Imatges de pàgina


did not await, or at once succumbed to the storm. Davatsi's followers seized and occupied Hi, and Amursana fled to bear the tale of his grievances to the Emperor of China—a circumstance which will be found pregnant with important consequences.

The first decade of Keen Lung's reign had, therefore, little more than closed when the course of events began to make it clear that the affairs of these neighbouring peoples would attract much of the Emperor's attention. Before considering the reasons which induced Keen Lung to take up arms in support of Amursana, we may briefly consider the remaining events of this tranquil season which preceded the long period of war carried on by Keen Lung in Central Asia. The severe measures to which the Emperor at last had recourse against the Christians continued during the whole of this period. In the year 1750 these acts of repression had been extended into parts of China which had enjoyed a happy immunity from polemical warfare. The country round Nankin became the scene of persecutions, not less energetically carried out than those in the province of Fuhkien. These persecutions served the one useful purpose of inducing the missionaries to tell us of some of the inflictions that visited the country during these years. They failed to see, or neglected to record, events of national and historical importance passing under their very eyes; but when it became a question of retribution for wrongs inflicted on themselves they hastened to describe some of the events that made up the history of the country.

From their remarks it appears that, in the year 1751, Keen Lung had the misfortune to lose not only his eldest son, but also the Empress herself, while several of the provinces were ravaged by a terrible famine. The ministers whose advice had contributed to increase his dislike for the Christians happened to fall under his suspicion for different crimes, and were punished with severity—a coincidence which seemed in the eyes of a religious enthusiast to mark the vengeance of Heaven. These punishments may be taken with less stretch of the imagination as showing that the difficulties of conducting the State administration in the Chinese Empire included the management of a powerful and almost irresponsible official class.

To the other difficulties of his position there were added for Keen Lung a physical weakness and a susceptibility to bodily ailments that detracted, during the first few years of his reign, from his capacity to meet all the duties of his position; and more than their usual share of power consequently fell into the hands of the great administering tribunals of the State. Probably the disgrace of the officials referred to must be attributed to this cause; but when Keen Lung resolutely devoted himself to the task of supervising the acts of the official world they became less perceptible, if they did not cease to exist, and gradually the provincial governors and administrators found it to be their best and wisest course to obey and faithfully execute the behests of the sovereign. For a short time Keen Lung seemed likely to prove more indifferent to the duties of his rank than either of his predecessors; but after a few years' practice he hastened to devote himself to his work with an energy which neither Kanghi nor Yung Ching had surpassed.

An interesting and imposing ceremony marked the commencement of the year 1752 on the occasion of the Emperor's mother attaining her sixtieth year. The capital was given over to the due performance of the accompanying fetes, which were celebrated with much magnificence. The Emperor and his Court proceeded through the streets of Pekin, escorting the Empress-mother in state; but according to our ideas half the effect was destroyed by the people being compelled to remain in their houses, with closed doors and barred windows. The masses were, however, allowed to share in the Imperial rejoicings, and benefactions were placed at the disposal of the poor and the aged. Even the European residents were permitted to offer their presents, and we fancy we can trace to this time some relaxation in the regulations made with regard to their position.

Among Keen Lung's favourite pursuits was that of witnessing the painters Castiglione and Attiret engaged in their labours within the palace. But we are told that the Imperial wish in regard to such alterations or changes as he might LAND OF VICISSITUDES. 669

suggest in their work was equivalent to a command. It is to this period that must be assigned the various portraits we possess of the principal and earlier Manchus. Keen Lung seems to have greatly appreciated an art that served to bring events as well as persons prominently and clearly before him; and to the sense of gratification produced by this cause must be mainly attributed the more favourable opinion formed of the European missionaries by the Emperor during these last few years. As one of them wrote, China, indeed, was for them "the land of vicissitudes."

Much of Keen Lung's time was passed in his summer residence at Jchol, a small town beyond the Wall, where he was able to enjoy the quiet of the country, and the purer and more invigorating breezes of his native land. Here he varied the monotony of rural pursuits with grand ceremonies, of which he ordered a missionary selected for that purpose to draw him a picture, and although his instructions left little scope to the artist's genius or imagination, he passed no harsh criticism on his works, and generally sent him word that it was "very welL" At last he was induced to sit for his own portrait, and so pleased was he with the result that he wished to make the painter Attiret a mandarin. The worthy missionary experienced much difficulty in escaping an elevation which he appears to have regarded with almost superstitious objection.

In order to gain some increased freedom in the practice of their religion, the French missionaries devoted all their ingenuity to the amusement as well as to the edification of Keen Lung. The automatons they invented and constructed, which were moved principally by clockwork, served to while away his hours of leisure, and their conversation enabled him to form a fairly accurate and complete idea of the kingdoms of Europe. To this period must be traced the conviction always existing in Keen Lung's mind that France was the great country of the West . The variety of Keen Lung's tastes kept all the foreigners employed at their different pursuits, and he seems to have taken peculiar pleasure in studying their practice of arts, which he admired and appreciated.

- From these peaceful pursuits, and this tranquil palace life, we have now to pass to the more stirring and exciting events that were in progress on the scene of foreign affairs, which occupied the greater part of Keen Lung's reign, and which have given it the prominent place that it can rightly claim in history. Throughout his life we find him equally determined to carry his ends, and to exact from all his officials the fullest amount of work of which they were capable. What he had shown himself to be in the smaller details, he was evidently resolved to prove in the larger affairs of government. He regarded the events in his neighbours' territories from the sublimity of the position of a Chinese Emperor, or, as he loved to call himself, of the Son of Heaven; and he expected all minor potentates to bow before him, and to resign themselves to his will. Such were the principles of his conduct; the result will show how well he could carry them into practice.

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THE arrival of the fugitive prince Amursana at the Chinese Court called Keen Lung's attention to a very old question, which had been a source of trouble at an early period of Chinese history, and which has only been settled in our own time with any appearance of duration. This question was what relations should subsist between the Chinese and the disunited but turbulent tribes holding all the region westward of Shensi and Kansuh. In the eyes of these clans the wealth and weakness of China had for ages been at once the prize and the incentive of ambition. The Chinese were in the majority of years the victims and easy prey of these races, who were kept in order neither by the solemnity of their engagements nor by any political expedient that had up to this been devised. These tribes had on some occasions been welded into a military confederacy of no slight power, when the danger with which they threatened the Chinese and their Empire became proportionally increased; and in the cases of the Kins and the Mongols their efforts had resulted in giving foreign dynasties to China. The Manchus, least of all rulers of the Celestial kingdom, were not disposed to regard with indifference the measures and movements of these warlike clans, for their own success warned them that the example they had set must find imitators, whose fate would depend on their own supineness or energy. The growth of Galdan's power had for that reason been watched with attention by the Emperor Kanghi, and when it threatened to absorb the faithful Khalkas all the resources of the Empire

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