Mr. Williams to Mr. Seward

No. 19.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch No. 151, in which you direct me to convey to Prince Kung and the members of the Foreign Office the satisfaction of the President at the very just, liberal, and friendly sentiments expressed by them to Mr. Burlingame, and for their courtesy to him at his departure.

I took an early opportunity to make a close translation of your letter for the Prince, and now subjoin his reply. I have no reason to doubt the expression of his desire to perpetuate amicable relations with the United States, for I believe the Chinese government is trying to pursue a peaceful policy in all its foreign relations. It has experienced the evils of foreign war, and has every reason to avoid their recurrence; and the pacification of the provinces is now progressing so favorably that general peace and prosperity bid fair to be restored throughout the country. The influence of the party represented in the foreign office appears to be increasing; and that bureau will probably ere long possess a separate existence among the departments of the government.

In a recent despatch I mentioned the appointment of the distinguished geographer, Seu Ki-yu, to a place in it. This has given much satisfaction to all the foreign ministers, though his age and infirmities will prevent his taking an active part in the duties of the post. A few days after his being gazetted I waived the usual formality and called on him first, in order to express my gratification at his appointment. His first question was, “Are you a countryman of Washington?” He inquired after Dr. Abeel, though twenty years had elapsed since he saw him in Amoy, and referred to his kindness and patience; in explaining and marking maps for him and translating geographical information, in a manner that showed a vigorous memory, as well as the sense of the obligations he was under for the assistance. He had not seen a foreigner since 1851, and made many inquiries respecting the United States and other countries.

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

S. WELLS WILLIAMS, Chargé d’ Affaires.

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


Prince Kung to Mr. Williams

Prince Kung, Chief Secretary of State for foreign affairs, herewith makes a reply:

I have the honor to acknowledge your excellency’s despatch of the 13th instant, in which yon inform me that you have been honored ‘with the commands of your government to make known to me that Mr. Burlingame, on his return to the United States, at an audience with the President, had mentioned to him that when he left Peking the high Chinese officers came to the legation to bid him farewell; and that during his entire residence there they had treated him with great consideration, of which he retained a pleasing remembrance, &c., &c.

The perusal of your communication has given great satisfaction to me and all the members of the foreign office, for we are well aware that when Mr. Burlingame resided in Peking he conducted all affairs that arose in such an amicable spirit that they were all satisfactorily arranged; and since you have succeeded to his duties there has been exhibited the most sincere desire to promote good relations and maintain peace in every question that has arisen. To learn, therefore, that Mr. Burlingame has not altogether forgotten us after his return to his own distant country, affords us the most lively pleasure; while to receive, in addition, the full assurance that the friendly relations now subsisting between the United States and [Page 489] China are increasing and developing, and bid fair to be permanent, is to us a cause of still greater gratification.

We limit ourselves to the request that you will convey to the United States government the expression of our sincere appreciation of the remark that the full maintenance of the treaty, in all its provisions, by both nations, will afford evidence that their friendly relations are constantly strengthening, and at the same time communicate our thanks to Mr. Burlingame for his remembrance of us. It is for this purpose that we now reply.

His Excellency S. Wells Williams, United States Chargé d’Affaires.