Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Williams to Mr. Fish.
Peking , July 7, 1874. (Received September 1.)
Sir: I have the honor to send you the documents and reports (inclosures 1 to 12) connected with the recent trial at Chefoo, growing out [Page 275] of the attack made by the people of Chi-mi on an American missionary, Rev. H. Corbett, residing there. I have not heretofore sent you any of the papers connected with this affair, since at no time was it possible to indicate the result; and you have now the whole story. Mr. Sheppard’s report (inclosure 8) furnishes so full an account of the origin, progress, and results of the disturbance, and of the steps taken to induce the intendant at Chefoo to bring the offenders to justice, with the details of their trial and punishment, and subsequent indemnity for Mr. Corbett’s losses, and his return to Chi-mi, that I shall not attempt to add anything to it.
As soon as the leading particulars of the assault were received from Mr. Corbett, (inclosure 1,) Mr. Cornabé, our consular agent at Chefoo, made them known to the intendant, (or taotai, as he is usually called by foreigners,) and continued to give him the subsequent details of outrages suffered by the native Christians, at Chi-mi, urging him to uphold law and order by the arrest and punishment of the guilty. I inclose only one of his replies, (inclosure 4,) for the whole correspondence will not interest you; and this specimen is enough to show the manner in which the simplest statements can be misrepresented when it serves the end of the officials to shirk their duty. The most noticeable thing in it is the charge brought against the convert Wang Li-tung, of an attempt to kidnap a child for the Roman Catholic Church; but this allegation was so barefaced and unfounded that it was not even referred to on the trial, much less attempted to be proved against him, as soon as it was found that he was a Protestant. Nothing of this kind had ever been done in that region, and the local officials trumped up the charge, most probably because it would be readily believed elsewhere.
As soon as the report of these things reached me, six weeks after their date, (for our communication with Chefoo is slow in winter,) I brought it to the notice of the foreign office, which immediately sent a copy of my complaint to the governor of Shan-tung. (Inclosure 2.) As soon as more precise details were received, I also desired Mr. Sheppard to take charge of the case, which, it was plain, would require much patience and decision to bring to a satisfactory end. (Inclosure 7.) At the first interview which they had, the intendant evidently looked upon the affair as having no serious importance—probably, among other reasons, because there was no loss of life—and wished to regard it as already in effect settled. (Inclosure 8.) This being the case, and full evidence of his disinclination to uphold the treaty being received, I again brought the affair to the notice of the foreign office, urging that there was no reason for this tardy action; and received a reply that he would be told to attend to its adjudication, which was immediately done, as he himself acknowledges in his subsequent report. (Inclosures 5 and 6.)
This report of the intendant is an interesting document when read in connection with his reply of February 7 to Mr. Cornabé and Mr. Sheppard’s dispatch. In it he undertakes to explain away, or else admits, every charge which he at first declared was unfounded. The previous portion of that correspondence had probably been sent to his superiors, and it was now necessary to exhibit a degree of diligence in maintaining the peace in Chi-mi, by proving the falsity of some charges which were never made. His proclamation (inclosure 9) will be regarded with some respect for a time, and the native Christians can appeal to it as upholding their right to adopt a faith so different from most of their countrymen. Since Mr. Corbett’s return, though he himself is treated with respect, it is reported that his brethren still suffer contumely and are [Page 276] shunned, but nothing worse than hard words seems to have yet been experienced.
One thing is observable in this trial. No evil conduct was charged against the native Christians by their countrymen, and no excuse was offered by them for cutting down their fruit-trees, robbing their houses, or assaulting and wounding them, except that they were followers of a foreign faith. A testimony of this kind to their blameless living can hardly fail to have a beneficial effect in that region, and the report of these things in other parts of Shan-tung will perhaps tend to restrain future outbreaks. The circulation of news is not very rapid in the inland parts of the province, especially among the agricultural and laboring classes; but the notoriety of the trial, and the willingness of the intendant to do justice in punishing his guilty countryman for acts done to a foreigner, will, it may be hoped, give this an exceptional influence for good.
Another thing may also be referred to. The intendant is very careful in his report (inclosure 11), to particularize certain charges of ill-usage suffered by converts at Chi-mi, contained in Mr. Cornabe’s letters to him, and to state that they had all been ruled out of court as not being under its jurisdiction, adding that this was done with the full consent of the United States consul. He alludes to this right of the Chinese government to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over its own subjects, in the proclamation issued to be posted in Chi-mi; and it is a point on which the authorities are becoming more and more sensitive, especially in reference to missionary operations. In that proclamation he quotes the twenty-ninth article of the treaty, and then sets forth most distinctly the independent jurisdiction of each nation over its own subjects. This distinction appears easy enough in theory, but even some of our best-informed countrymen appear to have come to the conclusion that because the article says that those who peaceably teach and practice Christianity shall not be molested, it involves the right to compel the Chinese to take up the cudgels when their own people are molested for professing Christianity.
The result which has been attained in this trial is owing mainly to the decision and perseverance of Mr. Sheppard in asking only for the rights guaranteed by the treaty, and convincing the intendant that he must maintain them and punish the guilty before the case would be dropped. He was materially assisted by the missionaries at Chetbo in translating and interpreting, and the list of the men concerned in the attacks on Mr. Corbett furnished by the native converts, with their evidence of the part each one took in the acts of violence, was of material advantage in fixing the guilt on the right persons. I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Sheppard’s action in this case may receive your special approval.
I have, &c.,
Statement of Rev. H. Corbett.
On the 1st of December, as I was passing through the market-town of Hwa-yin, about forty li south of the city of Chi-mi, I was followed by a crowd of men attending the theatre there, who attacked me with stones, crying out at the same time “Hit him,” “hit him;” and “Kill him,” “kill him.” Returning in the evening, and passing by the same place, the crowd rushed forward to meet me, fully occupying the road on both sides, and leaving but a narrow passage for me in the middle. When I came up to them [Page 277] I saw that several of the men had stones in their hands, which they threw at me, hitting me in several places and injuring also my horse. I urged my horse forward with all possible speed, but the men pursued me quite outside the town. On the following day I went with my passport to the local magistrate, stating the above facts. He promised to investigate the matter, and that he would see to it that I had no further difficulty in the future. On the second day he issued a proclamation for the purpose of restraining the people, which he sent to me to read. The proclamation stated that foreigners had a perfect right, according to the treaty, to propagate their religion in the interior. In it the district magistrate also stated that he had received special instructions from his superior officer to afford protection to all persons propagating their religion according to the treaty. On the same day I went to the town of Hwa-yin, and learned that the proclamation had not been posted. I then wrote to the magistrate informing him of this fact, and begging that he would attend to this matter immediately, for fear that by being neglected it would grow worse, and stating that there were other villagers who had formerly received me cordially who did not now dare to hold intercourse with me. In consequence of this several proclamations were posted in different places, the magistrate thus far fulfilling his promises, but failing to apprehend or punish any one. Yesterday, on the 19th of the month, I, with several native Christians, went to the yuh-hwang temple fair, which is about thirty li south of the city. On approaching the place a great many men ran to meet us. There was such a crowd and uproar that I did not attempt to preach or distribute books, but only endeavored to conciliate and quiet the people. I was suddenly attacked again on all sides with stones, by which I was struck several times. I then ran into the temple to escape from danger. The crowd rushed in after me, filling the temple and the court, and stones were hurled at me from all directions, both inside and outside. While I was in the temple for a few moments, thinking how I could best escape, the mob only increased, and I determined to run the risk of forcing my way, if possible, through the people. As I rushed out the people followed me in crowds, but fortunately for me a few men behind me fell down, thus blocking up the way for a moment and giving me barely time to mount my horse and gallop off. The people followed, pelting me with stones and clods of earth; some of the native Christians seized hold of a few of the leaders, restraining them for an instant, thus further facilitating my escape. I urged on my horse and got out of the way, followed by a shower of stones. After my escape the people sought out and fell to beating the native Christians. One old man was severely wounded by a stone, so that he could not walk, and was carried to the house of a friend to have his wounds attended to, being unable to get to his home, though it was not far off. Another person was knocked down by a stone, which cut a large gash on his head. Others received wounds more or less severe. The people continued in a state of lawlessness, and there is reason to fear that the mere issuing of proclamations will be insufficient to restore order.
Mr. Williams to the ministers of the foreign office.
Peking , February 6, 1874.
Sirs: I have heard it reported that Mr. Corbett, an American missionary, who had been desired by the Christians of Chi-mi, in Shantung, to come and preach to them, and had lived there quietly for some months without any difficulty arising, teaching the converts at their request the doctrines of the Scriptures, suddenly became the object of the suspicions of the people. In December, hearing that several hundred reckless men were out against him, and being aware of it, he escaped with his children and got away; but the riotous people then surrounded and burst into his house, destroying his books and things utterly. Mr. Corbett happily reached Chefoo without suffering any violence himself.
As this case is one which, if not thoroughly investigated, will, it is to be feared, grow into something very serious, I make it known to your excellencies, with the hope that orders may be sent to the proper authorities in Shantung to fully inquire into and learn the causes of this disturbance in that region, with the grounds of the popular suspicion, so that the affair may be equitably judged and settled. This is highly important.
I avail myself of this occasion to wish your excellencies the highest happiness.
Ministers of foreign office to Mr. Williams.
The members of the foreign office return their compliments.
Your excellency’s note, giving the report respecting an American missionary at Chi-mi in Shantung, has been received, in which you state that in December last several hundreds of reckless men were out against him, but being aware of it he escaped with his children, while his house was afterward surrounded and broken into, and his books and things utterly destroyed.
We have now to state that orders have been sent to the governor of Shantung to direct that a thorough investigation be made into this affair, with a view to its equitable adjudication and settlement; and when his report of the proceedings taken is received, we will have the honor of again addressing you and making known what has been done.
With the present reply we take the opportunity of wishing you every happiness.
And seven other members of the foreign office.
United States Chargé d’Affaires.
The Taotai to W. A. Cornabé, United States vice-consul.
The day after starting for the provincial capital, on public business, I had the honor to receive your dispatch, stating that you had been informed by the Rev. H. Corbett that the people of Chi-mi had collected a mob and assaulted him, and requesting me to inquire into the matter. I also received your letter stating that he had further informed you that the people there had collected 300 men for the purpose of injuring him, and had also carried off his donkey, &c.
