Transcibed text of the nine-page introduction that opens Griffith John’s 1891 book, The Cause of the Riots in the Yangtse Valley: A “Complete Picture Gallery.”
Warning: On viewing images of a potentially disturbing nature.
This book is an exact reproduction of one of the numerous publications at present being widely circulated in China by the antiforeign party; with what object an examination of its pages will best explain. This party is strongest in Hunan, but has its active sympathisers, amongst the official and literary classes, in every province of the Empire.
This class of literature is chiefly produced in Hunan, and nowhere in such variety of quantity as in Changsha, the capital of that province. From that centre it is sent in all directions by the boatload, in the shape of handbills, placards, posters, pamphlets and books of various sizes. These are got up in styles to suit all tastes; in the most scholarly classical, and in the familiar mandarin colloquial; in poetry and in prose; with illustrations and without. But, whatever the shape or style may be, the subject matter is always of the same nature as that of the volume. Occasionally a production may be found which is a little less revolting, but there are others again even more so. Although Changsha is the chief centre of production, it is by no means the only one. The blocks of the more populist antiforeign works are frequently recut in various cities of other provinces, and fresh sources of supply are brought to light, from time to time, often in most unexpected quarters.
The dissemination of these books is not carried on for the sake of making money. They are not produced in answer to any popular demand, nor are they kept on sale by the trade, but are printed to the order of certain individual and associations, who also employ agents, to distribute them amongst the people in whatever districts they direct, and to post them on the walls. This involves a very large expedition of funds, which is met by the liberal contributions of the officials and gentry interested.
It cannot be said that the Chinese authorities are under any misapprehension as to the nature of the harvest which results from the sowing of such seed. The ministers of the Tsungli Yamen, in their memorial to the Throne regarding the riots in the Yangtsze valley, state:—“The reason (of the riots) is this, … anonymous placards are posted for the purpose of agitating and misleading the minds of the people, so as to find a favourable opportunity to create disturbances. … The memorialists beg the Throne to order the Tartar Generals, Governors-General, and Governors of every province, to proclaim to the people, warning them not to listen lightly to rumours, not to make trouble. In case anonymous placards are written, and rumours are fabricated, to mislead the people, stringent and severe measures should be adopted to arrest and severely punish the authors.”
The Throne, in the Imperial Edict of June the 13th, replies to this:—“The risings no doubt took their origin from the discontented class who fabricate groundless rumours, and create disturbances under false pretexts. Such cunning people are to be found in every place. Let the Tartar Generals, Governors-General and Governors proclaim and notify the people never to listen lightly to floating rumours, and recklessly cause troubles. Writers of anonymous placards, manufacturing rumours to mislead the people, are to be apprehended, and severely punished.”
H. E. Liu, viceroy of the Liang-kiang provinces, in his memorial to the Throne regarding the riots, which appears in the Peking Gazette of September 23rd, states:—“The leading feature everywhere was the fabrication of causeless rumours by scoundrels, lurking in concealment, who incited the people to riotous proceedings.”
The memorial of H. E. Chang, viceroy of the Hu-kwang provinces, Peking Gazette, October 9th, is to the same effect:—“The memorialist would observe that the riots which have occurred with such frequency in the valley of the Yangtsze during the last few months, in connection with missionary establishments, have for the most part originated in the practice of receiving and bring up young children, which gives seditious characters an opportunity of fabricating all sorts of false rumours to work upon the feelings of credulous and ignorant people. …The memorialist has issued stringent instructions to the civil and military authorities, directing them to keep a careful watch from time to time, and in the event of their discovering any further anonymous placards, circulating baseless rumours, with the object of stirring up sedition, they are to offer rewards at once for the arrest of the culprits, who will be severely punished.”
No one who studies this book, knowing that the very placards which it contains were being extensively circulated at the time, and knowing also that credulous, dark and polluted, heathen minds of the people would accept as absolutely true the things here depicted, will question the view taken by the authorities as to antiforeign placards being the main cause of the riots. As the authorities were perfectly well aware what the circulation of this literature meant, one naturally would have expected them to put forth most strenuous efforts to have the men engaged in it seized, and a stop put to their further labours. They did nothing of the kind, however, and this forms the most remarkable feature of the whole of this extraordinary business. By means of their police, their spies, and their system of rewards and punishments for the detection of crime, Chinese officials can generally find out most things they set their minds to; but who these antiforeign book men were, where they were, and whence they came, were matters which THEY could never discover. Now and again, foreigners stumbling upon them denounced them to the authorities, insisting on their being seized,—which was done,—and on their being adequately punished,—which was not done, for of their own accord they would not have even seized them.
In the beginning of last year the city of Wuchang was thrown into a ferment by an issue of these placards, particularly Nos. 1,3, and 13. The consuls urgently requested H. E. Chang, the viceroy, to take action in the matter, but he paid it not the least attention; he did not even consider it worth the formality of a proclamation. In the month of June of this year, a band of men were found distributing books and placards in Hankow. They were apprehended, but were shortly afterwards dismissed, because, although caught red-handed and with a large quantity of incendiary literature in their possession, there was no case against them! It transpired afterwards that their employer, H E. Chou Han, (周漢) a gentleman of high official rank (Taotai) in Hunan, had demanded their liberation of the Governor, and they were set free accordingly. In September, it was discovered that six wealthy pawn-broking establishments in the city of Hwang-pi, twenty miles north of Hankow, were engaged in the distribution of this literature, and had recut the blocks of a most villainous book called 鬼教該死 Kwei kiao kai sz; “Death to the Devils’ Religion,” in order to be able to keep up supplies. The six proprietors, all of them gentlemen of official rank, did not seek to deny the fact, so they were invited by the authorities to explain matters. Their explanation, after a long delay, was a payment in all of Tls. 4,000, or about £150 each.
But while at the open ports, and under the eye of foreigners, a measure of decency is observed, in Hunan, where foreigners cannot go, there is not even a pretence made of putting this literature under a ban. In Changsha these cartoons are posted everywhere, even alongside the very Imperial Edict and other proclamations which denounce them, and the authorities view the whole with the blind eye. In brief, while here and there some of the mere tools of this propaganda have got into trouble, there has not been a single case of a principal, some of whom are now well known, having been interfered with. Such, then, being the disease as diagnosed by the authorities themselves, and such their method of applying the cure, China can hardly be expected to prove a healthy country for Christians or foreigners to live in, until a change be brought about.
In addition to stirring up the natives to attack foreigners, an attempt was, at the same time, made to set one class of foreigners against another—the secularly employed against the missionary. Just when the effects of the fury which had been excited against them was being most severely felt by the missionaries, a remarkable article entitled “Defensio populi ad populos,” which was sufficiently striking to attract the attention of the English speaking world, appeared in the North China Daily News of July 21st.
