THE AUTHOR OF THE SPANISH BROTHERS
THE love and honour shown by all who knew her to this beloved friend were very precious to the mourners. She was to be laid beside her father in the Protestant Cemetery at Waterford; but a short service was held at St. Matthews at 9.15 on Monday morning. It was a wildly stormy morning, but nevertheless, even at that early hour, many gathered in the church. A voluntary choir led the singing, and no one will forget Mr. Geldart’s reading of Corinthians xv. The Rev. J.M. Paterson and Mr. Pope conducted the service, the Rector being unavoidably absent.
The gale lasted till midnight, then dropped: the precious burden passed over on a quiet sea, and in calm winter sunshine the last honours were paid. The townspeople and members of Miss Alcock’s Bible-class attended. Archdeacon Devenish conducted the service, the Rev. Robert Alcock taking a part. And again the Archdeacon spoke, over an open grave, for the last of the family he had loved so long.
A few letters may be given of the many that came. Miss Alcock owed to her kind and much-valued friends, Sir Mackworth and Lady Young, the personal acquaintance with the Bishop of Durham, to which he alludes.
From the Bishop of Durham.
January 21, 1913.
MY DEAR MISS BAYLY, —
I am greatly moved by your kind letter and by the deeply touching and beautiful account you enclosed of dear Miss Alcock’s departure to the Lord.
No word of her death, or even of her decline, had reached me, and the emotion was the greater.
I thank God that I knew her. It is a treasure for life to have looked in the face of such a servant of the Lord, holder of golden talents, and faithful user of them for Him.
The news, so frequent as life moves on, of the deaths of those I love and honour, is "not joyous, but grievous." But the "nevertheless, afterward" must shine upon me with ever growing glory. Her work will live, and she is "most blessed for ever."
From Rev. C. H. Irwin.
. . . Our dear and honoured friend is at rest, and we have nothing but thoughts of victory . . .
I shall always cherish a grateful memory of the work through which I first knew her as a writer: The Spanish Brothers. It influenced me greatly as a boy. And then, in later days, it was a delight to become acquainted with her gracious personality . . .
From the Hon. Mrs. Alister Fraser.
. . . I know how much you were to one another. And now her useful, blessed life has come to an end down here, and she has entered on the better, fuller one above. May God comfort the sorrowful, and keep us looking up . . .
From Miss M. H. Cobb, Secretary of the St. Matthew ’s Branch of the C.E.T.S.
. . . Her memory will be a very treasured one; she was one of the most lovely and lovable characters conceivable. What a noble mind she had, and in her inner self such simple, clinging faith! She was such an example of generosity too! It is not every one who would have allowed us of the C.E.T.S. to make such a free use of her house as she did. It positively seemed home to us. We shall never forget the little prayer-meetings . . . Your room used to seem a little bit of "Heaven upon earth," and her presence as well as her beautiful prayers seemed just to breathe the Presence of Jesus.
From "A Waterford Girl," Miss L. B. Cherry.
I am trying to think of her happiness, but oh, I feel so much the breaking up of your happy home! It always seemed to me an ideal home, so full of love, joy, peace; and the days I have spent there stand out in my memory like bright sun-spots in a landscape. Everything seemed to suit her in that house; or was it her own loving, happy self that helped to make it all?
Just as these pages go to press, I have come upon two letters from royalty, preserved. The Queen of Sweden, through her lady-in-waiting, thanks Miss Alcock for a copy of Not for Crown or Sceptre, and the writer adds: "Her Majesty also wishes you to hear that she has already, with great sympathy and pleasure, read your former books."
The other letter is from a lady-in-waiting of our present Queen, acknowledging a little poem called "John the Steadfast" — a sketch of incidents in the life of King George’s ancestor, John, Elector of Saxony, which Miss Alcock wrote, and published as a booklet, for the Coronation. It received very high praise from critical judges. The Elector, John of Saxony, was the first to sign the famous Protest presented at the Diet of Spires against the withdrawal of religious liberty. In the following year he signed the Confession of Augsburg. As he took the pen, he was warned that by signing he would endanger his crown. He answered: "My crown is not so precious to me as the Cross of Christ." He kept his crown. His son, John Frederic, as steadfast, lost both crown and almost all his possessions for Christ’s sake; but he was "the noble father of our kings to be" — George V, Edward VII — and, linking them to the line, Prince Albert. With the last "feather" she picked up from the "wings of song" Miss Alcock told of this proud inheritance. For that reason the tiny booklet was offered, through a friend, to Queen Mary, who sent word that she would show it to the King.
Can I find better words in which to sum up the writer’s own life than John the Steadfast’s — "My crown is not so precious to me as the Cross of Christ"? She had her crowns — Fame, of that precious kind which means a great response to all the highest and deepest that came from the writer’s soul — love, even dearer; and the shimmering, fairy crown of the dream-life itself, which gives a double life to its possessor. But it was from the Cross that the glory shone, for her, on every crown.
She passed from earth with two great longings unfulfilled. One, that in all those countries in Europe and America which now are throwing off the yoke of Rome, CHRIST may be preached — quickly, widely — lest they sink into the blank nothingness of infidelity. The doors are open, the people were never so ready to hear — hungering for the Word. Who will preach it?
Her other desire was that, somehow, this generation might be instructed in the glorious history of the Reformation and the time that followed it. "Shall I live to see my successor — prepared to do for this generation far greater things than I ever could?" she would say.
If she has seen her — or him — it was unawares. But God may be raising up many to take up this work — so urgently needed now in England and America — of promoting the study of the Past. Will not some who read these pages — if they have been drawn to love the woman they have met there — fulfil her wish by forming little Reading Circles or Study-bands of their own?
One small thing has been done already. The Spanish Brothers, translated, had been very useful to those doing evangelistic work in Spain and Portugal, and in South and Central America, where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken. In both languages the stock was exhausted last year, and there were no funds to spare for a reprint. When this came to the ears of Miss Alcock’s family and nearest friends, they proposed to subscribe for a reprint in Spanish, in memory of her; but when this was made known, her "old scholar" Archbishop Crozier, Primate of All Ireland, put a public appeal into the religious papers, signed also by the Bishop of Durham, Sir Mackworth Young, Dr. Willoughby, and our good Treasurer, Major-General Waller. This has brought a little over £220. An edition of the book will come out in each new language, well got up and illustrated.
We thank God that the last piece of work done in her name has been accomplished so readily, and with so much love. And we leave her in the company of the Just made perfect, whom she loved below, where HE Who has been our Dwelling-place in all generations "for ever" shines.
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Last modified: June 27, 2016