CHAPTER 26--A PARISH OF A MILLION: OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 1855. AET. 23.

COULD it be really true ? A home of his own in the interior, and he himself in Chinese dress quietly living among the people, a day's journey from the nearest Treaty Port ? Often during those autumn days it must have seemed like a dream. Yet the dream lasted, with most encouraging results.

It was all in answer to prayer no doubt, but the Chinese dress he was wearing had had a great deal to do with it. As soon as he could leave the South Gate house in charge of Teacher Six he had set out on another evangelistic journey, which was to include a second visit to the island of Tsungming. But he had got no further than the first place at which he landed, for there within two or three days of his arrival he found himself in possession of this little house of his own.

The people simply would not hear of his leaving. Clothed like themselves and living much as they did, he did not seem a foreigner ; and when they heard that he must have an upstairs room to sleep in, on account of the dampness of the locality, they said, " Let him live in the temple, if no other upper room can be found."

And quite willingly the young missionary would have done so, if the semi-discarded idols could have been cleared out of one of the silent, dusty chambers looking down upon the court. But in this the priests foresaw a difficulty. Most of the idols, they said, were old and unimportant ; but there were some, even upstairs, that it would not do to interfere with. Could not the Foreign Teacher allow them to remain ? But when he explained that it was a question of his God-the true and living God, Creator of earth and Heaven, who could not be asked to company with idols, the work of men's hands, and dependent for power, if they had any, upon the presence of evil spirits-both priests and people saw the reasonableness of his position. But even so they dared not dispossess certain of those idols.

What made them want so much to have him does not appear. Perhaps it was the medicine chest. Perhaps it was the preaching. At any rate there was nothing in his outward appearance to frighten them away, and the difference between this experience and anything he had met with on previous journeys taught him afresh the value of Chinese dress.

The second day of his stay there was a Sunday, and already a house had been discovered with some sort of an upper story whose owner was quite willing to receive the missionary. Indeed he could rent the entire premises, if they pleased him, for a moderate sum. But keen as he was to secure the place Hudson Taylor would not go to see it on Sunday, and the people watching him received their first impressions of the day God calls His own.

The delay did but forward Hudson Taylor's interests, however ; and before Monday was half over the agreement was concluded that gave him possession of his first home in " inland China."

Busy indeed were the days that followed-one of the hardest-worked and happiest times the young missionary had ever known in his life. The house needed cleaning, not to speak of furnishing, before it could be considered habitable even from a Chinese point of view. But more important than all this was the stream of visitors who had to be received with courtesy-gentlemen from the town and country, patients eager for medicine, and neighbours who seemed never weary of dropping in to watch and listen to all that was going on. His servant Kuei-hua and an earnest inquirer from the South Gate named Ts`ien were invaluable in helping him to preach the Gospel, morning, noon and night. But even so he finished up the week with an attack of ague, due to over-weariness and the change to autumn weather.

All that was necessary, however, had been accomplished. The curiosity of the neighbourhood was satisfied, visitors had for the most part carried away favourable impressions, the house was whitewashed and sufficiently set in order, forms were ready for " the Chapel," and best of all, the conviction had gone abroad that the young missionary had come to Tsung-ming not for pleasure and comfort merely, 1-{1 It is a common impression among the Chinese, especially in places new to missionary work, that the attractions of their native land must be great in order to induce foreigners to travel so far to settle among them. Clearly they can have nothing so beautiful at home, or they would not leave it ! Material comfort especially, they conclude, must be immeasurably greater among themselves than anything " outside barbarians " know. This of course only applies in the present day to districts remote from the coast.} but to do good, to relieve suffering and to tell them something everybody ought to know.

After that things settled down to a regular routine. Patients were seen and daily meetings held, and to the thankfulness of the missionary and his helpers a few inquirers began to gather about them. One of these was a blacksmith named Chang, and another an assistant in a grocery store, men of good standing in the town " whose hearts the Lord opened." Ts'ien was invaluable in helping these beginners and in receiving guests, and both he and Kuei-hua were so eager to learn more themselves that they made the most of the little while Mr. Taylor could give them at night when outsiders had all gone home.

And all about them stretched the populous island-a parish of a million, every one of whom he longed to reach. The town itself contained only twenty to thirty thousand, but villages were numerous in every direction, and the medical work was making friends. Wherever Mr. Taylor and his helpers went they found somebody ready to welcome them, and as frequently as possible they spent a day in the country preaching the Gospel.

