Page 4 of 4 FirstFirst 1234
Results 31 to 40 of 40

Thread: EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI

  1. #31
    MilitaryMinistry took charge of all the war business. It would make all thenecessary preparations for a war, including to suggest who could bethe generals for armies, what were the best strategies to use, whichshould be discussed among all the high-rank officials and officersand then be approved by the emperor. Since war was a life and deathbusiness and the empire was staked on it, the emperor made the finaldecisions for everything concerning the war. This ministry would bein joint efforts with the Internal Revenue Ministry to supply thearmies with equipment and provisions. In the peaceful time, it wouldlook over how the local garrison troops worked and would trainrecruits to replace those not fit any more to fight.
    JudicialMinistry made all kinds of laws, which would be discussed among allthe high-rank officials and then be approved by the emperor. Itwould interpret laws and try cases concerning government officialsand officers. If common people wanted to bring in a lawsuit againstan official to the Judicial Ministry, he or she must go through afatal procedure to prove that he or she had nowhere else to go forjustice. A piece of wood was put before the gate of the ministrybuilding with the sharp ends of the nails upward on it. He or shemust throw himself and herself on it. If he or she was not deadafter that, the judicial minister would accept the lawsuit. Butoften, he or she would wear enough thick clothes to do that, even insummer time. This was allowed. The ministry didn't accept lawsuitsof common people against other common people.
    Theduties of Construction Ministry were to build new structures and fixold ones that belonged to the central government within the capital. Although its power was limited, it had extra money to be embezzled. The approved budget for the building was always much higher than thereal cost. It's the same everywhere, the same anytime through thehistory, and will remain the same till the remotest future. Thegovernment is always like a gigantic cake and everyone around itthinks that he has a right to bite a morsel from it. The greedy oneswill have two morsels or more.

  2. #32
    Besidesthese six ministries, there were some departments in the centralgovernment. The Critique Department had the responsibilities towatch that no officials and officers did anything wrong and againstlaws. If they came to know or hear of such wrong doings, they couldsend in critique reports to the emperor. They were even assigned theright to criticize the emperor himself if he did something againstetiquette rules or laws. The positions in that department could notbe bought. Only those who had passed the final test in the capitalwere entitled to such appointments. Since all the officials in thatdepartment were deemed scholars, they wrote their critique reports ingreat endeavors for the beautiful wording that sometimes the wordinggave the emperor a deep impression even if he didn't agree to theopinions. The impression would inevitably imprint the name of thewriter on the mind of the emperor and later when the emperor neededsomebody to fill a certain position, the name would pop up first. Besides that advantage, those who could write better-worded reportswere more esteemed among the scholars and had hereby more influence.So those so-called scholars would not condescend to mingle with theofficials who had bought their titles, which created ill feelingsamong the latter.
    Therewas a Supreme Court, which would try all cases that came its way. The head judge was lower in rank than the ministers and the headcritique official. If there was a specially important case, liketreason of a high official or officer, it should be tried by thethree heads: the judicial minister, the head critique official andthe head judge in the supreme court building. The huge courtroom hada big long table put in the center near the back wall. The judge satbehind it on a chair. If three heads were present in a special case,three chairs were put behind the long table. Sometimes three smallertables were placed there instead of a big long one. Some tortureequipments were displayed along both sidewalls and the prison policestood in two rows on either side before the long table. When aprisoner was being brought in, a threatening sound was issued inunison from the policemen standing straight there: huuuuuuuuuuweiiiiiiiiii----till the prisoner was on his knees before the longtable. Then the trial began. Usually the prisoner would claim hisinnocence, but sometimes he really didn't commit the alleged crime.But in either case, since the judge couldn't be sure that theprisoner was innocent or guilty, he invariably ordered the tortureequipment used. The first torture for a man was the beating on hisbare butts with a thick wooden stick. How many beatings he would getdepended on the mood of the judge or the seriousness of the offense. Generally thirty to a hundred. Often the prisoner would bleed on thebutts. But the first torment for a woman was slaps on the face witha leather piece shaped like a hand. If the judge was not satisfiedwith the prisoner's confession, if any, a second torment would beadministered. For a man, it was two long pieces of wood with ropeson both ends. The prisoner's forelegs were put between the twowooden pieces. When the ropes were tightened on both ends, therewould be sharp pain on the shins, which could even be broken whenreally pressed hard. For a woman, it was ten short wooden stickswith ropes connected, looking like toy fences. The woman's eightfingers were put in, each between two sticks. Then the ropes weretightened. The pain on the fingers for a woman was also unbearable.Under such tortures, even the innocent would repeat whatever thejudge wanted him or her to confess. If the prisoner was a high-rankofficial or officer, the judge was prohibited to use tortures and hemust produce evidence. Even if the judge made the verdict, it shouldbe approved by the emperor, who could change any verdict, even deathsentence, as a special favor.
    Sincemany foreign countries established their legations in Peking, theQing government had to have set up a new department to deal withforeign governments. On January 13, 1861, Prince Yixin sent in areport from Peking to the Summer Palace, requesting the setup of theForeign Affairs Yamen. On January 20, the emperor approved it. Itshead was always a prince. And now Prince Yixin was the head.

