For one reason and another the Reverend Issachar Roberts had for years put off what might be considered the duty of accepting Hung's invitation to come and preach the Word to the Taipings. In the autumn of 1860, however, when it became rather the fashion among foreign missionaries to go to Soochow, only half as far from Shanghai as Nanking, and take a close look at the creatures, Roberts decided at last to run the risk. He found the Ch'en-huan at Soochow and was very well treated by him; after a few days the prince took his guest to Nanking, and Roberts had an audience with the Emperor Hung himself. It was a privilege granted to few persons by that time, and Roberts had only one interview with his former pupil. He stayed on in Nanking for fifteen months. Though a foreign colleague would drop in from time to time and he was not cut off from the Western world, he was not quite easy in his mind. There was polygamy, there was an erratic system of baptism, and Roberts was pained to observe that the original rules of austerity that had governed the Taipings were now all but forgotten, perhaps because the Emperor remained so withdrawn. The soldiers behaved much like any other Chinese soldiers, squabbling over loot and women. "The eccentric but earnest Issachar J. Roberts," as Latourette calls him, must have broken under the strain: it is difficult to account otherwise for what happened at the end of his sojourn.
"In a paroxysm of rage, he fled from the city," says Lindley [ Ti- Ping Tien-Kwoh, p. 567], and all but fell aboard a British gunboat that happened to be lying in the river outside the walls. Weeping hysterically, he told his story. The place he had been living in belonged to one of the Huans, or chiefs, and this Huan had quarreled with one of Roberts's servants, a boy of the age when most young Taiping males were supposed to be serving in the army. The quarrel