Gengyin [TZ 9/5/25, or 23 June 1870] Chonghou, Commissioner for the Three [Northern] Ports(1) and Senior Vice-President of the Board of War(2), memorializes:

I find that in the Tianjin region, since summer began the weather has been hotter and drier than usual, and the popular mood is unsettled. Among the populace, rumors have been rife. There are those who say that [the foreigners] use medicine to kidnap youths and children. There are those who say that there are cases of the corpses and bones of youths and children being exposed in the public cemetery. There are those who say that the exposed corpses are all those abandoned by the church. Also, there are those who say that the Catholics gouge out eyes and cut out hearts. Rumors spread in great confusion, but without any firm basis. Subsequently there were apprehended in Tianjin County two bandits who kidnap children, Zhang Xuan and Guo Guai. They [i.e., these "kidnappers"] were fully investigated and executed. Talk about kidnapping became more and more widespread among the populace. Because of this, the streets and alleys were not tranquil.

Subsequently the populace apprehended and sent in a "reader"(3) from the church, Chen Xibao. He was beaten and sent to the magistrate. Through the Tianjin prefect, Liu Jie, he was interrogated. In reality, he was leading students home, and was not kidnapping them, and was subsequently released. This month, on the 20th [18 June], there was also a case in which the residents of Taohuakou apprehended and sent in Wu Lanzhen, who had kidnapped Li Suo. From the prefect's interrogation, Wang San from the church was implicated. Thereupon, the people(4) 'moved busily in preparation for action.'(5) Then(6) the Tianjin Daotai, Zhou Jiaxun, went for an interview with the French consul, [Henri] Fontanier, to make official inquiries about the Wang San affair. The consul also permitted that an investigation be made and be dealt with accordingly.

Your slave holds that since the people's hearts are volatile, I fear it will stir up occasions for trouble. When Fontanier was seen, he [Zhou, the Daotai] promised that, with [his own?] eyes he would [go] with the local officials to investigate the criminal giving evidence, so as to make clear what was false and true. He also announced that since the people were restless, it was necessary to investigate accurately; only then could an incident be avoided. The consul, with the missionary Xie ["Gospel"] Fuyin, set the 23rd between 9-11 a.m. for Tianjin Daotai and local officials to take the criminal into custody and go to the church to confront [as eye-witnesses]. At the appointed time, the Daotai Zhou Jiaxun, Prefect Zhang Guangzao, and District Magistrate Liu Jie took the criminal bandit Wu Lanzhen and went forth. They met face-to-face with the priest Xie Fuyin, who was extremely deferential. They instructed the criminal to acknowledge the places and rooms he had passed through. The criminal originally gave testimony that there were mats, sheds, and gates, but this church did not have what he had seen. This criminal also was not able to tell the truth. He also was unable to recognize anybody in the church. There was no way to give proof. The Daotai, Prefect, etc., then led the criminal back to the Yamen.

Subsequently, according to a plan, discussed a day later when the priest Xie Fuyin came to your servant's office, with an aim to pacifying relations between the people and the church, your servant discussed clearly with the priest that henceforth if people die from disease inside the church(7), they must report it clearly to the local authorities, who can verify the burial through 'joint viewing.' Those who study or are raised inside the church must also be reported to the officials, who can verify as they see fit, so as to dissipate popular doubts. The priest agreed to follow all these procedures.

After the priest had left, your servant was just at the point of making a public appearance so as to pacify the people's hearts, when I suddenly heard some idlers amongst the masses come to watch having an argument with the people of the church. They were throwing bricks and beating them. I then sent military officials to suppress them. Just at that moment, Fontanier came to my office to meet with me. I could see that his spirit was fierce and truculent. At his waist he carried two foreign-style guns. A foreigner came along behind him, grasping a sharp knife in his hand. They came flying forward, but had not yet entered the building. As soon as he saw me, he came out with a lot of unhumble/disobedient speech. I said that if he had something to say, we should discuss it in detail. The consul 'acted as if he had not heard / turned a deaf ear.'(8) Then he took out his gun and discharged(9) it in front of me. Fortunately, it did not hit the mark. People grabbed ahold of / restrained him. It was inconvenient for your servant to argue with him, and temporarily kept my distance. The consul entered the room and began breaking things with his hands, roaring without stopping. Your servant again and again went out to see him, and with good words told him that the people's mood was clamorous and panicky; in the streets and markets people were gathering with a great sense of antagonism,(10) and there were already several thousand. I urged him not to go out, for fear that something unfortunate would happen. The consul was impetuous, with no concern for his own personal safety. He said he did not fear the Chinese people. Thereupon he went out in a great rage. Your servant feared this would lead to stirring up trouble, so order military officers to escort him back in safety.

Who would have thought that on the street the consul would meet up with the Tianjin Magistrate Liu Jie, who was returning from putting down the disturbance at the church. The consul again fired toward him and missed his mark, but mistakenly hit and wounded(11) Liu Jie's servant. The masses caught a glimpse of this, and their wrath was already extreme. The group then beat Fontanier to death. People from everywhere were summoned by gong. The church was burnt down, and also the Renci Hall outside the Eastern Gate was destroyed by fire. In other places, "preaching halls" were pulled down. Missionaries and those practicing the faith, both Chinese and foreign, were injured and killed. Your servant rushed to supervise with the local civil and military officials and also sent troops to put down [the disturbance]. Alas, the masses were [too] numerous, with the force of a mob, and in a short while the killing, wounding, burning, and destroying were already faits accomplis. The members of the church had already fled in great disorder. Your servant and the other officials exhorted them to be peaceful. On the one hand, we took part with our subordinates in beating out the fire, so as to prevent it spreading and burning down the people's houses. There were several places where churches were burnt and destroyed, and several Catholics, both Chinese and foreign, were injured and killed.

I ordered the Tianjin authorities to make a rapid and detailed investigation and present a report. The initial cause of this affair was in the burying of children and spreading of rumors about gouging out eyes and cutting out hearts. It was also because the bandit kidnappers who were apprehended gave evidence against the people of the church, such that the masses harbored doubts and piled up indignation. It was from this provocation that the affair occurred. Now it would be appropriate to enlighten [the people]. The masses have already gradually dispersed.

This is a matter of the utmost importance. We ought to request an order that the Zhili Governor-General Zeng Guofan(12) come to Tianjin and make an accurate investigation so as to pacify the locality.

Edict to the Grand Secretariat and Zeng Guofan: Let them go to Tianjin and investigate and handle this affair.

1I.e., Tianjin, Zhifu, and Niuzhuang; see Hummel, p. 209; B&H, 820B.

2See B&H, #279.

3jiào ; guessed at this translation; could not find the combination in Liang, Mathews, Giles, or Cihai.

4Lyúyán = lit., "rural community."

5Liang, #5345.

6Jing, lit. = "pass through."

7could be: "if members of the church die from disease..."

8Mathews, 976.5.


10shui huo hui / "water and fire" = mutual aversion.

11Actually, he died; see I.C.Y. Hsu, p. 301.

12Then at Baoding.