While the Ming power was collapsing before the onset of Li Tseching, there still remained the large and well-trained Ming army in garrison on the Manchu frontier, under command of the able general, Wou Sankwei. At the eleventh hour the Emperor Tsonching had sent a message to Wou Sankwei, begging him to come in all haste to save the capital; and that general, evacuating Ningyuen, and leaving a small garrison at Shanhaikwan, had begun his march for Pekin, when he learned that it had fallen and that the Ming dynasty had ceased to be. Placed in this dilemma, between the advancing Manchus, who immediately occupied Ningyuen on his evacuation of it, and the large rebel force in possession of Pekin, Wou Sankwei had no choice between coming to terms with one or other of them. Li Tseching offered him liberal rewards and a high command, but in vain, for Wou Sankwei decided that it would be better to invite the Manchus to enter the country, and to assist them to conquer it. There can be no doubt that this course was both the wiser and the more patriotic, for Li Tseching was nothing more than a successful brigand on a large scale; whereas the Manchu government was a respectable one, was well organized, and aspired to revive the best traditions of the Chinese. Having come to a prompt decision, Wou Sankwei lost no time in promptly carrying it out. He wrote a letter to the Manchus, asking them to send an army to co-operate with his in driving Li Tseching out of Pekin; and the Manchus, at once realizing that the moment had arrived for conquering China, acquiesced promptly in his plans, sent forward their advanced corps, and ordered a levee en masse of the nation for the conquest of China. Assured of his rear, and also of speedy re-enforcement, Wou Sankwei did not delay a day in marching on Pekin. Li Tseching sent out a portion of his army to oppose the advance of Wou Sankwei; but the officer's instructions were rather to negotiate than to fight, for to the last Li Tseching expected that Wou Sankwei would come over to his side. He was already beginning to feel doubtful as to the security of his position; and his fears were increased by his superstition, for when, on entering Pekin, he passed under a gate above which was written the character "joong" (middle), he exclaimed, drawing his bow at the same time, "If I hit this joong in the middle, it is a sign I have gained the whole empire, as the empire is joong, the middle kingdom." His arrow missed its mark. The apprehensions of Li Tseching were soon confirmed, for Wou Sankwei defeated the first army he had sent out with a loss of 20,000 men. Li does not seem to have known of the alliance between that officer and the Manchus, for he marched at the head of 60,000 men to encounter him. He took with him the aged father of Wou Sankwei and two Ming princes, who had survived the massacre of their family, with a view to appealing to the affection and loyalty of that commander; but these devices proved vain.
Wou Sankwei drew up his forces at Yungping in a strong position near the scene of his recent victory; his front seems to have been protected by the river Zanho, and he calmly awaited the attack of Li Tseching, whose army far outnumbered his. Up to this point Wou Sankwei had not been joined by any of the Manchus, but a body was known to be approaching, and he was anxious to put off the battle until they arrived. For the same reason Li Tseching was as anxious to begin the attack, and, notwithstanding the strength of Wou Sankwei's position, he ordered his troops to engage without delay. Adopting the orthodox Chinese mode of attack of forming his army in a crescent, so that the extreme wings should overlap and gradually encompass those of the enemy, Li trusted to his numerical superiority to give him the victory. At one moment it seemed as if his expectation would be justified; for, bravely as Wou Sankwei and his army fought, the weight of numbers was telling its inevitable tale when a Manchu corps opportunely arrived, and attacking the Chinese with great impetuosity, changed the fortune of the day and put the army of Li Tseching to the rout. Thirty thousand men are said to have fallen on the field, and Li himself escaped from the carnage with only a few hundred horsemen.
After this Li met with disaster after disaster. He was driven out of Shansi into Honan, and from Honan into Shensi. Wou Sankwei took Tunkwan without firing a shot, and when Li attempted to defend Singan he found that his soldiers would not obey his orders, and wished only to come to terms with Wou Sankwei. Expelled from the last of his towns he took refuge in the hills, but the necessity of obtaining provisions compelled him now and then to descend into the plains, and on one of these occasions he was surprised in a village and killed. His head was placed in triumph over the nearest prefecture, and thus ended the most remarkable career of a princely robber chieftain to be found in Chinese annals. At one time it seemed as if Li Tseching would be the founder of a dynasty, but his meteor-like career ended not less suddenly than his rise to supreme power was rapid. Extraordinary as was his success, Wou Sankwei had rightly gauged its nature when he declared that it had no solid basis.
The overthrow of Li Tseching paved the way for a fresh difficulty. It had been achieved to a large extent by the military genius of Wou Sankwei and by the exertions of his Chinese army. That officer had invited the Manchus into the country, but when victory was achieved he showed some anxiety for their departure. This was no part of the compact, nor did it coincide with the ambition of the Manchus. They determined to retain the territory they had conquered, at the same time that they endeavored to propitiate Wou Sankwei and to retain the command of his useful services. He was given the high sounding title of Ping-si Wang, or Prince Pacifier of the West, and many other honors. Gratified by these rewards and unable to discover any person who could govern China, Wou Sankwei gradually reconciled himself to the situation and performed his duty faithfully as the most powerful lieutenant of the young Manchu ruler, Chuntche, the son of Taitsong, who, after the fall of Li Tseching, removed his capital to Pekin, and assumed the style and ceremony of a Chinese emperor. The active administration was intrusted to Prince Dorgun, brother of Taitsong, who now became known as Ama Wang, the Father Prince, and who acted as regent during the long minority of his nephew. The new dynasty was inaugurated at Pekin with a grand ceremony and court.
After this formal and solemn assumption of the governing power in China by the young Manchu prince, the activity of the Manchus increased, and several armies were sent south to subject the provinces, and to bring the whole Chinese race under his authority. For some time no serious opposition was encountered, as the disruption of Li's forces entailed the surrender of all the territory north of the Hoangho. But at Nankin, and in the provinces south of the Yangtsekiang, an attempt had been made, and not unsuccessfully, to set up a fresh administration under one of the members of the prolific Ming family. Fou Wang, a grandson of Wanleh, was placed on the Dragon Throne of Southern China in this hope, but his character did not justify the faith reposed in him. He thought nothing of the serious responsibility he had accepted, but showed that he regarded his high station merely as an opportunity for gratifying his own pleasures. There is little or no doubt that if he had shown himself worthy of his station he might have rallied to his side the mass of the Chinese nation, and Wou Sankwei, who had shown some signs of chafing at Manchu authority, might have been won back by a capable and sympathetic sovereign. But notwithstanding the ability of Fou Wang's minister, Shu Kofa, who strove to repair the errors of his master, the new Ming power at Nankin did not prosper. Wou Sankwei, cautious not to commit himself, rejected the patent of a duke and the money gifts sent him by Shu Kofa, while Ama Wang, on his side, sought to gain over Shu Kofa by making him the most lavish promises of reward. But that minister proved as true to his sovereign as Wou Sankwei did to the Manchu. The result of the long correspondence between them was nil, but it showed the leaders of the Manchus in very favorable colors, as wishing to avert the horrors of war, and to simplify the surrender of provinces which could not be held against them. When Ama Wang discovered that there was no hope of gaining over Shu Kofa, and thus paving his way to the disintegration of the Nankin power, he decided to prosecute the war against the surviving Ming administration with the greatest activity.
While these preparations were being made to extend the Manchu conquest over Central China, all was confusion at Nankin. Jealousies between the commanders, none of whom possessed much merit or experience, bickerings among the ministers, apathy on the part of the ruler, and bitter disappointment and disgust in the ranks of the people, all combined to precipitate the overthrow of the ephemeral throne that had been erected in the Southern capital. Ama Wang Waited patiently to allow these causes of disintegration time to develop their full force, and to contribute to the ruin of the Mings, but in the winter of 1644-45 he decided that the right moment to strike had come. Shu Kofa made some effort to oppose the Manchu armies, and even assumed the command in person, although he was only a civilian, but his troops had no heart to oppose the Manchus, and the devices to which he resorted to make his military power appear more formidable were both puerile and ineffective. Yet one passage may be quoted to his credit if it gave his opponent an advantage. It is affirmed on good authority that he could have obtained a material advantage if he would only have flooded the country, but he "refused to do so, on the ground that more civilians would perish than Manchus, and he said, 'First the people, next the dynasty.'" The sentiment was a noble one, but it was too severe a crisis to admit of any sentiment, especially when fighting an up-hill battle, and Shu Kofa, soon realizing that he was not qualified to play the part of a great soldier, resolved to end his existence. He took shelter with a small force in the town of Yangchow, and when he heard that the Manchus were entering the gate, he and his officers committed suicide. The Chinese lamented and were crushed by his death. In him they saw the last of their great men, and, no doubt, they credited him with a higher capacity even than he possessed. Only a military genius of the first rank could have saved the Mings, and Shu Kofa was nothing more than a conscientious and capable civil mandarin, ignorant of war. His fortitude could only be measured by his indifference to life, and by his resolve to anticipate the fall of his sovereign as soon as he saw it to be inevitable.
