To the Editor of the North China Daily News:

Sir: In your issue of the 25th instant, there is a startling paragraph, giving what you call “Bad News from the River.” You say: “We are informed that H. E. Chang Chih-tung states that he doubts if he can restrain his troops another ten days.” That is an alarming piece of news, and I have been trying to find out whether there is any foundation in fact for it. You will, I am sure, be glad to know that I am sincerely convinced that there is not a particle of truth in the reports. I don’t believe that the Viceroy has said anything of the kind. He has given a point-blank denial to the statement, and the thing in itself is highly improbable.

The air in Central China is full of all sorts of wild rumors at present. Timid natives come to us every day, and many times in the day, with the strangest stories of what is going to be done, and what is going to befall us. Some tell us that Chang Chih-tung is false, and only waiting his opportunity. Some tell us that he and the Governors are not of one mind, and that he will have to give in sooner or later, and perhaps sooner than later. There are foreigners among us who are only too ready to give credence to tales that tend to shock the nerves, and to pass them on without even thinking or inquiring into their truth or falsehood. To them the more alarming the tale the more credible it appears. One of the worst services anyone can render just now is to give publicity to scaring rumors without any known authority for the truth of them. This paragraph has disturbed the peace of many of our friends in China, and has already brought us telegrams and letters of a very grave nature. Many of our friends in the home lands will be pained beyond measure by the news, and we shall soon be receiving disturbing telegrams and letters from them. It seems to me that the greatest care should be exercised in sifting the materials sent for publication in these days. The bare truth is startling enough and painful enough without adding thereto the wild imaginings of frightened men and hysterical women.

So far our Viceroy has proved himself able to keep things quiet at this centre. He meant to do it, and he has succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations. In two or three distant places there have been serious riots; but they have taken place in direct opposition to his most earnest desires, and he has done everything in his power to prevent the spread of the evil. But for the Viceroy’s well-known desire to keep the peace, and his strenuous efforts to maintain order, this centre would have been in a hot blaze long ere this. The madness is here, and it is the strong arm of Chang Chih-tung that has kept it down until the present time. Let that arm be withdrawn, and within a week Hupeh will present a scene of persecution, murder, and destruction similar to that which is now witnessed in Chihli. We all owe a debt of deep gratitude to Chang Chih-tung for the peace and safety we have been enjoying at this centre during this never-to-be-forgotten month.

I write in this way not because I do not think there is danger. In a former letter I said that, whilst I had strong faith in the good-will of the Viceroy, I have not the same faith in his subordinates, and that we ought to take nothing for granted, but be prepared to defend ourselves and our interests everywhere and always. That is my opinion still. I have no fear so far as the rowdy element by which we are surrounded is concerned. The Viceroy can control that, and will control it unless something springs up to destroy the understanding between the Viceroys and the Foreign Powers. In that case it is possible that Chang will not be his own master. A current may set in which will sweep both Viceroys along with irresistible force. Any attempt, or suspicion of an attempt, at partitioning China, would be enough. And I can conceive of other attempts, of not so grave a nature, bringing on a crisis and a catastrophe. I feel sure that both Viceroys, Liu Kun-yi and Chang Chih-tung, would rather die a hundred deaths than see their country cut up into so many fragments. These two men are true patriots, and will fight to the death, however hopeless the fight might be, for the unity of the Empire. Could we blame them for this? This is a point, however, on which the Viceroys need be under no apprehension, and this being the case, it is to be hoped that we shall pass through this momentous crisis without war in this valley. May God grant it. I am, etc.,

Griffith John.

Hankow, July 31, 1900.


[1] See Appendix, ” The Position of Chang Chih-tung.”

[2] This is the law, but not always the practice. We need not exclaim in horror at this when we remember what happened in the time of James I., when the brilliant Francis Bacon was Lord Chancellor of England. ” An aged clergyman,” says Macaulay, ” of the name of Peacham was accused of treason on account of some passages of a sermon which was found in his study. The sermon, whether written by him or not, had never been preached. It did not appear that he had any intention of preaching it. The most servile lawyers in those servile times were forced to admit that there were great difficulties both as to the facts and as to the law. Bacon was employed to remove those difficulties. But in order to convict Peacham it was necessary to find facts as well as law. Accordingly, this wretched old man was put to the rack, and, while undergoing the horrible infliction, was examined by Bacon, but in vain. No confession could be wrung out of him; and Bacon wrote to the king, complaining that Peacham had a dumb devil . . . and Peacham was suffered to languish away the short remainder of his life in a prison.” — Translator.

[3] The plain, prose meaning of this metaphorical Ode is that the people alluded to were without conscience, always seeking a place; that they were like an ancient horse who fancied himself still youthful, but did not consider that he was unable to perform the duty required of a colt, etc. — Translator.

[4] The hebdomadal division of time, introduced by the missionaries into China, has been found so convenient that the Chinese are rapidly adopting it. — Translator.

