A-Hoa: A Biographic Sketch




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 by George. L. Mackay

The Presbyterian Record, Nov.1885 P.301  

Formosa Letter from Dr. G. L. Mackay

A Biographic Sketch

You asked me for a short account of A-Hoa’s life. I send you the following regarding him to the time I landed in North Formosa. Giam (嚴) is the family surname. His father came from the mainland of China when ten years of age. The grandfather also came at the same time. Their home as about two days walk from Foochow (福州). A-Hoa’s mother was born on Steep Island (龜山島),N.E., of Formosa. The family (whose surname is Ian* ) moved to Tamsui (淡水) when she was thirteen years of age. When eighteen she married Giam, and two years later A-Hoa was born here in Tamsui, Nov.,1851. His father died a few days before he entered this world. The widow was left poor and helpless with an infant babe. The child was delicate (no doubt on account of scanty and weak food). The mother asked an idol here in the town what to do, the answer was, “Let him be called my child and name him Hut-a(佛仔), i. e. Idol’s Child.’ In time the name changed to Hok-a(福仔) and eventually to Hoa (華)or A-Hoa(阿華). From five to ten years of age his time was spent gathering grass, sticks, and brush for his mother to cook the little rice she earned by sewing. Evenings were spent with a relative, studying. This friend belonged to the old school, and reminds one of Squeers mentioned by Charles Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby. From ten to seventeen his time was spent almost entirely studying. At eighteen he was employed by a mandarin, who assigned him different positions, from attending to the kitchen and being his secretary. He travelled on the mainland from Foochow(福州) north to Tientsin(天津), and spent six months in Peking(北京). After this he returned and only a short time back when I landed at Tamsui. Note that; also the fact that he was born in the very hut and very room that I first rented here. He is a child of poverty, hard wrought, very talented and humble; has a wife and one child, a girl, with unbound feet, ten years of age. His full name is Giam Chheng Hoa.(嚴清華)  With the Chinese the surname comes first. I love the poor. Don’t I remember seeing the straw being taken out of the bed to give to a poor, lean, shivering cow during a biting winter in Zorra. Thinking of A-Hoa when young without a father to provide rice, old times flash across my mind. I make no comments on his life; let facts speak.


Chinese characters漢字 were added by LES.

*Ian should be Tan The name of A Hoa’s mother: Tan Tho陳桃(see《教會史話》250)

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