Mr. Denby to Mr. Olney.

No. 2284.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a report made by the Protestant missionaries at Chengtu to Her Britannic Majesty’s consul at Chungking, describing the recent riots at that city.

The consul, Mr. J. W. Tratman, calls attention to the following points in the report which are especially worthy of notice:

Though evil rumors had been current for a month before, no precautions were taken on the day of the outbreak, the 5th of the fifth moon or Dragon boat festival, which is notoriously a dangerous day.
The riot, which ceased sometime after dark the first day, was allowed to break out again on the next day.
The Canadian mission compound was held for one hour and over against the mob by two missionaries with guns, showing that a moderately strong force of soldiers might have suppressed the disturbance.
A point-blank refusal to do anything was met with in two cases: First, when the Methodist mission applied to the Lung Men Taotai Ch’ang, and secondly, when the French priest applied to the viceroy.
Proclamations were refused, a feebly worded one on the second day of the riot being the only response to requests extending over three weeks.
The French mission premises, closely adjoining the viceroy’s Yamên, were looted and destroyed.

The consul proceeds to say that—

It does not seem possible to draw any other deduction from a consideration of the above joints than that of complicity on the part of the officials. There are at Chengtu—at least on paper—12,000 troops of different kinds, Manchu and Chinese, many armed with foreign rifles. A hundreth part of that number could have prevented or quelled the riot, but neither in the missionaries’ report nor in the evidence which I have obtained from two or three messengers is any mention made of the movement of troops. The viceroy’s feeling against foreigners is well known. He is already dismissed from his post and only awaiting the arrival of his successor to return home.

There is a general opinion that this is his parting blow, and it is certainly a heavy one.

This report and these comments thereon justify the contention that I have always maintained with the Yamên, that if the local authorities chose to prevent antiforeign riots they could do so.

The above-mentioned papers were kindly furnished me by Her Britannic Majesty’s minister, Sir Nicholas R. O’Conor.

I have, etc.,

Charles Denby
[Inclosure in No. 2284.]

Report of the missionaries.

Dear Sir: The property of all Protestant and Roman Catholic missions in this city is completely destroyed. All dwellings, chapels, hospitals, and schools are razed to the ground. Some buildings were burned, others carried away piecemeal till nothing remained but broken tiles. Several of our number had very narrow escapes with their lives, but at the moment of writing the eighteen Protestant missionaries of the city with eleven children and two of the three Roman Catholics are [Page 92] safe in the Hwa Yang Hsien Yamên. With the exception of one or two coolie loads, all hospital supplies and household goods of every description were looted by the mob.

About 4 p.m. of May 28, the day of the Twan Yang [or Dragon Boat] festival, rioting began at the premises of the Canadian Methodist mission on the street called Sz Shen Tsz. Two cards were sent in succession to the Hwa Yang Hsien Yamên, calling on the Pao-kia on the way. Stones were thrown at the main gate of the mission compound and a mob rapidly gathered. No show of resistance was offered until the strong gates were battered down about 5 p.m. From that until long after 6 o’clock the mob was held in check by three missionaries, two carrying guns. The only assistance sent was a force of about twelve men in civilian dress and three soldiers in red, although between 5 and 6 o’clock our messengers had returned from the Yamên with the word that a large body of men would be sent at once. About 7 p.m. the four Canadian missionaries with four children and one C. M. S. missionary escaped under cover of darkness and fog to the city wall. They carried nothing but the clothes they wore. The C. M. S. missionary, Mr. Jackson, found his way to the China Inland mission alone. The other four left the city wall in chairs about midnight for the same compound. By midnight three dwellings, chapel, two large hospital buildings, and school buildings of the Canadian mission were completely destroyed with all their contents. During the evening a few Yamên runners were deputed to protect two of the mission compounds.

At daybreak of May 29 anything remaining of the wrecked compound was carried away, and by 6 a.m. the mob had re-formed in full force and turned its attention to another compound of the same mission directly across the street. So far as we know, no attempt whatever was made by the officials to scatter the mob or to protect this compound. In an hour or two the newly erected brick bungalow was in flames as well as every other building on the place. Mrs. Hart well had escaped early in the morning to the U sha kai compound, while Mr. Hart well climbed the wall and found refuge in the compound of a friendly native.

About 9 a.m. the two young ladies of the U sha kai compound (Canadian mission) together with Mrs. Hartwell arrived in chairs at the China Inland mission. They had escaped over their back wall. A few minutes later the big U sha kai compound was completely leveled to the ground, part of it having been burned.

