Mr. Denby to Mr. Blaine.

No. 845.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that yesterday, the 7th of the month, I went with my suite, as also the entire diplomatic corps, to the Tsung-li Yamên, in answer to their invitation to a dinner, ordered by the decree of Her Majesty, the Empress Regent, Tzi An.

The affair, as by a royal decree, was a very unusual one. From a native stand-point the preparations were of a most elaborate nature, and to any eye cultured or artistic were extremely picturesque. Special buildings had been erected for the banquet at a reported cost exceeding 6,000 taels.

On entering the outer gates of the inclosure large panels of lacquered wood were discovered, bearing gilt and red Chinese characters wishing us all “prosperity” longevity,” “happiness” and “official promotion.” [Page 106] His Imperial Highness, Prince Ching, a second cousin to His Majesty and the president of the Tsung-li Yamên, welcomed us cordially, and after him all the ministers and secretaries, clad in their robes of rank and office.

Arriving in the first or reception-room, everything showed pains and expense in preparation, Old decorations had given place to new and handsomer ones, and whether in compliment to their guests or in keeping with their ideas of luxury, foreign carpets covered the floors.

In the center of this room, on handsomely lacquered and painted tables, were exhibited a large number of presents, intended for the several foreign ministers, of scepters of jade carved in bas relief, satins, and embroidered trinkets for personal use.

The banqueting hall was built of woods richly painted and frescoed, glass of fantastic shape and design, the whole being profusely hung with rare native paintings, mottoes of friendly purport and stuff in wool and silk, the imperial color, yellow, largely prevailing. All the tables and seats were covered with valuable embroideries, and the service of silver, porcelain, and glass was entirely new for the occasion. Ivory “kwai tsz,” i. e., “nimble lads” or “chop sticks “were at each cover, and the ménu comprised such national delicacies as. “birds’ nests soup,” “shark’s fins,” and “bamboo shoots”—these last from the valuable furniture wood of that name in its earlier and tender stage.

The place of honor, the left of his Imperial Highness, according to Chinese etiquette, was given of course to our Doyen, the next on his right to myself.

I inclose herewith a copy of his Imperial Highness’ speech of welcome, and also the Doyen’s toast to the health of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager and His Majesty the Emperor, and my own to his highness Prince Ching and their excellencies the ministers of the Tsung-li Yamên.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 845.]

Speeches of Prince Ching.

first speech.

We are entertaining your excellencies at the banquet given at this Yamên to-day in obedience to the commands of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager. In the decree in which these commands were promulgated, allusion has been made to the close relations of friendship existing between China and foreign countries, and Her Majesty has referred in complimentary terms to the merits of your excellencies here assembled. Not only do your excellencies, I presume, attend this banquet with pleasurable feelings, but it is a source of extreme satisfaction to myself and my colleagues, the ministers of the Yamên, to entertain you as commanded by Her Majesty. The relations between China and foreign countries are now growing more intimate day by day, while trade is flourishing in a correspondingly satisfactory ratio. This happy state of things is attributable to the gracious merits and beneficent and successful efforts of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager during the past thirty years, and the policy thus laid down will be sedulously followed by my august sovereign in obedience to the teachings of Her Majesty, thereby securing in our relations with foreign countries the blessings of continued prosperity and peace. The banquet that we are celebrating to-day is a token of the friendly relations that have existed between us for so many years past, and is an augury of the perpetual maintenance of these friendly relations in the days to come, while the record of this auspicious gathering will find a place in the histories of foreign countries. On the tablet which is to be seen on the portals of this Yamên, four characters are inscribed, Chung-wai-ship-fee, meaning “may all prosperity attend Chinese and foreigner.” The banquet of to-day renders this sentiment especially appropriate. I raise this [Page 107] glass in respectful salutation to the Emperors and Empresses, the Kings and Queens, and the Presidents of foreign nations. I wish them continuous prosperity and long life, and the blessings of peace and happiness to the people over whom they rule.

second speech.

Your excellencies have reported to your respective Governments the two important events that have recently taken place, the retirement of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager, from the duties of government, and the marriage of His Majesty the Emperor. In some eases imperial or royal letters have been sent, in others telegrams of congratulation have been received, or the dispatch of valuable presents has been announced. Your excellencies have further been good enough to hoist the flags of your respective legations on the 26th of February and the 4th of March, in honor of the occasion, and it is our duty to offer you our thanks for the compliment. Answers to the letters will be dispatched in due course, and meanwhile I would propose the health of the foreign representatives and the members of their respective staffs, to whom we wish prosperity in all their undertakings, and hope that their desires may be fulfilled as well in their private as in their public life.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 845.]

Speech of the Doyen.

It is in my quality of Doyen of the diplomatic body that I have the honor and privilege to express to your highness the thanks of my colleagues and myself for the eloquent words with which, in the name of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, you have proposed the health of the sovereigns and chiefs of government of the treaty powers, and spoken of the friendly international relations of China, past, present, and future. The last few days have marked a very eventful epoch in the history of China and of the dynasty which has done so much for the country. The imperial marriage, the withdrawal of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager from the active duties of government, and the assumption of the same by His Majesty the Emperor, have been events that excited general interest and sympathy much beyond the confines of the Chinese Empire. When, nearly thirty years ago, Her Majesty the Empress Dowager assumed with cares the responsibilities of government, many an anxious thought must have beset her mind, and it must be with a feeling of well-founded pride and satisfaction that her majesty looks back upon the troubled times and compares them with the peace and union that now exist all over the great empire she has governed for so long a time. During the last thirty years great changes have taken place; China, which formerly it took many months to reach, and which from our point of view was considered as the farthest part of the globe, has been brought into close contact with the outer world, and it is now by weeks that the time is reckoned which it takes to reach it from Europe or America. It is therefore with so much greater satisfaction and sympathy that my colleagues and myself have welcomed the words of Her Majesty referring to the foreign relations of China in the imperial edict that is the cause of our meeting here to-day the high ministers of state, charged with the maintenance of these relations. My colleagues and myself hope and trust that they may remain, what they so happily are, a faithful expression of the mutual desire to cultivate and observe the eternal principles of right and justice, forbearance and progress. It is in this sense and with this hope that I have the honor to request your highness to place before Her Majesty the expression of these feelings as well as of our gratitude for the honor done to us by the terms of the imperial edict, to-day’s banquet, and the rich presents that we shall always value as a remembrance of Her Majesty’s gracious approval of the spirit in which we have worked and shall continue to work for the maintenance and the strengthening of the friendly and intimate relations between China and the treaty powers. In the name of my colleagues and my own, I have the honor to propose the health of Her Majesty, the Empress Dowager, and to drink to her happiness, to the continuation of those relations with the outer world she has so happily inaugurated and maintained, and to the welfare of the great empire which will always remember her with pride and gratitude. At the same time we drink to the health of His Majesty, the Emperor, whose assumption of the government has been celebrated a few days ago, as also to that of Her Majesty, the Empress. May their majesties long live in health and happiness.

[Page 108]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 845.]

Speech of Mr. Denby, United States Minister.

Your Imperial Highness and Your Excellencies:

On behalf of the diplomatic representatives I have much pleasure in proposing the health of your Imperial Highness and your excellencies. It is a source of gratification to know that your Imperial Highness and your excellencies have always shown great courtesy and have been actuated by friendly feeling in the administration of public business between our respective countries, and we are sure that your Imperial Highness and your excellencies will continue to evince the same friendliness in the future administration of diplomatic questions. Our wish is that your Imperial Highness and your excellencies maybe blessed with a long, happy, and prosperous career. The health of your Imperial Highness and your excellencies.