Mr. Denby to Mr. Blaine.

No. 1484.]

Sir: I herewith, inclose a copy of a-compilation called “A Complete Picture Gallery.”

This publication is designed to reproduce for circulation among western peoples and powers exact copies of the vile and indecent pamphlets and pictures which are being distributed all over China and are believed to have been powerful causes of the recent riots.

If you examine this brochure you will see that it is full of the most abominable charges against foreigners. They are charged with kidnapping children, bewitching grown people in order to obtain their eyes and brains, and with every conceivable immorality. These papers are circulated by the millions with the tacit consent, if not open encouragement, of the local authorities. When the masses see that their officials and literary men believe, or affect to believe, that these charges are true, they are easily stirred to riot. It seems that we are face to face with a conspiracy to drive the foreigner out of China; and the plan of operations embraces the common use of libel and slander. In these pamphlets the populace is urgently advised to use all manner of personal violence to get rid of foreigners. No western country could permit obscene publications directed against foreigners resident in its borders to be circulated. It is admitted that the prohibition of such pamphlets is difficult, but while fair arguments against Christianity must be tolerated, direct appeals to murder and riot should be, as far as possible, prevented by the Chinese Government. I am satisfied that these publications have an immense influence on the masses; the greater, because there is a widespread belief that the Government secretly favors this plan of checking foreign residence in China. On the side of the foreigners, their trade, their property, their lives, are all at stake. It can not be wondered at, therefore, that they are disposed to adopt almost any method which may conduce to self-protection. Lately, at Hankow, the British residents made a direct appeal to Lord Salisbury in this matter. They passed stringent resolutions and demanded the active intervention of the home Government.

You will notice that the introduction and “Review” inserted in this brochure abound in attacks on the foreign representatives in China. It is scarcely necessary to say that these attacks are unwarranted. The diplomatic body here has always been engaged in efforts to secure the [Page 91] interdiction of inflammatory publications, as your records will abundantly snow. I lately sent to the yamên, by the hands of the dean, a large number of vile publications in Chinese, and their character was thoroughly explained and the prohibition of their circulation requested. Some feeble efforts have been made by the Imperial Government to destroy existing editions of these productions, but, in Hunan, which is the locality of their origin, it does not appear that any serious effort has been made to check their printing and distribution.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.