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Old 09-08-2018
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in other words...war is politics by other means.
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The Awakening of China

By W. A. P. MARTIN, D.D., LL.D

Formerly President of the Chinese Imperial University

Author of "A Cycle of Cathay," "The Siege
in Peking," "The Lore of Cathay," etc.


China is the theatre of the greatest movement now taking place on the face of the globe. In comparison with it, the agitation in Russia shrinks to insignificance; for it is not political, but social. Its object is not a changed dynasty, nor a revolution in the form of government; but, with higher aim and deeper motive, it promises nothing short of the complete renovation of the oldest, most populous, and most conservative of empires. Is there a people in either hemisphere that can afford to look on with indifference?

When, some thirty years ago, Japan adopted the outward forms of Western civilisation, her action was regarded by many as a stage trick—a sort of travesty employed for a temporary purpose. But what do they think now, when they see cabinets and chambers of commerce compelled to reckon with the British of the North Pacific? The awakening of Japan's huge neighbour promises to yield results equally startling and on a vastly extended scale.

Political agitation, whether periodic like the tides or unforeseen like the hurricane, is in general superficial and temporary; but the social movement in China has its origin in subterranean forces such as raise continents from the bosom of the deep. To explain those forces is the object of the present work.

It is the fascination of this grand spectacle that has Page vi brought me back to China, after a short visit to my native land—and to this capital, after a sojourn of some years in the central provinces. Had the people continued to be as inert and immobile as they appeared to be half a century ago, I might have been tempted to despair of their future. But when I see them, as they are to-day, united in a firm resolve to break with the past, and to seek new life by adopting the essentials of Western civilisation, I feel that my hopes as to their future are more than half realised; and I rejoice to help their cause with voice and pen.

Their patriotism may indeed be tinged with hostility to foreigners; but will it not gain in breadth with growing intelligence, and will they not come to perceive that their interests are inseparable from those of the great family into which they are seeking admission?

Every day adds its testimony to the depth and genuineness of the movement in the direction of reform. Yesterday the autumn manœuvres of the grand army came to a close. They have shown that by the aid of her railways China is able to assemble a body of trained troops numbering 100,000 men. Not content with this formidable land force, the Government has ordered the construction of the nucleus of a navy, to consist of eight armoured cruisers and two battleships. Five of these and three naval stations are to be equipped with the wireless telegraph.

Not less significant than this rehabilitation of army and navy is the fact that a few days ago a number of students, who had completed their studies at foreign universities, were admitted to the third degree (or Page vii D. C. L.) in the scale of literary honours, which means appointment to some important post in the active mandarinate. If the booming of cannon at the grand review proclaimed that the age of bows and arrows is past, does not this other fact announce that, in the field of education, rhyming and caligraphy have given place to science and languages? Henceforth thousands of ambitious youth will flock to the universities of Japan, and growing multitudes will seek knowledge at its fountain-head beyond the seas.

Still more surprising are the steps taken toward the intellectual emancipation of woman in China. One of the leading ministers of education assured me the other day that he was pushing the establishment of schools for girls. The shaded hemisphere of Chinese life will thus be brought into the sunshine, and in years to come the education of Chinese youth will begin at the mother's knee.

The daily deliberations of the Council of State prove that the reform proposals of the High Commission are not to be consigned to the limbo of abortions. Tuan Fang, one of the leaders, has just been appointed to the viceroyalty of Nanking, with carte blanche to carry out his progressive ideas; and the metropolitan viceroy, Yuan, on taking leave of the Empress Dowager before proceeding to the manœuvres, besought her not to listen to reactionary counsels such as those which had produced the disasters of 1900.

In view of these facts, what wonder that Chinese newspapers are discussing the question of a national religion? The fires of the old altars are well-nigh extinct; and, among those who have come forward to Page vii advocate the adoption of Christianity as the only faith that meets the wants of an enlightened people, one of the most prominent is a priest of Buddha.

May we not look forward with confidence to a time when China shall be found in the brotherhood of Christian nations?

W. A. P. M.

Peking, October 30, 1906.
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How varied are the geological formations of different countries, and what countless ages do they represent! Scarcely less diversified are the human beings that occupy the surface of the globe, and not much shorter the period of their evolution. To trace the stages of their growth and decay, to explain the vicissitudes through which they have passed, is the office of a philosophic historian.

