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´╗┐Title: Court Life in China
Author: Headland, Isaac Taylor, 1859-1942
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Court Life in China" ***

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Professor in the Peking University


  Court Life in China: The Capital Its Officials and People.
  The Chinese Boy and Girl
  Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes


Until within the past ten years a study of Chinese court life would
have been an impossibility. The Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and the
court ladies were shut up within the Forbidden City, away from a world
they were anxious to see, and which was equally anxious to see them.
Then the Emperor instituted reform, the Empress Dowager came out from
behind the screen, and the court entered into social relations with

For twenty years and more Mrs. Headland has been physician to the
family of the Empress Dowager's mother, the Empress' sister, and many
of the princesses and high official ladies in Peking. She has visited
them in a social as well as a professional way, has taken with her her
friends, to whom the princesses have shown many favours, and they have
themselves been constant callers at our home. It is to my wife,
therefore, that I am indebted for much of the information contained in
this book.

There are many who have thought that the Empress Dowager has been
misrepresented. The world has based its judgment of her character upon
her greatest mistake, her participation in the Boxer movement, which
seems unjust, and has closed its eyes to the tremendous reforms which
only her mind could conceive and her hand carry out. The great Chinese
officials to a man recognized in her a mistress of every situation; the
foreigners who have come into most intimate contact with her, voice her
praise; while her hostile critics are confined for the most part to
those who have never known her. It was for this reason that a more
thorough study of her life was undertaken.

It has also been thought that the Emperor has been misunderstood, being
overestimated by some, and underestimated by others, and this because
of his peculiar type of mind and character. That he was unusual, no one
will deny; that he was the originator of many of China's greatest
reform measures, is equally true; but that he lacked the power to
execute what he conceived, and the ability to select great statesmen to
assist him, seems to have been his chief shortcoming.

To my wife for her help in the preparation of this volume, and to my
father-in-law, Mr. William Sinclair, M. A., for his suggestions, I am
under many obligations.

          I. T. H.




The Empress Dowager--Her Early Life

All the period since 1861 should be rightly recorded as the reign of
Tze Hsi An, a more eventful period than all the two hundred and
forty-four reigns that had preceded her three usurpations. It began
after a conquering army had made terms of peace in her capital, and
with the Tai-ping rebellion in full swing of success....

Those few who have looked upon the countenance of the Dowager describe
her as a tall, erect, fine-looking woman of distinguished and imperious
bearing, with pronounced Tartar features, the eye of an eagle, and the
voice of determined authority and absolute command.--Eliza Ruhamah
Scidmore in "China, The Long-Lived Empire."



One day when one of the princesses was calling at our home in Peking, I
inquired of her where the Empress Dowager was born. She gazed at me for
a moment with a queer expression wreathing her features, as she finally
said with just the faintest shadow of a smile: "We never talk about the
early history of Her Majesty." I smiled in return and continued: "I
have been told that she was born in a small house, in a narrow street
inside of the east gate of the Tartar city--the gate blown up by the
Japanese when they entered Peking in 1900." The princess nodded. "I
have also heard that her father's name was Chao, and that he was a
small military official (she nodded again) who was afterwards beheaded
for some neglect of duty." To this the visitor also nodded assent.

A few days later several well-educated young Chinese ladies, daughters
of one of the most distinguished scholars in Peking, were calling on my
wife, and again I pursued my inquiries. "Do you know anything about the
early life of the Empress Dowager?" I asked of the eldest. She
hesitated a moment, with that same blank expression I had seen on the
face of the princess, and then answered very deliberately,--"Yes,
everybody knows, but nobody talks about it." And this is, no doubt, the
reason why the early life of the greatest woman of the Mongol race,
and, as some who knew her best think, the most remarkable woman of the
nineteenth century, has ever been shrouded in mystery. Whether the
Empress desired thus to efface all knowledge of her childhood by
refusing to allow it to be talked about, I do not know, but I said to
myself: "What everybody knows, I can know," and I proceeded to find out.

I discovered that she was one of a family of several brothers and
sisters and born about 1834; that the financial condition of her
parents was such that when a child she had to help in caring for the
younger children, carrying them on her back, as girls do in China, and
amusing them with such simple toys as are hawked about the streets or
sold in the shops for a cash or two apiece; that she and her brothers
and little sisters amused themselves with such games as blind man's
buff, prisoner's base, kicking marbles and flying kites in company with
the other children of their neighbourhood. During these early years she
was as fond of the puppet plays, trained mice shows, bear shows, and
"Punch and Judy" as she was in later years of the theatrical
performances with which she entertained her visitors at the palace. She
was compelled to run errands for her mother, going to the shops, as
occasion required, for the daily supply of oils, onions, garlic, and
other vegetables that constituted the larger portion of their food. I
found out also that there is not the slightest foundation for the story
that in her childhood she was sold as a slave and taken to the south of

The outdoor life she led, the games she played, and the work she was
forced to do in the absence of household servants, gave to the little
girl a well-developed body, a strong constitution and a fund of
experience and information which can be obtained in no other way. She
was one of the great middle class. She knew the troubles and trials of
the poor. She had felt the pangs of hunger. She could sympathize with
the millions of ambitious girls struggling to be freed from the
trammels of ignorance and the age-old customs of the past--a combat
which was the more real because it must be carried on in silence. And
who can say that it was not the struggles and privations of her own
childhood which led to the wish in her last years that "the girls of my
empire may be educated"?

When little Miss Chao had reached the age of  fourteen or fifteen she
was taken by her parents to an office in the northern part of the
imperial city of Peking where her name, age, personal appearance, and
estimated degree of intelligence and potential ability were registered,
as is done in the case of all the daughters of the Manchu people. The
reason for this singular proceeding is that when the time comes for the
selection of a wife or a concubine for the Emperor, or the choosing of
serving girls for the palace, those in charge of these matters will
know where they can be obtained.

This custom is not considered an unalloyed blessing by the Manchu
people, and many of them would gladly avoid registering their daughters
if only they dared. But the rule is compulsory, and every one belonging
to the eight Banners or companies into which the Manchus are divided
must have their daughters registered. Their aversion to this custom is
well illustrated in the following incident:

In one of the girls' schools in Peking there was a beautiful child, the
daughter of a Manchu woman whose husband was dead. One day this widow
came to the principal of the school and said: "A summons has come from
the court for the girls of our clan to appear before the officials that
a certain number may be chosen and sent into the palace as serving
girls." "When is she to appear?" inquired the teacher. "On the
sixteenth," answered the mother. "I suppose you are anxious that she
should be one of the fortunate ones," said the teacher, "though I
should be sorry to lose her from the school." "On the contrary," said
the mother, "I should be distressed if she were chosen, and have come
to consult with you as to whether we might not hire a substitute." The
teacher expressed surprise and asked her why. "When our daughters are
taken into the palace," answered the mother, "they are dead to us until
they are twenty-five, when they are allowed to return home. If they are
incompetent or dull they are often severely punished. They may contract
disease and die, and their death is not even announced to us; while if
they prove themselves efficient and win the approval of the authorities
they are retained in the palace and we may never see them or hear from
them again."

At first the teacher was inclined to favour the hiring of a substitute,
but on further consideration concluded that it would be contrary to the
law, and advised that the girl be allowed to go. The mother, however,
was so anxious to prevent her being chosen that she sent her with
uncombed hair, soiled clothes and a dirty face, that she might appear
as unattractive as possible.

The prospects for a concubine are even less promising than for a
serving maid, as when she once enters the palace she has little if any
hope of ever leaving it. She is neither mistress nor servant, wife nor
slave, she is but one of a hundred buds in a garden of roses which have
little if any prospect of ever blooming or being plucked for the court
bouquet. When, therefore, the gates of the Forbidden City close behind
the young girls who are taken in as concubines of an emperor they shut
out an attractive, busy, beautiful world, filled with men and women,
boys and girls, homes and children, green fields and rich harvests, and
confine them within the narrow limits of one square mile of brick-paved
earth, surrounded by a wall twenty-five feet high and thirty feet
thick, in which there is but one solitary man who is neither father,
brother, husband nor friend to them, and whom they may never even see.

When therefore the time came for the selection of concubines for the
Emperor Hsien Feng, and our little Miss Chao was taken into the palace,
her parents, like many others, had every reason to consider it a piece
of ill-fortune which had visited their home. The future was veiled from
them. The Forbidden City, surrounded by its great crenelated wall, may
have seemed more like a prison than like a palace. True, they had other
children, and she was "only a girl, but even girls are a small
blessing," as they tell us in their proverbs. She had grown old enough
to be useful in the home, and they no doubt had cherished plans of
betrothing her to the son of some merchant or official who would add
wealth or honour to their family. Neither father nor mother, brother
nor sister, could have conceived of the potential power, honour and
even glory, that were wrapped up in that girl, and that were finally to
come to them as a family, as well as to many of them as individuals.
Their wildest dreams at that time could not have pictured themselves
dukes and princesses, with their daughters as empresses, duchesses, or
ladies-in-waiting in the palace. But such it proved to be.


The Empress Dowager--Her Years of Training

  The kindness of the Empress is as boundless as the sea.
  Her person too is holy, she is like a deity.
  With boldness, from seclusion, she ascends the Dragon Throne,
  And saves her suffering country from a fate we dare not own.
        --"Yuan Fan," Translated by I. T. C.



The year our little Miss Chao entered the palace was a memorable one in
the history of China. The Tai-ping rebellion, which had begun in the
south some three years earlier (1850), had established its capital at
Nanking, on the Yangtse River, and had sent its "long-haired" rebels
north on an expedition of conquest, the ultimate aim of which was
Peking. By the end of the year 1853 they had arrived within one hundred
miles of the capital, conquering everything before them, and leaving
devastation and destruction in their wake.

Their success had been extraordinary. Starting in the southwest with an
army of ten thousand men they had eighty thousand when they arrived
before the walls of Nanking. They were an undisciplined horde, without
commissariat, without drilled military leaders, but with such reckless
daring and bravery that the imperial troops were paralyzed with fear
and never dared to meet them in the open field. Thousands of common
thieves and robbers flocked to their standards with every new conquest,
impelled by no higher motive than that of pillage and gain. Rumours
became rife in every village and hamlet, and as they neared the capital
the wildest tales were told in every nook and corner of the city, from
the palace of the young Emperor in the Forbidden City to the mat shed
of the meanest beggar beneath the city wall.

My wife says: "I remember just after going to China, sitting one
evening on a kang, or brick bed, with Yin-ma, an old nurse, our only
light being a wick floating in a dish of oil. Yin-ma was about the age
of the Empress Dowager, but, unlike Her Majesty, her locks were
snow-white. When I entered the dimly lighted room she was sitting in
the midst of a group of women and girls--patients in the hospital--who
listened with bated breath as she told them of the horrors of the
Tai-ping rebellion.

"'Why!' said the old nurse, 'all that the rebels had to do on their way
to Peking, was to cut out as many paper soldiers as they wanted, put
them in boxes, and breathe upon them when they met the imperial troops,
and they were transformed into such fierce warriors that no one was
able to withstand them. Then when the battle was over and they had come
off victors they only needed to breathe upon them again, when they were
changed into paper images and packed in their boxes, requiring neither
food nor clothing. Indeed the spirits of the rebels were everywhere,
and no matter who cut out paper troops they could change them into real

"'But, Yin-ma, you do not believe those superstitions, do you?'

"'These are not superstitions, doctor, these are facts, which everybody
believed in those days, and it was not safe for a woman to be seen with
scissors and paper, lest her neighbours report that she was cutting out
troops for the rebels. The country was filled with all kinds of
rumours, and every one had to be very careful of all their conduct, and
of everything they said, lest they be arrested for sympathizing with
the enemy.'

"'But, Yin-ma, did you ever see any of these paper images transformed
into soldiers?'

"'No, I never did myself, but there was an old woman lived near our
place, who was said to be in sympathy with the rebels. One night my
father saw soldiers going into her house and when he had followed them
he could find nothing but paper images. You may not have anything of
this kind happen in America, but very many people saw them in those
terrible days of pillage and bloodshed here.'"

Such stories are common in all parts of China during every period of
rebellion, war, riot or disturbance of any kind. The people go about
with fear on their faces, and horror in their voices, telling each
other in undertones of what some one, somewhere, is said to have seen
or heard. Nor are these superstitions confined to the common people.
Many of the better classes believe them and are filled with fear.

As the Tai-ping rebellion broke out when Miss Chao was about fifteen or
sixteen years of age, she would hear these stories for two or three
years before she entered the palace. After she had been taken into the
Forbidden City she would continue to hear them, brought in by the
eunuchs and circulated not only among all the women of the palace, but
among their own associates as well, and here they would take on a more
mysterious and alarming aspect to these people shut away from the
world, as ghost stories become more terrifying when told in the dim
twilight. May this not account in some measure for the attitude assumed
by the Empress Dowager towards the Boxer superstitions of 1900, and
their pretentions to be able at will to call to their aid legions of
spirit-soldiers, while at the same time they were themselves
invulnerable to the bullets of their enemies?

It was when Miss Chao was ten years old that the conflict known as the
Opium War was brought to an end. It has been said that when the Emperor
was asked to sanction the importation of opium, he answered, "I will
never legalize a traffic that will be an injury to my people," but
whether this be true or not, it is admitted by all that the central
government was strongly opposed to the sale and use of the drug within
its domains. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the first time
the Chinese came into collision with European governments was over a
matter of this kind, and it is to the credit of the Chinese
commissioner when the twenty thousand chests of opium, over which the
dispute arose, were handed over to him, he mixed it with quicklime in
huge vats that it might be utterly destroyed rather than be an injury
to his people. They may have exhibited an ignorance of international
law, they may have manifested an unwise contempt for the foreigner, but
it remains a fact of history that they were ready to suffer great
financial loss rather than get revenue from the ruin of their subjects,
and that England went to war for the purpose of securing indemnity for
the opium destroyed.

The common name for opium among the Chinese is yang yen--foreign
tobacco, and my wife says: "When calling at the Chinese homes, I have
frequently been offered the opium-pipe, and when I refused it the
ladies expressed surprise, saying that they were under the impression
that all foreigners used it."

What now were the results of the Opium War as viewed from the
standpoint of the Chinese people, and what impression would it make
upon them as a whole? Great Britain demanded an indemnity of
$21,000,000, the cession to them of Hongkong, an island on the southern
coast, and the opening of five ports to British trade. China lost her
standing as suzerain among the peoples of the Orient and got her first
glimpse of the White Peril from the West.

Although the Empress Dowager was but a child of ten at this time she
would receive her first impression of the foreigner, which was that he
was a pirate who had come to carry away their wealth, to filch from
them their land, and to overrun their country. He became a veritable
bugaboo to men, women and children alike, and this impression was
crystallized in the expression yang huei, "foreign devil," which is the
only term among a large proportion of the Chinese by which the
foreigner is known. One day when walking on the street in Peking I met
a woman with a child of two years in her arms, and as I passed them,
the child patted its mother on the cheek and said in an
undertone,--"The foreign devil's coming," which led the frightened
mother to cover its eyes with her hand that it might not be injured by
the sight.

On one occasion a friend was travelling through the country when a
Chinese gentleman, dressed in silk and wearing an official hat, called
on him at the inn where he was stopping and with a profound bow
addressed him as "Old Mr. Foreign Devil."

My wife says that: "Not infrequently when I have been called for the
first time to the homes of the better classes I have seen the children
run into the house from the outer court exclaiming,--'The devil
doctor's coming.' Indeed, I have heard the women use this term in
speaking of me to my assistant until I objected, when they asked with
surprise,--'Doesn't she like to be called foreign devil?'" And so the
Empress Dowager's first impression of the foreigner would be that of a

Colonel Denby tells us that "A Frenchman and his wife were carried off
from Tonquin by bandits who took refuge in China. The Chinese
government was asked to rescue these prisoners and restore them to
liberty. China sent a brigade of troops, who pursued the bandits to
their den and recovered the prisoners. The French government thanked
the Chinese government for its assistance, and bestowed the decoration
of the Legion of Honour on the brigade commander, and then shortly
afterwards demanded the payment of an enormous indemnity for the
outrage on the ground that China had delayed to effect the rescue. The
Chinese were aghast, but they paid the money."

This incident does not stand alone, but is one of a number of similar
experiences which the Chinese government had in her relation with the
powers of Europe, and which have been reported by such writers as
Holcomb, Beresford, Gorst Colquhoun and others in trying to account for
the feelings the Chinese have towards us, all of which was embodied in
the years of training of our little concubine.

It should be remembered that many concubines are selected whom the
Emperor never takes the trouble to see. After being taken in, their
temper and disposition are carefully noted, their faithfulness in the
duties assigned them, their diligence in the performance of their
tasks, their kindness to their inferiors, their treatment of their
equals, and their politeness and obedience to their superiors, and upon
all these things, with many others, as we shall see, their promotion
will finally depend.

When Miss Chao entered the palace, like most girls of her class or
station in life, she was uneducated. She may have studied the small
"Classic for Girls" in which she learned:

"You should rise from bed as early in the morning as the sun, Nor
retire at evening's closing till your work is wholly done."

Or, further, she may have been told,

  When the wheel of life's at fifteen,
  Or when twenty years have passed,
  As a girl with home and kindred these will surely be your last;
  While expert in all employments that compose a woman's life,
  You should study as a daughter all the duties of a wife."

Or she may have read the "Filial Piety Classic for Girls" in which she
learned the importance of the attitude she assumed towards those who
were in authority over her, but certain it is she was not educated.

She had, however, what was better than education--a disposition to
learn. And so when she had the good fortune,--or shall we say
misfortune,--for as we have seen it is variously regarded by Chinese
parents to be taken into the palace, she found there educated eunuchs
who were set aside as teachers of the imperial harem. She was bright,
attractive, and I think I may add without fear of contradiction, very
ambitious, and this in no bad sense. She devoted herself to her studies
with such energy and diligence as not only to attract the attention of
the teacher, but to make herself a fair scholar, a good penman, and an
exceptional painter, and it was not long until, from among all the
concubines, she had gained the attention and won the admiration--and
shall we say affection--not only of the Empress, but of the Emperor
himself, and she was selected as the first concubine or kuei fei, and
from that time until the death of the Empress the two women were the
staunchest of friends.

The new favourite had been a healthy and vigorous girl, with plenty of
outdoor life in childhood, and it was not long before she became the
happy mother of Hsien Feng's only son. She was thenceforward known as
the Empress-mother. In a short time she was raised to the position of
wife, and given the title of Western Empress, as the other was known as
the Eastern, from which time the two women were equal in rank, and, in
the eyes of the world, equal in power.

The first Empress was a pampered daughter of wealth, neither vigorous
of body nor strong of mind, caring nothing for political power if only
she might have ease and comfort, and there is nothing that exhibits the
Empress Dowager's real greatness more convincingly than the fact that
she was able to live for thirty years the more fortunate mother of her
country's ruler, and, in power, the mistress of her superior, without
arousing the latter's envy, jealousy, anger, or enmity. Let any woman
who reads this imagine, if she can, herself placed in the position of
either of these ladies without being inclined to despise the less
fortunate, ease-loving Empress if she be the dowager, or hating the
more powerful dowager if she be the Empress. Such a state of affairs as
these two women lived in for more than a quarter of a century is almost
if not entirely unique in history.

Perhaps the incident which made most impression upon her was one which
happened in 1860 and is recorded in history as the Arrow War. A few
years before a number of Chinese, who owned a boat called the Arrow,
had it registered in Hongkong and hence were allowed to sail under the
British flag. There is no question I think but that these Chinese were
committing acts of piracy, and as this was one of the causes of
disturbance on that southern coast for centuries past, the viceroy
decided to rid the country of this pest. Nine days after the time for
which the boat had been registered, but while it continued unlawfully
to float the British colours, the viceroy seized the boat, imprisoned
all her crew, and dragged down the British flag. This was an insult
which Great Britain could not or would not brook and so the viceroy was
ordered to release the prisoners, all of whom were Chinese subjects, on
penalty of being blown up in his own yamen if he refused.

Frightened at the threat, and remembering the result of the former war,
the viceroy sent the prisoners to the consulate in chains without
proper apologies for his insult to the flag. This angered the consul
and he returned them to the viceroy, who promptly cut off their heads
without so much as the semblance of a trial, and Britain, anxious, as
she was, to have every door of the Chinese empire opened to foreign
trade, found in this another pretext for war. We do not pretend to
argue that this was not the best thing for China and for the world, but
it can only be considered so from the bitter medicine, and corporal
punishment point of view, neither of which are agreeable to either the
patient or the pupil.

Britain went to war. The viceroy was taken a prisoner to India, whence
he never returned. As though ashamed to enter upon a second unprovoked
and unjust war alone, she invited France, Russia, and America to join
her. France was quite ready to do so in the hope of strengthening her
position in Indo-China, and with nothing more than the murder of a
missionary in Kuangsi as a pretext she put a body of troops in the
field large enough to enable her to checkmate England, or humiliate
China as the exigencies of the occasion, and her own interests, might
demand. America and Russia having no cause for war, no wrongs to
redress, and no desire for territory, refused to join her in sending
troops, but gave her such sympathy and support as would enable her to
bring about a more satisfactory arrangement of China's foreign
relations--that is more satisfactory to themselves regardless of the
wishes, though not perhaps the interests, of China.

We know how the British and French marched upon Peking in 1860; how the
summer palace was left a heap of ruins as a punishment for the murder
of a company of men under a flag of truce; and how the Emperor Hsien
Feng, with his wife, and the mother of his only son, our Empress
Dowager, were compelled to flee for the first time before a foreign
invader. Their refuge was Jehol, a fortified town, in a wild and rugged
mountain pass, on the borders of China and Tartary, a hundred miles
northeast of Peking. At this place the Emperor died, whether of
disease, chagrin, or of a broken heart--or of all combined, it is
impossible to say, and the Empress-mother was left AN EXILE AND A
WIDOW, with the capital and the throne for the first time at the mercy
of the Western barbarian.

This was the beginning of two important phases of the Empress Dowager's
life--her affliction and her power, and her greatness is exhibited as
well by the way in which she bore the one as by the way in which she
wielded the other. In most cases a woman would have been so overcome by
sorrow at the loss of her husband, as to have forgotten the affairs of
state, or to have placed them for the time in the hands of others. Not
so with this great woman. Prince Kung the brother of Hsien Feng, had
been left in Peking to arrange a treaty with the Europeans, which he
succeeded in doing to the satisfaction of both the Chinese and the

On the death of the Emperor, a regency was organized by two of the
princes, which did not include Prince Kung, and disregarded both of the
dowagers, and it seemed as though Prince Kung was doomed. His
father-in-law, however, the old statesman who had signed the treaties,
urged him to be the first to get the ear of the two women on their
return to the capital. This he did, and as it seemed evident that the
regency and the council had been organized for the express purpose of
tyrannizing over the Empresses and the child, they were at once
arrested, the leader beheaded, and the others condemned to exile or to
suicide. The child had been placed upon the throne as "good-luck," but
now a new regency was formed, consisting of the two dowagers, with
Prince Kung as joint regent, and the title of the reign was changed to
Tung Chih or "joint government." Thus ended the Empress Dowager's years
of training.


The Empress Dowager--As a Ruler

That a Manchu woman who had had such narrow opportunities of obtaining
a knowledge of things as they really are, in distinction from the
tissue of shams which constitute the warp and the woof of an Oriental
Palace, should have been able to hold her own in every situation, and
never be crushed by the opposing forces about her, is a phenomenon in
itself only to be explained by due recognition of the influence of
individual qualities in a ruler even in the semi-absolutism of
China.--Arthur H. Smith in "China in Convulsion."



In considering the policy pursued by the Empress-mother after her
accession to the regency, one cannot but feel that she was fully aware
of the fact that she had been the wife of an emperor, and was the
mother of the heir, of a decaying house. Of the 218 years that her
dynasty had been in power, 120 had been occupied by the reigns of two
emperors, and only seven monarchs had sat upon the throne, a smaller
number than ever ruled during the same period in all Chinese history.
These two Emperors, Kang Hsi and Chien Lung, the second and fourth, had
each reigned for sixty years, the most brilliant period of the "Great
Pure Dynasty," unless we except the last six years of the Empress
Dowager's regency. The other ninety-eight years saw five rulers rise
and pass away, each one becoming weaker than his predecessor both in
character and in physique, until with the death of her son, Tung Chih,
the dynasty was left without a direct heir.

The decay of the imperial house, the encroachments of the foreigner,
and the opposition of the native Chinese to the rule of the Manchus,
awoke the Empress Dowager to a realization of the fact that a stronger
hand than that of her husband must be at the helm if the dynasty of her
people were to be preserved. "It may be said with emphasis," says
Colonel Denby, who was for thirteen years minister to China, "that the
Empress Dowager has been the first of her race to apprehend the problem
of the relation of China to the outer world, and to make use of this
relation to strengthen her dynasty and to promote material progress."
She was fortunate in having Prince Kung associated with her in the
regency, a man tall, handsome and dignified, and the greatest statesman
that has come from the royal house since the time of Chien Lung.

Here appears one of the chief characteristics of the Empress Dowager as
a ruler--her ability to choose the greatest statesmen, the wisest
advisers, the safest leaders, and the best guides, from the great mass
of Chinese officials, whether progressive or conservative. Prince Kung
was for forty years the leading figure of the Chinese capital outside
of the Forbidden City. He appeared first, at the age of twenty-six, as
a member of the commission that tried the minister who failed to make
good his promise to induce Lord Elgin and his men-of-war to withdraw
from Tientsin in 1858. The following year he was made a member of the
Colonial Board that controlled the affairs of the "outer Barbarians,"
and a year later was left in Peking, when the court fled, to arrange a
treaty of peace with the victorious British and French after they had
taken the capital. "In these trying circumstances," says Professor
Giles, "the tact and resource of Prince Kung won the admiration of his
opponents," and when the Foreign Office was formed in 1861, it began
with the Prince as its first president, a position which he continued
to hold for many years.

It was he, as we have seen, who succeeded in outwitting and
overthrowing the self-constituted regency on the death of his brother
Hsien Feng, and, with the Empress Dowager, seated her infant son upon
the throne, with the two Empresses and himself as joint regents. This
condition continued for some years, with the senior Empress exercising
no authority, and Prince Kung continually growing in power. The
arrangement seemed satisfactory to all but one--the Empress-mother. To
her it appeared as though he were fast becoming the government, and she
and the Empress were as rapidly receding into the background, while in
reality the design had been to make him "joint regent" with them. In
all the receptions of the officials by the court, Prince Kung alone
could see them face to face, while the ladies were compelled to remain
behind a screen, listening to the deliberations but without taking any
part therein, other than by such suggestions as they might make.

Being the visible head of the government, and the only avenue to
positions of preferment, he would naturally be flattered by the Chinese
officials. This led him to assume an air of importance which
consciously or unconsciously he carried into the presence of their
Majesties, and one morning he awoke to find himself stripped of all his
rank and power, and confined and guarded a prisoner in his palace, by a
joint decree from the two Empresses accusing him of "lack of respect
for their Majesties." The deposed Prince at once begged their
forgiveness, whereupon all his honours were restored with their
accompanying dignities, but none of his former power as joint regent,
and thus the first obstacle to her reestablishment of the dynasty was
eliminated by the Empress-mother. To show Prince Kung, however, that
they bore him no ill will, the Empresses adopted his daughter as their
own, raising her to the rank of an imperial princess, and though the
Prince has long since passed away his daughter still lives, and next to
the Empress Dowager has been the leading figure in court circles during
the past ten years' association with the foreigners.

During her son's minority, after the dismissal of Prince Kung as joint
regent, the Empress-mother year by year took a more active part in the
affairs of state, while the Empress as gradually sank into the
background. She was far-sighted. Having but one son, and knowing the
uncertainty of life, she originated a plan to secure the succession to
her family. To this end she arranged for the marriage of her younger
sister to her husband's younger brother commonly known as the Seventh
Prince, in the hope that from this union there might come a son who
would be a worthy occupant of the dragon throne in case her own son
died without issue. She felt that the country needed a great central
figure capable of inspiring confidence and banishing uncertainty, a
strong, well-balanced, broad-minded, self-abnegating chief executive,
and she proposed to furnish one. Whether she would succeed or not must
be left to the future to reveal, but the one great task set by destiny
for her to accomplish was to prepare the mind of a worthy successor to
meet openly and intelligently the problems which had been too vast, too
new and too complicated for her predecessors, if not for herself, to

When her son was seventeen years old he was married to Alute, a young
Manchu lady of one of the best families in Peking and was nominally
given the reins of power, though as a matter of fact the supreme
control of affairs was still in the hands of his more powerful mother.
The ministers of the European countries, England, France, Germany,
Russia and the United States, now resident at Peking, thought this a
good time for bringing up the matter of an audience with the new ruler,
and after a long discussion with Prince Kung and the Empress-mother,
the matter was arranged without the ceremony of prostration which all
previous rulers had demanded.

The married life of this young couple was a short one. Three years
after their wedding ceremonies the young monarch contracted smallpox
and died without issue, and was followed shortly afterwards by his
young wife who heeded literally the instruction of one of their female
teachers in her duty to her husband to

  Share his joy as well as sorrow, riches, poverty or guilt,
  And in death be buried with him, as in life you shared his guilt.

That her nearest relatives did not believe, as has often been
suggested, that there was any "foul play" in regard to her death, is
evident from the fact that her father continued to hold office until
the time of the Boxer uprising, at which time he followed the fleeing
court as far as Paotingfu, where having heard that the capital was in
the hands of the hated foreigners, he sent word back to his family that
he would neither eat the foreigners' bread nor drink their water, but
would prefer to die by his own hand. When his family received this
message they commanded their servants to dig a great pit in their own
court in which they all lay and ordered the coolies to bury them. This
they at first refused to do, but they were finally prevailed upon, and
thus perished all the male members of her father's household except one
child that was rescued and carried away by a faithful nurse.

When Tung Chih died there was a formidable party in the palace opposed
to the two dowagers, anxious to oust them and their party and place
upon the throne a dissolute son of Prince Kung. But it would require a
master mind from the outside to learn of the death of her son and
select and proclaim a successor quicker than the Empress Dowager
herself could do so from the inside. She first sent a secret messenger
to Li Hung-chang whom she had appointed viceroy of the metropolitan
province at Tientsin eighty miles away, informing him of the illness of
her son and urging him to come to Peking with his troops post-haste and
be ready to prevent any disturbance in case of his death and the
announcement of a successor.

When Li Hung-chang received her orders, he began at once to put them
into execution. Taking with him four thousand of his most reliable
Anhui men, all well-armed horse, foot and artillery, he made a secret
forced march to Peking. The distance of eighty miles was covered in
thirty-six hours and he planned to arrive at midnight. Exactly on the
hour Li and his picked guard were admitted, and in dead silence they
marched into the Forbidden City. Every man had in his mouth a wooden
bit to prevent talking, while the metal trappings of the horses were
muffled to deaden all sound. When they arrived at the forbidden
precincts, the Manchu Bannermen on guard at the various city gates were
replaced by Li's Anhui braves, and as the Empress Dowager had sent
eunuchs to point out the palace troops which were doubtful or that had
openly declared for the conspirators, these were at once disarmed,
bound and sent to prison. The artillery were ordered to guard the gates
of the Forbidden City, the cavalry to patrol the grounds, and the
foot-soldiers to pick up any stray conspirators that could be found. A
strong detachment was stationed so as to surround the Empress Dowager
and the child whom she had selected as a successor to her son, and when
the morning sun rose bright and clear over the Forbidden City the
surprise of the conspirators who had slept the night away was complete.
Of the disaffected that remained, some were put in prison and others
sent into perpetual exile to the Amoor beyond their native borders, and
when the Empress Dowager announced the death of her son, she proclaimed
the son of her sister, Kuang Hsu, as his successor, with herself and
the Empress as regents during his minority. When everything was
settled, Li folded his tent like the Arab, and stole away as silently
as he had come.

The wisdom and greatness of the Empress Dowager were thus manifested in
binding to the throne the greatest men not only in the capital but in
the provinces. Li Hung-chang had won his title to greatness during the
Tai-ping rebellion, for his part in the final extinction of which he
was ennobled as an Earl. From this time onward she placed him in the
highest positions of honour and power within sufficient proximity to
the capital to have his services within easy reach. For twenty-four
years he was kept as viceroy of the metropolitan province of Chihli,
with the largest and best drilled army at his command that China had
ever had, and yet during all this time he realized that he was watched
with the eyes of an eagle lest he manifest any signs of rebellion,
while his nephew was kept in the capital as a hostage for his good
conduct. Once and again when he had reached the zenith of his power, or
had been feted by foreign potentates enough to turn the head of a
bronze Buddha, his yellow jacket and peacock feather were kindly but
firmly removed to remind him that there was a power in Peking on whom
he was dependent.

Li Hung-chang's greatness made him many enemies. Those whom he
defeated, those whom he would not or could not help, those whom he
punished or put out of office, and those whose enmity was the result of
jealousy. When the war with Japan closed and the Chinese government
sent Chang Yin-huan to negotiate a treaty of peace, the Japanese
refused to accept him, nor were they willing to take up the matter
until "Li Hung-chang was appointed envoy, chiefly because of his great
influence over the government, and the respect in which he was held by
the people." We all know how he went, how he was shot in the face by a
Japanese fanatic, the ball lodging under the left eye, where it
remained a memento which he carried to the grave. We all know how he
recovered from the wound, and how because of his sufferings he was able
to negotiate a better treaty than he could otherwise have done. Then he
returned home, and only "the friendship of the Empress and his own
personal sufferings saved his life," says Colonel Denby, for "the new
treaty was urgently denounced in China" by carping critics who would
not have been recognized as envoys by their Japanese enemies.

In 1896 he was appointed to attend the coronation of the Czar at
Moscow, and thence continued his trip around the world. Never before
nor since has a Chinese statesman or even a prince been feted as he was
in every country through which he passed. When he was about to start,
at his request I had a round fan painted for him, with a map of the
Eastern hemisphere on one side and the Western on the other, on which
all the steamship lines and railroads over which he was to travel were
clearly marked, with all the ports and cities at which he expected to
stop. He was photographed with Gladstone, and hailed as the "Bismarck
of the East," but when he returned to Peking, for no reason but
jealousy, "he was treated as an extinct volcano." The Empress Dowager
invited him to the Summer Palace where he was shown about the place by
the eunuchs, treated to tea and pipes, and led into pavilions where
only Her Majesty was allowed to enter, and then denounced to the Board
of Punishments who were against him to a man. And now this Grand
Secretary whom kings and courts had honoured, whom emperors and
presidents had feted, and our own government had spent thirty thousand
dollars in entertaining, was once more stripped of his yellow jacket
and peacock feather, and fined the half of a year's salary as a member
of the Foreign Office, which was the amusing sum of forty-five taels or
about thirty-five dollars gold, and it was said in Peking at the time
that only the intercession of the Empress Dowager saved him from
imprisonment or further disgrace.

During the whole regency of the Empress Dowager only two men have
occupied the position of President of the Grand Council--Prince Kung
and Prince Ching. While the former was degraded many times and had his
honours all taken from him, the latter "has kept himself on top of a
rolling log for thirty years" without losing any of the honours which
were originally conferred upon him. The same is true of Chang
Chih-tung, Liu Kun-yi and Wang Wen-shao, three great viceroys and Grand
Secretaries whom the Empress Dowager has never allowed to be without an
important office, but whom she has never degraded. Need we ask the
reason why? The answer is not far to seek. They were the most eminent
progressive officials she had in her empire, but none of them were
great enough to be a menace to her dynasty, and hence need not be
reminded that there was a power above them which by a stroke of her pen
could transfer them from stars in the official firmament to dandelions
in the grass. Not so with Yuan Shih-kai--but we will speak of him in
another chapter.

All the great officials thus far mentioned have belonged to the
progressive rather than the conservative party, all of them the
favourites of the Empress Dowager, placed in positions of influence and
kept in office by her, all of them working for progress and reform, and
yet she has been constantly spoken of by European writers as a
reactionary. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as we shall see.
Nevertheless she kept some of the great conservative officials in
office either as viceroys or Grand Secretaries that she might be able
to hear both sides of all important questions.

One of these conservatives was Jung Lu, the father-in-law of the
present Regent. When she placed Yuan Shih-kai in charge of the army of
north China, she also appointed Jung Lu as Governor-General of the
metropolitan province of Chihli. One was a progressive, the other a
conservative. Neither could make any important move without the
knowledge and consent of the other. Whether the Empress Dowager foresaw
the danger that was likely to arise, we do not know, but she provided
against it. We refer to the occasion when in 1898 the Emperor ordered
Yuan Shih-kai to bring his troops to Peking, guard the Empress Dowager
a prisoner in the Summer Palace, and protect him in his efforts at
reform. The story belongs in another chapter, but we refer to it here
to show how the Empress Dowager played one official against another,
and one party against another, to prevent any such calamity or
surprise. It would have been impossible for Yuan Shih-kai to have taken
his troops to Peking for any purpose without first informing his
superior officer Jung Lu unless he put him to death, much less to have
gone on such a mission as that of imprisoning as important a personage
as the Empress Dowager, to whom they were both indebted for their

Another instance of the way in which the Empress Dowager played one
party against another was the appointment of Prince Tuan as a member of
the Foreign Office. After his son had been selected as the
heir-apparent it seemed to the Empress Dowager that for his own
education and development he should be made to come in contact with the
foreigners. Most of the foreigners considered the appointment
objectionable on account of the "Prince's anti-foreign tendencies. But
to my mind," says Sir Robert Hart, "it was a good one; the Empress
Dowager had probably said to the Prince, 'You and your party pull one
way, Prince Ching and his another--what am I to do between you? You,
however, are the father of the future Emperor, and have your son's
interests to take care of; you are also head of the Boxers and chief of
the Peking Field Force, and ought therefore to know what can and what
cannot be done. I therefore appoint you to the yamen; do what you
consider most expedient, and take care that the throne of your
ancestors descends untarnished to your son, and their empire
undiminished! yours is the power,--yours the responsibility--and yours
the chief interests!' I can imagine the Empress Dowager taking this
line with the Prince, and, inasmuch as various ministers who had been
very anti-foreign before entering the yamen had turned round and
behaved very sensibly afterwards, I felt sure that responsibility and
actual personal dealings with foreigners would be a good experience and
a useful education for this Prince, and that he would eventually be one
of the sturdiest supporters of progress and good relations."


The Empress Dowager--As a Reactionist

The most interesting personage in China during the past thirty years
has been and still is without doubt the lady whom we style the Empress
Dowager. The character of the Empress's rule can only be judged by what
it was during the regency, when she was at the head of every movement
that partook of the character of reform. Foreign diplomacy has failed,
for want of a definite centre of volition and sensation to act upon. It
had no fulcrum for its lever. Hence only force has ever succeeded in
China. With a woman like the Empress might it not be possible really to
transact business?--Blackwood's Magazine.



