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- China - 5/83 -

country to Soponomo on the Tian Shan, carrying everything before it and returning laden with spoil, including some of the golden images of the Hun religion. Encouraged by these successes, Vouti at last took the field in person, and sent a formal summons to the Tartar king to make his submission to China. His reply was to imprison the bearer of the message, and to defy the emperor to do his worst. This boldness had the effect of deterring the emperor from his enterprise. He employed his troops in conquering Yunnan and Leaoutung instead of in waging another war with the Huns. But he had only postponed, not abandoned, his intention of overthrowing, once and for all, this most troublesome and formidable national enemy. He raised an enormous force for the campaign, which might have proved successful but for the mistake of intrusting the command to an incompetent general. In an ill-advised moment, he gave his brother-in-law, Li Kwangli, the supreme direction of the war. His incompetence entailed a succession of disasters, and the only redeeming point amid them was that Li Kwangli was taken prisoner and rendered incapable of further mischief. Liling, the grandson of this general, was intrusted with a fresh army to retrieve the fortunes of the war; but, although successful at first, he was outmaneuvered, and reduced to the unpleasant pass of surrendering to the enemy. Both Li Kwangli and Liling adapted themselves to circumstances, and took service under the Tartar chief. As this conduct obtained the approval of the historian Ssematsien, it is clear that our views of such a proceeding would not be in harmony with the opinion in China of that day. The long war which Vouti waged with the Huns for half a century, and which was certainly carried on in a more honorable and successful manner than any previous portion of that historic struggle, closed with discomfiture and defeat, which dashed to the ground the emperor's hopes of a complete triumph over the most formidable national enemy.

After a reign of fifty-four years, which must be pronounced glorious, Vouti died, amid greater troubles and anxieties than any that had beset him during his long reign. He was unquestionably a great ruler. He added several provinces to his empire, and the success he met with over the Huns was far from being inconsiderable. He was a Nimrod among the Chinese, and his principal enjoyment was to chase the wildest animals without any attendants. Like many other Chinese princes, Vouti was prone to believe in the possibility of prolonging human life, or, as the Chinese put it, in the draught of immortality. In connection with this weakness an anecdote is preserved that will bear telling. A magician offered the emperor a glass containing the pretended elixir of eternal life, and Vouti was about to drink it when a courtier snatched it from his hand and drained the goblet. The enraged monarch ordered him to prepare for instant death, but the ready courtier at once replied, "How can I be executed, since I have drunk the draught of immortality?" To so convincing an argument no reply was possible, and Vouti lived to a considerable age without the aid of magicians or quack medicines. Of him also it may be said that he added to the stability of the Han dynasty, and he left the throne to Chaoti, the youngest of his sons, a child of eight, for whom he appointed his two most experienced ministers to act as governors. As these ministers were true to their duty, the interregnum did not affect the fortunes of the State adversely, and several claimants to the throne paid for their ambition with their lives. The reign of Chaoti was prosperous and successful, but, unfortunately, he died at the early age of thirty-one, and without leaving an heir.

After some hesitation, Chaoti's uncle Liucho was proclaimed emperor, but he proved to be a boor with low tastes, whose sole idea of power was the license to indulge in coarse amusements. The chief minister, Ho Kwang, took upon himself the responsibility of deposing him, and also of placing on the throne Siuenti, who was the great-grandson, or, according to another account, the grandson, of Vouti. The choice was a fortunate one, and "Ho Kwang gave all his care to perfecting the new emperor in the science of government." As a knowledge of his connection with the Imperial family had been carefully kept from him, Siuenti was brought from a very humble sphere to direct the destinies of the Chinese, and his greater energy and more practical disposition were probably due to his not having been bred in the enervating atmosphere of a palace. He, too, was brought at an early stage of his career face to face with the Tartar question, and he had what may be pronounced a unique experience in his wars with them. He sent several armies under commanders of reputation to wage war on them, and the generals duly returned, reporting decisive and easily obtained victories. The truth soon leaked out. The victories were quite imaginary. The generals had never ventured to face the Tartars, and they were given no option by their enraged and disappointed master but to poison themselves. Other generals were appointed, and the Tartars were induced to sue for peace, partly from fear of the Chinese, and partly because they were disunited among themselves. Such was the reputation of Siuenti for justice that several of the Tartar chiefs carried their grievances to the foot of his throne, and his army became known as "the troops of justice." It is said that all the tribes and countries of Central Asia as far west as the Caspian sent him tribute, and to celebrate the event he built a kilin or pavilion, in which he placed statues of all the generals who had contributed toward his triumph. Only one incident marred the tranquillity of Siuenti's reign. The great statesman, Ho Kwang, had sunk quietly into private life as soon as he found the emperor capable of governing for himself; but his wife Hohien was more ambitious and less satisfied with her position, although she had effected a marriage between her daughter and Siuenti. This lady was only one of the queens of the ruler, and not the empress. Hohien, to further her ends, determined to poison the empress, and succeeded only too well. Her guilt would have been divulged by the doctor she employed, but that Ho Kwang, by an exercise of his authority, prevented the application of torture to him when thrown into prison. This narrow escape from detection did not keep Hohien from crime. She had the satisfaction of seeing her daughter proclaimed empress, but her gratification was diminished by the son of the murdered Hiuchi being selected as heir to the throne. Hohien resolved to poison this prince, but her design was discovered, and she and all the members of her family were ordered to take poison. The minister, Ho Kwang, had taken no part in these plots, which, however, injured his reputation, and his statue in the Imperial pavilion was left without a name.

