Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Strange Fate Of Yuan Shikai

He was, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, a "Chinese army leader and reformist minister in the twilight of the Qing dynasty (until 1911) and then first president of the Republic of China (1912-1916)." Yuan Shikai was more, though. With his defeat of the Nationalist Party (including the murdering of the party chairman) and declaring of a new imperial dynasty, he killed off efforts towards parliamentary democracy in China. As self-proclaimed emperor and president for life he soon found himself facing widespread opposition. He was eventually forced to terminate his dynasty in early 1916. Shortly thereafter he died.

Here is the interesting part. An Australian newspaper article from the October 17, 1914 contained the following:

It will be interesting to see whether the Chinese soothsayer is a true prophet. Yuan Shi Kai is reported as now assuming the title of "Divine Majesty" (Shen Wu), with a view to the imperial purple to follow. Now, when Yuan was Viceroy of Chi Chi his favorite wife persuaded him to consult a famous soothsayer. The prophecy was that Yuan would one day become emperor, and then soon lose his life.

Yuan was so annoyed at this forecast that the prophet prudently withdrew. Then Yuan summoned him back for another little talk. But the soothsayer, fearing to lose his head, was smuggled away by the favorite wife. So Yuan left with the reflection that the paths of glory may lead but to the grave.   

Strange, yes, because it appeared almost two years before Shikai died. He died in an untimely manner of uremia on June 6, 1916. The prophecy fulfilled.

Who this mysterious Chinese soothsayer was I have not yet been able to determine. However, I am keeping this file open as I continue to investigate. I include here a link to the newspaper prophecy.  In this post I will just report and not speculate on the fascinating subjects of prophecy and fate. But is this type of thing not unsettling, to say the least?


  1. Hi Diane and Doug. I've had to be away for awhile taking care of my mother. Sure was nice to hear from you guys. Sorry I didn't get back sooner.