He knew that he was rushing to certain death; but he considered his own life of little moment if he could only show the way to victory and strike a blow for his country. Nobility is not the prerogative of men. Grace Darling set an example of heroism in well-doing which has never been surpassed. The steamer Forfarshire, while on its voyage from Hull to Dundee, struck on a rock and snapped in two.
The fore-part of the vessel, containing nine persons, remained fast. Half a mile away there was a light-house, occupied by an old man, his wife and a daughter, Grace. Seeing the men on the wreck, Grace Darling entreated her father to let down a boat, but he declared that on account of the boisterousness of the sea it would be certain death. Yet he let down the boat, and Grace Darling was the first to enter it.
The chances of rescue were small indeed. Nevertheless they toiled on, and by great care and vigilance made their way to the wreck amid the breakers, and succeeded in rescuing all the survivors. It is terrible to reflect on the remorse of those who, with great powers for good, worked evil. Charles IX, who authorized the massacre of the Huguenots on the night of St. Bartholomew, was tortured by its horrors during his dying moments.
Every moment, visions of corpses covered with blood haunted him. How he wished he had spared the innocent! What a contrast was the end of Pericles, the great Athenian statesman! While those about him were commending him for things that others might have done as well as himself, he interrupted them with a rebuke because they took no notice of the greatest and most honourable part of his character that no Athenian, through his means, ever went into mourning.