It was between November 1, 1897, and April 16, 1898, that Germany,
Russia, France and England wrested from the weak hands of the Emperor
Kuang Hsu the four best ports in the Chinese empire, leaving China
without a place to rendezvous a fleet. The whole empire was aroused to
indignation, and even in our Christian schools, every essay, oration,
dialogue or debate was a discussion of some phase of the subject, "How
to reform and strengthen China." The students all thought, the young
reformers all thought, and the foreigners all thought that Kuang Hsu
had struck the right track. The great Chinese officials, however, were
in doubt, and it was because of their doubt--progressives as well as
conservatives--that the Empress Dowager was again called to the throne.

Now may I request the enemies of the Empress Dowager to ask themselves
what they would have done if they had been placed at the head of their
own government when it was thus being filched from them? You say she
was anti-foreign--would you have been very much in love with Germany,
Russia, France and England under those circumstances? That she acted
unwisely in placing herself in the hands of the conservatives and
allying herself with the superstitious Boxers, we must all frankly
admit. But what would you have done? Might you not--I do not say you
would with your intelligence--but might you not have been induced to
have clutched at as great a log as the patriotic Boxers seemed to
present, if you had been as near drowning as she was?

"It is generally supposed," says one of her critics, "that Kang Yu-wei
suggested to the Emperor, that if he would render his own position
secure, he must retire the Empress Dowager, and decapitate Jung Lu." If
that be true, and I think it very reasonable, the condition must have
been desperate, when the reformers had to begin killing the greatest of
their opponents, and imprisoning those who had given them their power,
though neither of these at that time had raised a hand against them.
Have you noticed how ready we are to forgive those on our side for
doing that for which we would bitterly condemn our opponents? The same
people who condemn the Empress Dowager for beheading the six young
reformers stand ready to forgive Kuang Hsu for ordering the
decapitation of Jung Lu, and the imprisonment of his foster-mother.

There were two powerful factions in Peking, the progressives, headed by
Prince Ching; and the conservatives, headed by Jung Lu. Now the Empress
Dowager may have reasoned thus: "The progressives and reformers have
had their day. They have tried their plans and they have failed. The
only result they have secured is peace--but peace always at the expense
of territory. Now I propose to try another plan. I will part with no
more ports, and I will resist to the death every encroachment." She
therefore took up Li Ping-heng, who had been deposed from the
governorship of Shantung at the time of the murder of the German
missionaries, and appointed him Generalissimo of the forces of the
Yangtse, where he no doubt promised to resist to the last all
encroachments of the foreigners in that part of the empire while Jung
Lu was retained in Peking as head of all the forces of the province of
Chihli and the Northern Squadron. She then appointed Kang Yi, another
conservative, equally as anti-foreign as Li Ping-heng, to inspect the
fortifications and garrisons of the empire, and to raise an immense sum
of money for the depleted treasury. In his visits to the southern
provinces, Kang Yi at this time raised not less than two million taels,
which was no doubt spent in the purchase of guns and ammunition and
other preparations for war. Yu Hsien, another equally conservative
Manchu, she appointed Governor of Shantung to succeed Li Ping-heng, and
it is to him the whole Boxer uprising is due. Moreover when he, at the
repeated requests of the foreigners, was removed from Shantung, she
received him in audience at Peking, conferred upon him additional
honours and appointed him Governor of the adjoining province of Shansi,
where, and under whose jurisdiction, almost all the massacres were
committed. Indeed Yu Hsien may be considered the whole Boxer movement,
for this seems to have been his plan for getting rid of the foreigners.

But while thus allying herself with the conservatives, the Empress
Dowager did not cut herself off from the progressives. Li Hung-chang
was appointed Viceroy of Kuangtung, Yuan Shih-kai Governor of Shantung
and Tuan Fang of Shensi while Liu Kun-yi, Chang Chih-tung, and Kuei
Chun were kept at their posts, so that she had all the greatest men of
both parties once more in her service. Then she began sending out
edicts, retracting those issued by Kuang Hsu, and what could be more
considerate of the feelings of the Emperor, or more diplomatic as a
state paper than the following, issued in the name of Kuang Hsu,
September 26, 1898.

"Our real desire was to make away with superfluous posts for the sake
of economy: whereas, on the contrary, we find rumours flying abroad
that we intended to change wholesale the customs of the empire, and, in
consequence, innumerable impossible suggestions of reform have been
presented to us. If we allowed this to go on, none of us would know to
what pass matters would come. Hence, unless we hasten to put our
present wishes clearly before all, we greatly fear that the petty yamen
officials and their underlings will put their own construction on what
commands have gone before, and create a ferment in the midst of the
usual calm of the people. This will indeed be contrary to our desire,
and put our reforms for strengthening and enriching our empire to

"We therefore hereby command that the Supervisorate of Instruction and
other five minor Courts and Boards, which were recently abolished by us
and their duties amalgamated with other Boards for the sake of economy,
etc., be forthwith restored to their original state and duties, because
we have learned that the process of amalgamation contains many
difficulties and will require too much labour. We think, therefore, it
is best that these offices be not abolished at all, there being no
actual necessity for doing this. As for the provincial bureaus and
official posts ordered to be abolished, the work in this connection can
go on as usual, and the viceroys and governors are exhorted to work
earnestly and diligently in the above duty. Again as to the edict
ordering the establishment of an official newspaper, the Chinese
Progress, and the privilege granted to all scholars and commoners to
memorialize us on reforms, etc., this was issued in order that a way
might be opened by which we could come into touch with our subjects,
high and low. But as we have also given extra liberty to our censors
and high officers to report to us on all matters pertaining to the
people and their government, any reforms necessary, suggested by these
officers, will be attended to at once by us. Hence we consider that our
former edict allowing all persons to report to us is, for obvious
reasons, superfluous, with the present legitimate machinery at hand.
And we now command that the privilege be withdrawn, and only the proper
officers be permitted to report to us as to what is going on in our
empire. As for the newspaper Chinese Progress, it is really of no use
to the government, while, on the other hand, it will excite the masses
to evil; hence we command the said paper to be suppressed.

"With regard to the proposed Peking University and the middle schools
in the provincial capitals, they may go on as usual, as they are a
nursery for the perfection of true ability and talents. But with
reference to the lower schools in the sub-prefectures and districts
there need be no compulsion, full liberty being given to the people
thereof to do what they please in this connection. As for the
unofficial Buddhist, Taoist, and memorial temples which were ordered to
be turned into district schools, etc., so long as these institutions
have not broken the laws by any improper conduct of the inmates, or the
deities worshipped in them are not of the seditious kind, they are
hereby excused from the edict above noted. At the present moment, when
the country is undergoing a crisis of danger and difficulty, we must be
careful of what may be done, or what may not, and select only such
measures as may be really of benefit to the empire."

I submit the above edict to the reader requesting him to study it, and,
if necessary to its understanding, to copy it, and see if the Empress
Dowager has not preserved the best there is in it, viz., "the Peking
University, and the middle schools in the provincial capitals," "full
liberty being given to the people with reference to the lower schools
in the sub-prefectures and districts to do as they please." How much
oil would be cast on how many troubled waters can only be realized by
the unfortunate priests and dismissed officials and people upon whom
"there need be no compulsion"!

Three days after the foregoing, on September 29th, she issued another
edict purporting to come from the Emperor, ordering the punishment of
Kang Yu-wei and others of his confreres. Now, if it is true that Kang
Yu-wei advised the Emperor to behead Jung Lu and imprison the Empress
Dowager, for no cause whatsoever, how would you have been inclined to
treat him supposing you had been in her place? The decree says:

"All know that we try to rule this empire by our filial piety towards
the Empress Dowager; but Kang Yu-wei's doctrines have always been
opposed to the ancient Confucian tenets. Owing, however, to the ability
shown by the said Kang Yu-wei in modern and practical matters, we
sought to take advantage of it by appointing him a secretary of the
Foreign Office, and subsequently ordered him to Shanghai to direct the
management of the official newspaper there. Instead of this, however,
he dared to remain in Peking pursuing his nefarious designs against the
dynasty, and had it not been for the protection given by the spirits of
our ancestors he certainly would have succeeded. Kang Yu-wei is
therefore the arch conspirator, and his chief assistant is Liang
Chi-tsao, M. A., and they are both to be immediately arrested and
punished for the crime of rebellion. The other principal conspirators,
namely, the Censor Yang Shen-hsin, Kang Kuang-jen--the brother of Kang
Yu-wei--and the four secretaries of the Tsungli Yamen, Tan Sze-tung,
Liu Hsin, Yang Jui, and Liu Kuang-ti, we immediately ordered to be
arrested and imprisoned by the Board of Punishments: but fearing that
if any delay ensued in sentencing them they would endeavour to entangle
a number of others, we accordingly commanded yesterday (September 28th)
their immediate execution, so as to close the matter entirely and
prevent further troubles."

This with the execution of one or two other officials is the greatest
crime that can be laid at the door of the Empress Dowager--great enough
in all conscience--yet not to be compared to those of "good Queen Bess."

We now come to what is said to have been a secret edict issued by the
Empress Dowager to her viceroys, governors, Tartar generals and the
commanders-in-chief of the provinces, dated November 21, 1899. And this
I regard as one of the greatest and most daring things that great woman
ever undertook.

After the Empress Dowager had taken the throne, Italy, following the
example set by the other powers, demanded the cession of Sanmen Bay in
the province of Chekiang. But she found a different ruler on the
throne, and to her great surprise, as well as that of every one else,
China returned a stubborn refusal. Moreover, she began to prepare to
resist the demand, and it soon became evident that to obtain it, Italy
must go to war. This she had not the stomach for and so the demand was
withdrawn. This explanation will go far towards helping us to
understand the following secret edict of November 21st, to which I have
already referred.

"Our empire is now labouring under great difficulties which are
becoming daily more and more serious. The various Powers cast upon us
looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other in their endeavours
to be the first to seize upon our innermost territories. They think
that China, having neither money nor troops, would never venture to go
to war with them. They fail to understand, however, that there are
certain things that this empire can never consent to, and that, if
hardly pressed upon, we have no alternative but to rely upon the
justice of our cause, the knowledge of which in our breasts strengthens
our resolves and steels us to present a united front against our
aggressors. No one can guarantee, under such circumstances, who will be
the victor and who the vanquished in the end. But there is an evil
habit which has become almost a custom among our viceroys and governors
which, however, must be eradicated at all costs. For instance, whenever
these high officials have had on their hands cases of international
dispute, all their actions seem to be guided by the belief in their
breasts that such cases would eventually be 'amicably arranged.' These
words seem never to be out of their thoughts: hence, when matters do
come to a crisis, they, of course, find themselves utterly unprepared
to resist any hostile aggressions on the part of the foreigner. We,
indeed, consider this the most serious failure in the duty which the
highest provincial authorities owe to the throne, and we now find it
incumbent upon ourselves to censure such conduct in the most severe

"It is our special command, therefore, that should any high official
find himself so hard pressed by circumstances that nothing short of war
would settle matters, he is expected to set himself resolutely to work
out his duty to this end. Or, perhaps, it would be that war has already
actually been declared; under such circumstances there is no possible
chance of the imperial government consenting to an immediate conference
for the restoration of peace. It behooves, therefore, that our
viceroys, governors, and commanders-in-chief throughout the whole
empire unite forces and act together without distinction or
particularizing of jurisdictions so as to present a combined front to
the enemy, exhorting and encouraging their officers and soldiers in
person to fight for the preservation of their homes and native soil
from the encroaching footsteps of the foreign aggressor. Never should
the word 'Peace' fall from the mouths of our high officials, nor should
they even allow it to rest for a moment within their breasts. With such
a country as ours, with her vast area, stretching out several tens of
thousands of li, her immense natural resources, and her hundreds of
millions of inhabitants, if only each and all of you would prove his
loyalty to his Emperor and love of country, what, indeed, is there to
fear from any invader? Let no one think of making peace, but let each
strive to preserve from destruction and spoliation his ancestral home
and graves from the ruthless hands of the invader."

One of her critics, referring to the last sentence of the above edict,
asks: "Do not these words throw down the gauntlet?" And we answer, yes.
Did not the thirteen colonies throw down the gauntlet to England for
less cause? Did not Japan throw down the gauntlet to Russia for less
cause than the Empress Dowager had for desiring that "each strive TO
GRAVES"? It was not for conquest but for self-preservation the Empress
Dowager was ready to go to war; not for glory but for home; not against
a taunting neighbour, but against a "ruthless invader." Her unwisdom
did not consist in her being ready to go to war, but in allowing
herself to be allied to, and depend upon, the superstitious rabble of
Boxers, and to believe that her "hundreds of millions" of undisciplined
"inhabitants" could withstand the thousands or tens of thousands of
well-drilled, well-led, intelligent soldiers from the West.

That she was ready to go to war rather than weakly yield to the demands
for territory from the European powers is further evidenced by the
following edict issued by the Tsungli Yamen to the viceroys and

"This yamen has received the special commands of her Imperial Majesty
the Empress Dowager, and his Imperial Majesty the Emperor, to grant you
full power and liberty to resist by force of arms all aggressions upon
your several jurisdictions, proclaiming a state of war, if necessary,
without first asking instructions from Peking; for this loss of time
may be fatal to your security, and enable the enemy to make good his
footing against your forces."

In order to strengthen her position she appointed two commissioners
whom she sent to Japan in the hope of forming a secret defensive
alliance with that nation against the White Peril from the West. For
once, however, she made a mistake in the selection of her men, for
these commissioners, unlike what we usually find the yellow man,
revealed too much of the important mission on which they were bent, and
were recalled in disgrace, and the treaty came to naught.


The Empress Dowager--As a Reformer

Taught by the failure of a reaction on which she had staked her life
and her throne, the Dowager has become a convert to the policy of
progress. She has, in fact, outstripped her nephew. "Long may she
live!" "Late may she rule us!" During her lifetime she may be counted
on to carry forward the cause she has so ardently espoused. She grasps
the reins with a firm hand; and her courage is such that she does not
hesitate to drive the chariot of state over many a new and untried
road. She knows she can rely on the support of her viceroys--men of her
own appointment. She knows too that the spirit of reform is abroad in
the land, and that the heart of the people is with her.--W. A. P.
Martin in "The Awakening of China."



In June, 1902, soon after the return of the court from Hsian to Peking,
a company of ladies from the various legations in Peking who had
received invitations to an audience and a banquet with the Empress
Dowager were asked to meet at one of the legations for the purpose of
consultation. The meeting was unusual. Many of those who were present
had no higher motive than the ordinary tourist who goes sightseeing.
With the exception of one or two who had been in once before, none of
these ladies had ever been present at an audience. Several of them
however had passed through the Boxer siege of 1900, had witnessed the
guns from the wall of the Imperial City pouring shot and shell into the
British legation, where they were confined during those eight memorable
weeks of June, July and August, and had come out with their hearts
filled with resentment. One of them had received a decoration from her
government for her bravery in standing beside her husband on the
fortifications when buildings were crumbling and walls falling, and her
husband was buried by an exploding mine, and then vomited out unhurt by
a second explosion. Among the number were several recent arrivals in
Peking who had had none of these bitter experiences, but had heard much
of the Empress Dowager, and above all things else they were anxious to
see her whom they called the "She Dragon."

The presiding officer had been longest in Peking, and as doyen of these
diplomatic ladies, she acted as chairman of the meeting. The first
question to be decided was the mode of conveyance to the "Forbidden
City." Without much discussion it was decided to use the sedan chair,
as being the most dignified, and used only by Chinese ladies of rank.
The chairman then called for an expression of opinion as to the method
of procedure in presentation to the throne. One suggested that they
have no ceremony about it, but all go up to the throne together, for in
this way none would take precedence, but all would have an equal
opportunity of satisfying their curiosity and scrutinizing this female
dragon ad libitum. Another said: "It will be broiling hot on that June
day, and it will be better to keep at a safe distance from her, with
plenty of guards to protect us, or we may be broiled in more senses
than one." The chairman looked worried at these suggestions, but still
kept her dignity and her equilibrium. Then a mild voice suggested that
it was customary in all audiences for those presented to courtesy to
the one on the throne. "Courtesy!" broke in an indignant voice, "it
would be more appropriate for her to prostrate herself at our feet and
beg us to forgive her for trying to shoot us, than for us to courtesy
to her." It was finally decided, however, that the same formalities be
observed as were followed by the ministers when received at court. I
give these incidents to show the temper that prevailed among the
members of some of the legations at Peking at the time of this first

"When a few days later we followed the long line of richly-robed
princesses into the audience-hall, all this was changed. As we looked
at the Empress Dowager seated upon her throne on a raised dais, with
the Emperor to her left and members of the Grand Council kneeling
beside her, and these dignified, stately princesses courtesying until
their knees touched the floor, we forgot the resentful feeling
expressed in the meeting a few days before, and, awed by her majestic
bearing and surroundings, we involuntarily gave the three courtesies
required from those entering the imperial presence. We could not but
feel that this stately woman who sat upon the throne was every inch an
empress. In her hands rested the weal or woe of one-third of the human
race. Her brilliant black eyes seemed to read our thoughts. Indeed she
prides herself upon the fact that at a glance she can read the
character of every one that appears before her."

After the ladies had taken their position in order of their rank, the
doyen presented their good wishes to Her Majesty, which was replied to
by a few gracious words from the throne. Each lady's name was then
announced and as she was formally presented she ascended the dais, and
as she courtesied, the Empress Dowager extended her hand which she
took, and then passed to the left to be introduced in a similar way to
the Emperor.

It was thus she began her reforms in the customs of the court, which up
to this time had kept her ever behind the screen, compelled to wield
the sceptre from her place of concealment, equally shut out from the
eyes of the world and blind to the needs of her people. Up to her time
the people and the nation were the slaves of age-old customs, but
before the power of her personality rites and ceremonies became the
servants of the people. In the words of the poet she seemed to feel that

           Are well; but never fear to break
           The scaffolding of other souls;
           It was not meant for thee to mount,
           Though it may serve thee."

Without taking away from the Emperor the credit of introducing the
railroad, the telegraph, the telephone, the new system of education,
and many other reforms, we must still admit that it was the
personality, power and statesmanship of the Empress Dowager that
brought about the realization of his dreams. The movement towards
female education as described in another chapter must ever be placed to
the credit of this great woman. From the time she came from behind the
screen, and allowed her portrait to be painted, the freedom of woman
was assured.

One day when calling at the American legation I was shown two large
photographs of Her Majesty. One some three feet square was to be sent
to President Roosevelt, the other was a gift to Major Conger. Similar
photographs had been sent to all the ministers and rulers represented
at Peking, and I said to myself: "The Empress Dowager is shrewd. She
knows that false pictures of her have gone forth. She knows that the
painted portrait is not a good likeness, and so she proposes to have
genuine pictures in the possession of all civilized governments." This
shrewdness was not necessarily native on her part, but was engendered
by the arguments that had been used by those who induced her to be the
first Chinese monarch to have her portrait painted by a foreign artist.

A few years ago the Empress Dowager had a dream, which, like every act
of hers, was greater than any of those of her brilliant nephew. This
dream was to give a constitution to China. Of course, if this were done
it would have to be by the Manchus, as the government was theirs, and
any radical changes that were made would have to be made by the people
in power. The Empress Dowager, however, wanted the honour of this move
to reflect upon herself, and hoped to be able to bring it to a
successful issue during her lifetime.

There was strenuous opposition, and this most vigorous in the party in
which she had placed herself when she dethroned Kuang Hsu. The
conservatives regarded this as the wildest venture that had yet been
made, and were ready to use all their influence to prevent it;
nevertheless the Empress Dowager called to her aid the greatest and
most progressive of the Manchus, the Viceroy Tuan Fang, and appointed
him head of a commission which she proposed to send on a tour of the
world to examine carefully the various forms of government, with the
purpose of advising her, on their return, as to the possibility of
giving a constitution to China.

A special train was provided to take the commission from Peking to
Tientsin. It was drawn up at the station just outside the gate in front
of the Emperor's palace. The commission had entered the car, and the
narrow hall or aisle along the side was crowded with those who had come
to see them off, when, BANG, there was an explosion, the side of the
car was blown out, several were injured, including slight wounds to
some of the members of the commission, and the man carrying the bomb
was blown into an unrecognizable mass. For a few days the city was in
an uproar. Guards were placed at all the gates, especially those
leading to the palace, and every possible effort was made to identify
the nihilist. But as all efforts failed, and nothing further transpired
to indicate that he had accomplices, the commission separated and
departing individually without display, reunited at Tientsin and
started on their tour of inspection.

This commission was splendidly entertained wherever it went, given
every possible opportunity to examine the constitutions of the
countries through which it passed, and on its return to Peking the
report of the trip was published in one hundred and twenty volumes, the
most important item of which was that a constitution, modelled after
that of Japan, should be given to China at as early a date as possible.

The leader of this expedition, His Excellency the Viceroy Tuan Fang, is
one of the greatest, if not the greatest living Manchu statesman. Like
Yuan Shih-kai, during the Boxer uprising, he protected all the
foreigners within his domains. That he appreciates the work done by
Americans in the opening up of China is evidenced by a statement made
in his address at the Waldorf Astoria, in February, 1906, in which he

"We take pleasure this evening in bearing testimony to the part taken
by American missionaries in promoting the progress of the Chinese
people. They have borne the light of Western civilization into every
nook and corner of the empire. They have rendered inestimable service
to China by the laborious task of translating into the Chinese language
religious and scientific works of the West. They help us to bring
happiness and comfort to the poor and the suffering, by the
establishment of hospitals and schools. The awakening of China, which
now seems to be at hand, may be traced in no small measure to the
influence of the missionary. For this service you will find China not

Some may think that this was simply a sentiment expressed on this
particular occasion because he happened to be surrounded by secretaries
and others interested in this cause. That this is not the case is
further indicated by the fact that since that time he has on two
separate occasions attended the commencement exercises of the Nanking
University, on one of which he addressed the students as follows:

"This is the second time I have attended the commencement exercises of
your school. I appreciate the good order I find here. I rejoice at the
evidences I see of your knowledge of the proprieties, the depth of your
learning, and the character of the students of this institution. I am
deeply grateful to the president and faculty for the goodness
manifested to these my people. I have seen evidences of it in every
detail. It is my hope that when these graduates go out into the world,
they will remember the love of their teachers, and will practice that
virtue in their dealing with others. The fundamental principle of all
great teachers whether of the East or the West is love, and it remains
for you, young gentlemen, to practice this virtue. Thus your knowledge
will be practical and your talents useful."

I have given these quotations as evidences of the breadth of the man
whom the Empress Dowager selected as the head of this commission. It is
not generally known, however, that Duke Tse, another important member
of this commission, is married to a sister of the young Empress
Yehonala, and consequently a niece of the Empress Dowager. Such
relations existed between Her Majesty and the viceroy, as ruler and
subject, that it would be impossible for him to give her the intimate
account of their trip that a relative could give. It would be equally
impossible, with all her other duties, to wade through a report such as
they published after their return of one hundred and twenty volumes.
But it would be a delight to call in this nephew-in-law, and have him
sit or kneel, and may we not believe she allowed him to sit? and give
her a full and intimate account of the trip and the countries through
which they passed. She was anxious that this constitution should be
given to the people before she passed away. This, however, could not
be. Whether it will be adopted within the time allotted is a question
which the future alone can answer.

The next great reform undertaken by the Empress Dowager was her crusade
against opium. The importance of this can only be estimated when we
consider the prevalence of the use of the drug throughout the empire.
The Chinese tell us that thirty to forty per cent. of the adult
population are addicted to the use of the drug.

One day while walking along the street in Peking, I passed a gateway
from which there came an odour that was not only offensive but
sickening. I went on a little distance further and entered one of the
best curio shops of the city, and going into the back room, I found the
odour of the street emphasized tenfold, as one of the employees of the
firm had just finished his smoke. I left this shop and went to another
where the proprietor had entirely ruined his business by his use of the
drug, and it was about this time that the Empress Dowager issued the
following edict:

"Since the first prohibition of opium, almost the whole of China has
been flooded with the poison. Smokers of opium have wasted their time,
neglected their employment, ruined their constitutions, and
impoverished their households. For several decades therefore China has
presented a spectacle of increasing poverty and weakness. To merely
mention the matter, arouses our indignation. The court has now
determined to make China powerful, and to this end we urge our people
to reformation in this respect.

"We, therefore, decree that within a limit of ten years this injurious
filth shall be completely swept away. We further order the Council of
State to consider means of prohibition both of growing the poppy and
smoking the opium."

The Council of State at once drew up regulations designed to carry out
this decree. They were among others:

That all opium-smokers be required to report and take out a license.

Officials using the drug were divided into two classes. Young men must
be cured of the habit within six months, while for old men no limit was
fixed. But both classes, while under treatment, must furnish
satisfactory substitutes, at their own expense, to attend to the duties
of their office.

All opium dens must be closed within six months, after which time no
opium-pipes nor lamps may be either made or sold. Though shops for the
sale of the drug may continue for ten years, the limit of the traffic.

The government promises to provide medicine for the cure of the habit,
and encourages the formation of anti-opium societies, but will not
allow these societies to discuss other political matters.

Next to China Great Britain is the party most affected by this movement
towards reform. When this edict was issued Great Britain was shipping
annually fifty thousand chests of opium to the Chinese market, but at
once agreed that if China was sincere in her desire for reform, and cut
off her own domestic productions at the rate of ten per cent. per
annum, she would decrease her trade at a similar rate. It is
unfortunate that the Empress Dowager should have died before this
reform had been carried to a successful culmination, but whatever may
be the result of the movement the fact and the credit of its initiation
will ever belong to her.

Such are some of the special reform measures instituted by the Empress
Dowager, but in addition to these she has seen to it that the Emperor's
efforts to establish a Board of Railroads, a Board of Mines,
educational institutions on the plans of those of the West, should all
be carried out. She has not only done away with the old system of
examinations, but has introduced a new scheme by which all those who
have graduated from American or European colleges may obtain Chinese
degrees and be entitled to hold office under the government, by passing
satisfactory examinations, not a small part of which is the diploma or
diplomas which they hold. Such an examination has already been held and
a large number of Western graduates, most of them Christian, were given
the Chu-jen or Han-lin degrees.


The Empress Dowager--As an Artist

There is no genre that the Chinese artist has not attempted. They have
treated in turn mythological, religious and historical subjects of
every kind; they have painted scenes of daily familiar life, as well as
those inspired by poetry and romance; sketched still life, landscapes
and portraits. Their highest achievements, perhaps, have been in
landscapes, which reveal a passionate love for nature, and show with
how delicate a charm, how sincere and lively a poetic feeling, they
have interpreted its every aspect. They have excelled too at all
periods in the painting of animals and birds, especially of birds and
flying insects in conjunction with flowers.--S. W. Bushell in "Chinese



One day the head eunuch from the palace of the Princess Shun called at
our home to ask Mrs. Headland to go and see the Princess. While sitting
in my study and looking at the Chinese paintings hanging on the wall,
two of which were from the brush of Her Majesty, he remarked:

"You are fond of Chinese art?"

"I am indeed fond of it," I answered.

"I notice you have some pictures painted by the Old Buddha," he
continued, referring to the Empress Dowager by a name by which she is
popularly known in Peking.

"Yes, I have seven pictures from her brush," I answered.

"Do you happen to have any from the brush of the Lady Miao, her
painting teacher?" he inquired.

"I am sorry to say I have not," I replied. "I have tried repeatedly to
secure one, but thus far have failed. I have inquired at all the best
stores on Liu Li Chang, the great curio street, but they have none, and
cannot tell me where I can find one."

"No, you cannot get them in the stores; she does not paint for the
trade," he explained.

"I am sorry," I continued, "for I should like very much to get one. I
am told she is a very good artist."

"Oh, yes, she paints very well," he went on in a careless way. "She
lives over near our palace. We have a good many of her paintings. They
are very easily gotten."

"It may be easy for you to get them," I replied, "but it is no small
task for me."

"If you want some," he volunteered, "I'll get some for you."

"That would be very kind of you," I answered, "but how would you
undertake to get them?"

"Oh, I would just steal a few and bring them over to you."

It is hardly necessary to assure my readers as I did him that I could
not approve of this method of obtaining paintings from the Lady Miao's
brush. However he must have told the Princess of my desire, for the
next time Mrs. Headland called at the palace the Princess entertained
her by showing her a number of paintings by the Lady Miao, together
with others from the brush of the Empress Dowager.

"And these are really the work of Her Majesty?" said Mrs. Headland with
a rising inflection.

"Yes, indeed," replied the Princess. "I watched her at work on them.
They are genuine."

It was some weeks thereafter that Mrs. Headland was again invited to
call and see the Princess, and to her surprise she was introduced to
the Lady Miao, with whom and the Princess she spent a very pleasant
social hour or two. When she was about to leave, the Princess, who is
the youngest sister of the Empress Yehonala, brought out a picture of a
cock about to catch a beetle, which she said she had asked Lady Miao to
paint, and which she begged Mrs. Headland to receive as a present from
the artist and herself.

During the conversation Mrs. Headland remarked that the Empress Dowager
must have begun her study of art many years ago.

"Yes," said Lady Miao. "We were both young when she began. Shortly
after she was taken into the palace she began the study of books, and
partly as a diversion, but largely out of her love for art, she took up
the brush. She studied the old masters as they have been reproduced by
woodcuts in books, and from the paintings that have been preserved in
the palace collection, and soon she exhibited rare talent. I was then a
young woman, my brothers were artists, my husband had passed away, and
I was ordered to appear in the palace and work with her."

"You are a Chinese, are you not, Lady Miao?"

"Yes," she replied, "and as it has not been customary for Chinese
ladies to appear at court during the present dynasty, I was allowed to
unbind my feet, comb my hair in the Manchu style, and wear the gowns of
her people."

"And did you go into the palace every day?"

"When I was young I did. Ten Thousand Years"--another method of
speaking of the Empress Dowager--"was very enthusiastic over her art
work in those days, and often we spent a large part of the day either
with our brushes, or studying the history of art, the examples in the
books, or the works of the old masters in the gallery. One of her
favourite presents to her friends, as you probably know, is a picture
from her own brush, decorated with the impress of her great jade seal,
the date, and an appropriate poem by one of the members of the College
of Inscriptions. And no presents that she ever gives are prized more
highly by the recipients than these paintings."

I had seen pictures painted by Her Majesty decorating the walls of the
palaces of several of the princes, as well as the homes of a number of
my official friends. Some of them I thought very attractive, and they
seemed to be well done. They were highly prized by their owners, but I
was anxious to know what the Lady Miao thought of her ability as an
artist, and so I asked:

"Do you consider the Empress Dowager a good painter?"

"The Empress Dowager is a great woman," she answered. "Of course, as an
artist, she is an amateur rather than a professional. Had she devoted
herself wholly to art, hers would have been one of the great names
among our artists. She wields her brush with a power and precision
which only genius added to practice can give. She has a keen
appreciation of art, and it is a pity that the cares of state might not
have been borne by others, leaving her free to develop her instinct for

The Empress Dowager kept eighteen court painters, selected from among
the best artists of the country, and appointed by herself, whose whole
duty it was to paint for her. They were divided into three groups, and
each group of six persons was required to be on duty ten days of each
month. As I was deeply interested in the study of Chinese art I became
intimately acquainted with most of the court painters and knew the
character of their work. The head of this group was Mr. Kuan. I called
on him one day, knowing that he was not well enough to be on duty in
the palace, and I found him hard at work. Like the small boy who told
his mother that he was too sick to go to school but not sick enough to
go to bed, so he assured me that his troubles were not such as to
prevent his working, but only such as make it impossible for him to
appear at court. Incidentally I learned that the drain on his purse
from the squeezes to the eunuchs aggravated his disease.

"When Her Majesty excused me from appearing at the palace," he
explained, "she required that I paint for her a minimum of sixty
pictures a year, to be sent in about the time of the leading feasts.
These she decorates with her seals, and with appropriate sentiments
written by members of the College of Inscriptions, and she gives them,
as she gives her own, as presents during the feasts." Mr. Kuan and I
became intimate friends and he painted three pictures which he
presented to me for my collection.

One day another of the court painters came to call on me and during the
conversation told me that he was painting a picture of the Empress
Dowager as the goddess of mercy. Up to that time I had not been
accustomed to think of her as a goddess of mercy, but he told me that
she not infrequently copied the gospel of that goddess with her own
pen, had her portrait painted in the form of the goddess which she used
as a frontispiece, bound the whole up in yellow silk or satin and gave
it as a present to her favourite officials. Of course I thought at once
of my collection of paintings, and said:

"How much I should like to have a picture of the Empress Dowager as the
goddess of mercy!"

"I'll paint one for you," said he.

All this conversation I soon discovered was only a diplomatic
preliminary to what he had really come to tell me, which was that he
had been eating fish in the palace a few days before, and had swallowed
a fish-bone which had unfortunately stuck in his throat. He said that
the court physicians had given him medicine to dissolve the fish-bone,
but it had not been effective; he therefore wondered whether one of the
physicians of my honourable country could remove it. I took him to my
friend Dr. Hopkins who lived near by, and told him of the dilemma. The
doctor set him down in front of the window, had him open his mouth,
looked into his throat where he saw a small red spot, and with a pair
of tweezers removed the offending fish-bone. And had it not been for
this service on the part of Dr. Hopkins, I am afraid I should never
have received the promised picture, for he hesitated as to the
propriety of him, a court painter, doing pictures of Her Majesty for
his friends. However as he often thereafter found it necessary to call
Mrs. Headland to minister to his wife and children he came to the
conclusion that it was proper for him to do so, and one day he brought
me the picture.

The Empress Dowager not only loved to be painted as the goddess of
mercy, but she clothed herself in the garments suitable to that deity,
dressed certain ladies of the court as her attendants, with the head
eunuch Li Lien-ying as their protector, ordered the court artists to
paint appropriate foreground and background and then called young Yu,
her court photographer, to snap his camera and allow Old Sol the great
artist of the universe with a pencil of his light to paint her as she

One day while visiting a curio store on Liu Li Chang, the great book
street of Peking, my attention was called by the dealer to four small
paintings of peach blossoms in black and white, from the brush of the
Empress Dowager. These pictures had been in the panels of the partition
between two of the rooms of Her Majesty's apartments in the Summer
Palace, and so I considered myself fortunate in securing them.

"You notice," said he, "that each section of these branches must be
drawn by a single stroke of the brush. This is no easy task. She must
be able to ink her brush in such a way as to give a clear outline of
the limb, and at the same time to produce such shading as she may
desire. Should her outline be defective, she dare not retouch it;
should her shading be too heavy or insufficient, she cannot take from
it and she may not add to it, as this would make it defective in the
matter of calligraphy. A stroke once placed upon her paper, for they
are done on paper, is there forever. This style of work is among the
most difficult in Chinese art."

After securing these paintings, I showed them to a number of the best
artists of the present day in Peking, and they all pronounced them good
specimens of plum blossom work in monochrome, and they agreed with Lady
Miao, that if the Empress Dowager had given her whole time to painting
she would have passed into history as one of the great artists of the
present dynasty.

One day when one of her court painters called I showed him these
pictures. He agreed with all the others as to the quality of her brush
work, but called my attention to a diamond shaped twining of the
branches in one of them.

"That," said he, "is proof positive that it is her work."

"Why?" I inquired.

"Because a professional artist would never twine the twigs in that

"And why not?"

"They would not do it," he replied. "It is not artistic."

"And why do not her friends call her attention to this fact?" I

"Who would do it?" was his counter question.


The Empress Dowager--As a Woman

The first audience given by Her Imperial Majesty to the seven ladies of
the Diplomatic Corps was sought and urged by the foreign ministers.
After the troubles of 1900 and the return of the court, Her Majesty
assumed a different attitude, and, of her own accord, issued many
invitations for audiences, and these invitations were accepted. Then
followed my tiffin to the court princesses and their tiffin in return.
This opened the way for other princesses and wives of high officials to
call, receive calls, to entertain and be entertained. In many cases
arrangements were made through our mutual friend Mrs. Headland, an
accepted physician and beloved friend of many of the higher Chinese
families; and through her innate tact, broad thought, and great love
for the good she may do, I have been able to come into personal touch
with many of these Chinese ladies.--Mrs. E. H. Conger in "Letters from



Although the great Dowager has passed away, it may be interesting to
know something about her life and character as a woman as those saw her
who came in contact with her in public and private audiences. In order
to appreciate how quick she was to adopt foreign customs, let me give
in some detail the difference in her table decorations at the earlier
and later audiences as they have been related by my wife.

"At the close of the formalities of our introduction to the Empress
Dowager and the Emperor at one of the first audiences, we, with the
ladies of the court, repaired to the banqueting hall. After we were
seated, each with a princess beside her, the great Dowager appeared. We
rose and remained standing while she took her place at the head of the
table, with the Emperor standing at her left a little distance behind
her. As she sat down she requested us to be seated, though the
princesses and the Emperor all remained standing, it being improper for
them to sit in the presence of Her Majesty. Long-robed eunuchs then
appeared with an elaborate Chinese banquet, and the one who served the
Empress Dowager always knelt when presenting her with a dish.

"After we had eaten for some little time, the doyen asked if the
princesses might not be seated. The Empress Dowager first turned to the
Emperor, and said, 'Your Majesty, please be seated'; then turning to
the princesses and waving her hand, she told them to sit down. They sat
down in a timid, rather uncomfortable way on the edge of the chair, but
did not presume to touch any of the food.

"The conversation ran upon various topics, and, among others, the Boxer
troubles. One of the ladies wore a badge. The Empress Dowager noticing
it, asked what it meant.

"'Your Majesty,' was the reply, 'this was presented to me by my Emperor
because I was wounded in the Boxer insurrection.'

"The Empress Dowager took the hands of this lady in both her own, and
as the tears stood in her eyes, she said:

"'I deeply regret all that occurred during those troublous times. The
Boxers for a time overpowered the government, and even brought their
guns in and placed them on the walls of the palace. Such a thing shall
never occur again.'

"The table was covered with brilliantly coloured oilcloth, and was
without tablecloth or napkins properly so called, but we used as
napkins square, coloured bits of calico about the size of a large
bandana handkerchief. There were no flowers, the table decorations
consisting of large stands of cakes and fruit. I speak of this because
it was all changed at future audiences, when the table was spread with
snow-white cloths, and smiled with its load of most gorgeous flowers.
Especially was this true after the luncheons given to the princesses
and ladies of the court by Mrs. Conger at the American legation,
showing that the eyes of these ladies were open to receive whatever
suggestions might come to them even in so small a matter as the
spreading and decoration of a table. The banquets thereafter were made
up of alternating courses of Chinese and foreign food.

"With but one exception, the Empress Dowager thereafter never appeared
at table with her guests. But at the close of the formal audiences,
after descending from the throne, and speaking to those whom she had
formerly met, she requested her guests to enter the banquet hall and
enjoy the feast with the princesses, saying that the customs of her
country forbade their being seated or partaking of food if she were
present. After the banquet, however, the Empress Dowager always
appeared and conversed cordially with her guests.

"Her failure to appear at table may have been influenced by the
following incident: One of the leading lady guests, anxious, no doubt,
to obtain a unique curio, requested the Empress Dowager to present her
with the bowl from which Her Majesty was eating--a bowl which was
different from those used by her guests, as the dishes from which her
food was served were never the same as those used by others at the

"After an instant's hesitation she turned to a eunuch and said:

"'We cannot give her one bowl [the Chinese custom being always to give
things in pairs]; go and prepare her two.'

