China and the Manchus
Herbert A. Giles

Part 2 out of 2

make satisfactory arrangements for future intercourse; but the
obstructive policy of the officials on his arrival at the Peiho
compelled him to attack and capture the Taku forts, and finally, to
take up his residence in Tientsin. The lips, as the Chinese say, being
now gone, the teeth began to feel cold; the court was in a state of
panic, and within a few weeks a treaty was signed (June 26, 1858)
containing, among other concessions to England, the right to have a
diplomatic representative stationed in Peking, and permission to trade
in the interior of China. It would naturally be supposed that Lord
Elgin's mission was now ended, and indeed he went home; the Emperor,
however, would not hear of ratifications of the treaty being exchanged
in Peking, and in many other ways it was made plain that there was no
intention of its stipulations being carried out. There was the example
of Confucius, who had been captured by rebels and released on
condition that he would not travel to the State of Wei. Thither,
notwithstanding, he continued his route; and when asked by a disciple
if it was right to violate his oath, he replied, "This was a forced
oath; the spirits do not hear such."

By June, 1859, another Anglo-French force was at the mouth of the
Peiho, only to find the Taku forts now strongly fortified, and the
river staked and otherwise obstructed. The allied fleet, after
suffering considerable damage, with much loss of life, was compelled
to retire, greatly to the joy and relief of the Emperor, who at last
saw the barbarian reduced to his proper status. It was on this
occasion that Commander Tatnell of the U.S. navy, who was present,
strictly speaking, as a spectator only, in complete violation of
international law, of which luckily the Chinese knew nothing at that
date, lent efficient aid by towing boat-loads of British marines into
action, justifying his conduct by a saying which will always be
gratefully associated with his name,--"Blood is thicker than water."

By August, 1860, thirteen thousand British troops, seven thousand
French, and two thousand five hundred Cantonese coolies, were ready to
make another attempt. This time there were no frontal attacks on the
forts from the seaward; capture was effected, after a severe struggle,
by land from the rear, a feat which was generally regarded by the
Tartar soldiery as most unsportsmanlike. High Manchu officials were
now hurriedly dispatched from Peking to Tientsin to stop by fair
promises the further advance of the allies; but the British and French
plenipotentiaries decided to move up to T`ung-chow, a dozen miles or
so from the capital. It was on this march that Parkes, Loch, and
others, while carrying out orders under a flag of truce, were
treacherously seized by the soldiers of Sng-ko-lin-sin, the Manchu
prince and general (familiar to the British troops as "Sam
Collinson"), who had just experienced a severe defeat at the taking of
the Taku forts. After being treated with every indignity, the
prisoners, French and English, numbering over thirty in all, were
forwarded to Peking. There they were miserably tortured, and many of
them succumbed; but events were moving quickly now, and relief was at
hand for those for whom it was not already too late. Sng-ko-lin-sin
and his vaunted Tartar cavalry were completely routed in several
encounters, and Peking lay at the mercy of the foreigner, the Emperor
having fled to Jehol, where he died in less than a year. Only then did
Prince Kung, a younger brother of Hsien Fng, who had been left to
bear the brunt of foreign resentment, send back, in a state too
terrible for words, fourteen prisoners, less than half the original
number of those so recently captured. Something in the form of a
punitive act now became necessary, to mark the horror with which this
atrocious treatment of prisoners by the Manchu court was regarded
among the countrymen of the victims. Accordingly, orders were given to
burn down the Summer Palace, appropriately condemned as being the
favourite residence of the Emperor, and also the scene of the
unspeakable tortures inflicted. This palace was surrounded by a
beautiful pleasance lying on the slope of the western hills, about
nine miles to the north-west of Peking. Yan-ming Yan, or the "Bright
Round Garden," to give it its proper name, had been laid out by the
Jesuit fathers on the plan of the Trianon at Versailles, and was
packed with valuable porcelain, old bronzes, and every conceivable
kind of curio, most of which were looted or destroyed by the
infuriated soldiery.

The ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858) was now completed,
and before the end of the year the allied forces were gone, save and
except garrisons at Tientsin and Taku, which were to remain until the
indemnity was paid.



On the death of the Emperor, a plot was concocted by eight members of
the extreme anti-foreign party at Court, who claimed to have been
appointed Regents, to make away with the Empress Dowager, the
concubine mother, known as the Western Empress, of the five-year-old
child just proclaimed under the title of Chi Hsiang (good omen), and
also the late Emperor's three brothers, thus securing to themselves
complete control of the administration. Prince Kung, however, managed
to be "first at the fire," and in accordance with the Chinese proverb,
was therefore "first with his cooking." Having got wind of the scheme,
in concert with the two Empresses Dowager, who had secured possession
of the Emperor, he promptly caused the conspirators to be seized. Two
of them, Imperial princes, were allowed to commit suicide, and the
others were either executed or banished, while Prince Kung and the two
Empresses formed a joint regency for the direction of public affairs,
after changing the style of the reign from Chi Hsiang to T`ung Chih
(united rule).

The position of these two Empresses was a curious one. The Empress
Dowager /par excellence/--for there is only one legal wife in China--
had no children; a concubine had provided the heir to the throne, and
had in consequence been raised to the rank of Western Empress,
subordinate only to the childless Eastern Empress. Of the latter,
there is nothing to be said, except that she remained a cipher to the
end of her life; of the concubine, a great deal has been said, much of
which is untrue. Taken from an ordinary Manchu family into the palace,
she soon gained an extraordinary influence over Hsien Fng, and began
to make her voice heard in affairs of State. Always on the side of
determined measures, she had counselled the Emperor to remain in
Peking and face the barbarians; she is further believed to have urged
the execution of Parkes and Loch, the order luckily arriving too late
to be carried out. For the next three years the Regents looked
anxiously for the final collapse of the T`ai-p`ings, having meanwhile
to put up with the hateful presence of foreign diplomats, now firmly
established within the Manchu section of the city of Peking. No sooner
was the great rebellion entirely suppressed (1864), than another
rising broke out. The Nien-fei, or Twist Rebels, said to have been so
called because they wore as a badge turbans twisted with grease, were
mounted banditti who, here to-day and gone to-morrow, for several
years committed much havoc in the northern provinces of China, until
finally suppressed by Tso Tsung-t`ang.

