Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

A BREACH OF FAITH. 697

strength of fortresses built on the summit of mountains and protected on several sides by precipices, and the impossibility of effectually utilizing their superior numbers, all contributed to retard a decisive result; but, notwithstanding all these obstacles, the Chinese steadily approached Sonom's chief stronghold of Karai.

At last the Chinese appeared before the walls of this place, within which the entire Miaotze population had been driven. The Chinese completely surrounded it, and there was no room for hoping that starvation or an assault would not speedily terminate the siege. Under these circumstances Sonom expressed a desire to surrender on the guarantee of their lives to himself, his family and his people. Akoui had no authority to grant such terms, and, as Sonom refused to trust to the indulgence of the Emperor, the siege continued. When Keen Lung learnt that this petty opponent was reduced to the last extremity, he sent word that the lives of the chief and of all his followers might be spared. Whereupon Sonom surrendered, his fort was destroyed, and the Great Golden River district shared the fate of the Little Golden district, and became portion of the province of Szchuen.

Akoui was largely rewarded, and Keen Lung rejoiced at being able to congratulate himself on having permanently settled one of the oldest and most troublesome internal difficulties that beset the Empire. The Miaotze of Kweichow took the lesson inculcated by the chastisement of their kinsmen in Szchuen to heart, and refrained from causing the Chinese officials the trouble they had been wont to produce on the borders of civilization. A great quantity of treasure and several thousand lives had to be expended to attain this result, but once attained there could be no doubt that a serious blot on the efficiency of the administration had been removed, and that a well-timed act of vigour had sufficed to establish tranquillity in another part of China.

Although Keen Lung had passed his word that the lives of his captives should be spared, he neglected to keep his word, thus leaving himself open to the charge of a breach of faith, which it would have been better for his reputation to have avoided. Sonom, the chief members of his family, and his principal officers, were all executed within the precincts of the palace; and the other Miaotze captives were exiled to Hi in Central Asia. The motives which induced Keen Lung to proceed to such lengths of severity, if not of absolute cruelty, on this occasion, are not known. His moderation was usually conspicuous, and we can but suppose that the intensity of the general antipathy to the savage Miaotze, who were regarded as only half-human, led him to sanction measures he would not otherwise have permitted. The spectacle of the heads of these brigand chiefs placed in iron cages over the gates of his capital could not have added much to his personal gratification, nor could it have proved any very great deterrent to those disposed to rebel.

The province of Shantung was also the scene about this time of disturbances that caused some anxiety to the ruler. A rebel named Wanlan had been the leader of a considerable seditious movement, and the people appear to have suffered greatly, first from his exactions, and then from the presence of the army sent by the Emperor to put down the insurrection and to reassert his authority. However, Keen Lung's ends were attained in this case as elsewhere, and, before Akoui returned to the capital, peace had been restored in Shantung.

Although Fouta had accepted, or been compelled to take, a subordinate command under Akoui in the Miaotze campaign, he had been secretly piqued at the slight thus cast upon him; and when he returned to the capital and found Akoui the object of the Emperor's esteem and affection, he allowed some disparaging remarks to escape from him. Akoui's friends were all powerful, and the hero of the Pamir received little consideration when he ventured to assail the reputation of that popular and influential general. Keen Lung, who attached so much importance to the subjection of the Miaotze, that he raised Akoui from the Red to the Yellow Girdle rank, would not listen to petitions to deal leniently with the bluff, outspoken soldier, who in his turn became the object of all the evil tongues in the army and at the court . Fouta was accordingly sentenced to death, and his execution in the year 1776 served to show the inconstancy of fortune, FOUTAS DEATH. 699

and also the severity of the conditions of Chinese service. With his summary death there can be no doubt that a notable military career was cut short. Akoui remained the master of the situation, and his voice decided all military questions; but these did not arise for a long time after the pacification of the two most disturbed parts of the l'mpire. With the Eleuths and Miaotze reduced to a sense of good order, it was only an act of aggression on the part of one of his neighbours that could have availed to disturb Keen Lung's peaceful resolutions. We shall see, however, that as the occasion had not failed to arise from the arrogance of the Burmese, it was to recur from the military ardour and ambitious aggressiveness of the Goorkhas of Nepaul.

CHAPTER XLVII.

WARS IN TIBET, NEPAUL, AND FORMOSA.

The control which the Emperor Kanghi had established over Tibet, after the retreat of the Jungarian army from Lhasa, was maintained under both of his successors. The internal affairs of that country regained their normal state of tranquillity after the decision of the rivalry between the Yellow and Red Caps, and the departure of the Eleuth hordes. Nor does any event of marked importance call for our notice during the fifty years that elapsed between the sack of Lhasa and the time when Keen Lung's attention was first drawn by the course of affairs to Himalayan regions. A brief notice * is alone necessary, and, indeed, possible, of the relations which subsisted during this period between the Tibetan lamas and the Chinese garrison and officials.

The young Dalai Lama, who had been removed for safety to Sining because he did not possess the support of the soldier Latsan Khan, returned to Lhasa after affairs had settled down there, and was restored to all the rights and privileges of his lofty spiritual position. This Dalai was named Lobsang Kalsang, and enjoyed the title for more than half a century. His relations with the Chinese Government continued to be of the most friendly and intimate character during that long period; and although the jealousy of the

* To Sir Clements Markham we are still indebted for the best account extant of the land of Tibet, which he has illustrated by copious notes and by a historical and geographical introduction to his edition of the "Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet, and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa," 1879.

MASSACRE AT LHASA. 701

lamas towards the Chinese Ambans, added perhaps to the natural antipathy between the two races, produced some unpleasantness, the main tenor of the connection continued satisfactory.

In 1749 there occurred the one complication that seemed likely to produce an unfavourable effect on the continuance of this amicable intercourse. The Gyalpo or Nomen Khan (Regent), who exercised for the Dalai the civil functions of his authority, incurred the displeasure of the Chinese Ambans. Without referring the matter to Pekin, these mandarins resolved to carry matters with a high hand, and to give reins to their resentment . The Gyalpo was put to death, and for the moment it seemed that none would dare to cross the path of the Ambans. But neither the people nor the lamas were disposed to regard with patience or indifference so flagrant an outrage against one of their recognized chiefs, and the people of Lhasa, instructed by their spiritual guides, or prompted by a natural movement of indignation, rose up and massacred all the Chinese, officials and soldiers, upon whom they could place their hands. The consequences of this wholesale slaughter might have been serious, as far less provocation had often brought down upon a people or country the full weight of Chinese vengeance; but Keen Lung, on ascertaining the unwarrantable conduct of his representatives, refrained from adopting the extreme measures suggested by his natural impulse. An army was, however, sent for the purpose of restoring the connection that had been so rudely dissolved, but its commander was instructed to make concessions to popular agitation as well as to assert the authority of the Emperor. Keen Lung's moderation and the tact shown by his representatives sufficed to avert the danger of further complications and to restore the friendly relations previously existing.

Up to the time of this outbreak the Chinese authorities had been content to trust for the maintenance of their predominance rather to their influence with the Dalai Lama and their well-known power than to any distinct or generally recognized position at Lhasa, where the justification for their presence had to a great extent been removed by their own

« AnteriorContinua »