A heroine out of TRT winned popular confidence


 In the sixth year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1880 A.D.), Yue Pingquan passed away. According to the family tree of the Yues, before Yue Pingquan, there were very few boys and the family had only one son for each generation. Yue Pingquan had four sons who are called “four branches” by later generations. After the Yues family after Pingquan was a big one with great fortune. Who could manage this big family?


The ex-wife of Yue Pingquan died early. He was remarried to Ms. Xu Yefen (also called the Young Sparrow). When she married Yue Pingquan, she was a beautiful and graceful lady with good virtues. She gave birth to four sons and four daughters. After the death of Yue Pingquan, whether she could win the respect and consent from four branches of the family (four sons of Yue Pingquan, Yue Fengfan, Yue Zhongfan, Yue Shufan and Yue Jifan) and all other people became the key for the continuation of the glory of TRT.


Xu Yefen was born in an eminent family. She was endowed with the broad mind and wide horizon of her distinguished family, meanwhile she had the nature of women from a good family - thrifty, hardworking, smart and talented. She was really great, combining virtues of two families without demonstrating any weakness. Moreover, as she was fair and just; she used people according to their abilities; she respected the wise and loved the young; and what’s more, she won the admiration from all people in the family. People remembered that at that time TRT called senior technicians “teachers” and everyday Xu Yefen monitored cooking of the meals for the teachers in person. When the teachers handed in the account book at the back house, she greeted and sent them off in person and called all of them teachers to show her respect.


As the head of the top pharmacy in China, she had ambitious aspirations and great ability necessary for a successufal,manager; being a woman, she also had tender feelings. The descendants of the four branches were her grandsons or granddaughters. She loved them and tried to meet all their rational demands like other loving grandmothers. Three years ago, Yue Daren, son of Yue Jifan the fourth branch, told her that he wanted to go to Europe. Xu Yefen was very surprised hearing this. At that time it was not so easy to go to Europe.


As a young man, Yue Daren saw so many magical machines and rare things in the West and had the desire to visit Europe. And then he told his grandmother about his idea. Xu Yefen had always lived in a traditional Chinese family before and after she married, but she was not conservative. She gave great support to later generations to go abroad for sightseeing or visiting. Yue Daren going to Germany, Yue Dazhuang once visiting Japan and Yue Dayi visiting Britain all showed the support from Xu Yefen.


On returning home, Yue Daren told his grandmother the new things he saw in Germany, the Krupp Works, the streets in Berlin and how the Germans ran factories and stores.


“In my opinion, the Germans all pursue ‘strictness’. Both factory owners and workers are very strict and scrupulous about everything. No wonder people from all over the world like to buy German products.” said Yue Daren excitedly.


Xu Yefen looked at her grandson and listened to the stories with great joy. She laughed heartedly one moment and pondered the next and then agreed by nodding head. At last, she said, “our ancestors said, ‘no manpower shall be spared, no matter how complicated the procedures of pharmaceutical production are, and no material shall be reduced, no matter how much the cost is’. It seems that it is true both at home and abroad.”


TRT had just gone through hardships and of course would meet many difficulties. But Xu Yefen did not slacken the management, nor did she lower the standard.


TRT had a medicine called “zixue powder”. According to the Contents of Medicines of TRT, it belongs to the type of medicines for “exogenous febrile disease”. It is used to cure accumulation of fever, measles, being thirst or dry in the mouth, wild talk and epilepsy from heat.


The recipe for zixue powder is very unique. It needs not only mineral raw materials like talcum, gypsum, magnetite, but also precious materials like agalloch eaglewood, bugbane, rhinoceros horn and bezoar. And it also needs “100 liang of gold”. This is well-founded. According to the Compendium of Materia Medica, “gold helps resume composure and drives evil qi in the internal organs of the human body.”


However, the gold pot of TRT had been robbed by foreign invaders. TRT, having undergone great hardships, could not afford to cast a gold pot. So what should they do?


