Imatges de pàgina


overpowering sense of wrong. The inhabitants of that province, who have long been remarkable for their courage and love of liberty, qualities which they may have derived from their native soil, famed alike for the beauty of its scenery and for its productive character, collected in considerable force in the northern valleys, and bade defiance to the loca 1 authorities. Fresh troops had to be brought from the neighbouring provinces, and a large army was placed in the field before there seemed to be any good ground for believing that the insurgents would be dispersed. Even when assailed by an overwhelming force, they withdrew into the neighbouring province of Kweichow sooner than make their formal surrender to the officers of an unjust prince. In Kweichow they were joined by the Miaotze and others, but as soon as it was seen that depredation represented their principal object they were doomed. Never again did they become formidable, and the embers of this once popular rebellion were gradually and effectually stamped out .

The errors of the Government entailed a punishment still nearer home. In the metropolitan provinces of Pechihli and Shantung bands of mounted robbers collected, and they became, under the designation of Hiangma, the terror of a large tract of country, covering hundreds of square miles. Pckin itself was not safe from insult and attack. In 1512, Liutsi, their principal leader, pillaged its suburbs, and for a moment it looked as if he were about to secure the person of the Emperor and to become the arbiter of the state. A large army arrived opportunely from Leaoutung, and Liutsi was compelled to retire. Having thus held complete success almost within their grasp, the Hiangmas lost ground as rapidly as they had gained it . Reverse followed reverse, and the same year which beheld Pekin imperilled also saw the final overthrow of Liutsi and the complete dispersion of his band.

Although these numerous troubles might well have suggested caution in his actions to Woutsong, his last years were marked by much of the recklessness of the earlier ones. In defiance of the strict etiquette of the Chinese Court, he passed his later days in expeditions beyond the northern frontier, which partook of the double character of hunting tours and of forays against the Tartars. Memorial was presented after memorial in the hope of inducing the monarch to see the error of his ways, but he regarded the matter from his own point of view, and was not to be turned from his path. A fresh revolt on the part of the Prince of Ning failed to disturb his serenity, but the energy with which he devoted his attention to its repression showed that he was at least resolved not to omit any measure of precaution in grappling with his enemies. A short time after this incident Woutsong was seized with a malady which proved mortal. His death, in the fourteenth year of his reign,* was the signal for much confusion, as he neither left children nor had he selected an heir. The consequences of the misfortunes which distracted the realm, but which left his position and equanimity undisturbed, were to be. reaped by his successors.

* The most important event by far of Woutsong's reign was the arrival at Canton of the first European who landed on the shores of China. Raphael Perestralo sailed from Malacca to China about the year 1511 ; and in 1517 Don Fernand Perez D'Andrade, a Portuguese officer, arrived off the coast with a squadron, and was favourably received by the Canton mandarins. He visited Pekin, where he resided for some time as ambassador. The commencement of intercourse was thus effected in a most auspicious manner, and it might have endured, but that a second Portuguese fleet appeared in Chinese waters and committed there numerous outrages and acts of piracy. Upon this D'Andrade was arrested by order of Woutsong, and after undergoing six years' imprisonment was executed by command of the Emperor Chitsong in A.d. 1523. The termination of the first act in the history of intercourse by sea between China and Europe was therefore less favourable than its commencement had promised.

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Chitsong and Moutsong.

THE throne being thus left vacant and no heir existing whose claims could be held to be indisputable, there was every prospect of a period of trouble ensuing upon the death of Woutsong, and only the promptitude and resolution of the Empress Changchi averted such a catastrophe. She at once summoned all the principal officials to a secret council, and dwelling upon the critical nature of the situation, insisted on the absolute necessity of choosing some scion of the reigning House and proclaiming him Emperor. Their choice fell upon the grandson of the Emperor Hientsong, a youth of some fourteen summers, who ascended the throne under the style of Chitsong. A glimpse is obtained of this young prince before he had accepted the responsibility of power in his parting interview with his mother. Although fortune was about to raise him to so brilliant a station, we are told that he parted from her with reluctance. "My son," she said, "you are about to accept a heavy burden; never forget the few words your mother has addressed to you, and always respect them."

His first act was to proclaim a general pardon, from which Kiangping, an ambitious official who had risen by the personal favour of Woutsong, and who even aspired to the purple, was alone excepted. Neither the Empress Dowager nor her ministers would allow this measure of oblivion to apply to so formidable an opponent, and Kiangping was accordingly executed after his estates had been made forfeit to the Crown. In a very few months, therefore, the dangers of a disputed succession were happily averted, and the most formidable enemy of the public peace had been removed without difficulty or strife. Chitsong's long reign could not well have opened under fairer auspices.

The incursions of the Tartar chief Yenta had formed a principal element of disturbance throughout the lifetime of Woutsong; they became still more frequent after his successor occupied the throne. Indeed, hardly a year elapsed without witnessing some of his depredations either in Shansi or Pechihli, and his raid formed the annual event along the northern frontier. Nor was Yenta the only chief who troubled the borders, or whose acts weighed down weak-kneed ministers at the capital with the cares of government. Mansour, of Turfan, had succeeded to the authority and power of Hahema, and he had again established at Hami a delegate of his own. In 1522 he advanced across the desert and laid siege to Souchow, but in this he had miscalculated his strength. The town was stoutly defended, and Mansour was in turn attacked by a relieving force. From the battle which ensued, he was glad to escape with his life and the relics of his army. After this reverse, Mansour gave little more trouble, and in 1528 he thought it better, on account of the defection of several of his allies, to send in his surrender and to admit the supremacy of the Emperor.

Nor were these the sole quarters whence danger emanated. The district included in the loop of the Hoangho, and bounded on the south by the Great Wall, was inhabited by the assemblage of tribes known then and now under the name of Ordus or Ortus.* These, although settled within what may be called the geographical frontier of China, were really as independent of her authority as if they had been a tribe in a

* A full but uninteresting description of these tribes is given in " Mailla," vol. x. pp. 300-3. They still constitute one of those semi-subdued people —an imperium in impel io—whose existence mars the symmetry and completeness of the Chinese Empire according to the notions of Europe. Reference may also be made, for information about these tribes, to Timkowski's interesting "Travels," vol. ii. pp. 266-8; and to Hue's "Travels," vol. i.


remote portion of Central Asia. They had owed this happy immunity from interference on the part of the Chinese taxcollectors and officials as much to the excellence of their conduct as to the natural difficulties and barren character of the region they inhabited. During the reigns of some of Chitsong's predecessors disturbances had arisen on this border, and the second year after his accession was marked by a raid on a more than usually large scale. The Ordus were doubtless encouraged in their depredations by the example of their eastern as well as by that of their western neighbours, although in comparison with either they were a source of small anxiety to the l'ckin authorities.

Chitsong felt little disposition to devote himself to the cares of government, and preferred to relieve his superstition in religious ceremonies and to indulge his inclination by cultivating a taste for poetry. His advisers deplored the attitude of their prince, and remonstrated with him on the consequences that his indifference to the duties of his high office must entail. But their counsels were poured into ears that did not heed, and Chitsong continued the even tenor of his way. A mutiny among his troops at the northern post of Taitong did not avail to rouse him from his torpor, but when, after the birth of an heir, he expressed a desire to retire from the throne into private life, and made some preparations towards carrying his intention into execution, his courtiers all joined to urge upon him the necessity of abandoning it in order to save the realm from the numerous calamities of a long minority or disputed succession.

Three principal subjects alone were of absorbing interest in the reign of this Emperor, and it is the common fortune of great empires that they should relate exclusively to foreign affairs. But it must not be supposed that they exercised little or no effect on the material condition of the country, or on the development of the national resources. These three questions were the wars with Yenta the Tartar, and with the Japanese, and the progress of events in Cochin China. Each of these topics occupied a most important place in the annals of the time, and they contributed to swell the tide of difficulty that was already accumulating round the Ming dynasty. It

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