A photograph from 'Ministers of Mercy' by James Henry Franklin, 1872.
The book briefs out works of first few medical missionaries working in places as varied as Afghanistan, Arabia, Persia, Japan, Africa, China, India and Kashmir. Here's an extract dealing with work of Neve brothers operating in Kashmir. The part I found interesting involves Srinagar "The City of the Sun," being described as "The City of Appalling Odors,", a city portions of which never received sunlight, and whose canals at times only offered pestilential odors. I found it interesting because I have heard people still describe the city along those lines. And then there is the part about Biscoe boys cheering for Cholera.
The Kashmir Mission had been opened about 1863 by the Rev. Robert Clark. The first attempt at medical mission work met with great opposition. The governor and other officials were antagonistic and apparently permitted, if they did not incite, mob violence. In 1864 Mr. Clark made the following entry in his diary : " The house was literally besieged with men and noisy boys. They stood by hundreds on the bridge, and lined the river on both sides, shouting, and one man striking a gong, to collect the people. Not a chuprasse, or police officer, or soldier, or official of any kind appeared. The tumult quickly increased, and no efforts were made to stop it. The people began to throw stones and some of them broke down the wall of the compound and stables. Our servants became greatly alarmed, for they threatened to burn the house down. The number present was between one thousand and one thousand five hundred. When I went to the Wazir to ask for protection, it was said that he was asleep. He kept me waiting for two hours and then did not even give me a chair. He promised to send a guard and never did so. The police also announced that if any one rented a house to the missionaries, all the skin would be taken off their backs."
A few weeks later Mr. Clark wrote in his journal: " Men are again stationed on the bridge, as they were for weeks together last year, to prevent any one from coming to us. Our servants cannot buy the mere necessaries of life, and we have to send strangers to the other end of the city to purchase flour."
The capital city, Srinagar, is surrounded by scenes of Alpine beauty. The Kashmir Mission Hospital, perched on a jutting hillside overlooking the city, commands also a view of a vale of purple glens and clear, snow-cold streams. Srinagar has a population of 126,000 people, living in crowded houses, and using for their chief and central high- way the Jhelum River, with intersecting canals that could make of Srinagar a second Venice, if people and architecture only lent themselves appropriately. While Srinagar has been called "The City of the Sun," it has also been suggested that it might be called "The City of Appalling Odors," The dense population is ignorant of sanitation. The drainage of a city without sewers runs into stagnant canals in which people bathe and wash their clothes,. and from which women fill their jars with water for drinking and cooking. Portions of the crowded city never receive a direct ray of sunlight, and in consequence there is a deposit of vile black mud in winter and nothing less than a riot of pestilential odors in summer.
In 1886 Dr. Arthur Neve was joined by his brother, Dr. Ernest F. Neve, who had also studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he established a record for thorough work in his classes, activity in religious organizations, and service for the poorer classes. The younger physician declared that Srin- agar, from a sanitary standpoint, was like a powder magazine waiting for a spark.
The spark fell into the magazine a few months after his arrival, when a case of cholera appeared in the city, and soon he and his brother and the Superintendent of the State Hospital were face to face with a baffling situation. When the outbreak occurred, the Mission Hospital was crowded with more than a hundred patients, while great numbers daily thronged the waiting-rooms. On one day alone the two doctors admitted thirty patients to the hospital and performed fifty-three operations. Two of the patients died from cholera, and in a few hours the hospital was empty. The people were panic-stricken. In two months, more than ten thousand died in the city. Dr. Ernest Neve, cooperating with the state physician, took charge of a large section of Srinagar; and Dr. Arthur Neve visited almost every section of the valley (nearly ninety miles long) where deaths were reported. Wherever pure water could be secured in good supply, the people escaped to a great extent. To teach the populace a few simple principles of safeguarding their health by suitable food and water was the privilege of the physicians.
