by Demetrius Charles Boulger
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Very little detailed information is obtainable about the inner working of the government and the annual course of events, owing to the practice of not giving the official history of the dynasty publicity until after it has ceased to reign; so all that can be said with any confidence of the first fifteen years of Keen Lung's reign, is that they were marked by great internal prosperity arising from the tranquillity of the realm and the content of the people. Any misfortunes that befell the realm were of personal importance to the sovereign rather than of national significance, although some of the foreign priests affected to see in them the retribution of Providence for the apathy and tyranny of the Chinese rulers. In 1751 Keen Lung lost both his principal wife, the empress, and his eldest son. His disagreements with his ministers also proved many and serious, and the letters from Pekin note, with more than a gleam of satisfaction, that those who were most prominent as Anti-Christians suffered most heavily. Keen Lung suffered from physical weakness, and a susceptibility to bodily ailments, that detracted during the first few years of his reign from his capacity to discharge all the duties of his position, and more than their usual share of power consequently fell into the hands of the great tribunals of the state. When Keen Lung resolutely devoted himself to the task of supervising the acts of the official world the evils became less perceptible, and gradually the provincial governors found it to be their best and wisest course to obey and faithfully execute the behests of their sovereign. For a brief space Keen Lung seemed likely to prove more indifferent to the duties of his rank than either of his predecessors; but after a few years' practice he hastened to devote himself to his work with an energy which neither Kanghi nor Yung Ching had surpassed.

Keen Lung seems to have passed his time between his palace at Pekin and his hunting-box at Jehol, a small town beyond the Wall. The latter, perhaps, was his favorite residence, because he enjoyed the quiet of the country, and the purer and more invigorating air of the northern region agreed with his constitution. Here he varied the monotony of rural pursuits—for he never became as keen a hunter as Kanghi—with grand ceremonies which he employed the foreigners in painting. It was at Jehol that he planned most of his military campaigns, and those conquests which carried his banners to the Pamir and the Himalaya. If the earlier period of Keen Lung's reign was tranquil and undisturbed by war, the last forty years made up for it by their sustained military excitement and achievement. As soon as Keen Lung grasped the situation and found that the administration of the country was working in perfect order, he resolved to attain a complete settlement of the questions pending in Central Asia, which his father had shirked. Up to this time Keen Lung had been generally set down as a literary student, as a man more of thought than of action. But his reading had taught him one thing, and that was that the danger to China from the side of Central Asia was one that went back to remote ages, that it had never been allayed, save for brief intervals, and then only by establishing Chinese authority on either side of the Tian Shan. His studies showed Keen Lung what ought to be done, and the aggressions of his neighbors soon gave him the opportunity of carrying out the policy that he felt to be the best.



It was the arrival of a chief named Amursana at his court that first led Keen Lung to seriously entertain the idea of advancing into Central Asia, and having determined on the Central Asian campaign, Keen Lung's military preparations were commensurate with the importance and magnitude of the undertaking. He collected an army of 150,000 men, including the picked Manchu Banners and the celebrated Solon contingent, each of whom was said to be worth ten other soldiers. The command of this army was given to Panti, the best of the Manchu generals, and Amursana, who accompanied it, received a seal and the honorary title of Great General. But Keen Lung superintended all the operations of the war, and took credit to himself for its successful issue.

The triumph of Amursana, by the aid of the Chinese, did not bring tranquillity to Central Asia. He was not contented with the position to which the friendship of Keen Lung had raised him, and, placing too high an estimate on his own ability and resources, he was inclined to dispute the accepted opinion that all his success was due to the Chinese army. On the termination of the campaign the major portion of that army returned to China, but Panti was left with a select contingent, partly to support Amursana, and partly to secure the restoration of China's authority. Amursana, however, considered that the presence of this force detracted from the dignity of his position. Having risen to the greatness he coveted, Amursana meditated casting aside the prop by which he had risen; but before he took an irretraceable step he resolved to make use of the Chinese forces for extending his authority south of the Tian Shan range into Kashgaria. With some hesitation Panti lent him 500 Chinese soldiers, and with their aid the Eleuth prince captured the cities of Kashgar and Yarkand, and set up a chief named Barhanuddin Khoja as his nominee. This success confirmed Amursana in his good opinion of himself and his resources, and when Keen Lung, who had grown mistrustful of his good faith, summoned him to Pekin, he resolved to throw off the mask and his allegiance to China. At this supreme moment of his fate not the least thought of gratitude to the Chinese emperor, who had made him what he was, seems to have entered his mind. He determined not merely to disregard the summons to Pekin and to proclaim his independence, but also to show the extent of his hostility by adding to his defiance an act of treachery. Before he fully revealed his plans he surprised the Chinese garrison and massacred it to the last man; the valiant Panti, who had gained his victories for him, being executed by the public executioner.

The impression produced by this event was profound, and when Amursana followed up the blow by spreading abroad rumors of the magnitude of his designs they obtained some credence even among the Mongols. Encouraged by this success he sought to rally those tribes to his side by imputing minister intentions to Keen Lung. His emissaries declared that Keen Lung wished to deprive them all of their rank and authority, and that he had summoned Amursana to Pekin only for the purpose of deposing him. To complete the quarrel, Amursana declared himself King of the Eleuths, and absolutely independent of China. But the energy and indignation of Keen Lung soon exposed the hollowness of these designs, and the inadequacy of Amursana's power and capacity to make good his pretensions. Keen Lung collected another army larger than that which had placed him on his throne, to hurl Amursana from the supremacy which had not satisfied him and which he had grossly abused.

The armies of Keen Lung traversed the Gobi Desert and arrived in Central Asia, but the incapacity of his generals prevented the campaigns having those decisive results which he expected. The autocratic Chinese ruler treated his generals who failed like the fickle French Republic. The penalty of failure was a public execution. Keen Lung would accept nothing short of the capture of Amursana as evidence of his victory, and Amursana escaped to the Kirghiz. His celerity or ingenuity cost the lives of four respectable Chinese generals, two of whom were executed at Pekin and two were slain by brigands on their way there to share the same fate. Emboldened by the inability of the Chinese to capture him, Amursana again assembled an army and pursued the retiring Chinese across the desert, where he succeeded in inflicting no inconsiderable loss upon them.

When the Chinese army retired before Amursana one corps maintained its position and successfully defied him, thanks to the capacity of its commander, Tchaohoei. Tchaohoei not merely held his ground, but drew up a scheme for regaining all that had been lost in Central Asia, and Keen Lung was so impressed by it that he at once resolved to intrust the execution of his policy to the only officer who had shown any military capacity. Two fresh armies were sent to the Ili, and placed, on their arrival there, under the command of Tchaohoei, who was exhorted, above all things, to capture Amursana, dead or alive. Tchaohoei at once assumed the offensive, and as Amursana was abandoned by his followers as soon as they saw that China was putting forth the whole of her strength, he had no alternative but once more to flee for shelter to the Kirghiz. But the conditions imposed by Keen Lung were so rigorous that Tchaohoei realized that the capture of Amursana was essential to his gaining the confidence and gratitude of his master. He, therefore, sent his best lieutenant, Fouta, to pursue the Eleuth prince. Fouta pursued Amursana with the energy of one who has to gain his spurs, and he almost succeeded in effecting his capture, but Amursana just made his escape in time across the frontier into Russian territory. But Keen Lung was not satisfied with this result, and he sent both to Fouta and Tchaohoei to rest satisfied with nothing short of the capture of Amursana. The close of that unfortunate prince's career was near at hand, although it was not ended by the act of the Chinese officers. He died in Russian territory of a fever, and when the Chinese demanded of their neighbors that his body should be surrendered they refused, on the ground that enmity should cease with death; but Fouta was able to report to his sovereign that he had seen with his own eyes the mortal remains of the Eleuth chief who had first been the humble friend and then the bitter foe of the Manchu ruler.

Keen Lung decided to administer the country which he had conquered. But another step was seen to be necessary to give stability to the Chinese administration, and that was the annexation of Kashgaria. The great region of Little Bokhara or Eastern Turkestan, known to us now under the more convenient form of Kashgaria, was still ruled by the Khoja Barhanuddin, who had been placed in power by Amursana, and it afforded a shelter for all the disaffected, and a base of hostility against the Chinese. Even if Tchaohoei had not reported that the possession of Kashgaria was essential to the military security of Jungaria, there is no doubt that sooner or later Keen Lung would have proceeded to extreme lengths with regard to Barhanuddin. The Chinese were fully warranted, however, in treating him as an enemy when he seized an envoy sent to his capital by Tchaohoei and executed him and his escort. This outrage precluded all possibility of an amicable arrangement, and the Chinese prepared their fighting men for the invasion and conquest of Kashgaria. They crossed the frontier in two bodies, one under the command of Tchaohoei, the other under that of Fouta. Any resistance that Barhanuddin and his brother attempted was speedily overcome; the principal cities, Kashgar and Yarkand, were occupied, and the ill-advised princes were compelled to seek their personal safety by a precipitate flight. The conquest and annexation of Kashgaria completed the task with which Tchaohoei was charged, and it also realized Keen Lung's main idea by setting up his authority in the midst of the turbulent tribes who had long disturbed the empire, and who first learned peaceful pursuits as his subjects. The Chinese commanders followed up this decided success by the dispatch of several expeditions into the adjoining states.