If the life history of a silkworm, whose threefold existence is rounded off in a few months, is replete with interest, how much more interesting is that of societies of men emerging from barbarism and expanding through thousands of years. Next in interest to the history of our own branch of the human family is that of the yellow race confronting us on the opposite shore of the Pacific; even more fascinating, it may be, owing to the strangeness of manners and environment, as well as from the contrast or coincidence of experience and sentiment. So different from ours (the author writes as an American) are many phases of their social life that one is tempted to suspect that the same law, which placed their feet opposite to ours, of necessity turned their heads the other way.

To pursue this study is not to delve in a necropolis like Nineveh or Babylon; for China is not, like western Asia, the grave of dead empires, but the home of a people Page x endowed with inexhaustible vitality. Her present greatness and her future prospects alike challenge admiration.

If the inhabitants of other worlds could look down on us, as we look up at the moon, there are only five empires on the globe of sufficient extent to make a figure on their map: one of these is China. With more than three times the population of Russia, and an almost equal area, in natural advantages she is without a rival, if one excepts the United States. Imagination revels in picturing her future, when she shall have adopted Christian civilisation, and when steam and electricity shall have knit together all the members of her gigantic frame.

It was by the absorption of small states that the Chinese people grew to greatness. The present work will trace their history as they emerge, like a rivulet, from the highlands of central Asia and, increasing in volume, flow, like a stately river, toward the eastern ocean. Revolutions many and startling are to be recorded: some, like that in the epoch of the Great Wall, which stamped the impress of unity upon the entire people; others, like the Manchu conquest of 1644, by which, in whole or in part, they were brought under the sway of a foreign dynasty. Finally, contemporary history will be treated at some length, as its importance demands; and the transformation now going on in the Empire will be faithfully depicted in its relations to Western influences in the fields of religion, commerce and arms.

As no people can be understood or properly studied apart from their environment, a bird's-eye view of the country is given.





I. China Proper
II. A Journey Through the Provinces—Kwangtung and Kwangsi
III. Fukien
IV. Chéhkiang
V. Kiangsu
VI. Shantung
VII. Chihli
VIII. Honan
IX. The River Provinces—Hupeh, Hunan, Anhwei, Kiangsi
X. Provinces of the Upper Yang-tse—Szechuen, Kweichau, Yunnan
XI. Northwestern Provinces—Shansi, Shensi, Kansuh
XII. Outlying Territories—Manchuria, Mongolia, Turkestan, Tibet

Page xii PART II


XIII. Origin of the Chinese
XIV. The Mythical Period
XV. The Three Dynasties
XVI. House of Chou
XVII. The Sages of China
XVIII. The Warring States
XIX. House of Ts'in
XX. House of Han
XXI. The Three Kingdoms
XXII. The Tang Dynasty
XXIII. The Sung Dynasty
XXIV. The Yuen Dynasty
XXV. The Ming Dynasty
XXVI. The Ta-Ts'ing Dynasty



XXVII. The Opening of China, a Drama in Five Acts—God in History—Prologue
ACT 1—The Opium War
(Note on the Tai-ping Rebellion)
ACT 2—The "Arrow" War
ACT 3—War with France
ACT 4—War with Japan
ACT 5—The Boxer War
Page xiii
XXVIII. The Russo-Japanese War
XXIX. Reform in China
XXX. Viceroy Chang
XXXI. Anti-foreign Agitation
XXXII. The Manchus, the Normans of China


I. The Agency of Missionaries in the Diffusion of Secular Knowledge in China
II. Unmentioned Reforms
III. A New Opium War

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The Ta-Ts'ing Dynasty—The Empress Dowager—Her Origin—Her First Regency—Her Personality—Other Types—Two Manchu Princes—Two Manchu Ministers—The Nation's Choice—Conclusions

In a wide survey of the history of the world, we discover a law which appears to govern the movements of nations. Those of the north show a tendency to encroach on those of the south. The former are nomads, hunters, or fishers, made bold by a constant struggle with the infelicities of their environment. The latter are occupied with the settled industries of civilised life.

The Goths and Vandals of Rome, and the Tartars under Genghis and Tamerlane all conform to this law and seem to be actuated by a common impulse. In the east and west of the Eastern hemisphere may be noted two examples of this general movement, which afford a curious parallel: I refer to the Normans of Great Britain and the Manchus of China. Both empires are under the sway of dynasties which originated in the north; for the royal house of Britain, though under another title, has always been proud of its Norman blood.

