A position of usefulness Essay
A position of usefulness
Girls’ education has been considered a site of struggle where ideals of femininity and domesticity are translated into curricula and practices that seek to shape and regulate. In colonial Hong Kong, British mission societies had a significant share in providing girls’ education, which was predominantly in the hands of European missionaries in the nineteenth century. The dual mission of evangelising and civilising colonial subjects in the Victorian era of empire expansion constituted a pertinent focus of inquiry in the writing of history of girls’ education.
Drawing on selected texts on missionary literature and government reports, this article examines in what ways a domestic ideology framed within evangelical beliefs and the imperial gaze interplayed with the politics of race and class in shaping girls’ education. It challenges the presumed impartiality in education policies and practices concerning both sexes, and discusses women’s agency in redefining identities and boundaries in a colonial society.
Keywords: colonial education; gender; identity; missionary; race …the ‘discovery’ of new materials is actually an interpretive intervention that exposes the terms of inclusion and exclusion in the knowledges of the past. (Women’s history, from this perspective, is not the simple addition of information previously ignored, not an empirical correction of the record, but an analysis of the effects of dominant understandings of gender in the past, a critical reading that itself has the effect of producing another ‘reality.’)
1 On 27 December 1857, a letter by Lydia Smith, wife of the first Bishop of Victoria, was sent from Hong Kong to the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (FES) in London, appealing for a teacher and funding to start a girls’ day school in the colony. The purpose stated was clear and simple: ‘We feel’, Smith wrote, ‘the growing necessity of educating the females as Christians, that our young men may not have the drawback of heathen wives’.
2 This first ‘experiment’ in female education by the Established Church gradually evolved into a boarding school, which, after operating on temporary sites for over three years, was formally opened in July 1863 by the Bishop and the Acting Governor in a *Email: [email protected] ac. uk 1 Joan Scott, ‘After History? ’, in Schools of Thought: Twenty-five Years of Interpretive Social Science, ed. Joan Scott and Debra Keates (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 100. 2 Smith to FES, Hong Kong, December 29, 1857, The Female Missionary Intelligencer, hereafter FMI, I (1858): 173.
The first issue of the Female Missionary Intelligencer, monthly publication of the FES, was published in 1853 and the last one in July 1899. The issues were divided into three series: 1853–1857; 1858–1880; 1881–1899. Both the second and third series were called New Series and both started from Vol. I. ISSN 0046-760X print/ISSN 1464-5130 online © 2008 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10. 1080/00467600802368715 http://www. informaworld. com 790 P. Pok-kwan Chiu newly built school house as the Diocesan Native Female Training School (DNFTS).
3 The annual report of that year stated that: Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 … the course of education has embraced instruction in Chinese and English reading, writing, plain needlework, geography, and Bible history, and more especially a training in the religious truths and moral habits of the Christian faith. The object aimed at has been to prepare the girls for taking hereafter a position of usefulness in native society as the future wives and mothers of the rising generation of Chinese inhabitants in the colony.
4 From mission society publications to the reports submitted by government inspectors, the provision of girls’ education in the colony was discussed throughout the second half of the nineteenth century through a discourse that emphasised a ‘position’ or ‘sphere’ for the female sex in society. 5 The interrelatedness of girls’ education with ideas concerning gender roles, the perceived nature of women, and separate public and domestic spheres was a familiar context for Victorian educators.
Questions concerning what constituted ‘really useful knowledge’ for working-class girls, especially the proportion of ‘academic’ learning to domestic training; the quest for a ‘more serious’ education to prepare middle-class girls to be educated mothers and competent governesses; and the debates generated by women’s demand for access to higher education – a situation that confronted administrators in both the British and National Societies, policy-makers and individual practitioners – were all related to the disparate perceptions of gender ideals and the politics involved in negotiating women’s ‘place’ in a fast-changing society.
