Imatges de pàgina

capture and execution relieved Oulo's mind from further apprehension on the score of his Khitan subjects.

Although both Oulo and Hiaotsong desired to maintain the peace so lately concluded, there were those among the Kins who regarded with disfavour the inactivity to which they stood pledged. Shortly after the suppression of the rising under Ylawoua, a powerful faction, including the principal generals, had been formed within the dominions of Oulo for the purpose of provoking a renewal of the war with the Sungs. Their king was emphatically in favour of the preservation of peace, but they trusted to the irrepressible antipathies of two hostile peoples to goad him into war; and with this object in view they concentrated the garrisons of the frontier provinces, marched the troops victorious over the Khitans into the border districts, and spread abroad the rumour of a coming war. The Chinese on their side were not slow to meet this display of force with counter demonstrations.

The very year that was to have inaugurated an era of peace, beheld therefore the outbreak of a fresh war, in which justice was again on the side of the Chinese. The same generals who had led Kaotsong's armies to victory against Ticounai, again assumed the command, when Oulo's lieutenants threatened a renewal of hostilities, and their old fortune attended their efforts. In one of the battles the Kins were driven in confusion from the field, leaving eight thousand prisoners in the hands of the Chinese. Hiaotsong wrote with his own hand to Changtsiun, his victorious general, that " there had not been so complete a victory during the last ten years," and the whole nation was loud in its praises of the successful champion. The successful defence of Souchow, by a small corps under the command of an officer named Li Hien Chong against the main army of the Kins, was not less glorious as a feat of arms than the victory just recorded. These successes did not ensure all the results that might have been expected. Negotiations followed, but the interests of the government appear to have been sacrificed by a diplomatist who either did not understand the question or misinterpreted his instructions.



A fresh ambassador was sent to apprise the Tartars that no further territory would be surrendered, and no more presents sent in the form of subsidy by the Sung Emperor. Unfortunately Hiaotsong was not wholly convinced of the wisdom of this firm resolve, and losing the moral support of the veteran general, Changtsiun, he drifted back to the vacillations of previous years when, for the sake of peace, the Chinese ruler would promise to waive all his pretensions, and surrender his most cherished rights. The Tartars were not slow to perceive the irresolution of their opponent, and to turn it to their own advantage. They resumed their advance southwards in A.D. 1161, and, receiving valuable information from one of Hiaotsong's ministers, whom they had taken into their pay, succeeded in overwhelming a Chinese army. This rude blow made peace an absolute necessity; and Hiaotsong, bowing to the force of events, instructed his ministers to arrange terms without prevarication or delay. As Oulo was an honourable antagonist, and desired peace himself, the terms were more favourable to the Chinese than might have been supposed after their great defeat. It was more remarkable that they proved durable, and that the years following, until the close of Hiatsong's reign, were peaceful.

The minister Weiki, who concluded this treaty, became as much an object of popular applause as his unfortunate predecessor, Lou Chong Hien, had been of public disapprobation. The necessities which beset both the Kins and the Sungs were conducive to the prolongation of this pacific understanding, and after the long wars and the desperate struggle for supremacy which had resulted in a divided control, the people had peace and were at rest.

The remaining years of Hiaotsong's reign were marked by no event of any importance. He showed in his conduct the possession of the virtues which men appreciate and commend, and, freed from the anxiety of war, led an ideal kind of existence in the midst of his courtiers and sages, delivering maxims that were noble in their conception, and endeavouring by example and by deed to remove some of the abuses which had revealed themselves during that long period of confusion and uncertainty when no one felt sure what the day might bring forth. When he had been on the throne for twenty-six years, Hiaotsong resolved to abdicate in favour of his third son. He was led to this act partly by his own inclination and partly because the death of the Kin ruler Oulo seemed to threaten fresh complications with the northern Power. Hiaotsong abdicated in the year A.D. 1189, and died five years afterwards. Of all the Sung Emperors after the change in the capital, Hiaotsong was probably the best and the most worthy of respect.

