Monuments of Westminster
Very likely you have never even heard the name of Lord Shaftesbury; but as you will be sure to read and hear of him by-and-by, I will tell you a little about what he did, and why a monument was put up in his memory. He was born in 1801, and died in 1885, and so was an old man of eighty-four when he died. He spent all his long life in trying to make other people—especially the poorest and most miserable he could find—more happy and more comfortable. He was a great nobleman, and very rich, and he gave most of his time to finding out the cause of the suffering of the poorest people in England, and, when he had found it out, he helped to make laws to improve things for them, and, if money was wanted, he gave that too. But he gave away his money wisely and well; he never was taken in by idle people and beggars who would not work for themselves; his motto seems to have been to "help those who help themselves," and one name by which he was known was "The Working Man's Friend." But especially may he be remembered by all children for what he did for children. More than fifty years ago, when first machines (spinning machines and weaving machines) were invented in the great cotton factories in England, it was found that children could work them just as well as men and women; and as children would not have to be paid so much as men, the masters of the mills began to employ them. Quite tiny children, sometimes not more than five years old, and so small that they often had to be lifted up on stools to reach their work, were made to toil in the mills and factories all day, and sometimes all night too. They were treated like little slaves. If they did not work fast enough, they were beaten and kicked by their masters; and they spent all their days in hot rooms, hearing nothing but the whirring of the machines, and stopping their work only for about half an hour in the middle of the day for their dinner, which was generally only black bread and porridge, and sometimes a little bacon. They had no time for play, and they had no time to rest, except on Sundays, and then they were too tired to move from the berths (or shelves) where they slept, for they did not even have proper beds.
Then, again, there were the children who worked in coal-mines, who spent all their days in damp, dark mines, who never saw the sun, and who had to draw the trucks filled with coal, or carry great baskets full of it on their backs. And all this they began to do before they were six years old.
When Lord Shaftesbury saw these things—for he went into the mills and the factories, and he went down into the mines—he made up his mind that something must be done for such children. So he made speeches in Parliament, in which he told of the cruelty with which thousands of English children were treated; and at last laws were made by which it was forbidden to let such little children work in mines and factories at all, and by which older children were given shorter hours to work and more time for rest and fresh air. All this and much more Lord Shaftesbury did during his long life, and when at last he died, this monument was put up in Westminster Abbey with these words on it, so that people who had never known him might be always reminded of the way he spent his life:—
BORN 1801; DIED 1885.
ENDEARED TO HIS COUNTRYMEN BY A LONG
LIFE SPENT IN THE CAUSE OF THE
HELPLESS AND SUFFERING.
Close to Lord Shaftesbury, there is a monument to a great soldier, General Gordon, who was killed in Egypt in 1885—the same year that Lord Shaftesbury died. He fought in the Crimean War and in China, and was often called "Chinese Gordon." All the soldiers who served under him were so fond and proud of him that they would have done anything for him. He was very brave, and it was well known that he would always be in the front rank to lead his men when there was a battle, and this, more than anything else, made him popular. He himself never was armed except with a little cane, which his soldiers called "the wand of victory." Once when he was wounded his men wanted to carry him out of the battle, but he would not allow it, and went on leading them till he fainted from pain and weakness.
Lord Shaftesbury, the great statesman, died in England, with all his many friends near him, and General Gordon, the great soldier, was killed by savages while he was shut up in Khartoum, a town in Africa, where he was besieged; but their two monuments are close together in Westminster Abbey, and they were alike in one thing—they both did all they could to help other people. Of course, Gordon had not time to do so much as Lord Shaftesbury, but when he was not fighting he lived in England, and then "his house," said a gentleman who knew him, "was school and hospital and alms-house in turn. The poor, the sick, and the unfortunate were all welcome. He always took a great delight in children, but especially in boys employed on the river or the sea. Many he rescued from the gutter, cleansed them and clothed them, and kept them for weeks in his house. For their benefit he established reading classes. He called them his kings, and for many of them he got berths on board ship. One day a friend asked him why there were so many pins stuck into the map of the world over his mantelpiece. He was told they marked and followed the course of the boys on their voyages; that they were moved from point to point as his youngsters advanced, and that he prayed for them as they went night and day. The light in which he was held by those lads was shown by inscriptions in chalk on the fences. A favourite one was "God bless the Kernel," which was their way of spelling "colonel," for he was at that time Colonel Gordon.
