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Thread: EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI

  1. #171
    Whenthe contents of the treaty became known, the first ones who got angrywere the critique officials. Some of them wrote reports to accuseChonghou even of treason. The empress dowagers were irate, too. Theyinstructed the Secretarial Bureau to deprive him of his title ofRoyal Representative and to have a discussion what punishment shouldbe inflicted on him. On hearing it, the Russian envoy came to theForeign Affairs Yamen to protest, saying that it was an insult toRussia if Qing government punished the Royal Representative who hadsigned the treaty. The head official in that yamen explained thatQing government punished him because he hadn't waited for any orderand had signed on his own decision and that it had nothing to do withthe signing of the treaty. So the Russian envoy could not protest forthat reason and left.
    CritiqueOfficial Zhang Zhitong wrote a report, suggesting that first toexecute Chonghou for treachery, second to declare to Russia that thetreaty was still invalid since Qing government hadn't approved ityet, third to make war preparations to defend the territory if Russiawaged war on China. A lot of courtiers supported his suggestion.Someone even said, “If war is inevitable, it's better to let itcome earlier since there are still so many experienced generalssurvived from the combats with rebels.” What all the courtiers hadsaid could be concluded in two points: Execute Chonghou and if Russiawants to fight, let's fight.

  2. #172
    Toappease their innocent fury, the Secretarial bureau, approved by theempress dowagers, told Judicial Ministry to detain Chonghou in thejail. Chonghou had confined himself at home since he had returned tothe capital, waiting for things to get quiet down so that he mighthave been let go with only slaps on the wrists. His servants wentabout the city to hunt for any news for him. When the message camefor his apprehension, he put on a prisoner's uniform, which he hadmade. He also knew that if war broke out he would be executed toencourage people to fight. That's politics. When he was put in aprison cell, his butler bribed the jailers so that his master couldbe treated well.
    TheSecretarial Bureau held a series of joint meetings with the cabinetmembers. They even invited Critique Official Zhang to attend. Yixinenumerated the reasons why the government should not have war againstRussia. He said, “Our guns and cannons are not so good and so manyas Russians have. We don't have enough provisions and money tosupport the war. We haven't known the attitude of the generals andsoldiers. What if they don't want to fight?” The war cries lowereda little. The only feasible way at present was to send another RoyalRepresentative to Peterburg to renegotiate with Russia to change thearticles of the treaty. This was a very difficult task. Then theymade several decisions: the government could delay to take back YiliTown and Chonghou could not be executed yet, which would be afriendly gesture to Russia. But why should Russia really care for aChinese official, dead or alive?
    Warpreparations were still going on. General Governor Zuo left GansuProvince for Xinjiang Province, closer to Russia. News came to theears of the empress dowagers that Zuo had taken a coffin with him.The empress dowagers were greatly moved and openly extolled him forloyalty and bravery.
    Aftera great deal of bargaining and reasoning with Russia, the old treatyhad been denounced and a new treaty was signed, which made Qinggovernment lose less rights, but more money. Russia had asked for therepayment of the maintenance fee they had spent on Yili Town. Itsounded reasonable to West Empress Dowager. In the old treaty thefee was five million silver rubles and in the new treaty the fee wasincreased to nine million silver rubles, which was equivalent to fivemillion taels of silver. As long as West Empress Dowager feltgratified, everything was fine. The new Royal Representative waspraised for the completion of the difficult task. He was the eldestson of the late Elder Zeng. As the event was settled to the contentof the empress dowagers, Chonghou was pardoned and released.

  3. #173
    Chapter 30


    WestEmpress Dowager was sick for some time already, but she still went todiscuss things with the courtiers. Then her sickness became serious.On March 12, 1880, East Empress Dowager had to handle the stateaffairs alone, with the help of Yixin and other courtiers, of course.But West Empress Dowager was not happy. She was afraid that EastEmpress Dowager would seize the power at the chance.
    Theroyal doctor said that her sickness was due to the strains of toomuch work and suggested that she should have a complete rest till sherecuperated entirely. As her anxiety added to her sickness, shedidn't feel any better for four months. Medicine proved no effect onher. No one could persuade her to take more rest. Then Big Princesswas thought of, who was a widow now and lived separately in her ownresidence. She went to the Forbidden City to see West EmpressDowager and stayed there to look after her day and night. It wassaid that Big Princess spoke so convincingly that West EmpressDowager always listened to her.
    OnJuly 13, a notice of doctors Wanted in the emperor's name was put upthroughout the empire. The governor of Zhejiang Province recommendeda famous Doctor Xi, who was dispatched to the capital, into theForbidden City. The coincidence was that other two governors alsorecommended Doctor Xi. So Doctor Xi was then summoned to the presenceof West Empress Dowager in her chamber. She was lying in bed. FirstDoctor Xi kowtowed before the bed, then he knelt close to the bed tofeel the pulse of West Empress Dowager. He had been taught all therituals beforehand. After feeling the pulse, he asked permission tolook at the tongue of West Empress Dowager. Then he was allowed tostand up and backed away from the bed. Near the door he turned roundand walked out of the chamber. He was led into another room to writeout his prescription, which was then checked by the courtiers in theSecretarial Bureau and even sent to West Empress Dowager herself tobe approved before a eunuch took it to the drug storage room in theForbidden City for the medicine.

