A coup d'éat feared--Situation in Pekin grave--Messrs. Robinson and Norman murdered--Chinese Christians in serious straits--An interview with Prince Ching--Refusal of the Chinese Government to deal firmly with the Boxers-- Difficulties in obtaining an Imperial audience--Hampering formalities--A conference on the flag-ship Centurion--Sir Claude MacDonald's discretion left unfettered by his Government--Evil effects of the Chinese decree in the Pekin Gazette.
A COUP-D'ÉTAT being seriously feared, upon the flight of the Empress-Dowager, the Russian and British Ministers were both instructed by their respective Governments to support any form of reliable authority which would maintain peace in China.
The situation in Pekin was getting extremely grave, and the French Minister, who was kept well informed, notified his colleagues, and urged them to take steps. Even then, on June 4, Sir Claude was uncertain whether there was any gravity or not in the situation, notwithstanding that another missionary, Mr. Robinson, had been murdered in a most shocking manner, and yet another, Mr. Norman, was captured and detained prisoner by Boxers. These things happened at Lanfang, nearly half way up the line between Pekin and Tientsin, where the Church of England Mission houses had been attacked by the mob.