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The Fight For The Republic In China by B.L. Putnam Weale

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To the Military and Civil Governors of the Provinces, the Military
Commissioners at Foochow and Kweiyang; the Military Commandants at
Changteh, Kweihuating, and Kalgan; and the Commissioner of Defence
at Tachienlu:--

(To be deciphered with the Hua Code)

The change in the form of the state is now happily accomplished.
This is due not only to the unity of the people's minds, but more
especially to the skill with which, in realizing the object of
saving the country, you have carried out the propaganda from the
beginning, managed affairs according to the exigencies of the
occasions, and adapted the law to suit the circumstances. The
people have, to be sure, become tired of the Republic; yet unless
you had taken the lead, they would not have dared to voice their
sentiments. We all appreciate your noble efforts.

Ever since the monarchical movement was started, the people as
well as the high officials in the different localities have
repeatedly petitioned for the change, a fact which proves that the
people's will is in favour of it. In order to enable the people to
express their will through a properly constituted organ, the
General Convention of the Citizens' Representatives has been

Since the promulgation of the Law on the Organization of the
Citizens' Representatives, we, who are devoted to the welfare of
the state, desire to see that the decisions of that Convention do
not run counter to the wishes of the people. We are so anxious
about the matter that we have striven so to apply the law to meet
the circumstances as to carry out our designs. It is out of
patriotic motives that we have adopted the policy of adhering to
the law, whenever possible, and, at the same time, of yielding to
expediency, whenever necessary. During the progress of this scheme
there may have been certain letters and telegrams, both official
and private, which have transgressed the bounds of the law. They
will become absolutely useless after the affair is finished.
Moreover, no matter how carefully their secrets may have been
guarded, still they remain as permanent records which might
compromise us; and in the event of their becoming known to
foreigners, we shall not escape severe criticism and bitter
attacks, and, what is worse, should they be handed down as part of
the national records, they will stain the opening pages of the
history of the new dynasty. The Central Government, after
carefully considering the matter, has concluded that it would be
better to sort out and burn the document so as to remove all
unnecessary records and prevent regrettable consequences. For
these reasons you are hereby requested to sift out all telegrams,
letters, and dispatches concerning the change in the form of the
state, whether official or private, whether received from Peking
or the provinces (excepting those required by law to be filed on
record), and cause the same to be burnt in your presence. As for
those which have already been communicated to the local officials,
you are likewise requested to order them to be returned
immediately; to commit them to the flames; and to report to this
Bureau for future reference the total number of documents so

The present change in the form of the state constitutes the most
glorious episode of our national history. Not only is this far
superior to the succession of dynasties by right of conquest or in
virtue of voluntary transfer (as in the days of Yao and Shun), but
it compares favourably with all the peaceful changes that have
taken place in western politics. Everything will be perfect if
whatever mars it (meaning the documents) is done away with.

All of you have acquired greatness in founding the dynasty. You
will doubtless concur with us, and will, we earnestly hope, lose
no time in cautiously and secretly carrying out our request.

We respectfully submit this to your consideration and wait for a





In all the circumstances it was only natural that the
extraordinary chapter of history we have just narrated should have
marched to its appointed end in just as extraordinary a manner as
it had commenced. Yuan Shih-kai, the uncrowned king, actually
enjoyed in peace his empty title only for a bare fortnight, the
curious air of unreality becoming more and more noticeable after
the first burst of excitement occasioned by his acceptance of the
Throne had subsided. Though the year 1915 ended with Peking
brightly illuminated in honour of the new regime, which had
adopted in conformity with Eastern precedents a new calendar under
the style of Hung Hsien or "glorious Constitutionalism," that
official joy was just as false as the rest had been and awakened
the incredulity of the crowd.

On Christmas Day ominous rumours had spread in the diplomatic
circle that dramatic developments in South China had come which
not only directly challenged the patient plotting of months but
made a debacle appear inevitable. Very few days afterwards it was
generally known that the southernmost province of China, Yunnan--
on the borders of French-Indo-China--had telegraphed the Central
Government a thinly veiled ultimatum, that either the monarchy
must be cancelled and the chief monarchists executed at once or
the province would take such steps as were deemed advisable. The
text of these telegrams which follows was published by the
courageous editor of the Peking Gazette on the 31st December and
electrified the capital. The reader will not fail to note how
richly allegorical they are in spite of their dramatic nature:


To the Great President:

Since the question of Kuo-ti (form of State) was raised
consternation has seized the public mind; and on account of the
interference of various Powers the spirit of the people has been
more and more aroused. They have asked the question:--"Who has
invited the disaster, and brought upon us such great disgrace?"
Some one must be responsible for the alien insults heaped on us.

We have learned that each day is given to rapid preparations for
the Grand Ceremony; and it is now true that, internally, public
opinion has been slighted, and, externally, occasions have been
offered to foreigners to encroach on our rights. Our blood runs
cold when we face the dangers at the door. Not once but twice hath
the President taken the oath to observe and obey the Constitution
and protect and maintain the Republic. The oath was sworn before
Heaven and Earth; and it is on record in the hearts of millions of
people and the words thereof still echo in the ears of the people
of all nations. In the Classics it is said that "in dealing with
the people of the country, faith is of the essence of great rule."
Again it is written that "without faith a people cannot endure as
a nation." How then can one rule the people when he "eats" his own
words and tears his own oath? Principle has now been cast to the
winds and the Kuo-ti has been changed. We know not how the country
can be administered.

Since the suspension of the National Assembly and the revision of
the Constitution, the powers of Government have been centred in
one person, with the implied freedom to do whatever seems meet
without let or hindrance. If the Government were to use this power
in order to reform the administration and consolidate the
foundations of the nation, there would be no fear of failure. For
the whole country would submit to the measures of the Central
Government. Thus there is not the least necessity to commit
treason by changing the Kuo-ti.

But although the recent decision of the Citizens' Representatives
in favour of a monarchy and the request of the high local
officials for the President's accession to the Throne have been
represented as inspired by the unanimous will of the people, it is
well known that the same has been the work of ignoble men whose
bribery and intimidation have been sanctioned by the authorities.
Although inept efforts have been made to disguise the deceit, the
same is unhidden to the eyes of the world.

Fortunately it is said that the President has from the very
beginning maintained a calm attitude, speaking not his mind on the
subject. It is now as easy to turn the tide as the reversing of
the palm. It may be objected that if the "face" of the nation is
not preserved in view of the interference of Foreign Powers, there
will be great danger in future. But it must be observed that
official declaration can only be made in accordance with the will
of the people, the tendency of which can easily be ascertained by
searching for the facts. If the will of the people that the
country should be the common property of the Nation be obeyed and
the idea of the President that a Dynasty is as cheap as a worn-out
shoe is heeded, the latter has it in his power to loosen the
string that suspends the bell just as much as the person who has
hung it. If the wrong path is not forsaken, it is feared that as
soon as the heart of the people is gone, the country will be
broken to pieces and the dismemberment of the Nation will take
place when alien pressure is applied to us. We who have hitherto
received favours from the President and have received high
appointments from him hereby offer our faithful advice in the
spirit of men who are sailing in common in a boat that is in
danger; we speak as do those who love sincerity and cherish the
unbroken word. We hope that the President will, with courage,
refuse to listen to the speech of evil counsellors and heed the
voice of conscience and of honour. We further hope that he will
renew his promise to protect the Republic; and will publicly swear
that a monarchical system will never again appear.

Thus the heart of the people will be settled and the foundations
of the Nation will be consolidated. Then by enlisting the services
of sagacious colleagues in order to surmount the difficulties of
the time and sweeping away all corruption and beginning anew with
the people, it may be that the welfare and interest of the Nation
will be furthered. In sending this telegram our eyes are wet with
tears knowing not what more to say. We respectfully await the
order of the President with our troops under arms.



For the Perusal of the Great President:--

In our humble opinion the reason why the people--Chinese and
foreign--cannot excuse the President is because the movement for
the change of Kuo-ti has been inspired, and indeed actually
originated in Peking, and that the ringleaders of the plot against
the Min Kuo are all "bosom-men" of the President. The Chou An Hui,
organized by Yang Tu and five other men, set the fire ablaze and
the circular telegram sent by Chu Chi-chien and six other persons
precipitated the destruction of the Republican structure. The
President knew that the bad deed was being done and yet he did
nothing to arrest the same or punish the evil-doers. The people
therefore, are suspicious. A mandate was issued on the 24th of the
11th month of the 3rd year in which it is affirmed: "Democracy and
republicanism are laid down in the Constitutional Compact; and
there is also a law relating to the punishment of those who spread
sedition in order to disturb the minds of the people. If any one
shall hereafter dare to advance strange doctrines and misconstrue
the meaning of the Constitution, he will be punished severely in
accordance with the law of sedition."

Yang Tu for having publicly organized the said Society and Chu
Chi-chien for having directly plotted by telegram are the
principal offenders in the present flagrant case of sedition. As
their crimes are obvious and the subject of abundant proof, we
hereby ask the President to carry out at once the terms of the
said mandate and publicly execute Yang Tu, Sun Yu-yun, Yen Fu, Liu
Shih-pei, Li Hsieh-ho, Hu Ying, Chu Chi-chien, Tuan Chih-kuei,
Chow Tze-chi, Liang Shih-yi, Chang Cheng-fang and Yuan Nai-kuan
to the end that the whole nation may be pacified. Then, and not
till then, will the world believe in the sincerity of the
President, in his love for the country and his intention to abide
by the law. All the troops and people here are in anger; and
unless a substantial proof from the Central Authorities is
forthcoming, guaranteeing the maintenance of the Republic, it will
be impossible to suppress or pacify them. We await a reply within
twenty-four hours.


It was evident from the beginning that pride prevented Yuan Shih-
kai from retreating from the false position he had taken up. Under
his instructions the State Department sent a stream of powerful
telegraphic messages to Yunnan attempting to dissuade the
Republican leaders from revolt. But the die had been cast and very
gravely the standard of rebellion was raised in the capital city
of Yunnan and the people exhorted to shed their blood. Everything
pointed to the fact that this rising was to be very different from
the abortive July outbreak of 1913. There was a soberness and a
deliberation about it all which impressed close observers with a
sense of the ominous end which was now in sight.

Still Peking remained purblind. During the month of January the
splendour of the dream empire, which was already dissolving into
thin air, filled the newspapers. It was reported that an Imperial
Edict printed on Yellow Paper announcing the enthronement was
ready for universal distribution: that twelve new Imperial Seals
in jade or gold were being manufactured: that a golden chair and a
magnificent State Coach in the style of Louis XV were almost
ready. Homage to the portrait of Yuan Shih-kai by all officials
throughout the country was soon to be ordered; sycophantic
scholars were busily preparing a volume poetically entitled "The
Golden Mirror of the Empire," in which the virtues of the new
sovereign were extolled in high-sounding language. A recondite
significance, it was said, was to be given to the old ceremonial
dress, which was to be revived, from the fact that every official
would carry a Hu or Ivory Tablet to be held against the breast.
The very mention of this was sufficient to make the local price of
ivory leap skywards! In the privacy of drawing-rooms the story
went the rounds that Yuan Shih-kai, now completely deluded into
believing in the success of his great scheme, had held a full-
dress rehearsal of a ceremony which would be the first one at his
new Court when he would invest the numerous ladies of his
establishment with royal rank. Seated on his Throne he had been
engaged in instructing these interested females, already robed in
magnificent costumes, in the parts they were to play, when he had
noticed the absence of the Korean Lady--a consort he had won, it
is said, in his Seoul days in competition against the Japanese
Envoy accredited to Korea, thereby precipitating the war of 1894-
95. [Footnote: This story is firmly believed by many, namely that
a beautiful woman caused the loss of Korea.] The Korean Lady had
refused to enter the Throne-room, he was told, because she was
dissatisfied with the rank he proposed to confer on her. Sternly
he sent for her and told her to take her place in the circle. But
no sooner had she arrived than hysterically she screamed, "You
told me when you wedded me that no wife would be my superior: now
I am counted only a secondary consort." With that she hurled
herself at the eldest wife who was occupying the post of honour
and assailed her bitterly. Amidst the general confusion the would-
be-Emperor hastily descended from his Throne and vainly
intervened, but the women were not to be parted until their robes
were in tatters.