" It is almost too much to expect," he wrote at the beginning of this work, 1- {1 In a letter to an uncle by marriage, the Rev. Edward King, dated October 23, 1855, in which Mr. Taylor also says : "That I have succeeded in renting a house here so easily is due no doubt to my having adopted the native costume, not losing sight of the fact that the hearts of all are in the Lord's hands, to be moved by Him as He will."}" that I shall be allowed to remain on without molestation, so I must use every effort to sow the good seed of the Kingdom while I may, and be earnest in prayer for blessing. Should it please the Lord to establish me in this place and raise up a band of believers, it seems to me that by making a circuit somewhat on the Wesleyan plan we should be enabled to do the greatest amount of good... .

" Pray for me. I sometimes feel a sense of responsibility that is quite oppressive-the only light-bearer among so many. But this is wrong. It is Jesus who is to shine in me . . . I am not left to my own resources. The two native Christians are a great comfort. May I be enabled to help them by life as well as teaching, and see them continually grow in grace."

It seemed a matter for regret that after three weeks of this happy work supplies began to run short and Mr. Taylor had to return to Shanghai for money and medicines. Not anticipating a long absence, he arranged for the meetings to go on without him, and leaving Ts'ien in charge sailed for the mainland on Tuesday evening, November 5. Next day he wrote from the South Gate

MY DEAR MOTHER-I have returned here in safety, and the mail leaving to-day gives me an opportunity for answering your welcome letters... .

Last week on the island, to which I return as soon as possible, I saw more than two hundred patients and frequently preached the Gospel. But for a slight cold I am quite well, and am also very happy.. ... Kuei-hua is with me, but Ts'yen is left on the island to preach daily and carry on meetings with the inquirers. . . . The Lord be with and bless him. I hardly liked to leave so young a Christian in such a responsible position: But what was to be done ? . . . Do pray that he may be kept faithful and may be much used in the dissemination of the Truth.

Eager though Mr. Taylor was to go back at once he found it necessary to wait while a fresh outfit of Chinese clothing was prepared for the winter season. So far he had only used unlined garments, but now it was a question of wadded coats, shoes and trousers, not to speak of a gown lined with lamb-skins and a big red hood to cover head and shoulders. All this took time, and while the things were being made Mr. Taylor found he could fit in a visit to Sung-kiang to look up an inquirer in whom Ts'ien was interested. Sunday, November 11, was spent in his company, and then the young missionary hastened back to Shanghai on his return journey.

He had been absent little more than a week from the island, but much may happen in that time as he learned from the news awaiting him. A storm was brewing at Sin-k`ai-ho. Ts`ien had come over hurriedly, and finding no one at the South Gate had returned to his post leaving letters to explain the situation. Amid many exciting rumours one clear fact emerged : a proclamation had been issued to the effect that the foreigner who had unwarrantably taken up his abode on Tsung-ming was to be sent back to Shanghai at once where he would suffer the severest penalty, and that all persons who had aided his presumptuous action would also be punished after the strictest letter of the law.

All this seemed very serious, and it was with a heavy heart Mr. Taylor returned to the island as quickly as possible.

" I left my things on board the junk," he wrote to his parents a fortnight later, 1{1- Written from Sin-k`ai-ho at the end of November.} " and went up to see what was happening. After hearing all Ts'ien had to say I concluded to dismiss the junk, and now must tell you what has taken place as far as I have been able to gather it.

" Well, it seems that the two doctors and four druggists of this town have begun to find me rather a serious rival. Bad legs of many years' standing have been cured in a few days. Eye-medicine exceeding theirs in potency can be obtained for nothing. , A whole host of itch cases, regular customers for plasters (!) have in some way disappeared. Ague patients are saying that the doctors are without talent, and asthmatics are loud in praise of foreign cough-powders. What was to be the end of it all ? That was the question.

" So the fraternity met together, took tea, tobacco and counsel, and sent twelve dollars to the Mandarin to have the intruder expelled. I believe, however, that none of it ever reached him. It is much more likely to have been seized by rapacious underlings who forthwith took the matter into their own hands. But of this I have no positive proof. Here was a foreigner anxious to settle on the island ; the landlord, middle-man, and Elder of the town who had received him would doubtless be squeezable by threats of punishment ; while the doctors and druggists would be sure to give more, if necessary, to get rid of their rival. So down they came and ' soon managed to frighten the parties concerned, but not to get any money... .

