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- China - 30/83 -

honorable confinement, notwithstanding his protests and promises, and the defiant threats of his son Koshinga. In preserving his life he was more fortunate than the members of the Ming family, who were hunted down in a remorseless manner and executed with all their relations on capture. The only place that offered any resistance to the Manchus was the town of Kanchow, on the Kan River, in Kiangsi. The garrison defended themselves with desperate valor during two months, and a council of war was held amid much anxiety, to consider whether the siege should be abandoned. Bold counsels prevailed. The Manchus returned to the attack, and had the satisfaction of carrying the town by assault, when the garrison were put to the sword.

The relics of the Chinese armies gathered for a final stand in the city of Canton, but unfortunately for them the leaders were still divided by petty jealousies. One Ming prince proclaimed himself Emperor at Canton, and another in the adjoining province of Kwangsi. Although the Manchus were gathering their forces to overwhelm the Chinese in their last retreat, they could not lay aside their divisions and petty ambitions in order to combine against the national enemy, but must needs assail one another to decide which should have the empty title of Ming emperor. The Manchus had the satisfaction of seeing the two rivals break their strength against each other, and then they advanced to crush the victor at Canton. Strong as the place was said to be, it offered no serious resistance, and the great commercial city of the south passed into the hands of the race who had subdued the whole country from Pekin to the Tonquin frontier. At this moment the fortune of the Manchus underwent a sudden and inexplicable change. Two repulses before a fortress southwest of Canton, and the disaffection of a large part of their Chinese auxiliaries, who clamored for their pay, seem to have broken the strength of the advanced Manchu army. A wave of national antipathy drove the Tartars out of Canton and the southern provinces, but it soon broke its force, and the Manchus, returning with fresh troops, speedily recovered all they had lost, and by placing stronger garrisons in the places they occupied consolidated their hold on Southern China. Although the struggle between the Manchus and their new subjects was far from concluded, the conquest of China as such may be said to have reached its end at this stage. How a small Tartar tribe succeeded after fifty years of war in imposing its yoke on the skeptical, freedom-loving, and intensely national millions of China will always remain one of the enigmas of history.



While the Manchu generals and armies were establishing their power in Southern China the young Emperor Chuntche, under the direction of his prudent uncle, the regent Ama Wang, was setting up at Pekin the central power of a ruling dynasty. In doing so little or no opposition was experienced at the hands of the Chinese, who showed that they longed once more for a settled government; and this acquiescence on the part of the Chinese people in their authority no doubt induced the Manchu leaders to adopt a far more conciliatory and lenient policy toward the Chinese than would otherwise have been the case. Ama Wang gave special orders that the lives and property of all who surrendered to his lieutenants should be scrupulously respected. This moderation was only departed from in the case of some rebels in Shensi, who, after accepting, repudiated the Manchu authority, and laid close siege to the chief town of Singan, which held a garrison of only 3,000 Manchus. The commandant wished to make his position secure by massacring the Chinese of the town, but he was deterred from taking this extreme step by the representations of a Chinese officer, who, binding himself for the good faith of his countrymen, induced him to enroll them in the ranks of the garrison. They proved faithful and rendered excellent service in the siege; and when a relieving Manchu army came from Pekin the rebels were quickly scattered and pursued with unflagging bitterness to their remotest hiding places.

In the province of Szchuen a Chinese leader proclaimed himself Si Wang, or King of the West. He was execrated by those who were nominally his subjects. Among the most heinous of his crimes was his invitation to literary men to come to his capital for employment, and when they had assembled to the number of 30,000, to order them to be massacred. He dealt in a similar manner with 3,000 of his courtiers, because one of them happened to omit a portion of his full titles. His excesses culminated in the massacre of Chentu, when 600,000 innocent persons are said to have perished. Even allowing for the Eastern exaggeration of numbers, the crimes of this inhuman monster have rarely, if ever, been surpassed. His rage or appetite for destruction was not appeased by human sacrifices. He made equal war on the objects of nature and the works of man. He destroyed cities, leveled forests, and overthrew all the public monuments that embellished his province. In the midst of his excesses he was told that a Manchu army had crossed the frontier, but he resolved to crown his inhuman career by a deed unparalleled in the records of history, and, what is more extraordinary, he succeeded in inducing his followers to execute his commands. His project was to massacre all the women in attendance on his army.

When the assembly took place Si Wang slew his wives _coram populo_, and his followers, seized with an extreme frenzy, followed his example. It is said that as many as 400,000 women were slain that day, and Si Wang, intoxicated by his success in inducing his followers to execute his inhuman behests, believed that he had nothing to fear at the hands of the Manchus. But he was soon undeceived, for in one of the earliest affairs at the outposts he was killed by an arrow. His power at once crumbled away, and Szchuen passed under the authority of the Manchus. The conquest of Szchuen paved the way for the recovery of the position that had been lost in Southern China, and close siege was laid to the city of Canton. Outside Canton the Manchus carried everything before them, and that city itself at last was captured, after what passed for a stubborn resistance. Canton was given over to pillage.