The ruler of Khokand was either so much impressed by his neighbor's prowess, or, as there is much reason to believe, experienced himself the weight of their power by the occupation of his principal cities, Tashkent and Khokand, that he hastened to recognize the authority of the emperor and to enroll himself among the tributaries of the Son of Heaven. The tribute he bound himself to pay was sent without a break for a period of half a century. The Kirghiz chiefs of low and high degree imitated his example, and a firm peace was thus established from one end of Central Asia to the other. The administration was divided between Chinese and native officials, and if there was tyranny, the people suffered rather from that of the Mohammedan Hakim Beg than that of the Confucian Amban.

Keen Lung was engaged in many more wars than those in Central Asia. On the side of Burmah he found his borders disturbed by nomad and predatory tribes not less than in the region of Gobi. These clans had long been a source of annoyance and anxiety to the viceroy of Yunnan, but the weakness of the courts of Ava and Pegu, who stood behind these frontagers, had prevented the local grievance becoming a national danger. But the triumph of the remarkable Alompra, who united Pegu and Burmah into a single state, and who controlled an army with which he effected many triumphs, showed that this state of things might not always continue, and that the day would come when China might be exposed to a grave peril from this side. The successors of Alompra inherited his pretensions if not his ability, and when the Chinese called upon them to keep the borders in better order or to punish some evildoers, they sent back a haughty and unsatisfactory reply. Sembuen, the grandson of Alompra, was king when Keen Lung ordered, in the year 1768, his generals to invade Burmah, and the conduct of the war was intrusted to an officer in high favor at court, named Count Alikouen, instead of to Fouta, the hero of the Central Asian war, who had fallen under the emperor's grave displeasure for what, after all, appears to have been a trifling offense. The course of the campaign is difficult to follow, for both the Chinese and the Burmese claim the same battles as victories, but this will not surprise those who remember that the Burmese court chroniclers described all the encounters with the English forces in the wars of 1829 and 1853 as having been victorious. The advance of the Chinese army, estimated to exceed 200,000 men, from Bhamo to Ava shows clearly enough the true course of the war, and that the Chinese were able to carry all before them up to the gates of the capital. Count Alikouen did not display any striking military capacity, but by retaining possession of the country above Ava for three years he at last compelled the Burmese to sue for peace on humiliating terms.

In previous chapters the growth of China's relations with Tibet has been traced, and especially under the Manchu dynasty. The control established by Kanghi after the retirement of the Jungarian army was maintained by both his successors, and for fifty years Tibet had that perfect tranquillity which is conveyed by the expression that it had no history. The young Dalai Lama, who fled to Sining to escape from Latsan Khan, was restored, and under the name of Lobsang Kalsang pursued a subservient policy to China for half a century. In the year 1749 an unpleasant incident took place through a collision between the Chinese ambans and the Civil Regent or Gyalpo, who administered the secular affairs of the Dalai Lama. The former acted in a high-handed and arbitrary manner, and put the Gyalpo to death. But in this they went too far, for both the lamas and the people strongly resented it, and revolted against the Chinese, whom they massacred to the last man. For a time it looked as if the matter might have a very serious ending, but Keen Lung contented himself with sending fresh ambans and an escort to Tibet, and enjoining them to abstain from undue interference with the Tibetans. But at the same time that they showed this moderation the Chinese took a very astute measure to render their position stronger than ever. They asserted their right to have the supreme voice in nominating the Gyalpo, and they soon reduced that high official, the Prime Minister of Tibet, to the position of a creature of their own. The policy was both astute and successful. The Tibetans had welcomed the Chinese originally because they saved them from the Eleuth army, and provided a guarantee against a fresh invasion. But the long peace and the destruction of the Eleuth power had led the Tibetans to think less of the advantage of Chinese protection, and to pine for complete independence. The lamas also bitterly resented the assumption by the ambans of all practical authority. How long these feelings could have continued without an open outbreak must remain a matter of opinion; but an unexpected event brought into evidence the unwarlike character of the Tibetans, and showed that their country was exposed to many dangers from which only China's protection could preserve them. In Kanghi's time the danger had come from Ili; in the reign of Keen Lung it came from the side of Nepaul.

As a general rule the mighty chain of the Himalaya has effectually separated the peoples living north and south of it, and the instances in history are rare of any collision between them. Of all such collisions the most important was that which has now to be described as the main cause of the tightening of the hold of China upon Tibet. The mountain kingdom of Nepaul was equally independent of the British and the Mogul Empire of Delhi. It was ruled by three separate kings, until in the year 1769 the Goorkha chief Prithi Narayan established the supremacy of that warlike race. The Goorkhas cared nothing for trade, and their exactions resulted in the cessation of the commercial intercourse which had existed under the Nepaulese kings between India and Tibet. Their martial instincts led them to carry on raids into both Tibet and India. The Tibetans were unequal to the task of punishing or restraining them, and at last the Goorkhas were inspired with such confidence that they undertook the invasion of their country. It is said that the Goorkhas were encouraged to take this, step by the belief that the Chinese would not interfere, and that the lamaseries contained an incalculable amount of treasure. The Goorkhas invaded Tibet in 1791 with an army of less than 20,000 men, and, advancing through the Kirong and Kuti passes, overcame the frontier guards, and carried all before them up to the town of Degarehi, where they plundered the famous lamasery of Teshu Lumbo, the residence of the Teshu Lama. Having achieved this success and gratified their desire for plunder, the Goorkhas remained inactive for some weeks, and wasted much precious time. The Tibetans did not attempt a resistance, which their want of military skill and their natural cowardice would have rendered futile, but they sent express messengers to Pekin entreating the Chinese emperor to send an army to their assistance. Keen Lung had not sent troops to put a stop to the raids committed on the frontier by the Goorkhas; but when he heard that a portion of his dominions was invaded, and that the predominance of his country in the holy land of Buddhism was in danger, he at once ordered his generals to collect all the forces they could and to march without delay to expel the foreign invader. He may have been urged to increased activity by the knowledge that the Tibetans had also appealed for aid to the British, and by his being ignorant what steps the Indian Government would take. Within a very short time of the receipt of the appeal for assistance a Chinese army of 70,000 men was dispatched into Tibet, and the Goorkhas, awed by this much larger force, began their retreat to their own country. Their march was delayed by the magnitude of their spoil, and before they had reached the passes through the Himalaya the Chinese army had caught them up. In the hope of securing a safe retreat for his baggage and booty, the Goorkha commander drew up his force in battle array on the plain of Tengri Maidan, outside the northern entrance of the Kirong Pass, and the Chinese general, Sund Fo, made his dispositions to attack the Goorkhas; but before delivering his attack he sent a letter reciting the outrages committed, and the terms on which his imperial master would grant peace. Among these were the restitution of the plunder and the surrender of the renegade lama, whose tales were said to have whetted the cupidity of the Goorkhas. A haughty reply was sent back, and the Chinese were told to do their worst.

In the desperately-contested battle which ensued the victory was decisive, and the Goorkha king at once sued for peace, which was readily granted, as the Chinese had attained all their objects, and Sund Fo was beginning to be anxious about his retreat owing to the approach of winter. When, therefore, the Goorkha embassy entered his camp Sund Fo granted terms which, although humiliating, were as favorable as a defeated people could expect. The Goorkhas took an oath to keep the peace toward their Tibetan neighbors, to acknowledge themselves the vassals of the Chinese emperor, to send a quinquennial embassy to China with the required tribute, and, lastly, to restore all the plunder that had been carried off from Teshu Lumbo. The exact language of this treaty has never been published, but its provisions have been faithfully kept. The Goorkhas still pay tribute to China; they have kept the peace with one insignificant exception ever since on the Tibetan border; and they are correctly included among the vassals of Pekin at the present time. The gratitude of the Tibetans, as well as the increased numbers of the Chinese garrison, insured the security of China's position in Tibet, and, as both the Tibetans and the Goorkhas considered that the English deserted them in their hour of need, for the latter when hard pressed also appealed to us for assistance, China has had no difficulty in effectually closing Tibet to Indian trade. China closed all the passes on the Nepaul frontier, and only allowed the quinquennial mission to enter by the Kirong Pass. Among all the military feats of China none is more remarkable or creditable than the overthrow of the Goorkhas, who are among the bravest of Indian races, and who, only twenty years after their crushing defeat by Sund Fo, gave the Anglo-Indian army and one of its best commanders, Sir David Ochterloney, an infinity of trouble in two doubtful and keenly contested campaigns.

