Her personal appearance – Love of truth – Buoyancy of spirit – No looking back – A poetical tribute
“Why should the traveller weep to part with those
That scarce an hour will reach their promised Land,
Ere he too cast his pilgrim staff away,
And spread his couch beside them?
In person, Mrs. Bradley was somewhat below the middle stature, well formed and of fair proportions, comely in features; eyes black, bright, soft, and expressive. Such was her balance of qualities, that it would be difficult to point out the prominent traits. It we were to speak of any which had a special prominence, we should mention, among others, her strict regard for truth. She loved it as a principle; she adhered to it in practice. She had been instructed in her childhood never to let any circumstances of difficulty or danger induce her to utter a falsehood; that it was better to run any risk of reproach, censure, privation, or suffering, than to tell a lie. These instructions sunk deep into her heart, and produced their legitimate fruit in her life. She also avoided those loose, careless, and consequently inaccurate statements which flood the world with mis apprehensions and mistakes. If any characteristic traits appeared more prominent than others in a character so well balanced, they were the following: first, an even flow of good spirits. When the sober responsibilities of the wife, mother, and missionary were upon her, and all accompanied with ill health, a sunny cheerfulness was almost uniformly apparent. Neither pain, weakness, care, toil, fatigue, privation, or disappointment, had power to disturb her cheerful fortitude. Even in sore bereavement, she tranquilly resigned the object of her tenderest love into the hands of her Saviour. This was in part the result of constitutional temperament, but more the result of having laid herself, with all her interests, upon the alter of God.
It is believed that during the eleven years of her exile from the land of her fathers, she never once expressed a wish to revisit it; although, to use her own expression, she sometimes grew giddy with the glimpses of it she could obtain from letters, and from public prints.
In a letter to her brother, Rev. Edward Royce, dated August 10, 1837, she writes, “When I covenanted with the Lord to go out from my country, my father’s house, and my kindred, I knew well that I must not only see their faces no more, but must seldom hear of their welfare. The Lord has given me many, many blessings in this heathen land that I looked not for, and I hope he will keep me from murmuring that some of those which I voluntarily relinquished are not at my command. It would be far more suitable to rejoice in the loss of all things for the sake of Him who has loved me, and give himself for me.”
To her aunt she wrote in 1843, “I can think of nothing earthly that would give me higher enjoyment than to see my friends in America; yet I would not exchange situations with any of those who are in the midst of early friends. No, I bless the Lord that he has permitted me to come to Siam, and that he still permits me to live here, though I do so very little for the promotion of his cause. I often hope that we shall soon see the fruits of the labor which has been bestowed upon Siam.” Rev. Mr. Peet in his funeral sermon says, “What gave a peculiar cast to the missionary character of Mrs. Bradley, was the principle already alluded to, namely, she has enlisted in the work for life. When she left her home and country and friends, it was to make her homein a heathen land, to spend her life with the heathen, to labor for their good, and to die among them. Her correspondence with friends at home, and her intercourse with all here, both associates and natives, partook of the same character and breathed the same spirit. Hence too, her views of missionary life and labors were such as to make her uniformly cheerful and happy in her work.”
Even when her health demanded a change of residence for a few weeks, it was with reluctance she could consent to her husband’s leaving his missionary duties for a few days to accompany her. She lived, as she died, with an eye fixed above. Happy spirit, she now looks down from that blissful mansion purchased for her with Saviour’s blood, rejoicing that to her it was given, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his name.
“The strife is o’er; the loved of years,
To whom our yearning hearts had grown,
Hath left us with life’s gathering fears
To struggle darkly and alone.
Yet mourn we not; the voice of woe
Befits not this her triumph-hour;
Let sorrow tears no longer flow,
For life eternal is her dower.”
The following lines were published in the “Herald of the Prairies”, soon after the tidings of Mrs. Bradley’s death reached America.
“Soar on, to realms of light and bliss, fair spirit of the dead,
Within that bright ethereal space thy angel pinions spread
Unfettered, though affection’s tear will oft and freely flow,
From those whom thou hast left within this wide expanse of woe.
“Thine is a fair and fadeless wreath, an evergreen of love,
From souls whom thou hast saved from death, and led to bliss above.
What though the record of thy worth no storied marble tells?
Within their ever-grateful hearts indelibly it dwells.
“A task angelic has been thine–to wipe the tearful eyes
of Asia’ poor benighted ones, and point them to the skies;
Gethsemane’s most thrilling scene to listening ears recount,
The dreaded, agonizing death on Calvary’ awful mount:
“The purple robe the Saviour wore, when Pilate’s hall he trod;
The crown of thorns, that dared to mock the majesty of God;
The prayer that to the mercy-seat from sinless lips arose,
When like a lamb the Saviour stood, encircled by his foes.
“Oft has thou sat amid that throng, and feelingly portrayed
The guilt of ever-erring man, for whom that prayer was made;
Oft hast thou marked the heaving breast, the trembling, broken sigh,
The tear of penitence which swelled the half-uplifted eye.
“‘T was thine to cheer the drooping hearts, by anguished thoughts oppressed,
When life’s warm current slowly ebbed within the aching breast;
‘T was thine, when stern disease had come, to bathe the fevered brow;
Like mercy’s angel, at that couch in fervent prayer to blow:
“To point the soul to Him is ‘the life, the truth, the way,’
When death in all his terror clad was waiting for his prey.
Thus passed thy life–too soon thy race of usefulness was run;
Yet mourn we not thy happiness, our loved, our sainted one.
“Emelie, well we know that now, rejoicing with the blest,
A thought of earth can never break the quiet of thy rest.
Thine eye, undimmed by sorrow’s tear, will ne’er again o’er-flow;
Not e’en for thy dear orphan ones wilt thou e’er sadness know.
“Be theirs the strait and narrow way their sainted mother trod;
Theirs be her life and prayerful death, and theirs their mother’s God.
Oh, hoW unshaken was the trust which thou hast placed on high,
To leave those dearly cherished ones without one anxious sigh:
“To feel, with all a mother’s love, how sad would be their lot,
And yet to look to him above in faith, and murmur not.
One last farewell, one parting kiss thy dying lips impressed;
One look, one prayer, and thou didst pass to thine eternal rest.
“And from thy heart, for praises meet, sweet hymns of rapture flow,
While far from India’s darkened land arose a wail of woe.
Then didst thou hear the Saviour say the blessed words, ‘Well done;
Enter into my perfect rest, thou good and faithful one.'”
Reproduced from: A Sketch of The Life and Character of Mrs. Emelie Royce Bradley, Ten Years a Missionary in Siam by Nancy Royce c.1865. Please notify of any transcription inaccuracies to DigitalBangkokRecorder