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He rushed into the flames,
but heroism cost him life

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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.

William H. Rindge - Noble act of an unknown sailor - Mrs. Sigourney's sketch - Disclosure at death.

JOHN P. RINDGE died in May, 1852, in his eighty-second year. The death of this aged citizen brings to our mind the remembrance of his son, WILLIAM H. RINDGE, who, in the discharge of a disinterested act of benevolence, perilled his own life to save that of a child, and taking the deed as its own reward, sealed it in his own bosom, and never disclosed the fact until on his death bed, five years after.

It was at the great fire in the city of New York, in 1835, that a mother was seen in the streets frantically shrieking for her babe, which had been left in the upper story of a building enveloped in flames. The young sailor heard the mother's voice, rushed through the flames, in a few minutes returned with the child in his arms, gave it to its mother, and in an instant disappeared. Much enquiry was made for the noble sailor at the time, and calls through the public prints for information respecting him, were without effect. The circumstance was commented upon in the papers of the country, and while nothing was disclosed respecting the individual, the pen of Mrs. Sigourney narrated the thrilling seen as follows, under the title of "The Noble Sailor."

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It was a fearful night;
The strong flames onward spread
From street to street, from spire to spire,
And on their treasures tread.

Hark! 'Tis a mother's cry,
High o'er the tumult wild,
As rushing toward the flame-wrapt home,
She shrieked, "My child! my child!"

A wanderer from the sea,
A stranger marked her woe,
And in his bosom woke
The sympathetic glow.

Swift up the burning stairs,
With daring feet he flew;
While sable clouds of stifling smoke
Concealed him from the view.

Fast fell the burning beams
Across the dangerous road,
Till the far chamber where he groped,
Like fiery oven glowed.

But what a pealing shout
When from the wreck he came,
And in his arms a smiling babe,
Still toying with the flame.

The mother's raptured tears
Forth like a torrent sped;
But ere the throng could learn his name,
That noble tar had fled.

Not for the praise of man
Did he this deed of love;
But on the bright, unfading page,
'Tis registered above.

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The Truth Revealed

We well recollect frequently meeting, soon after, a young man of retiring manners, who was suffering under consumption. At length in June, 1840, the disease had made such progress that his life was evidently soon to close. It was not until almost the final moment of his life, that he disclosed the fact that the cold which brought on the disease was contracted at the time he rescued that child from the flames. Where is the high-reared monument of this noble sailor? Humanity asks the question--for he periled his own life to save that of a fellow- being. By that successful exertion a life was saved, although his own life, at the interesting age of twenty-three, was sacrificed by the effort. Let such noble deeds be held in lasting remembrance.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
Design © 1999

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