In this the writer, one of the secretaries of H. E. Chang, the viceroy, a native gentleman who had received a liberal foreign education, endeavours to show that “the hatred of the people is just,” and that for all their troubles the missionaries had themselves to blame. He argues that their attempts to benefit the people morally are a fraud and failure. None of the best men of the nation (the literati) had been attracted to them; their followers being only “the worst, the weak, the ignorant, the needy, and the vicious amongst the Chinese.” Equal failure has attended them physically. Their presence in the country is an insult to the Chinese, and a menace to other foreigners, from the constant troubles they are creating. There can never be peace or security till foreign governments withdraw the missionary. The thoroughgoing character of this gentleman’s pleading is best shown by his justification of the Wusueh murderers, who not only slew, but also mutilated their victims in a fashion which is nameless among civilised men. In his opinion, all they were guilty of was “what even the most hardened prosecutor in a court of justice could prove to be nothing worse than excusable ignorance.” The brutal murder and mutilation of unoffending Englishmen only excusable ignorance! This attack failed as regards China, although several home writers fell into the trap, and adopted the views of “the defensio.” The incident is related here because it is all of a piece with the rest of the antiforeign propaganda, and because it shows how, as the Imperial Edict puts it, “such cunning people are to be found in every place.”
To those who are unacquainted with the character of the Chinese, it may appear absolutely incredible that educated men of rank and position, could be associated with such proceedings. But it must be remembered that the feelings and actions of men in Christian countries is no criterion of what may obtain in a heathen land. Things which would thrill all hearts with horror in the one, only call forth a smile in the other. Further, the insulting, reviling and tormenting of aliens has been a favourite pastime with the Chinese literati from ancient times, and one which they only forego when likely entail unpleasant consequences.
During the month of September a series of articles, signed “F.,” appeared in the North China Daily News, in which it was shown that the officials themselves were solely to blame for the riots. F. reasons thus:—“Who is responsible? If we admit the principle that the man who sets fire to a house is to be held accountable for all consequences resulting from his action, even though he was not present when the flames obtained complete mastery over the building, and when the worst mischief was down, then we must maintain that the official and governing classes of China are accountable, both for the recent outbreaks, and also for other earlier attacks on foreigners and foreign property; and they must not be allowed now to pose as innocent men, and as the champions of peace and order. For several years, outrageous charges against foreigners, and especially against the Roman Catholic Missionaries, have been circulating in China with the cognisance, and even with the imprimatur, of some of the highest Mandarins in the Empire. The authors of the blasphemous and obscene Hunan placard, which have now become so notorious, have really done little more than put into a popular dress statements and charges which appear in books, which have been described, more or less accurately, as ‘Chinese Blue Books,’ and in documents which are published side by side with memorials to the Throne from such men as Tsêng Kuo-fan, Tso Tsung-tang, Chang Chih-tung, Li Hung-chang, P‘êng Yü-lin, Shên Pao-chêng, Ting Jih-chang, and other officials of the very highest standing. A collection of state papers published in England bearing the names of the Duke of Argyll, Lords Salisbury, Ripon, Beaconsfield, Dufferin, Selborne, Granville, Coleridge, Hartington, and Messrs. Gladstone, Goschen, W. H. Smith, and other illustrious statesmen, would not carry more weight amongst Englishmen than the collection of papers now under consideration carries in China.”
F. then proceeds to show that the work he is reviewing, the皇朝經世文續編, Huang chao king shih wen, suh pien “Supplementary documents of State of the Imperial government,”—published in 1888, in 32 vols., containing 120 books, and to be found in every well appointed public private library,—contains, expressed in the bluntest language, all the accusations against foreigners of gross licentiousness, scooping out eyes, abstracting brains, mutilating women and children &c., portrayed and described in the Hunan placards, and all the threatenings also. If this indisputable fact does not prove the complicity of the officials with antiforeign propaganda, then there is no such thing as proof. It is this complicity of the officials which gives the foul charges their fatal force, and which makes it so difficult for them to deal satisfactorily with men whose crime consists in simply addressing to the public eye the self-same things with they address to their government.
But, in addition to hereditary bent of disposition, the effect of an education unfriendly to aliens, and the force of bad examples in high places, the officials who would deal fairly by foreigners has still another serious difficulty to face. He knows it would not pay. He fears acquiring a reputation for being too friendly with the outer barbarian, than which nothing could be more fatal to his future advancement. On the other hand, it is patriotic to be antiforeign, and a cheap and easy method of attracting the favourable notice of superiors. Here is the very root and core of the whole matter. The supreme ruling power in China is, and ever has been since the present alien dynasty felt in secure possession of the throne, intensely antiforeign, a fact with none are better acquainted with than the repudiated, by all the same encouraged and rewarded, Hunanese.
The original, of which this book is a reproduction, was obtained last month from the firm of 鄧懋華, Teng-Meu-hwa, printers in Changsha, along with a large selection of similar wares printed by two other Changsha firms styled 曾郁文, Tseng yiu-wên, and 陳取德, Chen Tsü-teh respectively.
It has not been reproduced without much serious and prayerful thought. It was no pleasant task to have to do with, no matter with how good an object, the representation of our Adorable Redeemer as the filthiest of beasts, and his honoured servants as ghouls and vampires. It makes us feel as if we had been handling too-long-unburied, leprous carrion. Its touch is a pollution which no washing, though “with nitre and much sope,” can cleanse. But what is to be done? These insults to God and humanity must cease. The ministers and consuls of foreign powers have often most strongly represented the matter to the native authorities, and to their own governments, without producing much effect in any quarter. The propaganda still goes on. Shall nothing be done to stop it?
Desperate diseases demand desperate remedies. It may be that once this matter is brought, in all its naked hideousness, under the eyes of those in authority, and the leaders of public opinion in the home lands, some Christian state will be stirred up to demand, with an emphasis sufficiently pronounced that China will not dare to disregard it, the total suppression of this class of literature. If this is not done, then the years to come will be years of blood. The minds of a harmless people, who if left to themselves would readily enter into friendly relations with strangers, are being poisoned. They are being changed into fiends who will yet perpetrate, on the unfortunate Europeans within their reach, atrocities more horrible than even the Indian Mutiny saw. The antiforeign party who issue these books are in grim earnest. They never intended them for the foreign eye, but for the eyes of men who are quite capable of carrying out to the letter the treatment here laid down for goats and pigs (foreigners and Christians), even to the eating of their flesh and liver. They are so much in earnest that, Imperial Edicts and proclamations of viceroys and governors having failed to discourage them, other plans must be tried.
While these riots were supposed to be the work of rebels, or of secret societies hostile to the government, foreign Powers hardly knew how to act. But now, since they are proved to have been caused by the emissaries of men of official standing, who were perfectly well known to the authorities all along, and are on most intimate terms with some of the highest of them, action becomes easier. It is sincerely to be hoped that the greater publicity now given to this matter, and the clearer understanding of it, will induce to something being done.
But, while appealing to the Christian Magistrate to have this pernicious literature put a stop to, there is also an appeal to be made to the Christian Church. It is a most remarkable fact that this attack on Christianity issues from the province where least is known about it. There are no Protestant missionaries living in Hunan, and there never were any. Of Roman Catholics there is but one slender establishment, which obtained a footing in the province over two hundred years ago, and which has since maintained it, in spite of several burnings and bitter persecutions. Thus, while the existence of such literature must be mainly set down to the wickedness of its authors and supporters, their great ignorance must not be overlooked. Our Saviour’s prayer for the literati of Jerusalem may well be offered up in their behalf, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” At present, while treaties are not regarded in Hunan, it is not possible to do much for their enlightenment. The only available means for benefitting them is the same by which they seek to injure us, namely, by the press. Amongst its twenty millions of people there is abundant scope for using this, and through such agencies as the home Bible Societies, the Religious Tract Societies, or the Central China Tract Society of Hankow, it is within the power of all to take advantage of it. This Picture Gallery was distributed gratuitously to the thousands of B. As., who assembled at Changsha for the triennial examinations in September. A list of eight of the antiforeign party is published, each of whom was at the expense of circulating 100,000 copies “Death to the Devils’ Religion,” or 800,000 copies in all of a twenty-six page pamphlet. Were an equal zeal displayed by the Christian Church in showing them what the religion they persecute really teaches, there would be hope for even the Hunan literati.
