Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. Bayard.
Peking, November 27, 1886. (Received January 15, 1887.)
Sir: I have the honor to transmit for your perusal a translation of a memorial presented to the Empress regent, in accordance with Imperial [Page 168] instructions by the minister of the grand council, having relation to certain articles of procedure which are to be adopted by the court on the accession of the Emperor in February next.
I have, etc.,
Your servants, Shih-To, Ngr ho-ho-pu, Chang-Chih-Wan, Hzü-Kang-shen, and Sun-Yü-Wen, on bended knees, present a memorial in obedience to a rescript of your Majesty, the Empress regent, to consider and submit certain articles. Looking upward, they implore the sacred glance of your Majesty upon this memorial, reverently prepared by them.
They would humbly state that in the matter Of the Emperor’s accession to the personal authority of Government and the direction thereof by her Majesty the Empress regent next year, the grand lieutenant and other yamêns have repeatedly presented joint memorials as to whether the ancient usage should be followed by the court, requesting your Majesty to issue your instructions thereon. Your memorialists also presented copies of the articles previously in force for your Majesty’s perusal. These documents your Majesty ordered to be returned, and at the same time verbally instructed your memorialists to conjointly consider and submit other articles, setting forth which of the ancient usages should be restored, which should be modified, and which should be temporarily set aside for the present, and to await the Imperial decision thereon.
Your memorialists have respectfully and thoroughly consulted and advised together and now reverently present the following articles in detail for the perusal of your Majesty:
- Special rescripts have been issued by her Majesty having relation to his Majesty the Emperor’s visit to the Eastern Imperial Mausolia to perform sacrificial rites, as well as to the religious ceremonies to be performed in person by the Emperor at the Altar of Heaven during the present year. In regard to the ceremonies to be performed by his Majesty hereafter, viz: At the Imperial College of Antiquity, the performance of the agricultural observances at the Temple of Agriculture, the writing of the academicians, and the duties at the palace gate—your memorialists would reverently suggest that all these await the issuance of special decrees from the Throne.
- It is right that there should be a distinction made in the performance of the sacrificial rites of the second and third order, when the ceremonies should be performed by the Emperor in person or by deputy. Your memorialists propose that the ancient custom be followed—the yamên concerned presenting a memorial at the proper period asking for Imperial instructions.
- The important observances and mode of receiving congratulations on the celebration of the anniversary of the birthdays of the Empress and Emperor and on New Year’s Day, the ceremonies to be observed at the Winter Solstice Palace Examinations and Imperial Banquets—your memorialists propose that all these matters shall be regulated in conformity to ancient custom, the board of ceremonies, in conjunction with various yamêns, presenting a report to the Throne and asking for instructions.
- Whenever officials are summoned or admitted to audience and her Majesty is present to give instructions to the Emperor, your memorialists propose that in accordance with the joint proposition of the minister of the board of ceremonies, as a temporary expedient, a curtain of gauze be erected as a screen.
- Your memorialists propose that all officials on duty at Peking or in the provinces, in presenting complimentary memorials to the Empress or Emperor, shall prepare such documents in accordance with the present form. Memorials upon matters of business shall also be reverently prepared in accordance with the form at present in use.
- Of late years change in the rules that each yamên shall inspect and examine candidates for appointment and present a list of their names to their majesties the Empress and Emperor, and request instructions, as well as the rule temporarily suspending the granting in person audience of candidates—your memorialists propose (shall be abolished and) that in future the old custom be carried into effect, and that all official candidates be presented for audience in person. In this matter your memorialists reverently await the decision of your Majesty. The lists of candidates to be prepared in regular order in accordance with present custom.
- In the matter of the provincial and metropolitan examinations, as well as all matters anent the themes to be given at these examinations, according to ancient [Page 169] custom these must await the decision of his Majesty. Your memorialists propose that this custom be continued in practice, the grand council presenting the classics to the Empress, when her Majesty will select the page or leaf, and then her Majesty will be asked to name the themes. Afterwards these will be submitted for her Majesty’s perusal, who will give them forth. There is no need to memorialize the Throne asking that officers be appointed to suggest the themes.
- In regard to the subjects for the Manchu interpreter examination, these will still be arranged by the Han Lin officers of the Imperial College of Inscriptions. At the Mongolian examinations and the examinations for Mongolian secretaryships, the grand council will, in accordance with ancient usage, reverently submit the subjects for interpretation to Her Majesty.
- All memorials presented to the Throne by the officials, either at the capital or in the provinces, which require a rescript, your memorialists propose that the ancient custom be carried into effect and his Majesty be required to inscribe his reply with the vermillion pencil. Afterwards the memorials will reverently be presented to her Majesty for her perusal before they are sent forth.
- According to ancient usage at the palace military examinations, the board of war presents a memorial praying her Majesty to attend the competitive exercises in person. Your memorialists suggest that at the proper period the Emperor be requested (by said board) to issue his decree in regard to this matter.
- According to ancient custom, when the board of war memorialize the Emperor, requesting the appointment of high officers as inspectors of feasts, a larger tablet is furnished, written with Manchu characters and not topped and green-topped slips, all which are presented to his Majesty, who makes the nomination. When the Eight Banner Corps practice on the sea conches, a report should be made to her Majesty on a large tablet. Your memorialists propose that for the present the regulations now in use, having relation to these matters, be followed.
- In the matter of his Majesty marking off the names of criminals to be executed, your memorialists propose that the rule now in practice be followed.
The above articles are presented by your memorialists, and they reverently await the sacred glance of their Majesties the Empress and Emperor upon them and their decision thereon. They will respectfully carry them into effect and communicate, them to the metropolitan and provincial authorities to be alike observed by them.
A rescript issued by the Empress regent.
Let action be taken as proposed.