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Title: Elsie Inglis - The Woman with the Torch
Author: McLaren, Eva Shaw
Language: English
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[Illustration: _Photo by Bassano_







                 ELSIE INGLIS



               EVA SHAW McLAREN

               WITH A PREFACE BY

                 LENA ASHWELL



     _Great souls who sailed uncharted seas,
       Battling with hostile winds and tide,
     Strong hands that forged forbidden keys,
       And left the door behind them, wide_.

     _Diggers for gold where most had failed,
       Smiling at deeds that brought them Fame,--
     Lighters of Lamps that have not failed,--
       Lend us your oil and share your flame._

                  AMY SIMSON


"To light a path for men to come" is the privilege of the pioneer; and
the life of a pioneer, the hewer of a new path, is always encouraging,
whether he who goes before to open the way be a voyager to the Poles or
the uttermost parts of the earth, in imminent danger of physical death,
or whether he be an adventurer, cutting a path to a new race
consciousness, revealing the power of service in new vocations, evoking
new powers, and living in hourly danger of mental suffocation by
prejudices and inhibitions of race tradition.

The women's irresistible movement, which has so suddenly flooded all
departments of work previously considered the monopoly of men, required
from the leaders indomitable courage, selflessness, and faith, qualities
of imperishable splendour; and to read the life of Elsie Inglis is to
recognize instantly that she was one of these ruthless adventurers,
hewing her way through all perils and difficulties to bring to pass the
dreams of thousands of women. The world's standard of success may appear
to give the prize to those who collect things, but in reality the crown
of victory, the laurel wreath, the tribute beyond all material value, is
always reserved for those invisible, intangible qualities which are
evinced in character.

It is wonderful to read how slowly and surely that character was formed
through twenty years of monotonous routine. The establishing of a
Hospice for women and children, run entirely by women, was not a popular
movement, and through long years of dull, arduous work, patient, silent,
honest, dedicated unconsciously to the service of others, she laid the
foundations which led to her great achievement, and so, full of courage
and growing in power, like Nelson she developed a blind eye, to which
she put her telescope in times of bewilderment; she could never see the
difficulties which loomed large in her way--sex prejudices and mountains
of race convictions to be moved--and so she moved them!

In founding The Hospice she gave herself first to the women and children
round her; later, in the urgent call of the Suffrage movement, she
devoted herself whole-heartedly to the service of the women of the
country, and so she was ready when the war came. Her own country refused
her services; but Providence has a strange way of turning what appears
to be evil into great good. The refusal of the British Government to
accept the services of medically trained women caused them to offer
their services elsewhere; and so she went first to help the French, and
then to encourage and serve Serbia in her dire need.

And so from the first she was a pioneer: in doing medical work among
women and children; in achieving the rights of citizenship for women;
and in the further great adventure of establishing the true League of
Nations which lies in the will to serve mankind.

                                                 LENA ASHWELL
                                                 (MRS. HENRY SIMSON)


A most interesting _Life_ of Elsie Inglis, written a short time ago by
the Lady Frances Balfour, has had a wide circulation which has proved
the appreciation of the public.

This second _Life_ appears at the request of The Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge that I should write a short memoir of my sister, to
be included in the "Pioneers of Progress" Series which it is publishing.
I undertake the duty with joy.

In accordance with the series in which it appears, the _Life_ is a short
one, but it has been possible to incorporate in it some fresh material.
Not the least interesting is what has been taken from the manuscript of
a novel by Dr. Inglis, found amongst her papers some time after her
death. It is called _The Story of a Modern Woman_. It was probably
written between the years 1906 and 1914; the outbreak of the war may
have prevented its publication. The date given in the first chapter of
the story is 1904. Very evidently the book expresses Elsie Inglis's
views on life. Quotations have been made from it, as it gives an insight
into her own character and experiences.

The endeavour has been made to draw a picture of her as she appeared to
those who knew her best. She was certainly a fine character, full of
life and movement, ever growing and developing, ever glorying in new
adventure. There was no stagnation about Elsie Inglis. Independent,
strong, keen (if sometimes impatient), and generous, from her childhood
she was ever a great giver.

Alongside all the energy and force in her character there were great
depths of tenderness. "Nothing like sitting on the floor for half an
hour playing with little children to prepare you for a strenuous bit of
work," was one of her sayings.

Not to many women, perhaps, have other women given such a wealth of
love as they gave to Elsie Inglis. In innumerable letters received after
her death is traceable the idea expressed by one woman: "In all your
sorrow, remember, I loved her too."

Those who worked with her point again and again to a characteristic that
distinguished her all her life--her complete disregard of the opinion of
others about herself personally, while she pursued the course her
conscience dictated, and yet she drew to herself the affectionate regard
of many who knew her for the first time during the last three years of
her life.

What her own countrymen thought of her will be found in the pages of
this book, but the touching testimony of a Serb and a Russian may be
given here. A Serb orderly expressed his devotion in a way that Dr.
Inglis used to recall with a smile: "Missis Doctor, I love you better
than my mother, and my wife, and my family. Missis Doctor, I will never
leave you."

And a soldier from Russia said of her: "She was loved amongst us as a
queen, and respected as a saint."

"In her _Life_ you want the testimony of those who saw _her_. Dr.
Inglis's work before and during the war will find its place in any
enduring record; what you want to impress on the minds of the succeeding
generation is _the quality of the woman_ of which that work was the
final expression."

Something of what that quality was appears, it is hoped, in the pages of
this memoir. I am grateful to men and women of varied outlook, who knew
her at different periods of her life, for memories which have been drawn
upon in this effort to picture Elsie Inglis.

                                                    EVA SHAW McLAREN


PREFACE                                                      vii

INTRODUCTION                                                  ix

                          CHAPTER I

                         ELSIE INGLIS

Tributes from various sources--A woman of solved problems    1-2

                          CHAPTER II


Elsie Inglis the central figure on the stage--Men and women of
the past, the people of her race, crowd round her--Their
influence on her--Their spirit seen in hers                  3-6

                         CHAPTER III


Childhood in India--Friendship with her father--Schooldays in
Edinburgh--Death of her mother--Study of Medicine--Death
of her father--Practice started in Edinburgh in 1894--Twenty
years of professional life: interests, friendships--Varied
Descriptions of Dr. Inglis by Miss S. E. S. Mair and Dr.
Beatrice Russell                                            7-12

                         CHAPTER IV

                     HER MEDICAL CAREER

Fellow-students' and doctors' reminiscences--The New School of
Medicine for Women in Edinburgh--The growth of her
practice--Her sympathy with her poor patients--The founding
of The Hospice--Some characteristics                       13-19

                         CHAPTER V

                    THE SOLVED PROBLEMS

The problems of the unmarried woman--Dr. Inglis's unpublished
novel, _The Story of a Modern Woman_--Quotations from the
novel--Many parts of novel evidently autobiographical--Heroine
in novel solves the problem of "the lonely woman"          20-24

                        CHAPTER VI

                      "HER CHILDREN"

Dr. Inglis a child-lover--Her writings full of the descriptions
of children--Quotations from the novel                     25-27

                        CHAPTER VII

                        THE HOSPICE

Founded 1901--Description of premises in the High Street
amongst the poor of Edinburgh--Dr. Inglis's love for The
Hospice                                                   28-31

                       CHAPTER VIII

                   THE SUFFRAGE CAMPAIGN

Justice of claim appealed to Dr. Inglis--Worked from
constitutional point of view--Founding of Scottish Federation of
Suffrage Societies--Dr. Inglis's activities for the
cause--Tributes from women who worked with her--Description of
meeting addressed by her                                   32-41

                        CHAPTER IX


Dr. Inglis at the outbreak of war: Full of vigour and
enthusiasm--Idea mooted at Federation Committee Meeting--Rapid
growth--Hospitals in the field in December                 42-44

                        CHAPTER X


Dreadful condition of country--Arrival of Dr. Soltau and Dr.
Hutchison and Unit--Dr. Inglis's arrival in May, 1915--Fountain
at Mladanovatz--Letter from officer who designed
fountain--Dr. Inglis and her Unit taken prisoners in
November--Account of work at Krushevatz--Release in
February, 1916--Tributes from Miss Christitch and Lieut.-Colonel
Popovitch                                                  45-58

                       CHAPTER XI


Dr. Inglis's start for Russia in August, 1916--Unit attached to
Serb Division near Odessa--Three weeks' work at
Medjidia--Retreat to Braila--Order of three retreats--Work at
Reni--Description of Dr. Inglis by one of her Unit--Account
of her last Communion                                      59-71

                      CHAPTER XII


Serb Division in unenviable position--Dr. Inglis's determination
to save them from wholesale slaughter--Hard work through
summer months to achieve their safety--Efforts crowned with
success--Left for England in October, bringing her Unit and
the Division with her                                      72-74

                     CHAPTER XIII


Landed at Newcastle on November 23, 1917--Illness on voyage--Dr.
Ethel Williams's testimony to her fearlessness in facing
death--Triumph in passing--Scenes at funeral in
Edinburgh--Memories                                        75-78

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                               79-80

                 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

SERBIA                                            _Frontispiece_

                                                     FACING PAGE

THE THREE MISS FENDALLS                                        4
From a picture in the possession of Brigadier-General C. Fendall

ELSIE INGLIS AT THE AGE OF TWO YEARS                           7


THE HOSPICE, HIGH STREET, EDINBURGH                           28

ELSIE INGLIS, BY IVAN MESTROVICH                              45
In the Scottish National Gallery






The War.

"Elsie Inglis was one of the heroic figures of the war."[1]


"During the whole years of the Suffrage struggle, while the National
Union of Women's Suffrage Societies was growing and developing, Dr.
Elsie Inglis stood as a tower of strength, and her unbounded energy and
unfailing courage helped the cause forward in more ways than she knew.
To the London Society she stood out as a supporter of wise councils and
bold measures; time after time, in the decisions of the Union, they
found themselves by her side, and from England to Scotland they learned
to look to her as to a staunch friend.

"Later, when the war transformed the work of the Societies of the Union,
they trusted and followed her still, and it is their comfort now to
think that in all her time of need it was their privilege to support


"We medical women in Scotland will miss her very much, for she was
indeed a strong rock amongst us all."[3]

Scottish Women's Hospitals.

"Those who work in the hospitals she founded and for the Units she
commanded, and all who witnessed her labours, feel inspired by her
dauntless example. The character of the Happy Warrior was in some
measure her character. We reverence her calm fearlessness and forceful
energies, her genius for overcoming obstacles, her common sense, her
largeness of mind and purpose, and we rejoice in the splendour of her


"It is not of her great qualities that I think now, but rather that she
was such a darling."[5]


"By her knowledge she cured the physical wounds of the Serb soldiers. By
her shining face she cured their souls. Silent, busy, smiling--that was
her method. She strengthened the faith of her patients in _knowledge_
and in _Christianity_. Scotland hardly could send to Serbia a better
Christian missionary."[6]

As the days pass, bringing the figure of Elsie Inglis into perspective,
these true and beautiful pictures of her fall quietly into the
background, and one idea begins slowly to emerge and to expand, and to
become the most real fact about her. As we follow her outward life and
read the writings she left behind her, we come to realize that her
greatness lay not so much in the things she achieved as in the hidden
power of her spirit. _She was a woman of solved problems._ The
far-reaching qualities of her mind and character are but the outcome of
this inward condition.

All men and women have problems; few solve them. The solved problem in
any life is the expression of genius, and is the cause of strength and
peace in the character.

"It is amazing how sometimes a name begins to shine like a star, and
then to glow and glow until it fills the firmament. Such a name is Elsie


[1] Dr. Seton-Watson.

[2] The London Committee of the N.U.W.S.S.

[3] A medical colleague.

[4] Mrs. Flinders Petrie.

[5] I. A. W., niece.

[6] Bishop Nicolai Velimirovic.

[7] Rev. Norman Maclean, D.D.



     _"It is not the weariness of mortality, but the Strength of
     Divinity which we have to recognize in all mighty things."_

In the centre stands Elsie Inglis, the "woman of gentle breeding, short
of stature, alert, and with the eyes of a seer," and "a smile like
sunshine"; and on either side and behind this central figure the stage
is crowded with men and women of long ago, the people of her race. One
by one they catch our eye, and we note their connection with the central

Far back in the group (for it is near two hundred years ago) stands Hugh
Inglis, hailing from Inverness-shire. He was a loyal supporter of Prince
Charlie, and the owner of a yacht, which he used in gun-running in the
service of the Prince.

A little nearer are two of Elsie's great-grandfathers, John Fendall and
Alexander Inglis. John Fendall was Governor of Java at the time when the
island was restored to the Dutch. The Dutch fleet arrived to take it
over before Fendall had received his instructions from the Government,
and he refused to give it up till they reached him--a gesture not
without a parallel in the later years of the life of his descendant.
Alexander Inglis, leaving Inverness-shire, emigrated to South Carolina,
and was there killed in a duel fought on some point of honour. Through
his wife, Mary Deas, Elsie's descent runs up to Robert the Bruce on the
one hand, and, on the other, to a family who left France after the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and settled in Scotland.

As we thread our way through the various figures on the stage we are
attracted by a group of three women. They are the daughters of the
Governor of Java, "the three Miss Fendalls." One of them, Harriet, is
Elsie's grandmother. All three married, and their descendants in the
second generation numbered well over a hundred! Harriet Fendall married
George Powney Thompson, whose father was at one time secretary to Warren
Hastings. George Thompson himself was a member of the East India
Company, and ruled over large provinces in India. One of their nine
daughters, Harriet Thompson, was Elsie's mother.

On the other side of the stage, in the same generation as the Miss
Fendalls, is another group of women. These are the three sisters of
Elsie's grandfather, David Inglis, son of Alexander, who fared forth to
South Carolina, and counted honour more dear than life.

David was evidently a restless, keen, adventurous man; many years of his
life were spent in India in the service of the East India Company. Of
his three sisters--Katherine, painted by Raeburn; Mary, gentle and
quiet; and Elizabeth--we linger longest near Elizabeth. She never
married, and was an outstanding personality in the little family. She
was evidently conversant with all the questions of the day, and
commented on them in the long, closely written letters which have been

After David's return from India he must have intended at one time to
stand for Parliament. Elizabeth writes to him from her "far corner" in
Inverness-shire, giving him stirring advice, and demanding from him an
uncompromising, high standard. She tells him to "unfurl his banner"; she
knows "he will carry his religion into his politics." "Separate religion
from politics!" cries Elizabeth; "as well talk of separating our every
duty from religion!"

Needless anxiety, one would think, on the part of the good Highland
lady, for the temptation to leave religion out of any of his activities
can scarcely have assailed David. We read that when Elsie's grandfather
had returned from the East to England he used to give missionary
addresses, not, one would think, a common form of activity in a retired
servant of the East India Company. One hears this note of genuine
religion in the lives of those forebears of Elsie's.

[Illustration: Lady D'Oyly   Mrs. Lowis   Mrs. Thompson (Elsie's


C.M.G., D.S.O., ETC.]

"The extraordinary thing in all the letters, whether they were
written by an Inglis, a Deas, or a Money, is the pervading note of
strong religious faith. They not only refer to religion, but often, in
truly Scottish fashion, they enter on long theological dissertations."

David married Martha Money. Close to Martha on the stage stands her
brother, William Taylor Money, Elsie's great-uncle. We greet him gladly,
for he was a man of character. He was a friend of Wilberforce, and a
Member of Parliament when the Anti-Slavery Bill was passed. Afterwards
"he owned a merchant vessel, and gained great honour by his capture of
several of the Dutch fleet, who mistook him for a British man-of-war,
the smart appearance of his vessel with its manned guns deceiving them."
There is a picture in Trinity House of his vessel bringing in the Dutch
ships. Later, he was Consul-General at Venice and the north of Italy,
where he died, in 1834, in his gondola! He had strong religious
convictions, and would never infringe the sacredness of the Sabbath-day
by any "secular work." In a short biography of him, written in 1835, the
weight of his religious beliefs, which made themselves felt both in
Parliament and when Consul, is dwelt on at length. A son of David and
Martha Inglis, John Forbes David Inglis, was Elsie's father. John went
to India in 1840, following his father's footsteps in the service of the
East India Company. Thirty-six years of his life were spent there, with
only one short furlough home. He rose to distinction in the service, and
gained the love and trust of the Indian peoples. After he retired in
1876 one of his Indian friends addressed a letter to him, "John Inglis,
England, Tasmania, or wherever else he may be, this shall be delivered
to him," and through the ingenuity of the British Post Office it was
delivered in Tasmania.

Elsie's mother, Harriet Thompson, went out to India when she was
seventeen to her father, George Powney Thompson. She married when she
was eighteen.

She met her future husband, John Inglis, at a dance in her father's
house. Her children were often told by their father of the white muslin
dress, with large purple flowers all over it, worn by her that evening,
and how he and several of his friends, young men in the district, drove
fifty miles to have the chance of dancing with her!

"She must have had a steady nerve, for her letters are full of various
adventures in camp and tiger-haunted jungles, and most of them narrate
the presence of one of her infants, who was accompanying the parents on
their routine of Indian official life." In 1858, when John Inglis was
coming home on his one short furlough, she trekked down from Lahore to
Calcutta with the six children in country conveyances. The journey took
four months; then came the voyage round the Cape, another four months.
Of course she had the help of ayahs and bearers on the journeys, but
even with such help it was no easy task.

John Inglis saw his family settled in Southampton, and almost
immediately had to return to India, on the outbreak of the Mutiny. His
wife stayed at home with the children, until India was again a safe
place for English women, when she rejoined her husband in 1863.