Turkestan was the next part of the empire to claim attention. A son
and successor of Jehangir, ruling as vassal of China at Khokand, had
been murdered by his lieutenant, Yakoob Beg, who, in 1866, had set
himself up as Ameer of Kashgaria, throwing off the Manchu yoke and
attracting to his standard large numbers of discontented Mahometans
from all quarters. His attack upon the Dunganis, who had risen on
their own account and had spread rebellion far and wide between the
province of Shensi and Kuldja, caused Russia to step in and annex
Kuldja before it could fall into his hands. Still, he became master of
a huge territory; and in 1874 the title of Athalik Ghazi, "Champion
Father," was conferred upon him by the Ameer of Bokhara. He is also
spoken of as the Andijani, from Andijan, a town in Khokhand whence he
and many of his followers came. Luckily for the Manchus, they were
able to avail themselves of the services of a Chinese general whose
extraordinary campaign on this occasion has marked him as a commander
of the first order. Tso Tsung-k`ang, already distinguished by his
successes against the T`ia-p`ings and the Nien-fei, began by
operations, in 1869, against the Mahometans in Shensi. Fighting his
way through difficulties caused by local outbreaks and mutinies in his
rear, he had captured by 1873 the important city of Su-chow in Kansuh,
and by 1874 his advance-guard had reached Hami. There he was forced to
settle down and raise a crop in order to feed his troops, supplies
being very uncertain. In 1876 Urumtsi was recovered; and in 1877,
Turfan, Harashar, Yarkand, and Kashgar. At this juncture, Yakoob Beg
was assassinated, after having held Kashgaria for twelve years. Khoten
fell on January 2, 1878. This wonderful campaign was now over, but
China had lost Kuldja. A Manchu official, named Ch`ung-hou, who was
sent to St Petersburg to meet Russian diplomats on their own ground,
the main object being to recover this lost territory, was condemned to
death on his return for the egregious treaty he had managed to
negotiate, and was only spared at the express request of Queen
Victoria; he will be mentioned again shortly. His error was afterwards
retrieved by a young and brilliant official, son of the great Tsng
Kuo-fan, and later a familiar figure as the Marquis Tsng, Minister at
the Court of St James's, by whom Kuldja was added once more to the
Manchu empire.

The year 1868 is remarkable for a singular episode. The Regents and
other high authorities in Peking decided, at whose instigation can
only be surmised, to send an embassy to the various countries of
Europe and America, in order to bring to the notice of foreign
governments China's right, as an independent Power, to manage her
internal affairs without undue interference from outside. The mission,
which included two Chinese officials, was placed under the leadership
of Mr Burlingame, American Minister at Peking, who, in one of his
speeches, took occasion to say that China was simply longing to cement
friendly relations with foreign powers, and that within some few short
years there would be "a shining cross on every hill in the Middle

Burlingame died early in 1870, before his mission was completed, and
only four months before the Tientsin Massacre threw a shadow of doubt
over his optimistic pronouncements. The native population at Tientsin
had been for some time irritated by the height to which, contrary to
their own custom, the towers of the Roman Catholic Cathedral had been
carried; and rumours had also been circulated that behind the lofty
walls and dark mysterious portals of the Catholic foundling hospital,
children's eyes and hearts were extracted from still warm corpses to
furnish medicines for the barbarian pharmacopia. On June 21, the
cathedral and the establishment of sisters of mercy, the French
Consulate, and other buildings, were pillaged and burnt by a mob
composed partly of the rowdies of the place and partly of soldiers who
happened to be temporarily quartered there. All the priests and
sisters were brutally murdered, as also the French Consul and other
foreigners. For this outrage eighteen men were executed, a large
indemnity was exacted, and the superintendent of trade, the same
Manchu official whose subsequent failure at St Petersburg has been
already noticed, was sent to France with a letter of apology from the

In 1872 T`ung Chih was married, and in the following year took over
the reins of government. Thereupon, the foreign Ministers pressed for
personal interviews; and after much obstruction on the part of the
Manchu court, the first audience was granted. This same year saw the
collapse of the Panthays, a tribe of Mahometans in Ynnan who, so far
back as 1855, had begun to free themselves from Chinese rule. They
chose as their leader an able co-religionist named Tu Wn-hsiu, who
was styled Sultan Suleiman, and he sent agents to Burma to buy arms
and munitions of war; after which, secure in the natural fortress of
Ta-li, he was soon master of all western Ynnan. In 1863 he repulsed
with heavy loss two armies sent against him from the provincial
capital; but the end of the T`ai-p`ing rebellion set free the whole
resources of the empire against him, and he remained inactive while
the Imperialists advanced leisurely westwards. In 1871 he tried vainly
to obtain aid from England, sending over his son, Prince Hassan, for
that purpose. The following year saw the enemy at the gates of Ta-li,
and by and by there was a treacherous surrender of an important
position. Then a promise of an amnesty was obtained at the price of
Tu's head, and an enormous indemnity. On January 15, 1873, his family
having all committed suicide, the Sultan passed for the last time
through the crowded streets of Ta-li on his way to the camp of his
victorious adversary. He arrived there senseless, having taken poison
before setting forth. His corpse was beheaded and his head was
forwarded to the provincial capital, and thence in a jar of honey to

His conqueror, whose name is not worth recording, was one of those
comparatively rare Chinese monsters who served their Manchu masters
only too well. Eleven days after the Sultan's death, he invited the
chief men of the town to a feast, and after putting them all to death,
gave the signal for a general massacre, in which thirty thousand
persons are said to have been butchered.

