James Strahan.

Mary Crawford Brown : a memoir online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryJames StrahanMary Crawford Brown : a memoir → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ifo



MARY CRAWFORD BROWN



Other Works by PROFESSOR STRAHAN

The Marechale. New Edition (the seventh) in
the Press JAMES CLARKE & Co.

Andrew Bruce Davidson. HODDER & STOUGHTON
Hebrew Ideals. T. & T. CLARK. Third Edition

The Book of Job Interpreted. T. & T. CLARK

Second Edition

Si. Paul's Captivity and Pastoral Epistles.

MELROSE

Judges and Ruth (Peake's Commentary). JACK







(2



\J

MARY CRAWFORD
BROWN

A MEMOIR



BY

JAMES STRAHAN, D.D.



With thrtt illustrations in colour and eight portraits
in photogravure



LONDON

JAMES CLARKE & CO., LIMITED

13 & 14 FLEET STREET, E.C-4

1920



DEDICATED

TO ALL WHO HAVE GONE

FROM THE ISLE OF SAINTS

TO CARRY THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPKL

INTO HEATHEN LAND*



Cahill & Co., Ltd,, London, Dublin and Droghtda.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. THE LIGHTED TORCH

II. THE DEW OF YOUTH

III. THE FLOWER OF WOMANHOOD

IV. THE KINGDOM OF GOD

V. THE SANCTUARY OF HOME .

VI. THE SOCIETY OF ENCOURAGERS

VII. THE FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING

VIII. THE CROWN OF LIFE



PAGE

13
27

57
86
114
141
161
190



KKRATA.

Page 29, line 6, for "should" read "could."

56, ,, 4 from foot, for " haux " read "hauls."
69, ,, 6 from foot, omit " her."
,, TOO, ,, 2 from foot, for "spirit " read ''Spirit.''
,, 142, ,, 17, for "had" read "has."

155, ,, 4 from foot, add "s" to "exhibition."




DEDICATED

IO ALL WHO HAVE GONE

FROM THE ISLE OF SAINTS

TO CARRY THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPKL

INTO HEATHEN LANDS




ndon, Dublin and Drogheda.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER

I. THE LIGHTED TORCH

II. THE DEW OF YOUTH

III. THE FLOWER OF WOMANHOOD

IV. THE KINGDOM OF GOD

V. THE SANCTUARY OF HOME .

VI. THE SOCIETY OF ENCOURAGERS

VII. THE FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING

VIII. THE CROWN OF LIFE



ILLUSTRATIONS and PORTRAITS

Facing page

i. MARY CRAWFORD BROWN Frontispiece

ii. MARY'S MISSIONARY GRANDPARENTS . .16

III. MAINE MOUNT AND MOUNT RANDAL . . 2O

IV. MARY AS A SCHOOLGIRL . . 32
V. A STUDY OF HOLLYHOCKS . . -7

VI. SHORTLY BEFORE HER MARRIAGE . Il6

VII. AGHARAINY AND THE CHILDREN'S HOUSE . I 24

VIII. MRS. BROWN WITH LAURENCE AND OLIVER . 136

IX. LIEUT. LAURENCE CRAWFORD BROWN . 170

X. ALAN DAVID BROWN AND HIS SISTERS . 182

XI. THE EDITOR OF " WOMAN'S WORK " . 192



PREFACE

IT has been the writer's privilege to escape for a little
while from the routine of special studies and to hold
communion in spirit with one whose passage through
this world has been to many a convincing evidence of
the Divine reality of our Christian faith. This book is
written in order that every reader may enjoy the same
vivid and sacred friendship, heart yet speaking to heart
though the voice is still.

When a Scotsman, after but a short stay in Ireland,
was invited to prepare the Memoir of a gifted and
gracious Irishwoman a beautiful soul if there has been
one in our time the difficulties were so great and
obvious that he could only decline a task for which
he seemed to have no fitness. This happened more
than once, but there were influential people, in
particular some beloved missionaries, whose mild
persistence could not be ignored, and the decisive
appeal was made by the sisters of one of the writer's
first and dearest Irish friends, affectionately remem-
bered by all his comrades as " Willie Wilson of Cole-
raine," whose cross-marked grave in France James
Pyper of Duncairn and the writer visited together in
the last month of the war.



x PREFACE

If thoughts of foolhardiness and incompetence have
sometimes haunted the biographer in the fulfilment of
his promise, he has refused to heed them, being
assured that tasks in hours of insight willed can be
through hours of doubt there have been none of
gloom fulfilled.

