Слике страница
PDF
ePub

of the districts, though they are really appointed by the highest military and civil officials of the province, should still be nominally elected by the districts. As soon as the representatives of the districts have been appointed, their names should be communicated to the respective district magistrates, who are to be instructed to draw up the necessary documents in detail, and to cause a formal election to be held. Such documents should, however, be properly antedated.

On Sept. 29 Chu Chi-chun, Military Governor of Mukden, representing the Administrative Council, telegraphed as follows:

While the plan of organization is determined by the Administrative Council, the carrying out of the ulterior object of such plan rests with the superintendents in chief of the election. They should, therefore, assume a controlling influence over the election proceedings and utilize them to the best advantage. The representatives of the citizens should be elected, one for each district wherever possible, from among the officials who are connected with the various Government organs

in the provincial capital, SO that there may be no misunderstanding as to the real object of voting.

This telegram proves conclusively that the representative organ of the people was wholly under the control of high officials and was “ utilized” by them "to the best advantage,” and that the representatives themselves were to be chosen from among those connected with the Government organizations in the various provincial capitals.

Again, on Oct. 10, a telegram from the National Convention Bureau read:

Special attention should be paid to the qualifications of those who are to be elected at the primaries held in the districts in connection with the National Assembly, since it is from these candidates that the citizens' representatives will have to be selected. + * We trust the superintendents of the primaries will thoroughly understand our implied meaning, and utilize the proceedings to suit our purpose.

. * * They should, before the voting, carefully consider what sort of men are those who are qualified to be elected, and select those who are goodnatured and obsequious and of the same mind as ourselves. These are to be considered as the persons who should be elected. The superintendents will then judiciously assign their names to the several voters, and request them to vote as directed. If they find any difficulty in carrying out these instructions, they should not hesitate to use measures which in effect co ive, though not so in appearance.

On October 11 the National Convention Bureau sent the following telegram:

The future peace and safety of the nation depend upon the documents exchanged between the Government organs at l’eking and those in the provinces. Should any of these come to the notice of the public, the blame for failure to keep official secrets will be laid upon us. Moreover, as these documents concern the very foundation of the State, they will, in case they become known, leave a dark spot on the political history of our country. l'pon their secrecy depends our national honor and prestige in the eyes of both our own people and foreigners. We hope you will appoint one of your confidential subordinates to be specially responsible for the safe custody of the secret documents.

Despite the increasing unrest among the people, a circular telegram was dispatched on Oct. 23, which apparently " drove the last nail into the coffin of the Chinese Republic." It was a “ nomination" of Yuan Shih-kai, and read:

The letters of nomination to be sent in after the form of State shall have been put to the vote, must contain the following words: “We, the citizens' representatives, by virtue of the will of the citizens, do hereby respectfully nominate the present President Yuan Shih-kai as Emperor of the Chinese Empire, and invest him to the fullest extent with all the supreme sovereign rights of the State. He is appointed by Heaven to ascend the Throne and to transmit it to his heirs for ten thousand generations." These characters, forty-five in all, must not be altered on any account.

Before the form of the State has been settled, the letters of nomination must not be made public. A reply is requested.

A few days later-Oct. 28—the attention of the Central Government was drawn by England, Japan, and Russia (latter backed by France and Italy as allies) toward the inadvisability of taking steps that would threaten the peace of China; but Lu Cheng-Hsiang, Minister of Foreign Affairs, replied that it was too late to retract, as the matter had already been decided. When their surprise over this unexpected answer had subsided, those in charge of the plot sent the following state telegram to the provinces:

A certain foreign power, under the pretext that the Chinese people are not of one mind and that troubles are to be apprehended. has lately forced England and Russia to take part in tenderii advice to China In truth, all foreign nations know perfectly well that there

will be no trouble, and they are obliged to follow the example of that power. If we accept the advice of other powers concerning our domestic affairs and postpone the enthronement, we should be recognizing their right to interfere. Hence, action should under no circumstances be deferred. When all the votes of the provinces unanimously recommending the enthronement shall have reached Peking, the Government will, of course, ostensibly assume a wavering and compromising attitude, so as to give due regard to international relations. The people, on the other band, should show their firm determination to proceed with the matter at all costs, so as to let the foreign powers know that our people are of one mind.