Siuenti did not long survive these events, and Yuenti, the son of Hiuchi, became emperor. His reign of sixteen years presents no features of interest beyond the signal overthrow of the Tartar chief, Chichi, whose head was sent by the victorious general to be hung on the walls of Singan. Yuenti was succeeded by his son Chingti, who reigned twenty-six years, and who gained the reputation of a Chinese Vitellius. His nephew Gaiti, who was the next emperor, showed himself an able and well-intentioned prince, but his reign of six years was too brief to allow of any permanent work being accomplished. One measure of his was not without its influence on the fate of his successors. He had disgraced and dismissed from the service an official named Wang Mang, who had attained great power and influence under Chingti. The ambition of this individual proved fatal to the dynasty. On Gaiti's death he emerged from his retirement, and, in conjunction with that prince's mother, seized the government. They placed a child, grandson of Yuenti, on the throne, and gave him the name of Pingti, or the Peaceful Emperor, but he never governed. Before Pingti was fourteen, Wang Mang resolved to get rid of him, and he gave him the poisoned cup with his own hands. This was not the only, or perhaps the worst, crime that Wang Mang perpetrated to gain the throne. Pressed for money to pay his troops, he committed the sacrilege of stripping the graves of the princes of the Han family of the jewels deposited in them. One more puppet prince was placed on the throne, but he was soon got rid of, and Wang Mang proclaimed himself emperor. He also decreed that the Han dynasty was extinct, and that his family should be known as the Sin.

Wang Mang the usurper was certainly a capable administrator, but in seizing the throne he had attempted a task to which he was unequal. As long as he was minister or regent, respect and regard for the Han family prevented many from revolting against his tyranny, but when he seized the throne he became the mark of popular indignation and official jealousy. The Huns resumed their incursions, and, curiously enough, put forward a proclamation demanding the restoration of the Hans. Internal enemies sprang up on every side, and Wang Mang's attempt to terrify them by severity and wholesale executions only aggravated the situation. It became clear that the struggle was to be one to the death, but this fact did not assist Wang Mang, who saw his resources gradually reduced and his enemies more confident as the contest continued. After twelve years' fighting, Wang Mang was besieged at Singan. The city was soon carried by storm, and Wang Mang retired to the palace to put an end to his existence. But his heart failed him, and he was cut down by the foe. His last exclamation and the dirge of his short-lived dynasty, which is denied a place in Chinese history, was, "If Heaven had given me courage, what could the family of the Hans have done?"

The eldest of the surviving Han princes, Liu Hiuen, was placed on the throne, and the capital was removed from Singan to Loyang, or Honan. Nothing could have been more popular among the Chinese people than the restoration of the Hans. It is said that the old men cried for joy when they saw the banner of the Hans again waving over the palace and in the field. But Liu Hiuen was not a good ruler, and there might have been reason to regret the change if he had not wisely left the conduct of affairs to his able cousin, Liu Sieou. At last the army declared that Liu Sieou should be emperor, and when Liu Hiuen attempted to form a faction of his own he was murdered by Fanchong, the leader of a confederacy known as the Crimson Eyebrows, on whose co-operation he counted. The Crimson Eyebrows were so called from the distinguishing mark which they had adopted when first organized as a protest against the tyranny of Wang Mang. At first they were patriots, but they soon became brigands. After murdering the emperor, Fanchong, their leader, threw off all disguise, and seizing Singan, gave it over to his followers to plunder. Liu Sieou, on becoming emperor, took the style of Kwang Vouti, and his first task was to overthrow the Crimson Eyebrows, who had become a public enemy. He intrusted the command of the army he raised for this purpose to Fongy, who justified his reputation as the most skillful Chinese general of his day by gaining several victories over a more numerous adversary. Within two years Kwang Vouti had the satisfaction of breaking up the formidable faction known as the Crimson Eyebrows, and of holding its leader Fanchong as a prisoner in his capital.

Kwang Vouti was engaged for many more years in subduing the numerous potentates who had repudiated the imperial authority. His efforts were invariably crowned with success, but he acquired so great a distaste for war that it is said when his son asked him to explain how an army was set in battle array he refused to reply. But the love of peace will not avert war when a State has turbulent or ambitious neighbors who are resolved to appeal to arms, and so Kwang Vouti was engaged in almost constant hostilities to the end of his days. Chingtse, the Queen of Kaochi, which may be identified with the modern Annam, defied the Chinese, and defeated the first army sent to bring her to reason. This reverse necessitated a still greater effort on the part of the Chinese ruler to bring his neighbor to her senses. The occupant of the Dragon throne could not sit down tamely under a defeat inflicted by a woman, and an experienced general named Mayuen was sent to punish the Queen of Kaochi. The Boadicea of Annam made a valiant defense, but she was overthrown, and glad to purchase peace by making the humblest submission. The same general more than held his own on the northern and northwest frontiers. When Kwang Vouti died, in A.D. 57, after a brilliant reign of thirty-three years, he had firmly established the Han dynasty, and he left behind him the reputation of being both a brave and a just prince.

His son and successor, Mingti, was not unworthy of his father. His acts were characterized by wisdom and clemency, and the country enjoyed a large measure of peace through the policy of Mingti and his father. A general named Panchow, who was perhaps the greatest military commander China ever produced, began his long and remarkable career in this reign, and, without the semblance of an effort, kept the Huns in order, and maintained the imperial authority over them. Among other great and important works, Mingti constructed a dike, thirty miles long, for the relief of the Hoangho, and the French missionary and writer, Du Halde, states that so

China - 5/83

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