Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 793.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of an informal—red letter—dispatch which the Dean has, by direction of the ministers, sent to the Tsung-li Yamên. The purport of this communication is a remonstrance against a publication in a periodical published at Shanghai which represents that foreigners boil corpses for the preparation of soap. Such a proceeding on the part of the ministers would [Page 96]perhaps be unusual in any part of the world but the east. I inclined first to the idea that the consuls should be directed to bring the matter to the attention of the local authorities. But a full discussion of the subject convinced me that it would be better to send a direct though informal remonstrance to the Yamên. The superstition that foreigners commit all kinds of horrors on the bodies of the dead is very general in far eastern countries. It will be remembered that the massacre at Tientsin, the 21st June, 1840, of the French nuns and other foreigners was caused by the rumor that children were murdered and their eyes used to make medicine.

Last year the outbreak at Seoul, Corea, was owing to charges that foreigners were engaged in kidnapping children. Charges of like character have been spread throughout the cities on the Yangtse. Other examples of the circulation of atrocious libels against foreigners as a class might be cited.

Owing therefore to the general prevalence of such scandalous charges all over the Empire, it was deemed proper to bring the matter to the attention of the Imperial Government.

A decree from the throne would put an end to such abominable superstitions. At least, if nothing is done by the Imperial Government to check the circulation of such foul accusations, it may well hereafter be held responsible should disorders follow publication and rumors of this nature.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 793.]

Mr. Von Brandt to the Tsung-li Yamên.

Your Highness and Your Excellencies:

Mr. Von Brandt and his colleagues have the honor to represent to your highness and your excellencies that recently there appeared in the Chinese Illustrated News, published in Shanghai, No. 168, a picture representing foreigners boiling corpses for the preparation of soap, with the statement that this is the scientific method adopted by westerners.

In regard to this matter Mr. Von Brandt and his colleagues would remark that if the practice represented is regarded as worthy of credence, the publication of such pictures will have the effect of creating foolish discussion and laughter and ridicule among the ignorant and silly classes.

Some years ago there were unfounded reports circulated (against foreigners), such as charging them with using the eyes of children for the manufacture of photographic material, and using dead bodies to make medicines of.

These resulted in riots accompanied by the murder of innocent and good men and women, and nearly led to seriously impairing the friendly relations existing between China and western powers. This fact should be thoroughly borne in mind.

Now with regard to the publication of the picture complained of, Mr. Von Brandt and his colleagues are unanimous in their opinion about it, and they therefore consider it their duty to represent the matter to your highness and your excellencies for your careful consideration in the hope that speedy action may be devised to prevent a recurrence of publications of so stupid and false a character, which may lead to the people believing them, and result in very serious consequences.

Mr. Von Brandt and his colleagues have the honor to send herewith a copy of the Chinese Illustrated News referred to for the perusal of your highness and your excellencies.

With assurances, etc.,