  4. #174
    DoctorXi had passed the second government test and had come to the capitalfor the final test. At that time there had been war in the southernprovinces. He could not have gone back to Wuxi City, where he hadbeen born and grown up. He had stayed in the capital for preparationfor the next test. He had had plenty of time and begun to studymedicine all by himself. He had bought an official title, but couldnever have got a post, because the government had needed money badlyand sold more titles than the real positions could have held.Everyone who had bought a title should have waited for a vacancy. Toget a vacancy, one should have spent more money. Xi couldn't havepaid more money and so he had had to wait. In the meantime, he hadpracticed his medicine and had greatly improved his skills andknowledge. After war had ended in the southern provinces, Doctor Xihad got a vacancy there.
    Nowhe came to the capital as a doctor. He met the royal doctor first,who asked him a lot of questions as if he was testing his medicalknowledge. Doctor Xi answered all his questions deliberately and atlast the royal doctor could think of no more questions to ask. Itmeant that Doctor Xi was a better doctor than the royal doctor. WhenDoctor Xi asked the royal doctor what illness West Empress Dowagerwas suffering, the royal doctor could not say anything definite. Hecouldn't even tell what kind of the illness it was.
    SometimesWest Empress Dowager didn't take the medicine if she didn't trust inthe expertise of the doctor, who wrote out the prescription, though. But this time West Empress Dowager took medicine for forty-threedays, because she trusted Doctor Xi. She was soon convalescent andcould see the courtiers again.
    Therehad been a rumor that West Empress Dowager had had a miscarriage andthe royal doctor had misdiagnosed. If a doctor could not diagnosecorrectly, how could he prescribe the right medicine? That was whythe sickness of West Empress Dowager had lasted so long. Doctor Xidiagnosed it, but he couldn't say it. So he just prescribed the rightmedicine under another name of the disease with somewhat similarsymptoms. Anyway, when he cured West Empress Dowager, he was given avery good position near the capital so that if next time West EmpressDowager was sick again, he could come on a very short notice.

  5. #175
    OfficialYan was an ugly man, short and lean. His eyes were not on the samelevel, one a bit higher and the other a little lower. The lineconnecting the two eyes was slanting. But he was an upright official,never afraid of any unreasonable superiors. At that time he was theFinancial Official in Hubei Province, directly under the governor.The governor of Hubei Province was bisexual and doted on his page, ahandsome young boy with fair skin. Sometimes, the governor wouldsleep with him at night. As the boy grew up, the governor gave himofficial titles till he was then a deputy general and the head of thegovernor's bodyguards. The deputy general often bullied people andextorted money from people. Official Yan always wanted to put himaway in jail, but didn't get a chance.
    Oneday, the deputy general trespassed into a house and raped and killeda girl in that family. The father sued him in Yan's yamen. Now Yanhad a reason to arrest him. So he went to the governor's yamen withhis guards. The governor hid his boyfriend, the deputy general, inthe back of his yamen. Official Yan asked to see the governor, butthe governor feigned sick and wouldn't come out to receive Yan. Oneof his bodyguards said to Yan, “When Governor get well, Governorwill come to see Your Excellency.” The governor had thought thatYan would go away and after things got cool off, he could save theskin of his boyfriend. But Yan said to the governor's bodyguard,“Governor will surely recover some day. I'd better wait here tillGovernor gets well.” He ordered his guards to fetch his sleepingbag and other necessary things from his own yamen. He stayed in thereceiving room of the governor's yamen for three days and managed hisown official business from there. It really looked bad to thegovernor, who asked the Judicial Official and his own privateadvisers to persuade Yan to leave, but Yan insisted that he shouldexecute the deputy general for the murder of the girl before he left.The governor had to come out to see Yan. The governor knelt beforeYan to implore him to spare the life of his boyfriend, the deputygeneral. The governor was Yan's immediate boss. So someone said thatit was not appropriate to let the governor kneel before him. Yanhelped the governor on his feet and promised to spare the life of hisboyfriend, but on one condition. As long as Yan could spare hisboyfriend's life, the governor would agree to any conditions. “What'sthe condition?” he asked. “He must be deported to his homevillage and Governor can never hire him again.” said Yan. Thegovernor consented to the condition and sent for the deputy general,who kowtowed to Yan for sparing his life. Yan ordered his guards togive him forty beatings before deporting him out of the province. Thegovernor was not a bad man, only a good-for-nothing. He didn't hateYan for that and never thought of revenge. On the contrary, herecommended him to West Empress Dowager, who then appointed Yan asthe governor of Shandong Province.

  6. #176
    Chapter 31


    Duringthe festivals, by tradition, the emperor, now the empress dowagers,would give food or other things to the royal relatives and closecourtiers. The eunuchs would run the errands. But by tradition, theeunuchs could not go out by the front gate of the Forbidden Cityunless they had a note from the Eunuch Management. Or they could onlygo through the side gates. Young eunuch Li was sent to the residenceof Prince Yihuan, the brother-in-law of West Empress Dowager and thenatural father of the present emperor Guangxu. Young eunuch Li walkedtowards the front gate, carrying some food in a container.
    “Stop!”A gate guard shouted.
    “What'sthe matter?” asked young eunuch Li.
    “Doyou know the rule?” The guard looked at him from head to toes.
    ”What'sthe rule?” Young eunuch Li asked indifferently.
    “Isthis the gate you think you can go through?” The guard held out hishand for a note. In his opinion, the eunuch should have produced anote by then.
    “Whycan't I? West Buddha send me on some mission.” (By that time, theempress dowagers were sometimes called Buddha. West Empress Dowagerwas called West Buddha and East Empress Dowager was called EastBuddha.)
    “Whateverthe reason, you can't go through this gate unless you have a note.”
    “Whatnote?” Young eunuch Li feigned ignorance. “I don't have a note.If you want a note, go to West Buddha for one.” The bickering wasso loud that the head gate guard heard it and came out of the guardhouse. He knew that if the guards let the eunuchs go out of the frontgate without a note, they would be accused of the negligence of theirduties. But he also knew that since young eunuch Li was sent by WestEmpress Dowager, he didn't want to offend him. So he advised him togo back and get a note. But young eunuch Li wouldn't do that. Quite afew eunuchs, if not everyone, who worked for West Empress Dowager,was always unreasonable and acted like they were the representativesof West Empress Dowager and others must listen to them. But the gateguards had their obligations. Young eunuch Li wanted to dash out andthe guards had to stop him. He then upset the food containerpurposefully and let the food fall out in a mess. Then he ran back toWest Empress Dowager as fast as a rabbit. He even lied that theguards had beaten him. When West Empress Dowager was told that thefront guards wouldn't let young eunuch Li go out and upset the foodcontainer, she got infuriated and ordered Judicial Ministry to arrestthese guards and put them to death.

  7. #177
    InJudicial Ministry, there were eight middle-rank officials, who werefamiliar with all sorts of laws. They were upright and acted by thebook. So their colleagues called them the Eight Saints. This case wastheir responsibilities. When the minister told them what West EmpressDowager had instructed, one of them said, “If Empress Dowager wantto execute them, Empress Dowager can directly execute them. Now itbecomes a case in Judicial Ministry, we must judge it by the law.”
    “Whatwill be the verdict in your opinion?” The minister asked modestly.
    “Notguilty.” was the answer. The minister was in a fix. How could hereport to West Empress Dowager? Another of the Eight Saints said, “Inthis case, we must not only try the guards, but also try the eunuch.”Still another of the eight Saints told the minister a story from HanDynasty. (Almost two thousand years ago.) Someone stole a jadeornament from the mausoleum of the emperor's ancestors. By the law ofHan Dynasty, such a crime was the sentence of death, but the emperorwas not contented and wanted to execute the whole household of theculprit. This was the severest punishment in every dynasty. So thesupreme judge asked the emperor what punishment the emperor couldinflict on a traitor since the severest penalty was imposed on athief. So the emperor agreed with the supreme judge. The ministerdecided to tell West Empress Dowager the story when he saw WestEmpress Dowager next time. But next time when he was summoned to thepresence of West Empress Dowager, she didn't let him speak andreproved him all the time till she felt tired and bade him to go. Shehad said that the offense of the guards was to resist the order ofthe empress dowagers and deserved the death sentence. It should becomprehended like that since young eunuch Li had been sent by theempress dowagers and the guards had refused to let him go out tocarry out the order of the empress dowagers, the guards had actedagainst the order of the empress dowagers. But there was not such anarticle in any law. The minister had to sentence the guards to bebanished out of the capital. But West Empress Dowager was notsatisfied. The minister had to delay the judgment of the case.

