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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1929, Image 96

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China s Exiled Emperor Now Plain Mr. Pu Yi
Born to fabulous wealth, carefully
sequestered through childhood to fit him
for a sovereign's lot, an Emperor in his
teens and now another Napoleon endur
ing virtual solitude at the age most
American boys are just emerging from
college—such is the fate of China's erst
while bop Emperor, the youth who fled
the Forbidden City when the new gov
ernment was set up in Peking five years
ago. Here is an intimate picture of "Mr.
Pu Yitold in Seattle by Dr. Vernon
McKenzie, dean of the School of Journal
ism, University of Washington, recently
returned pom a trip to the Orient.
/T WAS the first time an Emperor had
ever lit my cigarette.
When I was shown into the reception
room of his unpretentious house in
Tientsin. I wondered just how to estab
lish a mental contact with this boy, the last of
the Manchu dynasty, who, when just about the
age of curly-haired King Michael of Rumania,
appeared destined to rule over a nation of
400,000,009 people. But not for long was I ill
at ease, either physically or mentally. He mo
tioned me to • seat beside him, on a comfortable
leather divan, and handed me a box of Egyptian
cigarettes. Striking a match, he offered me the
first light. Then after this slight bit of human
contact we settled bade In our seats for our
Today he Ja Mr. Pu Yi. living a sequestered
life in the Japanese concession of Tientsin, in
a bouse which would rent for about SIOO a
month. Five yean ago he was the Emperor,
the titular ruler of China, dwelling in the For
bidden City of Peking, though then stripped
of all actual governmental power and authority.
Leas than .20 yean ago he was the far-famed
boy Emperor, with thousands of servants to do
his bidding and the legal ruler of hundreds of
millions of more or less faithful subjects.
Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to refer to
him now as the Emperor. But during our chat
his secretary-interpreter referred to him as
“his majesty.” and many millions of Chinese
still speak of him as “our Manchu Emperor."
So perhaps I may be forgiven for my perhaps
undemocratic introductory reference. Prom now
on he will be plain Mr. Pu Yi.
When the Republican insurgents ended the
reign of the Manehus in 1912 he was 6 years
of age. So today he is 24. His life, even in tur
bulent, topsy-turvy China, has been in the main
a peaceful one. But always, except for a few
dangerous and hectic days, five years ago, he
has been virtually a prisoner. During the first
six years of his life China was ruled by the
iron hand of the vigorous old Dowager Empress
Tzu Hsi. Until he reached his nineteenth birth
day he was restricted to Journeys between the
Summer palaoe and the Forbidden City. When
the Southern army captured Peking in 1924 he
fled for his life to a distant part of the city, but
in a few weeks found asylum in Tientsin.
There he lives today, under the jurisdiction of
the Japanese authorities, bound by an agree
ment which forbids him to leave the concession.
A few miles west from Peking to the famed
Summer palace; 100 miles east to Tientsin—
that has been the orbit of his travels, though he
longs to- go around the world, not once but sev
eral times, and see some of the personalities and
places about which he is exceptionally well
His eyes sparkled when I asked him about his
future plans. His face flashed a feeing of long
> pent-up desire
“I wish—l hope—first to go to Japan and
pa; my respeots to the Emperor, then I think I
wilt start around the world. From Japan I
will naturally ga to the United States, and then
to Europe. For nearly 20 years I have been
reading about all the interesting people and cus
toms of the world, of the famous scenic spots.
I cannot go just yet; but I hope to, if not next
year, then the year after, or the year after
that. I wonder how far away this time will be.”
TT DID not seem tactful to inquire why he did
4 not start now or set a definite date very
soon. But from the Japanese authorities and
from his friends two excellent reasons were
learned. His visits to foreign capitals might
cause political complications. And he hasn’t
the money! He can’t even afford to buy a round
the-world ticket —he whose grandmother, the
Dowager Empress, is said to have spent any
where from $10,000,000 to $40,000,000 preparing
her mausoleum
Whom does he wish to see? Well, first of all
he would like to visit the Prince of Wales. He
envies him many things, including his free
dom to travel. Then he would like to know
President Hoover, Lloyd George and Lindbergh.
