TwELVE mont.hs elapsed before the political atmosphere or China was disturbed by any break or change in its condition-a. period of quiet which the government sorely needed for an appreciation of its relations with the foreigners who had forced their way into the capital. His Majesty Hienfung having ascended the Dragon Throne on high, left the Empire in the hands of his only son, a child six years old; whether througil incapacity or disease, the debauched sovereign had long before his death allowed his courtiers to engross the reins of government, and these now formed a coterie which at J eh-ho was ajipowerful. At his death the administration rested in the hands of a council of eight, whose nominal head was Tsai-yuen, Prince 1, a member of the ~mperial family belonging to the same generation with the infant Emperor. The design of this cabal was w at once assume the absolute power of a regency, to retain possession of the young Emperor's person at Jeh-ho, to make way in secret with his mother and the Empress-dowager, and lastly to arrest and destroy his father's three brothers; these initiatory steps to sovereignty being accomplished, nothing would interrupt their complete mastery of the government.