Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 837.]

Sir: I inclose herewith the translation of a decree wherein the Empress declines to entertain the proposal that certain memorials should be addressed to her, and severely reprimands and punishes the censor who made the proposal.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Page 102]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 837.]

19th and 20th February, 1888.—Personal assumption of Government by the Emperor. Empress Dowager declines to entertain proposal that certain memorials should continue to be addressed to Her.

[A Decree by Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager.]

We have received a memorial from the Censor, T’u Yên-shou, in which he takes upon himself to give an unreserved expression of opinion respecting the approaching assumption of government by the Emperor in person. In view of the important questions pressing at the moment, he asks Us to issue a Decree directing that memorials from the provinces, as well as sealed reports from the Officers of the Court, should continue to be addressed to Us, and he requests that such documents should be perused by Us before effect is given to the proposals to which they refer. The Censor’s suggestion has caused Us profound astonishment. A female Regency was only resorted to as a last device, and looking back in Our seclusion upon the abuses which it caused in previous dynasties, We issued special commanns that the Government should revert to its proper Head the moment the right time arrived, in order that the constitutional usages of Our revered predecessors might be duly preserved, and that no ground for adverse comment might be furnished to future ages. Our decision was taken with firm resolve and Our object had a deep significance. Besides, We have already issued Decrees fully expounding Our views to Our subjects, and all classes under Our rule have cheerfully acquiesced in Our action.

Were We now at the very beginning of a new order of things to require that memorials should be addressed to Us, we should be stultifying our previous action by cancelling instructions which have been only recently issued. In what light would posterity regard Us? The analogy adduced by the Censor is quite irrelevant, as a female Regency and that instituted by the Emperor K’ien-lung are totally different things. After the assumption of personal government by the Emperor, Prince Ch‘un alone will be required to address memorials directly to Us in his own name. The secret documents referred to by the Censor which have been submitted to Us by Prince Ch‘un treated of important concerns of state which at the outset of the Emperor’s assumption of government it was thought he should submit to Us on such occasions as he paid Us visits of respect. It was never for a moment intended that this practice should be sanctioned as a permanent institution, or that Our tutelage of the Emperor should be indefinitely prolonged, The Censor’s suggestion is made in manifest disregard of Our former Decrees and has the further objection of furnishing grounds for adverse criticism of our action in future ages. Having regard to the extravagance of his proposals and the very important issues to which they relate, we feel bound to administer to him a severe warning, unless reckless interference with accepted institutions is to go unpunished. We command therefore that T’u Jên-shou be required to vacate his office of Censor, that he be handed over to the board for the determination of a penalty, and that his memorial be flung back to him.