four or five times in
succession, for Bibles. Now and then small supplies arrived,
and many, in the very act of embarking, came running
breathless for that which to them had now become ‘more
precious than gold.’ The new edition was indeed the more
highly valued; and many were the expressions of gratitude
sent to friends in England for the noble gift. Had I had
ten times the number they could have been distributed, as
over and over again, when all were gone, many, I hear,
offered all they had for a copy. And surely it is pleasing to
think of 1000 Testaments and 674 Bibles of this edition
being amongst them, and now in Piedmont. Of the 674
Bibles distributed, 250 were given to officers who called for

“A nobler army than that of the Sardinians cannot be
found. Many, very many of them, are men of great intellect;
and it is no unusual thing to meet with men in the ranks
who are classical scholars, and who would adorn any society
in any country in the world. They have left this land for
the land to which they so fondly cling—and whose emanci­
pation from spiritual thraldom they long to see fully con­
summated—loved by all, and with an affection deep-seated
and sincere. What most gladdens the heart is, that few
return home without the book of God, the record of eternal
life, the gospel of Christ. In faith we look for mighty results.



Piedmont is rising among the nations. She has taken a noble
stand. Let but the Word of God be scattered there in rich
abundance, in copies of the faithful version of Diodati, the
only translation, save in a few instances, I have ever been
asked for; nor let it ever be forgotten that they, and they
only, are free whom the truth makes free.”

At length his work was finished in the Crimea. One result
was that eighteen thousand copies of the Word of God were
carried into priest-ridden Italy in the knapsacks of the
soldiers. He was sent to read the scriptures to his own
countrymen, which he did, and at the same time sent a host
of scripture-readers into the dominions of the Pope.

After the proclamation of peace, the Russian soldiers
came freely into the camp of the Allies. Our missionary’s
heart was stirred anew; a fresh field presented itself; he was
not slow to embrace the opportunity; and he met with no
small encouragement among the Russians. Sometimes he
was awakened at the dawn of day by a Cossack on his
shaggy steed, come to beg a copy of the New Testament.
“My friends the Cossacks,’’ he says in a letter, “shewed me
much kindness, and I had to submit once and again to the
embrace of Russian soldiers, smelling strongly of onions !“
The beautiful monastery of St. George, situated on a high
perpendicular rock on the sea­side between Balaklava and
Kamiesch, he found occupied by seventeen monks, with
their superior. Thither he repaired with a bag of Russian
New Testaments, and, with the assistance of his friend Dr.

C------, presented each of the monks with a copy, which

they received most gratefully, and with earnest request for
the entire Bible. The missionary, as he passed from cell to
cell, offered fervent prayer that God would bless each and
- all of those peace-loving dwellers in St. George with the
saving knowledge of his glorious name.

It was a touching sight to behold as our missionary did
the former dwellers returning to seek in vain their once happy
homes. So changed was everything by the desolation of
war, that often did the poor people, on looking around upon
the scene of their former habitations, lift up their voices and
weep; and my reader will not marvel when I tell him that
the tender-hearted man of God wept with them.

The allied armies took their way back to the setting sun.

AT CONSTANTINOPLE.                           95

Our missionary waited till almost the last man had em­
barked. “ Going to the top of a hill, I looked abroad upon
the desolate scene. Miles of huts were left standing without
a solitary occupant. Not a human voice was to be heard.
Here and there a Russian might be seen prowling through
the deserted camp. On my right lay Inkermann and the
beautiful valley of the Tchernaya, with the Russian
cavalry grazing on its field of battle. A little beyond, in
sweet repose, was spread out the plain of Balaklava, scene
of heroic daring unsurpassed in the world’s history. Sebas-
topol reposed in calm beauty, rendered more touching by
its ruins. Further off the Black Sea looked in the rays of
the setting sun like a mirror of glory. Wherever I turned
my eye the hill­sides were covered with graves, and every
ravine was like a charnel­house. With bursting heart and
streaming eyes I thought of the many friends I had lost,
and the myriads of broken hearts and bereaved homes far
away. All alone I went to take my farewell look of Vicars’
and Hammond’s graves. Thought upon thought, quicker
than the lightning, flashed through my mind as I said to
myself, What an army shall arise from these graves on that
great day! Each spot will be instinct with life. What a
different scene from that once witnessed here, when man
girt on his armour to meet man, then fought and conquered,
or laid them down to die! These men will rise from the
dust of death to face not man but God. At the blast of
the archangel’s trump the sleeping warriors shall awake.
But what an awaking to those who were wrapped in a
Christless shroud and laid in a hopeless grave! And how
shall the dead in Christ arise with joyous songs of triumph
as they shout, ‘ O death, where is thy sting ? O grave,
where is thy victory?’ They shall mount up ‘to meet the
Lord in the air; and so shall they ever be with the Lord.’”

