Imatges de pàgina

misunderstanding even turned his arms against his fellowcountrymen. The Sung fleet was then obliged to seek another asylum. The year A.D. 1276 closed in unrelieved gloom for the cause of the native rulers. They had lost possession of every province, with the exception of a few districts in Kwantung and Fuhkien.

During that winter Kublai's attention was again summoned to affairs in Mongolia, where his nephew Kaidu had renewed his hostile measures; and this afforded the Sungs an opportunity for momentarily recovering some of the ground they had lost. The Mongol armies speedily returned, vanquished the Chinese forces, and left the Sung princes no place of safety except their vessels and some of the lonely islands off the Canton estuary. Canton itself had before this been again taken by the Mongol forces. In this extremity the young Emperor died, but a few brave men were still left resolved to continue the struggle. Another prince was declared Emperor by this faithful but much reduced band, under the name of Tiping, and Chang Chikia and a few other resolute adherents prepared to renew hostilities with the Mongols. "If Heaven has not resolved to overthrow the Sungs," said one of them, "do you think that even now it cannot restore their ruined throne?" Tiping's proclamation was made in the year A.D. 1278; but, instead of being the inauguration of a more prosperous period in the history of the dynasty, it was only the prelude to its fall.

The Sung prince took refuge with his fleet in a natural harbour in an island named Tai, which could only be entered with a favourable tide, and there Chang Chikia set himself to work with all his energy to prepare for a renewal of the contest . He had not neglected any precautions for the defence of the position he held should he be attacked in it. His fortifications crowned the heights above the bay, and nearly two hundred thousand men were under his orders. The Mongol fleet at last discovered the whereabouts of the Chinese place of retreat, and prepared to attack it. Reinforcements were procured from Canton, and on their arrival the signal was given for an immediate assault on the position held by Chang Chikia and the only force remaining to the Sungs.


The Mongols attacked with their usual impetuosity, but after two days' fighting they had obtained no decisive advantage. The Chinese fought with great gallantry, and under Chang Chikia's leading their rude valour was supplemented by his skilful dispositions. On the third day the Mongol admiral Chang Hofan, who happened to be a connection of the Chinese commander, renewed his attack, and after a stubbornly contested engagement succeeded in throwing the Chinese fleet into confusion. There can be no doubt that not a ship would have made good its escape but for a heavy mist which suddenly fell over the scene, when Chang Chika succeeded in making his way out to sea, and his example was imitated by sixteen vessels.

The vessel of the Emperor had not the same good fortune. Unable to extricate itself from the press of battle, it fell into the power of the victor. In this desperate situation Lousionfoo, one of the most faithful of the Sung ministers, resolved to save the honour if not the life of his master. Having thrown into the sea his own wife and children, he took the Emperor in his arms, and jumped overboard with him. The greater number of the officers adopted the same resolution. Thus perished Tiping, the last of the Sung Emperors.

Meanwhile Chang Chikia was sailing away in search of another place of refuge; but his first thought still was more of the cause to which he was attached than of saving a life which had become of little value. On learning the death of Tiping, he requested the mother of that prince, who had escaped with him, to choose a member of the Sung family to succeed him; but the grief at the loss of a son proved more potent than any inducement on public grounds to name a successor. She refused to be consoled for her loss, and seeing no hope left, threw herself overboard, thus putting an end to her anxieties. The high courage of Chang Chikia would not recognize the impossibility of retrieving their defeat, and he accordingly continued to sail in the direction of the south, where he might be safe from the Mongol pursuit, and could obtain some fresh succours from the tributary states of that region.