  3. #33
    Chapter 8


    Sincethe Secretarial Bureau was set up, many decisions had been made bythe secretaries instead of the prime ministers and ministers, whoformed the Cabinet, and all the orders or statements must be issuedthrough the Cabinet. The Secretarial Bureau acted only as theemperor? private consulting office and it was not part of the centralgovernment. The emperor gave power to the Secretarial Bureau, not tothe Cabinet. But a secretary could be simultaneously a primeminister, a minister or even one ranking lower in the officialposition than a minister. Now only four secretaries followed theemperor to the Summer Palace.
    Butthe emperor still needed to read all the reports sent in by thecourtiers in Peking or the governors in all the provinces,twenty-three in all at that time. He must make decisions and gavewritten orders when required. As his health deteriorated due totuberculosis, he coughed blood and easily got tired. He letConcubine Yan read the reports for him, and for minor things even lether make the decisions. Concubine Yan was a woman of talent andambition, aspiring after power. This supplied her with an excellentopportunity to get familiar with the procedures how to handle thestate affairs a useful practice to prepare her for her politicalcareer later.
    Theancestors of Qing Dynasty had had instructions written to forbidwomen to interfere in politics. But Emperor Xianfeng had developed aheadache whenever he had to read those sad reports. He had to havesomeone to help him read them and Concubine Yan seemed to be the mostsuitable person to do it at the time. When he felt a little better,he would sit up on the bed with stack of pillows behind his back andhead, watching Concubine Yan reading. In that peaceful moment, hewould munch some pieces of fruit cut for him by Concubine Li. If notfor his bad health, if not for the rebellion in the southernprovinces, if not for the foreigners who had driven him out of hispalace in the capital, he would enjoy life better, with one beautytaking over his tedious daily task of reading the reports and withanother beauty serving his food. After a while the emperor began tonotice that Concubine Yan showed great interest and zeal in politicalaffairs. She sometimes even suggested some solutions, which might begood, but was not appropriate from a woman. He became aware that shewas not a mediocre woman like the queen. He suspected that she mightseize power after his death as an empress dowager, because her sonwould succeed to the throne. (The rule in Qing Dynasty was that whenthe son became the emperor, the natural mother must be the empressdowager, no matter who she was or what status she was in.) At firsthe wanted to execute her for the safety of the empire, but he thoughtof his son, who was only six then. Such a small child should have amother to look after him. Besides, he knew by then that the youngerbrother Sushun was also a man of ambition and might do something evilto his son when he died. He himself could control Sushun, but hisson was too young to stand up against him if Sushun wanted to usurpthe throne. He would let Concubine Yan contend with him and defendtheir son. Only he should think of a way to restrain Concubine Yan. And he got one now. He was really pleased with himself for coming upwith such a good strategy.