In 1874 the Japanese appear on the scene, adding fresh troubles to
those with which the Manchus were already encompassed. Some sailors
from the Loo-choo Islands, over which Japanese sovereignty had been
successfully maintained, were murdered by the savages on the east
coast of Formosa; and failing to obtain redress, Japan sent a punitive
expedition to the island, and began operations on her own account, but
withdrew on promises of amendment and payment of all expenses



In 1875 the Emperor T`ung Chih died of smallpox, and with his death
the malign influence of his mother comes more freely into play. The
young Empress was about to become a mother; and had she borne a son,
her position as mother of the baby Emperor would have been of
paramount importance, while the grandmother, the older Empress
Dowager, would have been relegated to a subordinate status.
Consequently,--it may now be said, having regard to subsequent
happenings,--the death of the Empress followed that of her husband at
an indecently short interval, for no particular reason of health; and
the old Empress Dowager became supreme. In order to ensure her
supremacy, she had previously, on the very day of the Emperor's death,
caused the succession to be allotted, in utter violation of
established custom, to a first cousin, making him heir to the Emperor
Hsien Fng, instead of naming one of a lower generation who, as heir
to T`ung Chih, would have been qualified to sacrifice to the spirit of
his adopted father. Thus, the late Emperor was left without a son, and
his spirit without a ministrant at ancestral worship, the only
consolation being that when a son should be born to the new Emperor
(aged four), that child was to become son by adoption to his late
Majesty, T`ung Chih. Remonstrances, even from Manchus, were soon heard
on all sides; but to these the Empress Dowager paid no attention until
four years afterwards (1879), on the occasion of the deferred funeral
of the late Emperor, when a censor, named Wu K`o-tu, committed suicide
at the mausoleum, leaving behind him a memorial in which he strongly
condemned the action of the two Empresses Dowager, still regarded
officially as joint regents, and called for a re-arrangement of the
succession, under which the late Emperor would be duly provided with
an heir. Nothing, however, came of this sacrifice, except promises,
until 1900. A son of Prince Tuan, within a few months to espouse the
Boxer cause, was then made heir to his late Majesty, as required; but
at the beginning of 1901, this appointment was cancelled and the
spirit of the Emperor T`ung Chih was left once more unprovided for in
the ancestral temple. The first cousin in question, who reigned as
Kuang Hs (= brilliant succession), was not even the next heir in his
own generation; but he was a child of four, and that suited the plans
of the Empress Dowager, who, having appointed herself Regent, now
entered openly upon the career for which she will be remembered in
history. What she would have done if the Empress had escaped and given
birth to a son, can only be a matter of conjecture.

In 1876 the first resident Envoy ever sent by China to Great Britain,
or to any other nation, was accredited to the Court of St James's. Kuo
Sung-tao, who was chosen for the post, was a fine scholar; he made
several attempts on the score of health to avoid what then seemed to
all Chinese officials--no Manchu would have been sent--to be a
dangerous and unpleasant duty, but was ultimately obliged to succeed.
It was he who, on his departure in 1879, said to Lord Salisbury that
he liked everything about the English very much, except their shocking

The question of railways for China had long been simmering in the
minds of enterprising foreigners; but it was out of the question to
think that the Government would allow land to be sold for such a
purpose; therefore there would be no sellers. In 1876 a private
company succeeded in obtaining the necessary land by buying up
connecting strips between Shanghai and Woosung at the mouth of the
river, about eight miles in all. The company then proceeded to lay
down a miniature railway, which was an object of much interest to the
native, whose amusement soon took the form of a trip there and back.
Political influence was then brought to bear, and the whole thing was
purchased by the Government; the rails were torn up and sent to
Formosa, where they were left to rot upon the sea-beach.

The suppression of rebellion in Turkestan and Ynnan has already been
mentioned; also the retrocession of Kuldja, which brings us down to
the year 1881, when the Eastern Empress died. Death must have been
more or less a relief to this colourless personage, who had been
entirely superseded on a stage on which by rights she should have
played the leading part, and who had been terrorized during her last
years by her more masterful colleague.

In 1882 there were difficulties with France over Tongking; these,
however, were adjusted, and in 1884 a convention was signed by Captain
Fournier and Li Hung-chang. A further dispute then arose as to a
breach of the convention by the Chinese, and an /tat de reprsailles/
followed, during which the French destroyed the Chinese fleet. After
the peace which was arranged in 1885, a few years of comparative
tranquillity ensued; the Emperor was married (1889), and relieved his
aunt of her duties as Regent.

Japan, in earlier centuries contemptuously styled the Dwarf-nation,
and always despised as a mere imitator and brain-picker of Chinese
wisdom, now swims definitively into the ken of the Manchu court. The
Formosan imbroglio had been forgotten as soon as it was over, and the
recent rapid progress of Japan on Western lines towards national
strength had been ignored by all Manchu statesmen, each of whom lived
in hope that the deluge would not come in his own time. So far back as
1885, in consequence of serious troubles involving much bloodshed, the
two countries had agreed that neither should send troops to Korea
without due notification to the other. Now, in 1894, China violated
this contract by dispatching troops, at the request of the king of
Korea, whose throne was threatened by a serious rebellion, without
sufficient warning to Japan, and further, by keeping a body of these
troops at the Korean capital even when the rebellion was at an end. A
disastrous war ensued. The Japanese were victorious on land and sea;
the Chinese fleet was destroyed; Port Arthur was taken; and finally,
after surrendering Wei-hai-wei (1895), to which he had retired with
the remnant of his fleet, Admiral Ting, well known as "a gallant
sailor and true gentleman," committed suicide together with four of
his captains. Li Hung-chang was then sent to Japan to sue for peace,
and while there he was shot in the cheek by a fanatical member of the
Soshi class. This act brought him much sympathy--he was then seventy-
two years old; and in the treaty of Shimonoseki, which he negotiated,
better terms perhaps were obtained than would otherwise have been the
case. The terms granted included the independence of Korea, for
centuries a tribute-paying vassal of China, and the cession of the
island of Formosa. Japan had occupied the peninsula on which stands
the impregnable fortress of Port Arthur, and had captured the latter
in a few hours; but she was not to be allowed to keep them. A
coalition of European powers, Russia, Germany, and France--England
refused to join--decided that it would never do to let Japan possess
Port Arthur, and forced her to accept a money payment instead. So it
was restored to China--for the moment; and at the same time a republic
was declared in Formosa; but of this the Japanese made short work.

[I once read the memoirs of a Japanese foreign minister from this
period. He didn't think much of most of the Chinese diplomats, whom he
considered completely untrustworthy.--JB.]