The aim has been to make the Memoir, as far as
possible, a self-portraiture, that being the best way
to secure perfect fidelity to life. Warm thanks are
due to two of Mary's Parisian girl-friends and life-
long correspondents, Mile. Hlene Wehrlin, of Alsace,
and Miss Ella Martin, of Newry, County Down,
who had the wisdom to perceive the value of her
letters, written to the one mostly, though not
invariably, in French, and to the other nearly always
in English. By preserving each a sheaf of her
intimate, self-revealing messages, and putting them
all at the writer's disposal, they have considerably
eased his onerous task. It is hoped that the
numerous extracts from her French letters will read
smoothly enough in English. Some fragments of her
correspondence were also forwarded by Mary's
Norwegian school-friend, Emma Thomas, now Mrs.
Ramm. And after the Memoir was almost completed,
some fifty letters written to her son Oliver during his
period of service in Mesopotamia and convalescence
in India came into the writer's hands. These are in
some ways the most valuable of all.

The other data which have been woven into the
Memoir have been obtained in the course of talks
with Mary's kinsfolk in Belfast and at Donaghmore,



PREFACE xi

with her comrades in Church and Zenana work, with
her missionary friends at home on furlough, with her
associates in musical and educational circles, and with
young people whose spirits were touched to finer
issues by fellowship with her. Some of her friends,
such as Dr. William Park and Dr. George Thompson,
Mrs. R. H. Boyd and Miss Helen Waddell, have given
their memories and impressions in letters as well as
in conversation. In the use of the materials submitted
to him the writer has, of course, had a perfectly free
hand, and he alone is responsible for the manner in
which everything has been presented.

The book is pre-eminently a missionary biography.
That the work of Foreign Missions is the supreme
task of the Church Catholic, and that none of us can
follow Christ at all without following Him in spirit to
the ends of the earth, are facts recognised in our day
more fully than they have ever been since the time of
the Apostles. In a new epoch, and what looks like a
new earth, Christ's allied armies are at last being
mobilised for the grand crusade of the world's evangel-
isation. Faith is the invincible power that conquers
the world, and aught short of this victory is " too
light a thing."

The writer is conscious that his own share
in the great task has been almost nil. After
volunteering as a student for the Indian Mission Field
and being offered a Missionary College professorship
at three-and-twenty, he was, like the subject of this
Memoir, medically forbidden to go. But no one who
has once heard the Christian soldier's " marching



xii PREFACE

orders " can ever forget them, and it would be good
indeed if this imperfect Life of a brilliantly-gifted con-
temporary, who never saw a heathen land, but of
whom it is certain that Foreign Missions " haunted
her like a passion," were used to fan the fire of mis-
sionary enthusiasm among the ministers, students, and
people of the Church.

" We missionary folk," writes one of themselves in
The International Review of Missions, " stand con-
vinced that Christianity, as taught to the children and
as practised in the nation, has been robbed of force
and motive power by the strangely general omission of
its missionary bearing, its missionary ideals, and its
missionary demands." It is with a deep sense of the
justice of this reflection, and a humble desire to make
some amends, that this Memoir is reverently inscribed
to one company of those heroic men and women who
above all others have unquestionable claims to stand
in the true Apostolic Succession.



Thanks are due to Messrs. Chatto and Windus,
Publishers, for permission to use R. L. Stevenson '
verses, " Yet, O stricken heart," p. 189.



Mary Crawford Brown

CHAPTER I
THE LIGHTED TORCH

" SHE was the saint of our Church," were the quietly
emphatic words with which one of the Foreign
Mission conveners began a talk regarding the Chris-
tian lady whose memory this book seeks to enshrine.
" Yes," was the response, " and surely a very human
saint! " The adjective may well be stressed. Ireland
was the Isle of Saints men and women burning with
missionary zeal at a time when the greater part of
Europe was still shrouded in heathen darkness, and
Ireland has saints, both Roman and Protestant, among
her daughters to-day. Not a few of the former, per-
fectly true to their own ideal, are to be found, praise
God, among the sisters who dedicate their lives to
acts of piety and charity. The latter are taken
captive by a larger, fairer, and, one cannot help
thinking, far more truly Christian ideal of the

13



i 4 THE LIGHTED TORCH

spiritual life. Surrendering- none of the personal
liberty and moral dignity which Christ conferred on
woman, and choosing, in general, the home as the
best of all spheres of Christian activity, they not only
cultivate the arts and graces which, as handmaids of
religion, refine and beautify human life, but at the
same time widen, ennoble, and hallow all their interests
by a steadily burning enthusiasm for the Church's
imperial task of carrying the Gospel of Divine love
into every land. Alien in spirit to nothing in this
wonderful life of ours, except the sin which has
invaded it, and loving the whole great human family
for which Christ died, they are passionately earnest
in claiming the earih and its fulness for the Lord.