But I must not stay to tell you more of him now, for there are many other people I want you to hear about. "This Abbey," Dean Stanley used to say, "is full of the remembrances of great men and famous women. But it is also full of the remembrances of little boys and girls whose death shot a pang through the hearts of those who loved them, and who wished that they should never be forgotten."
So now, not far from the monuments to these two great men, we come upon the tombs of two boys who are buried here: one Edward Mansell, a boy of fourteen, who died as long ago as 1681; and another Edward, Edward de Carteret, a little boy "seven yeares and nine months old," who "dyed the 30th day of October, 1677." His father and mother put nothing on his tomb to tell us about him except that he was a "gentleman;" but that one word tells us much, for it means, said Dean Stanley, that "they believed—and no belief can be so welcome to any father or mother—they believed that their little son was growing up truthful, manly, courageous, courteous, unselfish, and religious." And if this little boy had tried to be a "gentleman" in this true and best sense of the word, it does not seem out of place that he should be buried in the Abbey among great men and famous women.
Close by little Edward de Carteret is buried Sir Isaac Newton. There is on the floor a plain grey stone with these few words in Latin on it, "Hic depositum quod mortale fuit Isaaci Newtoni," which means, "Here lies what was mortal of Isaac Newton." Sir Isaac Newton was one of the most celebrated Englishmen who ever lived, and made wonderful discoveries in science, especially in astronomy, by which his name is known all over the world. He was born on Christmas Day, 1642, and lived to be seventy-five years old. In spite of being so learned and so famous, he was always modest about what he knew, and believed that what he had learned and discovered was only a very, very little bit of all there was to learn and discover in the world and about the world. When he was quite an old man, some one was saying to him one day how much he had done and how wonderful his discoveries were, and he answered, "To myself I seem to have been as a child picking up shells on the seashore, while the great ocean of truth lay unexplored before me."
Just above the grey stone in the floor there is a large statue of Sir Isaac Newton, sitting with his head resting on his hands as though he were thinking, and a great pile of books by his side.
I have already told you about General Gordon. I now come to the story of another great soldier, Sir James Outram, who is buried in the Abbey. The graves of Sir James Outram and of David Livingstone, a great traveller and missionary, and of Lord Lawrence, who was the Governor-General of India, and who did a great deal for the natives while he lived among them, are all close together, and there is something interesting to tell you about all these three men, especially Sir James Outram and David Livingstone.
If you have read or heard anything of the story of the Indian Mutiny, when the native soldiers of India rebelled against the English who governed them, and killed hundreds of men, women, and children, you must, I think, have heard the names of Lord Lawrence and Sir James Outram.
During the years he had lived among them, the natives of India had grown so fond of Lord Lawrence, that when the mutiny (or rebellion) broke out, the men of the Punjaub (which was the part of India he then governed) said they would be true to the man who had been good to them, and so they fought for England with the few English soldiers who were then in India, and helped us to conquer the rebels. Lord Lawrence has been called the "Saviour of India," because he came to the help of his fellow-countrymen with these Indian soldiers just when he was most terribly needed.
