Letter

Scope and Content

From Kunming (marked confidential). He has to get things off his chest and does not have time for many letters. This will be a very frank letter and when Emily has read it, she must send it, war or no war, to Miss Embleton at the Mission House in London, who should them make copies for Miss Porter[?], [Walter James] Noble and Dr Hooker.

In Burma he was received as 'an Angel from heaven'. It was a very genuine welcome from missionaries and Burmese alike. They talked to him with great candour and every moment there was worth the effort.

However, he must now describe his feelings about his experiences since.

  • 1. At the Hanoi Aerodrome on Monday morning, there was no-one to meet him. He had spent a lot of money trying to keep in contact with [Alfred] Evans, who was certainly at the hotel because H B R enquired when he arrived. Evans had nothing to do for six days and it would surely have been courtesy to have met H B R on his arrival. He does not think that Evans intended to be rude, but he just did not think.
  • 2. They had a good chat together and H B R discovered that after spending a week in Hanoi, Evans had no better plan than that they should perhaps get a train to Kunming on Tuesday, to arrive on Thursday. They talked about [Benjamin Burgoyne] Chapman and other matters and then went out to see about arrangements. They discovered there was no fast train but there was a plane and therefore decided to fly. They then discovered they were only allowed thirty pounds of luggage each and Evans therefore suggested that H B R fly and he would follow on by train.
  • 3. A certain Mr [unreadable name] arrived on the morning plane and H B R had a very illuminating conversation with him concerning Evans, Chapman, [W.] Beddard Smith and the Middle School. He had been in Burma with [William] Hudspeth and H B R could see why they were so attracted to him.
  • 4. H B R arrived in Kunming at 6pm and was met at the aerodrome by Beddard Smith. Mrs Evans gave him a good welcome - she is an old missionary, very motherly but has to be at the centre of the picture and certainly fills it. She has given away her cook and making do with a coolie. There are a couple of independent missionaries in the house. Mrs Evans is very kind but the bread is sour, the pastry dreadful and the meat tough. 'I can see she is troubled but what can you do with a coolie'.
  • 5. On Wednesday he held interviews as follows; a. The [Church Missionary Society] people were not very communicative. b. [Benjamin Burgoyne Chapman] and Ruth Tarry spent two hours criticising Evans and the 'alleged Middle School & all its ways'. As usual there is much truth and sense but 'suspicion and contrivances for tying grown people up hand + foot that no free being is going to stand. His [Evans] theories & ideals mostly right; his methods & autocracy appalling. I dare not tell him [Chapman] I agree with almost everything he says about Evans; for he will go & blast it out in some wrong place'. c. Beddard Smith and his wife are, as Evans believes, working quite happily with him, but only on the basis that no subject is mentioned which could lead to trouble. They told H B R of their worries in no uncertain terms and long for the 'Methodism' which they think this district [Yunnan] is devoid of. Mrs Smith has had a baby and appendicitis and is a little wilder than her husband. Both are very different from the people who H B R said goodbye to in London and would go home now full of the frustration of the mission field. H B R believes they are unbalanced and unjust but are evidently relieved to be able to unburden themselves. 'Each house is in a separate compound. There is no possibility of running in for this and that as we used to do in China'. d. Miss Bull of the [Church Missionary Society] is appalled by Chapman and wants to know if his ways are typical of Methodism. e. 'The headmaster, King, going for Chapman'. f. 'Other Chinese, suggested by Chapman going for the headmaster & the school'. All these meetings covered Thursday also. Then there is the news from Germany also.
  • 6. Evans arrived tired and dirty on Thursday so H B R will leave talking with him until Friday. There are conversations on a number of things which are all initiatives to be taken by H B R - 'no sense of a district to be shewn on plans for my time. Locks up his study when he isn't in it. Just a habit, I am sure'. H B R has told Evans time and time again that they should either have a synod meeting while H B R is here or a district visit, but he feels that Kunming is too important to be left for the district which is foolish. 'But I am left with the feeling that the Evans & Van Meters are a happy home & there is a stranger within the gates. I do not think it is deliberate. It is just uncouth. He does not know what a General Secretary [H B R] is or how to receive or deal with him. It is a curious situation'.
  • 7. Yesterday he asked for the missionaries' group meeting that was normal in every Burma station. It just does not happen here - there are three separate groups. The others would like some team business but that does not enter Evans's mind. 'He has been years & years on the station & he is Methodism - and his wife. The Methodist Bishop of Kunming. He thinks [it] is giving Methodism a place but it is not unkind to say it is really giving Evans a place'. They had a good meeting. He does not think they have had anything of this sort here before.
  • 8. Today has been a great day. It was a good English service but there was no word about H B R's presence. Emily knows full well that H B R the private person does not want to be fussed over but it is irritating that a Mission General Secretary on an official visit should be ignored. He is sure that it was simply lack of thought on Evans's part rather than a deliberate snub. Evans did not attend the afternoon service (Chinese) as he was preaching elsewhere. H B R on his own initiative, spoke for five or six minutes - what a situation!
  • 9. At the missionary English service there were fifteen people, including one Chinese. Five were visitors not counting H B R. Neither of the Evans's were there - their day is too full. Why should H B R be fobbed off with a small service of little interest to people. What use of his time is that? Evans used to run this service but since its reorganisation, he has lost interest or responsibility. It is the most feeble service of the sort that H B R has ever attended, although they had a good time.
  • 10. There are of course many serious difficulties and over everything is the shadow of war. It is no good kicking Evans at such a time. He has no sense of teamwork or knowledge of Methodist organisation. They have never had ordinations in this district. H B R supposes that he [H B R] must be careful to acquire knowledge and store it if war breaks out for the day when peace returns. H B R has asked about evacuation arrangements in the event of severe bombing. "I have told [Beddard] Smith I will support him in any arrangements he makes". Fancy! His sense of being a "Father in God" to his folks'.
  • 11. 'He [Evans] does not know because he has not seen. I do not blame him as much as explain him'.
  • 12. Once this school business is sorted and synod or an alternative meeting arranged, H B R will present Evans with a long list of queries and enquiries. For the moment, he is not however driving things too had - what can one do in a world at war? If the Burma visit was justified, this is more than justified.
  • 13. He told them tonight he was going off to tiffin tomorrow, to which they replied that they had been going to take him off to the lake with them tomorrow. H B R explained that if he is to go to Haichow on Tuesday, he must devote tomorrow to writing. This is again typical of the same carelessness and want of understanding.
  • 14. Dr Taylor drove down from the C.C.C. [Central China College] at Haichow yesterday. She leaves with the Constantines [family of Leonard Constantine] and others at 6am on Tuesday and H B R has also decided to go. It is half-way to the Burmese border. He should be back in a week.
  • 15. There is such a mess at Kunming anyway. It is taken for granted that the city will be seriously bombed [by the Japanese] before long and that Miss Tanny and the Beddard Smiths are better off out of it. Given this lack of district sense, the best thing would be for Miss [Tanny] to go to the [Central China College] at Haichow, if possible. He will discuss it with Wei. If this is impossible, she should go to Chaotung. Miss Pater will realise that H B R is doing his best under difficult conditions. It is a pity that she has got so involved with the Chapmans.