Keen Lung's war in Formosa calls for only brief notice; but, in concluding our notice of his many military conquests and campaigns, some description must be given of the great rising in an island which Chinese writers have styled "the natural home of sedition and disaffection." In the year 1786 the islanders rose, slaughtered the Tartar garrisons, and completely subverted the emperor's authority. The revolt was one not on the part of the savage islanders themselves, but of the Chinese colonists, who were goaded into insurrection by the tyranny of the Manchu officials. At first it did not assume serious dimensions, and it seemed as if it would pass over without any general rising, when the orders of the Viceroy of Fuhkien, to which Formosa was dependent until made a separate province a few years ago, fanned the fuel of disaffection to a flame. The popular leader Ling organized the best government he could, and, when Keen Lung offered to negotiate, laid down three conditions as the basis of negotiation. They were that "the mandarin who had ordered the cruel measures of repression should be executed," that "Ling personally should never be required to go to Pekin," and, thirdly, that "the mandarins should abandon their old tyrannical ways." Keen Lung's terms were an unconditional surrender and trust in his clemency, which Ling, with perhaps the Miaotze incident fresh in his mind, refused. At first Keen Lung sent numerous but detached expeditions to reassert his power; but these were attacked in detail, and overwhelmed by Ling. Keen Lung said that "his heart was in suspense both by night and by day as to the issue of the war in Formosa"; but, undismayed by his reverses, the emperor sent 100,000 men under the command of a member of his family to crush the insurrection. Complete success was attained by weight of numbers, and Formosa was restored to its proper position in the empire.

A rising in Szchuen, which may be considered from some of its features the precursor of the Taeping Rebellion, and the first outbreak of the Tungan Mohammedans in the northwest, whom Keen Lung wished to massacre, marked the close of this long reign, which was rendered remarkable by so many military triumphs. The reputation of the Chinese empire was raised to the highest point, and maintained there by the capacity and energy of this ruler. Within its borders the commands of the central government were ungrudgingly obeyed, and beyond them foreign peoples and states respected the rights of a country that had shown itself so well able to exact obedience from its dependents and to preserve the very letter of its rights. The military fame of the Chinese, which had always been great among Asiatics, attained its highest point in consequence of these numerous and rapidly-succeeding campaigns. The evidences of military proficiency, of irresistible determination, and of personal valor not easily surpassed, were too many and too apparent to justify any in ignoring the solid claims of China to rank as the first military country in Asia—a position which, despite the appearance of England and Russia in that continent, she still retains, and which must eventually enable her to exercise a superior voice in the arrangement of its affairs to that of either of her great and at present more powerful and better prepared neighbors.



Keen Lung was the first Manchu prince to receive formal embassies from the sovereigns of Europe. Among these the Portuguese were the first in point of time, although they never attained the advantage derivable from that priority; and indeed the important period of their connection with China may be said to have terminated before the Manchus had established their authority. Still, as the tenants of Macao, the oldest European settlement in China for more than three centuries and a half, their connection with the Chinese government must always possess some features of interest and originality. The Portuguese paid their rent to and carried on all their business with the mandarins at Canton, who lost no opportunity of squeezing large sums out of the foreigners, as they were absolutely in their power. The Portuguese could only pay with good or bad grace the bribes and extra duty demanded as the price of their being allowed to trade at all. The power of China seemed so overwhelming that they never attempted to make any stand against its arbitrary decrees, and the only mode they could think of for getting an alleviation of the hardships inflicted by the Canton authorities was to send costly embassies to the Chinese capital. These, however, failed to produce any tangible result. Their gifts were accepted, and their representatives were accorded a more or less gratifying reception; but there was no mitigation of the severity shown by the local mandarins, and, for all practical purposes, the money expended on these missions was as good as thrown away. The Portuguese succeeded in obtaining an improvement in their lot only by combining their naval forces with those of the Chinese in punishing and checking the raids of the pirates, who infested the estuary of the Canton River known as the Bogue. But they never succeeded in emancipating themselves from that position of inferiority in which the Chinese have always striven to keep all foreigners; and if the battle of European enterprise against Chinese exclusiveness had been carried on and fought by the Portuguese it would have resulted in the discomfiture of Western progress and enlightenment.

The Dutch sent an embassy to Pekin in 1795, but it was treated with such contumely that it does not reflect much credit on those who sent it. The Spaniards never held any relations with the central government, all their business being conducted with the Viceroy of Fuhkien; and the successive massacres of Manila completely excluded them from any good understanding with the Pekin government. With Russia, China's relations have always been different from those with the other powers, and this is explained partly by the fact of neighborship, and partly by Russia seeking only her own ends, and not advantages for the benefit of every other foreign nation.

With France, the relations of China, owing to a great extent to the efforts and influence of the missionaries, had always been marked with considerable sympathy and even cordiality. The French monarchs had from time to time turned their attention to promoting trade with China and the Far East. Henry the Fourth sanctioned a scheme with this object, but it came to nothing; and Colbert only succeeded in obtaining the right for his countrymen to land their goods at Whampoa, the river port of Canton. But French commerce never flourished in China, and a bold but somewhat Quixotic attempt to establish a trade between that country and the French settlements on the Mississippi failed to achieve anything practical. But what the French were unable to attain in the domain of commerce they succeeded in accomplishing in the region of literature. They were the first to devote themselves to the study of the Chinese literature and language, and what we know of the history of China down to the last century is exclusively due to their laborious research and painstaking translations of Chinese histories and annals. They made China known to the polite as well as the political world of Europe. Keen Lung himself appreciated and was flattered by these efforts. His poetry, notably his odes on "Tea," and the "Eulogy of Moukden" as the cradle of his race, was translated by Pere Amiot, and attracted the attention of Voltaire, who addressed to the emperor an epistolary poem on the requirements and difficulties of Chinese versification. The French thus rendered a material service in making China better known to Europe and Europe better known in China, which, although it may be hard to gauge precisely, entitles them still to rank among those who have opened up China to Europeans. The history of China, down to the eighteenth century at least, could not have been written but for the labors of the French, of Mailla, Du Halde, Amiot, and many others.

There remains only to summarize the relations with the English, who, early in the seventeenth century, and before the Manchus had established their supremacy, possessed factories at Amoy and on the island of Chusan. But their trade, hampered by official exactions, and also by the jealousy of the Portuguese and Dutch, proved a slow growth; and at Canton, which they soon discovered to be the best and most convenient outlet for the state, they were more hampered than anywhere else, chiefly through the hostile representations of the Portuguese, who bribed the mandarins to exclude all other foreigners. The English merchants, like the Portuguese, believed that the only way to obtain a remedy for their grievances was by approaching the imperial court and obtaining an audience with the emperor; but they were wise in not attempting to send delegates of their own. They saw that if an impression was to be created at Pekin the embassador must come fully accredited by the British government, and not merely as the representative of a body of merchants who were suppliants for commercial privileges. The war with the Goorkhas had made the Chinese authorities acquainted with the fact that the English, who were only humble suitors for trade on the coast, were a great power in India. The knowledge of this fact undoubtedly created a certain amount of curiosity in the mind of Keen Lung, and when he heard that the King of England contemplated sending an embassy to his court he gave every encouragement to the suggestion, and promised it a welcome and honorable reception. Permission was given it to proceed to Pekin, and thus was a commencement made in the long story of diplomatic relations between England and China, which have at length acquired a cordial character. As great importance was attached to this embassy, every care was bestowed on fitting it out in a worthy manner. Colonel Cathcart was selected as the envoy, but died on the eve of his departure, and a successor was found in the person of Lord Macartney, a nobleman of considerable attainments, who had been Governor of Madras two years before. Sir George Staunton, one of the few English sinologues, was appointed secretary, and several interpreters were sought for and obtained, not without difficulty. The presents were many and valuable, chosen with the double object of gratifying the emperor and impressing him with the wealth and magnificence of the English sovereign. In September, 1792—the same month that witnessed the overthrow of the Goorkhas at Nayakot—the embassy sailed from Portsmouth, but it did not reach the Peiho, on which Pekin is inaccurately said to stand, until the following August.