The following year was marked by an unusual display of initiative on
the part of the Emperor, who now ordered the introduction of railways;
but in 1897 complications with foreign powers rather gave a check to
these aspirations. Two German Catholic priests were murdered, and as a
punitive measure Germany seized Kiaochow in Shantung; while in 1898
Russia "leased" Port Arthur, and as a counterblast, England thought it
advisable to "lease" Wei-hai-wai. So soon as the Manchu court had
recovered from the shock of these events, and had resumed its normal
state of torpor, it was rudely shaken from within by a series of
edicts which peremptorily commanded certain reforms of a most far-
reaching description. For instance, the great public examinations,
which had been conducted on much the same system for seven or eight
centuries past, were to be modified by the introduction of subjects
suggested by recent intercourse with Western nations. There was to be
a university in Peking, and the temples, which cover the empire in all
directions, were to be closed to religious services and opened for
educational purposes. The Manchus, indeed, have never shown any signs
of a religious temperament. There had not been, under the dynasty in
question, any such wave of devotional fervour as was experienced under
more than one previous dynasty. Neither the dreams of Buddhism, nor
the promises of immortality held out by the Taoists, seem to have
influenced in a religious, as opposed to a superstitious sense, the
rather Botian mind of the Manchu. The learned emperors of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries accepted Confucianism as
sufficient for every-day humanity, and did all in their power to
preserve it as a quasi-State religion. Thus, Buddhism was not favoured
at the expense of Taoism, nor /vice versa/; Mahometanism was tolerated
so long as there was no suspicion of disloyalty; Christianity, on the
other hand, was bitterly opposed, being genuinely regarded for a long
time as a cloak for territorial aggression.

To return to the reforms. Young Manchus of noble family were to be
sent abroad for an education on wider lines than it was possible to
obtain at home. This last was in every way a desirable measure. No
Manchu had ever visited the West; all the officials previously sent to
foreign countries had been Chinese. But other proposed changes were
not of equal value.

At the back of this reform movement was a small band of earnest men
who suffered from too much zeal, which led to premature action. A plot
was conceived, under which the Empress Dowager was to be arrested and
imprisoned; but this was betrayed by Yan Shih-k`ai, and she turned
the tables by suddenly arresting and imprisoning the Emperor, and
promptly decapitating all the conspirators, with the exception of
K`ang Yu-wei, who succeeded in escaping. He had been the moving spirit
of the abortive revolution; he was a fine scholar, and had completely
gained the ear of the Emperor. The latter became henceforth to the end
of his life a person of no importance, while China, for the third time
in history, passed under the dominion of a woman. There was no secret
about it; the Empress Dowager, popularly known as the Old Buddha, had
succeeded in terrorizing every one who came in contact with her, and
her word was law. It was said of one of the Imperial princes that he
was "horribly afraid of her Majesty, and that when she spoke to him he
was on tenter-hooks, as though thorns pricked him, and the sweat ran
down his face."

All promise of reform now disappeared from the Imperial programme, and
the recent edicts, which had raised premature hope in this direction,
were annulled; the old rgime was to prevail once more. The weakness
of this policy was emphasized in the following year (1899), when
England removed from Japan the stigma of extra-territorial
jurisdiction, by which act British defendants, in civil and criminal
cases alike, now became amenable to Japanese tribunals. Japan had set
herself to work to frame a code, and had trained lawyers for the
administration of justice; China had done nothing, content that on her
own territory foreigners and their lawsuits, as above, should be tried
by foreign Consuls. One curious edict of this date had for its object
the conferment of duly graded civil rank, the right to salutes at
official visits, and similar ceremonial privileges, upon Roman
Catholic archbishops, bishops, and priests of the missionary body in
China. The Catholic view was that the missionaries would gain in the
eyes of the people if treated with more deference than the majority of
Chinese officials cared to display towards what was to them an
objectionable class; in practice, however, the system was found to be
unworkable, and was ultimately given up.

The autumn of this year witnessed the beginning of the so-called Boxer
troubles. There was great unrest, especially in Shantung, due, it was
said, to ill-feeling between the people at large and converts to
Christianity, and at any rate aggravated by recent foreign
acquisitions of Chinese territory. It was thus that what was
originally one of the periodical anti-dynastic risings, with the usual
scion of the Ming dynasty as figure-head, lost sight of its objective
and became a bloodthirsty anti-foreign outbreak. The story of the
siege of the Legations has been written from many points of view; and
most people know all they want to know of the two summer months in
1900, the merciless bombardment of a thousand foreigners, with their
women and children, cooped up in a narrow space, and also of the awful
butchery of missionaries, men, women, and children alike, which took
place at the capital of Shansi. Whatever may have been the origin of
the movement, there can be little doubt that it was taken over by the
Manchus, with the complicity of the Empress Dowager, as a means of
getting rid of all the foreigners in China. Considering the
extraordinary position the Empress Dowager had created for herself, it
is impossible to believe that she would not have been able to put an
end to the siege by a word, or even by a mere gesture. She did not do
so; and on the relief of the Legations, for a second time in her life
--she had accompanied Hsien Fng to Jehol in 1860--she sought safety
in an ignominious flight. Meanwhile, in response to a memorial from
the Governor of Shansi, she had sent him a secret decree, saying,
"Slay all foreigners wheresoever you find them; even though they be
prepared to leave your province, yet they must be slain." A second and
more urgent decree said, "I command that all foreigners, men, women,
and children, be summarily executed. Let not one escape, so that my
empire may be purged of this noisome source of corruption, and that
peace may be restored to my loyal subjects." The first of these
decrees had been circulated to all the high provincial officials, and
the result might well have been an indiscriminate slaughter of
foreigners all over China, but for the action of two Chinese
officials, who had already incurred the displeasure of the Empress
Dowager by memorializing against the Boxer policy. These men secretly
changed the word "slay" into "protect," and this is the sense in which
the decree was acted upon by provincial officials generally, with the
exception of the Governor of Shansi, who sent a second memorial,
eliciting the second decree as above. It is impossible to say how many
foreigners owe their lives to this alteration of a word, and the
Empress Dowager herself would scarcely have escaped so easily as she
did, had her cruel order been more fully executed. The trick was soon
discovered, and the two heroes, Yan Ch`ang and Hs Ching-ch`ng, were
both summarily beheaded, even though it was to the former that the
Empress Dowager was indebted for information which enabled her to
frustrate the plot against her life in 1898.