"Then, turning to her guests, she continued apologetically:

"'I should be glad to give bowls to each of you, but the Foreign Office
has requested me not to give presents at this audience.' It had been
her custom to give each of her guests some small gift with her own
hands and afterwards to send presents by her eunuchs to their homes.

"On another occasion the lady referred to above took an ornament from a
cabinet and was carrying it away when the person in charge of these
things requested that it be restored, saying that she was responsible
for everything in the room and would be punished if anything were

"The above incidents do not stand alone. It was not uncommon for some
of the Continental guests, in the presence of the court ladies, to make
uncomplimentary remarks about the food, which was Chinese, and often
not very palatable to the foreigner. These remarks, of course, were not
supposed to be understood, though the Empress Dowager always had her
own interpreter at table. One often felt that some of these ladies, in
their efforts to see all and get all, forgot what was due their own
country as well as their imperial hostess.

"One can understand the enormity of such an offense in a court the
etiquette of which is so exacting that none of her own subjects ever
dared appear in her presence until they had been properly instructed in
court etiquette in the 'Board of Rites,' a course of instruction which
may extend over a period of from a week to six months. These breaches
of politeness on the part of these foreign ladies may have been
overlooked by Her Majesty and the princesses, but, if so, it was on the
old belief that all outside of China were barbarians.

"All the ladies who attended these audiences, however, were not of this
character. There were those who realized the importance of those
occasions in the opening up of China, and were scrupulous in their
efforts to conform to the most exacting customs of the court. And who
can doubt that the warm friendship which the Empress Dowager conceived
for Mrs. Conger, the wife of our American minister, who did more than
any other person ever did, or ever can do, towards the opening up of
the Chinese court to the people of the West, was because of her
appreciation of the fact that Mrs. Conger was anxious to show the
Empress Dowager the honour due to her position.

"It was in her private audiences that this great woman's tact,
womanliness, fascination and charm as a hostess appeared. Taking her
guest by the hand, she would ask in the most solicitous way whether we
were not tired with our journey to the palace; she would deplore the
heat in summer or the cold in winter; she would express her anxiety
lest the refreshments might not have been to our taste; she would tell
us in the sincerest accents that it was a propitious fate that had made
our paths meet; and she would charm each of her guests, even though
they had been formerly prejudiced against her, with little separate
attentions, which exhibited her complete power as a hostess.

"When opportunity offered, she was always anxious to learn of foreign
ways and institutions. On one occasion while in the theatre, she called
me to her side, and, giving me a chair, inquired at length into the
system of female education in America.

"'I have heard,' she said, 'that in your honourable country all the
girls are taught to read.'

"'Quite so, Your Majesty.'

"'And are they taught the same branches of study as the boys?'

"'In the public schools they are.'

"'I wish very much that the girls in China might also be taught, but
the people have great difficulty in educating their boys.'

"I then explained in a few words our public-school system, to which she

"'The taxes in China are so heavy at present that it would be
impossible to add another expense such as this would be.'

"It was not long thereafter, however, before an edict was issued
commending female education, and at the present time hundreds of girls'
schools have been established by private persons both in Peking and
throughout the empire.

"On another occasion, while the ladies were having refreshments, the
Empress Dowager requested me to come to her private apartments, and
while we two were alone together, with only a eunuch standing by
fanning with a large peacock-feather fan, she asked me to tell her
about the church. It was apparent from the beginning of her
conversation that she made no distinction between Roman Catholics and
Protestants, calling them all the Chiao. I explained to her that the
object of the church was the intellectual, moral, and spiritual
development of the people, making them both better sons and better

"Few women are more superstitious than the Empress Dowager. Her whole
life was influenced by her belief in fate, charms, good and evil
spirits, gods and demons.

"When it was first proposed that she have her portrait painted for the
St. Louis Exposition, she was dumfounded. After a long conversation,
however, in which Mrs. Conger explained that portraits of many of the
rulers of Europe would be there, including a portrait of Queen
Victoria, and that such a painting would in a way counteract the false
pictures of her that had gone abroad, she said that she would consult
with Prince Ching about the matter. This looked very much as though it
had been tabled. Not long thereafter, however, she sent word to Mrs.
Conger, asking that Miss Carl be invited to come to Peking and paint
her portrait.

"We all know how this portrait had to be begun on an auspicious day;
how a railroad had to be built to the Foreign Office rather than have
the portrait carried out on men's shoulders, as though she were dead;
how she celebrated her seventieth birthday when she was sixty-nine, to
defeat the gods and prevent their bringing such a calamity during the
celebration as had occurred when she was sixty, when the Japanese war
disturbed her festivities. On her clothes she wore the ideographs for
'Long Life and 'Happiness,' and most of the presents she gave were
emblematic of some good fortune. Her palace was decorated with great
plates of apples, which by a play on words mean 'Peace,' and with
plates of peaches, which mean 'Longevity.' On her person she wore
charms, one of which she took from her neck and placed on the neck of
Mrs. Conger when she was about to leave China, saying that she hoped it
might protect her during her journey across the ocean, as it had
protected herself during her wanderings in 1900, and she would not
allow any one to appear in her presence who had any semblance of
mourning about her clothing.

"It is a well-known fact that no Manchu woman ever binds her feet, and
the Empress Dowager was as much opposed to foot-binding as any other
living woman. Nevertheless, she would not allow a subject to presume to
suggest to her ways in which she should interfere in the social customs
of the Chinese, as one of her subjects did. This lady was the wife of a
Chinese minister to a foreign country, and had adopted both for herself
and her daughters the most ultra style of European dress. She one day
said to Her Majesty, 'The bound feet of the Chinese woman make us the
laughing-stock of the world.'

"'I have heard,' said the Empress Dowager, 'that the foreigners have a
custom which is not above reproach, and now since there are no
outsiders here, I should like to see what the foreign ladies use in
binding their waist.'

"The lady was very stout, and had the appearance of an hour-glass, and
turning to her daughter, a tall and slender maiden, she said:

"'Daughter, you show Her Majesty.'

"The young lady demurred until finally the Empress Dowager said:

"'Do you not realize that a request coming from me is the same as a

"After having had her curiosity satisfied, she sent for the Grand
Secretary and ordered that proper Manchu outfits be secured for the
lady's daughters, saying:

"'It is truly pathetic what foreign women have to endure. They are
bound up with steel bars until they can scarcely breathe. Pitiable!

"The following day this young lady did not appear at court, and the
Empress Dowager asked her mother the reason of her absence.

"'She is ill to-day,' the mother replied.

"'I am not surprised,' replied Her Majesty, 'for it must require some
time after the bandages have been removed before she can again compress
herself into the same proportions,' indicating that the Empress Dowager
supposed that foreign women slept with their waists bound, just as the
Chinese women do with their feet."

The first winter I spent in China, twenty years ago, was one of great
excitement in Peking. The time of the regency of the Empress Dowager
for the boy-emperor had ended. I have explained how a prince is not
allowed to marry a princess because she is his relative, or even a
commoner his cousin for the same reason. That is the rule. But rules
were made to be broken, and when the time came for Kuang Hsu's
betrothal the Empress Dowager decided to marry this son of her sister
to the daughter of her brother. It mattered not that the young man was
opposed to the match and wanted another for his wife. The Empress
Dowager had set her heart upon this union, and she would not allow her
plans to be frustrated, so an edict was issued that all people should
remain within their homes on a certain night, for the bride was to be
taken in her red chair from her father's home to the palace. So that in
this as in all other things her will was law for all those about her.

She was a bit below the average height, but she wore shoes, in the
centre of whose soles there were--heels, shall we call them?--six
inches high. These, together with her Manchu garments, which hang from
the shoulders, gave her a tall and stately appearance and made her
seem, as she was, every inch an empress. Her figure was perfect, her
carriage quick and graceful, and she lacked nothing physically to make
her a splendid type of womanhood and ruler. Her features were more
vivacious and pleasing than they were really beautiful; her complexion
was of an olive tint, and her face illumined by orbs of jet half hidden
by dark lashes, behind which lurked the smiles of favour or the
lightning flashes of anger.

When seated upon the throne she was majesty itself, but the moment she
stepped down from the august seat, and took ones hand in both of hers,
saying with the most amiable of smiles: "What a kind fate it is that
has allowed you to come and see me again. I hope you are not over-weary
with the long journey," one felt that she was, above all, a woman, a
companion, a friend--yet for all that the mistress of every situation,
whether diplomatic, business, or social.

I wish her mental characteristics could be described as completely as
Japanese and other photographers have given us pictures of her person.
But perhaps if this were possible she would seem less interesting. And
it may be that in the relation of these few incidents of her career
there may have been revealed something of the patriotism, the
statesmanship, the imperious will, and the ambitions that brought about
the reestablishment and the continuation of the dynasty of her people.
We have seen how the enemies of her country fell before her sword.
Dangerous statesmen fell before her pen, and if they were fortunate
enough to rise again with all their honour it was to be divested of all
their former power. Every obstacle in her path was overcome either by
diplomacy or by force.

The Empress Dowager has no double in Chinese history, if indeed in the
history of the world. She not only guided the ship of state during the
last half century, but she guided it well, and put into operation all
the greatest reforms that have ever been thought of by Chinese
statesmen. Compared with her own people, she stands head and shoulders
above any other woman of the Mongol race. And what shall we say of her
compared with the great women of other races? In strength of character
and ability she will certainly not suffer in any comparison that can be
made. We cannot, therefore, help admiring that young girl, who formerly
ran errands for her mother who, being made the concubine of an emperor,
became the mother of an emperor, the wife of an emperor, the maker of
an emperor, the dethroner of an emperor, and the ruler of China for
nearly half a century--all this in a land where woman has no standing
or power. Is it too much to say that she was the greatest woman of the
last half century?


Kuang Hsu--His Self-Development

The Emperor Kuang Hsu is slight and delicate, almost childish in
appearance, of pale olive complexion, and with great, melancholy eyes.
There is a gentleness in his expression that speaks rather of dreaming
than of the power to turn dreams into acts. It is strange to find a
personality so etherial among the descendants of the Mongol hordes; yet
the Emperor Kuaug Hsu might sit as a model for some Oriental saint on
the threshold of the highest beatitude.--Charles Johnston in "The
Crisis in China."



On the night that the son of the Empress Dowager "ascended upon the
dragon to be a guest on high," two sedan chairs were borne out of the
west gate of the Forbidden City, through the Imperial City, and into
the western part of the Tartar City, in one of which sat the senior
Empress and in the other the Empress-mother. The streets were dimly
lighted, but the chairs, each carried by four bearers, were preceded
and followed by outriders bearing large silk lanterns in which were
tallow-candles, while a heavy cart with relays of bearers brought up
the rear. The errand upon which they were bent was an important
one--the making of an emperor--for by the death of Tung Chih, the
throne, for the first time in the history of the dynasty, was left
without an heir. Their destination was the home of the Seventh Prince,
the younger brother of their husband, to whom as we have already said
the Empress Dowager had succeeded in marrying her younger sister, who
was at that time the happy mother of two sons.

She took the elder of these, a not very sturdy boy of three years and
more, from his comfortable bed to make him emperor, and one can imagine
they hear him whining with a half-sleepy yawn: "I don't want to be
emperor. I want to sleep." But she bundled little Tsai Tien up in
comfortable wraps, took him out of a happy home, from a loving father
and mother, and a jolly little baby brother,--out of a big beautiful
world, where he would have freedom to go and come at will, toys to play
with, children to contend with him in games, and everything in a home
of wealth that is dear to the heart of a child. And for what? She
folded him in her arms, adopted him as her own son, and carried him
into the Forbidden--and no doubt to him forbidding--City, where his
world was one mile square, without freedom, without another child
within its great bare walls, where he was the one lone, solitary man
among thousands of eunuchs and women. The next morning when the
imperial clan assembled to condole with her on the death of her son,
she bore little Tsai Tien into their midst declaring: "Here is your

At that time there were situated on Legation Street, in Peking, two
foreign stores that had been opened without the consent of the Chinese
government, for in those days the capital had not been opened to
foreign trade. As the stores were small, and in such close proximity to
the various legations, the most of whose supplies they furnished, they
seem to have been too unimportant to attract official attention, though
they were destined to have a mighty influence on the future of China.
One of them was kept by a Dane, who sold foreign toys, notions,
dry-goods and groceries such as might please the Chinese or be of use
to the scanty European population of the great capital. By chance some
of the eunuchs from the imperial palace, wandering about the city in
search of something to please little Tsai Tien, dropped into this store
on Legation Street and bought some of these foreign toys for his infant

They had already ransacked the city for Chinese toys. They had gone to
every fair, visited every toy-shop, called upon every private dealer,
and paid high prices for samples of their best work made especially for
the royal child. There were crowing cocks and cackling hens; barking
dogs and crying infants; music balls and music carts; horns, drums,
diabolos and tops; there were gingham dogs and calico cats; camels,
elephants and fierce tigers; and a thousand other toys, if only he had
had other children to share them with him. But none of them pleased
him. They lacked that subtile something which was necessary to minister
to the peculiar genius of the child.

Among the foreign toys there were some in which there was concealed a
secret spring which seemed to impart life to the otherwise dead
plaything. Wind them up and they would move of their own energy. This
was what the boy needed,--something to appeal to that machine-loving
disposition which nature had given him, and Budge and Toddy were never
more curious to know "what made the wheels go round" than was little
Tsai Tien. He played with them as toys until overcome by curiosity,
when, like many another child, he tore them apart and discovered the
secret spring. This was as much of a revelation to the eunuchs as to
the child, and they went and bought other toys of a more curious
pattern, and a more intricate design, and it was not long until, at the
instigation of the enterprising Dane, the toy-shops of Europe were
manufacturing playthings specially designed to please the almond-eyed
baby Emperor in the yellow-tiled palace in Peking.

As the child grew the business of the Dane shopkeeper increased. His
stock became larger and more varied, and Tsai Tien continued to be a
profitable customer. There were music boxes and music carts--real music
carts, not like those from the Chinese shops,--trains of cars, wheeled
boats, striking clocks and Swiss watches which, when the stem was
pulled, would strike the hour or half or quarter, and all these were
bought in turn by the eunuchs and taken into the palace. As the Emperor
grew to boyhood the Danish shopkeeper supplied toys suitable to his
years from his inexhaustible shelves, until all the most intricate and
wonderful toys of Europe, suitable for a boy, had passed through the
hands of Kuang Hsu,--"continued brilliancy," as his name implied--and
he seemed to be making good the meaning of his name.

We would not lead any one to believe that Kuang Hsu was an ideal child.
He was not. If we may credit the reports that came from the palace in
those days, he had a temper of his own. If he were denied anything he
wanted, he would lie down on his baby back on the dirty ground and kick
and scream and literally "raise the dust" until he got it. My wife
tells me that not infrequently when she called at the Chinese homes,
and they set before her a dish of which she was especially fond, and
she had eaten of it as much as she thought she ought, the ladies would
ask in a good-natured way in reply to some of her remarks about her
voracious appetite, "Shall we get down and knock our heads on the
floor, and beg you not to eat too much, and make yourself sick, like
the eunuchs do to the Emperor?" There is nothing to wonder at that
Kuang Hsu, without parental restraint, and fawned upon by cringing
eunuchs and serving maids, should have been a spoiled child; the wonder
is that he was not worse than he was.

One day in 1901 while the court was absent at Hsian, and the front gate
of the Forbidden City was guarded by our "boys in blue," I obtained a
pass and visited the imperial palace. The apartments of the Emperor
consisted of a series of one-story Chinese buildings, with paper
windows around a large central pane of glass, tile roof and brick
floor. The east part of the building appeared to be the living-room,
about twenty by twenty-five feet. The window on the south side extended
the entire length of the room, and was filled with clocks from end to
end. There were clocks of every description from the finest French
cloisonne to the most intricate cuckoo clocks from which a bird hopped
forth to announce the hour, and each ticking its own time regardless of
every other. Tables were placed in various parts of the room, on each
of which were one, two or three clocks. Swiss watches of the most
curious and unique designs hung about the walls. Two sofas sat back to
back in the centre of the room, and a beautiful little gilt desk on
which was the most wonderful of all his clocks, with several large
foreign chairs upholstered in plush and velvet, completed the
furniture. I sat down in one of these chairs to rest, for it was a hot
summer day, and immediately there proceeded from beneath me sweet
strains of music from a box concealed beneath the cushion. It was not
only a surprise, it was soothing and restful; and I was prepared to see
an electric fan pop out of somewhere and fan me to sleep. It was really
an Oriental fairy tale of an apartment.

As Kuang Hsu grew to boyhood he heard that out in this great wonderful
world, which he had never seen except with the eyes of a child, there
was a method of sending messages to distant cities and provinces with
the rapidity of a flash of lightning. For centuries he and his
ancestors had been sending their edicts, and their Peking Gazette or
court newspaper--the oldest journal in the world--by runner, or relays
of post horses, and the possibility of sending them by a lightning
flash appealed to him. He believed in doing things, and, as we shall
see later, he wanted to do them as rapidly as they could be done. He
therefore ordered that a telegraph outfit be secured for him, which he
"played with" as he had done with his most ingenious toys, and the
telegraph was soon established for court use throughout the empire.

One day a number of officials came to us at the Peking University and
in the course of a conversation they said:

"The Emperor has heard that the foreigners have invented a talk box. Is
that true?"

"Quite true," we replied, "and as we have one in the physical
laboratory of the college we will let you see it."

We had one of the old Edison phonographs which worked with a pedal, and
looked very much like a sewing-machine, and we took them to the
laboratory, allowed one of them to talk into it, and then set the
machine to repeating what had been told it. The officials were
delighted and it was not long until they again appeared and insisted on
buying it as a present for the Emperor, for in this way better than any
other they might hope to obtain official recognition and position.

The Emperor then heard that the foreigners had invented a "fire-wheel
cart," but whether he had ever been informed that they had built a
small railroad at Wu-Sung near Shanghai, and that the Chinese had
bought it, and then torn it up and thrown it into the river we cannot
say. There are many things the officials and people do which never
reach the imperial ears. However that may be, when Kuang Hsu heard of
the railroad and the carts that were run by fire, he wanted one, and he
would not be satisfied until they had built a narrow gauge railroad
along the west shore of the lotus lake in the Forbidden City, and the
factories of Europe had made two small cars and an engine on which he
could take the court ladies for a ride on this unusual merry-go-round.
The road and the cars and the engine were still there when I visited
the Forbidden City in 1901, but they were carried away to Europe by
some of the allies as precious bits of loot, before the court returned.

Not long after he had heard of the railroads, he was told that the
foreigners also had "fire-wheel boats." Of course he wanted some, and
as I crossed the beautiful marble bridge that spans the lotus lake, I
saw anchored near by three small steam launches which had evidently
been used a good deal. I saw similar launches in the lake at the Summer
Palace, and was told that in the play days of his boyhood, Kuang Hsu
would have these launches hitched to the imperial barges and take the
ladies of the court for pleasure trips about the lake in the cool of
the summer evenings, as the Empress Dowager did her foreign visitors in
later times.

The Emperor in those days was on the lookout for everything foreign
that was of a mechanical nature. Indeed every invention interested him.
In this respect he was diametrically opposite to the genius of the
whole Chinese people. Their faces had ever been turned backward, and
their highest hopes were that they might approximate the golden ages of
the past, and be equal in virtue to their ancestors. This feeling was
so strong that a hundred years before he mounted the throne, his
forefather, Chien Lung, when he had completed his cycle of sixty years
as a ruler, vacated in favour of his son lest he should reign longer
than his grandfather. Kuang Hsu was therefore the first occupant of the
dragon throne whose face was turned to the future, and whose chief aim
was to possess and to master every method that had enabled the peoples
of the West to humiliate his people.

When he heard that the foreigners had a method of talking to a distance
of ten, twenty, fifty or five hundred miles, he did not say like the
old farmer is reported to have said,--"It caint be trew, because my son
John kin holler as loud as any man in all this country, an' he caint be
heerd mor'n two miles." Kuang Hsu believed it, and at once ordered that
a telephone be secured for him.

In 1894 the Christian women of China decided to present a New Testament
to the Empress Dowager on her sixtieth birthday which occurred the
following year. New type was prepared, the finest foreign paper
secured, and the book was made after the best style of the printer's
art, with gilt borders, gilt edges, and bound in silver of an embossed
bamboo pattern and encased in a silver box. It was then enclosed in a
red plush box,--red being the colour indicating happiness,--which was
in turn encased in a beautifully carved teak-wood box, and this was
enclosed in an ordinary box and taken by the English and American
ministers to the Foreign Office to be sent in to Her Majesty.

The next day the Emperor sent to the American Bible Society for copies
of the Old and New Testaments, such as were being sold to his people. A
few days thereafter a Chinese friend--a horticulturist and gardener who
went daily to the palace with flowers and vegetables--came to me in
confidence as though bearing an important secret, and said:

"Something of unusual importance is taking place in the palace."

"Indeed?" said I; "what makes you think so?"

"Heretofore when I have gone into the palace," said he, "the eunuchs
have treated me with indifference. Yesterday they sat down and talked
in a most familiar and friendly way, asking me all about Christianity.
I told them what I could and they continued their conversation until
long after noon. I finally became so hungry that I arose to come home.
They urged me to stay, bringing in a feast, and inviting me to dine
with them, and they kept me there till evening. One of them told me
that the Emperor is studying the Gospel of Luke."

"How does he know that?" I inquired.

"That is what I asked him," he answered, "and he told me that he is one
of the Emperor's private servants, and that His Majesty has a part of
the Gospel copied in large characters on a sheet of paper each day,
which he spreads out on the table before him, and this eunuch, standing
behind his chair, can read what he is studying."

On further inquiry I discovered that there was no other way that the
eunuch could have learned about the Gospel, except in the way
indicated. This man was invited to dine with the eunuchs day after day
until he had told them all he knew about Christianity, after which they
requested him to bring in the pastor of the church of which he was a
member, and who was one of my former pupils, to dine with them and tell
them more about the Gospel. The pastor hesitated to accept the
invitation, but as it was repeated day after day, he finally
accompanied the horticulturist.

When offered wine at dinner the pastor refused it, at which the eunuch
remarked: "Oh, yes, I have heard that you Christians do not drink
wine," and like a polite host, the wine was put aside and none was
drunk at the dinner. During the afternoon they took their guests to
visit some of the imperial buildings, advanced the sum of three hundred
dollars to the horticulturist to enlarge his plant, and gave various
presents to the pastor.

It must not be inferred from this that the Emperor was becoming a
Christian. Very far from it, though the interest he took in the
Christian doctrine set the people to studying about it, not only in
Peking but throughout many of the provinces, as was indicated at the
time by the number of Christian books sold. As early as 1891 he issued
a strong edict ordering the protection of the missionaries in which he
made the following statement: "The religions of the West have for their
object the inculcation of virtue, and, though our people become
converted, they continue to be Chinese subjects. There is no reason why
there should not be harmony between the people and the adherents of
foreign religions." The Chinese reported that he sometimes examined the
eunuchs, lining them up in classes and catechising them from the books

One day three of the eunuchs called on me with this same
horticulturist, for the purpose no doubt of seeing a foreigner, and to
get a glimpse of the home in which he lived. One of them was younger
than the other two and above the average intelligence of his class. A
few days later the horticulturist told me a story which illustrates a
phase of the Emperor's character which we have already hinted at--his
impulsive nature and ungovernable temper. He had ordered a number of
the eunuchs to appear before him, all of whom except this young man
were unable to come, because engaged in other duties. When the eunuch
got down on his hands and knees to kotow or knock his head to His
Majesty, the latter kicked him in the mouth, cutting his lip and
otherwise injuring him, and my informant added:

"What kind of a man is that to govern a country, a man who punishes
those who obey his orders?" Indeed there was a good deal of feeling
among the Chinese at that time that the Empress Dowager ought to punish
the Emperor as a good mother does a bad child, though in the light of
all the other things he did, he was to be pitied more than blamed for a
disposition thus inherited and developed.

It was about this time he began the study of English. He ordered that
two teachers be appointed, and contrary to all former customs he
allowed them to sit rather than kneel while they taught him. At the
time they were selected I was exchanging lessons in English for Chinese
with the grandson of one of these teachers, and learned a good deal
about the progress the young man was making. He was in such a hurry to
begin that he could not wait to send to England or America for books,
and so the officials visited the various schools and missions in search
of proper primers for a beginner. When they visited us we made a
thorough search and finally Dr. Marcus L. Taft discovered an
attractively illustrated primer which he had taken to China with him
for his little daughter Frances, and this was sent to Kuang Hsu.

One day a eunuch called on me saying that the Emperor had learned that
the various institutions of learning, educational associations, tract
and other societies had published a number of books in Chinese which
they had translated from the European languages. I was at that time the
custodian of two or three of these societies and had a great variety of
Chinese books in my possession. I therefore sent him copies of our
astronomy, geology, zoology, physiology and various other scientific
books which I was at that time teaching in the university.

The next day he called again, accompanied by a coolie who brought me a
present of a ham cooked at the imperial kitchen, together with boxes of
fruit and cakes, which, not being a man of large appetite, I thanked
him for, tipped the coolie, and after he had gone, turned them over to
our servants, who assured me that imperial meat was very palatable. Day
after day for six weeks this eunuch visited me, and would never leave
until I had found some new book for His Majesty. They might be
literary, scientific or religious works, and he made no distinction
between the books of any sect or society, institution or body, but with
an equal zeal he sought them all. I was sometimes reduced to a sheet
tract, and finally I was forced to take my wife's Chinese medical books
out of her private library and send them in to the Emperor. I learned
that other eunuchs were visiting other persons in charge of  other
books, and that at this time Kuang Hsu bought every book that had been
translated from any European language and published in the Chinese.

One day the eunuch saw my wife's bicycle standing on the veranda and

"What kind of a cart is that?"

"That is a self-moving cart," I answered.

"How do you ride it?" he inquired.

I took the bicycle off the veranda, rode about the court a time or two,
while he gazed at me with open mouth, and when I stopped he ejaculated:

"That's queer; why doesn't it fall down?"

"When a thing's moving," I answered, "it can't fall down," which might
apply to other things than bicycles.

The next day when he called he said:

"The Emperor would like that bicycle," and my wife allowed him to take
it in to Kuang Hsu, and it was not long thereafter until it was
reported that the Emperor had been trying to ride the bicycle, that his
queue had become entangled in the rear wheel, and that he had had a not
very royal tumble, and had given it up,--as many another one has done.


Kuang Hsu--As Emperor and Reformer

In 1891 the present Emperor Kuang Hsu issued a very strong edict
commanding good treatment of the missionaries. He therein made the
following statement: "The religions of the West have for their object
the inculcation of virtue, and, though our people become converted,
they continue to be Chinese subjects. There is no reason why there
should not be harmony between the people and the adherents of foreign
religions."--Hon. Charles Denby in "China and Her People."



AS a man, there are few characters in Chinese history that are more
interesting than Kuang Hsu. He had all the caprices of genius with
their corresponding weakness and strength. He could wield a pen with
the vigour of a Caesar, threaten his greatest viceroys, dismiss his
leading conservative officials, introduce the most sweeping and
far-reaching reforms that have ever been thought of by the Chinese
people, and then run from a woman as though the very devil was after

He has been variously rated as a genius, an imbecile and a fool. Let us
grant that he was not brilliant. Let us rate him as an imbecile, and
then let us try to account for his having brought into the palace every
ingenious toy and every wonderful and useful invention and discovery of
the past twenty or thirty years with the exception of the X-rays and
liquid air. Let us try to explain why it was that an imbecile would
purchase every book that had been printed in the Chinese language,
concerning foreign subjects of learning, up to the time when he was
dethroned. Let us tell why it was that an imbecile would study all
those foreign books without help, without an assistant, without a
teacher, for three years, from the time he bought them in 1895 till
1898, before he began issuing the most remarkable series of edicts that
have ever come from the pen of an Oriental monarch in the same length
of time. And let us explain how it was that an imbecile could embody in
his edicts of two or three months all the important principles that
were necessary to launch the great reforms of the past ten years.

I doubt if any Chinese monarch has ever had a more far-reaching
influence over the minds of the young men of the empire than Kuang Hsu
had from 1895 till 1898. The preparation for this influence had been
going on for twenty or thirty years previously in the educational
institutions established by the missions and the government. From these
schools there had gone out a great number of young men who had taken
positions in all departments of business, and many of the state, and
revealed to the officials as well as to many of the people the power of
foreign education. An imperial college had been established by the
customs service for the special education of young men for diplomatic
and other positions, from which there had gone out young men who were
the representatives of the government as consuls or ministers in the
various countries of Europe and America.

The fever for reading the same books that Kuang Hsu had read was so
great as to tax to the utmost the presses of the port cities to supply
the demand, and the leaders of some of the publication societies feared
that a condition had arisen for which they were unprepared. Books
written by such men as Drs. Allen, Mateer, Martin, Williams and Legge
were brought out in pirated photographic reproductions by the bookshops
of Shanghai and sold for one-tenth the cost of the original work.
Authors, to protect themselves, compelled the pirates to deliver over
the stereotype plates they had made on penalty of being brought before
the officials in litigation if they refused. But during the three years
the Emperor had been studying these foreign books, hundreds of
thousands of young scholars all over the empire had been doing the
same, preparing themselves for whatever emergency the studies of the
young Emperor might bring about.

One day during the early spring a young Chinese reformer came to me to
get a list of the best newspapers and periodicals published in both
England and America. I inquired the reason for this strange move, and
he said:

"The young Chinese reformers in Peking have organized a Reform Club.
Some of them read and speak English, others French, others German and
still others Russian, and we are providing ourselves with all the
leading periodicals of these various countries that we may read and
study them. We have rented a building, prepared rooms, and propose to
have a club where we can assemble whenever we have leisure, for
conversation, discussion, reading, lectures or whatever will best
contribute to the ends we have in view."

"And what are those ends?" I inquired.

"The bringing about of a new regime in China," he answered. "Our recent
defeat by the Japanese has shown us that unless some radical changes
are made we must take a second place among the peoples of the Orient."

"This is a new move in Peking, is it not?"

"New in Peking," he answered, "but not new in the empire. Reform clubs
are being organized in all the great cities and capitals. In Hsian,
books have been purchased by all classes from the governor of the
province down to the humblest scholar, and the aristocracy have
organized classes, and are inviting the foreigners to lecture to them.
Every one, except a few of the oldest conservative scholars, are
discarding their Confucian theories and reconstructing their ideas in
view of present day problems. There is an intellectual fermentation now
going on from which a new China is certain to be evolved, and we
propose to be ready for it when it comes."

The leader of this reform party was Kang Yu-wei, a young Cantonese, who
had made a thorough study of the reforms of Peter the Great in Russia,
and the more recent reforms in Japan, the history of which he had
prepared in two volumes which he sent to the Emperor. He had made a
reputation for himself in his native place as a "Modern Sage and
Reformer," was hailed as a "young Confucius," was appointed a
third-class secretary in the Board of Works, and as the Emperor and he
had been studying on the same lines, Kang, through the influence of the
brother of the chief concubine, was introduced to His Majesty. He had a
three hours' conference with the Foreign Office, in which he urged that
China should imitate Japan, and that the old conservative ministers and
viceroys should be replaced by young men imbued with Western ideas, who
might confer with the Emperor daily in regard to all kinds of reform

This interview was reported to Kuang Hsu by Prince Kung and Jung Lu,
who both being old, and one of them the greatest of the conservatives,
could hardly be expected to approve of his theories. Kang, however, was
asked to embody his suggestions in a memorial, was later given an
audience with the Emperor, and finally called into the palace to assist
him in the reforms he had already undertaken. And if Kang Yu-wei had
been as great a statesman as he was reformer, Kuang Hsu might never
have been deposed.

The crisis came during the summer of 1898. I had taken my family to the
seashore to spend our summer vacation. A young Chinese scholar--a
Hanlin--who had been studying in the university for some years, and
with whom I was translating a work on psychology, had gone with me. He
took the Peking Gazette, which he read daily, and commented upon with
more or less interest, until June 23d, when an edict was issued
abolishing the literary essay of the old regime as a part of the
government examination, and substituting therefor various branches of
the new learning. "We have been compelled to issue this decree," said
the Emperor, "because our examinations have reached the lowest ebb, and
we see no remedy for these matters except to change entirely the old
methods for a new course of competition."

"What do you think of that?" I asked the Hanlin.

"The greatest step that has ever yet been taken," he replied.

This Hanlin was not a radical reformer, but one of a long line of
officials who were deeply interested in the preservation of their
country which had weathered the storms of so many centuries,--storms
which had wrecked Assyria, Babylonia, Media, Egypt, Greece and Rome,
while China, though growing but little, had still lived. He was one of
those progressive statesmen who have always been found among a strong
minority in the Middle Kingdom.

The Peking Gazette continued to come daily bringing with it the
following twenty-seven decrees in a little more than twice that many
days. I will give an epitome of the decrees that the reader at a glance
may see what the Emperor undertook to do. Summarized they are as

1. The establishment of a university at Peking.

2. The sending of imperial clansmen to foreign countries to study the
forms and conditions of European and American government.

3. The encouragement of the arts, sciences and modern agriculture.

4. The Emperor expressed himself as willing to hear the objections of
the conservatives to progress and reform.

5. Abolished the literary essay as a prominent part of the governmental

6. Censured those who attempted to delay the establishment of the
Peking Imperial University.

7. Urged that the Lu-Han railway should be prosecuted with more vigour
and expedition.

8. Advised the adoption of Western arms and drill for all the Tartar

9. Ordered the establishment of agricultural schools in all the
provinces to teach the farmers improved methods of agriculture.

10. Ordered the introduction of patent and copyright laws.

11. The Board of War and Foreign Office were ordered to report on the
reform of the military examinations.

12. Special rewards were offered to inventors and authors.

13. The officials were ordered to encourage trade and assist merchants.

14. School boards were ordered established in every city in the empire.

15. Bureaus of Mines and Railroads were established.

16. Journalists were encouraged to write on all political subjects.

17. Naval academies and training-ships were ordered.

18. The ministers and provincial authorities were called upon to
assist--nay, were begged to make some effort to understand what he was
trying to do and help him in his efforts at reform.

19. Schools were ordered in connection with all the Chinese legations
in foreign countries for the benefit of the children of Chinese in
those places.

20. Commercial bureaus were ordered in Shanghai for the encouragement
of trade.

21. Six useless Boards in Peking were abolished.

22. The right to memorialize the throne in sealed memorials was granted
to all who desired to do so.

23. Two presidents and four vice-presidents of the Board of Rites were
dismissed for disobeying the Emperor's orders that memorials should be
allowed to come to him unopened.

24. The governorships of Hupeh, Kuangtung, and Yunnan were abolished as
being a useless expense to the country.

25. Schools of instruction in the preparation of tea and silk were
ordered established.

26. The slow courier posts were abolished in favour of the Imperial
Customs Post.

27. A system of budgets as in Western countries was approved.

I have given these decrees in this epitomized form so that all those
who are interested in the character of this reform movement in China
may understand something of the influence the young Emperor's study had
had upon him. Grant that they followed one another in too close
proximity, yet still it must be admitted by every careful student of
them, that there is not one that would not have been of the greatest
possible benefit to the country if they had been put into operation. If
the Emperor had been allowed to proceed, making them all as effective
as he did the Imperial University, and if the ministers and provincial
authorities had responded to his call, and had made "some effort to
understand what he was trying to do," China might have by this time
been close upon the heels of Japan in the adoption of Western ideas.

As the edicts continued to come out in such quick succession my Hanlin
friend became alarmed. He came to me one day after the Emperor had
censured the officials for trying to delay the establishment of the
Imperial University and said:

"I must return to Peking."

"Why return so soon?" I inquired.

"There is going to be trouble if the Emperor continues his reform at
this rate of speed," he answered.

It was when the Emperor had issued the sixth of his twenty-seven
decrees that this young Chinese statesman made this observation. If his
most intimate advisers had had the perspicuity to have foreseen the
final outcome of such precipitance might they not have advised the
Emperor to have proceeded more deliberately? When one remembers how
China had been worsted by Japan, how all her prestige was swept away,
how, from having been the parent of the Oriental family of nations, a
desirable friend or a dangerous enemy, she was stripped of all her
glory, and left a helpless giant with neither strength nor power, one
can easily understand the eagerness of this boy of twenty-seven to
restore her to the pedestal from which she had been ruthlessly torn.

Another reason for his haste may be found in the seizure of his
territory by the European powers. A few months before he began his
reforms two German priests were murdered by an irresponsible mob in the
province of Shantung. With this as an excuse Germany landed a battalion
of marines at Kiaochou, a port of that province, which she took with
fifty miles of the surrounding territory. As though this were not
enough, she demanded the right to build all the railroads and open all
the mines in the entire province, and compelled the Chinese to pay an
indemnity to the families of the murdered priests and rebuild the
church and houses the mob had destroyed. China appealed to Russia who
had promised to protect her against all invaders. Instead of coming to
her aid, however, Russia demanded a similar cession of Port Arthur,
Talienwan and the surrounding territory which she had refused to allow
Japan to retain two years before. Not to be outdone by the others,
France demanded and received a similar strip of territory at
Kuang-chou-wan; and England found that Wei-hai-wei would be
indispensable as a kennel from which she could guard the Russian bear
on the opposite shore, but why she should have found it necessary also
to demand from China four hundred miles of land and water around
Hongkong was no doubt difficult for Kuang Hsu to understand.

When the Empress Dowager turned over the reins of government to her
nephew she did it very much as a father would place the reins in the
hands of a child whom he was teaching to drive an important vehicle on
a dangerous road--she sat behind him still holding the reins. Among the
things reserved were that he should kotow to her once every five days
whether she were in Peking or at the Summer Place, and she reserved
such seals of office as made it necessary for all the highest officials
to come and express their obligations to her at the same time they came
to thank the Emperor. While Kuang Hsu may have been reconciled to the
performance of these duties at eighteen, they became irksome at
twenty-seven and he demanded and received full liberty in the affairs
of state.

We have seen how he used his liberty,--not wisely, perhaps, as a
reformer, and yet the reformation of China can never be written without
giving the credit of its inception to Kuang Hsu. He was very different
from Hsien Feng, the husband of the Empress Dowager, before whose death
we are told "the whole administrative power was vested in the hands of
a council of eight, whilst he himself spent his time in ways that were
by no means consistent with those that ought to have characterized the
ruler of a great and powerful nation." Whatever else may be said of
Kuang Hsu, he cannot be accused of indolence, extravagance, or
indifference to the welfare of his country or his people.

Appreciating the difficulty of securing an expression of opinion from
those opposed to his views, and thus getting both sides of the
question, in his fourth edict he requested the conservatives to send in
their objections to his schemes for progress and reform, and then as if
to get the broadest possible expression of opinion he adopted a
Shanghai journal called Chinese Progress as the official organ of the
government. But lest this be insufficient, in his twenty-second edict
he gave the right to all officials to address the throne in sealed

There was at this time a third-class secretary of the Board of Rites
named Wang Chao who sent in a memorial in which he advocated:

1. The abolition of the queue.

2. The changing of the Chinese style of dress to that of the West.

3. The adoption of Christianity as a state religion.

4. A prospective national parliament.

5. A journey to Japan by the Emperor and Empress Dowager.

The Board of Rites opened and read this memorial, and, astounded at its
boldness, they summoned the offender before them, and ordered him to
withdraw his paper. This he refused to do and the two presidents and
four vice-presidents of the Board accompanied it with a counter
memorial denouncing him to the Emperor as a man who was making
narrow-minded and wild suggestions to His Majesty.