An honorable and exceedingly gratifying reception awaited it. The embassador and his suite, on landing from the man-of-war, were conducted with all ceremony and courtesy up the Peiho to Tientsin, where they received what was called the unusual honor of a military salute. Visits were exchanged with the Viceroy of Pechihli and some of the other high officials, and news came down from Pekin that "the emperor had shown some marks of great satisfaction at the news of the arrival of the English embassador." Keen Lung happened to be residing at his summer palace at Jehol beyond the Wall, but he sent peremptory instructions that there was to be no delay in sending the English up to Pekin. Up to this point all had gone well, but the anti-foreign party began to raise obstructions, and, headed by Sund Fo, the conqueror of the Goorkhas, to advise the emperor not to receive the embassador, and to reject all his propositions. Whether to strengthen his case, or because he believed it to be the fact, Sund Fo declared that the English had helped "the Goorkha robbers," and that he had found among them "men with hats," i.e., Europeans, as well as "men with turbans." As Sund Fo was the hero of the day, and also the viceroy of the Canton province, his views carried great weight, and they were also of unfavorable omen for the future of foreign relations. But for this occasion the inquisitiveness of the aged emperor prevailed over the views of the majority in his council and also over popular prejudice. When the embassy had been detained some time at Pekin, and after it looked as if a period of vexatious delay was to herald the discomfiture of the mission, such positive orders were sent by Keen Lung for the embassy to proceed to Jehol that no one dared to disobey him. Lord Macartney proceeded to Jehol with his suite and a Chinese guard of honor, and he accomplished the journey, about one hundred miles, in an English carriage. The details of the journey and reception are given in Sir George Staunton's excellent narrative; but here it may be said that the emperor twice received the British embassador in personal audience in a tent specially erected for the ceremony in the gardens of the palace. The embassy then returned to Pekin, and, as the Gulf of Pechihli was frozen, it was escorted by the land route to Canton. On this journey Lord Macartney and his party suffered considerable inconvenience and annoyance from the spite and animosity of the Chinese inferior officials; but nothing serious occurred to mar what was on the whole a successful mission. Keen Lung is said to have wished to go further, but his official utterance was limited to the reciprocation of "the friendly sentiments of His Britannic Majesty." His advanced age and his abdication already contemplated left him neither the inclination nor the power to go very closely into the question of the policy of cultivating closer relations with the foreign people who asserted their supremacy on the sea and who had already subjugated one great Asiatic empire. But it may at least be said that he did nothing to make the ultimate solution of the question more difficult, and his flattering reception of Lord Macartney's embassy was an important and encouraging a precedent for English diplomacy with China.

The events of internal interest in the history of the country during the last twenty years of this reign call for some, brief notice, although they relate to comparatively few matters that can be disentangled from the court chronicles and official gazettes of the period. The great floods of the Hoangho and the destruction caused thereby had been a national calamity from the earliest period. Keen Lung, filled with the desire to crown his reign by overcoming it, intrusted the task of dealing with this difficulty to Count Akoui, whose laurels over the Miaotze had raised him to the highest position in public popularity and his sovereign's confidence. Keen Lung issued his personal instructions on the subject in unequivocal language. He said in his edict, "My intention is that this work should be unceasingly carried on, in order to secure for the people a solid advantage both for the present and in the time to come. Share my views, and in order to accomplish them, forget nothing in the carrying out of your project, which I regard as my own, since I entirely approve of it, and the idea which originated it was mine. For the rest, it is at my own charge, and not at the cost of the province, that I wish all this to be done. Let expenses not be stinted. I take upon myself the consequences, whatever they may be." Akoui threw himself into his great task with energy, and it is said that he succeeded in no small degree in controlling the waters and restricting their ravages. We are ignorant of the details of his work, but it may certainly be said that the Hoangho has done less damage since Akoui carried out his scheme than it had effected before. The question is still unsolved, and probably there is no undertaking in which China would benefit more from the engineering science of Europe than this, if the Chinese government were to seriously devote its attention to a matter that affects many millions of people and some of the most important provinces of the empire.

A great famine about the same period is chiefly remarkable for the persecution it entailed on the Christian missionaries and those among the Chinese themselves professing the foreign religion. The cause of this scarcity was mainly due to the extraordinary growth of the population, which had certainly doubled in fifty years, and which, according to the official censuses, had risen from sixty millions in 1735 to three hundred millions in 1792. Of course the larger part of this increase was due to the expansion of the empire and the consolidation of the Manchu authority. So great was the national suffering that the gratuitous distribution of grain and other supplies at the cost of the state provided but a very partial remedy for the evil, which was aggravated by the peculation of the mandarins, and the evidence of the few European witnesses shows that the horrors of this famine have seldom been surpassed. The famine was laid to the charge of the Christians, and a commission of mandarins drew up a formal indictment of Christianity, which has stood its ground ever since as the text of the argument of the anti-foreign school. It read as follows: "We have examined into the European religion (or the doctrine) of the Lord of Heaven, and although it ought not to be compared with other different sects, which are absolutely wicked, yet, and that is what we lay to its blame, it has had the audacity to introduce itself, to promulgate itself, and to establish itself in secret. No permission has ever been given to the people of this country to embrace it. Nay, the laws have absolutely long forbidden its adoption. And now all these criminals have had the boldness to come, all of a sudden, into our kingdom, to establish their bishops and priests in order to seduce the people! This is why it is necessary to extinguish this religion by degrees and to prevent its multiplying its votaries." The fury of the Chinese, fortunately, soon exhausted itself; and although many Europeans were injured none lost their lives, but several thousand native converts were branded on the face and sent to colonize the Ili valley.

While Lord Macartney was at Pekin it was known that the emperor contemplated abdicating when he had completed the sixtieth year of his reign—the cycle of Chinese chronology—because he did not desire his reign to be of greater length than that of his illustrious grandfather, Kanghi. This date was reached in 1796, when on New Year's day (6th of February) of the Chinese calendar, he publicly abdicated, and assigned the imperial functions to his son, Kiaking. He survived this event three years, and during that period he exercised, like Charles the Fifth of Germany, a controlling influence over his son's administration; and he endeavored to inculcate in him the right principles of sound government. But in China, where those principles have been expressed in the noblest language, their practical application is difficult, because the official classes are underpaid and because the law of self-preservation, as well as custom, compels them to pay themselves at the equal expense of the subjects and the government. Even Keen Lung had been unable to grapple with this difficulty of the Chinese civil service, which is as formidable at the present time as ever. One of the ablest and most honest of Keen Lung's ministers, when questioned on the subject, said that there was no remedy. "It is impossible, the emperor himself cannot do it, the evil is too widespread. He will, no doubt, send to the scene of these disorders mandarins, clothed with all his authority, but they will only commit still greater exactions, and the inferior mandarins, in order to be left undisturbed, will offer them presents. The emperor will be told that all is well, while everything is really wrong, and while the poor people are being oppressed." And so the vicious circle has gone on to the present day, with serious injury to the state and the people. When Keen Lung had the chance of bringing matters under his own personal control he did not hesitate to exercise his right and power, and all capital punishments were carried out at the capital only after he had examined into each case. It is declared that he always tempered justice with mercy, and that none but the worst offenders suffered death. Transportation to Ili, which he wished to develop, was his favorite form of punishment.

To the end of his life Keen Lung retained the active habits which had characterized his youth. Much of his official work was carried on at an early hour of the morning, and it surprised many Europeans to find the aged ruler so keen and eager for business at these early conferences. His vigor was attributed by competent observers to the active life and physical exercises common among the Tartars. It will be proper to give a description of the personal appearance of this great prince. A missionary thus described him: "He is tall and well built. He has a very gracious countenance, but capable at the same time of inspiring respect. If in regard to his subjects he employs a great severity, I believe it is less from the promptings of his character than from the necessity which would otherwise not render him capable of keeping within the bounds or dependence and duty two empires so vast as China and Tartary. Therefore the greatest tremble in his presence. On all the occasions when he has done me the honor to address me it has been with a gracious air that inspired me with the courage to appeal to him in behalf of our religion.... He is a truly great prince, doing and seeing everything for himself." Keen Lung survived his abdication about three years, dying on the 8th of February, 1799—which also happened to be the Chinese New Year's day.

With the death of Keen Lung the vigor of China reached a term, and just as the progress had been consistent and rapid during the space of 150 years, so now will its downward course be not less marked or swift, until, in the very hour of apparent dissolution, the empire will find safety in the valor and probity of an English officer, Charles George Gordon, and in the ability and resolution of the empress-regents and their two great soldier- statesmen, Li Hung Chang and Tso Tsung Tang.



The favorable opinion which his father had held of Kiaking does not seem to have been shared by all his ministers. The most prominent of them all, Hokwan, who held to Keen Lung the relation that Wolsey held to Henry the Eighth, soon fell under the displeasure of the new emperor, and was called upon to account for his charge of the finances. The favor and the age of Keen Lung left Hokwan absolutely without control, and the minister turned his opportunities to such account that he amassed a private fortune of eighty million taels, or more than one hundred and twenty-five million dollars. He was indicted for peculation shortly after the death of Keen Lung, and, without friends, he succumbed to the attack of his many enemies incited to attack him by the greed of Kiaking. But the amount of his peculations amply justified his punishment, and Kiaking in signing his death warrant could not be accused of harshness or injustice. The execution of Hokwan restored some of his ill-gotten wealth to the state, and served as a warning to other officials; but as none could hope to enjoy his opportunities, it did not act as a serious deterrent upon the mass of the Chinese civil service. If arraigned, they might have justified their conduct by the example of their sovereign, who, instead of devoting the millions of Hokwan to the necessities of the state, employed them on his own pleasure, and in a lavish palace expenditure.