May the portrait of one of our modern Protestant
saints, splendidly Catholic in the only true sense of
the term, whom France gave to Ireland and Ireland
to the world, prove how free and full, how richly and
nobly human is the -life which, under constraint of
Christ's love, blends with the desire to adorn the
doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, the high
ambition to make His way known upon earth and His
salvation among all nations.

Mary Crawford, the only daughter of Sir William
and Lady Crawford, of Mount Randal, Belfast, was
well-born in the highest sense of the word, for she
received as a child what one of the Hebrew Prophets
calls "the goodliest heritage of the nations."*
Through her parents she fell heir to a noble, perhaps

*Jer. iii. 19. (R.V. margin).



THE MISSIONARY TRADITION ig

a unique tradition of missionary zeal and service. Her
paternal grandfather was one of the first four young-
Scotsmen, and her maternal grandfather one of the
first two young- Irishmen, who heard and obeyed the
Divine call to go and begin the evangelisation of
India's millions. When Alexander Crawford set out
from Scotland for the East in 1822, and again when
James M'Clure Glasgow left the shores of Ireland in
1840, their departure aroused an extraordinary interest
among all who could discern the signs of the times.
They were men compassed about with a great cloud
of witnesses. As they sped forth with their comrades
to carry their lighted torch into the darkness of
heathendom, every earnest mind in their homelands was
stiired, every tender heart moved by epoch-making
events which seemed to betoken a return of apostolic
fervour to the modern Protestant Church. Those two
heroic pioneers became bosom friends, and before the
younger of them ended his race, the missionary torch,
burning very brightly, passed into the hand of a girl
who, with the blood of both coursing in her veins,
seemed to inherit a double portion of the spirit of her
fathers.

The ancestors of the Crawfords were living a century
ago in classic Tweedside. Mary's grandfather
Alexander, the son of a Peebles working mason who
met his death by some accident, received that educa-
tion which Scotland knows how to bestow on every
" lad o' pairts," and the University of Edinburgh
opened her portals to him. Sacred learning was more
precious in his eyes than secular. Bred in the



16 THE LIGHTED TORCH

National Church in the early days of her Evangelical
Revival, and fired with the spirit of Brainerd and
Carey, he offered himself to the Scottish Missionary
Society (founded in 1796), and was sent to India a
year before Reginald Heber began his work in
Calcutta, and seven years before John Wilson landed
at Bombay.

With him went his young wife Anna Gardner, the
daughter of an Edinburgh man of business, whose
marriage was the happy end of a charming romance.
There never was any doubt of Anna's admiration for
the brave youth who had volunteered to go out into
the dark places of the earth. But the course of true
love did not run smooth in her home down in the old
Edinburgh Pleasance. Her parents were divided on
the great question of her future, for while the mother's
heart leapt up at the thought of giving a beloved
daughter to the Mission Field, the more cautious, yet
not less Christian father, doubting if " a man of fair
complexion 'I could stand the Indian climate, stoutly
refused his consent to the proposed union. So
Alexander Crawford had to set out sorrowfully
for India alone. But his ship was delayed for
three weeks in the Thames, and three weeks
afforded time enough for the young people to exchange
affectionate letters once more, time for the mother
and daughter to plead as they had never pled
before, time for the doubting father to change his
mind at last, and time, even in coaching days, for the
overjoyed lover to speed back to Edinburgh and perfect
his happiness.




REV ALEX CRAWFORD.



CRAWFORD.




REV JAMES GLASGOW, D.D.



GLASGOW.



THE GUIDING HAND 17

Before the biographer lies the long- and now much
faded letter to Anna, dated December 3oth, 1822,
which induced her good father to relent. It is a docu-
ment naturally treasured in the Crawford family.
The style, though not the matter, somehow reminds
one of Jane Austen. " It would," says the earnest
suitor, " have afforded me unspeakable pleasure if, by
one or other of those attempts which your dear mother
made, the barriers had been removed, and we had
been permitted to enter on the work of the Lord, and
to assist each other and strengthen and consolidate
our mutual affection while we swept over the face of
the mighty deep. But I must, and I trust I do, say,
' The will of the Lord be done. '

" I cannot help wondering, however, at your worthy
father. O, my dear, help me both by your prayers
and your affectionate conduct to obtain from God this
bles-sing for him and his family. The permission, the
high command must come from God, and patiently to
wait in the due use of means, cheerfully to submit to
His will, and actively to discharge the filial duties so
long as they are within your power, is the direct way
to obtain the desire of your heart. May the Spirit
who ' maketh intercession for the saints according to
the will of God ' lead and guide you in this and every-
thing else that will be for His giory.