Fou Wang speedily followed the fate of his faithful minister; for, when the Manchus marched on Nankin, he abandoned his capital, and sought safety in flight. But one of his officers, anxious to make favorable terms for himself with the conqueror, undertook his capture, and coming up with him when on the point of entering a junk to put to sea, Fou Wang had no alternative left between an ignominious surrender and suicide. He chose the latter course, and throwing himself into the river was drowned, thus ending his own career, and the Ming dynasty in its southern capital of Nankin.
Meantime dissension further weakened the already discouraged Chinese forces. The pirate Ching Chelong, who was the mainstay of the Ming cause, cherished the hope that he might place his own family on the throne, and he endeavored to induce the Ming prince to recognize his son, Koshinga, as his heir. Low as he had fallen, it is to the credit of this prince that he refused to sign away the birth-right of his family. Ching was bitterly chagrined at this refusal, and after detaching his forces from the other Chinese he at last came to the resolution to throw in his lot with the Manchus. He was promised honorable terms, but the Tartars seem to have had no intention of complying with them, so far at least as allowing him to retain his liberty. For they sent him off to Pekin, where he was kept in honorable confinement, notwithstanding his protests and promises, and the defiant threats of his son Koshinga. In preserving his life he was more fortunate than the members of the Ming family, who were hunted down in a remorseless manner and executed with all their relations on capture. The only place that offered any resistance to the Manchus was the town of Kanchow, on the Kan River, in Kiangsi. The garrison defended themselves with desperate valor during two months, and a council of war was held amid much anxiety, to consider whether the siege should be abandoned. Bold counsels prevailed. The Manchus returned to the attack, and had the satisfaction of carrying the town by assault, when the garrison were put to the sword.
The relics of the Chinese armies gathered for a final stand in the city of Canton, but unfortunately for them the leaders were still divided by petty jealousies. One Ming prince proclaimed himself Emperor at Canton, and another in the adjoining province of Kwangsi. Although the Manchus were gathering their forces to overwhelm the Chinese in their last retreat, they could not lay aside their divisions and petty ambitions in order to combine against the national enemy, but must needs assail one another to decide which should have the empty title of Ming emperor. The Manchus had the satisfaction of seeing the two rivals break their strength against each other, and then they advanced to crush the victor at Canton. Strong as the place was said to be, it offered no serious resistance, and the great commercial city of the south passed into the hands of the race who had subdued the whole country from Pekin to the Tonquin frontier. At this moment the fortune of the Manchus underwent a sudden and inexplicable change. Two repulses before a fortress southwest of Canton, and the disaffection of a large part of their Chinese auxiliaries, who clamored for their pay, seem to have broken the strength of the advanced Manchu army. A wave of national antipathy drove the Tartars out of Canton and the southern provinces, but it soon broke its force, and the Manchus, returning with fresh troops, speedily recovered all they had lost, and by placing stronger garrisons in the places they occupied consolidated their hold on Southern China. Although the struggle between the Manchus and their new subjects was far from concluded, the conquest of China as such may be said to have reached its end at this stage. How a small Tartar tribe succeeded after fifty years of war in imposing its yoke on the skeptical, freedom-loving, and intensely national millions of China will always remain one of the enigmas of history.
THE FIRST MANCHU RULER
While the Manchu generals and armies were establishing their power in Southern China the young Emperor Chuntche, under the direction of his prudent uncle, the regent Ama Wang, was setting up at Pekin the central power of a ruling dynasty. In doing so little or no opposition was experienced at the hands of the Chinese, who showed that they longed once more for a settled government; and this acquiescence on the part of the Chinese people in their authority no doubt induced the Manchu leaders to adopt a far more conciliatory and lenient policy toward the Chinese than would otherwise have been the case. Ama Wang gave special orders that the lives and property of all who surrendered to his lieutenants should be scrupulously respected. This moderation was only departed from in the case of some rebels in Shensi, who, after accepting, repudiated the Manchu authority, and laid close siege to the chief town of Singan, which held a garrison of only 3,000 Manchus. The commandant wished to make his position secure by massacring the Chinese of the town, but he was deterred from taking this extreme step by the representations of a Chinese officer, who, binding himself for the good faith of his countrymen, induced him to enroll them in the ranks of the garrison. They proved faithful and rendered excellent service in the siege; and when a relieving Manchu army came from Pekin the rebels were quickly scattered and pursued with unflagging bitterness to their remotest hiding places.
In the province of Szchuen a Chinese leader proclaimed himself Si Wang, or King of the West. He was execrated by those who were nominally his subjects. Among the most heinous of his crimes was his invitation to literary men to come to his capital for employment, and when they had assembled to the number of 30,000, to order them to be massacred. He dealt in a similar manner with 3,000 of his courtiers, because one of them happened to omit a portion of his full titles. His excesses culminated in the massacre of Chentu, when 600,000 innocent persons are said to have perished. Even allowing for the Eastern exaggeration of numbers, the crimes of this inhuman monster have rarely, if ever, been surpassed. His rage or appetite for destruction was not appeased by human sacrifices. He made equal war on the objects of nature and the works of man. He destroyed cities, leveled forests, and overthrew all the public monuments that embellished his province. In the midst of his excesses he was told that a Manchu army had crossed the frontier, but he resolved to crown his inhuman career by a deed unparalleled in the records of history, and, what is more extraordinary, he succeeded in inducing his followers to execute his commands. His project was to massacre all the women in attendance on his army.
When the assembly took place Si Wang slew his wives coram populo, and his followers, seized with an extreme frenzy, followed his example. It is said that as many as 400,000 women were slain that day, and Si Wang, intoxicated by his success in inducing his followers to execute his inhuman behests, believed that he had nothing to fear at the hands of the Manchus. But he was soon undeceived, for in one of the earliest affairs at the outposts he was killed by an arrow. His power at once crumbled away, and Szchuen passed under the authority of the Manchus. The conquest of Szchuen paved the way for the recovery of the position that had been lost in Southern China, and close siege was laid to the city of Canton. Outside Canton the Manchus carried everything before them, and that city itself at last was captured, after what passed for a stubborn resistance. Canton was given over to pillage.
At this moment of success Ama Wang, the wise regent, died, and Chuntche assumed the reins of government. He at once devoted his attention to administrative reforms. Corruption had begun to sway the public examinations, and Chuntche issued a special edict, enjoining the examiners to give fair awards and to maintain the purity of the service. But several examiners had to be executed and others banished beyond the Wall before matters were placed on a satisfactory basis. He also adopted the astronomical system in force in Europe, and he appointed the priest Adam Schaal head of the Mathematical Board at Pekin. But his most important work was the institution of the Grand Council, which still exists, and which is the supreme power under the emperor in the country. It is composed of only four members—two Manchus and two Chinese—who alone possess the privilege of personal audience with the emperor whenever they may demand it. As this act gave the Chinese an equal place with the Manchus in the highest body of the empire it was exceedingly welcome, and explains, among other causes, the popularity and stability of the Manchu dynasty. When allotting Chuntche his place among the founders of Manchu greatness, allowance must be made for this wise and far-reaching measure.
An interesting event in the reign of Chuntche was the arrival at Pekin of more than one embassy from European States. The Dutch and the Russians can equally claim the honor of having had an envoy resident in the Chinese capital during the year 1656.
In 1661 the health of Chuntche became so bad that it was evident to his courtiers that his end was drawing near, although he was little more than thirty years of age. On his deathbed he selected as his successor the second of his sons, who afterward became famous as the Emperor Kanghi. Kanghi assumed the personal direction of affairs when only fourteen years of age. Such a bold step undoubtedly betokened no ordinary vigor on the part of a youth, and its complete success reflected still further credit upon him.