The Normans who conquered Britain had first Page 268 settled in France and there acquired the arts of civilised life. The Manchus coming from the banks of the Amur settled in Liao-tung, a region somewhat similarly situated with reference to China. There they learned something of the civilisation of China, and watched for an opportunity to obtain possession of the empire. In Britain a kindred branch of the Norman family was on the throne, and William the Conqueror contrived to give his invasion a colour of right, by claiming the throne under an alleged bequest of Edward the Confessor. The Manchus, though not invoking such artificial sanction, aspired to the dominion of China because their ancestors of the Golden Horde had ruled over the northern half of the empire. The Norman conquest, growing out of a family quarrel, was decided by a single battle. The Manchus' conquest of a country more than ten times the extent of Britain was not so easy to effect. Yet they achieved it with unexampled rapidity, because they came by invitation and they brought peace to a people exhausted by long wars. Their task was comparatively easy in the north, where the traditions of the Kin Tartars still survived; but it was prolonged and bloody in the south.

Both houses treated their new subjects as a conquered people. Each imposed the burden of foreign garrisons and a new nobility. Each introduced a foreign language, which they tried to perpetuate as the speech of the court, if not of the people. In each case the language of the people asserted itself. In Britain it absorbed and assimilated the alien tongue; in China, where the absence of common elements made amalgamation Page 269 impossible, it superseded that of the conquerors, not merely for writing purposes, but as the spoken dialect of the court.
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Both conquerors found it necessary to conciliate the subject race by liberal and timely concessions; but here begins a contrast. In Britain no external badge of subjection was ever imposed; in process of time all special privileges of the ruling caste were abolished; and no trace of race antipathy ever displays itself anywhere—if we except Ireland. In China the cue remains as a badge of subjection. Habit has reconciled the people to its use; but it still offers a tempting grip to revolutionary agitators. Every party that raises the standard of revolt abolishes the cue; would it not be wise for the Manchu Government to make the wearing of that appendage a matter of option, especially as it is beginning to disappear from their soldiers' uniform?

The extension of reform in dress from camp to court and from court to people (to them as a matter of option) would remove a danger. It would also remove a barrier in the way of China's admission into the congress of nations. The abolition of the cue implies the abandonment of those long robes which make such an impression of barbaric pomp. Already the Chinese are tacitly permitted to adopt foreign dress; and in every case they have to dispense with the cue. The Japanese never did a wiser thing than to adopt our Western costume. Their example tends to encourage a reform of the same kind in China. A new costume means a new era.

Another point is required to complete the parallel: Page 270 each victor has given the conquered country a better government than any in its previous history. To Confucius feudalism was a beau-ideal, and he beautifully compares the sovereign to the North Star which sits in state on the pole of the heavens while all the constellations revolve around it, and pay it homage. Yet was the centralised government of the First Hwang-ti an immense improvement on the loose agglomeration of the Chous. The great dynasties have all adopted the principle of centralisation; but not one has applied it with such success, nor is there one which shows so large a proportion of respectable rulers as the house of Ta-ts'ing. Of the first six some account has been given in Part II. As to the next two it is too soon to have the verdict of history. One died after a brief reign of two years and three months, too short to show character. The other now sits at the foot of the throne, while his adoptive mother sways the sceptre. Both have been overshadowed by the Empress Dowager and controlled by her masterful spirit.

China has had female rulers that make figures in history, such as Lu of the Han and Wu of the T'ang dynasties, but she has no law providing for the succession of a female under any conditions. A female reign is abnormal, and the ruler a monstrosity. Her character is always blackened so as to make it difficult to delineate. Yet in every instance those women have possessed rare talent; for without uncommon gifts it must have been impossible to seize a sceptre in the face of such prejudices, and to sway it over a submissive people. Usually they are described much as the Jewish chronicler sketches the character of Jezebel Page 271 or Athaliah. Cruel, licentious, and implacable, they "destroy the seed royal," they murder the prophets and they make the ears of the nation tingle with stories of shameless immorality.

Among these we shall not seek a parallel for the famous Empress Dowager, so well known to the readers of magazine literature. In tragic vicissitudes, if not in length of reign, she stood without a rival in the history of the world. She also stood alone in the fact that her destinies were interwoven with the tangle of foreign invasion. Twice she fled from the gates of a fallen capital; and twice did the foreign conqueror permit her to return. Without the foreigner and his self-imposed restraint, there could have been no Empress Dowager in China. Did she hate the foreigner for driving her away, or did she thank him for her repeated restoration?