Hankow, December 31st, 1891.
This reproduction of the Picture Gallery being intended for the thoughtful few, and not at all for the multitude, no attempt has been made to gloss over its extreme grossness in picture and language. It is not the production of illiterate men. The Hunan antichristian publications, almost without exception, have scholars for their authors, and there can be no doubt about this one. This being the case, it has been deemed best to reproduce The Gallery just as it stands, in all its obscenity and vileness; for in no other way would it be possible to convey a right idea of the unreasoning and blasphemous nature of the Chinese attack on Christianity, of the low mental and moral condition of the Chinese literati, and of the deep need of all classes in China of the very faith which not a few among them are seeking to destroy.
The book begins at the other end.
A short review of the history of foreign intercourse with China, and more particularly with regard to Missionary matters, is calculated to throw a good deal of light on the present situation.
The first English expedition to China, of which we have an account, was dispatched by the East India Company, in the year 1647. It consisted of the good ships Dragon, Sun, Catherine, and Ann, under the command of stout Caption Weddel. On arrival in the mouth of the Canton river it anchored in the neighbourhood of the Bogue forts, and, at the request of the Mandarins, quietly waited there the promised completion of arrangements for opening a trade. Meanwhile the forts were armed by the Chinese, “with forty six of iron cast ordnance, each piece between six and seven hundredweight,” and at the end of four days they unexpectedly opened fire upon the ships’ barges. “Herewith,” says the narrator, “the whole fleet being instantly incensed did, on the sudden, display their bloody ensigns,” and in brief, sailed in, returned the fire, landed their crews, and captured the forts. The result of this was the immediate establishment of a good understanding with the Mandarins, and the obtaining of the desired cargoes.
The incident was prophetic. All foreign intercourse in following years might be regarded as simply a repetition of this story in three chapters. Chapter first:—The out barbarians negotiate, and quietly await the non-fulfilment of the Mandarins’ promises. Chapter second:—the wily Mandarins mature their plans, and proceed to make it uncomfortable for the trustful barbarians. Chapter third:—A sudden explosion of barbarian wrath, which is followed by a period of mutual good understanding and friendship, and then all is gone through afresh. During the 200 years’ experience of trade and intercourse with foreigners, which followed the above incident, the Chinese officials never learned any different or better method of acting. Up to the time when Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria ascended the throne, her subjects in China were kept closely cooped up within the Canton factory. They were the victims of constant insult, and vexatious interference, on the part of the Mandarins. Forbidden to have their wives and families with them. Forbidden to go into the country, to enter the city, to be taught to language, to have intercourse with any save officially appointed natives, &c., &c. In every way they were circumscribed, restricted, and tormented. As best showing the spirit which then animated the officials, and the existence of the same spirit to the present day, one matter may be mentioned. As far back as 1754, foreign residents made bitter complaint that:—“injurious affiches were annually put up by the Government, accusing foreigners of horrible crimes, and intended to expose them to the contempt of the populace.” See Davis’, The Chinese, Chap. II. The accusations of taking out eyes and mutilating women and children, constantly persisted in by the Chinese, are not due to misrepresentations of medical mission work, as some have supposed, but date from a time when medical missions had not yet been dreamed of.
By the Treaty of Nanking, signed in 1842, at the close of the so-called opium war, a great change was made for the better. But the same insulting, injurious, and high-handed method of dealing with foreigners and their affairs, which was the chief factor in bringing about the first war, being persisted in, the result was a second war, the lorcha Arrow war, and the signing of the Tientsin Treaty in 1858.
These wars have frequently been condemned as unjust wars of aggression, undertaken in order to force upon China a trade and a religion which she had a perfect right to shut out if so disposed. But there is another side to the question. It is not possible in these days to force upon any nation, or individual even, a trade, or a religion. A willing seller must find an equally willing buyer or there can be not trade; a willing preacher must meet with an equally willing hearer or there can be no convert. That the people of China, a nation of traders, were eager to do business with the foreigner, to the great advantage of both, was perfectly well known, and that they were equally willing to consider the claims of Christianity had been also abundantly proved. Their rulers, out of mere pride, conceit, and class selfishness undoubtedly desired to shut out, and drive out, all foreign influences, good and bad alike, but the means they adopted to that end were such as no independent power could possibly give way to; hence the conflict. It was Mandarin aggression which brought on the wars.
Article VIII. of the Tientsin Treaty is the Magna Charta of Christian in China. it reads:—“The Christian religion as professed by Protestants of Roman Catholics, inculcates the practice virtue, and teaches man to do as he would be done by. Persons teaching it, or professing it, therefore, shall alike be entitled to the protection of the Chinese authorities; not shall any such, peaceably pursuing their calling, and not offending against the laws, be persecuted or interfered with.” Further in Art. IX the privilege of travelling in China under passport “for pleasure or purposes of trade, to all parts of the interior,” is provided for; while Art. XII reads:—“British subjects, whether at the ports, or at other places, desiring to build and open houses, warehouses, churches, hospitals, or burial grounds, shall make their agreement for the land or buildings they require at the rates prevailing amongst the people,” a stipulation which seems broad enough to cover the right of residence in the interior. With the right of protection, the right of travel, and the right of residence in the interior granted, the missionary has obtained all the rights which he asks for from any Government. Thus the Tientsin treaty was entirely satisfactory to the missionary body.
Unfortunately the British Authorities refused to construe the treaty, as conferring the right of residence in the interior, which its necessary accompaniments, the rights of renting or purchasing houses and land. Whatever privileges in this respect British Missionaries at present enjoy—and there are many hundreds of them living in the interior—are claimed under the French treaty through the most favoured nation clauses. The application of Art. XII is held to be limited to the open ports.
After ten years the treaty was to be open for revisal, and, as the time drew near, merchants and missionaries alike began to make their wishes known. The privilege desired by the matter was the right of residence in the interior. Unfortunately Sir R. Alcock, and Sir T. Wade, were fully persuaded that to grant this would be highly dangerous to the missionaries themselves, and fatal to the good understanding then existing between Great Britain and China. Writing in December 1868, Sir T. Wade reasons that:—“the appearance in China of Christian Missionaries backed by the power and prestige of their respective Governments, must be simply as offensive as an invasion, similarly supported, of Buddhist or Confucian teachers would be to ourselves.” Blue Book, page 432. A year later Sir R. Alcock lays it down that:—“beyond the circuit of the ports it would be impossible to give them (the missionaries) efficacious protection, even if Her Majesty’s Government were as willing as they are averse to the employment of force.” Blue Book, page 27.
