The Black-Bearded Barbarian

The Life of George Leslie Mackay of Formosa

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Author: Marian Keith (Mary Esther Miller MacGregor)
Published: 1912
Language: English
Wordcount: 46,921 / 130 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 70
LoC Category: BL
Downloads: 1,097 4075

This is a very little story of a very great man. It contains only a few of the wonderful adventures he met, and the splendid deeds he did. Most of them may never be written. Perhaps they may be lived again in the lives of some of the readers. Who knows?

Show Excerpt

west? He often asked himself that question in some amusement as they approached the coast of China. They entered a long winding channel and steamed this way and that until one day they sailed into a fine broad harbor with a magnificent city rising far up the steep sides of a hill. It was an Oriental city, and therefore strange to the young traveller. But for all that there seemed something familiar in the fine European buildings that lined the streets, and something still more homelike in that which floated high above them--something that brought a thrill to the heart of the young Canadian--the red-crossed banner of Britain!

It was Hongkong, the great British port of the East, and here he decided to land. No sooner had the travelers touched the dock, than they were surrounded by a yelling, jostling crowd of Chinese coolies, all shouting in an outlandish gibberish for the privilege of carrying the Barbarians' baggage. A group gathered round Mackay, and in their eagerness began hammering each other with


Average Rating of 5 from 1 reviews: *****
Patrick Wayland

The Black-Bearded Barbarian tells the story of George Leslie MacKay, the Presbyterian Priest from Canada, who brought Christianity to north Taiwan, or Formosa as it was known in the late 1800's. Even if you are not a religious person, this book is interesting in showing how one man, alone, walked into a land where he didn't know the culture or one word of the language and, over time, introduced an idea that change a people.

When MacKay landed, he first went about learning the language, customs and beliefs of the people. Most of the locals did not want to even rent a room to him - wanting only to stone him for being a foreign devil. But MacKay, living in a hut by a river, spent all his time learning Chinese, amazingly mastering it enough after only a few months to read and understand the scholarly texts of the intellectuals. He learned the scholar books so well that he would argue with the mandarins (men from the ruling class). His arguments for his beliefs were logical as well as spiritual. It was one of these bright, young mandarins, so impressed with MacKay's solid reasoning and unwavering beliefs, who became MacKay's first convert.

MacKay, with the bravery of "an army", walked from village to village talking about his beliefs, even traveling into the wild mountains where the Chinese dared not venture because of native headhunters. But he did not just preach, often working as a doctor, performing dentistry and giving out medicine for Malaria relief. He married a local woman and, in the end, was buried in Taiwan. This showing how ingrained he was with the people he had changed.

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