“From a comparison with many other parts of the country, there is reason to believe that a greater number of children are destroyed at birth in the Tong-an district than in any other of this department, probably more than in any other of this department, probably more than in any other part of the province of equal extent and populousness. In the Tong-an district I have inquired of persons from forty different towns and villages. The number destroyed varies exceedingly in different places, the extremes extending from seventy and eighty percent to ten percent. The average proportion destroyed in all these places amounting to nearly four-tenths or exactly thirty-nine percent.
“In seventeen of these forty towns and villages, my informants declare that one-half or more are deprived of existence at birth.
“From the inhabitants of six places in Chin-kiang, and of four places in Hui-an, if I am correctly informed, the victims of infanticide do not exceed sixteen percent.
“In the seven districts of the Chiang-chiu prefecture the number is rather more than one-fourth or less than three-tenths.
“There is reason to fear that scarcely less than twenty-five percent are suffocated almost at the first breath.”
It is altogether probable that this vice is just as prevalent now. The scarcity of girls in nearly all the towns and villages and the exorbitant rates demanded for marriageable daughters in some districts, only render sad confirmation to what Drs. Abeel and Talmage wrote two score and more years ago.
Mr. Talmage continues:
“I cannot close this letter without saying a word in reference to our prospects of success. The moral condition of this people, their spiritual apathy, their attachment to the superstitious rites of their ancestors, together with the natural depravity of the human heart, and at the same time their language being one of the most difficult, perhaps the most difficult of acquisition of any spoken language, all combine to forbid, it would seem, all hope of ever Christianizing this empire. But that which is impossible with men is possible with God. He who has commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, has connected with it a promise that He will be always with us to the end of the world. The stone cut out without hands, we are told by the prophet, became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. The kingdom which the God of heaven has set up ’shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand for ever.’ Thus, whatever may be the prospect before us, according to human reasoning, we have ‘a more sure word of prophecy.’ Resting upon this we can have no doubt in reference to the complete triumph of the cause of Christ, even over the land of Sinim. In connection with such prophecies and promises we have many facts to encourage us. The people are accessible and friendly, and willing to listen to our doctrines. The superiority of Christianity to their systems of religion, sometimes from conviction and sometimes perhaps only from politeness, they often admit.