The Portuguese were the tenants, as has previously been stated, of Macao, for which they paid an annual rent to the Chinese; but the nature of their tenure was not understood in Europe, where Macao was considered a Portuguese possession. During the progress of the great European struggle, the French, as part of one of their latest schemes for regaining their position in the East, conceived the idea of taking possession of Macao; but while they were contemplating the enterprise, an English squadron had accomplished it, and during the year 1802 Macao was garrisoned by an English force. The Treaty of Amiens provided for its restoration to Portugal, and the incident closed, chiefly because the period of occupation was brief, without the Chinese being drawn into the matter, or without the true nature of the Portuguese hold on Macao being explained. The exigencies of war unfortunately compelled the re-occupation of Macao six years later, when the indignation of the Chinese authorities at the violation of their territory fully revealed itself. Peremptory orders were sent to the Canton authorities from Pekin to expel the foreigners at all costs. The government of India was responsible for what was a distinct blunder in our political relations with China. In 1808, when alarm at Napoleon's schemes was at its height, it sent Admiral Drury and a considerable naval force to occupy Macao. The Chinese at once protested, withheld supplies, refused to hold any intercourse with that commander, and threatened the English merchants at Lintin with the complete suspension of the trade. In his letter of rebuke the chief mandarin at Canton declared that, "as long as there remained a single soldier at Macao," he would not allow any trade to be carried on, and threatened to "block up the entrance to Macao, cut off your provisions, and send an army to surround you, when repentance would be too late." The English merchants were in favor of compliance with the Chinese demands, but Admiral Drury held a very exalted opinion of his own power and a corresponding contempt for the Chinese. He declared that, as "there was nothing in his instructions to prevent his going to war with the Emperor of China," he would bring the Canton officials to reason by force. He accordingly assembled all his available forces, and proceeded up the river at the head of a strong squadron of boats with the avowed intention of forcing his way up to the provincial capital. On their side the Chinese made every preparation to defend the passage, and they blocked the navigation of the river with a double line of junks, while the Bogue forts were manned by all the troops of the province. When Admiral Drury came in sight of these defenses, which must have appeared formidable to him, he hesitated, and instead of delivering his attack he sent a letter requesting an interview with the mandarin, again threatening to force his way up to Canton. But the Chinese had by this time taken the measure of the English commander, and they did not even condescend to send him a reply; when Admiral Drury, submitting to their insult, hastily beat a retreat. On several subsequent occasions he renewed his threats, and even sailed up the Bogue, but always retreated without firing a shot. It is not surprising that the Chinese were inflated with pride and confidence by the pusillanimous conduct of the English officer, or that they should erect a pagoda at Canton in honor of the defeat of the English fleet. After these inglorious incidents Admiral Drury evacuated Macao and sailed for India, leaving the English merchants to extricate themselves as well as they could from the embarrassing situation in which his hasty and blundering action had placed them. If the officials at Canton had not been as anxious for their own selfish ends that the trade should go on as the foreign merchants themselves, there is no doubt that the views of the ultra school at Pekin, who wished all intercourse with foreigners interdicted, would have prevailed. But the Hoppo and his associates were the real friends of the foreigner, and opened the back door to foreign commerce at the very moment that they were signing edicts denouncing it as a national evil and misfortune.

The Macartney mission had attracted what may be called the official attention of the British government to the Chinese question, and the East India Company, anxious to acquire fresh privileges to render that trade more valuable, exercised all its influence to sustain that attention. On its representations a costly present was sent to Sung Tajin, one of the ablest and most enlightened of all the Chinese officials who had shown cordiality to Lord Macartney, but the step was ill-advised and had unfortunate consequences. The present, on reaching Pekin, was returned to Canton with a haughty message that a minister of the emperor dare not even see a present from a foreign ruler. The publicity of the act rather than the offer of a present must be deemed the true cause of this unqualified rejection, but the return of the present was not, unfortunately, the worst part of the matter. The Emperor Kiaking sent a letter couched in lofty language to George the Third, declaring that he had taken such British subjects as were in China under his protection, and that there was "no occasion for the exertions of your Majesty's Government." The advice of the Minister Sung, who was suspected of sympathy with the foreigners, was much discredited, and from a position of power and influence he gradually sank into one of obscurity and impotence. This was especially unfortunate at a moment when several foreign powers were endeavoring to obtain a footing at Pekin. The Russian emperor, wishing no doubt to emulate the English, sent, in 1805, an imposing embassy under Count Goloyken to the Chinese capital. The presents were rich and numerous, for the express purpose of impressing the Chinese ruler with the superior wealth and power of Russia over other European states, and great hopes were entertained that Count Goloyken would establish a secure diplomatic base at Pekin. The embassy reached Kalgan on the Great Wall in safety, but there it was detained until reference had been made to the capital. The instructions came back that the Russian envoy would only be received in audience provided he would perform the kotow, or prostration ceremony, and that if he would not promise to do this he was not to be allowed through the Wall. Count Goloyken firmly refused to give this promise, and among other arguments he cited the exemption accorded to Lord Macartney. The Chinese remained firm in their purpose, Count Goloyken was informed that his visit had been prolonged too far, and the most brilliant of all Russian embassies to China had to retrace its steps without accomplishing any of its objects. This was not the only rebuff Russia experienced at this time. The naval officer Krusenstern conceived the idea that it would be possible to attain all the objects of his sovereign, and to open up a new channel for a profitable trade, by establishing communications by sea with Canton, where the Russian flag had never been seen. The Russian government fitted out two ships for him, and he safely arrived at Canton, where he disposed of their cargoes. When it became known at Pekin that a new race of foreigners had presented themselves at Canton, a special edict was issued ordering that "all vessels belonging to any other nation than those which have been in the habit of visiting this port shall on no account whatever be permitted to trade, but merely suffered to remain in port until every circumstance is reported to us and our pleasure made known." Thus in its first attempt to add to its possession of a land trade, via Kiachta and the Mongol steppe, a share in the sea trade with Canton, Russia experienced a rude and discouraging rebuff.

The unsatisfactory state of our relations with the Chinese government, which was brought home to the British authorities by the difficulty our ships of war experienced in obtaining water and other necessary supplies on the China coast, which had generally to be obtained by force, led to the decision that another embassy should be sent to Pekin, for the purpose of effecting a better understanding.

Lord Amherst, who was specially selected for the mission on account of his diplomatic experience, reached the mouth of the Peiho in August, 1816. When the embassy reached Pekin, the Emperor Kiaking's curiosity to see the foreigners overcame his political resolutions, and with the natural resolve of an irresponsible despot to gratify his wish without regard to the convenience of others, he determined to see them at once, and ordered that Lord Amherst and his companions should be brought forthwith into his presence. This sudden decision was most disconcerting to his own ministers, who had practically decided that no audience should be granted unless Lord Amherst performed the kotow, and especially to his brother-in- law Ho Koong Yay, who, at the emperor's repeated wish to see the English representatives, was compelled to abandon his own schemes and to remove all restrictions to the audience. The firmness of Lord Amherst was unexpected and misunderstood. Ho Koong Yay repeated his invitation several times, and even resorted to entreaty; but when the Chinese found that nothing was to be gained they changed their tone, and the infuriated Kiaking ordered that the embassador and his suite should not be allowed to remain at Pekin, and that they should be sent back to the coast at once. Thus ignominiously ended the Amherst mission, which was summarily dismissed, and hurried back to the coast in a highly-inconvenient and inglorious manner. In a letter to the Prince Regent, Kiaking suggested that it would not be necessary for the British government to send another embassy to China. He took some personal satisfaction out of his disappointment by depriving Ho Koong Yay of all his offices, and mulcting him in five years of his pay as an imperial duke. The cause of his disgrace was expressly stated to be the mismanagement of the relations with the English embassador and the suppression of material facts from the emperor's knowledge. Sung Tajin, who had been specially recalled from his governorship in Ili to take part in the reception of the Europeans, and whose sympathy for them was well known, was also disgraced, and did not recover his position until after the death of Kiaking. The failure of the Amherst mission put an end to all schemes for diplomatic intercourse with Pekin until another generation had passed away; but the facts of the case show that its failure was not altogether due to the hostility of the Chinese emperor. No practical results, in all probability, would have followed; but if Lord Amherst had gone somewhat out of his way to humor the Chinese autocrat, there is no doubt that he would have been received in audience without any humiliating conditions.