If we

can only make them believe that the change of the republic into a monarchy will not in the least give rise to trouble of any kind, the effects of the advice tendered by Japan will ipso facto come to nought.

On Dec. 21 was played the last Act in the drama. Forty-eight hours before General Tsai Ao threw down the gauntlet in Yunnan, because of the strange quiet that pervaded the country the Monarchists boldly determined to pay no further heed to any suggestion that they withdraw from their purpose, even though force be threatened. For it had been discovered, after the ballot boxes were opened on Dec. 11 that every voter had cast his ballot for Yuan Shih-kai to be Emperor! And he, isolated in his palace from the populace and deceived by his followers, had accepted the nomination.

All that remained now was to blot out every trace of the conspiracy, that the deceit “ should not stain the opening pages of the history of the new dynasty," as a later telegram read, which is in part quoted below:

No matter how carefully their secrets may have been guarded, sit aserts,] still they remain as permanent records which might compromise us; and in the event of their becoming known to foreigners we shall not Escape severe criticism and bitter attacks, and, what is worse, should they be handed down as part of the national records, they will stain the opening pages of the history of the new dynasty. The Central Government, after carefully considering the matter, has er ncluded that it would be better to sort out and burn the documents so as to remove all unnecessary records and prevent regrettable consequences. For these reasons you are hereby requested to sift out all telegrams, letters, and dispatches concerning the changes in the form of the State, whether official or private, whether received from Peking or the

provinces, (excepting those required by law to be filed on record,) and cause the same to be burned in your presence.

Such intrigues were certain to bear fruit, and on Dec. 23 Tang Chi-Yao, Tutuh of Yunnan, revolted and blazed the way for the rebellion which ultimately should oust Yuan from the throne. He declared that Yuan had been guilty of “ deliberately misrepresenting the people's will by inducements and threats," and took his stand once more for the republic. Yunnan was followed by Kwei Chow.

Despite this protest, the beginning of the new dynasty was set for Jan. 1 of the new year, and the Government buildings in Nanking and other cities were decorated with the national flag in honor of the event. Memorials praying for an early ascension of the throne were sent to Peking by various Monarchists. But on Jan. 26 the Emperor, dubbed the Ta Huang Ti by the Peking Gazette, a Republican sympathizer, announced that the enthronement would be postponed, saying in part: “The Province of Yunnan is opposing the Central Government and under some pretext a rebellion has been raised in these regions. We are profoundly grieved to confess that a portion of the people are dissatisfied with us.

To perform the ceremony of enthronement at this juncture would, therefore, set our heart on thorns. The enthronement will have to be postponed to a date when the affairs in Yunnan are again under control.”

The month of February was one of speculation and of discouragement on the part of the Republicans. The control of the military forces of the north was tightened in all suspected centres; Nanking, which had been the hotbed of revolution for the last four years, was practically under martial law; soldiers with fixed bayonets patrolled the streets; signs were put up in the tea houses and Government schools forbidding any discussion of political affairs; infractions of this rule were severely punished. But the unrest continued, a statement of one of the scholars in Nanking being indicative of public sentiment in general. On being asked what he thought of the new flag

*

[ocr errors]

which the Monarchists proposed for the ing his retirement." This was backed on nation, he said he thought the best design May 18, the following day, by a statewould be a white flag with a great black ment of 300 members of the former Naspot in the centre, (for Yuan Shih-kai.)

tional Assembly, which Yuan had disThis dissatisfaction found active ex solved in 1913. pression in the revolt on March 17 of Through all this discussion Nanking Kuangsi, which made, among others, the had remained neutral. On May 15 Genfollowing demands upon the Central Gov eral Feng Kuo-Chang held a conference ernment: The cancellation of the empire of the representatives of the ten provand reinstitution of the republican form inces which were still loyal. The conferof government; the abdication of Yuan ence accomplished little except to emphaShih-kai, and the convocation of a legisla- size the growing demand for Yuan's retive body which should represent and be tirement. On May 24 Szechuan revolted, capable of expressing the authentic “ will and two days later Yuan first publicly of the people.”

announced his intention to retire, saying: On March 22 this was answered by a

“My wish to retire is my own and origmandate from Yuan canceling the mon

inated with myself. I have not the slightarchy. In it he said: “I am still of the

est idea of lingering with a longing heart opinion that the designation petitions at my post.” On May 29 Yuan issued a submitted are unsuited to the demands of

long statement in which he reviewd in dethe time, and the official acceptance of

tail his action in connection with the atthe imperial throne is hereby canceled.

