We were armed with telegrams from Mr. C.R. Kellogg, of the Anglo-Chinese College, with whom we were to stay while in Foochow, assuring us that all was quiet in the province, and through the influence of Dr. Reinsch, the Chinese Foreign Office vised our passports. The huge red stamp which was affixed to them was an amusing example of Chinese “face saving.” First came the seal of Yuan’s impotent dynasty of Hung Hsien, signifying “Brilliant Prosperity,” and directly upon it was placed the stamp of the Chinese Republic. One was almost as legible as the other and thus the Foreign Office saved its face in whichever direction the shifting cards of political destiny should fall.
At a luncheon given by Dr. Reinsch at the Embassy in Peking, we met Admiral von Hintze, the German Minister, who had recently completed an adventurous trip from Germany to China. He was Minister to Mexico at the beginning of the war but had returned to Berlin incognito through England to ask the Kaiser for active sea service. The Emperor was greatly elated over von Hintze’s performance and offered him the appointment of Minister to China if he could reach Peking in the same way that he had traveled to Berlin. Von Hintze therefore shipped as supercargo on a Scandinavian tramp steamer and arrived safely at Shanghai, where he assumed all the pomp of a foreign diplomat and proceeded to the capital.
The Americans were in a rather difficult position at this time because of the international complications, and social intercourse was extremely limited. Dinner guests had to be chosen with the greatest care and one was very likely to meet exactly the same people wherever one went.
Peking is a place never to be forgotten by one who has shared its social life. In the midst of one of the most picturesque, most historical, and most romantic cities of the world there is a cosmopolitan community that enjoys itself to the utmost. Its talk is all of horses, polo, racing, shooting, dinners, and dances, with the interesting background of Chinese politics, in which things are never dull. There is always a rebellion of some kind to furnish delightful thrills, and one never can tell when a new political bomb will be projected from the mysterious gates of the Forbidden City.
We spent a week in Peking and regretfully left by rail for Shanghai. En route we passed through Tsinan-fu where the previous night serious fighting had occurred in which Japanese soldiers had joined with the rebels against Yuan’s troops. On every side there was evidence of Japan’s efforts against him. In the foreign quarter of Shanghai just behind the residence of Mr. Sammons, the American Consul-General, one of Yuan’s leading officers had been openly murdered, and Japanese were directly concerned in the plot. We were told that it was very difficult at that time to lease houses in the foreign concession because wealthy Chinese who feared the wrath of one party or the other were eager to pay almost any rent to obtain the protection of that quarter of the city.