Someone said, “It’s OK if we don’t have the gold pot. In fact, other pharmacies don’t even use it when making zixue powder. Even if they have used, who knows?”


Hearing this, Xu Yefen reprimanded severely, “Do you want to ruin TRT brand?”


Then all people present were dumbfounded. They knew that although the madam was strict in management of the pharmacy, she didn’t get angry and lost her temper easily. Xu Yefen asked that man, “Do you remember the words of our ancestor?”


The man recited the words with sweat, “I remember. It’s ‘no manpower shall be spared, no matter how complicated the procedures of pharmaceutical production are, and no material shall be reduced, no matter how much the cost is’.”


“What else?” The madam still looked serious.


“we shall do things with our sincerity and trustworthiness even without supervision from others, because God sees.”


“I thought you had forgotten the words of our ancestors!” She said. “The ancestors also said that ‘there is no reason for ancient proven prescriptions to be ineffective. If they could not cure diseases, it is because the way of preparation or the medicinal materials are not proper.’ Zixue is a famous medicine of TRT. It has become famous under heaven just because we dare not save manpower and materials and pursue sincerity and trustworthiness. If we don’t follow the ancient prescriptions just because no one sees it, then how could we ensure the efficacy? Aren’t we cheating God and bringing shame to our ancestors? Aren’t we failing all people in this world.”


The man said, “You said it. You are right.” But actually he thought, “You are right. But without a gold pot, how could you do?’


After a while, Xu Yefen calmed down and called for all women of the family. The women knew that without any important issue, they would not be called for. But none of them knew what happened and they were getting a little nervous.


When they gathered together, Xu Yefen told them the situation and asked them how they could add gold to zixue powder. They women looked at each other in blank dismay and didn’t know what to do. At this moment, Xu said, “Since no one knows what to do, I’ve got an idea, but…”


She stopped here and said a few words to her maid. After a while, the maid brought some gold and silver jewelry and put them on a teapoy in the middle of the room. Now they understood. The madam wanted them to donate jewelry and solve the problem in raising “100 liang gold”. Since this was relevant to the guarantee of quality of TRT’s medicine and the madam had taken the lead, they all donated their jewelry. Some took off their ear rings, some removed their bracelets and some took off their hairpins. In this way, they even raised one hundred liang of gold, which could be used in the preparation of the medicine. In days and nights of preparation of zixue powder, Xu Yefen always monitored the process and ensured the quality of the medicine.


During the period of management of TRT by Xu Yefen, she took charge of revision and reprinting of Contents of Medicines of TRT.


Here is quotation from the record of the second preface of Contents of Medicines of TRT: “TRT had contents of medicines for a long time. The fourth generation, Zunyu, was an official in the imperial hospital. He liked to read books of prescription and distinguish the recipe of the medicine… The fifth generation Wugang followed his teachings and established TRT in the south of Dashilar outside Zhengyang Gate of the capital in the year of Renwu during the reign of Emperor Kangxi…The medicines shall be prepared according to the ancient prescription and the materials shall be purchased at all costs… After five years the prescribtions for pill, powder, ointment and small pill became complete and were compiled into a book with classifications, which was spread for a long time.” And according to the preface, “until now, the precious medicines in the royal pharmacy must be selected by TRT……..”


The Contents of Medicines of TRT revised by Xu Yefen were based on the contents of medicines supplemented by Yue Pingquan. There were a total of 16 categories including “addendum”, about 495 medicines. On the cover there were words of “Examined by Xu Yefen.” From then on, the contents of medicines of TRT remained unchanged until 1949. This indicates that the medicines in the contents are indeed effective after being used for a long time.


Xu Yefen managed the business of TRT for 27 years. She had not only consolidated various rational and effective rules and regulations in the period of Yue Pingquan but also made improvements. During the period of her management, TRT enjoyed a stable period of development and continued its glory. She was not only a good woman manager of TRT but also an exceptionally excellent woman entrepreneur in China’s national industry and commerce at that time.