Partly because they had opened and read the memorial and partly because
of their effort to prevent freedom of speech, Kuang Hsu issued another
edict explaining why he had invited sealed memorials, and censuring
them for explaining to him what was narrow-minded and wild, as if he
lacked the intelligence to grasp that feature of the paper. He then
turned them all over to the Board of Civil Office ordering that body to
decide upon a suitable punishment for their offense, and assuring them
that if they made it too mild, his righteous wrath would fall upon
them. The latter decided that they be degraded three steps and removed
to posts befitting their lowered rank, but the Emperor revised the
sentence and dismissed them all from office, and this was the beginning
of his downfall.

The Empress Dowager had been spending the hot season at the Summer
Palace, and during the two months and more that the Emperor had been
struggling with his reform measures, she gave no indication, either by
word or deed, that she was opposed to anything that he had done. And I
think that all her acts, from that time till the close of the Boxer
insurrection, can be explained without placing her in opposition to his
theories of progress and reform.

So long as the Emperor devoted himself to the creation of new offices
he found little active opposition on the part of the conservatives,
while the reformers did everything in their power to encourage him. The
extent of the movement it is not easy to estimate. It opened up the
intensely anti-foreign province of Hupeh, and transformed it into a
section where railroads were to be built connecting the north with the
south. It opened up the great mining province of Shansi and the lumber
regions of Manchuria. It started railroads which are now lines of trade
for the whole empire.

When he issued the fifth edict substituting Western science for the
literary essay in the great examinations, letters and telegrams began
to pour in upon us at the Peking University from all parts of the
empire, asking us to reserve room for the senders in the school. Their
tuition was enclosed in their letters, and among those who came were
the grandson of the Emperor's tutor, graduates of various degrees, men
of rank, and the sons of wealthy gentlemen who had not yet obtained
degrees. Numerous requests came to our graduates to teach English in
official families, one being employed to teach the grandson of Li
Hung-chang, and another the sons of a relative of the royal family.

But when his reforms led the Emperor to dispense with useless offices,
as in his twenty-first, twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth edicts, for the
purpose of retrenchment, and to dismiss recalcitrant officials for
disobedience to his commands, a howl arose which was heard throughout
the empire. The six members of the Board of Rites dismissed in edict
twenty-three, with certain sympathizers to give them face, went to the
Empress Dowager at the Summer Palace, represented to her that the boy
whom she had placed upon the throne was steering the ship of state to
certain destruction, and begged that she would come and once more take
the helm. She listened to them with the attention and deference for
which she has always been famed, and then dismissed them without any
intimation as to what her course would be.

When the Emperor heard what they were doing, he sent a courier
post-haste to call Yuan Shih-kai for an interview at the palace. When
Yuan came, he ordered him to return to Tien-tsin, dispose of his
superior officer, the Governor-General Jung Lu, and bring the army
corps of 12,500 troops of which he was in charge to Peking, surround
the Summer Palace, preventing any one from going in or coming out, thus
making the Empress Dowager a prisoner, and allowing him to go on with
his work of reform.

It is just here that we see the difference in the statesmanship of the
Empress Dowager and the Emperor. When she appointed these two
officials, one a liberal in charge of the army, she placed the other, a
conservative, as his superior officer, so that one could not move
without the knowledge and consent of the other, thus forestalling just
such an order as this. To obey this order of the boy Emperor, Yuan must
commit two great crimes, murder and treason, the one on a superior
officer, and the other against her who had appointed him to office and
who had been the ruler of the country for thirty-seven years, either of
which would have been sufficient to have execrated him not only in the
eyes of his own people but of history and of the world. Nay more, had
he obeyed this order, the conservatives would have raised the cry of
rebellion, and an army ten times greater than he could have mustered,
would have crushed Yuan and his little company of 12,500 men, on the
plea that he was about to take the throne.

Yuan then did the only wise thing he could have done. He went to Jung
Lu, without whose consent he had no right to move, showed him the
order, and asked for his commands. Jung Lu told him to leave the order
with him, and as soon as Yuan had departed he took the train for
Peking, called on Prince Ching, and they two went to the Summer Palace
and showed the order to Her Majesty, suggesting to her that it might be
well for her to come into the city and give him a few lessons in

As the Empress Dowager had been behaving herself so circumspectly
during all the summer months, allowing the Emperor to test himself as a
ruler, one can scarcely blame her for not wanting to be bottled up in
the Summer Palace when she had done nothing to deserve it. When
therefore this second delegation of officials, consisting of the two
highest in rank in the empire, came to request her to once more take
charge of the government, she called her sedan chair and started for
the capital. She went without an army, but was accompanied by those of
her palace eunuchs on whom she could implicitly depend, and enough of
them to overcome those of the Emperor in case there should be trouble.
That force was necessary is evident from the fact that she condemned to
death a number of his servants after she had taken the throne.

When the Emperor heard that she was coming he sent a messenger with
letters urging Kang Yu-wei to flee, and to devise some means for saving
the situation, while he attempted to find refuge for himself in the
foreign legations. This however he failed to do, but was taken by the
Empress Dowager, and his career as a ruler ended, and his life as a
prisoner began.


Kuang Hsu--As a Prisoner

Kuang Hsu deserves a place in history as the prize iconoclast. He sent
a cold shiver down the spine of the literati by declaring that a man's
fitness for office should not depend upon his ability to write a poem,
or upon the elegance of his penmanship. This was too much. The literati
argued that at the rate at which the Emperor was going, it might be
expected that he would do away with chop-sticks and dispense with the
queue.--Rounsevelle Wildman in "China's Open Door."



The year that Kuang Hsu ascended the throne a great calamity occurred
in Peking. The Temple of Heaven--the greatest of the imperial temples,
the one at which the Emperor announces his accession, confesses his
sins, prays and gives thanks for an abundant harvest, was struck by
lightning and burned to the ground. When the Emperor worships here it
is as the representative of the people, the high priest of the nation,
and his prayers are offered for his country and not for himself. There
are no idols in this temple, and his prayers go up to Shang-ti the
Supreme Being "by whom kings reign and princes decree justice." When
therefore instead of giving rain Heaven sent down a fiery bolt to
destroy the temple at which the Son of Heaven prays, the people were
struck with dismay.

The pale faces of the women, the apprehensive noddings of the men, and
the hushed voices of our old Confucian teachers as they spoke of the
matter, indicated the concern with which they viewed it. Here was a boy
who had been placed upon the throne by a woman; he was the same
generation as the Emperor who had preceded him, and hence could not
worship him as his ancestor. It augured ill both for the Emperor and
the empire, and so the boy Emperor began his reign in the midst of evil

During the nine years that Kuang Hsu had nominal control of affairs a
series of dire calamities befell the empire. Famines as the result of
drought, floods from the overflow of "China's Sorrow," war with Japan,
filching of territory by the European countries, while editorials
appeared daily in the English papers of the port cities to the effect
that China was to be divided up among the powers. Then too Kuang Hsu
was childless and there was no hope of his giving an heir to the throne.

Times and seasons have their meanings for the Chinese. Anything
inauspicious happening on New Year's day is indicative of calamity. Mr.
Chen, a friend of mine, had become a Christian contrary to his mother's
wishes. When his first child was born it was a girl, born on New Year's
day. His mother shook her head, looked distressed, and said that
nothing but calamity would come to his home. His second child was a
boy, but the old woman shook her head again and sighed saying that it
would take more than one boy to avert the calamity of ones first baby
being a girl born on New Year's day, and it was not until he had five
boys in succession that she was finally convinced.

There was an eclipse of the sun on New Year's day of 1898 which
foreboded calamity to the Emperor. During the summer of this year he
began his great reform, and in September the Empress Dowager took
control of the affairs of state and Kuang Hsu was put in prison, never
again to occupy the throne. His prison was his winter palace, where,
for many months, he was confined in a gilded cage of a house, on a
small island, with the Empress Dowager's eunuchs to guard him. These
were changed daily lest they might sympathize with their unhappy
monarch and devise some means for his liberation. Each day when the
guard was changed, the drawbridge connecting the island with the
mainland was removed, leaving the Emperor to wander about in the court
of his palace-prison, or sit on the southern terrace where it
overlooked the lotus lake, waiting, hoping and perhaps expecting that
his last appeal to Kang Yu-wei in which he said: "My heart is filled
with a great sorrow which pen and ink cannot describe; you must go
abroad at once and without a moment's delay devise some means to save
me," might bring forth some fruit.

Whether this confinement interfered with the health of the Emperor or
not it is impossible to say, but from the first he was made to pose as
an invalid. As his failing health was constantly referred to in the
Peking Gazette, the foreigners began to fear that it was the intention
to dispose of the Emperor, and such pressure was brought to bear on the
government as led them to allow the physician attached to the French
legation to enter the palace and make an examination of His Majesty. He
found nothing that fresh air and exercise would not remedy and assured
the government that there was no cause for alarm, and from that time we
heard nothing more of his precarious condition.

One day not long after the coup d'etat a eunuch came rushing into our
compound, his face scratched and bleeding, and knocking his head on the
ground before me, begged me to save his life.

"What is the matter?" I inquired.

"Oh! let me join the church!" he pleaded.

"What do you want to join the church for?" I asked.

"To save my life," he answered.

"But what is this all about?" I urged, raising him to his feet.

"You know the eunuch who came to you to buy books," he said.

I assured him that I knew him.

"Well," he continued, "I am a friend of his. The Empress Dowager has
banished him, burned all the books he bought for the Emperor, and I am
in danger of losing my head. Let me join the church, and thus save my

All I could do was to inform him that this was not the business of the
church, and after further conversation he left and I never saw him

Day after day as the Emperor received the Peking Gazette on his lonely
island he saw one after another of his coveted reforms vanish like mist
before the pen of his august aunt. Nor was this all, for often the
rescinding edicts appeared under his own name, and by the New Year,
when he was brought forth to receive the foreign ministers accredited
to his court, scarcely anything remained of all his reforms but the
Peking University and the provincial and other schools. It is not to be
wondered at therefore that he was reticent and despondent. What
promises of good behaviour it was necessary for him to make before he
was even allowed this much liberty, it is useless for us to conjecture.

Following this audience the Empress Dowager, who up to this time had
been seen by no foreigner except Prince Henry of Prussia, decided to
receive the wives of the foreign ministers. Her motives for this new
move it is impossible to determine. It may have been to ascertain how
the foreign governments would treat her who had been reported to have
calmly ousted "their great and good friend the Emperor," to whom their
ministers were accredited. Or it may have been that she hoped by this
stroke of diplomacy to gain some measure of recognition as head of the
government. She would at least see how she was regarded.

The audience was an unqualified success. The seven ladies received were
charmed by the gracious manner of their imperial hostess, who assured
them each as she touched her lips to the tea which she presented to
them that "we are all one family," and up to that period of her life
there was nothing to indicate that she did not feel that the sentiment
she expressed was true. Up to the time of the coup d'etat, as Dr.
Martin says, "she herself was noted for progressive ideas." "It will
not be denied by any one," says Colonel Denby, "that the improvement
and progress" described in his first volume, "are mainly due to the
will and power of the Empress Regent. To her own people, up to this
period in her career, she was kind and merciful, and to foreigners she
was just." From the time of her return to the capital after their
flight in 1900 till the time of her death she became one of the
greatest reformers, if not the greatest, that has ever sat upon the
dragon throne. One cannot but wish therefore in the interests of
sentiment that it were possible to overlook many things she did from
1898 to 1900, which in the interests of truth it will be impossible to
disregard. Nevertheless we should remember that she was driven to these
things by the filching of her territory by the foreigners, and by the
false pretentions of the superstitious Boxers and their leaders, and in
the hope of preserving her country.

Her first act after imprisoning Kuang Hsu was to offer a large reward
for his adviser Kang Yu-wei either alive or dead. Failing to get him,
"she seized his younger brother Kang Kuang-jen, and with five other
noble and patriotic young men of ability and high promise, he was
beheaded September 28th, while protesting that though they might easily
be slain, multitudes of others would arise to take their places." One
of my young Chinese friends who watched this procession on its way to
the execution grounds told me that,--

"The scene was impossible to describe. These five young reformers,"
after expressing the sentiments quoted above from Dr. Smith, "reviled
the Empress Dowager and the conservatives in the most blood-curdling

I have already spoken of Wang Chao the secretary of the Board of Rites
who presented the memorial which caused the dismissal of the six
officials of that body, and, indirectly, the fall of the Emperor. Some
time before writing this petition he called at our home requesting Mrs.
Headland to go and see his mother who was ill. When his mother
recovered he sent her to Shanghai, and at the time of the coup d'etat
he failed to get out of the city and went into hiding. Some days
afterwards a closed cart drove up to our home and to our astonishment
he stepped forth. We expressed our surprise that he was still in
Peking, and asked:

"Has the Empress Dowager ceased prosecuting her search for you

"Not yet," he answered.

"And what is she doing?" we inquired.

"Killing some, banishing others, driving many away from the capital,
while still others are going into self-imposed exile."

"Does the Emperor know anything about this?" we inquired.

"No doubt," he replied. "Everybody knows it, why not he?"

"That will make his imprisonment all the harder to bear," we suggested.

"Quite right," he answered.

"There is general alarm in the city that the Emperor himself will be
disposed of; what do you think about it?"

"Who can tell? He has not a friend in the palace except the first
concubine, and, I am told, that she like himself is kept in close
confinement. The Empress stands by her aunt, the Empress Dowager, while
the eunuchs now are all her tools. The officials who go into the palace
to audiences are all conservative and hence against him, though I
suppose they never see him."

"Do you suppose he ever sees the edicts issued in his name?"

"Not at all. They are made by the conservatives and the Empress Dowager
and issued without his knowledge."

"And what do you propose to do?" we inquired.

"I shall leave for Shanghai as soon as I can safely do so," he replied.

Before the year had passed the Empress Dowager had been induced or
compelled to select a new Emperor. We cannot believe that she did it of
her own free will, and for several reasons. First, the child selected
was the son and the grandson of ultra conservative princes, and we
cannot but believe that as she had placed herself in the hands of the
conservative party, it was their selection rather than hers. Second, it
must have been a humiliation to her ever since she discovered that her
nephew, whom she had selected and placed upon the throne in order to
keep the succession in her own family, being the same generation as her
son who had died, could not worship him as his ancestor, and hence
could not legally occupy the throne, though as a matter of fact such a
condition is not unknown in Chinese history.

But if her humiliation was great, that of our boy-prisoner was still
greater, for he was compelled to witness an edict, proclaimed in his
own name, which made him say that as there was no hope of his having a
child of his own to succeed him, he had requested the Empress Dowager
to select a suitable person who should be proclaimed as the successor
of Tung Chih, his predecessor, thus turning himself out of the imperial
line. That this could not have been her choice is evidenced, further,
by the fact that just as soon as she had once more regained her power,
she surrounded herself with progressive officials, turned out all the
great conservatives except Jung Lu, and dispossessing the son of Prince
Tuan, at the time of her death selected her sister's grandchild and
proclaimed him successor to her son and heir to the Emperor Kuang Hsu,
in the following edict:

"Inasmuch as the Emperor Tung Chih had no issue, on the fifth day of
the twelfth moon of that reign (January 12, 1875) an edict was
promulgated to the effect that if the late Emperor Kuang Hsu should
have a son, the said Prince should carry on the succession as the heir
of Tung Chih. But now the late Emperor has ascended upon the dragon to
be a guest on high, leaving no son, and there is no course open but to
appoint Pu I, the son of Tsai Feng, the Prince Regent, as the successor
to Tung Chih, and also as heir to the Emperor Kuang Hsu," which is
quite in keeping with the conduct and character of the Empress Dowager
all her life except those two bad years.

During the days and weeks following the dispossession of Kuang Hsu of
the throne, in 1899 many decrees appeared which signified that at no
distant date he would be superseded by the son of Prince Tuan. The
foreign ministers began again to look grave. They spoke openly of their
fear that Kuang Hsu's days were numbered. They pressed their desire for
the usual New Year's audience, and once more the imprisoned monarch was
brought forth and made to sit upon the throne and receive them. But
when the ladies asked for an audience they were refused, the Empress
Dowager being too busy with affairs of state. She was at that time
seriously considering whether or not the government should cast in its
lot with the Boxers and drive all the foreigners with all their
productions into the eastern sea.

One of the princesses told Mrs. Headland that before coming to a
decision the Empress Dowager called the hereditary and imperial princes
into the palace to consult with them as to what they would better do.
She met them all face to face, the Emperor and Prince Tuan standing
near the throne. She explained to them the ravages of the foreigners,
how they were gradually taking one piece after another of Chinese

"And now," she continued, "we have these patriotic braves who claim to
be impervious to swords and bullets; what shall we do? Shall we cast in
our lot with their millions and drive all these foreigners out of China
or not?"

Prince Tuan, as father of the heir-apparent, uneducated, superstitious
and ignorant of all foreign affairs, then spoke. He said:

"I have seen the Boxers drilling, I have heard their incantations, and
I believe that they will be able to effect this much desired end. They
will either kill the foreigners or drive them out of the country and no
more will dare to come, and thus we will be rid of them."

The hereditary princes were then asked for an expression of opinion.
The majority of them knew little of foreigners and foreign countries,
and as Prince Tuan, the father of the future Emperor, had expressed
himself so strongly, they hesitated to offer an adverse opinion. But
when it came to Prince Su, a man of strong character, widely versed in
foreign affairs, and of independent thought, he opposed the measure
most vigorously.

"Who," he asked, "are these Boxers? Who are their leaders? How can
they, a mere rabble, hope to vanquish the armies of foreign nations?"

Prince Tuan answered that "by their incantations they were able to
produce heaven-sent soldiers."

Prince Su denounced such superstition as childish. But when after
further argument between him and Prince Tuan the Empress Dowager
assured him that she had had them in the palace and had witnessed their
prowess, he said no more.

The imperial princes were then consulted, but seeing how Prince Su had
fared they were either in favour of the measure or non-committal.
Finally the Empress Dowager appealed to Prince Ching who, more
diplomatic than the younger princes, answered:

"I consider it a most dangerous undertaking, and I would advise against
it. But if Your Majesty decides to cast in your lot with the Boxers I
will do all in my power to further your wishes."

It is not a matter of wonder therefore that the Empress Dowager should
be led into such a foolish measure as the Boxer movement, when the
Prince who had been president of the Foreign Office for twenty-five
years could so weakly acquiesce in such an undertaking.

"The Emperor," said the Princess, "was not asked for an expression of
his opinion on this occasion, but when he saw that the Boxer leaders
had won the day he burst into tears and left the room."

Similar meetings were held in the palace on two other occasions, when
the Emperor implored that they make no attempt to fight all the foreign
nations, for said he, "the foreigners are stronger than we, both in
money and in arms, while their soldiers are much better drilled and
equipped in every way. If we undertake this and fail as we are sure to
do, it will be impossible to make peace with the foreigners and our
country will be divided up amongst them." His pleadings, however, were
disregarded, and after the meeting was over, he had to return to his
little island, where for eight weeks he was compelled to sit listening
to the rattling guns, booming cannons and bursting firecrackers, for
the Boxers seemed to hope to exterminate the foreigners by noise. He
must have felt from the books he had studied that it could only result
in disaster to his own people.

When the allies reached Peking and the Boxers capitulated the Emperor
was taken out of his prison and compelled to flee with the court.

"What do you think of your bullet-proof Boxers now?" one can imagine
they hear him saying to his august aunt, as he sees her cutting off her
long finger nails, dressing herself in blue cotton garments, and
climbing into a common street cart as an ordinary servant. "Wouldn't it
have been better to have taken my advice and that of Hsu Ching-cheng
and Yuan Chang instead of having put them to death for endeavouring in
their earnestness to save the country? What about your old conservative
friends? Can they be depended upon as pillars of state?" Or some other
"I-told-you-so" language of this kind.

From their exile in Hsian decrees continued to be issued in his name,
and when affairs began to be adjusted, and the allies insisted on
setting aside forever the pretentions of the anti-foreign Prince Tuan
and his son, banishing the former to perpetual exile, our hopes ran
high that the Emperor would be restored to his throne. But to our
disappointment the framers of the Protocol contented themselves with
the clause that: "Rational intercourse shall be permitted with the
Emperor as in Western countries," and with the return of the court in
1902 he was still a prisoner.

Every one who has written about audiences with the Empress Dowager
tells how "the Emperor was seated near, though a little below her," but
they never tell why. The reason is not far to seek. The world must not
know that he was a prisoner in the palace. They must see him near the
throne, but they may not speak to him. The addresses of the ministers
were passed to her by her kneeling statesmen, and it was they who
replied. No notice was taken of the Emperor though he seemed to be in
excellent health. The Empress Dowager however still relieved him of the
burdens of the government, and continued to "teach him how to govern."

"I have seen the Emperor many times," Mrs. Headland tells me, "and have
spent many hours in his presence, and every time we were in the palace
the Emperor accompanied the Empress Dowager--not by her side but a few
steps behind her. When she sat, he always remained standing a few paces
in the rear, and never presumed to sit unless asked by her to do so. He
was a lonely person, with his delicate, well-bred features and his
simple dark robes, and in the midst of these fawning eunuchs, brilliant
court ladies, and bejewelled Empress Dowager he was an inconspicuous
figure. No minister of state touched forehead to floor as he spoke in
hushed and trembling voice to him, no obsequious eunuchs knelt when
coming into his presence; but on the contrary I have again and again
seen him crowded against the wall by these cringing servants of Her

"One day while we were in the palace a pompous eunuch had stepped
before the Emperor quite obliterating him. I saw Kuang Hsu put his
hands on the large man's shoulders, and quietly turn him around, that
he might see before whom he stood. There were no signs of anger on his
face, but rather a gentle, pathetic smile as he looked up at the big
servant. I expected to see him fall upon his knees before the Emperor,
but instead, he only moved a few inches to the left, and remained still
in front of His Majesty. Never when in the palace have I seen a knee
bend to the Emperor, except that of the foreigner when greeting him or
bidding him farewell. This was the more noticeable as statesmen and
eunuchs alike fell upon their knees every time they spoke to the
Empress Dowager.

"The first time I saw him his great, pathetic, wistful eyes followed me
for days. I could not forget them, and I determined that if I ever had
opportunity I would say a few words to him letting him know that the
world was resting in hope of his carrying out the great reforms he had
instituted. But he was so carefully guarded and kept under such strict
surveillance that I never found an opportunity to speak to him. Nor did
he ever speak to the visitors, court ladies, the Empress Dowager, or
attendants during all the hours we remained.

"One of the ministers told me that one day after an audience, when the
Empress Dowager and the Emperor had stepped down from the dais, Her
Majesty was engaged in conversation with one of his colleagues, and as
the Emperor stood near by, he made some remark to him. Immediately the
Empress Dowager turned from the one to whom she had been talking and
made answer for the Emperor.

"On one occasion when there were but four of us in the palace, and we
were all comfortably seated, the Emperor standing a few paces behind
the Empress Dowager, she began discussing the Boxer movement, lamenting
the loss of her long finger nails, and various good-luck gourds of
which she was fond. The Emperor, probably becoming weary of a
conversation in which he had no part, quietly withdrew by a side
entrance to the theatre which was playing at the time. For some moments
the Empress Dowager did not notice his absence, but the instant she
discovered he was gone, a look of anxiety overspread her features, and
she turned to the head eunuch, Li Lien-ying, and in an authoritative
tone asked: 'Where is the Emperor?' There was a scurry among the
eunuchs, and they were sent hither and thither to inquire. After a few
moments they returned, saying that he was in the theatre. The look of
anxiety passed from her face as a cloud passes from before the sun--and
several of the eunuchs remained at the theatre.

"I am told that at times the Empress Dowager invites the Emperor to
dine with her, and on such occasions he is forced to kneel at the table
at which she is seated, eating only what she gives him. It is an honour
which he does not covet, but which he dare not decline for fear of
giving offense."


Prince Chun--The Regent

Prince Chun the Regent of China gave a remarkable luncheon at the
Winter Palace to-day to the foreign envoys who gathered here to attend
the funeral ceremonies of the late Emperor Kuang Hsu. The repast was
served in foreign style. Among the Chinese present were Prince Ching,
former president of the Board of Foreign Affairs and now adviser to the
Naval Department; Prince Tsai Chen, a son of Prince Ching, who was at
one time president of the Board of Commerce; Prince Su, chief of the
Naval Department; and Liaing Tung-yen, president of the Board of
Foreign Affairs. After the entertainment the envoys expressed
themselves as unusually impressed with the personality of the
Regent.--Daily Press.



The selection of Prince Chun as Regent for the Chinese empire during
the minority of his son, Pu I, the new Emperor, would seem to be the
wisest choice that could be made at the present time. In the first
place, he is the younger brother of Kuang Hsu, the late Emperor, and
was in sympathy with all the reforms the latter undertook to introduce
in 1898. If Kuang Hsu had chosen his successor, having no son of his
own, there is no reason why he should not have selected Pu I to occupy
the throne, with Prince Chun as Regent, for there is no other prince in
whom he could have reposed greater confidence of having all his reform
measures carried to a successful issue; and a brother with whom he had
always lived in sympathy would be more likely to continue his policy
than any one else.

But, in the second place, as we may suppose, Prince Chun was selected
by the Empress Dowager, whatever the edicts issued, and will thus have
the confidence of the party of which she has been the leader. It is
quite wrong to suppose that this is the conservative party, or even a
conservative party. China has both reform and conservative parties,
but, in addition to these, she has many wise men and great officials
who are neither radical reformers nor ultra-conservatives. It was these
men with whom the Empress Dowager allied herself after the Boxer
troubles of 1900.

These men were Li Hung-chang, Chang Chih-tung, Yuan Shih-kai, Prince
Ching, and others, and it is they who, in ten years, with the Empress
Dowager, put into operation, in a statesmanlike way, all the reforms
that Kuang Hsu, with his hot-headed young radical advisers, attempted
to force upon the country in as many weeks. There is every reason to
believe that Prince Chun, the present Regent, has the support of all
the wiser and better element of the Reform party, as well as those
great men who have been successful in tiding China over the ten most
difficult years of her history, while the ultra-conservatives at this
late date are too few or too weak to deserve serious consideration. We,
therefore, think that the choice of Pu I as Emperor, with Prince Chun
as Regent, whether by the Empress Dowager, the Emperor, or both, was,
all things considered, the best selection that could have been made.

Prince Chun is the son of the Seventh Prince, the nephew of the Emperor
Hsien Feng and the Empress Dowager, and grandson of the Emperor Tao
Kuang. He has a fine face, clear eye, firm mouth, with a tendency to
reticence. He carries himself very straight, and while below the
average in height, is every inch a prince. He is dignified,
intelligent, and, though not loquacious, never at a loss for a topic of
conversation. He is not inclined to small talk, but when among men of
his own rank, he does not hesitate to indulge in bits of humour.

This was rather amusingly illustrated at a dinner given by the late
Major Conger, American minister to China. Major and Mrs. Conger
introduced many innovations into the social life of Peking, and none
more important than the dinners and luncheons given to the princes and
high officials, and also to the princesses and ladies of the court. In
1904, I was invited to dine with Major Conger and help entertain Prince
Chun, Prince Pu Lun, Prince Ching, Governor Hu, Na T'ung, and a number
of other princes and officials of high rank. I sat between Prince Chun
and Governor Hu. Having met them both on several former occasions, I
was not a stranger to either of them, and as they were well acquainted
with each other, though one was a Manchu prince and the other a Chinese
official, conversation was easy and natural.

We talked, of course, in Chinese only, of the improvements and
advantages that railroads bring to a country, for Governor Hu, among
other things, was the superintendent of the Imperial Railways of north
China. This led us to speak of the relative comforts of travel by land
and by sea, for Prince Chun had gone half round the world and back. We
listened to the American minister toasting the young Emperor of China,
his princes, and his subjects; and then to Prince Ching toasting the
young President of the United States, his officials, and his people, in
a most dignified and eloquent manner. And then as the buzz of
conversation went round the table again, and perhaps because of their
having spoken of the YOUNG Emperor and the young President, I turned to
Governor Hu, who had an unusually long, white beard which reached
almost to his waist as he sat at table, and said:

"Your Excellency, what is your honourable age?"

"I was seventy years old my last birthday," he replied.

"And he is still as strong as either of us young men," said I, turning
to Prince Chun.

"Oh, yes," said the Prince; "he is good for ten years yet, and by that
time he can use his beard as an apron."

"It is an ill wind that blows no one good," says the proverb, and this
was never more forcibly illustrated than in the case of the death of
the lamented Baron von Kettler. Had it not been for this unfortunate
occurrence, Prince Chun would not have been sent to Germany to convey
the apologies of the Chinese government to the German Emperor, and he
would thus never have had the opportunity of a trip to Europe; and the
world might once more have beheld a regent on the dragon throne who had
never seen anything a hundred miles from his own capital.

Prince Chun started on this journey with such a retinue as only the
Chinese government can furnish. He had educated foreign physicians and
interpreters, and, like the great Viceroy Li Hung-chang, he had a round
fan with the Eastern hemisphere painted on one side and the Western on
the other, and the route he was to travel distinctly outlined on both,
with all the places he was to pass through, or to stop at on the trip,
plainly marked. He was intelligent enough to observe everything of
importance in the ports through which he passed, and it was interesting
to hear him tell of the things he had seen, and his characterization of
some of the people he had visited.

"What did Your Highness think of the relative characteristics of the
Germans and the French, as you saw them?" I asked him at the same

"The people in Berlin," said he, "get up early in the morning and go to
their business, while the people in Paris get up in the evening and go
to the theatre."

This may have been a bit exaggerated, but it indicated that the Prince
did not travel, as many do on their first trip, with his mouth open and
his eyes closed.

After his return to Peking he purchased a brougham, as did most of the
other leading officials and princes at the close of the Boxer troubles,
and driving about in this carriage, he has been a familiar figure from
that time until the present. As straws show the direction of the wind,
these incidents ought to indicate that Prince Chun will not be a
conservative to the detriment of his government, or to the hindrance of
Chinas progress.

It is a well-known fact that the Empress Dowager, in addition to her
other duties, took charge of the arrangement of the marriages of all
her nieces and nephews. One of her favourite Manchu officials, and
indeed one of the greatest Manchus of recent years, though very
conservative, and hence little associated with foreigners, was Jung Lu.
As the affianced bride of Prince Chun had drowned herself in a well
during the Boxer troubles, the Empress Dowager engaged him to the
daughter of the lady who had been Jung Lu's first concubine, but who,
as his consort was dead, was raised to the position of wife.

"This Lady Jung," says Mrs. Headland, "is some forty years of age, very
pretty, talkative, and vivacious, and she told me with a good deal of
pride, on one occasion, of the engagement of her son to the sixth
daughter of Prince Ching. And then with equal enthusiasm she told me
how her daughter had been married to Prince Chun, 'which of course
relates me with the two most powerful families of the empire.'

"I have met the Princess Chun on several occasions at the audiences in
the palace, at luncheons with Mrs. Conger, at a feast with the Imperial
Princess, at a tea with the Princess Tsai Chen, and at the palaces of
many of the princesses. She is a very quiet little woman, and looked
almost infantile as she gazed at one with her big, black eyes. She is
very circumspect in her movements, and with such a mother and father as
she had, I should think may be very brilliant. Naturally she had to be
specially dignified and sedate at these public functions, as she and
the Imperial Princess were the only ones belonging to the old imperial
household, the descendants of Tao Kuang, who were intimately associated
with the Empress Dowager's court. She is small, but pretty, and, as I
have indicated, quiet and reticent. She was fond of her father, and
naturally fond of the Empress Dowager, who selected her as a wife for
her favourite nephew, Prince Chun, to whom she promised the succession
at the time of their marriage. After her father's death, and while she
was in mourning, she was invited into the palace by the Empress
Dowager, where she appeared wearing blue shoes, the colour used in
second mourning.

"'Why do you wear blue shoes?' asked Her Majesty.

"'On account of the death of my father,' replied the Princess.

"'And do you mourn over your dead father more than you rejoice over
being in the presence of your living ruler?' the Empress Dowager

"It is unnecessary to add that the Princess 'changed the blue shoes for
red ones while she remained in the palace, so careful has the Empress
Dowager always been of the respect due to her dignity and position."

Having promised the regency to Prince Chun, we may infer that the
Empress Dowager would do all in her power to prepare him to occupy the
position with credit to himself, and in the hope that he would continue
the policy which she has followed during the last ten years. Whenever,
therefore, opportunity offered for a prince to represent the government
at any public function with which foreigners were connected, Prince
Chun was asked or appointed to attend. I have said that it was the
murder of the German minister, Baron von Kettler, that gave Prince Chun
his opportunity to see the world. And just here I might add that an
account of the massacre of Von Kettler, sent from Canton, was published
in a New York paper three days before it occurred. This indicates that
his death had been premeditated and ordered by some high
authorities,--perhaps Prince Tuan or Prince Chuang, Boxer
leaders,--because the Germans had taken the port of Kiaochou, and had
compelled the Chinese government to promise to allow them to open all
the mines and build all the railroads in the province of Shantung.

After the Boxer troubles were settled, the Germans, at the expense of
the Chinese government, erected a large stone memorial arch on the spot
where Von Kettler fell. At its dedication, members of the diplomatic
corps of all the legations in Peking were present, including ladies and
children, together with a large number of Chinese officials
representing the city, the government, and the Foreign Office, and
Prince Chun was selected to pour the sacrificial wine. He did it with
all the dignity of a prince, however much he may or may not have
enjoyed it. On this occasion he used one of the ancient, three-legged,
sacrificial wine-cups, which he held in both hands, while Na Tung,
President of the Foreign Office, poured the wine into the cup from a
tankard of a very beautiful and unique design. It is the only occasion
on which I have seen the Prince when he did not seem to enjoy what he
was doing. I ought to add just here that I have heard the Chinese refer
to this arch as the monument erected by the Chinese government in
memory of the man who murdered Baron von Kettler!

It is a well-known fact that the Boxers destroyed all buildings that
had any indication of a foreign style of architecture, whether they
belonged to Chinese or foreigner, Christian or non-Christian, legation,
merchant, or missionary. In the rebuilding of the Peking legations,
missions, and educational institutions, there were naturally a large
number of dedicatory services. Many of the Chinese officials attended
them, but I shall refer to only one or two at which I remember meeting
Prince Chun. I believe it was the design of the Empress Dowager, as
soon as she had decided upon him as the Regent, to give him as liberal
an education in foreign affairs as the facilities in Peking would allow.

For many years the Methodist mission had tried to secure funds from
America to erect a hospital and medical school in connection with the
mission and the Peking University. This they found to be impossible,
and finally Dr. N. S. Hopkins of Massachusetts, who was in charge of
that work, consulted with his brother and brother-in-law, who
subscribed the funds and built the institution. This act of benevolence
on the part of Dr. Hopkins and his friends appealed to the Chinese
sense of generosity, and when the building was completed, a large
number of Chinese officials, together with Prince Chun and Prince Pu
Lun, were present at its dedication. A number of addresses were made by
such men as Major Conger, the American minister, Bishop Moore, Na Tung,
Governor Hu, General Chiang, and others of the older representatives,
in which they expressed their appreciation of the generosity which
prompted a man like Dr. Hopkins to give not only himself, but his
money, for the education of the Chinese youth and the healing of their
poor. And I might add that Dr. Hopkins is physician to many of the
princes and officials in Peking at the present time.

During this reconstruction, a number of the colleges of north China
united to form a union educational institution. One part of this scheme
was a union medical college, situated on the Ha-ta-men great street not
a hundred yards north of the Von Kettler memorial arch. To the erection
of this building the wealthy officials of Peking subscribed liberally,
and the Empress Dowager sent her check for 11,000 taels, equal to
$9,000 in American gold, and appointed Prince Chun to represent the
Chinese government at its dedication. At this meeting Sir Robert Hart
made an address on behalf of the foreigners, and Na Tung on behalf of
the Chinese. Although Prince Chun took no public part in the exercises,
he privately expressed his gratification at seeing the completion of
such an up-to-date hospital and medical school in the Chinese capital.

I have given these incidents in the life of Prince Chun to show that he
has had facilities for knowing the world better than any other Chinese
monarch or regent that has ever sat upon the dragon throne, and that he
has grasped the opportunities as they came to him. He has been
intimately associated with the diplomatic life of the various
legations, which is perhaps the most important knowledge he has
acquired in dealing with foreign affairs, as these ministers are the
channels through which he must come in contact with foreign
governments. He has been present at the dedication of a number of
missionary educational institutions, and hence from personal contact he
will have some comprehension of the animus and work of missions and the
character of the men engaged in that work. He may have as a councillor,
if he so desires, the Prince Pu Lun, who has had a trip around the
world, with the best possible facilities for seeing Japan, America,
Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy, and who has been in even
more intimate contact with the diplomats and other foreigners than has
Prince Chun himself. My wife and I have dined with him and the Princess
both at the American legation and at his own palace, and when we left
China, they came together in their brougham to bid us good-bye, a thing
which could not have happened a few years ago, and an indication of how
wide open the doors in China are now standing.

On the whole, therefore, Prince Chun begins his regency with a brighter
outlook for his foreign relations than any other ruler China has ever
had. What shall we say of his Chinese relations? Being the brother of
Kuang Hsu, and himself a progressive young man, he ought to have the
support of the Reform party, and being the choice of the Empress
Dowager, he will have the support of the great progressive officials
who have had the conduct of affairs for the last quarter of a century
and more, and especially for the past ten years, since the Emperor
Kuang Hsu was deposed.


The Home of the Court--The Forbidden City

The innermost enclosure is the Forbidden City and contains the palace
and its surrounding buildings. The wall is less solid and high than the
city wall, is covered with bright yellow tiles, and surrounded by a
deep, wide moat. Two gates on the east and west afford access to the
interior of this habitation of the Emperor, as well as the space and
rooms appertaining, which furnish lodgment to the guard defending the
approach to the dragon's throne.--S. Wells Williams in "The Middle



During the past ten years, since the dethronement of the late Emperor
Kuang Hsu, I have often been asked by Europeans visiting Peking:

"What would happen if the Emperor should die?"

"They would put a new Emperor on the throne," was my invariable answer.
They usually followed this with another question:

"What would happen if the Empress Dowager should die?"

"In that case the Emperor, of course, would again resume the throne," I
always replied without hesitation. But during those ten years, not one
of my friends ever thought to propound the question, nor did I have the
wit to ask myself:

"What would happen if the Emperor and the Empress Dowager should both
suddenly snap the frail cord of life at or about the same time?"

Had such a question come to me, I confess I should not have known how
to answer it. It is a problem that probably never presented itself to
any one outside of that mysterious Forbidden City, or the equally
mysterious spectres that come and go through its half-open gates in the
darkness of the early morning. There are three parties to whom it may
have come again and again, and to whom we may perhaps be indebted both
for the problem and the solution.

