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prevailing sentiment in Japan was still more plainly set forth in the statement of Mr. Matsui, Japanese Chargé d'Affaires in London, to Lord Salisbury on the 25th of June, when it was declared that, for the despatch of a considerable force from Japan, ‘some assurance would be required that there was no objection on the part of other Governments which have interests in the East.' Japan's unselfishness was demonstrated, too, in Viscount Aoki's words to the British Chargé d'Affaires, when he modestly said that ' although Japan had made great progress, she was not yet in a position to take an independent line of action in so grave a crisis. It was imperative for her to work in line with other Powers.'
Japan entered upon the difficult task assigned to her in this spirit, and she acquitted herself, it is believed, thoroughly to the satisfaction of the Western Powers. By Great Britain, at all events, a generous acknowledgment of her services was conveyed in the following telegram, despatched by Lord Salisbury to the British Chargé d'Affaires in Tokio on the completion of the operations undertaken for the rescue of the Peking legations :
As her Majesty's Government specially pressed for the action of Japan in sending forces to effect the relief of the Legations, I think you may, without presumption, express to the Minister for Foreign Affairs their earnest admiration of the gallantry and efficiency displayed by the Japanese forces in the present operations, which contributed to the success of the expedition so very largely. [August 25, 1900.]
But to take up again the thread of our argument. After Japan's indication of her readiness to comply with the desire expressed that she should send troops, diplomatic correspondence took place between the Powers with much expedition, and there was found not one that did not appreciate the expediency of the step to be taken by Japan, though there was already a somewhat sinister tone perceptible in the Russian despatch, sent to Japan about the 28th of June, wherein this passage appeared :
We can only highly appreciate the sentiments expressed by Japan in present circumstances, as also her view of Chinese affairs. We have no desire to hinder her liberty of action, particularly after her expression of a firm intention to conform her action to that of the other Powers.
On the 4th of July the Marquis of Salisbury telegraphed to Mr. Whitehead, British Chargé d'Affaires at Tokio, after repeating Admiral Seymour's alarming telegram, as follows:
This telegram indicates a position of extreme gravity. You should com. municate at once to Japanese Ministers. Japan is the only Power which can send rapid reinforcements to Tien-tsin. No objection has been raised by any European Power to this course.
Barely two days later, on the 6th of July, the British Government reiterated its pressing request to Japan, and at the same time offered
financial aid, the Marquis of Salisbury telegraphing to Mr. Whitehead thus :
Japan is the only Power which can act with any hope of success for the urgent purpose of saving the Legations; and, if they delay, heavy responsibility must rest with them. We are prepared to furnish any financial assistance which is necessary, in addition to our forces already on the spot.
With regard to this financial assistance Lord Salisbury explained to Mr. Whitehead that the British Government was prepared to undertake the responsibility because international negotiations would only result in a fatal expenditure of time. On the same day Japan signified her intention of despatching as rapidly as possible a considerable force, sufficient, with those troops which she had already sent, to bring her total up to twenty thousand men. But with regard to financial aid, Japan did not, after all, desire it, as she considered that the task that she was then undertaking was a purely voluntary one for the common benefit of humanity, and, moreover, she stood in no immediate need of such assistance.
About the middle of the month (July 1900) Russia submitted to the great Powers, including Japan, notes verbal embodying what she was pleased to term 'fundamental principles.' The date on which these notes reached the Powers was generally the 13th of July, or thereabouts, and the purport was one and the same. In the case of Japan, however, it bore the date of the 8th of July, and was handed by the Russian Minister to Viscount Aoki only on the 20th of that month. The English translation of the text given to Lord Salisbury is appended in full, as the subject is of the highest importance :
On the 11th June our Minister at Tokio informed us that the Japanese Government had declared their readiness, in consideration of the perilous situation at Peking, to send their troops to China, with a view to saving, conjointly with the other States, the representatives of the Powers who were besieged in Peking, and to rescuing the foreigners resident in the Empire, among whom are many Japanese subjects. Any co-operation, anything tending to the attainment of the object indicated, could only meet with the most sympathetic reception from all the Powers. Moreover, Japan being able, thanks to geographical conditions, by the despatch of a considerable contingent to facilitate essentially the task of the international detachments already at Tien-tsin, we hastened to inform the Cabinet at Tokio that we saw no reason to interfere with their liberty of action in this respect, especially as they have expressed their firm resolution of acting in complete harmony with the other Powers. The decision taken by the Japanese Government, under the abovementioned conditions, was a very natural one, in consideration of the danger which menaced their representatives at Peking, as well as their numerous subjects resident in China; but from our point of view the accomplishment of this task could not confer the right to an independent solution of matters at Peking, or other privileges, with the exception, perhaps, of a larger pecuniary indemnity, should the Powers consider it necessary, later on, to demand one.
