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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #346
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    Chapter 42

    When West Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu, all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. An official, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai, sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered one thousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including many famous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The officials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to the Secretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau, took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal with it. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let them know the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a public statement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it was the thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would be held. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as West Empress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build her garden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration that since the government was tight with finance, he didn't want the celebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he was still the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday and the son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted a picture of a harmonious family.
    But before long another rumor prevailed among people in most provinces that the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and was traveling south in disguise.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 02-08-2019 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #347
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    Chapter 42

    When West Empress Dowager was meditating the deposal of Emperor Guangxu, all kinds of surmises appeared on the newspapers in Shanghai. An official, who was taking care of the Telegram Bureau in Shanghai, sensed it and drafted a petition to the effect. He gathered one thousand two hundred and thirty-one signatures on it, including many famous scholars and telegraphed it to the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The officials in that yamen could not conceal it and sent it to the Secretarial Bureau. Ronglu, now the head secretary of the Bureau, took it to West Empress Dowager, who asked Ronglu how to deal with it. Ronglu said that the best way to quench a rumor was to let them know the emperor was still the emperor. So they made a public statement in the name of West Empress Dowager that next year it was the thirtieth birthday of the emperor and a celebration would be held. But they didn't have more money for the ceremony as West Empress Dowager had used up all the possible funds to build her garden. Next day the emperor made another public declaration that since the government was tight with finance, he didn't want the celebration, thanks to his adopted mother. It showed that he was still the emperor. Mother wanted to celebrate the son's birthday and the son refused it owing to the financial difficulties. It painted a picture of a harmonious family.
    But before long another rumor prevailed among people in most provinces that the emperor had escaped from the Forbidden City and was traveling south in disguise.
    Last edited by xlwoo; 02-08-2019 at 10:40 AM.

  3. #348
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    A small group of seven men came to lodge in a temple just outside Qizhen Town in Hubei Province. One looked like the master, a nobleman, dressed in elegance. Another looked like the butler. Four men looked like the servants or bodyguards without uniforms and the last one looked like a cook, shouldering some utensils. They rented an independent housing unit in the backyard with fifty taels of silver as the deposit. The master kept to himself, staying in his room most of the time. The butler was busy, in and out, in and out. The four servants were waiting on the master. The cook went out every morning shopping for food, then came back and did the cooking. The monk, whose duty was to receive visitors, thought that these people were suspicious and reported to the local yamen. Some policemen were sent in plain clothes to watch over them. The policemen even followed the butler and the cook everywhere, but nothing unusual happened. Only this group of people seemed mysterious. So the mayor discussed the matter with his aide. The aide suggested that he should pay a visit to the master to feel the pulse first. The mayor consented. The aide went to the temple and found the monk, who told him that they spoke the Peking dialect and seemed to come from the capital. The butler and the servants acted like serving a prince. The aide asked how the master looked. The answer was lean, pale, about thirty.

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    The aide gave the monk a name card and told him to go and announce his visit to the master. He followed the monk into the backyard. The butler received the monk. When he looked at the name card, he said to the monk, “I don't know him.” The monk said, “His Esquire is an official of this town.” The butler made a gesture like Okay. “I'll see him.” So the aide stepped forward and introduced himself. The butler said, “What can I do for you, Your Esquire?” The aide said, “Let's talk in the room.” He wanted to see the master. As he was about to enter the master's room, the butler blocked his way, saying, “We'd better talk here.” The butler clapped his hands twice. A servant came carrying two chairs. He put the chairs under the eaves outside the windows. “What's your master's name?” The aide inquired. “Tang.” The butler replied curtly.
    “Is he an official? Where did he come from? Where will he go?”
    “Sorry, I can't tell you.”
    “Then, your master must be an imperial envoy in disguise.”
    “Whatever you want to guess.”
    “If your master is an imperial envoy, we local officials must have the responsibility to protect him.”
    “This is not necessary. It would be better if the local officials just pretend to know nothing about us. They will be rewarded later for their silence. We won't stay here long.”

  5. #350
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    The aide gave the monk a name card and told him to go and announce his visit to the master. He followed the monk into the backyard. The butler received the monk. When he looked at the name card, he said to the monk, “I don't know him.” The monk said, “His Esquire is an official of this town.” The butler made a gesture like Okay. “I'll see him.” So the aide stepped forward and introduced himself. The butler said, “What can I do for you, Your Esquire?” The aide said, “Let's talk in the room.” He wanted to see the master. As he was about to enter the master's room, the butler blocked his way, saying, “We'd better talk here.” The butler clapped his hands twice. A servant came carrying two chairs. He put the chairs under the eaves outside the windows. “What's your master's name?” The aide inquired. “Tang.” The butler replied curtly.
    “Is he an official? Where did he come from? Where will he go?”
    “Sorry, I can't tell you.”
    “Then, your master must be an imperial envoy in disguise.”
    “Whatever you want to guess.”
    “If your master is an imperial envoy, we local officials must have the responsibility to protect him.”
    “This is not necessary. It would be better if the local officials just pretend to know nothing about us. They will be rewarded later for their silence. We won't stay here long.”

