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not a game that admits of castle-building with impunity. The long peace had deprived the government of an army; there were no skilful captains; and the magazines were empty. The Sung Empire was a sham in so far that the sword with which its authority could be alone sustained was brittle, and wielded by a nerveless arm.
It is permissible to detect in the peaceful policy of the Sungs the high state of civilization which they had attained. Had their neighbours been persons of equally pacific dispositions, it is quite possible that the system of buying off inconvenient claims might have continued for an indefinite period; but against Tartar and Turk tribes, lawless marauders and desperate chiefs, it could have but the one result of inflaming instead of satisfying their greed. The Sungs matched their well-known desire for peace, and their skill in that diplomacy of the artful and inferior kind that sometimes has its origin in weakness, and that ever fails to attain durable success, against the ambition, avarice, and consciousness of inherent strength of the northern states; and the result was necessarily a failure. To Akouta and Oukimai, or their general Walipou, the subterfuges of the Sungs appeared in the same light that the arguments of the Roman citizens appeared to Brennus the Gaul.
The absence of that military power which, as a matter of fact, the Sungs never possessed in any large degree, but which is the only solid foundation for the maintenance of independence by any government, left Hoeitsong and Kintsong, during his brief reign of one year, defenceless in the face of a determined foe. Large armies of men were placed in the field, but throughout these later campaigns not one deed reflecting any credit on the arms of China was performed. The incompetence of the eunuchs entrusted with command was rivalled, if not surpassed, by the cowardice and aversion to battle of the men. With such an army, a campaign was really lost before it had begun.
The truth is made more emphatic by the events of this period, that no government can expect to endure which persistently closes its eyes to the first duty it has to perform —the defence of the country or the Empire against an THE KNELL OF EMPIRES. 373
external enemy. It must be prepared to pursue a strong policy, and it must also possess the means to carry it out. It should strive to anticipate and to turn aside or roll back coming dangers, for the first step in retreat when the storm is raging marks the knell of empires. The Sungs failed to see the plain truth, and they fell.
Kang Wang's first act was to order the withdrawal of the capital from Kienfong to Nankin, and, although his qualities were of a higher order than those of most of his predecessors, this retrograde step could only prove, as it did, the beginning of the end of the Sung dynasty.
THE SUNGS AND THE KINS.
KAOTSONG began his reign at a moment of supreme difficulty. The wave of Tartar invasion had indeed retired beyond the frontier, leaving in its track a devastated region, but at any moment it might return. The Chinese power had never been reduced to a lower point than at this epoch, and the Kins, with two Emperors in their possession, might endeavour to attain the climax of their triumph by capturing the third. The crisis required a great mind to grapple with it, and it was doubtful how far Kaotsong would prove equal to the occasion. The bold spirit of the Empress Mongchi alone rose to the gravity of the situation, and her stirring words cannot but have inspired with fresh courage the young prince on whose capacity and conduct the whole future of Southern China depended. The messages sent from their place of imprisonment by his captive father and wife served also to restore his courage depressed by recent defeat . They exhorted him not to forget that they were held captive in a foreign land, and that they had only him to look to for aid. The greatness of the task entrusted to him should have made Kaotsong equal to the part he had to play; but, as it turned out, the burden proved greater than he could support.
Having proclaimed the general amnesty usual on the occasion of the advent to power of a new ruler, and having removed, as already stated, the capital from Kaifong to Nankin, Kaotsong authorized his minister Likang to take the steps necessary for the raising of a larger army, and for ARMY REFORMS. 275
the reform of prevailing abuses. Great attention was to be paid to the disciplining of the cavalry, and to the formation of a special corps of charioteers; but these reforms never advanced beyond an incipient stage. Likang's tenure of office was of very brief duration. Two months after his elevation he was disgraced, and with him disappeared the reforms which had not been more than fairly commenced. Once Kaotsong made this false step his downward course was rapid. He placed the guidance of affairs in the hands of a few inexperienced courtiers, and resigned himself to their influence. The first use to which they turned their power was to secure the disgrace of Likang, and the next to induce Kaotsong to again change his capital from Nankin to Yangchow, because the latter was "nearer the sea." Already Kaotsong was more anxious for the preservation of his life than for the overthrow of the national enemy.
The Kin general Niyamoho, who had succeeded to all, and more than all, the influence of Walipou, saw in these changes too favourable an opportunity to be neglected for renewing the enterprise against the Chinese of the south. His armies accordingly took the field in several directions, and had it not been for the skill and fortitude shown by Tsongtse, the governor of Kaifong, they would undoubtedly have succeeded in again snatching that great city from the Sungs. In every other direction they were successful, and before the campaign closed, having suffered only one reverse in the field, Niyamoho had the satisfaction of gaining a decided victory over Tsongtse in person. The battle was more stubbornly contested than any recent encounter had been, and it was evident that the Chinese were recovering their martial qualities, while in Tsongtse they possessed a skilful captain. Niyamoho, recognizing the valour of his antagonist, withdrew his forces on this occasion, content with having sustained the lustre of his arms, and with having acquired possession of a vast amount of booty, and of some important cities.
Encouraged by the state of the Empire, and by the weak conduct of Kaotsong, several rebels appeared in arms, and disturbed large tracts of territory with their presence. The Tartars withdrawn, Tsongtse turned all his attention to the pacification of these troubled districts, and to the restoration of internal peace. The tact and judgment he evinced in this task were not less remarkable than the skill and valour he had shown in war. He had the wisdom to abstain from the rigorous measures usually put in force against rebels, and he won them back to their allegiance by gentle treatment. On one occasion he excited general admiration by riding with a single attendant into the camp of a rebel, who was so struck by the gallant conduct of the Chinese governor that he then and there gave in his surrender, and promised to serve with his followers against the Tartars. Tsongtse's reputation was greatly increased by these moral triumphs, and when he petitioned the Emperor to return to Kaifong the voice of the nation was unanimous in favour of his request. There was a reasonable chance even at this late period that the Sung power might be revived, as the Kins were regarded with aversion by the peoples whom they had recently subdued. But Kaotsong refused to comply, although Tsongtse sent twenty formal applications to him. He preferred the feeling of safety afforded by the prospect of the junks on the Yangtse from his retreat at Yangchow. His weakness carried its own penalty, but its immediate consequence was to cause the death of Tsongtse from an illness aggravated, if not produced, by chagrin.
The death of Tsongtse removed the only obstacle the Tartars recognized to the renewal of their incursions south of the Hoangho. Niyamoho and Olito, the son of the great chief Akouta, took the field with fresh forces and vigour when they heard of the death of the man who had alone rendered doubtful the result of the previous year's campaign. A rapid succession of victories, and the capture of several important places showed that the Emperor had lost in Tsongtse the true guardian of his frontier, and that his troops fought with indifferent courage and success when they had no confidence in their commanders. So quickly did the Tartar Kins advance that Kaotsong felt himself insecure in his palace at Yangchow, and fled across the Yangtse for greater safety. Yangchow fell into the possession of