Long before the Amherst mission reached China evidence had been afforded that there were many elements of disorder in that country, and that a dangerous feeling of dissatisfaction was seething below the surface. The Manchus, even in their moments of greatest confidence, had always distrusted the loyalty of their Chinese subjects, and there is no dispute that one of their chief reasons for pursuing an excluding policy toward Europeans was the fear that they might tamper with the mass of their countrymen. What had been merely a sentiment under the great rulers of the eighteenth century became an absolute conviction when Kiaking found himself the mark of conspirators and assassins. The first of the plots to which he nearly fell a victim occurred at such an early period of his reign that it could not be attributed to popular discontent at his misgovernment. In 1803, only four years after the death of Keen Lung, Kiaking, while passing through the streets of his capital in his chair, carried by coolie bearers, was attacked by a party of conspirators, members of one of the secret societies, and narrowly escaped with his life. His eunuch attendants showed considerable devotion and courage, and in the struggle several were killed; but they succeeded in driving off the would-be assassins. The incident caused great excitement, and much consternation in the imperial palace, where it was noted that out of the crowds in the streets only six persons came forward to help the sovereign in the moment of danger. After this the emperor gave up his practice of visiting the outer city of Pekin, and confined himself to the imperial city, and still more to the Forbidden palace which is situated within it. But even here he could not enjoy the sense of perfect security, for the discovery was made that this attempted assassination was part of an extensive plot with ramifications into the imperial family itself. Inquisitorial inquiries were made, which resulted in the disgrace and punishment of many of the emperor's relatives, and thus engendered an amount of suspicion and a sense of insecurity that retained unabated force as long as Kiaking filled the throne. That there was ample justification for this apprehension the second attempt on the person of the emperor clearly revealed. Whatever dangers the emperor might be exposed to in the streets of Pekin, where the members of the hated and dreaded secret societies had as free access as himself, it was thought that he could feel safe in the interior of the Forbidden city—a palace-fortress within the Tartar quarter garrisoned by a large force, and to which admission was only permitted to a privileged few. Strict as the regulations were at all times, the attempt on Kiaking and the rumors of sedition led undoubtedly to their being enforced with greater rigor, and it seemed incredible for any attempt to be made on the person of the emperor except by the mutiny of his guards or an open rebellion. Yet it was precisely at this moment that an attack was made on the emperor in his own private apartments which nearly proved successful, and which he himself described as an attack under the elbow. In the year 1813 a band of conspirators, some two hundred in number, made their way into the palace, either by forcing one of the gates, or, more probably, by climbing the walls at an unguarded spot, and, overpowering the few guards they met, some of them forced their way into the presence of the emperor. There is not the least doubt that Kiaking would then have fallen but for the unexpected valor of his son Prince Meenning, afterward the Emperor Taoukwang, who, snatching up a gun, shot two of the intruders. This prince had been set down as a harmless, inoffensive student, but his prompt action on this occasion excited general admiration, and Kiaking, grateful for his life, at once proclaimed him his heir.

Toward the close of his reign, and very soon after the departure of Lord Amherst, Kiaking was brought face to face with a very serious conspiracy, or what he thought to be such, among the princes of the Marichu imperial family. By an ordinance passed by Chuntche all the descendants of that prince's father were declared entitled to wear a yellow girdle and to receive a pension from the state; while, with a view to prevent their becoming a danger to the dynasty, they were excluded from civil or military employment, and assigned to a life of idleness. This imperial colony was, and is still, one of the most peculiar and least understood of the departments of the Tartar government; and although it has served its purpose in preventing dynastic squabbles, there must always remain the doubt as to how far the dynasty has been injured by the loss of the services of so many of its members who might have possessed useful capacity. They purchased the right to an easy and unlaborious existence, with free quarters and a small income guaranteed, at the heavy price of exclusion from the public service. No matter how great their ambition or natural capability, they had no prospect of emancipating themselves from the dull sphere of inaction to which custom relegated them. Toward the close of Kiaking's reign the number of these useless Yellow Girdles had risen to several thousand, and the emperor, alarmed by the previous attacks, or having some reason to fear a fresh plot, adopted strenuous measures against them. Whether the emperor's apprehensions overcame his reason, or whether there were among his kinsmen, some men of more than average ability, it is certain that the princes of the Manchu family were goaded or incited into what amounted to rebellion. The exact particulars remain unknown until the dynastic history sees the light of day; but it is known that many of them were executed, and that many hundreds of them were banished to Manchuria, where they were given employment in taking care of the ancestral tombs of the ruling family.

Special significance was given to these intrigues and palace plots by the remarkable increase in the number and the confidence of the secret societies which, in some form or other, have been a feature of Chinese public life from an early period. Had they not furnished evidence by their increased numbers and daring of the dissatisfaction prevalent among the Chinese masses, whether on account of the hardships of their lot, or from hatred of their Tartar lords, they would scarcely have created so much apprehension in the bosom of the Emperor Kiaking, whose authority met with no open opposition, and whose reign was nominally one of both internal and external peace. These secret societies have always been, in the form of fraternal confederacies and associations, a feature in Chinese life; but during the present century they have acquired an importance they could never previously claim, both in China and among Chinese colonies abroad. The first secret society to become famous was that of the Water-Lily, or Pe-leen-keaou, which association chose as its emblem and title the most popular of all plants in China. Although the most famous of the societies, and the one which is regarded as the parent of all that have come after it, the Water-Lily had, as a distinct organization, a very brief existence. Its organizers seem to have dropped the name, or to have allowed it to sink into disuse in consequence of the strenuous official measures taken against the society by the government for the attempt, in 1803, on Kiaking's life in the streets of Pekin. They merged themselves into the widely-extended confederacy of the Society of Celestial Reason— the Theen-te-Hwuy—which became better known by the title given to it by Europeans of the Triads, from their advocacy of the union between Heaven, earth, and man. The Water-Lily Society, before it was dissolved, caused serious disturbances in both Shantung and Szchuen, and especially in the latter province, where the disbanded army that had rescued Tibet and punished the Goorkhas furnished the material for sedition. With more or less difficulty, and at a certain expense of life, these risings were suppressed, and Kiaking's authority was rendered secure against these assailants, while for his successors was left the penalty of feeling the full force of the national indignation of which their acts were the expression.

With regard to the organization of these secret societies, which probably remain unchanged to the present day, China had nothing to learn from Europe either as to the objects to be obtained in this way or as to how men are to be bound together by solemn vows for the attainment of illegal ends. By signs known only to themselves, and by pass-words, these sworn conspirators could recognize their members in the crowded streets, and could communicate with each other without exciting suspicion as to their being traitors at heart. In its endeavors to cope with this formidable and widespread organization under different names, Kiaking's government found itself placed at a serious disadvantage. Without an exact knowledge of the intentions or resources of its secret enemies, it failed to grapple with them, and, as its sole remedy, it could only decree that proof of membership carried with it the penalty of death.

During the last years of the reign of Kiaking the secret societies rather threatened future trouble than constituted a positive danger to the state. They were compelled to keep quiet and to confine their attention to increasing their numbers rather than to realizing their programme. The emperor was consequently able to pass the last four years of his life with some degree of personal tranquillity, and in full indulgence of his palace pleasures, which seem at this period to have mainly consisted of a theatrical troupe which accompanied him even when he went to offer sacrifice in the temples. His excessive devotion to pleasure did not add to his reputation with his people, and it is recorded that one of the chief causes of the minister Sung's disgrace and banishment to Ili was his making a protest against the emperor's proceedings. Some time before his death Kiaking drew up his will, and on account of his great virtues he specially selected as his successor his second son, Prince Meenning, who had saved his life from assassins in the attack on the palace. Kiaking died on September 2, 1820, in the sixty-first year of his age, leaving to his successor a diminished authority, an enfeebled power, and a discontented people. Some mitigating circumstance may generally be pleaded against the adverse verdict of history in its estimation of a public character. The difficulties with which the individual had to contend may have been exceptional and unexpected, the measures which he adopted may have had untoward and unnatural results, and the crisis of the hour may have called for genius of a transcendent order. But in the case of Kiaking not one of these extenuating facts can be pleaded. His path had been smoothed for him by his predecessor, his difficulties were raised by his own indifference, and the consequences of his spasmodic and ill-directed energy were scarcely less unfortunate than those of his habitual apathy. So much easier is the work of destruction than the labor of construction, that Kiaking in twenty-five years had done almost as much harm to the constitution of his country and to the fortunes of his dynasty as Keen Lung had conferred solid advantages on the state in his brilliant reign of sixty years.

On the whole it seems as if the material prosperity of the people was never greater than during the reign of Kiaking. The population by the census of 1812 is said to have exceeded 360 millions, and the revenue never showed a more flourishing return on paper. To the external view all was still fair and prosperous when Kiaking died; under his successor, who was in every sense a worthier prince, the canker and decay were to be clearly revealed.



The early years of the new reign were marked by a number of events unconnected with each other but all contributing to the important incidents of the later period which must be described, although they cannot be separated. The name of Taoukwang, which Prince Meenning took on ascending the throne, means Reason's Light, and there were many who thought it was especially appropriate for a prince who was more qualified for a college than a palace. Most of the chroniclers of the period gave an unfavorable picture of the new ruler, who was described as "thin and toothless," and as "lank in figure, low of stature, with a haggard face, a reserved look, and a quiet exterior." He was superior to his external aspect, for it may be truly said that although he had to deal with new conditions he evinced under critical circumstances a dignity of demeanor and a certain royal patience which entitled him to the respect of his opponents.

