« PreviousContinue »
mission having from one to twenty or more stations. Thus, taking all Catholics—Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, Friars Minor, Missions Etrangères, etc.—as one, there were fifty-five religions for the distracted Chinese to choose from, Swedish, Canadian, Scotch, English, German, Norwegian, Dutch, American, Danish, and “ Zenana"; six kinds of Baptist ; five kinds of Methodist ; eight kinds of Presbyterian, Friends, Disciples, Lutherans, Brethren, and
The China Inland had missions in sixteen out of eighteen provinces, no other equalling it by half. In or about the same year the Jesuits alone had 250 foreign priests in the two Kiang Nan provinces, and 112,000 native Christians, against fifty-two priests and 60,000 Christians fifty years ago. The Jesuits also have a mission of 30,000 Christians in South Chih Li. Then there are the Missions Etrangères, with about 150,000 Christians, in the four provinces of South-West China, in Tibet, and in Manchuria ; the Lazarists in Chêh Kiang, North-West Chih Li, and Kiang Si; the Franciscans in Shen Si, Shan Si, Hu Peh, Hu Nan, Shan Tung; the Dominicans in Fuh Kien ; the Milan Congregation in Ho Nan; the Belgian (Immaculate Heart) Congregation in Mongolia. Of course, most of these missionaries mean well, and, in very many cases, devote their whole lives to the ungrateful task; but it is the monstrous combination of extraterritorial jurisdiction with religion which so rankles in the Chinese mind, and unless we temper our militant zeal with plain common-sense humanity, we ien of European race will continue for ever abhorrent in the eyes of one third of our kind.
“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens ;
MISSIONARY TROUBLES IN CHINA.
By Taw Sein Ko, M.R.A.S.
Some writers on China are inclined to class opium and missionaries in the same category, as both of them are apt to give rise to political complications. There have been two wars in connection with the opium trade, but there is no limit to troubles connected with missionaries and their native converts. The Chinese, individually and collectively, acknowledge the great good that has been done to their country by Christian missionaries, especially in the departments of education, diffusion of Western knowledge, and medical relief, but they draw the line at any interference with their village organization, their ancient customs, and the administration of justice.
Although in theory the Chinese Government is a despotic monarchy, in practice it is more democratic than the Republican Government of France or the United States of America. Taxation is very light.; there is no standing army; there are very few officials; and the people are allowed to govern themselves much in their own way. In China the village is the administrative unit, and is governed by elected elders of the clan. Marriage is exogamous, and each village is inhabited by the members of the same clan, so the duty of governing it is somewhat easy, because dis
, putes are invariably settled by compromise. The belief in the divine right of kings is still the prevailing cultus in China, though it has been exploded and discarded elsewhere. The Emperor is the “ Son of Heaven,” and, as in Russia, is the mediator between God and man. The officials are the delegates of the Emperor, and are the “ father and mother of the people.” The heads of the households or the patriarchs of the villages are, again, representatives of the officials to whom Imperial authority is relegated. Thus, in the whole series of men in authority, from the obscure head of each family up to the Emperor, there is a well-defined gradation of rank, and each is a demi-god on earth. Now, the introduction of certain missionaries disturbs this order of things, which has been in existence during the last 5,000 years. Incense is no longer burnt in each house at nightfall; no offerings are made to the manes of the dead ancestors; the pictures of patron saints and deified heroes are pulled down from the walls ; in short, the breaking away of the native converts froin the old moorings is tou sudden, abrupt, and radical. The last straw that breaks the camel's back is that the authority of the chief of the clan is set at naught, and, upon the advice of missionaries, no contributions are paid by native converts towards festivals, processions, etc., without which life in the villages would be a dreadful monotony. Thus the pockets of the non-professing Christians are touched in that the burden of the annual expenses falls upon them more heavily pro rata.
To add insult to injury, churches and schools and mission-houses are built overlooking the residences of the local officials and gentry, and this nonconformity to their ideas of seemliness and of feng-shin rankles in Chinese minds. Again, in litigation, the converts occupy a more favourable position, as they can always count upon the assistance of their missionaries, who enjoy the privilege, recently confirmed by Imperial edict, of interviewing all officials, from the Viceroy to the district magistrate. Further, it is open to the missionaries to see their own Consuls and have representations made to the Tsung-li-Yamên through their Ministers at Peking. The voiceless and unrepresented
. millions of Chinese peasantry resent such treatment, and deeply and silently deplore the threatened loss of their status, rights, and liberty. The result is that a loud outcry is raised against foreigners in general and missionaries in particular, and ancient societies which were originally formed for the purpose of affording mutual protection and assistance against tyranny, injustice, and oppression, are revived with some measure of political importance.
A most regrettable mistake was committed when mis
sionaries were first allowed to reside in isolated villages in the interior for the purpose of propagating their religion. It must be remembered that the facilities of communication in China are very poor, and that the existing machinery for the protection of life and property is flagrantly ineffectual ; and, under the circumstances, it is hardly consonant with reason or sound logic to hold a Government responsible for the occurrence of events against which it is quite powerless to provide proper safeguards. Owing to sudden popular resentment and fury, missionaries get killed in Shantung, Ssuchóuen, or Fukkien, and the Central Government at Peking, which is quite unaware of the circumstances of such sad occurrences, is held responsible. An inquiry is made, the culprits are decapitated, a large sum of money is mulcted by way of compensation to the bereaved families of the deceased, and to defray the expenses of building a memorial church, tablet, or window. This process is repeated over and over again, till the Central Government, which exists by popular sufferance and maintains itself by prestige alone, “loses face” with its subjects; the country gradually gets out of hand; there are more disturbances, more killing of foreigners, without distinction of sect or nationality; and the grip of the foreign Powers on the helpless Government at Peking becomes more and more tightened. The spectacle thus presented to the world is not without its humorous aspect, and would be unbecoming in the case of humble individuals. As a thunderclap on such a pitiable condition of affairs came that Imperial edict confirming official status on certain missionaries, which was, no doubt, issued at the instigation of some of the foreign Ministers, who were not far-seeing enough to see the inevitable consequences of their own acts. The baneful nature of the edict was evident from the unanimous refusal of the Anglican missionaries to participate in the apparent benefits conferred by it.
It is not known how long the present disturbances in China will last, but it is certain that demands put forward by the foreign Powers for compensation for the death of their subjects will involve enormous sums of money. Whenever the pacification may be completed one thing may be urged, and that is, that the integrity and independence of China and the continued peace of the world will depend much upon the sense of moderation, reasonableness, and chivalry in the counsels of the foreign Governments, and that in striking the balance-sheet it should be borne in mind that China has been more sinned against than sinning.
Out of evil cometh good. , Advantage may be taken of the military situation to insist on the introduction of salutary reforms. China, after the Boxer rebellion, will be like Egypt after the rebellion by Arabi Pasha. The Central Government will bow to the inevitable destiny, and become responsive to outside pressure and disinterested counsels, and the bulk of the people will welcome and cheerfully acquiesce in the introduction of any measures that are intended for their health, wealth, prosperity, and their continued existence as an independent nation with an unparalleled long line of traditions of hoary antiquity.