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He took with him only a small roll of blankets, and a few clothes. Strangely enough, he believed that the customs premises would be spared because they belonged to the government! In fact, they were speedily with their contents burned to the ground. At the beginning of the siege Hart had little hope that the foreigners could be saved. To me at Tientsin he sent by a trusty coolie, who took his life in his hand to bring the note, this desperate touching message written in ink on a small scrap of paper; what volumes it speaks!


Legations ordered to leave Peking in 24 hours!!!—R. H. 19 June, 1900, 4 p. m. Good bye!

Pay bearer Tls. 100.-R. H.


I need not dwell on the thrilling tale of the eight weeks that followed. For the hard pressed Europeans it is a story of suffering, of horror, of death, of wondrous fortitude, of unflinching tenacity and courage. The world's history affords few examples of equal heroism displayed by women and by men. Sir Robert, then in his sixty-sixth year, was too old to take his place rifle in hand in the muddy trenches or behind the sand bags; but his confidence, his Irish good humor were conspicuous among the besieged; and the spectacle of his serenity, sympathy and helpfulness, as he moved about, fortified both the timorous and the brave. Needless to say, he shared privations and faced dangers on an equal footing with the humblest around him. At the mess table, when horse meat was served for the first time, on being asked how he liked it, he smacked his lips and replied, "Now I have discovered what it was that my cook used to serve for my dinner parties, when I had charged him to spare no pains to get a specially fine piece of mutton!"

During those desperate weeks his thoughts must have striven to forecast the political outcome for China, if the armies of the allied powers should reach Peking and raise

the siege and inaugurate the day of reckoning. What would be the fate of the empire, and what the fate of the great service which he had spent forty tireless years in building up? Would it still be permitted to endure? Could the new postal service hope to be saved from wreck and allowed to continue its growth?

No sooner was the siege over than the inspector general gallantly took up his work. The city-all round about the legations he found to be naught but bare walls of brick amid heaps of ruins. He did not forget to telegraph to London-to his one and only tailor-for suits of heavy clothes; winter was drawing near. He discovered two vacant rooms in the rear of Mr. Kierulff's shop in the legation quarter; these now became the head office of the inspectorate general! Here I found him at Christmas four months later with a few of the best men in the service by his sidegathering up the tangled threads and restoring the disordered fabric.

Hart's first step when safe once more, was to cast about him for the former head of the Chinese foreign office, Prince Ch'ing, in order to bring China again into official relations with the ministers of the foreign powers. Obviously the main thing to be done was to open negotiations, to arrange preliminary terms of peace, to get the foreign troops called in from the country around Peking, and so spare the afflicted peasantry. Government all over north China had become demoralized and order must replace the threatened chaos. Prince Ch'ing was soon found by Sir Robert and was easily induced to begin peace making. This was a service of incalculable value to the future of China. Hart then wrote that series of seasonable articles which appeared rapidly in various magazines, while public attention was still intent on the Chinese question, pointing out to Europe and to America the causes of the Boxer fury and the consequences to be expected in the future of injustice perpetrated by the great powers against the integrity and the rights of China. These essays, collected and published with the title These from the Land of Sinim, still stand as a warning to the leaders of world politics and dollar diplomacy. It is a marvellous instance

of Hart's fidelity to China and devotion to duty, that even after his bitter experience of cruel indifference and ingratitude, he harbored no personal resentment. He took no holiday, no respite for recuperation after the siege. His capacity and inclination for work seemed as unerring and as strong as ever; he soon had the reins in his controlling hands, and the customs and postal services kept on their steady way. It is needless to say that during the lawless autumn of 1900, when looting and loot buying was a fashionable orgy in Peking, Hart with a quiet scorn would have no part in it. He did not even permit himself to walk through the palaces of the Forbidden City, then abandoned by the court and guarded by the troops of the allies."

The empress dowager, on her return to Peking, summoned him to private audience. As he entered the presence chamber she covered her face and expressed her shame and mortification for the treatment he had suffered.