  8. #178
    Whenthis case was not finally settled yet, another surprising event tookplace. A middle-aged outsider was found wandering near where WestEmpress Dowager lived. This was very serious. What if this strangerwere an assassin? So the stranger was detained and put into the jailof Judicial Ministry. The stranger looked like a retard. So anytorment or threat might not work if they wanted the truth how hecould have been in the Forbidden City. An official of JudicialMinistry went to his cell and treated him as a guest and let him eatand drink, then asked him questions like they were having a chitchat.The retard said that a eunuch, who lived next door to him, had takenhim into that big place and left him to roam all by himself. Theminister reported it to Yixin first. Yixin ordered him to get to thebottom of it lest more serious things should happen later. So theeunuch was taken into custody and questioned. Under a little torture,he confessed everything. Young eunuch Li had persuaded him to bringin the retard to make believe that the gate guards always disregardedtheir duties. Therefore, young eunuch Li was hauled in. Now theverdict of Judicial Ministry was that the guards were expelled fromthe post, the eunuchs were exiled and the retard was hanged.

  9. #179
    Whenthe result was reported to West Empress Dowager, she insisted thatthe punishment of the guards should be more severe. So the EightSaints found the relevant articles in the law book and copied them,handing in for West Empress Dowager to read. After that, West EmpressDowager loosened a bit, no longer persisting in death sentence. Butshe wanted the penalty stricter than that on the verdict. Then a newverdict was issued that the guards were exiled to the remote provincein the cold north. When it was known publicly, many critiqueofficials thought this was not fair. So quite a few reports came tothe attention of West Empress Dowager. One of the reports reasoned,?he case was not that the guards could not ask the eunuchs to show anote of being allowed to exit. It was that the guards should notbehave improperly in the Forbidden City. Now it seemed that theguards should not ask to see such a note from the eunuchs. What? whya retarded stranger was brought in by a eunuch and no guards dared tosay anything to it. If that? what the verdict manifested, what? theuse to station the guards at the gates? To the eunuchs, it seems noguards at all, though guards do stand there on guard. Thus, how canthe guards keep the Forbidden City safe? The eunuchs should bedisciplined. A punishment of exile is often for a real crime. Ifguards got such a punishment just for doing their duties, what willpeople say when they read the verdict? This Critique Official thinkthat it must be a mistake made by Judicial Ministry, not theintention of the empress dowagers. This Critique Official beg thatthe empress dowagers correct this mistake so that people know thatthe empress dowagers are always fair and just. The result was thatthe guards were only dismissed from the post.

  10. #180
    Chapter 32


    Zaizhen,son of Yixin, was really a dandy. Before the demise of EmperorTongzhi, he had had to go into the Forbidden City to study togetherwith the emperor. Now Emperor Tongzhi was gone, he didn't need to gothere any more. He began to fool away his time everyday in theteahouse, in the restaurant, in the theater, or even in thewhorehouse. He had a few concubines, but they lived separately, awayfrom his main residence, which was his father's, not really his. Inold China, many generations lived together. But he didn't dare tobring his concubines into his father's residence, because he got allthese concubines without Yixin's assent. So he either bought orrented a house for each of his concubines. Some concubines hadchildren with him, but Yixin disowned them as his grandchildren,because it would make things complicated. If Yixin owned that theywere his grandchildren, the male children should be conferred somehonorary titles plus other things due to their legal status. Ifotherwise, they could get nothing legally. One of his concubines wasthe wife of a duke. She was known as Lady Kui.
    DukeKui was a good-for-nothing. Lady Kui was the boss in the family. Shecontrolled everything. She dealt with everything that happened. DukeKui lived an idle life and was afraid of his wife. Lady Kui liked togo to public places, mixing with the throngs and letting other youngmen admire her beauty. (She was still young.) One market day, therewas a gathering in the square before a temple. Lady Kui went therewith her maid. After she worshiped the Buddha in the temple, sheloitered among the vendors to look at their things displayed on theground. Vendors at that time didn't have booths or carts. Theycarried their goods in baskets or boxes. Some vendors would spread apiece of cloth on the ground and put their merchandise on the clothfor a better show. When Lady Kui felt weary at noon, she went into ateahouse on the roadside. Teahouses sold snacks too. While she satthere, sipping tea, a young man came in, ensued by some servants. Theyoung man was handsome, and for the good guess, in early twenties,and looked like born with a silver spoon in the mouth. He sat at atable, sweeping his eyes across all the female faces till he frozehis gaze on the visage of Lady Kui, who turned away to avoid hisstare. “Your Ladyship.' Suddenly she heard herself accosted. Sheturned about and saw a servant smiling and bowing to her. “HisEsquire (Denoting his master, the young man.) invite Your Ladyship tothat table.” Lady Kui was surprised and resented the brassboldness. “I don't know His Esquire.” She said with a scorn andturned away once more.

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