In such childishnesses did Peking indulge when a great disaster
was preparing. To explain what had occurred in Yunnan it is
necessary to go back and tell the story of a remarkable young
Chinese-General Tsao-ao, the soul of the new revolt.

In the revolution of 1911 each province had acted on the
assumption that it possessed inherent autonomous rights and could
assume sovereignty as soon as local arrangements had allowed the
organization of a complete provisional government. Yunnan had been
one of the earliest provinces to follow the lead of the Wu-chang
rebels and had virtually erected itself into a separate republic,
which attracted much attention because of the iron discipline
which was preserved. Possessing a fairly well-organized military
system, largely owing to the proximity of the French frontier and
the efforts which a succession of Viceroys had made to provide
adequate frontier defence, it was amply able to guarantee its
newly won autonomy. General Tsao-ao, then in command of a division
of troops had been elected Generalissimo of the province; and
bending himself to his task in very few weeks he had driven into
exile all officials who adhered to the Imperialist cause and made
all local institutions completely self-supporting. Even in 1911 it
had been reported that this young man dreamed of founding a
dynasty for himself in the mountains of South China--an ambition
by no means impossible of realization since he had received a
first-class military education in the Tokio Military Schools and
was thoroughly up-to-date and conversant with modern theories of

These reports had at the time greatly concerned Yuan Shih-kai who
heard it stated by all who knew him that the Yunnan leader was a
genius in his own way. In conformity with his policy of bringing
to Peking all who might challenge his authority, he had induced
General Tsao-ao, since the latter had played no part in the
rebellion of 1913, to lay down his office of Yunnan Governor-
General and join him in the capital at the beginning of 1914--
another high provincial appointment being held out to him as a

Once in Peking, however, General Tsao-ao had been merely placed in
charge of an office concerned with the reorganization of the land-
tax, nominally a very important piece of work long advocated by
foreign critics. But as there were no funds available, and as the
purpose was plainly merely to keep him under observation, he
fretted at the restraint, and became engaged in secret political
correspondence with men who had been exiled abroad. As he was soon
an open suspect, in order to avoid arrest he had taken the bold
step at the very inception of the monarchy movement of heading the
list of Generals in residence in Peking who petitioned the Senate
to institute a Monarchy, this act securing him against summary
treatment. But owing to his secret connection with the scholar
Liang Chi-chao, who had thrown up his post of Minister of Justice
and left the capital in order to oppose the new movement, he was
watched more and more carefully--his death being even hinted at.

He was clever enough to meet this ugly development with a masterly
piece of trickery conceived in the Eastern vein. One day a
carefully arranged dispute took place between him and his wife,
and the police were angrily called in to see that his family and
all their belongings were taken away to Tientsin as he refused any
longer to share the same roof with them. Being now alone in the
capital, he apparently abandoned himself to a life of shameless
debauch, going nightly to the haunts of pleasure and becoming a
notorious figure in the great district in the Outer City of Peking
which is filled with adventure and adventuresses and which is the
locality from which Haroun-Al Raschid obtained through the medium
of Arab travellers his great story of "Aladdin and the Wonderful
Lamp." When governmental suspicions were thoroughly lulled, he
arranged with a singing-girl to let him out by the backdoor of her
house at dawn from whence he escaped to the railway-station,
rapidly reaching Tientsin entirely unobserved.

The morning was well-advanced before the detectives who nightly
watched his movements became suspicious. Then finding that his
whereabouts were unknown to the coachman dozing on the box of his
carriage, they roughly entered the house where he had passed the
night only to find that the bird had flown. Hasty telegrams were
dispatched in every direction, particularly to Tientsin--the great
centre for political refugees--and his summary arrest ordered.
But fortune favoured him. A bare quarter-of-an-hour before the
police began their search he had embarked with his family on a
Japanese steamer lying in the Tientsin river and could snap his
fingers at Yuan Shih-kai.

Once in Japan he lost no time in assembling his revolutionary
friends and in a body they embarked for South China. As rapidly as
possible he reached Yunnan province from Hongkong, travelling by
way of the French Tonkin railway. Entering the province early in
December he found everything fairly ready for revolt, though there
was a deficiency in arms and munitions which had to be made good.
Yuan Shih-kai, furious at this evasion, had telegraphed to
confidential agents in Yunnan to kill him at sight, but
fortunately he was warned and spared to perform his important
work. Had a fortnight of grace been vouchsafed him, he would have
probably made the most brilliant modern campaign that has been
witnessed in China, for he was an excellent soldier. Acting from
the natural fortress of Yunnan it was his plan to descend suddenly
on the Yangtsze Valley by way of Chungking and to capture the
upper river in one victorious march thus closing the vast province
of Szechuan to the Northern troops. But circumstances had made it
imperative for him and his friends to telegraph the Yunnan
ultimatum a fortnight sooner than it should have been dispatched,
and the warning thus conveyed to the Central Government largely
crippled the Yunnan offensive.

The circumstances which had made instant action necessary were as
follows. As we have seen from the record of the previous risings,
the region of the Yangtsze river has superlative value in Chinese
politics. Offering as it does an easy road into the heart of the
country and touching more than half the Provinces, it is indeed a
priceless means of communication, and for this reason Yuan Shih-
kai had been careful after the crushing of the rebellion of 1913
to load the river-towns with his troops under the command of
Generals he believed incorruptible. Chief of these was General
Feng Kuo-chang at Nanking who held the balance of power on the
great river, and whose politics, though not entirely above
suspicion, had been proof against all the tempting offers South
China made to him until the ill-fated monarchy movement had
commenced. But during this movement General Feng Kuo-chang had
expressed himself in such contemptuous terms of the would-be
Emperor that orders had been given to another high official--
Admiral Tseng, Garrison Commissioner at Shanghai--to have him
assassinated. Instead of obeying his instructions, Admiral Tseng
had conveyed a warning to his proposed victim, the consequence
being that the unfortunate admiral was himself brutally murdered
on the streets of Shanghai by revolver-shots for betraying the
confidence of his master. After this denouement it was not very
strange that General Feng Kuo-chang should have intimated to the
Republican Party that as soon as they entered the Yangtsze Valley
he would throw his lot with them together with all his troops. Of
this Yuan Shih-kai became aware through his extraordinary system
of intelligence; and following his usual practice he had ordered
General Feng Kuo-chang to Peking as Chief of the General Staff--an
appointment which would place him under direct surveillance. First
on one excuse, then on another, General Feng Kuo-chang had managed
to delay his departure from day to day without actually coming
under the grave charge of refusing to obey orders. But finally the
position was such that he telegraphed to General Tsao-ao that
unless the Yunnan arrangements were hastened he would have to
leave Nanking--and abandon this important centre to one of Yuan
Shih-kai's own henchmen--which meant the end of all hopes of the
Yangtsze Valley rising EN MASSE.

It was to save Feng Kuo-chang, then, that the young patriot Tsao-
ao caused the ultimatum to be dispatched fourteen days too soon
i.e., before the Yunnan troops had marched over the mountain-
barrier into the neighbouring province of Szechuan and seized the
city of Chungking--which would have barred the advance of the
Northern troops permanently as the river defiles even when lightly
defended are impassable here to the strongest force. It was
largely due to the hardships of forced marches conducted over
these rugged mountains, which raise their precipitous peaks to the
heavens, that Tsao-ao subsequently lost his life, his health being
undermined by exposure, tuberculosis finally claiming him. But one
thing at least did his resolute action secure. With Yunnan in open
revolt and several other provinces about to follow suit, General
Feng Yuo-chang was able to telegraph Peking that it was impossible
for him to leave his post at Nanking without rebellion breaking
out. This veiled threat was understood by Yuan Shih-kai. Grimly he
accepted the checkmate.

Yet all the while he was acting with his customary energy. Troops
were dispatched towards Szechuan in great numbers, being tracked
up the rapids of the upper river on board fleets of junks which
were ruthlessly commandeered. Now commenced an extraordinary race
between the Yunnan mountaineers and the Northern plainsmen for the
strategic city of Chungking. For some weeks the result was in
doubt; for although Szechuan province was held by Northern
garrisons, they were relatively speaking weak and surrounded by
hostile Szechuan troops whose politics were doubtful. In the end,
however, Yuan Shih-kai's men reached their goal first and
Chungking was saved. Heavy and continuous mountain-fighting
ensued, in which the Southern troops were only partially
successful. Being less well-equipped in mountain artillery and
less well-found in general supplies they were forced to rely
largely on guerilla warfare. There is little accurate record of
the desperate fighting which occurred in this wild region but it
is known that the original Yunnan force was nearly annihilated,
and that of the remnant numbers perished from disease and

Other events were, however, hastening the debacle. Kueichow
province had almost at once followed the example of Yunnan. A
third province, Kwangsi, under a veteran who was much respected,
General Lu Yun Ting, was soon added; and gradually as in 1911 it
became clear that the army was only one chessman in a complicated
and very ingenious game.




As had been the case during the previous revolts, it was not
publicly or on the battlefield that the most crucial work was
performed: the decisive elements in this new and conclusive
struggle were marshalled behind the scenes and performed their
task unseen. Though the mandarinate, at the head of which stood
Yuan Shih-kai, left no stone unturned to save itself from its
impending fate, all was in vain. Slowly but inexorably it was
shown that a final reckoning had to be faced.

The reasons are not far to seek. Too long had the moral sense of
educated men been outraged by common fraud and deceit for any
continuance of a regime which had disgraced China for four long
years to be humanly possible. Far and wide the word was rapidly
passing that Yuan Shih-kai was not the man he had once been: he
was in reality feeble and choleric--prematurely old from too much
history-making and too many hours spent in the harem. He had
indeed become a mere Colossus with feet of clay,--a man who could
be hurled to the ground by precisely the same methods he had used
to destroy the Manchus. Even his foreign supporters were becoming
tired and suspicious of him, endless trouble being now associated
with his name, there being no promise that quieter times could
possibly come so long as he lived. A very full comprehension of
the general position is given by perusing the valedictory letter
of the leader of the Chinese intellectuals, that remarkable man--
Liang Chi-ch'ao, who in December had silently and secretly fled
from Tientsin on information reaching him that his assassination
was being planned. On the eve of his departure he had sent the
following brilliant document to the Emperor-elect as a reply to an
attempt to entrap him to Peking, a document the meaning of which
was clear to every educated man. Its exquisite irony mixed with
its bluntness told all that was necessary to tell--and forecasted
the inevitable fall. It runs:--

For the Kind Perusal of the Great President:--

A respectful reading of your kind instructions reveals to me your
modesty and the brotherly love which you cherish for your humble
servant, who is so moved by your heart-touching sympathy that he
does not know how to return your kindness. A desire then seized
him to submit his humble views for your wise consideration; though
on the one hand he has thought that he might fail to express what
he wishes to say if he were to do so in a set of brief words,
while on the other hand he has no desire to trouble the busy mind
of one on whose shoulders fall myriads of affairs, with views
expressed in many words. Furthermore, what Ch'i-chao desires to
say relates to what can be likened to the anxiety of one who,
fearing that the heavens may some day fall on him, strives to ward
off the catastrophe. If his words should be misunderstood, it
would only increase his offence. Time and again he has essayed to
write; but each time he has stopped short. Now he is going South
to visit his parents; and looking at the Palace-Gate from afar, he
realizes that he is leaving the Capital indefinitely. The thought
that he has been a protege of the Great President and that dangers
loom ahead before the nation as well as his sense of duty and
friendly obligations, charge him with the responsibility of saying
something. He therefore begs to take the liberty of presenting his
humble but extravagant views for the kind consideration of the
Great President.

