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student, fully impregnated with the spirit of that fact, will have done much towards mastering the rest of the subject. To such a one the later course of the history will present few difficulties. It will be almost as an open book.
If the reader wishes to know what conception Chinese historians had of their duties, the following story will throw some light upon the subject:—" In the reign of the Emperor Ling Wang of the Chow dynasty, B.C. 548, Changkong, Prince of Tsi, became enamoured of the wife of Tsouichow, a general, who resented the affront and killed the prince. The historians attached to the household of the prince recorded the facts, and named Tsouichow as the murderer. On learning this the general caused the principal historian to be arrested and slain, and appointed another in his place. But as soon as the new historian entered upon his office he recorded the exact facts of the whole occurrence, including the death of his predecessor and the cause of his death. Tsouichow was so much enraged at this that he ordered all the members of the Tribunal of History to be executed. But at once the whole literary class in the principality of Tsi set to work exposing and denouncing the conduct of Tsouichow, who soon perceived that his wiser plan would be to reconstitute the Tribunal and to allow it to follow its own devices." What could be finer, too, than the following reply, given fifteen centuries later, by the President of the Tribunal of History of the Empire to the Tang Emperor Taitsong, who asked if he might be permitted to see what was written about himself in the State memoirs ?" Prince," said the President, "the Historians of the Tribunal write down the good and the bad actions of princes, their praiseworthy and also their reprehensible words, and everything that they have done, good or bad, in their administration. We are exact and irreproachable on this point, and none of us dare be wanting in this respect. This impartial severity ought to be the essential attribute of history, if it is wished that she should be a curb upon princes and the great, and that she should prevent them committing faults. But I do not know that any Emperor up to the present has ever seen what was written about him." To this the Emperor said, "But supposing I did nothing THE FIRST EMPEROR. 3
good, or that I happened to commit some bad action, is it you, President, who would write it down?" "Prince, I should be overwhelmed with grief; but, being entrusted with a charge so important as that of presiding over the Tribunal of the Empire, could I dare to be wanting in my duty?" These two stories may suffice to show the spirit in which the earlier Chinese historians undertook their work.
The earliest ancestors of the Chinese are supposed to have been a nomad people in the province of Shensi. Among these there appeared several leaders, endowed with high abilities and aspirations, who induced their kinsmen to settle in villages, and to follow the pursuits of trade and agriculture. The germ of the Chinese race and government was, we may assume, to be found among these rude tribes wandering over the province of Shensi. Among them, increasing both in numbers and in power, the necessities of the government of a community produced several rulers, whose lineaments the Chinese historians have depicted for us as being similar to those of animals and other unnatural combinations, until at last there came Fohi, the first great Chinese Emperor. He also to a great extent belongs to the mythical period, being represented as having the body of a dragon and the head of an ox. Still Confucius in his history accepted him as one of the early rulers of the country, and he is generally credited with having instituted the rite of marriage, and numerous other social and moral reforms. His reign (B.C. 2953-2838 ?) is described as having been a succession of benefits to the people. Among his chief exploits may be mentioned the fact that he carried his influence to the Eastern Sea, and he selected as his capital the town of Chintou, which is identified »-ith the modern Chinchow in Honan. To him succeeded Chinnong, who carried on the great work Fohi had commenced, but in a few years he changed the capital from Chintou to Kiofoo, a town in Shantung. According to Mailla, he was succeeded by the celebrated Hwangti, according toother authorities, by several rulers whose names have been almost forgotten ; but in any case it is incontestable that the individuality of Hwangti is much more tangible than that of any of bis predecessors.
