George Leslie Mackay.

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Center for Chinese Studies
Unive'"s':v of California
216>i c>!i*Lt.)ck Avenue
Bcxkcltry. California 94704


University of California

Mr. William Snead


Ubc irslanC), its iP»eople an& /IDissions







Center for Chinese Studies
Univefsiry of Olifornia
2163 Shatt.ick Avenue
Bcxkeley, California 94704


Niw York Chicago Toronto

J. 4 fl'2*7

Copyright, 1895,


Fleming H. Revkll Company.

Xntared at Stationer's Hall. All Righu resenred.


. 1 li» ■! 1 11


FORMOSA, at one time far off, has been brought near to
the Western world. All eyes were turned upon it when
it became the storm-center of the China-Japan War. But there
were those who had been looking across the seas to the Beau-
tiful Isle for more than twenty years before the war-cloud
darkened the sky. They were interested in its fortunes because
of one who had given himself, with Pauline faith and self-
renunciation, that it might be redeemed from error and sin.
George Leslie MacKay has long been the missionary hero of
the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

During his second furlough, which closed when he sailed
from Vancouver on October 16, 1895, Dr. MacKay was elected
moderator of the General Assembly of his church, and visited
many points throughout the Dominion, in the United States,
and in Scotland, addressing congrega4;ions and conventions.
Everywhere and on all occasions the impression made was that
of a great man and a hero. The demand for a fuller record
of his life and work became increasingly virgent. Friends who
knew that his information about Formosa was more extensive
and more reliable than that of any other Hving man, and who
believed that an account of his experiences and work would
stimulate the faith and zeal of the church, but who feared lest,
amid the uncertainties and perils to which his Hf e is constantly
exposed, his career should be cut short before any record that



might be given to the public had been prepared, impressed
upon him the duly of meeting tliis reasonable demand. To a
man of his ardent temperament and active habits prolonged
literary work is the most irksome drudgery. He would rather
face a heathen mob than write a chapter for a book. But con-
vinced of its importance, he undertook the task, receiving
valuable assistance from the Rev. W. S. McTavish, B.D. For
weeks together he did little else than ransack note-books and
journals, and explore the stores of his capacious memory.

A few months ago Dr. MacKay put into my hands a mass
of literary material — notes, obseivations, extracts from diaries
and reports, studies in science, fragments of description,
sketches of character — and laid upon mc the responsibility of
organizing this material into form and life. This responsibility
was increased rather than diminished by the very full editorial
powers allowed me. I knew how easy it was to be " worlds
away " ; for, as Macaulay says about the writing of history, the
details might all be true and the total impression inadequate
and misleading. Every scraj) of material was read and stud-
ied under the author's eye, annotations were made at his dicta-
tion, and the plan of classification and arrangement received
his cordial approwil. As the work progressed and the gaps
in the story became apparent, additional matter was obtained,
and nearly all of the manuscript in its final form was revised by
him. The aim in editing has been to preserve in its integrity
not only the substance but the literary style of the author — to
retain something of the vigor, the boldness, the Celtic enthusi-
asm, so characteristic of Dr. MacKay's public speech.

It is believed that the intelligent public will appreciate solid
information as well as moving incident ; and it was Dr. Mac-
Kay's desire that prominence should be given to what may be
least romantic, but is most instructive. The chapters in the
second division of the book, " The Island," are of necessity
brief and fragmentary, the exigencies of space preventing the


aathoi's supplying fuller information about Formosa, its re-
sources and people. The editor is responsible for much of
the personal element found throughout the book, Dr. MacKay
reluctantly consenting to the introduction, necessary to an
understanding of a foreign missionary's life and work, of many
incidents and personal experiences elicited in the course of con-
versation. While the book was being prepared the political
relations of Formosa were being changed ; these changes are
referred to as likely to affect mission work materially, though
not injuriously, but the Chinese view-point is retained.