Now, at the very moment of departure, she perpetrated a most brutal
crime. A favourite concubine of the Emperor's, who had previously
given cause for offence, urged that his Majesty should not take part
in the flight, but should remain in Peking. For this suggestion the
Empress Dowager caused the miserable girl to be thrown down a well, in
spite of the supplications of the Emperor on her behalf. Then she
fled, ultimately to Hsi-an Fu, the capital of Shensi, and for a year
and a half Peking was rid of her presence. In 1902, she came back with
the Emperor, whose prerogative she still managed to usurp. She
declared at once for reform, and took up the cause with much show of
enthusiasm; but those who knew the Manchu best, decided to "wait and
see." She began by suggesting intermarriage between Manchus and
Chinese, which had so far been prohibited, and advised Chinese women
to give up the practice of footbinding, a custom which the ruling race
had never adopted. It was henceforth to be lawful for Manchus, even of
the Imperial family, to send their sons abroad to be educated,--a step
which no Manchu would be likely to take unless forcibly coerced into
doing so. Any spirit of enterprise which might have been possessed by
the founders of the dynasty had long since evaporated, and all that
Manchu nobles asked was to be allowed to batten in peace upon the
Chinese people.

The direct issue of the emperors of the present dynasty and of their
descendants in the male line, dating from 1616, are popularly known as
Yellow Girdles, from a sash of that colour which they habitually wear.
Each generation becomes a degree lower in rank, until they are mere
members of the family with no rank whatever, although they still wear
the girdle and receive a trifling allowance from the government. Thus,
beggars and even thieves are occasionally seen with this badge of
relationship to the throne. Members of the collateral branches of the
Imperial family wear a red girdle, and are known as Gioros, Gioro
being part of the surname--Aisin Gioro = Golden Race--of an early
progenitor of the Manchu emperors.

As a next step in reform, the examination system was to be remodelled,
but not in the one sense in which it would have appealed most to the
Chinese people. Examinations for Manchus have always been held
separately, and the standard attained has always been very far below
that reached by Chinese candidates, so that the scholarship of the
Manchu became long ago a by-word and a joke. Now, in 1904, it was
settled that entry to an official career should be obtainable only
through the modern educational colleges; but this again applied only
to Chinese and not to Manchus. The Manchus have always had wisdom
enough to employ the best abilities they could discover by process of
examination among the Chinese, many of whom have risen from the lowest
estate to the highest positions in the empire, and have proved
themselves valuable servants and staunch upholders of the dynasty.
Still, in addition to numerous other posts, it may be said that all
the fat sinecures have always been the portion of Manchus. For
instance, the office of Hoppo, or superintendent of customs at Canton
(abolished 1904), was a position which was allowed to generate into a
mere opportunity for piling a large fortune in the shortest possible
time, no particular ability being required from the holder of the
post, who was always a Manchu.

Then followed a mission to Europe, at the head of which we now find a
Manchu of high rank, an Imperial Duke, sent to study the mysteries of
constitutional government, which was henceforth promised to the
people, so soon as its introduction might be practicable. In the midst
of these attractive promises (1904-5) came the Russo-Japanese war,
with all its surprises. Among other causes to which the Manchu court
ascribed the success of the Japanese, freedom from the opium vice took
high rank, and this led to really serious enactments against the
growth and consumption of opium in China. Continuous and strenuous
efforts of philanthropists during the preceding half century had not
produced any results at all; but now it seemed as though this weakness
had been all along the chief reason for China's failures in her
struggles with the barbarian, and it was to be incontinently stamped
out. Ten years' grace was allowed, at the end of which period there
was to be no more opium-smoking in the empire. One awkward feature was
that the Empress Dowager herself was an opium-smoker; the difficulty,
however, was got over by excluding from the application of the edict
of 1906 persons over sixty years of age. Whatever may be thought of
the wisdom of this policy, which so far has chiefly resulted in the
substitution of morphia, cocaine, and alcohol, the thoroughness and
rapidity with which it has been carried out, can only command the
admiration of all; of those most who know China best.



The health of the Emperor, never very good, now began to fail, and by
1908 he was seriously ill; in this same year, too, there were signs
that the Empress Dowager was breaking up. Her last political act of
any importance, except the nomination of the heir to the throne, was
to issue a decree confirming the previous promise of constitutional
government, which was to come into full force within nine years. Not
many weeks later the Emperor died (November 14), the Empress Dowager
having already, while he lay dying, appointed one of his nephews, a
child barely three years old, to succeed him, in the vain hope that
she would thus enjoy a further spell of power until the child should
be of age. But on the following day the Empress Dowager also died; a
singular coincidence which has been attributed to the determination of
the eunuchs and others that the Emperor should not outlive his aunt,
for some time past seen to be "drawing near the wood," lest his
reforming spirit should again jeopardize their nefarious interests.

The Regency devolved upon the Emperor's father, but was not of very
long duration. There was a show of introducing constitutional reform
under the guise of provincial and national assemblies intended to
control the government of the empire; but after all, the final power
to accept or reject their measures was vested in the Emperor, which
really left things very much as they had been. The new charter was not
found to be of much value, and there is little doubt that the Manchus
regarded it in the light of what is known in China as a "dummy
document," a measure to be extolled in theory, but not intended to
appear in practice. Suddenly, in September 1911, the great revolution
broke out, and the end came more rapidly than was expected.

It must not be imagined that this revolution was an inspiration of the
moment; on the contrary, it had been secretly brewing for quite a long
time beforehand. During that period a few persons familiar with China
may have felt that something was coming, but nobody knew exactly what.
Those who accept without reservation the common statement that there
is no concealment possible in a country where everybody is supposed to
have his price, and that due notice of anything important is sure to
leak out, must have been rather astonished when, without any warning,
they found China in the throes of a well-planned revolution, which was
over, with its object gained, almost as soon as the real gravity of
the situation was realized. It is true that under the Manchus access
to official papers of the most private description was always to be
obtained at a moderate outlay; it was thus, for instance, that we were
able to appreciate the inmost feelings of that grim old Manchu,
Wo-jen, who, in 1861, presented a secret memorial to the throne, and
stated therein that his loathing of all foreigners was so great that
he longed to eat their flesh and sleep on their skins.

