Mr. Denby to Mr. Olney.

No. 2598.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of a dispatch from the Tsung-li Yamên, detailing the action taken in the case of Mr. Lingle, an American missionary, who lost property at the hands of disorderly characters at Lin Wu, in Hunan. The representations made to the Yamên in this case by this legation were reported to you in dispatch No. 2549, of June 19 last.

The Yamên’s dispatch indicates that the case was properly dealt with and this is confirmed by correspondence with the viceroy, copies of which were recently received from Hankow.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby.
[Inclosure in No. 2598.]

The Tsung-li Yamên to Mr. Denby.

Your Excellency: At the interview the chargé d’affaires of the United States had at the Yamên some time since, he represented that at a place called Lin Wu, in Hunan, not far from Lien Chou, on the [Page 85] borders of Kwang-tung, American missionaries have been carrying on religious work for the past six years. Lately the people destroyed the missionary chapel and schoolhouse, pulled down some of the houses of Christians, plundered them, and had driven them out of the city of Lin Wu. The chargé d’affaires requested that proper instructions be issued to the local authorities to give due protection to the Christians, etc.

At the time the Yamên telegraphed the viceroy of the Hu Kuang provinces and the viceroy at Canton to issue instructions to the military and civil district officers to take action in good earnest to repress the rioters and protect the missionaries and their converts.

The viceroy of the Hu Kuang provinces has now reported that at the time he issued instructions to the civil and military district officers to act in accordance with his injunctions.

The acting magistrate of Lin Wu, Chu Shih-hsien, and the acting lieutenant-colonel of the Lin Wu battalion have presented a joint petition, as under:

In April, 1894, the magistrate of Lin Wu at that time, Pao Hsi-pang, had word from Lien Chou, in Kwangtung, that the Rev. W. H. Lingle, an American missionary, was under escort. He passed through Lin Wu on a journey to the district of Chia Ho. He went to and fro several times. Each time he arrived at Lin Wu he put up at the residence of a native Christian named Li Po-tai, a little over a li from the city, where he preached the gospel. There was no chapel or schoolhouse established there.

In November, 1895, the said missionary, accompanied by a member of his family, arrived at Lin Wu from Lien Chou and stayed only two days, when they went to Chia Ho. They afterwards, on returning from Chia Ho, did not stay at Lin Wu, but went straight on to Lien Chou.

On the 24th of April of this year he (Mr. Lingle) came to Lin Wu from Lien Chou with two members of his family, and on the 30th idem the magistrate sent an escort to take them to Chia Ho. During these days the spectators stood around like a wall. The petitioners, being afraid that a disturbance might occur, instructed soldiers and yamên runners to act in good earnest to repress the people and prevent a riot. Fortunately peace and quiet were secure.

Unexpectedly some ignorant fellows of no knowledge of the world, at the third watch on the 30th April, destroyed the residence and shop of Li Po-tai. On learning what had happened, the petitioners went in person to the place, and the crowd dispersed on all sides. Doors, small boards, etc., were also taken from the houses of all the other Christians. Efforts were made to arrest the guilty, but without success.

On the 4th of May the said missionary came alone from Chia Ho to Lin Wu and stated that he had rented Li Po-tai’s house for $100 for a term of ten years, and that he had only occupied the place for three years. It was now destroyed. He presented his lease, but it was difficult to distinguish whether it was a true or false document. On examining the archives of the magistrate’s yamên, it was found that there was no register of the lease. Inquiry was made of the gentry, but they knew nothing about the lease. As the inns of the city would not give Mr. Lingle quarters, the magistrate allowed him to stay in his yamên and provided him with food. The magistrate explained to him that, as the people objected, it would be no easy matter, it was feared, to establish a chapel at Lin Wu, and it would be best to recover the lease money and he go to another place. He insisted on having the house leased. The magistrate told him he should wait until after the examinations were over next year, when he could consult with the local officials and gentry and arrange for a place. To this proposition he gladly assented, but stated that as the people did not like him, the Christians had suffered by having the doors, etc., of their houses destroyed. He asked that due reparation be made to them. It was in the dead of night when the conversation ended. Mr. Lingle stayed at the yamên, and the next morning he again returned to Chia Ho. It may be stated that it was a lawless set of roughs and vagabonds who destroyed the buildings, and how can they be pursued and captured? Materials were therefore purchased and workmen engaged to make repairs to the houses of the Christians, which have been completed.

On the 14th May the said missionary with two members of his family arrived at Lin Wu under escort from Chia Ho, and they saw for themselves that the houses of the Christians had been repaired. The said missionary expressed to the magistrate his profound thanks for what had been done. The same day he returned to Lien Chou. The people seeing that the said missionary did not remain in Lin Wu, everything is now quiet and there is no noise or clamor. It is now more than a month, and as the missionary has not returned the people and Christians are living peacefully together.

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The said missionary has been visiting Lin Wu for three years, and there are about fifty to sixty native Christians. They have never been robbed or expelled from the place. When Mr. Lingle again visits Lin Wu soldiers will be deputed to repress the people and action taken in good warrant to afford him proper protection.

Proclamations will be issued so that it may be clearly known to all law-abiding persons that they must attend to their own duties, keep the laws, and thus trouble may be avoided, etc.

The viceroy having received the above petition has instructed the Hankow taotai to communicate with the United States consul at Hankow on the subject.

The Yamên would observe that a representation from the viceroy at Canton is about the same as the above. That officer has instructed the Lien Chou officials to communicate with the magistrate of Lin Wu that energetic action must always be taken to repress the people and afford due protection to Christians.