No more damning indictment of Yuan Shih-kai’s regime could possibly have been penned.
THE MONARCHY PLOT
Although this extraordinary pamphlet was soon accepted by Chinese society as a semi-official warning of what was coming, it alone was not sufficient to launch a movement which to be successful required the benign endorsement of foreign opinion. The Chinese pamphleteer had dealt with the emotional side of the case: it was necessary to reinforce his arguments with an appeal which would be understood by Western statesmen as well as by Eastern politicians. Yuan Shih-kai, still pretending to stand aside, had kept his attention concentrated on this very essential matter; for, as we have repeatedly pointed out, he never failed to understand the superlative value of foreign support in all his enterprises,—that support being given an exaggerated value by the public thanks to China’s reliance on foreign money. Accordingly, as if still unconvinced, he now very naively requested the opinion of his chief legal adviser, Dr. Goodnow, an American who had been appointed to his office through the instrumentality of the Board of the Carnegie Institute as a most competent authority on Administrative Law.
Even in this most serious matter the element of comedy was not lacking. Dr. Goodnow had by special arrangement returned to Peking at the psychological moment; for having kicked his heels during many weary months in the capital, he had been permitted in 1914 to take up the appointment of President of an American University on condition that he would be available for legal “advice” whenever wanted. The Summer vacation gave him the opportunity of revisiting in the capacity of a transient adviser the scenes of his former idleness; and the holiday-task set him by his large-hearted patron was to prove in as few folios as possible that China ought to be a Monarchy and not a Republic—a theme on which every schoolboy could no doubt write with fluency. Consequently Dr. Goodnow, arming himself with a limited amount of paper and ink, produced in very few days the Memorandum which follows,—a document which it is difficult to speak of dispassionately since it seems to have been deliberately designed to play into the hands of a man who was now openly set on betraying the trust the nation reposed in him, and who was ready to wade through rivers of blood to satisfy his insensate ambition.
[Illustration: President Li Yuan-Hung and the General Staff watching the Review.]
[Illustration: March-past of an Infantry Division.]