[5] Kitans, or Khitans-Tartars, who ruled Northern China 907-1115 a.d., under the name of the Liao Dynasty. Hence the word Cathay, corrupted through Persian, used by Marco Polo as Kitai, to designate China generally. — Giles.

[6] The Viceroy has the idea that the members of a Parliament are drawn largely from the merchant class, and that these personally defray all the expenses incurred in the prosecution of war. — Translator.

[7] It is a great mistake to suppose that foreigners would be satisfied if China refused to pay unjust claims, on the ground that the people are unwilling, or that the laws do not apply to the case. The foreigners would wrench the claim from us by force.

[8] The word used in the Chinese Classics to express the Superior Being. Used by most missionaries for God. — Translator.

[9] The Viceroy is fairly adrift on this point, but it is refreshing to know that His Excellency, who speaks little English, is trying his hand at translation, — Translator.

[10] Officers under Emperor Ts’in (b.c. 255), who is cordially detested by all Chinese. — Translator.

[11] The founder of Taoism. — Translator.

[12] A famous brigand. — Translator

[13] Chinese unversed in native literature are not qualified to translate books.

[14] The allusion is to the Emperor Ts’in, who destroyed all the Classics, and buried four hundred scholars alive. — Translator.

[15] The long list of books and commentaries suggested is not rendered. — Translator.

[16] India is a dependency of England; Siberia belongs to Russia; Africa is divided among England, France, and Germany. These countries perished through ignorance. America formerly belonged to Great Britain, but gained her independence through knowledge. Cuba belongs to Spain, but still strives for freedom, because she is not hopelessly stupid.

[17] The Review of the Times, a monthly magazine written in Chinese, published in Shanghai, and now edited by the Rev. Young J. Allen, D.D. — Translator.

[18] The Hanlin Yuen, or Imperial Academy, which was burned by the Boxers in their efforts to take the British Legation and which crowned the culture of the whole Empire, dates from this period. — Translator.

[19] In addition to the various parties of students sent [last year by the Viceroys Chang Chih-tung and Liu K’un-yi and the governors of Chekiang and Kiangsi to study in Japanese colleges and schools, as already noted in these columns at the time, it is now reported from Tientsin that Viceroy Yü Lu has also decided to send twenty of the best scholars from the Tientsin College to Japan, at the expense of the Peiyang Administration. Apropos of the grandson of Viceroy Chang Chih-tung, who went at his own expense to Japan last year with the Hupeh contingent of students, word has been received from Tokyo that this young gentleman has been courteously allowed by the government to join the Nobles’, or Peers’, school there. — North China Daily News

[20] The name of a history by Sze Ma, a.d. 1084. It is in 294 books, and covers the period from the fourth century, B.C., to the close of the Five Dynasties, a.d. 960. — Giles.

[21] Public schools nominally under Imperial supervision. They exist in all large cities. — Translator.

[22] Western methods of dealing with criminals are excellent. Medical education along Western lines is especially useful in military matters. The student of strategy should look this matter up.

[23] There are also a few free schools for very poor children, which teach the elementary branches at a small expense to the pupils.

[24] Article L. of the English Treaty with China stipulates that, whenever there is a doubt as to the meaning of a phrase, the English text of the treaty is to be taken as the true interpretation. — Translator.

[25] The T’ung Wen College, or College of Combined Literature, was established in 1869 at Peking by the Chinese Government. Its prime object is to train young men for the public service, especially as agents of international intercourse. Rev. W. A. P. Martin, D.D., the distinguished author of “A Cycle of Cathay” and other well-known works, has been the President of this institution since its establishment.

The Tsung-li Yamen, or Office of General Control, was established about thirty-five years ago. It is the medium of communication between foreign governments and the Chinese Emperor. — Translator,

[26] The Viceroy here reverts to the past and proves from the Yih King, Shu King, Ch’un Ch’ieu, and other ancient works, that certain changes were not only desirable, but obligatory and practicable. — TRANSLATOR.

[27] The Science of the ” Great Learning ” does not concern itself with that of the West in the least. Translators of Western books merely borrow the term from this Classic without understanding its true import.

[28] Eclipses were first reckoned in the Ts’in Dynasty, [a.d. 300.]

[29] The name of General Gordon’s army, which defeated the Taiping Rebels about forty years ago. — Translator.

[30] We heartily concur with this statement, but for reasons antipodally different from those of the Viceroy. There can be no compromise of Christianity with Confucianism without disastrous results, because Ancestral Worship, which is Idolatry, lies at the root of the system. — Translator,

[31] A medical Treatise.— Translator

[32] Since the Viceroy penned these lines the Peace Conference of the Hague has met, the South African War has been waged, and China has fought against the world. — Translator

[33] Courts in which a Chinese official and a foreign assessor are joint judges. The Mixed Court and extraterritoriality are two of the greatest eyesores to the Chinese. — Translator.

[34] A treaty port on the Yangtse above Hankow. — Translator.

[35] A city on the Yangtse, sUty miles below Chinkiang. — Translator.

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