While I was purposing to investigate this affair, I received the report of the magistrate of Chi-mi, stating “that on the 1st December, at the market-town of Hwa-yin, during a theatrical play, a native named Wang Li-tung, there present, in front of the Yuh-hwang temple, seized a child of thirteen years, called Li-San-man, crying out that he wished to take it to the Tien-chu-tang (Roman Catholic church) to enter the faith. The child screamed, and the crowd at the theater, moved by a common resentment, rescued it. Wang Li-tung then proceeded to drag from the ground a man called Kiang Kwan-kih, but the crowd rushed forward and pursued him, while he, leading on a number of men, resorted to violence. Fortunately the men at the theater were many, and succeeded in reclaiming also Kiang Kwan-kih.” Thus this native Chinese dares in open day to kidnap children, and then requests that the matter be investigated. (Original obscure.) I suppose that this affair is the one referred to in your dispatch. What a discrepancy between these two representations!
When foreign missionaries propagate their doctrines in the interior, their intercourse with the natives should be peaceable, and friendly relations be maintained. In the present affair it is evident that both parties were to blame, and each of them has told its partial story, hoping that it would be believed. Seeing that it concerns the intercourse between this and foreign nations, we must carefully discriminate between the false and the true, and follow up the matter (to a settlement) so as to insure peace in future.
On my departure from Chefoo I designated Wang Shin-jin, an expectant prefect, to go at once to Chi-mi, and, in connection with the magistrate, examine the matter and report to me. On my return to Lai-chau he reported to me that the origin of this affray was really found to be this: A great many people were assembled at the theater, and Mr. Corbett brought his three children to enjoy themselves there. The people were not familiar with the sight of foreign children, and gathered around to look at them, which Mr. Corbett opposed by sharply rebuking them. In consequence of this the crowd increased, and he took his children and left. There was certainly no such thing as attacking and stoning him.
It was simply that the convert Wang Li-tung seized hold of a child at the theater, named Li San-man, and was carrying him off, as he said, to have him join the church. [Page 279] The child screamed and resisted, but Wang, holding it firmly, was running away, when the people at the theater, moved by a common indignation, rushed forward and rescued it. Wang then led on a company of men and began to fight; both sides refused to yield, and men received wounds from each other.
In regard to a mob gathering at Chi-mi, it was because the people were incensed by seeing Wang Li-tung trying to force people to enter the religion, and came to the city to institute a suit and stop such proceedings. This affair occurred when many candidates were gathered for the examination; but beside this there was no other assemblage of the people.
In regard to Sü Yin-tsoh going to Ko-fau and carrying off a cow and an ass, I learned that Mr. Corbett had a house there, and when he returned to Chefoo he left these animals and sundry articles in charge of an assistant named Lin Lung-méi. Many people in the neighborhood, hearing of this attempt at forcible proselytizing, went to Mr. Corbett’s house to inquire into the matter; but really, his goods were none of them carried off. His cow and ass broke the ropes which held them and ran away to the hills, seeking for food, but there was no such thing as leading them away. The magistrate had them found and brought back, and delivered to Lin. These things can all be proved by evidence. Just now there is no gathering among the people to create disturbance.
In looking at this whole affair (says the Taotai) in reference to foreigners going into the interior to propagate Christianity, it is well understood that those who preach it and those who adopt it are to receive the same protection as other people, but no permission can be given them to force others to enter it. Now, when Wang Li-tung violently dragged away this child he began an incipient rebellion—a thing much to be detested; and such village brawls cannot be allowed to extend. All the parties concerned in this affair ought to be summoned before the magistrate for a thorough judicial investigation and settlement.
On my return (to Chefoo) I directed the same Wang Shin-jin to return to Chi-mi and make known these instructions. I am informed that the people there desire to settle this matter, and that when Mr. Corbett comes back they will treat him in the most friendly manner; no similar disturbance shall again arise, and they beg that further judicial proceedings may be stayed. In the disturbance which arose at the theater, it appears that no man took the lead; and it would be difficult to summon £he real persons (who caused it.) Much of what is reported is false. Since there is a willingness to settle the affair and resume friendly relations, it is advisable to stop all litigation. This would be of advantage to the missionaries.
I therefore make this reply; and if my proposal pleases you, may I ask you to summon Mr. Corbett, and instruct him in future to earnestly enjoin upon all who are connected with him that they will not be allowed to create such disturbances in future? In conducting law-cases in the interior, private interference (on the missionary’s part) will not be allowed.
I shall issue a stringent proclamation, informing the people of that district that they will not be allowed again to show disrespect to missionaries, but must seek for lasting peace, stop their litigations, and be sincerely friendly.
In respect to Mr. Corbett’s complaint that trees have been cut down at Pan-hien, and other outrages committed at Ta-lao village and Tung-kia-ngan, I have directed the district magistrate to make inquiries and report, but have not yet heard from him. It is probable that mutual distrust and misunderstanding have arisen from these false rumors. If this affair be soon settled, the minds of people in other places will be quieted.
With this reply, I take the opportunity to wish you the compliments of the season.
Mr. Williams to the ministers of the foreign office.
Peking , April 4, 1874.
Sirs: I have already brought to your notice the attack on Rev. H. Corbett by the people of Chi-mi, who stoned and robbed him, and then received a reply stating that orders had been sent to the governor of Shantung to examine into the affair.
I have since received a report from the American consul at Che Foo, who has been investigating this case with the intendant there, in which he complains that the latter is dilatory, and is trying to slur over the whole affair of the attack and robbery of Mr. Corbett. His report leads me to ask why the intendant should delay the case three whole months, and then just turn around and say that he had finished it? It is not easy to explain this, except by supposing that he is partial in some way. If he will [Page 280] examine the 11th article of the treaty he will see what is required to be done, and that his report of the facts is entirely at variance with what the consul has ascertained. The names of more than ten men, who were engaged in the robbery, have been given in with the evidence, and yet he avers that the case is already finished. I think this shows clearly that he is unwilling to try it at all.
I therefore earnestly request that other orders may be sent to Shantung requiring the governor to direct his subordinates to have this whole matter tried in Chefoo, to which place the criminals, and all that are connected with it, shall be removed, and where the intendant shall summon the witnesses. Here, in conjunction with the consul, it can be fully examined and decided in accordance with equity and the criminals punished. It will not be difficult, under such circumstances, to get at the truth; for, as the proverb says, “when the water has fallen the rocks appear.”
As I write this note I improve the opportunity to wish you every happiness.
Ministers of foreign office to Mr. Williams.
The ministers of the foreign office return their compliments.
We have received your excellency’s note respecting the robbery of Mr. Corbett. [Here follow its leading points, and a summary of what their former note contained.]
We have now, in compliance with your request, again urged the governor of Shantung to enjoin upon his subordinate immediately to examine this affair in accordance with justice, and punish the wrong-doers, and report the conclusion as soon as possible; and now send this note in reply for your information.
MAO CHANG-HI, &c.
To S. Wells Williams, &c.
Mr. Williams to Mr. Sheppard.
Peking , March 11, 1874.
Sir: I have received three dispatches from Mr. A. Cornabé, United States vice-consul at Chefoo, dated 12th January, 28th February, and 2d March, all of them relating to the attack on Rev. H. Corbett, at Chi-mi, on the southern side of Shantung promontory, and detailing the action he had taken in procuring redress for this violence, and compensation for the property destroyed; he also incloses copies of the communications which have passed between him and the Taotai upon this matter, from which it is plain that the latter is disinclined to prosecute the affair to a satisfactory conclusion.
Under these circumstances I wish you would proceed to Chefoo and see what further steps can be taken to bring the affair to a conclusion according to the obligations of the treaty and justice. It seems from the papers here that the messenger sent to Chi-mi from Chefoo, and the district magistrate of that place, have given in statements to their superiors of the affair which are plainly distorted and imperfect, and designed to shield him from all culpability.
You will therefore find it necessary to get the evidence of the persons best acquainted with all the circumstances of the affair, so as to counteract these ex-parte reports. In asking for redress, the arrest and punishment of the ringleaders should be demanded, as well for the future security of foreigners going there, as for the maintenance of order. A careful list of the property should be made out which was stolen or destroyed, with its actual value, and compensation made to Mr. Corbett for his losses. When these two points are obtained, the district magistrate may well be made to issue a proclamation setting forth the freedom guaranteed to Christians and their teachers by treaty and imperial decree, to practice their faith without molestation.
I do not think it best for you to ask for any compensation for the losses of the native Christians, and it will probably be best to limit your action to that which concerns Mr. Corbett alone, and let the redress which may be given to him be admonition enough for the security it may afford to his native converts. They cannot fail to be benefited if his wrongs are redressed, and we have no such liberty of action in this respect that we can properly interfere in any direct way for native Chinese, and it is better to say nothing.
In regard to this case, it seems, from what I now know, that this popular rising was of [Page 281] such dimensions as to alarm the district magistrate, who told Mr. Corbett that he could not protect him, as the power in his hands was too weak. There was no direct attack on Mr. Corbett, who, escaping by night with his children, happily avoided the violence of the mob, which vented itself on his rooms. It will be difficult, perhaps, in such a case to fix the guilt on any individual. It is a question to be decided by the evidence whether the district magistrate did what he could to warn or protect him but he seems not to have been altogether silent and not at all inimical. The violence of a Chinese mob soon gets beyond the control of their local officials, and it is a question for us to consider how much this point is to be weighed in this case, and what degree of protection we are to expect. The case at Chi-mi differs from that at Yu-chan, in December, 1871, when Mr. Pierson was attacked, in that the latter was a simple assault with robbery, in which the populace sympathized very little.
I hope you will succeed in attaining the object for which you go to Che Foo. The further action of Mr. Corbett must depend on himself in a manner, but no force can be regularly employed to protect an American anywhere in the interior.
I have, &c.,
Mr. Sheppard to Mr. Williams.
Tien-tsin , June 25, 1874.
Sir: It affords me much pleasure to be able now to report to you the final and most satisfactory settlement of the serious disturbance, or succession of riots, which occurred last December in £he district of Chi-mi, province of Shantung, and originated in a feeling of hostility stirred up among the people of that district by evil-disposed persons against an American missionary who had been peaceably living and quietly pursuing his calling in their midst. This outbreak against missionaries is the first of a serious nature that has happened in the north of China since the massacre of French missionaries at Tien-tsin, in 1870, and it is the only organized disturbance that has occurred in the interior, far from a treaty-port, since the attack made upon missionaries at Yang-chow, in 1868.
The history of this case seems, therefore, in my opinion, interesting from several points of view. In the first place, it serves as an indication of the progress of public opinion regarding the labors of Christian missionaries in this country, since the previous disturbances above referred to; it shows the peculiar causes which continue to affect the peaceable residence of foreigners in the interior, and the jeopardy their lives may be placed in at any hour; it also shows to what extent the treaties existing between China and other nations are known and respected in the country at large; and, lastly, the record of this case exhibits the attitude generally assumed by Chinese officials, at the treaty-ports and in the interior, when called upon to administer justice in behalf of foreigners, whether it be asked under the treaties, or under the plainest requirements of Chinese law.