  4. #34
    Exceptfor the emperor, the younger brother became the most powerful man inthe empire, even before the Second Opium War, because the emperoralways listened to him, and what the emperor did was really what hewanted to do. He wanted to establish his authority, wanted othercourtiers to be afraid of him. By what? By killing.
    Sushunhanded in a report, saying that Qinying must be executed immediately. In 1856, the joint foreign armies occupied the Bay of Dagukou andcommenced to attack Tianjin City. The emperor sent Qinying tonegotiate with the foreigners. But he came back to the capitalwithout fulfilling the task, not even asking for the emperor'sapproval to return. The emperor was really angry. Prince Yixin, hisbrother, proposed to hang Qinying next autumn. (Qing Dynasty oftenexecuted prisoners in autumn.) But Sushun insisted that Qinyingshould be executed at once to set an example for other courtiers sothat no one dared to do such things later. So the emperor commandedQinying to die by his own hand. (Generally by hanging or drinkingpoison, which was deemed better than being beheaded publicly.)
    Nextwas another courtier, Paijun, who had offended Sushun before. In1858, Paijun was appointed the chief examiner in charge of thegovernment exam. Since Tang Dynasty, every subsequent dynasty hadheld government exams to select future officials. This was a veryimportant event. It happened that an actor passed the exam, rankingthe seventh place. The regulations then inhibited actors to takesuch exams, because they were considered among the lowest caste insocial status. The emperor got furious and ordered Sushun toinvestigate. Now he got a chance to revenge. The result of theinvestigation revealed that many officials handling this examinationhad accepted briberies, though no evidence showed that Paijun did it. But the actor got his wish through a servant to his concubine, whopersuaded Paijun to let the actor pass the exam. Therefore, Paijunwas guilty of breaking the rules. Everyone of the officials gotcertain punishment according to the degree of his offense. Paijun,as the head examiner, was executed at the insistence of Sushun. Manysuch things occurred. So Sushun made a lot of enemies.

  5. #35
    Thesons of the emperor were habitually called Brother. If the emperorhad quite a few sons, they would be called by seniority as FirstBrother, Second Brother, etc. If one of them was made the successorto the throne, he would be called Big Brother. It didn't matter ifhe was the oldest one or not. Now Emperor Xianfeng had only one son. The son would definitely be the successor. So he was called BigBrother. Six years old was the right age to start learning. If theemperor had more than one son, all the sons would form a class tostudy. But as now Big Brother had no brothers, he himself was thesole pupil in the class. It was very significant to choose suitabletutors for the future emperor, particularly to choose the head tutor,who would greatly influence the young son. He must be a greatscholar with a known great character, and no blemishes whatsoever onit. Generally the head tutor was selected from among Zhuangyuans,the winners of all the former tests. At length, the emperor decidedon Li Hongzao, who met all the requirements. When the emperorreceived Li Hongzao, he assigned him with the honorable task. Afterhe left, the emperor wanted to give him some gifts as the traditiondemanded. The emperor took up a brush and spread out a piece ofpaper. As he was about to write down the items, Sushun, standing atthe emperor's side at that time, dictated, two scrolls of silk, tenbrushes, . . . as if he were the emperor and the emperor were hissecretary. When the emperor finished writing, Sushun took the listand went to get the things for Head Tutor Li. But as they were nowin the Summer Palace, there were not many courtiers who could bechosen as proper tutors. So for now the boy had only one tutor. When he got back in the Forbidden City, he would have more tutorswith Tutor Li as the head tutor.
    Thenthe emperor sent for his son and told him to study hard and some suchthings. The boy of six just nodded and blinked. It seemed as if hisfather's instructions were quite beyond his head. When the boy wentto see the queen, she told him simply, ?on't be naughty. Respect andlisten to your tutor.The boy replied, ?kay.Early next morning, theeunuch, Zhang Wenliang, who was assigned to look after the boy, wokehim up and dressed him formally. He took the boy first to see theemperor, then to see the queen, to let them see if everything aboutthe boy was all right. (Everyone, including the emperor and thequeen, went to bed early and rose early by habit.) Then Jingshou, theemperor's brother-in-law, came and took the boy by hand to the study,followed by the eunuch Zhang.
    Whenthey arrived, Tutor Li was already there, standing before the door ofthe study. As they got in, first, Tutor Li kowtowed to the boy, thefuture emperor. Then Jingshou told the boy to kowtow to the tutor.(It's the traditional ritual.) But Tutor Li refused to accept it,saying, ? prince can't kowtow to a courtier. (The emperor's son wasof course a prince by birth.) At that, Jingshou told the boy to makea bow instead. So the boy bowed to Tutor Li and Tutor Li acceptedit. There were two desks in the room, one for the boy and the otherfor the tutor. Jingshou sat on a chair at one side of the room andseveral assistant tutors stood in a row at the other side.