These errors in judgment were serious ones, and fated to entail endless evils. It might have been foreseen that Missionaries would insist on taking up their abode in the interior, and to leave their right to do so a dubious one could only work mischief. It ought to have been known that Chinese, seeing how willing Great Britain was to give up a right which it might have claimed, and which no doubt it was expected to claim, would be thereby emboldened to request further givings up. It was natural to suppose that the presence of a Missionary would be obnoxious to the people, but it was by no means a wise lesson to teach the Mandarins that, if the people objected to a thing, it would not be insisted on. It was natural to suppose that, beyond their circuit of the ports, a missionary could not have “efficacious protection,” but this was by no means a valid reason why he should be forbidden to try. As a matter of fact the premises in both case were false, as the experiences of their year, and many another year, have abundantly proved. There is no place where the missionary is so obnoxious to the people as that in which he has never been seen,—in Changsha for instance. There is no place where “efficacious protection” is oftener not obtainable than “within the circuit of the ports.” All the great riots take place there.
The Chinese government in order to make up their minds as to what they should demand, or grant, in the way of treaty revision, requested the advice of some its most powerful officers on the whole foreign question. Of the secret memorials sent in in reply, that of the great Viceroy Tseng Kwo-fan, then resident at Nanking, fell into foreign hands and was translated. It clearly showed that the old mandarin hatred of foreigners was as strong as ever. Foreign trade, he said, was permitted only because it could not be kept out, and foreign friendship retained only because it was less objectionable than foreign enmity. But he warned the Government that if further concessions favourable to foreigners were granted, he and his fellow governors would repudiate them, and take no pains to restrain the wrath of the people—in other words they would resort to their favourite weapon of mob violence. It must of course be borne in mind that the Viceroy would know the kind of memorial which would meet with approval at Peking just then.
Now here was a treaty to be revised, and one of the parties desiring fresh concessions, only their ministers had let it be understood that they feared to press for them lest it should lead to riot and murder. On the other side there was a full determination to concede nothing, but rather to withdraw concessions already given, if a passable excuse were forthcoming. China is China, and no prophet was required to foretell what was about to happen next.
In the autumn of 1868 the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor, the now well known principal and director of the China Inland Mission, was, with a few others, quietly living in Yang-chow, one of the largest cities in the Viceroyalty of H. E. Tseng Kwo-fan. It was admitted that they had done nothing whatever to excite or irritate the people in any way, and yet a mob was collected which cruelly assaulted them, burned their houses, and drove them from the city, glad to escape with their lives. The mob was stirred up to this action by the circulation of the usual rumours about the missionaries killing children in order to obtain their eyes and hearts. Previous to this, however, it was known that meeting had been held by the local gentry at which it was resolved the foreigners should be expelled, and apparently wellfounded accusations of complicity on the part of the Mandarins, and even of the Viceroy himself, were not awanting. There were also serious antiforeign troubles in Formosa that year.
In the following year, 1869, the Rev. James Williamson of the London Mission was murdered at a place thirty five miles from Tientsin. The murderers were never arrested, nor anything done in the matter, although the proper representations were duly made in the proper quarter. Next, it came to light that the notorious Death Blow to Corrupt Doctrines was being circulated by Yamun officials in the Shantung province, and there was a general feeling of apprehension in all the foreign communities in China. Unfortunately the gentlemen in charge of British interests at Peking did not, in spite of all the influence that could be brought to bear upon them through the press and otherwise, consider any action necessary beyond mildly remonstrating with the Tsungli Yamun. However, it was now becoming apparent that it would be an utterly unreasonable proceeding to ask for further concessions for foreigners, by way of treaty revision, from a nation whose people so bitterly hated them; but, lest anyone should doubt this, the next event was calculated to convince the most sceptical.
In the spring of the next year, 1870, the populace of several cities widely distant from each other were wrought up into a state of great excitement by rumours of the misdeeds of Missionaries. It was the old stock stories of kidnapping, taking out eyes, &c., &c., but by whom they were being propagated does not seem to have been ascertained. At Tientsin this excitement was further intensified by two acts of one of the magistrates, the Chi-fu. He issued a proclamation in which his belief in the rumours was implied, and executed by the Lin-chi process (cutting in ten thousand pieces, the severest method of capital punishment in China) two men who were said to have been kidnappers. There was no longer any doubt in the minds of the natives of Tientsin as to the absolute truth of every rumour. It was the month of June. There was then no gunboat of any foreign power in the river. The passions of the mob seemed thoroughly aroused, and the coming outbreak was clearly foreseen. The French and English Consuls did all in their power to induce the native authorities to take adequate action in the matter, but in vain.
The storm burst on the 21st, and the result was a massacre of innocent unoffending Europeans, half of whom were helpless, holy women whose lives were devoted to the service of God and China—a massacre carried out by means of such revolting brutalities as leaves it without a parallel in the bloodstained annals of Asia. There were twenty foreign victims; ten of them Sisters of Mercy, two French ladies, one Russian lady—only sixteen years of age and married but two days previously—two Russian gentlemen, the French Consul his clerk, and others. The English settlement was two miles distant from the scene of the massacre, and was not attacked. The mob proceeded in that direction, but the Mandarins turned it back.
When the news of this appalling tragedy reached Peking, the seven foreign ministers presented a joint note demanding that immediate and vigorous measures should be taken by the Imperial government, and were assured that everything necessary should be done. But the Imperial government found that it had no troops that could be depended upon to punish the rioters, and that it was thus unable to coerce the turbulent populace of Tientsin. Pictorial fans depicting foreigners being brutally murdered by Chinese were being freely sold in the streets, and it was beyond its power to stop even that outrage, so helpless had it all at once become.
Judicial investigations were commenced at Tientsin, but, owing to the great difficulties in the way of the presiding judges, they were conducted in a most dilatory manner. At length, about four months after the massacre, certain parties were found guilty, and sentence was pronounced. Two Mandarins, the prefect and the district magistrate, were banished to Manchuria. Twenty criminals, of the lowest class of the people, were sentenced to death, and twenty-one more condemned to banishment. A sum of Tls. 400,000 was also paid to the French government for the loss of life and property.
Foreigners in China freely asserted that all this was a mere travesty of justice. That the real culprits were such men as Chung How, who had it fully in his power to have prevented the massacre had he chosen, but paid no attention to the earnest appeals of the English and French consuls. The latter indeed was cut down and murder in the streets while returning from his Yamun, to which he had personally gone in a vain effort to induce him to take action. Instead of being punished, this gentleman was appointed Imperial Commissioner to proceed to France and present a formal apology.
Another of the accused was Chen Kwo-shwai, an adopted son of the celebrated general San-kwo-lin-sin, who arrived in Tientsin three days before the massacre, and who was said to have been the real leader on the occasion. He was also said to have been at the bottom of the Yang-chow riot. From Tientsin he proceeded to Peking where he was received in audience by the Emperor, and returned to Tientsin in high favour. As to the men who were executed it cannot be ascertained with certainty whether they were guilty or not. At all events the Russian Minister refused to allow the execution of four of them as satisfaction for the lives of the Russians killed, because not satisfied of their direct complicity in the crime. Thus only sixteen of the twenty were beheaded. The late Dr. Williamson has put it upon record that:—“The Government paid a large monetary compensation to the families of the men who were executed, permitted them to be feasted during the preceding night, afterwards decapitated in grand robes said to be a present from the Government, and buried with honours. Then the two chief mandarins, who were to have been banished to Manchuria, were allowed to return to their own homes, while the greatest criminal of all, the general who urged the rabble on, was never touched.”
