The Life of J. Hudson Taylor: Chapter 13 - New Developments
"The new year, 1868, was commenced, as previous ones had been, with fasting and prayer; and large desires were felt by all that, during this year, some decided steps might be taken towards the accomplishment of our cherished purpose of carrying the Gospel into some of the wholly unoccupied provinces. Nor were these desires and prayers in vain."
The month of January saw the first advance, when Mr. Crombie, going southward from Fung-hwa, forty miles to Ning-hai, succeeded in obtaining a settlement there, and thus opened another center of Gospel light.
About the same time Mr. Meadows, accompanied by Mr. Cordon, started in a northerly direction, and following Mr. Duncan's steps of the previous year came to the important city of Su-chaau, provincial capital of Kiang-Su. Here they were enabled to rent a house, thus establishing a station upon the Grand Canal, half-way between Hang-chau and Chin-kiang, a free port on the river Yang-tse.
Up to this time Hang-chau had been the headquarters of the Mission and Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Taylor's own home. Now, however, changes were beginning to come over the work, and preparations had to be made for its transference, in that city, to other supervision, while Mr. and Mrs. Taylor themselves undertook a forward movement towards the interior of the neighboring province of Kiang-Su.
Mrs. Cordon and the Misses McLean were destined for the new station on the canal. Boats were therefore engaged for Su-shau in the first instance; and with Miss Blatchley, Mary Bell, and the children, Mrs. Taylor prepared to accompany them. Springtide had come again, and all the familiar scenes were looking their loveliest when the little party bade farewell to their old home, and late on Friday afternoon made their way out of the great city. It was a long farewell for some, at any rate, of those who left that day. Many eventful years were to elapse ere the children should revisit the spot endeared to them by memories of that beloved mother, long since entered upon higher service above, who never returned again to the scene of her faithful labours in those early years of trial and blessing at Hang-chau. Soon after they reached Su-chau, Mr. Hudson Taylor joined the little party; and making only a brief stay, they continued their journey up the Grand Canal, leaving the Misses McLean with Mr. and Mrs. Cordon to carry on the newly opened work.
Towards the end of May, the city of Chinkiang was reached, situated at the juncture of the northern and southern portions of the canal with the great river Yang-tse. This large and busy place, containing a mixed population of Chinese and Tartars, numbering fully one hundred and fifty thousand, was found to be without any resident missionary, although possessing a small foreign community in consequence of its being an open port. The importance of Chin-kiang as a mission center was at once impressed upon Mr. Taylor's mind, and he decided to seek premises for a station to which Mr. Rudland might transfer the Mission presses from Hang-chau, and which might become the headquarters of an advance movement towards the interior. Three thousand miles from the far west flows the great river passing beneath the very walls of the city; while north and south from the same point stretches the broad highway of the Grand Canal, connecting Pekin with Hang-chau at the extremes of its course of over six hundred miles. No better place could be chosen for the new headquarters of the Mission; and Mr. Taylor set to work at once to find a suitable home.
Careful investigations resulted in the discovery of premises that appeared satisfactory; and after nearly a month of elaborate and patient negotiation, the deeds of rental were signed, and possession promised in a fortnight's time. Then, and not till then, Mr. Taylor sent word to Hang-chau, requesting Mr. and Mrs. Rudland to come on at once, bringing all their belongings. This they lost no time in doing; but upon arrival at Chin-kiang with all the plant of the printing-office, and some of the native helpers trained to the work, great was their dismay to find that the arrangements for the house had fallen through, although the deposit money had actually been paid, for the landlord absolutely refused possession. There was nothing to be done, however; for it was well known that the landlord was only acting upon directions received from the chief mandarin; and the way in which the foreigners had been worsted in their bargain became the laugh of tea-house and club throughout the city.
Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Taylor, in the meanwhile, had continued their journey to another large and important center at no great distance, the fame of which had long been familiar to those interested in Chinese affairs, but which was to become still more widely known through the influence of their visit. Writing from this city, Mrs. Taylor, speaks of the great thankfulness with which the little party found themselves at the end of their long boat journey, and once more housed upon dry land, even though only in a Chinese inn, among a somewhat hostile people. Her letter, dated early in June 1863, was addressed to dear friends at home.
"Were it not that you are old travelers yourselves, I should think it impossible for you to realize our feelings when we exchanged the discomforts of a boat -- into every part of which the heavy rain had been leaking for two or three days, so we were sadly at a loss to know how to place our things in order to keep them dry -- for a suite of apartments in a first-rate Chinese hotel; such an establishment as my dear husband, who has seen not a little of Chinese travelers' accommodations, never before met with; and that hotel inside the walls of Yang-Chau. It was just like our loving Father -- was it not? -- to bring us into trying, and for the dear children, somewhat dangerous, circumstances, and then to let us see His hand in deliverance. We had been at Yang-Chau in our boat for a week, and had been making inquiries about houses that we might rent; but it was a great step to get temporary accommodation, such as this, inside the city... I do trust that God will give us a permanent footing here."
And he did, in His own time and way; but not without serious difficulty at first, and even danger; all of which, however, teaching lessons that could, perhaps, have been learned in no other way, and that have proved of most important service since then in the opening of many another station in all parts of that vast Empire.