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Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D.
By L. S. Foster, 1909


      I esteem it both an honor and a privilege to write a preface to this book.

      While the book is prepared as a memoir of Dr. Crawford it will necessarily also set forth, to a large extent, the life and work of Mrs. Crawford, because they were not only one by God's law of matrimony, but for half a century their lives were so interwoven in labors and sorrows, hopes and joys, that it is impossible to entirely separate them in any account of their life work.

      During the last decade of the fifty years they labored together in China, it was the writer's privilege to be associated with them almost as a son with parents, and it is a joy to still be associated with Mrs. Crawford in the work.

      In the more than one hundred years of modern missionary history, it has been granted to probably less than five couples to labor together fifty years on any mission field of the world as did Dr. and Mrs. Crawford. This fact alone is sufficient to impart peculiar interest to any account of their lives. Then considering the sum of the years of their united labors, it amounts already to one hundred and seven years, while Mrs. Crawford's continuance in active work is even increasing this total. Then again the period covered by their lives is perhaps the most remarkable half century in the history of the human race. This is true whether we consider the events of the military, the political, the commercial, or the religious world. The following are some of the epoch-making wars of this period: On her own soil England, France and Japan have each gained important victories over China; the brief but very important victory of the Allied Powers in 1900; and Japan's noted victory over Russia in 1905; also several very important internal wars, the most important of which was the Tai Ping rebellion, in which it is probable that more lives were lost than in any other war in history. In other parts of the globe have occurred the Crimean, the Indian mutiny, the Franco-German, the South African, the American Civil, and Spanish-American wars.

      Political changes have also been quite as remarkable. China herself, a monarchial form of government, hoary with forty centuries of age and reeking with cruelty, has so far advanced as to

agree to offer her people a constitutional government. Some one has well said that she has advanced more during the past two than during the two thousand previous years! Japan has awaked, Rip Van Winkle-like, from centuries of ignorance, cruelly and selfishness of government, and has taken her stand in the front rank of enlightened nations, while our own loved country has arisen from being a weak and unconsidered power to perhaps the second place in the family of nations. England has in this time gained the ascendency in Egypt and the control of the Suez Canal. Almost the entire remarkable reign of the great and good Queen Victoria also fell within this period. In Europe the German Empire has been formed, Italy has thrown off the yoke of the Pope, and Spain has lost the last of her colonies. Africa, from being a region marked unexplored, has become a continent, traversed in its length and breadth by missionaries and commerce, and over which diplomats of the great powers match their wits. Slavery has also practically ceased in all the world.

      In the commercial world, too, progress has been phenomenal. In 1852, when Dr. and Mrs. Crawford reached China, the railroad mileage of the world could easily be counted within thousands of miles, while now it rolls far up into the hundreds of thousands. Then there were comparatively few telegraph lines, now overland throughout the world is a network of telegraph and telephone lines, while all the great oceans are crossed by cables, and wireless telegraphy has become a common means of communication with ships on the high seas. Then sail vessels of perhaps never over a thousand tons capacity carried the commerce of the world at a snail-like rate, requiring often six or more months to convey goods and passengers from New York to China; now all the waters of earth are rapidly plowed by huge ships of from three to thirty thousand tonnage - almost cities afloat. These huge steamers now carry passengers, mails and freight from New York to Shanghai in from twenty to thirty-five days! One line is now delivering mails to Hong Kong from London across Canada and the Pacific in about twenty-five days.

      In the religious world many of the most noted characters of the Christian era have come upon the stage and finished their courses during this half century. Suffice it to mention only one. The London ministry of Charles Hadden Spurgeon began two years after Dr. and Mrs. Crawford arrived in China, and he laid down his cross to receive the crown ten years before Dr. Crawford was called to his reward.

      But most wonderful of all have been the triumphs which Christianity has won in her conflict with the heathen and uncivilized peoples of the earth. The increased facilities for reaching the ends of the earth with the gospel, which have developed in connection with the commercial progress of the world, are most marked, and have greatly aided in these gospel triumphs. In 1852 these young missionaries journeyed in much discomfort from New York around the Cape of Good Hope to Hong Kong in one hundred two days - at that time a record-breaking trip. When just fifty years later Mrs. Crawford was returning, it was possible for her to travel from New York to Shanghai, in superb comfort and luxury, in twenty-three days! The time has since been shortened to nineteen days! Then there were in China from Christian nations about one hundred Protestant missionaries, confined for residence to the then five open ports, and for travel to an absence of not more than twenty-four hours from any of these ports; now there are nearly four thousand missionaries residing in all parts of the Empire, some requiring three months' travel to reach their interior homes, and with unlimited privileges of travel. Then about one hundred of China's four hundred millions professed Christianity; now there are over two hundred thousand church members. And this takes no notice of the hundreds of missionaries and tens of thousands of native Christians whose graves are in every province of the Empire. What has thus taken place in China is only a sample of what has been going on in all heathen countries, even to a more marked degree, especially among the savages of the Islands of the Seas. This period has also been eminently marked by the extra attention given to the study of the science and methods of missions. During all his missionary life Dr. Crawford was a close student of the methods of missions, as these pages will clearly show; and it is this that will render this book invaluable to those interested along these lines.

      I have only hinted at many of the great events of these fifty years in order to emphasize in what an eventful period these two closely knitted lives were spent in earnest and faithful effort to make known to benighted China the light of life. The book in treating of their lives and work must needs touch many of these events. Moreover the record of these long and faithful lives cannot fail to have much that will be interesting, instructive and helpful in the absorbing and most important of all the questions now engaging the human mind, namely, that of the complete evangelization of the whole world.

      Most earnestly and heartily therefore, do I commend the book to the attention of the reading public. I sincerely pray that its reading may be blessed in stimulating many to emulate these lives as herein portrayed in a more earnest, enthusiastic and intelligent service of him "who loved us and gave himself for us." May many of the young who read it be so touched and fired by the Holy Spirit as to offer their lives unreservedly to labor in behalf of the world's yet unevangelized millions.
     G. P. Bostick
     Nashville, Tenn.
     December, 1908.

[From L. S. Foster, Fifty Years in China - An Eventful Memoir of Tarleton Perry Crawford, D. D., 1909; reprinted and reformatted in 2005. The document was provided by Jackie Battles, Winchester, VA. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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