March 13, 1875
Rev. H. A. Tupper:
My dear Brother,
in January I was unexpectedly called away to accompany my sister to
Shanghai, to which place she had been ordered by her physician. To
face the dangers and discomforts of an ocean voyage is never pleasant,
but when duty requires, there is no more to be said. Accordingly, in
something over a week after the command to go, we found ourselves casting
anchor in the river at Shanghai. Imagine yourself suddenly transported
from a quiet country village to busy, bustling Broadway, and you can
form an idea of the change from Tungchow to Shanghai. Here, we have
no trade; business stagnates. Men fail to find employment and many
of them seek it abroad. At Shanghai, it is far otherwise. First, there
is the foreign settlement, English, French, & American, with an
infusion of other nationalities. Where the Caucasian goes, he carries
energy and an inferior race is aroused by the contact. In the foreign
settlement, one sees large & handsome public buildings, while the
private houses are not inferior to those in cities at home. Where the
English are found, fine horses may be expected, & Shanghai is no
exception to the rule. Go out after five ock in the evening
& you will see handsome carriages drawn by well-kept horses, and
gallant horsemen, dashing past, on their way to the paper hunt, or perhaps
simply riding for recreation. The Chinese are imitative & now &
then you see a trap full of Celestials driving usually at a more sober
pace than foreign affect. The Chinese likewise use the wheel-barrow,
an awkward, ugly concern with the wheel
under the barrow, and the jinricksha, which they have introduced
from Japan. Such are the sights of the foreign settlement where many
Chinese live, willingly paying the additional tax which secures them
a home within the concession with its better government & greater
the native city with its narrow, dark, crowded, filthy streets, its
odors, its sounds, no words could do justice. It would doubtless be
fatal to a foreigner to reside in this native city.
a stay of nearly two weeks in Shanghai, we set out for Soochow to visit
some friends, of the Southern Pres. Mission. After my experience of
Chinese travelling in the North, I was surprised and delighted to see
how comfortable we could make ourselves on a native boat. The day was
beautiful & we indulged our love of exercise by rapid walking along
the banks of the canal.
had but one adventure, which, without being dangerous had at least the
zest of novelty. About two oclock in the night, our boat came
into collision with another boat. One of our men, to make sure of recovering
damages, at once boarded the enemys vessel, and seized upon some
property belonging, as it turned out, to a passenger on that boat.
The intruder was instantly set upon and he seemed in danger of being
pulled to pieces between his captors, and his friends who were seeking
to rescue him. Then followed that fierce quarreling which is so characteristic
of the Chinese, but which means nothing. We ladies would have been
alarmed, but our kind and thoughtful escort, Rev. Mr. Dubose, assured
us there was no danger, and we heard the altercation with no little
amusement. Finally, a compromise was effected & we proceeded on
would fail to tell of the wonders of Soochow, the great pagoda, the
ink pagoda, the twin pagodas, the great Confucian temple, the rockeries,
the temple of five hundred gods, the bridge of ten thousand ages, the
handsome shops, the immense crowds of people. Here, at last, I felt,
was the China of ones youthful dreams, the China which artists
have sketched & of which travelers have told glowing tales. The
people too, with their lively manners & soft Southern tongue, are
different from those of North China. But for all that, I should not
like to live in Soochow. The city is intersected with canals which
are receptacles of filth. Then there are many stagnant pools from which
fatal miasms must arise. The climate, too, even in winter, is very
debilitating as compared with the bracing air of Shangtung. There are
four missions in Soochow, the So. Presbyterian, Northern Pres., London
Mission, & So. Methodist Mission, comprising in all twelve foreigners
and a number of native assistants. As yet the work is in its infancy.
The missionaries there, as a body, are young, cheerful, & hopeful.
of the great pagoda, it may not be out of place to relate a superstition
connected therewith. Dr. Yates is my authority and he had it from a
Chinaman. The city, says this story, is built in the shape of a tortoise.
As there is water all around the city, the sage inhabitants feared the
tortoise would some day walk off into the water. The pagoda was therefore
erected to keep him in his place. There is also a story of the twin
pagodas & the ink pagoda. The twin pagodas having been built, the
luck was not good. The fortune-tellers were consulted, & they said
that the two towers were like pens. What was the use of pens, without
ink? Hence, they must build a pagoda making it black & the luck
would then all be right. Hence arose the ink pagoda.
we were absent in Soochow, the Sabbath of the Chinese New Year, Dr.
Yates had the satisfaction of dedicating his new church, which he has
re-modelled at a heavy expense, the larger portion of which he has borne
himself. And this leads me to say that such is the modesty of the Doctor
that he will not write of his sacrifices for the cause, nor tell how
nobly & successfully he has worked to build up a true Christian
church. Where other men have sounded loud trumpets and announced wonderful
achievements which existed largely in their own imaginations, (I do
not refer here to any missionary of our Board,) the Doctor has worked
on quietly & faithfully, sending now & then only a brief, cautious,
modest report. While many have yielded to the temptation to overestimate
the value of their work in the accounts sent home for publication, I
rather think that our missionary in Shanghai, in his scorn of humbug,
has erred in the other extreme. He has been inclined to make too light
of what he has accomplished. The new church is perhaps the most complete
in its appliances of any in China. The provision for ventilation, &
for lighting it at night, is equal to that of any city church at home.
Then the baptistry is all that could be desired. It is in the rear
of the pulpit, shut out from it by folding doors. Leading into the
baptistry, on either side are dressing-rooms, also supplied with gas-burners.
Within each dressing-room are steps leading down into the baptistry,
so that the candidate is in the water before he is seen by the congregation
& emerges therefrom entirely out of view. The church formerly fronted
away from the street, but this has now been remedied. A valuable bell
has been presented to Dr. Yates for his church. This Chinese church
is far ahead of the majority at home in its adjuncts: there is a parsonage
and a school on the same lot. One cannot but be filled with admiration
at the wonderful economy of space here manifested. There was only a
given amount of land: no more could be secured. The problem was to
make the most of this, & it has been done. Every foot has been
made to tell for some useful purpose. In the pastors house, is
a room intended to be used for the assembly of the brethren one night
during the week. Dr. Yates design is that the church shall form
itself thus into a sort of school of which the native pastor shall be
teacher, that so they may grow more & more familiar with the Scriptures.
The pastor is a valuable man. Unfortunately he is so popular with missionaries
of other denominations, that they are perpetually drawing him away from
his legitimate duties to engage in some union meeting, or to give advice
on some matter in which he has properly no concern. This is very provoking,
but Dr. Yates has borne it with a patience that is simply admirable.
How one missionary can have the conscience to interfere with the work
of another in this way, passes belief, but nevertheless such things
do take place.
arrangements for the school are worthy of all commendation. The school-room
is on the ground floor. Upstairs is the teachers room which opens
out into a small veranda. Below stairs is a tiny kitchen, large enough,
however, for the purpose. The teacher is a widow, with a sweet, pleasant
face. She has recently united with the church. Mrs. Yates writes me
that she has four little girls as pupils. This is certainly a good
beginning, & doubtless the school will grow into wide usefulness.
I had the pleasure of attending only one service in the new church.
It was the Thursday evening lecture. Of course I could not understand
the Shanghai dialect, but Dr. Yates said it was a very good address.
Among other things, the speaker observed that the good news of salvation
had always been communicated by men going from place to place. Thus
it had been carried to the foreign country, & now it had come to
China. Formerly, said he, one heard much of the wonders wrought by
idols. Now, since the Bible had come to China, we heard no more stories
of the power of idols.
new members had lately been received. The most gratifying fact about
accessions to the church is that they are mostly relatives or friends
of those already Christians. Thus the growth is natural & healthy.
Dr. Yates is seeking to impress on the church that now is the time,
as it were, for a new departure. With their new church,
parsonage, and school, they should feel that all has been done for them
that they could possibly ask, and that henceforth, they must put their
own shoulders to the wheel, support their pastor, & work individually
for the conversion of sinners. Dr. Yates seems greatly encouraged in
his work. No, he said, in reply to a remark that Mr. -----
considered missions a failure, No, they are not a failure. Here
is my church in a retired part of the city, yet every Sunday we have
a full house. People come from a distance to attend church. Even during
the week, at night, we have a respectable congregation. Why, when we
first came, added he, the Chinese used to run from us in
affright. Now, all that has changed.
truth is, to a new-comer on the mission-field, the matter of astonishment
is that so much has been done. Formerly there were no books from which
to learn Chinese. There was no means of communicating even with ones
teacher except by signs. If you wanted to know the word for water or
bread, for instance, you must show these to your teacher. Did you want
to know how to say walk or run, you must go through with those motions,
& so on ad infinitum. The New Testament was not translated
& there were no hymns. Imagine a worship without hymns, & where
only the preacher prayed, while all around was confused talking &
people continually going out or coming in. Then as to schools,
there were no religious or scientific books such as the new missionary
now finds ready to his hand in abundance, as soon as he is able to use
them. Better still, he may sometimes find Christian teachers to put
in charge of schools, where formerly none could be procured but heathen.
more I see of mission life, the more impressed I am with the amount
of hard work, real drudgery one might call it, of those noble veterans,
the pioneers of missions in China, many of whom are now gone to their
reward above, others of whom are still toiling at their posts with all
the ardor of their early days, & yet with the added experience of
years of active service.
saw Quang san, Dr. Yates out station, only in the
distance. The city is built on a mountain, the summit of which seems
crowned by a pagoda. Here are a few Christians over whom is a native
pastor. Dr. Yates speaks of him in the highest terms. Recently this
pastor was in Shanghai & on Sunday night he was to preach. When
he rose, standing there in the brilliant gas-light, with the crowd of
expectant faces turning up to him, his ideas seemed all to desert him.
It was certainly a trying situation to one accustomed to speak only
to a few brethren in a plain Chinese house. Dr. Yates kindly told him
that he understood it all, he himself had been through a similar experience.
The result was that the man concluded that he would stay awhile in Shanghai
& learn to preach to a large audience. This shows that he has pluck.
to the cost of altering and improving the church, some seven hundred
dollars were contributed by the churches at home. The Chinese gave
about forty-two dollars. Of this, two dollars were brought voluntarily
by an aged sister, very deaf, who said she wanted to have some share
in building the Lords house. The Chinese workmen, heathen though
they were, gave about twenty dollars. It seems hard that when a man
has given his whole life to building a spiritual church, he should also
have to furnish the means to construct the material one.
in Tungchow, schools, not only in our mission but in the Presbyterian,
have opened with hopeful prospects. Mrs. Holmes has seventeen or eighteen
girls & women. My sisters school has gone up to fourteen.
Mrs. Crawford has more applicants than she can receive.
are much pleased at learning from a recent number of the Journal,
that Mrs. Lewellyn will perhaps join us in Tungchow. There is a plenty
of work for her & for as many more as will come. We long to see
other large cities in this province occupied by faithful men & women.
If you should send us too many workers for Tungchow (!) there is
Hwang hsien, a city twenty miles from here, where there
is not a single missionary. There are villages by the hundred where
the gospel is heard only at long intervals, & very many in which
it has never been proclaimed. Pray therefore the Lord of the
harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.