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vol. 3, p. 46
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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One of Our Centenarians

To a Western friend we are indebted for this sketch and portrait of Mrs. Mary Sprague, who is now living at New Hartford, in Grundy County, Iowa. She is over one hundred years of age. She was born on the Mohawk River near Albany, New York, on the 9th of July, 1775, of sturdy Dutch stock, that which has given so much physical stamina to whole communities in the beautiful valley watered by that storied river. Her maiden name was Shears. She survives three husbands. After her second marriage the family removed to Cayuga County, New York. There they lived on a farm for several years. Her third husband, Mr. Sprague, was also a farmer, of thrifty and energetic habits. Two or three children were born in her first and second marriages, but none were the product of the third union. Mr. Sprague, however, was a widower with children, and after his death Mrs. Sprague was taken into the family of one of his sons, and has continued therein. For several years since 1863 they resided at Pecatonica, Winnebago County, Illinois, where our informant became acquainted with the old lady. This spring the family removed to New[2]


Mrs. Mary Sprague, 101 years old


How can I cease to pray for thee? Somewhere
In God’s great universe thou art to day.
Can He not reach thee with His tender care?
Can He not hear me when for thee I pray?

What matters it to Him who holds within
The hollow of His hand all worlds, all space,
That thou art done with earthly pain and sin?
Somewhere within His ken thou hast a place!

Somewhere thou livest, and hast need of Him;
Somewhere thy soul sees higher heights to climb
And somewhere, still, there may be Valleys dim
That thou must pass to reach the hills sublime.

Then all the more, because thou canst not hear
Poor, human words of blessing, will I pray,
O true, brave heart, God bless thee, wheresoe’er
In His great universe thou art to-day!


The Aviary

<Untitled> (With the heart of a woman)

With the heart of a woman and the nerves of a doctor, sisters of charity are present at the most difficult surgeries. And so many truly heroic deeds of selflessness and love for one's neighbour, of which only a woman's heart is capable, are performed silently, without noise or show! Let me cite one example of such high self-renunciation the heroine of which is Sister Lebedeva of the St. George community in St. Petersburg. She was appointed to care for the former commander of the Caucasus Grenadier Division, General Komarov, wounded in the leg at Zivin on June 13th. The wounded man arrived in Alexandropol[7] in the middle of July. At that time he was suffering from typhoid fever and erysipelas inflammation of the wound, to which was added a nervous breakdown from bad food and unsuccessful bloodletting done by some medical attendant. The care the patient received in Alexandropol had a favourable effect on his moral state; but the wound was not healing so that the only means of saving the patient was to graft onto the wound skin of a healthy person to give the diseased part energy and new life. Sister of Charity Lebedeva immediately offered to perform the operation on her, for which purpose nine pieces one square centimetre each were cut out from the upper part of each of her arms. Ms. Lebedeva endured the whole operation of cutting out eighteen pieces without blinking an eye, and on the next day she even tried to conceal the fever that had appeared. Her skin grafted on the wound produced the desired result, and the wounded man soon recovered. I saw Ms. Lebedeva some time later, saw the traces of eighteen scars on her arms, and could only marvel at her self-sacrifice.

Original in Old Russian

Съ сердцемъ женщины и съ нервами медика, сестры милосердiя присутствуютъ при самыхъ тяжкихъ операцiяхъ. И сколько при этомъ совершается, неслышно, безъ шума и выставки, истинно геройскихъ подвиговъ самоотверженiя и любви къ ближнему, на которое способно лишь женское сердце! Приведу одинъ примҍръ такого высокаго самоотверженiя героинею котораго является сестра Лебедева, изъ петербургской общины св. Георгiя, назначенная-было ухаживать за бывшимъ командующимъ кавказскою гренадерскою дивизiей, генераломъ Комаровымъ, раненымъ в ногу подъ Зивиномъ, 13 iюня. Раненый прибылъ въ Александрополь в половине iюля, въ то время, какъ у него сдҍлался тифъ и на ранҍ образовалось рожистое воспаленiе, къ этому присоединилось нервное расстройство отъ дурной пищи и неудачнаго кровопусканiя, сдҍланнаго какимъ-то фельдшеромъ. Уходъ за больнымъ въ Александрополҍ произвелъ благоприятное влiянiе на нравственное его состоянiе; но рана не заживала, такъ что единственное средство спасти больного было привить къ ранҍ кожу здороваго человҍка, чтобы придать больной части энергiю и новую жизнь. Сестра милосердiя Лебедева немедленно-же предложила сделать у нея операцiю, для чего с верхней части каждой ея руки было вырезано по девяти кусочковъ в квадратный сантиметръ. Всю операцiю вырезыванiя восемнадцати кусочковъ г-жа Лебедева выдержала, не моргнувъ глазомъ, и на другой день старалась даже скрыть явившуюся у нея лихорадку. Кожа ея, привитая на рану дала желаемый результатъ, и раненый вскорҍ выздоровелъ. Я видҍлъ потомъ г-жу Лебедеву, видҍлъ слҍды восемнадцати шрамовъ на ея рукахъ и только удивлялся ея самоотверженiю.

Editor's notes

  1. One of Our Centenarians by unknown author. The ending is not found
  2. <The rest of the article is not found.>
  3. Mrs. Mary Sprague, 101 years old by unknown author
  4. Somewhere by Dorr, Julia C. R.
  5. The Aviary by unknown author
  6. With the heart of a woman by unknown author. Original in Old Russian: “Съ сердцемъ женщины”
  7. Gyumri, Armenia at present day.