The daughter of Duke Chou (the slave-girl story is a myth), she became a secondary wife of Hienfung in 1853 or 1854; and her sister somewhat later became consort of the Emperor's youngest brother. Having the happiness to present her lord with a son, she was raised to the rank of Empress and began to exert no little influence in the character of mother to an heir-apparent. Had she not been protected by her new rank her childless rival might have driven her from court and appropriated the boy. She had instead to admit a joint motherhood, which in a few years led to a joint regency.

Scarcely had the young Empress become accustomed to her new dignity, when the fall of Taku and Tientsin, in 1860, warned the Emperor of what he might Page 272 expect. Taking the two imperial ladies and their infant son, he retired to Jeho, on the borders of Tartary, in time to escape capture. There he heard of the burning of his summer palace and the surrender of his capital. Whether he succumbed to disease or whether a proud nature refused to survive his disgrace, is not known. What we do know is, that on his death, in 1861, two princes, Sushun and Tuanhwa, organised a regency and brought the court back to the capital about a year after the treaty of peace had been signed by Prince Kung as the Emperor's representative. Prince Kung was not included in the council of regency; and he knew that he was marked for destruction. Resolving to be beforehand, he found means to consult with the Empresses, who looked to him to rescue them from the tyranny of the Council of Eight. On December 2 the blow was struck: all the members of the council were seized; the leader was put to death in the market-place; some committed suicide; and others were condemned to exile. A new regency was formed, consisting of the two Empresses and Prince Kung, the latter having the title of "joint regent."
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What part the Empress Mother had taken in this her first coup d'état, is left to conjecture. Penetrating and ambitious she was not content to be a tool in the hands of the Eight. The senior Empress yielded to the ascendency of a superior mind, as she continued to do for twenty years.

There was another actor whom it would be wrong to overlook, namely, Kweiliang, the good secretary, who had signed the treaties at Tientsin. His daughter Page 273 was Prince Kung's principal wife, and though too old to take a leading part in the Court revolutions, it was he who prompted Prince Kung, who was young and inexperienced, to strike for his life.

The reigning title of the infant Emperor was changed from Kisiang, "good luck," to Tung-chi, "joint government"; and the Empire acquiesced in the new régime.

One person there was, however, who was not quite satisfied with the arrangement. This was the restless, ambitious young Dowager. The Empire was quiet; and things went on in their new course for years, Prince Kung all the time growing in power and dignity. His growing influence gave her umbrage; and one morning a decree from the two Dowagers stripped him of power, and confined him a prisoner in his palace. His alleged offence was want of respect to their Majesties; he threw himself at their feet and implored forgiveness.

The ladies were not implacable; he was restored to favour and clothed with all his former dignities, except one. The title of Icheng-wang, "joint regent," never reappeared.

In 1881 the death of the senior Dowager left the second Dowager alone in her glory. So harmoniously had they coöperated during their joint regency, and so submissive had the former been to the will of the latter, that there was no ground for suspicion of foul play, yet such suspicions are always on the wing, like bats in the twilight of an Oriental court.

On the death of Tung-chi, the adroit selection of a nephew of three summers to succeed to the throne as her adopted son, gave the Dowager the prospect of another long regency. Recalled to power by the Page 274 reactionaries, in 1898, after a brief retirement, the Empress Dowager dethroned her puppet by a second coup-d'état.

During the ruinous recoil that followed she had the doubtful satisfaction of feeling herself sole aristocrat of the Chinese Empire. Was it not the satisfaction of a gladiator who seated himself on the throne of the Cæsars in a burning amphitheatre? Was she not made sensible that she, too, was a creature of circumstances, when her ill-judged policy compelled her a second time to seek safety in flight? A helpless fugitive, how could she conceive that fortune held in reserve for her brighter days than she had ever experienced?

Accepting the situation and returning with the Emperor, the Empire and the world accepted her, and, taught by experience, she engaged in the congenial task of renovating the Chinese people. Advancing years, consciousness of power, and willing conformity to the freer usages of European courts, all conspired to lead her to throw aside the veil and to appear openly as the chief actor on this imperial stage.