All this may seem very trivial in England, but it is a major issue here. At a time of peace, Evans should be firmly but gently removed as District Chairman and [James John] Heady asked to come from Hankow once [Alfred John] Gedye returns. [Kenneth William] May would do a good job as well, but Heady would be the best of the lot. These observations are not of course for publication.

As for the rest, the journey into Hunan seems easy enough. The rest depends on world news.

In any case, H B R will be in the district longer than he first intended.

It should be mentioned that the warmth of his welcome here has been genuine enough and there is plenty of desire for teamwork so all is not gloom.

If circumstances permitted, H B R would stay here as Chairman with Evans as financial secretary and minister at Kunming. It is possibly along such lines that the final solution is to be found.

Notes

  • Dr Alfred Wyatt Hooker (b.1878) was born at Putney in London. He was educated at Charterhouse School and trained as a doctor at St Thomas's Hospital in London. Hooker served as a medical missionary in South China from 1907 to 1925 and on his return home was appointed Medical Secretary of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in 1927. He was married to Maud Mary Lloyd and had two sons. Source: Who's Who in Methodism 1933.
  • Walter James Noble (1879-1962) was born at Darlington. He candidated for the Wesleyan ministry at the age of nineteen and sailed as a missionary to Ceylon in 1900. Noble served overseas for twenty-two years and then spent twenty-five years as a General Secretary of the Missionary Society. Noble was President of Conference in 1942. Source: Minutes of Conference 1962.
  • Benjamin Burgoyne Chapman (1886-1964) was born in Australia. He graduated at Sydney University taking a First Class Honours in Classics. He went on to gain a First Class Honours in his M.A. in Social History in 1908. For a time he lectured at Wesley College in Melbourne before continuing his studies at Trinity College Cambridge from 1910 to 1912 and at Columbia University where he took a Fellowship in Education in 1913. Chapman entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1913 and worked at the Central China Teaching College from 1913 to 1929. From China he went to Madras in India for one year and then returned to China for a two year spell at Nanking University. From 1932 to 1936 he taught at the Canadian Academy at Kobe in Japan before going back to China. The hard conditions of ministry in a war-torn country caused a break-down in Chapman's health which led to superannuation in 1940. Despite retirement Chapman continued to travel widely. He spent time in California, Western Australia and Israel where he and his wife lived in a kibbutz. He died at Brisbane in Australia. Source: Minutes of Conference 1965.
  • Alfred John Gedye (1898-1969) was born at Wuchang in China, where his father was headmaster of Wesley College. He was educated at Kingswood School and left as soon as he was old enough to join the army. After the end of World War 1 he trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Handsworth. Gedye served as a missionary in China for twenty-eight years. He was interned by the Japanese during World War 2 and was finally forced to return to England in 1950 after the Communist victory. He served as a circuit minister until superannuation in 1962, after which he was appointed warden of John Wesley's Chapel, the New Room in Bristol. Source: Minutes of Conference 1970 and Methodist Recorder July 24 1969, p.12.
  • James John Heady (1885-1972) was born at Bletchley of Methodist parentage. He became a pupil teacher at Fenny Stratford and from there went as a Queen's Scholar to Westminster College in 1904. After teaching for five years at a school at Garstang in Lancashire, Heady trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingley. Heady served as a missionary in China from 1913 to 1950, with two intervals of one year each as a circuit minister in Britain. After his final return to England, he was appointed to the Kingston on Thames Circuit until superannuation in 1954. Source: Minutes of Conference 1972.
  • Kenneth William May (1902-63) was born in Cornwall, the son of the Methodist New Connexion minister Matthew May. He was educated at Bath Grammar School and trained for the United Methodist ministry at Victoria Park. He served as a missionary in China from 1925 to 1948 and was Chairman of the South West China District for eight years. May was the founder of the District Preachers' Training Institute where students from several races were educated together. After his return to England, he served as a circuit minister until his death which occurred suddenly while he was stationed in the Stow Circuit. Source: Minutes of Conference 1960.

