The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 6/6

There is no way to know when Robert Hart learned the details of the Taiping Rebellion. In Tilly’s opinion, he should have known all the details before the summer of 1855.

However, I have had the privilage of reading Robert Hart’s journal entries for his first year in China and he never mentions the Taipings—not once, but he does write about pirates, lonliness and his struggles to learn Chinese while working long days at the British consulate in Ningpo.

In  Entering China’s Service on page 156, it says, “Since 7 September 1853, the native city of Shanghai (not the foreign enclaves) had been in the hands of rebels from the Small Sword Society, an off-shoot of the Triads (note that it doesn’t say Taiping Rebels); Hart wrote of these circumstances when he was there (in Shanghai staying in the British sector) in route to Ningpo in early October 1854.”

On page 157, the editors said, “The local Triad Society rebellion at Shanghai was of course only a pale reflection of the great sweep of the Taiping Rebellion … In May 1855 … Hart heard that the rebels (the Taipings) had taken Yushan … between 300 and 400 miles from Ningpo. … Ningpo had more immediate concerns in the feud between the Portuguese lorchamen and Cantonese pirates. The prevalence of pirates … was a grave threat to the shipping of all nations (not the Taiping Rebellion).”

The Taipings did not control one port in China at this time.

Two months later, Robert would be spending the summer with his friend Captain Dan Patridge and there is no way to know what happened at Patridge’s house, because Hart burned the journals that covered the next 2.9 years—what did Robert want to hide?

In fact, Hart does not go into detail about who the Taipings were anywhere in his journals while he was still working in Ningpo, and that is understandable since he arrived in China not speaking or reading Chinese and was often isolated from other English speakers for days at a time in Ningpo as he worked long hours at the consulate dealing with merchants (both Chinese and Western) while struggling with the frustration of learning Chinese.

How could Hart discuss the details of a Chinese rebellion when he could not hold a conversatoin with the Chinese? It was also obvious from the entries in Hart’s journals that the few English speaking people he met in Ningpo, Shanghai or Hong Kong were not concerned about the Taiping Rebellion. It wasn’t a topic foreigners were interested in.

Knowing that there was a rebellion is one thing.  Knowing the specific details and history behind the cause of the rebellion is another and that was what Robert learned from Captain Dan Patridge in July 1855.

Hart arrived in Hong Kong in July 1854 and in July of 1855 he spends the summer with Partridge where he was introduced intimately to the concubine culture and discovered the details of the Taiping rebellion.

By the way, Patridge was a real person and he was the principal agent in China of Jardine and Matheson, the largest opium merchant operating in China. In fact, the Taipings were against the opium trade and wanted to throw all foreigners out of China.

Hart’s first year in China was spent mostly in isolation from his own kind and he felt lonely because of this. Most of the people he met on a daily basis were Chinese and he didn’t speak their language and they did not speak his. It was a difficult and demanding situation at best without the benefit of cultural workshops, inservices and the Interent that we take for granted today. I’m sure that the Queen’s College in Belfast did not have history courses on China during the 19th century and probably most of the 20th too.

Hart says in a July 29, 1855 entry of his journal, “I fear when I go back to the Consulate for the winter, I shall feel the loneliness very much.”

On page 169 of Entering China’s service, it says, “Unlike the lawlessness at Ningpo, which was due to crime—large scale, to be sure, but not organized as rebellion—the disorder of the 1850s at Canton was connected directly or indirectly with the rebellion of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.”

It would not be until 1858 that Hart was transferred to Canton. While Hart worked in Ningpo, as you may see, the concern of the Chinese and Westerners had little to do with the Taiping Rebellion and more with pirates and crime. Hart did not study Chinese history as it happened. He lived it and did not experience the Taiping Rebellion during his first year in China.

In addition, it wouldn’t be until Ayaou was his concubine, that he would start making progress learning Chinese and by then he knew all about the Taipings thanks to Captain Patridge, the opium merchant.

Tilly at the Readers Cafe has a right to her opinion about the novel but does not have a right to defame me or my work with a sloppy review filled with false claims of historical inaccuracy.

Return to The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 5 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 4/6

In Tilly’s fourth claim, she calls Ayaou a Harlot, which may reveal Tilly’s personal biases and moral beliefs without a clear understanding of cultural difference between the West and China.

There is a HUGE difference between a harlot and a concubine, because a harlot by definition is a woman prostitute.

