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but they were soon all slain ; and Kwei Wang and his son remained prisoners in the hands of their enemy.
Wou Sankwei, whose excessive moderation had on a previous occasion attracted the unfavourable notice of the Regent Ama Wang, did not for a moment hesitate in this supreme case, and gave the order for the immediate execution of Kwei Wang and his son. With their death disappeared the last recognized representatives of the House of Ming, and, as the native historian observes, this event deprived the Chinese of all justification for a continuance in rebellion against the dynasty which had by the high will of Heaven succeeded it on the throne.
The reign of Chuntche was marked by one event of great importance, and also of an unusual character. This was the arrival at the capital of the Empire of several embassies from European states. Chuntche's reign, which witnessed the beginning of many things in the modern history of China, also beheld the first diplomatic intercourse between the Government of the Middle Kingdom and the sovereigns of the West. The Dutch and the Russians can claim the equal honour of having each had an embassy resident at Pekin during the year 1656, although in neither case can the result be held to have been very satisfactory. The Dutch were, after some delay, and on making the required concessions to the dignity of the Emperor, granted an audience; but, notwithstanding that they freely bribed the officials, they obtained no solid advantage, unless the privilege of bringing their “tribute" at stated periods to the foot of the throne can be considered one. The end of this embassy proved little less than disastrous, for at Canton on their return journey the ambassadors were ill-treated in their persons and robbed of their property. Notwithstanding the Emperor's expressed appreciation of the nobleness of their mind, they never succeeded in obtaining reparation for the injuries and loss thus inflicted upon them.
Nor was the Russian Embassy more successful, although the dignified demeanour of the envoy better preserved the honour and reputation of his master. The first demand made by the Chinese was that the Russians should, in common with the other tribute-bearing states, do homage to the Emperor's throne, and perform the ceremony of kowtow. With this the Russian officer consistently refused to comply, and after some time passed in useless argument the embassy was dismissed, and returned to Siberia, which had then been recently conquered and annexed by the Czars of Russia. . The first diplomatic relations between the Chinese and the Oros, or Russians, were thus brought to an abrupt termination.
Diplomatic relations were also established about this time with the ruler of Tibet. The principal Lama of Lhasa was created Dalai, or Ocean Lama, and the connection between Pekin and the holy land of Tibet, which under the Mings had been of only a vague and indefinite character, assumed a closer and more intimate form. The Europeans, to whom reference has been made, found an embassy from this remote kingdom resident at Pekin, but the Dalai Lama appears to have paid, on an earlier occasion, a personal visit to Chuntche's Court. From this time the tie between the two states became very close, and up to the present day it has endured.
Wou Sankwei had not long pacified the south, and Koshinga had only just' recommenced his active operations after wresting a portion of the island of Formosa from the Dutch, when it became clear that the days of the Emperor Chuntche, young though he was, were drawing to a close. In 1661, seventeen years after he had been proclaimed Emperor by the council of notables at Pekin, he was seized with a fatal illness, which we may consider to have been either small-pox or grief at the loss of a favourite wife, according as we may feel disposed. A competent authority assigns his death to the former cause; but there is no doubt that the death of his infant son and of the child's mother, whose relations with the Emperor recall those of David and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, preyed heavily upon his mind, and aggravated the disease. On the eve of death he named as his successor a boy reputed to be the second of his children, and afterwards known to fame as the Emperor Kanghi. The choice proved a happy one, although the accession of a child again launched the bark of state upon troubled waters; but the virtues and
AN INEVITABLE YOKE.
genius of Kanghi in the end more than repaid the agony of suffering through which China had yet to pass before reaching the tranquil condition of a Manchu-governed country.