Note

Notes

  • Dr Alfred Wyatt Hooker (b.1878) was born at Putney in London. He was educated at Charterhouse School and trained as a doctor at St Thomas's Hospital in London. Hooker served as a medical missionary in South China from 1907 to 1925 and on his return home was appointed Medical Secretary of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in 1927. He was married to Maud Mary Lloyd and had two sons. Source: Who's Who in Methodism 1933.
  • Walter James Noble (1879-1962) was born at Darlington. He candidated for the Wesleyan ministry at the age of nineteen and sailed as a missionary to Ceylon in 1900. Noble served overseas for twenty-two years and then spent twenty-five years as a General Secretary of the Missionary Society. Noble was President of Conference in 1942. Source: Minutes of Conference 1962.
  • Benjamin Burgoyne Chapman (1886-1964) was born in Australia. He graduated at Sydney University taking a First Class Honours in Classics. He went on to gain a First Class Honours in his M.A. in Social History in 1908. For a time he lectured at Wesley College in Melbourne before continuing his studies at Trinity College Cambridge from 1910 to 1912 and at Columbia University where he took a Fellowship in Education in 1913. Chapman entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1913 and worked at the Central China Teaching College from 1913 to 1929. From China he went to Madras in India for one year and then returned to China for a two year spell at Nanking University. From 1932 to 1936 he taught at the Canadian Academy at Kobe in Japan before going back to China. The hard conditions of ministry in a war-torn country caused a break-down in Chapman's health which led to superannuation in 1940. Despite retirement Chapman continued to travel widely. He spent time in California, Western Australia and Israel where he and his wife lived in a kibbutz. He died at Brisbane in Australia. Source: Minutes of Conference 1965.
  • Alfred John Gedye (1898-1969) was born at Wuchang in China, where his father was headmaster of Wesley College. He was educated at Kingswood School and left as soon as he was old enough to join the army. After the end of World War 1 he trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Handsworth. Gedye served as a missionary in China for twenty-eight years. He was interned by the Japanese during World War 2 and was finally forced to return to England in 1950 after the Communist victory. He served as a circuit minister until superannuation in 1962, after which he was appointed warden of John Wesley's Chapel, the New Room in Bristol. Source: Minutes of Conference 1970 and Methodist Recorder July 24 1969, p.12.
  • James John Heady (1885-1972) was born at Bletchley of Methodist parentage. He became a pupil teacher at Fenny Stratford and from there went as a Queen's Scholar to Westminster College in 1904. After teaching for five years at a school at Garstang in Lancashire, Heady trained for the Wesleyan ministry at Headingley. Heady served as a missionary in China from 1913 to 1950, with two intervals of one year each as a circuit minister in Britain. After his final return to England, he was appointed to the Kingston on Thames Circuit until superannuation in 1954. Source: Minutes of Conference 1972.
  • Kenneth William May (1902-63) was born in Cornwall, the son of the Methodist New Connexion minister Matthew May. He was educated at Bath Grammar School and trained for the United Methodist ministry at Victoria Park. He served as a missionary in China from 1925 to 1948 and was Chairman of the South West China District for eight years. May was the founder of the District Preachers' Training Institute where students from several races were educated together. After his return to England, he served as a circuit minister until his death which occurred suddenly while he was stationed in the Stow Circuit. Source: Minutes of Conference 1960.