The problem of Kuo-ti (form of State) appears to have gone too far
for reconsideration: the position is like unto a man riding on the
back of a wild tiger. ...Ch'i-chao therefore at one moment thought
he would say no more about it, since added comment thereon might
make him all the more open to suspicion. But a sober study of the
general situation and a quiet consideration of the possible future
make him tremble like an autumn leaf; for the more he meditates,
the more dangerous the situation appears. It is true that the
minor trouble of "foreign advice" and rebel plotting can be
settled and guarded against; but what Ch'i-chao bitterly deplores
is that the original intention of the Great President to devote
his life and energy to the interest of the country--an intention
he has fulfilled during the past four years--will be difficult to
explain to the world in future. The trust of the world in the
Great President would be shattered with the result that the
foundation of the country will be unsettled. Do not the Sages say:
"In dealing with the people aim at faithfulness?" If faithfulness
to promises be observed by those in authority, then the people
will naturally surrender themselves. Once, however, a promise is
broken, it will be as hard to win back the people's trust as to
ascend to the very Heavens. Several times have oaths of office
been uttered; yet even before the lips are dry, action hath
falsified the words of promise. In these circumstances, how can
one hope to send forth his orders to the country in the future,
and expect them to be obeyed? The people will say "he started in
righteousness but ended in self-seeking: how can we trust our
lives in his hands, if he should choose to pursue even further his
love of self-enrichment?" It is possible for Ch'i-chao to believe
that the Great President has no desire to make profit for himself
by the sacrifice of the country, but how can the mass of the
people--who believe only what they are told--understand what
Ch'i-chao may, perchance, believe?

The Great President sees no one but those who are always near him;
and these are the people who have tried to win his favour and gain
rewards by concocting the alleged unanimous petitions of the whole
country urging his accession to the Throne. In reality, however,
the will of the people is precisely the opposite. Even the high
officials in the Capital talk about the matter in a jeering and
sarcastic way. As for the tone of the newspapers outside Peking,
that is better left unmentioned. And as for the "small people" who
crowd the streets and the market-places, they go about as if
something untoward might happen at any moment. If a kingdom can be
maintained by mere force, then the disturbance at the time of
Ch'in Chih-huang and Sui Yang Ti could not have been successful.
If, on the other hand, it is necessary to secure the co-operation
and the willing submission of the hearts of the people, then is it
not time that our Great President bethinks himself and boldly
takes his own stand?

Some argue that to hesitate in the middle of a course after
indulging in much pomp and pageantry at the beginning will result
in ridicule and derision and that the dignity of the Chief
Executive will be lowered. But do they even know whether the Great
President has taken the least part in connection with the
phantasies of the past four months? Do they know that the Great
President has, on many occasions, sworn fidelity before high
Heaven and the noon-day sun? Now if he carries out his sacrosanct
promise and is deaf to the unrighteous advice of evil counsellors,
his high virtue will be made even more manifest than ever before.
Wherein then is there need of doubt or fear? Others may even
suggest that since the proposal was initiated by military men, the
tie that has hitherto bound the latter to the Great President may
be snapped in case the pear fails to ripen. But in the humble
opinion of Ch'i-chao, the troops are now all fully inspired with a
sense of obedience to the Chief Executive. Who then can claim the
right to drag our Great President into unrighteousness for the
sake of vanity and vainglory? Who will dare disobey the behests of
the Great President if he should elect to open his heart and
follow the path of honour and unbroken vows? If today, as Head of
the nation, he is powerless to silence the riotous clamour of the
soldiery as happened at Chen-chiao in ancient time, then be sure
in the capacity of an Emperor he will not be able to suppress an
outbreak of troops even as it happened once at Yuyang in the Tang
dynasty. [Footnote: The incident of Chen-chiao is very celebrated
in Chinese annals. A yellow robe, the symbol of Imperial
authority, was thrown around General Chao Kuang-ying, at a place
called Chen-chiao, by his soldiers and officers when he commanded
a force ordered to the front. Chao returned to the Capital
immediately to assume the Imperial Throne, and was thus
"compelled" to become the founder of the famous Sung dynasty. The
"incident of Yuyang" refers to the execution of Yang Kuei-fei, the
favourite concubine of Emperor Yuan Tsung of the Tang dynasty. The
Emperor for a long time was under the alluring influence of Yang
Kuei-fei, who had a paramour named An Lo-hsan. The latter finally
rebelled against the Emperor. The Emperor left the capital and
proceeded to another place together with his favourite concubine,
guarded by a large force of troops. Midway, however, the soldiers
threatened to rebel unless the concubine was killed on the spot.
The clamour was such that the Emperor was forced to sacrifice the
favourite of his harem, putting her to death in the presence of
his soldiers.] To give them the handle of the sword is simply
courting trouble for the future. But can we suspect the troops--
so long trained under the Great President--of such unworthy

The ancients say "However a thing is done, do not hurt the
feelings of those who love you, or let your enemy have a chance to
rejoice." Recently calamities in the forms of drought and flood
have repeatedly visited China; and the ancients warn us that in
such ways does Heaven manifest its Will regarding great movements
in our country. In addition to these we must remember the
prevailing evils of a corrupt officialdom, the incessant ravages
of robbers, excesses in punishment, the unusually heavy burdens of
taxation, as well as the irregularity of weather and rain, which
all go to increase the murmurs and complaints of the people.
Internally, the rebels are accumulating strength against an
opportune time to rise; externally, powerful neighbouring
countries are waiting for an opportunity to harass us. Why then
should our Great President risk his precious person and become a
target of public criticism; or "abandon the rock of peace in
search of the tiger's tail"; or discourage the loyalty of faithful
ones and encourage the sinister ambitions of the unscrupulous?
Ch'i-chao sincerely hopes that the Great President will devote
himself to the establishment of a new era which shall be an
inspiration to heroism and thus escape the fate of those who are
stigmatized in our annals with the name of Traitor. He hopes that
the renown of the Great President will long be remembered in the
land of Chung Hua (China) and he prays that the fate of China may
not end with any abrupt ending that may befall the Great
President. He therefore submits his views with a bleeding heart.
He realizes that his words may not win the approval of one who is
wise and clever; but Ch'i-chao feels that unless he unburdens what
is in his heart, he will be false to the duty which bids him speak
and be true to the kindness that has been showered on him by the
Great President. Whether his loyalty to the Imperative Word will
be rewarded with approval or with reproof, the order of the Great
President will say.

There are other words of which Ch'i-chao wishes to tender to the
Great President. To be an independent nation today, we must need
follow the ways of the present age. One who opposes the current of
the world and protects himself against the enriching influence of
the world-spirit must eventually share the fate of the unselected.
It is sincerely hoped that the Great President will refrain to
some extent from restoring the old and withal work for real
reform. Law can only be made a living force by both the ruler and
the people obeying it with sincerity. When the law loses its
strength, the people will not know how to act; and then the
dignity of Government will disappear. It is hoped that the Great
President will keep himself within the bounds of law and not lead
the officials and the people to juggle with words. Participation
in politics and patriotism are closely related. Bear well in mind
that it is impossible to expect the people to share the
responsibilities of the country, unless they are given a voice in
the transaction of public business. The hope is expressed that the
Great President will establish a real organ representing the true
will of the people and encourage the natural growth of the free
expression of public opinion. Let us not become so arrogant and
oppressive that the people will have no chance to express their
views, as this may inspire hatred on the part of the people. The
relation between the Central Government and the provincial centres
is like that between the trunk and branches of a tree. If the
branches are all withered, how can the trunk continue to grow? It
is hoped that the Great President, while giving due consideration
to the maintenance of the dignity of the Central Government, will
at the same time allow the local life of the provinces to develop.
Ethics, Righteousness, Purity and Conscientiousness are four great
principles. When these four principles are neglected, a country
dies. If the whole country should come in spirit to be like
"concubines and women," weak and open to be coerced and forced
along with whomsoever be on the stronger side, how can a State be
established? May the Great President encourage principle, and
virtue, stimulate purity of character, reject men of covetous and
mean character, and grant wise tolerance to those who know no fear
in defending the right. Only then will the vitality of the country
be retained in some degree; and in time of emergency, there will
be a reserve of strength to be drawn upon in support of the State.
All these considerations are of the order of obvious truths and it
must be assumed that the Great President, who is greatly wise, is
not unaware of the same. The reason why Ch'i-chao ventures to
repeat them is this. He holds it true that a duty is laid on him
to submit whatever humble thoughts are his, and at the same time
he believes that the Great President will not condemn a proper
physic even though it may be cheap and simple. How fortunate will
Ch'i-chao be if advice so tendered shall meet with approval. He is
proceeding farther and farther away from the Palace every day and
he does not know how soon he will be able to seek an audience
again. He writes these words with tears dropping into the ink-slab
and he trusts that his words may receive the attention of the
Great President.

So ends this remarkable missive which has become an historic
document in the archives of the Republic. Once again it was
whispered that so great an impression did this fateful warning
produce on the Emperor-elect that he was within an ace of
cancelling the disastrous scheme which now enmeshed him. But in
the end family influence won the day; and stubbornly and doggedly
the doomed man pushed on with his attempt to crush revolt and
consolidate his crumbling position.