6 While the domestic ideology underlying the expansions and limitation of girls’ education in Britain was characterised by class difference, 3The school was described as an experiment undertaken with much anxiety in the First Annual Report of the local ladies’ committee, dated March 15, 1860, on account of ‘the unwillingness of the Chinese to entrust the education of girls to foreigners’. W. T. Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School and Orphanage, Hong Kong: the History and Records, 1869 to 1929 (Hong Kong: Diocesan Boys’ School, 1930), 14.
4FMI VII (July 1864): 143. 5Speeches stressing the importance of educating native girls who would in future exert moral influence as wives and mothers can be found in various issues of FMI: V (July 1862): 135–7; X (December 1868): 181–90; V (November 1885): 160; XVIII (August 1898): 130. For discussions of female education in terms of ‘the female sphere’, see the Education Reports of 1865 and 1867 by Inspector Frederick Stewart, and Inspector E. J. Eitel’s Reports for 1889 and 1890.
Education Reports quoted in this article, unless stated otherwise, are taken from text reprinted in Gillian Bickley, The Development of Education in Hong Kong 1841–1897: as revealed by the Early Education Report by the Hong Kong Government 1848–1896 (Hong Kong: Proverse Hong Kong, 2002). 6See, for example, the discussions in Joan Burstyn, Victorian Education and the Ideal of Womanhood (London: Croom Helm, 1980); Carol Dyhouse, ‘Good Wives and Little Mothers: Social Anxieties and the Schoolgirl’s Curriculum, 1890–1920’ Oxford Review of Education 3, no.
1 (1977): 21–35; Meg Gomersall, ‘Religion, Reading and Really Useful Knowledge’, in Workingclass Girls in Nineteenth-century England (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997); Mary Hilton and Pam Hirsch, eds. , Practical Visionaries: Women, Education and Social Progress, 1790–1930 (Harlow: Longman, 2000); June Purvis, A History of Women’s Education in England (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1991); Rebecca Rogers, ‘Learning to be Good Girls and Women’, in The Routledge History of Women in Europe Since 1700, ed. Deborah Simonton (London: Routledge, 2006), 93–131.
Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 History of Education 791 the export and translation of it onto colonial soil by missionaries was loaded with religious interpretation under an imperial gaze. 7 The dual mission of evangelising and civilising colonial subjects carried out through native girls’ education in the Victorian era, a period of thriving missionary movements and imperial expansion, constituted another aspect of the historical context in which DNFTS and other British mission schools for girls operated.
8 An essay entitled ‘The importance of female agency in evangelizing pagan nations’, included in a collection of memoirs by female missionaries published in 1841, ‘designed especially to interest Christian women in the most elevated department of benevolent labour’, serves as a good illustration. The author, possibly the FES founder Baptist W. Noel, claimed that: ‘Christianity is the only remedy for the sufferings of women in heathen and Mohammedan countries; and Christian education can be imparted on no large or efficient plan, but through the interposition of their own sex in this country.
’9 Quoting a missionary in Egypt sent out by the then newly set up FES as role model, the author argued that apart from the appropriateness of employing women to teach women, it was the feminine attributes, such as ‘a tenderness of feeling, a depth of compassion, a quickness of perception, and a forgetfulness of self’, along with Christian women’s moral influence as ‘welleducated, pious women, exemplifying the charms of social virtues, as well as the attractions of courteous manners and cultivated minds, and all the charities of human nature when renewed after the image of Christ’, that rendered this great benevolent mission destined for Christian women.
10 This discourse of domestic ideology clothed in religious language was familiar to FES agents, who comprised the majority of British single women missionary educators in Hong Kong by the end of the nineteenth century.
It underlay the sermons and appeals which ran through pages of the Society’s publication, 7In this article, I have adopted Rogers’s definition of ‘domestic ideology’ as a set of ideas emphasising women’s special qualities, ascribing their position within the home, and proclaiming the importance of the home and family in society: Rogers, ‘Good Girls and Women’, 107.
