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Indiscreet Letters From Peking - Being the Notes of an Eye-Witness, Which Set Forth in Some Detail, from Day to Day, the Real Story of the Siege and Sack of a Distressed Capital in 1900—The Year of Great Tribulation
Being the Notes of an Eye-Witness, Which Set Forth in Some Detail, from Day to Day, the Real Story of the Siege and Sack of a Distressed Capital in 1900--The Year of Great Tribulation The publication of these letters, dealing with the startling events which took place in Peking during the summer and autumn of 1900, at this late date may be justified on a number of counts. In the first place, there can be but little doubt that an exact narrative from the pen of an eye-witness who saw everything, and knew exactly what was going on from day to day, and even from hour to hour, in the diplomatic world of the Chinese capital during the deplorable times when the dread Boxer movement overcast everything so much that even in England the South African War was temporarily forgotten, is of intense human interest, showing most clearly as it does, perhaps for the first time in realistic fashion, the extraordinary bouleversement which overcame everyone; the unpreparedness and the panic when there was really ample warning; the rivalry of the warring Legations even when they were almost in extremis, and the curious course of the whole seige itself owing to the division of counsels among the Chinesethis last a state of affairs which alone saved everyone from a shameful death. In the second place, this account may dispel many false ideas which still obtain in Europe and America regarding the position of various Powers in Chinaideas based on data which have long been declared of no value by those competent to judge. In the third place, the vivid and terrible description of the sack of Peking by the soldiery of Europe, showing the demoralisation into which all troops fall as soon as the iron hand of discipline is relaxed, may set finally at rest the mutual recriminations which have since been levelled publicly and privately. Everybody was tarred with the same brush. Those arm-chair critics who have been too prone to state that brutalities no longer mark the course of war may reconsider their words, and remember that sacking, with all the accompanying excesses, is still regarded as the divine right of soldiery unless the provost-marshal's gallows stand ready. In the fourth place, those who still believe that the representatives assigned to Eastern countries need only be second-rate menreserving for Europe the master-mindsmay begin to ask themselves seriously whether the time has not come when only the most capable and brilliant diplomatic officialsmen whose intelligence will help to shape events and not be led by them, and who will act with iron firmness when the time for such action comesshould be assigned to such a difficult post as Peking. In the fifth place, the strange idea, which refuses to be eradicated, that the Chinese showed themselves in this Peking seige once and for all incompetent to carry to fruition any military plan, may be somewhat corrected by the plain and convincing terms in which the eye-witness describes the manner in which they stayed their hand whenever it could have slain, and the silent struggle which the Moderates of Chinese politics must have waged to avert the catastrophe by merely gaining time and allowing the Desperates to dash themselves to pieces when the inevitable swing of the pendulum took place. Finally, it will not escape notice that many remarks borne out all through the narrative tend to show that British diplomacy in the Far East was at one time at a low ebb. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 17003
Author: Putnam Weale, B. L. (Bertram Lenox)
Release Date: Nov 4, 2005
Editor: Putnam Weale, B. L. (Bertram Lenox), 1877-1930
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