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    The aide had to leave. He reported to the mayor. The mayor sent for one of his advisers. This adviser was known to be informative and knowledgeable. He analyzed that before any imperial envoy left the capital, the message would appear on the official newsletter from the capital. Since there was not such a message on the most recent newsletter, the master could not be an imperial envoy. Besides, in general, an imperial envoy would be much older. Then he consulted himself in a stage whisper, If the rumor is true, could he be the emperor escaped south?” The mayor was shocked to hear it. He asked, “What did you say?” The adviser said that the matter was very subtle, very delicate, must be handled very carefully. If the rumor was true, what should they do? If the rumor was false, they would surely arrest him. But how could they know if it was true or false? The mayor decided to visit the master himself. But the adviser got a better idea.
    One day when the cook went to buy some meat in a market place, someone caused a fight with him and he was taken to the local yamen. The mayor didn't ask him anything about the fight.
    “Who is your master?” The mayor queried.
    “I don't know.” The cook said in a quivering voice. He was nervous and frightened.
    “It's impossible you don't know for whom you work.” The mayor didn't believe him.
    “I really don't know. The butler arranges everything and gives orders.”
    “Have you seen your master? Don't say you're never seen him.”
    “Yes. He's thin, pale, early thirties, quiet. He's never spoken to me.”
    “Is there anything unusual about your master? You can take time to think.”
    The cook considered for a while. “He gets up very early, has lunch at noon and dinner at six in the evening.” That was just like the schedule in the Forbidden City.
    “Anything else special?” The mayor asked hopefully.
    “My master is afraid of thunder. During a thunderstorm, the butler and the servants are always with him.” All the courtiers knew that the emperor was afraid of thunderclaps because the eunuchs talked a lot about it. Since nothing more could be squeezed out of the cook, he was let go with a warning that he shouldn't speak to anyone about the event of today.
    Still they were not sure who the master was. So the mayor went to see him with some policemen, all in plain clothes. Their strategy was that if he was an impostor, they would take him into custody right away. If he was really the escaped emperor, they would pretend that they didn't know anything about the emperor escaped and went back for a discussion what they should do next. If they couldn't make sure, that was the problem.
    This time since the mayor came himself, the master received him. “Where do you come from?” The mayor inquired like a routine patrol policeman asking a lodger in an inn.
    “The capital.” His voice was low like having a sore throat.
    “In which yamen do you work?”
    “The Royal Family Affairs Management.”
    “You have any official business down here?”
    “Sure.” The butler stood beside the master all the time.
    “What's your business?”
    “Can't tell.” He cast a glimpse at the butler.
    “Will you go further south?”
    “Sure.”
    “Do you have any official traveling documents?”
    “Can't let you see.”
    So what else could the mayor say? He returned to his yamen for consultation. The mayor said, “I think he is an impostor.”

  7. #352
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    “An impostor for what?The aide wanted to know.
    “He didn't say he's the emperor. How could he be an impostor?” said the adviser.
    “I'll take full responsibilities if anything happens to show I am wrong.” The mayor persisted. The aide and the adviser had to obey him. They laid out the ploy in details. They would invite him to stay in the yamen, even by force if necessary. He must be under their control first. Then the mayor would report to the governor. If it turned out that he was really the emperor, they could say that they wanted to protect him. If he was not, he would go to jail, which was very close, just in the yamen.
    Next day the mayor sent some policemen to escort the master, the butler, the servants and even the cook into the yamen and confined them. Then at the command from the governor, they escorted the group to Wuchang City where the governor had his yamen and the group was confined there. The mayor thought that as the governor had had an interview with West Empress Dowager and the emperor, he should recognize the emperor. But the problem was that even the governor could not tell if he was the emperor or not, because during the interview the governor had prostrated before West Empress Dowager and the emperor and didn't dare to look up. Their last resort was to send someone to the capital to glean the information about the emperor. The man the governor had sent was smart. He went to some tea houses where the eunuchs would gather after their duties. He got acquainted with some of the eunuchs and treated them with food and drink. He learned at length that the emperor was still confined in the Forbidden City.
    When the man brought back the message, the governor accused Yang, the master, of the impersonation of the emperor. The master pleaded that he had never said that he was the emperor. Only the mayor had thought him to be the emperor. The master was really innocent. But no, he was guilty of what the mayor had originally mistaken him to be. The governor knew that such a case would please West Empress Dowager. That was what really mattered to him. So all the seven people were executed. They would eventually die even if they could live up to the age of one hundred years. Therefore, why not let them die earlier to please West Empress Dowager?

