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thought the duties of a military commander derogatory to the dignity of the Emperor; but Taitsong was not to be turned by their representations from the path of duty which he had marked out for himself. The foundation on which he based his policy was that, in order to enjoy peace, it was necessary to be prepared for war; and he therefore passed much of his time in drilling his troops and in accustoming them to the use of arms. Every day he was to be seen inspecting a few companies of his army on the parade-ground in front of his palace, and he rewarded after no stinted fashion those who showed superior skill in the use of the bow or the pike. It was his delight to surround himself with armed men, although this “impropriety” excited the disapproval of his grave courtiers. Undisturbed by either the remonstrances of the slaves of etiquette or the warnings of the over-cautious, Taitsong steadily continued his military reforms, thus obtaining both for himself and his country an element of strength which previous rulers had not possessed.
Within a very few years the occasion offered for testing the efficiency of the machine which he had elaborated. The Turk tribes, who had sworn peace for a second time at the bridge of Pienkiao, were again in a state of agitation and commotion. The cow-tail banner of the Tartars had again been flaunted in the air, and it was evident that the longstanding quarrel between these irreconcilable foes was on the point of breaking out into a fresh flame. A Chinese army marched into the desert and compelled the dissolution of the confederacy that had been hastily formed. The newly organized army earned its first laurels in a bloodless campaign, and Taitsong had the satisfaction of seeing in the incapacity of his old enemies to resist his arms the clearest proof of the use and value of his preparations. On this occasion Taitsong incorporated with his title of Emperor of China the minor rank of Khan of the Tartars, and it was by the latter that he claimed to have a right to regulate the affairs of those peoples. Several of the most prominent of the Tartar khans submitted to him, and became his faithful and devoted followers. His actual conquests only extended into the desert of Gobi, but his influence was spread over a much wider area. Embassies from distant kingdoms came to solicit at his hands the favour of his laws, and to study from a near view the principles of government which he successfully carried into practice. Within three years of his accession he had attained these great results, but it had been exclusively by means of the army to which he had devoted all his leisure and energy.
The necessity of establishing his authority on a firm basis was imperative, and every other consideration had to give place to it as of minor importance ; but Taitsong, amid the glitter and clash of arms, was far from forgetting that a great ruler is expected to show other qualities besides those of the soldier. If half the time he spent in the service of the state was devoted to the disciplining of his troops, the other half was passed not less actively in arranging and providing for the domestic administration of his people. Arbitrary taxes removed, and the finances adjusted on a sound foundation, proved his skill as a financier, while showing that he knew where best to assist his people in their efforts towards attaining a permanent and solid prosperity. Neither superstitious nor a fatalist, he was opposed on principle to the innovations of Buddhism, and strove to set his people an example rather of pure morality than of religious zeal. To Confucius he wished to pay exceptional honours, and was never tired of quoting his precepts as the acme of human wisdom. He once declared that they, and the expressions of other philosophers of the same school, were “for the Chinese what the water is for the fishes."
Taitsong was assisted in his labours by his wife, the Empress Changsunchi, a woman remarkable for her talent and good sense. Changsunchi was far from being the first great woman in her exalted position in the history of her country, but she certainly was among the very few, if not the foremost of them, not to abuse her position or the influence she obtained over the mind of her husband. By restricting herself to her proper sphere she continued to enjoy throughout her life the confidence of her husband and the affection of the people. The force of her example made itself felt
THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE.
throughout the country, and the nation, proud of the court, sought to emulate it by cultivating the domestic virtues. The simplicity of life to which this great Empress endeavoured to accustom both her children, and those who surrounded her, was tersely expressed by her in the noble sentiment that “the practice of virtue conferred honour on men, especially on princes, and not the splendour of their appointments.” During ten years, Changsunchi helped Taitsong in the government of the country, and on her death-bed, in A.D. 636, her last words were to counsel those around her to obey the Emperor in all things. Taitsong exclaimed when the sad news was brought to him that he had never sufficiently appreciated her merit, and in the fervour of his regret ordered her to receive the funeral honours accorded to the person of a deceased ruler. Changsunchi had taken a great part in the measures passed by Taitsong for the advancement of the education of the people. The great college and the Imperial Library, which adorned the capital, had come into existence as much under her auspices as under his; and when he added at a later period eighteen hundred rooms for additional students at the college, it was doubtless done in memory of the woman who had so greatly assisted him in the discharge of his various duties. After Changsunchi's death, Taitsong appears to have lost something of the happy spontaneity of the governing art. Certain it is that disasters, which, serious as they were, could not dim the splendour of his reign, occurred after he had lost the womanly counsel and shrewd judgment of Changsunchi.