The last years of the Kin Emperor Oulo were scarcely more eventful than those of his contemporary. In A.D. 1170 his vassal, the King of Hia or Tangut, had been virtually set aside by an ambitious minister named Gintekin, who, aspiring to the supreme place, had concluded an agreement with his sovereign for the division of his states. It was necessary, however, to obtain Oulo's consent to this arrangement, and when the facts were placed before him he had the sagacity to see through the specious representations of Gintekin, and refused to ratify the convention, because "it must have been forced on the King of Hia.” Not content with this, Oulo addressed a powerful remonstrance to the king on the character of his duty to his people, and his arguments opened that personage's eyes so clearly to the guile of Gintekin that he caused him to be arrested and executed.

He gave still more striking proof of the possession of great qualities by the manner in which he received the overtures of a Corean rebel who had repudiated the authority of his prince. This individual, having wrested the western districts of that kingdom from his liege lord, offered to become the vassal of the Kins; but Oulo replied in the following dignified terms, which were creditable both to his judgment and disposition. “You and your master," he said to the envoy, "deceive yourselves if you believe me to be capable of approving an act of treason, whatever the personal advantage it might procure me. I love all peoples of whatever nation they may be, and I wish to see them at peace with one another. How have you imagined me capable of so mean an act as that you propose to me?” The remaining



acts of his reign were connected with the domestic legislation of his people, and with the translation into the Kin tongue of the Chinese classics. His death in A.D. 1189 was a serious loss to his people, who unanimously accorded him the next place after Akouta among the great men of their race. He was the first who showed himself to be something more than a mere soldier, and to perceive the truth of the aphorism that war is only a justifiable necessity as a means to a worthy end. He was succeeded as Emperor of the Kins by his grandson Madacou, who preserved during his brief reign the salient features of Oulo's policy.

Hiaotsong's son and successor took the name of Kwangtsong. During his short reign of five years he was Emperor in little more than in name. His wife, the imperious Lichi, asserted her influence over him, and exercised more practical authority than he did. The course of events during this reign was of an uninteresting character, and the attention of the public was monopolized by petty squabbles in the palace and between men of letters. Whether from ill-health or natural timidity and sluggishness is not exactly known, but Kwangtsong soon satisfied his inclination for playing the part of king. In A.D. 1 194 he abdicated in favour of his son, and retired into private life, without apparently a single regret at the change in his position. During this short reign the Kins also enjoyed peace under the rule of their sovereign Madacou.

The new Sung ruler took the name of Ningtsong, and his first task was to restore the administration, so far as he could, to the position it occupied before Kwangtsong's unfortunate reign. It was not until Ningtsong had reigned nearly ten years that he found time to look abroad and see how his neighbours were faring. The spectacle he beheld was encouraging, and seemed to warrant a belief that the Sungs might now recover everything they had lost during long and disastrous wars. The Kin power was shaken to its base, and tottering towards its fall. The great Mongol Genghis Khan had already struck shrewd blows against its reputation and its strength. Its military vigour was fast becoming a tradition. The army was discontented and ill-paid, and the people retained no affection for an alien government the instant it lost the strength to make itself respected. Something of this untoward result must no doubt be attributed to the shortcomings of Madacou, but it was mainly due to the natural progress of decay in an institution that had attained a height far in excess of its innate strength.

Ningtsong would have been more than human if he had paid no heed to the tales brought him concerning the decadence of the Kins. Having suffered them to obtain a hold on his imagination, he allowed himself to drift into a war with his neighbour. Contrary to all expectations, the Kins were the victors, and Ningtsong was glad to conclude a peace by the ratification of existing treaties, and by the execution of the minister on whose advice he had declared war. Madacou died shortly after this event, leaving the throne to his cousin Chonghei, a descendant of the great Oukimai. This campaign was fought in the year A.D. 1208, and the last triumph to be obtained over the Sungs cast a parting gleam of glory round the name of the Kin or golden dynasty.

At this point the old rivalry of the Kins and Sungs sinks into insignificance before the advent of the new power of the Mongols. The main feature in Chinese history now becomes the steady growth of the confederacy of the great Genghis, and the petty events of the Sung capital assume an appearance of triviality in face of the great occurrences and startling changes beyond the northern borders. The Kins, by reason of their position, were the first to feel the effect of the martial vigour of the Mongol tribes; but the Sungs had eventually to succumb to the same force. Ningtsong's reign had little more than commenced when this new element asserted itself in the affairs of China.

« AnteriorContinua »