With the rising tide of American interest in China, the unsatisfactory condition of our relations with that great and ancient nation, with the general unrest there, which is the inevitable consequence of movements toward a new and modern life, and the local and sporadic outbreaks of violence incident to such unrest, one hears again the old and familiar cry that the missionaries are responsible for at least the larger portion of the varied forms of hostility exhibited toward foreigners. Their persistent and impertinent attempts to force an alien and undesired religion upon the Chinese are, so it is confidently asserted, peculiarly offensive to officials and people alike, a hindrance to trade, and a menace to peaceful relations. The Boxer movement, it is pointed out, was an attempt, vain in result, to throw off the hateful missionary incubus, to rid the Chinese of a body of unwelcome interlopers who defamed their ancient and cherished forms of belief, which are as good as ours, some will add, – and who sought to supplant them with another, wholly unsuited to their mental and spiritual conformation. The loss of life in that Boxer movement, confined almost wholly to missionaries and native converts, together with several more recent exhibitions of violence in which missionaries alone have suffered, are cited as full evidence of the correctness of this conclusion.
It might be pointed out that the Boxer uprising was an abortive attempt to drive all foreigners of every class from China, and thus to save the Empire from partition and distribution among the great cormorant Powers of Europe, - which was believed to be the distinct purpose and inevitable result of the continued presence of foreigners there; that, in fact, missionaries formed the only class of alien residents who had no part in the development of such a fear and frenzy; that they suffered most because they alone of all alien classes had established themselves at remote parts of the interior, in close touch with the people, and out of reach of battleship, cruiser, or any other means of defense or place of refuge. In a general raid against all foreigners, the missionary was first attacked because he was first at hand, and, to put it frankly and truthfully, he suffered because he was in or part of bad company; not because he was a missionary, but for the crime, in Chinese eyes, of being a foreigner.