We received almost simultaneously a communication on this subject from the Cabinet of London, which had reference, not to a spontaneous decision on the part of the Cabinet at Tokio to participate in the collective action of the Powers, but to a mission given by Europe to Japan to send considerable foroes to China, not only to save the Legations and the foreign subjects, but with a view to the suppression of the insurrectionary movement provoked by the Boxers and the re-establishment of order at Peking and Tien-tsin.
This way of putting the question might, in our opinion, to a certain extent encroach on the fundamental principles which had already been accepted by the majority of the Powers as the bases of their policy relative to events in China, - that is to say, the maintenance of the union between the Powers; the maintenance of the existing system of government in China; the exclusion of anything which might lead to the partition of the Empire; finally, the re-establishment by common effort of a legitimate central Power, itself capable of assuring order and security to the country. The firm establishment and strict observance of these fundamental principles are, in our opinion, absolutely indispensable to the attainment of the chief object: the maintenance of a lasting peace in the Far East.
The Imperial Government considers that, in view of the threatening events in China, which concern the vital interests of the Powers, it is urgently necessary to avoid any misunderstanding or omission which might have still more dangerous consequences.
Broadly speaking, it appears to be true that the 'fundamental principles' enunciated by Russia were the nearest approach to the ideas entertained at that time by the Powers in general, though none of those Powers seems to have been able to shape any clear insight as to the eventualities of the whole affair, save that not one of them entertained any thought of partitioning out the Chinese Empire. America had made public her views on this point early that month, and Russia, on being consulted by China, had expressed her willingness, so the Chinese Minister in London assured Lord Salisbury, to guarantee the integrity of the Chinese Empire, though her underlying intentions may, as we now can perceive, have been very different from those on the surface. As to Great Britain, she was from the first, as also were others of the Powers, firmly resolved upon the maintenance of Chinese territorial integrity.
There were, however, two points in the above-quoted Russian communication that specially invite comment. The first is that the claim which she put forward that her 'fundamental principles' had already been accepted by a majority of the Powers was altogether presumptuous and unwarrantable, for there had not then been any formal exchange of views between the Powers on the subject. The second point is that the British suggestion of an invitation to Japan to send troops to China was interpreted by Russia as tending to confer upon Japan some shadowy 'special rights' or privileges. On this latter point the statement made by Count Lamsdorff to the German Ambassador, and also to the British, a few days previously, had been much stronger, for he had spoken to the effect that there were grave objections to the giving of a 'mandate' for independent action to any one Power in the face of so grave a crisis. As a matter of fact, there was not the slightest foundation for the insinuation that such a mandate was either sought by Japan or proposed by England; and the British Government, at all events, was indisposed to permit this wrongful suggestion to pass unchallenged. A brisk interchange of diplomatic correspondence between the Powers ensued on these two points, and in the end the incident was allowed to drop on Count Lamsdorff giving the following explanation, as reported by the British Ambassador, viz. :
His Excellency (Count Lamsdorff) said that it was his wish to clear the Russian Government at once from the odious and entirely undeserved charge that they had hesitated to accept Japan's assistance, and had thereby assumed the grave responsibility of hindering the prompt relief of the Legations. This charge had been insinuated in the Press and other quarters. His Excellency admitted that in the message which I communicated to him no mention had been made of any European mandate to Japan for independent action, and that co-operation was indicated in the arguments used by me, but he said that at Berlin your Lordship’s question had been understood to imply an European mandate, and that it was possible to so interpret the words used : 'an expedition to restore order at Peking and Tien-tsin, if Japan is willing to undertake the task.' Although the misunderstanding had been promptly cleared up, unjust deductions had been drawn by the public Press, and it ought to have been made quite clear by the instructions sent to the Russian Minister at Tokio that all available prompt assistance from Japan, equally with the Powers concerned in meeting the common danger, would be gladly welcomed by Russia.