  6. #36
    Bothtaking the seat, Tutor Li said to the boy, ? made a schedule for you. If you finish it early, you can leave early. Is that all right toyou?The boy said, ?kay.Tutor Li said, ?ood. You must come early inthe morning, beginning with learning how to use a bow and arrows,then for some Mandarin language. Finally we'll read a book andpractice writing Chinese characters.He turned to the assistanttutors, ?ow take him to learn what you'll teach him.”
    Theassistant tutors were from the Mandarin Clan. They would teach theboy the archery and the Mandarin language. Though the Mandarin Clanwas in a ruling position, they found that if they wanted to rule thebig country, the large population of the Han Clan, efficiently, theymust learn the Han language?he Chinese language, which was the basiclesson for the children of the Mandarin Clan. The emperor'sbrother-in-law was in charge of the boy's education as a whole andwould watch over every step of the progress. So he went with the boyto see how he would practice the bow and arrows, both of which wereparticularly made for his small size. After the archery lesson, theycame back into the study. Today the brother-in-law wanted to teachthe boy the Mandarin language himself. Then Tutor Li took over andbegan the main course. In the old time, they always taught a book byConfucius. They didn;t even care whether the pupils understood ornot. They just made the pupils read the text, learn it by heart andrecite it next time when they came. They simply thought that thepupils would understand when they grew up.
    Thebooks, either hand-copied or printed, were difficult to read, becausethere were no punctuation. The pupils didn't know where to stop for asentence. The tutor must read to them first to show them where tostop. Then he let the pupils read the texts themselves. It got to bea while to mark the full stops of the sentences. So at first thelearning process was slow. On the first day, Tutor Li only taughtthe boy how to read a couple of sentences and how to write a coupleof Chinese characters with a brush. The handling of a brush was alsonot easy. A pupil must sit straight and hold the brush upright at adistance of a foot and a half right before his nose. He must copythe examples on the tablets written by famous ancient calligraphers. If he aimed to be an excellent calligrapher, he must practice thebrush moves with a small cup with water in it put between the thumband the forefinger of the hand holding the brush. When he moved thebrush, the water in the small cup was not allowed to spill. Itsounded like an acrobatic. But the son of the emperor was justtaught the basic skills, given that he wouldn't be a calligrapher.