Later on, in the same war, came the siege of Lucknow. Lucknow was one of the chief cities of India, but the streets were long and narrow and dirty, and most of the houses were poor and mean. Among them, however, were some magnificent palaces and temples. The Residency, the house where the English governor of Lucknow lived, was built on a hill above the river, and all round it were the offices and the bungalows of the English who were living there. When the mutiny broke out, it was soon seen that the native soldiers would attack the English in Lucknow, and the people at once set to work to make as many preparations against them as they could. To begin with, Sir Henry Lawrence, who was in command of the soldiers both English and Indian, and who was the brother of Lord Lawrence, of whom we spoke just now, ordered all the women and children to come and live in the Residency, which was supposed to be the safest place in Lucknow. Then guns, powder and shot, and food were brought in and stored in the cellars. At last, at nine o'clock on the evening of the 30th of May, 1857, when the officers were quietly at dinner, nearly all the native soldiers in Lucknow suddenly rose against the English. They loaded their guns, and fired at every one they could see; they broke into the houses, and, after stealing everything they could, set fire to them; and all night there was nothing to be heard save the savage yells of the rebels and the firing of the guns, and nothing to be seen but fighting men and burning houses. About five hundred of the native soldiers were true to the English, and they stayed with them and fought against their rebellious countrymen through all the long siege of Lucknow. For though the rebels were beaten at their first rising by the English, yet in a month or two they rose again, and then every one, including the soldiers, was driven by the enemy into the Residency, which was the last place of refuge.
Some day, perhaps, you will read a poem by Lord Tennyson called "Lucknow," which describes all the terrible things that happened during the "eighty-seven" days the English and the faithful natives were shut up in the Residency, on the topmost roof of which, as he says, the "banner of England blew" during the whole siege, though it was shot through by bullets, and torn and tattered, and faded in the hot Indian summer sun.
One of the first things that happened was that Sir Henry Lawrence was killed. He was lying on his bed one morning talking to an officer, when a shell was fired from a cannon into his room. It burst as it fell, and some of its fragments wounded Sir Henry so terribly that he died the next day. Almost the last thing he said to the other officers was to beg them never to give in to the natives, but to fight as long as there was an English man left alive. Lord Lawrence, his brother, who died some years afterwards, was buried, as you remember, in Westminster Abbey; but Sir Henry Lawrence was carried out of the Residency while the fighting was going on, and the bullets were falling like rain, and buried side by side with some private soldiers who had also been killed by the rebels. On his gravestone they put these words, which he himself had asked should be written there, "Here lies Henry Lawrence, who tried to do his duty."
This was on the 4th of July, and Sir Henry Lawrence had said he thought it would be possible to defend the Residency for a fortnight. But as time went on the English grew fewer and fewer; every day more soldiers were killed, and every day many died of their wounds, while those who were left alive had to fight day and night. The English ladies nursed the sick men, and cooked the food, which they used to bring out to those who were fighting; and they looked after the children, very many of whom died too. For it was the hottest time of the year in India—a time when English children are sent away to the hills to get fresh air—and, besides suffering from the heat, they missed all the comforts they were accustomed to; they had no milk and very little to eat, and they were terrified by the noise of the firing and all the confusion.
But still the fighting went on day after day, long after the fortnight was over, and day after day the enemy saw the English flag still flying on the roof of the Residency, and began to think they never would conquer this brave little band of Englishmen.
All this time, however, though they did not know it in the Residency, Sir James Outram and Sir Henry Havelock, with more English soldiers, were fighting their way to Lucknow.
They had both been for many years in India, and were two of the bravest and best men who could possibly have been sent to the relief of the little band who had been besieged for so many weeks. On the 23rd of September, nearly twelve weeks after the day Sir Henry Lawrence died, it was heard in Lucknow that Sir James Outram and Sir Henry Havelock were close by, and on the 25th the Highlanders were in the city and fighting their way through the narrow streets to the Residency. Then from every window and every balcony and every roof the rebels fired down on them. Many were killed and more were wounded. A story is told, by Mr. Archibald Forbes, of two Irishmen who were in the Highland regiment. "They were great friends, named Glandell and M'Donough, and in going through one of these narrow streets M'Donough's leg was broken by a bullet. He fell, but he was not left to die, for his friend who was by him took him on his back and trudged on with his heavy burden. Although he was carrying M'Donough, Glandell determined to fight at the same time, so when there was a chance to fire a shot, he propped his wounded comrade up against a wall and took up his rifle instead; then he would pick up M'Donough again and stagger cheerily on till a place of safety was reached."
