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A NEW FRIEND.
Friendship with Rev. J. S. Burdon-Change of Plan-Boat Life -Soong-Kiang-Worship of Confucius-Mohammedans.
DURING the year thus propitiously closed, Mr. Aitchison formed the acquaintance of Rev. John S. Burdon, of the English Church Missionary Society. The following letter to Rev. Dr. Anderson gives some account of the peculiar and delightful attachment which sprang up between them, and of an entire change of plan for missionary labor adopted by these brethren in con
"SOONG-KIANG, Feb. 1, 1856.
"REV. AND DEAR SIR:-Believing that you would be glad to have a more particular account of myself than is contained in the Mission Letter, I send you some details of my present mode of life.. My acquaintance with the Rev. Mr. Burdon, the companion of all my wanderings and labors, commenced in the early part of last summer. He
had been severely afflicted by the death, first of his wife, and then of his only child. Fellowship in grief soon drew our hearts closely together. It was not long before each found in the other a similarity of views and purposes in regard to the prosecution of the missionary work in China. We longed to come into more immediate contact with the people, degraded and prejudiced though they are. We longed to pass the barriers which the exclusive policy of the Chinese, and the mistaken policy of foreign treaty-makers, had combined to erect in the path of Christianity. We longed to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the millions around Shanghai, who are reached only during occasional flying visits of the missionary.
"Our first step was to hire a house within the walls of the city from which we could make excursions into the surrounding country at our pleasure. There we resided for three months, devoting ourselves to hard study, and maturing our plans for the future. We concluded, however, to abandon our house, which we had only designed to make the headquarters of our operations, and to give ourselves wholly to the business
of itinerating. On the 30th of October last we started on our first trip; and from that date the boat has been our constant home, although the period for which we had rented our house did not expire until the 24th of December.
"I trust you will agree with me in thinking our course a wise one, in the circumstances. Shanghai enjoys the labors of more than twenty ordained missionaries; while this immense plain, teeming with immortal souls, is left for the most part unoccupied, except by the never-tiring and well nigh omnipresent emissaries of Rome. More than a dozen walled cities, besides almost innumerable towns and villages, are embraced within the limits of our parish.
"It is our design to spend at one place from a week to a month, or even longer, according to its importance, or the encouragement we meet with, returning to it again in regular order, when our circuit shall have been completed. The city from which I write, Sung-kiang, lies to the south-west of Shanghai, distant twenty-five or thirty miles. Its population is probably equal to that of Boston. We have been here already nearly three weeks.
"The accommodations of our boat are not particularly spacious. A cabin, nine feet by seven, answers the purposes of parlor, dining-room and bed-chamber for both of us. A Chinese teacher, servant, and four boatmen, complete our party. Where they all stow themselves at night, is still a mystery to me. Our forenoons are spent in study, our afternoons in preaching and conversing with the people.
"I wish you could accompany us to the front of some temple, where we usually address the crowd. As we approach the spot, noisy boys rush before us, like so many heralds, sometimes shouting at the top of their voices, "The barbarians are come,' or 'Ya-Soo, Ya-Soo!' (Jesus, Jesus.) By the time we get to our pulpit, usually a stone step, or other convenient elevation, we are hemmed in on all sides by the eager rabble. At once we commence discoursing on the grand theme of redemption. With the open heaven, where reigns the only true God, above us; with the hideous images of a corrupt and corrupting heathenism around us, and a multitude of immortal but perishing men before us, you will
not wonder that we sometimes feel the stirrings of an unwonted inspiration.
"The fear of giving offence rarely modifies a phrase of our address. The pleasure of the auditors appears to be commensurate with the amount of ridicule heaped upon the senseless objects of their worship. The majority pay respectful attention. Such a motley collection, however, is almost sure to contain some 'rowdies,' who busy themselves with absurd speculations about our clothes or our persons. Occasionally a nut-shell, or something equally harmless, is tossed at us from behind by some fellow of the baser sort. The sermon or rather 'talk' being ended, we give an opportunity to any one to ask questions. Too often ignorance prompts some frivolous inquiry, and thus diverts the mind from more serious matters. At times, considerable useful discussion is thus elicited. Opium and the papists, equally the curse of the empire, are the most frequent topics of interrogation; and they are destined to be, as I think, the mightiest obstacles to the triumph of vital religion. A number of persons always follow us to our boat, to whom we give books, if they can read.