Sir Robert remained at his post more than seven years after the events of 1900. He stayed long enough to behold the beginnings of the changing China. The education reform, the Japanese-Russian war, the miraculous crusade against opium, the pledges of a new constitution with parliaments and a limited monarchy; these great events marked his closing period in China. No wonder it seemed that he could not find the moment when he might leave Peking and go once more to England. He had been "home" but twice since his first arrival in the East in 1854, namely, in 1866 when he was married, and in 1878 when he was special commissioner for China at the Paris Exposition. Lady Hart now came back herself to Peking, in 1906, and induced him to take leave of absence. The state of his health-at lastre-inforced her persuasions. He left China in 1908, and arriving in London entered for the first time the house where had been for twenty years the home of his wife and children.

In July, 1900, false telegrams from China reported that the beseiged inmates of the legations had been overpowered and massacred. These were too widely credited, and a few weeks afterwards Hart-as well as a number of others had the satisfaction of reading in the London Times of July 17 long notices of their own careers with candid criticisms of their deficiencies and their public services!

He was an old man of seventy-three. Many and great honors were now conferred upon him in his own country by cities and universities.

China now witnessed momentous changes; the statesman Chang Chih-tung died, the emperor and the Dowager empress "ascended to be guests on high." A weak regency followed. The regent, to satisfy a foolish revenge, took the fatal step of dismissing China's wisest minister Yuan Shihkai. Repeated messages from the Peking foreign office appealed to Sir Robert to return to China. His answer was, "Yes, so soon as my health will permit.” But, alas, this was not to be. Robert Hart had finished his course, a worn out man at last! Early in the autumn of 1910 he died of pneumonia, in the country near London. He was buried at Bisham Church not far from Marlow. He had not lived to witness the great events of 1911; but the revolution could not have surprised him. Years before he had pointed to the impending fate of the decadent Tsings-the once illustrious House of Kang Hsi and Kien Lung.

Of Sir Robert Hart's personal characteristics there is no time here to speak at length. His daily life was a fixed routine from which it greatly irked him to be diverted. After morning tea with Virgil or Horace as his companion, he devoted an hour to the violin-for he delighted in music. Nine o'clock found him in his office, where he worked standing at his desk-with an old railway rug strapped round him in winter. At ten he received his secretaries, heard their reports and gave directions. This routine being despatched, he settled down to his own tasks alone. In doing business he was stern, brief, exact and exacting. His directions to his staff, short and unmistakable, were issued in writing; and no one ventured to question them unless sure of strong grounds for objection or criticism. Usually the inspector general would be found to be posessed of fuller information and to have thought deeper than the objector, and discomfiture followed. At noon he left his office for a walk in the garden around the house. This was the practice hour for his band-Chinese musicians led by a European. At this time children (of whom he was a merry companion) walked and gossiped with him. After lunch, usually eaten alone,

and a short nap, he was again in his office where he wrote till dark or even later. In the afternoon he did not permit himself to be disturbed. Work over, he walked again, frequently alone, in the garden. After dinner he read, first something serious, philosophy, biography or poetry,-then finishing the evening with a novel. History, strange to say, did not attract him. He was abstemious in a general sense, though he did not refrain entirely from wine or tobacco. He was by no means unsocial, as a member of the Peking community; he made calls, he dined out, and himself gave a dinner party weekly through the winter season, followed by a dance. Nor was he ever too old to share in the quadrille and the lancers. But these evening festivities were confined within those bounds of time which the morrow's work demanded; when eleven o'clock came, the band struck up a stated march-the signal, familiar to every guest, to say "Good night" and go home. His Christmas trees year after year, who that were children in Peking can ever forget them! Such generosity, such an effort (sometimes pathetically mistaken) that each gift should exactly suit the receiver! Each parcel had been selected, done up, and marked by Sir Robert's own hand! But also such a rigid injunction to disperse promptly when the hour struck! Though to many persons Hart's life would seem an inflexible slavery to routine, yet he was one of the most interesting of men. There was nothing in the wide world far or near to which he was indifferent. He was full of imagination, with a deep vein of superstition even. Coincidences, signs, telepathy had the greatest attraction for him, he was always looking out for them and found them everywhere. When the protocol of the treaty with France in 1885 was at last agreed to --a welcome release from a protracted strain of suspensehe telegraphed even from far Peking to Paris, "Don't sign on the first April!"

An excellent account of Sir Robert Hart's personality, of his relations to the members of the customs service, and of his work, may be found in chapter xvi of Sir Henry Norman's The Peoples and Politics of the Far East, Scribner, 1895.

See also chapter on the "Inspectorate of Customs" in H. B. Morse's Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire.

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