Mr. Denby to Mr. Blaine.
Peking , January 30, 1892 . (Received March. 21.)
Sir: In my dispatch, No. 1451, of December 31 last, I submitted a copy of a circular issued by the French minister, referring to a proclamation posted by the magistrate at Ping-chuan Chou, wherein the said magistrate excused the atrocities committed against native Christians by the rebels. In my dispatch No. 1454, of the 11th instant, I reported the action of the diplomatic body thereon. In response to the representations of the Doyen the yamên stated that Li Hung-chang had been ordered to investigate into the conduct of the said official and report thereon.
Nothing further has been heard from the yamên on the subject, but the Peking Gazette of the 28th instant contains an imperial decree wherein the Emperor states that he has received a report from Li Hung-chang and Kueipin on the officials at Chaoyang and vicinity, the scene of the recent rebellion. He states that long before actual warfare began that locality was infested with bands of robbers who indicted serious injuries on the Mongol and Christian population. The officials took no measures to subdue them, and the outbreak assumed large proportions. The Chih-hsien or district magistrate at Chao-yang is charged with remaining in his office writing verses and drinking wine, indifferent to his duties toward his people. His record also shows that at a previous post he had borrowed money from wealthy citizens, and had made so many debts as scarcely to be able to get away.
The district magistrate at Chien-chang is charged with inaction, and with issuing false reports as to outrages committed by rebels in his jurisdiction.
The magistrate at Ping-chuan, however, the object of the French minister’s remonstrances, comes in for the most serious charge of all. He is stated not to have afforded protection to Christian chapels in the streets of his own city, with having issued exaggerated reports of the numbers of the rebels, and with lightly giving heed to false reports regarding Christians and basing thereon proclamations calculated to arouse the popular feeling against them.
Li Hung-chang and Kueipin had recommended that these officials be deprived of rank and office, but the Emperor remarks that such punishment is inadequate to their offense, and orders that they be degraded and banished to the forts on the frontier.
A translation of this decree is inclosed herewith.
I have the honor, etc.,