Imatges de pàgina

people that he determined to no longer defer the design he had for some time secretly cherished of placing himself upon the throne. Ynti, anticipating the popular verdict, fled from his capital, but was murdered in a neighbouring village by some of Kwo Wei's soldiers, who, it is asserted, did not recognize him. His son occupied the throne for a few days, but was deposed. Within four years of the departure of Tekwang, the Tartar king, another dynasty had run its transient course, and rapidly reached its point of collapse.

Kwo Wei became the founder of the fifth and last of these insignificant dynasties. His career was cut short when he had only governed the country for three years. He had many difficulties to contend against, but he seemed in a fair way to overcoming them when his death removed him from the scene. It is said that it was during his reign that the Mahomedans, who had been both conquering and colonizing most of the countries west of China during the last three centuries, first established themselves in China. There had no doubt been other immigrants of the same creed before this, but their progress first began to attract attention in this reign. Of Chitsong, his adopted son and successor, there is little to be said. He possessed many virtues, and endeavoured to restore the Empire from its fallen state; but his life was too short to admit of much more than the formation of plans which were never destined to be carried out. In the six years of his reign he obtained several successes in the south, and established his power more vigorously on the banks of the Great River. He even drew up a scheme for the expulsion of the Tartars, but at the very point when he formed the most ambitious of all his plans his career terminated with his sudden death. His son Kongti only reigned for a few months after him, and he was then deposed by his minister Chow Kwang Yn, the founder of the great dynasty of the Sungs.

The close of these five dynasties, which occupied the throne for less than sixty years in all, marks the end also of the petty rulers of China. In the future there will, at intervals, be the repetition of the old weakness, and the decline of the Empire will be sometimes marked in face of the greater but AN UNPARALLELED FACT. 233

more transient reputation of a neighbouring and foreign people; but there will at least be in its misfortunes an absence of any pettiness similar to that under these princes. China has often since stood apparently on the verge of ruin, but even when she has done so her triumphant enemies have presented a scarcely less interesting theme for description than the even tenour of her own history. These petty dynasties served no doubt their momentary purposes, but with their disappearance, nearly a thousand years ago,* the starting-point of China's Imperial history on a sound and durable basis may be considered to have been reached in the founding of the dynasty of the Sungs.

• In the nine hundred and forty years that have since elapsed, China has been governed by only four dynasties, the Sung, the Yuen, the Ming, and the Manchu still reigning—a fact unparalleled in the history of any other people or Empire.



The Reunion of the Empire.

Chow Kwang Yn * took up the task which the death of Chitsong had left half finished and incomplete; and it was his good fortune to complete it . The country prayed for peace, and was anxious to give all the support it could to a man acting for its interests. Public spirit had become extinct during the years when the Empire had been the lottery of soldiers, and when ruler succeeded ruler with a rapidity which was in itself the strongest inducement to the ambitious to advance their claims. Chow Kwang Yn had therefore in the first place to raise the public spirit, and to show incontestably that he had other ends in view than the mere attainment of power. In short he was a patriot. It was the independence of the Chinese Empire for which he fought, and, although some of the credit is due to Chitsong as having paved the way to success, it was by his own unaided abilities that the Sung ruler attained the great object of his life.

The people hailed his advent to power with acclamations

* Chow Kwang Yn, unlike most of the soldiers who had risen to power during these years, was a Chinese by birth. He had distinguished himself greatly in the wars carried on by Chitsong for the restoration of the Empire. On one occasion it may even be said that his presence of mind saved the day in the battle at Kaoping. He was born fn a village near the modern Pekin, of which place, then a small town called Yeoutou, several of his relations had been governors. His father had succeeded to an office which had almost become hereditary in his family. Chow Kwang Yn served his earlier years in the guards, and is represented as having been of majestic appearance.


of joy. Signs were seen in the heavens proclaiming that it was the will of God that he should rule over the Empire, while his devoted soldiers adopted a more trenchant argument when they pointed to their swords. "The Empire is without a master," they said, "and we wish to give it one. Who is more worthy of it than our general?" The first acts of the new Emperor proclaimed the man. A general pardon was granted to all, and a proclamation was issued to the whole Empire, and sent into provinces defiant towards the Imperial authority, ordering the observance of the laws, and the preservation of domestic peace. At the same time Chow Kwang Yn gave his dynasty the name of the Sung, declared red to be the Imperial colour, and himself assumed the style of Taitsou.

He then restored to the lettered classes the privileges of which they had been deprived during the previous troubles, and, although not a learned man himself, encouraged learning by all the means in his power. He took these steps not for the advantage of any particular section, but for the general welfare of his people, believing that knowledge must be good, and its extension beneficial to the best interests of the nation. He made the happiness of the greatest number the chief object of his policy, and boasted that the meanest of his subjects might approach him at all times and at any hour. For this purpose he had the doors and gates of his own palace left open both during the day and at night, wishing to show that his house resembled his heart, " which was open to all his subjects." To the reform of his military organization he devoted not less attention than he did to domestic affairs. He drew up a system of examination for entrance into the army and for promotion in its ranks, which was practical and well adapted to the end in view. From officers it required some unequivocal proof that they were physically capable of performing their duties, and that they possessed some acquaintance with military subjects. Taitsou showed not less attention to the interests of the soldier, with whose privations he had all the sympathy of an old campaigner.

By the confidence of success perceptible in everything that he undertook, the founder of the Sungs had disarmed many of his adversaries, who dreaded an overthrow that appeared inevitable. Several governors sent in their formal submission, while others who had entertained the idea of rebellion banished it from their minds. The area included within the provinces of such governors as these was far from representing the full extent of the Empire, and it was both for the conquest of the districts held by foreign tribes and rulers as well as for the complete pacification of those within his immediate sphere that Taitsou drew his military strength together, and added to its efficiency by every means in his power.

The first and the most serious danger arose from the aggressions of a potentate in the north, named the Prince of Han, who had entered into an alliance with the Leaous or Khitans. A war was on the point of commencing with these allies when Chow Kwang Yn's attention was called away by Chitsong's death; but he had hardly settled the most pressing matters when it threatened to break out afresh. The Prince of Han refused to recognize the new regime, and drew closer the bonds of friendship with the Tartar prince of Leaoutung. He won over to his side the governor of the important border city of Loochow, thus precipitating the conflict, for Taitsou saw that it behoved him to strike at this confederacy before it should assume larger and more dangerous proportions. He accordingly sent several bodies of troops in the direction of Loochow, and, in A.D. 960, he took the field in person, at the head of a large army. Having inflicted a severe defeat on the rebel's army in the field, near the village of Tsechow, where several of the Han officers were slain, Taitsou had the satisfaction a few days later of entering Loochow itself, which had been seized by one of his lieutenants. The governor in despair saved his honour by perishing in the flames of his own residence. The Emperor returned to his capital after this success, remarkable alike for its rapidity and completeness; but he had hardly done so when his attention was called away to a rising within his own dominions.

Li Chongsin had shared with the Sung Emperor in earlier days his military career, and when the change was effected in the dynasty he was confirmed in his governorship by his

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