National Geographic : 1900 Sep
THE CHINESE PARADOX their diplomatic game, and, beaten in this, they got even with the Powers, as they view it, by receiving the envoys in the Hall of Trib utary States, outside the royal palace. Again, after Kuangsii came of age and an audience was agreed on in 1890, so little did the Chinese care for the facts of the case that the same hall was used, and, the ceremony being made even more belit tling to the dignity of the envoys, they determined as a body never to submit to the imposition again. A few private audiences were held consequently under better conditions in the following years, but it was not until the Japanese war, in 1894, had pricked the Chinese bubble and had driven home a few needed lessons that the imperial government yielded its childish pretensions and received the envoys in the palace itself. The Powers, however, let the humiliation of the intercourse through the Tsung-li-Yamen continue, confirmed Chinese insolence by yielding continually until the collapse of 1898 and the succeeding intrigues-the flat refusal to lease Italy Sanmun Bay in March, 1899, though Italy's demand was supported by Great Britain, being the turning point-convinced the party of the Empress Dowager that it need not fear either united or determined action on the part of foreigners. Consequently the Manchu conspiracy, which had been under way for two years, came to a head in June, to the surprise of the very chancelleries that practically invited it and to the discom fiture of the envoys. Though revealed in imperial decree and fore cast in political changes, when the crash came they sat helpless because there was no Gordius to cut the entanglements of the idle ceremonies by whose foolish fetters they felt themselves inextricably bound. They forgot that a paradoxical situation is never so mis chievous as when those who know the falsity of its apparent relations accept the surface fact as final. But all this is past, and the Chinese paradox goes to join the august collection of exploded physical and political notions that had their day of evil obsession, but finally yielded to nineteenth century science and nineteenth century sense.