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EMPEROR'S PROPER PLACE. 249
that they brought forward in council a proposition for the withdrawal of the court from Pienchow or Kaifong, to either Chentu or Kinling. The chief minister, Kaochun, firmly opposed this view, saying that those who originated it were worthy of death, and that the proper place for the Emperor was at the head of his army in the field. Chintsong, who appears to have been of a mild and vacillating character, was won over to the bolder course by the arguments of this minister, but his own timidity represented a permanent obstacle to the carrying-out of a resolute policy. The arguments of Kaochun were always at hand, and in the end carried the day in the struggle going on in Chintsong's mind. The Chinese army crossed the Hoangho in force, with Chintsong at its head. Although the two forces, between whom there was so long a list of previous encounters to decide in favour of one or the other, were now face to face, no action took place. Both sides were disposed to grant a peace without appealing to a conclusive judgment. The Tartars surrendered several towns which they had captured, and the Chinese promised them an annual allowance in silk and money as an indemnity for the expense they had been put to in invading their dominions. Chintsong had now occupied the throne for seven years, and they had been years of war; but during the remaining eighteen years of his life the Empire enjoyed a profound peace, when the wealth and prosperity of the nation developed at a rapid rate. But if the consequences of his love of peace were beneficial in many ways, there was little estimable in the change which came over the character of Chintsong after his return from this expedition. One of his first acts was to disgrace the minister Kaochun, who had done such good service in that war, and to deprive him of his high offices, because it was represented to him by one of that minister's enemies that he had committed a breach of etiquette in concluding a treaty of peace under the walls of a town. In deference to a silly superstition, the Emperor banished from his court the only man capable of giving him prudent and disinterested advice. After this Chintsong's downward course was rapid. He gave himself over to the most childish practices, and became the slave of those persons who flourish on the credulity of mankind. The last fifteen years of his reign afforded the melancholy spectacle of the man who decides the most important events of his life by appealing to a chance of which we cannot possess the key, and by referring to accidents and other fortuitous circumstances which can have nothing whatever to do with the everyday duties and difficulties of life. Chintsong became the bondslave of the spiritualist and fanatic of his time, and some of the Chinese commentators have given his reign a special significance by making it the starting-point in the decline of the original worship of Changti, or the great God of Heaven.
Little need be said of the sottish practices by which Chintsong placed himself on a level with the least respectable of his subjects. He left the council-hall of the noble and the wise to have intercourse with the adventurer and the charlatan, and in the magician's chamber he found greater pleasure than in the fulfilment of the duties of his position as ruler of a great people. This falling-off in his manner of living was accompanied by an inevitable decline in his moral character. When he neglected and turned his back on his duties he took the first downward step in his career, and when he sought to make up for the deficiencies of his conduct by appeals to prodigies and other miraculous tokens as evidence of the manner in which he was fulfilling his public task, he completed the retrogression he had made in the opinion of all honourable men. His death, in A.D. 1022, closed his reign, which in the commencement had given promise of exceptional brilliance; and in a spirit which we may take either as the height of satire or as the expression of affection, they buried with him the books which were said to have fallen from heaven, and which had been the primal cause of the deterioration in his character, and of the consequent stultification of his reign.
The reigns of these three Emperors, Taitsou, Taitsong, and Chintsong, covering a period of rather more than sixty years, or one longer in duration than the tenure of power by the five preceding dynasties, are remarkable in themselves
as witnessing the revival of the Emperor's authority, and also what may be called the reunion of the Empire. The wars with the Tartars of Leaoutung were not as successful as they should have been, and the danger from that quarter continued until it assumed larger and graver proportions in the hands of the Kins. With that exception the Sungs were successful on all sides, and they conferred many benefits on the people of China, which they again raised to the rank of a great Power. The surest test of the progress made by the nation in material well-being is afforded in the official census already more than once mentioned. In the year A.D. 1013 Chintsong ascertained that there were among his subjects nearly twentytwo millions of men occupied in agriculture alone, and when it is remembered that these included neither women nor children, nor those employed in other pursuits, it appears to be a moderate estimate to say that the population of the Sung dominions exceeded one hundred millions. This unimpeachable fact is the strongest evidence in favour of the excellence of the administration of the first three Emperors of the Sung family. When Taitsou came to the front he found the reputation of the Empire sunk to the ground, and only the name of China's greatness remained. By restoring its unity he did much towards repairing the folly of previous rulers, and if it was not destined that the Sungs should raise the country to as high a point as it had attained under the great Tsins, Hans, and Tangs, they may certainly claim to have restored to it the blessings—long unknown-of internal peace and good government.
Jintsong to the change in the Capital.
JINTSONG, the sixth son of the late ruler, was only thirteen years of age when his father died, and the reins of authority were placed in the hands of his mother. Being a woman not less capable than ambitious, she retained the chief authority until her death, which took place eleven years later, and thus for one-fourth of his long reign Jintsong enjoyed nothing more than the name of power. The first acts of the Empress-mother were marked by a wisdom and an appreciation of the national wants which never left her government. The unpopular taxes on tea and salt —which the expenses of a prolonged war had rendered it necessary to continue—were repealed, and a board was appointed with authority to supervise the taxation so that the people might not be oppressed. Having thus provided for the interests of the masses, the Empress determined to proceed with vigour against the magicians, spiritualists, and other impostors, who, encouraged by the late ruler, were prospering on the credulity of the nation. To such a pass had the machinations of these personages come that in several provinces they had compelled the doctors to give up their profession by inducing the people to consult them instead in all cases of sickness. An order was issued for the destruction of their meeting-houses, and of their laboratories where they either concocted their noxious drugs or performed their weird ceremonies, and it was carried into execution with all the energy of a body of men who felt that their own interests had
THE EMPRESS-MOTHER. 2.53
been endangered by the foibles of the Emperor Chintsong In truth, the danger to public morality and national interests. had reached such a pass that extreme measures were necessary to again place the condition of public affairs on a satisfactory and durable foundation. During the ten years' rule of the Empress-mother there was peace in the land, and her conduct appears to have been throughout most exemplary, although in the last year of her life, whether through a freak of vanity, or with some ulterior design, she usurped certain functions which were considered the prerogative of an Emperor. Her death took place in A.D. 1033, when Jintsong became the responsible ruler of China, and his first act was to pay exceptional honours to the memory of the great minister, Kaochun, who had been disgraced by his father. During the peace, which had now endured for more than ten years, the rebel who first appeared in the previous reign had consolidated his power, and dying, left a large tract of country to his son. The Tartars of Leaoutung had seen the growth of this new state with some feeling of dismay, and had sought to compass its destruction by the conquest of the territory of the Hiuho in western Kansuh. In this they failed; and Chao Yuen, the grandson of the founder of this state, became the stronger and the more confident. The Emperor sent him the patent of Prince of Hia; but this young ruler, seeing how easy a prey were his northern provinces, thought rather of attacking him than of living with his neighbour on terms of peace and friendship. Meantime he drilled his soldiers every day after the fashion of the Chinese manual, collected arms and munitions of war, and, out of his just appreciation of the decline in the efficiency of the Chinese army through a long peace, originated a policy inimical to the Emperor, and favourable to the Tartars, who had recently striven to bring about the ruin of his state. In A.D. 1034 he turned his arms for the first time against the Chinese, and he employed them with success. He could plead as an excuse that a border governor had given him some justification for commencing hostilities by invading a portion of his territory. He lost some of the fruits of this campaign the