Six years ago her seventieth birthday was celebrated with great pomp, although she had forbidden her people to be too lavish in their loyalty. At Wuchang, Tuan Fang, who was acting viceroy, gave a banquet at which he asked me to make a speech in the Dowager's honor. The task was a delicate one for a man who had borne the hardships of a siege in 1900; but I accepted it, and excused the Dowager on the principle of British law, that "The king can do no Page 275 wrong." Throwing the blame on her ministers, I pronounced a eulogy on her talents and her public services.

The question arises, did we know her in person and character? Have we not seen her in that splendid portrait executed by Miss Carl, and exhibited at St. Louis? If we suspect the artist of flattery, have we not a gallery of photographs, in which she shows herself in many a majestic pose? Is flattery possible to a sunbeam? We certainly see her as truly as we see ourselves in a mirror!

As to character, it is too soon to express an opinion. Varium et mutabile semper femina.
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To pencil and sunbeam add word-pictures by men and women from whose critical eyes she did not conceal herself; and we may confidently affirm that we knew her personal appearance as well as we knew that of any lady who occupies or shares a European throne. A trifle under the average height of European ladies, so perfect were her proportions and so graceful her carriage that she seemed to need nothing to add to her majesty. Her features were vivacious and pleasing rather than beautiful; her complexion, not yellow, but subolive, and her face illuminated by orbs of jet, half-hidden by dark lashes, behind which lurked the smiles of favour or the lightning of anger. No one would take her to be over forty. She carried tablets on which, even during conversation, she jotted down memoranda. Her pencil was the support of her sceptre. With it she sent out her autograph commands; and with it, too, she inscribed those pictured characters which were worn as the proudest decorations Page 276 of her ministers. I have seen them in gilded frames in the hall of a viceroy.

The elegance of her culture excited sincere admiration in a country where women are illiterate; and the breadth of her understanding was such as to take in the details of government. She chose her agents with rare judgment, and shifted them from pillar to post, so that they might not forget their dependence on her will. Without a parallel in her own country, she has been sometimes compared with Catherine II. of Russia. She had the advantage in the decency of her private life; for though she is said to have had favourites they have never dared to boast of her favours, nor was a curious public ever able to identify them.

Her full name, including honorific epithets added by the Academy, was Tse Hi Tuanyin Kangyi Chaoyu Chuangcheng Shoukung Chinhien Chunghi. A few hours before her death, which occurred on the day after the Emperor's, she named his nephew as successor, and the present ruler, Hsuan-Tung, who was born in 1903, began to reign November 14, 1908.

Let the Dowager be taken as a type of the Manchu woman. The late Emperor, though handsome and intelligent, was too small for a representative of a robust race. Tuan Fang, the High Commissioner, is a more favourable specimen. The Manchus are in general taller than the Chinese, and both in physical and intellectual qualities they prove that their branch of the family is far from effete.

Prince Kung, who for fifteen years presided over the imperial cabinet, was tall, handsome and urbane. Page 277 Despite the disadvantages of an education in a narrow-minded court, he displayed a breadth and capacity of a high order. Prince Ching, who succeeded him in 1875, though less attractive in person, is not deficient in that sort of astuteness that passes for statesmanship. What better evidence than that he has kept himself on top of a rolling log for thirty years? To keep his position through the dethronement of the Emperor and the convulsions of the Boxer War required agility and adaptability of no mean order. Personally I have seen much of both princes. They are abler men than one would expect to find among the offshoots of an Oriental court.

Wensiang, who from the opening of Peking to his death in 1875 bore the leading part in the conduct of foreign affairs, showed great ability in piloting the state through rocks and breakers. His mental power greatly impressed all foreigners, while it secured him an easy ascendency among his countrymen. Such men are sure to be overloaded with official duties in a country like China. Physically he was not strong; and on one occasion when he came into the room wheezing with asthma he said to me: "You see I am like a small donkey, with a tight collar and a heavy load." The success of Prince Kung's administration was largely due to Wensiang. Paochuin, minister of finance, and member of the Inner Council, was distinguished as a literary genius. Prince Kung delighted on festive occasions to call him and Tungsuin to a contest in extempore verse. To enter the lists with a noted scholar and poet like Tung, showed how the Manchus have come to vie with the Chinese in the Page 278 refinements of literary culture. I remember him as a dignified greybeard, genial and jocose. On the fall of the Kung ministry, he doffed his honours in three stanzas, which contain more truth than poetry:

"Through life, as in a pleasing dream,
Unconscious of my years,
In Fortune's smile to bask I seem;
Perennial, Spring appears.

