Typescript letter from [Hankow] to [William Alexander] Grist [at the Mission House in London]. The cable announcing H B R's election to the Mission House Secretaryship arrived a week ago. It seems fitting that he should send a few words of gratitude via Grist to the Officers for their very generous attitude. He will do his best to justify the confidence placed in him.
Grist may be surprised and feel that H B R is being a little premature when he reads of the following request, which H B R would like to have considered. The Chinese Summer, despite the oppressive heat, always brings a little leisure time and with a busy Autumn ahead, he would like to raise this matter now.
When he was informed of the possibility of this appointment three months ago, it immediately occurred to him that it would be desirable if possible, for H B R to return home via Burma, Ceylon and India. During his brief stay in Colombo [Ceylon] last January, he had some time with [Arthur Stanley] Beaty and he was very pressing that H B R should stay over for a fortnight on his way home so that he could show him around parts of the District by car. He felt that a visit by a China deputation would be good for the people and that H B R would be able to address quite a few audiences in English. As for himself, H B R would be gaining an insight into the oldest Methodist Mission in the Asia.
H B R is of course ignorant of the speed of travel in other parts of the East, but is wondering if two or three weeks in Burma, two or three weeks in Ceylon and say a month in India would not increase his experience of the Eastern work and therefore his usefulness to the Mission House. He has in fact reached the definite conclusion that such a journey should be done if at all practical.
His intention would be to follow [Clara] Hornby's example, by travelling in a private capacity as a preliminary to taking up his duties at the Mission House. He would of course do it in the cheapest way possible and as the main expense of his passage home would have to be paid anyway, the extra cost would not be so great. He supposes that the main obstacle would be the delay in reaching home to take up his appointment, which is why he is raising the matter now.
The 1934 Synod is fixed for April 16th and [James] Heady will presumably be back about then. It seems to H B R that June 30th would be about the best time for him to leave the District, which would ordinarily get him home in mid-August in time for him to take up his appointment on September 1st. If he could be spared until November 1st that would leave him ten weeks for India, Ceylon and Burma.
As far as China is concerned, he is hoping to get to Wenchow, a place he has never visited, in connection with the Ningpo Conference and the visit of Dr [Alfred G.] Hooker. There is also Yunnan where [William Harrison] Hudspeth has been very keen that he should call.
If the Mission House were to decide that H B R might as well stay away until the end of November that would solve everything.
He will not conceal that such a trip would be a 'sheer joy'. To miss such an opportunity would mean life-long regret and would 'prove a loss to our common counsels in facing the inevitable changes with which the Churches in Asia are confronted...a very great deal can be done in the time suggested'.
He does not know how this would impact on [George Edward] Hickman Johnson. Presumably the Autumn campaigns would have been planned before he reaches home. He does not wish to delay his return home but he believes that Hickman Johnson and Emily [Rattenbury] would encourage him in this proposal.
He requests therefore that Grist raise this matter with the Officers at an early opportunity. He is sending a copy of this letter to [James] Heady and Emily [Rattenbury] as it obviously affects them also
- William Harrison Hudspeth (1887-1976) was born at Willington, Co. Durham, and was educated for the Methodist New Connexion ministry at Ranmoor College. In 1909 he travelled to China as a junior colleague of the famous missionary Samuel Pollard. He returned to Europe after several years and saw service in France during World War 1 before going up to Cambridge University to study Oriental Languages and Anthropology. After graduation he returned to China to work with the montagnard Miao people and native Chinese, acting for many years as the Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. In 1939 nearly five million copies of the Bible were distributed in China, largely through his efforts. During World War 2 Hudspeth suffered internment by the Japanese. After liberation he went to Canada as the Bible Societies representative and retired to England in 1953. Source: Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968), The Methodist Recorder 1976, May 20th, p.14 and William Leary, Ministers and their Circuits 1969-1989.