At last the gate of the Residency was in sight of the relieving force, and then the besieged people looking out saw through the smoke officers on horseback—Outram with a great cut across his face, and one arm in a sling, on a big white horse, and Havelock walking by his side (for his horse had been shot), and the Highlanders in their kilts and for the most part in their shirt-sleeves, with no coats on. "Then," wrote some one who had been all these weeks in the Residency—"then all our doubts and fears were over, and from every pit, trench, and battery, from behind the sand-bags piled on shattered houses, from every post still held by a few gallant spirits, even from the hospital, rose cheer on cheer." Sir James Outram's horse shied at the gate, but with a shout the Highlanders hoisted him through; Sir Henry Havelock followed, "and then in rushed the eager soldiers, powder-grimed, dusty, and bloody, . . . and all round them as they swarmed in crowded . . . the fighting men of the garrison, and the civilians whom the siege had made into soldiers, and women weeping tears of joy, and the sick and the wounded who had crawled out of the hospital to welcome their deliverers. The ladies came down among the soldiers to shake their hands, and the children hugged them." "We were all rushing about," said a lady, "to give the poor fellows drinks of water, for they were perfectly exhausted; and tea was made, of which a large party of tired, thirsty officers partook without milk and sugar, and we had nothing to give them to eat. Every one's tongue seemed going at once with so much to ask and to tell, and the faces of utter strangers beamed on each other like those of dearest friends and brothers." So ended the siege of Lucknow. Sir Henry Havelock had not been wounded, but he had suffered much from hard work and from having so little to eat. "I find it not so easy to starve at sixty as at forty-seven," he said one day. At last, in November, he became very ill, and when Sir James Outram went to see him in the common soldier's tent which he had always used since he had been in Lucknow, he told him that he was going to die; "but I have for forty years so ruled my life that when death came I might face it without fear," he added. He died on the 24th of November, 1857, and was buried just outside Lucknow, under a mango tree, and even now the letter H, which was carved in the bark—for no other monument could be put up to his memory in those days of war and disturbance—can just be seen, more than thirty years afterwards.
Sir James Outram was nursed in Dr. Fayrer's house in Lucknow until he was well, and three years afterwards, in 1860, he left India and came back to England. Then he had many honours shown him; but, like Sir Henry Havelock, he felt the effects of all he had gone through in India, and gradually he became more ill, and was at last sent to the south of France, where he died on the 11th of March, 1863. His body was brought to England and buried in the Abbey under the grey stone which you will see in the nave, and on it were written these words—
BORN JAN. 29TH, 1805; DIED MAR. 11TH, 1863,
"THE BAYARD OF INDIA."
I remember, in one of the sermons which he used to preach to children, Dean Stanley spoke of this grave of Sir James Outram, and said, "There was a famous French soldier of bygone days whose name you will see written in this Abbey on the gravestone of Sir James Outram, because in many ways he was like Bayard. Bayard was a small boy—only thirteen—when he went into his first service, and his mother told him to remember three things: first, to fear and love God; secondly, to have gentle and courteous manners to those above him; and thirdly, to be generous and charitable, without pride or haughtiness, to those beneath him; and these three things he never forgot, which helped to make him the soldier without fear and without reproach." And it was in these three things that Sir James Outram was supposed to be so like the French soldier, Bayard.