  7. #37
    Chapter 9


    SinceConcubine Yan had such a strong desire for power, she must find someallies. At first she sent someone to approach Sushun, but he alwaysdespised women. Her sheep's eyes cast to him were ignored. Concubine Yan was greatly disappointed in and even infuriated withhim. He got himself a terrible foe without knowing it.
    Thenshe approached Prince Yixin, the emperor's brother, who was moretalented than the emperor. The emperor often feared that his brotherwould some day usurp his throne. It was all because of Yixin'smother, a royal concubine of the late emperor. The present Emperorwas Xianfeng's father. Emperor Xianfeng's mother, the queen, haddied not long after his birth. So the late emperor had given him tothe care of Yixin's mother. The two children, two years apart, hadstudied together, played together and grown up together. Therelationship between them had been closer than that among othersiblings. Emperor Xianfeng was the fourth son of the late emperor andYixin was the sixth. Among the royal family members, he was calledOld Six, but his younger brothers called him Sixth Brother. When theold emperor had died, Emperor Xianfeng had succeeded to the throne. Since Yixin's mother was not the queen, she had been called RoyalConcubine Dowager. For several times, Yixin had asked the emperor toconfer to his mother the title of the empress dowager, but theemperor had declined, saying that it was against the etiquette rules,though such rules had always been changed throughout history. WhenYixin's mother had been seriously sick, the emperor often went tovisit her. On her death bed, in her last moments when the emperorwent to see her again, she had mistaken him for her own son Yixin. She said, ?ake care of yourself when I'm gone. The throne shouldhave been yours.Hearing those words, the emperor was not happy andfrom then on he started to estrange Yixin, afraid that his brotherwould some day usurp his throne. So he always prevented his brotherfrom getting into any power. Being talented, though usurpation nevercame across his mind, Yixin wished to use his talents to serve theempire, to perform some great deeds. He didn't want to live like agood-for-nothing.
    Nowas the empire was facing the danger of further invasion, Yixin was atlast appointed in charge of the negotiation with the foreigninvaders. After a lot of bargaining, a treaty was signed. Then theinvading armies withdrew from the capital. Yixin sent in a report tothe emperor, requesting that the emperor return to Peking since peacewas restored. But the emperor found an excuse for himself: he wastoo sick to travel in the cold weather. There was at least sometruth in it.

  8. #38
    Theonly person Sushun feared was Yixin. He had a finger in theemperor's alienation of his brother. He knew that if the emperor hadtrusted in Yixin, he wouldn? have had the power as he had now. So arumor had started to spread that Yixin wanted to usurp the throne. Even another brother of Emperor Xianfeng, the fifth son of the lateemperor, believed in it and had mentioned it to Emperor Xianfeng. Soevery time when Yixin asked to come to the Summer Palace for a visit,the emperor declined, saying that it was more important for Yixin tostay in the capital.
    Nowas the rumor about the emperor's health went around, everyone had totake into serious consideration his interests, his future, and hisfate. For the officialdom was a dangerous place. The ups and downs,life and death, were determined in just a few moments. Yixin had twofaithful followers, like his two hands. Wenqiang was a secretary ofstate, the only secretary who didn't follow the emperor to the SummerPalace. He wanted to stay in the capital to assist Yixin to dealwith the foreign aggressors. Baojun was the other person, who wasthe head of the Royal Family Affairs Management. But the emperordidn't like him for two things. First, as he was the head of theRoyal Family Affairs Management in charge of the imperial residences,he should have sent in a report of self-criticism and asked forpunishment when the Round-Bright Garden had been burnt, but he hadjust handed in a report of statement about the conflagration, nothingelse. It was because the emperor had already ordered him to give upthe keys to The Round-Bright Garden to another head of the RoyalFamily Affairs Management. Therefore, he hadn't begged forpunishment as he had thought that it was no longer in hisresponsibility. However, the emperor had given him a demotion. Buta while later he had been restored to his former position as Yixinhad mentioned to the emperor that he had done something to deserve areward. A reward could offset a punishment. So he got back to thesquare he had been in. He was so intimate with Yixin that he couldeven joke with him. The second reason the emperor disliked him wasthat as soon as the emperor reached the Summer Palace, he had orderedBaojun to send over two hundred thousand taels of silver for therepair of the Summer Palace, but somehow he hadn't sent the money, orhe hadn't had any money on hand at all. Sushun disliked him, too, ashe was Yixin's follower.