The following brief summary of the voluminous documents composing the record of this case will explain the origin, nature, and consequences of the outbreak, as well as the course of action I pursued, and the results attained by that course. About the 1st of September, 1873, the Rev. Hunter Corbett, ah American missionary residing in Che Foo, left that place, accompanied by his three children, and went to the district of Chi-mi, on the sea-coast of Shantung, about four hundred li (one hundred and thirty miles) south of Chefoo, for the purpose of residing temporarily among the native Christians of that district, in response to their earnest solicitations. He was provided with a passport, as required by treaty, bearing the seals of the consular and Chinese authorities of Chefoo. He took up his residence in the village of Ko-fau, twenty-five li from the city of Chi-mi; and besides the native converts, numbering one hundred and fifty adults, Mr. Corbett found a large number of people in his vicinity desirous of professing the Christian faith.
It was Mr. Corbett’s practice to move about among the neighboring villages, in company with his native helpers, preaching and distributing religious books to the people; and on such occasions the people had been found, with few exceptions, friendly and well disposed. It was not until the 30th of November that any active hostility was shown; but on that day, as Mr. Corbett was passing through the village of Hwa-yin, on his way to preach at a more distant place, a crowd of people, who had been witnessing a theatrical performance, assailed Mr. Corbett with stones and threatening language. Still later in the day, as Mr. Corbett was passing through the same village on his return home, he was still more violently attacked by the same people, who had remained in waiting for him. Mr. Corbett, being on horseback, made his escape in [Page 282] safety, and the next day he complained to the district magistrate of Chi-mi, and asked for protection under his passport, in accordance with the treaty. The magistrate promised to protect Mr. Corbett and to punish those guilty of the assault; he also showed Mr. Corbett a draught, of a proclamation he proposed to issue, asserting the right accorded to missionaries by the treaty to propagate religion, and the protection to be extended to native converts as well. But none of these promises were fulfilled; and it was not until Mr. Corbett had several days afterward again begged the magistrate to take action that the latter expressed his sense of duty in this matter by simply issuing the proclamation. The inevitable consequences of such official inaction in this country soon followed.
On the 17th of December Mr. Corbett went with some native converts to preach and distribute books at a fair held in the Yuh-hwang temple, thirty li south of the city of Chi-mi. On reaching the temple he was soon surrounded by an immense mob hooting and throwing stones. Nothing that Mr. Corbett and the native Christians could do or say would pacify the raging crowd, who appeared to be bent on some bloody work. Mr. Corbett took refuge in the temple, but there his position became more precarious every moment. The mob surrounded the building, filled the courts, and showered stones into the room where he was, one of the stones striking him in the face. Seeing no way of escape, at the peril of his life, and with the assistance of a few native Christians, who nobly stood forth to defend him, he attempted to force his way through the midst of the mob, and barely succeeded in doing so. He mounted his horse and galloped off amid a shower of missiles, and with the crowd in full cry after him, but he managed to make good his escape. Disappointed of their victim, the mob then fell upon the Christians who had been left behind, beating all of them and inflicting severe wounds upon some, who had to be carried to their homes. The passions of the people were now thoroughly roused, and the excitement had spread over the whole district. A crisis was approaching, which might have been averted by the display of firmness and energy on the part of the magistrate in the discharge of his duty. But his conduct was precisely similar to that of the officials during the corresponding stage of the Yang-chow affair in 1868, and of the Tien-tsin massacre in 1870; he was actuated by no motive to sustain treaty rights, nor even, as it appeared, by the common humanity of eoming promptly forward with such protection as he could give to life and property imperiled by mob violence.
When Mr. Corbett the same day reached his home at Ko-fau he at once reported this fresh disturbance to the district magistrate, naming some of the ringleaders of the mob, and urging that immediate action be taken to arrest the guilty and restore order. Meanwhile it became plainly apparent to Mr. Corbett and his native friends that more mischief was brewing, the excitement and commotion in the neighborhood finally reaching such a degree as to lead the native Christians to urge Mr. Corbett to fly from the place. On the night of December 19, fully convinced of the danger of remaining where he was, Mr. Corbett, with his three children, fled to the district city of Chi-mi, distant twenty-five li, escorted by a small band of undaunted native Christians. On the 21st of December Mr. Corbett obtained an interview with the magistrate, who gravely said that the disturbance had now become too serious for him to manage, and he could not answer for his own safety, let alone the safety of foreigners. The magistrate repeatedly pressed Mr. Corbett to fly to Chefoo, and promised to restore order after his departure. Mr. Corbett wisely determined to continue his flight, and, accordingly, late in the night of the 21st December, he left with his children for Chefoo, and, traveling by a circuitous route, reached there in safety.
The news of Mr. Corbett’s escape, when it became known the next morning, was the signal for a general uprising. Armed mobs assembled with impunity and in great numbers. They were exultant in having succeeded in disposing of the foreigner, with the apparent approval of the magistrate, and they proceeded first to wreak their vengeance on all that Mr. Corbett had left behind. They broke into and demolished the interior of his house, destroyed or carried off his furniture and personal effects, and took away his mule and cow. A pack-mule, loaded with some of Mr. Corbett’s effects, was stopped on the road by a mob and forcibly taken away from the man in charge.
Then commenced a relentless persecution of the native Christians, and every day witnessed scenes of violence, pillage, and ruthless destruction of property. Fruit-trees were destroyed, farming implements and stock carried away, and houses stripped of their furniture. Two Christians were bound and carried off; another Christian was severely wounded by a weapon in the hands of a local constable, who was leading a mob into his house; and many Christians fled from their homes to places of concealment. The village of Tung-chia-au-tsz was wholly abandoned by its inhabitants, who, being all Christians, fled from the attack of a mob. Fortunately no lives were lost, for, after Mr. Corbett’s escape, the rioters seemed to be more intent upon persecution and pillage than the shedding of blood. A mob of about 3,000 men assembled in the suburbs of the city and were becoming turbulent, when the magistrate hurried to the spot, and upon his hearing and promising to consider their charges against the “foreign devil,” the mob gradually dispersed. A mob also collected in front of the inn where [Page 283] Mr. Corbett stopped while in the city of Chi-mi. Threats and imprecations against foreigners, native converts, and the Christian religion were heard on every side, indicating a popular feeling of hostility.
Such was the course of events in the district of Chi-mi during the month of December. Subsequent investigations proved that the hostility of the people was aroused and their passions inflamed by the accusations so long and so falsely made against foreign missionaries in China. Any falsehood that can be invented to defame the foreigner and render him hateful finds ready believers among the ignorant mass of Chinese; and there were not wanting in Chi-mi designing persons to thus fan the flame of excitement, when once it was aroused. The old story of kidnapping children for mutilation was revived; but undoubtedly the hatred displayed against Christian preachers and converts was mainly due to the general belief in the truth of such vile and abominable charges as are made against the Christian religion in the native pamphlet known as the “Death-blow to corrupt doctrines.” This pamphlet, it appears, was widely circulated throughout the district of Chi-mi some time ago by influential men among the literati, and many assert that its distribution was encouraged by the local officials themselves; it is certain at least that they did not attempt to check it.
In this affair the culpability of the district magistrate seemed unquestionable. From the 30th November, when the first disturbance occurred, he never attempted to make a single arrest, or administer the slightest punishment. This indifference was readily enough construed into sympathy with the rioters, and hence the latter were emboldened to continue their lawlessness. In the mean time Mr. Corbett had not neglected to report the disturbance to the consular authority at Chefoo. Mr. Cornabé, the United States consular agent, first wrote to the customs Taotai, at Chefoo, on the 22d of December, giving an account of the attack made upon Mr. Corbett at the Yuh-hwang temple on the 17th of December, and the disorder it had occasioned in the district, and earnestly requesting the taotai to urge the magistrate of Chi-mi to apprehend and punish the guilty. The Taotai replied briefly, expressing his disbelief in Mr. Corbett’s account, and stating that he would have the Chi-mi magistrate investigate the matter and report. A few days later Mr. Corbett arrived in Chefoo, and Mr. Cornabé was then enabled to furnish the taotai with fuller particulars, and with the names of some of the principal rioters.
About this time the Taotai left Chefoo on a short visit to the provincial capital, and before leaving he sent a deputy official to Chi-mi to assist the magistrate in his investigation. During the taotai’s absence Mr. Cornabé repeatedly wrote to him, giving further details of the disturbance, as they came to hand, and earnestly desiring him to send such instructions as would call forth honest exertions on the part of the magistrate.
At length, on the 7th of February, the taotai replied in a long dispatch. He had received the reports of the deputy and the magistrate, and they agreed in representing that no such disturbance as Mr. Corbett complained of had occurred at Chi-mi. The taotai, following the reports of his subordinates, positively denied that Mr. Corbett had been attacked, and made a rambling statement, accusing a native Christian of attempting to kidnap a child, thus causing a disturbance at the Yuh-hwang temple; and taking all this for granted, he considered that any disorder which might have existed was brought about by the indiscretion of Mr. Corbett and the native converts, hence he desired that Mr. Corbett should be admonished to avoid giving offense in future. But the taotai betrayed his real feelings by urging that judicial proceedings should be stayed, as the people of Chi-mi were now anxious to settle their differences and live in peace with Mr. Corbett. Mr. Cornabé replied to this dispatch, refuting its misrepresentations, and asking, once for all, that an impartial investigation should be made, and that the principal rioters, whose names he had given, should be arrested and punished. The taotai answered by simply saying that he would again send a deputy to Chi-mi.
It was evident that the taotai was bent upon shielding the fault of the magistrate, and avoiding his unpleasant duty of redressing the wrongs of a foreigner, as required by treaty.