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In this hope he was not to be disappointed, for the ruler of Tonquin not only gave him a friendly reception, but assisted him to refit his fleet, to lay in stores, and to collect fresh troops. Having thus recovered to some extent from the effects of his recent defeat, Chang Chikia resolved to return without delay, expecting to seize Canton by a sudden attack and to renew the struggle with Kublai's forces. His followers endeavoured to dissuade him from the attempt, but he was determined to again tempt fortune; and perhaps he felt assured that unless he resorted to some vigorous course, not only would the cause of the Sungs be utterly ruined, but his own chosen band would in all probability break up and desert him. In A.D. 1279, twelve months after the death of Tiping, a Chinese fleet, representing the expiring effort of the Sung family, was bearing down on the city of Canton with hostile intent, and under the command of a man whose resolution and valour alone would have made the cause he represented formidable. There is no information extant as to whether the Mongols were aware of the approaching enemy, or whether they were in sufficient strength to successfully resist a sudden attack. At the most favourable supposition, however, Chang Chikia could not have obtained more than a local and temporary success. The Mongol position was then too thoroughly assured—Kublai's power being at its apex—for this semi-piratical squadron to have aehieved any durable success.

But the Fates willed that the blow, however forcible or feeble it might have proved, should not be struck. The approaching peril dissolved itself into a vain and empty menace before the wrathful elements of the China Sea. Chang Chikia's fleet had not turned the southern headland of the Kwantung coast when it encountered a terrific hurricane which destroyed the great majority, if not all, of Chang Chikia's ships. That gallant leader had refused to seek shelter under lee of the shore until the tempest had exhausted itself, and he paid the penalty of his temerity. He burnt incense to the deities of the waters, and expected that the observance of a few superstitious rites would allay the force of the waves, and still the blasts of the typhoon. A FAITHFUL ADHERENT. 355

But on this occasion the simple faith of the Chinese hero produced no result, and when his vessel was overwhelmed and sank with all on board, the last champion of the Sungs disappeared. "I have done everything I could," he exclaimed when entreated to seek a harbour of refuge, "to sustain on the throne the Sung dynasty. When one prince died I caused another to be proclaimed Emperor. He also has perished, and I still live! Oh, Heaven! should I be acting against thy decrees, if I sought to place a new prince of this family on the throne?" His plans and hopes received a sudden and unexpected solution and response; but the valour and fidelity of the brave and faithful Chang Chikia will still remain as a striking and instructive example of the devotion sometimes shown by an adherent to the fallen fortunes of a royal family and a ruling House.

The conquest of China was thus completed. The kingdom of the Sungs, after nearly half a century of warfare, had snared the fate of its old enemy and rival, the Kin; and Kublai Khan had consummated the design commenced seventy years before by his grandfather Genghis. The long and obstinate resistance of the Chinese, despite treachery and incapacity in high places, against the first soldiers in the world, led by great princes such as Genghis, Tuli and Kublai, and by the most accomplished of living generals, Subutai, Bayan and Artchu, is the clearest of proofs how vigorous must have been the latent strength of the Sung kingdom, strictly speaking the sole representative of ancient China.



Kublai Khan.

While the war with the Sungs was in progress Kublai's authority had been steadily extending itself throughout Northern China, and acquiring a greater hold on both the affection and respect of the people. Several years before the death of Tiping and the last essay of Chang Chikia, Kublai had given his dynasty a distinctive name, and had assumed the title of Chitsou. Summoning to his court the most eminent of the Chinese ministers, and assisted by many skilful administrators from Western Asia and even from Europe, among whom was the Venetian traveller Marco Polo, Kublai's government had special elements of security, and was capable of attracting the sympathy and good-will of the indifferent as well as of crushing the opposition of its enemies. The skill and good fortune of his three principal generals— Bayan, Alihaya and Artchu—enabled him to devote all his attention to the consolidation of Mongol supremacy north of the Kiang river, where, it will not be forgotten, it had been established ever since the fall of the Kins forty years before, and where, amongst a population of semi-Tartar origin, and long accustomed to Tartar domination, there was less difficulty in adapting the customs brought from the wilds of Mongolia to the institutions of an alien population. When Kublai

* In A.D. 1271 Kublai gave his dynasty the name of the Yuen or Original. The Mongols in China are henceforth to be known by that name.

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