For several months I was in constant and intimate associa-
tion with Dr. MacKay, coming into closest touch with him,
coming to know him as one is known only to the nearest and
most sympathetic friends. To see the man of indomitable en-
ergy, unflinching courage, and iron will shrink from anything
like self-assertion, and yield without dispute to another's judg-
ment, would be a revelation for whieh they are not prepared
who know him only as a man of speech and action. To see
his modest self-effacement, and to know how real his faith is,
how personal God is to him, is to grasp the secret of his suc-
cess. Few men in any age of the church have had a vividcr
sense of the divine nearness. The God he serves is a pavilion-
ing presence and a prevailing power in his soul. Such a prophet
is Christ's greatest gift to his church. To him there can come
no failure ; whatever ought to be can be.

The publishers have spared no pains in the production of
this book. Maps have been specially prepared, the three of
North Formosa being reproduced from sketches made by Dr.
MacKay, that of the island from the British Admiralty chart ;
illustrations have been made from photographs taken in For-
mosa by Koa Kau, Dr. MacKay's Chinese student ; the cover
design represents the flower of the rice-plant, the rice in the
ear, and the method of rice harvesting described in Chapter
XXII. ; and the greatest care has been taken to avoid mechan-


ical errors, to which a book dealing with life in a foreign
country is liable.

It remains only to acknowledge my indebtedness to the
Rev. R. P. MacKay, B.A., Toronto, secretary of the Foreign
Mission Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Canada,
without whose counsel and assistance the editor's work would
have been less satisfactory, if, indeed, it could have been done
at all in the press of other duties.

" From Far Formosa " is sent out with the prayer that it
may be used of God in stimulating intelligent interest in the

cause of world-wide missions.

J. A, Macdonald.

St. Thomas, Ontario,
November, 1895.




1. Early Years of the Author 13

2. At Princeton and Edinburgh 18

3. Toronto to Tamsui 26

4. First Views of Formosa 33

The Island

5. Geography and History 41

6. Geology 4*

7. Trees, Plants, and Flowers 55

8. Animal Life 7^

9. Ethnology in Outline 92

Among the Chinese

10. The People loi

1 1 . Government and Justice 104

12. Industrial and Social Life 113

13. Chinese Religious Life 125

14. Beginnings of Mission Work I35

15. The First Native Preacher and his Church 142

16. Establishing Churches ^53

1 7. How Bang-kah was Taken ^64

18. Touring in the North ^72

19. The Waiting Isles '82

20. The Coming of the French ^89



The Conquered Aborigines


21. Pe-po-hoan Characteristics 205

22. Rice-farming in Formosa 209

23. Mission Work among the Pe-po-hoan 215

24. A Trip down the East Coast 226

25. A Sek-hoan Mission 238

26. Life among the Lam-si-hoan 241

The Mountain Savages

27. Savage Life and Customs 251

28. With the Head-Hunters 267

At Headquarters

29. A Sketch of Tamsui 281

30. Training a Native Ministry 285

31. Oxford College 291

32. Native Workers for Native Women 297

33. Medical Work and the Hospital 308

34. Foreigners and the Missions 318

35. With the English Presbyterians 324

36. Retrospect and Prospect 330

Index 34 '


I " "3

Dr. MacKay, Mrs. MacKay, and Family Frontispiece

Water-buffaloes drawing Sugar-cane Facing page 78

Aborigines eating Rice

A Village in Eastern Formosa

Dr. MacKay and Students on the March " 172

Dr. MacKay and Students descending a Moun-
tain " »8o

Chapel at Sin-tiam, built of Stone " 191

Winnowing Rice with a Fanning-mill " 212

Bound for the Ki-lai Plain " 226

Armed Pe.-po-hoan near Savage Territory " 234

Lam-si-hoan Chief and Party " 242

In A Lam-si-hoan Village " 248

Unsubdued Aborigines living in the Mountains " 256

Armed Head-hunters " 268

Oxford College, Tamsui " 291

A Pe-po-hoan Weaver " 3°^

A Dental Operation " 3' 5


Island of Formosa Facing page 41

Geological Map of North Formosa " 49

Botanical Map of North Formosa " 55

Map of North Formosa showing Mission Sta-

TIO.NS *53







Point of view — Ancestors — Life in Zorra — William C. Burns — Home-
missionary service

FAR Formosa is dear to my heart. On that island the best
of my years have been spent. There the interest of my
hfe has been centered. I love to look up to its lofty peaks,
down into its yawning chasms, and away out on its surging
sea. I love its dark-skinned people — Chinese, Pepohoan, and
savage — among whom I have gone these twenty-three years,
preaching the gospel of Jesus. To serve them in the gospel
I would gladly, a thousand times over, give up my life. Be-
fore what I now write has been read I will have set my face
once more westward toward the far East, and by God's good
hand will have reached again my beloved Formosan home
beyond the Pacific Sea. There I hope to spend what remains
of my life, and when my day of service is over I should like
to find a resting-place within sound of its siuf and imder the
shade of its waving bamboo.

I love my island home, but not once in all these years have
I forgotten the land of my childhood or ceased to be proud



of it. Many a time in those first friendless days, when tongues
were strange and hearts were hard and the mob howled loud-
est in the street; many a time among cruel savages in the
mountains, when their orgies rose wildest into the night;
many a time alone in the awful silence of primeval forests, in
solitudes never before disturbed by a white man's tread —
many, many a time during these three and twenty years have
I looked back from far Formosa, in fancy gazed on my Zorra
home, and joined ^n the morning or evening psalm. Memo-
ries of Canada were sweet to me then ; and now, when I come
to tell something of life in that far-off isle, the view-point I
take is life in the land of my birth.

My fat''.-, George MacKay, a Scottish Highlander, with
his wife, Helen Sutherland, emigrated from Sutheriandshire to
Canada in i i ). There had been dark days in Scotland —
the dark and gloomy days of the "Sutheriandshire Clear-
ances," when hundreds of tenant-farmers, whose fathers were
bom on the estate and shed their blood for its duke, were
with their wives and families evicted, the wild notes of their
pibroch among the hills and the solemn strains of their Gaehc
psalms in the glens giving place to the bleating of the sheep
and the hallo of the huntsman. Ruined cottages, deserted
churches, and desecrated graves were the " gloomy memories "
they carried with them from Scotland, and they crossed the
sea in time to face the dark and stormy days of the Canadian
rebellion. They made their home in what was then the wilds
of Upper Canada, and on their farm in the township of Zorra
reared their family of six children, of whom I was the young-
est ; and in the burying-ground beside the " old log church "
their weary bodies rest.

Peace to the honored dust of those brave pioneers! They
were cast in nature's sternest mold, but were men of heroic
soul. Little of this worid's goods did they possess. All day
long their axes rang in the forests, and at night the smoke of


burning log-heaps hung over their humble homes. But they
overcame. The wilderness and the solitary f>lace have indeed
been made glad. And more. They did more than hew down
forests, construct roads, erect homes, and transform sluggish
swamps into fields of Brown and gold. They worshiped and
served the eternal God, taught their children to read th^e B*ible
and beheve it, listen to conscience and obey it, observe the
Sabbath and love it, and to honor, and reverence the office of
the gospel ministry. Their theology may have been narrow,
but it was deep and high. . They left a heritage of truth, and
their memory is still an inspiration. Their children have risen
up to bless them in the gates. From the homes of the con-
gregation that wershiped in the "old log church" at least
thirty-eight young men have gone forth to be heralds of the
cross in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church.

In such a home and amid such siuTQundings I was bom on
the 2ist of March, 1844. That was the year of the disruption
4n Canada, and the Zorra congregation, with the Rev. Donald
McRenzie, its minister, joined the Free Chvu-ch. The type
of religious life was distinctly Highland. Men believed and
felt, but seldom spoke about their own deeper personal spiritual
experiences. There were no Sabbath-schools or Christian
Endeavor Societies in Zorra fifty years. ago. Children were
taught the Bible and the Shorter Catechism in the home, and
on the Sabbath in the church the great doctrines of grace
were preached with faithfulness and power. Men may talk
slightingly to-day about that "stem old Calvinism." They
would do well to pause and ask about its fruits. What other
creed has so swept the whole field of life with the dread artil-
lery of truth, and made men unflinchingly loyal to conscience
and tremorless save in the presence of God? The iron of
Calvinism is needed to-day in the blood of the church. It
may be we heard much about sin and law in those olden
days, but love and grace were not obscured. It may be the


children were reticent and backward in the church, but they
knew what secret sorrow for sin meant, and they found comfort
at the cross. Before I reached the age of ten the ever-blessed
Name was sweet and sacred in my ear. The paraphrase
beginning with the words

