« AnteriorContinua »
but it miscarried. There was, in truth, to be a deed of blood that day, but Tsowmow himself was the victim, not Ssemachow.
Ssemachow, having got rid of Tsowmow, undertook the invasion of the kingdom of Chow, where Heouchow, the ruler of the Later Hans, still preserved the name and the dignity of the illustrious house from which he sprang. Tengai and the other Wei generals carried everything before them. A council of despair was held in the capital, and several propositions, some pusillanimous and others courageous, but all showing the desperate character of the situation, were placed before the Emperor. Heouchow accepted the suggestion of one of his ministers that the preferable alternative was to throw himself on the generosity of the Prince of Wei. His son Lieouchin, worthy heir of the characteristics of the great Vouti, declared that, “If we are without resources, and if there is no choice save to perish, we can at least die with honour, Let us march to meet the enemy with what may remain to us of brave men, and if our dynasty is on the point of extinction, let it finish only with our lives.” To Heouchow, the timid, this advice was unpalatable, and he proceeded to grace the triumph of the victor by his own presence, while his son Lieouchin put an end to his existence with that of his family in the temple of his ancestors. It is in the act of Lieouchin rather than in the apathy of Heouchow, that the last scion of the great family of the Hans vanished from the gaze of his contemporaries, leaving a blank where once there had been the
presence of a great name.
The war closed with the incorporation of the state of Chow with that of Wei. The general Tengai wrote from the captured city of Chentu to Ssemachow exhorting him to prosecute without further delay the war with Wu, so that his triumph might be made complete by the double conquest of the two southern kingdoms, because as Tengai wrote with a truth and pregnancy applicable to all times and circumstances, “An army which has the reputation of victory fies from one success to another." Ssemachow did not adopt this advice, and the conquest of Wu was put off for nearly twenty years. In A.D. 265 Ssemachow died, being
succeeded by his son Ssemayen, who at once deposed the nominal Emperor Yuenti, and had himself proclaimed in his stead. A new dynasty, that of the Tsins, was declared, and Ssemayen became the first ruler of the line under the name of Chitsou Vouti. The rivalry of the three princes and generals who had divided the Empire of the Hans thus terminated in favour of that founded by Tsowpi, the son of Tsow Tsow; but in the end it lost the fruits of its policy to the grandson of the general Ssemay who had contributed so much to its success. The Tsins won the Empire by the sword, and so long as they retained the capacity to assert their power they maintained an admitted supremacy throughout the whole of the country.
THE DYNASTY OF THE LATER TSINS.
WHEN Ssemayen exalted himself on the Dragon Throne, and became the founder of the later Tsin dynasty, he took the title of Vouti, the warrior prince. It will be borne in mind that at this period numerous wars, the machinations of years, and the gradual growth of an ambitious family, had prevented the extension of the authority of the Wei ruler through more than two-thirds of the Empire. It became the one object of Vouti's life to incorporate the independent kingdom of Wu in his dominions; but twenty years passed away before he compassed his purpose. The speedy conquest of Chow, and the fall of the representative of the Hans, created a great alarm
in the bosom of Sunhow, Prince of Wu, and when Vouti • seized the supreme power, Sunhow sent an embassy to
Loyang to congratulate him, and to express a desire to become the vassal of the Tsins. Vouti received the ambassador with marked courtesy, but Sunhow was still hankering after the ambitious dreams of his father Sunkiuen. The supremacy of the Tsins was for the time incontestable; but there was disaffection in the land, and their rule might not prove of long duration. So it happened that when the envoy who came “whispering words of humbleness and peace” returned south of the Great River, Sunhow began to plot not merely for the preservation of his independence, but even for the subversion of the Tsins. In Kiangsi and Hoonan, among the reedy marshes of Fuhkien and the woody glens of Kwantung, there was a furbishing of arms, and the grim expectation of coming battle disturbed the fishermen on Tunting, and the miners of Chowchow.
A DIVIDED STATE.
The strong positions held by the troops of Vouti, both on the northern banks of the Yangtsekiang, and also in the western province of Szchuen, inspired a prudent caution, and reckless as Sunhow was disposed to be, he long "let I dare not wait upon I would.” As a precautionary measure, he removed his capital from Wuchang, in the plains of Houkwang, to Kiennie, in the maritime province of Chekiang. This prudent alteration had been made on the recommendation of the able Loukai; but that wise minister did not live long to guide aright the policy of his master. His death, in A.D. 269, deprived Sunhow of his mainstay, and left Wu a divided and headless state at the mercy of its powerful neighbour.
Meanwhile, Vouti had been steadily drawing the toils tighter round Sunhow, whom he had marked as his prey. The insincerity of that prince's protestations of friendship had been made evident, and there was no valid reason why the task of uniting the Empire should be postponed in deference to a prince who was false and ambitious at the same time that he was cringing and destitute of courage. On all sides, therefore, Vouti's lieutenants were bestirring themselves, and preparing the legions that were to be launched across the Great River for the overthrow of a usurper and the annexation of his state. Along the upper course of the Kiang, Wangsiun was busily constructing a fleet of war junks, from the woods of Szchuen, to sweep down on the unsuspecting and over-confident admirals of Sunhow, while Yanghou, the greatest commander of the age, spared no effort to make the main attack successful. An attempt at a rising in Chow was suppressed in the summary manner that found favour in the eyes of Eastern despots, and a war, which calls for brief notice, with the Northern Sienpi was begun ; but the successful result in the latter case proved only temporary.
In A.D. 270 the Sienpi, under their king, Toufachukineng, invaded Chinese territory with a large force, and a general, Houliei, was sent to drive them back. A great battle ensued, in which the Chinese were victorious; but the commanders on both sides were among the slain. A revolt in Leaoutung followed close on this incursion, of which the Sienpi were not slow to avail themselves. They returned in greater force, and retrieved in a second encounter their recent defeat. Several years were occupied in desultory and irregular fighting, during which the Chinese admit that “an infinity of soldiers ” were slain. Their frontier officials strove, and not in vain, to set one tribe against another, and by this means, although no decisive result was obtained, the borders were kept in a fair state of security. At a later period, A.D. 281, the Sienpi renewed their raids, and a clan occupying the modern Manchuria carried its arms to the shores of the Gulf of Pechihli. So that on the whole these tribes must be held to have had rather the best of the contest during the reign of the first Tsin Emperor.
One of the most remarkable occurrences of this reign was the bridging of the great river Hoangho, a task until then considered impossible. The difficulty, and positive danger at many seasons, of crossing this great stream had at all times occupied the grave consideration of the government; and many schemes had been suggested for improving the means of communication between the provinces north of the Hoangho and those south of it. But none had produced any result. At last, in A.D. 274, an adventurous individual named Touyu came forward and offered to construct a bridge across the Hoangho if the Emperor would support his scheme. The project was brought before the Imperial Council, and, after some discussion, rejected as impossible, because, as these “wise men " naively put it, if the thing were feasible it would have been done by their ancestors. So far as the collective wisdom of the ministers could prevent the carrying out of a great work of public utility, the project of Touyu failed to obtain official patronage and sanction; but the bold engineer was not discouraged, and his frequent memorials moved the heart of the Emperor to give him permission to make the attempt. In a very few months. Touyu threw a bridge across the Hoangho at Mongtsin, thus connecting Honan with Shansi. This bridge no longer exists. The state of the Hoangho is the most serious reflection on the present Government of China. Vouti came in person to see the wonderful work, and inaugurated its opening for the use of his subjects by