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HEAVEN AND THE PEOPLE. 7
never hesitated to adopt it for themselves. When Chun died, in the year B.C. 2208, Yu, after some hesitation, allowed himself to be proclaimed Emperor. His reign was brief, as he ruled alone for no more than seven years. It may be stated that one of the last of his public acts was to denounce the inventor of an intoxicating drink extracted from rice as an enemy to the state. With prophetic sight he exclaimed on tasting it, "Ah, how many evils this drink will, I foresee, cause China! Let the man who invented it be exiled beyond our frontier, and let him never be permitted to return." With Yu's death this prosperous period reached its close.
It is impossible to pass on from this period without quoting the following remarkable passage from the "Choukin" (the Chinese history, translated by Gaubil), which gives an instructive lesson in the art of governing as taught in China in these early ages. "What Heaven hears and sees manifest themselves by the things which the people see and hear. What the people judge worthy of reward and what of punishment, indicate what Heaven wishes to punish and to reward. There is an intimate communication between Heaven and the people; let those who govern the people be watchful and cautious!" To this the comparatively modern Voxpopuli, vox Dei adds nothing.
Up to this point the Empire had gone to its worthiest servant without distinction of birth, and Yu, on his deathbed, left the succession to the President of the Council, who had been associated with himself in the task of government. But the times were changing. Whether it sprang from a feeling of gratitude to a public benefactor, or whether the sons resented losing the prize which the ability of their sires had secured, is not ascertained; but the fact is clear that on the death of Yu there was a decided revulsion in popular sentiment in favour of his son Tiki. Both the causes mentioned probably operated to produce this result, and the custom of selecting the ablest and most experienced minister was displaced by the son's right to hereditary succession. So it happened that Tiki, the son of Yu, was the founder of the first Chinese dynasty, known in history as the Hia dynasty, from the name of the province over which Yu had first been placed. There were in all seventeen Emperors of the Hia dynasty, and their rule continued down to the year B.C. 1776. It is unnecessary to dwell on the events of these four centuries. The descendants of Yu, who owed their reputation to his splendid achievements, became, in the course of time, tyrants and seekers of pleasure. Their palaces were the scenes of debaucheries carried out on a scale equalling those of either Nero or Vitellius. They themselves became the object of the hatred, instead of the love, of their subjects. The great feudatories and the public officers combined against Kia, the last of the Emperors of this family, and at their head they placed Ching Tang, the prince of Chang.
This chief was the founder of the second dynasty, called after the name of his principality the Chang. Twenty-eight Emperors of this House succeeded one another, and it remained in possession of the Imperial throne until the year B.C. 1122. Chang Tang was worthy of being the founder of a dynasty. In his wars with the Hias, whom he expelled from the kingdom, he showed not less skill than moderation ; and his subsequent conduct amply justified the choice which had made him the leader of the popular movement. His reign was marked by a great dearth, which either his prayers or his measures at length removed, and, curiously enough, this was coincident with the famine in Egypt in the days of Pharaoh and Joseph. He appears to have had, like our Cromwell, many doubts and qualms of conscience as to whether he had acted as became a good and wise prince as well as a dutiful subject in deposing the Hias, and declared that it was "in spite of himself that he had taken up arms to deliver the Empire from the tyranny of Kia."
He had the personal satisfaction of leaving to his grandson, Taikia, the possessions which he had wrested from the Hias, and, although not placed on the same footing as the three great Emperors who immediately preceded the establishment of the first dynasty, Confucius speaks of him in terms of respect. Among his successors, Taivou, who commenced to reign in the year B.C. 1637, may be mentioned CHANGES IN THE CAPITAL. 9
as receiving numerous embassies from the states lying beyond his western border. These are stated to have numbered seventy-six, and some writers have striven to prove that the arrival of so many envoys at the same moment may be taken as showing that there must have been some great disturbance in Western Asia. Chinese history is invoked to confirm the truth of the reported invasion of India by Sesostris about that time. It is to be feared that the Court language of the Chinese has misled several historians on this point, as the seventy-six embassies probably came not from "kingdoms" or "states," but from petty districts and clans in the countries which are now known to us as Kokonor, Tibet, and Burmah.
