Mr. Conger to Mr. Day.

No. 54.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copies of six imperial decrees published since my dispatch of the’24th instant.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 25, 1898.

Ever since the fourth moon we have constantly been indisposed, and although for a long time have been under treatment there has been no improvement. Therefore if there is any person who is skilled in the science of medicine, let him be recommended immediately by any official in the Empire, and if he is now residing in some other province, let him come to Peking speedily and without delay.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 26, 1898.

The various reforms which have recently been proposed by the court for the prosperity of the nation were considered with the hope that at this time the Empire might become rich and powerful, that the people might secure a livelihood, and have not originated out of a desire simply to adopt new methods and abandon old ones. We have been very reluctant to do all this, and therefore our subjects should sympathize with us. Upon consideration, we find that the people are in a state of doubt and fear, having been brought about by those in authority not acting in accordance with orders and not being in sympathy with us. The result has been that the ignorant have made false conjectures and many erroneous reports have arisen. Take, for example, the matter of dispensing with the official posts. The object was to sift out and reduce the number of supernumeraries, but because the provincial officials did not investigate the matter there have been numerous memorials recommending that great changes be made in the administration of the Government.

Reasoning from this, falsehoods have been propagated. What will be the end? Therefore, if the truth is not made known there is reason to fear that the people will become excited by this random talk, and tranquillity will cease to prevail, and all our efforts for the prosperity of the Empire will avail nothing.

In dispensing with the imperial supervisorate of instruction and the various other departments, our design was to separate the business of these departments and in this way abolish all unnecessary duties. Now, upon consideration, we believe that by adding this and cutting out that, a roundabout method is the result, and the state of affairs is not different than formerly. Therefore let the imperial supervisorate of instruction, the office of transmission, the grand court of revision, the court of imperial entertainments, the court of the imperial stud, and the court of state ceremonial be replaced and conduct their duties as usual. Let all those official posts and offices in the various provinces which ought to be abolished and incorporated and all unemployed officials be dispensed with by the governors and governors-general.

[Page 220]

In regard to the establishment of the Chinese Progress Magazine, giving the literati permission to memorialize, the original design was to make us clearly see and understand the feelings of the people. But now the court has made ample provision for freedom of speech to the officials that they may be able to petition in regard to the administration of the Government, and if there is anything worthy of selection it will be acted on without delay. However, the memorialists have been emulating each other and sending in petitions containing merely superficial phrases, and have plagiarized even to the extent of spreading falsehoods.

Hereafter only those officials who have the right to memorialize shall use respectful and proper language for the enlightenment of the people, and shall proclaim the real truth as to the Government. But those officials who are not authorized to memorialize will not be allowed to present sealed petitions, but will conform to the fixed laws.

Since the Chinese Progress Magazine is of no use to our person and is misleading to the people, let it be immediately abolished.

The Imperial Chinese University, being for the culture of the people and others in the provincial capitals, having already been established, in addition let the smaller schools in the various departments, prefectures, and districts be established according to the pleasure of the people.

The temples in the provinces which are not on the imperial list, if they are not illegal, shall continue as formerly, and need not be converted into schools, that the people may not be offended.

In addition to this, those things already under discussion and put into operation in order to improve military affairs and to increase the sources of revenue, must be carried out in good earnest. That which is of no benefit to the present administration, and that which is a hindrance to our person, let the six boards and the foreign office carefully investigate and report clearly on the different methods of procedure. Now that the affairs of the Government are in great difficulty, all business must be deliberated upon with the greatest care in order to decide what should be introduced and what rejected, that the good may be retained and not a single flaw remain.

We shall endeavor to arrive at a happy medium, and not simply follow our own inclinations. Therefore all officials, great and small, ought to sympathize with us, and earnestly strive to aid us in the administration of the Government and to proclaim the truth.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 26, 1898.

The board of punishments has memorialized the throne upon a very important case, and requests the appointment of high officials to conduct the trial.

Let the offending officials, Hsü Chih-Ching, Yang Shen-Hsiu, Yang Jui, Lin Hsü, T’an Ssu-T’ung, Liu Kuang-Ti, and K’ang Kuang-Jen, the brother of K’ang Yu Wei, be strictly tried by the grand council, together with the board of punishments and the board of censors.

Chang Yin Huan has been frequently censured on the ground that his reputation has been very reprehensible, although he did not belong to K’ang Yu Wei’s faction. Therefore let him be turned over to the board of punishments to be looked after temporarily and wait for the imperial decree.

K’ang Yu Wei formed a party for his own selfish purposes. Therefore his offense is very grave.

