File No. 1518/344.

Chargé Fletcher to the Secretary of State.

No. 1317.]

Sir: In continuation of the legation’s dispatches on constitutional reform in China I have the honor to transmit herewith translations of two imperial decrees, which are of more historical than political interest.

I have, etc.,

Henry P. Fletcher.

Extract from the North China Daily News, November 29, 1909.

imperial decree november 25.

Whereas edicts have been issued in the previous reign, earnestly announcing the importance of making preparations for a constitution and fixing a strict period within which different ministries were made responsible to carry out any published reform measure assigned. To this effect there were repeated commands. Since accession to the Throne we have issued several decrees and have in rescripts to memorials laid emphasis on the subject. Through these means our sincere wish to push on the progress of constitutional reform must have been patent to the officials and subjects in the Empire.

We have received from the presiding officials of the various ministries and viceroys and governors in the different Provinces of the constitutional preparations carried out in the first and second years, according to the program, and find them on the whole satisfactory. But if they would but throw their hearts into the work and devote their energies towards carrying out those reforms, in due course success might be expected.

It is, however, apprehended that committing the long standing error, some of them may seek to discharge their responsibility by presenting a mere memorial without taking any real action. They should bear in mind that these measures are of the highest importance, and are to be carried out in compliance with plans of the preceding Emperor as well as to satisfy the hopes of the people.

Henceforth officials should bestir themselves and seek to effect improvements with energy in undertaking the tasks intrusted to them. They should neither exaggerate their doings nor hide faults. If obstacles arise in the way of accomplishing any object, they are permitted to memorialize us and devise such means as may be necessary in the circumstances. They are desired, however, firmly to pursue their course and to carry through their aim in spite of difficulties. They should neither quail before difficulties nor evade responsibilities.

The present troublous position of affairs has been a source of constant and great solicitation to the Throne, and the ministers, having received bounties from the state, should do their utmost to shoulder the responsibilities. If matters are presented [Page 329] with the least falsity and in consequence they fail to carry out the constitutional reforms in due time, can they bear the consequences?

The commission of constitutional reforms is commanded to supervise the preparations as reported, and in the event of any delay or perfunctory efforts or misrepresentations being discovered, to make a denunciation to us, giving the full facts. We will reverently obey the edict issued on the 1st of the 8th moon last year, and mete out penalty to those guilty according to the rules against negligence in office. With the established regulations before us we shall show no lenience. In short, it must be pointed out that responsibility can not be evaded, while cooperation is necessary to insure success.

It is hoped that the ministers, both within and without the capital, will observe harmony and banish private feelings; that they will neither form factions to oppose different views, nor begin any measure in diligence and end it in idleness. It is only by such means that unity of mind can be established between sovereign and ministers and benign government can be secured.

2. Tsai Ying is commanded to assume temporary charge of the brigade generalship of Ma Lan prior to Chi Ling’s arrival.

imperial decrees, november 26.

1. The memorial presented by the commission of constitutional reforms traversing the reports on the reform measures carried out in the different districts and departments, and suggesting rewards and punishment in the matter, is approved. The object of these reports is to compare the merits of official administration and encourage men of superior talents, but though many of the viceroys and governors have submitted ample reports there are others whose reports have been quite meager. It is incredible that such should be the case, yet such firmly rooted evils greatly affect the progress of constitutional reforms. Take, for example, the instance of police administration, of which reports have only been made in a few instances, while in other districts the system has not been put into operation. Negligence in other matters may thus be inferred. A period was strictly fixed for these measures to be carried out and arbitrary evasion can not be permitted. The viceroys and governors are hereby commanded to comply with the regulations sanctioned to act with diligence in compiling reports for tables and to classify the administrations according to actual merit. This should be carried out faithfully and with justice, so that the Throne’s wish to accomplish reforms in a true spirit may not be ignored.

2. Yen Chih, imperial agent at Urga, is allowed to vacate his post on account of illness.

3. San To is awarded the brevet rank of deputy lieutenant general and appointed acting imperial agent at Urga.

4. Lian Shou is hereby appointed deputy lieutenant general of Kueihhuacheng.

The above edicts are sealed by the Prince Regent and signed by the Grand Councillors Prince Ching, Shih Hsu, Lu Ch’uan-lin Na Tung, and Tai Hung-tze.