When the deaths of both of their Imperial Majesties were announced at
the same time, the news also came that the Japanese suspected that
there had been foul play. With them, however, it was only suspicion;
none of them, so far as I know, ever undertook to analyze the matter or
unravel the mystery. There is no doubt a reasonable explanation, but we
must go for it to the Forbidden City, the most mysterious royal
dwelling in the world, where white men have never gone except by
invitation from the throne, save on one occasion.

In 1901, while the court was in hiding at Hsianfu, the city to which
they fled when the allies entered Peking, the western half of the
Forbidden City was thrown open to the public, the only condition being
that said public have a certificate which would serve as a pass to the
American boys in blue who guarded the Wu men, or front gate. I was
fortunate enough to have that pass.

My first move was to get a Chinese photographer--the best I could find
in the city--to go with me and take pictures of everything I wanted as
well as anything else that suited his fancy.

The city of Peking is regularly laid out. Towards the south is the
Chinese city, fifteen miles in circumference. To the north is a square,
four miles on each side, and containing sixteen square miles. In the
centre of this square, enclosed by a beautifully crenelated wall thirty
feet thick at the bottom, twenty feet thick at the top and twenty-five
feet high, surrounded by a moat one hundred feet wide, is the Forbidden
City, occupying less than one-half a square mile. In this city there
dwells but one male human being, the Emperor, who is called the
"solitary man."

There is a gate in the centre of each of the four sides, that on the
south, the Wu men, being the front gate, through which the Emperor
alone is allowed to pass. The back gate, guarded by the Japanese during
the occupation, is for the Empress Dowager, the Empress and the women
of the court, while the side gates are for the officials, merchants or
others who may have business in the palace.

Through the centre of this city, from south to north, is a passageway
about three hundred feet wide, across which, at intervals of two
hundred yards, they have erected large buildings, such as the imperial
examination hall, the hall in which the Emperor receives his bride, the
imperial library, the imperial kitchen, and others of a like nature,
all covered with yellow titles, and known to tourists, who see them
from the Tartar City wall, as the palace buildings. These, however, are
not the buildings in which the royal family live. They are the places
where for the past five hundred years all those great diplomatic
measures--and dark deeds--of the Chinese emperors and their great
officials have been transacted between midnight and daylight.

If you will go with me at midnight to the great gate which leads from
the Tartar to the Chinese city--the Chien men--you will hear the
wailing creak of its hinges as it swings open, and in a few moments the
air will be filled with the rumbling of carts and the clatter of the
feet of the mules on the stone pavement, as they take the officials
into the audiences with their ruler. If you will remain with me there
till a little before daylight you will see them, like silent spectres,
sitting tailor-fashion on the bottom of their springless carts,
returning to their homes, but you will ask in vain for any information
as to the business they have transacted. "They love darkness rather
than light," not perhaps "because their deeds are evil," but because it
has been the custom of the country from time immemorial.

Immediately to the north of this row of imperial palace buildings, and
just outside the north gate, there is an artificial mound called Coal
Hill, made of the dirt which was removed to make the Lotus Lakes. It is
said that in this hill there is buried coal enough to last the city in
time of siege. This, however, was not the primary design of the hill.
It has a more mysterious meaning. There have always been spirits in the
earth, in the air, in every tree and well and stream. And in China it
has ever been found necessary to locate a house, a city or even a
cemetery in such surroundings as to protect them from the entrance of
evil spirits. "Coal Hill," therefore, was placed to the north of these
imperial palace buildings to protect them from the evil spirits of the
cold, bleak north.

Just inside of that north gate there is a beautiful garden, with
rockeries and arbours, flowering plants and limpid artificial streams
gurgling over equally artificial pebbles, though withal making a
beautiful sight and a cool shade in the hot summer days. In the east
side of this garden there is a small imperial shrine having four doors
at the four points of the compass. In front of each of these doors
there is a large cypress-tree, some of them five hundred years old,
which were split up from the root some seven or eight feet, and planted
with the two halves three feet apart, making a living arch through
which the worshipper must pass as he enters the temple. To the north of
the garden and east of the back gate there is a most beautiful Buddhist
temple, in which only the members of the imperial family are allowed to
worship, in front of which there is also a living arch like those
described above, as may also be found before the imperial temples in
the Summer Palace. This is one of the most unique and mysterious
features of temple worship I have found anywhere in China, and no
amount of questioning ever brought me any explanation of its meaning.

Now if you will go with me to the top of Coal Hill I will point out to
you the buildings in which their Majesties have lived. There are six
parallel rows of buildings, facing the south, each behind the other, in
the northwest quarter of this Forbidden City, protected from the evil
spirits of the north by the dagoba on Prospect Hill.

Perhaps you would like to go with me into these homes of their
Majesties--or, as a woman's home is always more interesting than the
den of a man, let me take you through the private apartments of the
greatest woman of her race--the late Empress Dowager. She occupied
three of these rows of buildings. The first was her drawing-room and
library, the second her dining-room and sleeping apartments, and the
third her kitchen.

One was strangely impressed by what he saw here. There was no gorgeous
display of Oriental colouring, but there was beauty of a peculiarly
penetrating quality--and yet a homelike beauty.

No description that can be written of it will ever do it justice. Not
until one can see and appreciate the paintings of the old Chinese
masters of five hundred years ago hanging upon the walls, the beautiful
pieces of the best porcelain of the time of Kang Hsi and Chien Lung,
made especially for the palace, arranged in their natural surroundings,
on exquisitely carved Chinese tables and brackets, the gorgeously
embroided silk portieres over the doorways, and the matchless
tapestries which only the Chinese could weave for their greatest
rulers, can we appreciate the beauty, the richness, and the refined
elegance of the private apartments of the great Dowager.

I went into her sleeping apartments. Others also entered there, sat
upon her couch, and had their friends photograph them. I could not
allow myself to do so. I stood silent, with head uncovered as I gazed
with wonder and admiration at the bed, with its magnificently
embroidered curtains hanging from the ceiling to the floor, its
yellow-satin mattress ten feet in length and its great round, hard
pillow, with the delicate silk spreads turned back as though it were
prepared for Her Majesty's return. On the opposite side of the room
there was a brick kang bed, such as we find in the homes of all the
Chinese of the north, where her maids slept, or sat like silent ghosts
while the only woman that ever ruled over one-third of the human race
took her rest. The furnishings were rich but simple. No plants, no
intricate carvings to catch the dust, nothing but the two beds and a
small table, with a few simple and soothing wall decorations, and the
monotonous tick-tock of a great clock to lull her to sleep.

If Shakespeare could say with an English monarch in his mind, "Uneasy
lies the head that wears a crown," we might repeat it with added
emphasis of Tze Hsi. For forty years she had to rise at midnight,
winter as well as summer, and go into the dark, dreary, cold halls of
the palace, lighted much of the time with nothing but tallow dips, and
heated only with brass braziers filled with charcoal, and there sit
behind a screen where she could see no one, and no one could see her,
and listen to the reports of those who came to these dark audiences.
Then she must, in conjunction with them, compose edicts which were sent
out to the Peking Gazette, the oldest and poorest newspaper in the
world, to be carved on blocks, and printed, and then sent by courier to
every official in the empire. Ruling over a conquered race, she must
always be watching out for signs of discontent and rebellion; being
herself the daughter of a poor man, and beginning as only the concubine
of an emperor, and he but a weak character, she must be alert for
dissatisfaction on the part of the princes who might have some title to
the throne. She must watch the governors in the distant provinces and
the viceroys who are in charge of great armies, that they do not direct
them against instead of in defense of the throne.

When her husband died while a fugitive two hundred miles from her
palace, she must see to it that her three-year-old child was placed
upon the throne with her own hand at the helm, and when he died she
must also be ready with a successor, who would give her another lease
of office. Even when he became of age and took the throne she must
watch over him like a guardian, to prevent his bringing down upon their
own heads the structure which she had builded. Nay, more, when it
became necessary for her to dethrone him and rule in his name,
banishing his friends and pacifying his enemies, keeping him a prisoner
in his palace, it required a courage that was titanic to do so. But she
never flinched, though we may suppose that many of her poorest
subjects, who could sleep from dark till daylight with nothing but a
brick for a pillow, might have rested more peacefully than she.

She had a myriad of other duties to perform. She was the mother-in-law
of that imperial household, with the Emperor, the Empress, sixty
concubines, two thousand eunuchs, and any number of court ladies and
maid-servants. Their expenses were enormous and she must keep her eye
on every detail. The food they ate was similar to that used by all the
Chinese people. I happen to know this, because one of her eunuchs who
visited me frequently to ask my assistance in a matter which he had
undertaken for the Emperor, often brought me various kinds of meat, or
other delicacies of a like nature, from the imperial kitchens.

I want you to visit three of the imperial temples in these beautiful
palace grounds. The first is a tall, three-story building at the head
of that magnificent Lotus Lake. In it there stands a Buddhist deity
with one thousand heads and one thousand arms and hands. Standing upon
the ground floor its head reaches almost to the roof. Its body, face
and arms are as white as snow. There is nothing else in the
building--nothing but this mild-faced Buddhist divinity for that
brilliant, black-eyed ruler of Chinas millions to worship.

Standing near by is another building of far greater beauty. It is faced
all over with encaustic tiles, each made at the kiln a thousand miles
away, for the particular place it was to occupy. Each one fits without
a flaw, a suggestion to American architects on Chinese architecture.

The second of these temples stands to the west of the Coal Hill,
immediately to the north of the homes of their Majesties. One day while
passing through the forbidden grounds I came upon this temple from the
rear. In the dome of one of the buildings is a circular space some ten
feet in diameter, carved and gilded in the form of two magnificent
dragons after the fabled pearl. It is to this place the Emperor goes in
time of drought to confess his sins, for he confesses to the gods that
the drought is all his doing, and to pray for forgiveness, and for rain
to enrich the thirsty land. The towers on the corners of the wall of
the Forbidden City are the same style of architecture as the small
pavilion in the front court of this temple.

Now as the buds of spring are bursting and the eaves on the
mulberry-trees are beginning to develop, will you go with the Empress
Dowager or the Empress into a temple on Prospect Hill, between the Coal
Hill and the Lotus Lake, where she offers sacrifices to the god of the
silkworm and prays for a prosperous year on the work of that little
insect? Above it stands one of the most hideous bronze deities I have
ever seen--male and naked--in a beautiful little shrine, every tile of
which is made in the form of a Buddha's head. During the occupation
tourists were allowed to visit this place freely, and their desire for
curios overcoming their discretion, they knocked the heads off these
tiles until, when the place was closed, there was not a single tile
which had not been defaced.

One other building in the Forbidden City is worthy of our attention. It
is the art gallery. It is not generally known that China is the parent
of all Oriental art. We know something of the art of Japan but little
about that of China. And yet the best Japanese artists have never hoped
for anything better than to equal their Chinese teacher. In this art
gallery there are stored away the finest specimens of the old masters
for ten centuries or more, together with portraits of all the noted
emperors. Among these portraits we may now find two of the Empress
Dowager, one painted by Miss Carl, and another by Mr. Vos, a well-known
American portrait painter.


The Ladies of the Court

I love to talk with my people of their Majesties, the princesses, and
the Chinese ladies, as I have seen and known them. Your friendship I
will always remember. Her Majesty, your imperial sister, found a warm
place in my heart and is treasured there. Please extend to the Imperial
Princess my cordial greetings and to the other princesses my best of
good wishes.--Mrs. E. H. Conger, in a letter to the Princess Shun.



The leading figure of the court is Yehonala, wife of the late Emperor
Kuang Hsu. She has always been called the Young Empress, but is now the
Empress Dowager. After the great Dowager was made the concubine of
Hsien Feng, she succeeded in arranging a marriage, as we have seen,
between her younger sister and the younger brother of her husband, the
Seventh Prince, as he was called, father of Kuang Hsu and the present

The world knows how, in order to keep the succession in her own family,
she took the son of this younger sister, when her own son the Emperor
Tung Chih died, and made him the Emperor Kuang Hsu when he was but
little more than three years of age. When the time came for him to wed,
she arranged that he should marry his cousin, Yehonala, the daughter of
her favourite brother, Duke Kuei. This Kuang Hsu was not inclined to
do, as his affections seem to have been centred on another. The great
Dowager, however, insisted upon it, and he finally made her Empress,
and to satisfy,--or shall we say appease him?--she allowed him to take
as his first concubine the lady he wanted as his wife; and it was
currently reported in court circles that when Yehonala came into his
presence he not infrequently kicked off his shoe at her, a bit of
conduct that is quite in keeping with the temper usually attributed to
Kuang Hsu during those early years. This may perhaps explain why she
stood by the great Dowager through all the troublous times of 1898 and
1900, in spite of the fact that her imperial aunt had taken her
husband's throne.

Mrs. Headland tells me that "Yehonala is not at all beautiful, though
she has a sad, gentle face. She is rather stooped, extremely thin, her
face long and sallow, and her teeth very much decayed. Gentle in
disposition, she is without self-assertion, and if at any of the
audiences we were to greet her she would return the greeting, but would
never venture a remark. At the audiences given to the ladies she was
always present, but never in the immediate vicinity of either the
Empress Dowager or the Emperor. She would sometimes come inside the
great hall where they were, but she always stood in some inconspicuous
place in the rear, with her waiting women about her, and as soon as she
could do so without attracting attention, she would withdraw into the
court or to some other room. In the summer-time we sometimes saw her
with her servants wandering aimlessly about the court. She had the
appearance of a gentle, quiet, kindly person who was always afraid of
intruding and had no place or part in anything. And now she is the
Empress Dowager! It seems a travesty on the English language to call
this kindly, gentle soul by the same title that we have been accustomed
to use in speaking of the woman who has just passed away."

My wife tells me that,--"A number of years ago I was called to see Mrs.
Chang Hsu who was suffering from a nervous breakdown due to worry and
sleeplessness. On inquiry I discovered that her two daughters had been
taken into the palace as concubines of the Emperor Kuang Hsu. Her
friends feared a mental breakdown, and begged me to do all I could for
her. She took me by the hand, pulled me down on the brick bed beside
her, and told me in a pathetic way how both of her daughters had been
taken from her in a single day.

"'But they have been taken into the palace,' I urged, to try to comfort
her, 'and I have heard that the Emperor is very fond of your eldest
daughter, and wanted to make her his empress.'

"'Quite right,' she replied, 'but what consolation is there in that?
They are only concubines, and once in the palace they are dead to me.
No matter what they suffer, I can never see them or offer them a word
of comfort. I am afraid of the court intrigues, and they are only
children and cannot understand the duplicity of court life--I fear for
them, I fear for them,' and she swayed back and forth on her brick bed.

"Time, however, the great healer with a little medicine and sympathy to
quiet her nerves, brought about a speedy recovery, though in the end
her fears proved all too true."

In 1897 the brother of this first concubine met Kang Yu-wei in the
south, and became one of his disciples. Upon his return to Peking,
knowing of the Emperor's desire for reform, and his affection for his
sister, he found means of communicating with her about the young

At the time of the coup d'etat, and the imprisonment of the Emperor,
this first concubine was degraded and imprisoned on the ground of
having been the means of introducing Kang Yu-wei to the notice of the
Emperor, and thus interfering in state affairs. She continued in
solitary confinement from that time until the flight of the court in
1900 when in their haste to get away from the allies she was overlooked
and left in the palace. When she discovered that she was alone with the
eunuchs, fearing that she might become a victim to the foreign
soldiers, she took her life by jumping into a well. On the return of
the court in 1902, the Empress Dowager bestowed upon her posthumous
honours, in recognition of her conduct in thus taking her life and
protecting her virtue.

Some conception of the haste and disorder with which the court left the
capital on that memorable August morning may be gleaned from the fact
that her sister was also overlooked and with a eunuch fled on foot in
the wake of the departing court. She was overtaken by Prince Chuang who
was returning in his chair from the palace, where, with Prince Ching,
he had been to inform their Majesties that the allies were in
possession of the city. The eunuch, recognizing him, called his
attention to the fleeing concubine, who, when he had alighted and
greeted her, begged him to find her a cart that she might follow the
court. Presently a dilapidated vehicle came by in which sat an old man.
The Prince ordered him to give the cart to the concubine and sent her
to his palace where a proper conveyance was secured, and she overtook
the court at the Nankow pass.

At the audiences, this concubine was always in company with the Empress
Yehonala, standing at her left. She, however, lacked both the beauty
and intelligence of her sister.

The ladies of the court, who were constantly associated with the
Empress Dowager as her ladies in waiting, are first, the Imperial
Princess, the daughter of the late Prince Kung, the sixth brother of
the Empress Dowager's husband. Out of friendship for her father, the
Empress Dowagers adopted her as their daughter, giving her all the
rights, privileges and titles of the daughter of an empress. She is the
only one in the empire who is entitled to ride in a yellow chair such
as is used by the Empress Dowager, the Emperor or Empress. The highest
of the princes--even Prince Ching himself--has to descend from his
chair if he meet her. Yet when this lady is in the palace, no matter
how she may be suffering, she dare not sit down in the presence of Her

"One day when we were in the palace," says Mrs. Headland, "the Imperial
Princess was suffering from such a severe attack of lumbago, that she
could scarcely stand. I suggested to her that she retire to the rear of
the room, behind some of the pillars and rest a while.

"'I dare not do that,' she replied; 'we have no such a custom in

She is austere in manner, plain in appearance, dignified in bearing,
about sixty-five years of age, and is noted for her accomplishment in
making the most graceful courtesy of any lady in the court.

During the Boxer troubles and the occupation, her palace was plundered
and very much injured, and she escaped in her stocking feet through a
side door. At the first luncheon given at her palace thereafter, she
apologized for its desolate appearance, saying that it had been looted
by the Boxers, though we knew it had been looted by the allies. At
later luncheons, however, she had procured such ornaments as restored
in some measure its original beauty and grandeur, though none of these
dismantled palaces will regain their former splendour for many years to

Next to the Imperial Princess are the two sisters of Yehonala, one of
whom is married to Duke Tse, who was head of the commission that made
the tour of the world to inquire as to the best form of government to
be adopted by China in her efforts at renovation and reform. It is not
too much to suppose that it was because the Duke was married to the
Empress Dowager's niece that he was made the head of this commission,
which after its return advised the adoption of a constitution. The
other sister is the wife of Prince Shun, and is the opposite of the
Empress. She is stout, but beautiful. She has always been the favourite
niece of the Empress Dowager, appeared at all the functions, and though
very sedate when foreign ladies were present at an audience, I was told
by the Chinese that when the imperial family were alone together she
was the life of the company. She would even stand behind the Empress
Dowager's chair "making such grimaces," the Chinese expressed it, as to
make it almost impossible for the others to retain their equilibrium.
As she was the youngest of the three sisters, and because of her happy
disposition, the Chinese nicknamed her hsiao kuniang, "the little
girl." These three sisters are all childless.

The Princess Shun and Princess Tsai Chen, only daughter-in-law of
Prince Ching, herself the daughter of a viceroy, were very congenial,
and the most intimate friends of all those in court circles. The latter
is beautiful, brilliant, quick, tactful, and graceful. Of all the
ladies of the court she is the most witty and, with Princess Shun, the
most interesting. These two more than any others made the court ladies
easy to entertain at all public functions, for they were full of
enthusiasm and tried to help things along. They seemed to feel that
they were personally responsible for the success of the audience or the
luncheon as a social undertaking.

Lady Yuan is one of two of these court ladies who dwelt with the
Empress Dowager in the palace, the other being Prince Ching's fourth
daughter. She is a niece by marriage of the Empress Dowager, though she
really was never married. The nephew of the Empress Dowager, to whom
she was engaged, though she had never seen him, died before they were
married. After his death, but before his funeral, she dressed herself
as a widow, and in a chair covered with white sackcloth went to his
home, where she performed the ceremonies proper for a widow, which
entitled her to take her position as his wife. Such an act is regarded
as very meritorious in the eyes of the Chinese, and no women are more
highly honoured than those who have given themselves in this way to a
life of chastity.

The second of these ladies who remained in the palace with the Empress
Dowager is the fourth daughter of Prince Ching. Married to the son of a
viceroy, their wedded life lasted only a few months. She was taken into
the palace, and being a widow, she neither wears bright colours nor
uses cosmetics. She is a fine scholar, very devout, and spends much of
her time in studying the Buddhist classics. She is considered the most
beautiful of the court ladies.

The Empress Dowager took charge of most of the domestic matters of all
her relatives, taking into the palace and associating with her as court
ladies some who were widowed in their youth, and keeping constantly
with her only those whom she has elevated to positions of rank, or
members of her own family. Nor was she too busy with state affairs to
stop and settle domestic quarrels.

Among the court ladies there was one who was married to a prince of the
second order. Her husband is still living, but as they were not
congenial in their wedded life, the Empress Dowager made herself a kind
of foster-mother to the Princess and banished her husband to Mongolia,
an incident which reveals to us another phase of the great Dowager's
character--that of dealing with fractious husbands.


The Princesses--Their Schools

The position accorded to woman in Chinese society is strictly a
domestic one, and, as is the case in other Eastern countries, she is
denied the liberty which threatens to attain such amazing proportions
in the West. There is no reason to suppose that woman in China is
treated worse than elsewhere; but people can of course paint her
condition just as fancy seizes them. They are rarely admitted into the
domestic surroundings of Chinese homes, therefore there is nothing to
curb the imagination. The truth is that just as much may be said on one
side as on the other. Domestic happiness is in China--as everywhere
else the world over--a lottery. The parents invariably select partners
in marriage for their sons and daughters, and sometimes make as great
blunders as the young people would if left to themselves.--Harold E.
Gorst in "China."



[1] Taken from Mrs. Headland's note-book.

One day while making a professional call on the Princess Su our
conversation turned to female education in China. I was deeply
interested in the subject, and was aware that the Prince had
established a school for the education of his daughters and the women
of his palace, and was naturally pleased when the Princess asked:

"Would you care to visit our school when it is in session?"

"Nothing would please me more," I answered. "When may I do so?"

"Could you come to-morrow morning?" she inquired.

"With pleasure; at what time?"

"I will send my cart for you."

The following morning the Prince's cart appeared. It was lined with
fur, upholstered in satin, furnished with cushions, and encircled by a
red band which indicated the rank of its owner. A venerable eunuch, the
head of the palace servants, preceded it as an outrider, and assisted
me in mounting and dismounting, while the driver in red-tasselled hat
walked decorously by the side.

The school occupies a large court in the palace grounds. Another
evidence of Western influence in the same court is a large two-story
house of foreign architecture where the Prince receives his guests.
Prince Su was the first to have this foreign reception hall, but he has
been followed in this respect by other officials and princes as well as
by the Empress Dowager.

"This is not unlike our foreign compounds," I remarked to the Princess
as we entered the court.

"Yes," she replied, "the Prince does not care to have the court paved,
but prefers to have it sodded and filled with flowers and shrubs."

The school building was evidently designed for that purpose, being
light and airy with the whole southern exposure made into windows, and
covered with a thin white paper which gives a soft, restful light and
shuts out the glare of the sun. The floor is covered with a heavy rope
matting while the walls are hung with botanical, zoological and other
charts. Besides the usual furniture for a well-equipped schoolroom, it
was heated with a foreign stove, had glass cases for their embroidery
and drawing materials, and a good American organ to direct them in
singing, dancing and calisthenics.

I arrived at recess. The Princess took me into the teacher's den, which
was cut off from the main room by a beautifully carved screen. Here I
was introduced to the Japanese lady teacher and served with tea. She
spoke no English and but little Chinese, and the embarrassment of our
effort to converse was only relieved by the ringing of the bell for
school. The pupils, consisting of the secondary wives and daughters of
the Prince, his son's wife, and the wives and daughters of his dead
brother who make their home with him, entered in an orderly way and
took their seats. When the teacher came into the room the ladies all
arose and remained standing until she took her place before her desk
and made a low bow to which they all responded in unison. This is the
custom in all of the schools I have visited. Even where the
superintendent is Chinese, the pupils stand and make a low Japanese bow
at the beginning and close of each recitation.

"How long has the school been in session?" I asked the Princess.

"Three and a half months," she replied.

"And they have done all this embroidery and painting in that time?"

"They have, and in addition have pursued their Western studies," she

In arithmetic the teacher placed the examples on the board, the pupils
worked them on their slates, after which each was called upon for an
explanation, which she gave in Japanese. While this class was reciting
the Prince came in and asked if we might not have calisthenics,
evidently thinking that I would enjoy the drill more than the
mathematics. It was interesting to see those Manchu ladies stand and go
through a thorough physical drill to the tune of a lively march on a
foreign organ. The Japanese are masters in matters of physical drill,
and in the schools I have visited I have been pleased at the quiet
dignity, and the reserve force and sweetness of their Japanese
teachers. The precision and unanimity with which orders were executed
both surprised and delighted me. Everything about these schools was
good except the singing, which was excruciatingly poor. The Chinese
have naturally clear, sweet voices, with a tendency to a minor tone,
which, with proper training, admit of fair development. But the
Japanese teacher dragged and sang in a nasal tone, in which the pupils
followed her, evidently thinking it was proper Western music. I was
rather amused to see the younger pupils go through a dignified dance or
march to the familiar strains of "Shall we gather at the river," which
the eldest daughter played on the organ.

"The young ladies do not comb their hair in the regular Manchu style,"
I observed to the Princess.

"No," she answered, "we do not think that best. It is not very
convenient, and so we have them dress it in the small coil on top of
the head as you see. Neither do we allow them to wear flowers in their
hair, nor to paint or powder, or wear shoes with centre elevations on
the soles. We try to give them the greatest possible convenience and

They were proud of their bits of crocheting and embroidery, each of
which was marked with the name of the person who did it and the date
when it was completed. Many of them were made of pretty silk thread in
a very intricate pattern, though I admired their drawing and painting
still more.

"Of what does their course of study consist?" I asked the Princess.

She went to the wall and took down a neat gilt frame which contained
their curriculum, and which she asked her eldest daughter to copy for
me. They had five studies each day, six days of the week, Sunday being
a holiday. They began with arithmetic, followed it up with Japanese
language, needlework, music and calisthenics, then took Chinese
language, drawing, and Chinese history with the writing of the
ideographs of their own language, which was one of the most difficult
tasks they had to perform. The dignified way in which the pupils
conducted themselves, the respect which they showed their teacher, and
the way in which they went about their work, delighted me. The
discipline it gave them, the self-respect it engendered, and the power
of acquisition that came with it were worth more perhaps than the
knowledge they acquired, useful as that information must have been.

The Princess Ka-la-chin, the fifth sister of Prince Su, is married to
the Mongolian Prince Ka-la. It is a rule among the Manchus that no
prince can marry a princess of their own people, but like the Emperor
himself, must seek their wives from among the untitled. These ladies
after their marriage are raised to the rank of their husbands. It is
the same with the daughters of a prince. Their husbands must come from
among the people, but unlike the princes they cannot raise them to
their own rank, and so their children have no place in the imperial
clan. Many of the princesses therefore prefer to marry Mongolian
princes, by which they retain their rank as well as that of their

Naturally a marriage of this kind brings changes into the life of the
princess. She has been brought up in a palace in the capital, lives on
Chinese food, and is not inured to hardships. When she marries a Mongol
prince, she is taken to the Mongolian plains, is not infrequently
compelled to live in a tent, and her food consists largely of milk,
butter, cheese and meat, most of which are an abomination to the
Chinese. They especially loathe butter and cheese, and not infrequently
speak of the foreigner smelling like the Mongol--an odour which they
say is the result of these two articles of diet.

Prince Su's fifth sister was fortunate in being married to a Mongol
prince who was not a nomad. He had established a sort of village
capital of his possessions, the chief feature of which was his own
palace. Here he lives during the summers and part of the winters;
though once in three years he is compelled to spend at least three
months in his palace in Peking when he comes to do homage to the

During one of these visits to Peking the Princess sent for me to come
to her palace. I naturally supposed she was ill, and so took with me my
medical outfit, but her first greeting was:

"I am not ill, nor is any member of my family, but I wanted to see you
to have a talk with you about foreign countries."

She had prepared elaborate refreshments, and while we sat eating, she
directed the conversation towards mines and mining, and then said:

"My husband, the Prince, is very much interested in this subject, and
believes that there are rich stores of ore on his principality in

"Indeed, that is very interesting," I answered.

"You know, of course, it is a rule," she went on to say, "that no
prince of the realm is allowed to go more than a few miles from the
capital without special permission from the throne."

"No, I was not aware of that fact."

She then went on to say that her husband was anxious to attend the St.
Louis Exposition, and study this subject in America, but so long as
these hindrances remained it was impossible for him to do so. She then

"I am very much interested in the educational system of your honourable
country, and especially in your method of conducting girls' schools."

"Would you not like to come and visit our girls' high school?" I asked.

"I should be delighted," she replied.

This she did, and before leaving the capital she sent for a Japanese
lady teacher whom she took with her to her Mongolian home, where she
established a school for Mongolian girls.

In this school she had a regular system of rules, which did not tally
with the undisciplined methods of the Mongolians, and it was amusing to
hear her tell how it was often necessary for the Prince to go about in
the morning and wake up the girls in order to get them into school at
nine o'clock.

The next time she came to Peking she brought with her seventeen of her
brightest girls to see the sights of the city and visit some of the
girls' schools, both Christian and non-Christian. Everything was new to
them and it was interesting to hear their remarks as I showed them
through our home and our high school. When the Princess returned to
Mongolia she took with her a cultured young Chinese lady of unusual
literary attainments to teach the Chinese classics in the school. This
is the only school I have known that was established by a Manchu
princess, for Mongolian girls, and taught by Chinese and Japanese
teachers. This young lady was the daughter of the president of the
Board of Rites, head examiner for literary degrees for all China, and
was himself a chuang yuan, or graduate of the highest standing. Before
going, this Chinese teacher had small bound feet, but she had not been
long on the plains before she unbound her feet, dressed herself in
suitable clothing, and went with the Princess and the Japanese teacher
for a horseback ride across the plains in the early morning, a thing
which a Chinese lady, under ordinary circumstances, is never known to
do. The school is still growing in size and usefulness.

Prince Su's third sister is married to a commoner, but as is usual with
these ladies who marry beneath their own rank, she retains her maiden
title of Third Princess, by which she is always addressed.

"How did you obtain your education?" I once asked her.

"During my childhood," she answered, "my mother was opposed to having
her daughters learn to read, but like most wealthy families, she had
old men come into the palace to read stories or recite poetry for our
entertainment. I not infrequently followed the old men out, bought the
books from which they read, and then bribed some of the eunuchs to
teach me to read them. In this way I obtained a fair knowledge of the
Chinese character."

She is as deeply interested in the new educational movement among girls
as is her sister. When this desire for Western education began, she
organized a school, in which she has eighty girls or more, taken from
various grades of society, whom she and some of her friends, in
addition to employing teachers and providing the school-rooms, gave a
good part of their time to teaching the Chinese classics, while a
Japanese lady taught them calisthenics and the rudiments of Western

She is aggressively pro-foreign, and is ready to do anything that will
contribute to the success of the new educational movement, and the
freedom of the Chinese woman. On one occasion when the Chinese in
Peking undertook to raise a fund for famine relief, they called a large
public meeting to which men and women were alike invited, the first
meeting of the kind ever held in Peking. Such a gathering could not
have occurred before the Boxer rebellion. The Third Princess, having
promised to help provide the programme, took a number of her girls, and
on a large rostrum, had them go through their calisthenic exercises for
the entertainment of the audience. On another occasion she took all her
girls to a private box at a Chinese circus, where men and women
acrobats and horseback riders performed in a ring not unlike that of
our own circus riders. In this circus small-footed women rode horseback
as well as the women in our own circus, and one woman with bound feet
lay down on her back, balanced a cart-wheel, weighing at least a
hundred pounds, on her feet, whirling it rapidly all the time, and then
after it stopped she continued to hold it while two women and a child
climbed on top. The Princess was determined to allow her girls to have
all the advantages the city afforded.

At the school of this Third Princess I once attended a unique memorial
service. A lady of Hang Chou, finding it impossible to secure
sufficient money by ordinary methods for the support of a school that
she had established, cut a deep gash in her arm and then sat in the
temple court during the day of the fair, with a board beside her on
which was inscribed the explanation of her unusual conduct. This
brought her in some three hundred ounces of silver with which she
provided for her school the first year. When it was exhausted and she
could get no more, she wrote letters to the officials of her province,
in which she asked for subscriptions and urged the importance of female
education, to which she said she was willing to give her life. To her
appeal the officials paid no heed, and she finally wrote other letters
renewing her request for help to establish the school, after which she
committed suicide. The letters were sent, and later published in the
local and general newspapers. Memorial services were held in various
parts of the empire at all of which funds were gathered not only for
her school but for establishing other schools throughout the provinces.

The school of the Third Princess at which this service was held was
profusely decorated. Chinese flags floated over the gates and
door-ways. Beautifully written scrolls, telling the reason for the
service and lauding the virtues of the lady, covered the walls of the
schoolroom. At the second entrance there was a table at which sat a
scribe who took our name and address and gave us a copy of the "order
of exercises." Here we were met by the Third Princess, who conducted us
into the main hall. Opposite the doorway was hung a portrait of the
lady, wreathed in artificial flowers, and painted by a Chinese artist.
A table stood before it on which was a plate of fragrant quinces,
candles, and burning incense, giving it the appearance of a shrine.
Pots of flowers were arranged about the room, which was unusually clean
and beautiful. The Chinese guests bowed three times before the picture
on entering the room, which I thought a very pretty ceremony.

The girls of this school, to the number of about sixty, appeared in
blue uniform, courtesying to the guests. Sixteen other girls' schools
of Peking were represented either by teachers or pupils or both. One of
the boys' schools came en masse, dressed in military uniform, led by a
band, and a drillmaster with a sword dangling at his side. Addresses
were made by both ladies and gentlemen, chief among whom were the Third
Princess and the editress of the Woman's Daily Newspaper, the only
woman's daily at that time in the world, who urged the importance of
the establishment and endowment of schools for the education of girls
throughout the empire.


The Chinese Ladies of Rank

  Though your husband may be wealthy,
  You should never be profuse;
  There should always be a limit
  To the things you eat and use.
  If your husband should be needy,
  You should gladly share the same,
  And be diligent and thrifty,
  And no other people blame.
        --"The Primer for Girls," Translated by I. T. H.



[2] Taken from Mrs. Headland's note-book.

The Manchu lady's ideal of beauty is dignity, and to this both her
deportment and her costume contribute in a well-nigh equal degree. Her
hair, put up on silver or jade jewelled hairpins, decorated with many
flowers, is very heavy, and easily tilted to one side or the other if
not carried with the utmost sedateness. Her long garments, reaching
from her shoulders to the floor, give to her tall figure an added
height, and the central elevation of from four to six inches to the
soles of her daintily embroidered slippers, compel her to stand erect
and walk slowly and majestically. She laughs but little, seldom jests,
but preserves a serious air in whatever she does.

The Chinese lady, on the contrary, aspires to be petite, winsome,
affable and helpless. She laughs much, enjoys a joke, and is always
good-natured and chatty.

One of their poets thus describes a noted beauty:

  "At one moment with tears her bright eyes would be swimming,
  The next with mischief and fun they'd be brimming.
  Thousands of sonnets were written in praise of them,
  Li Po wrote a song for each separate phase of them.

  "Bashfully, swimmingly, pleadingly, scoffingly,
  Temptingly, languidly, lovingly, laughingly,
  Witchingly, roguishly, playfully, naughtily,
  Willfully, waywardly, meltingly, haughtily,
  Gleamed the eyes of Yang Kuei Fei.

  "Her ruby lips and peach-bloom cheeks,
  Would match the rose in hue,
  If one were kissed the other speaks,
  With blushes, kiss me too."

She combs her hair in a neat coil on the back of her head, uses few
flowers, but instead prefers profuse decorations of pearls. Her upper
garment extends but little below her knees, and her lower garment is an
accordion-plaited skirt, from beneath which the pointed toes of her
small bound feet appear as she walks or sways on her "golden lilies,"
as if she were a flower blown by the wind, to which the Chinese love to
compare her. Her waist is a "willow waist" in poetry, and her "golden
lilies," as her tiny feet are often called, are not more than two or
three inches long--so small that it not infrequently requires the
assistance of a servant or two to help her to walk at all. And though
she may not need them she affects to be so helpless as to require their

Until very recently education was discouraged rather than sought by the
Manchu lady. Many of the princesses could not read the simplest book
nor write a letter to a friend, but depended upon educated eunuchs to
perform these services for them. The Chinese lady on the contrary can
usually read and write with ease, and the education of some of them is
equal to that of a Hanlin.

Socially the ladies of these two classes never meet. Their husbands may
be of equal rank and well known to each other in official life, but the
ladies have no wish to meet each other. One day while the granddaughter
of one of the Chinese Grand Secretaries was calling upon me, the
sisters of Prince Ching and Prince Su were announced. When they entered
I introduced them. The dignity of the two princesses when presented led
me to fear that we would have a cold time together. I explained who my
Chinese lady friend was, and they answered in a formal way (wai t ou
tou jen te, li to'u k'e pu jen te) "the gentlemen of our respective
households are well acquainted, not so the ladies," but the ice did not
melt. For a time I did my best to find a topic of mutual interest, but
it was like trying to mix oil and water. I was about to give up in
despair when my little Chinese friend, observing the dilemma in which I
was placed, and the effort I was making to relieve the situation, threw
herself into the conversation with such vigour and vivacity, and
suggested topics of such interest to the others as to charm these
reserved princesses, and it was not long until they were talking
together in a most animated way.

One of the Manchu ladies expressed regret at the falling of her hair
and the fact that she was getting bald. "Why," said my little Chinese
friend, "after a severe illness not long since, I lost all my hair, but
I received a prescription from a friend which restored it all, and just
look at the result," she continued turning her pretty head with its
great coils of shiny black hair. "I will be delighted to let you have
it." The Manchu princesses finally rose to depart, and in their
leave-taking, they were as cordial to my little Chinese friend, who had
made herself so agreeable, as they were to me, for which I shall ever
be grateful.

After they had gone I asked:

"Why is it that the Manchu and Chinese ladies do not intermingle in a
social way?"

"The cause dates back to the beginning of the Manchu dynasty," she
responded. "When the Chinese men adopted the Manchu style of wearing
the queue, it was stipulated that they should not interfere with the
style of the woman's dress, and that no Chinese should be taken to the
palace as concubines or slaves to the Emperor. We have therefore always
held ourselves aloof from the Manchus. Our men did this to protect us,
and as a result no Chinese lady has ever been received at court,
except, of course, the painting teacher of the Empress Dowager, who,
before she could enter the palace, was compelled to unbind her feet,
adopt the Manchu style of dress and take a Manchu name."

"Is not the Empress Dowager very much opposed to foot-binding? Why has
she not forbidden it?"

"She has issued edicts recommending them to give it up, but to forbid
it is beyond her power. That would be interfering with the Chinese
ladies' dress."

"Do the Manchus consider themselves superior to the Chinese?"

