Mr. Denby to Mr. Olney.
Peking, July 8, 1895. (Received August 23.)
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.,