Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 431.]

Sir: I have the honor to confirm my telegram of the 26th instant, and to say that on yesterday the several foreign ministers met to formally begin the discussion of terms of a settlement to be presented to the Chinese plenipotentiaries. Each had been instructed that all the powers had agreed substantially or in principle with the French propositions; and as the question of punishments was the first of these, it was the first taken up. After much discussion it was unanimously decided that the punishment of death should be demanded for 11 officials, whom, it is agreed by all foreign ministers and Chinese Government, are chiefly responsible for the crimes committed, to wit, Princes Tuan, Chuang and I (Pu Ching), Tsai Lien and Ysai Ying, Duke Lan, Tung Fu-hsiang, Yü Hsien, K’ang I, Chao Shu-chiao, Ying Men. The manner of their death was much discussed, but it is believed that whatever we demanded, most of them would either voluntarily or by Imperial order commit suicide, so we simply say “death.” I have to-day received a note from Li Hung-chang, which I inclose, informing me that Kang I had died and that Governor Yü Hsien had taken his own life by swallowing gold leaf.

The details that come to us of the horrible murder and mutilation of our missionaries in the interior are so frightfully shocking that less severe punishment can not be asked, and I believe the Chinese Government are so impressed by the terrible results of their efforts to get rid of the foreigners that they will readily accede to our demand unless the court is held in the power of those who are to be thus punished; [Page 44] but whether or no, they should be made to do it and to furnish ample and satisfactory proof of its accomplishment. Provision must also be made for adequate punishment for all provincial and local officials who may be proved to be in any way responsible for or accessory to the crimes.

I inclose copy of my correspondence with Prince Ching and Li Hung-chang regarding the rumored probability of removal of the Yangtze viceroys.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ching and Li Hung-chang.

Your Highness and Your Excellency: Reports are reaching me from several sources that reactionary and disturbing officials are being appointed in the Yangtze provinces; that the power of the viceroys is being thus undermined, and the removal of the viceroys Liu Kun-i and Chang Chih-tung is contemplated. I can not believe this, for such appointments or removals would be acts most unfriendly toward the foreign powers who are now trying to negotiate a settlement of the troubles which China has unfortunately brought upon herself.

And yet the matter is so important that I am constrained to file a formal and energetic protest against such action, and respectfully request your highness and your excellency to communicate it to the Emperor by telegraph.

I avail, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 2.]

Prince Ching and Li Hung-chang to Mr. Conger.

Your Excellency: We have just received your excellency’s communication, in which you state that reports have been reaching you that reactionary and disturbing officials are being appointed in the Yangtze provinces; that the power of the viceroys is being undermined, and the removal of the viceroys of the Liang Hu provinces and of Nanking is contemplated, but that you can not believe this, etc.

In reply we have the honor to say that it is very evident from your excellency’s communication that you are sincerely friendly in your intercourse with us, for which we feel exceedingly grateful.

We would observe, however, that in regard to the two viceroys—Liang Hu provinces and Nanking—a decree was recently issued appointing these officers to consult with us in arranging terms of peace, and they are granted the position of minister plenipotentiary. The court certainly relies on the position of these officers, and they certainly have not been removed from their respective posts. Even supposing that the idea [of their removal] emanated from persons who are opposed to them, still the fact of their being high officials of the Government would certainly prevent them from venturing to defeat or overthrow them before the very presence of the Throne. We may inform your excellency that we have never heard of the reports to which you allude, and even your excellency knows that they are certainly not really true.

In sending this communication in reply to your excellency’s, which we beg you will duly take note of, we ask you not to listen to false reports, etc.

[Enclosure 3.—Private note.]

Li Hung-chang to Mr. Conger.

Your Excellency: I beg to inform your excellency that I have just received a telegram from the governor of Shensi, Ts’en, stating that Kang I died on the 18th instant, and that Yu Hsien died by taking poison (lit: swallowing gold). This information is perfectly true. Further, that Prince Tuan is not allowed to accompany the Emperor.

Card of Li Hung-chang, with compliments.