Taoukwang began his reign in every way in a creditable manner. While professing in his proclamations the greatest admiration for his father, his first acts reversed his policy and aimed at undoing the mischief he had accomplished. He released all the political prisoners who had been consigned to jail by the suspicious fear of Kiaking, and many of the banished Manchu princes were allowed to return to Pekin. He made many public declarations of his intention to govern his people after a model and conscientious fashion and his subsequent acts showed that he was at least sincere in his intentions, if an accumulation of troubles prevented his attaining all the objects he set before himself when he first took the government in hand. Nothing showed his integrity more clearly than his restoration of the minister Sung to the favor and offices of which he had been dispossessed. The vicissitudes of fortune passed through by this official have been previously referred to, and his restoration to power was a practical proof of the new ruler's good resolutions, and meant more than all the virtuous platitudes expressed in vermilion edicts. Sung had gained a popularity that far exceeded that of the emperor, through the lavish way in which he distributed his wealth, consistently refusing to accumulate money for the benefit of himself or his family. But his independent spirit rendered him an unpleasant monitor for princes who were either negligent of their duty or sensitive of criticism, and even Taoukwang appears to have dreaded, in anticipation, the impartial and fearless criticism of the minister whom he restored to favor. Sung was employed in two of the highest possible posts, Viceroy of Pechihli and President of the Board of Censors, and until his death he succeeded in maintaining his position in face of his enemies, and notwithstanding his excessive candor. One of the first reforms instituted by the Emperor Taoukwang was to cut down the enormous palace expenses, which his father had allowed to increase to a high point, and to banish from the imperial city all persons who could not give some valid justification for their being allowed to remain. The troupes of actors and buffoons were expelled, and the harem was reduced to modest dimensions. Taoukwang declared himself to be a monogamist, and proclaimed his one wife empress. He also put a stop to the annual visits to Jehol and to the costly hunting establishment there, which entailed a great waste of public funds. The money thus saved was much wanted for various national requirements, and the sufferings caused by flood and famine were alleviated out of these palace savings. How great the national suffering had become was shown by the marked increase of crime, especially all forms of theft and the coining of false money, for which new and severe penalties were ordained without greatly mitigating the evil. During all these troubles and trials Taoukwang endeavored to play the part of a beneficent and merciful sovereign, tempering the severity of the laws by acts of clemency, and personally superintending every department of the administration. He seems thus to have gained a reputation among his subjects which he never lost, and the blame for any unpopular measures was always assigned to his ministers. But although he endeavored to play the part of an autocrat, there is every ground for saying that he failed to realize the character, and that he was swayed more than most rulers by the advice of his ministers. The four principal officials after Sung, whose death occurred at an early date after Taoukwang's accession, were Hengan, Elepoo, Keying, and Keshen.

The first ten years of Taoukwang's reign have been termed prosperous, because they have left so little to record, but this application of the theory that "the country is happy which has no history," does not seem borne out by such facts as have come to our knowledge. There is no doubt that there was a great amount of public suffering, and that the prosperity of the nation declined from the high point it had reached under Kiaking. Scarcity of food and want of work increased the growing discontent, which did not require even secret societies to give it point and expression, and as far as could be judged it was worse than when the Water-Lily Society inspired Kiaking with most apprehension. Kiaking, as has been observed, escaped the most serious consequences of his own acts. There was much popular discontent, but there was no open rebellion. Taoukwang had not been on the throne many years before he was brought face to face with rebels who openly disputed his authority, and, strangely enough, his troubles began in Central Asia, where peace had been undisturbed for half a century.

The conquest of Central Asia had been among the most brilliant and remarkable of the feats of the great Keen Lung. Peace had been preserved there as much by the extraordinary prestige or reputation of China as by the skill of the administration or the soundness of the policy of the governing power, which left a large share of the work to the subject races. Outside each of the principal towns the Chinese built a fort or gulbagh, in which their garrison resided, and military officers or ambans were appointed to every district. The Mohammedan officials were held responsible for the good conduct of the people and the due collection of the taxes, and as long as the Chinese garrison was maintained in strength and efficiency they discharged their duties with the requisite good faith. The lapse of time and the embarrassment of the government at home led to the neglect of the force in Central Asia, which had once been an efficient army. The Chinese garrison, ill-paid and unrecruited, gradually lost the semblance of a military force, and was not to be distinguished from the rest of the civil population. The difference of religion was the only unequivocal mark of distinction between the rulers and the ruled, and it furnished an ever-present cause of enmity and dislike, although apart from this the Mohammedans accepted the Chinese rule as not bad in itself, and even praised it. The Chinese might have continued to govern Ili and Kashgar indefinitely, notwithstanding the weakness and decay of their garrison, but for the ambition of a neighbor. The Chinese are to blame, however, not merely for having ignored the obvious aggressiveness of that neighbor, but for having provided it with facilities for carrying out its plans. The Khanate of Khokand, the next-door state in Central Asia, had been intimately connected with Kashgar from ancient times, both in politics and trade. The Chinese armies in the eighteenth century had advanced into Khokand, humbled its khan, and reduced him to a state of vassalage. For more than fifty years the khan sent tribute to China, and was the humble neighbor of the Chinese. He gave, however, a place of refuge and a pension to Sarimsak, the last representative of the old Khoja family of Kashgar, and thus retained a hold on the legitimate ruler of that state. Sarimsak had as a child escaped from the pursuit of Fouta and the massacre of his relations by the chief of Badakshan, but he was content to remain a pensioner at Khokand to the end of his days, and he left the assertion of what he considered his rights to his children. His three sons were named, in the order of their age, Yusuf, Barhanuddin, and Jehangir, and each of them attempted at different times to dispossess the Chinese in Kashgar. In the year 1812, when Kiaking's weakness was beginning to be apparent, the Khan of Khokand, a chief of more than usual ability, named Mahomed Ali, refused to send tribute any more to China, and the Viceroy of Ili, having no force at his disposal, acquiesced in the change with good grace, and no hostilities ensued. The first concession was soon followed by others. The khan obtained the right to levy a tax on all Mohammedan merchandise sold in the bazaars of Kashgar and Yarkand, and deputed consuls or aksakals for the purpose of collecting the duties. These aksakals naturally became the center of all the intrigue and disaffection prevailing in the state against the Chinese, and they considered it to be as much their duty to provoke political discontent as to supervise the customs placed under their charge. Before the aksakals appeared on the scene the Chinese ruled a peaceful territory, but after the advent of these foreign officials trouble soon ensued.

Ten years after his refusal to pay tribute the Khan of Khokand decided to support the Khoja pretenders who enjoyed his hospitality, and in 1822 Jehangir was provided with money and arms to make an attempt on the Chinese position in Kashgaria. Although the youngest, Jehangir seems to have been the most energetic of the Khoja princes; and having obtained the alliance of the Kirghiz, he attempted, by a rapid movement, to surprise the Chinese in the town of Kashgar. In this attempt he was disappointed, for the Chinese kept better guard than he expected, and he was compelled to make an ignominious retreat. The Khan of Khokand, disappointed at the result and apprehensive of counter action on the part of the Chinese, repudiated all participation in the matter, and forbade Jehangir to return to his country. That adventurer then fled to Lake Issik Kul, whither the Chinese pursued him; but when his fortunes seemed to have reached their lowest ebb a revulsion suddenly took place, and by the surprise and annihilation of a Chinese force he was again able to pose as an arbiter of affairs in Central Asia. The fortitude of Jehangir confirmed the attachment of his friends, and the Khokandian ruler, encouraged by the defeat of the Chinese, again took up his cause and sent him troops and a general for a fresh descent on Kashgaria. The khan had his own ends in view quite as much as to support the Khoja pretender; but his support encouraged Jehangir to leave his mountain retreat and to cross the Tian Shan into Kashgaria. This happened in the year 1826, and the Chinese garrison of Kashgar very unwisely quitted the shelter of its citadel and went out to meet the invaders. The combat is said to have been fiercely contested, but nothing is known about it except that the Chinese were signally defeated. This overthrow was the signal for a general insurrection throughout the country, and the Chinese garrisons, after more or less resistance, were annihilated. An attempt was then made to restore the old Mohammedan administration, and Jehangir was proclaimed by the style of the Seyyid Jehangir Sultan. One of his first acts was to dismiss the Khokandian contingent, and to inform his ally or patron, Mahomed Ali, that he no longer required his assistance. His confidence received a rude check when he learned a short time afterward that the Chinese were making extraordinary preparations to recover their lost province, and that they had collected an immense army in Ili for the purpose. Then he wished his Khokandian allies back again; but he still resolved to make as good a fight as he could for the throne he had acquired; and when the Chinese general Chang marched on Kashgar, Jehangir took up his position at Yangabad and accepted battle. He was totally defeated; the capture of Kashgar followed, and Jehangir himself fell into the hands of the victors. The Khoja was sent to Pekin, where, after many indignities, he was executed and quartered as a traitor. The Chinese punished all open rebels with death, and as a precaution against the recurrence of rebellion they removed 12,000 Mohammedan families from Kashgar to Ili, where they became known as the Tarantchis, or toilers. They also took the very wise step of prohibiting all intercourse with Khokand, and if they had adhered to this resolution they would have saved themselves much serious trouble. But Mahomed Ali was determined to make an effort to retain so valuable a perquisite as his trade relations with Kashgar, and as soon as the Chinese had withdrawn the main portion of their force he hastened to assail Kashgar at the head of his army, and put forward Yusuf as a successor to Jehangir. Only desultory fighting ensued, but his operations were so far successful that the Chinese agreed to resort to the previous arrangement, and Mahomed Ali promised to restrain the Khojas. Fourteen years of peace and prosperity followed this new convention.