Srinagar suffered again and again from the scourge of cholera. In reporting an epidemic Dr. Arthur Neve wrote: "The turbid and lazy stream sweeps against the prow masses of dirty foam, floating straw, dead bodies of dogs, and all other garbage of a great city. How can one admire the great sweep of snow mountains, the deep azure of the sky, and broad rippling sheet of cloud and sky-reflecting water, when every sense is assailed by things that disgust. Upon one bank stands a neat row of wooden huts. This is a cholera hospital. Upon the other bank the blue smoke, curling up from a blazing pile, gives atmosphere and distance to the rugged mountains. It is a funeral pyre. And as our boat passes into the city, now and again we meet other boats, each with its burden of death. All traffic seems to be suspended. Shops are closed. Now and again, from some neighboring barge, we hear the wail of mourners, the shrieks of women as in a torture den, echoed away among the houses on the bank."
In 1885 the Kashmir Valley was shaken by a terrific earthquake. It was most violent near Baramula, where villages were reduced to ruins and thousands of persons were killed outright In one hamlet only seven of the forty-seven inhabitants survived, and four of these seven were severely injured.
Immediately after the earthquake, Dr. Arthur Neve hastened to Baramula and opened an emergency hospital. Other missionaries visited the devastated district to collect in boats the wounded who could be taken to Dr. Neve. In two weeks' touring, they visited villages where the roll of the dead included not less than three thousand. Besides the dead, there were many injured whose cases became more serious daily, as bones began to knit in unnatural forms, dislocations to stiffen, and wounds to mortify. Such service as was rendered by the missionaries could not fail to reach the hearts of the distressed people.
In times of special need, the missionary staff at Srinagar could always rely on the help of the older boys in the Mission School which, by 1912, enrolled about fifteen hundred students of varying ages. Dr. Elmslie, the first medical missionary in Kashmir, had begun the educational work. Fortunate the mission whose pioneers are wise enough to establish good schools and thus prepare the native forces for leadership in Christian movements in their own lands! The Kashmiri boy was not an encouraging subject for Christian education, but Dr. Elmslie and his successors, — such men as the Rev. C. E. Tyndale-Biscoe and the Rev. F. E. Lucey — had faith in the power of the gospel, taught through daily example as well as by precept, to transform the characters of the unpromising lads of the Kashmir Valley. "In all things be men," was the inspiring motto of the school. A pair of canoe paddles, crossed, was the crest The paddles signified hard work, or strength. The paddle blades, in the shape of a heart, suggested kindness; for true manhood was described by the teachers as a combination of strength and kindness. The crossed paddles suggested the Christian symbol of self- sacrifice and was intended to remind them from Whom they should seek inspiration to be true men.
Throughout the city, schoolboys might be seen wearing this badge, and any one in danger or distress might appeal to them for assistance, since they had been taught to be ready always to serve those in special need. Their sports at school were taught not for their personal pleasure, but to make them stronger in the service of the weak. One of the practical results of the aquatic sports was the saving of eight lives in a single year. If a conflagration was discovered in the city, the school was quickly dismissed for the day, while the principal and his boys hurried to the fire, taking along the fire-engine from the mission-compound and fighting the flames, thus saving the lives of women and children. The boys were taught to protect women from insult, to show kindness to invalids and old people, and to prevent cruelty to animals. One winter a hundred starving donkeys were fed by the boys. Occasionally, a sanitary corps would visit some especially unwholesome section of the city and, with pick and shovel, show what was required to prevent the spread of disease. Convalescents from the hospital were taken out on the lake for an airing. The boys assisted the police in running down gangs of men who terrorized women and children, and they held boat-races on the river when cholera raged, in order to enliven the people and relieve their mental tension. Once, when told that the plague offered many opportunities to them to play the man, the boys actually gave three cheers for the cholera! When floods swept the valley, they rescued families that were stranded on roofs of houses or on small spots of dry ground. Native teachers in the school gave their personal assistance to the medical missionaries in caring for cholera patients. The big task which Mr. Tyndale-Biscoe undertook was " to teach the boys manliness, loyalty, charity, manners, cleanliness, truth, and Christian doctrine."