" My dear Anna, it is perhaps not out of time yet.
Perhaps you wonder at me now, and are saying,
' Whence can this hope arise? ' I long ago told you
that I would not lay aside all hope till I had set my
foot on deck. Now, my Anna, the Lord has lengthened



,8 THE LIGHTED TORCH

out the time once more. The day after I received your
kind and affectionate letter, we called on the owner
of the Euphrates, and he told us she would not sail
for three weeks at the soonest, a space sufficiently
long; to settle that important business, much longer in
fact than some have taken for acquaintance and all.
I received this day from a doctor such information
with regard to my constitution and health as goes to
do away completely with the feeling which rested in
your father's mind about fair complexion. Also from
Mrs. R. , who has been in India five years ; her husband
is fair and has been in a state of excellent health all the
time and many others whom she knows personally.
This does not insure my life, but it does remove the
idea of your father.

" How pleasing it is to God to make a full and fre
surrender in the face of difficulties and dangers in the
faith that He will give strength and protection. But
what need to dwell on these things, for I am perfectly
persuaded that you are self-devoted in this very spirit.
I heartily wish, not so much for my own sake
as for the interest of that glorious cause to
which I have devoted myself, that your dear
father and friends would in the same spirit
and the same mind devote you to the same service.
My heart is yours, my arms are open, the ship is
ready, the field of labour is empty, and the heathen
are perishing while the Son of God is promising
strength, giving the command, and affording every
possible encouragement to engage in the glorious
work."



THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT 19

Human affairs are so mysteriously linked together
that great effects seem often to depend on very trivial
causes. Had the Euphrates obtained a fair wind and
sailed out of the estuary of the Thames at her
appointed time, many things would doubtless have
been altogether different. There are chains of circum-
stance in every life which can never have been forged
by chance. The wind bloweth where it listeth, but
even the winds and the sea are obedient to a higher
than natural law.

The Edinburgh girl of nineteen, who was so irre-
sistibly wooed and so happily won for the Indian
Mission Field, belonged to a Scottish family well
known for its attachment to the evangelical and mis-
sionary cause. " Two ever-welcome visitors in her
brother's house," writes her grand-nephew,* " were
William Burns, afterwards the devoted missionary to
China, and Robert Murray M'Cheyne. I have heard
one of my aunts say that more than once she was
awakened in the morning by hearing M'Cheyne's
sweet tenor voice singing the morning Psalm with
which he always began his private devotions. It was
no more disturbing than the song of a thrush or black-
bird in the summer morning. ... It was a
speech by M'Cheyne in the Synod of Ulster that led
to the foundation of the Irish Presbyterian Mission to
the Jews."

In that evangelical circle Anna had been one
of the first to catch the true missionary spirit,

* Mr. Thomas Gardner, Manager of the Edinburgh Life
Assurance Company.



ao THE LIGHTED TORCH

and most gladly would she have spent all her
life in the Indian Mission Field. But a second
time the whole disposing of her lot was " of the
Lord," who now seemed to thwart rather than further
h^r purpose. Her cautious father's fears were after
all partially justified. Seven years of earnest and
fruitful labour at Bankot, seventy miles south of
Bombay, were all that her husband was permitted to
give to India. The state of his health obliged him to
bring his family home, and to his great sorrow he
was forbidden to return to the East. But what a
sacred memory for himself and his children the eldest
ones Indian-born were those seven missionary years I
And the home-coming which involved a heavy loss to
the Scottish Mission in India proved a great gain to
Ireland, for after spending a short time in England as
one of Lady Huntingdon's preachers, Mr. Crawford
accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of
Randalstown, in County Antrim. There he built for
himself the home of " Maine Mount," which has been
dear to three generations of Crawfords, and there ho
laboured for the rest of his life, doing very much all
the time to foster a missionary spirit in the Church
and land of his adoption. Old Randalstown
people* still remember his saintly character, his fervent
preaching, his frequent open-air services, and one of
his converts has told the writer how his face used
to shine like Stephen's whenever he spoke of the love
of Christ.

* As the venerable Dr. West, of Antrim, testifies.




MAINE MOUNT, RANDALSTOWN.




MOUNT RANDAL, BELFAST.



