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PETER THE GREAT. 637
the prostration ceremony, and the comparative insignificance of the second,* have resulted in Peter's Embassy standing out in greater prominence than either of those that preceded it. It was in the year 1719 that Peter's Embassy entered China. It consisted of the Ambassador M. Ismaloff, his secretary M. de Lange.t the English traveller Mr. Bell, and a considerable suite. The Chinese Government, acting on the emphatic commands of the Emperor himself, consented to accord this embassy an honourable reception. A house was set apart for the use of the members, who lived as the guests of the Emperor. On the other hand, much of the innate suspicion and dislike of the officials were evinced in small matters, most probably beyond the personal knowledge of Kanghi ; and among these may be mentioned the circumstance that they were sealed up in their house, in order to prevent their going out to examine the town. M. Ismaloff" protested against the indignity, and it was forthwith discontinued ; but it is possible that there was more justice than is allowed in the Chinese plea that they did this in order to ensure the safety of their guests. An equal compliance—after many difficulties and objections had been raised and withdrawn—with the scruples of the Westerns was shown in the all-important matter of the prostration ceremony; but Kanghi's personal interference in a controversy which the rigidity of his ministers promised to make an insuperable barrier to the reception of the embassy alone smoothed over the difficulty. The envoy of the Czar found no further reason to refuse to pay the kotow to the Chinese throne when one of Kanghi's first ministers by his order offered for him the same token of respect to Peter's letter.
Upon this Ismaloff was received in audience by Kanghi, and presented the letter*, and presents sent by the Czar Peter.
• This was in 1692. The name of the envoy was Ides, but little or nothing is known of the details.
t We owe to the journal of M. de Lange, translated by Mr. Bell, a graphic and complete picture of the fortunes of this mission and of the condition of Pekin at this period.
t Peter's letter was as follows:—" To the Emperor of the vast countries of Asia, to the sovereign Monarch of Bogdo, to the supreme Majesty of Khitay, friendship and greeting. With the design which 1 By the general testimony of all who witnessed the scene it was allowed that never had a Chinese sovereign conferred greater honour on the envoys of a foreign state than Kanghi did on this occasion to the representatives of Russia. After a short residence IsmalofT returned home, but before his departure he succeeded in inducing the Emperor to consent to his leaving the secretary De Lange at Pekin, as a sort of diplomatic agent for the Czar. This concession was the last gained from the large mind and broad views of the great Emperor in favour of any European people, for after this act the prejudices and jealousy of the official classes secured and maintained the upper hand at his council-board.
IsmalofT, consequently, brought back to his master a flattering tale of the success of his visit to the great Khan of China, and Peter, encouraged in his expectation of securing the profit of the rich trade with the wealthiest country of the East, fitted out a large caravan to tap the fertile regions of Northern China, and to open up a land route to Pekin. The caravan duly reached its destination in the year 1721, but it found the position of affairs in the Chinese capital very different from what IsmalofFs glowing report had led the Czar and his Court to believe and expect. The secretary, De Lange, was little more than a prisoner, the ministers refused to have anything to do with commercial matters, and Kanghi, the only person at all well-disposed towards the foreigner, lay upon a bed of sickness. Soon after the arrival of this the first and last caravan sent by Peter the Great, De Lange received a curt request to take his departure, and for the future it was announced that such trade intercourse as might be carried on between the two countries should be restricted to "the
possess of holding and increasing the friendship and close relations long established between your Majesty and my predecessors and myself, I have thought it right to send to your court, in the capacity of ambassadorextraordinary, Leon Ismaloff, captain in my Guards. I beg you will receive him in a manner suitable to the character in which he comes, to have regard and to attach as much faith to what he may say on the subject of our mutual affairs as if I were speaking to you myself, and also to permit his residing at your Court of Pekin until I recall him. Allow mc to sign myself your Majesty's good friend, Peter." This note was written in Russian, Latin, and Mongol.
A FINE CHARACTER. 639
frontiers." The successive deaths of Kanghi and Peter left no opportunity of retrieving the ground thus lost, and the question of some definite arrangement either for trade or diplomatic purposes had to be left over for a future period.
It is only needful now, in drawing to a close our description of this long and eventful reign, to say a few words on the subject of the personal character of the prince of whose career not the least notable incident was that it witnessed the consolidation of the remarkable Manchu conquest . We have seen Kanghi as he appears from the public acts and magnificent exploits of his reign. They show him wise, courageous, magnanimous, and sagacious as the sovereign of a vast Empire and of a multitudinous people. His private life, and those minor traits which so often reveal the true man better than his set conduct on the platform of public life, confirm the view impressed upon us by the record of his reign. The character of few rulers will bear the same searching investigation as his will. In the smallest affairs he seems to have been truly great, and his virtue was conspicuous in all he undertook.
