We recall the wives of officers and civilian officials who, at lonely outposts, have bravely faced the risks of murder and captivity in troublous times. There rises before us the heroic figure of Mrs. Cortlandt, standing in the midst of the rebellion which followed the murder of the British officers at Moultan, and urging the native officers to do their duty, and of Mrs. Henry Lawrence nobly applauding her husband's heroism in offering'to return to captivity in Kabul as a substitute for his brother. The Mutiny furnished numberless instances of the bravery with which delicately nurtured ladies faced the untold horrors of that time.
The wives of the Governors-general and Viceroys of India have, like those of lesser degree, faced danger and hardships, and have discharged the duties of their position with courage and a high sense of duty-some, indeed, have given their lives for India. We think of Lady Dalhousie, a gentle, home-loving woman, who nerved herself to heroic endurance in sharing the fatigues of her husband in his extended tours through the provinces of India. The hardships which she encountered during a six months' tour in the Punjab, then only lately come under British rule, laid the seeds of her fatal illness. That was fifty-seven years ago, when telegraphs, railways, trunk roads, bridges, and rest houses were almost unknown in the district. The weather was inclement, the season unhealthy, and the outward march led through fever-stricken places. Before the time of Lady Dalhousie it was not usual for the wife of the Governor-general to tour with her husband in the provinces. Lady Dalhousie, however, went, and returned to Calcutta, broken in health, and during the voyage home died, almost within sight of the shores of England, where the children from whom she had so long been separated were awaiting her.
We think, too, of that gracious and beautiful woman, Lady Canning, who inaugurated the Viceregal Court of India, when, after the Mutiny, her husband, then Governor-general, was appointed by the Crown to the additional dignity of Viceroy. Lady Canning rendered invaluable service through the terrible days of the Mutiny in organising collections of clothing for the destitute wives of officers and officials who arrived in Calcutta, and in visiting the wounded in the hospitals. Her tact and gracious manner did much to win the loyalty of the native princes and their ladies after the suppression of the Mutiny, and it 'was during a visit which she paid alone to Darjec-ling that she took fever, of which she died soon after her return to Government House.
The noble part played by the first Vicereine of India is commemorated in the monument to Lady Canning, erected over her grave in the grounds at Barrackpore, the country home which she loved so well. She had suggested the motto, "Heaven's Light our Guide," for the newly instituted Order of the Star of India, and in such spirit had her own work been done.
Yet another beautiful woman in the heyday of life paid the last debt in performing the onerous duties of India's Vicereine, for, though Lady Curzon's fatal illness was contracted at Walmer Castle during a visit home, there is little doubt that her constitution had been undermined by her efforts to fill worthily her position at a time when the
To be the Vicereine of India is at once the most regal, brilliant, and picturesque position held by any woman under the past when the wife of India's ruler dare not give shelter to the child-wife pleading to escape from death on her husband's funeral pyre. Suttee has been abolished and great advances made in the position of our sisters in India. The manner in which successive Vicereines have striven to further reforms is illustrated by the Countess of Dufferin Fund, the Victoria Memorial Scholarship Fund, founded by the late Lady Curzon for the training of native midwives, and the
Crown, but it is one which is unusually iraught with danger and arduous duties. Ihe position, however, offers golden opportunities for helping forward the movements for the education and uplifting of the women and girls of India. Happily, the days are
The experiences of a Vicereine when first she assumes the duties of her position are altogether novel. When she lands at Bombay and sees strange Eastern people, some clad in rich and glowing colours and some wearing practically no clothes at all, she realises into what a new world she has come. Everywhere is the mystery and glamour of the East. Before her are the princes and dignified Indian gentlemen and the Parsee ladies in many-hued picturesque dresses, among whom she is to reign as social queen. Language, religion, and social usages, moreover, are for the most part unfamiliar. The Vicereine is greeted with a silent, obsequious awe which is bewildering. Nevertheless, she will realise gradually that, being a woman, she is, to the Eastern mind, fathoms below the high plane accorded to his Excellency the Viceroy. When Lady Canning went out she was told that it was imperative that she should land alone for the state entry into Calcutta. She might go before her husband or behind him, but not with him. Lady Canning made the best of the situation by electing to land first.