"Alas! Leviathan to take
Defies the fisher's art;
From dreams of glory I awake,—
My youth and power depart.

"That loss is often gain's disguise
May us for loss console.
My fellow-sufferers, take advice
And keep your reason whole."

In more than one crisis, the heart of the nation has cleaved to the Manchu house as the embodiment of law and order. The people chose to adhere to a tolerably good government rather than take the chance of a better one emerging from the strife of factions.

Three things are required to confirm their loyalty: (1) the abolition of tonsure and pigtail, (2) the abandonment of all privileges in examinations and in the distribution of offices, (3) the removal of all impediments in the way of intermarriage.

This last has been recently authorised by proclamation. It is not so easy for those who are in possession of the loaves and fishes to admit others to an equal share. If to these were added the abolition of a degrading Page 279 badge, the Manchu dynasty might hope to be perpetual, because the Manchus would cease to exist as a people.
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By William J. Locke


William Heinemann

































It was a severe room, scrupulously neat. Along one side ran a bookcase, with beaded glass doors, containing, as one might see by peering through the spaces, the collected, unread literature of two stern generations. A few old prints, placed in bad lights, hung on the walls. In the centre of the room was a leather-covered library table, with writing materials arranged in painful precision. A couch was lined along one wall, in the draught of the door. On either side of the fireplace were ranged two stiff leather armchairs.

In one of these chairs sat an old man, in the other a faded woman just verging upon middle age. The old man was looking at a picture which he supported on his knees-a narrow, oblong strip of canvas nailed on to a rough wooden frame. The woman eyed him with some interest, as if awaiting a decision.

They were father and daughter, and bore a strange family resemblance to each other. Both faces were pale, their foreheads high and narrow, marked by faint horizontal lines, their eyes gray and cold, their upper lips long and thin, setting tightly, without mobility, upon the lower. The only essential point of difference was that the father's chin was weakly pointed, the daughter's squarer and harder. Both faces gave one the impression of negativeness, joylessness, seeming to lack the power of strong emotive expression. One can see such, minus the refinement of gentle birth and social amenities, in the pews of obscure dissenting chapels, testifying that they have been led thither not by strong convictions, but by the force of mild circumstance.

Indeed, as is the case with hundreds of our upper middle-class families, the Davenants had descended from a fierce old Puritan stock, and though the reality of their Puritanism had gradually lost itself in the current of more respectable orthodoxy, its shadow hung over them still. The vigorous enthusiasm that spurred the Puritan on to lofty action was gone; the vague dread of sin that kept him in moral and mental inactivity alone remained. Perhaps it is this survival amongst us of the negative element of Puritanism that produces in England the curious anomaly of education without enlightenment. It has dulled our perception of life as an art, whose “great incidents,” as Fielding finely says, “are no more to be considered as mere accidents than the several members of a fine statue or a noble poem.” It has caused us to live in a perpetual twilight in which the possibilities of existence loom fantastic and indistinct. The Davenants were gentlefolk, holding a good position in the small country town of Durdleham; they visited among the county families, and, on ordinary, conventional grounds, considered themselves to belong to the cultured classes. They were the curious yet familiar product of the old-fashioned, high-church Toryism impregnated with the Puritan taint.

The light was fading through the French window behind the old man's chair. He laid down the canvas on his lap and looked in a puzzled way at the fire. Then he raised it nearer to his eyes for further examination.

“This is really very dreadful,” he said at last, looking at his daughter.

“Something will have to be done soon,” replied the latter.

“It is so horribly vulgar, Grace,” said the old man; “look at that boy's nose—and that drunken man—his face is a nightmare of evil. I really must begin to talk seriously to Clytie.”

Mrs. Blather smiled somewhat pityingly. Since the earliest days of her long widowhood she had undertaken the charge of her father's house and the care of her two younger sisters, Janet and Clytie. Her familiarity, therefore, with the seamy side of Clytie's nature had been of long duration.

“You might as well talk to that fender, papa,” she said. “Clytie has got it into her head that she is going to be an artist, and no amount of talking will get it out.”

“It's all through her visiting those friends of hers, the Farquharsons. They are not nice people for her to know. I shall not let her go there again.”

“If she goes on like this there is no knowing what will happen.”

“Where did the child get these repulsive and ungirlish notions from?” the old man asked querulously.