One more thing I must tell you before we pass on to David Livingstone. On the morning of the day when Outram was to be buried, some Highland soldiers came to his house and asked to be allowed to carry the coffin on their shoulders down to the Abbey. They were some men from the 78th Regiment—the very same men who had fought under him at the relief of Lucknow, and who had been with him when Sir Henry Havelock was buried under the mango tree; and they came now hoping to carry the body of Sir James Outram to his burial. Unfortunately, they were too late, and were told, much to their disappointment, that this was impossible because other arrangements had been made.
We come now to David Livingstone, the great traveller and missionary. He was born in Scotland in 1813. His father and mother were very poor, and when he was ten years old he was sent to work in a cotton factory. He grew up to be a very extraordinary man, as you will see, and he certainly was a very unusual boy. He saved up his wages, and the first thing he bought was a Latin grammar, from which he used to learn in the evenings after he left his work; and so interested was he that he often went on till twelve o'clock at night, when his mother took away the book and sent him to bed, for he had to be at the factory at six every morning. When he grew up he became a missionary, and went to Africa, where he made many discoveries, travelling into parts of the country where no one had ever been before, and teaching the natives, who were quite ignorant and wild, but who grew very fond of this "white man who treated black men as his brothers"—for so one native chief described him—and who cared for them, and doctored them when they were ill, and gave up all his life to them. He had all sorts of adventures. Once he lived for some time in a place which was full of lions, who used to come and kill the cattle even in the day time. The people made up their minds to try to kill one lion; for if one of a party of lions is killed, the rest generally go away. Livingstone went out with them, and they found the lions on a little hill covered with trees. Some of the men fired, but did not hit any of them. Presently Livingstone "saw one of the beasts sitting on a rock, behind a little bush"—these are his own words—"about thirty yards off. I took a good aim at his body through the bush, and fired at him. The men then called out, 'He is shot—he is shot!' others cried out, 'He has been shot by another man, too; let us go to him.' I did not see any one else shoot at him, but I saw the lion's tail erected in anger behind the bush, and, turning to the people, said, 'Stop a little till I fire again.' When in the act of ramming down the bullets I heard a shout. Starting and looking half round, I saw the lion in the act of springing on me. I was upon a little height. He caught my shoulder as he sprang, and we both came to the ground together. Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier dog does a rat." It was wonderful that Livingstone did not seem to feel any pain or fear; he said he seemed to be in a kind of dream, but knew quite well all that was happening. Of course, in another minute he would have been killed, had not some of the people fired again at the lion and this time killed it. But Livingstone never afterwards could use quite easily the arm which the lion had crushed. During his travels he discovered Lake Nyassa, which you can find marked now on every map of Africa. Before he went there all that part of the country used to be marked "unexplored."
For more than thirty years Livingstone lived in Africa, always travelling about, and finding new tribes of natives, all of whom he got to know, and all of whom became fond of him; and at last, when he died in a little hut which his black servants had built for him in the middle of one of these great African forests, Susi and Chumah, two of his followers, who had been with him for many years, came all the way to England with the body of their dead master. On the day when he was buried, the Abbey was crowded with people who came from all parts of England and Scotland; and among all the white faces were seen two black ones, for the faithful servants stood close by the grave; and Dean Stanley, who read the service, said afterwards that he had never seen two men seem more broken-hearted. On his tombstone you will read of one more thing which he did for the natives whilst he lived among them; and that was, to help to abolish the slave-trade in Central Africa. He was sixty years old when he died, and he had worked all his life to raise the lives of thousands of African savages into something better and happier.
