Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]

Permanent gates newly constructed in the business quarter of Peking to prevent crowds

of looters, in case of an outbreak, rushing through the streets


their heads hung as warnings to other evil- kindly, on the several occasions when I doers, and their bodies left to impede the have spoken with him. At times he has a passage of pedestrians, camel-trains, other

very merry twinkle in his heavy eyes. His pack-animals, and carts. Such is the way head is large, almost massive, like his body; of justice in China.

his white hair and drooping mustaches are But I want again to emphasize the fact thin. He has asthma, and often has to that government is impossible in that take breath between sentences when he country unless the administrators of the speaks. He shows a splendid set of even, law are willing to put it drastically into substantial teeth, almost as evident, but execution; and after the long period of not so white, as Roosevelt's. His nose is utter anarchy that followed the revolu- small and not prominent, set back in a tion, Yüan himself was, and is still to-day, flat face, which is, of course, distinctly the only law. I believe that, according to Chinese. His ears are large, his mother his lights and the insecure power that he perhaps having encouraged the elongations holds, he is a patriot. In China it is often which Chinese admire; his hands and feet, the case that men kill themselves for triv- on the contrary, are comparatively small, ial reasons, for life is not the desirable as Chinese prefer to have them. His thing, constantly full of hope, that it is soft, almost Aabby hands are no indication with us.

On the railways, for example, of his character, for it is not the fashion men frequently kill themselves, their ob- in China to grip a hand in shaking it; ject being to obtain sufficient money for in fact, to shake hands at all is contrary to an honorable funeral from the company. Yüan's training, and he does it only beIt is evident, therefore, that to take men's cause foreigners expect it. lives is also a less grave matter there than He is not a man who binds himself by here. China is still living in an epoch cor- rules, customs, or precedents, although responding with our Middle Ages. Only he appears always to be careful, like any the fringe of the country has been affected wise politician, not to run dangerously through her treaty ports.

counter to traditions or prejudices. It was Yüan Shi-kai has see:ned genial, if never characteristic of him, for example, to cling

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]

The entrance to the Foreign Office in Peking to his queue as long as the majority about but Yüan failed, deliberately, to put it him preferred the fashion, and then to get into execution. rid of it. In contrast to Yüan, it is note- Yüan has a family on the lines of the worthy that at periods of crisis, when much old-style Chinese. After Chinese custom, more serious business should have filled his first wife was engaged by his parents their sessions, the parliament discussed and and married to him when a youth. In the disputed for days the question whether choice of subsequent wives and concubines queues should not be discarded by legal he had more to say. It is commonly recompulsion. The law was actually passed, ported that he has a considerable house


The east entrance to the Imperial City, in the heart of which is the Forbidden City. The

walls and a pagoda of the latter are seen in the background


cient influence to launch him into national affairs, the goal of every ambitious Chinese. Nor was Yüan able to pass those literary examinations that admitted young men into government office. It was by the back door, so to speak, that he got into politics. He got in through the army, until recently a dishonored profession. The army was all that tradition said of it, a cutthroat rabble employed to butcher, a disgraceful calling in the eyes of the Chinese. At that time, however, soldiers were a very necessary institution, for the retention of Korea as a Chinese dependency was the absorbing question for the Government which Li Hung Chang controlled. Yüan was not a soldier; his grade was somewhat better than that: he had charge as a clerk of a commissary or other administrative office in the transfer of troops to the Hermit Kingdom.

It is amazing to note with what rapidity he rose in authority, once having been recognized by the famous Li; but it is not surprising to one who has observed the

vigorous use which Yuan constantly President Yüan Shi-kai, surrounded by military makes of his mind in contrast with the officers and officials in ancient sacrificial robes, leaving the Altar of Heaven

customary Chinese obedience to tradition.

The Chinese scholar, saturated with the hold. The household, including grand- classics, would seek among his parrot-like children and the wives of his sons, is said learnings for quotations from the sages to number more than threescore. The applicable to a given situation. Not so newspapers in Peking reported one day Yüan; he thought for himself. Korea about a year ago that two sons who were was the place where men of action were not twins were born to him on the same needed, and so few were the vigorous men day. The whole family lives in the Chi- among the Chinese that before Yüan was nese manner in the same compound, the thirty years of age he was established as extensive inclosure of the Winter Palace, Chinese resident, the highest office of his the residence of the notorious Empress Government, at Seul, the Korean capital. Dowager Tsu-hsi. The Winter Palace is I am sorry to say that his reputation for a portion of the Forbidden City, in the ruthless slaughter was already notorious. main part of which the little Manchu In China it is no great crime for an emperor is still permitted to keep a body- official to get rid of rivals or political opguard and maintain his court.