" While humble shepherds watched their flocks
In Bethlehem's plains by night,"

repeated at my mother's knee in the quiet of the Sabbath
evening, early made a deep impression on my soul. It was
then that the thought of being a missionary first came. Wil-
liam C. Burns had visited Woodstock and Zorra on his tours
through Canada, and poured a new stream into the current
of religious life. His name was cherished in the home, and
something of his spirit touched my boyish heart. My grand-
father fought at Waterloo ; his martial soul went into my-
blood ; and when once I owned the Saviour King, the com-
mand, " Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to
every creature," made me a soldier of the cross. To be a
missionary became the passion of my life. That was the
dominant idea through all the years during which I served as
school-teacher at Maplewood and Maitlandville, as scholar at
AVoodstock and Omemee grammar-scb(M^ls, as student of arts
in Toronto, and as student-missionary during the summer va-
cations at Blue Mountain, Port Burwell and Vienna, Lucan
and Biddulph, Forest and MacKay.

A quarter of a century has passed since I served the church
in those struggling home mission fields. The greater part of
that time I have been far hence among the heathen, and am
called a foreign missionary. But not now — not once in all
these years — have I thought the foreign claims superior to the
home, or honored the foreign missionary above his equally
heroic and equally faithful brother who toils in the obscurity
of a broken-down village, in the darkness of ultramontane


Quebec, or amid the pioneer hardships of the newer settle-
ments in Canada. It is not for me — it is not for any foreign
missionary — ^to look loftily on the ministry at home, or think
of them as less loyal, unselfish, and true. We are all mission-
aries, the se?ii ones of the King, and not our fields, but our
faithfulness, matters. Many of the church's first may be last
when the Master comes.



At Princeton Seminary — Offer for foreign service— Under Dr. Duff in
Edinburgh— In the Scottish Highlands — Accepted by the General
Assembly — Visiting. the churches

HAVING completed my preparatory studies in Toronto, I
went to Princeton early in September, 1867, and was
enrolled as a student in the Theological Seminary there. The
three years spent in that historic institution were full of interest
and inspiration. All the professors were able, zealous, and
devoted men. Dr. Green, the Hebraist, was vigorous and
penetrating. Dr. James McCosh, of the college, lectured
every Lord's day on the- life of Christ, with characteristic
energy and power. But it was Dr. Charles Hodge who most
deeply impressed himself on my heart and life. Princeton
men all loved him. No others knew his real worth. Not in
his monumental work on systematic theology can Charles
Hodge be best seen : but in the class-room, or in the oratory at
the Sabbath afternoon conference. There you saw the real
man and felt his power. Can any Princeton man forget those
sacred hours? How that charming face would brighten and
those large luminous eyes grow soft and tender with the light
of love! How awed we sometimes were when that trembling
hand came down on the desk and those lips quivered with a



strange and holy speech ! To look in on a Princeton class in
those days would be to -see what a well-founded reverence

On Tuesday, April 2d, 1870, 1 was graduated, having com-
pleted the full curriculum of the seminary. It- was a memor-
able day. According to the old Princeton custom, the pro-
fessors and the graduating class met on the campus. The
graduates threw their prized diplomas on the ground, and with
the professors formed a ring, joining crossed hands. We sang
" From Greenland's icy mountains " and " Blest be the tie that
binds." Dr. Charles Hodge stepped into the circle. There
was a tremor in his voice as he prayed for us all and lifted
his hands in benediction. What a benediction! His eyes
were moist as he said good-by. We parted in tears. The
class of '70 was soon scattered. That night I was on my way
to Canada.

The summer of 1870 I spent within the Presbytery of
Toronto, laboring in the mission stations of Newmarket and
Mount Albert. The Rev. Professor MacLaren, D.D., at that
time minister in Ottawa, was convener of the Foreign Mission
Committee. To him I stated my desire to go abroad as a
missionary. He encouraged me, and invited me to meet the
committee early in October. I have never forgotten that
meeting. It was not very hopeful or enthusiastic. It was a
new experience for the committee. They scarcely knew what
to do with a candidate for foreign work. When I formally
oflfered my services to the Presbyterian Church, and asked to
be sent as a missionary to the heathen, one member looked
me in the face and said, " Mr. MacKay, you had better wait
a few years." Another argued for delay : " As he is going to
Scotland, let him go, and on his return we can think over the
matter for a year or two." A third suggested Madagascar as
a field for future consideration. The convener pleaded for
immediate acceptance and appointment. I was told, how-


ever, that the subject would be considered and the decision
made known to :ne in due time.

A fortnight later I found myself on board the steamship
" Austrian," of the Allan line, en route from Quebec to Liver-
pool. Money was scarce, and I was content with steerage
passage. It was dismal enough at best, but I was a novice
and unprovided for. The dreariness of the voyage was
somewhat relieved by a burly Englishman who entertained
his fellows in the steerage and found expression for his loyal
soul in a song about King George, which he sang re'gularly
every night, and danced his own accompaniment. From
Liverpool to Glasgow was a sickening run, on a coaster called
" Penguin," with a drunken crew and carousing passengers.
In Glasgow I spent a delightful hour with the great Dr. Patrick
Fairbairn. Two days later, November 4th, I arrived in Edin-
burgh. That was my destination, and to meet one man there
I had crossed the Atlantic. That man was the venerable mis-
sionary hero, Dr. Alexander Duff. The story of his life had
already fired my soul, and when I met him I was not disap-
pointed. I was a young man, unknown and poor; but when
he learned the purpose of my life, and that I had crossed the
sea to sit at his feet, his welcome was that of a warm-heart'. d,
godly Highlander.

While in Edinburgh I took a postgraduate course, hearing
lectures from Professor John Stuart Blackie in the university,
and from Drs. Smeaton, Blaikie, Rainy, and Duff, in New
College. Dr. Duff was professor of evangelistic theology, and
under his supervision I studied Brahmanism and Buddhism,
and learned Hindustani with Mr. Johnston of the Edinburgh
Institution, having in view the India mission field. Dr.
Duff's lectures were rich in matter and glowing with holy fire.
At times he grew animated, threw off his gown, and gave his
Celtic nature vent. He was specially kind to me. I spent
many hours with him in his private room and at his home. I


well remember the evening he showed me the Bible recovered
after his shipwreck off the coast of Africa. It was doubly
holy in my eyes. I saw him for the last time on March 13,
187 1. He had gone to Aberdeen to deliver a course of
lectures to the students in the Free Church College. Early
in March I followed, and the first day occupied a seat in his
class near the door. His unfailing kindness again was shown,
and his cordial words of introduction to the students sectured
for me a hearty welcome : " Gentlemen, here is my friend from
Canada, bound for a heathen land. Show him that there are
loving hearts in the ' Granite City.' " A few days afterward,
at the close of his lecture, he walked down Union Street with
me. When near the Queen's Monument he stood still, looked
me in the face, grasped my hand tightly in both of his, spoke
words too kind and sacred to be repeated, wheeled about, and
was gone. Heroic Duff! Let Scotland and India and the
churches of Christendom bear testimony to the loftiness of thy
spirit, the consuming energy of thy zeal, the noble heroism of
thy service.

There were great preachers in Edinburgh, under whom it
was a delight to sit. Who could forget Candlish or Guthrie?
Arnot was there then, and Lindsay Alexander, Cairns, Mac-
Gregor, and Alexander Whyte. With Candhsh and Guthrie
I became personally acquainted — both truly great men, but
how very different! At Candlish's home I sat with him for
well-nigh two hours, until the bell rang for dinner. He paced
the floor all the while. Sometimes he would turn sharply and
ask about something in Canada. Then, running his left hand
through his long, unkempt hair, he would take a few more
rapid rounds. It was not altogether reassuring to a backward
young man. Guthrie, again, was the soul of geniality. His
family was with him in the room, and at his side his favorite
little dog. He sat in an easy-chair with his long legs stretched
out, bubbling over with humor.


That winter in Edinburgh gave me experience in city
mission work, and with other students I labored among the
submerged outcasts in the Cowgate and Grassmarket. Like
every man who claims to have Scottish blood, I came to love
the famous old city, with its castle, cathedral, and palace, its
historic scenes and thousand cherished memories. I was
proud then of being in Edinburgh, and although I have since
twice circled the globe, not in Orient or Occident have I seen

Online LibraryGeorge Leslie MackayFrom far Formosa : the island, its people and missions → online text (page 1 of 25)