Returning to Constantinople in June, he plunged into the
work of Bible distribution among the French and Turks.

“ Constantinople, 3rd July.

“Since my last I have been exceedingly busy. My

labours have been entirely amongst the French and Turks.

I gave 190 Bibles in one day to the French, besides a large

number of tracts and books. I wish much silence kept re-

96                    RECOLLECTIONS OF HUNTLY.

garding my work amongst the Turks, though in some cases
it has oozed out. Scarcely a day passes without some
Turkish officers calling for the Bible. With Mr. M‘Kutcheon
I have given 300 copies already. Since my arrival here
6,600 copies of the Scriptures, in all languages, have been
distributed........What a picture our poor country­
men give of Christianity here. You hardly see any one
drunk but an Englishman or a Scotchman; and English
oaths are the first thing many learn here. The cursed
drink, how it ruins the soul, how it hinders the Lord’s work.
The church at home countenances it, and the ruin of thou­
sands must lie at the door of professed Christians who
support it and lend it their influence.”

In the midst of his incessant and absorbing labours his own
vineyard was not neglected; nor was the spiritual welfare of
his friends and native place forgotten, as the following letter
will show :—

“Constantinople, 5th July, 1856.

“My dear Christian Friend,— How quickly the time
rolls past. Its tide is ceaseless. Its current is often un­
marked. Its filling up as it drifts along presents a solemn
history. Done with it all, how soon ! Yes, done with it
to enter eternity. The prospect is often solemn, and well-
nigh makes, in view of it, the heart cease to beat and the
soul to be still. I am a deathless being; I am marching to
the world of spirits; I shall soon be unclothed. Of that
world I know but little. The certainty of its being mine
to spend my for ever with Jesus is my only concern. Lord,
more grace ! more grace ! more grace ! that the thought of
this may swallow up all others. Make me to feel the gilded
things of earth nothing, and lead me to see a glory in the
things of holiness surpassing in brightness, splendour, and
endurance all else besides.

“ Five months have passed since I took farewell of
Huntly, the scene of many a sorrow, the field of many a
conflict, the spot of glimpses and of sweetest communion.
When, oh when, shall the day of visitation appear ? When
shall the clouds break ? When shall the pall of death that
has hung so long above them be rolled away? Lord,
soon ! soon ! soon ! In memory I look at the blanks that