ST. ANNA'S BLESSING ai

The heroine of the above romance, who left
Edinburgh ninety-eight years ago to serve Christ in
the Indian Mission Field, was Mary Crawford's grand-
mother. In the Bankot Mission House and the
Randalstown Manse she became the mother of five
sons and five daughters, to whom she left the sacred
heritage of her Christian faith and missionary zeal.
Eight of them have ended their pilgrimage. The two
youngest sons, Robert and William now Sir William,
Mary's father are spending the peaceful eventide of
life in their Belfast homes.

Grandmother Anna survived her husband by six-
and-twenty years. " Keen and vigorous in mind, well
versed in evangelical literature,"* she lived at Maine
Mount till Mary was a girl of fifteen, and it is signifi-
cant that they had many opportunities of talking
together. The Rev. F. S. Gardiner of Kingstown,
Mary's cousin, depicts a closing scene in the life of
this aged saint, who must have greatly resembled
the Anna of the Gospel story.

" I remember her well," he writes, " and her
memory is very fragrant to me. The first time I visited
Ireland with my father, and stayed at Maine Mount, I
was too much of a boy to be taking much note of
character. But in 1882, when I was ordained minister
of First Coleraine, she sent for me, and I shall never
forget that interview. Her eyes brightened when I
came into her room, for she was eagerly expecting
me. The spiritual atmosphere was very tense. She
renlised that she would soon pass within the veil, and
* As the Rev. J. E. Ferguson, of Randalstown, recalli.



22 THE LIGHTED TORCH

she anticipated it with holy joy. I remember her tell-
ing me that she had been praying- for me during- the
hour in which I was being- ordained. And before I
said good-bye, she placed her hands on my head and
offered up a tender prayer that mine might be a soul-
saving ministry. I left the room feeling that I had
been in the presence of a saint of God, very ripe for
her heavenly home. In a few days she had gone to
be with Him whom her soul loved."

Mary became heir to an equally noble missionary
tradition through her mother, now Lady Crawford,
whose father, Dr. James M'Clure Glasgow, was one
of the most notable Ulstermen of his time. Sprung,
as his name indicated, from some old Scottish stock,
and born at Clough in County Antrim, he became
a Belfast student of rare distinction, excelling first as
a mathematician and then as a Hebraist. He was
ordained to the ministry at Castledawson, in County
Derry, but he had laboured there only a short time
when he received an unmistakable call to a higher and
harder service, being selected by the first General
Assembly of the united Presbyterian Church in Ireland
as one of its two first missionaries to India.

Mr. Glasgow regarded the mandate of his brethren
as indicating for him the will of God. Soon after his
appointment he married Mary Wightman of Lisburn,
and together they sailed for the East amid the prayers
of the whole Church. Acting on the advice of John
Wilson, the apostle of Western India, the Irish
Mission Board chose the province of Kathiawar as its
first field of operations, and there Mr. Glasgow gave



THE MISSIONARY JUBILEE 23

his Church " four-and-twenty years of exceptionally
toilsome, trying and telling service."* He became a
Fellow of the University of Bombay, and a member
of the Royal Asiatic Society. Coming home in 1864,
he was appointed by the General Assembly as Professor
of Oriental Languages, and became widely known as
the author of a learned commentary on the Apoca-
lypse, f

He is best remembered, however, as a man of mis-
sionary enthusiasm, who longed for the conversion of
Jew and Gentile, putting his deepest emotions into such
wistful verses as these :

Oh ! when shall those who slumber

As still and deep as death,
A vast uncounted number,

Feel the awaking breath?

When shall the Jews who stumble,

And their Messiah spurn,
In heart and spirit humble

Back unto Him return?

Dr. Glasgow lived till 1890, the fiftieth year of the
Church's Indian Mission, and it was a striking fact
that the old pioneer went to his rest on the very day
before the public celebration of the historic event, as
if he had received a call to keep his Jubilee in Heaven
rather than on earth.

* Robert Jeffrey, Indian Mission of the Irish Presbyterian
Church, p. 171.

t Published by T. & T. Clark in 1872.



?4 THE LIGHTED TORCH

Five daughters had been born to Mr. and Mrs.
Glasgow in India. The two eldest died there in
infancy, and the others, Mary, Annie, and Harriet,
were brought home, as all Anglo-Indian children must
be, for their upbringing. They were educated at
Walthamstow School for the Daughters of Mission-
aries since removed to Sevenoaks and always looked
back upon those years with grateful memories, the
school being one of high ideals and warm interest in
missionary enterprise. Annie Coulson Glasgow, who
was born at Surat, one of the chief cities of Gujarat,
was but eighteen when she became the wife of the


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryJames StrahanMary Crawford Brown : a memoir → online text (page 1 of 14)