Imatges de pàgina

neighbourhood, which, combined with supreme indifference to occurrences in lands beyond their sphere, has always been characteristic of the Chinese, Yonglo heard of a series of palace plots and crimes there, which had resulted in the deposition of the ruling dynasty, and in the elevation of an ambitious statesman to the throne. At first Yonglo, misled by the artful messages of this minister, Likimao, was disposed to overlook the means which he had employed to gain supreme power, and this inclination was strengthened all the more because Likimao reported that he had placed a child of the royal house upon the throne. The Imperial ratification of the appointment was sent in the belief that these representations were true, and Likimao congratulated himself on having attained his ends without having provoked the wrath of his powerful suzerain. But his self-gratulation did not long continue. The ministers of a just revenge were already at work to ensure his fall.

Likimao soon sent another envoy to China to prefer some requests of a personal character, but on his arrival he found there an unexpected guest in the person of a fugitive, who declared that he was the rightful prince of Tonquin. From him Yonglo soon learnt all the truth as to Likimao's proceedings and crimes; and the recital roused in him not only a natural detestation of the wickedness committed, but also a feeling of pique at having been so easily cajoled by Likimao's specious representations. The identity of the prince was clearly demonstrated by the respectful salutations of Likimao's own emissary, and Yonglo at once resolved to champion the cause of one who had been so cruelly injured. The unfortunate princes of tributary kingdoms and dependent states have ever found in the ruling family of China a sympathetic friend and willing supporter.

After the repulse of the small force sent to escort the rightful prince, Chintien Ping, back to his dominions—for when Likimao found that his schemes were discovered, and that he had no choice between the loss of the position he had acquired and a rupture with China, he resolved to adopt the manlier course and fight the matter out—Yonglo despatched a larger army to put down and punish the insolent usurper. A CONQUEST OF TONQUIN. 443

campaign which included several encounters marked by great carnage followed, and Yonglo's commanders effected their purpose. Likimao was taken prisoner, and the authority he hoped to establish obliterated. As no eligible prince could be found for the throne, Tonquin, in deference to the prayers of the people, was incorporated as the province of Kioachi with the rest of the Empire. To Likimao was granted as a favour permission to serve in the army as a private soldier.

The Chinese authority was not generally recognized in this new region until the more turbulent races in the country had been disheartened by two unsuccessful risings. Changfoo became known not only as the conqueror, but also as the pacifier of Tonquin. The interest of this petty struggle is but slight, nor does any greater importance belong to the desultory warfare in which Yonglo was engaged with the tribes of the northern and western deserts. In this he obtained some successes, and met with a few reverses ; but the result left matters practically unchanged.

It was while on his return from one of these expeditions, which had been carried across the steppe to as far as the upper course of the Amour, that Yonglo was seized with his last and fatal illness. This event occurred in the year 1425, when he was sixty-five years of age, after he had reigned during twenty-one years. His eldest son, whom he had passed over in the succession, had been the cause of some trouble by forming intrigues against him, but his discontent having been discovered, he was placed under arrest . Another of Yonglo's sons, who had some time before been proclaimed heirapparent, succeeded him without disturbance or opposition, and reigned for a few months as the Emperor Gintsong. His virtues gave promise of a happy and prosperous reign; but the fates were not propitious, and his early death again cast the bark of state on troubled waters.

With the reign of Gintsong the first stage in the history of the Ming dynasty may be considered as reached. Its authority was firmly established, and the dangers which threatened it in consequence of the Yen civil war had been passed through in safety. Both on the northern and on the southern frontiers the Emperor's sovereignty was successfully asserted; and envoys came from the distant states of Bengal and Malacca to bring presents from their rulers to the Chinese potentate. The Chinese themselves were well pleased with these recognitions of their power, and regarded the elephants sent from India as omens of happy import. The internal condition of the country was prosperous, and its external affairs were directed with sagacity and confidence as to its mission.

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THE MING DYNASTY (continued).

The accession of Gintsong's son, Suentsong, to the throne was not attended by any event of importance. For the time the clashing of arms had ceased throughout the land, and no more formidable contest presented itself for decision than a wordy war between the lettered classes of the nation. Yet that in its way was serious enough, and might have been fraught with grave consequences, because the grievances of a class so powerful as the literary body in China always has been, constituted a subject to which no ruler could be indifferent . The matter came home to every family in the kingdom and affected their worldly interests very closely. In the competitive examinations held throughout the country, students from the southern provinces carried everything before them, and threatened to monopolize all the honours. Not content with restricting their sphere of activity to their own native districts, they ventured beyond them, and were beginning to gain many of the prizes in the schools and academies of the north. Suentsong promptly answered the numerous petitions addressed to him on this subject by appointing a Commission of Inquiry, which found an easy and efficacious remedy by restricting competitors for literary honours to their native districts. The whole official and literary body was divided into three principal classes, one confined to the north, another to the centre, and the third to the south.

This difficulty happily solved, another presented itself in the discontent and ambition of the Emperor's uncle, Kaohin. who had been created Prince of Han, but whose ideas soared above a provincial governorship. In a short time he adopted a menacing attitude towards his nephew, and, making extensive military preparations, boasted that he held the Empire as much at his mercy as his father the Prince of Yen had done in the days of Kien Wenti. But Suentsong showed courage and capacity; and, assuming the command of his army in person, marched against his rival. The promptitude of his measures paralyzed the plans of Kaohin, and none thought of resisting a monarch who showed that he knew so well how to claim his rights and to assert his authority. Before it was generally realized in the country that Kaohin meditated revolt, he was under conveyance to a state prison at Pekin.

The latest Chinese province, Tonquin, proved anything but an easily governed possession. The hill-tribes and a large section of the settled inhabitants were in a constant ferment, and the Chinese garrison was kept continually on the alert and under arms. This state of things soon grew intolerable, and it became a question whether the province should be abandoned, or whether recourse should be had to extreme measures in order to stamp out the national disaffection. After several of his detached corps had been cut in pieces by the mountaineers, the governor sent urgent messages to request reinforcements, saying that without prompt aid he would be unable to maintain his position. On the receipt of this bad news a council was held by the Emperor in the palace, when, after anxious deliberation, it was decided to withdraw the Chinese garrison. Changfoo alone, who had gained his reputation by its conquest, was averse to its surrender, but his advice was either ignored or over-ruled. Thus came to an end in A.D. 1428, after the brief space of ten years, the direct exercise of Chinese authority in Tonquin. The significance of the event was further enhanced by the deposition of the Prince left on the throne by Suentsong's lieutenant, and by the elevation to supreme power of an intriguing minister and popular leader. Notwithstanding this flagrant violation of the agreement upon which he had withdrawn his troops, Suentsong did not conceive it to be prudent to renew his grandfather's interference in the affairs

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