On the 7th of March, when navigation re-opened at this port, I received from Mr. Cornabé a dispatch setting forth the occurrences related above, and informing me that notwithstanding his repeated efforts he had been unable to obtain the least satisfaction from the Taotai, or even the admission of any wrong in this matter, and he therefore requested instructions for his guidance. Impressed by the serious aspect this case had now assumed, involving, as it did, the integrity of important treaty stipulations, and fully believing that the future security of foreigners and native Christians in the interior of Shantung was now at stake, and would be seriously affected for better or worse by the manner of adjusting this difficulty, I determined to go myself to Chefoo, and endeavor to bring about a settlement with the Taotai. With your approval I therefore proceeded to Chefoo without delay, where I employed myself for a few days after my arrival in collecting testimony from native Christians and others who had come from Chi-mi; and this business having been completed, with the result of fully substantiating Mr. Corbett’s statements, I called upon the Taotai on the 24th of March. [Page 284] From the inclosed memorandum of our interview it will he seen that the Taotai was in no humor to discuss the business fairly. He first threw the blame entirely upon the native Christians, then upon Mr. Corbett, and finally insisted that proceedings should be stopped, as the people of Chi-mi were now anxious to be at peace with Mr. Corbett. He attributed the disturbance to an attempt made by a native Christian to kidnap a child. When I came to demand the arrest and trial of forty-two principal rioters, whose names had been given, the taotai emphatically refused to comply, and it was only after I had as firmly insisted upon his doing so, in observance of article 11 of our treaty, that he at length yielded his reluctant consent, but not, however, until I had been obliged to say that, failing in his arresting these men, I would consider the question of arresting them myself by virtue Of the power given to United States authorities in the last clause of article 11 of the United States treaty. This was the first important step toward a satisfactory adjustment, and it was taken by the Taotai only after he had been obliged to abandon every one of the numerous false positions he had assumed in argument. After I had corrected his frequent misstatements as to occurrences at Chi-mi, I had still to convince him that it was his duty to afford redress under the treaty, and he would not be convinced of this until he had found and read for himself the various clauses I had referred to. Our discussion maybe characterized as a stubborn attempt on the part of the taotai to make light of a serious matter and ignore his lawful responsibility, and an equally stubborn adherence on my part to rights which have been long established by treaty.
A month passed before I was informed by the taotai, through Mr. Cornabé, that the accused had been brought to Chefoo. I at once went to Chefoo, and upon my arrival there, on May 1, I addressed the Taotai, asking for a list of the names of those brought for trial. On receiving the taotai’s reply I was surprised and disappointed to find that of the forty-two whose names I had handed to the taotai on the 24th of March, all of whom he had repeatedly promised to arrest, only ten had now been brought to Chefoo, besides four others who had not been accused.
This breach of good faith, after a month’s delay, was part of a temporizing policy to which I was determined not to submit. I could not consent to go to trial with but ten of the accused, without failing to obtain adequate and lasting redress for the outrage committed, and my desire was to impress the people of Chi-mi with the fact that such lawless proceedings as had occurred in their district would not be passed over lightly.
Accordingly, on May 4, I called upon the taotai, accompanied by Mr. Cornabé and Commander Bridgeman, of the United States gunboat Palos, which vessel had been sent to Chefoo from Shanghai by Mr. Seward, who considerately anticipated my need of such support as the mere presence of a gunboat could afford in the settlement of this question.
The taotai was attended by the magistrate of Chi-mi and the magistrate of Fuh-shan, the district in which Chefoo is situated. The appearance and conduct of the Chi-mi magistrate confirmed the opinion previously formed of his character. He was an elderly man, infirm and irresolute, and apparently without spirit or ability. The Fuh-shan magistrate seemed intelligent and energetic.
A memorandum of the interview is inclosed herewith. I first reproached the Taotai with some warmth for his bad faith, whereupon he made several lame attempts to excuse his delinquency, but only succeeded in exposing, in a still worse light, the utter inefficiency of the Chi-mi magistrate, who had, as the Taotai unintentionally proved, quite disregarded his instructions. The earnestness with which I urged my views seemed to convince the Taotai of the propriety of doing his duty and fulfilling his promises; and so, after some further quibbling, he declared himself willing to complete the arrests and bring all the accused to Che Foo for trial. He deputed the Fuh-shan magistrate to carry out this business, and agreed to my proposal that two weeks should be allowed to fulfill the promise. During the discussion Commander Bridgeman remarked to the Taotai that he had orders from the American admiral to remain at Chefoo until this affair was settled, and he hoped soon to be able to report its satisfactory adjustment. This remark seemed to have considerable weight with the Taotai, and it undoubtedly curtailed useless discussion.
It was reported by Chinese who came from Chi-mi, from time to time, that the people there were determined to oppose the arrest of the rioters who had been accused; and hence it appears that the magistrate was intimidated and did not uudertake to arrest them, but resorted to various pretexts to screen the guilty, a course fully in keeping with his behavior from the beginning of this difficulty.
Having obtained from the Taotai his promise in writing that twenty-one more of the rioters who had been accused should be arrested and brought to Chefoo for trial before the Taotai and myself, and a day having been agreed upon for the trial, I returned to Tien-tsin.
On the 20th of May, I once again proceeded to Chefoo. This, my third visit in connection with this ease, occurred nearly six months after the first outbreak in Chi-mi, and three months had elapsed since my first interview with the Taotai regarding it. The Fuh-shan magistrate had arrived from Chi-mi a few days previously, having in [Page 285] his custody most of the rioters he was sent to arrest. The whole number of rioters now under arrest in Chefoo amounting to twenty-eight, I decided to proceed with the trial. On May 22, I had an interview with the Taotai, when it was agreed that the trial should begin on the 25th and be held in the yamen, or court-house, near the customhouse in Chefoo, as the most commodious room available. Various preliminaries were discussed, and it was decided to put each of the accused on his trial separately.
The trial began on the 25th of May, and continued for six days, the court sitting from 2 o’clock to 6 p.m. daily. I inclose herewith a reliable report of the ferial, published in the North China Herald of June 13.
The first day was wholly occupied in hearing Mr. Corbett’s statement of his grievances, and when it was concluded, the Taotai expressed himself satisfied with the truth of what had been said. It only remained to identify the accused and establish their guilt, and the other five days of the trial were devoted to the examination of witnesses for that purpose. About fourteen witnesses, some of them Christians, were examined, and after the most rigid and searching cross-examination by the Taotai, who was especially severe when questioning the Christians, the accused were fully identified and proven guilty. On the third day of the trial (May 27) an unpleasant incident occurred. My official messenger and several witnesses for the prosecution had been insulted and struck by two soldiers of the Taotai’s guards, and Mr. Cornabés messenger had been refused admittance to the yamen. Upon taking my seat in court this day, I informed the Taotai of these indignities, and insisted upon the arrest and punishment of the offenders before proceeding further with the trial. The Taotai, after attempting to exculpate them, admitted the justice of my demand and sent for the two men, who were beaten in the presence of the court, whereupon the trial was resumed.
This behavior of the soldiers of the Taotai’s own guard and within the precincts of his yamun was a fair indication of public feeling among the natives of Chefoo. From the time the first party of rioters were brought under arrest to Chefoo public attention had been attracted to this case, and sympathy with the rioters was expressed in various ways. During the sitting of the court large crowds assembled in the vicinity of the place, waiting with eagerness to hear the developments of the trial. No disturbance was created, but there appeared to be a deep feeling of resentment at such hitherto unheard of proceedings to vindicate the law in behalf of foreigners. This feeling was soon expressed by means of placards, in which the Taotai was vilified for partiality or submission to foreigners, and one of these placards was daringly placed on the gate of the Taotai’s office. It was, perhaps, partly due to his apprehension of some anti-foreign demonstration by the people that the Taotai was attended during the trial by an armed guard of over 100 soldiers.
The trial closed on the 1st of June, and on June 3 the Taotai came to the consulate to arrange with me the terms of a final settlement. The United States gunboat Saco had arrived on the day previous, and her officers, in full uniform, were present at this interview. On being introduced to the Taotai, Commander McDougal remarked that “the American admiral had been much concerned on hearing of the difficulty in Chi-mi, and he was most desirous that it should be peaceably and satisfactorily adjusted.” The Taotai replied that “the admiral need give himself no unnecessary anxiety, as a satisfactory conclusion would now probably be reached, and that he saw no reason why it could not be fully and satisfactorily adjusted between himself and the consul.” For a full account of this interview, I beg to refer you to the inclosed memorandum.
After some discussion, the following terms of settlement were speedily decided upon, viz:
- Four men convicted of having been prominently engaged in the two cases of Stoning, to be beaten with the large bamboo; one of them eighty blows, two others sixty each, and one forty blows. The local constables (ti-pao) of Ko-fau and Hwa-yin to receive eighty blows each, and be dismissed from office.
- Mr. Corbett’s pecuniary losses, estimated at 380 taels, to be paid within fifteen days, by the persons who entered his house; they to be imprisoned in the mean time and the Taotai to guarantee payment.
- The remainder of the criminals to be pardoned at my special request.
- All of the prisoners to enter into a bond to keep the peace and guarantee Mr. Corbett’s personal safety while he remains in Chi-mi. All accusations or suits arising out of this case, or connected with it in any way, to be suppressed.
- The Taotai to issue a stringent proclamation, giving a full account of this case, and how it was settled, and threatening severe punishment upon any one who may dare to engage in similar outrages in the future.
- When Mr. Corbett returns to Chi-mi, the Taotai is to furnish him with a special passport, and also with a letter to the Chi-mi magistrate.
On the following day, June 4, I proceeded to the Taotai’s yamun, accompanied by Mr. Cornabé, Commander McDougal, and several other officers of the Saco. The Taotai was attended by the Fuh-shan magistrate.
The Taotai now submitted for my approval draughts of his proposed proclamation, and of the bonds to be signed by the prisoners. These proving to be quite satisfactory, [Page 286] the prisoners were then called into court, and the Taotai proceeded to pass sentence upon those condemned to punishment. He addressed them at some length, pointing out the gravity of their offense and the severity of the punishment as prescribed by law. He told them that I had requested, and the prosecutor also had desired, that they might be dealt with leniently, and for this they should be thankful. After warning them to live in peace with foreigners and native Christians when they returned to their homes, he ordered them away to receive their punishment.
Those who were to sign the bonds were then called up and seriously admonished; and, lastly, all of the prisoners, save those condemned to punishment, were brought into court, and the Taotai addressed them in words of persuasion, caution, and warning. His remarks were so appropriate and reasonable, and were delivered with such spirit and emphasis, and the duties and responsibilities of the prisoners were so clearly pointed out to them, that all who were present in court seemed to be impressed by the seriousness of the occasion. Upon the conclusion of these remarks, the bonds were signed and the court adjourned. The prisoners condemned to punishment were then conducted to a neighboring yamên, where they were beaten, as sentenced, in the presence of Mr. Cornabé the officers of the Saco, and the acting interpreter, Mr. Hart well. Inclosed I beg to hand you a copy of the proclamation, with a translation of the same; also copies, with translations, of the two bonds, and a memorandum of the proceedings of June 4.
