Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Denby.

No. 1407.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 2678, of February 3 last, relative to an inquiry addressed to you by a missionary residing at Tao Cheo, Kansuh, as to whether he can, as a landowner, lawfully engage in “agriculture, stock raising, or trading in order to self-support while laboring as a missionary among the Thibetan border tribes,” has been received.

Your views on the general question appear to be discreet. The secular operations which you report as having been engaged in by various foreign missionary establishments in China appear to be partly direct or analogous adjuncts of their beneficent work and partly contributory to its support. Some of them, as the manufacture of furniture, laundry work, and sewing, are not, obviously, part of the privilege of residence, and even if they were for any reason opposed, that circumstance would not impair the argument which it is conceived might be validly advanced, the case arising that the residential privilege embraces all normal uses to which the ground and its belongings can be [Page 107] applied. Residence upon a tract of agricultural land presupposes the devotion of the soil to its natural use. The permitted purchase of such land carries with it the right to till it for the owner’s support and advantage. Viewed in this light, the rights accompanying the ownership of a farm seem to be more unquestionably evident than the rights pertaining to the possession of a dwelling house, since the use of the latter as a factory or shop is not a positive necessity, such as is the raising of produce where farm lands are held.

The matter is, however, as you intimate, one of tolerant custom, and if attempt be at any time made to restrict the existing usage, the propositions herein outlined would afford ground upon which to base remonstrance and conduct suitable argument.

Respectfully, yours,

W. W. Rockhill,
Acting Secretary.