The Fight For The Republic in China eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about The Fight For The Republic in China.

[4] (a) This loan was the so-called 7 per cent.  Silver loan of 1894 for Shanghai Taels 10,000,000 negotiated by the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank.  It was followed in 1895 by a L3,000,000 Gold 6 per cent.  Loan, then by two more 6 per cent. loans for a million each in the same year, making a total of L6,635,000 sterling for the bare war-expenses.  The Japanese war indemnity raised in three successive issues—­from 1895 to 1898—­of L16,000,000 each, added L48,000,000.  Thus the Korean imbroglio cost China nearly 55 millions sterling.  As the purchasing power of the sovereign is eight times larger in China than in Europe, this debt economically would mean 440 millions in England—­say nearly double what the ruinous South African war cost.  It is by such methods of comparison that the vital nature of the economic factor in recent Chinese history is made clear.

[5] There is no doubt that the so-called Belgian loan, L1,800,000 of which was paid over in cash at the beginning of 1912, was the instrument which brought every one to terms.

CHAPTER II

THE ENIGMA OF YUAN SHIH-KAI

THE HISTORY OF THE MAN FROM THE OPENING OF HIS CAREER IN KOREA IN 1882 TO THE END OF THE REVOLUTION, 12TH FEBRUARY, 1912

Yuan Shih-kai’s career falls into two clear-cut parts, almost as if it had been specially arranged for the biographer; there is the probationary period in Korea, and the executive in North China.  The first is important only because of the moulding-power which early influences exerted on the man’s character; but it is interesting in another way since it affords glimpses of the sort of things which affected this leader’s imagination throughout his life and finally brought him to irretrievable ruin.  The second-period is choke-full of action; and over every chapter one can see the ominous point of interrogation which was finally answered in his tragic political and physical collapse.

Yuan Shih-kai’s origin, without being precisely obscure, is unimportant.  He came of a Honanese family who were nothing more distinguished than farmers possessing a certain amount of land, but not too much of the world’s possessions.  The boy probably ran wild in the field at an age when the sons of high officials and literati were already pale and anaemic from over-much study.  To some such cause the man undoubtedly owed his powerful physique, his remarkable appetite, his general roughness.  Native biographers state that as a youth he failed to pass his hsiu-tsai examinations—­the lowest civil service degree—­because he had spent too much time in riding and boxing and fencing.  An uncle in official life early took charge of him; and when this relative died the young man displayed filial piety in accompanying the corpse back to the family graves and in otherwise manifesting grief.  Through official connections a place was subsequently found for him in that public department under the Manchus which may be called the military intendancy, and it was through this branch of the civil service that he rose to power.  Properly speaking Yuan Shih-kai was never an army-officer; he was a military official—­his highest rank later on being that of military judge, or better, Judicial Commissioner.

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The Fight For The Republic in China from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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