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A HUMBLE LETTER. 277
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 BARREN VICTORIES. 279
in tactical knowledge might fairly be considered to hold their own with the best of them.
The campaigns between the years A.D. 1131 and 1134 were of a different character from those preceding them. The Chinese were in the main successful, and the Kin invasion was finally checked. The death of their great chief Oukimai in the latter year was also a serious blow to their power. While his generals, Walipou, Niyamoho, and Liuche, were winning battles he was engaged not less sedulously in the reform of the internal administration. He was steadily assimilating the customs of his Tartar people to the civilization of the Chinese, and figured as a patron of literature and art. His reign marks the pinnacle of the Kin power. After his death it began slowly but surely to decline. His successor was his cousin Hola, whose reign witnessed the first appearance and gradual growth of the Mongols; and the encroachments of these northern tribes proved another inducement to the Kins to abstain from unnecessary wars in the south.
Negotiations for the conclusion of a peace were begun on several occasions, but only to be broken off. At one moment Hola offered to restore Honan and Shansi ; at the next he announced his intention of conquering Shensi. A treaty was concluded by which Honan was to be restored to the Empire, but the Kin generals refused to evacuate it. The Chinese were successful in the encounters that took place for the purpose of enforcing a settlement of the question, and on one occasion they slew eighty thousand men ; but either through the weakness of Kaotsong or the incapacity of his ministers, they obtained none of the fruits of success. Honan remained an appendage of the Kins. The character of the Emperor and the temper of the age may be inferred from the fact that at this crisis of his reign Kaotsong sanctioned the imprisonment, which of course ended in murder, of the general who had contributed most to the restoration of his authority. An ignominious peace with the Kins, in the year A.D. 1141, followed, and was a fit conclusion for a period marked by victories that were rendered barren of result and by crimes wrought on the persons of deserving public men. By its terms not only did Kaotsong resign all claim to a vast extent of territory undoubtedly his by right, but he consented to pay annually a large subsidy in silk and money to the Kin ruler. Kaotsong completed the disgrace of this treaty by accepting the rest of his states as a gift at the hands of the Tartar ruler. The restoration of the body of the dead Emperor Hoeitsong was but a sorry equivalent for so ample a surrender of territory and so grave a loss of dignity.
A few years after this treaty, which was followed by a peace of some duration, the King Hola was murdered by a grandson of Akouta, named Ticounai, who also seized the governing power. He began his reign with a number of diabolical crimes, and when he had satisfied his passion and lust of blood, he thought it would be a great deed to break the treaty with the Sungs and renew the war with them. He drew up a plan of campaign for the conquest of China in the first place, and of Hia and Corea after that had been accomplished. Two or three years would, he said, suffice for this great enterprise. He forgot how long his predecessors had taken in securing what was nothing more than a partial, if considerable, success. In all his measures he showed equal indifference to the teaching of the past, and not less overconfidence in his own abilities.
Kaotsong's power had been steadily increasing during the long peace which Ticounai was now bent on breaking, and the lessons learnt during a protracted war had been taken to heart and enforced. Ticounai could not conceal his extensive preparations for war, and Kaotsong, while desiring the continuance of peace, felt bound to sanction counter precautions. Both sides continued, therefore, their active exertions, and Ticounai boasted that he would place half a million of armed men in the field. But more than half this number was required to actually guard the frontier against the Mongols, the Hias, and the Coreans. Kaotsong wished to the last to preserve peace and avoid further strife; but Ticounai was resolved that there should be war, and, as he himself protested, he was only seeking a plausible pretext for declaring it.
His attention was in some degree distracted from his relations with the Sungs by a rising within his territory A CRIMINAL WAR. 281
caused by his own acts of tyranny. The chief of one of the clans of those Khitans, who had remained in the country after the fall of their dynasty, had found cause for complaint against this ruler, and his grievance not receiving the redress which he required, he broke out into revolt. Ticounai treated this occurrence as a matter of slight importance, but the defeat of one of his generals soon compelled him to see it in a different light. An end was put to his anxiety, however, by the murder of the Khitan chief by his own followers, who were discontented because he had begun his march to join their kinsmen in the west—the Kara Khitay of the kingdom of the Gurkhan. Ticounai did not suffer this episode to turn him from his main purpose, which was war with the Sungs. In A.D. 1161 he accordingly gave orders to his generals to cross the frontier, and the long-expected contest began, after a peace which had endured for twenty years.
The war does not appear to have been very popular with Ticounai's subjects, as many desertions are stated to have taken place before actual fighting commenced. It was no doubt felt to be an unjustifiable war, one commenced without any reasonable provocation, and having no legitimate object in view. If ever a war was criminal, that which Ticounai began in so reckless a manner with the Sung ruler must be held to have been so. The wrongful action of the Kin ruler was so palpable that even in that day there were men resolved to mark by some great sacrifice their disapproval of it. Wang Yeouchi, a private individual of Shantung, expended bis fortune in fitting out a small corps which rendered valuable and opportune service early in the war ; and the great force of public opinion in all the border provinces was strongly in favour of Kaotsong and against the false and aggressive conduct of the Kin prince.
Ticounai was not to be checked in his design by moral compunctions, and he placed himself at the head of his troops. At first Kaotsong thought of retiring to a place of safety, but a wise minister dissuaded him from this suicidal act. Instead of showing his subjects an example of pusillanimity he then threw aside further hesitation and repaired to the camp of his army. The news of a great sea-fight off the coast, in