" Again they came, hoping I might have returned, this time bringing a writ sealed with the Mandarin's seal, though I believe from subsequent events that this also was without his knowledge. The tenor of the document was that I was to be handed over at once to the Taotai in Shanghai, who with the British Consul would most severely punish me ; and that the Chinese, one and all, were to be brought before the Mandarin in Tsung-ming city and made to suffer according to their deserts.

" Ts'ien, fearing this might be serious, made a copy of the writ and came over to Shanghai, but as I was not to be found he went back at once. The messengers then came a third time, saying they had discovered my objects to be wholly virtuous, and if I would pay expenses (a sum of thirteen dollars) they would hush up the matter and there would be an end of it.

" On my return I felt a little anxious, not for my own sake but on account of those who would be implicated if trouble were to arise. But finally the `runners,' after lowering their demand to ten dollars and then to three, finding that I would not give them a cash, managed to squeeze thirteen dollars out of the doctors and druggists and came no more. All then seemed over. I continued to see patients as before, going every alternate day to preach in neighbouring towns and villages till Monday the 26th instant, which with yesterday have been days of intense anxiety.

" On Monday morning while we were at breakfast the Mandarin from Tsung-ming city passed by, his attendants making it known that he had come for the double purpose of seizing some pirates at a town below and of examining into our affairs. Ts ien and Kuei-hua were to be dragged before him, the landlord also, and an old man of over seventy who had acted as go-between ; and unless their replies were ` satisfactory' they' would be beaten from three hundred to a thousand blows each. We had morning worship, specially praying for protection, and then preached and saw patients as usual... . Toward the close of the afternoon we. were told that the Mandarin had gone to seize the pirates first, and would deal with our matters on his return journey.

" Next day I kept all who were concerned in the house, that none might be taken without my knowledge. We saw patients, some having come many miles, . . . and preached as usual. In the afternoon, as I was operating on the eye of a woman, who should pass but the Mandarin with all his followers. It was well that the operation was over, or I should have found it difficult to complete it, for I was trembling with excitement. It was not until two hours later that we definitely learned that he had gone on to the capital without stopping. Then our prayers were turned into praise indeed ! It may be that he is not even aware of my presence . and that the whole story was a further attempt to extort money on the part of his underlings. If so, finding it unsuccessful, I hope they will not repeat it.

" From that time to this, November 29, we have had no trouble. To-day I have been at a village seven miles away containing about four hundred inhabitants. We preached at some length and left a few tracts and Gospels, but I doubt whether more than one person in the place is able to understand what he reads. ... The truth is China must be evangelised like other heathen countries by the Word preached as well as written. So we need men, more men willing to deny themselves the pleasures of society and of the table, to live among the people and make the Gospel widely known. There is a blacksmith here who as far as I can judge is truly converted, thank God ! "

Thus in spite of persecution and threatened danger, the good work went on. Six weeks was a long time to have been enabled to reside in one place, preaching the Gospel daily, forty miles from the nearest Treaty Port. And now that the storm had blown over, the young missionary was more than ever earnest in making the most of his opportunities. To see the inquirers growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord was a joy no words could express. The blacksmith, Chang, now dosed his shop on Sundays, and both he and Sung openly declared themselves Christians. The change that had come over them awakened not a little interest among their fellow-townsmen, several of whom were attending the services regularly. So that the blow when it fell was all the more painful for being unexpected and it came from an unforeseen quarter.

It was December 1, and Hudson Taylor had gone over to Shanghai to obtain money and send off letters. To his surprise an important-looking document was awaiting him at the South Gate, which read as follows

BRITISH CONSULATE, SHANGHAI, November 23, 1855

British Consul to Mr. J.. H. Taylor.

SIR-I am directed by Her Majesty's Consul to inform you that information has been lodged at this office by His Excellency the Intendant of Circuit, to the effect that you have rented a house from a Chinese named Si Sung-an, at a place called Sin-k ai-ho in the island of Tsung-ming, and opened this house as a physician's establishment in charge of one of your servants named Lew Yang-tsuen, 1-{1- Presumably Kuei-hua's full literary name.} you your self visiting it occasionally. His Excellency refers to a former complaint lodged against you for visiting Ts`ing-kiang, upon which subject you appeared before Her Majesty's Consul .2- {2 This was in the summer after Mr. Taylor's return from his long journey up the Yang-tze. In a letter to his mother dated July 29 he referred to the circumstance as follows " The Chinese authorities have had me up before the Consul for violating the treaty with England by travelling in the interior. He said very little, not more than he was obliged to, but told me that if I continued to exceed treaty rights his position admitted of no respect of persons ; he must punish me as he would a merchant."} His Excellency also reports that Lew Yang-tsuen, Si Sung-an and Ts'ien Hai-yae have been arrested .3- {3 This was happily incorrect : no one had been arrested.}

Her Majesty's Consul has therefore to call upon you to appear at this office without delay, in order that he may investigate the matter above referred to.-I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, FREDERICK HARVEY (Vice-Consul).

Of course he went at once and explained the true facts of the case, which were listened to with interest. But his plea to be allowed to remain on at Sin-k'ai-ho where all now seemed peaceful and friendly was in vain. The Consul reminded him that the British Treaty only provided for residence in the five ports, and that if he attempted to settle elsewhere he rendered himself liable to a fine of five hundred dollars.4-{4- Worth at that time considerably over a hundred pounds.} But there was a supplementary treaty, as the young missionary well knew, in which it was stipulated that all immunities and privileges granted to other nations should apply to British subjects also. Roman Catholic priests, Frenchmen, were living on the island supported by the authority of their Government, and why should he be forbidden the same consideration ?

Yes, replied the Consul, that was undoubtedly a point, and if he wished to appeal for a higher decision, Her Majesty's representative (Sir John Bowring) would be arriving in Shanghai before long. But as far as his own jurisdiction went, the matter was at an end. Mr. Taylor must return to Tsung-ming at once, give up his house, remove his belongings to Shanghai, and understand that he was liable to a fine of five hundred dollars if he again attempted residence in the interior.

Well was it that next day was Sunday and he had time to lay it all before the Lord. Little by little as it came over him, and he began to realise that all the happy, encouraging work at Sin-k`ai-ho must be suddenly abandoned, it seemed almost more than he could bear. Those young inquirers, Chang, Sung and the others, what was to become of them ? Were they not his own children in the faith? How could he leave them with no help and so little knowledge in the things of God ? And yet the Lord had permitted it. The work was His. He would not fail nor forsake them. But for himself, the sorrow and disappointment were overwhelming.

"My dear mother," he wrote that evening (December 2), "My heart is sad, sad, sad. I came over to Shanghai last Friday ... and found a letter awaiting me from the Consul, dated a week or more previously. I lost no time in seeing him, and have been prohibited from residing any longer on Tsung-ming. I do not know what to think. If I disobey, I incur a fine of $5oo, and may bring my Chinese friends into trouble. All I can do is to give up the house and pray over my future course... .

" I leave to-night at 1 A.M. for the island.... Pray for me. I need more grace, and live far below my privileges. Oh to feel more as Moses did when he said, `Forgive their sin; forgive it, . ; . and if not, blot me I pray thee out of Thy book ' (Conquest's Version) ... or as the Lord Jesus when He said, ' I lay down my life for the sheep.' I do not want to be as a hireling who flees when the wolf is near, nor would I lightly run into danger when much may be accomplished in safety. I want to know the Lord's will and have grace to do it, even if it results in expatriation. ` Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? ... Father, glorify Thy Name.' Pray for me that I may be a follower of Christ not in word only, but in deed and in truth."

The last days on Tsung-ming, however, were not wholly sad. It was hard to pack up and send everything to the boat ; hard to answer the interrogations of neighbours and bid farewell to the old landlord and many friends. But the very parting brought with it elements of comfort.

Could he ever forget, for example, that last evening spent with the inquirers ?

" My heart will be truly sorrowful," said the blacksmith, " when I can no longer join you in the daily meetings."

"But you will worship in your own family," replied his friend. " Still shut your shop on Sunday, for God is here whether I am or not. Get some, one to read for you, and gather your neighbours in to hear the Gospel."

"I know but very little," put in Sung, " and when I read I by no means understand all the characters. My heart is grieved because you have to leave us ; but I do thank God He ever sent you to this place. My sins once so heavy are all laid on Jesus, and He daily gives me joy and peace.

"Come again, come again, Tai Sien-seng," the neighbours called the following morning. " The sooner you return the better ! We shall miss the good doctor and the Heavenly Words."

" It is hard indeed to leave them," he wrote in the freshness of his sorrow, "for I had hoped a good work would be done there, Much seed has been sown, and many books are in the hands of the people. It rests with the Lord to give the increase. May He watch over them, for Jesus' sake."

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