In the year A.D. 634 envoys reached Singan for the first time from the kingdom of Toufan, Toupo, or Tibet. Up to the close of the sixth century of our era the vast plateau known by this name, and watered in its southern and less elevated portion by the great river Sanpu, had been inhabited by a number of tribes independent of each other, and ruled by their own chiefs. The natural consequence had ensued here as elsewhere in the world, and one of these chiefs had, at the time when the Souis were consolidating their position, subdued his neighbours, and founded a kingdom of considerable dimensions. This prince marched on one occasion into Central India, and when he died he left his son an army computed to number one hundred thousand men.
It was from this son, whose title was Sanpou, “the brave lord,” that the envoys came, and after a brief residence at the Chinese capital they returned laden with presents to their country. Four years later a return Chinese mission was sent to Tibet, where it received a very honourable reception, and the Sanpou,
a wishing to draw tighter the bonds of amity with the Emperor, made a request that he should be sent a Chinese princess in marriage. This favour Taitsong refused, and the Sanpou, disappointed at what he held to be a slight to his dignity, raised a large army and marched into the districts bordering on Szchuen. He announced that he had come to receive and escort back to his country the princess whom he had demanded from the Emperor. Taitsong sent an army to defend the frontier, and, the Sanpou being worsted in the single engagement of the war, peace was concluded by a fresh recognition of China's supremacy. The Tibetan ruler acknowledged himself a Chinese vassal, paid a fine of five thousand ounces of gold, and returned with the Princess Wencheng, whom Taitsong gave him to wife. The Tibetan king adopted Chinese customs, and gave up his native barbarism. He abolished, at the desire of his Chinese wife, the national practice of painting the face, and he built her a walled city “to proclaim his glory to after generations.” Taitsong's relations with his son-in-law continued throughout his reign to be those of friendship and alliance.
The same year, which was marked by the advance of the Tibetan ruler, witnessed a fresh triumph for Taitsong's arms in the Gobi region. For the first time the region, now known as Eastern Turkestan or Kashgaria, was included in the actual administration of China. Divided into four districts it formed with the whole of Tangut the province of Loungsi, and effectually cut off all possibility of communication between the peoples on the western and northern frontiers, all naturally hostile to the Chinese. Kucha, Khoten, Karashar, and Kashgar then became for the first time the head-quarters of permanent officials of the Chinese Emperor. They had often before seen Chinese armies, and their native rulers
WARDEN OF THE MARCHES.
had been fain to admit the supremacy of the Emperor ; but Taitsong was the first to appoint his own deputies in those remote places. Hamil and Turfan became also the centres
. of separate governments. Taitsong did not carry out this policy without encountering great opposition from several of his ministers, and Wei Ching in particular protested against the unnecessary extension, as he termed it, of the Empire. Taitsong listened patiently to their remonstrances, but pursued nevertheless the even tenour of his way; and having the good fortune to possess a capable general in Lichitsi, the Warden of the Western Marches, the gloomy anticipations of the timid were not realized.
Taitsong's personal courage brought him into several dangerous predicaments, but the greatest peril he had to encounter was caused by his own son. Lichingkien, the eldest of his sons, had been nominated heir-apparent early in the reign, and in A.D. 643, anxious to forestall his inheritance, he formed a plot, assisted by some of the discontented spirits always to be found at a court, with the object of deposing his father. Their secret was badly kept, and before the plot was fully ripe the whole scheme was revealed to Taitsong. The conspirators were promptly arrested, and the heir-apparent was dismissed from his high rank, while the humbler of his supporters were handed over to the public executioner. The efforts of the disaffected were thus foiled, and Taitsong's position became more firmly fixed in the affections of the people because a glimpse had been afforded of what might happen when a new ruler occupied his place.
The most critical event in Taitsong's reign-his war with Corea-has now to be described. The king of that country had never been a willing vassal of the Chinese Emperor, and shook off at any favourable opportunity the slight control claimed over his movements. The consolidation of the Empire under the Tangs had so far not been accompanied by any expression on the part of the King of Corea that he either desired, or held it incumbent upon him, to send tribute to, or maintain friendly relations with the Son of Heaven. In A.D. 643 he was accused of molesting the smaller ruler of Sinlo, who sent a mission to Changnan to solicit the aid