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The Boxer Rising page 4

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When the Imperial Commissioner brought the death warrant to Prince Chiang, he searched the premises for an empty room in which he hung a silken cord, and then led the Prince to the spot. The Prince was sarcastic. "Your Excellency has indeed made excellent arrangements." But he put the cord quickly round his neck and swung himself to his death.

The Boxer leader whose punishment was most desired by the Allies was Governor Yu Hsien, the "Chinese Nero." The first order which the Empress Dowager had made against him was one of banishment; but death was still demanded. He was a sick old man, just setting out for his place of banishment, when he received the news that he was to be decapitated. But he took his fate with calmness. "I slew others; now it is my turn," he said, not realising that he was in effect quoting the Christian Scriptures which say that he who takes the sword shall perish by the sword; and that he who doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done; and there is no respect of persons.

"But why should I regret death?" asked he. "There is now no thought in my mind except the hope that my death may be as glorious as my life has been honest" And in truth the bloodthirsty old man had lived an honest life. No charge of dishonesty was ever brought against his administration. He died bravely. Afterwards his fellow-countrymen erected a shrine in honour of the man who had protected them from the hated foreigner; but this, in deference to the Allies, was removed.

Even the Empress Dowager was made to proclaim her errors. She blamed her magistrates for not holding justice between the foreigners and the Chinese, producing a state which offered an opportunity for the Boxers. This decree - issued in the name of the Emperor - also contained the quaint phrase, "We would have the Allies bear in mind that when our Imperial Chariot departed in haste from the Forbidden City the moaning of the wind and the cry of the heron seemed to our startled ears as the tramp of the advancing enemy."

But the acts of penance were not yet over. A mission had also to be sent to Germany to apologise for the murder of the German minister. The Prince in charge was well received by the Kaiser, who had conveniently forgotten his phrase about "No quarter."

But it was all over at last. And in time the Empress Dowager herself passed away, believing in herself in death as she had done in life, confident in the future of her Celestial Empire, and in her own high destinies in the Celestial World to come.

But her life-story offers one excellent reason why China is to-day a Republic.

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