  8. #353
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    “An impostor for what?The aide wanted to know.
    “He didn't say he's the emperor. How could he be an impostor?” said the adviser.
    “I'll take full responsibilities if anything happens to show I am wrong.” The mayor persisted. The aide and the adviser had to obey him. They laid out the ploy in details. They would invite him to stay in the yamen, even by force if necessary. He must be under their control first. Then the mayor would report to the governor. If it turned out that he was really the emperor, they could say that they wanted to protect him. If he was not, he would go to jail, which was very close, just in the yamen.
    Next day the mayor sent some policemen to escort the master, the butler, the servants and even the cook into the yamen and confined them. Then at the command from the governor, they escorted the group to Wuchang City where the governor had his yamen and the group was confined there. The mayor thought that as the governor had had an interview with West Empress Dowager and the emperor, he should recognize the emperor. But the problem was that even the governor could not tell if he was the emperor or not, because during the interview the governor had prostrated before West Empress Dowager and the emperor and didn't dare to look up. Their last resort was to send someone to the capital to glean the information about the emperor. The man the governor had sent was smart. He went to some tea houses where the eunuchs would gather after their duties. He got acquainted with some of the eunuchs and treated them with food and drink. He learned at length that the emperor was still confined in the Forbidden City.
    When the man brought back the message, the governor accused Yang, the master, of the impersonation of the emperor. The master pleaded that he had never said that he was the emperor. Only the mayor had thought him to be the emperor. The master was really innocent. But no, he was guilty of what the mayor had originally mistaken him to be. The governor knew that such a case would please West Empress Dowager. That was what really mattered to him. So all the seven people were executed. They would eventually die even if they could live up to the age of one hundred years. Therefore, why not let them die earlier to please West Empress Dowager?

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    Chapter 43

    Since the emperor was confined on the island in the Forbidden City, West Empress Dowager had often wanted to depose him. A statement was issued that the emperor was sick and doctors should be recommended. So it was deemed a sign that the emperor would soon be forced to abdicate. The French envoy came to the Foreign Affairs Yamen to recommend a French doctor, but an official in charge there said that they were not entitled to make such a decision, either in affirmative or in negative. They must report to West Empress Dowager and the answer would be given after three days. Three days later the French envoy came once more. He got a negative reply. The reason was that the emperor was accustomed to Chinese herbal medicine. The British envoy came, too. They confessed that their governments were worried about the emperor's health and must send someone to see how the emperor was. (implied if the emperor was still alive.) So West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers. A courtier remarked that it was not polite to refuse the visit of a French doctor. It was just like a neighbor was concerned with the health of another neighbor and came to visit. But West Empress Dowager didn't want the foreign neighbors to be concerned with the health of the emperor. At last she was persuaded to yield that a French doctor could come to see the emperor, accompanied by two princes.
    But West Empress Dowager was still contemplating how to depose the emperor. But who could succeed the throne? She did not want any adult to be the successor, because she should return power to him as soon as he was crowned. She would choose a small boy, but none suitable at the time. Besides, many courtiers disagreed to her idea. Even foreign countries interfered in that matter. She had to give in, but hated the foreigners all the more.

  10. #355
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    Chapter 43

    Since the emperor was confined on the island in the Forbidden City, West Empress Dowager had often wanted to depose him. A statement was issued that the emperor was sick and doctors should be recommended. So it was deemed a sign that the emperor would soon be forced to abdicate. The French envoy came to the Foreign Affairs Yamen to recommend a French doctor, but an official in charge there said that they were not entitled to make such a decision, either in affirmative or in negative. They must report to West Empress Dowager and the answer would be given after three days. Three days later the French envoy came once more. He got a negative reply. The reason was that the emperor was accustomed to Chinese herbal medicine. The British envoy came, too. They confessed that their governments were worried about the emperor's health and must send someone to see how the emperor was. (implied if the emperor was still alive.) So West Empress Dowager had a meeting with the courtiers. A courtier remarked that it was not polite to refuse the visit of a French doctor. It was just like a neighbor was concerned with the health of another neighbor and came to visit. But West Empress Dowager didn't want the foreign neighbors to be concerned with the health of the emperor. At last she was persuaded to yield that a French doctor could come to see the emperor, accompanied by two princes.
    But West Empress Dowager was still contemplating how to depose the emperor. But who could succeed the throne? She did not want any adult to be the successor, because she should return power to him as soon as he was crowned. She would choose a small boy, but none suitable at the time. Besides, many courtiers disagreed to her idea. Even foreign countries interfered in that matter. She had to give in, but hated the foreigners all the more.

