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conquest, and seen how to carry it out, had crowned the glory and durability of his achievements by showing that he knew when and where to stop. In the boundless wastes and intricate passages of the Pamir, in the dizzy heights and impracticable passes of the Hindoo Koosh, and the Kara Tau, he had found the perfection of a frontier. His own immediate territory, the rich provinces of China, were rendered secure against aggression by the strong position he occupied on either side of the Tian Shan, in the remote Central Asian province three thousand miles distant from his capital. His policy had been vindicated by results. He could say that he had effected a complete and lasting remedy of an evil that up to his time had been dealt with for many centuries only by half-measures and by compromise.
CHAPTER XLVI. THE WARS WITH THE BURMESE AND THE MIAOTZE.
KEEN LUNG's anxieties on the ground of his foreign relations were far from being confined to one quarter. The frontier of Yunnan was as much the scene of disturbance as the borders of Kansuh. The Shan and Karen tribes were by instinct not less addicted to predatory habits than the Mongols and the Eleuths, and behind the former stood the arrogant though feeble courts of Ava and Pegu anxious on occasion to make use of the military services of these clans. The weakness of the Chinese Emperor and the numerous other claims on his attention had long made it a point of policy with him to disregard the unsatisfactory condition of the Yunnan frontier, for the simple reason that his Government had neither the leisure nor the available resources to devote to its effectual and permanent pacification. Successive rulers had been content to leave the problem unsolved as one of the accidents of government, and trusted to the weakness of their neighbours that no serious consequences would ensue. So long as Pegu and Ava remained disunited and antipathetic to each other no cloud of danger threatened the peace of mind of the Viceroy of Yunnan. The corruption of the courts and the effeteness of the dynasties of those two kingdoms corresponded with the decrepitude to which their military power had been
reduced by a long period of misrule. The commencement of the eighteenth century found such pretensions as Pegu and Ava possessed to the authority of kingdoms vanishing beneath the incompetence of the ruler and his advisers. From such neighbours China, even at its worst days, had nought to fear.
In the hour of their distress the peoples of Burmah, however, found a champion and reliever in the person of one of those men sent by Providence to scourge and purify a profligate society. Alompra sprang from the people. He belonged to the hunter class which, among a race averse to danger, had been relegated to a position of undeserved contumely and inferiority. He overthrew the Talaing kings of Pegu who had established their supremacy in Ava, and when he had freed his native state he proceeded to expel his foes from their own kingdom. He extended his Empire from the Bay of Bengal to the frontier of China. The tributary kingdom of Assam recognized his might, and the terror of his name penetrated to the Gangetic Delta. Alompra imparted an unknown vigour into a decaying system, and left to his children an authority in the Irrawaddi region which could claim the obedience of its subjects and for a brief space also the respect of its neighbours.
Alompra's successors, surrounded by courtiers who flourished by extolling the virtues and power of their master, allowed themselves to be easily deluded into the belief that they had nothing to fear from the utmost power of China, even if a policy of irritation should result in provoking the wrath of their great but impassive neighbour. The exact details of the origin of the war that broke out have not been preserved, but there is little doubt that it arose from border disturbances which the Burmese authorities neglected to do their part in suppressing. The arrogance of the Court of Ava had been swelled to a higher point than ever by the military successes of Alompra, and when the pretensions of the two haughtiest courts of Asia clashed it was inevitable that a hostile collision should ensue. The greater power possessed by Keen Lung, and the more complete results from the work of administration which he demanded within his frontiers, also contributed to produce a grave complication on the Yunnan border. The successful campaigns in Central Asia had not long closed when Keen Lung gave orders to increase the garrisons in the south-west provinces, and to make general preparations in that quarter in the event of the outbreak of hostilities.
