Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward

No. 10.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your letters of introduction addressed to Mr. Burlingame, dated January 17, and brought by Messrs. E. C. Tainter [Page 476] and F. E. Woodruff; also a circular concerning the sentence and punishment of the conspirators, and despatch No. 145.

The young gentlemen reached Peking in August, and were received by Mr. Hart, inspector general of customs; they will remain a year in the city pursuing their studies. Last year Mr. Hart furnished Mr. Burlingame with a general account of the Chinese revenue service, and the establishment of the foreign inspectorate in 1860, a copy of which I believe was sent you. He is endeavoring gradually to make the service so cosmopolitan that the treaty powers will all feel that they are represented in its members. At first it was not possible to do this in consequence of the want of suitable men. Of the seventy-one employés above the rank of tidewaiters and examiners, there are forty-six Englishmen, nine Americans, nine Frenchmen, five Germans, one Dane, and one Swiss, distributed at fourteen ports. Last year nine persons (four English, three Americans, and two Germans,) resigned or died, or were dismissed; seven new ones were employed, and next year seven more are expected to arrive from France, Spain, Russia, and England.

When the fifteen open ports are supplied, about ninety commissioners and clerks will be employed, all of whom will ultimately be required to speak and read the Chinese language. The arrangement includes, besides the fifteen commissioners, five chief clerks, and four classes of other clerks, numbering, respectively ten, fifteen, thirty, and thirty-five persons in each, all of whom have the prospect of promotion, according to their character, qualifications, and time of service.

None of the foreigners in the customs are in any way connected with their own governments, and the Chinese authorities here and in the provinces are learning to look upon the present system with more and more interest, and to appreciate the advantage of utilizing western learning, integrity, and skill in a service found to be too tempting for natives to carry on honestly.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

S. WELLS WILLIAMS, Chargé d’Affaires.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.