I asked him if be would not look forward to
seeing Queen Marie of Rumania, but for some
reason he did not seem to enthuse over the
“When Prince George, the Prince of Wales’
► younger brother, was in China recently," volun
teered Pu Yi, “he called on me at my former
house in Tientsin and we had a very pleasant
chat. These rare, oh, so rare, visits give me
breath from the outer world. I have always
felt so much a prisoner. I read many American
Only Twenty-Four Years Old, the Last of
the Manehus, Virtually a Prisoner in
Tientsin Concession, Looks Out Smilingly
on the IVor Id That Cheated Him of a
Monarch's Cro-wn.
ItP* \
|f | Mk , * |§f ■ |
Mr. Pu Yi, the farmer emperor , now 24, who lives a very restricted life at
periodicals, but it is always read, read, read and
never see.’*
Pu Yi is a well educated young man,
thoroughly abreast of political science, govern*
ment and sociology and well versed in history
and literature, particularly of his own country.
For many years he had an American tutor. He
reads English fairly well, but for some years
has had no opportunity to practice speaking it.
He dresses in western clothing and looks very
much like any well bred Chinese student at
Harvard or Columbia, such as the famed Well
ington Koo, or Dr. C. T. Wang, minister for for
eign affairs in the- present Chinese government.
Like so many Chinese who prefer to talk
through an interpreter, he understands a good
deal, more probably than he would admit, of
the English language. It is a favorite trick
of Wellington Kao’s, far instance, to make use
of an interpreter for port of an interview, and
then, with a twinkle of the eye, break into
excellent Oxford English. Pu Yi’s English is
nothing to compare with Koo’s, but several
times during our talk he caught the drift of my
question before it was translated and started
to answer it.
A N interview through the medium of an in
terpreter is frequently unsatisfactory. The
intimate mental contact so essential is diffi
cult, sometimes impossible, to establish. But
there is one infallible method to employ which
will usually “loosen up” the one interviewed
American reporters know it well and employ it
frequently. It is to trade information —have
something to tell that the “victim” wishes very
much to know. It happened that I had stum
bled on something which Pu Yi was very eager
to talk about and about which he had not the
fullest information.
When he was talking about the Dowager Em
press, I told him that just the previous day I
had seen some remarkable pictures of the rifling
of the Manchu mausoleums—a mystery, by the
ay, which has not yet been cleared up.
“But where?” he inquired. “Were they in the
“No. they have never been published,” I re
plied. “They were shown me privately by a
member of the American legation, to whom they
were brought by a friend of the Chinese pho
tographer who took them surreptitiously early
in August, 1928. They were remarkable photos
and very tragic. The bandits had ruthlessly
wrecked the coffins in at least 13 tombs and
stolen loot estimated at more than $15,000,000.”
The photographs are so gruesome, at least
two or three of them, that 1 hesitated to go into
details. But he begged me to go on, and I told
him how the body of the favorite concubine of
Bptperor Chien Lung, great-great-great-grand
father of this boy, had been ghoulish ly exposed
In its coffin and how for nearly a century and
a half since this forgotten lady’s death it had
remained in a state of almost perfect preserva
tion. Even the silk robes showed no signs of
decay. I even told Pu Yi how the Dowager Em
press’ body had been thrown callously to the
ground and how the body could be plainly
seen in the picture. I promised him that I
would try to arrange for him to see a set of the
seven photographs if he wished, and he eagerly
urged me to try to do this for him.
The ex-Emperor had no harsh criticisms to
make of the Nationalist Government on any
political score, but his eyes did flash when he
referred to this and one or two other things
which he feels are unnecessary ruthlessness and
vandalism. It is commonly believed in Peking
that the robbery of the Manchu tombs could
not have taken place without sub rosa official
connivance. The walls of the mausoleum were
so thick that it took a score or more looters 15
days to blast their way into the Interior, where
the treasured Jewels of fabled value were buried.
Pu Yi recalls almost nothing of those dis
turbing days in 1912 when the Republicans
seized the power of the Manchu rulers and
established a so-called democratic form of gov.
“I’m afraid I remember almost nothing,” he
replied with a smile. “You see, I was not quite
7 years old. I knew something very serious
was happening, but I did not know just what.
