« PreviousContinue »
ABOVE THE WATERFLOODS.
the sunshine the longings grew keen again and while waiting we drove to Cortina. And so we saw the Dolomites after all, better than we should have done if there had been no break in the road and we had left on the day we meant. We spent our Sunday there enjoying the glorious scene as only those could do who had been in cloud and rain for days. Everyone else in our prison drove there too. We laughed with each other as prisoners en parole let out for a time but bound to return. Many men were at work on the road so that we had only to walk in one place where the road had been completely washed away.
Then came the day of escape, Wednesday, September 27th. We only left two prisoners behind, and they were kept captive still by, their heavy boxes. We had brought very little, so it was no hindrance now. The first part was hardly a drive, it was more of a drag. Here and there the road was good but there came constant breaks, and we had to make rounds through mud or meadows or over a rough by-way. The first village was three miles off and we had heard of its desolation. But we had pictured nothing like the reality. The whole village had been flooded, and the damp mark on the outer walls showed how high the water bad come. But that was not the worst. Nearly every house along the river had one side torn away, leaving the inside open. On one bare spot six houses had stood, now torn away so completely that not one single plank was left to show where they had been. A little further and the road came to a sudden end, broken by the terrible river. Here our bags were shouldered by two guides, and we said good-bye to our driver; and now began our walk, or rather, scramble.' We kept above the river, in full view of its fearful work. All along, its like a beach after a wreck, strewn with broken wood, here a piece of roof, there a door, and there a piece of flooring. And still the river rushed on, brown and wild, far larger than usual. But when we came to the next village it surpassed every imagination. The bridge had been carried away, and we had to cross the furious river on planks. On the other side was a terrible sight. The whole village filled with stones several feet deep ; carried by a new torrent which had surprised the village from behind, falling suddenly from a great height, and sweeping away house after bouse, and breaking open others in its awful race. Only five houses were unhurt. Men were at work, but in an aimless way, hardly knowing where to begin. One little child sat on the ruins of its home, the bared walls bearing still the picture of some saint or the Virgin. No one begged, even when we looked and spoke our deep sympathy. It was terrible. I could hardly have believed the devastation if I had not seen it. To many of the poor people it means such lasting poverty, for not only are their homes destroyed, but the whole harvest, and also their fields, for whole fields which edged the river have been broken away, bit by bit, or else covered with slimy soil.
After crossing another river on planks, we vuld drive to Brüneck. As we drove, we could see how fearfully the railway was damaged. We should have been there now if we had waited for it. Sometimes it.
its banks were
ABOVE THE WATERFLOODS.
entirely disappeared in the river below; sometimes the embankment was washed away, leaving the rails and the sleepers hanging across the gaps, like a suspension bridge.
When we reached Brüneck we found that thirty-four houses had been destroyed or shaken there. The river was still terribly full and strong, and one house still stood in it. Here we met the railway. The trains had begun to run again three days before. We went along very cautiously, the same desolation marking all the line of the river. After a few miles we were stopped by a red flag in front. Here we all got out and walked round, for here the river had again torn away the line for some distance. At the other side we waited for some time, until another train took us on. For the rest of the way it was not so much houses destroyed, but fields, for the river had carried down so much slime or sand that it had deposited it on the fields that it flooded. In some places it was deep as the fence, and it was piteous to see just the tops of the Indian corn waving above this solid mass of mud.
When we reached the junction, where there is a great fortress looking down the mountains on both sides, and two or three houses, we found there was no train further that evening. So we had to sleep here, but for only half a night, for we had to be astir by two o'clock the next morning. After four hours more we reached Innsbruck, too thankful for words; praising for our own deliverance, but yet with very aching hearts for the thousands of poor people who have lost all. The desolation we saw was only a part, for the rivers which caused it were only just beginning their race. Every mile further they grew stronger and fuller, and several large towns were flooded, and in one city, Verona, the people would have starved if Venice had not sent them bread by boats. Not only the grapes are all destroyed, but the very vines, as they too are flooded in mud. We in England cannot realise it. Our rivers may expand and flood, and do great mischief in that way, but when mountain rivers are swelled, they plunge down their steep courses with such tremendous force, that nothing can resist them. Many are sending help to the poor people, but all that can be given will go very little way to replace their loss. They know very little of the Bible, but they practise all they know, and at four o'clock one morning a long procession of them was seen toiling up to a certain chapel on the hill-side, because they thought their prayer might be better heard there, and for an hour and a half they stood in the pitiless rain.
“God is love," nothing alters that; and His judgments are to remind us that He is supreme, and we are entirely dependent on Him. And when we own it, the very judgments become blessings, for now we cling to Him alone. May that be one result to these poor people of this fearful and life-long disaster. And to ourselves may the preservation mean increased devotion to Him, who sitteth “ABOVE THE WATERFLOODS,” as King for ever !
UR Veterans ?” Who are they? It is one of the glories of
our country, that of many grand old man who has fought and endured bravely for their country, we can say,
" He is one of our Veterans !” But there are some who never wore a' uniform of whom we can say with a still deeper admiration : “ They are our Veterans !" Men who, clothed in “the armour of God," have seen years of service in the
army of the King of kings, led by “the Captain of our salvation,” Christ Jesus, and using “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
It is of some of this " band of warriors” that the book (“Our Veterans ; or, Life Stories of the London City Mission."*) from which we have our picture-"Entrance to the Rookery Districts ”—tells. Before we think of their work, let us face some facts about their battle field.
“ London is the greatest city the world ever saw. Babylon, Thebes, Rome, were never so populous; while the largest city in India at the present time contains less than a million inhabitants. Within the borders of its metropolitan and police districts it is computed there are at the present time more than four and a-half millions of souls. London is four times more populous than Washington, seven times more populous than St. Petersburg, nearly two and a half times more populous than Paris, more than four times as populous as Berlin, and nearly five times as populous as the great city of Pekin. All Scotland does not equal it in the number of its people, and the inhabitants of nine Liverpools, or forty Brightons, would find accommodation within its boundaries. Every five minutes a soul goes out of London to its account before the great Judge; and every three minutes a new immortal enters upon this scene of its probation."
It is here that the City Missionaries work and “from intimate association with our Veterans we know that their consuming desire is the manifestation of the Gospel among the poor. The number of London City Missionaries is now 450. Every missionary visits once a month about 650 families, or 2,900 persons. Their work is to pioneer a path among the most wretched and debased of our fellow-creatures, in which the faithful pastor may in due time follow. Since the mission was formed 70,092,415 visits and calls have been paid to the poor, of which 7,888,386 have been to the sick and dying ; 5,562,749 meetings have
* By J.M. Weylland, Esq., with an Introduction by the Earl of Shaftesbury. Published by Partridge and Co. A book of deep and stirring interest. We are sure that it will quicken the active sympathy of all who read it in the work of the London City Mission in general, and in the effort that some support should be given these “ Veterans” in their old age. Three lately died who spent 36, 39, and 43 years in the service. The Committee have kindly allowed us the use of this picture.
been held for prayer and expounding the Scriptures, 87,800,851 tracts have been given away, and 366,469 Bibles, Testaments, and portions distributed. Special missionaries have been appointed to visit the police, thieves, theatres, bakers, night and day cabmen, drovers, omnibus and tramcar-men, soldiers, and sailors ; also to the French, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Russians, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Dutch, Orientals, Jews, Irish and Welsh ; to the gipsies, canal boatmen, Chelsea pensioners, hay carters, letter carriers, coachmen, grooms, gas-men, telegraph-boys, railway-men; to the work houses, and hospitals. Eighteen missionaries have also been appointed to the special visitation of public-houses and coffeeshops. But how much remains to be done! At least 200 districts of London are still in a most destitute and degraded condition.".
One of the Veterans thus describes some of his work in the neighbourhood of the Rookery Districts, and tells of grand victories of hearts and lives won from Satan's power into God's kingdom :
" Sunday morning was distinguished by the Bird Fair and Brick Lane Market As my stand-place was near the railway, groups of the Company's servants used to listen from the top of the arches. As the people were continually changing, hundreds of people used to hear the Gospel message. Some few used to call the place their church,' and these stayed to the end. We had good times then when the converting power of the Spirit was manifested. There were little shops on each side of the stand-place,' and, like all in the neighbourhood, they were kept open, but the Word was with power to each of the men who kept them, and at years of interval they became converted and acted as stewards at the special services in the Standard Theatre, but the preaching soldier was the most marvellous instance of usefulness.
“He was one of the worst youths in the neighbourhood, and married a woman of his class. They used to drink, brawl, and fight, and appeared to be hopelessly bad. One day when partly in liquor, he enlisted in a regiment serving in India, and was soon ordered to join the colours there. The wife, who got her living by trading in rags, in Rag Fair, ehiefly on Sunday mornings, when in great trouble listened to my readings and then attended my meetings. Here was 'convinced of sin, experienced the renewing of the Holy Ghost and then lived in newness of life.
“When after six years the husband returned home invalided, he found his wife • a new creature,' and their child being trained in the fear of the Lord. He at once commenced attending the meetings with his wife, and eagerly received my visits. His heart was gradually opened to receive the truth, and with returning health he showed a disposition to acknowledge Christ before his followers. Being satisfied as to his conversion, I introduced him to the Vicar of St. Matthew's Church, where they became communicants. After this, the returned soldier stood beside me at out-door meetings, joined in the singing, and then essayed to tell about the Lord who had had compassion on him.
With practice he became a good speaker, and as his history was known, the people