The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. She was educated in missionary schools, and later attended a convent in France, where she finished her schooling and entered society. On returning to China, she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. While on leave from her duties to attend upon her father, who was fatally ill in Shanghai, Princess Der Ling took a step which terminated connexion with the Chinese Court. This was her engagement to Mr. Thaddeus C. White, an American, to whom she was married on May 21, 1907. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.
or us to pass. This quite surprised us, as all gates are closed at seven o'clock in the evening and are not opened except on special occasions until daylight. We inquired of the guard why this was, and were told that orders had been given for the gates to be opened for us to pass. The officials who had charge were standing in a double line dressed in full official dress and saluted us as we passed.
It was still quite dark when we had passed through the gate and I thought of the many experiences of my short life; but this was by far the strangest of them all. I wondered what Her Majesty would be like and whether she would like me or not. We were told that probably we would be asked to stay at the Court, and I thought that if that came to pass, I would possibly be able to influence Her Majesty in favor of reform and so be of valuable assistance to China. These thoughts made me feel happy and I made up my mind then and there that I would do all I could and use any influence I might have in the future towa
I am mostly through this book and I find it to be surprisingly fascinating. This book is a very interesting account of life and the people behind the walls of the palaces of pre communist China. The Forbidden City is only one of the places described in the book.
While the customs, religion and day to day activities of the Empresses court were certainly interesting enough, getting to know the Empress and her servants through the writing of the author was the most interesting aspect of the book.
This book makes me want to learn more about the time period and main characters described in the book.
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