"It is a poor rule that will not work both ways. Have you never noticed
that in his edicts the Emperor speaks of his Manchu slaves and his
Chinese subjects?"

Among my lady friends is one whose father died when she was a child,
and she was brought up in the home of her grandfather who was himself a
viceroy. She had always been accustomed to every luxury that wealth
could buy. Clothed in the richest embroidered silks and satins,
decorated with the rarest pearls and precious stones, she had serving
women and slave girls to wait upon her, and humour her every whim. One
day when we were talking of the Boxer insurrection she told me the
following story:

"Some years ago," she said, "my steward brought me a slave girl whom he
had bought from her father on the street. She was a bright intelligent
and obedient little girl, and I soon became very fond of her. She told
me one day that her grandmother was a Christian, and that she had been
baptized and attended a Christian school. Her father, however, was an
opium-smoker, and had pawned everything he had, and finally when her
grandmother was absent had taken her and sold her to get money to buy
opium. She asked me to send a messenger to her grandmother and tell her
that she had a good home.

"I was delighted to do so for I knew the old woman would be distressed
lest the child had been sold to a life of shame, or had found a cruel
mistress. Unfortunately, however, my messenger could find no trace of
the grandmother, as the neighbours informed him that she had left
shortly after the disappearance of the child.

"As the years passed the child grew into womanhood. She was very
capable, kind and thoughtful for others and I learned to depend upon
her in many ways. She was very devoted to me, and sought to please me
in every way she could. She always spoke of herself as a Christian and
refused to worship our gods. When the Boxer troubles began I took my
house-servants and went to my grandfather's home thinking that the
Boxers would not dare disturb the households of such great officials as
the viceroys. But I soon found that they respected no one who had
liberal tendencies.

"One day there was a proclamation posted to the effect that all
Christians were to be turned over to them, and that any one found
concealing a Christian would themselves be put to death. My grandmother
came to my apartments and wanted me to send my slave girl to the
Boxers. We talked about it for some time but I steadfastly refused.
When the Boxers had procured all they could by that method they
announced that they were about to make a house-to-house search, and any
household harbouring Christians would be annihilated."

"But how would they know that your slave was a Christian?" I inquired.

"Have you not heard," she asked, "that the Boxers claimed that after
going through certain incantations, they could see a cross upon the
forehead of any who had been baptized?"

"And did you believe they could?"

"I did then but I do not now. Indeed we all did. My grandmother came to
me and positively forbade me to keep the slave in her home. After she
had gone the girl came and knelt at my feet and begged me to save her!
How could I send her out to death when she had been so kind and
faithful to me? I finally decided upon a plan to save her. I determined
to flee with her to the home of an uncle who lived in a town a hundred
miles or more from Peking, where I hoped the Boxers were less powerful
than they were at the capital.

"This uncle was the lieutenant-governor of the province and had always
been very fond of me, and I knew if I could reach him I should win his
sympathy and his aid. But how was this to be done? All travellers were
suspected, searched and examined. For two women to be travelling alone,
when the country was in such a state of unrest, could not but bring
upon themselves suspicion, and should we be searched, the cross upon
the forehead would surely be found, and we would be condemned to the
cruel tortures in which the Boxers were said to delight.

"After much thought and planning the only possible method seemed to be
to flee as beggars. You know women beggars are found upon the roads at
all times and they excite little suspicion. Then in the hot summer it
is not uncommon for them to wrap their head and forehead in a piece of
cloth to protect them from the fierce rays of the sun. In this way I
hoped to conceal the cross from observation in case we came into the
presence of the Boxers. We confided our plans to a couple of the women
servants whom we could trust, and asked them to procure proper outfits
for us. They did so, and oh! what dirty old rags they were. The
servants wept as they took off and folded up my silk garments and clad
me in this beggar's garb."

"But your skin is so soft and fair, not at all like the skin of a woman
exposed to the sun; and your black, shiny hair is not at all rusty and
dirty like the hair of a beggar woman. I should think these facts would
have caused your detection," I urged.

"That was easily remedied. We stained our faces, necks, hands and arms,
and we took down our hair and literally rolled it in dust which the
servants brought from the street. Oh! but it was nasty! such an odour!
It was only the saving of the life of that faithful slave that could
have induced me to do it. I had to take off my little slippers and wrap
my feet in dirty rags such as beggars wear. We could take but a little
copper cash with us. To be seen with silver or gold would have at once
brought suspicion upon us, while bank-notes were useless in those days.

"In the early morning, before any one was astir we were let out of a
back gate. It was the first time I had ever walked on the street. I had
always been accustomed to going in my closed cart with outriders and
servants. I shrank from staring eyes, and thought every glance was
suspicious. My slave was more timid than I and so I must take the
initiative. I had been accustomed to seeing street beggars from behind
the screened windows of my cart ever since I was a child and so I knew
how I ought to act, but at first it was difficult indeed. Soon,
however, we learned to play our part, though it seems now like a
hideous dream. We kept on towards the great gate through which we
passed out of the city on to the highway which led to our destination.

"The first time we met a Boxer procession my knees knocked together in
my fear of detection but they passed by without giving us a glance. We
met them often after this, and before we finished our journey I learned
to doubt their claim to detect Christians by the sign of the cross.

"We ate at the roadside booths, slept often in a gateway or by the side
of a wall under the open sky, and after several days' wandering, we
reached the yamen of my uncle. But we dare not enter and reveal our
identity, lest we implicate them, for we found the Boxers strong
everywhere, and even the officials feared their prowess. We hung about
the yamen begging in such a way as not to arouse suspicion, until an
old servant who had been in the family for many years, and whom I knew
well, came upon the street. I followed him begging until we were out of
earshot of others, and then told him in a singsong, whining tone, such
as beggars use, who I was and why I was there, and asked him to let my
uncle know, and said that if they would open the small gate in the
evening we would be near and could enter unobserved.

"At first he could not believe it was I, for by this time we indeed
looked like veritable beggars, but he was finally convinced and
promised to tell my uncle. After nightfall he opened the gate and led
us in by a back passage to my aunt's apartments where she and my uncle
were waiting for me. They both burst into tears as they beheld my
plight. Two old serving women, who had been many years in the family,
helped us to change our clothes and gave us a bath and food. My feet
had suffered the most. They were swollen and ulcerated and the dirty
rags and dust adhering to the sores had left them in a wretched
condition. It took many baths before we were clean, and weeks before my
feet were healed.

"We remained with my uncle until the close of the Boxer trouble, and
until my grandfather's return from Hsian where he had gone with the
Empress Dowager and the court, and then I came back to Peking."

"Your grandmother must have felt ashamed when she heard how hard it had
gone with you," I remarked.

"We never mentioned the matter when talking together. That was a time
when every one was for himself. Death stared us all in the face."

"Where is your slave girl now? I should like to see her," I remarked.

"After the troubles were over I married her to a young man of my
uncle's household. I will send for her and bring her to see you."

She did so. I found she had forgotten much of what she had learned of
Christianity, but she remembered that there was but one God and that
Jesus Christ was His Son to whom alone she should pray. She also
remembered that as a small child she had been baptized, and that in
school she had been taught that "we should love one another"; this was
about the extent of her Gospel, but it had touched the heart of her
charming little mistress and had saved her life.

There were sometimes amusing things happened when these Chinese ladies
called. My husband among other things taught astronomy in the
university. He had a small telescope with which he and the students
often examined the planets, and they were especially interested in
Jupiter and his moons. One evening, contrary to her custom, this same
friend was calling after dark, and when the students had finished with
Jupiter and his moons, my husband invited us to view them, as they were
especially clear on that particular evening.

After she had looked at them for a while, and as my husband was closing
up the telescope, she exclaimed: "That is the kind of an instrument
that some foreigners sent as a present to my grandfather while he was
viceroy, but it was larger than this one."

"And did he use it?" asked my husband.

"No, we did not know what it was for. Besides my grandfather was too
busy with the affairs of the government to try to understand it."

"And where is it now?" asked Mr. Headland, thinking that the viceroy
might be willing to donate it to the college.

"I do not know," she answered. "The servants thought it was a pump and
tried to pump water with it, but it would not work. It is probably
among the junk in some of the back rooms."

"I wonder if we could not find it and fix it up," my husband persisted.

"I am afraid not," she answered. "The last I saw of it, the servants
had taken the glass out of the small end and were using it to look at
insects on the bed."

One day when one of my friends came to call I said to her: "It is a
long time since I have seen you. Have you been out of the city?"

"Yes, I have been spending some months with my father-in-law, the
viceroy of the Canton provinces. His wife has died, and I have returned
to Peking to get him a concubine."

"How old is he?" I inquired.

"Seventy-two years," she replied.

"And how will you undertake to secure a concubine for such an old man?"

"I shall probably buy one."

A few weeks afterwards she called again having with her a good-looking
young woman of about seventeen, her hair beautifully combed, her face
powdered and painted, and clothed in rich silk and satin garments, whom
she introduced as the young lady procured for her father-in-law. She
explained that she had bought her from a poor country family for three
hundred and fifty ounces of silver.

"Don't you think it is cruel for parents to sell their daughters in
this way?" I asked.

"Perhaps," she answered. "But with the money they received for her,
they can buy land enough to furnish them a good support all their life.
She will always have rich food, fine clothing and an easy time, with
nothing to do but enjoy herself, while if she had remained at home she
must have married some poor man who might or might not have treated her
well, and for whom she would have to work like a slave. Now she is
nominally a slave with nothing to do and with every comfort, in
addition to what she has done for her family."

While we were having tea she asked to see Mr. Headland, as many of the
older of my friends did. I invited him in, and as he entered the
dining-room the young woman stepped out into the hall.

My friend greeted my husband, and with a mysterious nod of her head in
the direction of the young woman she said: "Chiu shih na ke,--that's


The Social Life of the Chinese Woman

The manners and customs of the Chinese, and their social
characteristics, have employed many pens and many tongues, and will
continue to furnish all inexhaustible field for students of sociology,
of religion, of philosophy, of civilization, for centuries to come.
Such studies, however, scarcely touch the province of the practical, at
least as yet, for one principal reason--that the subject is so vast,
the data are so infinite, as to overwhelm the student rather than
assist him in sound generalizations.--A. R. Colquhoun in "China in



The home life of a people is too sacred to be touched except by the
hand of friendship. Our doors are closed to strangers, locked to
enemies, and opened only to those of our own race who are in harmony
and sympathy with us. What then shall we say when people of an alien
race come seeking admission? They must bring some social
distinction,--letters of introduction, or an ability to help us in ways
in which we cannot help ourselves.

In the case of a people as exclusive as the Chinese this is especially
true, so that with the exception of one or two women physicians and the
wife of one of our diplomats no one has ever been admitted in a social
as well as professional way to the women's apartments of the homes of
the better class of the Chinese people.

A Chinese home is different from our own. It is composed of many
one-story buildings, around open courts, one behind the other, and
sometimes covers several acres of ground. Then it is divided into men's
and women's apartments, the men receiving their friends in theirs and
the women likewise receiving their friends by a side gate in their own
apartments, which are at the rear of the dwelling. A wealthy man
usually, in addition to his wife, has one or more concubines, and each
of these ladies has an apartment of her own for herself and her
children,--though all the children of all the concubines reckon as
belonging to the first wife.

I have heard Sir Robert Hart tell an amusing incident which occurred in
Peking. He said that the Chinese minister appointed to the court of
Saint James came to call on him before setting out upon his journey.
After conversing for some time he said:

"I should be glad to see Lady Hart. I believe it is customary in
calling on a foreign gentleman to see his lady, is it not?"

"It is," said Sir Robert, "and I should be delighted to have you see
her, but Lady Hart is in England with our children, and has not been
here for twenty years."

"Ah, indeed, then perhaps I might see your second wife."

"That you might, if I had one. But the customs of our country do not
allow us to have a second wife. Indeed they would imprison us if we
were to have two wives."

"How singular," said the official with a nod of his head. "You do not
appreciate the advantages of this custom of ours."

That there are advantages in this custom from the Chinese point of
view, I have no doubt. But from certain things I have heard I fear
there are disadvantages as well. One day the head eunuch from the
palace of one of the leading princes in Peking came to ask my wife, who
was their physician, to go to see some of the women or children who
were ill. It was drawing near to the New Year festival and, of course,
they had their own absorbing topics of conversation in the servants'
courts. I said to him:

"The Prince has a good many children, has he not?"

"Twenty-three," he answered.

"How many concubines has he?" I inquired.

"Three," he replied, "but he expects to take on two more after the

"Doesn't it cause trouble in a family for a man to have so many women
about? I should think they would be jealous of each other."

"Ah," said he, with a wave of his hand and a shake of his head, "that
is a topic that is difficult to discuss. Naturally if this woman sees
him taking to that woman, this one is going to eat vinegar."

They do "eat vinegar," but perhaps as little of it as any people who
live in the way in which they live, for the Chinese have organized
their home life as nearly on a governmental basis as any people in the

In addition to the wife and concubines, each son when he marries brings
his wife home to a parental court, and all these sisters-in-law, or
daughters-in-law add so much to the complications of living, for each
must have her own retinue of servants.

Young people in China are all engaged by their parents without their
knowledge or consent. This was very unsatisfactory to the young people
of the old regime, and it is being modified in the new. One day one of
my students in discussing this matter said to me:

"Our method of getting a wife is very much better than either the old
Chinese method or your foreign method."

"How is that?" I asked.

"Well," said he, "according to the old Chinese custom a man could never
see his wife until she was brought to his house. But we can see the
girls in public meetings, we have sisters in the girls' school, they
have brothers in the college, and when we go home during vacation we
can learn all about each other."

"But how do you consider it better than our method?" I persisted.

"Why, you see, when you have found the girl you want, you have to go
and get her yourself, while we can send a middleman to do it for us."

I still argued that by our method we could become better acquainted
with the young lady.

"Yes," he said, "that is true; but doesn't it make you awfully mad if
you ask a lady to marry you and she refuses?" and it must be confessed
that this was a difficult question to answer without compromising one's

The rigour of the old regime was apparently modified by giving the
young lady a chance to refuse. About ten days before the marriage, two
ladies are selected by the mother of the young man to carry a peculiar
ornament made of ebony and jade, or jade alone, or red lacquer, to the
home of the prospective bride. This ornament is called the ju yi, which
means "According to my wishes." If the lady receives it into her own
hands it signifies her willingness to become his bride; if she rejects
it, the negotiations are at an end, though I have never heard of a girl
who refused the ju yi.[3]

Very erroneous ideas of the life and occupations of the Chinese ladies
of the noble and official classes are held by those not conversant with
their home life. The Chinese woman is commonly regarded as little
better than a secluded slave, who whiles away the tedious hours at an
embroidery frame, where with her needle she works those delicate and
intricate pieces of embroidery for which she is famous throughout the
world. In reality, a Chinese lady has little time to give to such work.
Her life is full of the most exacting social duties. Few American
ladies in the whirl of society in Washington or New York have more
social functions to attend or duties to perform. I have often been
present in the evening when the head eunuch brought to the ruling lady
of the home (and the head of the home in China is the woman, not the
man) an ebony tablet on which was written in red ink the list of social
functions the ladies were to attend the following day.

She would select from the list such as she and her unmarried daughters
could attend,--the daughters always going with their mother and not
with their sisters-in-law,--then she would apportion the other
engagements to her daughters-in-law, who would attend them in her stead.

The Chinese lady in Peking sleeps upon a brick bed, one half of the
room being built up a foot and a half above the floor, with flues
running through it; and in the winter a fire is built under the bed, so
that, instead of having one hot brick in her bed, she has a hundred.
She rises about eight. She has a large number of women servants, a few
slave girls, and if she belongs to the family of a prince, she has
several eunuchs, these latter to do the heavy work about the household.
Each servant has her own special duties, and resents being asked to
perform those of another. When my lady awakes a servant brings her a
cup of hot tea and a cake made of wheat or rice flour. After eating
this a slave girl presents her with a tiny pipe with a long stem from
which she takes a few whiffs. Two servants then appear with a large
polished brass basin of very hot water, towels, soaps, preparations of
honey to be used on her face and hands while they are still warm and
moist from the bathing. After the bath they remove the things and
disappear, and two other women take their places, with a tray on which
are combs, brushes, hair-pomades, and the framework and accessories
needed for combing her hair. Then begins a long and tedious operation
that may continue for two hours. Finally the hair is ready for the
ornaments, jewels and flowers which are brought by another servant on a
large tray. The mistress selects the ones she wishes, placing them in
her hair with her own hands.

Some of these flowers are exquisite. The Chinese are expert at making
artificial flowers which are true to nature in every detail. Often
above the flower a beautiful butterfly is poised on a delicate spring,
and looks so natural that it is easy to be deceived into believing it
to be alive. When the jasmine is in bloom beautiful creations are made
of these tiny flowers by means of standards from which protrude fine
wires on which the flowers are strung in the shape of butterflies or
other symbols, and the flowers massed in this way make a very effective
ornament. With the exception of the jasmine the flowers used in the
hair are all artificial, though natural flowers are worn in
season--roses in summer, orchids in late summer, and chrysanthemums in

The prevailing idea with the Chinese ladies is that the foreign woman
does not comb her hair. I have often heard my friends apologizing to
ladies whom they have brought to see me for the first time, and on whom
they wanted me to make a good impression, by saying:

"You must not mind her hair; she is really so busy she has no time to
comb it. All her time is spent in acts of benevolence."

At the first audience when the Empress Dowager received the foreign
ladies, she presented each of them with two boxes of combs, one ivory
inlaid with gold, the other ordinary hard wood, and the set was
complete even to the fine comb. One cannot but wonder if Her Majesty
had not heard of the untidy locks of the foreign woman, which she
attributed to a lack of proper combs.

After the hair has been properly combed and ornamented, cosmetics of
white and carmine are brought for the face and neck. The Manchu lady
uses these in great profusion, her Chinese sister more sparingly. No
Chinese lady, unless a widow or a woman past sixty, is supposed to
appear in the presence of her family without a full coating of powder
and paint. A lady one day complained to me of difficulty in lifting her
eyelids, and consulted me as to the reason.

"Perhaps," said I, "they are partially paralyzed by the lead in your
cosmetics. Wash off the paint and see if the nerves do not recover
their tone."

"But," said she, "I would not dare appear in the presence of my husband
or family without paint and powder; it would not be respectable."

The final touch to the face is the deep carmine spot on the lower lip.

The robing then begins. And what beautiful robes they are! the softest
silks, over which are worn in summer the most delicate of embroidered
grenadines, or in winter, rich satins lined with costly furs, each
season calling for a certain number and kind. She then decorates
herself with her jewels,--earrings, bracelets, beads, rings, charms,
embroidered bags holding the betel-nut, and the tiny mirror in its
embroidered case with silk tassels. When these are hung on the buttons
of her dress her outfit is complete, and she arises from her couch a
wonderful creation, from her glossy head, with every hair in place, to
the toe of her tiny embroidered slipper. But it has taken the time of a
half-dozen servants for three hours to get these results.

To one accustomed to the Chinese or Manchu mode of dress, she appears
very beautiful. The rich array of colours, the embroidered gowns, and
the bright head-dress, make a striking picture. Often as the ladies of
a home or palace came out on the veranda to greet me, or bid me adieu,
I have been impressed with their wonderful beauty, to which our own
dull colours, and cloth goods, suffer greatly in comparison, and I
could not blame these good ladies for looking upon our toilets with
more or less disdain.

It is now after eleven o'clock and her breakfast is ready to be served
in another room. Word that the leading lady of the household is about
to appear is sent to the other apartments. Hurried finishing touches
are given to toilets, for all daughters, daughters-in-law and
grandchildren must be ready to receive her in the outer room when she
appears leaning on the arms of two eunuchs if she is a princess, or on
two stout serving women if a Chinese.

According to her rank, each one in turn takes a step towards her and
gives a low courtesy in which the left knee touches the floor. Even the
children go through this same formality. All are gaily dressed, with
hair bedecked and faces painted like her own. She inclines her head but
slightly. These are the members of her household over whom she has
sway--her little realm. While her mother-in-law lived she was under the
same rigorous rule.

In China where there are so many women in the home it is necessary to
have a head--one who without dispute rules with autocratic sway. This
is the mother-in-law. When she dies the first wife takes her place as
head of the family. A concubine may be the favourite of the husband. He
may give her fine apartments to live in, many servants to wait on her,
and every luxury he can afford; but there his power ends. The first
wife is head of the household, is legally mother of all the children
born to any or all of the concubines her husband possesses. The
children all call her mother, and the inferior wives recognize her as
their mistress. She and her daughters, and daughters-in-law, attend
social functions, receive friends, extend hospitality; but the
concubines have no place in this, unless by her permission. When the
time comes for selecting wives for her sons, it is the first wife who
does it, although she may be childless herself. It is to her the brides
of these sons are brought, and to her all deference is due. In rare
cases, where the concubine has had the good fortune to supply the heir
to the throne or to a princely family, she is raised to the position of
empress or princess. But this is seldom done, and is usually remembered
against the woman. She is never received with the same feeling as if
she had been first wife.

One day I was asked to go to a palace to see a concubine who was ill.
In such cases I always went directly to the Princess, and she took me
to see the sick one. As we entered the room there was a nurse standing
with a child in her arms, and the Princess called my attention to a
blemish on its face.

"Can it be removed?" she asked.

I looked at it and, seeing that it would require but a minor operation,
told her it could.

While attending to the patient, the nurse, fearing that the child would
be hurt, left the room and another entered with another child.

"Now," said the Princess when we had finished with the patient, "we
will attend to the child." And she called the woman to her.

"But," said the woman, "this is not the child."

"There," said the Princess, "you see I do not know my own children."

But I left our friend receiving the morning salutations of her
household. These over, she dismisses them to their own apartments,
where each mother sits down with her own children to her morning meal,
waited on by her own servants. If there are still unmarried daughters,
they remain with their mother; if none, she eats alone.

Since Peking is in the same latitude as Philadelphia my lady has the
same kinds of fruit--apples, peaches, pears, apricots, the most
delicious grapes, and persimmons as large as the biggest tomato you
ever saw; indeed, the Chinese call the tomato the western red
persimmon. She has mutton from the Mongolian sheep (the finest I have
ever eaten), beef, pork or lamb; chicken, goose or duck; hare, pheasant
or deer, or fish of whatever kind she may choose. Of course these are
all prepared after the Chinese style, and be it said to the credit of
their cooks that our children are always ready to leave our own table
to partake of Chinese food.

After her meal she lingers for a few minutes over her cup of tea and
her pipe. In the meantime her cart or sedan chair is prepared. Her
outriders are ready with their horses; the eunuchs, women and slave
girls who are to attend her, don their proper clothing and prepare the
changes of raiment needed for the various functions of the day. One
takes a basin and towels, another powder and rouge-boxes, another the
pipe and embroidered tobacco pouch, not even forgetting the silver
cuspidor, all of which will be needed. When she eats, a servant gives
her a napkin to spread over her gown; after she has finished, another
brings a basin of hot water, from which a towel is wrung with which she
gently wipes her mouth and hands. Another brings her a glass of water,
or she washes out her mouth with tea, and finally with the little
mirror and rouge-box, while she still sits at table, she touches up her
face with powder and she puts the paint upon her lip if it has

When ready to start, her cart or chair is drawn up as close as possible
to the gate of the women's apartments. A screen of blue silk eighteen
or twenty feet long and six feet high, fastened to two wooden
standards, is held by eunuchs to screen her while she enters the cart.
The chair can be used only by princesses or wives of viceroys or
members of the Grand Council. But whether chair or cart it is lined and
cushioned with scarlet satin in summer, and in winter with fur. It is
an accomplishment to enter a cart gracefully, but years of practice
enable her to do so, and as soon as she is seated in Buddhist fashion,
the curtain is dropped; her attendant seats herself cross-legged in
front; several male servants rush up, seize the shafts of the cart,
place the mule between them, fasten the buckles (it reminds one of the
fire department), the driver takes his place at the lines, two other
male servants take hold of the sides of the mule's bridle, and all is
in readiness to start. Female servants and slave girls crowd into other
carts, outriders mount their mules, and the cavalcade starts with my
lady's cart ahead.

As they pass along the streets they are remarked upon by all
foot-passengers, and as they near their destination, a courier on
horseback spurs up his steed, makes a wild dash forward, leaps from his
horse, and announces to the gate-keeper that the Princess will soon
arrive. The news is at once taken to the servants of the women's
apartments, where the name is given to a eunuch, who bears it to his

In the meantime the party has arrived. The mule is unhitched, cart
drawn to the gate, screen spread, servant descends from front, and the
Princess with the help of a couple of eunuchs is escorted through a
long covered walk into the court, where the ladies of the household are
waiting on the veranda to receive her. As she enters the gateway the
hostess begins slowly to descend the steps. The others follow, and they
meet in the centre of the court. Low courtesies are made by each and
formal inquiries as to each other's health. There is a short stop and
certain formalities before the guest will ascend the steps ahead of the
hostess. The same occurs again on entering the reception hall, and
taking the seat of honour. The luckless foreigner sometimes makes the
mistake of conceding to her guest's modesty and allows her to take a
lower seat, which is a grievous offense, and she is only pardoned on
the plea that she is an outside barbarian, and does not understand the
rules of polite society.

After she is seated tea is served, and servants bring in trays of
sweetmeats, fruit, nuts, dried melon seeds, candied fruits and small
cakes. One of these nuts is unique. It is an "English walnut" in which,
after the outer hull is removed, the shell is self-cracked, and folds
back in places so that the kernel appears. While partaking of these
delicacies the object of the visit is announced, which is that her son
is to be married on a certain date. Of course official announcements
will be sent later, but she wishes to ask if her hostess will act as
one of her representatives to carry the ju yi to the young lady's home.

After the ladies have chatted for a time about the latest official
appointments, some court gossip, the latest fashion in robe
ornamentation, and the newspaper news at home and abroad--for the
Chinese have ten or a dozen newspapers in Peking, among which is the
first woman's daily in the world--the hostess invites her guest to see
her garden. They pass through a gateway into a court in which are great
trees, shrubbery, fish-ponds spanned by marble bridges, covered walks,
beautiful rockeries, wisteria vines laden with long clusters of
blossoms, summer-houses, miniature mountains, and flowers of all
kinds--a dream of beauty and loveliness. After returning to the house
another cup of tea is served, and the guest rises to leave. But before
doing so her servants bring in a bundle of clothing, and there in the
presence of her hostess her outer robes are changed for others of a
more official character.

Her next call is at the birthday celebration of the mother of one of
the highest officials in the capital. I was present when she arrived.
Instead of entering by the front gate, she went by a private entrance
directly to the apartments of her hostess. Many guests (all gentlemen)
were assembled in the front court, which was covered by a mat pavilion
and converted into a theatre. The court was several feet lower than the
adjoining house, the front windows of which were all removed and it was
used for the accommodation of the lady guests. On the walls of the
temporary structure hung red satin and silk banners on which were
pinned ideographs cut out of gold foil or black velvet, expressive of
beautiful sentiments and good wishes for many happy returns of the day.
The Emperor, wishing to do this official honour, has informed him that
on his mother's birthday an imperial present will be sent her which is
a greater compliment than if sent to the official himself.

It was a gala scene. Fresh guests arrived every minute. The ladies in
their most graceful and dignified courtesies were constantly bending as
other guests were announced, while the gentlemen, with low bows and
each shaking his own hands, received their friends. The clothes of the
men, though of a more sombre hue, were richer in texture than those of
the women. Heavy silks and satins, embroidered with dragons in gold
thread, indicated that this one was a member of the imperial clan,
while others equally rich were worn by the other gentlemen, each
embroidered with the insignia of his rank. Hats adorned with red
tassels, peacock feathers in jade holders, and the button denoting the
rank of the wearer, were worn by all, as it would be a breach of
etiquette to remove the hat in the presence of one's host.

It would also be bad form for the gentlemen to raise their eyes to
where the ladies were seated; just as the latter, who must look over
the heads of the men to view the theatre, would not be caught allowing
their eyes to dwell upon any one. But no doubt these gentle little
ladies have their own curiosity, and some means of finding out who's
who among that court full of dragon-draped pillars of state; for I have
never failed to receive a ready answer when I inquired as to the name
of some handsome or distinguished-looking guest whose identity I wished
to learn.

The theatre goes on interminably. Like my lady, they change their
clothes, and the scenery, in full view of the audience. The plays are
mostly historical, the women's parts being taken by men, as women are
not allowed to go on the stage. One daring company, in imitation of the
foreign custom, had a woman take one of the parts; but a special order
from the viceroy put the company out of commission, and the leader in

The guests were not expected to sit quietly watching the play, but
moved about greeting each other and chatting at will. Servants brought
tea and sweetmeats and finally a banquet was served. Near the close of
the feast it was announced that the imperial present was coming, and
the members of the household disappeared. The deep boom of the drums
and the honk of the great horns were heard distinctly as they entered
the street, and soon the yellow imperial chair, with its thirty-six
bearers in the royal livery, moved slowly towards us between two rows
of the male members of the household who had gone out and were kneeling
on both sides of the street, knocking their heads as the chair passed
them. The great gates were thrown open and there in the gateway the
female members of the family knelt and kotowed as the chair passed by.

The presents were taken into a room specially prepared for their
reception. The head imperial eunuch placed them in position, and, with
a low obeisance, departed, the richer by several hundred ounces of
silver. The gentlemen guests were first invited to view these tokens of
imperial favour. In order of their rank they entered, prostrating
themselves before them. Later we ladies were invited into the room,
where the Chinese all kotowed. What now were these wonderful gifts
before which these men and women of rank and noble birth were falling
upon their faces?

They were two squares of red paper, eighteen inches across, printed in
outline of the imperial dragon, on which the characters for long life
and happiness were written with the imperial pen; and a small yellow
satin box in which sat a little gold Buddha not more than an inch in
height! It was the thought, not the value, which elicited all this

Shall we go with this busy little princess to another festal occasion?
I was with her again. It was at the home of the sister of one of the
sweetest little princesses in the whole empire. Her baby was a month
old and she was celebrating what they call the full month feast.
Instead, however, of having the usual feasting and theatricals, the
mother, who, for days after her child was born, lay at death's door,
sent out invitations to her friends to come and fast and give thanks to
the gods for sparing her life.

Though the child was a month old the mother was too wan and weak to
leave her couch. She was dressed, however, in festal robes, and
received her guests with many gracious words and apologies. Of course
only ladies were present. The great covered court was converted into a
large shrine. One could imagine they were looking into the main hall of
a temple, only that everything was so clean and beautiful. From the
centre of the shrine a Goddess of Mercy looked down complacently upon
the array of fruit, nuts, sweetmeats and cakes spread out before her.
Many candles in their tall candlesticks were burning on every side.
Before her was a great bronze incense-burner, from which many sticks of
incense sent out their fragrant odour on the air. As each guest passed
through the court, she took a stick from the pile, lit it, and, with a
word of prayer, added it to the number.

After the guests had all arrived a princess--sister of the
hostess--accompanied by two of the leading guests, descended into the
paved court and took her place before the altar. Deep-toned bells were
touched by small boys whose shaven heads and priestly robes denoted
that they, like little Samuel, were being brought up within the courts
of the temple. The Princess took a great bunch of incense in her two
hands, one of her attendants lit it with a torch prepared for that
purpose, the flame and smoke ascended amid the deep tones of the bells,
as she prostrated herself before the goddess. She looked like a
beautiful fairy herself as she stood with the flaming bunch of incense
held high above her head. Three times she prostrated herself and nine
times she bent forward, fulfilling all the requirements of the law.

At the close of this ceremony the ladies were invited to partake of a
feast prepared wholly of vegetables and vegetable oils. It requires
much more skill to prepare such a feast than when meat and animal oils
are used. The food furnished interesting topics for discussion. Most of
it was prepared by various temples, each being celebrated for some
particular dish, which it was asked to provide for the occasion.

It is not uncommon for a Chinese lady to take upon herself a vow in
which she promises the gods to observe certain days of each month as
fast days, on condition that they restore to health a mother, father,
husband or child. No matter what banquet she attends she need only
mention to her hostess that she has a vow and she is made the chief
guest, helping others but eating nothing herself. After this full month
feast the baby was seen, its presents admired, the last cup of tea
drunk, the farewells said, and we all returned home.

[3] The remainder of the chapter is from Mrs. Headland's note-book.


The Chinese Ladies--Their Ills

  My home is girdled by a limpid stream,
  And there in summer days life's movements pause,
  Save where some swallow flits from beam to beam,
  And the wild sea-gull near and nearer draws.

  The good wife rules a paper board for chess;
  The children beat a fish-hook out of wire;
  My ailments call for physic more or less,
  What else should this poor frame of mine require?
        --"Tu Fu," Translated.



[4] Taken from Mrs. Headland's note-book.

One day a eunuch dashed into the back gate of our compound in Peking,
rode up to the door of the library, dismounted from his horse, and
handed a letter in a red envelope to the house servant who met him on
the steps.

"What is the matter?" asked the boy.

"The Princess is ill," replied the servant.

"What Princess?" further inquired the boy.

"Our Princess," was the reply.

"Oh, you are from the palace near the west gate?"

"Yes," and the boy and the servant continued their conversation until
the former had learned all that the letter contained, whereupon he
brought me the message.

I opened the letter, written in the Chinese ideographs, and called the
messenger in.

"Is the Princess very ill?" I inquired.

"Not very," he answered, "but she has been indisposed for several days."

"When does she want me to go?" I inquired, for I had long ago learned
that a few inquiries often brought out interesting and valuable

"At once," he answered; "the cart will be here in a few minutes."

By the time I had made ready my medical outfit the cart had arrived. It
was very much like a great Saratoga trunk on two wheels. It was without
seat and without springs, but filled with thick cushions, and as I had
learned to sit tailor fashion it was not entirely uncomfortable to ride
in. It had gauze curtains in summer, and was lined with quilted silk or
fur in winter, and was a comfortable conveyance.

When I reached the palace I was met by the head eunuch, who conducted
me at once to the apartments of the Princess. Her reception room was
handsomely furnished with rich, carved, teak-wood furniture after the
Manchu fashion, with one or two large, comfortable, leather-covered
easy chairs of foreign make. Clocks sat upon the tables and
window-sills, and fine Swiss watches hung on the walls. Beautiful jade
and other rich Chinese ornaments were arranged in a tasteful way about
the room. On the wall hung a picture painted by the Empress Dowager, a
gift to the Prince on his birthday.

After a moment's waiting the Princess appeared attended by her women
and slave girls.

"I beg your pardon for not having my hair properly dressed," she said,
as she took my hands in hers, the custom of these Manchu princesses and
even the Empress Dowager herself, in greeting foreign ladies. "I
welcome you back to Peking after your summer vacation."

When the usual salutations had been passed she told me her trouble and
I gave her the proper medicine, with minute instructions as to how to
take it, which I also repeated to her women.

"The cause of my illness," she explained, "is over-fatigue. I had to be
present at court on the eighth of the eighth month and I became very
tired from standing all day."

"But could you not sit down?" I asked.

"Not in the presence of the Empress Dowager," she replied.

"Of course, I know you could not sit down in the presence of Her
Majesty, but could you not withdraw and rest a while?" I inquired.

"Not that day. It was a busy and tiresome day for us all," she replied.

While we were talking the young Princess, her son's wife, came in and
greeted her mother-in-law in a formal but kindly way, and gave her
hands to me just as the Princess had done. She remained standing all
the time she was in the room, as did four of the secondary princesses
or wives of her husband. They were all beautifully dressed, but they
are beneath the Princess in rank, and so must stand in her presence. If
the Prince's mother had come in, as she often did when I was there, the
Princess would have to stand and wait on her. All Manchu families are
very particular in this respect.

"You will be interested," said the Princess, "in one phase of our visit
to the palace." Then turning to one of her women she said: "Bring me
those two pairs of shoes."

"These," she explained, "are like some made by my mother-in-law and
myself as presents for the Empress Dowager. On the eighth of the eighth
month we have a feast, when the ladies of the royal household are
invited into the palace, and our custom is for each of us to present
Her Majesty with a pair of shoes."

The shoes were daintily embroidered, though not so pretty as some I
have seen the Empress Dowager wear. Some of her shoes are decorated
with beautiful pearls and others are covered with precious stones.

"The Empress Dowager," continued the Princess, "is very vain of her
small feet; though," she continued, as she put her own foot out,
encased in the daintiest little embroidered slipper of light-blue
satin, "it is not so small as my own."

It seemed very human to hear this delicate little Princess make a
remark of this kind. Of course, both she and the Empress Dowager have
natural feet.

It was late in the afternoon, some months after my visit to the
Princess, that a very different call came for my services.

The boy came in and told me that a man wanted me to go to see his wife,
who lived in the southern city outside the Ha-ta gate. It has always
been my custom never to refuse any one whether they be rich or poor,
and so I told him to call a cart.

It was in midwinter and a bitter cold night, the room was without fire
and yet there was a child of three or four toddling about upon the kang
or brick bed whose only garment was a long coat.

"You should put a pair of trousers on that child," I said, "or it will
catch cold and I will soon have to come again."

"Yes," they said, "we will put trousers on it."

"You had better do it at once," I insisted.

"Yes," they continued, "we will see that it is dressed."

After attending to the woman, and again urging them to dress the child,
I wrapped my warm cloak around me and started home, though I could not
forget the child.

"It is a cold night," I said to the driver as we started on our way.

"Yes," he answered, "there will be some uncomfortable people in the
city to-night."

"In that house we just left," I continued, for I could not banish the
child from my thoughts, "there was a little child playing on the bed
without a shred of trousers on."

"Quite right," said he; "they pawned the trousers of that child to get
money to pay me for taking you to see the sick woman."

"To pay you!" said I, with indignation, and yet with admiration for the
character of the people for whom I was giving my services--"to pay you!
Then drive right back and give them their money and tell them to go and
redeem those trousers and put them on the child!"

"The city gate will be closed before we can reach it if I return," said
he, "and we will not be able to get in to-night."

"No matter about that," I insisted, "go back and give them the money."

He turned around with many mutterings, lashed up his mule at the top of
his speed, gave them the money, and then started on a gallop for the
city gate. It was a rough ride in that springless cart over the rutty
roads. But my house seemed warmer that night and my bed seemed softer
after I had paid the carter myself.

Among my friends and patients none are more interesting than the Misses
Hsu. They are very intelligent, and after I had become well acquainted
with them I said to them one day:

"How is it that you have done such wide reading?"

"You know, of course," they said, "that our father is a chuang yuan."

I asked them the meaning of a chuang yuan. Then I learned that under
the Chinese system a great many students enter the examinations, and
those who secure their degree are called hsiu tsai; a year or two later
these are examined again, and those who pass are given the degree of
chu jen; once more these latter are examined and the successful
candidates are called chin shih, and are then ready for official
position. They continue to study, however, and are allowed to go into
the palace, where they are examined in the presence of the Emperor, and
those who pass are called han lin, or forest of pencils. Once in three
years these han lins are examined and one is allowed to obtain a
degree--he is a chuang yuan.

Out of four hundred million people but one is allowed this degree once
in three years.

"Your father must be a very great scholar," I remarked.