It has been necessary to dwell somewhat minutely on the events of those years, because in every particular the recent experiences of foreigners in China are an exact repetition of what took place twenty years ago, as will be shown. The preceding statements of fact are made on the authority of Williams’ Middle Kingdom; Thin’s Tientsin Massacre; Chinese Recorder; Introduction to Translation of ‘Death Blow’; Report to English Presbyterian Mission, &c., and may be accepted as trustworthy. There can be no doubt that the persons on whose heads the guilt of the Tientsin Massacre really rested were never punished. Nor was it possible in any way to bring them to account, for they were none other than the high officials themselves who at that time dictated the Imperial policy with regard to foreign affairs. The reason why there were antiforeign troubles throughout the Empire was because the Government wanted them, and had an object to serve by means of them. On no other hypothesis can the events of that time be so clearly explained, or those of the present day.
Four month after the execution of the sixteen coolies, when the alarm and tension caused by the massacre had somewhat subsided, that was in February 1871, the next move in the game was made by their Excellencies Wân Siang and Shan Kwei-fan, communicating to the foreign ministers the famous Eight Articles in relation to the Missionary question. This important document has been somewhat lost sight of by the foreigners concerned of late, but it does not seem to have been for a moment absent from the minds of the Chinese officials all these years. In nearly every case where a Missionary and a Mandarin have come into conflict it has been through the latter applying to the former some one or other of the provisions of the Eight Articles. They were professedly proposed in the interest of the Missionaries and native Christians, as a means of preventing such deplorable outbreaks against them as had recently taken place; and, could they have been agreed to and carried out, they would, doubtless, have accomplished this desirable object, for their operation would, in a short time, have shut up every Missionary institution, closed every Missionary’s mouth, prevented the joining of new converts, and have delivered over the old to the uncovenanted mercies of their bitterest enemies.
In the preamble to these article, it was asserted that trade had given rise to no differences between China and foreign Powers—which was a considerable stretch of the truth—but that “Missions engendered ever-increasing abuses.” The abuses were not specified, but the curious could find full particulars of them in the Death Blow, and such like books. As a consequence:—“At this moment the animosity of the people, already deep, degenerates gradually into a hate, which at length reaches its paroxysm.” Nothing was said, however, as to how the paroxysm was worked up, or by whom. In brief, it showed how the Missionaries and native Christians were utterly bad, the people justly and righteously enraged, while they, the virtuous Mandarins, were only anxious to fulfill their obligations and promote peace, at witness “the zeal of the government in punishing the Tientsin murderers, and arranging the affair.”
Art. I demanded that foreign orphanages should be abolished, or that only the children of necessitous Christians should be received. This was a demand which is being constantly renewed. H. E. Chang Chi-tung in his memorial on the Wusueh riot stated that the riots had, for the most part, originated in the practice of receiving and bringing up young children, hence he had instructed the Taotai at Hankow to communicate with the Consuls asking them to direct the Missionaries to cease, for a time, receiving young children into their establishments. Of all others the orphanage is the institution which is represented as the chief cause of the “animosity of the people.” All the blood curdling atrocities, said to be perpetrated by foreigners, have the orphanage for their scene. As a matter of fact there is not institution which China, beyond all countries, so piteously needs. So many children are destroyed in infancy, and so many more are done to death through neglect and want, that the benevolent will always be impelled to establish orphanages so as to save some. And why not? The officials know perfectly everything which passes within the walls of an orphanage, as indeed is the case with regard to all foreign houses to an extent rarely dreamed of. The information is wormed out of the natives who are employed on the premises. The special attack made on the orphanage is due to the fact that the suspicions and passions of the mob are most easily aroused with regard to it. The heathen mind simply cannot believe in the purity of intention of foreigners who undertake the trouble and expense of bringing up children, not their own. They are persuaded there must be some ulterior and sinister motive.
Art. II demanded that women should not be allowed to enter the churches, nor Sisters of Charity to live in China, or to teach religion. The “abuse” it was intended to prevent by this article will be understood by a glance at Cartoon III in the Picture Gallery. Its effect would have been to cripple Christianity by limiting the efforts of its teachers to the one sex.
Art. III demanded that Missionaries must conform to the laws and customs of China, that they should submit themselves to the authority of the magistrate of China, and that they should be forbidden to make themselves independent. Further, that they should not be permitted to asperse the doctrines of Confucius. The effect of their article would have been to put the Missionary entirely into the lands of the local Mandarins who would soon have tied him up hand, and foot, and tongue. No act of his but could be easily construed by them into a breach of the customs of China, and no word he could utter but might be twisted into an aspersion of the doctrines of Confucius.
Art. IV demanded that, since the individuals who committed disorders ordinarily belonged to the lowest class of the people, and when they were guilty of crime they were seized and punished, accusations must not be brought against the literati, to exact from them large indemnities. Punishments once inflicted (on the lowest class of the people) they (the complaining foreigners) must not come and claim large indemnities. This seems to have been a provision for having riots on the cheap. Damages were to be paid for in coolies’ heads, and no accusations against the Mandarin class allowed. Its effect would have been to secure the destruction of all Mission establishments within a very short time after the articles came into force.
The same article dealt with the native Christian, and demanded that, if a Christian conducted himself contrary to the laws, the local authority was to take evidence, and if anyone accused a Christian, he, the Christian, was to be seized and judged; but (in such a case) the Missionary must not come forward to defend him, or to exculpate him. This seems to have been designed to secure a free hand for the persecutor. False accusations, charging the native Christians with horrible crimes as well as the Missionaries, are only too common everywhere. Under this provision, in spite of Art. VIII of the Tientsin Treaty, it would have been competent for any Mandarin, on account of these vile accusations, to seize any native Christian, and to take evidence and judge him without anyone being allowed to interfere. Taking evidence and judging in China often means beating men to death, or still worse allowing them to rot to death in prison.
Art. V dealt with passports, and provided that they were not to be granted to districts where there were rebels, and that missionaries must not avail themselves for their passports to secretly go elsewhere. There was not great fault to be found with this, save for the implication that missionaries were disloyal and treacherous.
Art. VI demanded that before a man was permitted to become a Christian he must be examined as to whether he had undergone any sentence, or committed any crime. Notice must also be given to the authorities who will take note and ascertain if he has ever undergone any sentence. Every month, or at least every three months, the authorities were to be informed of the number of conversions; and every month, or at least three months, they were to to go and inspect the missions. The design of this seems to have been to get the missions and the converts entirely under the Mandarin’s thumb, and its effect would have been most detrimental. Few natives, in their desire to become Christians, would have the courage to face an examination before the magistrate, while the constant inspection of the Mission premises, by the criminal authorities, would soon scare all the people away.
