Imatges de pÓgina

the workings of their minds were not wholly concealed from Wou Sankwei, and when he received from Kanghi the order to proceed in person to Pekin and to disband his army, the moral indignation which had long possessed him broke forth. Something he may have presumed on the youth and inexperience of the Emperor, and he certainly forgot that his own age precluded his taking the active part in the field necessary to the success of his enterprise. For a moment it almost seemed that he was destined to succeed, and that the verdict of fortune would be reversed. With regard to the Manchus, Wou Sankwei might flatter himself that he had played the part of king-maker ; but when he attempted to set up his own individual authority, he failed in his task, Notwithstanding that his life closed under the blight of a failure, the long, varied, and picturesque career of Wou Sankwei remains one of the most remarkable and striking to be met with in the course of Chinese history.

Wou Shufan carried on the unequal struggle with the Manchu generals for a few years; but in 1681 he lost all the possessions he had received from his grandfather, except the town of Yunnan. Long and valiantly did these representatives of a lost cause defend that stronghold, and Wou Shufan emulated the fortitude of his family. But the inevitable end could not be averted. The Manchus having once gained admission within the walls, the siege speedily terminated. The garrison was put to the sword, and Wou Shufan only baffled his enemy by committing suicide. Yet the full measure of the Manchu vengeance was not satisfied until his head had been sent to Pekin to be hung up over the gate as a warning to traitors, and as a proof of the Tartar triumph. Nor was even this act the last that marked the repression of the great rebellion ; for the body of Wou Sankwei himself was taken from the tomb, and his ashes were scattered throughout the eighteen provinces of China, to testify to all that no trace any longer remained of the man who had threatened the very existence of the Manchus, and at whose name all his foes used to tremble.

Kanghi had now occupied the throne for more than twenty years, and the child upon whom the weight of a great

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Empire had been cast was no longer an inexperienced and unknown boy. Unusual difficulties had beset his path, but he had triumphed over them by his own energy and indomitable will; and although still a young man, he had already won his way to a position of power and personal fame that gave him high rank among the rulers of his time. What he thus early accomplished the deeds of his later years fully established and maintained. Up to this point it had been to Kanghi a struggle for existence, but henceforth his place as Emperor of China was secure. The Manchu conquest, begun by Taitsong and completed by Ama Wang and Wou Sankwei, was achieved a second time and consolidated by the wise measures and determination of Kanghi.

Before concluding this early portion of the long reign, on the mere threshold of which we as yet stand, it may be pertinent to describe how the descendants of Koshinga fared in their later endeavours to establish an independent kingdom in Formosa. The conquest of that island represented another incident in the task of establishing the Manchu authority on a firm footing.

When the chief Ching lost Amoy, and with it his hold upon the mainland, he sank into a subordinate position ; but his activity on the sea hardly showed any abatement in vigour. So late as the year 1680 Ching resumed his operations on the mainland, and again acquired possession of Amoy. For a time his successes seemed remarkable, but they also served to increase the ardour of the Manchus, who spared no effort to secure his overthrow. After several delusive victories his troops were signally defeated, and Amoy and the other towns on the coast were finally lost to him. Several of his best officers deserted him, and many of his men followed their example. Encouraged by this turn in the fortune of this war, Kanghi refused to listen to Ching's propositions for peace, and ordered the invasion of Formosa. The Manchu fleet had before this period attained a certain degree of efficiency, and, being reinforced by a Dutch contingent and several vessels captured from the rebel force, it enjoyed a material advantage in numbers over that of the Formosan chief.

At this critical moment Ching died of over-indulgence, and numerous disorders broke out on his death as to who should be his successor. The Pekin Court turned these dissensions to the best advantage.

Their fleet seized Ponghu, the principal island of the Pescadore group, whence it was no difficult task for them to throw a force across to Formosa, and to establish themselves in one of its harbours. Then the people surrendered without further resistance, for it was clear to them that the Manchus could be no longer resisted, and that their triumph was decreed by Heaven.

In this case Kanghi felt he could afford to be merciful. The principal representative of Koshinga's family was spared and created a count. Those who surrendered voluntarily were either rewarded or dismissed without further punishment; but all had to accept the badge of conquest, and wear the Manchu tail. Thus ended the brief existence of the free Chinese authority in Formosa which had continued twentythree years after the first proclamation of Koshinga, on the expulsion of the Dutch from Taiwan. Kanghi thus attained both his desires—the overthrow of Wou Sankwei, and the suppression of the piratical power of Formosa. He was at last supreme, both on land and on sea, within the limits of what was termed the Chinese Empire.



The difficulty which had arisen with the Mongol chief Satchar warned Kanghi that he must be prepared to meet dangers from without as well as to encounter perils from within. If the Mongol tribes, who had helped his ancestors against the Chinese, and who had derived some benefit and advantage from the Manchu conquest, could not be trusted to remain staunch in their allegiance, what sort of friendship could he expect from those other tribes whose homes lay in the interior of Asia, and whose predatory instincts were continually urging them to harry the rich border districts of China? Kanghi had taken such measures as were within his power to establish the virtual supremacy of his name among these nomadic hordes, who resembled, in everything save military efficiency, the warrior clans which had followed the fortunes of the great Mongol leaders in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Of these tribes the Khalkas, who prided themselves on their direct descent from Genghis, and whose pasturages were watered by those tributary streams of the Amour which had beheld the dawn of Mongol fame and power, made no demur in recognizing the supremacy of the Manchu Emperor. They had long lost the ability to play any greater part on the wilds of Gobi than that of a small community of hardy and frugal shepherds, able and resolved to maintain their rights against the encroachments of their neighbours, but indifferent to any wider sway. Yet there still attached to their acts a higher significance among their kinsmen in consequence of the greatness of their origin; and the formal adhesion of the Khalkas to the Manchu cause meant that the great majority of the Mongols would thenceforth refrain from committing acts of unprovoked aggression on the Chinese borders.

Beyond the Mongols, in the region extending westwards to the provinces of Jungaria and Altyshahr (Ili and Kashgar), there was another people or race, which, divided into four hordes, obeyed the commands of as many chiefs. The Eleuths, a Calmuck tribe, more remote from the scene of Manchu triumph than their Mongol neighbours, were indisposed to pay those marks of subordination which either Chinese vanity or Kanghi's policy demanded. When the Khalkas made their court at the Chinese capital the Eleuths still held aloof, and expressed their intention to maintain an attitude of indifference towards the great Power of the East.

This resolution of the Eleuths might have possessed little practical significance, but for the appearance on the scene of one of those remarkable men who have risen at long intervals among these children of the desert, and who, out of unpromising materials and with scant resources, have founded a power of no slight proportions for the time that it endured. This individual, who now stands forward as a rival to Kanghi and as a competitor for empire with him—such was the exalted character of his ambition—was Galdan, chief by descent of one of the Eleuth clans, and the leader by virtue of his ability of all who bore the name. To the elevation of his race as a great people Galdan devoted all his energy and ability. The prize for which he strove was a brilliant and attractive one, while his own risk appeared in comparison insignificant. Victory assumed, under these circumstances, her most attractive colours, and defeat lost its chief terror.

Galdan was the younger son of the most powerful chief of the Eleuths. His proud and eager spirit could not forgive the accident of birth, and chafing at a position of inferiority, he quitted the camp of his people to advance his fortunes in a different sphere. The ambitious, as well as the disappointed, seek the ranks of religion's ministers to advance their ends and to gratify the promptings of an imperious will under the cloak of spiritual fervour, for humanity has allowed without

« AnteriorContinua »