For discussion of women’s education and social class, see Purvis, History of Women’s Education; Jane Martin, Women and the Politics of Schooling in Victorian and Edwardian England (London: Leicester University Press, 1999); Stephanie Spencer, ‘Reflections on the “Site of Struggle”: Girls’ Experience of Secondary Education in the late 1950s’, History of Education 33 (2004): 437–49.
On gender and colonial education, see Rogers, ‘Good Girls and Women’, 112–13; Joyce Goodman and Jane Martin, ‘Introduction: “Gender”, “Colonialism”, “Politics” and ‘Experience”: Challenging and Troubling Histories of Education’, in Gender, Colonialism and Education: the Politics of Experience, ed. Joyce Goodman and Jane Martin (London: Frank Cass, 2002), 1–22. For missionaries and girls’ education, see Fiona Bowie, Deborah Kirkwood and Shirley Ardener, eds. , Women and Missions: Past and Present: Anthropological and Historical Perceptions (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1993).
8FES was a non-denominational women’s mission society governed by a ladies’ committee, which sent out single women and supported missionary wives to work in the field of female education. The two big British mission societies, the London Missionary Society (LMS) and the Church Missionary Society (CMS), also ran girls’ schools operated by wives of missionaries alongside their boys’ schools until the late nineteenth century, when both societies began to send single women as missionaries.
Including other Protestant and Roman Catholic missions, mission schools provided 90% of girls’ education in Hong Kong according to the 1891 statistics recorded in the Education Report of that year. The scope of this article is limited to the examination of two girls’ boarding schools supported by the FES as a case study. 9‘The Importance of Female Agency in Evangelizing Pagan Nations’, in Jemima Thompson, Memoirs of British Female Missionaries (London: William Smith, 1841).
See also Midgley’s discussion: Clare Midgley, ‘Can Women be Missionaries? Envisioning Female Agency in the Early Nineteenth-century British Empire’, Journal of British Studies 45, April (2006): 335–58. 10Ibid. Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 792 P. Pok-kwan Chiu The Female Missionary Intelligencer (FMI), serving as the criteria against which missionary candidates were screened and assessed. 11
This evangelical vision of ‘woman’s mission’ was contradictory, combining expansive vision with constricting prescriptions for women. This provided space for women to cross the boundaries of public and private spheres and the possibility of combining self-sacrifice with self-fulfilment. Yet, the promoters of women’s missionary activities did not openly challenge patriarchal male authority or the ideology of separate spheres, nor did they call for female social equality or women’s rights, as Clare Midgley argues.
12 Jane Haggis points out that it was the creation of a colonised ‘other’ – the native women portrayed in missionary literature as the “heathen” suffering in degrading situations awaiting help from their privileged British sisters – that ‘legitimated English women’s own liberation from the bounds of domesticity, and [bound] them tightly to the imperialist cause with their own civilizing mission’. 13 She claims that, ‘rather than an emancipatory struggle to break through the bounds of convention, it was precisely convention which enabled the making of the female missionary’.
14 The founding vision of the FES demonstrated the contradictions embedded in this ‘woman’s mission’, which was instrumental in shaping girls’ education in various colonial contexts: Our revered fathers and brethren may embrace in their comprehensive view the gigantic work of evangelising the whole world, but our more limited gaze and our deepest sympathies may be concentrated upon the hapless daughters of the East, who, shut from a participation in the happiness we enjoy as wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, bear the heavy burden of life without a solace on earth, or a hope in heaven.
15 Female education is not a hidden subject in the writing of history of education in Hong Kong. 16 Nevertheless, girls’ schooling as a gendering process located in a colonial context 11According to data drawn from the FES committee minutes and the FMI, from 1859 to 1899, FES had sent out a total of 11 stipendiary and honorary agents to Hong Kong, with one boarding school and eight day schools operating under the Mission by 1899. See, for example, Question 4 for referees: ‘What is your opinion of her as to temper, good sense, judgment and prudence? Has she a cheerful and obliging disposition?