In proof that the Government policy with regard to missions is still on the old lines of the Eight Articles, it may be pointed out that such an inspection of Missions was demanded and arranged for at Hankow by H. E. Chang Chi-tung during the time of the riots. In the memorial already quoted from, His Excellency says:—“The consuls having all agreed to the proposal (namely to request the orphanage to cease receiving children) the Taotai was further directed to draw up, in consultation with the Consuls, regulations for the periodical inspection, every month, of Missionary institutions by officials and gentry deputed for the purpose.” On the face of it this appears a very innocent proposal, and some may think a very necessary one under the circumstances. But it must be remembered that none were better aware of all that went on in Missionary institutions than the officials. Further, that these institutions were open to them, orphanages included, every day are reasonable hours, for them to come quietly and unannounced to see all there was to be seen, if so disposed. Further still, granting that such malpractices as were asserted are carried on in orphanages, the authorities are hardly so simple-minded as to suppose the damning evidences, in the shape of eyes or bones, would be left lying around for them to discover in the course of a prearranged, periodical, official visit. The fact is such inspections answer no such purpose as is pretended; they are most needless, most insulting, and the carrying of them out most dangerous to the Missions. The only effect they have is to confirm the people in their worst suspicions. This is no mere theory. The first of the official inspections, arranged for as indicated above, was carried out on the afternoon of September 7th by the Taotai with a great retinue at the R. C. orphanage Hankow, just after the Ichang riot. The excitement in the native town was intense. The gunboats in port had to hand their men and guns. Nothing but the presence and promptitude of the foreign forces prevented a repetition of the Tientsin tragedy at Hankow. For long after, the orphanage had to be guarded nightly by men-of-war’s men. Such was the first, and for the time being, the last of the official inspections of Missions, but the demand is still persisted in.
As a still further proof, it is a remarkable fact that the other demand made under Art. VI, namely for the registration of Missions and Converts by the authorities in the Yamun, was renewed this year, and not by a viceroy or governor, but by the Central Government itself. During the troubles, orders were issued from Peking for a census to be taken of all Missions and Converts in the Empire, under the pretence that it was necessary in order to protect them from the rebels and the Kolao-hwei. These orders were carried out as far as the district authorities were able. This is the first census undertaken by China in recent times, and the Central Government has taken much credit to itself for the thoughtfulness, and care for Missions, manifested by the step. Seeing, however, that none knew better than the Government itself how little either rebellion or Kolao-hwei had to do with the riots, it is permissible to doubt if its intentions were so praiseworthy after all. At all events, these things prove that the Ruling Powers in China, central and provincial alike, are still holding on to demands laid down in the Eight Articles.
Art. VII demanded that Missionaries should be kept in their place, and if they visited a great Mandarin they must observe the same ceremonies as those exacted from the literati. If they visited a mandarin of inferior rank, they must also conform to the customary ceremonies. Under this article the Missionary would have had to perform the Kotow, and various other methods of obeisance peculiar to the East. Its object seems to have been to exalt the Mandarin, and abase the Missionary.
Art. VIII laid down the regulations which were to be observed by Missionaries in buying a piece of land, or hiring a house. It demanded that, before concluding an agreement, the Missionary must go with the real proprietor and make a declaration before the local authority, who would examine whether the Fung-shui presented any obstacle. If no inconvenience arose to the Fung-shui, it would then be necessary to ask the consent of the inhabitants of the place. This obtained, it would be necessary to declare that the land belonged, with full rights to Chinese Christians; and finally (in purchasing property) it would not be allowed, in making a transfer, to use any other name than that of the real purchaser. Had these proposals been agreed to, they would have proved to have been just so many contrivances for preventing the Missionary from getting a fresh footing anywhere. To insist on the real proprietor appearing before the Mandarin, as an indispensable preliminary to leasing or selling his property to a Missionary, would practically be found to mean that nine out of every ten landlords would pointblank refuse to go near the Yamun, while the tenth, when he went, would be scared out if his bargain. But, supposing this difficulty to be safely surmounted, the Fung-shui stipulation would certainly prove fatal. The presence of a Missionary could not but be found to have a baleful effect on the Fung-shui (geomantic influences) of a neighbourhood. But, granting it to be possible it might be thought otherwise, some of the people would be sure to withhold their consent. However, let it be granted that all these apparently insuperable difficulties could somehow be overcome, the poor Missionary would still be as far from gaining a lodgment as ever, for, as is finally provided, he is absolutely forbidden to buy, save in the name of the Chinese Christians, while the seller is, at the same time, absolutely forbidden to transfer his property to any name save to that of the real purchaser, namely to the foreign Missionary. These regulations were simply so many locks proposed for the purpose of keeping the gates of Chinese cities securely closed against the foreigner. For greater safely the various keys were to be committed to the care of different persons, while for the most important lock of all there was no key to be found.
Such were the salient, and more objectionable points, of the Eight Articles. They were largely regarded, by many Missionaries as well as others, as being what they professed to be, namely a proof of the good will of the Government towards Missions, and a token of its deep desire for their wellbeing; while, of a truth, a more impudent, hypocritical, slanderous, evil-intentioned document was never hatched by state craft. The Articles were not agreed to by the Foreign Powers, notwithstanding that, in them, the Tientsin massacre were frequently referred to, and held up in terrorem, as an eventuality which was certain to occur again if they were rejected. They were simply discussed for a time, and then laid aside and forgotten by all, save the patient, persistent, unchanging Mandarindom, which well knows how to await the more convenient season. There were no further massacres—it was doubtful if the Powers would stand more of them just then—and there was not treaty revision.
The very next time distasteful demands were being made on the Peking Government, by a Foreign Power, they were got rid of, not by a massacre, but by a murder which would have been a massacre also, had the party attacked been incapable of self-defence. It does not fall within the scope of this review to relate the history of the murder of Mr. Margary, and the repulse of Colonel Browne’s expedition on the borders of Yunan, in Feby. 1875, with the resulting abandonment, by the British Government, of the right it had obtained to send a mission into hat region; be the fact the this murder and attack were undoubtedly official has an important bearing on other murders and attacks of which the causes are subjects of enquiry. That Mr. Margary did not met his death by accident, or through some merely local disturbance, as the Chinese Government pretended, is now admitted by all. Even the judicious Williams, who may be depended upon to sum up in favour of China whenever the facts will allow, states that:—“The weight of evidence obtained at Yunan-fu went to prove that the repulse of the British party was countenanced, if not planned, by the Governor-general, and carried into effect with the cognizance of Brigadier Li.” Middle Kingdom. Vol. II, pg. 724.
Local riots against foreigners occurred from time to time at various places, but the next extensive outbreak was in the Canton province, during the war with France, in the autumn of 1884. At such a time an antiforeign outbreak was fully to be expected, were one to reason form what would probably happen under like circumstances in the West. But nothing could show more clearly how fallacious the reasoning may be, which takes it for granted that the Chinese may be expected to act just as Westerners would act under like circumstances, than the fact that throughout all China, during the war, the people remained apathetic and indifferent, save in such places as the officials put forth special effort to stir them up. This was done in the Canton province. H. E. Chang Chi-tung was Viceroy of the Liang-Kwang at the time, and the H. E. P’êng Yu-lin, the admiral of the Yangtse, was sent as Imperial Commissioner to aid him in keeping the French at bay. H. E. P’êng was madly antiforeign, and the reputed author of the notorious Death blow to Corrupt Doctrines. On his arrival at Canton, reports were at once circulated that Christianity was to be suppressed. He issued a rabid proclamation in which he said China would not hold herself responsible for any losses which might ensue from the destruction of buildings belonging to foreigners by popular violence. This was construed by the mob as permission to destroy Chapels. &c. Within a few weeks, eighteen Protestant places of worship were either destroyed or robbed, whilst an almost clean sweep was made of the R.C. Chapels. Native Christians were attacked with clubs and swords, robbed of their property and clothes, driven from their houses and villages, subjected to endless annoyances and cruel privations; their women having to endure still worse indignities. As to the authorities, it is stated they had received secret instructions, couched in eight characters, which read “Provoke not the people, delay all cases.” As a consequence they professed themselves powerless to interfere with the mob, or to give the Christians any redress.