The guiding spirit of the movement, Sun Yat-sen, is a native of
Kuangtung, where he was born, not very far from Canton, in 1866. After
some early education in Honolulu, he became a student at the College
of Medicine, Kongkong, where he took his diploma in 1892. But his
chief aim in life soon became a political one, and he determined to
get rid of the Manchus. He organized a Young China party in Canton,
and in 1895 made an attempt to seize the city. The plot failed, and
fifteen out of the sixteen conspirators were arrested and executed;
Sun Yat-sen alone escaped. A year later, he was in London, preparing
himself for further efforts by the study of Western forms of
government, a very large reward being offered by the Chinese
Government for his body, dead or alive. During his stay there he was
decoyed into the Chinese Legation, and imprisoned in an upper room,
from which he would have been hurried away to China, probably as a
lunatic, to share the fate of his fifteen fellow-conspirators, but for
the assistance of a woman who had been told off to wait upon him. To
her he confided a note addressed to Dr Cantlie, a personal friend of
long standing, under whom he had studied medicine in Hongkong; and she
handed this to her husband, employed as waiter in the Legation, by
whom it was safely delivered. He thus managed to communicate with the
outer world; Lord Salisbury intervened, and he was released after a
fortnight's detention.

Well might Sun Yat-sen now say--

"They little thought that day of pain
That one day I should come again."

More a revolutionary than ever, he soon set to work to collect funds
which flowed in freely from Chinese sources in all quarters of the
world. At last, in September 1911, the train was fired, beginning with
the province of Ss{u}ch`uan, and within an incredibly short space of
time, half China was ablaze. By the middle of October the Manchus were
beginning to feel that a great crisis was at hand, and the Regent was
driven to recall Yan Shih-k`ai, whom he had summarily dismissed from
office two years before, on the conventional plea that Yan was
suffering from a bad leg, but really out of revenge for his treachery
to the late Emperor, which had brought about the latter's arrest and
practical deposition by the old Empress Dowager in 1898.

To this summons Yan slily replied that he could not possibly leave
home just then, as his leg was not yet well enough for him to be able
to travel, meaning, of course, to gain time, and be in a position to
dictate his own terms. On the 30th October, when it was already too
late, the baby Emperor, reigning under the year-title Hsan T`ung
(wide control), published the following edict:--

"I have reigned for three years, and have always acted conscientiously
in the interests of the people, but I have not employed men properly,
not having political skill. I have employed too many nobles in
political positions, which contravenes constitutionalism. On railway
matters someone whom I trusted fooled me, and thus public opinion was
opposed. When I urged reform, the officials and gentry seized the
opportunity to embezzle. When old laws are abolished, high officials
serve their own ends. Much of the people's money has been taken, but
nothing to benefit the people has been achieved. On several occasions
edicts have promulgated laws, but none of them have been obeyed.
People are grumbling, yet I do not know; disasters loom ahead, but I
do not see.

"The Ss{u}ch`uan trouble first occurred; the Wu-ch`ang rebellion
followed; now alarming reports come from Shansi and Hunan. In Canton
and Kiangsi riots appear. The whole empire is seething. The minds of
the people are perturbed. The spirits of our nine late emperors are
unable properly to enjoy sacrifices, while it is feared the people
will suffer grievously.

"All these are my own fault, and hereby I announce to the world that I
swear to reform, and, with our soldiers and people, to carry out the
constitution faithfully, modifying legislation, developing the
interests of the people, and abolishing their hardships--all in
accordance with the wishes and interests of the people. Old laws that
are unsuitable will be abolished."

Nowhere else in the world is the belief that Fortune has a wheel which
in the long run never fails to "turn and lower the proud," so
prevalent or so deeply-rooted as in China. "To prosperity," says the
adage, "must succeed decay,"--a favourite theme around which the
novelist delights to weave his romance. This may perhaps account for
the tame resistance of the Manchus to what they recognized as
inevitable. They had enjoyed a good span of power, quite as lengthy as
that of any dynasty of modern times, and now they felt that their hour
had struck. To borrow another phrase, "they had come in with the roar
of a tiger, to disappear like the tail of a snake."

On November 3, certain regulations were issued by the National
Assembly as the necessary basis upon which a constitution could be
raised. The absolute veto of the Emperor was now withdrawn, and it was
expressly stated that Imperial decrees were not to over-ride the law,
though even here we find the addition of "except in the event of
immediate necessity." The first clause of this document was confined
to the following prophetic statement: "The Ta Ch`ing dynasty shall
reign for ever."

On November 8, Yan Shih-k`ai was appointed Prime Minister, and on
December 3, the new Empress Dowager issued an edict, in which she

"The Regent has verbally memorialized the Empress Dowager, saying that
he has held the Regency for three years, and his administration has
been unpopular, and that constitutional government has not been
consummated. Thus complications arose, and people's hearts were
broken, and the country thrown into a state of turmoil. Hence one
man's mismanagement has caused the nation to suffer miserably. He
regrets his repentance is already too late, and feels that if he
continues in power his commands will soon be disregarded. He wept and
prayed to resign the regency, expressing the earnest intention of
abstaining in the future from politics. I, the Empress Dowager, living
within the palace, am ignorant of the state of affairs but I know that
rebellion exists and fighting is continuing, causing disasters
everywhere, while the commerce of friendly nations suffers. I must
enquire into the circumstances and find a remedy. The Regent is
honest, though ambitious and unskilled in politics. Being misled, he
has harmed the people, and therefore his resignation is accepted. The
Regents seal is cancelled. Let the Regent receive fifty thousand
/taels/ annually from the Imperial household allowances, and hereafter
the Premier and the Cabinet will control appointments and
administration. Edicts are to be sealed with the Emperor's seal. I
will lead the Emperor to conduct audiences. The guardianship of the
holy person of the Emperor, who is of tender age, is a special
responsibility. As the time is critical, the princes and nobles must
observe the Ministers, who have undertaken a great responsibility, and
be loyal and help the country and people, who now must realize that
the Court does not object to the surrender of the power vested in the
throne. Let the people preserve order and continue business, and thus
prevent the country's disruption and restore prosperity."



On January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen entered the republican capital,
Nanking, and received a salute of twenty-one guns. He assumed the
presidency of the provisional government, swearing allegiance, and
taking an oath to dethrone the Manchus, restore peace, and establish a
government based upon the people's will. These objects accomplished,
he was prepared to resign his office, thus enabling the people to
elect a president of a united China. The first act of the provisional
government was to proclaim a new calendar forthwith, January 1
becoming the New Year's Day of the republic.

