Imatges de pàgina
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confidence in himself, and the Chinese people not less than the Manchu race had reason to congratulate themselves that Kanghi triumphed over his difficulties and succeeded in consolidating his authority. During the sixty-one years of his reign China made rapid strides towards the attainment of perfect material prosperity, and when he handed down his crown to his fourth son and successor, Yung Ching, he left an Empire of vast dimensions thoroughly reduced to a sense of obedience to the Government of Pekin, and prosperous by reason of the assurance of security for all classes, and for all kinds of property. The place of Kanghi among Chinese sovereigns is clearly defined. He ranks on almost equal terms with the two greatest of them all, Taitsong and his own grandson Keen Lung ; and it would be ungracious, if not impossible, to say in what respect he falls short of complete equality with either, so numerous and conspicuous were his talents and his virtues. His long friendship and high consideration for the Christian missionaries have no doubt contributed to bring his name and the events of his reign more prominently before Europe than has been the case with any other Chinese ruler, even in that of his grandson. But although this predilection for European practices may have had the effect of strengthening his claims to precede every other of his country's rulers, it can add but little to the impression produced on even the most cursory reader by the remarkable achievements in peace and war accomplished by this gifted Emperor. The right of these three Chinese rulers to appear in the same rank with the greatest sovereigns of antiquity or of modern times, of Europe or of Asia, cannot be disputed. They showed the same qualities that gain the admiration of mankind in the heroes of Greece and Rome; nor can those few rulers and conquerors to whom by the allowance of all civilized peoples the title of Great is due—Alexander and Caesar, Charlemagne and Alfred, Genghis and Timour, Akbar and Peter, Frederick and Napoleon—be placed in any way above them, whereas in the magnitude and utility of their deeds some of these fell very far short of any one of these Chinese Emperors. Kanghi's genius dominates one of the most critical periods

A NATIONAL SOVEREIGN.

645 in Chinese history, of which the narrative should form neither an uninteresting nor an uninstructive theme. Celebrated as the consolidator and completer of the Manchu conquest, Kanghi's virtue and moderation have gained him permanent fame as a wise, just, and beneficent national sovereign in the hearts of the Chinese people, who will ever cherish and revere his memory as that of a man who was among the best of their monarchs, at the same time that he represented one of the most favourable types of their character.

CHAPTER XLIII.
THE REIGN OF YUNG CHING.

IMMEDIATELY after Kanghi's death his fourth son, whom he had long designated as his heir, and in whom he fancied that he traced a strong resemblance to himself, was proclaimed Emperor under the style of Yung Ching. In the edict with which he announced to his subjects the death of his father, and his own accession to the throne, he said that on the advice of his ministers he had entered upon the discharge of his official duties without delay, and, without giving up precious time to the indulgence of a grief natural, so far as his personal feelings were concerned, but probably prejudicial to the public interests. Yung Ching was a man of mature age, and could, from the place he had enjoyed in the confidence of his predecessor, assume without any delay the responsibilities and duties of his lofty station. He declared that his main purpose would be to carry on the great administrative work in the same manner as Kanghi, and that he would tread as closely as he could in his footsteps. But while Yung Ching took these prompt steps to place himself upon the throne, and to exercise the attributes of supreme power, several of his brothers whom his elevation had displaced assumed an attitude of covert hostility towards his government, and their demeanour warned him that he would have to exhibit vigilance and energy if he desired to retain his authority. At the same time it appeared evident to the people that Kanghi had selected his worthiest son as his successor, and that China would have no reason to fear under Yung Ching the loss of any of the benefits conferred on the nation by his predecessor.

RIVAL PRINCES. 647

His fine presence, and frank, open manner secured for him the sympathy and applause of the public, and in a very short time he also gained their respect and admiration by his wisdom and justice. The principal and in every way the most formidable of his rivals was Kanghi's fourteenth son, who, at the time of his death, held the chief command in Central Asia against the Eleuths. This prince, and more especially his son, a youth of some sixteen summers, named Poki, had enjoyed a certain amount of popularity during Kanghi's lifetime, and some had even thought that he would have been chosen as that ruler's successor. But for reasons no doubt excellent Kanghi passed him over and selected Yung Ching instead. It is not clear that Yung Ching had any reason to believe that his younger brother meditated a revolt, but there is no doubt that he at once began to act towards him as if he were a concealed and dangerous enemy. Repeated messages were sent him, in the name of the deceased Emperor, to return without delay to the capital, and to resign the seals of his command to one of his lieutenants. At first some thought of disobeying the summons entered this prince's mind; but after more consideration he resolved to obey. On his arrival at Pekin he was placed in honourable confinement, which was changed to closer imprisonment at Chang Chun Yuen on the death a few months later of his mother, who, as Yung Ching's own mother too, had exerted her influence on the side of mercy. At this palace the prince and his son Poki remained during the whole of Yung Ching's reign, and they owed to the clemency of the next Emperor, Keen Lung, their release from the enforced seclusion of thirteen years. The reported ambitious schemes of Sessaka, another of Yung Ching's brothers, and the ninth of Kanghi's sons, also tended to disturb the tranquillity of the new ruler. Sessaka's want of ability justified a more lenient course of proceeding with him, and his case was considered to have been adequately met when he had been fined to the extent of the greater portion of his personal property; after this he was relegated to a small military command in the provinces. Nor were those who fell under the suspicion of the new sovereign confined to his near relations. Lessihin, the son of Prince Sourniama, and the representative of the elder branch of the Manchu family, had been publicly known as one of Sessaka's sympathisers, and he was accused of dilatoriness in his official capacity on the occasion of extorting from that personage the fine required by Yung Ching. Whether the accusation was just or not, Lessihin and his brother were involved in the disgrace of Sessaka, and banished to Sining on the Western frontier. There, either as the result of long secret conviction, or from some other motive that cannot now be traced, these fallen magnates adopted Christianity and were baptised. This conversion could do nothing but harm to their worldly prospects, and it also certainly had the effect of heightening the new Emperor's antipathy to the Christian religion and its representatives. Yung Ching had from the first regarded with an unfriendly eye this branch of the Manchu family, and their adoption of Christianity added further to his resentment. The importance of this indiscretion consisted in its providing him with a decent pretext to resort to extremities against all whom he had marked out as being ill-disposed towards his person. On the one hand the adoption of a foreign and heretical creed served as some proof of confirmed contumacy on the part of his relations; and on the other it gave a semblance of truth to the statement that the Christian priests meddled and took a side in the internal politics of the country. Yung Ching saw and seized his opportunity. His measures of repression against the recalcitrant party in his own family culminated in the summary exile of Sourniama, and all his descendants down to the fourth generation. It was in vain that Sourniama sought to establish his innocence, and to turn Yung Ching from the vindictive policy upon which he had resolved. In accordance with Manchu practice he sent three of his sons to the palace laden with chains to declare the fidelity of their father, but an audience was refused them ; and Sourniama was curtly informed that no course was open to him save to obey. Even in his place of exile the wrath of the Emperor pursued him, and, to satisfy the suspicious exactions of his sovereign, he and his were

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