The Boxer Uprising: A Background Study

By Victor Purcell | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A
CHING-SHAN'S 'DIARY'

This 'diary' first came to public notice in China Under the Empress Dowager, by J. O. P. Bland and E. Backhouse, published in London in 1910. Chapter XVII is entitled 'The Diary of His Excellency Ching Shan' and is prefaced by a note by the authors giving a summary of Ching-shan's career and adding a statement that 'the Diary was found by the translator in the private study of Ching-shan's house on 18 August 1900, and saved in the nick of time from being burnt by a party of Sikhs. Many of the entries [the note continues] which cover the period from January to August, 1900, refer to trivial and uninteresting matters.' Before that of I June 1900 the only entries translated are those of 25, 30, and 31 January.

This document is no longer regarded as genuine, but the circumstances relating to its fabrication and discovery are of some historical interest, although the mystery attaching to them has not yet been dispelled.

In Acta Orientalia ( III, 1924) the late Professor J. J. L. Duyvendak undertook a new translation of the diary since he felt that that given in Bland and Backhouse was 'to judge from the very fluency of the English... probably rather free', and, in the light of the examination by him of the original manuscript deposited in the British Museum by Mr Bland, incomplete. Duyvendak found that the MS., consisting of thirty-eight pages of very unequal length, was bound together in a linen cover. The binding had been so badly done and the proper sequence of the pages had been so upset that he had to re-order them by the dating of the entries.

Professor Duyvendak in his introduction called attention to the number of discrepancies between the account of the diary in Bland and Backhouse and the results of his own examination, but he does not seem at this juncture to have entertained any doubts as to the genuineness of the diary. He notes, inter alia, that in spite of the statement of Bland and Backhouse that Ching-shan 'gives a full account of the rise and spread of the Boxer movement, describing in detail their magic rites, their incantations, and their ceremonies of initiation', nothing of the

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