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and political knowledge of the Tartars on the other, are some of the principal causes of the Manchu success that at once suggest themselves to the mind. But in no other case has a people, boldly resisting to the end, and cheered by occasional flashes of victory, been subjected, after more than a whole generation of war with a despised and truly insignificant enemy, in the durable form in which the Manchus trod the Chinese under their heel, and secured for themselves all the perquisites and honour accruing to the governing class in one of the richest and largest empires under the sun. The Chinese were made to feel all the bitterness of subjection by the imposition of a hated badge of servitude, and that they proved unable to succeed under this aggravation of circumstances greatly increases the wonder with which the Manchu conquest must ever be regarded.
THE MANCHU DYNASTY.
The Reign of Chuntclu.
WHILE these campaigns were in progress the youthful Emperor Chuntche, under the guidance of his prudent uncle, the Regent Ama Wang, was doing his best by wise and moderate conduct to attract to his person and administration the sympathy of his new subjects. And his efforts were not unavailing, for the Chinese were themselves anxious to secure and enjoy all the benefits that come in the train of a settled government . At first it seemed as if he was to attain a greater measure of success than his hopes could have conceived to be possible, for after the victories of Wou Sankwei and the collapse of the Nankin power most of the provinces gave in their adhesion to the new rule. It was then that orders were issued from l'ekin that the Manchu officers should show great moderation in their dealings with the people, and that all who surrendered should be allowed to retain their goods and liberty—instructions at variance with their national customs, and with many of the practices of eastern war.
The measures taken for the overthrow of the Prince of Kwei had to a great extent denuded the northern provinces of troops, and those operations were still uncrowned with success when there broke out in Shensi a revolt that threatened to further embarrass the Manchus, who now seemed to be masters only of the ground on which they stood. The Manchu troops left in that province by Wou Sankwei when he passed southward to annex Szchuen consisted principally, if not solely, of the garrison of Singan. Three thousand Tartars did not in the eyes of the inhabitants represent a force sufficient to inspire them with such fear of the Manchu power as to induce them to remain true in the allegiance they had sworn in deference to the name and ability of Wou Sankwei. They therefore threw off their new yoke, and, gathering confidence from their meeting with no resistance, swarmed like bees round Singan, where they expected to crush the only practical vestige of Tartar authority in the province. Appearances seemed to favour their hopes, for the Manchus were few in number, and the prospeqt of aid was remote. The insurgents counted on the co-operation of the inhabitants of the town in their efforts to expel the foreigner; but for some reason the citizens of Singan refused to repose much faith in the insurgents, and attached themselves instead to the cause of the Manchus. A corps of five thousand men was formed from their ranks; the assaults of the enemy were repulsed, and, with the arrival of fifty thousand fresh troops from the capital, the insurgents were obliged to hastily disband. The Manchus pursued them with bitterness to their hiding-places, and most of them perished by the sword.
The rising in Shensi, thus happily repressed, proved but the prelude to a graver insurrection in Shansi, where the Manchu authority had been early set up, and where it seemed to be securely established. In this instance the revolt was due to the perpetration of an outrage, and not to any outburst of national antipathy as had been the case in Shensi.
In 1649, Chuntche being then fourteen years of age, Ama Wang sent an embassy to the principal Khan of the Mongols for the purpose of procuring a wife for the young Emperor. Motives of policy were at the root of this decision, for the alliance of the Mongols was of the first importance to the Manchus. A prince of the ruling family was charged with the mission, and while the preliminary negotiations were in progress he took up his quarters at Taitong, which was still held by Chinese troops under a governor of their own race named Kiangtsai. The followers of the Manchu prince conducted themselves in the town with arrogance, and acted towards the inhabitants in utter disregard both of the laws of AN OUTRAGE. 565
humanity and of the pacific proclamations which their master had repeatedly issued. Their insults culminated in an outrage of a heinous and inexcusable character. A young girl, the daughter of one of the most influential citizens of Taitong, was being led through the streets in honour of her wedding-day, when several of the ambassador's comrades with their attendants interrupted the procession and carried off the bride. So daring and unheard-of an outrage in the light of day shocked the sedate and well-conducted Chinese, and a cry was at once raised that those guilty of the crime should be punished with all the rigour of the law.
Kiangtsai himself took the lead in pressing this demand upon the Manchu prince; but, unfortunately for Chuntche, his ambassador was himself a libertine, and made light of the offence of his boon-companions. Then it was that Kiangtsai resolved to exact a terrible revenge. The Chinese were summoned from all quarters to massacre the few Tartars in the place, and in a few hours not a Manchu survived save the ambassador himself, who only succeeded in escaping by a rapid flight and the swiftness of his horse.
Although this extreme act might have been condoned at Pekin in consequence of the provocation received, Kiangtsai did not after this massacre feel safe in adopting any other course than one of pronounced hostility to the Manchus, and the proximity of the scene to the capital showed him how necessary it was to take immediate steps to render his position as strong as circumstances would permit. Having slain, in defiance of the sacred laws of hospitality, those who were living under his protection, Kiangtsai saw no safe course except to declare irrevocable war against the Tartars. He expressed his defiance of the ruling power in the most emphatic terms, and many rallied to his faction in the hope that this boldness, to which they had grown unaccustomed, might meet with its deserved success. But Kiangtsai saw clearly that his own resources would not suffice to enable him to eope with the Manchus, and he naturally turned to his neighbours to ascertain which amongst them could best afford him the support he needed. Of these the Mongols were by far the most powerful, and to their principal Khan he sent a messenger praying for assistance to oppose the arms of Chuntche, and to restore to China the native rule she had lost.
The Mongols had given in their adhesion to the authority of the Manchus long before the latter had placed an emperor on the throne of Pekin, and we have just seen how anxious Chuntche's advisers were to rivet that alliance by the marriage of their boy ruler with a princess of the desert The tragic occurrence at Taitong had interrupted the progress of the embassy, and left the road clear for Kiangtsai to make his own propositions in the camp of the Mongols. The overtures of the Chinese rebel were received with favour, and the Mongol chieftain gave a promise of help against his late ally, whose success may have aroused his jealousy, while he was still ignorant of the friendly wishes of Ama Wang. In face of so grave a peril as the alliance of Kiangtsai and the Mongol tribes, the activity of the Regent was conspicuous. While he was collecting a large army with which to chastise the insolence of the rebel, he despatched an ambassador with a large suite and a magnificent display of presents to the Mongol camp to repeat the friendly proposal of the former envoy. The Mongol gave but slight heed to his plighted word when he scanned the jewels and rich silks of the Emperor, and at once acceded to the request of the Regent. The good understanding between these allies was restored, and the Mongols remained strictly neutral during the progress and suppression of the rising at Taitong.
Meanwhile Kiangtsai had been called upon to bear the first shock of the Manchu attack, and the unexpectedness of his success in the field seemed to warrant a belief that his power was greater than it appeared. Before the first Manchu levies marched against him he had assumed the title of Prince of Han, a name more dear than any other to the Chinese, and had given out that he aspired to be the restorer of the Empire. His conduct in the field soon showed that he possessed many of the qualities necessary to establish his right to the proud name and functions he had assumed.
The Manchus were fully impregnated with the doctrine of striking hard and quick; and a strong detachment was