Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "The Accidental Ethnographer." (Coming Soon)
Click below for other posts from "The Great Melbourne Revival":
|[a] 2012 RF|
William Edgar Geil was a world famous figure in his day, and the reasons he has been lost to history (from his death until now) are as interesting as the underpinnings of his fame. Here is a very brief overview. In a day before anthropology or Chinese (or African or Micronesian) studies had a toehold in world universities, William Edgar Geil traveled the world, took extensive notes, returned to Doylestown, and wrote books. Depending on how you count them, he wrote almost a dozen—many of them thick and substantial in ways that a turn of the (last) century reader would understand, even if many people today would not. He traveled across central Africa in the first decade of the twentieth century, spent a year in Australia and New Guinea, and then found an abiding love for the study of China (which is where I "met" him, in a manner of speaking). He traveled the length of the Great Wall, journeyed the Yangzi River from Shanghai into southeast Asia, visited all of China's provincial capitals, and is the only Westerner to have written a book about his travels to all five sacred mountains of China.
|[b] Famous RF|
BY J.A. PACKER OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH STAFF
|[c] Presence RF|
The "Victorian Churchman" declared Mr. Geil to be possessed of "rare platform gifts—a man of great energy." Dr. H. Grattan Guinness, of Harley College, London, and director of the Region Beyond Mission in Central Africa, summed the character and worth of Mr. Geil in the following appreciative sentences, after being brought into close contact with him during the Sydney mission:—"Mr. Geil is a remarkable man. He has been deputed to spend four years in visiting the missionary world, and forming his own independent opinion concerning the value, not alone of the work, but of the apparently malevolent criticisms that have been frequently raised. He has been six months in the South Seas, and has already managed to expose the source and worthlessness of a great number of such criticisms.
He is just leaving in a few days for New Guinea, Borneo, and Formosa. He will travel through China, and visit practically the whole missionary world, with the exception of south America. He is hoping to cross Africa, entering at Mombasa, investigating the work at Uganda, crossing Stanley's forest, and visiting the Congo. Is is not a matter of intense gratitude that such a journey should be taken for such purposes? This gentleman will become the greatest missionary observer in the world, and I think, as far as i can judge, he is likely to help on missions immensely. He is likely, I believe, to favorably impress those with whom he comes into contact concerning the value of all honest, spiritual, devoted work.
|[d] Gathering RF|
On the afternoon of Eight Hours Day, between 6,000 and 7,000 people eschewed the secular attractions of the holiday, and rushed the town hall. No provision had been made for an overflow meeting, and many left disappointed, after vainly battling to get in. Subsequently, hurried arrangements were made for an overflow service in the Collins Street Independent Church, which was packed. Inside the town hall the unparalleled sight was witnessed of 3,000 people, most of them with Bibles, taking a novel lesson from Mr. Geil in Bible study. Most of them had attended the previous meeting. Fearing to leave their seats to go out for lunch, lest they might lose them, as they assuredly would have done, they produced frugal meals from bags and pockets and ate them in the hall.
|[e] Double-barrelled RF|
After the second week, so increasingly large were the attendances at the business people's meetings that Mr. Geil decided to make it a double-barrelled service. From 12 to 12.45, therefore, the gathering was limited to business women and factory girls; and from 1 to 1.45 to business men. Some 3,000 people attended each of these meetings daily. Employers responded to the request of the mission committee, that they would so arrange the lunch hour as to allow their female employees to attend the 12 o'clock meeting. Mr. Geil announced on the second day that one firm of jam manufacturers had arranged to close their factory from 12 to 2 each day to enable their girls to be present at the noon meeting, and the men and boys at the 1 o'clock gathering, and that they had further provided omnibuses to take them to the hall and back to the factory. (Applause.)
There could be no doubt that Mr. Geil thoroughly aroused and interested these large and unique Melbourne audiences. "You told us yesterday," said one man, as he held up his hand to the evangelist from the floor of the hall, "that when we met a man we were to shake hands with him." In the street men were to be heard saluting him with "God bless you." Men who made no profession of religion were taken with the man's unconventionality, his smart sayings, his wonderful budget of "yarns," and not less with his earnestness, and in many cases they not only went to laugh, but remained, as penitents, to pray.
|[f] Salute RF|