No. 108.
Mr. Holcombe to Mr. Evarts.

No. 133.]

Sir: I regret to be obliged to report the opening of a fresh chapter in the history of the transit passes—ten in number—taken out at [Page 216] Hankow by Mr. M. A. Jenkins or the export of native produce from Szchuen.

In my dispatch, No. 104, of January 18, I had the honor to inform you that the Szchuen viceroy had promptly disapproved the action the Lekin tax-officer at Kwei Chow, and ordered him to respect th transmit certificates, and to pass the merchandise covered by them.

Upon the 23d of February I received a further dispatch in the premises from Prince Kung, a translation of which is inclosed. It merely covered a report from the Lekin officer, sent through the viceroy, that, upon the 28th of December, Mr. Jenkins had presented two of the passes at the tax station and that the goods covered by them had been passed the same day. It further declared that no obstacles had been put in Mr. Jenkins’s way by the officials at Kwei Chow.

This appeared to be very satisfactory. But, upon the 6th instant, I received a dispatch in the same matter from Mr. Shepard, in which a state of the case strangely at variance with the report of the Lekin official was developed. According to the consul’s letter, the merchandise represented by two passes was entered at the Kwei Chow tax-station, not, indeed, upon December 28, but January 2. So far, however, from having been passed the same day, permission to pass it without the payment of the usual taxes was refused, and, upon the 16th January, the merchandise was still detained at Kwei Chow, with no prospect of release.

Immediately upon receipt of this information, I addressed a dispatch to Prince Kung, a copy of which is inclosed. In it, as you will see, I called his attention to the sharp contrast between the facts of the situa-atiou, as reported by our consul, and the statements of the Lekin deputy. I also spoke somewhat plainly in regard to the conduct of the local officer, and requested the Prince to send stringent orders to him to release the merchandise at once.

I inclose a translation of the reply of His Imperial Highness. It is merely routine in its nature; yet it may be that the instructions sent are more stringent than the Prince cares to indicate.

I wish I could add that circumstances such as are set forth in these inclosures are of rare occurrence in China. But the reverse is the fact. It is difficult to induce the foreign office to issue the necessary orders for a faithful performance of the promises contained in the treaties, and by no means certain that such orders, when issued, will be obeyed.

I shall press this business as vigorously as seems proper.

Asking your approval of my action, I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in dispatch No. 133.]

Prince Kung, chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, herewith makes a communication in reply:

In the matter of the ten transit passes taken out by Mr. M. A. Jenkins at Hankow, to cover the export of native produce from Szchuen, some time since, I received a dispatch from you requesting me to intruct the local authorities to give heed to the transit rules and release the goods at once. Thereupon, I addressed the viceroy of Szchuen directing him to cause the local officials to make the customary examination and to pass the merchandise as required by treaty, and I informed you of my action. In January last, I received a response from the viceroy of Szchuen stating that he had directed the deputies in charge of the Lekin station at Kwei-Chow to obey the provisions of the treaties in the case, and I also informed you of this.

Upon the 12th instant I received a further dispatch in the premises from the governor-general of Szchuen informing me that the intendant of the eastern circuit of that [Page 217] province had reported the recelpt of a communication from the Ichang intendant stating that he was in receipt of a dispatch from the superintendent of customs at Hankow informing him that Mr. Shepard, United States consul at Hankow, had applied for the following transit passes on behalf of Mr. M. A. Jenkins, for the export of Szchuen produce, i. e., for musk, five passes; for gall-nuts, two passes; raw silk, one pass; white wax, one pass; saffron, one pass; and that the passes had been made out and delivered.

Orders were at once issued to the Lekin station to make the usual examination, and in case the goods corresponded with the passes, to allow them to proceed at once.

The viceroy is now in receipt of a report from the deputy in charge of the Lekin station, informing him that upon the 28th December Tsusi-chi-shan, the agent of M. A. Jenkins, entered at the Lekin station seven boxes of gall-nuts covered by one transit certificate, No. 31, of 1878, issued by the Hankow customs, and 8 boxes of gall-nuts covered by the transit certificate No. 32, of 1878, also, issued by the Hankow customs. Upon the same day the examination was made, the passes countersealed and returned to the agent, and the merchandise passed. From the 3d day of August, at which time the ten passes were issued from the Hankow customs, up to the 28th December Mr. Jenkins has only entered the two passes for gall-nuts at the Lekin station, and for these the inspections have been promptly made and the merchandise passed at once. No other passes have been presented by him. Mr. Jenkins is himself very dilatory in transacting his business, and no obstacles have been put in his way. The Lekin station will be instructed upon the entry of the passes for musk and other merchandise to make examination and to pass the goods at once, &c.

It becomes my duty to convey to you this report from the viceroy for your information.

Chester Holcombe, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

[Inclosure 2 in dispatch No. 133.]

Mr. Shepard to Mr. Holcombe.

Sir: Referring to my No. 24, of November 2, 1878, to which you responded in your Nos. 54 and 57, I have the honor to forward herewith a copy of a letter just received from Mr. Jenkins, to which I need add no remarks. As requested in your No. 57, I also inclose the original of the paper designated.

In the case of Messrs. Russell & Co. versus certain Chinese, I have the pleasure to report that his excellency the taotai has at length notified me of his assent to the investigation in my presence, which I have so long contended for, at a day to be mutually agreed upon. When it has been held, I will at once advise you of its course and its results.

I am, &c.,