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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.
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
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Niyamoho, who fired the palace, and then withdrew to carry on his depredations in another quarter. Kaotsong's flight from his capital had saved him from his external enemies only to leave him face to face with the domestic opponents who had long complained of the weakness of his conduct. A mutinous army and discontented officials were scarcely less objects of dread to him than the hordes of the Kins. Personally they were his bitterer foes, for when they had brought about the disgrace and execution of the chief of the eunuchs they refused to rest satisfied with anything short of the abdication of Kaotsong himself. Kaotsong, deserted by the army, was constrained to submit to the commands of the mutineers, and to retire in favour of his son, an infant only three years old. Within a month of his fall he was, however, restored to power by a revulsion of opinion among the soldiers in his favour. The first question with which Kaotsong had then to deal was the conclusion of a peace with the Kins, who were again on the point of invading the country. On the first occasion the haughtiness of his ambassador irritated Niyamoho so much that he caused him to be sent into captivity in Tartary, and on the second, when Kaotsong wrote a humble letter imploring peace, the Kin general did not deign to reply. The straits to which Kaotsong was reduced were indeed deplorable, but to narrate them to an enemy could only result in exciting his contempt. Kaotsong recognized in this latter document the supreme power of the Kins, and expressed his willingness to concede everything that was demanded of him. The Kins continued their advance, compelling the inhabitants of the conquered districts to shave their heads in token of their subjection—a practice renewed five centuries later by their descendants the Manchus. On their approach Kaotsong fled to the sea-coast, where he embarked for one of the southern ports of China. Even then the Kins continued their pursuit, and a small force took boat to follow Kaotsong to his last retreat. This detachment was compelled, however, to return, and Kaotsong's personal safety was again assured. While the Sung Emperor was thus fleeing before the Tartars,
some of his lieutenants were making a brave resistance in other parts of the realm, and had even succeeded in checking their advance. But the balance of victory remained greatly in favour of the northern Power, although one Kin army was nearly compelled to surrender while attempting to cross the Yangtse.
Oukimai, the ruler of the Kins, now again endeavoured to force a fresh ruler and dynasty on the Chinese, and a new Emperor, pledged to depend on the Kins for support, was proclaimed. But a doubtful campaign in Shensi, where the Tartars, although victorious, obtained no tangible results and were obliged to withdraw, interfered with the development of this plan. Kaotsong returned to Yueichow in Chekiang, where he was in a position to either advance further or to retire to his former place of safety. The reviving confidence of his soldiers constituted a firmer basis for his authority than he had yet possessed, and when some aspiring rebels appeared in Kiangsi, his lieutenants restored order without difficulty. The nominee of the Kins was proclaimed guilty of high treason, and a price was placed upon his head ; but so long as that puppet-ruler possessed the Kin army at his back he represented a formidable danger for the Sungs.
The indictment of their nominee, and the measures instituted for his capture induced the Kins to place larger armies than before in the field, and this was the more necessary as the Chinese troops showed that they were recovering from their long-standing panic, and as capable commanders had revealed themselves during these later campaigns. Prominent among these were Oukiai and Changtsiun, of whom the former, although of subordinate rank, attained the greater fame. Long descriptions might be given of the numerous encounters which he fought and brought to a successful issue with the national enemy, of the artifices to which he had recourse for the making-up of deficiency in numbers, of his rapid marches over vast distances, and of the valour he showed on the field of battle. It was to Oukiai, in short, that the change in the tide of war that now set in was mainly due. The old military superiority of the Kins was no longer undisputed, and Oukimai's lieutenants were met by generals who