Thus, after months of delay and long-protracted contention, this case was finally brought to a successful conclusion. Preventive measures promptly taken might have suppressed the disturbance in its incipient state; and an honest desire to deal fairly and show justice to foreigners, when once the violence had been perpetrated, would have attained immediately the end which has but now been reached, and spared weeks of needless discussion and inconvenience.
The progress of enlightenment and friendly feeling in this country does not appear encouraging when the obligations of a treaty made in 1858 are at this late day so little known or so wholly ignored in a coast province of China as to give rise to such disturbances among the people and such sturdy opposition on the part of the officials.
In attributing blame for such outrages, there is less excuse for the officials than for the people they govern; for although officials may be prejudiced against foreigners, they cannot be wholly ignorant of the solemn national engagements made to secure the welfare of foreigners in China. Still less can officials at the open ports be ignorant of the manner in which justice has been rendered and treaty-rights vindicated on occasions of popular outbreaks of similar nature during the past few years. If proof be still needed, the settlement of this case abundantly shows that it is the will rather than the power that is wanting in Chinese officials, to extend protection to foreigners and obtain for them redress when it is required. It is questionable whether the Taotai at Chefoo would have yielded as he did, had he not received instructions to adjust this matter from the governor of Shantung, who had heard from the tsung-li yamên; and this action of the yamên was the good result of your repeated representations to them of the importance of this case. The peculiar feature in the adjustment of this difficulty is the success of my efforts to have the offenders brought from the interior of the province, where the law and the treaty were set at defiance, to a treaty-port, where the trial could be conducted free from the intimidation of a mob, and where treaty-rights are better understood and enforced. The presence of gunboats at the open ports, and the interest taken by naval authorities in such questions as this, is a sure, and sometimes the only, guarantee of a speedy and equitable settlement. Such co-operation of the naval with the consular officers serves at once to convince the Chinese of the national character of the question under discussion, as considered in the light of a treaty obligation; the private wrong is thus exhibited more prominently to the Chinese in its nature as a public question concerning the integrity of treaties. It was to such moral support afforded by the presence in port of the United States gunboats Palo’s and Saco, and the personal co-operation of Commanders Bridgeman and McDougal, that the favorable settlement of this case was largely due; and therefore I would here express my thanks to the admiral of the Asiatic squadron for permitting the vessels to come to Che Foo, and also to Mr. Consul-General Seward, for having kindly represented to the admiral the desirability of sending them. It is gratifying to find that, notwithstanding the apparent hostility of the people to the Christian religion, this wrong, suffered by an American citizen who was laboring as a missionary in the interior of China, has met with adequate redress in strict conformity with treaty-rights. And although the punishment prescribed by Chinese law for the various offenses committed is much more severe than the punishment actually administered, yet the ends of justice have been sufficiently served, and the clemency shown to most of the prisoners after their conviction will doubtless produce a good effect upon themselves and others; and it is to be hoped that the proclamation which has been issued will more effectually accomplish the object for which it was intended, now that its warnings are strengthened by examples which have been made of the guilty.
The real character of this disturbance has been anti-foreign and anti-christian, and [Page 287] the settlement made has fully vindicated both objects of attack. Yet the Chinese are so credulous in all they hear of foreigners, and so much influenced by prejudice and superstition, that ill-feeling is soon roused to-produce mischief; and when such instances occur wherever a foreigner may be in the interior, and the local official shows an unwillingness to act promptly in suppressing threatened disorder, the safest course would be for the foreigner to withdraw at once from the disturbed district and await the action of his own authorities.
Since returning to Tien-tsin, I have received a letter from Mr. Corbett, who went back to Chi-mi. He reports that the people are very friendly, and that he has met with no difficulty. This intelligence encourages the hope that the adjustment of this case will have a permanent effect for good, not only in the district of Chi-mi, but throughout the province at large, and that missionaries will reap the benefit of the time, labor, and anxiety devoted to attain the results which have now been reached.
In conclusion, I have to express my thanks to Mr. W. A. Cornabé, in charge of the consulate at Chefoo, for the active and efficient aid he has rendered throughout the case, and for the zeal he has shown in behalf of the interests committed to his charge; to Mr. J. B. Hartwell, who acted as my interpreter during the several interviews and the trial, and to whom I am under great obligation for his constant attendance and unwearied exertions; and to the several gentlemen who voluntarily acted as secretaries and assistants, and who rendered valuable service as such.
I am likewise under special obligation to Consul-General Seward for the encouragement and support he has given me in this difficult case.
I trust that my course of action and its results, as herein set forth, will meet with your approval, as well as that of the Government.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
United States Consul.
Memorandum of an interview between Eli T. Sheppard, United States consul, and Kung, Taotai at Chefoo, March 24, 1874.
Consul. I have been specially directed by the American minister to come here and make inquiry into the cause of the attack upon the Rev. Mr. Corbett, and the subsequent disturbance, in the district of Chi-mi, in December last.
Taotai. What action do you propose to take?
Consul. I am informed by your correspondence with Mr. Cornabé that you have been examining into the affair. I will be happy to hear the result of your investigations.
Taotai. I think there is fault on both sides, and both parties are to blame. I find that a native Christian, named Wang Li-tung, on the 28th day of the tenth moon, at the Yü-huang temple, attempted to kidnap a child. He is a bad man. The Chinese child was wounded. I also hear that Mr. Corbett has a Chinese woman (wife?) at Chi-mi, and three children by her.
Consul. If Wang Li-tung has committed any crime, it is the duty of the local authorities to punish him for it. That is none of my business, and I have no right to inquire into or meddle with it. It is Mr. Corbett’s affair that I am inquiring about. He had only been there a few months before he was driven away; so the story of the Chinese wife and three children is incorrect.
Taotai. I do not think Mr. Corbett is to blame in any way. The people at Chi-mi are now petitioning for him to come back and live among them.
Consul. Has anybody ever entered any complaint against Mr. Corbett for misconduct?
Taotai. No; none whatever. But the native Christians at Chi-mi refuse to kneel before the magistrates in court.
Consul. Native Christians should be obedient to their magistrates, and kneel before them just the same as if they were not Christians. But I cannot interfere in matters between the magistrates and Chinese subjects. I have been directed by the minister to take the testimony of truthful witnesses, and, if I find Mr. Corbett’s statements to be correct, to ask for the arrest and punishment of the ringleaders of the mob, and for remuneration for Mr. Corbett’s losses. I have here in my hand the sworn statements of fen credible witnesses, some of whom are Christians, some not, who fully verify Mr. Corbett’s statements. Now, as you acknowledge that Mr. Corbett has done nothing wrong, I must ask you to have these men, whose names I here give you, arrested at once and placed upon trial for punishment in accordance with the provisions of the eleventh article of the treaty between China and the United States.
Taotai. Does Mr. Corbett propose to go back to Chi-mi?
Consul. That depends upon circumstances, I suppose. Mr. Corbett has a passport [Page 288] bearing your excellency’s seal, and so long as he does no harm, and continues to behave himself properly, it must be for him to decide when and where he will go. Do you propose to arrest these men, or not?
Taotai. Why should I? Mr. Corbett came away from Chi-mi of his own accord.
Consul. Is it possible that, after three months of investigation, your excellency is still ignorant that Mr. Corbett was obliged to fly to save his life from the violence of the mob?
Taotai. The people made a disturbance and Mr. Corbett became timid and left, but he was not compelled to leave.
Consul. Does not your excellency know that the magistrate of Chi-mi, to whom Mr. Corbett appealed for protection, urged him to leave because it was unsafe for him to remain longer in the city of Chi-mi?
Taotai. The magistrate told him he had better leave, because the people were saying that he (Mr. Corbett) was kidnapping children.
Consul. But your excellency has just said that there has never been any complaint against Mr. Corbett. Then why does the magistrate make this charge?
Taotai. I do not believe these things; but the people at Chi-mi say so.
Consul. Does not the magistrate of Chi-mi know that Tsêng Kuo-fau, in his memorial, after a full examination into the charges of kidnapping children by foreigners and native Christians at Tien-Tsin, declared that Christians never had been found engaged in kidnapping, and that it was contrary to the Christian religion to do so?
Taotai. Yes; I know that it is so.
Consul. Then it is your duty to instruct these people thus. If steps are not taken to suppress these idle rumors, this matter will go on from bad to worse, just as it did at Tien-tsin, where it resulted in a horrible massacre of a great many innocent people. I must repeat my request that you arrest these men for trial and punishment.
Taotai. If I should arrest all these men, and Mr. Corbett should afterward return to Chi-mi, there would certainly be more disturbances. The best way is for Mr. Corbett to drop it now. You see the people are friendly.
Consul. I see the people have torn down Mr. Corbett’s house, stoned him, called him “devil,” and robbed him, and now you say they charge him with kidnapping children. I don’t think that looks very friendly.
Taotai. Will you make your request in the form of an official dispatch to me?
Consul. Certainly, if you are going to comply with the request, I will do so; but if you are not, there is no use of wasting the paper. Mr. Cornabé has frequently requested you to do so before.
Taotai. Mr. Cornabé has not asked the arrest of all these men. Will you arrest Wang Li-tung?
Consul. No. But if these men are arrested, I will bring Wang here. If he has done anything wrong, you can punish him.
Taotai. But these men have killed nobody. They have only had a fight; that is not a serious matter.
Consul. They have violated the treaty, and they have not been punished for it. Is that a thing of no consequence? These men must be arrested and put upon their trial for punishment.
Taotai. Wang must be arrested, too.
Consul. I will bring Wang here.
Taotai. Will you write your request?
Consul. Yes, when you promise me your compliance; not before, Mr. Cornabé’s requests are in writing, and they have been wholly ignored. Do you intend to arrest the men?
Taotai. I want your dispatch first.
Consul. You have admitted that Mr. Corbett has done no wrong, and that a large crowd has made a disturbance and intimidated Mr. Corbett. I have here sufficient testimony to convict all these men of a serious crime. It is your duty by the treaty, upon my request, to arrest these men and punish them. If you cannot do so, or will not, I must go to the viceroy and the governor of this province.
Taotai. Their number is too great.
Consul. Then am I to understand that when a mob exceeds a score or so they are secure from arrest?
Taotai. I will promise to arrest the men named by Mr. Cornabé.
Consul. The fourteen additional named are equally guilty, and must be arrested.
Taotai. I will not do it. Let me see the proofs. I do not believe what you say.
Consul. Do I understand your excellency as impeaching my statement? Such an insinuation is disrespectful to the minister who sends me here, and to the Government whose commission I bear.
Taotai. You misunderstand me. I meant only that I do not believe the evidence which you have taken.