Every possible effort was made to minimize the effect of
international influence on the situation. As the sycophantic
vernacular press of the capital, long drilled to blind
subservience, had begun to speak of his enthronement as a
certainty on the 9th February, a Circular Note was sent to the
Five Allied Powers that no such date had been fixed, and that the
newspaper reports to that effect were inventions. In order
specially to conciliate Japan, a high official was appointed to
proceed on an Embassy to Tokio to grant special industrial
concessions--a manoeuvre which was met with the official refusal
of the Tokio Government to be so placated. Peking was coldly
informed that owing to "court engagements" it would be impossible
for the Emperor of Japan to receive any Chinese Mission. After
this open rebuff attention was concentrated on "the punitive
expedition" to chastise the disaffected South, 80,000 men being
put in the field and a reserve of 80,000 mobilized behind them. An
attempt was also made to win over waverers by an indiscriminate
distribution of patents of nobility. Princes, Dukes, Marquises,
Viscounts and Barons were created in great batches overnight only
to be declined in very many cases, one of the most precious
possessions of the Chinese race being its sense of humour. Every
one, or almost every one, knew that the new patents were not worth
the paper they were written on, and that in future years the
members of this spurious nobility would be exposed to something
worse than contempt. France was invited to close the Tonkin
frontier, but this request also met with a rebuff, and
revolutionists and arms were conveyed in an ever-more menacing
manner into the revolted province of Yunnan by the French
railways. A Princedom was at length conferred on Lung Chi Kwang,
the Military Governor of Canton, Canton being a pivotal point and
Lung Chi Kwang, one of the most cold-blooded murderers in China,
in the hope that this would spur him to such an orgy of crime that
the South would be crushed. Precisely the opposite occurred, since
even murderers are able to read the signs of the times. Attempts
were likewise made to enforce the use of the new Imperial
Calendar, but little success crowned such efforts, no one outside
the metropolis believing for a moment that this innovation
possessed any of the elements of permanence. Meanwhile the
monetary position steadily worsened, the lack of money becoming so
marked as to spread panic. Still, in spite of this, the leaders
refused to take warning, and although the political impasse was
constantly discussed, the utmost concession the monarchists were
willing to make was to turn China into a Federal Empire with the
provinces constituted into self-governing units. The over-issue of
paper currency to make good the gaps in the National Finance, now
slowly destroyed the credit of the Central Government and made the
suspension of specie payment a mere matter of time. By the end of
February the province of Kueichow was not only officially admitted
by the Peking Government to be in open revolt as well as Yunnan,
but rebel troops were reported to be invading the neighbouring
province of Hunan. Kwangsi was also reported to be preparing for
secession whilst in Szechuan local troops were revolting in
increasing numbers. Rumours of an attempted assassination of Yuan
Shih-kai by means of bombs now circulated,--and there were many
arrests and suicides in the capital. Though by a mandate issued on
the 23rd February, the enthronement ceremony was indefinitely
postponed, that move came too late. The whole country was plainly
trembling on the edge of a huge outbreak when, less than four
weeks later, Yuan Shih-kai reluctantly and publicly admitted that
the game was up. It is understood that a fateful interview he had
with the British Minister greatly influenced him, though the
formal declaration of independence of Kwangsi on the 16th March,
whither the scholar Liang Ch'i-chao had gone, was also a powerful
argument. On the 22nd March the Emperor-elect issued the mandate
categorically cancelling the entire monarchy scheme, it being
declared that he would now form a Responsible Cabinet. Until that
date the Government Gazette had actually perpetrated the folly of
publishing side by side Imperial Edicts and Presidential Mandates
--the first for Chinese eyes, the second for foreign consumption.
Never before even in China had such a farce been seen. A rapid
perusal of the Mandate of Cancellation will show how lamely and
poorly the retreat is made:


After the establishment of the Min Kuo (i.e. the Republic),
disturbances rapidly followed one another; and a man of little
virtue like me was called to take up the vast burden of the State.
Fearing that disaster might befall us any day, all those who had
the welfare of the country at heart advocated the reinstitution of
the monarchical system of government to the end that a stop be put
to all strife for power and a regime of peace be inaugurated.
Suggestions in this sense have unceasingly been made to me since
the days of Kuei Chou (the year of the first Revolution, 1911) and
each time a sharp rebuke has been administered to the one making
the suggestion. But the situation last year was indeed so
different from the circumstances of preceding years that it was
impossible to prevent the spread of such ideas.

It was said that China could never hope to continue as a nation
unless the constitutional monarchical form of state were adopted;
and if quarrels like those occurring in Mexico and Portugal were
to take place in China, we would soon share the fate of Annam and
Burmah. A large number of people then advocated the restoration of
a monarchy and advanced arguments which were reasonable. In this
proposal all the military and civil officials, scholars and people
concurred; and prayers were addressed to me in most earnest tone
by telegram and in petitions. Owing to the position I was at the
time holding, which laid on me the duty of maintaining the then
existing situation, I repeatedly made declarations resisting the
adoption of the advice; but the people did not seem to realize my
embarrassment. And so it was decided by the acting Li Fa Yuan
(i.e. the Senate) that the question of Kuo-ti (form of State)
should be settled by the Convention of Citizens' Representatives.
As the result, the representatives of the Provinces and of the
Special Administrative Areas unanimously decided in favour of a
constitutional monarchy, and in one united voice elected me as the
Emperor. Since the sovereignty of the country has been vested in
the citizens of China and as the decision was made by the entire
body of the representatives, there was no room left to me for
further discussion. Nevertheless, I continued to be of the
conviction that my sudden elevation to the Great Seat would be a
violation of my oath and would compromise my good faith, leaving
me unable to explain myself; I, therefore, declined in earnest
words in order to make clear the view which hath always been mine.
The said Senate however, stated with firmness that the oath of the
Chief Executive rested on a peculiar sanction and should be
observed or discarded according to the will of the people. Their
arguments were so irresistible that there was in truth no excuse
for me further to decline the offer.

Therefore I took refuge behind the excuse of "preparations" in
order that the desire of the people might be satisfied. But I took
no steps actually to carry out the program. When the trouble in
Yunnan and Kueichow arose, a mandate was officially issued
announcing the decision to postpone the measure and forbidding
further presentation of petitions praying for the enthronement. I
then hastened the convocation of the Li Fa Yuan (i.e., a new
Parliament) in order to secure the views of that body and hoping
thus to turn back to the original state of affairs, I, being a man
of bitter experiences, had at once given up all ideas of world
affairs; and having retired into the obscurity of the river Yuan
(in Honan), I had no appetite for the political affairs of the
country. As the result of the revolution in Hsin Hai, I was by
mistake elected by the people. Reluctantly I came out of my
retirement and endeavoured to prop up the tottering structure. I
cared for nothing, but the salvation of the country. A perusal of
our history of several thousand years will reveal in vivid manner
the sad fate of the descendants of ancient kings and emperors.
What then could have prompted me to aspire to the Throne? Yet
while the representatives of the people were unwilling to believe
in the sincerity of my refusal of the offer, a section of the
people appear to have suspected me of harbouring the desire of
gaining more power and privileges. Such difference in thought has
resulted in the creation of an exceedingly dangerous situation. As
my sincerity has not been such as to win the hearts of the people
and my judgment has not been sound enough to appraise every man, I
have myself alone to blame for lack of virtue. Why then should I
blame others? The people have been thrown into misery and my
soldiers have been made to bear hardships; and further the people
have been cast into panic and commerce has rapidly declined. When
I search my own heart a measure of sorrow fills it. I shall,
therefore, not be unwilling to suppress myself in order to yield
to others.

I am still of the opinion that the "designation petitions"
submitted through the Tsan Cheng Yuan are unsuited to the demands
of the time; and the official acceptance of the Imperial Throne
made on the 11th day of the 12th month of last year (11th
December, 1915) is hereby cancelled. The "designation petitions"
of the Provinces and of the Special Administrative Areas are
hereby all returned through the State Department to the Tsan Cheng
Yuan, i.e., the acting Li Fa Yuan (Parliament), to be forwarded to
the petitioners for destruction; and all the preparations
connected therewith are to cease at once. In this wise I hope to
imitate the sincerity of the Ancients by taking on myself all the
blame so that my action may fall in line with the spirit of
humanity which is the expression of the will of Heaven. I now
cleanse my heart and wash my thoughts to the end that trouble may
be averted and the people may have peace. Those who advocated the
monarchical system were prompted by the desire to strengthen the
foundation of the country; but as their methods have proved
unsuitable their patriotism might harm the country. Those who have
opposed the monarchy have done so out of their desire to express
their political views. It may be therefore presumed that they
would not go to the extreme and so endanger the country. They
should, therefore, all hearken to the voice of their own
conscience and sacrifice their prejudices, and with one mind and
one purpose unite in the effort of saving the situation so that
the glorious descendants of the Sacred Continent may be spared the
horrors of internal warfare and the bad omens may be changed into
lucky signs.

In brief I now confess that all the faults of the country are the
result of my own faults. Now that the acceptance of the Imperial
Throne has been cancelled every man will be responsible for his
own action if he further disturbs the peace of the locality and
thus give an opportunity to others. I, the Great President, being
charged with the duty of ruling over the whole country, cannot
remain idle while the country is racing to perdition. At the
present moment the homesteads are in misery, discipline has been
disregarded, administration is being neglected and real talents
have not been given a chance. When I think of such conditions I
awake in the darkness of midnight. How can we stand as a nation if
such a state of affairs is allowed to continue? Hereafter all
officials should thoroughly get rid of their corrupt habits and
endeavour to achieve merits. They should work with might and main
in their duties, whether in introducing reforms or in abolishing
old corruptions. Let all be not satisfied with empty words and
entertain no bias regarding any affair. They should hold up as
their main principle of administration the policy that only
reality will count and deal out reward or punishment with strict
promptness. Let all our generals, officials, soldiers and people
all, all, act in accordance with this ideal.

This attempt at an Amende honourable, so far from being well-
received, was universally looked upon as an admission that Yuan
Shih-kai had almost been beaten and that a little more would
complete his ruin. Though, as we have said, the Northern troops
were fighting well in his cause on the upper reaches of the great
Yangtsze, the movement against him was now spreading as though it
had been a dread contagious disease, the entire South uniting
against Peking. His promise to open a proper Legislative Chamber
on 1st May was met with derision. By the middle of April five
provinces--Yunnan, Kueichow, Kwangsi, Kwangtung and Chekiang--had
declared their independence, and eight others were preparing to
follow suit. A Southern Confederacy, with a Supreme Military
Council sitting at Canton, was organized, the brutal Governor Lung
Chi Kwang having been won over against his master, and the scholar
Liang Ch'i-chao flitting from place to place, inspiring move after
move. The old parliament of 1913 was reported to be assembling in
Shanghai, whilst terrorist methods against Peking officials were
bruited abroad precipitating a panic in the capital and leading to
an exodus of well-to-do families who feared a general massacre.

An open agitation to secure Yuan Shih-kai's complete retirement
and exile now commenced. From every quarter notables began
telegraphing him that he must go,--including General Feng Kuo-
chang who still held the balance of power on the Yangtsze. Every
enemy Yuan Shih-kai had ever had was also racing back to China
from exile. By the beginning of May the situation was so
threatening that the Foreign Legations became alarmed and talked
of concerting measures to insure their safety. On the 6th May came
the coup de grace. The great province of Szechuan, which has a
population greater than the population of France, declared its
independence; and the whole Northern army on the upper reaches of
the Yangtsze was caught in a trap. The story is still told with
bated breath of the terrible manner in which Yuan Shih-kai sated
his rage when this news reached him--Szechuan being governed by a
man he had hitherto thoroughly trusted--one General Chen Yi.
Arming himself with a sword and beside himself with rage he burst
into the room where his favourite concubine was lying with her
newly-delivered baby. With a few savage blows he butchered them
both, leaving them lying in their gore, thus relieving the
apoplectic stroke which threatened to overwhelm him. Nothing
better illustrates the real nature of the man who had been so long
the selected bailiff of the Powers. On the 12th May it became
necessary to suspend specie payment in Peking, the government
banks having scarcely a dollar of silver left, a last attempt to
negotiate a loan in America having failed. Meanwhile under
inspiration of General Feng Kuo-chang, a conference to deal with
the situation was assembling at Nanking; but on the 11th May, the
Canton Military Government, representing the Southern Confederacy,
had already unanimously elected Vice-President Li Yuan Hung as
president of the Republic, it being held that legally Yuan Shih-
kai had ceased to be President when he had accepted the Throne on
the previous 13th December. The Vice-President, who had managed to
remove his residence outside the Palace, had already received
friendly offers of protection from certain Powers which he
declined, showing courage to the end. Even the Nanking Conference,
though composed of trimmers and wobblers, decided that the
retirement of Yuan Shih-kai was a political necessity, General
Feng Kuo-chang as chairman of the Conference producing at the last
moment a telegram from the fallen Dictator declaring that he was
willing to go if his life and property were guaranteed.

