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- China - 10/83 -


on their opponents, of whom they killed nearly three thousand, and Wentsong passed the last year of his life as a miserable puppet in their hands. He was not allowed even to name his successor. The eunuchs ignored his two sons, and placed his brother Voutsong on the throne.

The evils of the day became specially revealed during the reign of Ytsong, who was scarcely seated on the throne before his troops suffered several defeats at the hands of a rebel prince in Yunnan, who completely wrested that province from the empire. He was as pronounced a patron of Buddhism as some of his predecessors had been oppressors, and he sent, at enormous expense, to India a mission to procure a bone of Buddha's body, and on its arrival he received the relic on bended knees before his whole court. His extravagance of living landed the Chinese government in fresh difficulties, and he brought the exchequer to the verge of bankruptcy. Nor was he a humane ruler. On one occasion he executed twenty doctors because they were unable to cure a favorite daughter of his. His son Hitsong came to the throne when he was a mere boy, and at once experienced the depth of misfortune to which his family had sunk. He was driven out of his capital by a rebel named Hwang Chao, and if he had not found an unexpected ally in the Turk chief Likeyong, there would then have been an end to the Tang dynasty. This chief of the Chato immigrants--a race supposed to be the ancestors of the Mohammedan Tungani of more recent times--at the head of forty thousand men of his own race, who, from the color of their uniform, were named "The Black Crows," marched against Hwang Chao, and signally defeated him. The condition of the country at this time is painted in deplorable colors. The emperor did not possess a palace, and all the great towns of Central China were in ruins. Likeyong took in the situation at a glance, when he said, "The ruin of the Tangs is not far distant." Likeyong, who was created Prince of Tsin, did his best to support the emperor, but his power was inadequate for coping with another general named Chuwen, prince of Leang, in whose hands the emperor became a mere puppet. At the safe moment Chuwen murdered his sovereign, and added to this crime a massacre of all the Tang princes upon whom he could lay his hands. Chao Siuenti, the last of the Tangs, abdicated, and a few months later Chuwen, to make assurance doubly sure, assassinated him. Thus disappeared, after two hundred and eighty-nine years and after giving twenty rulers to the state, the great Tang dynasty which had restored the unity and the fame of China. It forms a separate chapter in the long period of disunion from the fall of the Hans to the rise of the Sungs.

After the Tangs came five ephemeral and insignificant dynasties, with the fate of which we need not long detain the reader. In less than sixty years they all vanished from the page of history. The struggle for power between Chuwen, the founder of the so-called Later Leang dynasty, and Likeyong was successfully continued by the latter's son, Litsunhiu, who proved himself a good soldier. He won a decisive victory at Houlieoupi, and extinguished the Leang dynasty by the capture of its capital and of Chuwen's son, who committed suicide. Litsunhiu ruled for a short time as emperor of the Later Leangs, but he was killed during a mutiny of his turbulent soldiers. This dynasty had a very brief existence; the last ruler of the line, finding the game was up, retired with his family to a tower in his palace, which he set on fire, and perished, with his wives and children, in the flames. Then came the Later Tsins, who only held their authority on the sufferance of the powerful Khitan king, who reigned over Leaoutung and Manchuria. The fourth and fifth of these dynasties, named the Later Hans and Chows, ran their course in less than ten years; and when the last of these petty rulers was deposed by his prime minister a termination was at last reached to the long period of internal division and weakness which prevailed for more than seven hundred and fifty years. The student reaches at this point firmer ground in the history of China as an empire, and his interest in the subject must assume a more definite form on coming to the beginning of that period of united government and settled authority which has been established for nearly one thousand years, during which no more than four separate families have held possession of the throne.

CHAPTER IV

THE SUNGS AND THE KINS

One fact will have been noticed during the latter portion of the period that has now closed, and that is the increasing interest and participation in Chinese affairs of the races neighboring to, but still outside, the empire. A large number of the successful generals, and several of the princely families which attained independence, were of Tartar or Turk origin; but the founder of the new dynasty, which restored the unity of the empire, was of pure Chinese race, although a native of the most northern province of the country. Chow Kwang Yu was born in Pechihli, at the small town of Yeoutou, on the site of which now stands the modern capital of Pekin. His family had provided the governor of this place for several generations, and Chow himself had seen a good deal of military service during the wars of the period. He is described as a man of powerful physique and majestic appearance, to whose courage and presence of mind the result of more than one great battle was due, and who had become in consequence the idol of the soldiery. The ingenuity of later historians, rather than the credulity of his contemporaries, may have discovered the signs and portents which indicated that he was the chosen of Heaven; but his army had a simple and convincing method of deciding the destiny of the empire. Like the legionaries of Rome, they exclaimed, "The empire is without a master, and we wish to give it one. Who is more worthy of it than our general?" Thus did Chow Kwang Yu become the Emperor Taitsou and the founder of the Sung dynasty.

Taitsou began his reign by proclaiming a general amnesty, and he sent the proclamation of his pardon into provinces where he had not a shred of authority. The step was a politic one, for it informed the Chinese people that they again had an emperor. At the same time he ordered that the gates and doors of his palace should always be left open, so that the humblest of his subjects might have access to him at any time. His own words were that "his house should resemble his heart, which was open to all his subjects." He also devoted his attention to the improvement of his army, and particularly to the training of his officers, who were called upon to pass an examination in professional subjects as well as physical exercises. A French writer said, forty years ago, that "The laws of military promotion in the states of Europe are far from being as rational and equitable as those introduced by this Chinese ruler." His solicitude for the welfare of his soldiers was evinced during a campaign when the winter was exceedingly severe. He took off his own fur coat, and sent it to the general in command, with a letter stating that he was sorry that he had not one to send to every soldier in the camp. A soldier himself, he knew how to win a soldier's heart, and the affection and devotion of his army never wavered nor declined. He had many opportunities of testing it. His first war was with the Prince of Han, aided by the King of Leaoutung, whom he speedily vanquished, and whose capacity for aggression was much curtailed by the loss of the frontier fortress of Loochow. His next contest was with an old comrade-in-arms named Li Chougsin, whom he had treated very well, but who was seized with a foolish desire to be greater than his ability or power warranted. The struggle was brief, and Li Chougsin felt he had no alternative save to commit suicide.

The tranquillity gained by these successes enabled Taitsou to institute a great reform in the civil administration of the empire, and one which struck at the root of the evil arising from the excessive power and irresponsibility of the provincial governors. Up to this date the governors had possessed the power of life and death without reference to the capital. It had enabled them to become tyrants, and had simplified their path to complete independence. Taitsou resolved to deprive them of this prerogative and to retain it in his own hands, for, he said, "As life is the dearest thing men possess, should it be placed at the disposal of an official who is often unjust or wicked?" This radical reform greatly strengthened the emperor's position, and weakened that of the provincial viceroys; and Taitsou thus inaugurated a rule which has prevailed in China down to the present day, where the life of no citizen can be taken without the express authority and order of the emperor. Taitsou then devoted his attention to the subjugation of those governors who had either disregarded his administration or given it a grudging obedience. The first to feel the weight of his hand was the viceroy of Honan; but his measures were so well taken, and the military force he employed so overwhelming, that he succeeded in dispossessing him and in appointing his own lieutenant without the loss of a single man. The governor of Szchuen, believing his power to be greater than it was, or trusting to the remoteness of his province, publicly defied Taitsou, and prepared to invade his dominions. The emperor was too quick for him, and before his army was in the field sixty thousand imperial troops had crossed the frontier and had occupied the province. By these triumphs Taitsou acquired possession of some of the richest provinces and forty millions of Chinese subjects.

Having composed these internal troubles with enemies of Chinese race, Taitsou resumed his military operations against his old opponents in Leaoutung. Both sides had been making preparations for a renewal of the struggle, and the fortress of Taiyuen, which had been specially equipped to withstand a long siege, was the object of the emperor's first attack. The place was valiantly defended by a brave governor and a large garrison, and although Taitsou defeated two armies sent to relieve it, he was compelled to give up the hope of capturing Taiyuen on this occasion. Some consolation for this repulse was afforded by the capture of Canton and the districts dependent on that city. He next proceeded against the governor of Kiangnan, the dual province of Anhui and Kiangsu, who had taken the title of Prince of Tang, and striven to propitiate the emperor at the same time that he retained his own independence. The two things were, however, incompatible. Taitsou refused to receive the envoys of the Prince of Tang, and he ordered him to attend in person at the capital. With this the Tang prince would not comply, and an army was at once sent to invade and conquer Kiangnan. The campaign lasted one year, by which time the Tang power was shattered, and his territory resumed its old form as a province of China. With this considerable success Taitsou's career may be said to have terminated, for although he succeeded in detaching the Leaoutung ruler from the side of the Prince of Han, and was hastening at the head of his forces to crush his old enemy at Taiyuen, death cut short his career in a manner closely resembling that of Edward the First of England. Taitsou died in his camp, in the midst of his soldiers; and, acting on the advice of his mother, given on her death-bed a few years before, "that he should leave the throne to a relation of mature age," he appointed his brother his successor, and as his last exhortation to him said, "Bear yourself as becomes a brave prince, and govern well." Many pages might be filled with the recitation of Taitsou's great deeds and wise sayings; but his work in uniting China and in giving the larger part of his country tranquillity speaks for itself. His character as a ruler may be gathered from the following selection, taken from among his many speeches: "Do you think," he said, "that it is so easy for a sovereign to perform his duties? He does nothing that is without consequence. This morning the thought occurs to me that yesterday I decided a case in a wrong manner, and this memory robs me of all my joy."

The new emperor took the style of Taitsong, and during his reign of twenty-three years the Sung dynasty may be fairly considered to have grown consolidated. One of his first measures was to restore the privileges of the descendant of Confucius, which included a hereditary title and exemption from taxation, and which are enjoyed to the present day. After three years' deliberation Taitsong determined to renew his brother's enterprise against Taiyuen, and as he had not assured the neutrality of the King of Leaoutung, his task was the more difficult. On the advance of the Chinese army, that ruler sent to demand the reason of the attack on his friend the Prince of Han, to which the only reply Taitsong gave was as follows: "The country of the Hans was one of the provinces of the empire, and the prince having refused to obey my orders I am determined to punish him. If your prince stands aside, and does not meddle in this quarrel, I


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