Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a dispatch, dated the 18th ultimo, from the consul-general to this legation, with reference to the two alleged spies then held by him at Shanghai.

I inclose, also, copies of all the telegrams received by me from Mr. Jernigan on the subject, and of all the telegrams sent by me to him.

I inclose, also, a copy of a subsequent dispatch from Mr. Jernigan, which relates to the same matter.

I respectfully call attention to this correspondence. It will help to explain the action of this legation as to the rendition of the two Japanese, and the reluctance of the consul-general to give them up.

As to the action of the consul-general of France in the matter, I have the honor to state that his refusal to deliver the alleged spies to the Chinese authorities, and his surrender of them to the consul general of the United States, met with the full approval of the minister of France at Peking. The French minister told me that the French consul-general not only was not required to surrender them to China, but that “he had not the right to do so.” In replying to your telegraphic inquiry of the 21st August, I was guided by this assurance.

I have the honor to state, in conclusion, that the opinion of the foreign representatives at Peking was opposed to giving up the accused Japanese without a preliminary examination before a foreign official.

I have, etc.,

Chas. Denby, Jr.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Jernigan to Mr. Denby.

Sir: I have the honor to communicate that on Tuesday last the consul-general of France came to this office and informed me that two Japanese subjects, at the instance of the Chinese authorities, had been arrested by the French police, on the French concession, and that he had ordered them to be brought to me. Soon after, and before the French consul-general had left, the police arrived with the two Japanese in custody. I stated to the French consul-general that I was not empowered with any of the functions of the Japanese consul-general, although representing Japanese interests, and consequently could not try a Japanese for any offense he might commit, but that I understood that I could intervene in the interest of humanity and justice where the safety and interests of Japanese were involved.

The two Japanese are charged with being spies, and to have shut the door of the consulate in their faces would possibly have been equivalent to turning them over to the executioner.

There was no complaint before me of charges against these Japanese. The alleged offense against them had in no way been brought to my attention by any officer of China, either verbally or otherwise. So far as concerned China this consulate-general was in ignorance, having no record before it.

The two Japanese then stood before me as asking for an asylum in apprehension of danger to their lives. They asked to be allowed to [Page 113] remain in this consulate-general until they could be made acquainted of any charge against them, and in order that any charge made against them might be heard before the proper tribunal.

The asylum thus asked for was granted, with the understanding that I would adopt the necessary precautions to repel any idea that I was protecting any enemy of China, and such as would enable me to preserve the status quo until the matter was fully understood.

On Thursday last I received a communication from the Taotai, requesting that the two Japanese be delivered to his officer, and charging that they were spies. I replied that I would lay the facts before, you and obey your instructions.

This he understood and assented to.

Some of the papers found in the possession of the Japanese would naturally, in the state of war now existing, create a suspicion of a character tending to support the alleged charge, but they state that they had been students in Shanghai for several years, wearing Chinese clothes, giving the name of the school, the teacher, the place of their lodging, with other facts that give to their statement a minuteness which more than raises a reasonable doubt in their favor.

One of these young men especially has the appearance of being well raised. His deportment is that of a gentleman, and there is no doubt of his possessing more than ordinary intelligence.

The rule prevailing here is, when a foreigner has no consular representative, he is amenable for trial before the mixed court.

The arrest was made on the foreign concession, and I understand the Japanese have resided on the foreign concession, and were so residing in a lodging house on the same when taken in custody. I need not advance an opinion as to the summary proceedings of a native court, and a common feeling of humanity counsels the securement of a tribunal for their trial, the proceedings of which would be promotive of justice according to our idea, and whose judgment would be likewise accepted as righteous.

I may add that all foreigners here strongly approve of the course thus far taken by me, and this course also has the indorsement of the foreign press.

The case is one of great delicacy, and I have endeavored to use such “tact” as to maintain good feelings all around, assuring the Taotai that nothing should be done prejudicial to the rights of China, and that I would neither condemn nor defend, but remain impartial to the interests of all concerned.

I am, etc.,

T. R. Jernigan,

P. S.—It appears to me that the tribunal before which Japanese, when charged with offenses, are to be tried should be determined with out delay.

[Inclosure 2.—Copies of thirteen telegrams exchanged between the legation and the consul-general.]

Mr. Denby to Mr. Jernigan.

Report case alleged spies. Await instructions.