A more dramatic collapse was, however, in store. As May drew to an
end it was plain that there was no government at all left in
Peking. The last phase had been truly reached. Yuan Shih-kai's
nervous collapse was known to all the Legations which were
exceedingly anxious about the possibility of a soldiers' revolt in
the capital. The arrival of a first detachment of the savage
hordes of General Chang Hsun added Byzantine touches to a picture
already lurid with a sickened ruler and the Mephistophelian figure
of that ruler's ame damnee, the Secretary Liang Shih-yi, vainly
striving to transmute paper into silver, and find the wherewithal
to prevent a sack of the capital. It was said at the time that
Liang Shih-yi had won over his master to trying one last throw of
the dice. The troops of the remaining loyal Generals, such as Ni
Shih-chung of Anhui, were transported up the Yangtsze in an
attempt to restore the situation by a savage display,--but that
effort came to nought.

The situation had become truly appalling in Peking. It was even
said that the neighbouring province of Shantung was to become a
separate state under Japanese protection. Although the Peking
administration was still nominally the Central Government of
China, it was amply clear to observers on the spot that by a
process of successive collapses all that was left of government
was simply that pertaining to a city-state of the antique Greek
type--a mal-administration dominated by the enigmatic personality
of Liang Shih-yi. The writ of the capital no longer ran more than
ten miles beyond the city walls. The very Government Departments,
disgusted with, and distrustful of, the many hidden influences at
work, had virtually declared their independence and went their own
way, demanding foreign dollars and foreign banknotes from the
public, and refusing all Chinese money. The fine residium of
undisputed power left in the hands of the Mal-administrator-in-
Chief, Liang Shih-yi, was the control of the copper cash market
which he busily juggled with to the very end netting a few last
thousands for his own purse, and showing that men like water
inevitably find their true level. In all China's tribulations
nothing similar had ever been seen. Even in 1900, after the Boxer
bubble had been pricked and the Court had sought safety in flight,
there was a certain dignity and majesty left. Then an immense
misfortune had fallen across the capital; but that misfortune was
like a cloak which hid the nakedness of the victim; and there was
at least no pretence at authority. In the Summer of 1916, had it
not been for the fact that an admirable police and gendarmerie
system, comprising 16,000 men, secured the safety of the people,
there can be little doubt that firing and looting would have daily
taken place and no woman been safe. It was the last phase of
political collapse with a vengeance: and small wonder if all
Chinese officials, including even high police officers, sent their
valuables either out of the city or into the Legation Quarter for
safe custody. Extraordinary rumours circulated endlessly among the
common people that there would be great trouble on the occasion of
the Dragon Festival, the 5th June; and what actually took place
was perhaps more than a coincidence.

Early on the 6th June an electric thrill ran through Peking--Yuan
Shih-kai was dead! At first the news was not believed, but by
eleven o'clock it was definitely known in the Legation Quarter
that he had died a few minutes after ten o'clock that morning from
uraemia of the blood--the surgeon of the French Legation being in
attendance almost to the last. A certificate issued later by this
gentleman immediately quieted the rumours of suicide, though many
still refused to believe that he was actually dead. "I did not
wish this end," he is reported to have whispered hoarsely a few
minutes before he expired, "I did not wish to be Emperor. Those
around me said that the people wanted a king and named me for the
Throne. I believed and was misled." And in this way did his light
flicker out. If there are sermons in stones and books in the
running brooks surely there is an eloquent lesson in this tragedy!
Before expiring the wretched man issued the following Death
Mandate in accordance with the ancient tradition, attempting as
the long night fell on him to make his peace with men:--


The Min Kuo has been established for five years. Unworthily have
I, the Great President, been entrusted with the great task by the
citizens. Owing to my lack of virtue and ability I have not been
able fully to transform into deeds what I have desired to
accomplish; and I blush to say that I have not realized one ten-
thousandth part of my original intention to save the country and
the people. I have, since my assumption of the office, worked in
day and thought in the night, planning for the country. It is true
that the foundation of the country is not yet consolidated, the
hardships of the people not yet relieved, and innumerable reforms
are still unattended to. But by the valuable services of the civil
officials and militarymen, some semblance of peace and order has
been maintained in the provinces and friendly relations with the
Powers upheld till now.

While on the one hand I comfort myself with such things
accomplished, on the other hand I have much to blame myself for. I
was just thinking how I could retire into private life and rest
myself in the forest and near the springs in fulfilment of my
original desire, when illness has suddenly overtaken me. As the
affairs of the State are of gravest importance, the right man must
be secured to take over charge of the same. In accordance with
Article 29 of the Provisional Constitution, which states that in
case the office of the Great President should be vacated for
certain reasons or when the Great President is incapacitated from
doing his duties, the Vice-President shall exercise authority and
power in his stead. I, the Great President, declare in accordance
with the Provisional Constitution that the Vice-President shall
exercise in an acting capacity, the authority and power of the
Great President of the Chung Hua Min Kuo.

The Vice-President being a man of courtesy, good nature,
benevolence and wisdom, will certainly be capable of greatly
lessening the difficulties of the day and place the country on the
foundation of peace, and so remedy the defects of me, the Great
President, and satisfy the expectations of the people of the whole
country. The civil and military officials outside of the Capital
as well as the troops, police and scholars and people should
doubly keep in mind the difficulties and perils of the nation, and
endeavour to maintain peace and order to the best of their
ability, placing before everything else the welfare of the
country. The ancients once said: "It is only when the living do
try to become strong that the dead are not dead." This is also the
wish of me, the Great President.

(Signed) TUAN CHI-JUI, Secretary of State and Minister of War,
TSAO JU-LIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communications.

WANG YI-TANG, Minister of Interior.

CHOW TZU-CHI, Minister of Finance.

LIU-KUAN-HSIUNG, Minister of Navy.

CHANG TSUNG-HSIANG, Minister of Justice and Agriculture and

CHANG KUO-KAN, Minister of Education.

6th day of the 6th month of the 5th year of Chung Hua Min Kuo.

This tragic denouement did not fail to awaken within very few days
among thinking minds a feeling of profound sympathy for the dead
man coupled with sharp disgust for the part that foreigners had
played--not all, of course--but a great number of them. Briefly,
when all the facts are properly grouped it can be said that Yuan
Shih-kai was killed by his foreign friends--by the sort of advice
he has been consistently given in Constitutional Law, in Finance,
in Politics, in Diplomacy. It is easy to trace step by step the
broad road he had been tempted to travel, and to see how at each
turning-point the men who should have taught him how to be true
and loyal to the Western things the country had nominally adhered
to from the proclamation of the Republic, showed him how to be
disloyal and untrue. The tragedy is one which is bound to be
deeply studied throughout the whole world when the facts are
properly known and there is time to think about them, and if there
is anything today left to poetic justice the West will know to
whom to apportion the blame.

Yuan Shih-kai, the man, when he came out of retirement in 1911,
was in many ways a wonderful Chinese: he was a fount of energy and
of a physical sturdiness rare in a country whose governing classes
have hitherto been recruited from attenuated men, pale from study
and the lotus life. He had a certain task to which to put his
hand, a huge task, indeed, since the reformation of four hundred
millions was involved, yet one which was not beyond him if wisely
advised. He was an ignorant man in certain matters, but he had had
much political experience and apparently possessed a marvellous
aptitude for learning. The people needed a leader to guide them
through the great gateway of the West, to help them to acquire
those jewels of wisdom and experience which are a common heritage.
An almost Elizabethan eagerness rilled them, as if a New World
they had never dreamed of had been suddenly discovered for them
and lay open to their endeavours. China, hitherto derided as a
decaying land, had been born anew; and in single massive gesture
had proclaimed that she, too, would belong to the elect and be
governed accordingly.

What was the foreign response--the official response? In every
transaction into which it was possible to import them, reaction
and obscurantism were not only commonly employed but heartily
recommended. Not one trace of genuine statesmanship, not one flash
of altruism, was ever seen save the American flash in the pan of
1913, when President Wilson refused to allow American
participation in the great Reorganization Loan because he held
that the terms on which it was to be granted infringed upon
China's sovereign rights. Otherwise there was nothing but a tacit
endorsement of the very policy which has been tearing the entrails
out of Europe--namely militarism. That was the fine fruit which
was offered to a hopeful nation--something that would wither on
the branch or poison the people as they plucked it. They were
taught to believe that political instinct was the ability to
misrepresent in a convincing way the actions and arguments of your
opponents and to profit by their mistakes--not that it is a mighty
impulse which can re-make nations. The Republic was declared by
the actions of Western bureaucrats to be a Republic pour rire, not
a serious thing; and by this false and cruel assumption they
killed Yuan Shih-kai.

If that epitaph is written on his political tombstone, it will be
as full of blinding truth as is only possible with Last Things.



Within an hour of the death of Yuan Shih-kai, the veteran General
Tuan Chi-jui, in his capacity of Secretary of State, had called on
Vice-President Li Yuan-hung--the man whom years before he had
been sent to the Yangtsze to bring captive to Peking--and welcomed
him as President of the Republic. At one o'clock on the same day
the Ministers of the Allied Powers who had hastily assembled at
the Waichiaopu (Foreign Office), were informed that General Li
Yuan-hung had duly assumed office and that the peace and security
of the capital were fully guaranteed. No unrest of any sort need
be apprehended; for whilst rumours would no doubt circulate wildly
as soon as the populace realized the tragic nature of the climax
which had come, the Gendarmerie Corps and the Metropolitan Police
--two forces that numbered 18,000 armed men--were taking every
possible precaution.

In spite of these assurances great uneasiness was felt. The
foreign Legations, which are very imperfectly informed regarding
Chinese affairs although living in the midst of them, could not be
convinced that internal peace could be so suddenly attained after
five years of such fierce rivalries. Among the many gloomy
predictions made at the time, the most common to fall from the
lips of Foreign Plenipotentiaries was the remark that the Japanese
would be in full occupation of the country within three months--
the one effective barrier to their advance having been removed. No
better illustration could be given of the inadequate grasp of
politics possessed by those whose peculiar business it should be
to become expert in the science of cause and effect. In China, as
in the Balkans, professional diplomacy errs so constantly because
it has in the main neither the desire nor the training to study
dispassionately from day to day all those complex phenomena which
go to make up modern nationalism. Guided in its conduct almost
entirely by a policy of personal predilections, which is fitfully
reinforced by the recollection of precedents, it is small wonder
if such mountains of mistakes choke every Legation dossier.
Determined to having nothing whatever to do, save in the last
resort, with anything that savours of Radicalism, and inclining
naturally towards ideals which have long been abandoned in the
workaday world, diplomacy is the instinctive lover of obscurantism
and the furtive enemy of progress. Distrusting all those generous
movements which spring from the popular desire to benefit by
change, it follows from this that the diplomatic brotherhood
inclines towards those truly detestable things--secret compacts.
In the present instance, having been bitterly disappointed by the
complete collapse of the strong man theory, it was only natural
that consolation should be sought by casting doubt on the future.
Never have sensible men been so absurd. The life-story of Yuan
Shih-kai, and the part European and Japanese diplomacy played in
that story, form a chapter which should be taught as a warning to
all who enter politics as a career, since there is exhibited in
this history a complete compendium of all the more vicious traits
of Byzantinism.

