Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham,
Peking, April 23, 1894. (Received June 1, 1894.)
Sir: I have the honor to report to you a difficulty in which the American missionaries at Nanking find themselves as to the privilege of residing during the summer at the hills adjacent to that city.[Page 142]
In a petition to me they represent that they number over fifty persons, among whom are many women and children. They state that to remain during the summer months within the city walls is dangerous to their health, but that the hills in the immediate neighborhood afford a convenient and suitable resort. During the summer of 1893 they constructed huts in this locality, with the consent of the owners of the soil, and prepared to live there, but the viceroy at Nanking, hearing of this intention, refused his assent, claiming that outside the city their lives would be in danger and that they would be beyond the reach of his protection. Constrained by his orders and threats, they abandoned their summer houses and returned to the city. This year they asked again to be allowed to go the hills and were again refused. The intervention of the U. S. consul at Chinkiang in their behalf was fruitless, his notes on the subject not even having been answered. Under these circumstances they appeal to me.
The facts of this case seem to be as follows:
It is certainly true that continued residence within the walls of Chinese cities during the heated season is accompanied with great discomfort and some danger to health. The proprietors of the hillside which the Nanking missionaries wish to occupy are willing to rent to them, and the people in the vicinity would gladly have them come because of the small trade that they bring with them. The assertion that they would be in danger is a mere pretext. Should, however, actual danger threaten, the hill is only 3 miles distant from the viceroy’s yamên, and protection could easily be extended. The missionaries assert that, under any circumstances, a tent of four soldiers would guarantee their safety and the cost of these they are prepared to pay.
In view of these circumstances, and in view of the fact that throughout China foreigners are allowed to resort at pleasure to the hills adjacent to the cities where they live, I have asked the Yamên to extend this privilege to the missionaries at Nanking and to post a proclamation in the locality for their protection while there.
The general right of the missionaries to reside at Nanking is not involved in this dispute. Their residence there has long been uncontested and they have as good a prescriptive right to remain there as at any place in China. * * *
I hope, however, that the Yamên will overcome the viceroy’s opposition. The Yamên has referred the case to him and upon receipt of his reply the matter will be further reported to you with copies of the correspondence.
I have, etc.,