Consul. I wish to call your excellency’s special attention to the provisions of the eleventh article of the treaty between China and the United States, which makes it [Page 289] the duty of the local Chinese official, in case of a riot or disturbance in which United States citizens are molested, attacked, or put in jeopardy, to disperse the mob and arrest and punish the offenders. In this case fall three months have elapsed, and not a single arrest has been made. I now understand your excellency refuses to arrest the guilty parties. I shall report this to Peking. It is my duty to inform you that it now becomes a question for the consideration of the United States Government whether or not its own officers will make these arrests, and what farther measures shall be taken to obtain redress.
Taotai. There is no authority in the treaty allowing you to arrest Chinese subjects.
Consul. If your excellency will read the last clause of the eleventh article, you will find these words: “Arrests in order to trial may be made either by the Chinese or United States authorities.” What would your excellency have me to understand by that?
Taotai. That applies only to the open ports.
Consul. Does it say so?
Taotai, (after much quibbling.) Very well, then; you send me an official request for the arrest of these men, and I will bring them here.
Consul. Will you arrest them and put them on trial?
Taotai. I will.
Consul. How soon can you have them here?
Taotai. I cannot tell that. I will use all expedition, and will order the magistrate of Chi-mi to arrest them and come here with them, and we will all be present at the trial together.
Consul. Very well. I will in the mean time go to Tien-tsin and make a report of this to the minister at Peking. I will send you my official request for the arrest of these men to-morrow.
Taotai. I will notify Mr. Cornabé when the men are here, and he can notify you.
Consul. I will send you a detailed list of Mr. Corbett’s losses just as soon as possible.
Taotai. I should like to have it.
Note.—On Thursday, March 26, the Taotai, after receiving Mr. Sheppard’s official dispatch of the 25th, returned Mr. Sheppard’s visit, and during the interview the Taotai informed Mr. Sheppard that all possible expedition would be observed in arresting and bringing the men to Chefoo for trial. He also gave Mr. Sheppard a list of names of persons whom he proposed to bring forward for examination at the same time with reference to the matter.
Memorandum of an interview between E. T. Sheppard, United States, consul, and Kung Taotai at Chefoo, May 4, 1874.
Consul. At our interview (March 24) your excellency promised me that you would use all diligence and dispatch in arresting the principal offenders in the Chi-mi disturbance. Your excellency has also since then informed Mr. Cornabé that you had arrested the men, as you agreed to do, and you asked for me to come here and attend their trial. Now I have come and find that only ten of the forty-two have been brought.
Taotai. I have brought fourteen of the men.
Consul. Yes; but only ten of those whom I named.
Taotai. I did not say I had arrested all of them.
Consul. You said you had arrested the men, and you asked me to attend the trial according to our agreement, which was when all of the persons named were arrested. When I come I find only ten out of the whole forty-two here. The most culpable are not brought. This has occasioned me great inconvenience and annoyance, and I come to-day to inquire of you why you have not fulfilled your promise, and to tell your excellency that my minister, to whom I must report these facts, will be greatly displeased at your delinquency.
Taotai. I issued an order for the arrest of all these men, as you requested. But the magistrate of Chi-mi reports that many of the men are absent fishing, some are sick, and some are visiting relations.
Consul. The magistrate has reported to your excellency a lot of falsehoods. I have been advised as to the movements and occupation of all these men, and I know that ten days ago they were all at their homes, that they were not sick, and there is not a single fisherman among them.
(The magistrate of Chi-mi, who was present, was so completely nonplussed by this statement that he did not attempt to deny it or refute it in any way whatever.)
Chi-mi Magistrate. I issued warrants for the arrest of all these men as soon as I received the Taotai’s order.[Page 290]
Consul. What day did you issue your warrants, sir?
Magistrate. The 25th day of the 2d moon.
Consul. How long does it take for an order to reach you at Chi-mi from Chefoo?
Magistrate. About four days, ordinarily.
Consul, (to the Taotai.) When did you send your orders for the arrests? Taotai. On the 7th day of the 2d month.
Consul. From the 7th until the 25th is eighteen days. Deducting four days for the order to reach Chi-mi, leaves just half a month in which nothing whatever was done by the Chi-mi magistrate. Does not your excellency perceive that this magistrate has been grossly negligent? (To magistrate.) What were you doing all these two weeks, that you did not issue your warrants for the arrest of these men sooner?
Magistrate made no answer.
Consul, (to the Taotai.) Now your excellency sees that there has been gross neglect of duty here. I shall have to report this to my superiors.
Taotai. Tell me what you want done, and I will do it.
Consul. I want you to keep your promise, and send and bring these men here, as you promised me you would do. If you are not able to do it, I must find somebody who can.
Taotai. I will send the Fuh-shan hsien to make the arrests.
Consul. Here is a list of twenty-one names; they are a part of the original list which I sent you. The first eight named are the most culpable, and must be produced before a trial can be entered into. The others must also be brought, and the ten who are now here must be kept until they arrive, and all can be tried together.
Taotai. I cannot fix a day certain when I will have them here.
Consul. Why not?
Captain Bridgeman. It is essential that the Taotai fix a day certain when he will produce these men; otherwise we may be kept waiting indefinitely. I have been sent here by the admiral to remain here pending the settlement of this affair, and I hope soon to be able to report that it has been satisfactorily adjusted.
Taotai. If I fix a day certain to produce these men and fail, you will come back again as you do now.
Consul. I do not ask for or wish your excellency to perform an impossibility. I am certain these men can be all brought if any reasonable effort is made to get them. They can all be brought here easily in ten days or less.
Taotai. I will get them if they are there. But you must send along with the Fuh-shan magistrate the five Christian witnesses who are now here when he goes to Chi-mi to make the arrests.
Consul. Why must the five witnesses go?
Taotai. For two reasons: first, that they may point out the guilty men, and second, that they may see that the men are arrested.
Consul. That is quite unnecessary. I have given you the name and place of residence of each man, and my witnesses can identify them when they are brought here for trial.
Taotai. Yes, but it is also desirable to have the prosecutors of this suit present when these arrests are made, so the people of Chi-mi may see at whose instance it is done, and it will make them more careful and obedient in the future.
Consul. That is very true, and I quite agree with your excellency. I will therefore order Mr. Corbett, who is the prosecutor of this suit, to go with the Fuh-shan magistrate to Chi-mi, to be present when these arrests are made.
Taotai. O, no! There is no need of Mr. Corbett’s going. We do not want him.
Consul. Yes, your excellency, it is exceedingly necessary and proper that Mr. Corbett, the prosecutor of this suit, be present when these arrests are made, so that the people at Chi-mi may see at whose instance it is done, and it will make them more, careful and obedient in the future. I propose to send Mr. Corbett along with the Fuh-shan magistrate to Chi-mi.
Taotai. No, no! It is the native Christians I want, not Mr. Corbett. Send the native Christian witnesses. I am satisfied that some of the Chi-mi people are guilty.
Consul. No, I will not do it. You are trifling with me again. If you want the prosecutor of the suit to go, I will send him; or if you want a proper constabulary force to help the magistrate bring the men, I can give you that; but I don’t want any more broken promises.
Taotai and Fu-shan Magistrate, together. If the men are in Chi-mi or in an adjoining district we will get them.
Consul. Very well, I will give you fourteen days in which to redeem your promise. At the expiration of that time, I will return to Chefoo again to attend their trial.
Note.—The last proposition of Mr. Sheppard was agreed to, and the interview closed.
Memorandum of the final proceedings, June 4, 1874.
On the consul’s arriving at the court-room he was invited by the Taotai to the hall above the court-room, where was held a brief interview, during which the Taotai presented for the consul’s approval the draught of the proclamation he proposes to issue; and also of the bonds he proposed to require the “house robber” and the “donkey robbers” to sign, as well as the one he intended to have signed by all the accused, binding them to keep the peace and to use their influence to preserve order in the villages in their respective neighborhoods. His excellency also promised to furnish Mr. Corbett, whenever he might wish it, with a new special passport to return with his family to Chi-mi, and also with a letter to the magistrate of Chi-mi.
Present in court, besides his excellency the Taotai and the Fu-shan magistrate, were Mr. Consul Sheppard, Mr. Cornabé, Captain McDougal, and Officers Wood, Breese, and Dr. Ayers, of the United States steamer Saco; Dr. Nevins and Mr. Farmer, secretaries, and Mr. Hartwell, interpreter.
The Taotai called before him the prisoners who had been condemned to punishment for participating in the several stonings and robberies, in their several groups, and announced to them that they had been found guilty of the charges made against them severally. He told them they deserved to be punished with great severity; that particularly those of them who were advanced in years should have restrained the younger men, instead of leading them on; and that most especially the local constables, whose duty it was to suppress such risings, were guilty of serious crime in joining in stoning and in entering the house of any person, and especially of a foreigner. Such conduct could not be tolerated, and they must be punished according to law. He said their sentence ought to be even heavier than the law ordinarily prescribes, but that Mr. Corbett, the prosecutor, through the consul, had begged, and the consul himself had asked, that they might be dealt with in mercy; and that they might congratulate themselves on getting off with no more severe punishment. He advised them, when they should go-back home, to live quietly, and to be at peace with any foreigners who might be there, and with the native Christians. He then ordered them to be taken away for punishment. He then called the parties against whom evidence had been adduced that they had taken part in the robbing on the road and at Mr. Corbett’s house, but who, through clemency, were not to be beaten. After lecturing them very much as he did the former groups, and assuring them that he had been in consultation with the consul for days concerning them, and that it was only through mercy, at the intercession of Mr. Corbett and the sincere wish of the consul, that they were not to be beaten, required them each to sign a document binding themselves to pay for the missing articles within fifteen days. They were told they would be locked up until the money was paid.
The whole number of the accused were now brought into court, (except the condemned,) and the Taotai addressed them at some lenght upon the serious nature of the offense with which they had been charged, and assured them that if the witnesses, had delivered their testimony, every man of them would have had to be punished, but that Mr. Corbett and the consul, not seeking for revenge, had declined to press the matter in every case, and had urged him to exercise mercy and pardon them. He repeated to them that the consul and he had been consulting over the matter for days, both the consul and the prosecutor inclining to mercy. He asked, “How could you know what would be the effect of your stoning? Some of those stones might have? seriously wounded Mr. Corbett, or even killed him, in which case several of you might have forfeited your lives.” He ordered them to be peaceable and friendly with Mr. Corbett when he goes back, and with the native Christians.
They were to have no fights nor quarrels with the Christians. These Christians were still Chinese subjects; and if they did anything wrong, the people were not to take the law into their own hands, but to make their complaints to the local magistrate, and if he did not deal with the matter, they might come to the Taotai and complain, and he would see that the matter was properly investigated. And just so with any foreigner. Mr. Corbett would not do any harm; but if any foreigner should do what was wrong, they were not to attempt to redress it themselves, but to complain to him, and that he and the foreign consul would have the delinquent foreigner dealt with. That neither the foreign consul nor himself would allow a foreigner or a native to conduct himself lawlessly in the country. He made them all promise that they would drop this matter and not make any more trouble about it; that they would go home and live at peace with the foreigner and with the native Christians. They all knocked their heads in acknowledgment of this clemency; and he required each one to sign a pledge that he would not only keep the peace himself, but would urge this course upon all the villages in his neighborhood.
The Taotai then reminded them that if, after signing this bond, they should violate it, they would be dealt with more severely than if they had not signed it, and dismissed them.[Page 292]
The court then adjourned, and the Fuh-shan magistrate proceeded at once to his temporary office in Yentia to have the sentences of the court executed. Mr. Cornabé and the interpreter, Mr. Hartwell, were deputed by the consul to go, in company with Captain McDougal and Officers Wood, Breese, and Dr. Ayers, of the United States steamer Saco, to see the punishment inflicted.
Arrived at the Yamen, the magistrate had each culprit brought before him, and after a few words to each, ordered him to be beaten according to the sentence of the court. The blows were administered with a stick of bamboo, four feet or more in length and about two inches wide, held by the lictor in both hands. As it is the summer season, eight blows were counted ten, according to Chinese custom.
Kiang Kwan-kih professed to be sick, and begged that his son might take his place. The son being willing, the magistrate consented, and the son received nominally 80 Mows, really 64; Wang I-chin received nominally 80 blows, really 64; Wang Shi-Kiai received nominally 80 blows, really 64; Wang Pao received nominally, 60 blows, really 48; Kiang Hwo-sien received nominally 60 blows, really 48; Kiang Shau-sien received nominally 40 blows, really 32.
After which the deputation from the consulate retired.
The Taotai’s proclamation, dated June 22, 1874.
Kung, by imperial appointment a brevet provincial treasurer, superintendent of maritime customs at Chefoo, and intendant of the circuit of Têng-chou Fu, Laichou-Fu, and Ching-chau-Fu, issues a stringent proclamation enjoining upon all an observance of the treaties, to the end that natives and foreigners may enjoy peace and security.
Among the treaties with various countries made public by the prince and ministers of the tsung-li yamên, there is found a treaty with the United States, the twenty-ninth article of which is as follows:
“The principles of the Christian religion, as professed by the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches, are recognized as teaching men to do good, and to do to others as they would have others do to them. Hereafter those who quietly profess and teach these doctrines shall not be harassed or persecuted on account of their faith. Any person, whether a citizen of the United States or a Chinese convert, who, according to these tenets, shall peaceably teach and practice the principles of Christianity, shall in no case be interfered with or molested.”
Repeated commands have been issued for the observance of this article.
In the month of December, 1873, some natives of the district of Chi-mi stoned the Rev. H. Corbett, an American missionary, insulted him by calling him kwei-tzé, (devil,) and took away from him clothing and other articles. This, though at first only a small disturbance, well nigh grew into a serious affair. The case has now been taken up and justly adjudicated by myself and Mr. Sheppard, the United States consul.
With the exception of the leaders in the disturbance, who are punished, according to law, with the heavy bamboo, with degrees of severity corresponding to their offenses, the offenders are pardoned and released. All these people, in their disobedience and reckless conduct, have been guilty of breaking the laws. As this is the first offense, their punishment is inflicted with leniency, hoping to preserve peaceful relations between natives and foreigners. All persons of whatever class should give diligence to observe the treaty, that mutual friendship may be perpetuated. I have, in connection with Mr. Sheppard, the United States consul, agreed upon certain stipulations which axe to be published in this proclamation; and fearing lest persons in other places may be ignorant of the treaty and recklessly make disturbance, I print this proclamation in order that it may be generally known. Hereafter all persons must observe my instructions, and thus avoid the recurrence of such misdemeanors, by which you will bring punishment upon yourselves. This is my earnest expectation.
The following are the stipulations:
- In future, all who preach and practice the Christian religion shall receive from local magistrates the same care and protection as others, and no one will be allowed to insult and injure them. All who, according to the principles of the Christian religion, peaceably propagate or practice it, shall not therefor be molested or injured by the people.
- Hereafter when natives see a foreigner they must address him as such, and are forbidden to call him kwei-tzé, (devil.) Those who disobey this injunction will be immediately dealt with by the local magistrate.
- The Chi-mi suit, originating in Hwa-yin market, Yuh-hwang temple, Ko-Fau village, and other places, has now been justly settled. Hereafter you people of every place [Page 293] should take warning from it. If you are guilty of such proceedings again, you will incur heavy punishment.
- This case has been justly decided and administered according to truth, and without partiality. The accused, including those who have been pardoned, have signed a bond promising to return home and peacefully pursue their several callings, without making further disturbance in seeking opportunities for revenge and retaliation against witnesses and others connected with this suit. If there are other matters or lawsuits, they must be considered by themselves, and no use shall be made of this to obstruct other suits.
- Native Christians are Chinese subjects, and are to be governed by Chinese laws If lawsuits arise, they are to be attended to in the Chinese courts, and foreigners have nothing to do with them. And, according to treaty, foreign missionaries are not to act for, or to shield and protect, natives. I have heard that native Christians have been guilty of going before the magistrate without kneeling, and refusing to pay taxes, and undertaking the prosecution of illegal lawsuits, and other lawless practices. I have also heard that people have endeavored to exact from native Christians contributions to the ceremony of “welcoming gods,” and to idolatrous processions, repairing temples, and theatrical plays, which exactions are expressly forbidden by imperial edict. It is now agreed upon, in connection with the foreign consul, that hereafter, if native Christians or other subjects are guilty of the aforesaid misdemeanors, complaints may be brought against them before the local magistrate. If foreign missionaries act for them and protect them, the people may come to Chefoo and accuse them by name before me and the foreign consul, and the case will be impartially attended to. You must, not take the matters into your own hands and stone people, and thus bring punishment upon yourselves.
Two bonds, dated June 4, 1874.
bond to keep the peace.
A voluntary bond of releasement entered into by Kiang Kwan-kih and others.
This bond, by which releasement is obtained, is in consequence of the prosecution of the undersigned by a foreigner, Rev. H. Corbett. Having had the case closely examined, it appears that Kiang Kwan-kih struck Mr. Corbett with a stone; that a stone thrown by Kiang Hwo-sien struck his horse, and that Kiang Shau-sien took part in the affray. These persons are sentenced to receive punishment according to the seriousness of the offense committed by each. All the accused are now ordered to return home and peacefully attend to their several callings, and to abstain from making disturbances in the future. Hereafter, if Mr. Corbett goes again to Chi-mi to preach and propagate Christianity, the inhabitants of the village are not to interfere with him in any way. You must not oppose and injure Christians, and must not oppress your native countrymen. And now you voluntarily promise to abide by this document, and not disobey.
[Signed by twenty-seven persons.]
bond to secure indemnity.
A promissory bond given to secure the payment of indemnification within a limited time.
This is a promissory bond, given in consequence of a suit brought against the undersigned by a foreigner, Rev. H. Corbett. This suit having been carefully examined, it appears that articles were lost from Mr. Corbett’s house, and the undersigned engage either to find and return the missing articles within fifteen days or to pay an equivalent in money. We voluntarily promise to abide by this agreement.
[Signed by five persons.]
Prince Kung to Mr. Williams .
Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith makes a communication.
In relation to the quarrel which occurred at Chi-mi, in Shantung between the people [Page 294] and the Christians, I have already informed your excellency that frequent orders were sent to the governor of that province to direct the proper officers to inquire into the affair with a view to its just settlement.
A dispatch has now been received from the northern superintendent of trade, inclosing the report of the intendant of circuit at Chefoo, wherein he slates that, in the case of this riot between the people and Christians in Chi-mi, the parties have all been summoned before him and all the witnesses examined. In conjunction with the United States consul, the affair has been publicly investigated in the fullest manner and decided, the guilty punished, and the case finished. “I therefore respectfully make known the details,” he concludes, “that you may report for information in the proper quarter that the case is settled.”
I have accordingly had a copy made of the superintendent’s dispatch upon the case, and beg to inclose it herewith for your excellency’s information.
His Excellency S. Wells Williams,
United States Chargé d’Affaires.
Report of the northern superintendent of trade, (Li Hungchang,) inclosing the following de tailed report from Kung Yih-tu, intendant of the circuit of Y’angchau, Laichau, and Tsing chau, prefectures in Shantung, dated June 16, 1874.
On the 23d of March the governor of Shantung sent me a copy of an order he had received from the foreign office, dated March 1, in which the inquiry was made as to the cause of the quarrel between the people of Chi-mi and an American missionary there, and directing me to see that the district magistrate there examined into the affair and equitably settled it. I at once sent him the order to inquire into the cause of the disturbance, and let me know everything that he did, and at the same time reported a summary of the affair and what I had done to the governor, for him to communicate to the foreign office.
On the 20th of May I received from the governor a copy of another order from the foreign office, dated April 23, in which I was urged to more diligence, and directed to bring the parties to the trial all together, and jointly examine them in the most careful manner, so as to elicit the facts and settle the affair in accordance with justice.
I had already directed Meh, the district magistrate at Chi-mi, to transfer Kiang Kwan-kih and others, parties and witnesses in this case, to my court, where, with the foreign missionary, Hunter Corbett, and the native Christians, Wang Li-tung and others, they could all be examined, and a joint trial held with the consul.
Among the documents in the case was one dated December 22, received from W. A. Cornabé, United States vice-consul, in which he told me that Mr. Corbett had been assaulted at a market-place called Hwa-yin, by a crowd around a theater, and struck by stones thrown in the mêlée. Further, that on the 19th of December he was preaching near the temple of Yuh-hwang, at Hwa-yin, when he was struck by stones thrown at him from the crowd, and his assistants, Wang Li-tung and others, also wounded in the fray.
The vice-consul further said he had heard that the inhabitants of Chi-mi had assembled to the number of 300, each of whom had ten others at his back, and all intended to go into the town for the purpose of injuring Mr. Corbett. The magistrate was powerless to protect him, and he had, therefore, fled on the 22d, and reached Chefoo. A letter had afterward been received from his assistant, stating that on that day about two thousand men from the southern association of villages entered the town seeking a quarrel. The magistrate had gone out to disperse them, but was powerless to effect anything.