They crowd round Elsie Inglis, these men and women in their quaint and
attractive costumes of long ago; we feel their influence on her; we see
their spirit mingling with hers. As we run our eye over the crowded
stage, we see the dim outline of the rock from which she was hewn, we
feel the spirit which was hers, and we hail it again as it drives her
forth to play her part in the great drama of the last three years of her

The members of every family, every group of blood relations, are held
together by the unseen spirit of their generations. It matters little
whether they can trace their descent or not; the peculiar spirit of that
race which is theirs fashions them for particular purposes and work. And
what are they all but the varied expressions of the One Divine Mind, of
the Endless Life of God?

[Illustration: ELSIE INGLIS




Elsie Inglis was born on August 16, 1864, in India. The wide plains of
India, the "huddled hills" and valleys of the Himalayas, were the
environment with which Nature surrounded her for the first twelve years
of her life. Her childhood was a happy one, and the most perfect
friendship existed between her and her father from her earliest days.

"All our childhood is full of remembrances of father.[8] He never forgot
our birthdays; however hot it was down in the scorched plains, when the
day came round, if we were up in the hills, a large parcel would arrive
from him. His very presence was joy and strength when he came to us at
Naini Tal. What a remembrance there is of early breakfasts and early
walks with him--the father and the three children! The table was spread
in the verandah between six and seven. Father made three cups of cocoa,
one for each of us, and then the glorious walk! The ponies followed
behind, each with their attendant grooms, and two or three red-coated
chaprassies, father stopping all along the road to talk to every native
who wished to speak to him, while we three ran about, laughing and
interested in everything. Then, at night, the shouting for him after we
were in bed, and father's step bounding up the stair in Calcutta, or
coming along the matted floor of our hill home. All order and quietness
were flung to the winds while he said good-night to us.

"It was always understood that Elsie and he were special chums, but that
never made any jealousy. Father was always just. The three cups of cocoa
were always the same in quantity and quality. We got equal shares of
his right and his left hand in our walks; but Elsie and he were
comrades, inseparables from the day of her birth.

"In the background of our lives there was always the quiet, strong
mother, whose eyes and smile live on through the years. Every morning
before the breakfast and walk there were five minutes when we sat in
front of her in a row on little chairs in her room and read the
Scripture verses in turn, and then knelt in a straight, quiet row and
repeated the prayers after her. Only once can I remember father being
angry with any of us, and that was when one of us ventured to hesitate
in instant obedience to some wish of hers. I still see the room in which
it happened, and the thunder in his voice is with me still."

There was a constant change of scene during these years in
India--Allahabad, Naini Tal, Calcutta, Simla, and Lucknow. After her
father retired, two years in Australia visiting older brothers who had
settled there, and then in 1878 home to the land of her fathers.

On the voyage home, when Elsie was about fourteen, her mother writes of

"Elsie has found occupation for herself in helping to nurse sick
children and look after turbulent boys who trouble everybody on board,
and a baby of seven months old is an especial favourite with her."

But through the changing scenes there was always growing and deepening
the beautiful comradeship between father and daughter. The family
settled in Edinburgh, and Elsie went to school to the Charlotte Square
Institution, perhaps in those days the best school for girls in
Edinburgh. In the history class taught by Mr. Hossack she was nearly
always at the top.

Of her school life in Edinburgh a companion writes:

"I remember quite distinctly when the girls of 23, Charlotte Square were
told that two girls from Tasmania were coming to the school, and a
certain feeling of surprise that the said girls were just like ordinary
mortals, though the big, earnest brows and the hair quaintly parted in
the middle and done up in plaits fastened up at the back of the head
were certainly not ordinary.

"A friend has the story of a question going round the class; she thinks
Clive or Warren Hastings was the subject of the lesson, and the question
was what one would do if a calumny were spread about one. 'Deny it,' one
girl answered. 'Fight it,' another. Still the teacher went on asking.
'Live it down,' said Elsie. 'Right, Miss Inglis.' My friend writes: 'The
question I cannot remember; it was the bright, confident smile with the
answer, and Mr. Hossack's delighted wave to the top of the class that
abides in my memory.'

"I always think a very characteristic story of Elsie is her asking that
the school might have permission to play in Charlotte Square Gardens. In
those days no one thought of providing fresh-air exercise for girls
except by walks, and tennis was just coming in. Elsie had the courage
(to us schoolgirls it seemed extraordinary courage) to confront the
three Directors of the school, and ask if we might be allowed to play in
the gardens of the Square. The three Directors together were to us the
most formidable and awe-inspiring body, though separately they were
amiable and estimable men!

"The answer was, we might play in the gardens if the residents of the
Square would give their consent, and the heroic Elsie, with, I think,
one other girl, actually went round to each house in the Square and
asked consent of the owner. In those days the inhabitants of Charlotte
Square were very select and exclusive indeed, and we all felt it was a
brave thing to do. Elsie gained her point, and the girls played at
certain hours in the Square till a regular playing-field was
arranged.... Elsie's companion or companions in this first adventure to
influence those in authority have been spoken of as 'her first

When she was eighteen she went for a year to Paris with six other girls,
in charge of Miss Gordon Brown. She came home again shortly before her
mother's death in January, 1885. Henceforth she was her father's
constant companion. They took long walks together, talked on every
subject, and enjoyed many humorous episodes together. On one point only
they disagreed--Home Rule for Ireland: she for it, he against.

During the nine years from 1885 to her father's death in 1894, she
began and completed her medical studies with his full approval. The
great fight for the opening of the door for women to study medicine had
been fought and won earlier by Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake, Dr. Garrett
Anderson, and others. But though the door was open, there was still much
opposition to be encountered and a certain amount of persecution to be
borne when the women of Dr. Inglis's time ventured to enter the halls of
medical learning.

Along the pathway made easy for them by these women of the past,
hundreds of young women are to-day entering the medical profession. As
we look at them we realize that in their hands, to a very large extent,
lies the solving of the acutest problem of our race--the relation of the
sexes. Will they fail us? Will they be content with a solution along
lines that can only be called a second best? When we remember the
clear-brained women in whose steps they follow, who opened the medical
world for them, and whose spirits will for ever overshadow the women who
walk in it, we know they will not fail us.

Elsie Inglis pursued her medical studies in Edinburgh and Glasgow. After
she qualified she was for six months House-Surgeon in the New Hospital
for Women and Children in London, and then went to the Rotunda in Dublin
for a few months' special study in midwifery.

She returned home in March, 1894, in time to be with her father during
his last illness. Daily letters had passed between them whenever she was
away from home. His outlook on life was so broad and tolerant, his
judgment on men and affairs so sane and generous, his religion so vital,
that with perfect truth she could say, as she did, at one of the biggest
meetings she addressed after her return from Serbia: "If I have been
able to do anything, I owe it all to my father."

After his death she started practice with Dr. Jessie Macgregor at 8,
Walker Street, Edinburgh. It was a happy partnership for the few years
it lasted, until for family reasons Dr. Macgregor left Scotland for
America. Dr. Inglis stayed on in Walker Street, taking over Dr.
Macgregor's practice. Then followed years of hard work and interests in
many directions.



"If I have been able to do anything--whatever I am, whatever I have
done--I owe it all to my Father."

_Elsie Inglis, at a meeting held in the Criterion Theatre, London, April
5th, 1916_]

The Hospice for Women and Children in the High Street of Edinburgh was
started. Her practice grew, and she became a keen suffragist. During
these years also she evidently faced and solved her problems.

She was a woman capable of great friendships. During the twenty years of
her professional life perhaps the three people who stood nearest to her
were her sister, Mrs. Simson, and the Very Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Wallace
Williamson. These friendships were a source of great strength and
comfort to her.

We may fitly close this chapter by quoting descriptions of Dr. Inglis by
two of her friends--Miss S. E. S. Mair, of Edinburgh, and Dr. Beatrice

"In outward appearance Dr. Inglis was no Amazon, but just a woman of
gentle breeding, courteous, sweet-voiced, somewhat short of stature,
alert, and with the eyes of a seer, blue-grey and clear, looking forth
from under a brow wide and high, with soft brown hair brushed loosely
back; with lips often parted in a radiant smile, discovering small white
teeth and regular, but lips which were at times firmly closed with a
fixity of purpose such as would warn off unwarrantable opposition or
objections from less bold workers. Those clear eyes had a peculiar power
of withdrawing on rare occasions, as it were, behind a curtain when
their owner desired to absent herself from discussion of points on which
she preferred to give no opinion. It was no mere expression such as
absent-mindedness might produce, but was, as she herself was aware, a
voluntary action of withdrawal from all participation in what was going
on. The discussion over, in a moment the blinds would be up and the soul
looked forth through its clear windows with steady gaze. Whether the
aural doors had been closed also there is no knowing."

"She was a keen politician--in the pre-war days a staunch supporter of
the Liberal party, and in the years immediately preceding the war she
devoted much of her time to work in connection with the Women's Suffrage
movement. She was instrumental in organizing the Scottish Federation of
Women's Suffrage Societies, and was Honorary Secretary of the Federation
up to the time of her death. But the factor which most greatly
contributed to her influence was the unselfishness of her work. She
truly 'set the cause above renown' and loved 'the game beyond the
prize.' She was always above the suspicion of working for ulterior
motives or grinding a personal axe. It was ever the work, and not her
own share in it, which concerned her, and no one was more generous in
recognizing the work of others.

"To her friends Elsie Inglis is a vivid memory, yet it is not easy
clearly to put in words the many sides of her character. In the care of
her patients she was sympathetic, strong, and unsparing of herself; in
public life she was a good speaker and a keen fighter; while as a woman
and a friend she was a delightful mixture of sound good sense, quick
temper, and warm-hearted impulsiveness--a combination of qualities which
won her many devoted friends. A very marked feature of her character was
an unusual degree of optimism which never failed her. Difficulties never
existed for Dr. Inglis, and were barely so much as thought of in
connection with any cause she might have at heart. This, with her clear
head and strong common sense, made her a real driving power, and any
scheme which had her interest always owed much to her ability to push
things through."

In the following chapters the principal events in her life during these
twenty years--1894 to 1914--will be dealt with in detail, before we
arrive at the story of the last three years and of the "Going Forth."


[8] From contributions to _Dr. Elsie Inglis_, by Lady Frances Balfour.

[9] _Dr. Elsie Inglis_, by Lady Frances Balfour.




During the years from 1894 to 1914 the main stream in Elsie Inglis's
life was her medical work. This was her profession, her means of
livelihood; it was also the source from which she drew conclusions in
various directions, which influenced her conduct in after-years, and it
supplied the foundation and the scaffolding for the structure of her
achievements at home and abroad.

The pursuit of her profession for twenty years in Edinburgh brought to
her many experiences which roused new and wide interests, and which left
their impress on her mind.

One who was a fellow-student writes of her classmate: "She impressed one
immediately with her mental and physical sturdiness. She had an
extremely pleasant face, with a finely moulded forehead, soft, kind,
fearless, blue eyes, and a smile, when it came, like sunshine; with this
her mouth and chin were firm and determined."

She was a student of the School of Medicine for Women in Edinburgh of
which Dr. Jex-Blake was Dean--a fine woman of strong character, to whom,
and to a small group of fellow-workers in England, women owe the opening
of the door of the medical profession. As Dean, however, she may have
erred in attempting an undue control over the students. To Elsie Inglis
and some of her fellow-students this seemed to prejudice their liberty,
and to frustrate an aim she always had in view, the recognition by the
public of an equal footing on all grounds with men students. The
difficulties became so great that Elsie Inglis at length left the
Edinburgh school and continued her education at Glasgow, where at St.
Margaret's College classes in medicine had recently been opened. A
fellow-student writes: "Never very keenly interested in the purely
scientific side of the curriculum, she had a masterly grasp of what was
practical." She took her qualifying medical diploma in 1902.

After her return to Edinburgh she started a scheme and brought it to
fruition with that fearlessness and ability which at a later period came
to be expected from her, both by her friends and by the public. With the
help of sympathetic lecturers and friends of The Women's Movement, she
succeeded in establishing a second School of Medicine for Women in
Edinburgh, with its headquarters at Minto House, a building which had
been associated with the study of medicine since the days of Syme. It
proved a successful venture. After the close of Dr. Jex-Blake's school a
few years later, it was the only school for women students in Edinburgh,
and continued to be so till the University opened its doors to them.

It was mainly due to Dr. Inglis's exertions that The Hospice was opened
in the High Street of Edinburgh as a nursing home and maternity centre
staffed by medical women. An account of it and of Dr. Inglis's work in
connection with it is given in a later chapter.

She was appointed Joint-Surgeon to the Edinburgh Bruntsfield Hospital
and Dispensary for Women and Children, also staffed by women and one of
the fruits of Dr. Jex-Blake's exertions. Here, again, Elsie Inglis's
courage and energy made themselves felt. She desired a larger field for
the usefulness of the institution, and proposed to enlarge the hospital
to such an extent that its accommodation for patients should be doubled.
A colleague writes: "Once again the number must be doubled, always with
the same idea in view--_i.e._, to insure the possibilities for gaining
experience for women doctors. Once again the committee was carried along
on a wave of unprecedented effort to raise money. An eager band of
volunteers was organized, among them some of her own students. Bazaars
and entertainments were arranged, special appeals were issued, and the
necessary money was found, and the alterations carried out. It was
never part of Dr. Inglis's policy to wait till the money came in. She
always played a bold game, and took risks which left the average person
aghast, and in the end she invariably justified her action by
accomplishing the task which she set herself, and, at times it must be
owned, which she set an all too unwilling committee! But for that breezy
and invincible faith and optimism the Scottish Women's Hospitals would
never have taken shape in 1914."

Dr. Inglis's plea for the Units of the Scottish Women's Hospital was
always that they might be sent "where the need was greatest." In these
years of work before the war the same motive, to supply help where it
was most needed, seems to have guided her private practice, for we read:
"Dr. Inglis was perhaps seen at her best in her dispensary work, for she
was truly the friend and the champion of the working woman, and
especially of the mother in poor circumstances and struggling to bring
up a large family. Morrison Street Dispensary and St. Anne's Dispensary
were the centre of this work, and for years to come mothers will be
found in this district who will relate how Dr. Inglis put at their
service the best of her professional skill and, more than that, gave
them unstintedly of her sympathy and understanding."

Dr. Wallace Williamson, of St. Giles's Cathedral, writing of her after
her death, is conscious also of this impulse always manifesting itself
in her to work where difficulties abounded. He points out: "Of her
strictly professional career it may be truly said that her real
attraction had been to work among the suffering poor.... She was seen at
her best in hospice and dispensary, and in homes where poverty added
keenness to pain. There she gave herself without reserve. Questions of
professional rivalry or status of women slipped away in her large
sympathy and helpfulness. Like a truly 'good physician,' she gave them
from her own courage an uplift of spirit even more valuable than
physical cure. She understood them and was their friend. To her they
were not merely patients, but fellow-women. It was one of her great
rewards that the poor folk to whom she gave of her best rose to her
faith in them, whatever their privations or temptations. Her relations
with them were remote from mere routine, and so distinctively human and
real that her name is everywhere spoken with the note of personal loss.
Had not the wider call come, this side of her work awaited the
fulfilment of ever nobler dreams."

She was loved and appreciated as a doctor not only by her poorer
patients, but by those whom she attended in all ranks of society.

Of her work as an operator and lecturer two of her colleagues say:

"It was a pleasure to see Dr. Inglis in the operating-theatre. She was
quiet, calm, and collected, and never at a loss, skilful in her
manipulations, and able to cope with any emergency."

"As a lecturer she proved herself clear and concise, and the level of
her lectures never fell below that of the best established standards.
Students were often heard to say that they owed to her a clear and a
practical grasp of a subject which is inevitably one of the most
important for women doctors."

Should it be asked what was the secret of her success in her work, the
answer would not be difficult to find. A clear brain she had, but she
had more. She had vision, for her life was based on a profound trust in
God, and her vision was that of a follower of Christ, the vision of the
kingdom of heaven upon earth. This was the true source of that
remarkable optimism which carried her over difficulties deemed by others
insurmountable. Once started in pursuit of an object, she was most
reluctant to abandon it, and her gaze was so keenly fixed on the end in
view that it must be admitted she was found by some to be "ruthless" in
the way in which she pushed on one side any who seemed to her to be
delaying or obstructing the fulfilment of her project. There was,
however, never any selfish motive prompting her; the end was always a
noble one, for she had an unselfish, generous nature. An intimate
friend, well qualified to judge, herself at first prejudiced against
her, writes:

"In everything she did that was always to me her most outstanding
characteristic, her self-effacing and abounding generosity. Indeed, it
was so characteristic of her that it was often misunderstood and her
action was imputed to a desire for self-advertisement. A fellow-doctor
told me that when she was working in one of the Edinburgh laboratories
she heard men discussing something Dr. Inglis had undertaken, and,
evidently finding her action quite incomprehensible, they concluded it
was dictated by personal ambition. My friend turned on them in the most
emphatic way: 'You were never more mistaken. The thought of self or
self-interest never even entered Elsie Inglis's mind in anything she did
or said.'" Again, another writes: "One recalls her generous appreciation
of any good work done by other women, especially by younger women. Any
attempt to strike out in a new line, any attempt to fill a post not
previously occupied by a woman, received her unstinted admiration and
warm support."

