Letter

Scope and Content

From the Hankow Concession. She expects they are all feeling pretty anxious, for the reports of newspapers back home will no doubt gave rise to fears concerning the safety of people here. As soon as this has been read at 4 Brecknock Road, it should be passed on to Hilda, who can perhaps let Emily's friends at college see it.

Emily will start at the beginning and give an account of her experiences. She told Hilda last week about Pat and Miss Pillow [relation of the missionary William H. Pillow?] being ill and how Bell was also at Wuchang recovering from a malaria attack. All the invalids recovered but because Emily was suffering from exhaustion, it was decided that she should spend the weekend in Hankow. Last Friday week (October 6) she packed and went over the river to Hankow. It was very hot and she carried only one or two thin white dresses and wore a blouse and a thin black skirt, as she intended returning to Wuchang on Monday. However, she ended up sick in bed with no prospect of being up and about for a day or two. She did not mind too much for she was terribly tired and in need of a rest. Emily therefore missed all the excitement in Wuchang where the trouble started - it is the capital of the province and headquarters of the army. There are many soldiers there, trained by foreign instructors - German and Japanese.

There has been great discontent in China for a long time, owing to racial tension between the Hans (the real Chinese) and the Manchus (conquerors of China several hundred years ago). The emperor is a Manchu as are all the chief officials of the government. The Chinese are terribly oppressed and all the laws are much more favourable to the Manchus.

There have been spasmodic attempts by the Chinese to gain greater representation in the government. Last Monday all of Hankow was gripped by the news that the police had found bombs in a house in the Russian concession of Hankow, together with plans for an attack on Wuchang by a party of revolutionaries. The house was however empty of people and the rebels were tracked to Wuchang. The police therefore closed the gates of the city and mounted a search. Thirty rebels were discovered and executed on the spot. Everyone concluded that would end the matter but on Tuesday a large number of soldiers in Wuchang mutinied and the city was plunged into confusion all that night. There was widespread fighting and the worst seemed to be centred around the mission compound. They are virtually next to the barracks and the soldiers were shooting across their building - one shell struck the hospital but did no further damage. During the night thirty loyalist soldiers took refuge in the compound and one of them was sent early in the morning to buy a large quantity of white cloth, a piece of which tied around the arm is the revolutionary badge. The soldiers then adopted the badge of the revolution and left through the back door. Just as they escaped a party of rebels arrived to search the compound and a gun was placed in front of the gates to batter them down if necessary.

All of Wednesday the city was in a terrible tumult. The Chinese soldiers went through the town killing every Manchu man, woman and child that they could find. All the of the garrison had by this time joined the rebels. There was however no attempt to harm the foreign community. However, because the mission compound was in the line of fire, it was decided to evacuate the hospital patients to their own homes and the nurses left as well. [Charles Wilfred] Allan and his family tried to leave the city but the authorities refused to let them go, assuring them of their safety. Mr and Mrs Allan were however very frightened and decided to leave at all costs. They were therefore lowered down over the city wall in a basket together with their children, Pat and Miss Pillow. It was the mission cook and hospital cook who did the lowering down a sheer drop of forty feet. The hands of the men were cut and bleeding but they persisted until everyone was safely on the ground. The party then went on to the High School compound which is outside the city and quite safe. They stayed until Thursday afternoon when they were ordered by the [British] Consul to go to Hankow. It was feared that in the event of Wuchang being bombarded, the attack would be made from the High School side, so all foreigners were instructed to leave.

In Hankow, rumours were passing through the city all day Tuesday. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights they could hear the firing and on Thursday afternoon they were ordered by the British Consul to evacuate the compound by 5 o'clock. They had just one hour to get ready. Emily's task was an easy one, as she only had one weekend's clothes to pack. She then packed food and bedding for everyone, while Bell and Nora sent the patients home and made arrangements for the nurses. At 5 o'clock they left - the Claytons [family of George Alfred Clayton], Booths [family of Dr Robert T. Booth, was attached to the medical mission in Hankow], Sister Alice, Bell, Nora, Mrs Minty and Emily. They were collected by launch and they 'stormed down to the concession, flying the British flag in fine style'. On their arrival they settled in a large empty house which a gentleman had kindly lent to the mission free of charge.

The people at home should not worry - they are quite safe and comfortable.

Notes

  • Charles Wilfred Allan (1870-1958) was born in York. He trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingley and was appointed to serve in Central China in 1895. During World War 1, Allan returned to Europe and worked among Chinese labourers in France. From 1922 he taught at the Union Theological College at Changsha and later Wuchang and in 1930 he was invited to work for the Christian Literature Society in Shanghai. Allan was interned by the Japanese during World War 2 and was repatriated to Britain in 1945. He hoped to return to China but finally accepted superannuation in 1946. Allan was an outstanding linguist and in 1913 was invited to share in the work of preparing the Union Version of the Bible. He was also the editor of several Chinese periodicals and published many books including a Chinese commentary on Isaiah. Source: Minutes of Conference 1958 and Methodist Recorder May 22 1958, p.5.
  • George Alfred Clayton (1870-1947) was born at Edgworth, Lancashire, the son of the Methodist minister Albert Clayton. After studying law, he trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingly and in 1895 was sent as a missionary to the Hupeh district of China. Clayton served in China for thirty-five years. He was particularly associated with the David Hill School for the Blind in Hankow and from 1916 he served as Secretary of the Central China Religious Tract Society. In 1930 Clayton returned to England where despite the effects of a serious accident, he continued his work for the Religious Tract Society. His last years were spent in retirement at Cliftonville. Source: Minutes of Conference 1947.

Note

Notes

  • Charles Wilfred Allan (1870-1958) was born in York. He trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingley and was appointed to serve in Central China in 1895. During World War 1, Allan returned to Europe and worked among Chinese labourers in France. From 1922 he taught at the Union Theological College at Changsha and later Wuchang and in 1930 he was invited to work for the Christian Literature Society in Shanghai. Allan was interned by the Japanese during World War 2 and was repatriated to Britain in 1945. He hoped to return to China but finally accepted superannuation in 1946. Allan was an outstanding linguist and in 1913 was invited to share in the work of preparing the Union Version of the Bible. He was also the editor of several Chinese periodicals and published many books including a Chinese commentary on Isaiah. Source: Minutes of Conference 1958 and Methodist Recorder May 22 1958, p.5.
  • George Alfred Clayton (1870-1947) was born at Edgworth, Lancashire, the son of the Methodist minister Albert Clayton. After studying law, he trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingly and in 1895 was sent as a missionary to the Hupeh district of China. Clayton served in China for thirty-five years. He was particularly associated with the David Hill School for the Blind in Hankow and from 1916 he served as Secretary of the Central China Religious Tract Society. In 1930 Clayton returned to England where despite the effects of a serious accident, he continued his work for the Religious Tract Society. His last years were spent in retirement at Cliftonville. Source: Minutes of Conference 1947.