In addition to setting this work agoing, H. E. P’êng addressed a memorial to the Throne in which he spoke of the chapels as the “Heavenly Lord’s Devil Halls,” and did not hesitate to recommend their destruction, and the massacre of the Missionaries and native Converts. He requested that order should be given to the Viceroys and Governors to have certain provisions like those of the Eight Articles immediately put in force. These were the registration in the Yamuns of all Christians; that a board with the word “Christian” should be nailed on their houses; that they should not be allowed to wear long coats, but should have a distinctive badge on their clothing; and that the Missionary should not be allowed to interfere on behalf of any who might be imprisoned.
Of course Peking repudiated all this:—“But it is a common custom for the Court of Peking to issue double sets of instructions for the provincial Governors. One set, appearing in the Gazette, is intended for the eyes of the foreign ministers, and so is couched in general language with suggests no infringement of treaty rights; but it is the other set, often widely differing in terms, and not so submitted to public inspection, which represents the real policy of the Chinese Government.” See Memorandum of Persecutions in China; issued by the Shanghai and Hankow Committees of the Evangelical Alliance, 1885. At all events H. E. P’êng was never found fault with on account of these transactions, but remained in high favour with the Central Government till his death, with took place in May 1890, at his ancestral home in Heng-chow, Hunan. This fanatical firebrand, all his life, was a terror to the people, and an object of bitter hatred to his fellow officials, but notwithstanding was a Mandarin such as is highly esteemed by the Court of Peking.
Before proceeding to point out the close parallel between the recent troubles, and those experienced by foreigners in China in former years; and to show that only in one way can they be satisfactorily accounted for, the cleverness of the Chinese Government in starting a false explanation of the riots, and the good service it did them, may be alluded to. When the riots attracted attention in England the Chinese Minister was instructed to explain to the British Government, that they were due to an anti-dynastic movement, and that there was a secret Society called the Kolao-hwei which had adopted this plan of involving China in a war with some foreign power as a means of overthrowing the Government. The same information was furnished to a learned and talented gentleman in Shanghai who is the trusted adviser of the Chinese high officials in all difficult matters, and by him communicated to the foreign press. He, no doubt, was fully persuaded of its truth, as most people were when the idea was first propounded. The effect of it was that the fear of helping to pull down the Central Government, and of throwing a vast Empire into a state of anarchy, induced the Powers to hold their hand, and promised to give China full freedom in the matter of rioting without being called to account.
It was soon observed, however, that the facts hardly substantiated this ingenious theory. But one rebel, in all, was discovered in the Yangtse valley, and he was a foreigner, but by whom he was hired did not transpire. As to the Kolao-hwei, which seems to be a secret Society established mainly for the purpose of benefiting its members at the expense of their neighbours, although many of them have been caught and executed in provincial capitals, in consequence of the hue and cry raised against them, participation in antiforeign riots is not one of the crimes which has been brought home to their door. The theory must be given up. The evidence that the riots were caused by means of antiforeign rumours and placards in complete, and the discovery of the actual authors of these, together with the agents employed in disseminating them clears all others of suspicion. The only question which now remains to be enquired into is how far the Government itself has been implicated in causing these troubles. It is with regard to this that the light from past history is so valuable.
Some of the striking parallels between present and past antiforeign experiences, and the inferences they necessarily suggest are as follows:—
1st. For several years preceding the Tientsin Massacre Foreign Powers had got into the habit of allowing the Chinese Authorities to have it all their own way. Treaty rights were mistakenly abandoned; the idea of ever again having recourse to force abjured; and an honest effort made instead to gain influence with the Mandarins by complacently humouring them. The same feeble policy at Peking has been the chief characteristic of recent years also. The impossibility of having foreign business attended to there has passed into a proverb; while amongst the rights with have been weakly surrendered may be instanced that of sending of a Mission into Tibet, and of the steam navigation of the upper Yangtse. It is a sad pity, but nevertheless an indisputable fact, that giving in to China is but another name for inviting aggression. How it works is well exemplified in the Tibet expedition incident. The Macaulay Mission was kept out of that country by exactly the same tactics as were used to keep the Browne Mission out of Yunnan. Then, China having got the idea of sending a Mission to Tibet abandoned in favour of a market in Darjeeling, now insists that the idea of having a market for Tibetans in Darjeeling shall also be abandoned unless she receives control of it! A feeble policy at Peking, on the part of Foreign Powers, is the fruitful parent of all antiforeign aggression whether by Mandarin of by mob, and since it is only the Government, and not the mob, which can be aware of the existence of this, mob action, when produced, is due to Government inspiration.
2nd. Another characteristic of the period previous to the Tientsin Massacre was the official circulation of antiforeign literature. The book chiefly distributed then was the infamous Death blow to Corrupt Doctrines. This book was translated into English at the time, and in the preface to the translation it is stated that:—“In every instance in which it (the Death Blow) has been heard of, the parties possessing it have asserted that it was obtained from the Yanmun.”Italics the translators’. It is still by officials that the distribution of antiforeign literature is carried on, but on a vastly grander scale. Then, but one vile book was known of; now, over a hundred have been collected. Then, the circulation was by the hundreds or thousands; now it is by the tens and hundreds of thousands. Then, that one book was anonymous; now, some are actually signed by the author, or his name is but thinly veiled. How these things can be done without the cognizance and approval of the Government is hard to see.
3rd. A striking feature of the Tientsin Massacre, and the Canton persecutions, was the apathy with which these outbreaks were regarded by the responsible authorities. They would either do nothing at all, like Chung How, or do nothing to the purpose. This was also a marked characteristic of every recent riot from that of Wuhu to that of Ichang. Stranger still, the Central Government itself was found to be under the influence of a similar apathy. Sir John Walsham has placed it upon record that the Imperial Edict against the rioting was obtained with greatest difficulty. When it was obtained, the Government sent it forward to the scene of the disturbances as slowly as it could, and then, when it arrived, the Edict proved, as was shown at Ichang, to be of almost no use. Only one inference can be drawn from this, namely, it was the will of the Government that the riots should go on.
