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PITHIN an hour or two after General Grant's arrival
in Pekin he was waited upon by the members of the Cabinet, who came in a body, accompanied by
the military and civil governors of Pekin. These are the highest officials in China, men of stately demeanor. They were received in Chinese fashion, seated around a table covered with sweetmeats, and served with tea. The first Secretary brought with him the card of Prince Kung, the Prince Regent of the empire, and said that his Imperial Highness. had charged him to present all kind wishes to General Grant, and to express the hope that the trip in China had been pleasant. The Secretary also said that as soon as the Prince Regent heard from the Chinese Minister in Paris that General Grant. was coming to China he sent orders to the officials to receive
him with due honor. The General replied that he had received nothing but honor and courtesy from China. This answer pleased the Secretary, who said he would be happy to carry it to the Prince Regent.
General Grant did not ask an audience of the Emperor. The Emperor is a child seven years of age, at his books, not in good health, and under the care of two old ladies called the empresses. When the Chinese Minister in Paris spoke to the General about audience, and his regret that the sovereign of China was not of age, that he might personally entertain an ex-President, the General said he hoped no question of audience would be raised.
He had no personal curiosity to see the Emperor, and there could be no useful object in conversing with a child. This question of seeing the Emperor is one of the sensitive points in Chinese diplomacy. The Chinese idea is that the Emperor is the Son of Heaven, the titular if not the accepted king of the world, king of kings, a sacred being, not to be seen by profane, barbarian eyes. Foreign powers have steadily fought this claim, and have insisted by every means upon the Emperor standing on the same level as other sovereigns and heads of States, receiving and sending ministers, and taking an active personal interest in international affairs. These arguments went so far as to induce the last Emperor to receive the foreign ministers in the palace. This was a great triumph. It made a sensation at the time. I have seen a picture of the audience, drawn from memory by one of the interpreters. There are ministers standing in a row, the Emperor on his throne, mandarins in the background, Prince Kung on his knees handing the credentials of the ministers to the pale, thin, puny sovereign. The audience lasted some minutes, and was confined to the utterance of a few words in Tartar language to the effect that the credentials would be considered. That is the only time in recent years when barbarian eyes
have looked on sacred majesty. The emperor who then reigned has, to use courtly speech, ascended on the great dragon to be a guest on high. The youth of the present sovereign has prevented any audience, for, of course, an audience would be a
A DIPLOMATIC QUESTION.
comedy, with the sovereign a timid unhealthy boy, who had never seen a foreigner, and who would probably run off crying. The Chinese, therefore, have postponed the audience question until the Emperor comes of age. At the same time the foreign ministers have always made a point of their right to demand it. The fact that General Grant had been the head of a nation, and had corresponded directly with the Emperor, gave him the right to request an audience. There was no reason, even in
Chinese logic, why such a request should be refused. Many of those well informed on Eastern questions were anxious that this request should be made ; that it would render things easier in dealing with the Chinese ; that, in fact, the only way of dealing with the government was to hammer and hammer, and always to hammer, until these prejudices were broken down. But the General had not come to China in a hammering mood, and had no curiosity to see a boy seven years old, and the question dropped.
The day after his arrival in Pekin General Grant saw Prince Kung. The General and party left the Legation at half-past two, the party embracing Mr. Holcombe, the acting Minister; Colonel Grant, Lieutenant Charles Belknap, C. W. Deering, and A. Ludlow Case, Jr., of the “Ashuelot.” The way to the Yamen was over dirty roads, and through a disagreeable part of the town, the day being unusually warm, the thermometer marking 101 degrees in the shade. This is a trying temperature under the best circumstances, but in Pekin there was every possible condition of discomfort in addition. When we came to the courtyard of the Yamen the secretaries and a group of mandarins received the General and his party, and escorted them into the inner court. Prince Kung, who was standing at the door, advanced and saluted the General, and said a few words of welcome, which were translated by Mr. Holcombe. The sun was beating down, and the party passed into a large, plainly-furnished room, where was a table laden with Chinese food. The Prince, sitting down at the center, gave General Grant the seat at his left, the post of honor in China. He then took up the cards, one by one, which had been written in Chinese characters, on red paper, and asked Mr. Holcombe for the name and station of each member of the General's suite. He spoke to Colonel Grant, and asked him the meaning of the uniform he wore, his rank, and his age. He asked whether the Colonel was married and had children. When told that the Colonel had one child, a daughter, the Prince condoled with him, saying, “What a pity.” In China, you must remember that female children do not count in the sum of human happiness, and when the Prince expressed his regret at the existence of the General's granddaughter, he was saying the most polite thing he knew. The Prince earnestly perused the face of the General, as though it were an unlearned lesson. He expected a uniformed person, a man of the dragon or lion species, who could make a great noise. What he saw was a quiet, middle-aged gentleman, in evening dress, who had ridden a long way in the dust and sun, and who was looking in subdued dismay at servants who swarmed around him with dishes of soups and sweet