Mr. Denby to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, November 8, 1893. (Received December 19.)
Sir: The Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi will attain the age of 60 years the 27th day of November, 1894.
In my dispatches No. 790, of January 11, 1889, and No. 831, of February 28, 1889 (see Foreign Relations, 1889, pp. 93–99), I gave some account of the life of this distinguished lady. She ruled China well and wisely from the death of the Emperor Hsien-feng, August 22, 1861, until the 4th day of March, 1889, when the young Emperor, Kuang Hsü, assumed the reins of government.
The anniversary of her birth will be celebrated in the most gorgeous and expensive manner. Commissioners to regulate the exercises for the occasion were selected last year, and were ordered to make all preparations on the grandest scale. The celebrations of the seventieth and eightieth anniversaries of the birth of the dowager [Page 241]mother of the Emperor Kien-lung have been taken as models. There will be a triumphal progress from the Eho Park to the Forbidden City, about 10 miles. Along this route there will be 7 dragon sheds, 19 ornamental sheds, 26 decorated platforms for the performance of the Buddhistic worship of longevity, 14 theatrical stages, 84 triumphal arches, 6 elaborately decorated kiosks, and 9 spots where it is intended to display certain ancient curiosities handed down by preceding dynasties. More than a million pieces of ancient silk are to be used in decoration.
In the imperial precincts many pavilions made of satin will be erected. The gates of the city and the pailous will be festooned with colored satin. The shops and houses along the route will be repaired and decorated. Appropriate mottoes will line the route. Free theatrical performances will take place from the 1st of the ninth month to the 20th of the tenth month.
The Emperor will confer on the Empress dowager, as an additional honorific title, the characters “Chung hsi” (Eminent and Splendid). On her birthday the whole court will wait on her. Punishments will be remitted and degraded officials will be restored to rank. There will be a grand procession, with numerous sedan chairs and chariots, umbrellas, incense burners, banners, and many other things. All the princes, dukes, governors general, governors, and generals will present memorials. Princes, dukes, etc., clown to civil officers of the fourth rank and military officers of the third rank will each present a ju-i made of jade. Other presents will be made by the high officials and their ladies.
It is said that the Emperor stated that the cost of this celebration ought to be 10,000,000 taels, but it is supposed that it will cost 30,000,000.
It is my impression that the Imperial Government expects that the foreign powers will send presents commensurate with the grandeur of this occasion. I have reason to believe that some of my colleagues will advise their governments to send presents.
I have, etc.,