WITH the erection in 1893-4, of the commodious houses, and the mission premises adjoining them, a second stage of the work may be said to have been entered upon.
The Girls' School, which was commenced and carried on for two years by C. N. Southall in the rented native premises, had given much encouragement, and the new quarters in the Ch'ao Yang Kai (Street turned towards the Sun) increased its usefulness and attendance. Here for several years Alice M, Beck (now Deane) laboured assiduously among the girls, making many a young life brighter and more hopeful through her own cheerfulness and helpful influence. Though few of the girls are with us now, most of them having married heathen husbands, not a few families and homes are brighter to-day in consequence of her teaching in our Girls’ School. One of the very earliest scholars became a pupil teacher, and has been for years an assistant in the School; she has also become a Church member.
On the same compound as the Girls' School is a small streetpreaching hall. This opens on to the busy thoroughfare known as the "Great Ridge," which practically divides the city into two parts, the upper and lower city. Here, as well as in the Meeting-house, a short distance off, in the Ts’ang P'ing Kai (Street of the Celestial Plain), large audiences attended the preaching of the Gospel. Many who came to these services were only passing through the city, and carried news of what they heard to towns and villages in distant parts of the country.
The seed thus sown is now bearing rich fruit in an unexpected way, in the expressed desire of hundreds and thousands, throughout the length and breadth of the province, to learn more of what the missionary has come to teach. F. S. Deane took a keen interest in this part of the work, not only in the preaching in the two halls, but also in the open air, in various spaces -- here and there -- in the city. He also frequently visited the military camp nearby, making friends with the soldiers stationed there, and bringing them to some of the meetings. After only a comparatively short time in the country, I. Mason took an active part in this evangelistic work, accompanying F. S. Deane also on itinerating tours.
The work amongst women was not at first of an encouraging character. During the early years, C. N. Southall (now Wigham) was indefatigable in the attention she gave to the crowds of women who came to the meetings, and also to two or three whom she taught more regularly. The latter all afterwards became Church members. This work was also greatly furthered by her sister (now Margaret Vardon), as well as by A. M. Deane, each doing a large amount of house-to-house visitation, at a time when it was not as easy for a lady to walk about the streets of Chungking as it now is. Women have always come readily to the various meetings and classes, though the number who have become Church members is not large; but we believe that the good work accomplished during this period, 1893-6, has had its part in the wonderful leavening process which has been going on during the past two decades in the people of China. This leavening effect cannot be shown in statistics, nor tabulated as so much work done ; but, in the long run, it is in this direction that the results of missionary labour must be looked for and the real progress of missions seen. The missionary does not perhaps see direct fruit from much of his toil and prayer, but with great joy he witnesses, as some of us have done, the change that is coming over the Chinese peoples, largely through the influences of Christian Missions.
The Boys' School, which we have already said was commenced in 1892, was situated on the " Great Ridge," in native premises, a short distance from the Girls' School, It continued to grow in numbers and usefulness under the care of F. S. Deane and, since 1893, under Leonard Wigham, who has had charge of it continuously, except when on furlough in 1897, and again in 1904.
In 1895, it was felt necessary to provide more suitable and commodious accommodation for the large number of boys who attended, and a good compound was purchased in the Tu Yu Kai (Street of the posting station on the road to the Capital), only four or five minutes' walk from the meeting-house. Here a residence and school were erected. This school, like the one for girls, was, at first, what is called in China a “I Hsio " or Charity School, the scholars being of the poorer class, and receiving their education free. The School has developed, provision has been made for Boarders, and fees are now charged.
In these schools a considerable portion of time is necessarily given by the children to acquiring a knowledge of their own language, and so Chinese teachers are engaged to teach the Chinese classics ; they also teach the children the characters of the Christian books, portions of the Scriptures, Bible history, etc., used in the School. The missionary gives the Christian instruction, having Scripture reading and prayer with the children daily, and also lessons in western subjects, arithmetic, geography, physiology, etc. Until recently, the latter did not form any part of an ordinary Chinaman's education. Here again we are seeing the result of the missionary's work in the great change which has taken place throughout the Empire in regard to education. He first taught these branches of learning in his school; the Chinese have appreciated their usefulness, and now call for reform in the education of the children. This was brought very prominently before us in Chungking, by the Reform Edicts of the Emperor in 1898, when hundreds of students of all ages from twelve to fifty came to us to be taught arithmetic and geography, with the English language added as an extra. We endeavoured to meet this desire as best we could until the coup d'etat, when the Empress Dowager took over again the reins of government.
In 1896, Edward B. Vardon, formerly of the C.M.S., was married to Margaret Southall, and joined the staff of F.F.M.A. workers in Chungking, taking charge of the Boys' School on L. Wigham's return to England on furlough, in the beginning of 1897.
In the same year, Isaac and Esther L. Mason, the latter having joined the mission in 1894, were able to take up residence in the T'ung Ch'wan prefecture, thus obtaining a footing in the district in which we had for many years been looking to work. The story of their labours, and the progress of the mission in that district, is told in the next chapter.
The mission staff, in Chungking, was reduced in numbers by the return to England, in 1897, of F. S. and A. M. Deane; owing to the serious illness of the latter. The work in the Girls' School was then taken up by Mira L. Cumber, whose time, for two years, had been occupied with classes for women, and dispensary work.
During the hard uphill work of 1895, when riots in the capital and rumours of trouble throughout the province made the people afraid to have anything to do with the foreigner, it had been considered unwise to have open air preaching for long periods at a time, and dispensary patients, men and women, decreased by half the numbers. The missionaries lived for weeks together in constant fear of an outbreak. The people were unreceptive, scholars who had passed through the schools ceased to have anything to do with us, but the workers persevered, amid much discouragement, filled with the assurance that the time would come when there would be a mighty turning to God. They still looked hopefully forward to brighter days when the patient seed-sowing should bring forth an abundant harvest.