The conception of the picture was not that of a young girl, and though the execution was crude and untrained, there was a bold cruelty of touch that saved it from being amateurish. The canvas was divided into two panels. On the one was painted a tiny bully of a boy with his arm rounded across his throat, about to strike a weakly, poverty-stricken little girl. They were children of the poorest classes, the boy realistically, offensively dirty—the petit morveux in its absolute sense. Behind them was the open doorway of a red-brick, jerry-built cottage, showing a strip of torn and dirty matting along the passage that lost itself in the gloom beyond. On the other panel was the corner of a public house in a low slum, the window lights and a gas-lamp throwing a lurid glare upon wet pavement and the figures of a woman and a drunken man. The faces were those of the children in the first picture, and the eternal tragedy was repeating itself. The man's face was loathsome in its sodden ferocity; the woman, with a child in her arms, was reeling from the blow. The evident haste in which the panels had been painted, the glaring, unsoftened colouring, heightened as if by impressionist design the coarse realism of the effect. Above was written the legend, “La joie de vivre” and in the left-hand bottom corner, “Clytie Davenant pinxit.”
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The Campaigns and History
of the
Royal Irish Regiment

The Campaigns and History

of the

Royal Irish Regiment

From 1684 to 1902


Lieutenant-Colonel G. le M. GRETTON



William Blackwood and Sons

Edinburgh and London



[Pg v]


This history of the war services of the Royal Irish regiment has been written at the request of the officers of that very distinguished corps. When I accepted the task, I knew that I had undertaken a delightful but difficult piece of work, for it is no easy matter to do justice to the achievements of a regiment which has fought in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in America, and in Australasia. After serving with credit in William III.’s war in Ireland, the Royal Irish won undying laurels in the Siege of Namur in 1695. They formed part of the British contingent in the army commanded by Marlborough in the Low Countries and in Germany, and fought, not only at the great battles of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet, but in the long series of desperate but now forgotten sieges by which fortress after fortress was wrested from the French. A detachment took part in the defence of Gibraltar in 1727: the whole regiment was involved in the disasters of the campaign of 1745: the flank companies encountered foemen worthy of their steel at Lexington and Bunker’s Hill. In the first phase of the great war with France the Royal Irish were in the Mediterranean: they served in the defence of Toulon; they helped Nelson and Moore to expel the French from Corsica, and they were sent to the mainland of Italy where for some months they established themselves firmly at Piombino, a port on the Tuscan coast. A few years later they fought under Abercromby in Egypt, but then their good luck changed, for they were ordered to the West Indies, where they remained till the end of the Napoleonic war.

In 1840, the outbreak of the first war with China re-opened the gates of the Temple of Janus to the XVIIIth; and during the last sixty years almost every decade has seen the regiment employed on active service, for after the Chinese war came the second war in Burma; the Crimea; the Indian Mutiny; the New Zealand war; the second Afghan war; the campaign of Tel-el-Kebir; the Nile expedition; campaigns on the north-west frontier of India; and the war with the Dutch republics in South Africa.


The Historical Committee had hoped that Field-Marshal Lord Wolseley would have written a preface to the history of the regiment, with which throughout his military career he has been associated closely. In Burma he won his spurs leading a charge of infantry among whom were many of the Royal Irish; as an acting Engineer at the siege of Sebastopol he frequently supervised the operations of the regiment in the trenches; in the Tel-el-Kebir campaign and the Nile expedition the Royal Irish formed part of the troops under his command; and for the last thirteen years he has been their Colonel-in-Chief. Ill health unfortunately has prevented Lord Wolseley from writing at any length, but in a letter to the Chairman of the Committee, he expressed his admiration for the regiment in the following words:—

“Hampton Court Palace, Middlesex,
19th June 1910.

My Dear Gregorie,—I am indeed very glad to hear that the History of the Royal Irish Regiment is soon to be published. Its story cannot fail to be a fine one. Every soldier who like myself, had the honour of fighting, I may say shoulder to shoulder with it, will read this new work with the deepest interest.

Were it to be my good fortune to lead a Storming party this afternoon I should indeed wish it were to be largely composed of your celebrated corps.