"He has always been a diligent student," they answered, modestly.

"What is his given name?" I inquired, one day.

"If you will give me a pencil I will write it for you; we never speak
the given name of our father in China," said the eldest, and she wrote
it down.

"How many sisters are there in your family--eight, are there not?"

"Yes. You know, of course, that number five was engaged when a child of
six to the son of Li Hung-chang."

"No, I was not aware of the fact; and were they married?"

"No, they were never married. The young man died before they were old
enough to wed. When word of his death was brought to her, child that
she was, she went to our mother and told her she must never engage her
to any one else, as she meant to live and die the widow of this boy."

"And did she go to Li Hung-chang's home?"

"No, the old Viceroy wanted to take her to his home, build a suite of
rooms for her, and treat her as his daughter-in-law, but our parents
objected because she was so young. The Viceroy loved her very much, and
his eyes often filled with tears as he spoke of her and the son who had
passed away. When the Viceroy died she wanted to go and kotow at his
funeral, and all his family except the eldest son were anxious to have
her do so, and thus be recognized as one of the family. But this son
objected, and though Lady Li knocked her head on the coffin until it
bled he would not yield, lest she might want her portion."

"And what has become of your sister? How is it that I have never seen

"She withdrew to a small court, where she has lived with none but her
women servants, not even seeing our father or brothers, and not
allowing a male servant to go near her. And she will not permit the
word Li to be spoken in her presence."

"And what does she do?" I asked. "How does she employ herself?"

"Studying, reading, painting, and embroidery. When young Li refused to
allow her to attend his father's funeral her sense of self-respect was
outraged and she cut off her hair and threatened to commit suicide. She
often fasts for a week, and has tried on several occasions to take her
own life."

I asked them if they did not fear that she might succeed finally in
this attempt to kill herself.

"Yes, we have constant apprehensions. But then, what if she did? It
would only emphasize her virtue."

It was some months after the young ladies told me what I have just
related that they called, for they had taken up the study of English
and I had agreed to help them a bit.

"How is your sister?" I inquired, for the sad fate of this young girl
weighed like a burden on my heart.

"She fasted more than usual during the early summer, but she bathed
daily and changed her clothes, dressing herself in her most beautiful
garments. She had not been sleeping well for some time, and one day she
ordered her women to leave her and not return until they were called.
They remained away until a married sister and a sister-in-law-a niece
of Li Hung-chang--called and wanted to see her. We went to her room but
found it locked. We knocked but received no answer. We finally punched
a hole through the paper window and saw her sitting on her brick bed,
her head bolstered up with cushions and her eyes closed. We supposed
she was sleeping, but on forcing open the door we found that she had
gone to join her boy husband, though her colour and appearance was that
of a living person."

"And are you sure she had not swooned?"

"She remained in this condition for twenty-two hours without pulse or
heart beat, and so we put her in her casket."

I could not but feel sad that I had not been in the city, and had had
an opportunity to help them to ascertain whether her life had really
gone out. But the girls seemed proud of the distinction of having had a
sister of such consummate virtue. Numerous embroidered scrolls and
laudatory inscriptions were sent her from friends of the Li family as
well as of their own, and it is expected that the throne will order a
memorial arch erected to her memory.

On another occasion I was requested to go to the palace of one of the
princes. The fourth Princess, a beautiful little child of five, was ill
with diphtheria, and the first greeting of the mother as I went in was
that she "was homesick to see me." The child had been ill for several
days before they sent for me, and I told them at once that the case was
dangerous. I wanted to do all I could for them and at the same time
protect my own children from the danger of infection. After the first
treatment with antitoxin she seemed to rally, her throat cleared up,
but I soon found that the poison had pervaded her entire system, and so
I stayed with her day and night.

I found that the child had contracted the disease from another about
her own age, who was both her playmate and her slave. It is the custom
among the wealthy to purchase for each daughter a companion who plays
with her as a child, becomes a companion in youth and her maid when she
marries. These slaves are usually treated well, and when this one
became ill the members of the family visited her often, taking her such
dainties as might tempt her appetite. As a result I had to administer
antitoxin to eight of the younger members of the household, so careless
had they been about the spread of this disease; indeed I have found
that the isolation of patients suffering from contagious diseases is
wholly unknown in China.

One of the most attractive of all my Chinese lady friends and patients
is the niece of the great Viceroy, Li Hung-chang, the daughter of his
brother, Li Han-chang, who is himself a viceroy. I have been her
physician for eighteen years or more and hence have become intimately
acquainted with her. She has visited me very often in my home and, of
all the women I have ever known, of any race or people, I have never
met one whom I thought more cultured or refined than she. This may seem
a strange statement, but the quiet dignity that she manifested on all
occasions and her charming manners are not often met with. I have never
felt on entering a drawing-room such an atmosphere of refinement as
seemed to surround her.

That the Chinese take very kindly to foreign medicine there is no
doubt, though it is sometimes amusing how they go back to their own
native methods.

One day my husband brought home a physiological chart about the size of
an ordinary man. It was covered with black spots and I asked him the
reason for them.

"That is what I asked the dealer from whom I bought it," he replied,
"and he told me that those spots indicate where the needle can be
inserted in treatment by acupuncture without killing the patient."

When a Chinese is ill the doctor generally concludes that the only way
to cure him is to stick a long needle into him and let out the pain or
set up counter irritation. If the patient dies it is evident he stuck
the needle into the wrong spot. And this chart has been made up from
millions of experiments during the past two or three thousand years
from patients who have died or recovered.

This was practically illustrated by a woman who was brought to the
hospital. Having had pain in the knee she sent for a Chinese physician
who concluded that the only method of relieving her was by acupuncture.
He therefore inserted a needle which unfortunately pierced the synovial
sac causing inflammation which finally resulted in complete destruction
of the joint. Such cases are not infrequent both among adults and
children in all grades of society, due to this method of treatment.

One day I was called to see a lady who was in immediate need of
surgical treatment. She had three sons who were in high official
positions in the palace, and if their mother died they would have to
withdraw from official life and go into mourning for three years. When
men are thus compelled to resign the new incumbent is not inclined to
restore the office when the period of mourning is over. They were
therefore doubly anxious to have their mother recover. They had tried
all kinds of Chinese physicians and finally sent for me.

I explained the nature of the operation necessary, and gave them every
reason to hope for a speedy recovery, while without surgical treatment
she must surely die. They consented and the operation was successful.
She recovered rapidly for a few days until I regarded her as
practically out of danger. But one day when I called I found her bathed
in perspiration, shaking with fear, weeping and depressed. Her wound
was in an excellent condition and I could find no reason for her
despondency. I cheered her up, laughed and talked with her, gave her
such articles of diet as she craved, and left her happy. The next day I
again found her in the same nervous condition.

"Something is wrong with your mother of which you have not told me," I
said to her son.

"Before we sent for you," he said, "we had called a spirit doctor, who
went into a sort of trance, claimed to have descended into the spirit
world where he saw them making a coffin which he said my mother would
occupy before the fifteenth of the month. It is because that time is
approaching that she is filled with fear."

I talked with the lady, showed her how her wound was healing,
encouraged her to rest easy until the fifteenth, when I would spend the
day with her, after which she immediately began gaining strength and
soon recovered.

At another time I was called to see the wife of the president of the
Board of Punishments. I found an operation necessary. The next day I
found the patient delirious with a fever, and asked the husband if my
directions had been followed.

"I assure you they have," he answered. "But the cause of the fever is
this: Last evening while the servants were taking their meal she was
left alone for a short time. While they were absent, her sister who
lived on this street, a short distance from here, committed suicide.
When the servant discovered it she ran directly to my wife's room, and
told her of the tragedy. My wife began to tremble, had a severe chill,
and soon became delirious. I suspect that her sister's spirit
accompanied the servant and entered my wife."

In spite of this explanation I cleaned and dressed the wound and left
her more comfortable. The next morning she was somewhat better, without
fever and in her right mind.

"What kind of a night did she have?" I asked her husband.

"Oh, very good," he answered. "I managed to get the spirit out of her."

"How did you do it?" I inquired.

"Soon after you left yesterday, I dressed myself in my official
garments, came into my wife's apartments, and asked the spirit if it
would not like to go with me to the yamen, adding that we would have
some interesting cases to settle. I felt a strange sensation come over
me and I knew the spirit had entered me. I got into my cart, drove down
to the home of my sister-in-law, went in where the corpse lay, and told
the spirit that it would be a disgrace to have a woman at the Board of
Punishments. 'This is your place,' I said, in an angry voice; 'get out
of me and stay where you belong.' I felt the spirit leaving me, my
fingers became stiff and I felt faint. I had only been at the Board a
short time when they sent a servant to tell me that my wife was quiet
and sleeping. When I returned in the evening the fever was gone and she
was rational."


The Funeral Ceremonies of a Dowager Princess

There are five degrees of mourning, as follows:--For parents,
grandparents and great-grandparents; for brothers and sisters; for
uncles and aunts; and for distant relatives. In the first sackcloth
without hem or border; in the second with hem or border; in the third,
fourth and fifth, pieces of sackcloth on parts of the dress. When
sackcloth is worn, after the third interval of seven days is over the
mourners can cast it off, and wear plain colours, such as white, gray,
black and blue. For a parent the period is nominally three years, but
really twenty-seven months, during all which time no silk can be worn;
during this time officials have to resign their appointments, and
retire from public life.--Dyer Ball in "Things Chinese."



[5] Taken from Mrs. Headland's note-book.

One day I received a large sheet of white paper on which was written in
Chinese characters the announcement of the death of the Dowager
Princess Su, and inviting me to the "third-day exercises." The real
meaning of this "chieh san" I did not comprehend, but I knew that those
who were invited sent presents of cakes or fruit, or baskets of paper
flowers, incense, gold and silver ingots made of paper, or rolls of
paper silk, all of which were intended for the use of the spirit of the
departed. The paper presents were all burned on the evening of the
third day, while the spirit feasted upon the flavour of the fruit and

As I did not feel that it was appropriate for me to send these things,
I had a beautiful wreath of white chrysanthemum flowers made, and sent
that instead. While I appreciated the invitation, I thought it was
probably given only as a matter of form, and that I was not expected to
attend the exercises, and so I sent my Chinese maid with the wreath,
saying that as I did not understand their customs I would not go.

It was not long until the maid returned saying that they were anxious
to have me come, that under no circumstances must I refuse, as they
wished me to see their funeral ceremonies. The Princess sent her cart
for me, and according to the Chinese custom, I took my maid seated upon
the front, and set out for Prince Su's palace. As we neared our
destination we passed numerous carts and chairs of princes who had been
at the palace to pay their respects. The street leading off the great
thoroughfare was filled with carts, chairs, servants and outriders, but
the utmost order prevailed. There were scores of soldiers and special
police, the latter dressed in long garments of gray with a short jacket
of white on the breast of which was his number in black. These gray and
white uniforms were mourning colours, and were given by the Prince.

As we entered the gate we saw white-robed servants everywhere, each
with a sober face and a dignified bearing, waiting to be of use. My
name was announced and two servants stepped out from the crowd, clothed
from head to feet in white sackcloth, one presenting his arm to help me
through the court, as though I were a bound-footed woman, and the other
led the way. We were taken by a roundabout path, through numerous
courts and passages, the front being reserved for the male guests, and
were finally ushered into a room filled with white-robed women
servants, who with one accord bent their knee in a low courtesy.

We were there met by the first and third Princesses, daughters of the
Dowager who had just passed away. They were dressed in white, their
hair being put up in the Manchu fashion. Instead of the jewels and
bright flowers, however, it was crossed and recrossed with bands of
white folded sackcloth. As these two ladies were married daughters, and
had left this home, their sackcloth was not so coarse as that of the
daughters-in-law and granddaughters who dwelt in the palace. It was
they who received the guests and conducted them into the room where the
mourners were kneeling.

As the white door screen was raised I saw two rows of white-robed
figures kneeling on the floor, and as I entered they all bent forward
and touched their head to the ground, giving forth as they did it a
low, wailing chant.

Not knowing their customs I went up and stooped over, speaking first to
the Princess and then to the ladies as best I could. I afterwards
watched the other lady visitors and saw that they put their right hand
up near their head as our soldiers salute, and courtesied to the
Princess, her daughter-in-law and her eldest daughter. They then went
over to a little table on which was a silver sacrificial set,
consisting of a wine tankard, a great bowl, and a number of tiny cups
holding but two tablespoonfuls. They took the cup in its little saucer,
and, facing the beautiful canopied catafalque where the Dowager
Princess was lying in state, they raised the cup as high as their head
three times, emptying and refilling it each time. The mourners
prostrated themselves and gave forth a mournful wail each time the cup
was poured, after which the visitor arose and came over to where we
were, and the ceremony was over.

The third daughter of the late Dowager seemed to regard me as her
special friend and guest, and insisted on my coming over to a white
curtain that separated us from the view of the gentlemen, and from
there I watched the proceedings of princes and officials who went
through a similar ceremony. There was this difference with them,
however, as they entered through the great canopied court, they were
conducted by white-robed servants directly to the altar, and there
kneeling, they made their obeisance to the spirit of the departed,
after which they went into the room where the Prince and the other male
descendants of the dead Dowager were kneeling and prostrating

There was a heavy yellow curtain over the door that led into the
sacrificial hall, and when the servants from without announced a
visitor, this curtain was drawn aside, and as the guest and a flood of
light entered, the mourners began their wailing which they continued
until he had departed. These visitors remained but a moment, while the
ladies who were there were all near relatives, and were dressed either
entirely or partially in sackcloth.

The room in which these ladies knelt was draped in white. The cushions
were all covered with white, and all porcelain and other decorations
had been removed. The floor was covered with a heavy rope matting, on
which the ladies knelt--all except the Princess, for whom was prepared
a small dark blue felt cushion. The Princess knelt at the northwest
corner of the room, directly in front of the curtain which separated
them from the sacrificial hall. Several of the very near male relatives
entered and gave the low Manchu courtesy to the Princess, the son's
wife, and the eldest daughter, though none of the other kneeling ladies
were recognized. They left immediately without, so far as I noticed,
raising their eyes.

The Prince, his sons and the other mourners in the men's room were
clothed in white fur, and the servants too, who stood in the
sacrificial hall, and at intervals along the way towards the hall, wore
white fur coats instead of sackcloth.

To the left of the Princess there knelt in succession all the secondary
wives of Prince Su, and if I mistake not there were five of these
concubines. Behind the Princess knelt her son's wife--the future
Princess Su, and on her left, the daughters and granddaughters of the
Prince knelt in succession. The Princess and secondary princesses had
bands of sackcloth wound around their heads, though their hair hung
down their backs in two long braids, and as I had never seen these
princesses except when clothed in beautifully embroidered satin
garments, with hair put up in elaborate coiffures, decked with jewels
and flowers, and faces painted and powdered in the proper Manchu
fashion, it was not easy to recognize them in these white-robed,
yellow-faced women, with hair hanging down their backs.

The grandson's wife and granddaughters, on the other hand, had their
hair combed, but the long hairpin was of silver instead of jade or
gold, and instead of being decorated with jewels and flowers, and a red
cord, it was crossed and recrossed with bands of folded sackcloth an
inch and a half in width. It was neat and very effective--the black
hair and white cloth making a pretty contrast to the Western eye,
though it would probably not be so considered by the Chinese.

After I had watched them for a few moments I said to the princess who
accompanied me:

"I must not intrude upon your time longer; you have been very kind to
allow me to witness all these interesting customs."

"Oh, but you must not go now," she insisted; "you must remain and see
the arrival of the priests, and the burning of the paper houses, goods,
chattels, and images on the great street. I want you to understand all
our customs, and this is the greatest and most interesting day of the
funeral ceremonies."

I urged that I ought not to intrude myself upon them at this time.

"No, no," she said, "you must not say that. It is not intrusion; you
must stay and dine with us this evening."

When I still insisted upon going she said that if I went they would
feel that I did not care for them, and she was so persistent that I
consented to remain if the maid might be sent home to the children,
which they at once arranged for.

In the interval between the arrival of male guests, the ladies took me
out into a large canopied court to see the decorations, and into the
sacrificial hall. These ceremonies were all conducted in the house and
court which the Dowager Princess had occupied, and where I had often
gone to see her when she wanted to thank me for some medical attention
I had given her children or grandchildren.

As we passed through the great gate, I noticed that the court was
covered with a mat pavilion making a room about one hundred and fifty
feet square, lighted by great squares of glass near the top, and
decorated with banners of rich brocade silks or satins, of sober
colours, blue, gray or white, on which were texts extolling the virtues
of the late Dowager or her family. These were the gifts of friends, who
had been coming and would continue to come for days if not weeks.

At the north end as one came in at the gate was a gallery running the
whole length of the northern court, fitted up with special hangings
which separated it into different compartments. Many elegant banners
and decorations gave it a striking effect. This was the place where the
priests, who had not yet arrived, were to say their prayers day and
night until the funeral ceremonies were over.

Directly in front of the catafalque, in the gallery, there was a table
on which I afterwards saw the priests place a silver vessel which the
head priest carried, and the others regarded with much solemnity.

From the gateway leading into the sacrificial hall the floor of the
court had been raised even with the door of the house and the gate, a
height of about five feet, and forty feet wide, and was covered with
the same kind of rope matting that was on the floors. On the canopied
verandas there were stacks of cakes, incense, fruit and money. These
were the most novel sights I have ever seen in China. They were ten or
twelve feet high. They were a very pretty sight, and it required some
scrutiny to discover that they were made of cakes and fruit. How they
were able to build them thus, tier upon tier, and prevent their falling
when they were touched is beyond my comprehension. What magic there is
in it I do not know.

As one entered the door of the sacrificial hall, towering above
everything else, was the great catafalque, draped in cloth of gold, and
in front of it were stacks of these sacrificial cakes. Near them there
was a table on which there were great white, square candles, five
inches or more in diameter, the four sides of which were stamped with
figures of fairies and immortals. On this table there were also various
savoury dishes, together with cakes and fruit, prepared to feed the
spirit of the dead. In front of this table again there was another
about a foot high on which were placed the sacrificial wine vessels,
and before which the guests knelt. As we entered I saw the gentlemen
kneeling to the left, while the ladies, separated from them by white
curtains, were kneeling to the right.

After we had seen the various customs without, I was taken into the
dining-room, where I sat down with the young Princess and her two
aunts, daughters of the Dowager. They were very kind and polite, and
did all in their power to make me feel at home. We were attended by
white-robed eunuchs, who knelt when they spoke to the Princess. There
was such a lot of them.

"How many servants do you use ordinarily?" I asked the eldest daughter.

"About four hundred," she replied.

I thought of the task of robing four hundred servants in new white
sackcloth, and attending to all the other things that I had seen, in
the forty-eight hours since the death of the Dowager Princess. Even the
bread, instead of being dotted with red as it is ordinarily, was dotted
with black!

As we were finishing our supper we heard the horns of the priests and
went to see them arrive. Prince Su, and the other male members of the
family, went out to the door to receive them, but we remained within.
They first went to the gallery, then the head priest came down into the
sacrificial hall and made nine prostrations before the catafalque,
without, however, pouring or offering wine. After each third
prostration he stood up and raised his clasped hands to a level with
his eyes. They then began their weird music, standing on the two sides
of the raised platform between the gate and the house, thus allowing a
passageway between them for the guests.

The Princess told me that they were about to form a procession to go to
the great street. I therefore took my leave in order that I might
precede them and see the procession arrive, and witness the burning of
the presents for the spirit.

When I arrived on the great street I there beheld a paper cart and
horses which were intended to transport the spirit to the eastern
heaven. There was a sedan chair for her use after her arrival, numerous
servants, money, silk, and a beautiful, big house for her to dwell in,
all made of paper. I had not long to wait for the procession, which was
headed by the priests playing mournful, wailing music on large and
small horns and drums. The priests were followed by the mourners and
their friends. When they arrived at the place of the burning, the
mourners prostrated themselves upon white cushions before the paper
furnishings amid the shrieks of the instruments, the wailing of the
hired mourners, and the petitions of the priests for the spirits to
assist the departed on her way.

While this was going on, fire was applied to various parts of the paper
pile, and in a moment a great flame sprang up into the air--a flame
that could be seen from miles around, and in less time than it takes to
tell it the whole was a heap of glowing ashes, the mourners had
departed, and the little street children were stirring it up with long

The first three days after death, the spirit is supposed to visit the
different temples, going, as it were, from official court to official
court receiving judgment, and cards of merit or demerit to take with
it, for the deeds done in the body. On the third day it returns to say
farewell to the home, and then leaves for its long journey, and all
this paper furniture is sent on ahead.

They continue forty-nine days of prayers by the priests, alternating
three days by the Buddhists, three by the Lamas, and three by the
Taoists, after which the Buddhists take their turn again. Everything
else remains much as I have described it. The family, servants,
everybody in mourning, and all business put aside to make way for this
ceremony of mourning, mourning, mourning, when they ought to be
rejoicing, for the poor old Princess had been a paralytic for years and
was far better out of her misery.

The Princess frequently sent her cart for me during these days. Once
when I was going through the court where there were vast quantities of
things to be burned for the spirit, all made of paper, I noticed some
that were so natural that I was unable to distinguish between them and
the real things. Especially was this true of the furniture and flowers
like that which had been in her apartments. There were great ebony
chairs with fantastically marked marble seats, cabinets, and all the
furniture necessary for her use. Among these things I noticed on the
table a pack of cards and a set of dice, of which she had been very
fond, and a chair like the one in which the eunuchs had carried the
crippled old Princess about the court, and I said to the young Princess
who accompanied me:

"You do not think your grandmother will require these things in the
spirit world, do you?"

"Perhaps not," she replied, "but she enjoyed her cards and dice, and
the chair was such a necessity, that, whether she needs them or not, it
is a comfort to us to get and send her everything she liked while she
lived, and it helps us bear our sorrows."


Chinese Princes and Officials

In any estimate of the forces which lead and control public opinion in
China, everywhere from the knot of peasants in the hamlet to the
highest officers of state and the Emperor himself, the literati, or
educated class, must be given a prominent position. They form an
immense body, increased each year by the government examinations. They
are at the head of the social order. Every civil officer in the empire
must be chosen from their number. They constitute the basis of an
elaborate system of civil service, well equipped with checks and
balances which, if corrected and brought into touch with modern life
and thought, would easily command the admiration of the world.--Chester
Holcomb in "The Real Chinese Question."



One day while the head eunuch from the palace of one of the leading
princes in Peking was sitting in my study he said:

"It is drawing near to the New Year. Do you celebrate the New Year in
your honourable country?"

"Yes," I replied, "though not quite the same as you do here."

"Do you fire off crackers?"

"Yes, in the matter of firecrackers, we celebrate very much the same as
you do."

"And do you settle up all your debts as we do here?"

"I am afraid we do not. That is not a part of our New Year celebration."

"Our Prince is going to take on two more concubines this New Year," he

"Ah, indeed, I thought he had three concubines already."

"So he does, but he is entitled to five."

"I should think it would make trouble in a family for one man to have
so many women," I ventured.

He waved his hand in that peculiar way the Chinese have of saying,
don't mention it, as he answered:

"That is a difficult matter to discuss. Naturally if this woman sees
the Prince talking to that one, this one is going to eat vinegar,"
which gives us a glimpse of some of the domestic difficulties in
Chinese high life. However it is a fact worth remembering that the
Manchu prince does not receive his full stipend from the government
until he has five concubines, each of whom is the mother of a son.

The leading princes of the new regime are Ching, Su, and Pu-lun. Prince
Ching has been the leader of the Manchus ever since the downfall of
Prince Kung. He has held almost every office it was in the power of the
Empress Dowager to give, "though disliked by the Emperor." He was made
president of the Tsung-li Yamen in 1884, and from that time until the
present has never been degraded, or in any way lost the imperial
favour. He is small in stature, has none of the elements of the great
man that characterized Li Hung-chang and Chang Chih-tung, or Prince
Kung, but he has always been characterized by that diplomacy which has
kept him one of the most useful officials in close connection with the
Empress Dowager. It is to his credit moreover that the legations were
preserved from the Boxers in the siege of 1900.

Prince Su is the only one of the eight hereditary princes who holds any
office that brings him into intimate contact with the foreigners.
During the Boxer siege he gave his palace for the use of the native
Christians, and at the close was made collector of the customs duties
(octoroi) at the city gates. Never had there been any one in charge of
this post who turned in as large proportion of the total collections as
he. This excited the jealousy of the other officials, and they said to
each other: "If Prince Su is allowed to hold this position for any
length of time there will never be anything in it for any one else."
They therefore sought for a ground of accusation, and they found it, in
the eyes of the conservatives, in the fact that he rode in a foreign
carriage, built himself a house after the foreign style of
architecture, furnished it with foreign furniture, employed an
Englishman to teach his boys, and as we have seen opened a school for
the women and girls of his family. He therefore lost his position, but
it is to the credit of Prince Chun, the new Regent, and his progressive
policy, that Prince Su has been made chief of the naval department, of
which Prince Ching is only an adviser.

The most important person among either princes or officials that has
been connected with the new regime is Yuan Shih-kai. He was born in the
province of Honan, that province south of the Yellow River which is
almost annually flooded by that great muddy stream which is called
"China's Sorrow." As a boy he was a diligent student of the Chinese
classics and of such foreign books as had been translated into the
Chinese language, but he has never studied a foreign tongue nor visited
a foreign country. Here then rests the first element of his
greatness--that without any knowledge of foreign language, foreign law,
foreign literature, science of government, or the history of progress
and of civilization, he has occupied the highest and most responsible
positions in the gift of the empire, has steered the ship of state on a
straight course between the shoals of conservatism on the one hand and
radical reform on the other until he has brought her near to the
harbour of a safe progressive policy.

He has always been what the Chinese call the tu-ti or pupil of Li
Hung-chang, and it may be that it was from him he learned his
statecraft. Certain it is that he always basked in the favour of the
great Viceroy, and it may be that he had more or less influence with
him in his earlier appointments, for he rose rapidly and in spite of
all other officials.

On his return from Korea he was made a judge. He was then put in charge
of the army of the metropolitan province, and with the assistance of
German officers he succeeded in drilling 12,500 troops after the
European fashion.

It was about this time that the Emperor conceived the plan of
instituting and carrying out one of the most stupendous reforms that
has ever been undertaken in human government--that of transforming four
thousand years of conservatism of four hundred millions of people in
the short space of a few months.

Given: A people who cannot make a nail, to build a railroad.

Given: A people who dare not plow a deep furrow for fear of disturbing
the spirits of the place, to open gold, silver, iron and coal mines.

Given: A people who in 4,000 years did not have the genius to develop a
decent high school, to open a university in the capital of every

These are three of the score or more of equally difficult problems that
the Emperor undertook to solve in twice as many days. In order to the
solution of these problems there was organized in Peking a Reform Party
of hot-headed, radical young scholars not one of whom has ever turned
out to be a statesman. They were brilliant young men, many of them, but
they so lost their heads in their enthusiasm for reform that they
forgot that their government was in the hands of the same old
conservative leaders under whom it had been for forty centuries.

They introduced into the palace as the private adviser of the Emperor,
Kang Yu-wei, as we have already shown, to whom was thus offered one of
the greatest opportunities that was ever given to a human being--that
of being the leader in this great reform. He was hailed as a young
Confucius, but his popularity was short-lived, for he so lacked all
statesmanship as to allow the young Emperor to issue twenty-seven
edicts, disposing of twenty-seven difficult problems such as I have
given above in about twice that many days, and it is this hot-headed
and unstatesman-like young "Confucius" who now calls Yuan Shih-kai an
opportunist and a traitor because he did not enter into the following

After the Emperor had dismissed two conservative vice-presidents of a
Board, two governors of provinces, and a half dozen other useless
conservative leaders, they plotted to overthrow him by appealing to the
ambition of the Empress Dowager and induce her to dethrone him and
again assume the reins of government. They argued that "he was her
adopted son, it was she who had placed him on the throne, and she was
therefore responsible for his mistakes." They complimented her on "the
wisdom which she had manifested, and the statesmanship she had
exhibited" during the thirty years and more of her regency. To all
which she listened with a greedy ear, but still she made no move.

During this time were the Emperor and his young "Confucius" idle? By no
means. They had hatched a counterplot, and had decided that what they
could not do by moral suasion and statesmanship they would do by force,
and so they sent an order to Yuan Shih-kai, who as we have said had
drilled and was in charge of 12,500 of the best troops in the empire,
urging him to "hasten to the capital at once, place the Empress Dowager
under guard in the Summer Palace so that she may not be allowed to
interfere in the affairs of the government, and protect him in his
reform measures."

The Emperor knew that nothing could be done without the command of the
army which was largely in the hands of a great conservative friend of
the Empress Dowager (Jung Lu) the father-in-law of the present Regent.
Yuan was in charge of an army corps of 12,500 troops, but for him to
have taken them even at the command of the Emperor, without informing
his superior officer, would have meant the loss of his head at once.
The first thing then for him to do was to take this order to Jung Lu.
Yuan was in favour of reform, though he may not have approved of the
Emperor's methods. Jung Lu hastened to Prince Ching and they two sped
to the Empress Dowager in the Summer Palace where they laid the whole
matter before her. She hurried to Peking, boldly faced and denounced
the Emperor, took from him his seal of state, and confined him a
prisoner in the Winter Palace. Kang Yu-wei, the young "Confucius,"
fled, but the Empress Dowager seized his brother and five other
patriotic young reformers, and ordered them beheaded on the public
execution grounds in Peking.

Naturally the Empress Dowager approved of the "wise and statesmanlike
methods" of Yuan in thus protecting instead of imprisoning her, and
thus placing the reins of government once more in her hands, and she
appointed him Junior Vice-President of the Board of Works, and when she
was compelled to remove the Governor of Shantung who had organized the
Boxer Society, she appointed Yuan Acting Governor in his stead. "Yuan,"
says Arthur H. Smith, was "a man of a wholly different stripe" from the
one removed, and "if left to himself he would speedily have
exterminated the whole Boxer brood, but being hampered by 'confidential
instructions' from the palace, he could do little but issue poetical
proclamations, and revile his subordinates for failure to do their

When Yuan was made Governor of Shantung a number of the Boxer leaders
called upon him expecting to find in him a sympathizer worthy of his
predecessor. They told him of their great powers and possibilities, and
of how they were proof against the spears, swords and bullets of their
enemies. Yuan listened to them with patience and interest, and invited
them to dine with him and other official friends in the near future.

During the dinner the Governor directed the conversation towards the
Boxer leaders and their prowess, and led them once more to relate to
all his friends their powers of resistance. He fed them well, and after
the dinner was over he suggested that they give an exhibition of their
wonderful powers to the friends whom he had invited. This they could
not well refuse to do after the braggadocio way in which they had
talked, and so the Governor lined them up, called forth a number of his
best marksmen, and proceeded with the exhibition, and it is unnecessary
to add that if the Empress Dowager had invited Yuan to the meeting with
the princes when they discussed the advisability of joining the Boxers
on account of a belief in their supernatural powers, she might have
been spared the humiliation of 1900.

We shall soon see that Yuan cared no more for the "confidential
instructions" of the Empress Dowager, when his statesmanship was
involved, than for the orders of the Emperor. His business was to
govern and protect the people of his province, and thanks to his wise
statesmanship and strong character "there was not only no foreigner
killed during the troubled season of anxiety and flight" of 1900, and
"comparatively little of the suffering elsewhere so common."

And now we come to another plot which indicates the character of Yuan
and two other great viceroys, Chang Chih-tung, now Grand Secretary, and
Liu Kun-yi, Viceroy of the Yangtse-kiang provinces. It is a well-known
fact that during the Boxer rebellion the Empress Dowager was so
influenced by the promises of the Boxers to drive out all the
foreigners that she sent out some very unwise edicts that they should
be massacred in the provinces. Yuan and his two confreres secretly
stipulated that if the foreign men of war would keep away from the
ports of their provinces they would maintain peace and protect the
foreigners no matter what orders came from the throne. So that when
these confidential instructions came from the palace to massacre the
foreigners, in order to gain time they pretended to believe that no
such orders could have come from the throne. They must be forgeries of
the Boxers. They therefore refused to believe them until they had sent
their own special messenger all the way to Peking to get the edict from
the hands of Her Majesty and bring it to them in their provinces. This
messenger was also secretly instructed to find out what the contents of
the edict were, and if it was contrary to the desires of the Governor,
he was to dilly-dally on the way home until the Boxer trouble was ended
or until the foreigners had all been removed from the territory. And it
was such conduct as this on the part of three Chinese and one Manchu
viceroys that saved China from being divided up among the Powers in
1900, a fact which the Empress Dowager was not slow to understand and

In 1900 Yuan was made Governor of the Shantung province, and the court
was compelled to flee to Hsian. It was while the court was thus in
hiding that an incident occurred which indicates the fertility of the
Empress Dowager and the elasticity of all Chinese social customs.
Governor Yuan's mother died. In a case of this kind customs dictate,
and the rules of filial affection demand, that a man shall resign all
his official positions and go into mourning for a period of three
years. Yuan therefore sent his resignation to the Empress Dowager,
while "weeping tears of blood."

The country was of course in desperate straits and could ill afford to
lose, for three years, for a mere sentiment, the services of one of her
greatest and most powerful statesmen. However much he may have
regretted to give up such a brilliant career which was just well begun,
Yuan no doubt expected to do so. What was his surprise therefore to
receive from Her Majesty a message of condolence in which she praised
his mother in the highest terms for having given the world such a
brilliant and able son. Under the circumstances, however, it would be
impossible to accept his resignation as his services to the country
just at this juncture were indispensable. She would, however, appoint a
substitute to go into mourning for him, and this with the knowledge
that she had borne a son whose services were so necessary to the safety
of the government and the country, would be a sufficient comfort to the
spirit of his departed mother, and Yuan was forced to continue in his
official position as Governor of the province without the intermission
of a single day of mourning. Such is the elasticity and adaptability of
the unchanging laws and customs of the Oriental when in the hands of a
master--or a mistress--like Her Majesty the Empress Dowager.

One can imagine that in proportion as the Empress Dowager was pleased
with the statesmanship manifested by Yuan Shih-kai in unintentionally
reseating her upon the throne, in a like proportion the Emperor would
be dissatisfied with it as being the cause of his dethronement. This
was not, however, against Yuan alone but against the father-in-law of
the present Regent and even Prince Ching as well. During the whole ten
years, from 1898 until his death, while he was a prisoner "his heart
boiled with wrath" against those who had been the cause of his downfall.

It was not until the Boxer troubles of 1900 were over, and Yuan, by the
masterly way in which he had disregarded the imperial edicts, had
protected and preserved the lives of all the foreigners in his
province, keeping peace the while, that honours began to be heaped upon
him. And this not without reason as we shall proceed to show.

In 1901 he was made Governor-General of the metropolitan province, and
Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent. In 1902 he was decorated with the
Yellow Jacket, placed in charge of the affairs of the Northern Railway,
and consulting minister to counsel the government. Wherever he was he
gave as much attention to the city government as to that of the
province or the nation, and in spite of his having no foreign education
himself, he began building up a system of public schools in his
province like which there is nothing else in the whole of China. Let us
remember also that during ail this time there was suspended over his
head, from the palace, a sword of Damocles which was liable to fall at
any time. But we will explain that further on as it is the last act of
the drama.

When Yuan went to Tientsin as Viceroy of the metropolitan province he
found there Dr. C. D. Tenny, the president of the Tientsin University
which had been begun by Li Hung-chang some ten or a dozen years before.
It had a good course of study and was turning out a large number of
young graduates for whom there ought to be a better future than that of
interpreters in the various business houses of that and other cities.
He therefore called Dr. Tenny to him and inquired particularly about
the system of public school education throughout the United States.

"What is to prevent our putting into operation such a system throughout
this province?" asked the Viceroy.

"Nothing," answered Dr. Tenny, "except to be willing to submit to the

"And what are those conditions?" asked His Excellency.

"They are that you open schools in every important town, place in them
well-educated, competent teachers, whom you are willing to pay a salary
equal to what they may reasonably expect to get if they enter business."

"May I ask if you would be willing to undertake the development of such
a system?" he asked further.

"On one condition," answered Dr. Tenny.

"And what is that?"

"That you allow me to open a school wherever I think there should be
one, call my teachers from whatsoever source I please to call them, pay
them whatever salary I think they deserve, sending all the bills to
Your Excellency, and you pay them without question."

The Viceroy had known Dr. Tenny for years, had always had the most
implicit confidence both in his ability and his honesty, and so,
lightening up his duties in the Tientsin and Paotingfu Universities, he
commissioned him to establish what may be termed the first public
school system of education on modern lines in the whole empire. This
one act, if he had done no other, was reason enough for a wise regent
to have continued him in office even though he "had rheumatism of the
leg." But it may be that there are extenuating circumstances in this
act of the Regent as we shall point out later.

There is one phase of the Boxer uprising that I have never yet seen
properly represented in any book or magazine. We all know how the
ministers of the various European governments with their wives and
children, the customs officials, missionaries, business men, and
tourists who happened to be in Peking at the time, with all the Chinese
Christians, were confined in the British legation and Prince Su's
palace. We know how they barricaded their defense. We know how they
were fired upon day and night for six weeks by the Boxer leaders and
the army of the conservatives under the leadership of their general,
Tung Fu-hsiang. But the thing which we do not know, or at least which
has not been adequately told, is the most interesting secret plot of
the liberal progressives, under the leadership of "Prince Ching and
others," to thwart the Empress Dowager and the Boxer leaders, the
conservatives and their army, and protect the most noted company of
prisoners that have ever been confined in a legation quarter. The plot
was this:

When Prince Ching and his progressive associates in Peking discovered
that they could not vote down the Boxer princes, they dared not openly
oppose them, but they secretly decided that the representatives of the
Powers must not be massacred else the doom of China was sealed. When
they discovered that Yuan Shih-kai and the other great viceroys had
decided by stratagem to foil the Boxers even though they must set all
the imperial edicts at naught, they decided, for the sake of the
protection of the legations and the preservation of the empire, that
they would do the same. They secretly sent supplies of food to the
besieged, which the latter feared to use lest they be poisoned. But
more than that they kept their own armies in Peking as a guard and as a
final resort in case there was danger of the legation being overcome,
and as a matter of fact there were regular pitched battles between the
troops of Prince Ching and his associates and those of the Boxer
leader, Tung Fu-hsiang. Had the Boxers finally succeeded, Yuan Shih-kai
and Prince Ching and their associates would have lost their heads, but
as the Boxers failed it was they who went to their graves by the short
process of the executioner's knife.

So Yuan was between two fires. He had disobeyed the commands of the
Emperor in not coming to Peking and had therefore incurred his
displeasure and caused his downfall. He had disobeyed the Empress
Dowager in not putting to death the foreigners in his province, and if
the Boxers were successful he would surely lose his head on that
account. The Boxers, however, were not successful and as his
disobedience had helped to save the empire, Yuan, so long as the
Dowager remained in power, was safe.

But a day of reckoning must inevitably come. The Empress Dowager was an
old woman, the Emperor was a young man. In all human probabilities she
would be the first to die, while his only hope was in her outliving the
Emperor, who had sworn vengeance on all those who had been instrumental
in his imprisonment.

