Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 885.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith translations of several edicts which have appeared within the past week, and which seem to show an earnest desire on the part of the Chinese court to placate the foreign powers by the punishment of several officials implicated in the “Boxer” outrages, by strict orders for the protection of the missionaries, and by educational reforms which may secure more intelligent officials for the management of international affairs than have been available in the past.

The usual depreciation of western learning appears, however, in the expectation that within a few months enough may be learned to render men efficient in the discussion of the problems which need an acquaintance with modern science for their solution.

This cheap estimate of any knowledge which the West can give them has vitiated all the educational reforms that have been projected by the Chinese in the past.

The decision to reopen the Imperial University at Peking is an important one, but the trusting of its entire management to Mr. Chang Po-hsi does not augur well for its success, although he is a progressive man and was one of the supporters of K’ang Yu-wei. He is a man of thorough Chinese education, but he has no such intimate acquaintance with western sciences or educational methods, as to fit him for such an important post as that of preparing the courses of study and regulations of the university.

It is true, of course, that there is a faculty composed of European and American scholars, of which our countryman, Dr, W. A. P. Martin, is the president, and he will naturally consult with them, but it is understood that these are all to be discharged and others engaged in their places; and so long as the Chinese show an entire unwillingness to trust the entire management of their schools for a time to capable foreign educators they will fail, as they have in the past, to make these schools anything more than a sham. The “T’ung-wen Kuan” mentioned in one of the edicts as having placed under the same management as the university is the old school of languages established many years [Page 182] ago in Peking, of which Dr. Martin was president before assuming the more responsible post of president of the university.

The edict depriving certain officials of their rank and prohibiting their reemployment in any official capacity because of their connection with the “Boxer” movement, as well as that charging the various provincial and local authorities with the more careful protection of missions and the suppression of evil societies, are both commendable, but their value will depend entirely upon the care which the Government may take in promulgating and enforcing them. * * *

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1.]

Translation from the Peking Gazette of January 10, 1901.

On the 1st of the twelfth moon the following Imperial edict was received:

“The Hanlin Academy is an institution intended for the culture of talent. As its members ordinarily have no public duties to discharge and enjoy quiet leisure, they ought to thoroughly acquaint themselves with political economy, that they may develop useful talents and fit themselves for the service of the state. Let the chancellor of the academy direct the members of the institution to exert themselves in the study of ancient and modern methods of government and in Chinese and western branches of learning, that, whether holding office or otherwise, they may alike keep themselves posted as to current affairs and not fall into ruts. After the expiration of five months let them be classified according to their talents. Let the said chancellor examine them and separate the proficient from the worthless, and prepare and present a memorial reporting on the subject.

“Let there be no deception.”

Respect this.

[Inclosure 2.]

Translation from the Peking Gazette of January 10, 1902.

The following edict was issued on January 10:

“The establishment of schools for the cultivation of talent is a most important thing at the present time. The capital is the chief place in the Empire, and there should extra care be taken, therefore, to adopt there such methods as may serve for an example to be followed elsewhere.

“The Imperial University, which was established here some time ago, ought at once to be set going in thorough earnest, and we appoint Chang Po-hsi to be chancellor of said university, and, in all matters pertaining to it, charge him with the responsibility of management. We must search for the best methods to produce that general intelligence and understanding of principles and practice which will give us efficient men. We further direct him to carefully consider and decide upon the regulations which ought to be adopted and report to us as occasion may require.”

Respect this.

[Inclosure 3.]

Translation, from the Peking Gazette of January 11, 1902.

The following edict was received on the 2d of the twelfth moon (January 11):

“Yesterday we issued an edict concerning the administration of the Imperial University of Peking, and appointed Chang Po-hsi to be chancellor thereof. As to the T’ung Wen Kuan, established a long time ago, let it no longer be controlled by the foreign office, but let its management be included in the duties of Chang Po-hsi, and let him at once earnestly employ himself in a conscientious effort to put things in order and to enforce discipline, that he may fulfill the obligations of his office.”

Respect this.

[Page 183]
[Inclosure 4.]

Translation from the Peking Gazette of January 13, 1902.

The Peking Gazette of January 13 contained the following edict issued the same day:

“Last year the ‘Boxers’ stirred up confusion in the country which gradually grew into a great calamity. It was all due to the lack of wisdom on the part of princes and ministers who connived at the corrupt practice of magic, and by the intimidation of the court accomplished their cruel purposes. Their guilt, therefore, can not be overlooked. At that time their stupid followers, anticipating their designs, fawned upon them, and what the one called for the other accomplished. Their clamorous talking and planning grew to such proportions as to confuse the senses and really threatened destruction to the state. Although the doings of some were less guilty than those of others it is difficult for them to escape the Imperial notice. They ought all to be punished in order to awaken a proper respect for official regulations.

“We command that Ho Nai-ying, the senior vice-president of the censorate, who has already been removed from his post, the expositor of the Hanlin Academy, P’eng Ch’ing-li; the Hanlin compiler, Wang Lung-wen; the prefect of Han-chou Fu in Kiangsi, Lien Wen-chung, and the expectant-prefect of Shensi, Tseng Shih-wei, be all deprived of their ranks and forbidden forever to hold office.”

Respect this.

[Inclosure 5.]

Translation from the Peking Gazette of January 13, 1902.

We have received the commands of Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager, Tzu-hsi, etc., as follows:

“The Government has entered into treaty relations with the foreign powers and reestablished good feeling, which is all very just. For over a year we have exhorted all the officials who have been summoned to audience, whether high or low, to acquaint themselves with current affairs, and to strengthen our relations with foreign powers. We have constantly urged upon the various department and district magistrates that they should regard the court as looking with the same kindly feeling upon missions and missionaries as upon others, and that they must use extra care to give them protection, as well as exhort the people and set the example in the matter of promoting good feeling between the people and the church, and that they must thoroughly remove all suspicions that are likely to breed trouble. This sort of exhortation we have given not thrice nor five times, so that there are plenty of these officials who understand the good intentions of the court. But those who have not sincerely observed these injunctions are also not few. Henceforth they must put away their prejudices, manifest sincerity, and show justice, choose the good and follow it. Mutual politeness will naturally enable China and the foreign powers to maintain friendliness, and together attain a lasting peace. Will this not be a fortunate circumstance, relieving those in authority and perfecting the conditions of those under their control? The character of the people in the different provinces is not uniform; and, even though the good and gentle may be in the majority, it has often happened that the evil and treacherous have, by their suggestions, stirred up suspicion, manufactured rumors, and produced trouble that has gradually grown into a missionary case, and the masses have become entangled in it and found no way of escape, when they have afterwards repented. The remedy lies in having the local officials keep in friendly relations with their people and in their leading them as occasion may require.

“If the people and the church get into a quarrel they should hear and decide the case with justice, without any prejudice, and without stirring up feeling. As to those who turn to the practices of evil societies, like the ‘White Lily’ or the ‘Eight Tri-grams’ societies, and others of that sort, and employ those to sow suspicions among the people, they are such as the laws can not tolerate. Such societies have been long ago forbidden, and the officials must at once publish this for the information of all, and issue strict orders and make investigation. Should there be lawbreakers, they must punish them in order to correct the hearts of the people and secure respect for the law. Let the various Tartar generals, viceroys, and governors all proceed as directed and publish this edict for general information.”

Respect this.