Although so much occupied by the troubles beyond his borders, Kanghi's main object had ever been to secure for his subjects internal tranquillity and all the benefits of peace and of an impartial dispensation of justice. Whether residing in the Imperial Palace at Pekin, or in his summer retreat at Chang Chun Yuen, " the park of eternal spring," Kanghi was always careful to avoid indulging in any useless or excessive extravagance. The same sound sense which he showed in refusing to assume a fresh title of honour, when requested to do so by his courtiers on the occasion of the overthrow of Galdan, was evinced in many other ways too numerous to be related Among the principal of these instances of royal thoughtfulness it may be mentioned that he gave up one of his favourite pursuits, that of making tours or progresses through his dominions, from consideration of the wants of his people. When it came to his cars that his subjects were heavily taxed and obliged to give up their ordinary avocations for a time in order that the necessary preparations should be made for his visit, he at once gave orders that these exceptional steps were to be discontinued. He provided a still more effectual remedy by abstaining from a practice which had become almost a habit with him, and which had proved productive of both amusement and instruction. Another similar but less costly practice with Kanghi was to make a tour without attendants through the streets of Pekin. This remarkable condescension on the part of a Chinese monarch was shown for the second time during this reign, in recognition of the people's loyalty and affection, in the year 1709.
Kanghi was celebrated from his youth as an intrepid horseman and hunter. It was his favourite relaxation to pass the hotter months of summer in hunting expeditions in Tartary, that is to say in the country beyond the Wall. None among his companions excelled him as a skilful rider and archer, and with him the ardour of the sportsman was one of the keenest sentiments. Even at Pekin he could not give up his chosen pastime, and he filled the neighbouring park of Haidsu with game and savage animals, in order that he might not have to forego his accustomed exercise. Here, in the sixty-ninth year of his age and the last of his reign, Kanghi went out to chase the tiger, to the astonishment, if not the admiration also, of his subjects. The case of this Chinese Emperor may be taken as furnishing another proof that the love and practice of manly exercises do not detract from the vigour of the arm in war, or from the clearness of the head in council.
Kanghi's interest in promoting literary pursuits and education was not less conspicuous than that he showed in the pursuit of the exhilarating sports of his race. One of the first objects to which he devoted himself was to procure a complete and trustworthy map both of the provinces and also of the dependent territories over which he reigned. With that end in view he sent the foreign missionaries on special missions of exploration into all the quarters of the Empire. By their agency he succeeded in acquiring a closer and more intimate acquaintance with the features and climatic conditions of the eighteen provinces of China than had been possessed by any of his predecessors. While one part}KANGHI'S MEMOIRS. 641
followed the course of the Great Wall throughout its entire extent from east to west, another explored the recesses of Leaoutung, and marked out the frontier of Corea, and a third proceeded to the borders of Tibet, and laid down on the chart the approaches to a country which was gradually but surely being drawn into closer and more intimate connection with Pekin.
The Hanlin College came in for a large share of favour during this reign, and the name of Kanghi occupies a prominent place in the annals of that great national institution. The Emperor was himself a man of letters of no mean proficiency and skill, and his collected works filled one hundred volumes. Among the offspring of his imagination were pieces of poetry and fugitive essays, as well as more serious memoirs on public affairs, the history of his country, and the work of administration. But of all his literary labours none has achieved a higher or more durable fame than his sixteen maxims on the art of governing states. Each of these maxims contained no more and no less than seven characters, but they were subsequently amplified and annotated by his son and successor, the Emperor Yung Ching. Another work in which Kanghi's hand may be traced, but which was actually performed by a commission of Hanlin doctors, may be mentioned in the celebrated Imperial dictionary, which represents an imperishable monument to the greatness of Kanghi. Many other literary achievements were accomplished during this reign, and among these were translations into Manchu, for the use of the conquerors, of the principal Chinese classics. All Kanghi's writings were marked by a high code of morality, as well as by the lofty ideas of a large-minded statesman.
Kanghi could not escape the shafts of the envious, and several gossiping travellers * have endeavoured to spread reports to the disparagement of this prince. An excessive vanity and avarice have been imputed to him, but the whole tenor of his life disproves the former statement, and whatever foundation in fact the latter may have had he never carried it to any greater length than mere prudence and • Laurcati and Lc G«nlil. VOL. I. 3 T