In another note he alleged that on the 24th a man named Sü Yen-tsoh and half a score of fellows with him, all belonging to Chi-mi, had carried off Mr. Corbett’s things and a hired donkey; and in the afternoon of that day they had gone to Ko-fau and carried off all his furniture and effects, with his cow, cleaning everything out and breaking the windows and doors of his house to, pieces.
Subsequently he informed me that a convert named Che Chung-yuen, belonging to the village of Pau-hein, had had his fruit and timber trees, all cut down by people of the place. On the same day, Wang Yung-chun, a convert living in Ta-lao Village, had been attacked by persons entering his house, who robbed it and greivously wounded his left eye; also, one Sun Wan-lun, of the village of Tung-kia-ngan, was robbed and ill-used by some persons, and his uncle carried off by force. The vice-consul accordingly requested that these proceedings might be inquired into and the evil-doers punished. I immediately sent repeated orders to the district magistrate at Chi-mi to strictly inquire into the matter and punish the offenders. This can all be shown by the records.
While I was issuing these orders and making these inquiries, Mr. Sheppard, the United States consul, came from Tein-tsin down to Chefoo. At an inter view I had with him, [Page 295] he told me that he had received directions from the American minister at Peking to go down and inquire into this affair, and have all the witnesses and others connected with the case brought to Chefoo, that we might there jointly try and settle it.
I accordingly ordered the magistrate of Chi-mi to remove the case to Chefoo. Mr. Sheppard agreed that he would cite the plaintiff, Corbett, and five converts to be present, when we could thoroughly examine the case. He also gave me the names of the leaders in the riotous proceedings at Chi-mi, forty-two persons in all, and a full list of the clothes and other things lost by Mr. Corbett, valued, all together, at 380 taels.
Having received these lists, I sent two messengers to Chi-mi; and on the 16th of May the prisoners and all persons connected with the case were in Chefoo. I notified Consul Sheppard of these things, and requested him to appear with the plaintiff and the witnesses on his side. On the 25th the United States consul and Sung Tsoh-pin, district magistrate of Fuh-shan, being present, I opened the court and began the trial.
Seeing from the first that this case was likely to be a troublesome one, having many points mixed in it, while those pertaining to the foreigners ought alone properly to be the, subject of this joint trial and sentence; but the accusations by the converts, who were Chinese, and therefore a portion of our own people, belonged only and of right to the local rulers, whose duty it was to settle all such quarrels, and foreigners had nothing whatever to do with them. I stated these points to Mr. Sheppard, who cordially assented. There were several cases brought forward by the vice-consul, viz, that of the assault and wounding of Wang Lih-tung; of cutting down the trees belonging to Ché Chung-yuen; of the injury done to Wang Yang-chun; a id, lastly, of robbing Sun Wăn-lun; all of which were wrongs arising between natives of China, with which foreigners had no concern, and were accordingly referred to the local authorities for trial and punishment.
There would then remain for our joint investigation only the attack on Mr. Corbett and subsequent loss of his things, and to ascertain whether there was a combination among the people of Chi-mi to molest and injure him. We continued the trial for successive days, bringing forward the prisoners one after the other, and taking evidence carefully upon each charge.
It was proved that no organized combination existed among the people for purposes of plunder and sediton; and I therefore asked the vice-consul what evidence he had for the assertion made in one of his letters, that two thousand people had entered Chi-mi in a tumultuous manner and that the magistrate was unable to disperse them. In the inquiries made as to the origin of such a false rumor, Mr. Corbett testified that after the attack made upon him, near the temple of Yuh-hwang, some of the converts told him that during the next night the people of the farmsteads in and around Ko-fau had lighted no end of their lanterns, and roamed over the country, from which they feared there was a consultation going on. But this was not satisfactory proof of the charge.
As to the charge that the district magistrate was unable to protect him, it appeared from the testimony of the convert Lin Lung-méi, at the time of the military examinations at the place, on the 22d of December, that many candidates were gathered on the parade-ground, and when the magistrate went out of the gates to inspect them he saw several scores of people kneeling by the roadside, whom he (the convert) was told were there for the purpose of complaining against the foreigner. From this idle rumor came the story that two thousand men had entered the town, whom the local magistrate could not control or disperse, and the other charge that there was a seditious combination of the people with intent to murder, against which the officials could not protect him. Inquiry proved them both to be unfounded.
I then asked the vice-consul about his statements, and he acknowledged that, they arose from incorrect information; and, therefore, in respect to the two counts of plotting violence, and inability of obtaining official protection [for Mr. Corbett,] it was needless to inquire further.
In relation to the charge of twice stoning Mr. Corbett, the testimony of Wang I-chin and Kiang Kwan-kih was as follows: They were at a theatrical performance at Hwa-yin on the 1st of December, as Mr. Corbett rode by on a horse, and some persons picked up stones and sent them flying so that he was hit. How could any one tell who it was, among such a crowd, that picked up the stones? Also, on the 19th of the month, a great crowd was collected at tue Yuh-hwang temple to get up a procession for the gods, and Mr. C. began to preach near by: some persons in the multitude threw stones to hit him, but nobody could well know who it was.
Mr. Corbett, on being called on for his evidence upon this matter, was unable to point out the very persons; nor could those whom he brought as witnesses to identify the guilty ones, and particularize which ones threw the stones, and which hit him, as if they had seen it all with their own eyes, tell me, when I questioned them myself as to their proof, which were the very men, or bring any trustworthy evidence.
On further carefully sifting their evidence on this point, they averred that the first man who picked up a stone at Hwa-yin was Wang Pao; and in reference to the charge [Page 296] of throwing stones at the Yuh-hwang temple, they said that there were many people named Kiang in that village, and this man, Kiang Kwan-kih, was head man of it, was present at the time of the fracas, and could not restrain the people. Two others named Kiang Shau-sien and Kiang Hwo-sien, were there, too, and cognizant of the facts. These were all the facts which could be proved concerning the two occasions when stones were thrown.
In relation to the charge of Mr. Corbett twice losing things, the convert, Lin Lungméi, testified as follows: When Mr. C. returned to Chefoo he left the care of all his effects in my hands and I hired a donkey of one Wang Lih-sien to carry them to Ko fau. This last named says that the villagers, Sü Yen-tsoh and Tu Kwang-tsūen, carried the whole away with them, by force. On cross-questioning these two men they declared that Wang Lih-sien owed Tu Kwang-tsuen, who, seeing him that day going off leading a donkey tried to distrain it and the load as a security for his claim. He could not tell how the things came to be lost, but he never had any idea of stealing them. However, after the trouble taken in this examination, he was quite willing to make good the loss of the things taken at their fair price.
Two men, Wang Lih-sien and Wang Lih-hai, further gave evidence that in the afternoon of that day the village constable, Wang Shi-kiai, and some thirty others went to Mr. Corbett’s hired house, at Ko-fau, broke into it and carried off all the clothes and furniture and destroyed the doors and windows. I then asked this constable about it, who said that he and Li Pah, Sun Shi-tang, and three others went to Ko-fau; and hearing that Mr. C. had returned to Chefoo they started off to see his chapel. They urged one Wang Lih-hao to open the doors for them to go in and then went out after looking about them; but half a score of other fellows whom he did not know rushed in at the same time. He did not know at all what things were lost, but had no intention of robbing anything, and was willing to compensate for the articles lost.
Such being the facts, I judged that as Tu Kwang-tsūen led away the donkey under the idea of distraining it for debt, and Wang Shi-kiai and the crowd went into the house without any intention of robbing, and both were willing to pay the value of the things lost, it was needless for us to examine them any further. The consul also-agreed that this was sufficient. These are the circumstances connnected with the double robbery of Mr. Corbett.
The eleventh article of the American treaty provides that subjects of China, guilty of any criminal act toward citizens of the United States, shall be punished by the authorities of China according to the laws of China; and I find that our statutes lay down eighty blows of the bamhoo as the heaviest punishment for doing wrong without previous intention.
In this case Wang I-chin and Wang Shi-kiai both hold the post of village constables. When the row began they could not restrain the crowd, and made no report of their violence; the last-named also led people into the house, whereby many small things were lost.
The man Kiang Kwan-kih is a village elder; he was unable to restrain his sons and nephews; and having been at the theater himself, he is responsible for what happened there. All of these are amenable to the above law, and each of them is sentenced to receive eighty blows.
Wang Pao, who threw the first stone, and Kiang Shau-sien, who was at both the-frays, are each sentenced to sixty blows. Kiang Hwo-sien, who participated in one of them only, is sentenced to forty blows. Tu Kwan-tsūen, and the others who carried off the donkey, pretending that it was for a debt, with Wang Shi-kiai, and those who entered the house, whereby many things were lost, have all agreed to repay their cost. The latter must, after he has done so, be dismissed from his post as constable; and the two with him may receive their pardon. Seventeen others, who were not proved to have joined in the riot, were liberated there in open court; while those sentenced to be beaten were punished in accordance therewith, and then sent home. Tu Kwang-tsūen, and those ordered to pay the 380 taels for the things lost, as the list handed in by the consul stated, were detained until the money was paid to Mr. Corbett.
I have also issued a proclamation, stating distinctly, that whenever Mr. Corbett goes to Chimi district to teach religion, and quietly attends to his proper vocation, he will be protected according to the treaty. He is not to be molested in any way. So there is hope that now all parties will live in peace.
I now send all the papers connected with the case, the details of the examination and the circumstances of the closing, arranged in order for your inspection, and have the honor to request that this affair may be reported to the foreign office as having been satisfactorily settled.
On receiving the above, I (the superintendent of the northern ports) having separated the papers in this case, now send up the clear report which I have made, and have the honor to request that the conduct and finishing of this case may be looked into.
Mr. Corbett and others to Mr. Sheppard.
The undersigned, citizens of the United States of America, residing at Chefoo and Tungchow, desire to express their thanks to Eli T. Sheppard, esq., United States consul for Tien-tsin and Chefoo, for the energy and efficiency which he has displayed in prosecuting the case relating to the recent disturbance at Chimi.
The difficulties inherent in the case, together with the obstacles thrown in the way by the Chinese officials, and their determined and persistent opposition to take any proper action to elicit the truth, made the affair an especially difficult one. Fortunately Mr. Sheppard knew his rights, and firmly insisted upon having them acknowledged.
His determination to uphold and vindicate the honor of his country, and the satisfactory settlement which he has received, give us a high appreciation of him as a man and a worthy representative of our Government in China.
- HUNTER CORBETT.
- CHARLES R. MILLS.
- C. W. MATEER.
- J. L. NEVINS.
- J. B. HARTWELL.
- S. P. CRAWFORD
- L. W. ECKARD.