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.

FOOTNOTES: 

[19] This story is firmly believed by many, namely that a beautiful woman caused the loss of Korea.

CHAPTER XIII

“THE THIRD REVOLUTION” (Continued)

THE DOWNFALL AND DEATH OF YUAN SHIH-KAI

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 Ch’i-chao, who in December had silently and secretly fled from Tientsin on information reaching him that his assassination was being planned.  On the even 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
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The Fight For The Republic in China from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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