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  • Journeys with a Mission

Journeys with a Mission

Travel Journals of The Right Revd George Smith (1815-1871), first Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong (1849-1865)

George Smith, Edited by Gillian Bickley


English , 2018/11 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Non-fiction, Academic

216 x 140 mm , 416pp ISBN : 978-988-8491-51-3

  • US$50.00


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Uncut transcriptions from archival material of 5 original journals of travel in China, India, Ceylon, Java and Singapore during 1852-1858. Provides insights into the writer's mind, Christian missions, w eyewitness accounts of country-situations mainly in China and India.

JOURNEYS WITH A MISSION contains annotated uncut transcriptions from archival material of five original narratives or journals of travel, covering visits to China, India, Ceylon, Java and Singapore during the interesting period 1852-1858, undertaken by the Right Revd George Smith, first (Anglican) Bishop of Victoria (Hong Kong), providing a very valuable information resource in two main areas: Protestant (and Roman Catholic) missionary, linguistic, pastoral, medical and educational activity, and the country-situations mainly in China and India at the time. They contain first-hand information about China’s internal, consular and diplomatic events; and vignettes of Indian life and culture just a few years before the Mutiny.

The Bishop’s thoughts and reports illuminate ongoing discussion of the relationship between missions and territorial expansion, and clearly show the focus and self-sacrifice of a peace-loving man who truly believed that empire was given for the purpose of carrying Christianity, “in the regions beyond”.

The Right Revd George Smith had interesting experiences and wrote about them in an interesting way. He was adventurous and courageous. He valued unity, loyalty and affection. He understood historical and cultural perspective and could advocate pragmatism. He had an eye for scenery and a soft heart for suffering humanity. He wrote with care, often in an elevated style suggestive of an inspirational sermon. Those with a particular interest in missions and missionaries, particularly the missions to China and India, will find here a rich seam to mine. All will be interested in what is shown of the human condition in different parts of the world, in the evidence of the motivation and perseverance of which individuals are capable in situations of hardship and disappointment, as well as the euphoria of final success.

In the 1850s, edited and cut versions of all five pieces were published in the Church Missionary Intelligencer, a publication of the Church Missionary Society. All are presented here in full, with the cut parts restored and editorial changes reversed. The differences are noted. As a result, insights are gained also into the thinking at that time of a major missionary society, still active today.

GEORGE SMITH (1815-1871) was one of the two first missionaries to China of the Church Missionary Society. After his health failed and he was obliged to resign and return to England, he resumed his role as Association Secretary of the Society, actively promoting and fund-raising for the Mission to China. During this period he was two or three times consulted about China by senior ministers of the UK Government and took the opportunity to speak against opium, to advocate more courteous treatment of the Chinese, better spiritual provision for UK troops and also to offer ideas about education. In 1849, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Sumner nominated him as the first Bishop of Victoria (Hong Kong) with the associated role of Warden of St Paul’s Missionary College, because of his, “proved missionary zeal”. Thereafter (1849-1865), the Right Revd George Smith had two groups of responsibilities, as the description, “missionary bishop” conveys. He also became Chairman of the Board of Education; was corresponding secretary for the British and Foreign Bible Society, and Chairman of the St John’s Cathedral Trustees. Several alumni of St Paul’s Missionary College gained high positions in Hong Kong society. After his retirement from his diocese because of ill-health, Bishop Smith became a Vice-President of the Church Missionary Society and sat on the CMS Committee. He was the author of several publications and was awarded the degree of DD by the University of Oxford in 1849. Obituary notices describe him as, “attached by sympathy to the moderate Evangelical party in the Church”; and as having worked, “most energetically in whatever tended to spread true religion.”

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Gillian Bickley, PhD, FRSA, has been researching the writings of the missionary and missionary bishop, The Right Revd George Smith, first Bishop of Victoria for many years and contributed the biographical entry on the Bishop in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as well as the Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography. An essay on the bishop’s involvement in the provision of education by the Hong Kong Government appears in her edited, The Development Of Education In Hong Kong, 1841-1897 as Revealed by the Early Education Reports of the Hong Kong Government 1848-1896. Her interest was first sparked by the Bishop’s highly successful recommendation of Frederick Stewart for appointment as the first headmaster of the Hong Kong Government Central School (now Queen’s College) and inspector of schools. She soon became interested in George Smith in his own right, for his own personality, his writings about China, Hong Kong and India in particular and his considerable significance as a missionary and advocate of missions. She was also interested to correct inaccurate statements made about him during his lifetime and also after his death. Dr Bickley’s career in academia has been spent mainly in Hong Kong, but also in Lagos, Nigeria and Auckland, New Zealand. She is a Life Member and (from 2016-) a Vice-President of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong. She is a member of the Church of England Records Society. From 2010-2017, she was a member of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui History Advisory Committee.

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