Journal entry

Scope and Content

Che Chih May 17 .

They have been relaxing here for a few days. The weather is excellent, the scenery wonderful and the only thing they are short of is sleep.

They started by motor bus on Tuesday at 8am and rolled along at about fifteen miles an hour over three and a half days of road by 2pm. They were met by chairs which were rather more elaborate than their Kuling equivalents and covered another 30 li to the hotel by 4.30. The stopping place was a little country village called Chi Kuang, consisting of about sixty houses. It was filled with pack-horses, coolies and H B R's party. Yesterday's journey was hard with at least fifty li over one huge mountain. Last night they stayed at Huang Tu P'u or Lai tu P'u, a larger but more decrepit village than the previous night. They climbed this morning to about ten thousand feet only to discover another mountain towering above them. They are now down again at between seven and eight thousand feet in rice growing country within ninety li of Tung Chuan where [Edward Henry] Moody is to settle in.

They have passed through a great deal of opium growing country. There was one plain about thirty miles across where it seemed to be the only crop. The trade is dominated by the Cantonese, of whom there is a community of about three thousand in Yunnanfu. 'Superb scenery, universal opium, ragged ill depressed country folk, every second woman at least and many of the men with goitre or something like it. Evidently opium does the growers of it not much good, whatever it does for the owners'.

Today the chief crop has been potatoes. He thinks that the Yunnanese had a small potato of their own but a Methodist missionary by the name of [Harry] Parsons, before N.C.C agricultural missionaries were heard of, introduced a better variety. He thinks that some of these hill folk exist on them very much like the Irish. 'Today goitre, opium, extreme poverty and distress have all disappeared. Likely enough it is poverty and distress that drives folk to opium and the thing acts and reacts, until it is hard to know which is cause and which effect'.

It is useless going on about the wonderful scenery - it is simply Kuling multiplied over and over in it's effect. The country side is largely red earth reminiscent of Shantung with it's gullies and sunken roads. Regular running streams are few in number but the sides of the hills are intersected in all directions by dry gullies, which in the rainy season must be raging torrents. There is a great deal of motor road construction going on. If and when it is completed, the central stretch of 150-200 li will rival the French railway to Yunnanfu for engineering skill and ingenuity. It will however be liable to being swept away during the rainy season and will need considerable maintenance. The road will help to check banditry and will serve to link this thinly populated province together.

Brigandage is a scourge of the region. It is better now although the guide was quite concerned last night over the exposed situation of the inn. The Methodists here take escorts for cross- country journeys although the C.I.M. [China Inland Mission] do not. Accordingly, H B R and his party were accompanied by three or four soldiers. They seem accustomed to this type of work and were no problem. H B R wonders if they are really necessary, but has fallen into line with local practice. His companions have been Miss Strudwick Smith and [Edward Henry] Moody. They left [Albert Leslie] Pacey for a time in Yunnanfu. They rise about 4.00am and after breakfast leave at about 6am. They have a light foreign lunch at mid-day and finish off in the evening with the best Chinese meal they can get.

There was a note here on their arrival from [Frederick Walter James] Cottrell of Tuang Chuan saying that they are sending out lunch for H B R and his party to the half-way place tomorrow. It is as good as going up to Anlu with [William and Priscilla] Rowley there.

They have had a good, short journey with three nights on the road. If they had not travelled by motor it would have taken six days and nights.

He would say that the inns here are better than those in Hupeh but not as good as Hunan. This is a regular pack-horse and coolie road, used by fifty to one hundred horses a day. The coolies do not carry loads with a pole but on their backs, either in panniers or on a bamboo frame which throws the burden high up on their shoulders.

In Yunnan as in Canton, the women seem to do much heavier work than he has been accustomed to see in Hupeh. In Canton, apart from handling the boats, they act as coolies and railway porters and in these hills seem to do everything but plough. Cows are used as beasts of burden and for driving carts and ploughs. Mules seem to be very uncommon and the donkey is virtually non- existent.

H B R had a lovely 25 li walk this afternoon beside a mountain stream with Moody and even enticed him into having a paddle. 'Had our audience been less and less interested who knows what we might not have done'.

Tuang Chuan May 18 .

They had a lovely walk today following the river from Cheh Chih to Tuang Chuan through valley after valley, surrounded by hills of about two thousand feet in height. The valleys gradually widened until they finally arrived on the Tuang Chuan plain at a height of 7250 feet.

This city is said to have twenty thousand inhabitants. As in Yunnan, the [Methodist] work is small with a little urban church and not much going on in the country. He will say a little more about it when he has found out more information. It is surprising to find a city of this size five days from anywhere, although it is said to be a prosperous place. The city seems like a cross between Tayeh and Teian.

As they arrived there were guards around and a large crowd about the city. They glimpsed people being placed against a wall for execution - Communist leaders who had staged a rising here on the first day of the month.