It was not until the year 1768, when Alompra's grandson Sembuen occupied the throne, that the Chinese troops began the invasion of Burmah, which had been imminent for several years. Keen Lung entrusted the conduct of this war to a favoured officer, the Count Alikouen, whose experience in the field had, however, been so slight that many raised a cry that Fouta should be recalled from his enforced retreat and placed in the principal command.* But the Emperor was fixed in his resolve, and it was under Count Alikouen that his troops marched for the invasion of Burmah. The Chinese advanced guard, computed to consist of some 50,000 men, crossed the frontier and took up a strong position between Momien and Bhamo. The Burmese troops advanced in greater force to expel it from the camp, which the Chinese commander had fortified. The result of this action is not known, but both sides claim it as a great victory. The approach of the main
* The valiant Fouta after the close of the campaigns in Central Asia returned to Pekin, where, however, he failed to sustain as a courtier the reputation he had gained as a soldier. Fouta was a member of the Solon tribe, and his appearance has been painted in the following words, which serve to bring the bluff character of the plain simple-minded soldier before us:-“ Fouta had been brought up in Tartary among his compatriots, the Solon Manchus, and like them he had passed his youth in inuring himself to the fatigues of the chase and to military exercises. He had not contracted that easy air and that suppleness to be acquired only at a court, where he always appeared embarrassed. Frank and incapable of disguising his thoughts, and even slightly rough, he would have chosen to have been rather the last of soldiers than the first of courtiers. The tents, a camp, soldiers, those were what he needed, and then nothing was impossible to him. To support the greatest hardships, and rudest fatigue ; to endure the extremes of thirst and hunger ; to march by night or by day across arid deserts, or marshy places; to fight, so to speak, at each step as much against the elements as against man,-these are what he was seen to perform during the course of a war which had added to the number of the provinces of the Empire the vast possessions of the Eleuth. The Emperor had said on one occasion to an envoy boasting of his master's artillery, 'Let him make use of these cannon, and I shall send Fouta against him. His end did not correspond with the promise of his brilliant prime. Accused by an official of having appropriated some Government horses for his own use, he was recalled to Pekin, where he was sentenced to death. This was commuted to the deprivation of all his ranks and titles and to a state of permanent confinement. Keen Lung refused to pardon Fouta with a persistence strangely disproportionate to the trivial offence."
THE BURMAH WAR. 693
Chinese army compelled the Burmese to retire, and the scene of war was shifted from the Chinese frontier to the valley of the Irrawaddi. The Chinese commander, Count Alikouen, established a strongly fortified camp at Bhamo, where he left a considerable detachment, while with the greater portion of his army, said to number more than 200,000 men," he marched on Ava. So far as numbers went the superiority still rested with the Burmese king, whose military position was further improved by his well-trained band of elephants and by the natural difficulties of the region of operations. Yet notwithstanding these obstacles, and that Alikouen did not evince any exceptional capacity in the field, the Chinese remained masters of the greater portion of the upper districts of Burmah during the space of three years. Although no decisive engagement appears to have been fought, the Burmese were obliged, after this protracted occupation, to sue for peace on humiliating terms. The King of Ava was so irritated at the poltroonery of his general, in having concluded an ignominious but probably inevitable treaty, that he sent him a woman's dress. But he did not dare to repudiate the action of his officer; and the Chinese army was withdrawn only after having obtained the amplest reparation for the wrong originally inflicted on a Chinese subject, and a formal recognition on the part of the ruler of Ava of the supremacy and suzerainty of the Emperor of China. This campaign resulted, therefore, in the addition of Burmah to the long list of Asiatic kingdoms paying tribute to Pekin. The war with Burmah was followed by a more protracted contest with the Miaotze tribes, who, secure in their difficult mountain regions, had long bidden defiance to the Chinese authorities, and proved a source of constant trouble and danger to the settled inhabitants of the provinces of Kweichow and Szchuen. When the Emperor Keen Lung ascended the throne these people had just inflicted a severe reverse
* This number was probably greatly exaggerated by the vanity of the Burmese, who also claim most of the encounters as victories. The terms of peace clearly show how far these pretensions are justified by the facts.