The first acts of President Li Yuan-hung rapidly restored
confidence and advertised to the keen-eyed that the end of the
long drawn-out Revolution had come. Calling before him all the
generals in the capital, he told them with sincerity and
simplicity that their country's fortunes rested in their hands;
and he asked them to take such steps as would be in the nature of
a permanent insurance against foreign interference in the affairs
of the Republic. He was at once given fervent support. A mass
meeting of the military was followed by the whole body of
commissioned men volunteering to hold themselves personally
responsible for the maintenance of peace and order in the capital.
The dreadful disorders which had ushered in the Yuan Shih-kai
regime were thus made impossible; and almost at once men went
about their business as usual.

The financial wreckage left by the mad monarchy adventure was,
however, appalling. Not only was there no money in the capital but
hardly any food as well; for since the suspension of specie
payments country supplies had ceased entering the city as farmers
refused to accept inconvertible paper in payment for their
produce. It became necessary for the government to sell at a
nominal price the enormous quantities of grain which had been
accumulated for the army and the punitive expedition against the
South; and for many days a familiar sight was the endless blue-
coated queues waiting patiently to receive as in war-time their
stipulated pittance.

Meanwhile, although the troops remained loyal to the new regime,
not so the monarchist politicians. Seeing that their hour of
obliteration had come, they spared no effort to sow secret
dissensions and prevent the provinces from uniting again with
Peking. It would be wearisome to give in full detail the
innumerable schemes which were now hourly formulated, to secure
that the control of the country should not be exercised in a
lawful way. Finding that it was impossible to conquer the general
detestation felt for them, the monarchists, led by Liang Shih-yi,
changed their tactics and exhausted themselves in attempting to
secure the issue of a general annesty decree. But in spite of
every argument President Li Yuan-hung remained unmoved and refused
absolutely to consider their pardon. A just and merciful man, it
was his intention to allow the nation to speak its mind before
issuing orders on the subject; but to show that he was no advocate
of the terrorist methods practised by his predecessor, he now
issued a Mandate summarily abolishing the infamous Chih Fa Chu, or
Military Court, which Yuan Shih-kai had turned into an engine of
judicial assassination, and within whose gloomy precincts many
thousands of unfortunate men had perished practically untried in
the period 1911-1916.

Meanwhile the general situation throughout the country only slowly
ameliorated. The Northern Military party, determined to prevent
political power from passing solely into the hands of the Southern
Radicals, bitterly opposed the revival of the Nanking Provisional
Constitution, and denounced the re-convocation of the old
Parliament of 1913, which had already assembled in Shanghai,
preparatory to coming up to the capital. It needed a sharp
manoeuvre to bring them to their senses. The Chinese Navy,
assembled in the waters near Shanghai, took action; and in an
ultimatum communicated to Peking by their Admiral, declared that
so long as the government in the hands of General Tuan Chi-jui
refused to conform to popular wishes by reviving the Nanking
Provisional Constitution and resummoning the old Parliament, so
long would the Navy refuse to recognize the authority of the
Central Government. With the fleet in the hands of the Southern
Confederacy, which had not yet been formally dissolved, the Peking
Government was powerless in the whole region of the Yangtsze;
consequently, after many vain manoeuvres to avoid this reasonable
and proper solution, it was at last agreed that things should be
brought back precisely where they had been before the coup d'etat
of the 4th November, 1913--the Peking Government being
reconstituted by means of a coalition cabinet in which there would
be both nominees of the North and South--the premiership remaining
in the hands of General Tuan Chi-jui.

On the 28th June a long funeral procession wended its way from the
Presidential Palace to the railway station; it was the remains of
the great dictator being taken to their last resting-place in
Honan. Conspicuous in this cortege was the magnificent stagecoach
which had been designed to bear the founder of the new dynasty to
his throne but which only accompanied him to his grave. The
detached attitude of the crowds and the studied simplicity of the
procession, which was designed to be republican, proved more
clearly than reams of arguments that China--despite herself
perhaps--had become somewhat modernized, the oldest country in the
world being now the youngest republic and timidly trying to learn
the lessons of youth.

Once Yuan Shih-kai had been buried, a Mandate ordering the summary
arrest of all the chief monarchist plotters was issued; but the
gang of corrupt men had already sought safety in ignominious
flight; and it was understood that so long as they remained on
soil under foreign jurisdiction, no attempt would be made even to
confiscate their goods and chattels as would certainly have been
done under former governments. The days of treachery and double-
dealing and cowardly revenge were indeed passing away and the new
regime was committed to decency and fairplay. The task of the new
President was no mean one, and in all the circumstances if he
managed to steer a safe middle course and avoid both Caesarism and
complete effacement, that is a tribute to his training. Born in
1864 in Hupeh, one of the most important mid-Yangtsze provinces,
President Li Yuan-hung was now fifty-two years old, and in the
prime of life; but although he had been accustomed to a military
atmosphere from his earliest youth his policy had never been
militaristic. His father having been in command of a force in
North China for many years, rising from the ranks to the post of
tsan chiang (Lieutenant-Colonel), had been constrained to give him
the advantage of a thoroughly modern training. At the age of 20 he
had entered the Naval School at Tientsin; whence six years later
he had graduated, seeing service in the navy as an engineer
officer during the Chino-Japanese war of 1894. After that campaign
he had been invited by Viceroy Chang Chih-tung, then one of the
most distinguished of the older viceroys, to join his staff at
Nanking, and had been entrusted with the supervision of the
construction of the modern forts at the old Southern capital,
which played such a notable part in the Revolution. When Chang
Chih-tung was transferred to the Wuchang viceroyalty, General Li
Yuan-hung had accompanied him, actively participating in the
training of the new Hupeh army, and being assisted in that work by
German instructors. In 1897 he had gone to Japan to study
educational, military and administrative methods, returning to
China after a short stay, but again proceeding to Tokyo in 1897 as
an officer attached to the Imperial Guards. In the autumn of the
following year he had returned to Wuchang and been appointed
Commander of the Cavalry. Yet another visit was paid by him to
Japan in 1902 to attend the grand military manoeuvres, these
journeys giving him a good working knowledge of Japanese, in
addition to the English which had been an important item in the
curriculum of the Naval School, and which he understands
moderately well. In 1903 he was promoted Brigadier General, being
subsequently gazetted as the Commander of the 2nd Division of
Regulars (Chang Pei Chun) of Hupeh. He also constantly held
various subsidiary posts, in addition to his substantive
appointment, connected with educational and administrative work of
various kinds, and has therefore a sound grasp of provincial
government. He was Commander-in-Chief of the 8th Division during
the famous military manoeuvres of 1906 at Changtehfu in Honan
province, which are said to have been given birth to the idea of a
universal revolt against the Manchus by using the army as the
chief instrument.

On the memorable day of October 11, 1911, when the standard of
revolt was raised at Wuchang, somewhat against his will as he was
a loyal officer, he was elected military Governor, thus becoming
the first real leader of the Republic. Within the space of ten
days his leadership had secured the adhesion of fourteen provinces
to the Republican cause; and though confronted by grave
difficulties owing to insufficiency of equipment and military
supplies, he fought the Northern soldiery for two months around
Wuchang with varying success. He it was, when the Republic had
been formally established and the Manchu regime made a thing of
the past, who worked earnestly to bring about better relations
between the armies of North and South China which had been arrayed
against one another during many bitter weeks. It was he, also, who
was the first to advocate the complete separation of the civil and
military administration--the administrative powers in the early
days of the Republic being entirely in the hands of the military
governors of the provinces who recruited soldiery in total
disregard to the wishes of the Central Government. Although this
reform has even today only been partially successful, there is no
reason to doubt that before the Republic is many years older the
idea of the military dictating the policy and administration of
the country will pass away. The so-called Second Revolution of
1913 awakened no sympathy in General Li Yuan-hung, because he was
opposed to internal strife and held that all Chinese should work
for unity and concerted reform rather than indulge in fruitless
dissensions. His disapproval of the monarchy movement had been
equally emphatic in the face of an ugly outlook. He was repeatedly
approached by the highest personages to give in his adhesion to
Yuan Shih-kai becoming emperor, but he persistently refused
although grave fears were publicly expressed that he would be
assassinated. Upon the formal acceptance of the Throne by Yuan
Shih-kai, he had had conferred on him a princedom which he
steadfastly refused to accept; and when the allowances of a prince
were brought to him from the Palace he returned them with the
statement that as he had not accepted the title the money was not
his. Every effort to break his will proved unavailing, his
patience and calmness contributing very materially to the vast
moral opposition which finally destroyed Yuan Shih-kai.

Such was the man who was called upon to preside over the new
government and parliament which was now assembling in Peking; and
certainly it may be counted as an evidence of China's traditional
luck which brought him to the helm. General Li Yuan Hung knew well
that the cool and singular plan which had been pursued to forge a
national mandate for a revival of the empire would take years
completely to obliterate, and that the octopus-hold of the
Military Party--the army being the one effective organization
which had survived the Revolution--could not be loosened in a
day,--in fact would have to be tolerated until the nation asserted
itself and showed that it could and would be master. In the
circumstances his authority could not but be very limited,
disclosing itself in passive rather than in active ways. Wishing
to be above all a constitutional President, he quickly saw that an
interregnum must be philosophically accepted during which the
Permanent Constitution would be worked out and the various parties
forced to a general agreement; and thanks to this decision the
year which has now elapsed since Yuan Shih-kai's death has been
almost entirely eventless, with the exception of the crisis which
arose over the war-issue, a matter which is fully discussed

Meanwhile, in the closing months of 1916, the position was not a
little singular. Two great political parties had arisen through
the Revolution--the Kuo Ming Tang or Nationalists, who included
all the Radical elements, and the Chinputang or Progressives,
whose adherents were mainly men of the older official classes, and
therefore conservative. The Yunnan movement, which had led to the
overthrow of Yuan Shih-kai, had been inspired and very largely
directed by the scholar Liang Ch'i-chao, a leader of the
Chinputang. To this party, then, though numerically inferior to
the Kuo Ming Tang, was due the honour and credit of re-
establishing the Republic, the Kuo Ming Tang being under a cloud
owing to the failure of the Second Revolution of 1913 which it had
engineered. Nevertheless, owing to the Kuo Ming Tang being more
genuinely republican, since it was mainly composed of younger and
more modern minds, it was from its ranks that the greatest check
to militarism sprang; and therefore although its work was
necessarily confined to the Council-chamber, its moral influence
was very great and constantly representative of the civilian
element as opposed to the militarist. By staking everything on the
necessity of adhering to the Nanking Provisional Constitution
until a permanent instrument was drawn up, the Kuo Ming Tang
rapidly established an ascendancy; for although the Nanking
Constitution had admittedly failed to bring representative
government because of the difficulty of defining powers in such a
way as to make a practical autocracy impossible, it had at least
established as a basic principle that China could no longer be
ruled as a family possession, which in itself marked a great
advance on all previous conceptions. President Li Yuan-hung's
policy, in the circumstances, was to play the part of a moderator
and to seek to bring harmony to a mass of heterogeneous elements
that had to carry out the practical work of government over four
hundred millions of people.

His success was at the outset hampered by the appeal the military
were quick in making to a new method--to offset the power of
Parliament in Peking. We have already dealt with the evils of the
circular telegram in China--surely one of the most unexpected
results of adapting foreign inventions to native life. By means of
these telegraphic campaigns a rapid exchange of views is made
possible among the provincial governors; and consequently in the
autumn of 1916, inspired by the Military Party, a wholly illegal
Conference of generals was organized by the redoubtable old
General Chang Hsun on the Pukow railway for the purpose of
overawing parliament, and securing that the Military Party
retained a controlling hand behind the scenes. It is perhaps
unnecessary today to do more than note the fact that the peace of
the country was badly strained by this procedure; but thanks to
moderate counsels and the wisdom of the President no open breach
occurred and there is reason to believe that this experiment will
not be repeated,--at least not in the same way. [Footnote:
Although the events dealt with in Chapter XVI have brought China
face to face with a new crisis the force of the arguments used
here is in no wise weakened.]

The difficulty to be solved is of an unique nature. It is not that
the generals and the Military Party are necessarily reactionary:
it is that, not belonging to the intellectual-literary portion of
the ruling elements, they are less advanced and less accustomed to
foreign ways, and therefore more in touch with the older China
which lingers on in the vast agricultural districts, and in all
those myriad of townships which are dotted far and wide across the
provinces to the confines of Central Asia. Naturally it is hard
for a class of men who hold the balance of power and carry on much
of the actual work of governing to submit to the paper decrees of
an institution they do not accept as being responsible and
representative: but many indications are available that when a
Permanent Constitution has been promulgated, and made an article
of faith in all the schools, a change for the better will come and
the old antagonisms gradually disappear.

It is on this Constitution that Parliament has been at work ever
since it re-assembled in August, 1916, and which is now
practically completed. Sitting together three times a week as a
National Convention, the two Houses have subjected the Draft
Constitution (which was prepared by a Special Parliamentary
Drafting Committee) to a very exhaustive examination and
discussion. Many violent scenes have naturally marked the progress
of this important work, the two great parties, the Kuo Ming Tang
and the Chinputang, coming to loggerheads again and again. But in
the main the debates and the decisions arrived at have been
satisfactory and important, because they have tended to express in
a concrete and indisputable form the present state of the Chinese
mind and its immense underlying commonsense. Remarkable
discussions and fierce enmities, for instance, marked the final
decision not to make the Confucian cult the State Religion; but
there is not the slightest doubt that in formally registering this
veritable revolution in the secret stronghold of Chinese political
thought, a Bastille has been overthrown and the ground left clear
for the development of individualism and personal responsibility
in a way which was impossible under the leaden formulae of the
greatest of the Chinese sages. In defining the relationship which
must exist between the Central Government and the provinces even
more formidable difficulties have been encountered, the apostles
of decentralization and the advocates of centralization refusing
for many months to agree on the so-called Provincial system, and
then fighting a battle A OUTRANCE on the question of whether this
body of law should form a chapter in the Constitution or be simply
an annexure to the main instrument. The agreement which was
finally arrived at--to make it part and parcel of the
Constitution--was masterly in that it has secured that the
sovereignty of the people will not tend to be expressed in the
provincial dietines which have now been re-erected (after having
been summarily destroyed by Yuan Shih-kai) the Central Parliament
being left the absolute master. This for a number of years will no
doubt be more of a theory than a practice; but there is every
indication that parliamentary government will within a limited
period be more successful in China than in some European
countries; and that the Chinese with their love of well-
established procedure and cautious action, will select open debate
as the best method of sifting the grain from the chaff and
deciding every important matter by the vote of the majority.
Already in the period of 1916-1917 Parliament has more than
justified its re-convocation by becoming a National Watch
Committee. Interpellations on every conceivable subject have been
constant and frequent; fierce verbal assaults are delivered on
Cabinet Ministers; and slowly but inexorably a real sense of
Ministerial responsibility is being created, the fear of having to
run the gauntlet of Parliament abating, if it has not yet entirely
destroyed, many malpractices. In the opinion of the writer in less
than ten years Parliament will have succeeded in coalescing the
country into an organic whole, and will have placed the Cabinet in
such close daily relations with it that something very similar to
the Anglo-Saxon theory of government will be impregnably
entrenched in Peking. That such a miracle should be possible in
extreme Eastern Asia is one more proof that there are no victories
beyond the capacity of the human mind.

Meanwhile, for the time being, in China as in countries ten
thousand miles away, ministerial irresponsibility is the enemy;
that is to say that so-called Cabinet-rule, with the effacement of
the Chief Executive, has tended to make Cabinet Ministers removed
from effective daily control. All sorts of things are done which
should not be done and men are still in charge of portfolios who
should be summarily expelled from the capital for malpractices.
[Footnote: Since this was written two Cabinet Ministers have been
summarily arrested.] But although Chinese are slow to take action
and prefer to delay all decisions until they have about them the
inexorable quality which is associated with Fate, there is not the
slightest doubt that in the long run the dishonest suffer, and an
increasingly efficient body of men take their place. From every
point of view then there is reason for congratulation in the
present position, and every hope that the future will unroll

A visit to Parliament under the new regime is a revelation to most
men: the candid come away with an impression which is never
effaced from their minds. There is a peculiar suggestiveness even
in the location of the Houses of the National Assembly. They are
tucked away in the distant Western city immediately under the
shadow of the vast Tartar Wall as if it had been fully expected
when they were called into being that they would never justify
their existence, and that the crushing weight of the great bastion
of brick and stone surrounding the capital would soon prove to
them how futile it was for such palpable intruders to aspire to
national control. Under Yuan Shih-kai, as under the Manchus, they
were an exercise in the arm of government, something which was
never to be allowed to harden into a settled practice. They were
first cousins to railways, to electrical power, to metalled
roadways and all those other modern instances beginning to modify
an ancient civilization entirely based on agriculture; and because
they were so distantly related to the real China of the farm-yard
it was thought that they would always stand outside the national

That was what the fools believed. Yet in a copy of the rules of
procedure of the old Imperial Senate (Tzuchengyuan) the writer
finds this note written in 1910: "The Debates of this body have
been remarkable during the very first session. They make it seem
clear that the first National Parliament of 1913 will seize
control of China and nullify the power of the Throne. Result,
revolution--" Though the dating is a little confused, the prophecy
is worthy of record.

The watchfulness of the special police surrounding the Parliament
of 1916-1917 and the great number of these men also tells a story
as eloquent as the location of the building. It is not so much
that any contemplated violence sets these guardians here as the
necessity to advertise that there has been unconstitutional
violence in the past which, if possible, will be rigidly defeated
in the future. Probably no National Assembly in the world has been
held up to greater contempt than the Parliament of Peking and
probably no body deserves it less. An afternoon spent in the House
of Representatives would certainly surprise most open-minded men
who have been content to believe that the Chinese experiment was
what some critics have alleged it to be. The Chinese as a people,
being used to guild-house proceedings, debates, in which the
welfare of the majority is decided after an examination of the
principles at stake, are a very old and well-established custom;
and though at present there are awkwardnesses and gaucheries to be
noted, when practice has become better fixed, the common sense of
the race will abundantly disclose itself and make a lasting mark
on contemporary history. There can be no doubt about this at all.
Take your seat in the gallery and see for yourself. The first
question which rises to the lips is--where are the young men,
those crude and callow youths masquerading as legislators which
the vernacular press has so excessively lampooned? The majority of
the members, so far from being young, are men of thirty or forty,
or even fifty, with intelligent and tired faces that have lost the
Spring of youth. Here and there you will even see venerable
greybeards suffering from rheumy coughs who ought to be at home;
and though occasionally there is a lithe youngster in European
clothes with the veneer he acquired abroad not yet completely
rubbed off, the total impression is that of oldish men who have
reached years of maturity and who are as representative of the
country and as good as the country is in a position today to
provide. No one who knows the real China can deny that.

The Continental arrangement of the Members' desks and the raised
tribune of the Speaker, with its rows of clerks and recorders,
make an impression of orderliness, tinged nevertheless with a
faint revolutionary flavour. Perhaps it is the straight black
Chinese hair and the rich silk clothing, set on a very plain and
unadorned background, which recall the pictures of the French
Revolution. It is somehow natural in such circumstances that there
should occasionally be dramatic outbursts with the blood of
offenders bitterly demanded as though we were not living in the
Twentieth Century when blood alone is admittedly no satisfaction.
The presence of armed House police at every door, and in the front
rows of the strangers' gallery as well, contributes to this
impression which has certain qualities of the theatre about it and
is oddly stimulating. China at work legislating has already
created her first traditions: she is proceeding deliberately
armed--with the lessons of the immediate past fully noted.

This being the home of a literary race, papers and notebooks are
on most Members' desks. As the electric bells ring sharply an
unending procession of men file in to take their seats, for there
has been a recess and the House has been only half-filled. Nearly
every one is in Chinese dress (pien-yi) with the Member's badge
pinned conspicuously on the breast. The idea speedily becomes a
conviction that this after all is not extraneous to the nation but
actually of the living flesh, a vital and imperative thing. The
vastness and audacity of it all cannot fail to strike the
imaginative mind, for the four or five hundred men who are
gathered here typify, if they do not yet represent, the four or
five hundred millions who make up the country. You see as it were
the nation in profile, a ponderous, slow-moving mass, quickly
responsive to curious subconscious influences--suddenly angry and
suddenly calm again because Reason has after all always been the
great goddess which is perpetually worshipped. All are scholarly
and deliberate in their movements. When the Speaker calls the
House in order and the debate commences, deep silence comes save
for the movement of hundreds of nervous hands that touch papers or
fidget to and fro. Every man uses his hands, particularly when he
speaks, not clenched as a European would do, but open, with the
slim figures speaking a language of their own, twisting, turning,
insinuating, deriding, a little history of compromises. It would
be interesting to write the story of China from a study of the

Each man goes to the rostrum to speak, and each has much to say.
Soon another impression deepens--that the Northerners with their
clear-cut speech and their fuller voices have an advantage over
the Southerners of the kind that all public performers know. The
mandarin language of Peking is after all the mother-language of
officialdom, the madre linqua, less nervous and more precise than
any other dialect and invested with a certain air of authority
which cannot be denied. The sharp-sounding, high-pitched Southern
voice, though it may argue very acutely and rapidly, appears at an
increasing disadvantage. There seems to be a tendency inherent in
it to become querulous, to make its pleading sound specious
because of over-much speech. These are curious little things which
have been not without influence in other regions of the world.

The applause when it comes proves the same thing as applause does
everywhere; that if you want to drive home your points in a large
assembly you must be condensed and simple, using broad, slashing
arguments. This is precisely what distinguishes melodrama from
drama, and which explains why excessive analysis is no argument in
the popular mind. Generally, however, there is not much applause
and the voice of the speaker wanders through the hall
uninterrupted by signs of content or discontent. Sometimes,
although rather rarely, there is a gust of laughter as a point is
scored against a hated rival. But it dies away as suddenly as it
arose--almost before you have noted it, as if it were superfluous
and must make room for more serious things.

With the closing of a debate there is the vote. An electric bell
rings again, and with a rough hand the House police close all the
exits. The clerks come down into the aisles. They seem to move
listlessly and indifferently; yet very quickly they have checked
the membership to insure that the excessively large quorum
requisite is present. Now the Speaker calls for the vote.
Massively and stiffly, as at a word of command the "ayes" rise in
their seats. There is a round of applause; the bill has been
carried almost unanimously. That, however, is not always so. When
there is an obstreperous mood abroad, the House will decline to
proceed with the agenda, and a dozen men will rise at a time and
speak from behind their desks, trying to talk each other down. The
Speaker stands patiently wrestling with the problem of procedure--
and often failing since practice is still in process of being
formed. Years must elapse before absolutely hard-and-fast rules
are established. Still the progress already made since August,
1916, is remarkable, and something is being learned every day. The
business of a Parliament is after all to debate--to give voice to
the uppermost thoughts in the nation's mind; and how those
thoughts are expressed is a continual exposition of the real state
of the nation's political beliefs. Parliament is--or should be--a
microcosm of the race; parliament is never any better or any worse
than the mass of the people. The rule of the majority as expressed
in the voting of the National Assembly must be taken as a
fundamental thing; China is no exception to the rule--the rule of
the majority must be decisive.

But here another complexity of the new Chinese political life
enters into the problem. The existence of a responsible Cabinet,
which is not yet linked to the Legislative body in any well-
understood way, and which furthermore has frequently acted in
opposition to the President's office, makes for a daily struggle
in the administration of the country which is strongly to be
condemned and which has already led to some ugly clashes. But
nevertheless there are increasing indications that parliamentary
government is making steady headway and that when both the
Permanent Constitution and the Local Government system have been
enforced, a new note will be struck. No doubt it will need a
younger generation in office to secure a complete abandonment of
all the old ways, but the writer has noted with astonishment
during the past twelve-month how eager even viceroys belonging to
the old Manchu regime have become to fall in with the new order
and to lend their help, a sharp competition to obtain ministerial
posts being evident in spite of the fact that the gauntlet of
Parliament has to be run and a majority vote recorded before any
appointment is valid.

One last anomaly has, however, yet to be done away with in Peking.
The deposed boy Emperor still resides in the Winter Palace
surrounded by a miniature court,--a state of affairs which should
not be tolerated any longer as it no doubt tends to assist the
rumours which every now and again are mysteriously spread by
interested parties that a Restoration is imminent. The time has
arrived when not only must the Manchu Imperial Family be removed
far from the capital but a scheme worked out for commuting the
pension-system of so-called Bannerman families who still draw
their monthly allowances as under the Manchus, thanks to the
articles of Favourable Treatment signed at the time of abdication
of 1912. When these two important questions have been settled,
imperialism in China will tend rapidly to fade into complete



Such, then, were the internal conditions which the new
administration was called upon to face with the death of Yuan
Shih-kai. With very little money in the National Treasury and with
the provinces unable or unwilling to remit to the capital a single
dollar, it was fortunate that at least one public service, erected
under foreign pressure, should be brilliantly justifying its
existence. The Salt Administration, efficiently reorganized in the
space of three years by the great Indian authority, Sir Richard
Dane, was now providing a monthly surplus of nearly five million
dollars; and it was this revenue which kept China alive during a
troubled transitional period when every one was declaring that she
must die. By husbanding this hard cash and mixing it liberally
with paper money, the Central Government has been able since June,
1916, to meet its current obligations and to keep the general
machinery from breaking down.

But in a country such as China new dangers have to be constantly
faced and smoothed away--the interests of the outer world pressing
on the country and conflicting with the native interest at a
myriad points. And in order to illustrate and make clear the sort
of daily exacerbation which the nation must endure because of the
vastness of its territory and the octopus-hold of the foreigner we
give two typical cases of international trouble which have
occurred since Yuan Shih-kai's death. The first is the well-known
Chengchiatun incident which occurred in Manchuria in August, 1916:
the second is the Laohsikai affair which took place in Tientsin in
November of the same year and created a storm of rage against
France throughout North China which, at the moment of writing has
not yet abated.

The facts about the Chengchiatun incident are incredibly simple
and merit being properly told. Chengchiatun is a small Mongol-
Manchurian market-down lying some sixty miles west of the South
Manchurian railway by the ordinary cart-roads, though as the crow
flies the distance is much less. The country round about is "new
country," the prefecture in which Chengchiatun lies being
originally purely Mongol territory on which Chinese squatted in
such numbers that it was necessary to erect the ordinary Chinese
civil administration. Thirty or forty miles due west of the town
cultivation practically ceases; and then nothing meets the eye but
the rolling grasslands of Mongolia, with their sparse encampments
of nomad horsemen and shepherds which stretch so monotonously into
the infinities of High Asia.

The region is strategically important because the trade-routes
converge there from the growing marts of the Taonanfu
administration, which is the extreme westernly limit of Chinese
authority in the Mongolian borderland. A rich exchange in hides,
furs, skins, cattle and foodstuffs has given this frontier-town
from year to year an increasing importance in the eyes of the
Chinese who are fully aware of the dangers of a laissez aller
policy and are determined to protect the rights they have acquired
by pre-emption. The fact that notorious Mongol brigand-chiefs,
such as the famous Babachapu who was allied to the Manchu
Restoration Party and who was said to have been subsidized by the
Japanese Military Party, had been making Chengchiatun one of their
objectives, brought concern early in 1916 to the Moukden Governor,
the energetic General Chang Tso-lin, who in order to cope with the
danger promptly established a military cordon round the district,
with a relatively large reserve based on Chengchiatun, drawn from
the 28th Army Division. A certain amount of desultory fighting
months before any one had heard of the town had given Chengchiatun
the odour of the camp; and when in the summer the Japanese began
military manoeuvres in the district with various scattered
detachments, on the excuse that the South Manchuria railway zone
where they alone had the right under the Portsmouth Peace Treaty
to be, was too cramped for field exercises, it became apparent
that dangerous developments might be expected--particularly as a
body of Japanese infantry was billeted right in the centre of the

On the 13th August a Japanese civilian at Chengchiatun--there is
a small Japanese trading community there--approached a Chinese boy
who was selling fish. On the boy refusing to sell at the price
offered him, the Japanese caught hold of him and started beating
him. A Chinese soldier of the 28th Division who was passing
intervened; and a scuffle commenced in which other Chinese
soldiers joined and which resulted in the Japanese being severely
handled. After the Chinese had left him, the man betook himself to
the nearest Japanese post and reported that he had been grievously
assaulted by Chinese soldiers for no reason whatsoever. A Japanese
gensdarme made a preliminary investigation in company with the
man; then returning to the Japanese barracks, declared that he
could find no one in authority; that his attempts at discovering
the culprits had been resisted; and that he must have help. The
Japanese officer in command, who was a captain, detailed a
lieutenant and twenty men to proceed to the Chinese barracks to
obtain satisfaction from the Chinese Commander--using force if
necessary. It was precisely in this way that the play was set in

The detachment marched off to the headquarters of the offending
Chinese detachment, which was billeted in a pawnshop, and tried to
force their way past a sentry who stood his ground, into the inner
courtyards. A long parley ensued with lowered bayonets; and at
last on the Chinese soldier absolutely refusing to give way, the
lieutenant gave orders to cut him down. There appears to be no
doubt about these important facts--that is to say, that the act
of war was the deliberate attack by a Japanese armed detachment on
a Chinese sentry who was guarding the quarters of his Commander.

A frightful scene followed. It appears that scattered groups of
Chinese soldiers, some with their arms, and some without, had
collected during this crisis and point-blank firing at once
commenced. The first shots appear to have been fired--though this
was never proved--by a Chinese regimental groom, who was standing
with some horses some distance away in the gateway of some
stabling and who is said to have killed or wounded the largest
number of Japanese. In any case seven Japanese soldiers were
killed outright, five more mortally wounded and four severely so,
the Chinese themselves losing four killed, besides a number of
wounded. The remnant of the Japanese detachment after this rude
reverse managed to retreat with their wounded officer to their own
barracks where the whole detachment barricaded themselves in,
firing for many hours at everything that moved on the roads though
absolutely no attempt was made by the Chinese soldiery to advance
against them.

The sound of this heavy firing, and the wild report that many
Japanese had been killed, had meanwhile spread panic throughout
the town, and there was a general sauve qui pent, a terrible
retribution being feared. The local Magistrate finally restored
some semblance of order; and after dark proceeded in person with
some notables of the town to the Japanese barracks to tender his
regrets and to arrange for the removal of the Japanese corpses
which were lying just as they had fallen, and which Chinese custom
demanded should be decently cared for, though they constituted
important and irrefragible evidence of the armed invasion which
had been practised. The Japanese Commander, instead of meeting
these conciliatory attempts half-way, thereupon illegally arrested
the Magistrate and locked him up, being impelled to this action by
the general fear among his men that a mass attack would be made in
the night by the Chinese troops in garrison and the whole command
wiped out. Nothing, however, occurred and on the 14th instant the
Magistrate was duly released on his sending for his son to take
his place as hostage. On the 16th the Magistrate had successfully
arranged the withdrawal of all Chinese troops five miles outside
the town to prevent further clashes. On the 15th Japanese cavalry
and infantry began to arrive in large numbers from the South
Manchuria railway zone (where they alone have the Treaty right to
be) and the town of Chengchiatun was arbitrarily placed by them in
a state of siege.

Here is the stuff of which the whole incident was made: there is
nothing material beyond the facts stated which illustrate very
glaringly the manner in which a strong Power acts towards a weak

Meanwhile the effect in Tokyo of these happenings had been
electrical. Relying on the well-known Japanese police axiom, that
the man who gets in his story first is the prosecutor and the
accused the guilty party, irrespective of what the evidence may
be, the newspapers all came out with the same account of a
calculated attack by "ferocious Chinese soldiers" on a Japanese
detachment and the general public were asked to believe that a
number of their enlisted nationals had been deliberately and
brutally murdered. It was not, however, until more than a week
after the incident that an official report was published by the
Tokyo Foreign Office, when the following garbled account was
distributed far and wide as the Japanese case:--

"When one Kiyokishy Yoshimoto, aged 27, an employee of a Japanese
apothecary at Chengchiatun, was passing the headquarters of the
Chinese troops on the 13th instant, a Chinese soldier stopped him,
and, with some remarks, which were unintelligible to the Japanese,
suddenly struck him on the head. Yoshimoto became enraged, but was
soon surrounded by a large number of Chinese soldiers and others,
who subjected him to all kind of humiliation. As a result of this
lawlessness on the part of the Chinese, the Japanese sustained
injuries in seven or eight places, but somehow he managed to break
away and reach a Japanese police box, where he applied for help.
On receipt of this news, a policeman, named Kowase, hastened to
the spot, but by the time he arrived there all the offenders had
fled. He therefore repaired to the headquarters of the Chinese to
lay a complaint, but the sentry stopped him, and presented a
pistol at him, and under these circumstances he was obliged to
apply to the Japanese Garrison headquarters, where Captain Inone
instructed Lieutenant Matsuo with twenty men to escort the
policeman to the Chinese headquarters. When the party approached
the Chinese headquarters, Chinese troops began to fire, and the
policemen and others were either killed or wounded. Despite the
fact that the Japanese troops retired, the Chinese troops did not
give up firing, but besieged the Japanese garrison, delivering
several severe attacks. Soon after the fighting ceased, the

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