tempted change of Government. Two *** I now confess that the faults of the sentences are rather interesting in the country are the result of my own faults."

light of the present knowledge of the enAlthough Yuan had relinquished the

tire situation: throne, he was not willing to abdicate

I, the great President, have done every

thing I could to ascertain the real will of the entirely, and nothing short of this would

people by taking measures to prevent every satisfy the southerners. Chekiang Prov possible corruption, the same being in purince revolted and its Governor fled;

suance of my wish to respect the will of the Kwangtung followed. The press was full

people.

* In dealing with others I, the

great President, have always been guided by of fiery articles calling for Yuan's re

the principle of sincerity. tirement. On April 27 General Tsai Ao,

The comment upon this mandate by the the great military leader of the Repub

editor of The Peking Gazette, himself a licans, sent a long ram to Peking

Chinese, is indicative of the sentiment of urging Yuan to retire, and concluding

the country at that time: with a threat: “ If, however, you should

If there was not a growing danger with continue to linger and delay to make a

every day that the Chief Executive tarried prompt decision in the sense of retire in office, moderate Chinese might be inment and compel the people to elaborate

clined to read with some patience and in a their demands in plainer language, your

sense of sympathy the mandate issued on

Monday night, which we translate in full toretirement will be compulsory instead of

day. It is obviously the attempt of Yuan voluntary, and your high virtue will be Shih-kai to set himself right with posterity lowered.” This was followed by a similar

and to state for the future historian his own

version of a transaction that has made him appeal by Dr. Wu Ting-fang.

weaker than the child-ruler who preceded Yuan remaining obdurate, on May 10 him. There is no time to reread what has the southern provinces elected Li Yuan already been asseverated time and again to hung as President. On May 17 Liang

a skeptical world. There is no time to shed

a tear for a fall from greatness that is withChi-Chao, the Republican leader, who

out parallel in history. The nation's perils has the highest reputation among the thicken and the voice of the people clamors scholars of China, telegraphed Peking:

for the retirement that is to bring surcease "Since Hsaing-Cheng (Yuan Shih-kai)

of their harassment. Again we bid him be

wise and leave the work that must be done has been morally defeated in the eyes of

by other hands under surer knowledge of the Chinese as well as foreigners, the iron great new forces in our midst. verdict has been passed on him demand During the following week Yuan Shih

*

kai became seriously ill, and on June 6 he died, the cause of his death being urinaemia. A few hours before his death he issued his last mandate, in which he handed over the Government to the Vice President. His closing words are not without pathos: “Owing to my lack of virtue and ability, I have not been able fully to transform into deed what I have desired to accomplish; and I blush to say I have not realized oneten-thousandth part of my original intention to save the country and the people. * I was just thinking how I could retire into private life when illness has suddenly overtaken me. The ancients once said, “It is only when the living do try to become strong that the dead are not dead.' This is also the wish of me, the great President.”

President Li Yuan-hung at once entered upon his office, beginning on June 7, according to The Peking Gazette, " the work that ought to have been begun four years ago." His first two mandates were as follows:

I. Yuan-hung has assumed the office of President on this the 7th day of the sixth month. Realizing his lack of virtue, he is extremely solicitous lest something may miscarry. His single aim will be to adhere strictly to law for the consolidation of the republic and the molding of the country into a really constitutionally administered country. May all officials and people act in sympathy with this idea and with united soul and energy fulfill the part that is lacking in him. This is his great hope.

II. The present general situation is exceedingly precarious. Having just shouldered the great burdens of the State, I need the assistance of others in everything pertaining to administrative measures. All civil and military officials outside of Peking should, therefore, remain at their posts and assist in solving the present troubles. Let no man shirk his duties in the slightest degree.

The issuing of the mandate was followed by telegrams from most of the provinces, stating their loyalty to the new President and to the Republican Government. A few days later Liang Shih-Yi, the Chief Counselor and Adviser of Yuan Shih-kai among the Monarchists, resigned from his position in the Government; thus the chief obstacle to harmony was removed. The efforts of the new Repub

lican Government are now being directed toward the establishment of a Parliament, according to the Provisional Constitution adopted at Nanking in 1912. The revised Provisional Constitution, adopted in May, 1914, which, according to Dr. Goodnow, “is almost a copy of the Japanese Constitution," and through which very comprehensive powers are given the President, with practically an absolute veto power and the right to reelection after a term of ten years, will probably be discarded. There are many obstacles, of course, to the successful solution of the political difficulties in China, but undoubtedly great advance has been made toward this solution during the last year.