have been made—sad blanks for us certainly. One saint
after another has been called away. Our little company
has been lessened, and Death seems to say to the rest of
us in no doubtful voice, ‘Be ready! be ready! be ready!
Since leaving I have been preserved in deaths oft. Twice
have I visited the Crimea, and endured misery enough to
crush the stoutest. That dark scene I have bidden likely a
last farewell. I cannot tell you my feelings as I gazed from
the vessel’s deck on the sun setting behind its hills, and
casting its retiring rays on its rugged shore. I had escaped.
His word had had free course. I was safe. I longed for
some one to help me to praise, for I could not. Alas! I
still carried a diseased soul, a corrupt heart; and hour by
hour well may I say, ‘ If I had only hope in this life, I were
of all men the most miserable.’ I need no uncommon trials
to keep me lowly. I need much grace to keep me at his
feet. Daily do I get deeper and deeper discoveries of my
own heart, and the past seems to have only been a mere
touching of the edge—a mere glance at the surface. I
would often seek to hide in some desolate wilderness, and
there seek to cry for the only thing I need—mercy! mercy!
mercy! I hope it is better with you. How well to be at
his feet. How well to be soured of earth. How well to
be shut up
to salvation through Jesus. Weak as this hope
of mine often is, I cannot yield it. It has outlived many a
storm; it has upheld me in furious tempests; it has twinkled
in solemn, trying hours. A religion of reality how rare.
Far clearer than before I see the current religion hollow
and insecure. It is the fruit of no trial, the result of no
divine fire, the product of no omnipotent power. The
spark shall go out at last. Thy searching, 0 God, give me.
Thy work let it be mine. I would seek to find my all in
Thee. To find our all in God, how high the thought! how
exalting the prospect! how humbling the immense distance
from its possession ! One day it may come. The night
shall cease. What is impossible with God ? Alas ! that this
fickle heart of mine should ever wander away. Alas ! that
it should ever seek at the cisterns what it can only find
in the fountain. Pray for me. You can have no concep­
tion of the state of this city. I never walk its crowded
streets or look on the dark cypresses marking the place of


93                            CONSTANTINOPLE.

sepulture, but I sigh and am sad. It lies heavy on me.
One day it shall be the Lord’s. Little is doing, and things
seen personally are very different from what is seen through
reports at a distance.

“To all the friends I send my Christian love and affec­
tion. Mrs. F------ seems often as if with me. Is poor

M——, or I------, or B------yet fleeing from the wrath to

come ? H------, M------, C------, all, I hope, remember me.

How precious time is here. I often long for the rest of one
hour, but I cannot find it. May the grace of the Lord
Jesus rest on you. Uprightness of heart and integrity of
soul I feel I need much. What a place integrity has in the
Word ! Divine leading and integrity go together. Surely,
one day we shall sing in the heights of Zion. What hinders
it? We deal with an unchanging God. I hope to hear
soon from you. In much haste.

“ Yours in Christian bonds,

“Duncan Matheson.”

“Constantinople, 16th July, 1856.

“ I have very lately bidden the Crimea and all its many
scenes and trials farewell. Scarcely one soldier, English,
French,, or Sardinian, is left in it. A few connected with
the commissariat may be; of the line not one. The winding
up was a scene of constant bustle and much hilarity. All
were glad to be off, and the cheers of the soldiers were
much heartier on leaving than on entering.

“ I was witness of many touching scenes, but the saddest
of all was the exodus of the Tartars. Such a scene I never
witnessed. The old men raised their hands and wept as
they took their last look from the vessel‘s deck, and the
poor women buried their faces in their hands, scarce daring
to cast a look upward. Many of our soldiers I saw deeply
affected; and yet the great mass of the Tartars thanked God
that they had the prospect of getting from under Russian
oppression, and smoked, laughed, and chatted as if nothing
was wrong. They are a poor race, and strong in their
affection for Mahomedanism, much stronger than many of
the Turks are. I fear a strange tale may yet have to be
told of them under Turkish rule, and breathing the air, the
deadly tainted air, of the Dobrudscha.

BIBLES TO THE SARDINIANS.                 99

" My object in going to the Crimea was accomplished. I
had been asked to come, carrying the Word of Life to the
Sardinians. My arrival was known to a few, and soon it ran
as wildfire through the camp. In one day seven hundred
soldiers and officers visited me, asking for Bibles; and ere
the last soldier had left the scene of their trials and triumphs
I had given 2347 Italian Bibles, 1230 Italian Testaments,
and upwards of 3400 books and tracts. I did not offer one
copy, I did not present one tract. All were asked; and 250
officers of all ranks either called or wrote for Bibles. It was
all done in open day. It was known to thousands. There was
no disguise, and no efforts to proselytise. They asked for
God’s Word,—who would withhold it? They had it; and
pleasing is the fact, that 18,000 copies of it have entered
Piedmont during the last twelve months. Noble men, they
deserve well at Britain’s hand! They entered the struggle
when all looked dark and gloomy. They have fought well,
and sustained the honour of Italy; and their conduct has
been such as to call forth universal admiration. I never met
a republican in their army. All love their king and country,
and long—how evidently long no other can tell—for the
emancipation of fair yet down­trodden Italy.

“A story once appeared in our leading journal, copied
into all the other papers, of a complaint and prohibition
being made against the giving of the Bible. We believe the
then correspondent (not Mr. Russell, whose accounts I have
ever seen truthful and correct) was deceived. No prohibi­
tion was ever uttered; and if complaints were made, they
were not heard of. The whole army were implicated. What
could be done ? Generously they were Jeft to their own con­
victions, and General Delia Marmora and our own generals
deserve the thanks of all who love and value the Bible.
To the friends in and around Huntly I send my hearty
thanks for generously helping me in this work.

“I am no politician; but I cannot but feel that a solemn
time is at hand regarding Italy. It is impossible to keep
such a noble people long in slavery, or under the iron heel
of despotism; and I know there is not one man in the
Sardinian army but has left anxious for the time when he
shall be called to the field to unfurl the banner, and strike
the blow. They have learned much in this struggle. They

H 2



have been inured to hardship, and trained to the vicissitudes
of a camp; and in the next war of Italian independence,
we believe Piedmont shall be the rallying-point round which
all will cluster. Statesmen stand aghast at the wrongs of
Italy, and know not how to interfere. Its regeneration is a
question surrounded by many difficulties; yet the solving
will one day come. Naples has her crowded prisons; the
fair plains of Lombardy are trodden by the Austrian vassal;
Tuscany seeks to stifle the truth; Rome is kept by the
soldiery of France. The question of Italy is closely con­
nected with the East. If war should arise there, the nations
of Europe will be more or less involved. Then comes the
time for Russia to strike; for no one here believes her pre­
tensions are finally laid aside, and are led to feel that Turkey,
drained and inert, can form no bulwark against either Rus­
sian diplomacy or arms, if left alone in the conflict.

“ No one can credit the hatred existing between the
Muscovite and Turk. Their enmity to us will soon subside;
for in the Crimea I had much intercourse with the Russian
soldiery, having had the privilege of giving them 480 copies
of the scriptures. These I found them very ready to receive,
and many were the expressions of their gratitude. In few
countries is the censorship of the press so strict as in
Southern Russia, and there is well-nigh a total lack of lite­
rature of any kind. In the city of Simpheropol, there is
not one bookseller’s shop, and not a page of litera­ture is
sold. For years not a copy of the Russian scriptures has
entered Odessa, and the Russian prisoners who had received
them were deprived of them on landing. From all quarters
they came visiting ruined Sebastopol, and it was often pain­
ful to see them looking in blank astonishment and sorrow
over the place where their houses had been, and trying to
fix the boundary of their lot. There seems a servility in the
Russian soldier not to be found in the English or French.
What may be done, now the Crimea is their own again, no
one can tell. It is supposed tourists will have no liberty of
inspecting, and the terms of the treaty may not be carried
strictly out.

“As to Turkey, its real condition is not known. Its
exchequer is exhausted—its resources unexplored—its army
much wasted—its progress just where it was. They are

STATE OF TURKEY.                          lot

generally far from grateful for the help we have rendered,
and feel the same contempt for the Giaour as before. The
prejudices of some of the higher classes are exploded, and
some have got the length of thinking attempts at reforma­
tion are necessary. At home things regarding Turkey have
been much exaggerated. The promulgation of the new law
has excited high hopes, and been hailed with joy, as well it
may. But who is to carry it out ? Turkey makes laws and
then is powerless in putting them into effect. With many
it is a question if she really means it; but we believe the
time is drawing on for great reforms, and sweeping changes
cannot be made in any nation in a day. Good laws may
be made, but a people needs to be created to value them,
or carry them out. Christianity for Turkey is only what
can save her, and give her a place among the nations of
Europe far greater than she can ever have under the reign
and rule of the Koran. Serious disturbances are appre­
hended, but they may come to nothing; and Britain will,
we hope, demand the carrying out of those reforms to
obtain which the flower of our army have found graves in
a foreign soil, many of our homes have been left desolate,
and our resources drained.

