chapter  2
8 Pages

Chinese Institutions the Protestant Missionaries Met

Early missionaries would have been aware of the existence and nature of Chinese charitable institutions through the writings of a number of their brethren who took a particular interest in the subject. As early as 1833, a missionary journal, the Chinese Repository, published cursory accounts of a number of establishments in Canton. In the 1840s, these were followed by translations of almost complete institutional annual reports, which provided the missionaries with an insight into the Chinese rationale for the range of services they provided and details of the financing, administration, physical plant, and staffing. A foundling hospital in Canton dating from 1698 said to have accommodation for two hundred and three children, would seem to belie the description of charitable institutions as being "small in extent, and of recent origin." 1

Also documented were the Yangzi yuan ~i'"~, a "retreat for poor, aged and infirm, or blind people, who have no friends to support them"; the Mafeng yuan ~JXt~, a hospital for lepers; and a public dispensary that was rumored to have existed "centuries ago.,,2 These institutions, the Chinese Repository noted, were financed not by "native contributions [but] every 'barbarian ship' which enters the port pays about nine hundred dollars towards their support, without even the pleasure of ever having been informed."3