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exacted a summary revenge on those who had insulted them. After this open defiance of Wanleh's authority, they established their head-quarters at the important and favourably situated town of Ninghia, the capital of a prefecture, and one of the chief cities in Western China at this period. Nor did Popai's success stop with these achievements, for he captured, one after another, all the strong places on the upper course of the Hoangho. This bad news carried dismay to the Chinese Court, which at once ordered the despatch of a large force to Shensi to attack these audacious rebels. Before it reached the scene of action many reverses had been sustained and much suffering had been inflicted on the people. On the arrival of the Chinese troops, however, Popai no longer felt able to keep the open field. He shut himself up in Ninghia, resolved to hold the place to the last.
The Chinese concentrated as much determination upon the capture of Ninghia as Popai did upon its defence. Round its walls were soon collected all the available forces of the Emperor in the North-West; but Popai did not lose heart at the sight of the superior numbers of his foe, although he could find no prospect of succour from without. The siege was prosecuted with both vigour and audacity. Several assaults were delivered, and at one time the Chinese had gained a footing on the rampart . But the besieged showed equal courage, and these desperate attempts to carry the place by storm were all repulsed with great slaughter. The Chinese troops continued to blockade it, and their commander, Li Jusong, foiled in his endeavour to capture the place by the sword, turned his hopes and energies in the direction of engineering science for the accomplishment of his purpose. In this design he fared better, for by means of a trench or dyke he diverted the waters of the Hoangho against the wall of the town. All the efforts of Popai and his lieutenants to prevent the completion of this work were baffled, and the waters were rolled against the fortifications. The Chinese thereupon promptly delivered their attack, and overcame all resistance. Popai threw himself into the flames of his residence; but his body was rescued from the fire, and a soldier cut off the head and took it to Li Jusong. This siege had FASHIBA. 483
entailed the loss of many brave lives to the Emperor, but when it closed it left the insurgents completely crushed. The rebellion, which had assumed such formidable proportions under the leading of Popai, thus happily terminated.
This episode in the fortunes of government had hardly closed when a more interesting and a more important complication distracted the attention of the Emperor and his advisers to the opposite quarter of the state. Beyond the sea the Japanese had reached a point of some material prosperity and considerable national greatness; and their growing activity had found a relief in adventures against the Chinese mainland, which have already been mentioned. Wanleh had not been long upon the throne when the career commenced of probably the greatest ruler and conqueror whom Japan has known. He appeared at a moment when the Japanese were in the fit mood to turn a sympathetic ear to any proposal of adventure against either China or any of its dependencies; and his fame is principally associated with the exploits which he performed when he identified himself with this great national aspiration.
Fashiba owed little to fortune. From the condition of
slave to an individual of no high rank he raised himself by
his own assiduity and resolution to be the despotic ruler of
a brave and intelligent people. The story goes that he first
attracted the attention of a Japanese daimio, whom the
Chinese named Sinchang, by his neglect to pay the obeisance
due to his rank. The daimio was on the point of inflicting
summary punishment for the slight offered to his person,
when Fashiba pleaded his case with so much eloquence that
the daimio's attention was soon obtained and his favour won.
Fashiba then entered his service, and showed such excellent
real and discretion in advancing his interests that in a short
time he made his chief the most powerful among the lords of
Japan. One success led to another, and Fashiba did not rest
content until Sinchang had become, by his aid, the virtual
sovereign of the country. It was not until after the death of
this master and benefactor that Fashiba came forward in
person as the arbiter of the nation's destiny; and then.
whether instigated by a desire to divert public attention from his own doings in the excitement of a foreign war, or impelled by his natural ambition, he resolved to prosecute an enterprise which would have the effect of extending both the influence and the power of his country, still young as an independent kingdom among the states of Eastern Asia.
It was in the year 1592 that Fashiba availed himself of the disorder prevailing in Corea from the weakness and incapacity of its king, Lipan, to begin his schemes of foreign conquest by seizing the important harbour of Fushan, which was the most conveniently situated landing-place for troops coming from the Japanese archipelago. Fushan offered no resistance, and the hold which the Japanese then obtained on it has never since been completely relaxed. Having thus secured a gateway into this kingdom, Fashiba poured troops through it with the object of overrunning the country, and of adding it to his dominions. The Japanese continued their advance opposed, but not retarded, by the rude forces of the Corean king, and the capital itself surrendered without a blow. The Japanese are said to have behaved with great brutality; all who attempted opposition were put to the sword, and the ancient burial-place of the Corean kings was desecrated. Lipan fled before the invaders to China, where he implored the assistance of the Ming Emperor to drive out this fierce people, who might fairly be regarded as a common foe.