In 1896-7 there was a period of steadier and less interrupted work, but in 1898 the whole of the province again suffered, owing to serious troubles between the Roman Catholics and the Chinese in the neighbourhood of Ta Choo Hsien. There a petty rebellion occurred, raised by a coal miner named Yu Man Tsz, who with his followers held a Roman Catholic priest in captivity for months, persecuting and killing numbers of the Christians. The unsettlement went so far as to threaten that all the missionaries might have to flee, --many had boats ready at the river-side, and lived on them for some weeks, until things quieted down again. In this year A. Warburton Davidson joined the mission staff.
In the beginning of 1897 an estate was purchased by the mission, on the hills south of Chungking, for the erection of a school for foreign children; for the cost of which over seven hundred pounds had been raised by special subscription in England. A large and substantial house was built, which was publicly opened by the British Consul, in March, 1898, and the school established there has been greatly valued by the missionaries of the different societies working in the Province. Elsie M, Hunt, who came out to China in 1897, became the teacher, and has devoted herself to the interests of the school ever since.
But interruptions were not yet at an end, and in 1900 came the worst one, in the terrible crisis in the North, which led the British Government, through its Consul at Chungking, to insist on all British subjects leaving the West. This took almost the nature of a “flight." Very reluctantly they had to leave the work and the natives, when it seemed to them that their presence was specially needed. They were followed by the ss. Pioneer, with the British Consul on board, which stopped to take on some who had started in native boats, thus increasing the number of refugees on the little steamer to something like ninety, and down the rapids they rushed, at high-water too, arriving at Ichang in safety the next day.
It was fully eight months before any of our own missionaries were back again in Chungking. An attempt was made by two of them to return two or three months earlier, taking passage on the ss. Sui Bsiang, on her maiden voyage. Thus they hoped to reach the West without the tedious journey by native junk, and were on the vessel, in company with some twenty foreigners, when she struck a fatal rock at the first rapid of any importance.* The steamer sank entirely out of sight in a very short time. The missionaries' hves were saved by some native lifeboats, which, stationed at dangerous places on the river, hastened to
* See illustration on p. 23.
their rescue; but all their goods went down with the vessel. They had to replace clothing, books, etc., lost in the wreck, and begin the long, tedious journey in the old way; and so spring was well on before they again entered Chungking,
On their return they found that, not only had the natives continued to hold the meetings, and to assemble regularly for prayer and exhortation, but a change, vast and unexpected, had come over the whole of the province. First in one direction, then in another, and in due time in our own district between Chungking and T'ung Ch'wan. inquirers and listeners were appearing in hundreds, asking for preaching halls to be opened, or even themselves offering to provide the halls if only preachers could be sent ! The missionaries were almost staggered at what they saw and heard, yet could only accept the fact, -- the door was open wide, in a manner and to an extent they had never known before. So, though very suspicious of ulterior motives, they could but step forward and grasp the opportunities to the best of their ability.
One Sunday evening about this time three well-dressed men attended service in Chungking, and, after sitting through the sermon, apparently listening with earnest attention, they appealed to the missionary to go to their city and open a preaching hall. They offered liberal terms (too liberal he feared to be genuine) but they came from T'ung Liang, a city he and others in the mission had already visited. It was a two days' journey (about 60 miles) distant from Chungking, with a population of about 20,000. T’ung Liang, and its near neighbour Ta Choo, were cities that had been the stronghold of the rebel Yu Man Tsz, and had therefore been considered difficult ground. Two of our missionaries, who were about to visit other parts of our district, determined to go round by T’ung Liang and accepted the invitation thrust upon them. With this step the work in all that district practically commenced, and T'ung Liang now forms the centre for important out-station work. In 1904 Benjamin H. and Florence E. Jackson took up their residence there so as to be on the spot for the care of this work.
It was soon found that these men had the “ulterior" motives feared. The inn keeper, who received the missionaries with such effusive welcome, turned out to be the very man who had caused the native Roman Catholic priest to be killed in the Yu Man Tsz riots; and at least one of the men, who pleaded to have the Gospel preached in their city, was found to be a thief and a liar! One of the others died soon after, but the third still remains a listener at the meetings. Yet they opened the door in the providence of God and, if they have not themselves been willing to come in, they have not hindered others from hearing and receiving the Gospel invitation. Our last message from the city of T'ung Liang is one of hope and encouragement.
During the past four years, the work, in every department, has continued to grow, and the number of missionaries has also increased. There are now in all twenty-four workers in the Friends' mission, of whom ten are men and fourteen women.
The Boys' School in the Tu Yu Kai became too small for our requirements and, after renting additional premises for a time, better accommodation had to be found. A fine New School Building and Master's Residence have been erected on the hills opposite Chungking, on the south side of the river Yang Tse. It is hoped that, under these new conditions, the Boarding School will be even more effective than in the past.
Another preaching hall has recently been opened in a busy thoroughfare in Chungking, called the White Elephant Street, making the third one regularly in use ; while in two villages outside the city a deeply interesting work has sprung up amongst people largely employed in the match factories.
The number of Church members has grown slowly, but steadily, for it was felt from the first that great care should be exercised in receiving persons into Church fellowship. There are several hundred adherents who have manifested a sincere interest in the Truth, and we look to them to form in days to come a strong healthy Church. Several of those who have joined us in membership have proved themselves earnest workers, and are now doing good service in the cause of Christ.