But in later years my tutors told me the whole
story in great detail and explained to me its
But of the events of 1924, when the Nation
alist army marched north and captured Peking,
his recollections are vivid, indeed. He was then
just 19, and when the battering, sprawling Na
tionalist army reached the very gates of the
Forbidden City he had to flee. There was no
army to defend him, and for two days he scur
ried through the twisting back ways of the
capital, his life every minute in peril, until he
reached the shelter of his uncle. Prince Chun.
Probably he thought of the fate of the Czar
and his family, just eight years previously. He
had with him only a faithful retainer or two,
who led him through lanes and back alleys of
a tortuous nature which probably no other
city in the world possesses.
There were fires and looting. Soldiers and
unorganized marauders created a terror which
even penetrated into the hearts of those behind
the walls of the comparative sanctuary of the
Legation Quarter. Several times he thought
he must be discovered, and even after he
reached Prince Chun’s palace he was not safe.
In a few hours he was secretly conducted to
the quarters of the Japanese concession, and
there he remained in asylum for two months.
It was decided that It was more politic for him
not to remain In the capital, so he was escorted
to the Japanese concession in Tientsin.
CINCI that day he has had no money from
U the Chinese government. His personal and
Imperial possessions, valued at many millions,
were seized. Gen. FUng Tu Shang made the
confiscation, and it is an open secret that he
Is now personally a very wealthy man.
“I could no nothing, of course,” young Pw .Y1
told me quietly, perhaps a little bitterly, for he
feels that less than human justice has been
meted out. ‘‘l had never attempted to inter
fere in the republican form of government. I
had kept no army. I did not want to fight.
Peace had always been my aim, and it tears
my heart to see how broken, divided and suffer
ing China is today. Even In the old days, be
fore 1912, China was very poor, but she was at
least one nation.
“When the soldiers came in 1924 I said I
would gladly abdicate that shadow of former
authority and fragment of departed glory which
was mine. I said: ‘Here is China. I give my
people to you. May there always be peace.’
But, alas! I'm afraid they have not found
For almost five years he lived in a house
which suited him and his menage fairly well
as soon as he got accustomed to the extraordi
nary change in environment. He married, and
although his wife has had much ill health—
she has not been able to read for more than
a year—they are said to be very happy.
On July 1, 1929, he deemed It advisable to
move into a less expensive house, the property
of Mr. Lu Chung-yu, a well known Anfu leader.
He economized to save a matter of SSO or SIOO
a month. A few years ago, while still living
in the palace in the Forbidden City, he also
felt It wise to eoonemize—and dismissed more
than 1,000 servants! Today he has about 20
in his household, and this does not mean what
20 servants would mean in the United States,
Their aggregate pay would probably not exceed
the sum paid to one American butler.
(Cw'ritht, 1929.!
Provide 'Praps for Stray Cats .
'T’HK night life of the cities, usually associated
with noisy parties and bright, lights, also
involves a huge, unseen and usually untbought
of population of stray cats. In fact, so numer
ous is the stray-cat population of the cities of
the country that the Department of Agriculture,
through the Biological Survey, is spreading in
formation on means of trapping these predatory
and unwanted animals.
Figures for one city alone show more than a
million vagrant cats put to death in four years
by the humane society. These animals, mangy,
lean and hungry, are a decided menace to
birds, rabbits, squirrels and other small forma
of wild- life. They are spreaders of disease
through their scavenger habits in their search
for food.
Neglected or deserted by owiiers, they skulk
around at night unseen, but, because of their
nocturnal vocal, proclivities, not unheard.
The best way of trapping the cats, and the
most humane, is by means of a box trap with
a door held up by a wire which is attached to
a false floor which springs the trap when the
weight of the cat is pressed on the floor.
The survey is issuing a booklet on the sub
ject of cat traps, giving Information on how
to construct and bait them.
Sets Mark for Publications.
'X'HE Office of Information of the Department
of Agriculture is one of the busiest estab
lishments in the Government service, judging
from the quantity of publications issued during
the past year. The oMcials estimate that dur
ing the past year 25,909,000 copies of various
publications were issued, the greater part of
which were free bulletins of various sorts.

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