“ I have had much intercourse with the French since
March here and in the Crimea, having along with a friend
given them 2,000 copies of the scriptures, in very many
cases asked. In some cases they came for miles for them
Glad are they to get home. The East has lost its attrac­
tions, and in their real character they look and long for
something new. They have extended their influence im­
mensely in the East, and one would often think it is
dominant. No effort has been spared for its becoming so,
and the study of the French language in the Turkish col­
leges has greatly helped it forward. A little time will be
necessary ere the bearing of things can be clearly seen.
Everything at present is at a standstill, and of trade there is
little. On Saturday the English sovereign was less in value
than it has been for years.

“ I had intended to give you an account of the missionary
operations here, but I have not time at present. Doors are
opening on every hand. A spirit of enquiry is abroad. The
sleep of many years has been broken by the stirring events



of the war. Everything is in motion. Now is the time for
the Word to be scattered, and to let the nations that have
so long been in darkness have the sound of the glorious
gospel, whose message is ‘Peace on earth, and good will to

“Duncan Matheson.”

In Constantinople he devoted much of his time and
attention to the French, by whom he was treated with the
greatest consideration and kindness. When he went to
Sweet Waters, where a French division was stationed, the
officer in command ordered out his men, and when they
had fallen into rank, the missionary was permitted to go the
round and present each man with a New Testament, tract,
or book.

His heart was set on doing something for the Turks. In
the ancient temple of Mahomedanism chinks were open­
ing through which silvery rays of gospel truth were quietly
stealing. Matheson, having picked up a little Turkish, used
to frequent the burial-places, and wait there for hours, pray­
ing that God would open some Mahomedan mourner‘s
heart to hear the truth concerning one Jesus. Never did
the prayer remain unanswered. Some sorrowing one, stand­
ing or sitting by the grave of their dearly ­beloved, would
listen to the stranger telling in his few blundering words
about Him who is the resurrection and the life.

This indiscriminate distribution of the holy scriptures
was not unattended by the evils of waste and abuse. Yet
there were not wanting instances of good springing out of
this very evil A Turkish lady one day received from her
grocer a parcel wrapped in a leaf of the Bible. The leaf was
read, an interest in the strange book was awakened, and the
lady sent a member of her household to enquire if the mer­
chant could send her another leaf of the same kind. All
that remained of the precious volume was carried home,
and who can tell but the interest awakened may have
deepened, under the Spirit‘s teaching, into faith and sal­
vation ?

An intense longing to put a copy ot God‘s Word into
the hands of a Pasha or some other Turk of influence was
gratified in a curious way. One day, when distributing the
scriptures at Sweet Waters, he was attacked by an infu-

ILLNESS.                                        103

riated mob of Greeks, whose religious antipathies had been
thoroughly aroused. To escape their wrath he took refuge
in a ship. Next day a gentleman, brother of a certain
pasha, called at his lodgings to convey the regrets of the
great man at the ill-treatment the missionary had received
from the Greeks, at the same time requesting for the pasha’s
use a copy of the Word of God. My readers will not forget
that at this time an Englishman was held in peculiar honour
by the Turks, hence the pasha’s apology. The missionary,
of course, did not fail to send the book of God to the
pasha, nor did he forget to praise God for this answer to
his prayer.

On the Greeks he sought revenge by endeavours to dis­
seminate among them the glad tidings of great joy that are
for all people; but his success was small. One family of
Greeks appeared to derive benefit from his labours ; but for
the most part the way was not prepared for the entrance of
the Word of God among them.

As winter drew near he prosecuted his enterprise with
redoubled energy. Daily did he take his stand at the
Golden Horn, and distribute his books to the thousands
crossing to the other side on their way to all parts of Asia.
“The work gets harder,” he writes. “The Turks and
Greeks get more prejudiced. Yet the Lord reigneth, and
all his purposes shall be accomplished. . . . How soon all
wanderings here shall close. Life's sand is running fast.
We hear the summons daily. Oh to hear it indeed, and
prepare to meet God! I look daily forward to this, to be
with Him and like Him.”

“Constantinople, Nov. 5th.

“ Since I last wrote you I have been very ill and con­
fined, but I am better, and at work again. I was so weak
that one day when I tried to rise I fell, and have got one
eye bruised. I suppose I must have fainted.”

“Constantinople, Nov. 18th.
“ I feel weak indeed, and have had medical advice.
There is no danger, but I must cease work, and when
called to do so I am like a chained lion. The total lack of
any comfort has been much against me. Many a day
almost without food, and have had to be contented with



food of any kind.....Since March I have been enabled

to distribute nearly 1o,ooo copies of the Scriptures—1,000
of them to Turks—and 60,000 tracts and books in all
languages. The value of all has been about £1,ooo, and
truly I may say the Lord has provided. ... I had a letter
from Piedmont lately. The work is going on nobly there.
Perhaps I may get ‘The Knowledge of Sin,’ by William
Burns, translated into Armenian. Dr. Dwight is examining
it at present. Truly he is a godly man.”

Entirely prostrated, he lay for some time at the point of
death. During this period he was tenderly watched by his
friend Mr. M‘Kutcheon, of the Jewish Mission, and to him,
under God, he believed he owed his life. As soon as he was
able to rise, he settled his affairs and left Constantinople
for Egypt From Egypt he sailed for Italy, where he visited
his friends :—

“L------, Italy, 1857.

“ My dear Sir,—In my last I gave you some account of
matters in the East, which I hope you duly received. Since
leaving Constantinople I have visited Egypt, ascended its
pyramids, drunk of its river, and gazed with deepest horror
on the spiritual state of its inhabitants. I have heard the
groans of the oppressed Sicilians, and seen the gloomy
prisons of Naples, its blinded devotion and its down­trodden
condition. I have walked the streets of Rome, admired its
palaces, entered its catacombs, once the refuge of oppressed
Christianity, and talked amidst its ruins to its enslaved
people, and every day has convinced me we know little of
Popery at home, and deal far too lightly with such a soul-
destroying system. As it is in Italy no one can portray,
no mind can fully conceive, and no language can express.
Every eye is turned towards it, and every Christian heart
utters the cry, ‘How long, 0 Lord?’ In Sicily the people
sigh for freedom, but still cling to the system that has
chained them. It is a fair and lovely land, but it is blighted.
The number of priests in it is incredible, and the education
of the young is wholly in their power. I saw here a brazen
head of John the Baptist in a charger carried from door to
door, every one placing money in the charger; and in many
streets you meet a man demanding money, having on a box

ROME AND NAPLES.                        105

carried for the purpose the words, ‘For the souls in purgatory.’
At Naples it is worse. On every church you read, ‘ Indul­
gences granted;’ and you see at every step men and women
prostrated before the picture of the Virgin; and at one
column raised in her honour it is written, ‘An indulgence of
fifty days granted to all praying here.’ I saw on the Grand
Square more than one thousand people prostrate before the
Host, and asked one what it was. To which he replied, ‘ It
is Jesus Christ.’ Terrible is the condition of Naples. Terror
is marked on every face; and I could hardly get one to
speak to me, because every third person in the streets is a
spy. Many shops are shut, and you feel the very atmosphere
oppressive; whilst cannon is to be seen pointing down its
principal thoroughfares. Naples is a land where few Bibles
have yet entered, and the people are deeply sunk in
ignorance, and bound to Romanism more than any other
people in Italy. Political and spiritual freedom are the
results of Protestantism, and go linked together. Naples

knows neither.....Bibles! there are no Bibles in Rome.

I entered every bookseller‘s shop in it, and could only find
two—one in Latin, the other in Italian. Preaching! there
is none in Rome. The glory of the cross is darkened, and
the way of salvation through it is never proclaimed. You
have relics—Madonnas, holy altars, indulgences, by thou­
sands, and masses for living and dead; but no pointing to
the Lamb; no inviting of weary sinners; no justification by
faith. Christian literature! truly you may say there is none.
You have heaps of lying legends of lives of saints, of flimsy
novels; but the Index Expurgatorius excludes all works
worth the reading; and sprinkling with holy water is con­
sidered more safe than unloosing the mind and giving scope
to the intellect. Freedom! ah, it is not in Rome. Ask the
Inquisitors, and they will tell the price of seeking it, and as
you ask, listen to the music coming from the Pope’s dragoons.
Commerce, trade, agriculture—alas! a withering blight is
on the land, and the fairest portion of God’s earth is left
untilled. So true is it, that wherever Popery has most
potently maintained herself, there life has become extinct,
and prosperity and morality have disappeared, as if under
the influence of some mysterious malediction. The worship
of Italy is the worship of Mary—pictures of Mary—statues



of Mary—churches to Mary—columns to Mary—songs to
Mary—prayers to Mary, in every spot Idolatry! where is
it, if you see it not in Rome ? Go to the church of Ara
Coeli, and there you will see a small image of Jesus, with
many kissing its feet, and crossing themselves before it.
Wait for a little. The priests take it up, enter a coach, and
drive—that the sight of it may cure some dying person!
Yes. Startle not The priests told us it had performed many
miracles; and the people prostrating themselves before it is
a proof that they believe it Common is it to see written
over many altars—‘Specially privileged;’ ‘For the dead;’
‘ Every mass said at this altar frees a soul from purgatory.’
And in large gilded letters you often read—‘Plenary in­
dulgences granted by special favour of the Pope.’ Where
is the Luther to cry with trumpet-tongue, and proclaim the
vicious nature of such Pagan Christianity to its blinded
devotees, pointing them only to Him who is the Way, the
Truth, the Life ? Sadly deserted are the churches of Rome,
and most of the educated have become infidels. They
asked for bread, but got a stone. The craving for something
better could not be met; for the gospel was buried, and
Christ was not named. It is the natural result of such
training, and sad is the account to foe rendered by the
authors of it Pleasing was it to go from all this to the
gloomy catacombs, and see engraved tombs of the early
Christians—the calm, sublime hopes which they enjoyed!
Simple are the inscriptions, yet what so cheering?—‘In
Peace;’ ‘ In Christ’ Rome has nothing there to favour one
of her doctrines. They knew them not

“Need I tell you, Italy knows no Sabbaths. Feast-days
have more authority; and the people look astonished when
you tell them God has commanded all his day to be kept
holy. It is their day of greatest enjoyment Every theatre
is opened in Rome; and if any one had witnessed the
Sabbaths of the Carnivals now ended, they would go home
resolved to keep it inviolate, and be led to bless God they
lived in a land where in great measure the keeping of the
Sabbath is known. In this matter—and it is well it should
be known—the Protestants on the Continent—ministers and
people, are very lax. They do not look on it with the same
sacredness that we do. The evil effects of such views daily



appear, and almost universally our own countrymen leave
keeping of Sabbaths at home. One fact is worth mention­
ing : I have never yet seen one in Italy drunk, and during
the days of the Carnival thousands met every day.

“And now you will be ready to ask, What is doing in
Italy for the spread of the truth, and how does the work
succeed? The question, for many reasons, is difficult to
answer. I can say nothing of Rome, but that I believe
many of the people would hail the Bible, if it were put
within their reach. Throughout all Italy there is a prepa­
ration in the people‘s minds for this, and in many instances
far, far more. They desire to see the Book which is kept
from them. Tens of thousands of them have their eyes
open to the evil of Papacy. This is well, but it goes no
farther. In the case of thousands—yea, millions, attach­
ment to the Romish religion, if not to Pope and priests, is
as strong as ever. Even in Piedmont this is the case; and
in the case of others, here and there saving conversion has
followed the reading of the Word through the divine blessing.
This is especially true of Tuscany, where every effort is
made to keep it from them, and where the surveillance is
stricter—much stricter than ever it was before. Tuscany is
the tool of Austria, and yet the work goes on the more it is
tried to crush it, and souls are born to God Here and
there small companies meet for worship, and in wondrous
ways the truth finds entrance. Many are Protestants in
name, though not apparently savingly converted; but there
are undoubted trophies of grace, and much very much, to
cheer and encourage to prayer. I have no hesitation in saying,
if liberty were granted, thousands, many thousands, would
hail the gospel, and the demand for the Word would be so
great it could hardly be supplied. In Piedmont—the only
free country in Italy, and on which the hearts and affections
of so many are set—the work goes on in some places rapidly.
We must now separate the political from the spiritual. One
party—the greatest—seek political freedom, and others seek
to know the truth. A remarkable advance has been made.
The Word is finding entrance by thousands, and is read.
Men here and there, knowing the truth themselves, are
boldly declaring it, and the Lord is giving testimony to the
Word of his grace. One case has reached us of the Bible

io8                   AMONG THE WALDENSES.

given in the Crimea having been blessed. A soldier brought

one home, and gave it to a farmer near A------. He began

to read it with his wife and family, and all became deeply
interested His neighbours also came to hear it read, and
joined with the farmer and his family in sending for a Wal-
densian Evangelist; and thus a small church is formed in
the midst of a dark corner of Piedmont, which may yet
extend wider and wider, till many be embraced in its fold.
I do not know what may be the future of Italy. I cannot
say how soon revolution may shake it from one end to
another. I believe it is not far distant. Endurance has its
limits, and men may be made slaves only for a time. The
light is beginning again to rise on it Its progress we should
watch with fear and trembling, being neither too sanguine
nor depressed. We cannot estimate the value of one soul.
God has lighted a light—shaded for a time it may be—but
out it cannot be put, neither by popes nor princes—neither
by the fires of martyrdom nor the bolts of a prison. Our
duty is clear, our path open, our command plain. Prayer,
much prayer, must be made, and specially for God to raise
up men fitted to carry on his work, and in their devoted,
earnest, holy lives to exemplify the doctrines they teach.
We know his truth shall triumph, and triumph gloriously,
and that even now the first streaks of light on the horizon
are but the prelude of the full flood of light which shall yet
arise on this sin-blighted world.

“ Ever your affectionate friend,

" Mr. P. Drummond.”               Duncan Matherson.

“Turin, March 13th.
“ I have not had a minute to write you till now, for I
have been intensely occupied. I arrived at Genoa on the
6th, and remained three days. I could hardly walk a step
without soldiers running and saluting me, &c. I had much
joy in the presence of some of them, and on meeting some
English friends. On Sabbath I addressed a meeting in the
Free Church, and felt greatly assisted. On Monday I came
here, and immediately started for the Waldensian valleys.
Yes, I have seen them, and truly every spot is full of
interest. At La Tor I visited the college, church, and
Schools. What a simple, intelligent people! How can I

RETURN HOME.                               109

tell you of the scenes here! It is like the march of a con­
queror. I cannot move a step without being accosted.
Sixty soldiers have been round me in a circle at once.
Hundreds have shaken hands with me. Poor fellows ; they
are deeply, deeply grateful. I feel a deep, very deep, in­
terest in them. To­day I have been in the Parliament
House wfth Mr. Milan, the Vaudois deputy, and was much
and deeply interested. Truly freedom is here. Do forgive
my brevity. Every moment is occupied. I was in Florence
since Wnting you, and escaped, though carrying eight
copies of the Word into it. This is a wonderful field, and I
expect much to be done here. The Lord has helped me
to set many things in motion since my arrival. To Him
be the praise.”

In March, 1857, he brought his stay in Italy to a close.
This visit was in reality the accomplishment of a great
Christian work. He had been enabled to make his mark
on a vast number of the Italian officers and soldiers. “ The
Sardinians’ Friend" is not yet forgotten; and, while his
memory is treasured in many a brave heart, there can hardly
be a doubt that he was the divinely-chosen instrument of
enshrining the Word of God in the affections of thou­sands
who, but for his gigantic exertions, would have returned to
their native land to live and die in worse than Egyptian
darkness. That the fruit of this wide and prayerful sowing
of the seed, at the first blush of Italy’s spring, will be glory to
God in the salvation of many souls we cannot but believe.

Passing rapidly through France, he reached home ere yet
the sun of the northern summer had waxed hot. To rest,
to tell his story, and prepare for new labours, needed a

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