Previous Page of 91Next Page

Court Life in China

spinner.gif

Scanned by Charles Keller for Sarah with OmniPage Professional OCR software donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226. Contact Mike Lough <Mikel@caere.com>

ISAAC TAYLOR HEADLAND'S THREE BOOKS THAT "LINK EAST AND WEST"

Court Life in China: The Capital Its Officials and People.

The Chinese Boy and Girl

Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes

COURT LIFE IN CHINA THE CAPITAL ITS OFFICIALS AND PEOPLE

By ISAAC TAYLOR HEADLAND Professor in the Peking University

PREFACE

Until within the past ten years a study of Chinese court life would have been an impossibility. The Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and the court ladies were shut up within the Forbidden City, away from a world they were anxious to see, and which was equally anxious to see them. Then the Emperor instituted reform, the Empress Dowager came out from behind the screen, and the court entered into social relations with Europeans.

For twenty years and more Mrs. Headland has been physician to the family of the Empress Dowager's mother, the Empress' sister, and many of the princesses and high official ladies in Peking. She has visited them in a social as well as a professional way, has taken with her her friends, to whom the princesses have shown many favours, and they have themselves been constant callers at our home. It is to my wife, therefore, that I am indebted for much of the information contained in this book.

There are many who have thought that the Empress Dowager has been misrepresented. The world has based its judgment of her character upon her greatest mistake, her participation in the Boxer movement, which seems unjust, and has closed its eyes to the tremendous reforms which only her mind could conceive and her hand carry out. The great Chinese officials to a man recognized in her a mistress of every situation; the foreigners who have come into most intimate contact with her, voice her praise; while her hostile critics are confined for the most part to those who have never known her. It was for this reason that a more thorough study of her life was undertaken.

It has also been thought that the Emperor has been misunderstood, being overestimated by some, and underestimated by others, and this because of his peculiar type of mind and character. That he was unusual, no one will deny; that he was the originator of many of China's greatest reform measures, is equally true; but that he lacked the power to execute what he conceived, and the ability to select great statesmen to assist him, seems to have been his chief shortcoming.

To my wife for her help in the preparation of this volume, and to my father-in-law, Mr. William Sinclair, M. A., for his suggestions, I am under many obligations.

I. T. H.

CONTENTS

I. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--HER EARLY LIFE II. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--HER YEARS OF TRAINING III. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--AS A RULER IV. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--AS A REACTIONIST V. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--AS A REFORMER VI. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--AS AN ARTIST VII. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--AS A WOMAN VIII. KUANG HSU--HIS SELF DEVELOPMENT IX. KUANG HSU--AS EMPEROR AND REFORMER X. KUANG HSU--AS A PRISONER XI. PRINCE CHUN--THE REGENT XII. THE HOME OF THE COURT--THE FORBIDDEN CITY XIII. THE LADIES OF THE COURT XIV. THE PRINCESSES--THEIR SCHOOLS XV. THE CHINESE LADIES OF RANK XVI. THE SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CHINESE WOMAN XVII. THE CHINESE LADIES--THEIR ILLS XVIII. THE FUNERAL CEREMONIES OF A DOWAGER PRINCESS XIX. CHINESE PRINCES AND OFFICIALS XX. PEKING--THE CITY OF THE COURT XXI. THE DEATH OF KUANG HSU AND THE EMPRESS DOWAGER XXII. THE COURT AND THE NEW EDUCATION

I

The Empress Dowager-Her Early Life

All the period since 1861 should be rightly recorded as the reign of Tze Hsi An, a more eventful period than all the two hundred and forty-four reigns that had preceded her three usurpations. It began after a conquering army had made terms of peace in her capital, and with the Tai-ping rebellion in full swing of success. . . .

Those few who have looked upon the countenance of the Dowager describe her as a tall, erect, fine-looking woman of distinguished and imperious bearing, with pronounced Tartar features, the eye of an eagle, and the voice of determined authority and absolute command. --Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore in "China, The Long-Lived Empire."

I

THE EMPRESS DOWAGER--HER EARLY LIFE

One day when one of the princesses was calling at our home in Peking, I inquired of her where the Empress Dowager was born. She gazed at me for a moment with a queer expression wreathing her features, as she finally said with just the faintest shadow of a smile: "We never talk about the early history of Her Majesty." I smiled in return and continued: "I have been told that she was born in a small house, in a narrow street inside of the east gate of the Tartar city--the gate blown up by the Japanese when they entered Peking in 1900." The princess nodded. "I have also heard that her father's name was Chao, and that he was a small military official (she nodded again) who was afterwards beheaded for some neglect of duty." To this the visitor also nodded assent.

Previous Page of 91Next Page

Comments & Reviews

Login or Facebook Sign in with Twitter
library_icon_grey.png Add share_icon_grey.png Share

Who's Reading

Recommended