ponents. There are no courts of law that A summary of the new monarch's ca- give unbiased judgments, especially in poreer will undoubtedly demonstrate his litical matters, and officials must be willpractical character better than it could be ing to kill when necessary or give place to sketched. It is a terrible career. That others who will. Even to this day a father he himself lived through it is remarkable. holds the power of life or death over his

He was born of an obscure family child. I know of the case, occurring about the year 1857. His father was a within two years, of a policeman in Peking minor provincial gentleman without suffi- destroying his year-old son by dashing the


Yüan Shi-kai, at the first presidential inauguration, surrounded by a bodyguard of
officers, at the head of the steps of the Foreign Office, immediately

after taking the oath of office in that building

child's head on a pavement. It did not reforms which he proposed. The story is enter the minds of the authorities to arrest this: the emperor summoned Yüan in prithe man. Also within two years a presi- vate audience, instructed him to proceed dential mandate, the only binding law in quickly to Tientsin and go to the yamen, China to-day, has been issued in the capital or official residence, of the Viceroy Yung city itself providing that, robberies having Lu; to slay that officer and take command become so frequent since the lax republi- of his troops; to return to Peking immecan regulations came into force, the old diately, bringing the soldiers with him; to provision of capital punishment should be surround the palace of the empress dowinflicted on the coolie who hired a rick- ager (not the emperor's mother, but the shaw and did not return it to the owner. widow of the former emperor), destroy or Rickshaw-men often fail to get sufficient capture her bodyguard, and make her his "fares" in a day to pay the cost of renting prisoner. their vehicles, and are sometimes driven, Yüan, with proper kowtows, pretended after getting deeply in debt, to stealing a to accept the command; but, on arrival at rickshaw, the value of which varies from the Tientsin yamen, informed Yung Lu five to thirty dollars.

of the dainty commission intrusted to him. To go back to Yüan's career.


Instead, of course, of Yüan's leading the the Japanese drove the Chinese out of troops to Peking, the general who supKorea, Yuan came back to China to as- ported the empress took them thither; and sume responsibility in court circles in instead of the Winter Palace being surPeking, and soon became a Mandarin of rounded, the Forbidden City proper was the Yellow Jacket, a guardian of the em- cordoned. The emperor became the prisperor. But the title did not prevent him oner, and went to live in an imperial palfrom betraying his Majesty Kwang-su. ace on an island in the lake in the Winter This is the most notorious episode of his Palace inclosure. career, but one, nevertheless, for which he Subsequently, when Yüan held the office may have had justification in that the of Viceroy of Shan-tung, the metropolitan emperor was incapable of achieving the province, he organized the so-styled model army, having learned that a rabble of


Old-style soldiers in Peking. They were brought to the capital to balance the power

of the modern troops before Yüan was certain of control

ment would not accord with Chinese ideas undisciplined, untrained troops could be of politeness; but by declaring that one of mowed down like so many unarmed men Yüan's legs was not strong, the regent by soldiers adequately organized and com- gave him indefinite leave of absence to manded. He showed his common sense, retire into obscurity and cure it. Yuan too, in 1900, when the Boxers had per- went to his estate in Honan, there to live suaded most other viceroys as well as the life of a country gentleman for about members of the grand council to let them three years, until this same regent, harexterminate the foreigners; for not a for- assed by the revolution of 1911-12 and eign life was lost in Shan-tung. Charac- having no capable counselor to advise and teristic, too, is the fact that Yüan was one serve him, humbled himself and requested of the few advisers of the Government Yüan to return. who warned the empress dowager-guard

Yüan declined until full power of adedly, of course— to come to terms at any ministration was placed in his hands. He price with the foreign nations.

then summoned his adherents, and sent the The imprisoned emperor died mysteri- strongest of them, Chao Ping-chun, to ously at the same time the


Peking to take charge of the police. Tsai dowager, probably slain or poisoned lest Ting-kan went to Wuchang to interview he should succeed in resuming the power General Li Yuan-heng, the rebel leader, and of office and wreaking vengeance on those appears to have come to terms with him. Manchu princes and Chinese mandarins As soon as Yuan came to the capital he who had made and held him prisoner. By required the regent to abdicate, leaving the emperor's death Yüan's life was un- the dowager, wife of the late emperor, a doubtedly saved, but not his official career. weak woman to whom Yüan could dictate, A nephew of the late emperor, a boy a few in charge of the throne. The Northern years old, came to the throne by selection armies were capable and in a position to of the Manchus, and the child's father defeat the rebels, but Yüan undoubtedly became regent. This regent, Prince Chun, restrained them, connived in their deserimmediately dismissed Yuan, not denounc- tion to the rebel cause, and finally ining him as a traitor, for so direct a state- formed the empress that the struggle was


« AnkstesnisTęsti »