Hudson and Maria: Pioneers in China
Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1962,1996, 206 pages.
The book is a biography of Hudson Taylor, the pioneering missionary to China, and his marriage to Maria Dyer. The book is relatively brief, and only carries Taylor through to the death of his beloved Maria. Taylor first went to China in 1853 at the age of 21; he married Maria (who had been born in China herself) in 1859, and she died of cholera in 1870 after only a dozen years of marriage. But oh what was accomplished by this wonderful couple in such a short time. Taylor ultimately “founded the China Inland Mission, in circumstances of extreme difficulty for a purpose which most of his contemporaries considered mad” (page 5). After Maria’s death, Taylor lived another 35 years, and remarried, dying in 1905. For that latter stage of his life, Pollock refers us to the official two-volume biography by Hudson’s son and daughter-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor. But in the early portion of his career covered by Pollock’s book, Hudson went into areas of China where the gospel had not penetrated, and in doing so adopted native dress (even to the shaping of his hair into pigtails) and often put himself into situations that demanded that God and God alone would meet his financial needs. As a result, he found that much if not most of the opposition he experienced came from the missionary establishment, who had their own way of doing things, and found the Taylors to be at odds with their notions of what was proper. The Taylors were frequently vilified not only in China, but by the British press back home as well, and were subject to frequent back-biting campaigns seeking to undermine them.
I think Pollock’s prologue sums the story up rather well, and I will just quote it here:
This book is a tale of courage and adventure in old Imperial China, this lost world of pigtails and mandarins and dragon-roofed temples. It is the story of a Yorkshire lad of obscure origin, indifferent education and miserable health who dared the seemingly impossible in the teeth of opposition, western and oriental. More, it is the epic of the love of Hudson Taylor and Maria Dyer—their discovery of each other when it was almost too late, the astonishing attempt of others to stifle and smash their love; and then the flowering of marriage at its highest and best (page 5).
This is a wonderful story of a courageous man, who showed what God could accomplish with only a little. Against western and oriental opposition, Taylor changed the way that missionaries work. It is a great story.