There was no hesitation at the Chinese Court in arriving at the decision that this unprovoked act of aggression on the part of the Japanese must be resisted at all costs. It acquired double force from the remembrance of unpunished descents on the Chinese mainland, and it needed only common sense to perceive that the presence of a numerous and fairly disciplined army in Corea constituted a standing peril of the most serious character to the peace of mind and security of the Emperor at Pekia An army was, therefore, at once assembled in compliance with the request of Lipan, and sent through Leaoutung to encounter the Japanese.
Flushed with its easy success, the Japanese army marched rapidly northwards, and, undeterred by the report that the Chinese Emperor had resolved to support the cause of Lipan A JAPANESE VICTORY. 485
with all his power, it reached the town of Pingyang, which opened its gates without any attempt on the part of its garrison to stand a siege. By this time the first detachments of the Chinese army had entered Corea, and were marching towards Pingyangi from the north. The Japanese went out to meet them, and a general action soon commenced. In this encounter the Japanese were victorious, but it does not appear that the loss of the Chinese was more than nominal. The latter attributed the reverse to the impetuosity of one of their commanders, who crossed a river in his front without support. The Japanese at once fell upon his brigade when it was separated from the main body, and they declared that they almost exterminated it .
This victory only served to show more clearly the serious character of this Japanese invasion, and to nerve the Pekin Government to make greater sacrifices. A lull ensued in the campaign; for, while the Chinese were hurrying up more troops, the Japanese, cither from the deficiency of supplies, or in the hope of obtaining reinforcements from Fushan, retreated for a short distance. For one moment the peace party at Pekin, which was led by Chesin, the President of the Tribunal for War, obtained the upper hand, and the despatch of the large reinforcements demanded by the general commanding in Corea, and required by the occasion, was deferred. An attempt to carry on secret negotiations, and to arrange the terms of an amicable settlement of the quarrel by means of an emissary who had volunteered for the work, failed to attain its object, or only had the effect of revealing the exorbitant nature of the Japanese pretensions.
Then the despatch of fresh troops was no longer delayed, and the army which had distinguished itself at the siege of Ninghia, and against the rebel Popai, was ordered to march against the Japanese. The charge of the war was entrusted to Li Jusong, the same general who had pacified the NorthWest; and Wanleh's commander, advancing by way of Kaichow, crossed the Yaloo river, which the Japanese had demanded as a frontier. The Japanese army was commanded by a general named Hingchang, under the immediate orders of the King Fashiba in person. Hitherto the Japanese had always been prompt to act on the offensive; but now, in face of a force so superior to their own, they felt compelled to stand on their defence. Li Jusong was not the man to waste time in unnecessary delays when the task entrusted to him was one of such vital importance, and immediately after his arrival he began his attack on Pingyang. The Japanese fought well, and repulsed the first onset of their opponents. By a feint, however, the Chinese commander attracted the attention of the defenders of Pingyang to one portion of the wall, while he delivered his main attack on the opposite quarter. The Japanese continued to make a brave defence, but availed themselves of the coming on of night to evacuate the town, and to withdraw across the Datong river. The Chinese pursued them for a short distance, but the Japanese made good their retreat without serious loss.
The remainder of this campaign was occupied in desultory fighting, the result of which was generally favourable to the Chinese. In one skirmish, however, the successes of the war were nearly all lost by the narrow escape of Li Jusong from capture. He only succeeded in extricating himself from his perilous position by the prodigies of valour performed by himself and his chosen body-guard. Shortly after this affajr the Chinese army was withdrawn from the neighbourhood of the capital to which it had advanced, and took up its quarters at Kaiching, where it awaited the arrival of further reinforcements and the abatement of the floods, which had rendered the low-lying country impassable for troops.
The following campaign commenced with a brilliant achievement, of which all the credit was due to Li Jusong. The Japanese had collected vast stores of grain and other necessaries in a small town near the capital, and Li Jusong succeeded in surprising the place, and in burning all the stores on which the Japanese commanders mainly depended for the support of their troops. This great disaster necessitated their withdrawal from Hangchang or Seoul, which the Chinese immediately occupied; but the Japanese still showed a bold front, and Li Jusong did not consider it prudent to attack them. They continued their retreat unmolested to