Letter from David Hill, T'ai Yuan Foo [Taiyuan, China], to his brother [John Richard Hill]

Scope and Content

Received his letters - first for two months - today. Hopes mail will become more regular. Sends love to friends. Thanks him for the money and books from Edward. His knowledge of German has declined. On sorrowful errand from Shukow Shien with Mr Turner as Mr Whiting died last Thursday. Gives circumstances of Whiting's death (typhus). Difficulties in sending corpse to his wife in Tientsin [Tianjin] four hundred miles away. Describes their earlier journey from Shanghai and how Whiting gave an address on Heaven.

Tomorrow he and Turner will go on to Shu Kow whilst Mr Richard will remain in T'ai Yuan [Taiyuan]. Much work to be done as some are starving. Given relief to 11 villages (about 6,000 people) with about £1000 spent and another £1000 to spend.

At Shu Kow have enquired which villages are most in need. After some delay received a list of 12 villages requiring relief and visited each to speak to the headman and after some negotiation agreed who were in distress. Asked for lists of names which Hill, etc, would then post in vilages to ensure no discrepancies and in some instances visited house to pass out sums (600, 400 and 300 'cash'). Last village visited 'persons there on the very verge of starvation'. Many living of 'roots of reeds, the husks of mullet, leaves of the willow'. Some demolishing house to sell timber for food. Hundreds dead, hundreds left homes. Emotional affect on him. Negative impact on idigenous belief ('their idolatry') of the drought. Done little preaching during relief work. Positive opinion of Richard.

Sends love to various family members and friends. Unsure how long current situation may continue but if money is all spent and people still dying he will be requesting further sums. Leaves it to his brother's judgement on how money should be raised.

Damage to letter means some text is lost.

With typed transcript.

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