‘The Chinese Statue – Character sketch of Alexander Heathcote


The Chinese Statue

Character Sketch of Alexander Heathcote

Sir Alexander Heathcote is the main protagonist of the core story and the one whose acts are responsible for the development of the frame story.

  • Physical appearance and personality traits

Sir Alexander has been described as a tall British gentleman, whose height is exactly six- foot – three and a quarter inches. He was a punctual and stated as “exact man”as –  who  ” rose at seven O’clock every morning, joined his wife at breakfast to eat one boiled egg cooked for precisely four minutes, two pieces of toast with one spoonful of Cooper’s marmalade, and drink one cup of China tea.” 

      He would then leave for office at exactly eight – twenty and arrive  there at eight fifty – nine. He would return in the evening exactly at six O’ Clock.

  • Diplomatic Career

           Unlike his father, who was a military General, Sir Alexander chose a diplomatic career. He gradually rose from the position of a Desk Officer to the position of Deputy Ambassador and finally to a British Ambassador to China. When he completed his tree years term, it was because his excellent service that the Empress awarded him the  “Silver star of China” and Queen Victoria awarded him the Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

  • Lover of Art

           Sir Alexander had a vast knowledge and interest for Ming dynasty’s art. He was the lover of Ming dynasty’s art. Due to this reason he was quite happy to be appointed as the British  Ambassador to China and he had taken it as an “opportunity  to observe in their natural habitat some of the great statues, paintings and drawings.” 

When Sir Alexander chanced upon an old craftsman’s workshop
” For over an hour the minister sighed and chuckled as he studied many of the pieces with admiration. ” 

When the craftsman brought him to the back of his workshop ” The minister could have happily settled down in the orgy of ivory for at least a week. ” 

When the craftsman showed him ‘ the Chinese Statue’ –
” Sir Alexander’s mouth opened wide and he could not hide his excitement. ” 

     He was quite confident that the statue was made by the great  Pen Q  at around fifteenth century. 

     In fact, Sir Alexander was so enthralled by the beauty of the Statue of Emperor Kung that he could not make out the fact that it was fake and a copy of original. 

      Sir Alexander was so fascinated by the beauty of the Statue that he could not stop himself by uttering “How I wish the piece was mine.” 

      Although Sir Alexander regretted voicing his desire, he could not refuse to take the statue as a gift. 

  • A True Gentleman

      Like a true gentleman, Sir Alexander regretted voicing his desire to have the statue. Then he quickly said ” No, no. I was only joking.”

      When he left the craftsman’s workshop, Sir Alexander was quite disturbed as he had taken the craftsman’s heirloom without paying him anything in return.

    When the Mandarin told him about the Chinese custom that ” when a stranger has been generous , you must return the kindness within the calendar year.” 

       Then Sir Alexander felt relieved. He made an extensive research in the library to find out the real value of the statue which came out to “almost three years’ emolument for a servant of the Crown.”

     So he paid a large part of his savings to get a beautiful house constructed in the hills, where the craftsman wished to spend rest of his life and gifted the same to Yung Lee.
        ” The two men thus parted, honour satisfied, and Sir Alexander rode to his Embassy that night content ” that he had paid his debt.

  • A Visionary

          Sir Alexander was a visionary. Before dying, he made a will for the disposal of his estate, including the state of Emperor Kung.

    He bequeathed the statue to his first son, requesting that it should be passed to the eldest son or daughter. He also made a provision that it could not be disposed of unless the family’s honour was at stake.

    As per his will, the statue remained with his family for more than a hundred years.



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