They had no armed escort today as they were moving along a populous road and were hardly out of sight of people. Cottrell did however mention over tea that when he came down here a month ago to meet Dr Woods there was a robbery on the road just in front of them and that their escorts were busy for a time. Two or three of the Methodist missionaries stationed in this area have been attacked and robbed in recent years. Bands of brigands are roving the country and are always having to be dealt with. Escorts for Chinese merchants and goods as well as for foreigners and government officials are quite common. This problem of course makes missionary work all the more difficult.

There must be cuckoos and larks in their thousands in the mountains. They have also passed wild rhododendrums, azaleas, honeysuckle, roses (both red and white), fox-gloves, buttercups, daisies etc. Their journey is just a little too late in the year to see the country in all it's glory but it would be a paradise for the naturalist and artist.

The preacher here is Mr [Yang Chen-Hsin] who came to the Hankow Conference. He is one of those recommended to England to be a minister of full status. If [British] Conference agrees, which it probably shall, he will be senior to Moody, the foreign probationer who will live here. In Hupeh, Yang would automatically be the Superintendent minister, but it would be a new situation for Yunnan.

The Mission House and chapel here have been rebuilt. The plans were Evans's but Cottrell oversaw the work with excellent results. The people here, whilst having wider Christian union in mind, are pressing ahead with Methodism.

Whit Sunday [Tung Chuan] .

He wonders if one married missionary here and one Chinese minister, however devoted, is staffing worthy of such a place.

They climbed the hill behind the city yesterday morning and were soon looking down at the city walls within which the only open space seemed to be the government buildings. 'It seems that Cottrell has been in the hands of bandits for five hours and then had a happy release and he thinks that hardly anyone of them has escaped highway robbery at one time or another...happily this country is much more settled now. There are few big bands of brigands though the depredations of "little robbers" are common enough'.

They then called on the Country Official who was very pleasant. His deputy was in Changsha at the time of it's sack by the Communists and escaped by disguising himself as a waiter, not without a great deal of questioning and the application of ready wit.

The premises here beside the eight room mission house consist of a rebuilt chapel for about two hundred, primary schools and two bits of Chinese property recently purchased for extensions. The premises are excellent and Chinese-looking.

This morning, Yang took the service following the Sunday School, at which almost all the congregation were present. Moody and H B R spoke. They had a Chinese meal at Yang's this morning and a feast at Yamen (farewell feast for Cottrell) tonight. It was a real foreign meal and very well done. After the evening service there was more fellowship and then bed.

The Cottrells leave for England in ten days. Miss [Strudwick] Smith and H B R leave tomorrow, and Moody who is shortly to be joined by Pacey, will carry on here until Synod. H B R does not know if those two [Moody and Pacey] are to be congratulated or commiserated with - Moody has been in China for eighteen months and Pacey for six. Both are new to this district.

The Peking Language School has it's advantages, but H B R cannot help but wonder if Moody and Pacey would not have been better off, if they had learned the language and the work on the spot. Mrs Cottrell is a nurse and she and her husband have been running a successful dispensary - will the men be able to keep it going? This lack of continuity is a major problem, but how can one have continuity without adequate staff?

H B R will be at an out-station two days from now. It has been a real pleasure to get to know the people here. This was the station from which [William Alexander] Grist returned [1902] to England because of ill health. There are still people here who remember him after all these years.

Notes

  • Harry Parsons (1878-1952) was born in Barnstaple, Devon and was raised in Plymouth. He entered the Bible Christian ministry in 1899 and joined the mission to China in 1902. Parsons served in China for twenty-six years, first as a colleague of the famous missionary Samuel Pollard and later as Superintendent of the work among the Montagnard Miao people of Yunnan Province. He was invalided home in 1928 and served the remainder of his active ministry in home circuits. Source: Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968), and Methodist Recorder 1952, July 17th, p.15.
  • Yang Chen-Hsin (1886-1936) was born at Chao Tung Fu in the Chinese province of Yunnan. His parents were Christian converts and as a young man Yang entered the Chao Tung Training Institute for Preachers. Yang was ordained into the Methodist ministry in 1914 and was accepted into full conference by the British Methodist Church in 1934. He occupied several positions of great responsibility including that of head master of the boys' boarding school in Chao Tung. Yang died in the summer of 1936 after a period of ill health. Source: Minutes of Conference 1936.

Note

Notes

  • Harry Parsons (1878-1952) was born in Barnstaple, Devon and was raised in Plymouth. He entered the Bible Christian ministry in 1899 and joined the mission to China in 1902. Parsons served in China for twenty-six years, first as a colleague of the famous missionary Samuel Pollard and later as Superintendent of the work among the Montagnard Miao people of Yunnan Province. He was invalided home in 1928 and served the remainder of his active ministry in home circuits. Source: Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968), and Methodist Recorder 1952, July 17th, p.15.
  • Yang Chen-Hsin (1886-1936) was born at Chao Tung Fu in the Chinese province of Yunnan. His parents were Christian converts and as a young man Yang entered the Chao Tung Training Institute for Preachers. Yang was ordained into the Methodist ministry in 1914 and was accepted into full conference by the British Methodist Church in 1934. He occupied several positions of great responsibility including that of head master of the boys' boarding school in Chao Tung. Yang died in the summer of 1936 after a period of ill health. Source: Minutes of Conference 1936.