It was her delight to show hospitality to her friends, many of whom,
especially women doctors and friends made in the Suffrage movement,
stayed with her at her house in Walker Street, Edinburgh. But her
hospitality did not end there. One doctor, whom we have already quoted,
on arrival on a visit, found that only the day before Dr. Inglis had
said good-bye to a party of guests, a woman with five children, a
patient badly in need of rest, who had the misfortune to have an unhappy
home, and was without any relatives to help her. Dr. Inglis's relations
with her poor patients have been already referred to. Not only did she
give them all she could in the way of professional attention and skill,
but her generosity to them was unbounded. "I had a patient," writes a
doctor, "very ill with pulmonary tuberculosis. She was to go to a
sanatorium, and her widowed mother was quite unable to provide the
rather ample outfit demanded. Dr. Inglis gave me everything for her,
down to umbrella and goloshes."

Naturally her devotion was returned, though in one case which is
recorded Dr. Inglis's care met with resentment at first. A woman who was
expecting a baby--her ninth--applied at a dispensary where Dr. Inglis
happened to be in charge. Her advice was distasteful to the patient, who
tried another dispensary, only to meet again with the same advice, again
from a woman member of the profession. A third dispensary brought her
the same fortune! Eventually, when the need for professional skill came,
she was attended by the two latter doctors she had seen, for the case
proved to be a difficult one. Requiring the aid of greater
experience--for they were juniors--they sent for Dr. Inglis, with whose
help the lives of mother and child were saved. Thus the patient was
attended in the end by all the three women physicians whose advice she
had scorned. The child was the first boy in the large family, and the
mother's gratitude and delight after her recovery knew no bounds. It
found, however, Scotch expression, shall we say? in her tribute, "Weel,
I've had the hale three o' ye efter a', and ye canna say I hae'na likit
ye--_at the hinder en' at ony rate_!" "That woman kept us busy with
patients for many a day," writes one of the three. The bulky
mother-in-law of one patient expressed her admiration of the doctor and
her lack of faith in the justice of things by saying: "It's no fair Dr.
Inglis is a woman; if she'd been a man, she'd ha' been a millionaire!"
The doctor in whose memory these incidents live says of her friend: "No
item was too trivial, no trouble too great to take, if she could help a
human being, or if she could push forward or help a younger doctor."

If Elsie Inglis's intrepidity, determination, and invincible optimism
were well known to the public, the circle of her friends was warmed by
the truly loving heart with which they came in contact.

The following incident may show in some degree what a tender heart it
was. A friend whose brother died, after an operation, in a nursing home
in Edinburgh was staying at Dr. Inglis's house when the death occurred.
The body had to be taken to the Highland home in the North. The sister
writes: "My younger brother called for me in the early morning, as we
had to leave by the 3 a.m. train to accompany the body to Inverness.
When Dr. Inglis had said good-bye to us and we drove away in the cab, my
brother--he is just an ordinary keen business man--turned to me with his
eyes filled with tears, and said: 'I should have liked to kiss her like
my mother.' (We had never known our mother.)"

In the fourteenth century, in that wonderful and most lovable woman,
Catherine of Siena, we find the same union of strength and tenderness
which was so noticeable in Dr. Inglis. In the _Life_ of St. Catherine it
is said: "Everybody loves Catherine Benincasa because she was always and
everywhere a woman in every fibre of her being. By nature and
temperament she was fitted to be what she succeeded in remaining to the
end--a strong, noble woman, whose greatest strength lay in her
tenderness, and whose nobility sprung from her tender femininity."

In her political sagacity, her optimism, and cheerfulness also, she
reminds us of Elsie Inglis. During St. Catherine's Mission to Tuscany
the following story is told of her by her biographer: "The other case"
(of healing) "was that of Messer Matteo, her friend, the Rector of
Misericordia, who had been one of the most active of the heretic priests
in Siena. To this good man, lying _in extremis_ after terrible agony,
Catherine entered, crying cheerfully: 'Rise up, rise up, Ser Matteo!
This is not the time to be taking your ease in bed!' Immediately the
disease left him, and he, who could so ill be spared at such a time,
arose whole and sound to minister to others."[10]

We smile as we read of Catherine's "cheerful" entrance into this
sick-chamber, and those who knew Dr. Inglis can recall many such a
breezy entrance into the depressing atmosphere of some of her patients'


[10] _Catherine of Siena_, by C. M. Antony.



     "_It is the solution worked out in the life, not merely in words,
     that brings home to other lives the fact that the problem is not

It may be truly said that special types of problems come before the
unmarried woman for solution--problems as to her connection with society
and with the race, which confront her as they do not others. Though few
signs of a mental struggle were visible on the surface, there is no
doubt that Elsie Inglis met these problems and settled them in the
silence of her heart. It is a fact of much interest in connection with
the subject of this memoir that amongst the papers found after she had
died is the MS. of a novel written by herself, entitled _The Story of a
Modern Woman_, and one turns the pages with eager interest to see if
they furnish a key to the path along which she travelled in solving her
problems. The expectation is realized, and in reading the pages of the
novel we find the secret of the assurance and happy courage which
characterized her. Whether she intended it or not, many parts of the
book are without doubt autobiographical. In this chapter we propose to
give some extracts from the novel which we consider justify the belief
that the authoress is describing her own experiences.

The first extract refers to her "discovery" that she was almost entirely
without fear. The heroine is Hildeguard Forrest, a woman of
thirty-seven, a High School teacher. During a boating accident, which
might have resulted fatally, the fact reveals itself to Hildeguard that
she does not know what fear is. The story of the accident closes with
these words:

     "Self-revelation is not usually a pleasant process. Not often do we
     find ourselves better than we expected. Usually the sudden flash
     that shows us ourselves makes us blush with shame at the sight we
     see. But very rarely, and for the most part for the people who are
     not self-conscious, the flash may, in a moment, reveal unknown
     powers or unsuspected strength.

     "And Hildeguard, sitting back in the boat, suddenly realized she
     wasn't a coward. She looked back in surprise over her life, and
     remembered that the terror which as a child would seize her in a
     sudden emergency was the fear of being parted from her mother, not
     any personal fear for herself, or her own safety.

     "Such a pleasurable glow swept over her as she sat there in the
     rocking boat. 'Why, no,' she thought; 'I wasn't frightened.'"

A similar accident befell Elsie Inglis when a young woman. Whether the
absence of fear disclosed itself to her then or not cannot be said, but
she is known to have said to a friend after her return from Serbia: "It
was a great day in my life when I discovered that I did not know what
fear was."

Benjamin Kidd in _The Science of Power_ gives (unintentionally) an
indication where to look for the secret of the childless woman's feeling
of loneliness--_she has no link with the future_. He affirms that woman
because of her very nature has her roots in the future. "To women," he
says, "the race is always more than the individual; the future greater
than the present."

As we follow Hildeguard through the pages of the novel, she is shown to
us as faced with the problem of becoming "a lonely woman," the problem
that meets the unmarried and the childless woman. And the claims and the
meaning of religion are confronting her too. The story traces the
workings of Hildeguard's mind and the events of her life for a year.

Christmas Day in the novel finds Hildeguard a lonely and dissatisfied
woman with no "sure anchor." She has had a happy childhood, with many
relations and friends around her. One by one these are taken from
her--some are dead, others are married--and she sees herself, at the age
of thirty-seven, a forlorn figure with no great interest in the future,
and her thoughts dwelling mostly on the joyous past. Two or three of
Hildeguard's friends are conversing together in her rooms. None of them
has had a happy day. Each in her own way is feeling the depression of
the lonely woman. Frances, a little Quaker lady, enters the room, as
someone remarks on the sadness of Christmas-time.

     "'Yes,' at last said the Quaker lady; 'I heard what you said as I
     came in, dear. Christmas is a hard time with all its memories. _I
     think I have found out what we lonely women want. It is a future_.
     Our thoughts are always turning to the past. There is not anything
     to link us on to the next generation. You see other women with
     their families--it is the future to which they look. However good
     the past has been, they expect more to come, for their sons and
     their daughters. Their life goes on in other lives.' Hildeguard
     clasped her hands round her knees and stared into the fire."

"Their life goes on in other lives"--the thought finds a home in
Hildeguard's mind. When, soon after, the little Quakeress dies,
Hildeguard, looking at the quiet face, says to herself: "_Dear little
woman! So you have got your future._" But in her own case she does not
wait for death to bring it to her; she faces her problems, and, refusing
to be swamped by them, makes the currents carry her bark along to the
free, open sea. She flings herself whole-heartedly into causes whose
hopes rest in the future. She draws around her children, who need her
love and care, and makes them her hostages for the future. In all this
we see Elsie Inglis describing a stage in her own life.

But before the story brings us round again to Christmas, something else
has helped to change the outlook for Hildeguard; she has found herself
in relation to God. Her religion is no merely inherited thing--not hers
at second-hand, this "link with God." It is a real thing to her, found
for herself, made part of herself, and so her sure foundation. It has
come to her in a flash, a never-to-be-forgotten illumination of the
words: "_The Power of an Endless Life_." She faces life now glad and

In her "den" on that Christmas Eve she is described thus to us by Elsie

     "Ann had put holly berries over the pictures, and the mantelpiece,
     too, was covered with it. Between the masses of green and the red
     berries stood the solid, old-fashioned, gilt frames of long ago,
     the photographs in them becoming yellow with age. Hildeguard turned
     to them from the portraits on the walls. She stood, her hands
     resting on the edge of the mantelpiece. Then suddenly it came to
     her that her whole attitude towards life and death had altered. For
     long these old photographs had stood to her as symbols of a past
     glowing with happiness. Though the pain still lingered even after
     time had dulled the edge, yet the old pictures typified all that
     was best in life, and the dim mist of the years rose up between the
     good days and her.

     "But now, as she looked, her thoughts did not turn to the past. In
     some unexplained way the loves of long ago seemed to be entwined
     with a future so wonderful and so enticing that her heart bounded
     as she thought of it.

     "'Grow old along with me;
     The best is yet to be.'

     "Only last Christmas those words would have meant nothing to her.
     Then her bark seemed to be stranded among shallows. She felt that
     she was an old woman, and 'second bests' her lot in the coming
     years. There could never be any life equal to the old life, in the
     back-water into which she had drifted.

     "But to-day how different the outlook! Her ship was flying over a
     sunlit sea, the good wind bulging out the canvas. She felt the
     thrill of excitement and adventure in her veins as she stood at the
     helm and gazed across the dancing water. It seemed to her as if she
     had been asleep and the "Celestial Surgeon" had come and 'stabbed
     her spirit broad awake.' Joy had done its work, and sorrow;
     responsibility had come with its stimulating spur, and the ardent
     delight of battle in a great crusade. New powers she had discovered
     in herself, new possibilities in the world around her. She was
     ready for her 'adventure brave and new.' Rabbi Ben Ezra had waited
     for death to open the gate to it, but to Hildeguard it seemed that
     she was in the midst of it now, that 'adventure brave and new' in
     which death itself was also an adventure.

     "'The Power of an Endless Life'--the words seemed to hover around
     her, just eluding her grasp, just beyond her comprehension, yet
     something of their significance she seemed to catch. She remembered
     the flash of intuition as she stood beside Frances' newly-made
     grave, but she realized, her eyes on the old pictures, that it
     would take æons to understand all it meant, to exhaust all the
     wonder of the idea. She could only bring to it her undeveloped
     powers of thought and of imagination, but she knew that stretching
     away, hid in an inexpressible light, lay depths undreamt of. To her
     nineteenth-century intellect life could only mean evolution--life
     ever taking to itself new forms, developing itself in new ways. At
     the bed-rock of all her thought lay the consciousness of 'the Power
     not ourselves, which makes for Righteousness.'

     "No mystic she, to whom an ineffable union with the Highest was the
     goal of all. Never even distantly did she reach to that idea.
     Rather she was one of God's simple-hearted soldiers, who took her
     orders and stood to her post. The words thrilled her, not with the
     prospect of rest, but with the excitement of advance, 'an Endless
     Life' with ever new possibilities of growth and of achievement,
     ever greater battles to be fought for the right, and always new
     hopes of happiness. Doubtingly and hesitatingly she committed
     herself to the thought, conscious that it had been forming slowly
     and unregarded in the strenuous months that lay behind her, through
     the long years, ever since the first seemingly hopeless 'good-bye'
     had wrung her heart. She began dimly to feel the 'power' of the
     idea, the life of which she was the holder, only 'part of a greater
     whole.' Earth itself only a step in a great progression. Ever
     upward, ever onward, marching towards some 'Divine far-off event,
     to which the whole creation moves.'"

If another pen than Elsie Inglis's had drawn the picture we should have
said it was one of herself. Surely she was able to weave around her
heroine, from the depth of her own inner experiences of solved problems,
the mantle of joy and freedom with which she herself was clothed.

The causes to which Elsie Inglis became a tower of strength; the "nation
she twice saved from despair"; the many children, not only those in her
own connection, on whom she lavished love and care, are the witnesses
to-day of the completeness and the splendour of her power to mould each
adverse circumstance in her life and make it yield a great advantage.



"Wonderful courage," "intrepidity of action," "strength of purpose," "no
weakening pity"--these are terms that are often used in describing Elsie
Inglis. But there is another side to her character, not so well known,
from its very nature bound to be less known, which it is the purpose of
this chapter to discover.

Elsie Inglis was a very loving woman, and she was a child-lover. From
every source that touched her life, and, touching it, brought her into
contact with child-life, she, by her interest in children, drew to
herself this healing link with the future. The children of her poorer
patients knew well the place they held in her heart. "They would watch
from the windows, on her dispensary days, for her, and she would wave to
them across the street. She would often stop them in the street, and ask
after their mother, and even after she had been to Serbia and had
returned to Edinburgh she remembered them and their home affairs."[11]

The daily letters to her father, written from Glasgow and London and
Dublin, are full of stories about the children of her patients. Who but
a genuine child-lover could have found time to write to a little niece,
under twelve, letters from Serbia and Russia--one in August, 1915,
during "The Long, Peaceful Summer," and the other in an ambulance train
near Odessa?

Her book, _The Story of a Modern Woman_, contains many descriptions
which reveal a mind to whom the ways of children are of deep interest.
We draw once more from the pages of the novel, as in no other way can we
show so well the mother-heart that was hers.

One of Hildeguard's friends, dying in India, leaves three small
children, whom she commends to her pity. Hildeguard's heart responds at
once, and the orphans find their home with her. Her first meeting with
the frightened children and their black nurse is described in detail:

     "'Just let's wait a minute or two,' said Hildeguard. 'Let them get
     used to me. Well, Baby,' she said, turning to the ayah, and holding
     out her arms.

     "With a great leap and a gurgle Baby precipitated himself towards
     her, his strong little hands clutching uncertainly at the brooch at
     her throat. Then the buttons distracted him, and then, after a
     serious look at her face, his eyes suddenly caught sight of the hat
     above it, and the irresistible gleam of some ornament on it. With
     wildly working hands he pulled himself to his feet, and, with one
     fat little hand on her face, grabbed at the shining jet.

     "Hildeguard, laughing, and submitting herself half resistingly to
     the onslaught, felt her hat dragged sideways by the uncertain
     little hand.

     "She held the little one close to her, still laughing, kissing the
     firm little arms and hands, and talking baby nonsense as if it had
     been her mother-tongue for years.

     "The brooch again caught Baby's eye, and he made another determined
     raid on it. He seized it and pricked his finger. Down went the
     corners of his mouth.

     "'There now,' said Hildeguard, 'I knew you'd do that, you duckie
     boy,' kissing the pricked hand over and over again. 'And good
     little sonnie is not to cry. A watch is much safer than a brooch:
     now let's see if we can get at it,' feeling in her belt.

     "The watch was grabbed at and went straight to his mouth.

     "'Does your watch blow open?' asked Rex.

     "'Come and see,' said Hildeguard.

     "Rex came without a moment's hesitation. Eileen was forgotten in
     the interest of a new investigation. The watch did blow open. How
     exceedingly exciting! He leaned both arms on Hildeguard's knee
     while he defended the watch from Baby's greedy attacks. Then he
     suddenly remembered something of more importance.

     "'I've got a watch too.' He wriggled wildly with excitement, and
     pulled out a Waterbury.

     "'Well, you are a lucky boy!' said Hildeguard.

     "Eileen had come forward too, but Hildeguard waited for her to
     speak before noticing the advance. Rex was standing near to her,
     pointing out the beauties of the watch, the hands, etc.

     "'And--and--bigger like that'--stretching his arms wide--'bigger
     like that than your watch.'

     "'Your watch,' said Eileen, 'is little and tiny, like Mummy's
     watch. But Mummy's watch pins on here,' dabbing at Hildeguard's
     blouse. Then suddenly she raised swimming eyes to Hildeguard's: 'I
     do want Mummy,' she said.

     "'Darling,' cried Hildeguard, catching Baby with her right arm, so
     as to free the other to draw Eileen to her--'Darling, so we all

It is a simple account of the little ways of shy children. Many a mother
could have written it equally well.

But the interest of Elsie Inglis's descriptions of children lies in the
fact that they come from the pen of a woman of action, a woman of iron
nerve, and they give us the other side of her character.

And then--she was a woman whom no child called mother! But thank God the
instinct is not one that can be dammed up or lost, and in these writings
we get a glimpse of that motherhood which was hers, and which her life
showed to be deep enough and wide enough to sweep under its wing the
human souls, men, women, and children, who, passing near it, and being
in need, cried out for help, and never cried in vain. To quote a

"The emotions which are the strongest force in a woman must not live in
the past; they must not be used introspectively, nor for personal
pleasure and gratification. Used thus, they destroy the woman and weaken
the race. But _flung forward_, flung into interests outside of the woman
herself, and thus transmuted into power, they become to her her
salvation, and to the race a constructive element."


