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statement may seem to savour somewhat of exaggeration, yet we cannot read the annals of any civilized country without seeing how greatly women have influenced national character and national life. They have again and again made their power felt in the court, in the senate, in the forum, and in the church, and no doubt they will continue to do so till the end of time. It is most interesting to the Christian student of the Gospels to notice the part which women played during Christ's earthly ministry, and to their honour be it said that with the one exception of Herodias, all the women of the Gospel story are conspicuous for acts of signal faith, of strong love, or of true devotion, worthy predecessors of those who have leavened the world with their whole-hearted sympathy and patient service.
In China herself more than one woman has made her influence felt throughout the length and breadth of the empire, and the most recent of these—the late Empress-Dowager-for whom the nation is now in mourning, made her power manifest in every province and city of this mighty land.
One is apt sometimes to imagine that because woman very frequently in Eastern lands is hidden from view almost or entirely, she therefore can exert very little influence and need hardly be taken into account in considering social or moral questions. But to think thus is to make a great mistake. Mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters will always be able to sway in a greater or lesser degree the minds of the men of their households towards good or evil, and the character of a nation will usually largely depend upon the character of its women folk.
It is quite impossible for anybody who considers the subject at all to think lightly of the immense assistance rendered by women in the gigantic task of evangelizing China. The pioneers of the work, our brave and undaunted predecessors, felt, and no doubt rightly so, that it was impracticable and unwise for foreign women to be much in evidence at the beginning of things. The country was too unsettled, the hostility of the official classes and literati too marked, and the ignorance of the Chinese people generally too dense to permit of Western ladies travelling much outside the Treaty Ports and much less settling inland amongst the people, and it is only within the last thirty years that women have been able to traverse the highways and waterways of China in comparative safety and without molestation, though they have had and still have to endure a good deal of hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ;
it need hardly be said that they have endured this without complaint and as a matter of course. These ladies have, as a rule, exercised so much discretion and tact and shown such a deep practical sympathy with their suffering Chinese sisters that they have almost invariably disarmed criticism, averted suspicion, and turned enemies into friends wherever they have been stationed. In many important centres they have opened boarding-schools for girls, and by so doing have dispelled for ever the idea so long and so tenaciously held by the Chinese of all classes that women is only the drudge, or at best, the playmate of man and that consequently there is no need for her to be educated or to learn anything beyond her wifely and motherly duties. Alongside these educational institutions stand the training schools for Bible-women and station class schools, all of which are doing a work of the first importance, which must have a very real bearing upon the future of China, sending forth as they do year by year well-taught Christian women, fitted to be teachers of others and whose eyes have been opened to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the enormity of the many vicious practices to which the Chinese are addicted, women as well as men. That these women do seek to set a higher standard of living before their sisters, and exemplify it in their own households, can be proved abundantly in almost every Christian centre. In addition to the agencies above mentioned must be added the establishment of hospitals for women and children in most influential cities, under the charge of qualified ladies, assisted by a staff of trained nurses. Only those who have some knowledge of the quackery and superstition which largely compose the art of healing in China, can have any idea of the immense boon such institutions are to the sick and suffering. Our Chinese sisters naturally shrink from consultation with medical men from abroad ; indeed it would be considered a gross breach of etiquette
i for them to do so even now in many parts of the empire, but they readily attend hospitals specially built for their benefit, and untold blessing, both to body and soul, is the result to thousands of them.
Another branch of Christian work in which women are prë-eminently successful in China is that of house to house visitation.
Speaking generally, I think it is true to say that we men are not, as a rule, so well fitted for this work as our sisters. Our tread is too heavy and our voices too loud ; we lack, in some degree at least, the patience and sympathy, the love and tenderness which are peculiarly feminine graces, and which are so conspicuous in the lives of the devoted band of ladies who are working with us for the moral and spiritual uplift of these millions.
The various philanthropic institutions which are springing up in so many centres, must not be omitted from such a paper as this.
Schools for the blind, for the deaf and dumb and for orphans, homes for lepers and for the aged poor, asylums for the insane and for foundlings,—these are on the increase continually and are almost wholly in the hands of women. Naturally the Gospel of Christ has appealed with special force to these afflicted and outcast people.
Having thus taken a rapid survey of the valuable services which women are rendering for the cause of Christ throughout this interesting land, we shall do well to remind ourselves that hardly any of the work above-mentioned could have been done at all except by women. Had they refused to embrace the opportunity which presented itself of entering these long closed doors, that the love of God in Christ and all the other benefits and blessings of the Christian faith might be made known to their Chinese sisters, such work must have remained almost wholly undone.