On January 5 was issued the following republican manifesto:--

"To all friendly nations,--Greeting. Hitherto irremediable suppression
of the individual qualities and the national aspirations of the people
having arrested the intellectual, moral, and material development of
China, the aid of revolution was invoked to extirpate the primary
cause. We now proclaim the consequent overthrow of the despotic sway
of the Manchu dynasty, and the establishment of a republic. The
substitution of a republic for a monarchy is not the fruit of
transient passion, but the natural outcome of a long-cherished desire
for freedom, contentment, and advancement. We Chinese people, peaceful
and law-abiding, have not waged war except in self-defence. We have
borne our grievance for two hundred and sixty-seven years with
patience and forbearance. We have endeavoured by peaceful means to
redress our wrongs, secure liberty, and ensure progress; but we
failed. Oppressed beyond human endurance, we deemed it our inalienable
right, as well as a sacred duty, to appeal to arms to deliver
ourselves and our posterity from the yoke to which we have for so long
been subjected. For the first time in history an inglorious bondage is
transformed into inspiring freedom. The policy of the Manchus has been
one of unequivocal seclusion and unyielding tyranny. Beneath it we
have bitterly suffered. Now we submit to the free peoples of the world
the reasons justifying the revolution and the inauguration of the
present government. Prior to the usurpation of the throne by the
Manchus the land was open to foreign intercourse, and religious
tolerance existed, as is shown by the writings of Marco Polo and the
inscription on the Nestorian tablet at Hsi-an Fu. Dominated by
ignorance and selfishness, the Manchus closed the land to the outer
world, and plunged the Chinese into a state of benighted mentality
calculated to operate inversely to their natural talents, thus
committing a crime against humanity and the civilized nations which it
is almost impossible to extirpate. Actuated by a desire for the
perpetual subjugation of the Chinese, and a vicious craving for
aggrandizement and wealth, the Manchus have governed the country to
the lasting injury and detriment of the people, creating privileges
and monopolies, erecting about themselves barriers of exclusion,
national custom, and personal conduct, which have been rigorously
maintained for centuries. They have levied irregular and hurtful taxes
without the consent of the people, and have restricted foreign trade
to treaty ports. They have placed the /likin/ embargo on merchandise,
obstructed internal commerce, retarded the creation of industrial
enterprises, rendered impossible the development of natural resources,
denied a regular system of impartial administration of justice, and
inflicted cruel punishment on persons charged with offences, whether
innocent or guilty. They have connived at official corruption, sold
offices to the highest bidder, subordinated merit to influence,
rejected the most reasonable demands for better government, and
reluctantly conceded so-called reforms under the most urgent pressure,
promising without any intention of fulfilling. They have failed to
appreciate the anguish-causing lessons taught them by foreign Powers,
and in process of years have brought themselves and our people beneath
the contempt of the world. A remedy of these evils will render
possible the entrance of China into the family of nations. We have
fought and have formed a government. Lest our good intentions should
be misunderstood, we publicly and unreservedly declare the following
to be our promises:--

"The treaties entered into by the Manchus before the date of the
revolution, will be continually effective to the time of their
termination. Any and all treaties entered into after the commencement
of the revolution will be repudiated. Foreign loans and indemnities
incurred by the Manchus before the revolution will be acknowledged.
Payments made by loans incurred by the Manchus after its commencement
will be repudiated. Concessions granted to nations and their nationals
before the revolution will be respected. Any and all granted after it
will be repudiated. The persons and property of foreign nationals
within the jurisdiction of the republic will be respected and
protected. It will be our constant aim and firm endeavour to build on
a stable and enduring foundation a national structure compatible with
the potentialities of our long-neglected country. We shall strive to
elevate the people to secure peace and to legislate for prosperity.
Manchus who abide peacefully in the limits of our jurisdiction will be
accorded equality, and given protection.

"We will remodel the laws, revise the civil, criminal, commercial, and
mining codes, reform the finances, abolish restrictions on trade and
commerce, and ensure religious toleration and the cultivation of
better relations with foreign peoples and governments than have ever
been maintained before. It is our earnest hope that those foreign
nationals who have been steadfast in their sympathy will bind more
firmly the bonds of friendship between us, and will bear in patience
with us the period of trial confronting us and our reconstruction
work, and will aid the consummation of the far-reaching plans, which
we are about to undertake, and which they have long vainly been urging
upon our people and our country.

"With this message of peace and good-will the republic cherishes the
hope of being admitted into the family of nations, not merely to share
its rights and privileges, but to co-operate in the great and noble
task of building up the civilization of the world.

"Sun Yat-sen, /President/."

The next step was to displace the three-cornered Dragon flag, itself
of quite modern origin, in favour of a new republican emblem. For this
purpose was designed a flag of five stripes,--yellow, red, blue,
white, black,--arranged at right angles to the flagstaff in the above
order, and intended to represent the five races--Chinese, Manchus,
Mongols, Tibetan, Mussulmans--gathered together under one rule.

On February 12, three important edicts were issued. In the first, the
baby-emperor renounces the throne, and approves the establishment of a
provisional republican government, under the direction of Yan Shih-
k`ai, in conjunction with the existing provisional government at
Nanking. In the second, approval is given to the terms under which the
emperor retires, the chief item of which was an annual grant of four
million /taels/. Other more sentimental privileges included the
retention of a bodyguard, and the continuance of sacrifices to the
spirits of the departed Manchu emperors. In the third, the people are
exhorted to preserve order and abide by the Imperial will regarding
the new form of government.