[11] _Dr. Elsie Inglis_, by Lady Frances Balfour.



During her medical career Dr. Inglis never lost sight of one aim, equal
opportunity for the woman with the man in all branches of education and
practical training and responsibility. She recognized that young women
doctors in Edinburgh suffered under a serious disadvantage in being
ineligible for the post of resident medical officer in the Royal
Infirmary and the chief maternity hospital. "But," writes a friend, "it
was characteristic of her and her inherent inability to visualize
obstacles except as incentive to greater effort that she set herself to
remedy this disadvantage instead of accepting it as an insurmountable
difficulty. _Women doctors must found a maternity hospital of their
own._ That was her first decision. A committee was formed, and the
public responded generously to an appeal for funds." Through the
kindness of Dr. Hugh Barbour, a house in George Square was put at the
committee's disposal. But Dr. Inglis felt that it must be near the homes
of the poor women who needed its shelter, and after four years a site
was chosen in the historic High Street. Three stories in a huge
"tenement," reached by a narrow winding stair, were adapted, and The
Hospice opened its doors.

It was opened in 1901 as a hospital for women, with a dispensary and
out-patient department, admitting cases of accident and general illness
as well as maternity patients. After nine years, it was decided to draft
the general cases from the district to the Edinburgh Hospital for Women
and Children, and The Hospice devoted all its beds to maternity cases.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Scott_


As soon as the admission book showed a steady intake of patients, Dr.
Inglis applied for and secured recognition as a lecturer for the
Central Midwifery Board, in order to be in a position to admit resident
pupils (nurses and students) to The Hospice for practical instruction in
midwifery. She at the same time applied to the University of Edinburgh
for recognition as an extramural lecturer on gynæcology. Recognition was
granted, and for some years she lectured, using The Hospice or the
Edinburgh Hospital for Women and Children at Bruntsfield Place for her
practical instruction.

A woman doctor writes: "In thus starting a maternity hospital in the
heart of this poor district she showed the understanding born of her
long experience in the High Street and her great sympathy for all women
in their hour of need. Single-handed she developed a maternity indoor
and district service, training her nurses herself in anticipation of the
extension of the Midwives Act to Scotland. Never too tired to turn out
at night as well as by day, cheerfully taking on the necessary
lecturing, she always worked to lay such a foundation that a properly
equipped maternity hospital would be the natural outcome."

Though hampered by lack of money and suitable assistance, she was never
daunted, and in a characteristic way insisted that all necessary medical
requirements should be met, whatever the expense. She worked at The
Hospice with devotion. Though cherishing always her aim of an
institution which, while serving the poor, should provide a training for
women doctors, she threw herself heart and soul into the work because
she loved it for its own sake, and she loved her poor patients.

In 1913 Dr. Inglis went to America, and her letters were full of her
plans for further development on her return. At Muskegon, Michigan, she
found a small memorial hospital, of which she wrote enthusiastically as
the exact thing she wanted for midwifery in Edinburgh.

On returning from America, for a time she was far from well, and one of
her colleagues, in September, 1913, urged her to forgo her hard work at
The Hospice, begging her to take things more easily.

Her reply, in a moment of curious concentration and earnestness, was
characteristic: "Give me one more year; I know there is a future there,
and someone will be found to take it on." A year later, when it seemed
inevitable that it must come to an end with her departure for Serbia,
those interested in The Hospice passed through deep waters in saving it,
but the unanswerable argument against closing its doors was always that
big circle of patients, often pleading her name, flocking up its stair,
certain of help.

"Three things foreseen by Dr. Inglis have happened since her departure:

     "1. The extension of the Midwives Act to Scotland, establishing
     recognized training centres for midwifery nursing.

     "2. The extension of Notification of Births Act, making State
     co-operation in maternity service possible.

     "3. The admission of women medical students to the University,
     making an opportunity for midwifery training in Edinburgh of
     immediate and paramount importance.

"The relation of The Hospice to these three events is as follows:

     "1. It is now fourth on the list of recognized training centres in
     Scotland, following the three large maternity hospitals.

     "2. It is incorporated in the Maternity and Child Welfare scheme of
     Edinburgh, which assists in out-patient work, though not in the
     provision of beds.

     "3. It has full scope under the Ordinances of the Scottish
     Universities to train women medical students in Clinical Midwifery
     if it had a sufficient number of beds.

"The Hospice has the distinction of being the only maternity training
centre run by women in Scotland. From this point of view it is of great
value to women students, affording them opportunities of study denied to
them in other maternity hospitals.

"To those of her friends who knew her Edinburgh life intimately, Elsie
Inglis's love of The Hospice was the love of a mother for her child.
She was never too tired or too busy to respond to any demand its
patients made upon her time and energy, always ready to go anywhere in
crowded close, or remote tenement, if it was to see a mother who had
once been an in-patient there or a baby born within its walls. True, Dr.
Inglis saw The Hospice with romantic eyes, with that vision of future
perfection which is the seal of pure romance in motherhood. Because of
this she cheerfully accepted those cramped and inconvenient flats,
reached by the narrow common stair which vanishes past The Hospice door
in a corkscrew flight to regions under the roof. Inconvenience and
straitened quarters were as nothing, for was not her Nursing Home
exactly where she wished it, with the ebb and flow of the High Street at
its feet? Dr. Inglis always rejoiced greatly in the High Street, in the
charm of the precincts of St. Giles, that ineffable Heart of Midlothian,
serenely catholic, brooding upon the motley life that has surged for
centuries about its doors. Here, where she loved to be, The Hospice is
finding a new home, an adequate building, modern equipment, and endowed
beds, and it will stand a living memorial, communicating to all who pass
in and out of its doors, to women in need, to women strong to help, the
inspiration of Dr. Elsie Inglis's ideal of service."



The question of Woman's Suffrage had always interested Dr. Inglis, for
the justice of the claim had from the first appealed to her. But it was
not until after 1900 that the Women's Movement took possession of her.
From that time onward, till the Scottish Women's Hospitals claimed her
in the war, the cause of Woman's Suffrage demanded and was granted a
place in her life beside that occupied by her profession. Indeed, the
very practice of her profession added fuel to the flame that the longing
for the Suffrage had kindled in her heart. A doctor sees much of the
intimate life of her patients, and as Dr. Inglis went from patient to
patient, conditions amongst both the poor and the rich--intolerable
conditions--would raise haunting thoughts that followed her about in her
work, and questions again and again start up to which only the Suffrage
could give the answer. The Suffrage flame with her, as with many other
women and men, was really one which religion tended; it was religious
conviction which mastered her and made her eager and dauntless in the
fight. She always worked from the constitutional point of view, and was
an admirer and follower of Mrs. Fawcett throughout the campaign.

     "As she threw herself into this new interest she found a gale of
     fresh air blowing through her life. It was almost as if she had
     awakened on a new morning. The sunshine flooded every nook and
     corner of her dwelling, and even old things looked different in the
     new light. Not the least of these impressions was due to the new
     friendships; women whose life-work was farthest from her own, whose
     point of view was diametrically opposite to hers, suddenly drew up
     beside her in the march as comrades. She felt as if she had got a
     wider outlook over the world, as if in her upward climb she had
     reached a spur on the hillside, and a new view of the landscape
     spread itself at her feet.

     "As she had once said, fate had placed her in the van of a great
     movement, but she herself clung to old forms and old ways--a new
     thing she instinctively avoided. It took her long to adjust herself
     to a new point of view. But here, in this absorbing interest, she
     forgot everything but the object. Her eyes had suddenly been opened
     to what it meant to be a citizen of Britain, and in the
     overpowering sense of responsibility that came with the revelation
     her timorous clinging to old ways had slackened.

     "Not the least part of the interest of the new life was the feeling
     of being at the centre of things. People whose names had been
     household words since babyhood became living entities. She not only
     saw the men and women who were moulding our generation: she met
     them at tea, she talked intimately with them at dinners, and she
     actually argued with them at Council meetings."

Thus Elsie Inglis describes in her writings her heroine Hildeguard's
entrance into "the great crusade." The description may be taken as true
of her own feelings when caught by the ideal of the movement.

The following words which she puts into the mouth of a Suffrage speaker
are evidently her own reflections on the subject of the Suffrage:

     "'I don't think for a moment that the millennium will come in with
     the vote,' she smiled, after a little pause. 'But our faces, the
     faces of the human race, have always been set towards the
     millennium, haven't they? And this will be one great step towards
     it. It is always difficult to make a move forward, for it implies
     criticism of the past, and of the good men and true who have
     brought the people up to that especial point. However gently the
     change is made, that element must be there, for there is always a
     sense of struggle in changing from the old to the new. I do not
     think we are nearly careful enough to make it quite clear that we
     do not hold that we women _alone_ could have done a bit
     better--that we are proud of the great work our men have done. We
     speak only of the mistakes, not of the great achievements; only I
     do think the mistakes need not have been there if we had worked at
     it together!'

     "The salvation of the world was wrapped up in the gospel she
     preached. Many of the audience were caught in the swirl as she
     spoke. Love and amity, the common cause of healthier homes and
     happier people and a stronger Empire, the righting of all wrongs,
     and the strengthening of all right--all this was wrapped up in the

In the early years of this century Suffrage societies were scattered all
over Scotland, and it began to be felt that much of their work was lost
from want of co-operation; it was therefore decided in 1906 that all the
societies should form a federation, to be called the Scottish Federation
of Women's Suffrage Societies.

During the preliminary work Mrs. James T. Hunter acted as Hon.
Secretary, but after the headquarters were established in Edinburgh Dr.
Inglis was asked and consented to be Hon. Secretary, with Miss Lamont as
Organizing Secretary. There is no doubt that after its formation the
success of the Federation was largely due to Dr. Inglis's power of

She cheered the faithful--if sometimes despondent--suffragists in widely
scattered centres; she despised the difficulties of travel in the north,
and over moor, mountain, and sea she went, till she had planted the
Suffrage flag in far-off Shetland. In her many journeys all over
Scotland, speaking for the Suffrage cause, Dr. Inglis herself penetrated
to the islands of Orkney and Shetland. A very flourishing Society
existed in the Orkneys.

The following letter from Dr. Inglis to the Honorary Secretary there is
characteristic, and will recall her vividly to those who knew her. The
arrival for the meeting by the last train; the early start back next
morning; the endeavour to see her friend's daughter, who she remembers
is in Dollar; the light-heartedness over "disasters in the House"
(evidently the setback to some Suffrage Bill in the House of
Commons)--these are all like Elsie Inglis. So, too, are her praise of
the Federation secretaries, her eager looking forward to the procession,
and the request for the "beautiful banner"!


     "Yes, I had remembered your daughter is at Dollar, and I shall
     certainly look out for her at the meeting. Unfortunately, I never
     have time to stay in a place, at one of these meetings, and see
     people. It would often be so pleasant. This time I arrive in Dollar
     at 6 p.m. and leave about 8 the next morning. I have to leave by
     these early trains for my work.

     "It was delightful getting your offer of an organizer's salary for
     some work in Orkney. Our secretaries have been most extraordinarily
     unconcerned over disasters in the House! Not one of you has
     suggested depression, and most of you have promptly proposed new
     work! That is the sort of spirit that wins.

     "I shall let you know definitely about an organizer soon.

     "At the Executive on Saturday it was decided to have a procession
     in Edinburgh during the Assembly week. We shall want you and your
     beautiful banner! You'll get full particulars soon.

                                       "Yours very sincerely,
                                                 "ELSIE MAUD INGLIS."

One of the Federation organizers who worked under Dr. Inglis for years
gives us some indication of her qualities as a leader:

"Though it was not unknown that Dr. Inglis had an extraordinary
influence over young people, it was amazing to find how many letters
were received after her death from young women in various parts of the
kingdom, who wrote to express what they owed to her sympathy and

"To be a leader one must be able not only to inspire confidence in the
leader, but to give to those who follow confidence in themselves, and
this, I think, was one of Dr. Inglis's most outstanding qualities. She
would select one of her workers, and after unfolding her plans to her,
would quietly say, 'Now, my dear, I want you to undertake that piece of
work for me.' As often as not the novice's breath was completely taken
away; she would demur, and remark that she was afraid she was not quite
the right person to be entrusted with that special piece of work. Then
the Chief would give her one of those winning smiles which none could
resist, and tell her she was quite confident she would not fail. The
desired result was usually attained, and the young worker gained more
confidence in herself. If, on the other hand, the worker failed to
complete her task satisfactorily, Dr. Inglis would discuss the matter
with her. She might condemn, but never unjustly, and would then arrange
another opportunity for the worker in a different department of the

"From those with whom she worked daily she expected great things. She
was herself an unceasing worker, well-nigh indefatigable. It was no easy
matter to work under 'the Chief's' direction; the possibility of failure
never entered into her calculations."

One of the finest speakers in the Suffrage cause, who with her husband
worked hard in the campaign, frequently stayed with Dr. Inglis. She
writes thus of her:

"With me it is always most difficult to speak about the things upon
which I feel the most deeply. Elsie Inglis is a case in point. She was
dearer to me than she ever knew and than I can make you believe. She is
one of the most precious memories I possess, the mere thought of her
and her tireless devotion to her fellows being the strongest inspiration
to effort and achievement.

"She was the Edinburgh hostess for most of the Woman Suffrage
propagandists, and we all have the same story to tell. Doubtless you
have already had it from others. Every comfort she denied herself she
scrupulously provided for her guests, whom she treated as though they
were more tired than herself. Usually she was at her medical work till
within a few minutes of the evening meal, would rush home and eat it
with us, take us to the meeting afterwards, frequently take a part in
it, and bring her guests home to the rest she was not always permitted
to take herself. And through it all there was no variation in her
wonderful manner--all brightness, affection, and warm energy.

"The last time I saw her was in the Waverley station. She was returning
shortly to her work abroad, while I was on my way to address a public
meeting in Dundee on the need for attempting to negotiate peace. It was
the time when everybody who dared to breathe the word 'peace,' much more
those who tried to stop the slaughter of men, were denounced as traitors
and pro-Germans. It was the time when one's nearest and dearest failed
to understand. But _she_ understood. And she broke into a busy morning's
work to come down to the train to shake my hand. What we said was very
little; but the look and the hand-clasp were sufficient. We knew
ourselves to be serving the same God of Love and Mercy, and that
knowledge made the bonds between us indissoluble. I never saw nor had
word with her again.

"It is easy to say, what is true, that the world's women owe to Dr.
Elsie Inglis a debt of gratitude they can never repay. But I am
convinced in my own soul that the reward she would have chosen, if
compelled to make the choice, would have been that all who feel that her
work was of worth should join hands in an effort to rid the world of
those evils which make men and women hate and kill one another."

Dr. Inglis did not see with the pacifists of the last five years. But in
this tribute to her is shown her open-mindedness and tolerance of
another's views, even on this cleaving difference of opinion.

A woman of great distinction--and not only in the Suffrage

"When I was working for the Suffrage movement in the years before the
war, one of the most impressive personalities that I came into touch
with was that of Dr. Elsie Inglis. She was then the leading spirit in
our movement in Edinburgh, and when I went to speak there, or in the
neighbourhood, she always used to put me up. I have never met anyone who
seemed to me more absolutely single-minded and single-hearted in her
devotion to a cause which appealed to her. She was eminently a feminist,
and to her feminism she subordinated everything else. No consideration
for her health, for her position, for her practice, ever stood in the
way of any call that came to her. She was untiring, and that at a time
when our cause was not popular everywhere, and when her position as a
medical woman might easily have been affected by its unpopularity.

"I remember one night especially, when we were going out in a motor-car
to some rather remote place, in very stormy weather. It howled and
rained and was pitch dark. Suddenly we ran, or nearly ran, into a great
tree which had been blown down across the road. It had brought with it a
mass of telegraph wire, and altogether afforded an apparently complete
'barrage.' We were still some six or seven miles from our destination,
and were wearing evening frocks and thin shoes. We got out and wrestled
with the obstacle, and when at one time it seemed quite hopeless to get
the car through, and I suggested that she and I would have to walk, I
shall never forget the look of approval that she turned on me. As a
matter of fact, I doubt very much whether I really _could_ have walked.
I am a little lame, and the circumstances made it almost an
impossibility. But the determination of Dr. Inglis that somehow we
_should_ get to our meeting infected me, and, like many others who have
followed her since, I felt able to achieve the impossible.

"It is true that Dr. Inglis seemed to me--since, after all, she was
human--to have the faults of her qualities. No consideration of herself
prevented her complete devotion to her work. I sometimes felt that there
was an element of relentlessness in this devotion, which would have
allowed her to sacrifice not only other people, but even perhaps
considerations which it is not easy to believe ought to be sacrificed.
It is extraordinarily difficult to judge how far any end may justify any
given means. It is, of course, a shallow judgment which dismisses this
dilemma as one easily solved. Rather, I have always felt it exceedingly
difficult, at any rate to an intellect that is subtle as well as
powerful. I am reminded, in thinking of Dr. Inglis, of the controversy
between Kingsley and Newman, from which it appears that Charles Kingsley
thought it a very easy matter to tell the truth, and Newman found it a
very difficult one. One's judgment of the two will, of course, vary, but
I personally have always felt that Newman understood the truth more
perfectly than Kingsley; understood, for instance, that it takes two
people to tell it (one to speak and one to hear aright), and that this
was why he realized its difficulty. So with Dr. Inglis; I do not suppose
she ever hesitated when once convinced of the goodness of her cause, but
I confess that I have sometimes wished that she could have hesitated.

"It is a graceless task to suggest spots in so excellent a sun, and we
feminists who worked with her and loved her can never be glad enough or
proud enough that the world now knows the greatness of her quality."