All of K’ang Yu Wei’s adherents, Hsü Chih-Ching and others, have already been turned over to the board of punishments that they may undergo a very strict trial. Further, it would be difficult to guarantee that there are not others among the officials and gentry who have been beguiled by K’ang Yu Wei, but the court is very lenient, and will not make further investigations.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 28, 1898.

Let Jung Lu officiate in the grand council and let Yü Lu fill the appointment of viceroy of the province of Chihli and also fill the position of the superintendent of northern trade.

Let all the northern forces remain under the control of Jung Lu, who will be assisted by Yü Lu.

[Page 221]
[Inclosure 5 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 29, 1898.

Chang Yin Huan, who was junior vice-president of the board of revenue, having already been degraded, was very clever at imposing on people, his actions were deceitful, mysterious, and fickle, and he sought after the rich and powerful. Therefore let him be banished to Hsin-chiang, and turned over to the various governors, who are ordered to use the utmost care in guarding him on his journey.

[Inclosure 6 in No. 54.]

Translation of an imperial decree published in the Peking Gazette, September 29, 1898.

Whereas the present times and affairs are full of difficulties, the court has diligently planned for the Government, seeking reforms for its prosperity according to the plans for the welfare of the people as handed down by our ancestors. The Emperor has labored night and day with unwearied diligence, but unexpectedly there appeared a manager of affairs, K’ang Yu Wei, a leader of false doctrines, a deceiver of the age, a slanderer of men, who led a crowd of low followers and took advantage of the attempt at reforms to impose his own rebellious schemes, covering up his conspiracy and secretly irregular conduct. Some days ago he gathered together his band to surround the I Ho Palace, to capture the Empress Dowager and also the Emperor, but he was discovered and his conspiracy broken. It is also reported that his murderous band had formed a society to preserve China, but not the Manchu dynasty. This rebellious conduct is certainly to be detested. My great filial affection for the Empress Dowager must be known to foreigners and Chinese. K’ang Yu Wei’s learning is crafty and false. Those books which he constantly made were opposed to the classics, misleading and destructive of the sages and laws. Because of his constant advocacy of reforms he was appointed to a post in the foreign office, and we appointed him to immediately repair to Shanghai to take charge of the Government press, but he lingered in the capital to stir up strife and practice his dark designs. Unless the protection of our ancestors had enabled us to clearly see his schemes beforehand there is no telling what would have happened. K’ang Yu Wei, the chief of rebels, has now absconded; therefore let all the provincials strenuously seek him out and arrest him for severest punishment.

The Chü-jen (M. A.) Liang Chi-Chao was an accomplice of K’ang Yu Wei, and his writings are full of falsehoods and rebellion; therefore let him also be apprehended for punishment. K’ang Yu Wei’s brother, Kang Kuang-Jen, and the Censor Yang Shen-hsin and clerks of Grand Council, I’an-ssu-tung, Lin-Shu, Yang Jui, Liu Kuangti, and others, were truly associates and abettors of K’ang Yu Wei, Yang Jui and others at every audience sought to deceive and disobey the Emperor. They secretly protected ruffians and joined with them in their evil deeds, so their crime is of the gravest character. They have been degraded, examined, and lodged in the board of punishments. Immediately memorialists declared that if there was any delay in this trial there was great danger of a riot. We meditated carefully on the investigation of said rebels. Their crime was great, without precedent, and they must not escape the net of the law. If they were permitted to speak they would involve many others; therefore we could not await the report from the board of punishment, and yesterday, we decreed that the guilty persons be immediately executed. This affair is no common occurrence, hence this band of criminals were immediately executed. K’ang Yu Wei is the leader and originator of these rebellious schemes; his crime is exceeding great, and he must not be permitted to escape a public execution. The crime of these men has now been fixed and it must be published over the Empire that all men may know that we establish the throne upon ancient rites and teaching.

If K’ang Yu Wei be not brought under the law, both men and gods must detest him as beyond the pale of forgiveness, and he would succeed in influencing others to imitate him, and thus there would be many rebellious subjects. As the court is thoroughly informed, our heart is very compassionate, and we have issued a decree not to pursue them further. Hereafter let all officials and people be warned by the example of K’ang Yu Wei. Let all obey the teachings (of Confucius) and assist in the present difficulties, and in all reforms that are beneficial to Government and people; not only such reforms as are already in operation, but to adopt such others as may be found necessary to do away with effete and useless customs. Let them proceed in regular order. The Emperor hopes that this may be made widely known to all.