There were then gathered in the China Inland compound one Church Missionary Society, three China Inland, and seven Canadian missionaries—in all eleven. The streets at that hour were, in the neighborhood of the China Inland mission, still comparatively quiet. The decision was made to go in chairs at once to the Hwa Yang Hsien Yamên. But the chief of police arrived just then with a retinue of twenty-six men and guaranteed protection if they would stay right there. By 10.30 the mob was growing larger and more difficult to control. Now the official advised removal to the Yamên. Six missionaries got away safely, two by two. Then at 11 o’clock the crisis came. Not a moment too soon the remaining five, with three children, climbed the back wall and quickly concealed themselves in a small mat house. Thirty taels handed over at once effectually shut the mouths of the people and secured immunity from immediate discovery. At 8 o’clock in the evening, covered by darkness, they were conveyed, one by one, in chairs to the Hwa Yang Hsien Yamên, where they joined the six previously arrived.

From 11 a.m. to about 2 p.m. these two men and three women, with [Page 93] three little children, sat huddled together in a dark corner of a dark room, and were painfully aware, by the continuous booming and crashing, of the work of destruction proceeding just beyond a mud wall. By 2 p.m. China Inland compound was a complete ruin.

While these things were in progress in this quarter, the Methodist Episcopal mission near the south gate did not fare very differently. In the evening of May 28 an urgent request for protection in case of trouble was sent to the Lung Men Taotai. The reply was a refusal, point blank, to have anything to do with the case. Before daylight the six Methodist Episcopal missionaries with four children took chairs, arriving just at daybreak of May 29 at the Hwa Tang Hsien Yamên. They were asked to return to their own compound at Shan hi kai, and guaranteed full protection. They accordingly returned home. Early in the forenoon the people began to gather, and notwithstanding the presence of a chief of police and twenty-two men, at 10 o’clock a.m. the attack on the compound began. The missionaries and their children, by invitation of an immediate neighbor, jumped the wall of their compound and were at once concealed in a small, dirty loft. Here they remained safely for about twelve hours, unwilling witnesses of the spoiling of all they possessed and the rapid demolition of all buildings of every description on the mission compound. About midnight all six Methodist Episcopal missionaries, with their four children, arrived in chairs at the Hwa Yang Hsien Yamên. About the same time Mr. Hartwell, Canadian missionary, arrived in a chair from the house of the friendly native who had secreted him. This made the total of eighteen Protestant missionaries in the city at the time of the outbreak. Some time later in the night of May 29, two of the three Roman Catholic missionaries of the city were brought safely into the yamên.

Evil rumors against us have been growing in the city for a month back. All three missions asked for proclamation against these rumors from two to three weeks ago. Repeated requests for a proclamation failed to secure one until yesterday afternoon, when about nine out of eleven mission premises had been wrecked. Then a mild proclamation was put out.

We have ample evidence that the officials openly connived at the work of destruction yesterday. The only restriction placed in the way of rioters was that, for obvious reasons, they should not set fire to the buildings. The help asked for, if sent at all, was in every case sent in a very dilatory manner, and when it arrived was ridiculously insufficient and inefficient. Repeated requests for additional protection met with no response.

At present writing (noon May 30) we are in cramped but fairly comfortable quarters in this yamên. The Hsien tells us to remain quietly for a few days, and the understanding is that as soon as some of the excitement subsides throughout the city we are to be escorted out of the city and started away, either by chairs or boat.

All sorts of the vilest rumors are afloat that we killed a child, or children, baking their bodies, using their eyes for medicines, taking out their bones, etc. We hear now (2 p.m.) that a human head human hand, and human eye have been nailed upon the wall of one of the wrecked compounds. Red paint has been spattered on the walls and exhibited as evidence of crimes committed by the missionaries. We hear that bones are being dug from graves and shown at the governor-general’s Yamên as further evidence of our guilt.

It is significant that one of the Roman Catholic priest’s residences was within a stone’s throw of the governor-general’s Yamên. His [Page 94] repeated requests for assistance from that yamên met with just as many refusals. His place was wrecked and burned. Another rumor says the city gates, four in number, are being guarded by soldiers lying in wait to cut off all escape from the city.

Our message by telegraph was received at the office and we believe was forwarded yesterday morning, 29th. This morning, 30th, our telegram was met with the statement that the wires are down. This is believed to be false.

Canadian Methodist Mission (
George E. Hartwell
, wife, and two children,
Omar L. Kilborn
, wife, and babe,
David W. Stevenson
, wife, and three children); Methodist Episcopal Mission (
H. Olin Cady
and wife,
H. L. Canright
, wife, and two children,
J. F. Peat
, wife, and two children); Church Missionary Society (
O. M. Jackson
); China Inland Mission (
Joshua Vale, James G. Cormack
, wife, and one child); total, 9 men, 9 women, 11 children.