Simultaneously with the publication of these edicts, the last scene of
the drama was enacted near Nanking, at the mausoleum of the first
sovereign of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Sun Yat-sen, as
provisional first president, accompanied by his Cabinet and a numerous
escort, proceeded thither, and after offering sacrifice as usual,
addressed, though a secretary, the following oration to the tablet
representing the names of that great hero:--

"Of old the Sung dynasty became effete, and the Kitan Tartars and Yan
dynasty Mongols seized the occasion to throw this domain of China into
confusion, to the fierce indignation of gods and men. It was then that
your Majesty, our founder, arose in your wrath from obscurity, and
destroyed those monsters of iniquity, so that the ancient glory was
won again. In twelve years you consolidated the Imperial sway, and the
dominions of the Great Y were purged of pollution and cleansed from
the noisome Tartar. Often in history has our noble Chinese race been
enslaved by petty frontier barbarians from the north. Never have such
glorious triumphs been won over them as your Majesty achieved. But
your descendants were degenerate, and failed to carry on your glorious
heritage; they entrusted the reins of government to bad men, and
pursued a short-sighted policy. In this way they encouraged the
ambitions of the eastern Tartar savages (Manchus), and fostered the
growth of their power. They were thus able to take advantage of the
presence of rebels to invade and possess themselves of your sacred
capital. From a bad eminence of glory basely won, they lorded it over
this most holy soil, and our beloved China's rivers and hills were
defiled by their corrupting touch, while the people fell victims to
the headman's axe or the avenging sword. Although worthy patriots and
faithful subjects of your dynasty crossed the mountain ranges into
Canton and the far south, in the hope of redeeming the glorious Ming
tradition from utter ruin, and of prolonging a thread of the old
dynasty's life, although men gladly perished one after the other in
the forlorn attempt, heaven's wrath remained unappeased, and mortal
designs failed to achieve success. A brief and melancholy page was
added to the history of your dynasty, and that was all.

"As time went on, the law became ever harsher, and the meshes of its
inexorable net grew closer. Alas for our Chinese people, who crouched
in corners and listened with startled ears, deprived of power of
utterance, and with tongues glued to their mouths, for their lives
were past saving. Those others usurped titles to fictitious clemency
and justice, while prostituting the sacred doctrines of the sages:
whom they affected to honour. They stifled public opinion in the
empire in order to force acquiescence in their tyranny. The Manchu
despotism became so thorough and so embracing that they were enabled
to prolong their dynasty's existence by cunning wiles. In Yung Chng's
reign the Hunanese Chang Hsi and Tsng Ching preached sedition against
the dynasty in their native province, while in Chia Ch`ing's reign the
palace conspiracy of Lin Ching dismayed that monarch in his capital.
These events were followed by rebellions in Ss{u}-ch`uan and Shensi;
under Tao Kuang and his successor the T`ai-p`ings started their
campaign from a remote Kuangsi village. Although these worthy causes
were destined to ultimate defeat, the gradual trend of the national
will became manifest. At last our own era dawned, the sun of freedom
had risen, and a sense of the rights of the race animated men's minds.
In addition the Manchu bandits could not even protect themselves.
Powerful foes encroached upon the territory of China, and the dynasty
parted with our sacred soil to enrich neighbouring nations. The
Chinese race of to-day may be degenerate, but it is descended from
mighty men of old. How should it endure that the spirits of the great
dead should be insulted by the everlasting visitation of this scourge?

"Then did patriots arise like a whirlwind, or like a cloud which is
suddenly manifested in the firmament. They began with the Canton
insurrection; then Peking was alarmed by Wu Yeh's bomb (1905). A year
later Hs Hsi-lin fired his bullet into the vitals of the Manchu
robber-chief, En Ming, Governor of Anhui. Hsiung Chng-chi raised the
standard of liberty on the Yang-tsze's banks; rising followed rising
all over the empire, until the secret plot against the Regent was
discovered, and the abortive insurrection in Canton startled the
capital. One failure followed another, but other brave men took the
place of the heroes who died, and the empire was born again to life.
The bandit Manchu court was shaken with pallid terror, until the
cicada threw off its shell in a glorious regeneration, and the present
crowning triumph was achieved. The patriotic crusade started in
Wu-ch`ang; the four corners of the empire responded to the call. Coast
regions nobly followed in their wake, and the Yang-tsze was won back
by our armies. The region south of the Yellow River was lost to the
Manchus, and the north manifested its sympathy with our cause. An
earthquake shook the barbarian court of Peking, and it was smitten
with a paralysis. To-day it has at last restored the government to the
Chinese people, and the five races of China may dwell together in
peace and mutual trust. Let us joyfully give thanks. How could we have
attained this measure of victory had not your Majesty's soul in heaven
bestowed upon us your protecting influence? I have heard say that the
triumphs of Tartar savages over our China were destined never to last
longer than a hundred years. But the reign of these Manchus endured
unto double, ay, unto treble, that period. Yet Providence knows the
appointed hour, and the moment comes at last. We are initiating the
example to Eastern Asia of a republican form of government; success
comes early or late to those who strive, but the good are surely
rewarded in the end. Why then should we repine to-day that victory has
tarried long?

"I have heard that in the past many would-be deliverers of their
country have ascended this lofty mound wherein is your sepulchre. It
has served to them as a holy inspiration. As they looked down upon the
surrounding rivers and upward to the hills, under an alien sway, they
wept in the bitterness of their hearts, but to-day their sorrow is
turned into joy. The spiritual influences of your grave at Nanking
have come once more into their own. The dragon crouches in majesty as
of old, and the tiger surveys his domain and his ancient capital.
Everywhere a beautiful repose doth reign. Your legions line the
approaches to the sepulchre; a noble host stands expectant. Your
people have come here to-day to inform your Majesty of the final
victory. May this lofty shrine wherein you rest gain fresh lustre from
to-day's event, and may your example inspire your descendants in the
times which are to come. Spirit! Accept this offering!"

We are told by an eye-witness, Dr Lim Boon-keng, that when this
ceremony was over, Sun Yat-sen turned to address the assembly. "He was
speechless with emotion for a minute; then he briefly declared how,
after two hundred and sixty years, the nation had again recovered her
freedom; and now that the curse of Manchu domination was removed, the
free peoples of a united republic could pursue their rightful
aspirations. Three cheers for the president were now called for, and
the appeal was responded to vigorously. The cheering was taken up by
the crowds below, and then carried miles away by the thousands of
troops, to mingle with the booming of distant guns."


The /I y kuo chi/ (costumes of strange nations). Circa 1380.

The /Tung hua lu/ (a history of the Manchus down to A.D. 1735). 1765.

The /Shng wu chi/ (a history of the earlier wars under the Manchu
dynasty). 1822.

/A History of China/, by Rev. J. Macgowan, 1897.

/A History of the Manchus/, by Rev. J. Ross, 1880.

/The Chinese Repository/.

/The Chinese and their Rebellions/, by T. T. Meadows, 1856.

Pamphlets issued by the T`ai-p`ings, 1850-1864.

/The Times/, 1911-12.

/The London and China Telegraph/, 1911-12.


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