I have a friend in Peking who is also a friend of one of the greatest
Chinese officials. This official has gone into the palace daily for a
dozen years past and knows every plot and counterplot that has been
hatched in that nest of seclusion during all that time, though he has
been implicated in none of them. He has held the highest positions in
the gift of the empire without ever once having been degraded. One day
when he was in the palace the Emperor unburdened his heart to him,
thinking that what he said would never reach the ears of his enemies.

"You have no idea," said the Emperor, "what I suffer here."

"Indeed?" was the only reply of the official.

"Yes," continued the Emperor, "I am not allowed to speak to any one
from outside. I am without power, without companions, and even the
eunuchs act as though they are under no obligations to respect me. The
position of the lowest servant in the palace is more desirable than
mine." Then lowering his voice he continued, "But there is a day of
reckoning to come. The Empress Dowager cannot live forever, and if ever
I get my throne again I will see to it that those who put me here will
suffer as I have done."

It is not unlikely that this conversation of the Emperor reached the
ears of Yuan Shih-kai. Walls have ears in China. Everything has ears,
and every part of nature has a tongue. If so, here was the occasion for
the last plot in the drama of the Emperor's life, and next to the last
in the official life of Yuan Shih-kai.

The problem is to so manipulate the laws of nature as to prevent the
Emperor outliving the Empress Dowager, and not allow the world to know
that you have been trifling with occult forces. He must die a natural
death, a death which is above suspicion. He must not die one day after
the Empress Dowager as that would create talk. And he ought to die some
time before her. The death fuse is one which often burns very much
longer than we expect--was it not one of the English kings who said "I
fear I am a very long time a-dying, gentlemen"--and sometimes it burns
out sooner than is intended. There were two imperial death fuses
burning at the same time in that Forbidden City of Peking. The Empress
Dowager had "had a stroke." Hers was undoubtedly nature's own work. But
the enemies of Yuan Shih-kai tell us that the Emperor had "had a
Chinese doctor," to whom the great Viceroy paid $33,000 for his
services. We are told that the Empress Dowager in reality died first
and then the Emperor, though the Emperor's death was first announced,
and the next day that of the Dowager.

What then are we to infer? That the Emperor was poisoned? Let it be so.
That is what the Japanese believed at the time. But who did it? Most
assuredly no one man. One might have employed a Chinese physician for
him, but the last man whose physician the Emperor would have accepted
would have been Yuan Shih-kai's. Had you or I been ill would we have
allowed the man who was the cause of our fall to select our physician?
But granted that Yuan Shih-kai did employ his physician, and that his
death was the result of slow poisoning, could Yuan Shih-kai have so
manipulated Prince Ching, the Regent (who is the late Emperor's
brother), the ladies of the court, and all those thousands of eunuchs,
to remain silent as to the death of the Empress Dowager until he had
completed the slow process on His Majesty? No! If the Emperor was
poisoned--and the world believes he was--there are a number of others
whose skirts are as badly stained as those of the great Viceroy, or
long ere this his body would have been sent home a headless corpse
instead of with "rheumatism of the leg."

What then is the explanation? It may be this, that the court, and the
officials as a whole, felt that the Emperor was an unsafe person to
resume the throne, and that it were better that one man should perish
than that the whole regime should be upset. They even refused to allow
a foreign physician to go in to see him, saying that of his own free
will he had turned again to the Chinese, all of which indicates that it
was not the plot of any one man.

Why then should Yuan Shih-kai have been made the scapegoat of the court
and the officials, and branded as a murderer in the face of the whole
world? That may be another plot. The radical reformers, followers of
Kang Yu-wei, have been making such a hubbub about the matter ever since
the death of the Emperor and the Empress Dowager that somebody had to
be punished. They said that Yuan had been a traitor to the cause of
reform, that he had not only betrayed his sovereign in 1898, but that
now he had encompassed his death.

Now to satisfy these enemies, the Prince Regent may have decided that
the best thing to do was to dismiss Yuan for a time. I think that the
trivial excuse he gives for doing so favours my theory--with
"rheumatism of the leg," to which is added, "Thus our clemency is
manifest"--a sentence which may be severe or may mean nothing, and when
the storm has blown over and the sky is clear again, Yuan may be once
more brought to the front as Li Hung-chang and others have been in the
past. Which is a consummation, I think, devoutly to be wished.


Peking--The City of the Court

The position of Peking at the present time is one of peculiar interest,
for all the different forces that are now at work to make or mar China
issue from, or converge towards, the capital. There, on the dragon
throne, beside, or rather above, the powerless and unhappy Emperor, the
father of his people and their god, sits the astute and ever-watchful
lady whose word is law to Emperor, minister and clown alike. There
dwell the heads of the government boards, the leaders of the Manchu
aristocracy, and the great political parties, the drafters of new
constitutions and imperial decrees, and the keen-witted diplomatists
who know so well how to play against European antagonists the great
game of international chess.--R. F. Johnston in "From Peking to



In the place where Peking now stands there has been a city for three
thousand years. Five centuries before Christ it was the capital of a
small state, but was destroyed three centuries later by the builder of
the great wall. It was soon rebuilt, however, and has continued from
that time until the present, with varied fortunes, as the capital of a
state, the chief city of a department, or the dwelling-place of the

It is the greatest and best preserved walled city in the empire, if not
in the world. The Tartar City is sixteen miles in circumference,
surrounded by a wall sixty feet thick at the bottom, fifty feet thick
at the top and forty feet high, with six feet of balustrade on the
outside, beautifully crenelated and loopholed, and in a good state of
preservation. The streets are sixty feet wide,--or even more in
places,--well macadamized, and lit with electric light. The chief mode
of conveyance is the 'ricksha, though carriages may be hired by the
week, day or hour at various livery stables in proximity to the hotels,
which, by the way, furnish as good accommodation to their guests as the
hotels of other Oriental cities.

In the centre of the Tartar City is the Imperial City, eight miles in
circumference, encircled by a wall six feet thick and fifteen feet
high, pierced by four gates at the points of the compass; and in the
centre of this again is the Forbidden City, occupying less than half a
square mile, the home of the court.

Fairs are held, at various temples, fourteen days of every month,
distributed in such a way as to bring them almost on alternate days,
while at certain times there are two fairs on the same day. It is a
mistake to suppose that the Chinese women in the capital are very much
secluded. They may be seen on the streets at almost any time, while the
temple courts and adjacent streets, on fair days, are crowded with
women and girls, dressed in the most gorgeous colours, their hair
decorated with all kinds of artificial flowers, followed by little boys
and girls as gaily dressed as themselves. Here they find all kinds of
toys, curios, and articles of general use, from a top to a broom, from
bits of jade or other precious stones, to a snuff bottle hollowed out
of a solid quartz crystal, or a market basket or a dust-pan made of

Peking being the city of the court, and the headquarters of many of the
greatest officials, is the receptacle of the finest products of the
oldest and greatest non-Christian people the world has ever known.
China easily leads the world in the making of porcelain, the best of
which has always gone to Peking for use in the palace, and so we can
find here the best products of every reign from the time of Kang Hsi,
as well as those of the former dynasties, to that of Kuang Hsu and the
Empress Dowager. The same is true of her brass and bronze
incense-burners and images, her wood and ivory carvings, her beautiful
embroideries, her magnificent tapestries, and her paintings by old
masters of six or eight hundred years ago. Here we can find the finest
Oriental rugs, in a good state of preservation, with the "tone" that
only age can give, made long before the time of Washington.

There is no better market for fine bits of embroidery, mandarin coats,
and all the better products of needle, silk and floss, of which the
Chinese have been masters for centuries, than the city of the court.
The population consists largely of great officials and their families,
whose cast-off clothing, toned down by the use of years, often without
a blemish or a spot, finds its way into the hands of dealers. The
finest furs,--seal, otter, squirrel, sable and ermine,--are brought
from Siberia, Manchuria and elsewhere, for the officials and the court,
and can be secured for less than half what they would cost in America.
Pearls, of which the Chinese ladies and the court are more fond than of
diamonds, may be found in abundance in all the bazars, which are many,
and judging from the way they are purchased by tourists, are both
cheaper and better than elsewhere.

The Chinese have little appreciation of diamonds as jewelry. On one
occasion there was offered to me a beautiful ring containing a large
sapphire encircled by twenty diamonds. When I offered the dealer less
than he asked for it, he said: "No, rather than sell it for that price,
I will tear it apart, and sell the diamonds separately for drill-points
to the tinkers who mend dishes. I can make more from it in that way,
only I dislike to spoil the ring." The Empress Dowager during her late
years, and many of the ladies and gentlemen of the more progressive
type, affected, whether genuinely or not, an appreciation of the
diamond as a piece of jewelry, especially in the form of rings, though
coloured stones, polished, but not cut, have always been more popular
with the Chinese. The turquoise, the emerald, the sapphire, the ruby
and the other precious stones with colour have, therefore, always
graced the tables of the bazars in the capital, while the diamond until
very recently was relegated to the point of the tinker's drill.

There is another method of bringing bits of their ancient handiwork to
the capital which most of those living in Peking, even, know nothing
about. A company, whose headquarters is at an inn, called the Hsing
Lung Tien, sends agents all over the empire, to purchase and bring to
them everything in the nature of a curio, whether porcelain, painting,
embroidery, pottery or even an ancient tile or inkstone, which they
then, at public auction, sell to the dealers. The sale is at noon each
day. The first time I visited it was with a friend from Iowa who was
anxious to get some unique bits of porcelain. The auctioneer does not
"cry" the wares. Neither buyer nor seller says a word. Nobody knows
what anybody else has offered. The goods are passed out of a closed
room from a high window where the crowd can see them, and then each one
wanting them tries to be first in securing the hand of the auctioneer,
which is ensconced in his long sleeve, where, by squeezing his fingers,
they tell him how much they will give for the particular piece. It is
the only real case of "talking in the sleeve" I have ever seen, and
each piece is sold to the first person offering a fair profit on the
money invested, though he might get much more by allowing them to bid
against each other.

Among the attractive sights in Peking, none are quite so interesting as
the places where His Majesty worships, and of these the most beautiful
in architecture, the grandest in conception, and the one laid out on
the most magnificent scale, is the Temple of Heaven.

Think of six hundred and forty acres of valuable city property being
set aside for the grounds of a single temple, as compared with the way
our own great churches are crowded into small city lots of scarcely as
many square feet, and over-shadowed by great business blocks costing a
hundred times as much, and we can get some conception of the
magnificence of the scale on which this temple is laid out. A large
part of the grounds is covered with cedars, many of which are not less
than five hundred years old, while other parts are used to pasture a
flock of black cattle from which they select the sacrifice for a burnt
offering. The grounds are not well kept like those of our own parks and
churches, but the original conception of a temple on such a large scale
is worthy of a great people.

The worship at this temple is the most important of all the religious
observances of the empire, and constitutes a most interesting remnant
of the ancient monotheistic cultus which prevailed in China before the
rationalism of Confucius and the polytheistic superstition of Buddhism
predominated among the people. While the ceremonies of the sacrifices
are very complicated, they are kept with the strictest severity. The
chief of these is at the winter solstice. On December 21st the Emperor
goes in a sedan chair, covered with yellow silk, and carried by
thirty-two men, preceded by a band of musicians, and followed by an
immense retinue of princes and officials on horseback. He first goes to
the tablet-chapel, where he offers incense to Shang Ti, the God above,
and to his ancestors, with three kneelings and nine prostrations. Then
going to the great altar he inspects the offerings, after which he
repairs to the Palace of Abstinence, where he spends the night in
fasting and prayer. The next morning at 5:45 A. M. he dons his
sacrificial robes, proceeds to the open altar, where he kneels and
burns incense, offers a prayer to Shang Ti, and incense to his
ancestors whose shrines and tablets are arranged on the northeast and
northwest portions of the altar.

There are two altars in the temple, a quarter of a mile apart, the
covered and the open altar, and this latter is one of the grandest
religious conceptions of the human mind. It is a triple circular marble
terrace, 210 feet wide at the base, 150 feet in the middle, and ninety
feet at the top, ascended at the points of the compass by three flights
of nine steps each. A circular stone is in the centre of the top,
around which are nine stones in the first circle, eighteen in the
second, twenty-seven in the third, etc., and eighty-one in the ninth,
or last circle. The Emperor kneels on the circular stone, surrounded by
the circles of stones, then by the circles of the terraces, and finally
by the horizon, and thus seems to himself and his retinue to be in the
centre of the universe, his only walls being the skies, and his only
covering, the shining dome.

There are no images of any kind connected with the temple or the
worship, the only offerings being a bullock, the various productions of
the soil, and a cylindrical piece of jade about a foot long, formerly
used as a symbol of sovereignty. Twelve bundles of cloth are offered to
Heaven, and only one to each of the emperors, and to the sun and moon.
The bullocks must be two years old, the best of their kind, without
blemish, and while they were formerly killed by the Emperor they are
now slaughtered by an official appointed for that purpose.

The covered altar is, I think, the most beautiful piece of architecture
in China. It is smaller than the one already described but has erected
upon it a lofty, circular triple-roofed temple ninety-nine feet in
height, roofed with blue tiles, the eaves painted in brilliant colours
and protected from the birds by a wire netting. In the centre,
immediately in front of the altar, is a circular stone, as in the open
altar. The ceiling is covered with gilded dragons in high relief, and
the whole is supported by immense pillars. It was this building that
was struck by lightning in 1890, but it was restored during the ten
years that followed. Being made the camp of the British during the
occupation of 1900, it received some small injuries from curio seekers,
but none of any consequence. The Sikh soldiers who died during this
period were cremated in the furnace connected with the open altar.

The Chinese have been an agricultural people for thirty centuries or
more, and this characteristic is embodied in the Temple of Agriculture,
which occupies a park of not less than three hundred and twenty acres
of city property opposite the Temple of Heaven. It has four great
altars, with their adjacent halls, to the spirits of Heaven, Earth, the
Year, and the Ancestral Husbandman, Shen Nung, to whom the temple is
dedicated. It was used as the camp of the American soldiers in 1900,
and was well cared for. At one time some of the soldiers upset one of
the urns, and when it was reported to the officer in command, the whole
company was called out and the urn properly replaced, after which the
men were lectured on the matter of injuring any property belonging to
the temple.

There are several large plots of ground in this enclosure, one of which
the Emperor ploughs, while another is marked "City Magistrate," another
"Prefect," and on these bits of land the "five kinds of grain" are
sown. One cannot view these imperial temples without being impressed
with the potential greatness of a people who do things on such a
magnificent scale. But one, at the same time, also feels that these
temples, and the great Oriental religions which inspire and support
them have failed in a measure to accomplish their design, which ought
to be to educate and develop the people. This they can hardly be said
to have done, especially if we consider their condition in their lack
of all phases of scientific development, for as the sciences stand
to-day they are all the product of the Christian peoples.

There are three other imperial temples on the same large scale as those
just described. The Temple of the Sun east of the city, that of the
Moon on the west, and that of the Earth on the north, though it must be
confessed that the worship at these has been allowed to lapse. In the
Tartar City there are two others, the Lama Temple and the Confucian
Temple, in the former of which there is a statue of Buddha seventy-five
feet high, and from thirteen to fifteen hundred priests who worship
daily at his shrine. This statue is made of stucco, over a framework,
and not of wood as some have told us, and as the guide will assure us
at the present day. One can ascend to a level with its head by several
flights of stairs, where a lamp is lit when the Emperor visits the
temple. In the east wing of this same building is a prayer-wheel, which
reaches up through several successive stories, and is kept in motion
while the Emperor is present.

In the east side buildings there are a few interesting, though in some
cases very disgusting idols, such for instance as those illustrating
the creation, but over these draperies have been thrown during recent
years, which make them a trifle more respectable.

The temple is very imposing. At the entrance there are two large arches
covered with yellow tiles, from which a broad paved court leads to the
front gate, on the two sides of which are the residences of the Lamas
or Mongol priests. At the hour of prayer, which is about nine o'clock,
they may be seen going in crowds, clothed in yellow robes, to the
various halls of worship where they chant their prayers.

Very different from this is the Confucian Temple only a quarter of a
mile away. Here we find neither priest nor idol--nothing but a small
board tablet to "Confucius, the teacher of ten thousand ages" with
those of his most faithful and worthy disciples. In the court on each
side are rows of buildings--that on the east containing the tablets of
seventy-eight virtuous men; that on the west the tablets of fifty-four
learned men; eighty-six of these were pupils of the Sage, while the
remainder were men who accepted his teachings. No Taoists, however
learned; no Buddhists, however pure; no original thinkers, however
great may have been their following, are allowed a place here. It is a
Temple of Fame for Confucianists alone.

I have been in this temple when a whole bullock, the skin and entrails
having been removed, was kneeling upon a table facing the tablet of the
Sage, while sheep and pigs were similarly arranged facing the tablets
of his disciples.

For twenty-four centuries China has had Taoism preached within her
dominions; for twenty-three centuries she has worshipped at the shrine
of Confucius; for eighteen centuries she has had Buddhism, and for
twelve centuries Mohammedanism: and during all this time if we believe
the statements of her own people, she has slept. Does it not therefore
seem significant, that less than a century after the Gospel of Jesus
Christ had been preached to her people, and the Bible circulated freely
throughout her dominions, she opened her court to the world, began to
build railroads, open mines, erect educational institutions, adopt the
telegraph and the telephone, and step into line with the industrial
methods of the most progressive nations of the Western world?


The Death of Kuang Hsu and the Empress Dowager

Who knows whether the Dowager Empress will ever repose in the
magnificent tomb she has built for herself at such a cost, or whether a
new dynasty may not rifle its riches to embellish its own? Tze-Hsi is
growing old! According to nature's immutable law her faculties must
soon fail her; her iron will must bend and her far-seeing eye grow dim,
and after her who will resist the tide of foreign aggression and stem
the torrent of inward revolt?--Lady Susan Townley in "My Chinese Note



During mid-November of 1908 the Forbidden City of Peking was a blind
stage before which an expectant world sat as an audience. It had not
long to wait, for on the fifteenth and sixteenth it learned that Kuang
Hsu and the Empress Dowager, less than twenty-four hours apart, had
taken "the fairy ride and ascended upon the dragon to be guests on
high." The world looked on in awe. It expected a demonstration if not a
revolution but nothing of the kind happened. But on the other hand one
of the most difficult diplomatic problems of her history was solved in
a quiet and peaceable, if not a statesman-like way, by the aged Dowager
and her officials, and China once more had upon her throne an emperor,
though only a child, about whose succession there was no question. And
all this was done with less commotion than is caused by the election of
a mayor in New York or Chicago, which may or may not be to the credit
of an absolute monarchy over a republican form of government.

The world has speculated a good deal as to what happened in the
Forbidden City of Peking during the early half of November. Will the
curious world ever know? Whether it will or not remains for the future
to determine. We have, however, the edicts issued to the foreign
legations at Peking and with these at the present we must be content.
From them we learn that it was the Empress Dowager and not Kuang Hsu
who appointed Prince Chun as Regent, and that this appointment was
made--or at least announced--twenty-four hours before the death of the

On the thirteenth of November the foreign diplomatic representatives
received the following edict from the great Dowager through the regular
channel of the Foreign Office of which Prince Ching was the president:

"It is the excellent will of Tze-hsi-kuan-yu-k'ang-
i-chao-yu-chuang-ch'eng-shou-kung-ch'in-hsien-chung-hsi, the great
Empress Dowager that Tsai Feng, Prince of Chun, be appointed Prince
Regent (She Chang-wang)."

The above edict was soon followed by another which stated that "Pu I,
the son of Tsai Feng, should be reared in the palace and taught in the
imperial schoolroom," an indication that he was to be the next emperor,
and that Tsai Feng and not Kuang Hsu was to occupy the throne, and all
this by the "excellent will" of the Empress Dowager.

On the morning of the fourteenth the following edict came from the
Emperor himself:

"From the beginning of August of last year, our health has been poor.
We formerly ordered the Tartar generals, viceroys, and governors of
every province to recommend physicians of ability. Thereupon the
viceroys of Chihli, the Liang Kiang, Hu Kiang, Kiangsu and Chekiang
recommended and sent forward Chen Ping-chun, Tsao Yuen-wang, Lu
Yung-ping, Chow Ching-tao, Tu Chung-chun, Shih Huan, and Chang
Pang-nien, who came to Peking and treated us. But their prescriptions
have given no relief. Now the negative and positive elements (Yin-Yang)
are both failing. There are ailments both external and internal, and
the breath is stopped up, the stomach rebellious, the back and legs
painful, appetite failing. On moving, the breath fails and there is
coughing and panting. Besides, we have chills and fever, cannot sleep,
and experience a general failure of bodily strength which is hard to

"Our heart is very impatient and now the Tartar generals, viceroys, and
governors of every province are ordered to select capable physicians,
regardless of the official rank, and to send them quickly to Peking to
await summons to give medical aid. If any can show beneficial results
he will receive extraordinary rewards, and the Tartar generals,
viceroys, and governors who recommend them will receive special grace.
Let this be published."

This was followed on the same day by the following edict:

"Inasmuch as the Emperor Tung Chih had no issue, on the fifth day of
the twelfth moon of that reign (January 12, 1875) an edict was
promulgated to the effect that if the late Emperor Kuang Hsu should
have a son, the said prince should carry on the succession as the heir
of Tung Chih. But now the late Emperor has ascended upon the dragon to
be a guest on high, leaving no son, and there is no course open but to
appoint Pu I, the son of Tsai Feng, the Prince Regent, as the successor
to Tung Chih and also as heir to the Emperor Kuang Hsu."

The next day--the fifteenth--another edict, purporting to come from
little Pu I, but transcribed by Prince Ching, was sent out to the
diplomatic body and to the world. It is as follows:

"I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that on the 21st day of
the 10th moon [Nov. 14, 1908] at the yu-ke [5-7 P. M.] the late Emperor
ascended on the dragon to be a guest on high. We have received the
command of Tze-hsi, etc., the Great Empress Dowager to enter on the
succession as Emperor. We lamented to Earth and Heaven. We stretched
out our hands, wailing our insufficiency. Prostrate we reflect on how
the late Emperor occupied the Imperial Throne for thirty-four years,
reverently following the customs of his ancestors, receiving the
gracious instruction of the Empress Dowager, exerting himself to the
utmost, not failing one day to revere Heaven and observe the laws of
his ancestors, devoting himself with diligence to the affairs of
government and loving the people, appointing the virtuous to office,
changing the laws of the land to make the country powerful, considering
new methods of government which arouse the admiration of both Chinese
and foreigners. All who have blood and breath cannot but mourn and be
moved to the extreme point. We weep tears of blood and beat upon our
heart. How can we bear to express our feelings!

"But we think upon our heavy responsibility and our weakness, and we
must depend upon the great and small civil and military officials of
Peking and the provinces to show public spirit and patriotism, and aid
in the government. The viceroys and governors should harmonize the
people and arrange carefully methods of government to comfort the
spirit of the late Emperor in heaven. This is our earnest expectation."

On the sixteenth day of November, three days  after she had appointed
the regent, and two days after she had appointed Pu I, the diplomatic
representatives received the following from Prince Ching:

"Your Excellency:

"I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that we have reverently
received the following testamentary statement of Her Imperial Majesty
Tze-hsi, etc., the Great Empress Dowager:

"'Although of scanty merit, I received the command of His Majesty the
Emperor Wen Tsung-hsien (the posthumous title of Hsien Feng) to occupy
a throne prepared for me in the palace. When the Emperor Mu Tsung I
(Tung Chih) as a child succeeded to the throne, violence and confusion
prevailed. It was a critical period of suppression by force.
"Long-hairs" (Tai-ping rebels) and the "twisted turbans" (Nien Fei)
were in rebellion. The Mohammedans and the aborigines had commenced to
make trouble. There were many disturbances along the seacoast. The
people were destitute. Ulcers and sores met the eye on every side.
Cooperating with the Empress Dowager Hsiao Chen-hsien, I supported and
taught the Emperor and toiled day and night. According to the
instructions contained in the testamentary counsels of the Emperor Wen
Tsung-hsien (Hsien Feng) I urged on the officials of Peking and the
provinces and all the military commanders, determining the policy to be
followed, diligently searching the right way of governing, choosing the
upright for official positions, rescuing from calamity and pitying the
people, and so obtained the protection of Heaven, gaining peace and
tranquillity instead of distress and danger. Then the Emperor Mu Tsung
I (Tung Chih) departed this life and the late Emperor succeeded to the
throne. The times became still harder and the people in still greater
straits, sorrow within and calamity without, confusion and noise; I had
no recourse but to give instruction in government once more.

"'The year before last the preparatory measures for the institution of
constitutional government were published. This year the time limits for
the measures preparatory to constitutional government have been
promulgated. Attending to these myriad affairs the strength of my heart
has been exhausted. Fortunately my constitution was originally strong
and up to the present I have stood the strain. Unexpectedly from the
summer and autumn of this year I have been ill and have not been able
to assist in the multitudinous affairs of government with tranquillity.
Appetite and the power to sleep have gone. This has continued for a
long time until my strength is exhausted and I have not dared to rest
for even a day. On the 21st of this moon [November 14th] came the
sorrow of the death of the late Emperor, and I was unable to control
myself, so that my illness increased till I was unable to rise from my
bed. I look back upon our fifty years of sorrow and trouble. I have
been continually in a state of high tension without a moment's respite.
Now a reform in the method of government has been commenced and there
begins to be a clue to follow. The Emperor now succeeding to the throne
is in his infancy. All depends upon his instruction and guidance. The
Prince Regent and all the officials of Peking and the provinces should
exert themselves to strengthen the foundations of our empire. Let the
Emperor now succeedings to the throne make his country's affairs of
first importance and moderate his sorrow, diligently attending to his
studies so that he may in future illustrate the instruction which he
has received. This is my devout hope. Let the mourning period be for
twenty-seven days only. Let this be proclaimed to the empire that all
may know.'"

Still one more edict was necessary to complete this remarkable list,
and this was sent to the legations on the 17th of November. It is as

"I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that on the 22d of the
moon [November 15, 1908] I reverently received the following edict:

"We received in our early childhood the love and care of Tze-hsi, etc.,
the Great Empress Dowager. Our gratitude is boundless. We have received
the command to succeed to the throne and we fully expected that the
gentle Empress Dowager would be vigorous and reach a hundred years so
that we might be cherished and made glad and reverently receive her
instructions so that our government might be established and the state
made firm. But her toil by day and night gradually weakened her.
Medicine was constantly administered in the hope that she might
recover. Contrary to our hopes, on the 21st day of the moon [November
14th] at the wei-k'o [1-3 P.M.] she took the fairy ride and ascended to
the far country. We cried out and mourned how frantically! We learn
from her testamentary statement that the period of full mourning is to
be limited to twenty-seven days. We certainly cannot be satisfied with
this. Full mourning must be worn for one hundred days and half mourning
for twenty-seven months, by which our grief may be partly expressed.
The order to restrain grief so that the affairs of the empire may be of
first importance we dare not disregard, as it is her parting command.
We will strive to be temperate so as to comfort the spirit of the late
Empress in Heaven."

We call attention to the fact that according to the fourth of these
edicts the death of the Emperor is put at from 5 to 7 P. M on the
evening of the 14th of November, while that of the Empress Dowager is
from 1 to 3 P. M. of the same day at least two hours earlier, and that
in her last edict she is made to speak of the death of Kuang Hsu.
Whether these dates have become mixed in crossing to America we have
not been able to ascertain, though we think it more than likely that
her death occurred on November 15th instead of the 14th.


The Court and the New Education

Abolish the eight-legged essay. Let the new learning be the test of
scholarship, but include the classics, history, geography and
government of China in the examinations. The true essay will then come
out. If so desired, the eight-legged essay can be studied at home; but
why trouble the school with them, and at the same time waste time and
strength that can be expended in something more profitable?--Chang
Chih-tung in "China's Only Hope."



The changes in the attitude of the court towards a new educational
system began, as do many great undertakings, in a very simple way. We
have already shown how the eunuchs secured all kinds of foreign
mechanical toys to entertain the baby Emperor Kuang Hsu; how these were
supplemented in his boyhood by ingenious clocks and watches; how he
became interested in the telegraph, the telephone, steam cars,
steamboats, electric light and steam heat, and how he had them first
brought into the palace and then established throughout the empire: and
how he had the phonograph, graphophone, cinematograph, bicycle, and
indeed all the useful and unique inventions of modern times brought in
for his entertainment.

He then began the study of English. When in 1894 a New Testament was
sent to the Empress Dowager on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday,
he at once secured from the American Bible Society a copy of the
complete Bible for himself. He began studying the Gospel of Luke. This
gave him a taste for foreign literature and he sent his eunuchs to the
various book depositories and bought every book that had been
translated from the European languages into the Chinese. To these he
bent all his energies and it soon became noised abroad that the Emperor
was studying foreign books and was about to embrace the Christian
faith. This continued from 1894 till 1898, during which time his
example was followed by tens of thousands of young Chinese scholars
throughout the empire, and Chang Chih-tung wrote his epoch-making book
"China's Only Hope" which, being sent to the young Emperor, led him to
enter upon a universal reform, the chief feature of which may be
considered the adoption of a new educational system.

But now let us notice the animus of Kuang Hsu. He has been praised
without stint for his leaning towards foreign affairs, when in reality
was it not simply an effort on the part of the young man to make China
strong enough to resist the incursions of the European powers? Germany
had taken Kiaochou, Russia had taken Port Arthur, Japan had taken
Formosa, Great Britain had taken Weihaiwei, France had taken
Kuangchouwan, and even Italy was anxious to have a slice of his
territory, while all the English papers in the port cities were talking
of China being divided up amongst the Powers, and it was these things
which led the Emperor to enter upon his work of reform.

In the summer of 1898 therefore he sent out an edict to the effect
that: "Our scholars are now without solid and practical education; our
artisans are without scientific instructors; when compared with other
made to accord with the necessities of the times.... Keeping in mind
the morals of the sages and wise men, we must make them the basis on
which to build newer and better structures. WE MUST SUBSTITUTE MODERN
we must establish elementary and high schools, colleges and
universities, in accordance with those of foreign countries; we must
abolish the Wen-chang (literary essay) and obtain a knowledge of
ancient and modern world-history, a right conception of the present-day
state of affairs, with special reference to the governments and
institutions of the countries of the five great continents; and we must
understand their arts and sciences."

The effect of this edict was to cause hundreds of thousands of young
aspirants for office to put aside the classics and unite in
establishing reform clubs in many of the provincial capitals, open
ports, and prefectural cities. Book depots were opened for the sale of
the same kind of literature the Emperor had been studying, magazines
and newspapers were issued and circulated in great numbers, lectures
were delivered and libraries established, and students flocked to the
mission schools ready to study anything the course contained, literary,
scientific or religious. Christians and pastors were even invited into
the palace by the eunuchs to dine with and instruct them. But the
matter that gave the deepest concern to the boy in the palace was: "How
can we so strengthen ourselves that we will be able to resist the White
Peril from Europe?"

Among the important edicts issued in the establishment of the new
education was the one of June 11, 1898, in which he ordered that "a
great central university be established at Peking," the funds for which
were provided by the government. Among other things he said: "Let all
take advantage of the opportunities for the new education thus open to
them, so that in time we may have many who will be competent to help us
in the stupendous task of putting our country on a level with the
strongest of the western powers." It was not wisdom the young man was
after for the sake of wisdom, but he wanted knowledge because knowledge
was power, and at that time it was the particular kind of power that
was necessary to save China from utter destruction.

On the 26th of the same month he censured the princes and ministers who
were lax in reporting upon this edict, and ordered them to do so at
once, and it was not long until a favourable report was given and, for
the first time in the history of the empire, a great university was
launched by the government, destined, may we not hope, to accomplish
the end the ambitious boy Emperor had in view.

Kuang Hsu was aware that a single institution was not sufficient to
accomplish that end. On July 10th therefore he ordered that "schools
and colleges be established in all the provincial capitals,
prefectoral, departmental and district cities, and allowed the viceroys
and governors but two months to report upon the number of colleges and
free schools within their provinces," saying that "all must be changed
into practical schools for the teaching of Chinese literature, and
Western learning and become feeders to the Peking Imperial University."
He ordered further that all memorial and other temples that had been
erected by the people but which were not recorded in the list of the
Board of Rites or of Sacrificial Worship, were to be turned into
schools and colleges for the propagation of Western learning, a thought
which was quite in harmony with that advocated by Chang Chih-tung. The
funds for carrying on this work, and the establishment of these
schools, were to be provided for by the China Merchants' Steamship
Company, the Telegraph Company and the Lottery at Canton.

On August 4th he ordered that numerous preparatory schools be
established in Peking as special feeders to the university; and on the
9th appointed Dr. W. A. P. Martin as Head of the Faculty and approved
the site suggested for the university by Sun Chia-nai, the president.
On the 16th he authorized the establishment of a Bureau for
"translating into Chinese Western works on science, arts and
literature, and textbooks for use in schools and colleges"; and on the
19th he abolished the "Palace examinations for Hanlins as useless,
superficial and obsolete," thus severing the last cord that bound them
to the old regime.

What, now, was the Empress Dowager doing while Kuang Hsu was issuing
all these reform edicts, which, we are told, were so contrary to all
her reactionary principles? Why did she not stretch forth her hand and
prevent them? She was spending the hot months at the Summer Palace,
fifteen miles away, without offering either advice, objection or
hindrance, and it was not until two delegations of officials and
princes had appeared before her and plead with her to come and take
control of affairs and thus save them from being ousted or beheaded,
and herself from imprisonment, did she consent to come. By thus taking
the throne she virtually placed herself in the hands of the
conservative party, and all his reform measures, except that of the
Peking University and provincial schools, were, for the time,
countermanded, and the Boxers were allowed to test their strength with
the allied Powers.

Passing over the two bad years of the Empress Dowager, which we have
treated in another chapter, we find her again, after the failure of the
Boxer uprising, and the return of the court to Peking, reissuing the
same style of edicts that had gone out from the pen of Kuang Hsu. On
August 29, 1901, she ordered "the abolition of essays on the Chinese
classics in examinations for literary degrees, and substituted therefor
essays and articles on some phase of modern affairs, Western laws or
political economy. This same procedure is to be followed in examination
of candidates for office."

And now notice another phase of this same edict. "The old methods of
gaining military degrees by trial of strength with stone weights,
agility with the sword, or marksmanship with the bow on foot or on
be done away with forever." It is, as it was with Kuang Hsu, the
strengthening of the army she has in mind in her first efforts at
reform, that she may be able to back up with war-ships and cannon, if
necessary, her refusal to allow Italy or any other European power to
filch, without reason or excuse, the territory of her ancestors.

September 12, 1901, she issued another edict commanding that "all the
colleges in the empire should be turned into schools of Western
learning; each provincial capital should have a university like that in
Peking, whilst all the schools in the prefectures and districts are to
be schools or colleges of the second or third class," neither more nor
less than a restatement of the edict of July 10, 1898, as issued by the
deposed Emperor, except that she confined it to the schools without
taking the temples.

September 17, 1901, she ordered "the viceroys and governors of other
provinces to follow the example of Liu Kun-yi of Liang Kiang, Chang
Chih-tung of Hukuang, and Kuei Chun (Manchu) of Szechuan, in sending
young men of scholastic promise abroad to study any branch of Western
science or art best suited to their tastes, that in time they may
return to China and place the fruits of their knowledge at the service
of the empire." Such were some of the edicts issued by the Emperor and
the Empress Dowager in their efforts to launch this new system of
education which was to transform the old China into a strong and sturdy
youth. What now were the results?

The Imperial College in Shansi was opened with 300 students all of whom
had already taken the Chinese degree of Bachelor of Arts. It had both
Chinese and foreign departments, and after the students had completed
the first, they were allowed to pass on to the second, which had six
foreign professors who held diplomas from Western colleges or
universities, and a staff of six translators of university textbooks
into Chinese, superintended by a foreigner. In 1901-2 ten provinces,
under the wise leadership of the Empress Dowager, opened colleges for
the support of which they raised not less than $400,000.

The following are some of the questions given at the triennial
examinations of these two years in six southern provinces:

1. "As Chinese and Western laws differ, and Western people will not
submit to Chinese punishments, what ought to be done that China, like
other nations, may be mistress in her own country?"

2. "What are the Western sources of economic prosperity, and as China
is now so poor, what should she do?"

3. "According to international law has any one a right to interfere
with the internal affairs of any foreign country?"

4. "State the advantages of constructing railways in Shantung."

5. "Of what importance is the study of chemistry to the agriculturist?"

While Yuan Shih-kai was Governor of Shantung he induced Dr. W. M. Hayes
to resign the presidency of the Presbyterian College at Teng Choufu and
accept the presidency of the new government college at Chinanfu the
capital of the province. Dr. Hayes drew up a working plan of grammar
and high schools for Shantung which were to be feeders to this
provincial college. This was approved by the Governor, and embodied in
a memorial to the throne, copies of which the Empress Dowager sent to
the governors and viceroys of all the provinces declaring it to be a
law, and ordering the "viceroys, governors and literary chancellors to
see that it was obeyed."

Dr. Hayes and Yuan Shih-kai soon split upon a regulation which the
Governor thought it best to introduce, viz., "That the Chinese
professors shall, on the first and fifteenth of each month, conduct
their classes in reverential sacrifice to the Most Holy Confucius, and
to all the former worthies and scholars of the provinces." Dr. Hayes
and his Christian teachers withdrew, and it was not long until those
who professed Christianity were excused from this rite, while the
Christian physicians who taught in the Peking Imperial University were
allowed to dispense with the queue and wear foreign clothes, as being
both more convenient and more sanitary.

When Governor Yuan was made viceroy of Chihli, he requested Dr. C. D.
Tenny to draw up and put into operation a similar schedule for the
metropolitan province. This was done on a very much enlarged scale, and
at present (1909) "the Chihli province alone has nine thousand schools,
all of which are aiming at Western education; while in the empire as a
whole there are not less than forty thousand schools, colleges and
universities," representing one phase of the educational changes that
have been brought about in China during the last dozen years.

The changes in the new education among women promise to be even more
sweeping than those among men. Dr. Martin, expressing the sentiments
then in vogue, said, as far back as 1877, "that not one in ten thousand
women could read." In 1893 I began studying the subject, and was led at
once to doubt the statement. The Chinese in an offhand way will agree
with Dr. Martin. But I found that it was a Chinese woman who wrote the
first book that was ever written in any language for the instruction of
girls, and that the Chinese for many years have had "Four Books for
Girls" corresponding to the "Four Books" of the old regime, and that
they were printed in large editions, and have been read by the better
class of people in almost every family. In every company of women that
came to call on my wife from 1894 to 1900, there was at least one if
not more who had read these books, while the Empress Dowager herself
was a brilliant example of what a woman of the old regime could do.
Where the desire for education was so great among women, that as soon
as it became possible to do so, she launched the first woman's daily
newspaper that was published anywhere in the world, with a woman as an
editor, we may be sure that there was more than one in ten thousand
during the old regime that could read. What therefore may we expect in
this new regime where women are ready to sacrifice their lives rather
than that the school which they are undertaking to establish shall be a

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