4th. It was a cause of great complaint and indignation amongst foreigners, at the massacre time, that the really guilty and the responsible parties could not be brought to justice. Twenty Europeans had been foully murdered, and twenty coolies’ heads were offered in satisfaction. This is still the rule. For the two Europeans murdered at Wusueh two heads were taken off. But to offer the head of an insignificant and possibly innocent native in exchange for a European life, while the real murderers are screened and protested, is hardly what is known in the West as doing justice. None of the placard men, authors, printers, or distributers, have been interfered with, except when denounced by foreigners, and even then they have been generally allowed to escape scot-free. The authorities will not punish these instigators to deeds of violence though they have been discovered for them, nor discover for themselves the active rioters who with their own hands burn and slay. Further, the officials who failed to give protection to assaulted foreigners are shielded, while those who shielded foreigners are assaulted. This refusing to punish the guilty is not a matter for which the provincial authorities alone can be held responsible. It was from Peking that the instructions were sent to the Chinese Minister in England, to explain to the British Government that antiforeign rioters must not be punished lest it might encourage them! Similar instructions about not punishing rioters were doubtless sent down to the provinces also. But on inference can be drawn from this befriending of the rioters by the authorities, and that is—the Government wish them well. In marked contrast to the above is the way in which disturbers of the peace are dealt with in cases where foreigners are not concerned. Then the heads fall like leaves in autumn.
5th. Another feature of both past and present antiforeign outbreaks is the professed inability of the authorities to control the people, or to depend upon their soldiers. That they could not do so was freely asserted by them in connect on with every riot, and fully demonstrated at Ichang were the soldiers did all the mischief. But that this is all a pretence is absolutely certain. Soldiers, even in China, cannot be allowed to mutiny without being called to account. That none have been found fault with at Ichang is proof that there they disobeyed no order when they rioted. Besides, the uncontrollable ones have, in several instances, become tractable enough when it was the will of their superiors that they should. A Wuchang resident states:—
“I never believed that the riots were an official movement till I saw how they were put down in our city. First, we had the antiforeign literature circulated, and the rumours. The people were greatly excited by them; crowds collected and stoned the Roman Catholic establishment, and the authorities said they could not prevent it. Then, we had the splendid joint proclamation by the Viceroy and Governor, but the people tore it down. Then, soldiers were brought into the city in great numbers, and strong guards were placed over the Missions, but this only made matters worse. After that came the Imperial Edict, which was also torn down, and then proclamation after proclamation, but they did no good. This went on for months. All the ladies had been removed, and the Viceroy had several times warned the Missionaries also to leave as they could not be protected. Amongst others this message was repeatedly sent to a missionary who lived close to his own Yamun, while his own European employees who lived in the next street received no such warning. We felt we were living on the mouth of a volcano, and many a sleepless night did I pass waiting for those rioters whom we were warned on all hands to expect. But, just when it seemed as if the outbreak could not be staved off another day, there came a great change. On leaving my house one morning I became conscious that something had taken place. The people looked pleasant and agreeable again; the very dogs seemed friendly. I learned that on the previous evening the Viceroy had summoned the Mandarins to his Yamun, and that they had been rushing about all night in consequence. Next, I was told of a remarkable interview which the British Consul and the Commander of the Archer had had with the Viceroy in the afternoon. They had gone and told him plainly that the firing of a single Missionary establishment would be the signal for instant retaliation, on the part of the war vessels in the river. His Excellency, it was said, had manifested great incredulity, and pointed out that such an unwarrantable proceeding would be quite contrary to international law. However, he was fortunately convinced they were in earnest, so he called for his subordinates, issued his instructions, and all was changed in a night. From that time not only has there been no more trouble threatened, and no more talk of uncontrollable soldiers and people, but there has hardly been a hostile rumour even to be heard. This was that convinced me the whole movement was under official control all the time.”
The above is a truthful description of the matter as seen at Wuchang. It was just like when, in a great workshop, at one moment seems uproar, commotion, excitement and confusion. A bell rings; the next instant there is perfect quietness and peace. The whole machinery comes to a stand still, and each bustling workman puts on his coat and quietly walks away. The stopping hour has come, and the engineer cuts off the steam.
When soldiers or people get beyond control it is due either to their being in dire distress, or the victims of gross oppression on the part of the Mandarins. It is general to the latter, and then the responsible authorities will be the very last to admit the existence of the insubordination as it would involve serious punishment. The only inference that can be drawn from the keeping up of this farce is that China is playing a game.
6th. Another feature of the Tientsin Massacre time was that the troubles were simply preliminary to, and intended to emphasize, certain hostile proposals of the Government call the Eight Articles. Such it seems is the case again. The Peking correspondent of the Times, writing under the date of August 28th says:—“in all the earlier states, when the foreign Minister in Peking made their remonstrances to the Tsungli Yamun, they were received with something more than indifference by the Chinese Ministers. In fact the evasions and insolence of the Yamun ‘broke the record’. … Some proposals had been made by the Chinese Ministers for deliberation of the future status of Missionaries, with a view to devising some better modus vivendi than the unsatisfactory one heretofore in force. But the foreign Ministers distinctly refused to exchange a word on any such question.” It will be very interesting to learn what the new proposals on the Missionary question were which the Yamun then brought forward, but probably they did not differ very much from the old familiar Eight Articles. The inference which may be drawn from this is that the Chinese Government adopts means for attaining its ends such as would disgrace untutored savages. It had certain anti-missionary proposals to make, and intended carrying them by means of anti-missionary disturbances. Thus it is directly responsible for the whole infernal enginery of the riots—rumours, placards, books, burning and blood—it and none other.
The matter may be left here. The last line expresses the writer’s most solemn and deliberate conviction. To his mind the proofs that the Government itself is the guilty one are absolutely irresistible, but the reader can judge. It is not new idea. In the old Canton factory days it was always the Governing power which was the foreigner’s great enemy. In the Tientsin massacre times those whose opinion was of the highest value blamed the Government. The Canton persecutions were due to the action of the representative of the Government, and it is still the same unchanging, proud, suspicious, unscrupulous, callous, cunning, treacherous, antiforeign Institution which is at the bottom of all the mischief.
By taking a narrow view some regard the present movement as exclusively anti-missionary, while others, taking a still narrower view, consider it to be simply anti-orphanage. It is both of these, and a great deal more; it is antiforeign. It is pure policy which leads to the orphanage being selected, of all the various Missionary establishments, as the chief object of attack. The assistance of the natives is most easily enlisted against that institution. To a similar politic reason is due the fact that it is against the Missionary, and not the merchant or any other class of foreigners, that this agitation is mainly carried on. It is supposed that a measure of foreign help and countenance can always be depended upon in attacking Missionaries. But, let the orphanages be suppressed to-morrow, the only result would be fresh demands; let the Missionaries to expelled the day after, and still China would be unsatisfied. Nothing short of the total expulsion and exclusion of the hated foreigner will meet the views of the vast majority of the ruling class. This was their first idea, and it is their last.
This is not the place to debate what ought to be done, but in concluding the writer would quote, and most heartily endorse, the following extract from Dr. Thin’s Tientsin Massacre written twenty years ago:—
“It is evident that a system is wrong under which perpetual appeals to force are necessary in order to secure safety of lives and property, and under which the slaughter of foreigners is always possible by a superstitious mob. Unless it is contemplated to withdraw foreigners from China altogether—a retrograde measure which the civilisation of the century can never contemplate—then it is the duty of the Governments whose subjects reside in China to take such measures as will enable business to be carried on in freedom and safety. That this freedom and safety are easily attainable I firmly believe.”
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