However, the definition of a concubine says, “1. (in polygamous societies) A woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.  2. A mistress  3. In certain societies, such as imperial China, a woman contracted to a man as a secondary wife, often having few legal rights and low social status.” (I found all three of these definitions by Googling “Concubine definition”)

Then Tilly, a self proclaimed historian using Google as her main source, no doubt, disagrees with the fact that the eunuch that becomes Hart’s servant tells Hart that he was castrated at a young age so he would qualify to apply for a job in the Forbidden city.

In Tilly’s opinion, castrations only took place after a man was hired to work in the Forbidden City, but that is not what my sources say or should I say my wife’s research material which included the autobiographies of eunuchs that were forced to leave the Forbidden City in 1911 and other source material in original Mandarin—not to be discovered through Google searches.

In addition, Sterling Seagrave in his nonfiction historical book Dragon Lady mentioned on page 121 (paperback edition) that “Most eunuchs in Tung Chih’s day were volunteers, men who sought employment by these desperate means. … Complete healing took three months, after which the eunuch was ready to seek work.”

What does the word “seek” mean?  Hint, it does not mean “start” work.

A comment at Historum.com says, “Eunuchs were usually chosen when they were very young, as castrating a sexually immature boy had less effect on the body. However, sometimes adults eager for money or power might undergo castration in order to enter the court.”

“Many eunuchs chose their way of life. One eunuch told British Sinologist John Blofeld in City of lingering Splendour: ‘It seemed a little thing to give up one pleasure for so many. My parents were poor, yet suffering that small change, I could be sure of an easy life in surroundings of great beauty and magnificence, I could aspire to intimate companionship with lovely women unmarred by their fear or distrust of me. I could even hope for power and wealth of my own.’ … Familes often encouraged their sons to become eunuchs as a means of pulling the family out of poverty and gaining admittance into the imperial court. Many parents even organized their sons’ castration at an early age in hopes that they would become imperial eunuchs.” Source: Facts and Details.com

Do all of these sources say the eunuchs got the job first then was castrated as Tilly claims?

Continued on July 12, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 5 or return to Part 3

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 1/6

I have been accused of a crime—the crime of historical inaccuracy in my novel, The Concubine Saga. I was tried and convicted without a trial by Tilly, a reviewer at The Readers Cafe.

However, the facts say otherwise and in a trial with a jury of my peers, I’m convinced that I would have been found innocent on all counts, as I shall prove in this series of post.

There is a conundrum to this issue—reviewers and many readers feel that an author has no right to respond to criticism of his or her work  even when a review boldly makes accusations and false claims, but I do not agree.  If an author believes he or she has been defamed, then it is the duty of the author to speak out in his or her own defense unless a loyal fan does it first.

Today, the Internet makes it possible for anyone to write a book review. In fact, it seems that the Internet is becoming the only go-to-place of research for couch potatoes.  However, I doubt that every word written in every book in the world may be found through a  Google search.

Furthermore, this isn’t the first time the historical accuracy of “The Concubine Saga” had been challenged. The first example of defamation came from China in 2008.

If you are unsure what defamation means, here is the definition: to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate: The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.

In 2008, a book review of My Splendid Concubine (the first half of The Concubine Saga) appeared online for Beijing Today, an English language newspaper produced by the Communist Youth League of China, and the reviewer claimed the historical accuracy of the novel was questionable because the opening chapter mentioned there were clocks in the Forbidden City.

The Beijing Today reviewer claimed that the Qing Dynasty was too conservative to have clocks.

However, in our extensive personal research library of  China sitting on shelves in our home there is a book that mentions the Qianlong Emperor’s collection of clocks (the book also had photos of a few of the clocks).

I sent an e-mail to Beijing Today with the ISBN number including pull quotes with page numbers from that book proving that there were hundreds if not thousands of clocks in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace during most of the Qing Dynasty.

I never heard back from Beijing Today, and I shrugged it off. After all, how many people in the rest of the world outside China will ever read that negative review of my work in a Chinese Communist English language newspaper with a circulation of 50,000?  In fact, when I went on-line recently and used Google in an attempt to find that review, it did not appear in any search results.

The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China. He ruled China from 1735 to1796, and he wasn’t alone in his love of clocks.

“The Kangzi (ruled China 1661 to 1722) and Qianlong emperors of the Qing Dynasty were fascinated by European clocks, which were often presented as tribute gifts by envoys.”  Source: The Emperor Looks West, Peabody Essex Museum

I have visited the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in Beijing more than once since 1999 and with my own eyes, I saw a few clocks on display that belonged to Qing Dynasty emperors—not many since most of the Imperial treasures and China’s treasury were looted by the Nationalists as Chiang Kai-shek fled China for Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Civil War.

Continued on July 9, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”