In the reign of Pankeng (B.C. 1401-1374) the vagaries of the Hoangho led to two changes in the place of the capital or court residence, and on one occasion a site was selected near the modern Pekin. Pankeng was almost the last of the virtuous kings of the Chang dynasty. Some of his precepts, preserved in the "Choukin," are admirable, and might be perused with profit at the present day. After Pankeng came a long line of princes weak in their mind and dissolute in their habits, and the courtiers imitated only too perfectly the examples of their masters. The story is told that Vouting, the one exception to this rule, was compelled to have recourse to an ordinary labourer as the only honest man he could discover for the dignified office of his chief minister. The name of this minister was Fouyue, and he seems to have made it his object to emulate the praiseworthy conduct of the earlier rulers and ministers of China. With the death of these two men the Chang dynasty produced no other ruler, and the nation no other minister capable of maintaining the ruling House on the throne. In the twelfth century (H.C) the crimes of the Emperors reached their culminating point in the person of Chousin, and the punishment of Providence was at last meted out by one of the great nobles, Wou Wang, prince of Chow. Wou Wang (Warrior King) crossed the Hoangho at the head of a large army, and routed the forces of Chousin on the plain of Mouye in Honan. The Emperor retired to his palace, where
he committed suicide, and the Chang dynasty expired with him.
The accession of Wou Wang as the first ruler of the third dynasty was followed by those reforms in the administration which the crimes and apathy of the Changs had rendered absolutely necessary. The acts of the new Emperor were marked by vigour and moderation, and the confidence of the nation was soon enlisted in his favour. The general satisfaction was enhanced in its effect by the obstinacy of two ministers of the Emperor Chousin, who, sooner than eat the bread of the usurper, starved themselves to death. Wou Wang publicly expressed his admiration of their fidelity and his regret at their death. Similar acts of magnanimity are frequently recorded of Chinese rulers, and were always rewarded by an increase of reputation in their people's opinion. Wou Wang's instincts were those of a soldier, and the simple habits which he introduced into the life of the court led to fresh vigour in the national existence. His immediate successors followed his prudent example, and thus the Chow dynasty became firmly established on the throne. He received various embassies, notably one from Kitse, king of Corea, who came in person to congratulate the new Emperor, thus commencing the connection between China and Corea which has subsisted to our time. His son Ching Wang was, during the first few years of his reign, obliged to carry on military operations against several of his relations; but these speedily terminating in his favour, left him strong both within and without his frontier. Mention is made of an embassy arriving from a country which can only be identified with Siam, and the reason given for its despatch was that it had been visited by several years of unusual prosperity, which the seers declared to be due to the throne of China being occupied by a wise prince.
One of the ablest of the Chow rulers was Mou Wang, or "the magnificent king," son of a prince named Chao Wang, who had been drowned in the river Han, through the treachery of some of his subjects. Mou Wang ascended the throne about the year B.C. iooo, and continued to rule until B.C. 952. Waging several wars beyond the limits of A CHINESE HADRIAN. n
China proper, he inflicted severe defeats upon the wild tribes whose country was held in later days by the Mongols. Nor were his journeys beyond the frontier confined to warlike expeditions. On one occasion he made a peaceful tour to the west of his possessions into Tibet, reaching a point in the vicinity of the Kuenlun mountains—probably Khoten. This simple fact has given rise to exaggerated rumours as to his having travelled as far west as Persia or Syria. In those remote ages the western world of China was of much too limited extent to include those distant countries. Still there remains the fact that this Emperor undertook a memorable journey in unknown regions beyond his frontier. He was also widely famed as a builder of palaces and other public works. In one year he erected a summer palace, and in another he laid out a fortress. China had never been famed for its horses, and before the importation of the hardy steeds of Mongolia and Manchuria they were scarcely to be found out of the royal stables. One of the early Emperors speaks of horses and dogs as "animals foreign to China," and the chronicles tell us of the eight proud coursers which Mou Wang sent to ■ an isle in the Eastern Sea" to be nourished. Fed on "dragon grass," we are informed that they became capable of performing a journey of one thousand li in the course of a single day. The remaining events of this reign are comprised under the head of " Wars with the Barbarians." Mou Wang's successors continued to reign, much after the same fashion, without any event calling for notice, until the time of Li Wang, B.C. 873, who is described as " a prince not wanting in ability, but whose insufferable pride, suspicious nature, and cruelty, absolutely effaced the good qualities which he would otherwise have possessed." This prince soon forfeited the affections of his subjects, and his senseless tyranny called down upon him the vengeance of popular indignation. There was no dynastic crisis such as had taken place in the time of the Changs, for it was plain to the common intelligence that the crimes committed were those of an individual, and not of a family. The nation rose up and exposed the criminality of Li Wang, and the poets gave forcible expression to the nation's mind. There was neither