From time to time rather severe criticisms are passed upon the policy of allowing cultured ladies to travel and work in inland China because it entails so much rough travelling, hard faring and isolated living, to say nothing of the dangers which must surround those who thus take their lives in their hands. There can be no doubt, I think, that much of this criticism is the outcome of real sympathy and is prompted by a desire to save suffering and pain. But it must be remembered that nobody has a right to forbid God's servants going where they feel He sends them and that we cannot and dare not forbid our sisters having a share in our great task if it is their wish to join us. Of course every wise precaution should be taken to avoid unnecessary suffering or danger, and, as a rule, no doubt single ladies should be stationed near married missionaries and their families, but no fixed rule can be made, and it is a noteworthy fact that apart from widespread trouble, as in the case of the Boxer outbreak, missionary ladies have hardly ever been maltreated or subjected to insult or injury.
In conclusion I should like to mention a few facts which it seems necessary for our sisters to keep before their minds as they carry on their self-denying labours amongst these women and girls of China, and I need hardly say that these remarks are made not with any idea of criticising or blaming anybody, but because I feel that their careful consideration and observance will enable this valuable work to be done with greater hope of success and without stricture.
And first of all let me say that I think Western ladies must be careful as far as possible to confine their ministrations to those of their own sex and to children. I know of course how almost impossible this is, especially in carrying on hospitals and dispensaries, or in house to house visitation ; men will
i come to women's hospitals for help and healing and they will also come and listen to the message of the Gospel when it is being told to the women of the household, and it is most difficult to turn them away or cease one's work because they are present. But our ladies can do their utmost (as most of them already do) to make it clear that their mission is especially to women ; they can quietly ask men, when their presence is distinctly inadvisable, to withdraw and leave them with their female relatives, and they will usually be at once obeyed. The Chinese of almost any class have an innate good breeding which compels them to listen to courteous requests of this kind, and they seldom refuse to comply with them.
Then I think foreign ladies in China have to bear in mind continually that East is East and West is West, so that what would be quite right and proper for them in their own country, would be quite out of place here and would give offence and breed misunderstandings.
We have all seen the look of surprise, if not of scorn, on the faces of well-bred Chinese as they have witnessed what is to them unseemly conduct on the part of Western ladies, and we have felt sure that the influence of such ladies in China was in consequence lessened. Such cases as these are happily very rare, but that they do occur at all should be a reminder to all our sisters of the difference in the status of women here and at home. Then I think our ladies should be most careful in their intercourse with catechists, personal teachers, and servants, treating them of course with every kindness and consideration, but never forgetting that their attitude must be one of quiet reserve rather than of familiarity in any degree. Experience
teaches us that a word of caution on this point is not unnecessary. There is a danger of permitting a too free intercourse, especially on the part of personal teachers, of what some of them are not slow to take advantage, and though the comradeship may be the outcome of a desire to benefit these teachers and exhibit practically the unity of all who are Christ's, yet it may be greatly misunderstood and do much injury to the work.
I have no intention of discussing in this paper the vexed question of native dress, either for men or women. I believe that we should all be free to act as we feel led in the matter; but where ladies do adopt Chinese costume it is to my mind doubly important for them to give heed to such points as those mentioned above, and as far as possible to cultivate the quiet reserve and modest demeanour of the Chinese lady.
Lastly let me say that I yield to no one in my admiration for the brave devotion and whole-hearted service which women are giving to the work of evangelism in China. They are real heroines of the faith, worthy to have their names inscribed with those noble women of the early church. It is impossible to praise them too highly or to speak of them except with deep gratitude. They themselves would deprecate praise and would say that they are simply doing their duty, and this is of course true, but it is doing one's duty under circumstances of real difficulty, from which many of them might well shrink, and we are sure that the Master will grant His special approval to these brave and patient workers, giving them with His own hand a crown of glory and His “well done."
Opportunities for Work in Chinese Homes
BY MISS CHARLOTTE E. HAWES
INCE coming to China in 1897, I have been in a great
many Chinese homes in Shantung province, and am
grateful to God for the splendid opportunities for Christian work which I have had in the homes of both rich and poor. Such golden opportunities for sowing the precious seed rejoice the heart of the itinerating missionary, and it is small wonder if she refuses to give them up for work in a school at the mission station. As Miss Kirkland, of our neighboring English Baptist station said : “ You could not pin me down to forty lassies in a school when I can get