Is she mild, courteous, and humble in her demeanor? Has she acquired the esteem and good will of those with whom she has come in contact? And has she evidenced patience and perseverance in her undertaking? ’, in ‘Mission’s regulation, by-laws, questions for agents and referees’, FMI I (1853): 1–2. 12Midgley, ‘Can Women be Missionaries’, 357. Alison Twells, ‘Missionary Domesticity, Global Reform and “Woman’s Sphere” in Early Nineteenth-Century England’, Gender and History 18, no. 2 (2006): 266–84 discusses the agency of women participating in missionary philanthropic activities ‘at home’.
13Jane Haggis, ‘“A Heart That Has Felt the Love of God and Longs for Others to Know It”: Conventions of Gender, Tensions of Self and Constructions of Difference in Offering to be a Lady Missionary’, Women’s History Review 7 (1998): 171–93. For the representation of native women in female missionary reports, see Judith Rowbotham, ‘“Hear an Indian Sister’s Plea”: reporting the work of 19th century British female missionaries’, Women’s Studies International Forum 21 (1998): 247–61. 14Haggis, ‘A Heart That Has Felt the Love’, 172. 15The History and Correspondence of the Society for Promoting Female.
Education in the East Founded in 1834 (London: Edward Sueter, 1850), 5. 16Individual research-based histories of girls’ mission schools founded in Hong Kong published in the past decade have contributed to the recording of girls’ schooling experience. These include Kathleen Barker, Change and Continuity (Hong Kong: St Stephen’s Girls’ College, 1996); Ying Wa Girls’ School, Ying Wa Girls’ School: the Blessed Years 1900–2000 (Hong Kong: Ying Wa Girls’ School, 2001); Cindy Chu, The Maryknoll Sisters in Hong Kong, 1921–1969: In Love with the Chinese (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 History of Education 793 where disparate cultural ideals and social practices were encountered in webs of power relations has not been explored. Major published works have contributed to a rich understanding of the political and social dimensions of Hong Kong’s educational history, situating schooling in the colony in the multiple relations between Church and State, East and West, rulers and the ruled, British and Chinese, categories which permeated the fabric of a changing society.
17 Statistical demographic data from the Education Reports have been analysed, curricula and timetables studied, language policy scrutinised, Chinese customs and beliefs affecting the development of girls’ education identified, but ‘gender’ as a category of analysis has hitherto been absent from discussion. Missionary efforts have been recognised as the driving force behind the promotion of girls’ education but the transnational aspects of colonial women’s education with regard to the political, social and religious contexts of nineteenth-century Europe have been neglected.
Drawing on written accounts of the life story of four students from two girls’ mission schools supported by FES and accompanying visual representations published in FMI as a case study,18 and cross-referencing with contemporary discussions in the Education Reports, the following discussion examines the discourses that shaped the development of girls’ education in the early stage of colonial administration from the 1850s to 1890s.
I shall discuss ways in which a domestic ideology framed by evangelical beliefs and colonial gaze was reproduced through the curriculum and domestic model of schooling, and explore how it was transposed, represented, negotiated and contested in the predominantly Chinese society under colonial rule, which was marked by class and ethnic differences. I shall argue that girls’ education was both a conservative force and a force for change, with regard to missionary educators and students alike.
It not only reinforced stereotypical gender roles but also created space for women and girls to transgress the boundaries between the public and the domestic life marked out for them and to search for new identities crossing traditional divides in the patriarchal societies of the Victorian and late Qing period. 19 Lydia Leung: future wife and mother of ‘our young men’ Lydia Leung, the 18-year-old girl in the middle of the engraving (Figure 1), was the eldest student and a monitor at DNFTS.
With two younger students at her side, both aged nine or 10, and a smaller one on her knees, Leung was portrayed as a composed, caring mother, in a way that resonated with the narratives of her life in DNFTS that frequented the pages of FMI from the May issue of 1861, which recounted her baptism. Hailed as the first fruit of the School’s spiritual labour, small-footed Leung, daughter of a government day school master, and one of the first two DNFTS students baptized, embodied the ideals of the 17G. B.