Hwangti was no sooner raised to the supreme place than he was called upon to compete with several rivals. He triumphed over them in battle, and rendered his success the more decisive by the remarkable moderation he evinced when the contest had been concluded in his favour. Recognizing with rare foresight that a beneficent prince has no public enemy among his own people, he carried on his wars not with the misled soldiers, but with their leaders, inspired either by envy at his success, or by the ambition to emulate it. In one of these wars he made prisoner the chief among his adversaries, as well as a large portion of his army. He disarmed the latter, and leading his rival to the top of a hill in full view of his own and the defeated army, executed him with his own hand. That act consolidated the authority of Hwangti, and restored peace and tranquillity to the Empire. Having accomplished the first portion of his task, he devoted his attention in the next place to the reform of the internal administration. He divided his territory into ten provinces, or Chow, each of which was subdivided into ten departments, or Tse, and these again into ten districts, or Tou, each of which contained ten towns, or Ye. He rearranged the weights and measures also on the decimal system, and the reforms attributed to him still form part of the existing order of things in China. It is unnecessary to mention all the inventions with which this great monarch has been credited by his grateful countrymen. Prominent among them was the regulation of the calendar—the Chinese dividing the lapse of time into cycles of sixty years ; and the first of these commences from a date that corresponds with the year 2637 before our era. One of Hwangti's principal objects was the promotion of commerce, and, for that purpose, he constructed roads and built vessels to navigate the great rivers and the open sea. His fame was spread throughout Asia, and embassies visited his court, whilst artificers and skilled workmen came from foreign lands to settle within his borders. The extent of the dominions of this ruler may be taken to have been from the vicinity of Shachow on the west to the sea on the east, and from Pechihli on the north to the river Yangtse-kiang on the south. Regarded as the founder of a great Empire Hwangti A MODEL RULER. 5
appears, even at this interval of time, to have been worthy of the position accorded him; and to his inspiration and example much of the subsequent greatness of China may be attributed. It is not difficult, therefore, to understand that Chinese annalists declare that no reign has been either more glorious or more auspicious than his, and that he was in every way worthy of the assumption of the imperial and semi-deified title of Ti* or Emperor.
The sceptre of Hwangti passed to his son Chaohow, who reigned long and peaceably, but who died without having acquired much glory. The one achievement of his life was the division of the officials and public administrators into classes, by means of distinctive dresses or uniforms—a task which, if not of the most distinguished, had its difficulties, and required a man of taste. On Chaohow's death his nephew Chwenhio became Emperor. He extended the Empire to the frontiers of Tonquin on the south and of Manchuria on the north, and earned " the glorious title of restorer or even founder of true astronomy." His descendants continued to possess the imperial dignity, and his great-grandson Yao was a ruler of striking ability and considerable reputation. To him the Chinese still look back with veneration, and it is by comparison with his conduct that the native historians often gauge the capacity of his successors. The most extraordinary occurrence of his reign was the overflowing of the Hoangho, which flooded a large extent of country, and caused enormous damage, t The best years of Yao's life were spent in coping with this danger, and in repairing the mischief that had been wrought by it . In this he was only partially successful. His idea of his duty towards his subjects was based upon a high standard ; and he always acted on the principle that what he wanted done well he should do himself. He is reported to have often said, "Arc the people cold? then it is I who am the cause. Are they hungry? it is my fault. Do they
• Before his reign the sovereigns of China were called Wangs, or kings. The name of the King of Heaven, or God, was Changti, Supreme Emperor, or sovereign. Hwangti means the Yellow Emperor.
t By some this was considered identical with the flood of Noah. Excellent reasons exist for disbelieving this assertion.
commit any crime? I ought to consider myself the culprit." It is not very surprising to find that the people mourned for such a ruler after his death during three years, and that they lamented his loss as "children do that of their father or mother."
Another great and wise ruler followed the Emperor Yao. His name was Chun, and for twenty-eight years previous to his accession he had been associated with the Emperor Yao in the administration of the state. Of comparatively humble origin Chun was the architect of his own fortunes. His zeal, assiduity, and integrity in the public service attracted the notice of the Emperor Yao, who had long been seeking a man capable of aiding him in the task of ruling the vast territories under his sway, and one worthy also of succeeding him in the supreme authority. Chun's excellent conduct in the offices entrusted to him pointed him out as the man for the occasion, and the result amply justified the selection. At first Chun wished Yao's son, Tanchu, to be chosen Emperor, and retired to his country residence to avoid the importunities of his admirers. But the notables of the realm saw that Chun was the fittest man for the office, and they refused to make the interests of the Empire subservient to the personal feelings of a family. Chun was proclaimed Emperor; but also feeling the weight of ruling so large a country more than one man could bear, he selected Yu, the Minister of Public Works, to help him in the task. Yu became associated with Chun in the same manner as the latter had been with Yao; and the glory of the period when the nation was ruled by this triumvirate has been dwelt upon in fervid language by the Chinese historians. In many respects the patriarchal sway of those remote rulers represents the brightest and the most prosperous age in the whole history of the Empire.
It is not surprising to find that the basis on which the authority of these Emperors rested was implicit obedience to the law. "A prince who wishes to fulfil his obligations, and to long preserve his people in the ways of peace, ought to watch without ceasing that the laws are observed with exactitude." That sentence forms the keynote of the policy of these rulers, and the wise princes who came after them have