Mr. Denby, chargé, to Mr. Gresham.
Peking, June 19, 1894. (Received August 6, 1894.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that; on the 15th instant, I received, from the consul-general of the United States at Shanghai, a telegram stating that the consul at Canton had wired him that antiforeign placards were posted at that city, that serious trouble was expected, and asking protection.
Immediately upon the receipt thereof, I sent a note to the Tsung-li-Yamên requesting that telegraphic orders be sent to Canton enjoining the protection of foreigners.
The Yamên states to me, in reply, that the viceroy telegraphs them that “the Hongkong authorities were burning the houses of Chinese in order to drive out the plague, and under foreign medical treatment many Chinese have died. Further, the Hongkong authorities have refused to allow Chinese to return to Canton by steamer, and all this has led to disturbing the minds of the people at Canton; hence the placards that have been posted.”
The viceroy further says that he has issued orders prohibiting the posting of placards, and that he has sent vessels to Hongkong to bring to Canton those Chinese rendered homeless by the Hongkong officials.
The Yamên assures me, in conclusion, that the viceroy has been again ordered, in compliance with my request, to take “earnest action” to protect foreigners.
From other sources I learn that the Hongkong government has been driven to the use of the most drastic measures for the suppression of the plague, even to the destruction of part of the city. The prohibition to return to Canton by steamer has, however, been removed, and the Chinese are leaving Hongkong in enormous numbers. It is said that 120,000 of them have already departed, carrying into Canton and other cities their dead and plague-stricken countrymen.
Quarantine against the southern ports has been declared at Shanghai and Tientsin, which cities, happily, have so far escaped a visitation of this malady. It is to be hoped it will not make its appearance at Peking, the foulness of whose streets would present every encouragement to its ravages.
I have, etc.,