Of Chuntche, whose youth and early death prevented the performance of many great or striking actions, it may only be said that he gave promise of the possession of the remarkable qualities for which his family had become famous. Much of the credit of consolidating the Manchu triumph belonged to Ama Wang, but Ama Wang died long before any settlement was concluded, and left the young Emperor to grapple, on his own resources, with an extremely critical condition of things. Chuntche's acts as irresponsible ruler were always marked by great forbearance, as well as by resolution. His reign has been eclipsed by the brilliant achievements of his son, Kanghi, but in its way it was both important and remarkable. At the least it served to show that the supremacy of the Manchus was firmly established and not to be lightly opposed or easily displaced. Already it was evident that the wiser part for the Chinese would be to acquiesce in a yoke they could not shake off ; and most of them were hastening to adapt themselves to circumstances throughout all the provinces of the Empire.
THE EARLY YEARS OF KANGHI'S REIGN.
THE accession of a boy to a throne which demanded the support of strong hands and clear heads was not an event calculated to ensure the tranquil development of Manchu power. Kanghi was only eight years old when the weight of empire was thrust upon him, and the task of government was committed to the charge of four of the principal officials. After the proclamation of the new Emperor, and the promulgation of the general amnesty usually granted on the accession of a prince, the co-regents first turned their attention to purifying the palace from the presence of the eunuchs who had established themselves there during the later years of Chuntche's reign, and who doubtless saw in Kanghi's minority the opportunity of advancing their ends, and of firmly establishing their influence over the councils of the state. The first act of Kanghi's representatives was to impeach the principal of the eunuchs on a charge of peculation, and to punish him with death. All his colleagues were turned out of the palace and dismissed from their offices, to find some more honourable but certainly to them less agreeable mode of existence among the ranks of the people. Then was passed the law, graven on tablets of metal to defy the injuries of time, forbidding the employment in the public service of any of this unfortunate class. The iron tablets still exist, and the Manchus have remained true to the pledge taken by the young Kanghi. The eunuchs now disappear from the history of China as a political faction, and their enervating influence has fortunately been banished from both the court and the council board.
The first year of Kanghi's reign marked the summit and beheld the decline of the piratical power of Koshinga. In 1659, after the failure of his expedition against Nankin, Koshinga had been compelled to look beyond his possessions at the mouth of the Kiang for a permanent place of arms, and the naval preparations on which the Manchus were at last engaged made it more necessary for him to secure one without delay. There seemed to him no place better adapted to his necessities or more suitable for the task he had in hand than the island of Formosa,* long the home of a piratical confederacy which had for the time been partially displaced by the power of the Dutch.f It was not so much the conquest of this island with its fierce and courageous tribes that Koshinga wanted, as the possession of the few harbours which had been seized by the emissaries of Batavia. Although the attainment of his object involved a collision with a race well
* The island of Formosa, situated at a distance of nearly one hundred miles from the coast, is noted for its remarkable productiveness, and also for the fact that a great portion of it has maintained and still maintains its independence of any authority. It has been called “the granary of China.” Its length is about 300 miles, and its breadth at the broadest point less than one-fourth of that distance. A lofty range of mountains, from north to south, divides it into two regions, differing from each other in political condition and material productiveness. The western half is under regular government, and remarkable for wealth and fertility. The eastern is still under the sway of native princes or chiefs ; and the resources of this half are not only undeveloped, but are also undoubtedly inferior to those of the western districts. Formosa was called by the Chinese Taiwan," the beautiful island,” and since 1895 it has been in the possession of Japan, which acquired it under the Treaty of Shimonoseki.
† A brief sketch of how the island fell into the hands of the Dutch will here be interesting. In 1624 the Dutch sent a fleet with 800 men to attack Macao and expel the Portuguese. Confident of success, they were yet repulsed with loss. As some compensation for this disappointment, they established themselves on the Pescadore Islands, and a few years afterwards they landed on the mainland of Formosa, came to an arrangement with the Japanese then in occupation of the town of Taiwan, and erected in its neighbourhood Fort Zealand. The Japanese retired, leaving them in undisputed occupation of Taiwan. When the Tartar invasion began many Chinese crossed the channel and established themselves in Formosa. From this numerous colony Koshinga naturally expected much help in his design of ousting the Dutch, and, as the result proved, he was not disappointed.