Again, an organizer who worked constantly with Dr. Inglis before the
war, and who later raised large sums for the Scottish Women's Hospitals
in India and Australia, writes:

"You have asked me for some personal memories of my dear Dr. Elsie
Inglis, for some of those little incidents that often reveal a character
more vividly than much description and explanation. And to me, at least,
it is in some of those little memories that the Dr. Inglis I loved lives
most vividly. What I mean is that her splendid public work, in medicine,
in Suffrage, in that magnificent triumph of the Scottish Women's
Hospitals--they were _her_ hospitals--is there for all the world to see
and honour. But the things behind all that, the character that
conquered, the spirit that aspired, the incredible courage, optimism,
indomitability of that individuality, the very self from which the work
sprang--all that, it seems to me, had to be gathered in and understood
from the tiny incident, the word, the glance.

"There stands out in my mind my first meeting with Dr. Inglis. The scene
was dismal and depressing enough. It was an empty shop in an Edinburgh
Street turned into a Suffrage committee-room during an election. Outside
the rain drizzled; inside the meagre fire smoked; there was a general
air of lifelessness over everything. I wondered, ignorant and
uninitiated in organizing and election work, when something definite
would happen. Giving away sodden handbills in the street did not seem a
very vigorous or practical piece of work.

"Suddenly the doors swung open and Dr. Inglis came into that dull place,
and with her there came the very feeling of movement, vitality, action.
She had come to arrange speakers for the various schoolroom election
meetings to be held that night. The list of meeting-places was arranged;
then came the choice and disposal of the speakers. Without hesitation,
Dr. Inglis grouped them; with just one look round at those present, and
another, well into her own mind, at those not present who could be
press-ganged! At last she turned to me and said, 'And you will speak
with Miss X. at ----' I was horrified. 'But I must explain,' I said; 'I
am quite "new." I don't speak at all. I have never spoken.' I can
imagine a hundred people answering my very decided utterance in a
hundred different ways. But I cannot imagine anyone but Dr. Inglis
answering as she answered. There was just the jolliest, cheeriest laugh
and, 'Oh, but you _must_ speak.' That was all. And the remarkable thing
was that, though I had sworn to myself that I would never utter a word
in public without proper training, I did speak that night. It never
occurred to me to refuse. Confidence begat confidence. It was during
this time of work with Dr. Inglis that I began really to understand and
appreciate that wonderful character.

"Another incident runs into my memory, of desperate, agonizing days in
Glasgow, when Suffrage was unpopular and the funds in our exchequer were
very low. How well I remember writing to Dr. Inglis at the ridiculous
hour of two in the morning, that we must get some money, and that I
should get certain introductions and do a lecturing tour in New York
and try to make Suffrage 'fashionable.' The answer came by return of
post, and was deliciously typical. 'My dear, your idea is so absolutely
mad that it must be thoroughly sane. Come and talk it over.'

"It was a happiness to work with Dr. Inglis, for her confidence, once
given, was complete. There were no petty inquiries or pedantic
regulations. 'Do it your own way,' was the one comment on a plan of
organization once it was settled.

"Dr. Inglis was one to whom the words 'can't' and 'impossible' really
and literally had no meaning; and those who worked with her had to
'unlearn' them, and they did. It did, indeed, seem 'impossible' to leave
for India at ten days' notice to carry on negotiations for the Scottish
Women's Hospitals and raise an Indian fund, especially when one had been
in no way officially or intimately connected with the Hospitals' work.
And to be told on the telephone, too, that one 'must' go. That was
adorably Dr. Inglis-ish. I laughed with glee at the very ridiculous,
fantastic impossibility of the whole thing--and promptly went! And how I
looked forward to seeing Dr. Inglis on my return! When she saw me off at
Waterloo in 1916, and, still fearfully ignorant of what awaited one, I
wailed at the eleventh hour (literally, for we were in the railway
carriage), 'But where am I to stay and where am I to go?' 'Don't worry,'
said Dr. Inglis, with that sublime faith and optimism of hers; 'they'll
put you up and pass you on. Good-bye, my dear. _It will be all right_.'
And so it was. But one has missed the telling of it all to her; the hard
things and the good things and the dreadfully funny things. For she
would have appreciated every bit of it, and entered into every detail."

During the years of that great campaign, Dr. Inglis spoke, pleading the
cause of Suffrage, at hundreds of meetings all over the United Kingdom.
At one large meeting she had occasion to deal with the problem of the
"outcast woman." She referred to the statement once made that no woman
would be safe unless this class existed.

Then she said: "If this were true, the price of safety is too high. I,
for one, would choose to go down with the minority."

It is difficult to declare which was the more impressive, the
silence--one that could be felt--which followed the words, or the burst
of applause which came a moment later. But to one onlooker, from the
platform, the predominant feeling was wonder at the amazing power of the
woman. Without raising her voice, or putting into it any emotion beyond
the involuntary momentary break at the beginning of the sentence, she
had, by the transparent sincerity of her feeling, conveyed such an
impression to that large audience as few there would forget. The subtle
response drawn from those hundreds of women to the woman herself, to the
personality of the speaker, was for the moment even more real than the
outward response given to the idea. More than one woman there that day
could have said in the words of the British Tommy, who had heard for the
first time the story of Serbia, "It would not be difficult to follow



     "_From the first the personality of Dr. Inglis was the main asset
     in this splendid venture. She continued to be its inspiration to
     the end._"

August, 1914, found many a man and woman unconsciously prepared and
ready for the testing time ahead. Elsie Inglis was one of these.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Inglis completed her fiftieth year in
the August that war broke out. She started on her great work of the next
years with all the vigour and freshness of youth.

In her own words, already quoted, we can describe her at the beginning
of the war:

"Her ship was flying over a sunlit sea, the good wind bulging out the
canvas. She felt the thrill and excitement of adventure in her veins as
she stood at the helm and gazed across the dancing waters.... Joy had
done its work, and sorrow and responsibility had come with its
stimulating spur, and the ardent delight of battle in a great

"New powers she had discovered in herself, new responsibilities in the
life around her.... She was ready for her 'adventure brave and new.'
Rabbi Ben Ezra waited for death to open the gate to it, but to her it
seemed that she was in the midst of it now, that 'adventure brave and
new' _in which death itself was also to be an adventure_.... 'The Power
of an Endless Life.' The words thrilled her, not with the prospects of
rest, but with the excitement of advance...."

War was declared on August 4. On the 10th the idea of the Scottish
Women's Hospitals--hospitals staffed entirely by women--had been mooted
at the committee meeting of the Scottish Federation of Women's Suffrage
Societies. Once the idea was given expression to, nothing was able to
stop its growth. A special Scottish Women's Hospital committee was
formed out of members of the Federation and Dr. Inglis's personal
friends. Meetings were organized all over the country; an appeal for
funds was sent broadcast over Scotland; money began to flow in; the
scheme was taken up by the whole body of the N.U.W.S.S.[12] Mrs. Fawcett
wrote approvingly. The Scottish Women's Hospitals Committee at their
headquarters in Edinburgh divided up into subcommittees: equipment,
uniforms, cars, personnel, and so on. Offers for service came in every
day, until soon over 400 names were waiting the choice of the personnel
committee. The headquarters offices in 2, St. Andrew Square became a
busy hive. Enthusiasm was written on the face of every worker. By the
end of November the first fully equipped Unit, under Miss Ivens of
Liverpool was on its way to the old Abbey of Royaumont in France. Dr.
Alice Hutchison with ten nurses was in Calais working under the Belgian
surgeon, Dr. de Page. A second Unit as well equipped as the first was
almost ready to start for Serbia. It sailed in the beginning of January,
under Dr. Eleanor Soltau, Dr. Inglis herself following in the April of

But even with all this dispatch, the S.W.H. were not the first Women's
Hospital in the field. As early as September, 1914, Dr. Flora Murray and
Dr. Louisa Garrett Anderson had taken a Unit, staffed entirely by women,
to Paris, where they did excellent work.

Until Dr. Inglis's departure for Serbia, her whole time and strength and
boundless energy had been thrown into the building up of the
organization of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. She addressed countless
meetings all over the Kingdom, making the scheme known and appealing for
money, and at the same time her insight and enthusiasm never ceased to
be the mainspring of the activity at the office in Edinburgh, where the
heart of the Scottish Women's Hospitals was to be found. Miss Mair
describes Dr. Inglis during these months thus:

"A certain stir of feeling might be perceptible in the busy hive at the
office of organization when a specially energetic visit of the Chief had
been paid. Had the impossible been accomplished? If not, why? Who had
failed in performance? Take the task from her; give it to another. No
excuses in war-time, no weakness to be tolerated--onward, ever onward.

"To those inclined to hesitate, or at least to draw breath occasionally
in the course of their heavy work of organizing, raising money,
gathering equipment, securing transport, passports, and attending to the
other innumerable secretarial affairs connected with so big a task, she
showed no weakening pity; the one invariable goad applied was ever, 'it
is war-time.' No one must pause, no one must waver; things must simply
be done, whether possible or not, and somehow by her inspiration they
generally were done. In these days of agonizing stress she appeared as
in herself the very embodiment of wireless telegraphy, aeronautic
locomotion, with telepathy and divination thrown in--neither time nor
space was of account. Puck alone could quite have reached her standard
with his engirdling of the earth in forty minutes. Poor limited mortals
could but do their best with the terrestrial means at their disposal.
Possibly at times their make-weight steadied the brilliant work of their

In a letter to Mrs. Fawcett dated October 4, 1914, she says:

     "I can think of nothing except those Units just now; and when one
     hears of the awful need, one can hardly sit still till they are

[Illustration: ELSIE INGLIS



[12] National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.



Serbia in January, 1915, was in a pitiable condition. Three wars
following in quick succession had devastated the land. The Austrians,
after their defeat at the Battle of the Ridges in October, 1914, had
retreated out of the country, leaving behind them filthy hospitals
crowded with wounded, Austrian and Serb alike. The whole land has been
spoken of as one vast hospital. From this condition of things sprang the
scourge of typhus which started in January, 1915, and swept the land.
Dr. Soltau and her Unit, arriving in the early part of January, were
able to take their place in the battle against this scourge. Their work
lay in Kraguevatz, in the north of Serbia, where Dr. Soltau soon had
three hospitals under her command.

In April Dr. Soltau contracted diphtheria. Dr. Inglis was wired for, and
left for Serbia in the end of April, 1915. She went gaily. There seems
no other word to describe her attitude of mind--she was so glad to go.
The sufferings of the wounded and dying touched her keenly. It was not
want of sympathy with all the awful misery on every hand that made her
go with such joy of heart, but rather she was glad from the sense that
at last she, personally, would be "where the need was greatest." This
had always been her objective.

                                              THE ÆGEAN SEA,
                                                     "_May 2nd, 1915._
     "We have had a perfectly glorious voyage from Brindisi to Athens,
     all yesterday between the coast and the Greek Islands, and then in
     the Gulf of Corinth. I never remember such a day--all day the
     sunshine and the beautiful hills, with the clouds capping them, or
     lying on their slopes, and the blue sky above, and blue sea all
     round. Then came the most glorious sunset, and when we came up from
     dinner the sky blazing with stars. We put our chairs back to the
     last notches, and lay looking at them, till a great yellow moon
     came up and flooded the place with light and put the stars out. It
     was glorious....

                                             "Your loving sister,
                                                       "ELSIE INGLIS."

She landed in Serbia when the epidemic of fever had been almost
overcome, and with the long, peaceful summer ahead of her. It is a joy
to think of Dr. Inglis all that summer. Her letters are full of buoyancy
of spirit. She was keen about everything. She had left behind her a
magnificent organization, enthusiastic women in every department, the
money flowing in, and the scheme meeting with more and more approval
throughout the country. In Serbia she was to find her power of
organizing given full scope. She had splendid material in the personnel
of the Scottish Women's Hospitals Units under her command. She made many
friends--Sir Ralph Paget, Colonel Hunter, Dr. Curcin, Colonel Gentitch,
and many others. She was in close touch with, was herself part of, big
schemes, a fact which was exhilarating to her. Everything combined to
make her happy.

The scheme that eventually took shape was Colonel Hunter's. His idea was
to have three "blocking hospitals" in the north of Serbia, which, when
the planned autumn offensive of the Serbs took place, would keep all
infectious diseases from spreading throughout the country. Innumerable
journeys up and down Serbia were taken by Dr. Inglis before the three
Scottish Women's Hospitals which were to form this blocking line had
been settled, and were working at Valjevo, Lazaravatz, and Mladanovatz.
Dr. Alice Hutchison and her Unit, with "the finest canvas hospital ever
sent to the Balkans," arrived in Serbia shortly after Dr. Inglis. Dr.
Hutchison was sent to Valjevo; Lazaravatz and Mladanovatz were
respectively under Dr. Hollway and Dr. McGregor. Dr. Inglis herself took
over charge of the fever hospitals in Kraguevatz, working them as one,
so that soon there were four efficient Scottish Women's Hospitals in
Serbia. The Serbian Government gave Dr. Inglis a free pass over all the
railways. She calls herself "extraordinarily lucky" in getting this
pass, and writes how greatly she enjoys these journeys, how much of the
country she sees during them, and of the interesting people she meets.
For the first time in her life she had work to do that needed almost the
full stretch of her powers. And deep at the heart of her joy at this
time lay her growing love of the Serbs. Something in them appealed to
her, something in their heroic weakness satisfied the yearning of her
strength to help and protect. She writes glowingly of their soldiers
streaming past the Scottish Women's Hospitals at Mladanovatz, massing on
the Danube, "their heads held high." Every letter is full of enthusiasm
of the country and the people. "God bless her," writes a friend; "it was
the last really joyous time she knew."

Later on the Serbs erected a fountain at Mladanovatz in memory of the
work done by the Scottish Women's Hospitals in Serbia, and in particular
by Dr. Inglis. The opening ceremony took place in the beginning of
September. Many people, English and Serbs, were present, and a long
letter by Dr. Inglis describes the dedication service.

     "A table covered with a white cloth stood in front of the fountain,
     and on it a silver crucifix, a bowl of water, a long brown candle
     lighted and stuck in a tumbler full of sand, and two bunches of
     basil, one fresh and one dried."

At the end of the service the priest gave the bunches of basil to Dr.
Inglis. "These are some of the few things," she writes, "which I shall
certainly keep always."

The Serbian officer who designed the fountain has contributed to this
_Life_ the following account of his impressions of Dr. Inglis:

"Already five sad and painful years have gone by since the time that I
had the chance and honour of knowing Dr. Elsie Inglis. It is already
five years since we erected to her--still in the plenitude of life--a
monument. What a prediction! Whence came the inspiration of the great
soul who was founder of this monument?

"Oh, great and noble soul, there is yet another monument created in the
hearts of the soldiers and Serbian people! And if the pitiless wheel of
time crushes the first, the second will survive all that is visible and

"One did not need to be long with Dr. Elsie Inglis to see all the
grandeur of her soul, her long vision, and her attachment to the Serbs.
I was not among those who chanced to pass some months in her company,
but even in a few days I soon learnt to recognize her divine nature, and
to see her relief in all colours.

"After the second big offensive of Germano-Austrian forces against
Serbia in the autumn of 1914, Dr. Elsie Inglis took a great part in
working against the various epidemics spread by the invasion in Western
Serbia. The significance and tenacity of this time of epidemic was such
that only those who witnessed it can understand the great usefulness,
devotion, and attachment of its co-workers. A great number of Dr.
Inglis's personnel were occupied in coping with it, and with what

"The Serbian counter-offensive terminated, provisional peace reigned in
Serbia. Six months went by before the last soldier of the enemy left our
sacred soil; the second enemy--the great epidemic--has also been
arrested and vanquished. The terrors that these two allies brought in
their train gradually disappeared, and the sun shone once again for the
Little Armed People. Men breathed again, and tired bodies slept. One had
the time to think of the great soldiers of the front, as well as those
who worked behind the lines. And, indeed, in those great days we knew
not who were the more courageous, the more daring, the greater heroes.

"General Headquarters decided to give a tangible recognition to all
those who had taken part in this epoch. Among the first thus
distinguished were Dr. Elsie Inglis and her hospitals.

"On the proposal of the Director of Sanitation, it was decided to erect
a monumental fountain to the memory of Dr. Elsie Inglis and her Scottish
Women's Hospitals. This was to be at Mladanovatz, quite close to one of
these hospitals, at a few yards' distance from the main railway-line
running from Belgrade to Nish, in sight of all the travellers who passed
through Serbia.

"It was erected, and bears the inscription:


"The object of my letter is not to make known what I have told you; what
follows is more important.

"Dr. Inglis was present in person at the unveiling and benediction of
the fountain. The idea was to give her a proof of the people's gratitude
by erecting an original monument which, in recalling those strenuous
days, would combine a value practical and real, solving the question of
a pure drinking-water, and cutting off the danger of an epidemic at the
root; and also, the impression that she had after visiting a number of
fountains in the environs of Mladanovatz and its villages left her no
rest (as she said later), and produced in her an idea, long thought
over, and eventually expressed in the following conversation:

"'Look here, Captain P----, I have a scheme which absorbs me more and
more, and becomes in me a fixed idea. You suffer in Serbia, and are
often subject to epidemics, through nothing else but bad water. I have
been thinking it over, and would like to ameliorate as much as possible
this deplorable state of affairs. I have the intention of addressing an
appeal to the people of Great Britain, and asking them to inaugurate a
fund which would create the opportunity of constructing in each Serbian
village a fountain of good drinking-water. And then, I should return to
Serbia, and with you--I hope that you are willing, since you have
already built so many of these fountains round about--should go from
village to village erecting these fountains. It will be, after the war,
my unique and greatest desire to do this for the Serbs.'

"Oh, great friend of Serbia! Thy clear-sighted spirit was to have but a
glimpse of one of the most essential necessities of the Serbian people.
Thy frail and fragile body has not permitted thee to enjoy the pleasure
to which thou hast devoted so much love. For the well-being of this dear
people thou hast given thyself entirely, even thy noble life. What a
misfortune indeed for us!

"May Heaven send thee eternal peace, so much merited, and so much
desired by all those who knew thee, and above all and especially by all
those Serbian hearts who have found in thee a great human friend."

Dr. Inglis wrote every week to the committee. In the letters written
towards the end of September we are aware of the anxiety about the
future which is beginning to make itself felt.

     "Last week Austrian aeroplanes were 'announced,' and the
     authorities evidently believed the report; for the Arsenal was
     emptied of workmen--and they don't stop work willingly just now.
     So--as a Serbian officer said to me yesterday--'Serbia is exactly
     where she was a year ago.' It does seem hard lines on our little

     "Well, as to how this affects us. Sir Ralph was talking about the
     various possibilities. _As long as the Serbians fight we'll stick
     to them--retreat if necessary, burning all our stores._ If they are
     overwhelmed we must escape, probably via Montenegro. Don't worry
     about us. We won't do anything rash or foolish; and if you will
     trust us to decide, as we must know most about the situation out
     here, we'll act rationally."

At last, in November, 1915, the storm broke. Serbia was overrun by
Germans, Austrians, and Bulgarians. All her big Allies failed her, "so
when her bitter hour of trial came, Serbia stood alone."

The Scottish Women's Hospitals at Mladanovatz, Lazaravatz, and Valjevo
had to be evacuated in an incredibly short time. The women from
Mladanovatz and Lazaravatz came down to Kraguevatz, where Dr. Inglis
was. After a few days they had again to move further south to
Krushevatz. From here they broke into two parties, some joining the
great retreat and coming home through Albania. The rest stayed behind
with Dr. Inglis and Dr. Hollway to nurse the Serbian wounded and
prisoners in Krushevatz.

     "If the committee could have seen Colonel Gentitch's face when I
     said to him that we were not going to move again, but that they
     could count on us just where we stood, I think they would have been

writes Dr. Inglis.

At Krushevatz both Units, Dr. Inglis's and Dr. Hollway's, worked
together at the Czar Lazar Hospital under the Serbian Director, Major
Nicolitch. It was here they were taken prisoners by the Germans in

     "These months at Krushevatz were a strange mixture of sorrow and
     happiness. Was the country really so very beautiful, or was it the
     contrast to all the misery that made it evident? There was a
     curious exhilaration in working for those grateful, patient men,
     and in helping the Director, so loyal to his country and so
     conscientious in his work, to bring order out of chaos; and yet the
     unhappiness in the Serbian houses, and the physical wretchedness of
     those cold, hungry prisoners, lay always like a dead weight on our
     spirits. Never shall we forget the beauty of the sunrises or the
     glory of the sunsets, with clear, cold, sunlit days between, and
     the wonderful starlit nights. But we shall never forget 'the
     Zoo,'[13] either, or the groans outside when we hid our heads in
     the blankets to shut out the sound. Nor shall we ever forget the
     cheeriness or trustfulness of all that hospital, and especially of
     the officers' ward. We got no news, and we made it a point of
     honour not to believe a word of the German telegrams posted up in
     the town. So we lived on rumour--and what rumour! The English at
     Skoplje, the Italians at Poshega, and the Russians over the
     Carpathians--we could not believe that Serbia had been sacrificed
     for nothing. We were convinced it was some deep-laid scheme for
     weakening the other fronts, and so it was quite natural to hear
     that the British had taken Belgium and the French were in Metz!"

During this time in Krushevatz Dr. Inglis and the women in her Unit
lived and slept in one room. One night an excited message was brought to
the door that enemy aircraft was expected soon; everyone was taking
refuge in places that were considered safe; would they not come too? For
a moment there was a feeling of panic in the room; then Dr. Inglis said,
without raising her head from her pillow: "Everyone will do as they
like, of course; _I_ shall not go anywhere. I am very tired, and bed is
a comfortable place to die in." The suspicion of panic subsided; every
woman lay down and slept quietly till morning.

The Hon. Mrs. Haverfield was one of the "Scottish women" who stayed
behind at Krushevatz. She gives us some memories of Dr. Inglis.

"I think the most abiding recollection I have of our dear Doctor is the
expression in her face in the middle of a heavy bombardment by German
guns of our hospital at Krushevatz during the autumn of 1915. I was
coming across some swampy ground which separated our building from the
large barracks called after the good and gentle Czar Lazar of
Kosovofanee, when a shell flew over our heads, and burst close by with a
deafening roar. The Doctor was coming from the opposite direction; we
stood a moment to comment upon the perilous position we were all in. She
looked up into my face, and with that smile that nobody who ever knew
her could forget, and such a quizzical expression in her blue eyes,
said: 'Eve, we are having some experiences now, aren't we?' She and I
had often compared notes, and said how we would like to be in the thick
of everything--at last we were. I have never seen anyone with greater
courage, or anyone who was more unmoved under all circumstances.

"Under our little Doctor bricks had to be made, whether there was straw
or not!

"In this same hospital at Krushevatz she had ordered me to get up
bathing arrangements for the sick and wounded. There was not a corner in
which to make a bath-room, or a can, and only a broken pump 150 yards
away across mud and swamp. There was no wood to heat the water, and
nothing to heat it in even if we had the wood. I admit I could not
achieve the desired arrangement. Elsie took the matter in hand herself,
finding I was no use, and in one day had a regular supply of hot water,
and baths for the big Magazine, where lay our sick, screened off with
sheets, and regular baths were the order of the day from that time

"One never ceased to admire the tireless energy, the resourcefulness,
and the complete unselfishness of that little woman who spent herself
until the last moment, always in the service of others."

     "At last, on the 9th of February, our hospital was emptied.[14] The
     chronic invalids had been 'put on commission' and sent to their
     homes. The vast majority of the men had been removed to Hungary,
     and the few remaining, badly wounded men who would not be fit for
     months, taken over to the Austrian hospitals.

     "On the 11th we were sent north under an Austrian guard with fixed
     bayonets. Great care was taken that we should not communicate with
     anyone _en route_. At Belgrade, however, we were put into a
     waiting-room for the night, and after we had crept into our
     sleeping-bags we were suddenly roused to speak to a Serbian woman.
     The kindly Austrian officer in charge of us said she was the wife
     of a Serbian officer in Krushevatz, and that if we would use only
     German we might speak to her. She wanted news of her husband. We
     were able to reassure her. He was getting better--he was in the
     Gymnasium. 'Vrylo dobra' ('Very well'), she said, holding both our
     hands. 'Vrylo, vrylo dobra,' we said, looking apprehensively at the
     officer. But he only laughed. Probably his Serbian, too, was equal
     to that. That was the last Serbian we spoke to in Serbia, and we
     left her a little happier. And thus we came to Vienna, where the
     American Embassy took us over.... When we reached Zurich and found
     everything much the same as when we disappeared into the silence,
     our hearts were sick for the people we had left behind us, still
     waiting and trusting."

Referring to this year of work done for Serbia, Mr. Seton-Watson wrote
of Dr. Inglis:

"History will record the name of Elsie Inglis, like that of Lady Paget,
as pre-eminent among that band of women who have redeemed for all time
the honour of Britain in the Balkans."

We close this chapter on her work in Serbia with tributes to her memory
from two of her Serbian friends, Miss Christitch, a well-known
journalist, and Lieutenant-Colonel D. C. Popovitch, Professor at the
Military Academy in Belgrade.

"Through Dr. Inglis Serbia has come to know Scotland, for I must confess
that formerly it was not recognized by our people as a distinctive part
of the British Isles. Her name, as that of the Serbian mother from
Scotland (Srpska majka iz 'Skotske'), has become legendary throughout
the land, and it is not excluded that at a future date popular opinion
will claim her as of Serbian descent, although born on foreign soil.

"What appealed to all those with whom Elsie Inglis came in contact in
Serbia was her extraordinary sympathy and understanding for the people
whose language she could not speak and whose ways and customs must
certainly have seemed strange to her. Yet there is no record of
misunderstanding between any Serb and Dr. Inglis. Everyone loved her,
from the tired peasant women who tramped miles to ask the 'Scottish
Doctoress' for advice about their babies to the wounded soldiers whose
pain she had alleviated.

"Here I must mention that Dr. Inglis won universal respect in the
Serbian medical profession for her skill as a surgeon. During a great
number of years past we have had women physicians, and very capable they
are too; but, for some reason or other, Serbian women had never
specialized in surgery. Hence it was not without scepticism that the
male members of the profession received the news that the organizer of
the Scottish hospitals was a skilled surgeon. Until Dr. Inglis actually
reached Serbia and had performed successfully in their presence, they
refused to believe this 'amiable fable,' but from the moment that they
had seen her work they altered their opinion, and, to the great joy of
our Serbian women, they no longer proclaimed the fact that surgery was
not a woman's sphere. This is but one of the services Dr. Inglis has
rendered our woman movement in Serbia. To-day we have several active
societies working for the enfranchisement of women, and there is no
doubt that the record of the Scottish Women's Hospital, organized and
equipped by a Suffrage society and entirely run by women, is helping us
greatly towards the realization of our goal. It was a cause of delight
to our women and of no small surprise to our men that the Scottish Units
that came out never had male administrators.

"It is very difficult to say all one would wish about Dr. Inglis's
beneficial influence in Serbia in the few lines which I am asked to
write. But before I conclude I may be allowed to give my own impression
of that remarkable woman. What struck me most in her was her grip of
facts in Serbia. I had a long conversation with her at Valjevo in the
summer of 1915, before the disaster of the triple enemy onslaught, and
while we still believed that the land was safe from a fresh invasion.
She spoke of her hopes and plans for the future of Serbia. 'When the war
is over,' she said, 'I want to do something lasting for your country. I
want to help the women and children; so little has been done for them,
and they need so much. I should like to see Serbian qualified nurses and
up-to-date women's and children's hospitals. When you will have won your
victories you will require all this in order to have a really great and
prosperous Serbia.' She certainly meant to return and help us in our

"I saw Dr. Inglis once again several weeks later, at Krushevatz, where
she had remained with her Unit to care for the Serbian wounded,
notwithstanding the invitation issued her by Army Headquarters to
abandon her hospital and return to England. But Dr. Inglis never knew a
higher authority than her own conscience. The fact that she remained to
face the enemy, although she had no duty to this, her adopted country,
was both an inspiration and a consolation to those numerous families who
could not leave, and to those of us who, being Serbian, had a duty to

"She left in the spring of 1916, and we never heard of her again in
Serbia until the year 1917, when we, in occupied territory, learnt from
a German paper that she had died in harness working for the people of
her adoption. There was a short and appreciative obituary telling of her
movements since she had left us.

"For Serbian women she will remain a model of devotion and
self-sacrifice for all time, and we feel that the highest tribute we can
pay her is to endeavour, however humbly, to follow in the footsteps of
this unassuming, valiant woman."


"I made her acquaintance towards the close of October, 1915, when, as a
heavily wounded patient in the Military Hospital of Krushevatz, I became
a prisoner, first of the Germans and then of the Austrians.

"The Scottish Women's Hospital Mission, with Dr. Inglis as Head and Mrs.
Haverfield as Administrator, had voluntarily become prisoners of the
Austrians and Germans, rather than abandon the Serbian sick and wounded
they had hitherto cared for. The Mission undertook a most difficult
task--that is, the healing of and ministration to the typhus patients,
which had already cost the lives of many doctors. But the Scottish
women, whose spirit was typified in their leader, Miss Inglis, did not
restrict themselves to this department, hastening to assist whenever
they could in other departments. In particular, Dr. Elsie Inglis gave
help in the surgical ward, and undertook single-handed the charge of a
great number of wounded, among whom I was included, and to her devoted
sisterly care I am a grateful debtor for my life. She visited me hourly,
and not only performed a doctor's duties, but those of a simple nurse,
without the slightest reluctance.

"The conditions of Serbian hospitals under the Austrians rendered
provisioning one of the most difficult tasks. At the withdrawal of the
Serbian Army only the barest necessaries were left behind, and the
Austrians gave hardly anything beyond bread, and at times a little meat.
The typhus patients were thus dependent almost entirely on the aliments
which the Scottish Mission could furnish out of their own means. It was
edifying to see how they solved the problem. Every day, their Chief, Dr.
Inglis, and Mrs. Haverfield at the head, the nurses off duty, with empty
sacks and baskets slung over their shoulders, tramped for miles to the
villages around Krushevatz, and after several hours' march through the
narrow, muddy paths, returned loaded with cabbages, potatoes, or other
vegetables in baskets and sacks, their pockets filled with eggs and
apples. Instead of fatigue, joy and satisfaction were evident in their
faces, because they were able to do something for their Serbian
brothers. I am ever in admiration of these rare women, and never can I
forget their watchword: 'Not one of our patients is to be without at
least one egg a day, however far we may have to tramp for it.' Such
labour, such love towards an almost totally strange nation, is something
more than mere humanity; it is the summit of understanding, and the
application of real and solid Christian teaching.

"Dr. Inglis cured not only the physical but the moral ills of her
wounded patients. Every word she spoke was about the return of our army,
and she assured us of final victory. She did not speak thus merely to
soothe, for one felt the fire of her indignation against the oppressor,
and her love for us and her confidence that our just cause would
triumph. I could mention a host of great and small facts in connection
with her, enough to fill a book; but, in one word, every move, every
thought of the late Dr. Inglis and the members of her Mission breathed
affection towards the Serbian soldier and the Serbian nation. The
Serbian soldier himself is the best witness to this. One has only to
inquire about the Scottish Women's Mission in order to get a short and
eloquent comment, which resumes all, and expresses astonishment that he
should be asked: 'Of course I know of our sisters from Scotland.' ...

"But the enemy could not succeed in shaking these noble women in their
determination and their love for us Serbians. They at last obtained
their release, and reached their own country, but, without taking time
to rest properly, they at once started to collect fresh stores, and
hastened to the assistance of the Serbian Volunteer Corps in the
Dobrudja. They returned with the same corps to the Macedonian front, and
thence to Serbia once more at the close of last year, in order to come
to the aid of the impoverished Serbian people. The fact that Dr. Inglis
lost her life after the retreat from Russia is a fresh proof of her
devotion to Serbia. The Serbian soldiers mourn her death as that of a
mother or sister. The memory of her goodness, self-sacrifice, and
unbounded charity, will never leave them as long as they live, and will
be handed down as a sacred heritage to their children. The entire
Serbian Army and the entire Serbian people weep over the dear departed
Dr. Inglis, while erecting a memorial to her in their hearts greater
than any of the world's monuments. Glory be to her and the land that
gave her birth!

                        "(_Signed_) LIEUT.-COL. DRAG. C. POPOVITCH,
                            "_Professor at the Military Academy._
    "_December 24th, 1919._"

Dr. Inglis was at home from February to August, 1916. Besides her work
as chairman of the committee for Kossovo Day, she was occupied in many
other ways. She paid a visit of inspection for the Scottish Women's
Hospitals Committee to their Unit in Corsica, reporting in person to
them on her return in her usual clear and masterly way on the work being
done there. She worked hard to get permission for the Scottish Women's
Hospitals to send a Unit to Mesopotamia, where certainly the need was
great. It has been said of her that, "like Douglas of old, she flung
herself where the battle raged most fiercely, always claiming and at
last obtaining permission to set up her hospitals where the obstacles
were greatest and the dangers most acute."

It was not the fault of the Scottish Women's Hospitals that their
standard was not found flying in Mesopotamia.

During the time she was at home, in the intervals of her other
activities, she spoke at many meetings, telling of the work of the
Scottish Women's Hospitals. At these meetings she would speak for an
hour or more of the year's work in Serbia without mentioning herself.
She had the delightful power of telling a story without bringing in the
personal note. Often at the end of a meeting her friends would be asked
by members of the audience if Dr. Inglis had not been in Serbia herself.
On being assured that she had, they would reply incredulously, "But she
never mentioned herself at all!"

The Honorary Secretary of the Clapham High School Old Girls' Society
wrote, after Dr. Inglis's death, describing one of these meetings:

"In June, 1916, Dr. Inglis came to our annual commemoration meeting and
spoke to us of Serbia. None of those who were present will, I think,
ever forget that afternoon, and the almost magical inspiration of her
personality. Behind her simple narrative (from which her own part in the
great deeds of which she told seemed so small that to many of us it was
a revelation to learn later what that part had been) lay a spiritual
force which left no one in the audience untouched. We feel that we
should like to express our gratitude for that afternoon in our lives, as
well as our admiration of her gallant life and death."

The door to Mesopotamia being still kept closed, Dr. Inglis, in August,
1916, went to Russia as C.M.O. of a magnificently equipped Unit which
was being sent to the help of the Jugo-Slavs by the Scottish Women's

A few days before she left Dr. Inglis went to Leven, on the Fifeshire
coast of Scotland, where many of her relatives were gathered, to say
farewell. The photograph given here was taken at this time.

[Illustration: ELSIE INGLIS



[13] The name the nurses gave the huge building they had converted into
a hospital.

[14] Dr. Inglis's report.



"For a clear understanding and appreciation of subsequent events
affecting the relations between Dr. Inglis and the Serb division, a
brief account of its genesis may be given here.

"The division consisted mainly of Serbo-Croats and Slovenes--namely,
Serbs who, as subjects of Austria-Hungary, were obliged to serve in the
Austrian Army. Nearly all of these men had been taken prisoners by the
Russians, or, perhaps more correctly, had voluntarily surrendered to the
Russians rather than fight for the enemies of their co-nationals. In
May, 1915, a considerable number of these Austro-Serbs volunteered for
service with the Serbian Army, and by arrangement with the Russian
Government, who gave them their freedom, they were transported to
Serbia. After the entry of Bulgaria into the war it was no longer
possible to send them to Serbia, and 2,000 were left behind at Odessa.
The number of these volunteers increased, however, to such an extent
that, by permission of the Serbian Government, Serbian officers from
Corfu were sent over to organize them into a military unit for service
with the Russian Army. By May, 1916, a first division was formed under
the command of the Serb Colonel, Colonel Hadjitch, and later a second
division under General Zivkovitch. It was to the first division that the
Scottish Women's Hospitals and Transport were to be attached.

"The Unit mustered at Liverpool on August 29, and left for Archangel on
the following day. It consisted of a personnel of seventy-five and three
doctors, with Dr. Elsie Inglis C.M.O."[15]

A member of the staff describes the journey:

"Our Unit left Liverpool for Russia on August 31, 1916; like the
Israelites of old, we went out not knowing exactly where we were bound
for. We knew only that we had to join the Serbian division of the
Russian Army, but where that Division was or how we were to get there we
could not tell. We were seventy-five all told, with 50 tons of equipment
and sixteen automobiles. We had a special transport, and after nine days
over the North Sea we arrived at Archangel.

"From Archangel we were entrained for Russia, and sent down via Moscow
to Odessa, receiving there further instructions to proceed to the
Roumanian front, where our Serbs were in action.

"We were fourteen days altogether in the train. I remember Dr. Inglis,
during those long days on the journey, playing patience, calm and
serene, or losing her own patience when the train was stopped and
_would_ not go on. Out she would go, and address the Russian officials
in strenuous, nervous British--it was often effective. One of our
interpreters heard one stationmaster saying: 'There is a great row going
on here, and there will be trouble to-morrow if this train isn't got

"At Reni we were embarked on a steamer and barges, and sent down the
Danube to a place called Cernavoda, where once more we were disembarked,
and proceeded by train and motor to Medjidia, where our first hospital
was established in a large barracks on the top of a hill above the town,
an excellent mark for enemy aeroplanes. The hospital was ready for
wounded two days after our arrival; until then it was a dirty empty
building, yet the wounded were received in it some forty-eight hours
after our arrival. It was a notable achievement, but for Dr. Inglis
obstacles and difficulties were placed in her path for the purpose of
being overcome; if the mountains of Mahomet _would_ not move, she
_removed_ them!

"In connection with the establishment of these field hospitals I have
vivid recollections of her. The great empty upper floor of the barracks
at Medjidia, seventy-five of us all in the one room. The lines of camp
beds. Dr. Inglis and her officers in one corner; and how quietly in all
the noise and hubbub she went to bed and slept. I remember how I had to
waken her when certain officials came on the night of our arrival to ask
when we would be ready for the wounded. 'Say to-morrow,' she said, and
slept again!

"'It's a wonder she did not say _now_,' one of my fellow-officers

"We were equipped for two field hospitals of 100 beds each, and our
second hospital was established close to the firing-line at Bulbulmic.
We were at Bulbulmic and Medjidia only some three weeks when we had to

Three weeks of strenuous work at these two places ended in a sudden
evacuation and retreat--Hospital B and the Transport got separated from
Hospital A. We can only, of course, follow the fortunes of Hospital A,
which was directly under Dr. Inglis.

The night of the retreat is made vivid for us by Dr. Inglis:

     "The station was a curious sight that night. The flight was
     beginning. A crowd of people was collected at one end with boxes
     and bundles and children. One little boy was lying on a doorstep
     asleep, and against the wall farther on lay a row of soldiers. On
     the bench to the right, under the light, was a doctor in his white
     overall, stretched out sound asleep between the two rushes of work
     at the station dressing-room; and a Roumanian officer talked to me
     of Glasgow, where he had once been invited out to dinner, so he had
     seen the British 'custims.' It was good to feel those British
     customs were still going quietly on, whatever was happening
     here--breakfasts coming regularly, hot water for baths, and
     everything as it should be. It was probably absurd, but it came
     like a great wave of comfort to feel that Britain was there, quiet,
     strong, and invincible, behind everything and everybody."

A member of the Unit also gives us details:[16]

"I went twice down to the station with baggage in the evening, a
perilous journey in rickety carts through pitch darkness over roads (?)
crammed with troops and refugees, which were lit up periodically by the
most amazing green lightning I have ever seen, and the roar and flash of
the guns was incessant. At the station no lights were allowed because of
enemy aircraft, but the place was illuminated here and there by the camp
fires of a new Siberian division which had just arrived. Picked troops
these, and magnificent men.

"We wrestled with the baggage until 2 a.m., and went back to the
hospital in one of our own cars. Our orderly came in almost in tears.
Her cart had twice turned over completely on its way to the station; so
on arrival she had hastened to Dr. Inglis with a tale of woe and a
scratched face. Dr. Inglis said: 'That's right, dear child, that's
right, _stick_ to the equipment,' which may very well be described as
the motto of the Unit these days!...

"The majority of the Unit are to go to Galatz by train with Dr. Corbett;
the rest (self included) are to go by road with Dr. Inglis, and work
with the army as a clearing station.

"On the morning of October 22 the train party got off as quick as
possible, and about 4 p.m. a big lorry came for our equipment. We loaded
it, seven of us mounted on the top, and the rest went in two of our own
cars. The scene was really intensely comic. Seven Scottish women
balanced precariously on the pile of luggage; a Serbian doctor with whom
Dr. Inglis is to travel standing alongside in an hysterical condition,
imploring us to hurry, telling us the Bulgarians were as good as in the
town already; Dr. Inglis, quite unmoved, demanding the whereabouts of
the Ludgate boiler; somebody arriving at the last minute with a huge
open barrel of treacle, which, of course, could not possibly be left to
a German. Oh dear! how we laughed!"

Dr. Inglis would never allow the Sunday service to be missed if it was
at all possible to hold it.[17] Miss Onslow tells us how she seized a
seeming opportunity even on this Sunday of so many dangers to make ready
for the service.

"_Medjidia._--Sunday was the day on which we began our retreat from the
Dobrudja. We spent most of the morning going to and from the station--a
place almost impossible to enter or leave on account of the refugees,
their carts and animals, and the army, which was on the move, blocking
all the approaches--transporting sick members of the Unit and some
equipment which had still to be put on the train, and only my touring
car and one ambulance with which to do the work. Dr. Inglis had been at
the station until the early hours of the morning, but nevertheless
superintended everything that was being done both at the train and up at
the hospital.

"Towards noon a Serbian officer brought in a report that things were not
as bad for the moment as they expected. Whereupon the Doctor immediately
gave orders to prepare the room for service at 4 o'clock that afternoon!
And she began revolving plans for immediate work in Medjidia. But, alas!
the good news was a false report--the enemy was rushing onwards. The
Russian lorry came for the personal baggage and any remaining equipment
which had not gone by train; and it, piled high with luggage and some of
the staff, left at 3, the remainder of us going in the ambulance and my
car. Dr. Inglis came in my car, and I had the honour of driving our dear
Doctor nearly all the time, and am the only member of the Unit who was
with her the whole time of the retreat from Medjidia until we reached
the Danube at Harshova."

The four days of the Dobrudja retreat from October 22nd to 26th were
days of horror for all who took part in it, not least for Dr. Inglis and
the members of her Units. "At first we passed a few carts, then at some
distance more and more, till we found ourselves in an unending
procession of peasants with all their worldly goods piled on those
vehicles.... This procession seemed difficult to pass, but as time went
on, added to it, came the Roumanian army retreating--hundreds of guns,
cavalry, infantry, ambulances, Red Cross carts, motor-kitchens, and
wounded on foot--a most extraordinary scene. The night was inky black;
the only lights were our own head-lights and those of the ambulance
behind us, but they revealed a sad and never-to-be-forgotten picture.
Our driver was quite wonderful; she sat unmoved, often for half an hour
at a time. There was a block, and we had to wait while the yelling,
frantic mob did what they could to get into some sort of order; then we
would move on for ten minutes, and then stop again; it was like a dream
or a play; it certainly was a tragedy. No one spoke; we just waited and
watched it all; to us it was a spectacle, to these poor homeless people
it was a terrible reality."[18]

At 11.30 that Sunday night Dr. Inglis and the party with her arrived at
Caramarat. The straw beds and the fairytale dinner, and the cheery voice
of Dr. Inglis calling them to partake of it, will never be forgotten by
these Scottish women.

On arrival at Caramarat Dr. Inglis had asked for a room for her Unit and
"a good meat meal." She was told a room was waiting for them, but a good
meal was an impossibility; the town had been evacuated; there had been
no food to be got for days.

"Though it was only a bare room with straw in heaps on the floor and
green blankets to wrap ourselves in, to cold, shivering beings like
ourselves it seemed all that heart could desire.... Never shall I forget
the delight of lying down on the straw, the dry warm blanket rolled
round me. Then a most wonderful thing happened--the door opened and
several soldiers entered with the most beautiful meal I ever ate. It was
like a fairytale. Where did it come from? The lovely soup--the real
Russian _borsh_--and roast turkey and plenty of bread and _chi_. We ate
like wolves, and I can remember so distinctly sitting up in my straw
nest, with my blanket round me, and hearing Dr. Inglis's cheery voice
saying, 'Isn't this better than having to start and cook a meal?' She
was the most extraordinary person; when she said she must have a thing,
she got it, and it was never for herself, always for others."[19]

They started again early on Monday morning, and after another day of
adventures slept that night in the open air beside a river.

"Cushions were brought from the cars and all the rugs we could find, and
soon we were sitting round the fire waiting for the water to boil for
our tea, and a more delightful merry meal could not be imagined. We all
told our experiences of the day, and Dr. Inglis said: 'But this is the
best of all; it is just like a fairytale.' And so it was; for as we
looked there were groups of soldiers holding their horses, standing
motionless, staring at us; we saw them only through the wood-smoke. The
fire attracted them, and they came to see what it could mean. Seeing
nine women laughing and chatting, alone and within earshot of the guns,
the distant sky-line red with the enemy's doings, was more than they
could understand. They did not speak, but quietly went away as they had
come.... Rolled in our blankets, with the warmth of the fire making us
feel drowsy, our chatter gradually ceased, and we slept as only a day in
the open air can make one sleep."

Another two days of continued retreat, and the different parties of
Scottish women arrived at places of safety.

"Thus we all came through the Dobrudja retreat. We had only been one
month in Roumania, but we seemed to have lived a lifetime between the
22nd and 26th of October, 1916." In a letter to the Committee Dr. Inglis
says of the Unit: "They worked magnificently at Medjidia, and took the
retreat in a very joyous, indomitable way. One cannot say they were
plucky, because I don't think it ever entered their heads to be afraid."

Finally the scattered members of the Unit joined forces again at Braila,
where Dr. Inglis opened a hospital.

During the time at Braila Dr. Inglis wrote to her relations. The letter
is dated Reni, where she had gone for a few days.

                                                "_October 28th, 1916._
     "Just a line to say I am all right. Four weeks to-morrow since we
     reached Medjidia and began our hospital. We evacuated it in three
     weeks, and here we are all back on the frontier.... Such a time it
     has been, Amy dear; you cannot imagine what war is just behind the
     lines. And in a retreat....

     "Our second retreat--and almost to the same day. We evacuated
     Kraguevatz on the 25th of October last year. We evacuated Medjidia
     on the 22nd this year. On the 25th this year we were working in a
     Russian dressing-station at Harshova, and were moved on in the
     evening. We arrived at Braila to find 11,000 wounded and seven
     doctors, only one of them a surgeon.

     "Boat come--must stop--am going back to Braila to do surgery. Have
     sent every trained person there.

                                   "Ever, you dear, dear people,
                                               "Your loving sister,

     "We have had lots of exciting things too--and amusing things--and
     _good_ things."

Two further retreats had, however, to be experienced by Dr. Inglis and
her Unit before they could settle down to steady work. The three
retreats took place in the following order:

_Sunday, October 22nd._--Retreated from Medjidia.

_October 25th._--Arrived at Braila. Worked there till December 3rd.

_December 3rd._--Retreated to Galatz, where very strenuous work awaited

_January 4th._--Retreated to Reni.

_August, 1917._--Left Reni, and rejoined the Serb division at Hadji

The work during the above period, from October 25th, 1916, to August,
1917, was done for the Russians and Roumanians. As soon as it was
possible, Dr. Inglis joined the Serb division in the end of August,

"Dr. Inglis was still working in Reni when the Russian Revolution broke
out in March.[20] The spirit of unrest and indiscipline, which
manifested itself among the troops, spread also to the hospitals, and a
Russian doctor reported that in the other hospitals the patients had
their own committees, which fixed the hours for meals and doctors'
visits and made hospital discipline impossible. But there was no sign of
this under Dr. Inglis's kindly but firm rule. Without relaxing
disciplinary measures, she did all in her power to keep the patients
happy and contented; and as the Russian Easter drew near, she bought
four ikons to be put up in the wards, that the men might feel more at
home. The result of this kindly thought was a charming Easter letter
written by the patients--

"_To the Much-honoured Elsie Maud, the Daughter of John._

"The wounded and sick soldiers from all parts of the army and fleet of
great free Russia, who are now for healing in the hospital which you
command, penetrated with a feeling of sincere respect, feel it their
much-desired duty, to-day, on the day of the feast of Holy Easter, to
express to you our deep reverence to you, the doctor warmly loved by
all, and also to your honoured personnel of women. We wish also to
express our sincere gratitude for all the care and attention bestowed on
us, and we bow low before the tireless and wonderful work of yourself
and your personnel, which we see every day directed towards the good of
the soldiers allied to your country.... May England live!

                         "(_Signed_) THE RUSSIAN CITIZEN SOLDIERS."

We cannot be too grateful to one member of the Unit who, in her
impressions of Dr. Inglis, has given us a picture of her during these
months in Russia that will live:

"I think so much stress has been laid, by those who worked under her, on
the leader who said there was no such word as 'can't' in the dictionary,
that the extraordinarily lovable personality that lay at the root of her
leadership is in danger of being obscured. I do not mean by this that we
all had a romantic affection for her. Her influence was of a much finer
quality just because she never dragged in the personal element. She was
the embodiment of so much, and achieved more in her subordinates, just
because she had never to depend for their loyalty on the limits of an
admired personality.

"There is no one I should less like to hear described as 'popular.' No
one had less an easy power of endearing herself at first sight to those
with whom she came in contact--at least, in the relations of the Unit.
The first impression, as has been repeated over and over again, was
always one of great strength and singleness of purpose, but all those
fine qualities with which the general public is, quite rightly, ready to
credit her had their roots in a serenity and gentleness of spirit which
that same public has had all too little opportunity to realize. Her Unit
itself realized it slowly enough. They obeyed at first because she was
stronger than they, only later because she was finer and better.

"You know it was not, at least, an easy job to win the best kind of
service from a mixed lot of women, the trained members of which had
never worked under a woman before, and were ready with their very narrow
outlook to seize on any and every opportunity for criticism. There was
much opposition, more or less grumblingly expressed at first. No one
hesitated to do what she was told--impossible with Dr. Inglis as a
chief--but it was grudgingly done. In the end it was all for the best.
If she had been the kind of person who took trouble to rouse an easy
personal enthusiasm, the whole thing would have fallen to pieces at the
first stress of work; on the other hand, if she had never inspired more
than respect, she would never have won the quality of service she
succeeded in winning. The really mean-spirited were loyal just so long
as she was present because she daunted them, and Dr. Inglis's
disapproval was most certainly a thing to be avoided. But the great
majority, whatever their personal views, were quickly ready to recognize
her authority as springing from no hasty impulse, but from a finely
consistent discipline of thought.

"We were really lucky in having the retreat at the beginning of the
work. It helped the Unit to realize how complete was the radical
confidence they felt in her. I think her extraordinary love of justice
was next impressed upon them. It took the sting out of every personal
grievance, and was so almost passionately sincere it hardly seemed to
matter if the verdict went against you. Her selflessness was an example,
and often enough a reproach, to every one of us, and to go to her in any
personal difficulty was such a revelation of sympathy and understanding
as shed a light on those less obvious qualities that really made all she
achieved possible.

"People have often come to me and said casually, 'Oh yes, Dr. Inglis was
a very charming woman, wasn't she?' And I have felt sorely tempted to
say rather snappishly, 'No, she wasn't.' Only they wouldn't have
understood. It is because their 'charming' goes into the same category
as my 'popular.'

"I am afraid you will hardly have anticipated such an outburst; the
difficulty is, indeed, to know where to stop. For what could I not say
of the way her patients adored her--the countless little unerring things
she did and said which just kept us going, when things were unusually
depressing, or the Unit unusually weary and homesick; the really good
moments when one won the generous appreciation that was so well worth
the winning; and last--if I may strike this note--her endless personal
kindness to me."

The following letter to her sister, Mrs. Simson, reveals something of
the lovable personality of Elsie Inglis. The nephew to whom it refers
was wounded in the eye at the battle of Gaza, and died a fortnight
before she did.

                                                     "_June 24th, 1917._

     "Eve's letter came yesterday about Jim, and though I start at seven
     to-morrow morning for Reni, I must write to you, dear, before I go.
     Though what one can say I don't know. One sees these awful doings
     all round one, but it strikes right home when one thinks of _Jim_.
     Thank God he is still with us. The dear, dear boy! I suppose he is
     home by now. And anyhow he won't be going out again for some time.
     We are all learning much from this war, and I know ---- will say it
     is all our own faults, but I am not sure that the theory that it is
     part of the long struggle between good and evil does not appeal
     more to my mind. We are just here in it, and whatever we suffer and
     whatever we lose, it is for the right we are standing.... It is all
     terrible and awful, and I don't believe we can disentangle it all
     in our minds just now. The only thing is just to go on doing one's
     bit.... Miss Henderson is taking home with her to-day a Serb
     officer, quite blind, shot right through behind his eyes, to place
     him somewhere where he can be trained. I heard of him just after I
     had read Eve's letter, and I nearly cried. He wasn't just a case at
     that minute, with my thoughts full of Jim. Dear old Jim! Give him
     my love, and tell him I'm _proud of him_. And how splendidly the
     regiment did, and how they suffered!

                                       "Ever your loving sister,
                                                   "ELSIE MAUD INGLIS."

Another of her Unit, who worked with Dr. Inglis not only during the year
in Russia, but through much of the strenuous campaign for the Suffrage,
gives us these remembrances:


     "'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide
     under the shadow of the Almighty.'

"Dearer to me even than the memory of those outstanding qualities of
great-hearted initiative, courage, and determination which helped to
make Dr. Elsie Inglis one of the great personalities of her age is the
remembrance of certain moments when, in the intimacy of close
fellowship during my term of office with her on active service, I caught
glimpses of that simple, sublime faith by which she lived and in which
she died.

"One of my most precious possessions is the Bible Dr. Inglis read from
when conducting the service held on Sunday in the saloon of the
transport which took our Unit out to Archangel. The whole scene comes
back so vividly! The silent, listening lines of the girls on either
hand--Hospital grey and Transport khaki; in the centre, standing before
the Union Jack-covered desk, the figure of our dear Chief, and her
clear, calm voice--'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most
High.' One felt that such a 'secret place' was indeed the abode of her
serene spirit, and that there she found that steadfastness of purpose
which never wavered, and the strength by which she exercised, not only
the gracious qualities of love, but those sterner ones of ruthlessness
and implacability which are among the essentials of leadership.

"Dr. Inglis was a philosopher in the calm way in which she took the
vicissitudes of life. It was only when her judgment, in regard to the
work she was engaged in, was crossed that you became aware of her
ruthlessness--her _wonderful_ ruthlessness! I can find no better
adjective. This quality of hers, perhaps more than any other, drew out
my admiration and respect. Slowly it was borne in on those who worked
with her that under no circumstances whatever would she fail the cause
for which she was working, or those who had chosen to follow her.

"Another remembrance! By the banks of the Danube at Reni, where at night
the searchlight of the enemy used to play upon our camp, in the tent
erected by the girls for the service, with the little altar simply and
beautifully decorated by the nurses' loving hands, I see her kneeling
beside me wrapt in a deep meditation, from which I ventured to rouse
her, as the Chaplain came towards her with the sacred Bread and Wine.
Looking back, it seems to me that even then her soul was reaching out
beyond this present consciousness:

     "'Here in the body pent,
     Absent from Him I roam.'

The look on her face was the look of those who hold high Communion. So
'in remembrance' we ate and drank of the same Bread and the same Cup.
Even as I write these words remembrance comes again, and I know that,
although her bodily presence is removed, her spirit is in communion


[15] _A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals._ Hodder and
Stoughton. 7s. 6d.

[16] _With the Scottish Nurses in Roumania_, by Yvonne Fitzroy.

[17] We recall her great-uncle William Money's strict observance of the

[18] "The Dobrudja Retreat," _Blackwood_, March, 1918.

[19] _Blackwood_, March, 1918.

[20] _A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals._



Through the summer months of 1917 Dr. Inglis had been working to get the
Serbian division to which her Unit was attached out of Russia. They were
in an unenviable position. The disorganization of the Russian Army made
the authorities anxious to keep the Serbian division there "to stiffen
the Russians." The Serb Command realized, on the other hand, that no
effective stand at that time would be made by the Russians, and that to
send the Serbs into action would be to expose them to another disaster
such as had overtaken them in the Dobrudja. In the battle of the
Dobrudja the Serb division had gone into the fight 14,000 strong; they
were in the centre, with the Roumanians on the left and the Russians on
the right. The Roumanians and Russians broke, and the Serbs, who had
fought for twenty-four hours on two fronts, came out with only 4,000
men. Further slaughter such as this would have been the fate of the
Serbian division if left in Russia.

"The men want to fight," said General Zivkovitch to Dr. Inglis; "they
are not cowards, but it goes to my heart to send them to their death
like this."

In July there had seemed to be a hope of the division being liberated
and sent via Archangel to another front; however, later the decision of
the Russian Headquarters was definitely stated. The Serbs were to be
kept on the Roumanian front. "The Serb Staff were powerless in the
matter, and entirely dependent on the good offices of the British
Government for effecting their release."

Into this difficult situation Dr. Inglis descended, and brought to bear
on it all the force of which she was capable. The whole story of her
achievement is told in _A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals_, in
those chapters that are written by Miss Edith Palliser. Here we can
only refer to the message Dr. Inglis sent to the Foreign Office through
Sir George Buchanan, British Ambassador at Petrograd, giving her own
clear views on the position and affirming that "In any event the
Scottish Women's Hospitals will stand by the Serbian division, and will
accompany them if they go to Roumania."

At the end of the month of August the Unit, leaving Reni, rejoined the
Serb division at Hadji-Abdul, a little village midway between Reni and

Dr. Inglis described it as a

     "lovely place ... and we have a perfectly lovely camping-ground
     among the trees. The division is hidden away wonderfully under the
     trees, and at first they were very loath to let us pitch our big
     tents, that could not be so thoroughly hidden; but I was quite bent
     on letting them see what a nice hospital you had sent out, so I
     managed to get it pitched, and they are so pleased with us. They
     bring everybody--Russian Generals, Roumanian Military Attachés and
     Ministers--to see it, and they are quite content because our
     painted canvas looks like the roofs of ordinary houses."

"There was a constant rumour of a 'grand offensive' to be undertaken on
the Roumanian front, which Dr. Inglis, though extremely sceptical of any
offensive on a large scale, made every preparation to meet.

"The London Committee had cabled to Dr. Inglis in the month of August
advising the withdrawal of the Unit, but leaving the decision in her
hands, to which she replied:

     "'I am grateful to you for leaving decision in my hands. I will
     come with the division.'

"Following upon this cable came a letter, in which she emphasized her
reasons for remaining:

     "'If there were a disaster we should none of us ever forgive
     ourselves if we had left. We _must_ stand by. If you want us home,
     get _them_ out.'"

Orders and counter-orders for the release of the division were
incessant, and on their release depended, as we have seen, the
home-coming of the Unit.

"The London Units Committee had feared greatly for the fate of the Unit
if, as seemed probable, the Serb division was not able to leave Russia,
and on November 9 approached the Hon. H. Nicholson at the War Department
of the Foreign Office, who assured them that the Unit would be quite
safe with the Serbs, who were well disciplined and devoted to Dr.
Inglis. At that moment he thought it would be most unsafe for the Unit
to leave the Serbs and to try to come home overland.

"Mr. Nicholson expressed the opinion that the Committee would never
persuade Dr. Inglis to leave her Serbs, and added: 'I cannot express to
you our admiration here for Dr. Inglis and the work your Units have

At last the release of the division was effected, and on November 14 a
cable was received by the Committee from Dr. Inglis from Archangel
announcing her departure:

     "On our way home. Everything satisfactory, and all well except me."

This was the first intimation the London Committee had received that Dr.
Inglis was ill.

She arrived at Newcastle on Friday, November 23, bringing her Unit and
the Serbian division with her. A great gale was blowing in the river,
and they were unable to land until Sunday. Dr. Inglis had been very ill
during the whole voyage, but on the Sunday afternoon she came on deck,
and stood for half an hour whilst the officers of the Serbian division
took leave of her.

"It was a wonderful example of her courage and fortitude. She stood
unsupported--a splendid figure of quiet dignity, her face ashen and
drawn like a mask, dressed in her worn uniform coat, with the faded
ribbons, that had seen such good service. As the officers kissed her
hand, she said to each of them a few words, accompanied with her
wonderful smile."

She had stood through the summer months in Russia, an indomitable little
figure, refusing to leave, until she had got ships for the remnant of
the Serbian division, and then, with her Serbs and her Unit around her,
she landed on the shores of England, to die.


[21] _A History of The Scottish Women's Hospitals._



     "Never knew I a braver going
     Never read I of one....

     "You faced the shadow with all tenderest words of love for all of
     us, but with not one selfish syllable on your lips."[22]

Dr. Inglis was brought on shore on Sunday evening, and a room was taken
for her in the Station Hotel at Newcastle.

"The victory over Death has begun when the fear of death is destroyed."

She had been dying by inches for months. She had fought Death in Russia;
she had fought him through all the long voyage. It was a strange
warfare. For he was not to be stayed. Irresistible, majestic, wonderful,
he took his toll--and yet she remained untouched by him! With unclouded
vision, undimmed faith, and undaunted courage, serene and triumphant, in
the last, _she passed him by_.

There was no fear in that room on the evening that Elsie Inglis "went

Dr. Ethel Williams writes of her in November, 1919: "The demonstration
of serenity of spirit and courage during Dr. Inglis's last illness was
so wonderful that it has dwelt with me ever since. At first one felt
that she did not in the least grasp the seriousness of her condition,
but very soon one realized that she was just meeting fresh events with
the same fearlessness and serenity of spirit as she had met the
uncertainties and difficulties of life."

One of her nieces was with her the whole of that last day. After Dr.
Ethel Williams's visit, when for the first time Elsie Inglis realized
that the last circle of her work on earth was complete, she said to her
niece, "It is grand to think of beginning a new work over there!"

By the evening her sisters were with her. To the very last her mind was
clear, her spirit dominant. Her confident "I know," in response to every
thought and word of comfort offered to her, was the outward expression
of her inward State of Faith.

What made her passing so mighty and full of triumph? Surely it was the
"Power of an Endless Life," that idea to which she had committed herself
years ago as she had stood at the open grave where the first seemingly
hopeless good-bye had been said. The Power of that Endless Life, the
Life of Christ, carried her forward on its mighty current into the New
Region shut out from our view, but where the Life is still the same.

We have watched through these pages the widening circles of Elsie
Inglis's life. Her medical profession, The Hospice, the Women's
Movement, the Scottish Women's Hospitals, Serbia, her achievements in
Russia--these we know of; the work which has been given to her now is
beyond our knowledge; but "we look after her with love and admiration,
and know that somewhere, just out of sight, she is still working in her
own keen way," circle after circle of service widening out in endless

On Thursday, November 29, St. Giles's Cathedral in Edinburgh was filled
with a great congregation, assembled to do honour to the memory of Elsie
Inglis. She was buried with military honours. At the end of the service
the Hallelujah Chorus was played, and after the Last Post the buglers of
the Royal Scots rang out the Réveillé. From the door of the Cathedral to
the Dean Cemetery the streets were lined with people waiting to see her
pass. "Dr. Inglis was buried with marks of respect and recognition which
make that passing stand alone in the history of the last rites of any of
her fellow-citizens." It was not a funeral, but a triumph. "What a
triumphal home-coming she had!" said one friend. And another wrote: "How
glorious the service was yesterday! I don't know if you intended it, but
one impression was uppermost in my mind, which became more distinct
after I left, until by evening it stood out clear and strong. The note
of _Victory_. I had a curious impression that her spirit was there, just
before it passed on to larger spheres, and that it was glad. I felt I
must tell you. I wonder if you felt it too. The note of Victory was
bigger than the war. The Soul triumphant passing on. The Réveillé
expressed it."

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Scott_


In the two Memorial Services held to commemorate Dr. Inglis, one in St.
Giles's Cathedral and the other in St. Margaret's, Westminster, a week
later, the whole nation and all the interests of her life were

Royalty was represented, the Foreign Office, the War Office, the
Admiralty, different bodies of women workers, the Suffrage cause, the
Medical world, the Serbians, and--the children.

Scores of "her children" were in St. Giles's, scattered through the
congregation; in the crowds who lined the streets, they were seen
hanging on to their mothers' skirts; and they were round the open grave
in the Dean Cemetery. These were the children of the wynds and closes of
the High Street, some of them bearing her name, "Elsie Maud," to whom
she had never been too tired or too busy to respond when they needed her
medical help or when "they waved to her across the street."

"The estimate of a life of such throbbing energy, the summing up of
achievement and influence in due proportion--these belong to a future
day. But we are wholly justified in doing honour to the memory of a
woman whose personality won the heart of an entire brave nation, and of
whom one of the gallant Serbian officers who bore her body to the grave
said, with simple earnestness: 'We would almost rather have lost a
battle than lost her!'"[23]

"Alongside the wider public loss, the full and noble public recognition,
there stands in the shadow the unspoken sorrow of her Unit. The price
has been paid, and paid as Dr. Inglis herself would have wished it, on
the high completion of a chapter in her work, but we stand bowed before
the knowledge of how profound and how selfless was that surrender.
Month after month her courage and her endurance never flagged. Daily and
hourly, in the very agony of suffering and death, she gave her life by
inches. Sad and more difficult though the road must seem to us now, our
privilege has been a proud one: to have served and worked with her, to
have known the unfailing support of her strength and sympathy, and, best
of all, to be permitted to preserve through life the memory and the
stimulus of a supreme ideal."[24]

"So passes the soul of a very gallant woman. Living, she spent herself
lavishly for humanity. Dying, she joins the great unseen army of Happy
Warriors, who as they pass on fling to the ranks behind a torch which,
pray God, may never become a cold and lifeless thing."[25]


[22] In a letter written to his son after his death: see _Life beyond
Death_, by Minot Judson Savage.

[23] The Very Rev. Wallace Williamson.

[24] Miss Yvonne Fitzroy in _With the Scottish Nurses in Roumania_.

[25] A writer in the _Sunday Times_.


[The following books will be found of value by those whose interest may
have been awakened by these pages to desire to know more of the career
chosen by Elsie Inglis, and to gain an entrance into the lives of other
men and women who have followed the medical profession both at home and

     The Problem of Creation. By J. E. Mercer, Bp. S.P.C.K.

     Pioneers of Progress (Men of Science). Edited by S. Chapman, M.A.,
     D.Sc. S.P.C.K.

     God and the World. By Canon A. W. Robinson. S.P.C.K.

     The Natural and Supernatural in Science and Religion. By J. M.
     Wilson. S.P.C.K.

     The Mystery of Life. By J. E. Mercer, Bp. S.P.C.K.

     Where Science and Religion Meet. By Scott Palmer. S.P.C.K.

     The Natural Law in the Spiritual World. By Henry Drummond. Hodder
     and Stoughton.

     Introduction to Science. By Prof. J. A. Thomson. Williams and

     The Warder of Life. By Prof. J. A. Thomson. Melrose and Sons.

     Secrets of Animal Life. By Prof. J. A. Thomson. Melrose and Sons.

     Darwinism and Human Life. By Prof. J. A. Thomson. Melrose and Sons.

     A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. By Eva Shaw McLaren.
     Hodder and Stoughton.

     Vikings of To-day. By W. T. Grenfell. Marshall Bros.

     Father Damien. By Edward Clifford. Macmillan.

     The Life of David Livingstone. By W. G. Blakie, D.D., LL.D. John

     Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier. By Dr. Pennell.
     Seeley, Service.

     Pennell of the Afghan Frontier. By A. M. Pennell. Seeley, Service.

     Memoirs and Letters of Sir James Paget. By Stephen Paget. Longmans,

     Lord Lister: His Life and Work. By G. T. Wrench. Longmans, Green.

     The Life of Pasteur. By René Vallery-Radot. Constable.

     A Woman Doctor--Mary Murdoch of Hull. By Hope Malleson. Sidgwick
     and Jackson.

     The Life of Sophia Jex-Blake. By Margaret Todd. Macmillan.

     Sir Victor Horsley. By Stephen Paget. Constable.

     At Work: Letters of Maria Elizabeth Hayes, M.D. Edited by Mrs.
     Hayes. S.P.G.

     Pioneer Work for Women (see Bibliography, page xiv.). By Dr.
     Elizabeth Blackwell. Dent.

     Dr. Jackson of Manchuria. By Rev. A. J. Costain, B.A. Hodder and

     Dr. Isabel Mitchell of Manchuria. By Rev. F. W. S. O'Neill. J.

     The Way of the Good Physician. By Henry Hodgkin. L.M.S.

     The Claim of Suffering. By Elma Paget. S.P.G.

     Companions of My Solitude. By Sir A. Helps. George Routledge.

     Friends in Council (2 vols.). By Sir A. Helps. John Murray.

     Confessio Medici. Macmillan.

     I Wonder. By Stephen Paget. Macmillan.

     I Sometimes Think. By Stephen Paget. Macmillan.

     The Corner of Harley Street: Being Some Familiar Correspondence of
     Peter Harding, M.D. Constable.

     Living Water. By Harold Begbie. Headley Bros.

     Essays on Vocation. Edited by Basil Mathews. (A second series is in
     course of preparation.) Oxford University Press.

     Body and Soul. By Dr. Dearmer. Isaac Pitman.

     Common Sense. By Dr. Jane Walker. Privately printed.


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