to Mr. Bayard.
Peking, October 26, 1887. (Received December 12.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that from reports recently presented to the throne, the Yellow River, aptly named by the Emperor Taokuang “China’s Sorrow,” because of the calamity caused by its oft-recurring floods, has again burst its banks; this time at a place below Ching Chow, near the capital of Honan.
It is to be feared that the devastation caused will be as serious as in 1856, when the river changed its bed, and instead of emptying itself into the Yellow Sea about latitude 34°, this huge volume of water turned off at right angles near the city of Kao Feng Fu, the capital of Honan, and found its issue in the Gulf of Pechihli, latitude 38°.
Though full particulars of the extent of the destruction and desolation have not yet transpired, still there is reason to believe that a frightful calamity has occurred, for the overflow must have covered hundreds of acres of arable land, converting them into a vast lake, destroying villages and towns, and rendering homeless thousands of persons.
A decree published recently appropriating the sum of 400,000 taels, and the entire quantity of tribute grain, to be sent by Grand Canal next year, due from Kiang-Su and other places, to alleviate the sufferings of the people, is evidence of the serious nature of the disaster.
By a decree published on the 8th of October instant, at the instance of the director-general of the Yellow River, a subprefect, major, lieutenant, [Page 224] and second sergeant have been degraded and ordered to wear the canque along the banks of the river, and the intendant at the capital of Honan is to be handed over to the board for the determination of a penalty. The offense committed by these officers is that they did not take precautions to repair the damage to the banks of the river, and thereby avert further disaster.
I have, etc.,