CORRESPONDENCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE WEI-HAI-WEI SURRENDER.
"An unfortunate turn of events has made us enemies: but as the warfare of today does not imply animosity between each and all individuals, we hope our former friendship is still warm enough to assure Your Excellency that these lines, which we address to you with your kind permission, are dictated by a motive higher than that of a mere challenge to surrender. This motive is that of submitting to the calm consideration of a friend a reason for an action which seems to be truly conducive to the good of his country and of himself, although stress of circumstances might temporarily conceal this from him. To whatever cause the successive failures of Chinese arms on both sea and land may be attributed, we think Your Excellency's sound judgment will not fail in assigning them to their true cause, which must be apparent to any unprejudiced observer. In China the literary class is still the governing section, and literary accomplishment is the chief if not sole way to rank and power now as it was a thousand years ago. We do not venture to deny that this system is excellent in itself, and might well be permanent and sufficient if China were to stand alone in the world. But national isolation is no longer a possibility. Your Excellency must know what a hard experience the Japanese empire had thirty years ago, and how narrowly she escaped the awful calamity which threatened. To throw away the old principle and to adopt the new, as the sole condition of preserving the integrity of your empire, is as necessary with your government now as it was with ours. The necessity must be attended to, or fall is inevitable sooner or later. That the crisis is being brought about by the Japanese arms is mere chance. It might have been caused by other political difficulties, which are equally destructive. Now at such a juncture is it the part of a truly patriotic man, upon whom the necessity of action devolves, to allow himself to be simply dragged along by force of circumstances? Compared with the reestablishment on a sound working basis of the oldest empire in the world, with its glorious history and its extensive territories, what is the surrender of a fleet or the loss of a whole army? If Your Excellency be truly patriotic and loyal to the cause of your country, we beg you to listen to the words of sympathetic hearts filled with the sense of honor representative of the fighting men of Japan; words which ask you to come and stay in Japan until the time arrives when your services shall be required for the good cause. Not to speak of the numerous instances of final success after temporary humiliation in your own history of the ancient dynasties, let call your attention to the case of the French Marshal Macmahon, who allowed himself to be detained in the enemy's land till it was expedient that he should return and aid in reforming the government, which instead of dishonoring him raised him to the presidency: or to the case of Osman Pasha whom the unfortunate event of Plevna did not prevent from subsequently filling the post of minister of war and rendering important services in reforming the army. As to the way in which Your Excellency may be received in Japan, let us assure you of the magnanimity of our sovereign. His Majesty not only pardoned his own subjects who fought against the Imperial side, but even raised them to important positions according to their personal merits, as in the case of Admiral Enomoto, Privy Councillor Otori, and others. Surely he would be more magnanimous to one who is not his own subject, and whose glorious career is so well known to the world. The great problem with Your Excellency now is whether to submit to the great calamity which must be the inevitable consequence of further adherence to the old principal, or to survive it for the sake of future reform. We know it is the custom of your officials to meet any communication from an opponent with a pride designed to show consciousness of strength or to conceal weakness, but we hope Your Excellency will understand that the present communication is not made without due consideration of the vast interests at stake, but that it is the outcome of the truest sincerity and of feelings which should lead to the realization of those interests, and we hope that you will kindly consider it in that light.
"Should the present communication meet with your approval, the carrying out of its import will, with Your Excellency's permission, be arranged through further communications, and we have the honor to be, etc., etc.
"Signed: Count Oyama,
"Signed: Admiral Ito.
"20th January, 1895."
THE PROPOSAL TO SURRENDER.
"I, TING, commander-in-chief of the Pei-Yang squadron, acknowledge having previously received a letter from Vice Admiral Ito, commander of the port of Sasebo. This letter I have not answered until today, owing to hostilities going on between our fleets. It had been my intention to continue fighting until every one of my men-of-war was sunk and the last sailor killed; but I have reconsidered the matter and now request a truce, hoping thereby to save many lives. I earnestly beseech you to refrain from doing further hurt to the Chinese and Westerners serving in the army and navy of China, as well as to the townspeople of Wei-hai-wei; in return for which I offer to surrender to the empire of Japan all my men-of-war, the forts on Liu-kung-tau and all material of war in and about Wei-hai-wei. If Vice Admiral Ito will accede to these terms, I desire to have the commander-in-chief of the British warships in the offing as a guarantor of the contract. Requesting an answer to this by tomorrow, I have the honor to remain, etc.
"Signed: Admiral Ting.
"18th day, 1st month, 21st year of Kwangshu (12th Feb. 1895)."
"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed favor, and to accept the proposal therein contained. Accordingly I shall take over all the men-of-war, the forts and all warlike material from your hands. As to the time when surrender is to take place, I will consult you again on receiving your reply to this. My idea is, after taking over everything, to escort you and the others referred to in your letter on board one of our warships to some safe place where your convenience may be suited. If I may be permitted to speak quite frankly, I advise you for your own and your country's sake to remain in Japan until the war is over. Should you decide to come to my country you may rest assured that you will be treated with distinguished consideration. But if you desire to return to your native land I shall of course put no obstacle in your path. As for any British guarantee, I think it quite unnecessary, and trust in your honor as an officer and a gallant man. Requesting your reply to this by 10 a.m. tomorrow, I have the honor to remain, etc.
"Signed: Admiral Ito.
"12th February, 1895."
"I am delighted to learn that you are in the enjoyment of good health. I thank you heartily for your kind reply, and the assurance that the lives of those under me will be spared. You have kindly forwarded me certain gifts, but while I thank you I cannot accept them, our two nations being at war. You write that you desire me to surrender everything into your hands tomorrow. This gives too short a period in which to make the necessary preparations, and I fear that the troops will not be able to evacuate the place by the time specified. I therefore pray you to wait until the 22nd day of the 1st month (Chinese calendar), February 16th. You need not fear that I shall go back from my word.
"Signed: ADMIRAL TING.
"18th day, 1st month (12th February)."
"His Imperial Majesty's Ship Matsushima,
"February 13th, 1895.
"To the officers representing the Chinese fleet at Wei-Hai-Wei.
"I hereby acknowledge the receipt of the letter of Admiral Ting dated the 18th January of the Chinese year. The report of the death of Admiral Ting last night, communicated verbally by the messenger who brought over the said letter, I received with great personal regret.
"As to postponing taking over the vessels, forts and other materials of war until the 22nd of January of the Chinese year, I am ready to comply with it under certain condition. This condition is that some responsible Chinese officer should come over to this our flagship Matsushima before 6 o'clock p.m. this day, the 13th February according to the Japanese year, and we will make certain arrangements, which have to be definitely fixed, regarding the taking over of the said vessels, forts and other materials of war, as well as the escorting of the Chinese and foreign officers and men out of Wei-hai-wei. In my last letter to the lamented Admiral Ting I stated that as to the hour and other minor conditions I should be glad to make arrangements with him on the morrow; so as he is now dead, these minor conditions have to be arranged with some one who can deal with us in his stead.
"It is my express wish that the said officer who is to come to this our flagship for the above purpose be a Chinese, not a foreign officer, and be it understood that I am willing to receive him with honor.
"J. K. Ito,