Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay.

No. 1072.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith translation of a proclamation of his excellency Viceroy Yuan Shih-k’ai, published in the Chihli Gazette of the 19th instant, concerning the “Boxer heresy.”

I have no doubt the viceroy is in earnest. If he shall be properly supported by the Throne there will be little further trouble with Boxers in this province.

We can not, however, forget that in 1900 Yuan Shih-k’ai started out in the same way, as governor of Shantung, but instead of being sustained by the Court he was instructed not to use such severe measures. I think we may hope for better things now.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Page 267]
[Inclosure.—Translation from Chihli Gazette, dated 16th of seventh moon, August 19, 1902.]

Proclamation by His Excellency Yuan Shih-k’ai, viceroy of Chihli.

The heresy of Boxerdom has done great harm to the land. Some time ago I, the viceroy, issued a proclamation on the subject, with instructions for the suppression throughout the province. But now it is rumored that Boxers from other parts have come and hide themselves about the country, practicing boxing in secret together with incantations. They inflame the ignorant masses, raise doubts in their minds, and induce not a few of them to learn boxing in out of the way places. It is most abominable.

From ancient times to the present this heresy always meant ruin. The boxing and incantations they practice amount after all to not much more than a kind of jugglery—the swallowing of knives and fire without any skill.

Consider what became of those outlaws who the year before last joined the Boxers in the neighborhood of Peking and Tientsin, who under pretense of opposing the churches plundered whatever they had a mind to, but perished as soon as they were fought with, leaving their bones in heaps.

Again, thinking of Li Kang Chung and others who quite recently had the audacity to collect and drill a crowd at Tsi-yang and to oppose the Government troops, and how they were caught and executed, their heads being exposed on poles, if the charms which they carry on their persons are of any avail, how is it when they come in collision with good troops they are so easily taken and the charms have no efficacy at all?

These things have occurred before your very eyes; those who have a particle of sense will understand and turn over a new leaf. Those rebels harbor naught but evil in their hearts and plan to make trouble, which is a crime not to be condoned.

The pity is that you, who used to be loyal folk, should be deceived by such heretical talk and be taken in by the rebels with the idea that your families will be protected. Your heads are turned, thinking that by so doing you will save your life, when it is sure death and entire loss of property.

As to the propagation of this heresy, the Throne will positively not tolerate any such thing, so injurious to the country.

All civil and military officials under my jurisdiction are hereby instructed at all times to strictly prohibit all such doings and to arrest the offenders.

This proclamation is put out on the hope that all the gentry, merchants, and scholars under my jurisdiction may take note and understand that the propaganda and practice of the divine boxing (art), said to bring happiness, will bring only misfortune. By all means attend to your peaceful avocations. Do not listen to heretical words, nor lay yourself open to charges and serious crime.

I, the viceroy, will not rake up your past, but will grant you a fresh start.

Whoever can apprehend a Boxer chief and give him up to the authorities, he will be liberally rewarded.

But those who persisted in disobeying and practice boxing in secret, going of their own will and accord with the Boxers, they will be brought to account and punished according to the utmost rigor of the law. No leniency will be shown.

A special proclamation.