Many other great men I have no time to tell you about, but there are two more, of whom I particularly want you to hear a few words—Henry Fawcett and Sir John Franklin. Henry Fawcett was not a soldier, nor a great traveller, but he was known for many years all over England as the "Blind Postmaster-General." He was not born blind, and why I want to tell you about him is to show you what a brave man can do when such a terrible misfortune as becoming blind happens to him. He was born in 1833, and died in 1884, and for twenty-six years of his life he was quite blind. He lost his sight in this way. He was out shooting one day with his father, who fired at a bird without noticing that his son was close by. Suddenly he saw that some of the shots, instead of hitting the bird, had hit his son in the eyes. Henry Fawcett was wearing spectacles, and a shot went through each of the glasses, making a little round hole in them, and then going on into his eyes. From that moment he never saw again. His first thought, he afterwards told his sister, was that he should never again see the lovely view, and the colours of the autumn leaves on the trees, as he had seen them a moment before; his second thought was to try and do everything he could to comfort his father, who must need comfort almost as much as he did himself. So, at twenty-five years of age, Henry Fawcett, who had made up his mind to work hard as a barrister—for he was very poor—and make enough money to go into Parliament, which had been his great wish ever since he was at school, suddenly found all his plans and all his hopes upset. But his courage never gave way; he determined that his blindness should not make him a helpless, disappointed man. "In ten minutes after the accident," he said some years later, "he had made up his mind that he would stick to what he had meant to do." And so he did. He had been a great rider, a great skater, and a great fisherman, and all these things he kept up. He skated with his friends, holding on to a stick by which they guided him; he rode, he fished, he walked, behaving in all things as though he were not blind. He was obliged to give up being a barrister, but he became a professor at Cambridge. He wrote in papers and magazines (of course some one had to do the actual writing for him, but he dictated it), and at last, when he was thirty-two years old, that is to say, seven years after the accident, he achieved his object, and became member of Parliament (the Blind Member, he was sometimes called) for Brighton.
It would take too long to tell you of all the work he did for his country after he was in Parliament, but he was always trying to improve things; he was never idle, and at last, when he was made Postmaster-General, he hardly ever had time for a holiday. He was a favourite with every one, and, when he was ill, telegrams and letters used to come from all parts of England to ask after him. He always took a great interest in other blind people, and was fond of saying to them, "Do what you can to act as though you were not blind; be of good courage, and help yourselves." And to his friends, and all who had blind friends or relations, he was never tired of saying, "Do not treat us as though you pitied us for our misfortune; the kindest thing that can be done or said to a blind person is to help him as far as possible to be of good cheer, to give him confidence that help will be afforded him whenever necessary, that there is still good work for him to do, and, the more active his career, the more useful his life to others, the more happy his days to himself." These are his own words. They are brave words; but Henry Fawcett was, as you have seen, a brave man, and fought and conquered all the great difficulties with which his blindness surrounded him, with as much courage as Sir James Outram showed when he fought his way into Lucknow, or David Livingstone when he journeyed through the deserts and forests of Africa. And that is why a memorial of him was put up in Westminster Abbey by the people of England, who subscribed for it, so that the heroic life of the Blind Postmaster-General should never be forgotten.
Sir John Franklin was a sailor and a great Arctic explorer, who made many expeditions, and went nearer to the North Pole than any man had ever been before. He and his companions endured every kind of hardship in the ice and the snow of the Arctic regions. He died on his third expedition, just two years after last leaving England, and was buried in the far-away cold North amidst the snow under slabs of ice. On the monument in Westminster Abbey, which was put up in his memory by his wife, Lady Franklin, are written the words "O ye frost and cold, O ye ice and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise Him, and magnify Him for ever." The story of the expedition is a very sad one, for, during the winter after Sir John's death, it became clear to the sailors that the ships were so fast in the ice, which had closed in and frozen all round them, that they would never be able to move again. So at last, nearly all the provisions being exhausted, the men abandoned their ships, and with boats and sledges, which they carried or dragged over the ice, set out to walk southwards in the hope that they might at last reach the unfrozen sea and meet a ship. But this they never did, for they were starved and ill, and although another expedition had been sent from England to look for them, it was too late to save them. The only traces ever found of them were their skeletons, and the boats and sledges, containing many books and papers which Sir John had written, saying how far he had been, and what he had done on this voyage from which he never returned.
His epitaph, written by Lord Tennyson, is one of the most beautiful in the Abbey—