Endacott, A History of Hong Kong (Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, 1973); Anthony Sweeting, Education in Hong Kong Pre-1841 to 1941: Fact and Opinion (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1990); Gillian Bickley, The Development of Education in Hong Kong 1841–1897: as revealed by the Early Education Report by the Hong Kong Government 1848–1896 (Hong Kong: Proverse Hong Kong, 2002); Ng Lun Ngai-ha, Interactions of East and West: Development of Public Education in Early Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1984).
18Pictures of ‘native’ girls and women from FES mission stations across continents were frequently published on the cover page of the monthly FMI, sometimes with their stories told in the same issue. In the case of Hong Kong, these four girls were the only ones who had both their portraits on the cover and their life stories recounted in the FMI, though in different ways and styles. 19Rogers, ‘Good Girls and Women’, 93. Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 794 P. Pok-kwan Chiu Figure 1. Lydia Leung. Source: FMI VII (January, 1864), cover.
Original title: ‘Girls in the Diocesan Native Female Training School, Hong Kong’. DNFTS founders. 20 Converted, taught and groomed by the missionary teachers of DNFTS, Leung was represented as having been transformed from the victim of a ‘barbarian’ patriarchal culture to a subject of Divine Grace through Christian education. Smith described Lydia’s confirmation: ‘it was affecting to see them kneeling at the communion rails with their poor crippled feet. I have every reason to hope that these dear girls are subjects of Divine grace.’
21 The schooling that Leung received was not much different from her counterparts in England, besides the fact that she was taught in a foreign language for most of the day. A typical school day for Leung ran as follows: Source: FMI VII Leung. Figure 1. Lydia (January, 1864), cover. Original title: ‘Girls in the Diocesan Native Female Training School, Hong Kong’. … rise early in the morning, arrange bedroom, prepare Chinese lessons before breakfast, first hour after breakfast devoted to family prayer, Scripture lesson (Mimpriss), and repetition of hymns.
Followed by English reading with questioning both on meaning of the words and on the subject of the lesson, writing, simple arithmetic or object lesson, concluded with singing, geography or the elements of grammar; an hour in middle of day lunch, each girl have ten 20‘Small-footed’ was a term used for girls and women whose feet were bound from a young age according to a Chinese custom mostly adopted by families of the middle and upper classes in the nineteenth century.
It was a symbol of a respectable family background as poor families needed the labour of daughters in the field and the household and could not afford to have servants to wait on girls with limited mobility. The practice of foot-binding and its damage to Chinese girls was consistently referred to and condemned as a barbaric culture in different issues of the FMI. An article elaborating the method, process and suffering of this practice was published in FMI XIII (March 1871): 51–3. 21FMI V (July 1862): 21–2.
Leung’s sincerity and devotion to the Christian faith was mentioned again in a later issue. FMI VI (January 1863): 2–4. History of Education 795 Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 cash, half a penny given her. Assu (interpreter) teaches Chinese and at the same time explains the lesson from Mimpriss read in the morning, and the children are examined and instructed upon it. Needlework occupies the remainder of the afternoon. Four thirty dinner; eight o’clock to bed. 22
During the week, the eldest girl would see to it that every girl swept and dusted in rotation and that two of the girls waited on the schoolmistress. Occasionally, studies would be set aside so that a day or portion of a day might be devoted to cooking, washing, ironing and finishing needlework. A member of the school committee commented that the girls were very industrious with their needles and that they were earning some dollars by the sale of their work. On Sunday mornings the girls attended Sunday school in the Cathedral.
They remained for morning service and in the afternoon sang, read or looked at pictures. 23 The question of how relevant and practical this ‘young ladies’ boarding school’ curriculum was, as Bishop Alford later remarked, for ‘the native females’ in preparing them for their future position as wives and mothers in a Chinese society was soon raised by Mary Ann Winifred Eaton, the first FES missionary teacher sent to the school in 1862, who particularly doubted the utility of teaching the girls English. 24 Yet the ladies’ committee was determined.
