Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward

No. 16.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches Nos. 147 to 150, and 152, No. 151 not having arrived. In reference to the translation of Wheaton’s International Law, whose receipt you speak of in Nos. 147 and 149, you will doubtless be grat fied to learn that it has been received with so much favor in Japan that copies could not be sent on in time to supply the [Page 486] demand at Yokohama, and an enterprising publisher in Yeddo has reprinted it. An authentic study of this work by the officials in both China and Japan will probably lead them to endeavor to apply its usages and principles to their intercourse with foreign countries. This will gradually lead them to see how greatly the principle of exterritoriality contained in their treaties with those countries modifies the usages in force between western and Christian powers. How desirable it is that the latter should aim rather to elevate these eastern peoples to their own level than to urge this principle of exterritoriality to the subversion of the native sway.

A notification of the appointment of Seu-ki-yu to a port in the foreign office, and disconnected from other bureaus, has just appeared, and is regarded as a favorable indication of the leaning of the party in power towards foreign intercourse. This man, now about seventy years of age, was governor of Fuhkien province in 1850, and had held subordinate positions there and in Kwantung province for several years, during which time he became much interested in foreign countries, and collected materials for a geography of the world. He consulted all the books and maps he could procure, but especially all the foreigners he could converse with, among whom was the late Rev. Doctor Abeel, missionary at Amoy in 1844.

His geography was published in 1848, in ten books, under the title of A General Survey of the Maritime Circuit, and attracted much attention among natives and foreigners.

His eulogy on Washington made that name known among the Chinese, and it may interest you to know that a copy of it is engraved on the stone sent from Ningpo, ten years ago, to the Washington Monument.

But the author was in advance of his time. He was soon after denounced for his foreign proclivities and the high terms in which he spoke of western nations, degraded from all his honors in July, 1851, and sent to his home in the north of Shansi. After fourteen years he is now recalled to public life on the same grounds for which he was dismissed.

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.