Helen Silvie was a Scotch girl. She was born in the village of Dunblane,
situated on the beautiful banks of the river Allan.
She lost her hearing by fever when about five years of age, and two
years after she was sent to the Edinburgh Institution for the Education
of the Deaf and Dumb.
She was a very shy child, and would not speak any words after she became
deaf, so she soon forgot how to do
so, and when her education was begun,
she was nearly like a child born deaf.
For a time she was peevish and discontented; her mind was dark. But so
soon as she began to understand, it was as if light shone into her mind,
and she became cheerful and happy like her companions.
At first she did not seem very clever. But after two years she began to
improve fast, and soon was one of the best pupils in the Institution.
She was very amiable and affectionate, and a great favourite with her
When she grew up she became an assistant in the school, she taught one
of the junior classes in the early part of the day, and instructed the
girls in sewing in the evenings. For some years she was thus usefully
employed. But her brother wished her to go and live with him, and keep
house for him at Bannockburn, and she consented and left the
After a time Helen wished to return to the Institution. So she wrote a
letter to a friend and asked her to find out if she would be allowed to
become a teacher again. But the Superintendent of the Institution was
ill, and no answer was sent to her letter. Then Helen thought she would
go herself to the Institution and see if they would employ her. It was
winter. She set out from Stirling in a steamer on the last day of the
year 1845, and arrived at Granton Pier at night. It was dark. A
gentleman offered to conduct her up the pier, but he did not know the
way. He should have turned to go towards the town, but he led her
straight on. They came to the edge of the pier, and in an instant both
were plunged into the sea. They were soon picked up, and carried to the
hotel. Helen soon seemed quite well, and she was sent on to the
Institution. She felt so happy at being again among her old friends that
she did not soon go to bed. She thought herself much better than she
was. She caught a very bad cold. In a few days inflammation of the lungs
came on. Her sufferings were very great, but, she bore them patiently;
and on Sabbath morning, the 18th of January, 1846, her spirit took its
flight to her Saviour's bosom.
Her pastor, who visited her on her death-bed, was much pleased to see
how fully she trusted in Jesus. He said of her after she died "I think
of her as one of the spirits of the just made perfect."