A committee member, Mrs Irwin, wrote that ‘the study of English must exercise and open the mind to an extent which learning Chinese, in the manner in which it is universally taught, never could do, and that girls thus instructed are more likely to prove intelligent and helpful wives to educated boys’. 25 Of course, the concern was only raised at the local level, as reflected in committee minutes, and went unknown to FMI subscribers. The ‘fairytale’ accounts of Leung reached their peak in the detailed description of her wedding in February 1864 when she finally took up the long-anticipated ‘position of usefulness’.
The bridegroom was a Chinese assistant to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary Revd Wolfe of Foochow, who personally asked the DNFTS for a suitable wife on behalf of his catechist. Soon after the couple returned to Foochow, 500 miles from Hong Kong, Leung started to teach in the CMS girls’ school while striving to learn the local dialect. 26 The editor of FMI commented in a later issue that, ‘It may be that in the lack of European instruments to go forth into the villages of China, the Lord has Himself chosen this method of spreading a knowledge of the gospel….
The school at Foochow is the first fruit of the Diocesan Native Female Training Schools. ’27 Praises for Leung’s exemplary work among the girls from missionaries in Foochow appeared occasionally in the FMI until 1878. 28 Unfortunately, Leung’s case appears more an exception than the norm. St Paul’s College, the boys’ school under the supervision of the Bishop of Victoria, did not produce as many ‘educated boys’ suitable for marriage to DNFTS girls as expected.
29 In 1865, it was reported that several DNFTS students were sold by their families at a higher price for being 22FMI IV (November, 1861): 200–3. 23FMI IV (May, November 1861). 24‘Extracts from minutes of July 1st, 1863’, Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School, 25Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School, 94. 26FMI VII (August, 1864): 158–61. 27FMI VII (November, 1864): 218–9. 28FMI XIV (July 1871): 84; XIX (1876): 15; XXI (1878): 85–9. 29The school founded to educate Chinese young men as evangelists and teachers was 92. in bad shape after Bishop Smith’s departure for England in January 1864.
Upon his arrival in Hong Kong in October 1867, Smith’s successor, Bishop Alford, lamented that the school’s difficulties, ‘both financial and educational have been very great and the prospect was discouraging’. Charles Alford, China and Japan: a Charge, delivered in the Cathedral Church of St John, Victoria, Hong Kong, February 2nd, 1869 (London: Seeleys; Hong Kong: Noronha & Sons, 1869), 54. Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 796 P. Pok-kwan Chiu able to speak English; indeed almost all older girls came to be kept as mistresses by Europeans.
30 Demand in the ‘marriage market’ for ‘intelligent and helpful wives’ with ‘the very refinement in their countenances’ produced unexpected results. 31 Not only did the scandal strike a deadly blow to a school already in trouble but it subsequently resulted in the closure of the Chinese department and its conversion into an orphanage, the Diocesan Home and Orphanage (DHO), mainly for European and Eurasian children, in 1869. 32 That Chinese girls’ education must only be conducted in vernacular schools became a discourse shaping the development of girls’ education in the following decades.
In his reports of 1865 and 1867, the Inspector of Education in Hong Kong, Frederick Stewart, strongly criticised the teaching of English or any other so-called accomplishments for separating girls from their future humble life-sphere. What they were taught, he commented, would ‘totally unfit them for the sphere of life in which they would otherwise naturally remain, and out of which it is impossible for them to rise’. 33 Stewart supported his idea concerning the appropriate ‘sphere of life’ for Chinese girls with a report from the master of a government girls’ day
school, where English was not taught, which confirmed that the school’s graduates had been respectably married in their own native districts in mainland China. 34 Bishop Alford, the successor of Smith, addressed the issue explicitly in his charge delivered at the Cathedral in 1869, saying, ‘English-speaking Chinese girls are placed under circumstances of peculiar temptation, from which it is impossible to shield them in a Colony like Hong Kong’. 35 It took over 20 years before an Anglo-Chinese education for Chinese girls was introduced in government schools.