The interest of the period passes from the scenes at court to the camp of Wou Sankwei, who, twenty years earlier, had introduced the Manchus into China. During the Manchu campaign in Southern China he had kept peace on the western frontier, gradually extending his authority from Shensi into Szchuen and thence over Yunnan. When a Ming prince, Kwei Wang, who had fled into Burmah, returned with the support of the king of that country to make another bid for the throne, he found himself confronted by all the power and resources of Wou Sankwei, who was still as loyal a servant of the Manchu emperor as when he carried his ensigns against Li Tseching. Kwei Wang does not appear to have expected opposition from Wou Sankwei, and in the first encounter he was overthrown and taken prisoner. The conqueror, who was already under suspicion at the Manchu court, and whom every Chinese rebel persisted in regarding as a natural ally, now hesitated as to how he should treat these important prisoners. Kwei Wang and his son—the last of the Mings—were eventually led forth to execution, although it should be stated that a less authentic report affirms they were allowed to strangle themselves. Having made use of Wou Sankwei, and obtained, as they thought, the full value of his services, the Manchus sought to treat him with indifference and to throw him into the shade. But the splendor of his work was such that they had to confer on him the title of Prince, and to make him viceroy of Yunnan and the adjacent territories. He exerted such an extraordinary influence over the Chinese subjects that they speedily settled down under his authority; revenue and trade increased, and the Manchu authority was maintained without a Tartar garrison, for Wou Sankwei's army was composed exclusively of Chinese, and its nucleus was formed by his old garrison of Ningyuen and Shanhaikwan. There is no certain reason for saying that Wou Sankwei nursed any scheme of personal aggrandizement, but the measures he took and the reforms he instituted were calculated to make his authority become gradually independent of Manchu control. For a time the Manchu government suppressed its apprehensions on account of this powerful satrap, by the argument that in a few years his death in the course of nature must relieve it from this peril, but Wou Sankwei lived on and showed no signs of paying the common debt of humanity. Then it seemed to Kanghi that Wou Sankwei was gradually establishing the solid foundation of a formidable and independent power. The Manchu generals and ministers had always been jealous of the greater fame of Wou Sankwei. When they saw that Kanghi wanted an excuse to fall foul of him, they carried every tale of alleged self-assertion on the part of the Chinese viceroy to the imperial ears, and represented that his power dwarfed the dignity of the Manchu throne and threatened its stability.
At last Kanghi resolved to take some decisive step to bring the question to a climax, and he accordingly sent Wou Sankwei an invitation to visit him at Pekin. Wou Sankwei excused himself from going to court on the ground that he was very old, and that his only wish was to end his days in peace. He also deputed his son to tender his allegiance to the emperor and to perform the Kotao in his name. But Kanghi was not to be put off in this way, and he sent two trusted officials to Wou Sankwei to represent that he must comply with the exact terms of his command, and to point out the grave consequences of his refusing. Wou Sankwei cast off his allegiance to the Manchus, and entered upon a war which aimed at the subversion of their authority. Such was the reputation of this great commander, to whose ability and military prowess the Manchus unquestionably were indebted for their conquest of the empire, that a large part of Southern China at once admitted his authority, and from Szchuen to the warlike province of Hunan his lieutenants were able to collect all the fighting resources of the state, and to array the levies of those provinces in the field for the approaching contest with Kanghi.
While Wou Sankwei was making these extensive preparations in the south, his son at Pekin had devised an ingenious and daring plot for the massacre of the Manchus and the destruction of the dynasty. He engaged in his scheme the large body of Chinese slaves who had been placed in servitude under their Tartar conquerors, and these, incited by the hope of liberty, proved very ready tools to his designs. They bound themselves together by a solemn oath to be true to one another, and all the preparations were made to massacre the Manchus on the occasion of the New Year's Festival. This is the grand religious and social ceremony of the Chinese. It takes place on the first day of the first moon, which falls in our month of February. All business is stopped, the tribunals are closed for ten days, and a state of high festival resembling the Carnival prevails. The conspirators resolved to take advantage of this public holiday, and of the excitement accompanying it, to carry out their scheme, and the Manchus appear to have been in total ignorance until the eleventh hour of the plot for their destruction. The discovery of the conspiracy bears a close resemblance to that of the Gunpowder Plot. A Chinese slave, wishing to save his master, gave him notice of the danger, and this Manchu officer at once informed Kanghi of the conspiracy. The son of Wou Sankwei and the other conspirators were immediately arrested and executed without delay. The Manchus thus escaped by the merest accident from a danger which threatened them with annihilation, and Kanghi, having succeeded in getting rid of the son, concentrated his power and attention on the more difficult task of grappling with the father.
But the power and reputation of Wou Sankwei were so formidable that Kanghi resolved to proceed with great caution, and the emperor began his measures of offense by issuing an edict ordering the disbandment of all the native armies maintained by the Chinese viceroys, besides Wou Sankwei. The object of this edict was to make all the governors of Chinese race show their hands, and Kanghi learned the full measure of the hostility he had to cope with by every governor from the sea coast of Fuhkien to Canton defying him, and throwing in their lot with Wou Sankwei. The piratical confederacy of Formosa, where Ching, the son of Koshinga, had succeeded to his authority, also joined in with what may be called the national party, but its alliance proved of little value, as Ching, at an early period, took umbrage at his reception by a Chinese official, and returned to his island home. But the most formidable danger to the young Manchu ruler came from an unexpected quarter. The Mongols, seeing his embarrassment, and believing that the hours of the dynasty were numbered, resolved to take advantage of the occasion to push their claims. Satchar, chief of one of the Banners, issued a proclamation, calling his race to his side, and declaring his intention to invade China at the head of 100,000 men. It seemed hardly possible for Kanghi to extricate himself from his many dangers. With great quickness of perception Kanghi saw that the most pressing danger was that from the Mongols, and he sent the whole of his northern garrisons to attack Satchar before the Mongol clans could have gathered to his assistance. The Manchu cavalry, by a rapid march, surprised Satchar in his camp and carried him and his family off as prisoners to Pekin. The capture of their chief discouraged the Mongols and interrupted their plans for invading China. Kanghi thus obtained a respite from what seemed his greatest peril. Then he turned his attention to dealing with Wou Sankwei, and the first effort of his armies resulted in the recovery of Fuhkien, where the governor and Ching had reduced themselves to a state of exhaustion by a contest inspired by personal jealousy not patriotism. From Fuhkien his successful lieutenants passed into Kwantung, and the Chinese, seeing that the Manchus were not sunk as low as had been thought, abandoned all resistance, and again recognized the Tartar authority. The Manchus did not dare to punish the rebels except in rare instances, and, therefore, the recovery of Canton was unaccompanied by any scenes of blood. But a garrison of Manchus was placed in each town of importance, and it was by Kanghi's order that a walled town, or "Tartar city," was built within each city for the accommodation and security of the dominant race.
But notwithstanding these successes Kanghi made little or no progress against the main force of Wou Sankwei, whose supremacy was undisputed throughout the whole of southwest China. It was not until 1677 that Kanghi ventured to move his armies against Wou Sankwei in person. Although he obtained no signal success in the field, the divisions among the Chinese commanders were such that he had the satisfaction of compelling them to evacuate Hunan, and when Wou Sankwei took his first step backward the sun of his fortunes began to set. Calamity rapidly followed calamity. Wou Sankwei had not known the meaning of defeat in his long career of fifty years, but now, in his old age, he saw his affairs in inextricable confusion. His adherents deserted him, many rebel officers sought to come to terms with the Manchus, and Kanghi's armies gradually converged on Wou Sankwei from the east and the north. Driven out of Szchuen, Wou Sankwei endeavored to make a stand in Yunnan. He certainly succeeded in prolonging the struggle down to the year 1679, when his death put a sudden end to the contest, and relieved Kanghi from much anxiety; for although the success of the Manchus was no longer uncertain, the military skill of the old Chinese warrior might have indefinitely prolonged the war. Wou Sankwei was one of the most conspicuous and attractive figures to be met with in the long course of Chinese history, and his career covered one of the most critical periods in the modern existence of that empire. From the time of his first distinguishing himself in the defense of Ningyuen until he died, half a century later, as Prince of Yunnan, he occupied the very foremost place in the minds of his fellow-countrymen. The part he had taken, first in keeping out the Manchus, and then in introducing them into the state, reflected equal credit on his ability and his patriotism. In requesting the Manchus to crush the robber Li and to take the throne which the fall of the Mings had rendered vacant, he was actuated by the purest motives. There was only a choice of evils, and he selected that which seemed the less. He gave the empire to a foreign ruler of intelligence, but he saved it from an unscrupulous robber. He played the part of king-maker to the family of Noorhachu, and the magnitude of their obligations to him could not be denied. They were not as grateful as he may have expected, and they looked askance at his military power and influence over his countrymen. Probably he felt that he had not been well treated, and chagrin undoubtedly induced him to reject Kanghi's request to proceed to Pekin. If he had only acceeded to that arrangement he would have left a name for conspicuous loyalty and political consistency in the service of the great race, which he had been mainly instrumental in placing over China. But even as events turned out he was one of the most remarkable personages the Chinese race ever produced, and his military career shows that they are capable of producing great generals and brave soldiers.
