China Only Yesterday, 1850-1950: A Century of Change

By Emily Hahn | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven

Ch'i-ying had been out of favor since the old Emperor's death. He had incurred the wrath of a number of officials by indiscreetly suggesting that they were redundant, whereupon they persuaded the new Emperor to denounce him and allege that he "oppressed the people to please foreigners," as well as exaggerating the threat of British strength. Since then the old Manchu had lived quietly. No doubt he was pleased at this chance to get back into the swim. He would never have been rash enough to point out, much less rub in, that he had been right after all about the British, but that fact hadn't escaped the observation of several nobles who now sponsored his appointment. Ch'i-ying went to join the other Commissioners in Tientsin, Kuei-liang and Hua-sha-na, who were not pleased that they should be subordinate to this newcomer. Kuei-liang, a Manchu, happened to be father-in-law to Prince Kung, a half-brother of the Emperor: he got on to Prince Kung, who promptly wrote a strong protest against the arrangement and sent it to the Emperor. Barbarians were naturally insatiable, he declared, and Ch'i-ying had never been firm enough with them: "in Ch'i-ying's previous handling of barbarian affairs, if he did not humble himself to give in to them, he mumbled what was taken for consent, feared barbarians like tigers and treated the people like grass, and brought about a great disaster with evil consequences to the present." The Prince went on sarcastically, as his rank permitted him, that if submission to the barbarians was the Emperor's wish the other two Commissioners could be as submissive as necessary, without Ch'i-ying's help. Whereas if that wasn't the aim of the exercise, Ch'i-ying of all people was not the man to be trusted to put up resistance.

This objection, even when bolstered by Kuei-liang's and Huasha-na's and other dissenting voices which spoke of Ch'i-ying's

-107-

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