Believe me to be,
Very sincerely yours,
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The XVIIIth Royal Irish regiment landed at Portsmouth in March, 1817. Since 1783, the Royal Irish had only served three years in the United Kingdom, and they looked forward to a long tour of duty at home, but the fates were against them. Almost as soon as Napoleon surrendered himself to the captain of the Bellerophon the economists in the House of Commons began to demand retrenchment in the army, and with such success that in 1821 only 101,000 men, exclusive of the troops in the East India Company’s service, were left to protect the whole of the British possessions throughout the world. The garrison of the United Kingdom absorbed about half the army, the remainder being stationed in India and the colonies, where, it is said, Wellington hid them to be out of sight of the anti-military politicians. Among the regiments ordered abroad was the XVIIIth, which in February, 1821, left Cork for the Mediterranean; it spent three years at Malta and eight in the Ionian Isles,[120] and in March, 1832, returned to England.

In the autumn of 1832, the Royal Irish were quartered in detachments in various towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire; during the general election at the end of the year several companies were called upon to help the civil power in quelling serious riots at Sheffield, Bolton, and Preston, where officers and men won high praise for the combination of forbearance and determination which they showed in dealing with excited mobs. Towards the end of 1833 the regiment was concentrated at Manchester, whence on May 8, 1834, to quote the words in which the Digest of Service records the first train journey of the XVIIIth, it “proceeded by railway conveyance” to Liverpool to embark for Dublin. In September the regiment moved to Cork; a few months later it was at Birr, and early in 1836, while at Athlone, it was warned for foreign service in Ceylon. Throughout their tour of duty in the United Kingdom the Royal Irish received warm commendation from[121] all the generals under whom they had served, and these favourable opinions were fully endorsed in a letter from the Adjutant-General, who on December 20, 1834, wrote that “the report of the XVIIIth Royal Irish regiment is considered most satisfactory. The excellent state of its discipline is highly creditable to Colonel Burrell, and Lord Hill cannot be but more disposed to attachment (sic) to that officer’s exertions when he finds that discipline has been so effectually maintained without having had recourse to corporal punishment for a period exceeding two years.”

Two companies under Major Pratt sailed from Cork in the transport Numa on November 15, 1836, and arrived at Colombo towards the end of April, 1837. The remainder of the corps, under Colonel Burrell, embarked in the transport Barossa, touched at Teneriffe and Rio de Janeiro, and reached its destination at the end of May. After serving for some time at Colombo, where new colours were presented by Lieutenant-General Sir John Wilson, K.C.B., the headquarters and a wing of the regiment were stationed at Trincomalee, where in 1840 welcome news reached them. Trouble had arisen with China, and the regiment was to form part of an expedition against the Celestial Empire. The causes of our quarrel with the Emperor of China, very shortly stated, were that the Chinese had not kept to the treaties of commerce which they had entered into with England; they had attacked and robbed British merchants, fired upon English ships, and grossly insulted the representative of the Queen. The Mandarins, or high officials of Canton, were the chief offenders; to punish them a naval blockade of that port was established; ships of war were ordered up from the Indian station, and a small body of troops was collected to co-operate with the Navy in bringing the Chinese to their senses. The six companies of the Royal Irish in Ceylon sailed eastwards in May and June, 1840, and the three depôt companies, recently landed at Bombay from England, joined headquarters soon after the regiment arrived in China, raising it to a total strength of 667 of all ranks.[121] The other British regiments were the 26th and the[122] 49th; the Native army of India contributed detachments of Madras Artillery and Sappers and Miners, a corps known as the Bengal Volunteers, and the 37th regiment of Madras Native Infantry, while the Navy was represented by three line-of-battle ships, two frigates, fourteen smaller men-of-war, four armed steamers, and twenty-seven transports. With this small force England was about to go to war with a country of three hundred and sixty millions of inhabitants, whose seaport towns were defended by forts bristling with ordnance varying in calibre from 68-pr. to 18-pr. guns, and whose army immeasurably exceeded in number the British fighting men. Fortunately for us the Chinese artillerymen, though not wanting in courage, were ill-trained; their forts, though massive, were badly planned; and the infantry, though they often fought well and showed much courage as individuals, were poorly disciplined, badly armed, and as a rule very badly commanded. Though the government of Pekin had spent much money in making cannon on European models, they had neglected to reproduce the muskets with which the troops of the white races were equipped. Thus the Chinese foot soldiers did not possess the equivalent of our flint-lock smooth-bore muskets; their firearms were matchlocks and gingals or portable wall pieces, worked on tripods by a crew of three men, and throwing two-ounce balls. Their other weapons varied; the Tartars, the picked troops of the Empire, used the bow; other corps had spears and swords, while others again carried battle-axes and very unpleasant cutting instruments like bill-hooks, fastened to the end of long poles.
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