At this moment of success Ama Wang, the wise regent, died, and Chuntche assumed the reins of government. He at once devoted his attention to administrative reforms. Corruption had begun to sway the public examinations, and Chuntche issued a special edict, enjoining the examiners to give fair awards and to maintain the purity of the service. But several examiners had to be executed and others banished beyond the Wall before matters were placed on a satisfactory basis. He also adopted the astronomical system in force in Europe, and he appointed the priest Adam Schaal head of the Mathematical Board at Pekin. But his most important work was the institution of the Grand Council, which still exists, and which is the supreme power under the emperor in the country. It is composed of only four members--two Manchus and two Chinese--who alone possess the privilege of personal audience with the emperor whenever they may demand it. As this act gave the Chinese an equal place with the Manchus in the highest body of the empire it was exceedingly welcome, and explains, among other causes, the popularity and stability of the Manchu dynasty. When allotting Chuntche his place among the founders of Manchu greatness, allowance must be made for this wise and far-reaching measure.

An interesting event in the reign of Chuntche was the arrival at Pekin of more than one embassy from European States. The Dutch and the Russians can equally claim the honor of having had an envoy resident in the Chinese capital during the year 1656.

In 1661 the health of Chuntche became so bad that it was evident to his courtiers that his end was drawing near, although he was little more than thirty years of age. On his deathbed he selected as his successor the second of his sons, who afterward became famous as the Emperor Kanghi. Kanghi assumed the personal direction of affairs when only fourteen years of age. Such a bold step undoubtedly betokened no ordinary vigor on the part of a youth, and its complete success reflected still further credit upon him.

The interest of the period passes from the scenes at court to the camp of Wou Sankwei, who, twenty years earlier, had introduced the Manchus into China. During the Manchu campaign in Southern China he had kept peace on the western frontier, gradually extending his authority from Shensi into Szchuen and thence over Yunnan. When a Ming prince, Kwei Wang, who had fled into Burmah, returned with the support of the king of that country to make another bid for the throne, he found himself confronted by all the power and resources of Wou Sankwei, who was still as loyal a servant of the Manchu emperor as when he carried his ensigns against Li Tseching. Kwei Wang does not appear to have expected opposition from Wou Sankwei, and in the first encounter he was overthrown and taken prisoner. The conqueror, who was already under suspicion at the Manchu court, and whom every Chinese rebel persisted in regarding as a natural ally, now hesitated as to how he should treat these important prisoners. Kwei Wang and his son--the last of the Mings--were eventually led forth to execution, although it should be stated that a less authentic report affirms they were allowed to strangle themselves. Having made use of Wou Sankwei, and obtained, as they thought, the full value of his services, the Manchus sought to treat him with indifference and to throw him into the shade. But the splendor of his work was such that they had to confer on him the title of Prince, and to make him viceroy of Yunnan and the adjacent territories. He exerted such an extraordinary influence over the Chinese subjects that they speedily settled down under his authority; revenue and trade increased, and the Manchu authority was maintained without a Tartar garrison, for Wou Sankwei's army was composed exclusively of Chinese, and its nucleus was formed by his old garrison of Ningyuen and Shanhaikwan. There is no certain reason for saying that Wou Sankwei nursed any scheme of personal aggrandizement, but the measures he took and the reforms he instituted were calculated to make his authority become gradually independent of Manchu control. For a time the Manchu government suppressed its apprehensions on account of this powerful satrap, by the argument that in a few years his death in the course of nature must relieve it from this peril, but Wou Sankwei lived on and showed no signs of paying the common debt of humanity. Then it seemed to Kanghi that Wou Sankwei was gradually establishing the solid foundation of a formidable and independent power. The Manchu generals and ministers had always been jealous of the greater fame of Wou Sankwei. When they saw that Kanghi wanted an excuse to fall foul of him, they carried every tale of alleged self-assertion on the part of the Chinese viceroy to the imperial ears, and represented that his power dwarfed the dignity of the Manchu throne and threatened its stability.

At last Kanghi resolved to take some decisive step to bring the question to a climax, and he accordingly sent Wou Sankwei an invitation to visit him at Pekin. Wou Sankwei excused himself from going to court on the ground that he was very old, and that his only wish was to end his days in peace. He also deputed his son to tender his allegiance to the emperor and to perform the Kotao in his name. But Kanghi was not to be put off in this way, and he sent two trusted officials to Wou Sankwei to represent that he must comply with the exact terms of his command, and to point out the grave consequences of his refusing. Wou Sankwei cast off his allegiance to the Manchus, and entered upon a war which aimed at the subversion of their authority. Such was the reputation of this great commander, to whose ability and military prowess the Manchus unquestionably were indebted for their conquest of the empire, that a large part of Southern China at once admitted his authority, and from Szchuen to the warlike province of Hunan his lieutenants were able to collect all the fighting resources of the state, and to array the levies of those provinces in the field for the approaching contest with Kanghi.

While Wou Sankwei was making these extensive preparations in the south, his son at Pekin had devised an ingenious and daring plot for the massacre of the Manchus and the destruction of the dynasty. He engaged in his

China - 30/83

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