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    Ronglu didn't like the idea to change the emperorship, because it might occasion a lot of troubles like foreign intervention and opposition from the governors and from the people throughout the nation. But he could not disobey West Empress Dowager and didn't want to directly show his disagreement with her. Two prime ministers had submitted a report to West Empress Dowager to propose the deposal of the emperor. West Empress Dowager told them to show the report to Ronglu for his opinion. When they came to see Ronglu and handed it to Ronglu for him to read, Ronglu pretended that he didn't hold the report tight enough and let it fall into the brazier. It was burned to aches immediately. The two prime ministers were furious and went back to West Empress Dowager to accuse Ronglu of disrespect to West Empress Dowager. They hoped that West Empress Dowager would punish Ronglu for it. But of course they were disappointed. Ronglu consulted with his advisers and got a notion that it was better at present to choose someone to be the successor to the emperor.
    Since West Empress Dowager could not remove the present emperor from the throne, she accepted the idea and chose the son of Prince Zaiyi as the future successor when the emperor died. Ronglu had persuaded West Empress Dowager, saying that the foreign governments declared that they would disown any new emperor and that it would be better if West Empress Dowager could choose some boy as the adopted son of the late Emperor Tongzhi, a potential successor. West Empress Dowager thought it feasible. The boy was fifteen then. He didn't like to read, which was a bad omen to be a successor. He loved to play and fight. But West Empress Dowager didn't know it at first. Almost all the eunuchs and royal maids took a dislike to him on the first day he moved into the Forbidden City. He didn't look likable, with thick lips and the upper lip curving upward, almost touching the nose. It was a face that anyone would say that it was not a face for an emperor. But he was the relative of West Empress Dowager. His mother was the niece of West Empress Dowager.

  12. #357
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    Ronglu didn't like the idea to change the emperorship, because it might occasion a lot of troubles like foreign intervention and opposition from the governors and from the people throughout the nation. But he could not disobey West Empress Dowager and didn't want to directly show his disagreement with her. Two prime ministers had submitted a report to West Empress Dowager to propose the deposal of the emperor. West Empress Dowager told them to show the report to Ronglu for his opinion. When they came to see Ronglu and handed it to Ronglu for him to read, Ronglu pretended that he didn't hold the report tight enough and let it fall into the brazier. It was burned to aches immediately. The two prime ministers were furious and went back to West Empress Dowager to accuse Ronglu of disrespect to West Empress Dowager. They hoped that West Empress Dowager would punish Ronglu for it. But of course they were disappointed. Ronglu consulted with his advisers and got a notion that it was better at present to choose someone to be the successor to the emperor.
    Since West Empress Dowager could not remove the present emperor from the throne, she accepted the idea and chose the son of Prince Zaiyi as the future successor when the emperor died. Ronglu had persuaded West Empress Dowager, saying that the foreign governments declared that they would disown any new emperor and that it would be better if West Empress Dowager could choose some boy as the adopted son of the late Emperor Tongzhi, a potential successor. West Empress Dowager thought it feasible. The boy was fifteen then. He didn't like to read, which was a bad omen to be a successor. He loved to play and fight. But West Empress Dowager didn't know it at first. Almost all the eunuchs and royal maids took a dislike to him on the first day he moved into the Forbidden City. He didn't look likable, with thick lips and the upper lip curving upward, almost touching the nose. It was a face that anyone would say that it was not a face for an emperor. But he was the relative of West Empress Dowager. His mother was the niece of West Empress Dowager.

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    As his son (Now everyone called him Big Brother.) was selected as the potential successor, Prince Zaiyi became powerful. If the emperor was deposed, his son would be the emperor and he would be the father of the emperor, more powerful. But the meddling of the foreigners crushed his sweet dream. He hated the foreigners. He wanted to drive all of them out of China. He waited for a chance.
    Since in the Opium War the foreign fleets had broken open the golden gate to China, many priests had come to build churches and preached to Chinese people. Quite a few Chinese people began to believe in God. But the traditional religions in China were Taoism and Buddhism, in which much more people believed. Different religions always have conflicts, which even develop to killing. At that time, those who believed in God were looked upon as heathens. Many God-believing people, including priests, were killed and churches burned to ashes. This often occasioned diplomatic problems.
    There were always some kind of organizations among the Chinese people. One was called Yihetuan in Shandong Province. They declared that they had magic power. The bullet could not injure them. They hated the foreigners and those God-believing Chinese people. Accordingly they killed those people and foreign priests and burned churches. Wherever such things happened, the foreign envoys protested to the Chinese government. So the local government began to arrest and even execute the members of that organization, which enlarged very fast. Under the pressure of foreign governments, West Empress Dowager had to appoint Yuan Shikai as the governor of Shandong Province. He arrived there on December 25, 1899. Yuan used guns to deal with Yihetuan, who had only swords and spears, even hoes as weapons. Yuan captured some of them and gunned them down in public to show that it was a lie that they had magic power as the bullets penetrated through their bodies. They had to flee in Spring, 1900, from Shandong Province into Zhidi Province, closer to the capital.
    Then someone in that organization got a wonderful idea. They put up a banner bearing these words, Help Qing Dynasty To Wipe Out Foreigners. The slogan struck home.

  14. #359
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    As his son (Now everyone called him Big Brother.) was selected as the potential successor, Prince Zaiyi became powerful. If the emperor was deposed, his son would be the emperor and he would be the father of the emperor, more powerful. But the meddling of the foreigners crushed his sweet dream. He hated the foreigners. He wanted to drive all of them out of China. He waited for a chance.
    Since in the Opium War the foreign fleets had broken open the golden gate to China, many priests had come to build churches and preached to Chinese people. Quite a few Chinese people began to believe in God. But the traditional religions in China were Taoism and Buddhism, in which much more people believed. Different religions always have conflicts, which even develop to killing. At that time, those who believed in God were looked upon as heathens. Many God-believing people, including priests, were killed and churches burned to ashes. This often occasioned diplomatic problems.
    There were always some kind of organizations among the Chinese people. One was called Yihetuan in Shandong Province. They declared that they had magic power. The bullet could not injure them. They hated the foreigners and those God-believing Chinese people. Accordingly they killed those people and foreign priests and burned churches. Wherever such things happened, the foreign envoys protested to the Chinese government. So the local government began to arrest and even execute the members of that organization, which enlarged very fast. Under the pressure of foreign governments, West Empress Dowager had to appoint Yuan Shikai as the governor of Shandong Province. He arrived there on December 25, 1899. Yuan used guns to deal with Yihetuan, who had only swords and spears, even hoes as weapons. Yuan captured some of them and gunned them down in public to show that it was a lie that they had magic power as the bullets penetrated through their bodies. They had to flee in Spring, 1900, from Shandong Province into Zhidi Province, closer to the capital.
    Then someone in that organization got a wonderful idea. They put up a banner bearing these words, Help Qing Dynasty To Wipe Out Foreigners. The slogan struck home.

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    Quite a few courtiers tended to pacify Yihetuan. Prince Zaiyi wanted to utilize them to drive out the foreigners so that West Empress Dowager could force the emperor to abdicate and his son could be on the throne. And West Empress Dowager wanted to use Yihetuan to expel the foreigners, too, so that she could do everything at will without any fear to be interfered.
    Since Prince Zaiyi and some courtiers supported Yihetuan, they were crazier in behavior. As a revenge for the killing by Yuan, they began to ambush some small groups of the government army. They pulled down the telegram cables and chopped down the posts. They dug up some rails to make the train derail. All these were reported to West Empress Dowager, who ordered Ronglu to send troops to protect the railroad and the telegram posts. Ronglu had already been made a secretary, but still controlled the army in the capital area. Usually a secretary could not command any armies, but Ronglu did. No one had had more power than Ronglu since the beginning of Qing Dynasty. West Empress Dowager did not want to give any other courtiers much power. But she could trust in Ronglu. Ronglu could never betray her.
    Yihetuan assailed the division that was guarding the railroad. The division killed some and dispersed the rest. In Tianjin City anyone who dared to criticize Yihetuan was killed. When they were walking in the streets, even the mayor must stand aside and let them pass. The whole city was in disorder and in a mess.
    The governor of Zhidi Province believed in their magic power and treated them as his noble guests. He even let their leader ride in his own official palanquin. Therefore, policemen didn't dare to interfere with whatever they were doing. Then Yihetuan was let into the capital and their leaders took lodging in the residence of Prince Zaiyi. The situation got worse and the capital was in a great chaos.

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