Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 461.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose copy of two communications which I addressed to the peace commissioners on the 19th and 27th of November, respectively. Identic notes were also sent by my colleagues.

[Page 52]

The first was sent because it was considered by the diplomatic body that in view of the active part taken by Tung Fu-hsiang in the attempt to massacre all foreigners in north China, and the bad influence he was exerting through his military power, it was no place for him to be near the court.

The second refers to honors conferred on Li Ping-heng and his son and grandson, as will be seen by the two decrees inclosed herewith. Li Ping-heng has always been notorious for his hatred of foreigners and everything foreign. He was governor of Shantung in 1897, when the murder of the two German missionaries occurred, which led to the seizure by Germany of the port of Kiao-chao. He was degraded two steps, and transferred to another post. This sentence, by the wording of the decree, could not be commuted in any way. During the siege he arrived in Peking, and was largely instrumental in bringing about the death of the six Chinese ministers who were favorable to foreigners, and who were decapitated by Imperial decree. His antiforeign spirit was so marked and his sympathy with the Boxer movement so intense that the diplomatic corps regarded the action of the court in conferring upon him and his relations marks of Imperial favor calculated to mislead public opinion, and they thereupon entered a protest by identic note, as will be seen by inclosure No. 2.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Enclosure No. 1.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ching, Li Hung Chang, etc.

Your Highness and Your Excellency: I have learned that General Tung Fu-hsiang is still remaining with the court.

In view of the important part which he has taken in the recent events, I consider that it is no place for him there, and he ought to be sent away at once.

I avail myself, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure No. 2.]

Mr. Conger to Prince Ching, Li Hung Chang, etc.

Your Highness and Your Excellency: I notice among the Imperial decrees, bearing date September 20, one conferring rank and privileges on a son and grandson of the late Li Ping-heng “as an indication of sincere regard for loyal and faithful service, a regard which is boundless and ever increasing.”

That His Imperial Majesty should duly reward loyal and faithful service is but meet and proper. In the present case, however, the fact of his using language such as that of the decree in question and a former one, issued immediately after the death of Li Pin-heng, eulogizing him and conferring posthumous honors on him, might mislead public opinion by inducing the Chinese people to believe that, while ostensibly negotiating with the powers for a renewal of the former friendly relations, the advisers of His Majesty continue to cherish the same hostile sentiments which have made the late Li Ping-heng so notorious.

It is needless for me to dilate on Li Ping-heng’s record, his well-known antiforeign spirit, the incidents which marked his progress northward, the added vigor which he infused into the attack on the legations, his complicity in bringing about the death of high officials favorable to Europeans, and, last of all, his death, fighting to oppose the advance of troops seeking to save the lives of ministers and subjects of nations [Page 53] with whom His Imperial Majesty professed to be at peace. Such being the case, it is my duty most energetically to protest against the issue and publication of decrees of this kind, and I have to request you to be good enough to make representations in this sense, and to intimate that I request that such decrees are not published for the future.

I avail myself, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure No. 3.—Translation.]

Decree issued on the 6th September and published in the Peking Manuscript Gazette November 3, 1900.

Li Ping-heng, assistant generalissimo of the Wu-Wei army corps, formerly governor-general of Szechuan, was personally a pure and upright man. He showed himself a public-spirited and loyal officer in the administration of public affairs. He commenced his official career as a magistrate, and advanced to the highest rank. Wherever he held office he stopped abuses and punished the avaricious. He respected and loved to consider the feelings of the people. We had just promoted him to be governor-general of Szechuan, when, on account of certain affairs (Chan-tung missionary case), he was degraded and transferred to another post. On account of illness, however, he took home leave.

Last year he was received in audience, and, fortunately, he had regained his health. We then appointed him to proceed on a mission of inquiry to Moukden. Afterwards we sent him as inspector of naval affairs on the Yangtze River, and he instituted reforms and put everything in proper working order. On the commencement of military operations we called him to Peking. In spite of the heat he hurried on the journey north, and on arrival received our commands to lead our troops. He had just arrived at the place he was to defend, when he found the country in a state of excitement over the war. He did not achieve any good results, but this was owing to the fact that the forces under his command had not been in training for any length of time, and the officers were unable to render any good services. We did not blame Li Ping-heng for losing in battle. We now learn that his troops were defeated in battle and retired, and on the 11th of August he committed suicide at Chang-Chia Wan, near Tung Chou. Although no memorial has been presented to us regarding his death, still the report that has come to us may be taken as reliable. Words are inadequate to express how grieved we are over the news of his death.

Let Li Ping-heng have conferred upon him such favors as are by law prescribed for governors-general, and all bad marks against his name are hereby remitted. Let the yamen concerned look up the code and report to us any other marks of favor that should be bestowed upon him. Further, as an extra act of imperial favor, let a posthumous title be conferred upon him and sacrifices be made in the Chao-chung Ssu. Ting Yung is hereby appointed to offer libations to the spirit of the dead officer. Let the local officials make all necessary arrangements when the body is conveyed to its native place.

Permission is given for the corpse to be conveyed into Peking. Let the military governor at Moukden ascertain whether the deceased left any relations in official life and report to us, so that we may confer on them some marks of our Imperial favor as an indication of our regard for a loyal officer.

[Inclosure No. 4.—Translation.]

Decree issued on the 19th of September and published in the Peking Manuscript Gazette November 16, 1900.

Let Li Cheng-chun, eldest son of Li Ping-heng, an honorary licentiate, holding the rank of second degree, and an expectant assistant subprefect of Kiang-su, be promoted to be a magistrate of an independent department in Kiang-su; also let Li Hsieh-fu, eldest grandson of Li Ping-heng, be made a Chü-jen (provincial graduate), and he is permitted to compete for the metropolitan graduated degree.

The above promotions are conferred as an extra act of grace, as an indication of sincere regard for loyal and faithful service—a regard which is boundless and ever increasing.