Sun Yat-Sen His Life and Its Meaning: A Critical Biography

By Lyon Sharman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
The Defeat of Optimism

1. THE CREST OF THE WAVE

SUN YAT-SEN was never more admirable in personality and character than at the time the revolution was realized. His better self speaks without hesitation from every picture of the period. An unsuspicious optimism softens the face, whose strength is struggleborn. The slightly pompous but determined tilt of the head backward suggests that what he had won he had fought for, and meant to preserve. The weakness of his mouth is a secret in the keeping of his twirled mustache. His countenance is suffused with ethical earnestness, a little too consciously cherished. Stubborn of jowl but beneficent of expression; of good will toward men but stiff-necked toward misguided men; his qualities are at their best balance.

An impression of him, penned in 1911, describes him as

A man of medium height, slight but wiry . . . forty-five years old. He speaks good English. He is very quiet and reserved in manner, and extremely moderate, cautious and thoughtful in speech. He gives the impression of being rather a sound and thorough than a brilliant man, rather a thinker than a man of action. 1

A large deputation of admirers met Sun Yat-sen at the steamer when he arrived at Shanghai on Dec. 24, 1911. They were photographed with him on the ship before his landing. His third and last world tour was over. For the past three years he had been seeking out his overseas countrymen wherever they could be found in groups; he had been patiently indoctrinating them with his

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