Serious disorders also broke out in the islands of Formosa and Hainan. In the former the rebellion was only put down by a judicious manipulation of the divisions of the insurgent tribes; but the settlement attained must be pronounced so far satisfactory that the peace of the island was assured. In Hainan, an island of extraordinary fertility and natural wealth, which must some day be developed, the aboriginal tribes revolted against Chinese authority, and massacred many of the Chinese settlers, who had begun to encroach on the possessions of the natives. Troops had to be sent from Canton before the disorders were suppressed, and then Hainan reverted to its tranquil state, from which only the threat of a French occupation during the Tonquin war roused it. These disorders in different parts of the empire were matched by troubles of a more domestic character within the palace. In 1831 Taoukwang's only son, a young man of twenty, whose character was not of the best, gave him some cause of offense, and he struck him. The young prince died of the blow, and the emperor was left for the moment without a child. His grief was soon assuaged by the news that two of his favorite concubines had borne him sons, one of whom became long afterward the Emperor Hienfung. At this critical moment Taoukwang was seized with a severe illness, and his elder brother, Hwuy Wang, whose pretensions had threatened the succession, thinking his chance had at last come, took steps to seize the throne. But Taoukwang recovered, and those who had made premature arrangements in filling the throne were severely punished. These minor troubles culminated in the Miaotze Rebellion, the most formidable internal war which the Chinese government had to deal with between that of Wou Sankwei and the Taepings. From an early period the Miaotze had been a source of trouble to the executive, and the relations between them and the officials had been anything but harmonious. The Manchu rulers had only succeeded in keeping them in order by stopping their supply of salt on the smallest provocation; and in the belief that they possessed an absolutely certain mode of coercing them, the Chinese mandarins assumed an arrogant and dictatorial tone toward their rude and unreclaimed neighbors. In 1832 the Miaotze, irritated past endurance, broke out in rebellion, and their principal chief caused himself to be proclaimed emperor. Their main force was assembled at Lienchow, in the northwest corner of the Canton province, and their leader assumed the suggestive title of the Golden Dragon, and called upon the Chinese people to redress their wrongs by joining his standard. But the Chinese, who regarded the Miaotze as an inferior and barbarian race, refused to combine with them against the most extortionate of officials or the most unpopular of governments. Although they could not enlist the support of any section of the Chinese people, the Miaotze, by their valor and the military skill of their leader, made so good a stand against the forces sent against them by the Canton viceroy that the whole episode is redeemed from oblivion, and may be considered a romantic incident in modern Chinese history. The Miaotze gained the first successes of the war, and for a time it seemed as if the Chinese authorities would be able to effect nothing against them. The Canton viceroy fared so badly that Hengan was sent from Pekin to take the command, and the chosen braves of Hoonan were sent to attack the Miaotze in the rear. The latter gained a decisive victory at Pingtseuen, where the Golden Dragon and several thousand of his followers were slain. But, although vanquished in one quarter, the Miaotze continued to show great activity and confidence in another, and when the Canton viceroy made a fresh attack on them they repulsed him with heavy loss. The disgrace of this officer followed, and his fall was hastened by the suppression of the full extent of his losses, which excited the indignation of his own troops, who said, "There is no use in our sacrificing our lives in secret; if our toils are concealed from she emperor neither we nor our posterity will be rewarded." This unlucky commander was banished to Central Asia, and after his supersession Hengan had the satisfaction of bringing the war to a satisfactory end within ten days. Some of the leaders were executed, the others swore to keep the peace, and a glowing account of the pacification of the Miaotze region was sent to Pekin. Some severe critics suggested that the whole arrangement was a farce, and that Hengan's triumph was only on paper; but the lapse of time has shown this skepticism to be unjustified, as the Miaotze have remained tranquil ever since, and the formidable Yaoujin, or Wolfmen, as they are called, have observed the promises given to Hengan, which would not have been the case unless they had been enforced by military success. Should they ever break out again, the government would possess the means, from their command of money and modern arms, of repressing their lawlessness with unprecedented thoroughness, and of absolutely subjecting their hitherto inaccessible districts.

If the first ten or twelve years of the reign of the Emperor Taoukwang were marked by these troubles on a minor scale, an undue importance should not be attached to them, for they did not seriously affect the stability of the government or the authority of the emperor. It is true that they caused a decline in the revenue and an increase in the expenditure, which resulted in the year 1834 in an admitted deficit of fifty million dollars, and no state could be considered in a flourishing condition with the public exchequer in such a condition. But this large deficit must be regarded rather as a floating debt than an annual occurrence.

The Chinese authorities continued to hinder and protest against the foreign trade and intercourse between their subjects and the merchants of Europe as much as ever; but their opposition was mainly confined to edicts and proclamations. When Commissioner Lin resorted to force and violence some years later the auspicious moment for expelling all foreigners had passed away, and the weakness of the government contributed in no small degree to this result. Taoukwang, although his claims as occupant of the Dragon Throne were unabated, could not pretend to the power of a great ruler like Keen Lung, who would have known how to enforce his will. For was it possible after 1834 to continue the policy of uncompromising hostility to all foreign nations whose governments had become directly interested in, and to a certain extent responsible to, their respective peoples, for the opening of the Chinese empire to civilized intercourse and commerce. Up to this point Taoukwang's only experience of the pretensions of the foreign powers had been the Amherst mission, in the time of his father, which had ended so ignominiously, and the Russian mission which arrived at Pekin every ten years to recruit the Russian college there, and to pay the descendants of the garrison of Albazin the sum allotted by the czar for their support. But from these trifling matters Taoukwang's attention was suddenly and completely distracted to the important situation at Canton and on the coast, the settlement of the questions arising out of which filled the remainder of his reign.



AT the very time that the Emperor Taoukwang, by the dismissal of the Portuguese astronomers at Pekin and by his general indifference to the foreign question, was showing that no concessions were to be expected from him, an unknown legislature at a remote distance from his capital was decreeing, in complete indifference to the susceptibilities of the occupant of the Dragon Throne, that trade with China might be pursued by any English subject. Up to the year 1834 trade with China had, by the royal charter, remained the monopoly of the East India Company; but when the charter was renewed in that year for a further period of twenty years, it was shorn of the last of its commercial privileges, and an immediate change became perceptible in the situation at Canton, which was the principal seat of the foreign trade. The withdrawal of the monopoly was dictated solely by English, and not Chinese, considerations. Far from facilitating trade with the Chinese, it tended to hinder and prevent its developing; for the Chinese officials had no objection to foreigners coming to Canton, and buying or selling articles of commerce, so long as they derived personal profit from the trade, and so long as the laws of the empire were not disputed or violated. The servants of the East India Company were content to adapt themselves to this view, and they might have carried on relations with the Hong merchants for an indefinite period, and without any more serious collision than occasional interruptions. Had the monopoly been renewed things would have been left in precisely the same position as when intercourse was first established, and trade might have continued within its old restricted limits. But the abolition of the monopoly and the opening of the trade created quite a new situation, and by intensifying the opposition of the Chinese government, paved the way to the only practicable solution of the question of foreign intercourse with China, which was that, however reluctantly she should consent to take her place in the family of nations.

The Chinese were not left long in doubt as to the significance of this change. In December, 1833, a royal commission was issued appointing Lord Napier chief superintendent of trade with China, and two assistants under him, of whom one was Sir John Davis. The Chinese had to some extent contributed to this appointment, the Hoppo at Canton having written that "in case of the dissolution of the Company it was incumbent on the British government to appoint a chief to come to Canton for the general management of commercial dealings, and to prevent affairs from going to confusion." But in this message the Hoppo seems to have expressed his own view rather than that of the Pekin government or the Canton viceroy; and certainly none of the Chinese were prepared to find substituted for "a chief of commercial dealings" an important commissioner clothed with all the authority of the British ruler. How very different was the idea formed of this functionary by the Chinese and English may be gathered from their official views of his work. What the Chinese thought has been told in the words of the Hoppo. Lord Palmerston was more precise from his point of view. His instruction to Lord Napier read, "Your lordship will announce your arrival at Canton by letter to the viceroy. In addition to the duty of protecting and fostering the trade at Canton, it will be one of your principal objects to ascertain whether it may not be practicable to extend that trade to other parts of the Chinese dominions. It is obvious that, with a view to the attainment of this object, the establishment of direct communication with the imperial court at Pekin would be most desirable." The two points of radical disagreement between these views were that the Chinese wished to deal with an official who thought exclusively of trade, whereas Lord Napier's task was not less diplomatic than commercial; and, secondly, that they expected him to carry on his business with the Hoppo, as the Company's agents had done, while Lord Napier was specially instructed to communicate with the viceroy, whom those agents had never dared to approach.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse