03 - The Lady Soldier



by Margaret du Plessis


What the Newspapers Said

In the processions and meetings which the Salvation Army is holding in different towns of the N. W. Provinces, the most important feature is the appearance of Mrs Tucker. The processions are numerous and enthusiastically attended. We can speak from personal experience that many well-to-do Europeans, companies of British soldiers, and crowds of people from all classes of the Native community, take a lively part in the processions.

The band of Christian preachers, forming five in all, execute on the instruments most enthusiastically, Mrs Tucker playing on the tambourine. Her figure from a distance strikes the observer with a melancholy surprise. She is covered from head to foot in a long white Rampore chudder which conceals much of her forehead, and all the rest of her dress. White, simple, holy to look at, and almost spectral, she walks at the head of the procession, and carries with her a strange atmosphere of seriousness and earnestness. The sun shone hard and strong as I watched them from the Baradari at Kaiserbagh, the men tired, red, perspiring, as the concourse neared my position.

I found Mrs Tucker only airy and buoyant as ever, treading the ground with the quick graceful firmness which a soldier ought to have. It was with difficulty one could elbow his way into the hall where the speeches were to be made.

Major Tucker has a thin, refined spiritual face not at all deficient in the expression of the power of strong intellect. Messrs Gladwin and Bullard are known to the Calcutta public. The Major spoke beautiful Hindustani which provoked even the applause of the Lucknow assembly, and when his own oration was over, he set himself to translate the utterances of his pious consort.

To say that Mrs Tucker was eloquent would not be to say what she really is. She is deliberate, she is forcible, every sentence she utters seems to be cast in steel. She speaks in tones which seem to be charged with conviction and feeling. She has not unoften been seen bursting into tears when she makes an appeal to her hearers. She appears perfectly conscious that her part in the procession as well as her costume excite the ridicule which all women, and English women in India particularly, know how to feel for their sex. But she says she has deliberately chosen her present life, to adopt, which she boldly professes to have heard the commandment of God.

Interpreters broke down in trying to translate the torrent of her speech and at last dispensing with their tardy aid, she sped on in the stream of the sound home-bred English, the spirit, if not every syllable of which was thoroughly intelligible to her many hundred hearers.

She is so frail, so thin that it is a wonder how she speaks with her energy and for such long intervals. While the Salvation Army is in Calcutta in its full strength it is to be hoped that Bengali and other young ladies, who fancy that the essence of human life consists of fine fashions, will personally see Mrs Tucker, and judge for themselves what faith and simplicity can do for an English lady.

Mrs Tucker could, if she and her worthy husband chose, become the wife of a Judge and Commissioner, and occupy the highest places that are given to the official aristocracy of the land. But she has chosen now to walk as a mendicant in the company of lowly mendicants singing and glorifying her Saviour. All the reward she and others get is the reviling, cursing, and persecution of which we all know. But may it not be so in her case, as in that of other holy women who have gone before her, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven.”


[1]   From the new dispensation      A Brahmo Samaj Paper.