As a result of this incident, however, Russia remained even more solemnly pledged than ever to what she had declared to the world and to what she herself termed the 'fundamental principles,' and Japan proceeded promptly and whole-heartedly with the work asked of her, in concert with the Occidental Powers. It should be a matter of no slight interest to the reader to discover, as he will presently do, that the propagator and disseminator of these sublime ‘fundamental principles was the first to try to frustrate their useful application, and that it was the Power against which an effort had been made to arouse and foment distrust that proved to be honest and patient in the execution of the task which it undertook to perform.
The siege of the Legations in Peking, and the narrative of the expedition of the combined forces for their rescue, form a history with which every one is now familiar, and there is scarcely any need here to relate how Sir Claude MacDonald was placed in supreme charge of the defences by his colleagues, how he gave to LieutenantColonel Shiba, a young Japanese officer, command of a most important point, or how Sir Claude subsequently commended this officer for his skilful dispositions, and as having contested every inch of the ground at the most critical moment, thereby gaining time for the defences to be placed in thorough order, which was one direct cause of the success ultimately achieved, and of the preservation of many lives in a period of unexampled danger; nor is it needful further to allude to the splendid organisation of the international expeditionary forces, and the conspicuous part that the Japanese played therein during the advance to the Chinese capital. Suffice it to say that, as a whole, the march to the succour of the beleaguered foreign residents, and the final success and triumph over the forces of disorder and fanaticism, were episodes in the world's history and efforts in the cause of humanity which nought can ever efface, whilst at the same time the complete concord and sincerity of all the nations engaged in this glorious undertaking-save for the barbarity which was displayed by the Russian troops, as was much commented upon at the time, and also save for the one black shadow that at times intruded itself, as will be shown hereafter-were at once unprecedented and beneficent. The malign influence that began to make itself felt was due to Russia's having, even at this early stage, begun to betray something of her innate disposition to play an unworthy part; for early in July Russian troops had occupied the south bank of the Amur, opposite Blagovestchensk, under the trifling pretence that the Chinese had been guilty of some offence of which, in reality, the Russians had been the cause by their own provocative behaviour. They had perpetrated that appalling massacre of the Chinese before which the whole civilised world stood aghast. It was on that occasion thatas Count Tolstoi incidentally describes in his recent remarkable letter -thousands of helpless men, women, and children were drowned or slaughtered by the Russians in compliance with the Russian Commander Gribsky's orders, he acting, as he declared, in consonance with Imperial decree.
Though the contingent which Russia sent to take part in the Peking Expedition was comparatively small, she despatched large numbers—though less than one-third of the number she pretended when she claimed compensation-of her troops into the three provinces of the Chinese Empire comprised under the head of Manchuria. Early in August she occupied the treaty port of Newchwang, hoisted the Russian flag, possessed herself of the Customs department, and began to collect revenue for her own purposesan intrusion for which there was absolutely no justification and she at the same time seized the railway between Newchwang and the Great Wall, of which more anon.
Russia's proceedings in Manchuria continued to be of this highhanded and unscrupulous character, until at last, in September, they had reached the pitch of celebrating a grand feast on the site of the Chinese town of Sakalin, previously burned in July, and which they had renamed Ilinsky, on the south bank of the Amur, in honour of the 'relief,' as they chose to designate it, of Blagovestchensk. The Novoe Vremya, in a telegram from that place, thus described this indecent and blasphemous function ;
To-day, on the Chinese bank of the Amur, on the ashes of Sakalin, a solemn thanksgiving service in memory of the relief of this place by the Russian forces, together with the ceremony of renaming the post Ilinsky, was held, in the