File No. 1518/430.

Minister Calhoun to the Secretary of State.

No. 49.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you for the department’s information the translation of a recent imperial edict regarding the second memorial presented soliciting the earlier opening of parliament.

The memorial which had been presented by delegates of the provincial assemblies, chambers of commerce, educational societies, and [Page 337] Chinese abroad prayed that as a remedy to the existing crisis the period of constitutional preparation be shortened and the date of the opening of parliament hastened.

I have, etc.,

W. J. Calhoun.

imperial edicts.

We have perused the memorial presented through the medium of the censorate by the members of provincial assemblies and the representatives of the Bannermen of the various provinces praying for the speedy opening of the national assembly. Let it be understood that in the twelfth moon of the last year when the members of the provincial assemblies presented a joint memorandum on the same subject, we distinctly decreed that as soon as the nine years’ preparation were completed and the qualifications of the general public were up to the required standard, we would without hesitation issue an edict to fix a date for calling a meeting of the parliament. Every care has been taken by the Throne in the matter in the hope that our subjects would not adopt a superficial form and overlook the substantial results to be achieved. Furthermore, we have this year ordered officials to proceed to all the provinces for the purpose of conducting an exhaustive investigation into the various items of the program to be carried out and making an estimate of the necessary expenses connected therewith. In reply to our verbal inquiry to-day the high ministers of the various Yamens assured us that the various items of the program are not yet all carried out in their consecutive order. Being anxious to execute the responsible duties entrusted to us by their late majesties on the one hand, and to comply with the earnest request of the officials and people on the other, we feel that our trouble will only be relieved when a constitution has been established. Such being the case, why should we grudge to grant the opening of a parliament? But it should be borne in mind that while the administration of the Government is important, a constitutional regime will introduce numerous matters on the method of carrying out of which peace or revolution will depend. Recklessness would bring about sorrow, while prudence would result in perfection. With regard to a parliament, it is only one part of a constitutional government, while there are many other important matters essential for its completion. How absurd it would be to assert that perfect peace would at once follow the opening of the parliament. Besides this, the vastness of the Empire, the present financial position and disturbances consequent on disasters, form stumbling blocks to the progress of a constitutional government. Nevertheless, the Throne has never for one moment relaxed its responsibility in the matter, and all the subjects within the Empire should sympathize with our eagerness in aiming at peaceful administration. The opening of the Chicheng Yuan will take place in the ninth moon this year, and members have been selected and ordered to make preparations for the forthcoming meeting, which will form not only the foundation, but initiate the spirit of the reform parliament, provided the members act in harmony and aim at peace with one heart and mind. In pursuance of the scheme of their late majesties we hereby adhere to the system of making constitutional preparations for nine years, at the expiration of which period another decree will be issued fixing a date for a meeting of the parliament. We appreciate perfectly the loyalty of you subjects; but this affair is very important and must be carried out in a methodical manner. The instructions in this decree are very clear. You people shall not memorialize us again on the matter. Let this be published for general information.