  9. #39
    Inthe Secretarial Bureau, there were clerical officials to help thesecretaries with their clerical work, like drafting an order for theemperor, a report to the emperor, a reply to any official or officerwho had sent in a report and required a reply, or copying anemperor's order in a formal writing style, then getting it dispatchedto anywhere it should go. They couldn't make any decisions, but theyhad all the inside information. So they were the popular ones in thewhole officialdom. The clerical officials were divided into twoshifts, because if emergency arose, clerical assistance would beneeded even in the midnight. Zao Yueying was the head clericalofficial in the daytime shift. He was secretly a follower of Yixin. So Yixin knew everything that happened in the Summer Palace.
    Wenqiangwas a man of talent and patience. Based on the information sent byZao, the head clerical official, he made up a strategy for Yixin.Yixin shouldn't do anything obvious yet to rouse the suspicion ofSushun, but he could make any necessary preparations on the sly. Themost important thing in the politics, in the power fight, was thesupport of armies. Sushun had the command of two thousand emperor'sbodyguards in the Summer Palace. Yixin should get some commanders ofarmies on his side. The ideal candidate was Commander Shengbao. Whenthe joint foreign troops had advanced toward Peking, CommanderShengbao had been assigned the task to defend the capital. He hadfought a battle against the foreign troops, but had been defeated. Accordingly to the martial law, he would have been severely punished,but as the emperor had already escaped to the Summer Palace and Yixinhad been put in charge of all the things in the capital, CommanderShengbao had got away with only a slap on his wrist under Yixin'sprotection. So he was grateful to Yixin for it. Besides, he hatedSushun for his arrogance and hauteur. Now in Yixin's name, Wenqianghad a letter written to him with a hint of the emperor? healthproblem and Sushun's avarice for absolute power. The letter servedas a red rag to a bull. But Commander Shengbao was ascholar-commander and had brains, though he had also a quick temper.A scholar-commander was originally a scholar, and was later appointeda commander of armies. Commander Shengbao was proud of himself thathe could write beautifully and could fight, too.

  10. #40
    Chapter 10


    Whatthe emperor mostly did in the Summer Palace was to watch performancesof Peking Operas, which, when in the Forbidden City, he could do onlyon certain occasions like for celebration of birthdays or festivals.
    Therewere three stages in the Summer Palace. The frequently-used one wasclose to the living quarters of the emperor. The emperor liked tohave many people accompanying him when he was watching the operas. The queen didn't like some of the operas, especially the one with ayoung nun stealing out of the nunnery and a young monk climbing overthe wall of the temple. They met at the foot of the mountain andflirted with each other. The queen thought it was against the moralconceptions, but the emperor loved it because it was really fun whenthe two actors performed the flirting actions in a ridiculous way.(At that time there were no actresses yet. Female parts were actedby actors in female costumes.) At that, the queen kept whispering toherself, ?t's sinful. It's sinful. Pardon us, Buddha. Pardon us,Buddha.”
    Butshe had her favorite opera, which was acted by young boys about theage of ten. When the performance finished, the chief actor wasbrought to the queen? presence. The actor kowtowed to the queen, whopatted his head and gave him two taels of gold out of her own purse.
    ConcubineYan loved another opera with the owner of an inn and a sick lodger. Since the man lodged in the inn, he had fallen sick and spent all hismoney on medicine and rent and food. Though he was recovered now, hecould not leave the inn without paying the owner for what he owed tohim. The owner said all sorts of nasty things about him and to him. He had to swallow the bitter fruit of humiliation. At long last hehad to pawn his weapon and sell his horse. He had been on his way tojoin the army. She thought that Sushun was very much like the innowner in behavior, always nasty to people.
    Theemperor was happy these days, because the military reports said thatall the rebellious troops were surrounded and the final victory wouldsoon be due. Besides, it would soon be his birthday. To please theemperor, Sushun was preparing a celebration in the Summer Palace. The celebration would last for three days with the birthday arrangedon the second day. The day before the birthday was to warm thecelebration so that the next day could get really hot. And the thirdday was to get things to cool down a little so that everything wouldbe normal again after the three days' celebration. If it weren't forthe rebellion in the southern provinces and the foreign invasion, thecelebration might last for ten days.

Page 4 of 4 FirstFirst 1234

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •