Project Canterbury

Vernon Harold Starr 1882-1918 and after

By John Oxenham

[London]: Church Missionary Society, [1918]


THIS is not a life or an attempt at one. It does not pretend to be a full and accurate biography, of which there are so many in the world to-day, when few have time to read them. Vernon Starr had worked but seven years on the Afghan Frontier. Many there are who have worked twice or three times his length of years, who have accomplished far more service for the Empire, and whose notable deeds call loudly to be placed on record.

This small book does not attempt to compete with such. Vernon Starr was not a man likely to come to the fore, or whose life was ever, for the usual reasons, likely to be written. He was, I think, an ordinary man--but with a consecrated life, by no means faultless, and with great ideals and a single aim.

This is, therefore, the story of an aim, rather than a man; a life which bears a message, though in itself neither adventurous nor noisy. Not only is this what he would wish, but what his life peculiarly suggested, that the message was more conspicuous than the man. And this, I think, is nearer the ideal of the Master, for He said: "Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father." So the aim of. a man, if he is true to his witness, is "the Master's honour and the Master's praise," though it be through his personality.

This is, therefore, rather memoirs, sketches, pen-pictures, from diary or letter or memory, of the man, showing the one aim which dominated all his life--the one object in life to which everything else was subservient; from the age of 15, until it was accomplished, leading up to "that last day, that great day," when the aim having been won, the life-purpose carried out, God Himself set His seal to the consecrated life, by the highest honour that even God could give.

To die for King and country is indeed an honour, and one that many share, but to die directly for the Christ Who died for us is given to the very few, and is the highest honour of all.

Those who heard of it called it a tragedy; those who knew felt it to be a triumph; God gave it as promotion.

Not you--for whom the assassin's hand
But opened wide the door to larger life
And Immortality
You are not dead.
You live for ever in our hearts and minds
A perfect soul--brave, sweet, and true;
Passed in the gracious fulness of your time
To nobler work for Him you served so well:
And you still work among us as before,
And more.

John Oxenham

Project Canterbury