The death of Wou Sankwei signified the overthrow of the Chinese uprising which had threatened to extinguish the still growing power of the Manchu under its youthful Emperor Kanghi. Wou Shufan, the grandson of that prince, endeavored to carry on the task of holding Yunnan as an independent territory, but by the year 1681 his possessions were reduced to the town of Yunnanfoo, where he was closely besieged by the Manchu forces. Although the Chinese fought valiantly, they were soon reduced to extremities, and the Manchus carried the place by storm. The garrison were massacred to the last man, and Wou Shufan only avoided a worse fate by committing suicide. The Manchus, not satisfied with his death, sent his head to Pekin to be placed on its principal gate in triumph, and the body of Wou Sankwei himself was exhumed so that his ashes might be scattered in each of the eighteen provinces of China as a warning to traitors. Having crushed their most redoubtable antagonist, the Manchus resorted to more severe measures against those who had surrendered in Fuhkien and Kwantung, and many insurgent chiefs who had surrendered, and enjoyed a brief respite, ended their lives under the knife of the executioner. The Manchu soldiers are said to have been given spoil to the extent of nearly ten million dollars, and the war which witnessed the final assertion of Manchu power over the Chinese was essentially popular with the soldiers who carried it on to a victorious conclusion. A very short time after the final overthrow of Wou Sankwei and his family, the Chinese regime in Formosa was brought to an end. Kanghi, having collected a fleet, and concluded a convention with the Dutch, determined on the invasion and conquest of Formosa. In the midst of these preparations Ching, the son of Koshinga, died, and no doubt the plans of Kanghi were facilitated by the confusion that followed. The Manchu fleet seized Ponghu, the principal island of the Pescadore group, and thence the Manchus threw a force into Formosa. It is said that they were helped by a high tide, and by the superstition of the islanders, who exclaimed, "The first Wang (Koshinga) got possession of Taiwan by a high tide. The fleet now comes in the same manner. It is the will of Heaven." Formosa accepted the supremacy of the Manchus without further ado. Those of the islanders who had ever recognized the authority of any government, accepted that of the Emperor Kanghi, shaved their heads in token of submission, and became so far as in them lay respectable citizens.
The overthrow of Wou Sankwei and the conquest of Formosa completed what may be called the pacification of China by the Manchus. From that period to the Taeping Rebellion, or for nearly 200 years, there was no internal insurrection on a large scale. On the whole the Manchus stained their conclusive triumph by few excesses, and Kanghi's moderation was scarcely inferior to that of his father, Chuntche. The family of Wou Sankwei seems to have been rooted out more for the personal attempt of the son at Pekin than for the bold ambition of the potentate himself. The family of Koshinga was spared, and its principal representative received the patent of an earl. Thus, by a policy judiciously combined of severity and moderation, did Kanghi make himself supreme, and complete the work of his race. Whatever troubles may have beset the government in the last 220 years, it will be justifiable to speak of the Manchus and the Tatsing dynasty as the legitimate authorities in China, and, instead of foreign adventurers, as the national and recognized rulers of the Middle Kingdom.
THE EMPEROR KANGHI
Among the Mongol tribes the noblest at this period were the Khalkas. They prided themselves on being the descendants of the House of Genghis, the representatives of the special clan of the great conqueror, and the occupants of the original home in the valleys of the Onon and Kerulon. Although their military power was slight, the name of the Khalka princes stood high among the Mongol tribes, and they exercised an influence far in excess of their numbers or capacity as a fighting force. Kanghi determined to establish friendly relations with this clan, and by the dispatch of friendly letters and costly presents lie succeeded in inducing the Khalka chiefs to enter into formal alliance with himself, and to conclude a treaty of amity with China, which, be it noted, they faithfully observed. Kanghi's efforts in this direction, which may have been dictated by apprehension at the movements of his new neighbors, the Russians, were thus crowned with success, and the adhesion of the Khalkas signified that the great majority of the Mongols would thenceforth abstain from acts of unprovoked aggression on the Chinese frontier. But the advance of China and her influence, even in the form of paying homage to the emperor as the Bogdo Khan, or the Celestial Ruler, so far west as the upper course of the Amour, involved the Pekin Government in fresh complications by bringing it into contact with tribes and peoples of whom it had no cognizance. Beyond the Khalkas were the Eleuths, supreme in Ili and Kashgaria, and divided into four hordes, who obeyed as many chiefs. They had had some relations with the Khalkas, but of China they knew nothing more than the greatness of her name. When the surrender of the Khalka princes became known the Eleuth chiefs held a grand assembly or kuriltai, and at this it was finally, and, indeed, ostentatiously, decided not to yield Kanghi his demands. Important as this decision was, it derived increased weight from the character of the man who was mainly instrumental in inducing the Eleuths to take it.
Much has been written of the desert chiefs from Yenta to Yakoob Beg, but none of these showed greater ability or attained more conspicuous success than Galdan, who strained the power of China, and fought for many years on equal terms with the Emperor Kanghi. Galdan determined that the easiest and most advantageous beginning for his enterprise would be to attack his neighbors the Khalkas, who, by accepting Kanghi's offers, had made themselves the advanced guard of China in Central Asia. He began a systematic encroachment into their lands in the year 1679, but at the same time he resorted to every device to screen his movements from the Chinese court, and such was the delay in receiving intelligence, and the ignorance of the situation beyond the border, that in the very year of his beginning to attack the Khalkas, his envoy at Pekin received a flattering reception at the hands of Kanghi, still hopeful of a peaceful settlement, and returned with the seal and patent of a Khan. Events had not reached a state of open hostility three years later, when Kanghi sent special envoys to the camp of Galdan, as well as to the Khalkas. They were instructed to promise and pay much, but to rest content with nothing short of the formal acceptance by all the chiefs of the supremacy of China. Galdan, bound by the laws of hospitality, nowhere more sacred than in the East, gave them an honorable reception, and lavished upon them the poor resources he commanded. In hyperbolic terms he declared that the arrival of an embassy from the rich and powerful Chinese emperor in his poor State would be handed down as the most glorious event of his reign. But he refused to make any tender of allegiance, or to subscribe himself as a Chinese vassal. The dissensions among the Khalka princes assisted the development of Galdan's ambition, and added to the anxiety of the Chinese ruler. Kanghi admonished them to heal their differences and to abstain from an internecine strife, which would only facilitate their conquest by Galdan, and he succeeded so far that he induced them to swear a peace among themselves before an image of Buddha.
At this juncture the Chinese came into collision with the Russians on the Amour. The Russians had built a fort at Albazin, on the upper course of that river, and the Chinese army located in the Khalka country, considering its proximity a menace to their own security, attacked it in overwhelming force. Albazin was taken, and those of the garrison who fell into the hands of the Chinese were carried off to Pekin, where their descendants still reside as a distinct Russian colony. But when the Chinese evacuated Albazin the Russians returned there with characteristic obstinacy, and Kanghi, becoming anxious at the increasing activity of Galdan, accepted the overtures of the Russian authorities in Siberia, who, in 1688, sent the son of the Governor-general of Eastern Siberia to Pekin to negotiate a peace. After twelve months' negotiation, protracted by the outbreak of war with Galdan, the Treaty of Nerchinsk, the first concluded between China and any European power, was signed, and the brief and only war between Russia and China was thus brought to a speedy and satisfactory termination. The Russians agreed to the destruction of Fort Albazin, but they were allowed to build another at Nerchinsk.
There is reason to believe that Galdan thought that he might derive some advantage from the complications with Russia, for his military movements were hastened when he heard that the two powers were embroiled on the Amour, and he proclaimed his intention of invading the Khalka region, because some of their people had murdered his kinsmen. Galdan endeavored to conclude an alliance with the Russians, who sent an officer to his camp; but they soon came to the determination that it would be more advantageous to keep on friendly terms with the Chinese than to embark on a hazardous adventure with the chief of an Asiatic horde. The mere rumor of a possible alliance between Galdan and the Russians roused Kanghi to increased activity, and all the picked troops of the Eight Manchu Banners, the Forty-nine Mongol Banners, and the Chinese auxiliaries, were dispatched across the steppe to bring the Napoleon of Central Asia to reason. In face of this formidable danger Galdan showed undiminished courage and energy. Realizing the peril of inaction, he did not hesitate to assume the offensive, and the war began with a victory he gained over a general named Horni, within the limits of Chinese territory. The moral of this success was that it showed that Kanghi had not decided a moment too soon in resorting to extreme measures against the ambitious potentate who found the Gobi Desert and the surrounding region too circumscribed for his ambition.
Kanghi intrusted the chief command of his armies to his brother, Yu Tsing Wang, who justified his appointment by bringing the Eleuth forces speedily to an engagement, and by gaming a more or less decisive victory over them at Oulan Poutong. The loss was considerable on both sides, among the imperial officers killed being an uncle of the emperor; but Galdan's forces suffered a great deal more during the retreat than they had done in the action. After this disaster Galdan signed a treaty with the Chinese commander, Yu Tsing Wang. At first he attempted to gain an advantage by excluding his personal enemies, the Khalkas, from it, but the Chinese were not to be entrapped into any such arrangement, and, standing up for their dependents, the provisions of the treaty provided equally for their safety and for the acceptance by Galdan of the supremacy of China. This new arrangement or treaty was concluded in 1690, but Kanghi himself seems to have placed no great faith in the sincerity of Galdan, and to have regarded it merely as a truce. This view was soon found to be correct, for neither side laid aside their arms, and the unusual vigilance of the Chinese gave Galdan additional cause for umbrage. Kanghi showed that he was resolved not to let the terms, to which Galdan had subscribed, become a dead letter. He summoned a great assemblage of the Khalka tribes on the plain of Dolonor—the Seven Springs near Changtu—and he attended it in person, bestowing gifts and titles with a lavish hand. Kanghi was thus able to convince himself that, so far as the Mongol tribes were concerned, he might count on their loyalty and support. He then began to establish an understanding with Tse Wang Rabdan, and thus obtain an ally in the rear of Galdan. This latter circumstance was the direct cause of the second war with Galdan, for Kanghi's embassador was waylaid and murdered in the neighborhood of Hami. The outrage for which, whether he inspired it or not, Galdan was held blameworthy, aroused the strongest resentment and anger of Kanghi.
Kanghi made extraordinary preparations for the campaign. He placed four armies in the field numbering about 150,000 combatants, and it has been computed that, with non-combatants, the total of men employed did not fall short of a million. The first of these armies numbered 35,600 men, and was intrusted to Feyanku, the Ney of the Manchu army. Kanghi took personal command of the second, and its strength is given at 37,700 men; and the third army, 35,400 men, was placed under the orders of Sapsu. The fourth, of unstated but greatest numerical strength, acted as the reserve force for the others, and did not, properly speaking, come into action at all. In order to render the war popular Kanghi offered special pay to the soldiers, and undertook to provide for the widows and orphans of those slain. At the same time Kanghi neglected no precaution to insure the success of his arms. He provided cotton armor which was proof to the bullet for his cavalry and part of his infantry, and he organized a corps of artillerists mounted on camels, which also carried the light pieces, and rendered good service as "flying artillery." Before setting out for the campaign, the emperor reviewed his army, and he chose for the occasion the date of the popular Feast of Lanterns, when all China takes a holiday. After the inspection of the numerous and well equipped army an impressive ceremony took place. Feyanku approached his sovereign, and received at his hands a cup of wine, which the general took while on his knees, and which, on descending from the steps of the throne, he quaffed in full view of the spectators. Each of his assistant generals and the subordinate officers in groups of ten went through the same ceremony, and the ruin of Galdan was anticipated in the libations of his conquerors. While Feyanku marched to encounter Galdan wherever he should find him, the ministers and courtiers at Pekin made a strenuous effort to prevent Kanghi taking the field in person, expatiating on the dangers of a war in the desert, and of the loss to the empire if anything happened to him. But Kanghi, while thanking them for their solicitude, was not to be deterred from his purpose. He led his army by a parallel route to that pursued by Feyanku across the Gobi Desert to Kobdo, where Galdan had established his headquarters. The details of the march are fully described by the Roman Catholic priest, Gerbillon, in his interesting narrative. They reveal the difficulties of the enterprise as well as its success. Some detachments of the Chinese army were compelled to beat a retreat, but the main body succeeded in making its way to the valley of the Kerulon, where some supplies could be obtained. Feyanku's corps, when it reached the neighborhood of the modern Ourga, was reduced to an effective strength of 10,000 men, and of Sapsu's army only 2,000 ever reached the scene of operations, and they formed a junction with the force under Feyanku. But Galdan did not possess the military strength to take any advantage of the enfeebled state in which the Chinese armies reached his neighborhood. He abandoned camp after camp, and sought to make good his position by establishing an empty alliance with the Russians in Siberia, from whom he asked 60,000 troops to consummate the conquest of China. Such visionary projects as this provided a poor defense against the active operations of a Chinese army in his own country. In a fit bordering on desperation Galdan suddenly determined to risk an attack on the camp of Feyanku at Chowmodo. That general, less fortunate than his sovereign, had been reduced to the verge of distress by the exhaustion of his supplies, and was even meditating a retreat back to China, when the action of Galdan relieved him from his dilemma. The exact course of the battle at Chowmodo is not described in any authentic document. During three hours Feyanku stood on the defensive, but when he gave the order for attack, the Eleuths broke in confusion before the charge of his cavalry. Two thousand of their best warriors were slain, their organization was shattered, and Galdan became a fugitive in the region where he had posed as undisputed master. This victory undoubtedly relieved the Chinese from serious embarrassment, and Kanghi felt able to return to Pekin, leaving the further conduct of the war and the pursuit of Galdan in the hands of Feyanku. Formidable enemy as Galdan had proved himself, the defeat at Chowmodo put an end to his career, and destroyed all his schemes of greatness. The Chinese pursued him with great persistence, and at last he died in 1697, either of his deprivations or by the act of his own hand. With Galdan disappeared one of the most remarkable of the desert chiefs; but, although Kanghi flattered himself that such would be the case, peace did not settle down on Central Asia as the consequence of the death of his active and enterprising antagonist. The Chinese armies were recalled for this occasion, and the only force left on the remote frontier was a small one under the command of the gallant Feyanku.
The overthrow and death of Galdan brought Tse Wang Rabdan into direct contact with the Chinese. He had from his hostile relations with Galdan— the murderer of his father Tsenka—acted as the ally of Kanghi, but when he became the chief of the Eleuths on the death of his uncle, his ideas underwent a change, and he thought more of his dignity and independence. No rupture might have taken place, but that the Chinese, in their implacable resolve to exterminate the family of their enemy Galdan, demanded from Tse Wang Rabdan not only the bones of that chieftain, but also the persons of his son and daughter, who had taken refuge with him. Tse Wang Rabdan resented both the demand itself and the language in which it was expressed. He evaded the requests sent by Feyanku, and he addressed a letter of remonstrance to Kanghi, in the course of which he said, "The war being now concluded, past injuries ought to be buried in oblivion. Pity should be shown to the vanquished, and it would be barbarous to think of nothing but of how to overwhelm them. It is the first law inspired by humanity, and one which custom has consecrated from the earliest period among us who are Eleuths." Kanghi, undeterred by this homily, continued to press his demand, and sent several missions to the Eleuth camp to obtain the surrender of Galdan's remains and relations. His pertinacity was at last rewarded, and the bones of his old opponent were surrendered to be scattered as those of a traitor throughout China, and his son was sent to Pekin, where, however, he received an honorable appointment in lieu of being handed over to the public executioner. Although Tse Wang Rabdan at last conceded to Kanghi what he demanded, his general action soon marked him out as the antagonist of the Chinese in Central Asia. He first vanquished in battle, and then established an alliance with the Kirghiz, and thus his military forces were recruited from the whole of the vast territory from Hami on the east to Khokand on the west.
The main object of his policy was to assert his influence and authority in Tibet, and to make the ruling lama at Lhasa accept whatever course he might dictate for him. Galdan had at one time entertained the same idea; but probably because he had not as good means of access into the country as Tse Wang Rabdan had, on account of his possession of Khoten, it lay dormant until it was dispelled by the rupture after his adoption of Mohammedanism. Up to this time China had been content with a very shadowy hold on Tibet, and she had no resident representative at Lhasa. But Kanghi, convinced of the importance of maintaining his supremacy in Tibet, took energetic measures to counteract the Eleuth intrigues, and for a time there was a keen diplomatic struggle between the contending potentates. From an early period the supremacy in the Tibetan administration had been disputed between two different classes, the one which represented the military body making use of religious matters to forward its designs, the other being an order of priests supported by the unquestioning faith and confidence of the mass of the people. The former became known as Red Caps and the latter as Yellow Caps. The rivalry between these classes had been keen before, and was still bitterly contested when Chuntche first asconded the throne; but victory had finally inclined to the side of the Yellow Caps before the fall of Galdan. The Dalai Lama was their great spiritual head, and his triumph had been assisted by the intervention and influence of the Manchu emperor. The Red Caps were driven out of the country into Bhutan, where they still hold sway. After this success a new functionary, with both civil and military authority, was appointed to carry on the administration, under the orders of the Dalai Lama, who was supposed to be lost in his spiritual speculations and religious devotions. This functionary received the name of the Tipa, and, encouraged by the little control exercised over his acts, he soon began to carry on intrigues for the elevation of his own power at the expense of that of his priestly superiors. The ambition of one Tipa led to his fall and execution, but the offense was attributed to the individual, and a new one was appointed. This second Tipa was the reputed son of a Dalai Lama, and when his father died in 1682 he kept the fact of his death secret, giving out that he had only retired into the recesses of the palace, and ruled the state in his name for the space of sixteen years. The Tipa well knew that he could not hope to obtain the approval of Kanghi for what he had done, and he had made overtures to the princes of Jungaria for protection, whenever he might require it, against the Chinese emperor. At last the truth was divulged, and Kanghi was most indignant at having been duped, and threatened to send an army to punish the Tipa for his crime. Then the Tipa selected a new Dalai Lama, and endeavored to appease Kanghi, but his choice proved unfortunate because it did not satisfy the Tibetans. His own general, Latsan Khan, made himself the executor of public opinion. The Tipa was slain with most of his supporters, and the boy Dalai Lama shared the same fate. These occurrences did not insure the tranquillity of the state, for when another Dalai Lama was found, the selection was not agreeable to Latsan Khan, and his friends had to convey the youth for safety to Sining, in China.
It was at this moment that Tse Wang Rabdan determined to interfere in Tibet, and, strangely enough, instead of attempting to make Latsan Khan his friend, he at once resolved to treat him as an enemy, throwing his son, who happened to be at Ili, into prison. He then dispatched an army into Tibet to crush Latsan Khan, and at the same time he sent a force against Sining in the hope of gaining possession of the person of the young Dalai Lama. The Eleuth army quitted the banks of the Ili in 1709, under the command of Zeren Donduk, and having crossed Eastern Turkestan appeared in due course before Lhasa. It met with little or no resistance. Latsan Khan was slain, and the Eleuth army collected an incalculable quantity of spoil, with which it returned to the banks of the Ili. The expedition against Sining failed, and the rapid advance of a Chinese army compelled the retreat of Zeren Donduk without having attained any permanent success. As the Eleuth army had evacuated Tibet there was no object in sending Chinese troops into that state, and Kanghi's generals were instructed to march westward from Hami to Turfan. But their movements were marked by carelessness or over-confidence, and the Eleuths surprised their camp and inflicted such loss upon Kanghi's commanders that they had even to evacuate Hami. But this was only a temporary reverse. A fresh Manchu army soon retrieved it, and Hami again became the bulwark of the Chinese frontier. At the same time Kanghi sent a garrison to Tibet, and appointed resident ambans at Lhasa, which officials China has retained there ever since. The war with Tse Wang Rabdan was not ended by these successes, for he resorted to the hereditary tactics of his family, retiring when the Chinese appeared in force, and then advancing on their retreat. As Kanghi wrote, they are "like wolves who, at the sight of the huntsmen, scatter to their dens, and at the withdrawal of danger assemble again round the prey they have abandoned with regret. Such was the policy of these desert robbers." The last year of Kanghi's reign was illustrated by a more than usually decisive victory over the forces of Tse Wang Rabdan, which a courtier declared to be "equivalent to the conquest of Tibet"; but on the whole the utmost success that can be claimed for Kanghi's policy was that it repelled the chronic danger from the desert chiefs and their turbulent followers to a greater distance from the immediate frontier of the empire than had been the case for many centuries. He left the task of breaking the Eleuth power to his grandson, Keen Lung.
The close of Kanghi's reign witnessed a decline in the interest he took in the representatives of Europe, and this was not revived by the splendor of the embassy which Peter the Great sent to Pekin in 1719. The embassy consisted of the embassador himself, M. Ismaloff; his secretary, M. de Lange; the English traveler, Mr. Bell, and a considerable suite. Kanghi received in the most gracious manner the letter which Peter addressed to him in the following terms: "To the emperor of the vast countries of Asia, to the Sovereign Monarch of Bogdo, to the Supreme Majesty of Khitay, friendship and greeting. With the design I possess of holding and increasing the friendship and close relations long established between your Majesty and my predecessors and myself, I have thought it right to send to your court, in the capacity of embassador-extraordinary, Leon Ismaloff, captain in my guards. I beg you will receive him in a manner suitable to the character in which he comes, to have regard and to attach as much faith to what he may say on the subject of our mutual affairs as if I were speaking to you myself, and also to permit his residing at your Court of Pekin until I recall him. Allow me to sign myself your Majesty's good friend. Peter." Kanghi gave the Russian envoy a very honorable reception. A house was set apart for his accommodation, and when the difficulties raised by the mandarins on the question of the kotao ceremony at the audience threatened to bring the embassy to an abortive end, Kanghi himself intervened with a suggestion that solved the difficulty. He arranged that his principal minister should perform the kotao to the letter of the Russian emperor, while the Russian envoy rendered him the same obeisance. The audience then took place without further delay, and it was allowed on all hands that no foreign embassy had ever been received with greater honor in China than this. Ismaloff returned to his master with the most roseate account of his reception and of the opening in China for Russian trade. A large and rich caravan was accordingly fitted out by Peter, to proceed to Pekin; but when it arrived it found a very different state of affairs from what Ismaloff had pictured. Kanghi lay on his death- bed, the anti-foreign ministers were supreme, declaring that "trade was a matter of little consequence, and regarded by them with contempt," and the Russians were ignominiously sent back to Siberia with the final declaration that such intercourse as was unavoidable must be restricted to the frontier. Thus summarily was ended Peter's dream of tapping the wealth of China.
Although Kanghi was not altogether free from domestic trouble, through the ambition of his many sons to succeed him, his life must on the whole be said to have passed along tranquilly enough apart from his cares of state. The public acts and magnificent exploits of his reign prove him to have been wise, courageous, and magnanimous, and his private life will bear the most searching examination, and only render his virtue the more conspicuous. He always showed a tender solicitude for the interests of his people, which was proved, among other things, by his giving up his annual tours through his dominions on account of the expense thrown on his subjects by the inevitable size of his retinue. His active habits as a hunter, a rider, and even as a pedestrian, were subjects of admiring comment on the part of the Chinese people, and he was one of their few rulers who made it a habit to walk through the streets of his capital. He was also conspicuous as the patron of learning; notably in his support of the foreign missionaries as geographers and cartographers. He was also the consistent and energetic supporter of the celebrated Hanlin College, and, as he was no ordinary litterateur himself, this is not surprising. His own works filled a hundred volumes, prominent among which were his Sixteen Maxims on the Art of Government, and it is believed that he took a large part in bringing out the Imperial Dictionary of the Hanlin College. His writings were marked by a high code of morality as well as by the lofty ideas of a broad-minded statesman. His enemies have imputed to him an excessive vanity and avarice; but the whole tenor of his life disproves the former statement, and, whatever foundation in fact the latter may have had, he never carried it to any greater length than mere prudence and consideration for the wants of his people demanded. We know that he resorted to gentle pressure to attain his ends rather than to tyrannical force. When he wished to levy a heavy contribution from a too rich subject he had recourse to what may be styled a mild joke, sooner than to threats and corporal punishment. The following incident has been quoted in this connection: One day Kanghi made an official, who had grown very wealthy, lead him, riding on an ass, round his gardens. As recompense the emperor gave him a tael. Then he himself led the mandarin in similar fashion. At the end of the tour he asked how much greater he was than his minister? "The comparison is impossible," said the ready courtier. "Then I must make the estimate myself," replied Kanghi. "I am 20,000 times as great, therefore you will pay me 20,000 taels." His reign was singularly free from the executions so common under even the best of Chinese rulers; and, whenever possible, he always tempered justice with mercy.
Notwithstanding his enfeebled health and the many illnesses from which he had suffered in later life, he persisted in following his usual sporting amusements, and he passed the winter of 1722 at his hunting-box at Haidsu. He seems to have caught a chill, and after a brief illness he died on the 2oth of December in that year.
The place of Kanghi among Chinese sovereigns is clearly defined. He ranks on almost equal terms with the two greatest of them all—Taitsong and his own grandson, Keen Lung—and it would be ungracious, if not impossible, to say in what respect he falls short of complete equality with either, so numerous and conspicuous were his talents and his virtues. His long friendship and high consideration for the Christian missionaries have no doubt contributed to bring his name and the events of his reign more prominently before Europe than was the case with any other Chinese ruler. But, although this predilection for European practices may have had the effect of strengthening his claims to precede every other of his country's rulers, it can add but little to the impression produced on even the most cursory reader by the remarkable achievements in peace and war accomplished by this gifted emperor. Kanghi's genius dominates one of the most critical periods in Chinese history, of which the narrative should form neither an uninteresting nor an uninstructive theme. Celebrated as the consolidator and completer of the Manchu conquest, Kanghi's virtue and moderation have gained him permanent fame as a wise, just, and beneficent national sovereign in the hearts of the Chinese people.
A SHORT REIGN AND THE BEGINNING OF A LONG ONE
Immediately after the death of Kanghi, his fourth son, who had long been designated as his heir, was proclaimed emperor, under the style of Yung Ching, which name means "the indissoluble concord or stable peace." The late emperor had always favored this prince, and in his will he publicly proclaimed that he bore much resemblance to himself, and that he was a man of rare and precious character. His first acts indicated considerable vigor and decision of mind. In the edict announcing the death of his father and his own accession he said that on the advice of his ministers he had entered upon the discharge of his imperial duties, without giving up precious time to the indulgence of his natural grief, which would be gratifying to his feelings, but injurious to the public interests. As Yung Ching was of the mature age of forty-five, and as he had enjoyed the confidence of his predecessor, he was fully qualified to carry on the administration. He declared that his main purpose was to continue his father's work, and that he would tread as closely as he could in Kanghi's footsteps. While Yung Ching took these prompt steps to secure himself on the throne, some of his brothers assumed an attitude of menacing hostility toward him, and all his energy and vigilance were required to counteract their designs. A very little time was needed, however, to show that Kanghi had selected his worthiest son as his successor, and that China would have no reason to fear under Yung Ching the loss of any of the benefits conferred on the nation by Kanghi. His fine presence, and frank, open manner, secured for him the sympathy and applause of the public, and in a very short time he also gained their respect and admiration by his wisdom and justice.
The most important and formidable of his brothers was the fourteenth son of Kanghi, by the same mother, however, as that of Yung Ching. He and his son Poki had been regarded with no inconsiderable favor by Kanghi, and at one time it was thought that he would have chosen them as his successors; but these expectations were disappointed. He was sent instead to hold the chief command against the Eleuths on the western borders. Young Ching determined to remove him from this post, in which he might have opportunities of asserting his independence, and for a moment it seemed as if he might disobey. But more prudent counsels prevailed, and he returned to Pekin, where he was placed in honorable confinement, and retained there during the whole of Yung Ching's reign. He and his son owed their release thirteen years later to the greater clemency or self-confidence of Keen Lung. Another brother, named Sessaka, also fell under suspicion, and he was arrested and his estates confiscated. He was then so far forgiven that a small military command was given him in the provinces. Others of more importance were involved in his affairs. Lessihin, son of Prince Sourniama, an elder brother of Kanghi, was denounced as a sympathizer and supporter of Sessaka. The charge seems to have been based on slender evidence, but it sufficed to cause the banishment of this personage and all his family to Sining. It appears as if they were specially punished for having become Christians, and there is no doubt that their conversion imbittered the emperor's mind against the Christian missionaries and their religion. It enabled him to say, or at least induced him to accept the statement, that the Christians meddled and took a side in the internal politics of the country. Yung Ching saw and seized his opportunity. His measures of repression against the recalcitrant party in his own family culminated in the summary exile of Sourniama and all his descendants down to the fourth generation. Sourniama vainly endeavored to establish his innocence, and he sent three of his sons, laden with chains, to the palace, to protest his innocence and devotion. But they were refused audience, and Sourniama and his family sank into oblivion and wretchedness on the outskirts of the empire.
Having thus settled the difficulties within his own family, Yung Ching next turned his attention to humbling the bold band of foreigners who had established themselves in the capital and throughout the country, as much by their own persistency and indifference to slight as by the acquiescence of the Chinese government, and who, after they had reached some of the highest official posts, continued to preach and propagate their gospel of a supreme power and mercy beyond the control of kings, a gospel which was simply destructive of the paternal and sacred claims on which a Chinese emperor based his authority as superior to all earthly interference, and as transmitted to him direct from Heaven, The official classes confirmed the emperor's suspicions, and encouraged him to proceed to extreme lengths. On all sides offenses were freely laid at the doors of the missionaries. It was said of them that "their doctrine sows trouble among the people, and makes them doubt the goodness of our laws." In the province of Fuhkien their eighteen churches were closed, and the priests were summarily ordered to return to Macao. At Pekin itself the Jesuits lost all their influence. Those who had been well-disposed toward them were either banished or cowed into silence. The emperor turned his back on them and refused to see them, and they could only wait with their usual fortitude until the period of imperial displeasure had passed over. When they endeavored to enlist in their support the sympathy and influence of the emperor's brother—the thirteenth prince—who in Kanghi's time had been considered their friend, they met with a rebuff not unnatural or unreasonable when the mishaps to his relations for their Christian proclivities are borne in mind. This prince said, in words which have often been repeated since by Chinese ministers and political writers, "What would you say if our people were to go to Europe and wished to change there the laws and customs established by your ancient sages? The emperor, my brother, wishes to put an end to all this in an effectual manner. I have seen the accusation of the Tsongtou of Fuhkien. It is undoubtedly strong, and your disputes about our customs have greatly injured you. What would you say if we were to transport ourselves to Europe and to act there as you have done here? Would you stand it for a moment? In the course of time I shall master this business, but I declare to you that China will want for nothing when you cease to live in it, and that your absence will not cause it any loss. Here nobody is retained by force, and nobody also will be suffered to break the laws or to make light of our customs."
The influence of Yung Ching on the development of the important foreign question arrested the ambition and sanguine flight of the imagination of the Roman Catholic missionaries, who, rendered overconfident by their success under Kanghi, believed that they held the future of China in their own hands, and that persistency alone was needed to secure the adhesion of that country to the Christian Church. Yung Ching dispelled these illusions, and so far as they were illusions, which nearly two subsequent centuries have proved them to be, it was well that they should be so dispelled. He asserted himself in very unequivocal terms as an emperor of China, and as resolute in maintaining his sovereign position outside the control of any religious potentate or creed. The progress of the Christian religion of the Roman Catholic Church in China was quite incompatible with the supposed celestial origin of the emperor, who was alleged to receive his authority direct from Heaven. It is not surprising that Yung Ching, at the earliest possible moment, decided to blight these hopes, and to assert the natural and inherited prerogative of a Chinese emperor. There is no room to doubt that the Catholic priests had drawn a too hasty and too favorable deduction from the favor of Kanghi. They confounded their practical utility with the intrinsic merit and persuasive force of Christianity. An enlightened ruler had recognized the former, but a skeptical people showed themselves singularly obdurate to the latter. The persecution of the Christians, of which the letters from the missionaries at Pekin at this time are so full, did not go beyond the placing of some restraint on the preaching of their religion. No wholesale executions or sweeping decrees passed against their persons attended its course or marked its development. Yung Ching simply showed by his conduct that they must count no longer on the favor of the emperor in the carrying out of their designs. The difficulties inherent in the task they had undertaken stood for the first time fully revealed, and having been denounced as a source of possible danger to the stability of the empire, they became an object of suspicion even to those who had sympathized with them personally, if not with their creed.
The early years of the reign of Yung Ching were marked by extraordinary public misfortunes. The flooding of the Hoangho entailed a famine, which spread such desolation throughout the northern provinces that it is affirmed, on credible authority, that 40,000 persons were fed at the state expense in Pekin alone for a period of four months. The taxes in some of the most important cities and wealthiest districts had to be greatly reduced, and the resources of the exchequer were severely strained. But the loss and suffering caused by the famine were speedily cast into the shade by a terrible and sudden visitation which carried desolation and destruction throughout the whole of the metropolitan province of Pechihli. The northern districts of China have for many centuries been liable to the frequent recurrence of earthquakes on a terribly vast and disastrous scale, but none of them equaled in its terrific proportions that of the year 1730. It came without warning, but the shocks continued for ten days. Over 100,000 persons were overwhelmed in a moment at Pekin, the suburbs were laid in ruins, the imperial palace was destroyed, the summer residence at Yuen Ming Yuen, on which Yung Ching had lavished his taste and his treasure, suffered in scarcely a less degree. The emperor and the inhabitants fled from the city, and took shelter without the walls, where they encamped. The loss was incalculable, and it has been stated that Yung Ching expended seventy-five million dollars in repairing the damage and allaying the public misfortune. Notwithstanding these national calamities the population increased, and in some provinces threatened to outgrow the production of rice. Various devices were resorted to to check the growth of the population; but they were all of a simple and harmless character, such as the issue of rewards to widows who did not marry again and to bachelors who preserved their state.
The military events of Yung Ching's reign were confined to the side of Central Asia, where Tse Wang Rabdan emulated with more than ordinary success the example of his predecessors, and where he transmitted his power and authority to his son, Galdan Chereng, on his death in 1727. He established his sovereignty over the whole of Kashgaria, which he ruled through a prince named Daniel, and he established relations with the Russians, which at one time promised to attain a cordial character, but which were suddenly converted into hostility by the Russian belief that the Upper Urtish lay in a gold region which they resolved to conquer. Instead of an ally they then found in Tse Wang Rabdan the successful defender of that region. But the wars of Central Asia had no interest for Yung Ching. He was one of the Chinese rulers who thought that he should regard these matters as outside his concern, and the experience of Kanghi's wars had divided Chinese statesmen into two clearly-defined parties: those who held that China should conquer Central Asia up to the Pamir, and those who thought that the Great Wall was the best practical limit for the exercise of Chinese authority. Yung Ching belonged to the latter school, and, instead of dispatching fresh armies into the Gobi region to complete the triumph of his father, he withdrew those that were there, and publicly proclaimed that the aggressive chiefs and turbulent tribes of that region might fight out their own quarrels, and indulge their own petty ambitions as best they felt disposed. The success of this policy would have been incontestable if it had been reflected in the conduct of the Central Asian princelets, who, however, seemed to see in the moderation and inaction of the Chinese ruler only a fresh incentive to aggression and turbulence. Yung Ching himself died too soon to appreciate the shortcomings of his own policy.
In the midst of his labors as a beneficent ruler the life of Yung Ching was cut short. On October 7, 1735, he gave audience to the high officials of his court in accordance with his usual custom; but feeling indisposed he was compelled to break off the interview in a sudden manner. His indisposition at once assumed a grave form, and in a few hours he had ceased to live. The loss of this emperor does not seem to have caused any profound or widespread sentiment of grief among the masses, although the more intelligent recognized in him one of those wise and prudent rulers whose tenure of power makes their people's happiness.
Yung Ching died so suddenly that he had not nominated his heir. He left three sons, and, after brief consideration, the eldest of these—to whom was given the name of Keen Lung—was placed upon the throne. The choice was justified by the result, although the chroniclers declare that it came as a surprise to the recipient of the honor, as he had passed his life in the pursuit of literary studies rather than in practical administrative work. His skill and proficiency in the field of letters had already been proved before his father's death; but of public affairs and the government of a vast empire he knew little or nothing. He was a student of books rather than of men, and he had to undergo a preliminary course of training in the art of government before he felt himself capable of assuming the reigns of power. Moreover, Keen Lung, although the eldest son, was not the offspring of the empress, and the custom of succession in the imperial family was too uncertain to allow any one in his position to feel absolute confidence as to his claims securing the recognition they might seem to warrant. His admission of his being unequal to the duties of his lofty position, notwithstanding that he was twenty-five years of age, was thoroughly characteristic of the man, and augured well for the future of his reign. He appointed four regents, whose special task was to show him how to rule; but in the edict delegating his authority to them he expressly limited its application to the period of mourning, covering a space of four years; and as a measure of precaution against any undue ambition he made the office terminable at his discretion.
Keen Lung began his reign with acts of clemency, which seldom fail to add a special luster to a sovereign's assumption of power. His father had punished with rigor some of the first princes of the court simply because they were his relations, and there is some ground for thinking that he had put forward antipathy to the foreign heresy of the Christians as a cloak to conceal his private animosities and personal apprehensions. Keen Lung at once resolved to reverse the acts of his predecessor, and to offer such reparation as he could to those who had suffered for no sufficient offense. The sons of Kanghi and their children who had fallen under the suspicion of Yung Ching were released from their confinement, and restored to their rank and privileges. They showed their gratitude to their benefactor by sustained loyalty and practical service that contributed to the splendor of his long reign. The impression thus produced on the public mind was also most favorable, and already the people were beginning to declare that they had found a worthy successor to the great Kanghi.
There is nothing surprising to learn that in consequence of the pardon and restitution of the men who had nominally suffered for their Christian proclivities the foreign missionaries began to hope and to agitate for an improvement in their lot and condition. They somewhat hastily assumed that the evil days of persecution wore over, and that Keen Lung would accord them the same honorable positions as they had enjoyed under his grandfather, Kanghi. These expectations were destined to a rude disappointment, as the party hostile to the Christians remained as strong as ever at court, and the regents were not less prejudiced against them than the ministers of Yung Ching had been. The emperor's own opinion does not appear to have been very strong one way or the other, but it seems probable that he was slightly prejudiced against the foreigners. He certainly assented to an order prohibiting the practice of Christianity by any of his subjects, and ordaining the punishment of those who should obstinately adhere to it. At the same time the foreign missionaries were ordered to confine their labors to the secular functions in which they were useful, and to give up all attempts to propagate their creed. Still some slight abatement in practice was procured of these rigid measures through the mediation of the painter Castiglione, who, while taking a portrait of the emperor, pleaded, and not ineffectually, the cause of his countrymen. There was one distinct persecution on a large scale in the province of Fuhkien, where several Spanish missionaries were tortured, their chief native supporters strangled, and Keen Lung himself sent the order to execute the missionaries in retaliation for the massacre of Chinese subjects by the Spaniards in the Philippines. After he had been on the throne fifteen years, Keen Lung began to unbend toward the foreigners, and to avail himself of their services in the same manner as his grandfather had done. The artists Castiglione and Attiret were constantly employed in the palace, painting his portrait and other pictures. Keen Lung is said to have been so pleased with that drawn by Attiret that he wished to make him a mandarin. The French in particular strove to amuse the great monarch, and to enable him to wile away his leisure with ingeniously constructed automatons worked by clockwork machinery. He also learned from them much about the politics and material condition of Europe, and it is not surprising that he became imbued with the idea that France was the greatest and most powerful state in that continent. Almost insensibly Keen Lung entertained a more favorable opinion of the foreigners, and extended to them his protection with other privileges that had long been withheld. But this policy was attributable to practical considerations and not to religious belief.