Court Life in China
Isaac Taylor Headland
Part 2 out of 5
" '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 missing.
"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
" '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 replied:
" '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 subjects.
"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
"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 command?'
"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.
"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
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 reeestablishment
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."
KUANG HSU--HIS SELF-DEVELOPMENT
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 emperor."
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 Majesty.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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."
KUANG HSU--AS EMPEROR AND REFORMER
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 him.
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 measures.
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
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
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 follows:
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
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
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
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
14. School boards were ordered established in every city in the
15. Bureaus of Mines and Railroads were established.
16. Journalists were encouraged to write on all political
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 memorials.
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
1. The abolition of the queue.
2. The changing of the Chinese style of dress to that of the
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
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 government.
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
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."
KUANG HSU--AS A PRISONER
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 forebodings.
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 life."
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 again.
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
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
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
"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 manner."
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
"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
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 territory.
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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 Majesty.
"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
"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.
PRINCE CHUN--THE REGENT
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
"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
" '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
"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
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
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
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 Kingdom."
THE HOME OF THE COURT--THE FORBIDDEN CITY
During the past ten years, since the dethronement of the late
Emperor Kuang Hsu, I have often been asked by Europeans visiting
"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
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
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