The courage of the leaders of the Republican cause in the face of the military power of the Peking Government was worthy of admiration. Let two instances suffice: The editor of The Peking Gazette, published in both Chinese and English, which has the largest circulation of any newspaper published in the north of China in a foreign language, throughout the entire contest was loyal to the Republican cause. He could have taken refuge in the protection of the British Legation or of some other legation in Peking when his writings brought him into danger; but in reply to a question in this connection he made the following statement: “At the most critical and dangerous period for adverse criticism of the monarchical movement-in February last-I decided, in order to free my staff of any possible responsibility, to register myself as a Chinese subject in the capacity of the sole proprietor of The Peking Gazette.” (Signed Eugene Ch'en.) Liang Chi-Chao, the rumor of whose assassination in March was greeted with consternation throughout the country, published a comment on the secret telegrams of the Yuan Government in both English and Chinese, exposing their intrigues in the most direct terms. He concluded his article in this way:

I know (and I believe everybody knows) that the publication of this article will not only involve me in serious difficulties, but will also expose my life to grave dangers. Nevertheless, as a citizen of China and as a

member of the human race, I honestly believe and from the Analects, another regardit my duty to publish this article, a duty

ing the essentials of government: from which I ought not to shrink, cost what it may; for I cannot do otherwise than act Tsze-kung asked about Government. The according to the dictates of my conscience. Master (Confucius) said, “The essentials of Oh, fellow-countrymen, young and old!

Government are that there be a sufficiency listen to my appeal! Oh, intelligent and up

of food, sufficiency of military equipment, right foreign friends! Listen to my appeal!

and the confidence of the people in their

ruler." In trying to form a judgment of this entire political movement, the question

Tsze-kung said: If it cannot be helped,

and one of these must be dispensed with, is certain to arise of the ability of the which of the three should be foregone first?" Chinese as a whole to understand and “ The military equipment,” said the Master. carry out the ideals of a republic. A

Tsze-kung again asked: “If it cannot be study of the history and literature of helped, and one of the remaining two must China reveals clearly the democratic

be dispensed with, which of them should be spirit of the people. The right of rebel

foregone?"

Master answered: “ Part with the lion against tyrants has brought to a

food. From of old death has been the lot of close many of the ancient dynasties. Two

all men; but if the people have no faith in passages from the Confucian classics, their rulers the State cannot stand." (Book which have had a greater influence in XII., Chapter 7.) molding the mind of the Chinese people It is this spirit that has animated the than any other writings, are worthy of leaders of the Republican movement, and quotation in this connection. One is re it is this spirit that marks the fight for garding the possibility of the perversion the republic in China as worthy of honor of the will of the people: “A ruler may among those nations of the world who carry off by force the Governor of a are opponents of autocracy and supportProvince, but he cannot change the will ers of democracy—of government " of the of even the humblest of its subjects ”; people, by the pople, and for the people.”

The

An Irish Officer on the Somme A wounded Irish officer, when asked to describe the Anglo-French offensive, wrote in reply:

You can no more hope to get the Push described for folk who haven't been out than you can hope to get the world described, or human life explained, on a postcard. The pen may be ever so mighty, but, believe me, it has its limitations.

What's the Push like? It's like everything that ever was. It's all the struggles of life crowded into an hour; it's an assertion of the bedrock decency and goodness of our people; and I wouldn't have missed it for all the gold in London town. I don't want to be killed; not a little bit. But, bless you, one simply can't be bothered giving it a thought. The killing of odd individuals such as me is so tiny a matter.

My God, it's the future of humanity; countless millions; all the laughing little kiddies, and the slim, straight young girls, and the sweet women, and the men that are to come. It's all humanity we're fighting for, whether life's to be clean and decent, free and worth having—or a Boche nightmare. You can't describe it, but I wouldn't like to be out of it for long. It's hell and heaven, and the devil and the world; and, thank goodness, we're on the side of the angels—decency, not material gain-and we're going to win.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »