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BURGEVINE TRIES TO REJOIN THE REBELS. 179
against the Tycoon, and who had heard of the absurd
also demanded his delivery ; but this request was positively refused, the chief magistrate stating that Burgevine would be sent on to Li, Futai of Kiangsoo, under whose orders he had formerly acted. Immediately on intelligence of this affair reaching Peking, Prince Kung wrote to the American Minister, informing him of the circumstances, and stating that Burgevine, having made himself amenable to the laws of China, would be judged by these laws, and might be executed as a felon, while three or four other Foreigners who had been taken along with him would be handed over to the jurisdiction of their respective Consuls. Dr S. W. Williams, the acting American Minister at Peking, a gentleman of high character, and of almost unrivalled knowledge of China, seemed disposed to accede to this proposal, but requested his Highness to detain Burgevine in confinement for a few months, free from all insult and injury, whilst the Government at Washington was consulted on the subject. In writing to Mr Seward on this case, Dr Williams said, “I am under the strong impression that this man's conduct has been a reproach to the fair name of all Western nations; for all other Foreigners, so far as I know, who commanded the Imperialists, have acted honourably in this particular, leaving the service if they were dissatisfied, and not turning against it. I am mortified that an American should have held this bad position.”* Dr Williams further pointed out that, while the Act of Congress of June 22, 1860, made rebellion against the Chinese Government a capital offence, and while there was no doubt whatever of Burgevine's guilt, the absence and death of important witnesses would render it extremely difficult to convict him in an American court. At the same time, it was very desirable to
* American Diplomatic Correspondence for 1865, p. 454.
DEATH OF BURGEVINE. 181
give every assurance to the Chinese Government that no efforts should be spared to prevent American citizens from joining the Rebels, or to punish them for so doing. The case was one of some difficulty, and the Chinese authorities consented to keep Burgevine a prisoner, but unharmed, until the Government at Washington decided what was to be done. Meanwhile, as they were afraid to leave him on the sea-coast, lest an attempt at rescue should be made, he was sent from Foochow into the interior, to be forwarded overland to the charge of the Governor of Kiangsoo. What occurred to the unfortunate man after this is known only from Chinese statements. It was officially reported that he was drowned, along with ten Chinese, at Lanchi hien in Chekiang, by the capsizing of a ferryboat, owing to a sudden flood in the river. Mr Lewis, the United States Deputy Consul-General, proceeded to the spot to investigate the circumstances; and though rumours of foul play were prevalent among the Foreign community, nothing was discovered to disprove the assertions of the Chinese. The adventurer's body was identified by a fracture which had been inflicted during his service in the Imperialist army; but it was too much decomposed to throw light on the manner of his death, which is said to have occurred on the 26th June 1865. The fact was proved of there having been a heavy flood at that time ; but a certain amount of darkness must ever rest over the circumstances of his death. The Chinese authorities were under a very great temptation to get rid of him in some manner which would effectually preclude his giving further trouble, and which at the same time would not lead to any embroilment with the Government of the United States. Dr Williams says that the official correspondence on this subject gives no idea of the alarm which filled the minds of the high officers at Peking, when they heard of Burgevine's attempt to rejoin the Rebels. Beyond this, and a rumour of a piece of flayed skin having been noticed in his coffin, I have no reason to suppose that their account of his death was untrue ; and if they did drown him purposely, they saved themselves and the American authorities a good deal of trouble.
THE FALL OF SOOCHOW, AND THE EXECUTION OF
THE INVESTMENT OF SOOCHOW — STORMING OF LEEKU — GORDON's
WHILE the negotiations were going on for the desertion of Burgevine and his friends, the Faithful King came down to the relief of Soochow with a considerable army;
o but, as was his invariable custom in similar circumstances, refused to trust himself within the walls of that city, and carried on his operations in its immediate neighbourhood. Colonel Gordon considered the Taipings to be so much weakened by the defection of their
t European allies, that he resolved to resume the offensive, and pushed on towards the South Gate of the city. Various stockades in that direction were soon taken, and