Underlying the question was the sensitive issue of racial boundaries and divides in a colonial society, reinforced through regulation of native women’s sexuality. 36 In 1867, Stewart also criticised the disappointing moral standards displayed by Chinese boys receiving an English education in the government Central School. Yet, remedial measures were suggested instead of outright restrictions as in the case of girls. Students’ moral conduct was a constant focus of attention in Stewart’s reports but was defined differently for the two sexes.
Indeed, while language policy has been examined by historians of education in Hong Kong, gender differences have not been discussed. 37 Chinese boys could take advantage of their English education and ‘some degree of Anglicisation’ to become ‘elites and middlemen’ in the 30The sale of girls was recorded in the local committee minutes of July 19, 1865, Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School, 95. In a letter to the Colonial Secretary on July 5, 1889, E. J. Eitel stated that almost every one of the girls became the kept mistress of a European upon leaving school.
Letter no. 41, CO 129/342, 80 ff, quoted in Sweeting, Education in Hong Kong, 1990, 247–50. 31At an FES meeting in London, Bishop Smith commended the training of DNFTS students, saying that ‘the very refinement in their countenances told the work begun in their hearts’. FMI VII (August 1864): 173–5. 32It was recorded in the committee minutes that FES missionary Eaton was taken ill after an attempted attack by a group of thieves in December 1864 and had been in conflict with the governing ladies’ committee.
Cf FES/AM3/4250, 4251, 4263; Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School, 94–5. Restructuring of the school was recorded in Alford, China and Japan: A Charge, 56–7 and Featherstone, The Diocesan Boys’ School, 98–9. 33Education Report 1865, paragraph 43; 1867, paragraph 14. 34Education Report 1867, paragraph 15. 35Alford, China and Japan: A Charge, 56. 36For a general background to racial divides and class relations in colonial Hong Kong, see H. J.
Lethbridge, Hong Kong: Stability and Change (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1978), 167–77; for further discussion of the tensions, strategies and dynamics at play between different racial groups to protect their rights and interests, see John Carroll, Edges of Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 84–107. 37See, for example, Ng, Interactions of East and West, 65–77. History of Education 797 Downloaded By: [HEAL-Link Consortium] At: 12:38 12 February 2010 colony; their female counterparts, by contrast, were excluded from following a similar path.
38 Revisiting the DNFTS marriage scandal through the gendered discourse of girls’ education resonates with Jane Martin’s remarks on the ‘job-’ and ‘marriage-market’ divide that historically distinguished curricula in boys’ and girls’ schools. 39 It also reveals the tension between ideal and reality in the provision of girls’ education wherever the ‘civilising mission’ met with other powerful regulatory discourses in the society. 40 The local setback was never publicised to the subscribers of FES in Britain, and the next time readers were introduced to students in Hong Kong, the focus rested upon another group of girls at DNFTS.
Their experiences are symbolised by Louisa and Bessie Rickomartz, whose life accounts also expressed the hoped-for transformation that education could accomplish in girls’ lives. Louisa and Bessie Rickomartz: the Eurasian orphans made teacher and missionary candidate41 In 1865, the year the marriage-sale scandal hit DNFTS, another setback to British missionaries’ efforts in girl’s education in Hong Kong shocked FES supporters at home. Harriet Baxter, an honorary FES missionary, died unexpectedly after a short illness in June 1865 at the age of 36.
42 Just as Lydia Smith had pioneered English education for middle-class girls, Baxter trail-blazed vernacular education for the poor and destitute, establishing a number of schools within the five years of her short life in Hong Kong. After her death, DNFTS took in a number of orphaned Eurasian and Chinese girls, with Baxter’s only colleague, Mary Jane Oxlad, also an agent of FES, carrying on the care of Baxter’s students while simultaneously teaching at DNFTS.
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