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his plans, and Sunkiuen retired baffled from the contest. Another war ensued from this with the ruler of Chow, but Heouchow was successful in beating back from his frontiers the danger which threatened him, and for a time the state of Wei was divided within itself by the intrigues of Tsowchwang, a minister who attempted to seize the governing power. When Ssemay had curbed his pretensions and restored order, other disturbances followed. Several of the possessions of Sunkiuen were wrested from him, and when he died in A.D. 252 it was clear that the days of the kingdom of Wu were already numbered. About the same time also died the brave general Ssemay, to be succeeded in his position by his son Ssemachi.
Sunleang, Sunkiuen's son and successor, rushed by the rash advice of his general Chu-kwo-ko into a war with Wei. Seven months were wasted before the walls of Sinching, a small fortified town held by a garrison of three thousand men, and then Chu-kwo-ko was obliged to beat a hurried retreat with the loss of half his army. At one time it had looked as if Sinching would have had to open its gates to the invader, and it was only the fortitude and presence of mind of its commandant Changte which averted that result. For ninety days the siege had gone on, and the ramparts of Sinching had been pierced in numerous places, and several breaches lay gaping to the foe. In short, Changte had done all that a'good commander could, and, as no relieving force was near, there was nothing left for him save to die as a brave man. In this extremity he had recourse as a last chance to the following ruse. He sent word to Chu-kwo-ko that he was willing to surrender Sinching without further resistance, if the act of surrender were postponed until the hundredth day, as "it was a law among the princes of Wei that the governor of a place which held out for a hundred days, and then surrendered with no prospect of relief visible, should not be considered as guilty." Chu-kwo-ko, already wearied by the protracted defence, readily accepted this offer, but his astonishment may be imagined when a few days later he found the ramparts and forts of Sinching assuming their original appearance. All the breaches were repaired, new gates were A BOLD PROJECT. 123
constructed, and fresh defensive works erected, and as these bulwarks appeared over the ruins of a three months' siege the spirits of the garrison under their bold commander rose in proportion. When Chu-kwo-ko sent to ask what was the meaning of these proceedings, and how they were to be reconciled with the terms of the agreement, Changte sent the bold reply, " I am preparing my tomb, and to bury myself under the ruins of Sinching." Of such resolute valour and indifference to death the military records of China contain many examples; but very seldom has any soldier shown such fertility of resource, and resolution not only to save personal honour, but also a charge of national importance, as did Changte on this occasion. The siege of Sinching brought honour to Changte, and security to his state; but to Chukwo-ko it signified disgrace and death as an unsuccessful and consequently a criminal general.
Meanwhile a series of events in the internal history of Wei had led to the deposition of Tsowfang by the general Ssemachi, and the elevation of Tsowmow, another of the nephews of Tsowjoui, in his place. Ssemachi died shortly after this occurrence, but his influence and dominant position in the state did not pass out of his family. To Ssemachi succeeded his brother Ssemachow, and the real governing power in the country remained in his hands. The war between Wei and its southern neighbours still lingered on; bat in the year A.D. 257 it took a more decisive form. The army of Ssemachow under the command of Wangki won several battles in the south with comparatively small loss, and the capture of the important town of Chowchun, with its garrison of one hundred and fifty thousand rebels, struck a heavy blow in favour of the pre-eminence of Wei. Ssemachow took all the credit of this result to himself, and, in spite of the protests of Tsowmow, caused himself to be proclaimed governor of the Empire with the title of Prince of Tsin. Tsowmow was not destitute of courage, and he resolved to overthrow by prompt action this too-powerful soldier. Taking a few companions into his personal confidence, he proceeded to Ssemachow's palace with the intention of ridding the Empire of an ambitious subject. The project was a bold one, but it miscarried. There was, in truth, to be a deed of blood that day, but Tsowmow himself was the victim, not Ssemachow.
Ssemachow, having got rid of Tsowmow, undertook the invasion of the kingdom of Chow, where Heouchow, the ruler of the Later Hans, still preserved the name and the dignity of the illustrious house from which he sprang. Tengai and the other Wei generals carried everything before them. A council of despair was held in the capital, and several propositions, some pusillanimous and others courageous, but all showing the desperate character of the situation, were placed before the Emperor. Heouchow accepted the suggestion of one of his ministers that the preferable alternative was to throw himself on the generosity of the Prince of Wei. His son Lieouchin, worthy heir of the characteristics of the great Vouti, declared that, " If we are without resources, and if there is no choice save to perish, we can at least die with honour. Let us march to meet the enemy with what may remain to us of brave men, and if our dynasty is on the point of extinction, let it finish only with our lives." To Heouchow, the timid, this advice was unpalatable, and he proceeded to grace the triumph of the victor by his own presence, while his son Lieouchin put an end to his existence with that of his family in the temple of his ancestors. It is in the act of Lieouchin rather than in the apathy of Heouchow, that the last scion of the great family of the Hans vanished from the gaze of his contemporaries, leaving a blank where once there had been the presence of a great name.
The war closed with the incorporation of the state of Chow with that of Wei. The general Tengai wrote from the captured city of Chentu to Ssemachow exhorting him to prosecute without further delay the war with Wu, so that his triumph might be made complete by the double conquest of the two southern kingdoms, because as Tengai wrote with a truth and pregnancy applicable to all times and circumstances, "An army which has the reputation of victory flies from one success to another." Ssemachow did not adopt this advice, and the conquest of Wu was put off for nearly twenty years. In A.D. 265 Ssemachow died, being THE SWORD. 125
succeeded by his son Ssemayen, who at once deposed the nominal Emperor Yuenti, and had himself proclaimed in his stead. A new dynasty, that of the Tsins, was declared, and Ssemayen became the first ruler of the line under the name of Chitsou Vouti. Xhe rivalry of the three princes and generals who had divided the Empire of the Hans thus terminated in favour of that founded by Tsowpi, the son of Tsow Tsow; but in the end it lost the fruits of its policy to the grandson of the general Ssemay who had contributed so much to its success. The Tsins won the Empire by the sword, and so long as they retained the capacity to assert their power they maintained an admitted supremacy throughout the whole of the country.
THE DYNASTY OF THE LATER TSINS.
WHEN Ssemayen exalted himself on the Dragon Throne, and became the founder of the later Tsin dynasty, he took the title of Vouti, the warrior prince. It will be borne in mind that at this period numerous wars, the machinations of years, and the gradual growth of an ambitious family, had prevented the extension of the authority of the Wei ruler through more than two-thirds of the Empire. It became the one object of Vouti's life to incorporate the independent kingdom of Wu in his dominions; but twenty years passed away before he compassed his purpose. The speedy conquest of Chow, and the fall of the representative of the Hans, created a great alarm in the bosom of Sunhow, Prince of Wu, and when Vouti seized the supreme power, Sunhow sent an embassy to Loyang to congratulate him, and to express a desire to become the vassal of the Tsins. Vouti received the ambassador with marked courtesy, but Sunhow was still hankering after the ambitious dreams of his father Sunkiuen. The supremacy of the Tsins was for the time incontestable; but there was disaffection in the land, and their rule might not prove of long duration. So it happened that when the envoy who came "whispering words of humbleness and peace" returned south of the Great River, Sunhow began to plot not merely for the preservation of his independence, but even for the subversion of the Tsins. In Kiangsi and Hoonan, among the reedy marshes of Fuhkien and the woody glens of Kwantung, there was a furbishing of arms, and the grim expectation of coming battle disturbed the fishermen on Tunting, and the miners of Chowchow.