Imatges de pàgina


the clearest token of the anger of Heaven against the conqueror, and anxiously speculated on the prospect of the revolution which was beginning to loom in the near future.

Several attempts were made to depose the young Emperor, and in A.D. 1335 a desperate attack on the palace, headed by some of the chief members of the Mongol family, was only repulsed by the valour and timely precautions of Bayan, a descendant of the great general of the same name. The leaders in this rising were fortunately all captured, and expiated their treason with their lives. Instead of then devoting himself to the task of reforming the evils in the administration, and of mitigating the misfortunes of the people, Chunti turned from the path of duty to follow the course of pleasure, and passed most of his time in the chase. The remonstrances of the censors who strove to perform their duties with care and impartiality failed to show him the folly of his actions, and even the growing dangers which surrounded him only partially roused him to the gravity of the situation.

The first distinct rising on the part of the Chinese occurred in A.D. 1337, when Chukwang, a native of Kwantung, raised a considerable force and proclaimed that the Mongols had ceased to reign. The example thus set was followed in several of the neighbouring provinces. These insurrectionary movements, which were badly organized, and composed to a large extent of the scum of the people, failed to attract any general amount of sympathy or support from the nation. The Mongol troops succeeded, without any great delay or difficulty, in restoring order and in reasserting their master's authority.

In this hour of anxiety the Mongols, afraid of the Chinese officials, and wishing to take precautions in good time, ordered that all arms and horses should be surrendered by the Chinese. It is probable that in seeking to evade a danger they only precipitated the course of events, and that many who were disposed to stand by them found themselves compelled to attach themselves to the national party and to array themselves on the side of those who had resolved upon the expulsion of the Mongols.

The great qualities of one Bayan had contributed as much as any other circumstance to the consolidation of the Mongol power in China; and by the irony of fate it was reserved for the bad qualities of another of the same family and name to expedite its fall. This later Bayan tyrannized over the people placed under his authority, as might be expected from one who, to strengthen his position at court, had soiled his hands with the blood of an Empress. Showing slight respect for even the person of the Emperor, he cared more for the advancement of his own ends than for the interests of the dynasty. Chunti does not seem to have felt the loss of the functions of government; but when Bayan assumed a more magnificent train than that of the Emperor, and aspired to surpass him in his equipages, the growing power and arrogance of this subject appeared in a more unfavourable light to the last Emperor of the House of Genghis. When his vanity was touched, the crimes of Bayan, which had been long condoned, became heinous in the eyes of Chunti. In A.D. 1340 this too-powerful minister was deposed from his high place by a coalition between his personal enemies and those who wished to restore the Emperor's independence.

During the fifteen years that followed the disappearance of Bayan, Chunti's court was the scene of continual disputes between rival ministers, while, by some strange coincidence, the country suffered from drought and famine, from the overflow of the Hoangho, and from tremendous earthquakes. The insurrections which had at first been composed of mere adventurers were gradually taking a more definite form, and some had even gone so far as to claim that they were fighting for a restoration of the old dynasty. But still the Mongol troops were uniformly victorious, and the Chinese only rose to be repressed and slaughtered by their more disciplined opponents. On the sea, however, the pirate Fangkua Chin bade defiance to the Mongol fleet, which had lost its old efficiency, and captured the generals sent against him. On land, too, the rebels had taken a distinctive sign to mark the popular cause. Their leaders had given out red bonnets as their head-gear, and these became the bond of union between the foes of the Mongol.

A RALLY. 389

In A.D. 1352 the first important success of the war was obtained at Kiukiang, when a Mongol detachment was annihilated. The principal of the rebels, Sinchow Hoei, assumed the title of Emperor, and followed up his success at Kiukiang by a rapid advance into Chekiang, when he menaced the famous city of Hangchow. The Mongol forces, hastily assembled from all quarters, proceeded to engage this army, and in a great battle recovered everything that had been lost . But for the continued successes of Fangkua Chin the Mongols would have retrieved whatever they had suffered, and on all sides. In A.D. 1354 there was a fresh outbreak; but the measures adopted by Toto, Chunti's minister, proved so effectual that the Mongol position may be said to have been at this point as much assured as it had been at any time since the commencement of this internal struggle.

Toto had barely succeeded in restoring some degree of order to the condition of affairs in the realm when he found himself the object of Chunti's suspicion and disfavour. A rival named Hama, who owed his fortune to Toto, and doubtless felt " the debt immense of endless gratitude," had maligned him during his absence fighting the enemies of the state, and succeeded in inducing Chunti to sign a warrant for his dismissal and arrest . When Toto returned, therefore, to the capital it was only to receive an order for his banishment. Hama completed his perfidy by sending Toto the poisoned cup, usually the portion or the solace of the unfortunate minister. With Toto disappeared the last possible champion of the Yuen or Mongol dynasty.

The country had been in a distracted state for a long time, and the Chinese, who had been brooding over their wrongs, had now for twenty years been accustomed to the spectacle of slaughter, and become hardened to the bitter struggle for their emancipation. But they had not yet combined. Their efforts had hitherto been spasmodic and disunited. Their principal leaders had shown themselves little better than brigand chiefs. With each fresh effort, however, their courage was rising higher, and their action acquiring greater method. Union was fast displacing disunion, and their untrained levies were learning discipline in the field and under the hard master defeat. The discord among the Mongols, and the murder of their greatest leader further increased the prospect of an auspicious result . The occasion for throwing off the Mongol yoke had evidently arrived, and it only needed that the time should produce the man.

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The prevailing disorders, which revealed the full extent of the people's misfortune, attracted, among many others, into the ranks of those fighting under the national ensign a simple individual named Choo Yuen Chang. Originally he had taken the vows of a priest, and entered a monastery; but now he cast aside his religious garb to follow the more congenial pursuits of a soldier. Enlisting as a private, his zeal and attention to his duties soon caught the eye of his commander. Raised to the rank of an officer, he speedily found occasion to show that in enterprise and personal valour he was equal to every emergency. His first feat was the capture of the town of Hoyan—an exploit in itself sufficiently creditable; but when he saved the inhabitants and their possessions from the rapacity of his ill-fed and badly paid soldiers, he showed not only higher qualities, but also a truer perception of the necessities of the time than had yet been evinced by any other of the Chinese leaders. Choo was the first to inspire his countrymen with a belief in their capacity to substitute, without much trouble, a stable Government of their own in place of the decrepit and expiring dynasty of the Mongol. By proving that the maintenance of order and the preservation of life and property did not necessarily depend on the measures taken by the reigning Emperor, Choo dealt a most forcible blow at the reputation of the House of Genghis—in fact, the only blow still required to ensure its fall.

At first Choo had to content himself with a very subordinate part in the contest, for a claimant had been put forward to

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