Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 413.]

Sir: A whole month has elapsed since the arrival of the “relief expedition” and the flight of the Imperial court, and apparently no progress has been made toward reestablishment of Chinese authority here or negotiations for a settlement.

Princa Ching is still waiting the arrival of Li Hung Chang. Most of the foreign ministers here are without instructions. At a meeting of the diplomatic corps yesterday it was suggested that if the Emperor [Page 201] and Empress Dowager could be induced to return to Pekin negotiations might be greatly facilitated. All agreed that if they could be withdrawn from the influence of Prince Tuan and other pernicious advisers it would be better. Much time could also be saved, because, if acts of Prince Ching and Li Hung Chang must be presented to the Throne for approval, it would take weeks to get them to Sianfu and returned. * * *

It was agreed that each would write an informal note to Prince Ching suggesting the return of the “Emperor and Empress Dowager,” “the Court,” or the “Emperor,” as he pleased. I preferred to mention only the “Emperor,” and have written Prince Ching accordingly, inclosing a copy herewith of the note sent him.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

E.H. Conger.

Mr. Conger to Prince Ching.


Your Highness: I have the honor to address your highness concerning the existing situation. Into the cause of that situation it is not necessary at this moment to inquire. It is sufficient to refer to the fact that, in order to relieve the foreign legations from immediate peril, a joint expedition was undertaken by various foreign powers, which have led to the withdrawal of the court and the present occupation of the capital.

The main object of this expedition was the relief of the legations, and as soon as that was accomplished the ministers showed their willingness to terminate hostilities by welcoming your highness back to Pekin for the purpose of opening peace negotiations.

These negotiations seem to be delayed by the nonarrival of the grand secretary, Li Hung Chang. In the meantime I beg to point out to your highness that it is my personal opinion that permanent peace negotiations would be very much facilitated if the Emperor were also to return to the capital.

It is, as your highness must acknowledge, difficult to restore tranquillity to the country while the minds of the people are disturbed by uncertainty as to the future; and nothing would reassure them more than His Majesty’s return. While he remains at a distance, surrounded by the same advisers as before, the prospect of a permanent settlement must remain doubtful, however successful your highness may be in arranging its terms; for it suggests both to foreign governments and to the people that there will be no change in the policy of the Throne toward foreign powers and their subjects in China.

I therefore venture to suggest to your highness the advisability of making known to His Majesty the views herein expressed, and I beg to add that there need be no apprehension that if he remains he will be treated otherwise than with all respect, or subjected to any restraint.

I am sure that the treatment your highness has received since your return will support this assurance.

I have the honor to be,

Your highness’ obedient servant,

E. H. Conger.