Imatges de pàgina

grounds of complaint against the chief of the Khalka princes. He had participated in the murder of some of Galdan's kinsmen, and to all demands of redress had turned a deaf ear. There does not seem to have been much truth in the allegation, but it served its turn. Galdan had long resolved to overrun the country of his neighbours, and one excuse was as good as another. Yet in attacking the Khalkas the thought uppermost in his mind was how best he could injure Kanghi.

Chepsuntanpa, one of the principal Khalka princes, upon whom the Emperor had conferred the religious title of Koutuktoo, sent the first certain intelligence of Galdan's movements to China. With a force of 30,000 men he had overrun several of the districts belonging to these chieftains, and the Koutuktoo wrote that unless the Emperor promptly sent assistance it would be impossible for them to escape the yoke of the Eleuths. This bad news was fully confirmed by Kanghi's own envoys, who dwelt upon the panic that had seized the minds of the Khalkas in consequence of the rapid successes of Galdan. Kanghi at once gave orders for the reinforcement of the garrison in the North-West, and summoned eight of the Mongol banners to take the field with their contingents. Shortly afterwards, not feeling certain that these preparations would suffice in so critical an emergency, the Emperor moved a portion of the Leaoutung garrison, and some of the Manchu banners, nearer to the scene of the threatened fray.

Galdan was now more indifferent to appearances than he had ever been before, and he openly declared that he aimed at the destruction of the Khalka independence, and that nothing short of the death or capture of their two foremost princes would satisfy his intentions. He did not even refrain from putting forward a grievance against the Chinese Government for its having allowed several of the Khalka princes and their followers to take refuge within the limits of the Empire. Kanghi's reply to these pretensions was to allot the Khalkas settlements in the Kirong region, and to receive them into the ranks of his subjects, on the same footing as the other Mongol tribes. That Galdan was not wholly in



the wrong, or, at least, that he had succeeded in giving his case a semblance of right, is evident on the admission of Kanghi himself; but the unbridled extent of his ambition was clearly evident at all times.

In 1689 the question in dispute between these potentates had resolved itself into whether Kanghi would surrender the refugee Khalkas, or whether Galdan would agree to waive his demands on this point. Neither party was likely to make any substantial concession, and, unless a compromise could be effected, war was inevitable. Galdan's pretensions received the unexpected support of the Dalai Lama, who sent one of his attendants to Pekin to urge on Kanghi the advisability of complying with the demand of the Eleuth prince for the surrender of his personal enemies, the Koutuktoo and his companion. Kanghi refused to listen to the advice of his spiritual friend and correspondent, for it would ill become him, he wrote, as a great prince not to show consideration for the unfortunate. At this stage Galdan met with an unlookedfor check in a disastrous defeat which he suffered at the hands of his neighbour and nephew, Tse Wang Rabdan, son of the murdered Tsenka, with whose future career the development of this Central Asian question will have much to do.

Galdan must have quickly recovered from the effects of this reverse, although report had painted its gravity to the Emperor in vivid colours; for the very next year, 1690, he took the first step of hostility that he had yet ventured upon against China. The act of hostility to which he resorted was to arrest the Chinese envoys staying at his camp, thus hoping to secure an equivalent for the eventual recovery of the objects of his personal animosity. In face of this outrage and insult all Kanghi's desire for peace, and dislike for an arduous war, disappeared ; and, placing three armies in the field, he directed one to march with all despatch to the Kerulon. But Galdan was expert in this form of warfare, and, knowing the country well, long evaded the pursuit of the Chinese forces. His own difficulties, however, remained so numerous and grave, that it was impossible for him to collect all his strength to resist the Chinese. His neighbour, Tse Wang Rabdan, continued to be a thorn in his side; and his best chance appeared to be an alliance with the Russians, although they had nominally settled all their misunderstandings with the Chinese by the Treaty of Nipchu. The Russians, whatever their inclination may have been, did not possess the available power to help the Eleuths; but, with the object of keeping themselves as well informed as they could about the affairs of their neighbours, they sent an officer on a visit to Galdan's camp. The mere rumour of a possible alliance between Galdan and the Russians roused Kanghi to acts of unprecedented energy and activity. The whole of the Northern army, composed of the picked troops of the Eight Manchu Banners, the Forty-nine Mongol Banners, and the Chinese auxiliaries, was ordered to proceed across the Mongolian steppe, and an expedition of formidable proportions was thus fitted out for the destruction of Galdan.

Meantime Galdan, although his main hope centred in the Russian alliance, and notwithstanding that his necessities had obliged him to kill most of his horses to satisfy the requirements of his followers, had not remained inactive. Collecting all his forces, he made a rapid advance into the territory under Chinese authority, attacked the advanced Chinese army under President Horni on the river Hourhoei, and after a stubborn engagement compelled it to quit the field, of which he remained the undisputed master. This reverse proved that the military power which Galdan had collected during these years was far from insignificant. Considerable as it already was for defence, but a few more years of inaction on the part of Kanghi were required to make it formidable for offence. The defeat of Horni on the banks of the Hourhoei proved this much, if it did not also show that Galdan was resolved to give the reins to his ambition in the direction of China.

Galdan's victory did not render him so elate that he failed to recognize that the chances in the war with China were overwhelmingly against him; and the extensive preparations made by Kanghi warned him that it would be wise to avert the coming storm by timely concessions. He, therefore, sent another envoy to Pekin, where the Emperor



accorded him an honourable reception, despite the fact that his own officers remained in confinement. Although Kanghi still protested his desire for a peaceful solution of the question, the only terms on which he would treat were the laying down of his arms by Galdan. At the same time that the Eleuth envoy left Pekin, Kanghi set out from his capital to place himself in nearer communication with his army.

Kanghi's brother, Yu Tsing Wang, was appointed to the chief command, and his instructions were to bring Galdan to an engagement as promptly as he could, and to wipe out the stain of the defeat on the Hourhoei by either the overthrow or the capture of the Eleuth prince. Although the Emperor was compelled by the state of his health to return to Pekin, active operations were continued with unabated vigour, and Kanghi had very soon the satisfaction of receiving the news of a decisive victory won by his generals. The battle was fought at Oulan Poutong, where Yu Tsing Wang fell upon the Eleuth camp, which had been formed at the foot of a mountain, with a wood on one side and a small stream on the other. The Chinese attacked Galdan in this advantageous position, and, although the Eleuths fought with much of the valour to be expected from men engaged in defending a popular cause, the former were completely victorious. The victors suffered considerable loss in this encounter, and among the slain was Prince Kiukiu, an uncle of the Emperor Kanghi.

This defeat made Galdan again anxious to come to terms with Kanghi, and negotiations were begun between him and Yu Tsing Wang. At first Galdan endeavoured to circumvent the intentions of the Chinese by negotiating on a basis from which his personal enemies, the Khalka princes, were excluded ; but he was dealing with a race fully his equal in the art of diplomatic fence, and, as the material argument of superior force was against him, he had really in the end no prudent choice save to give in his unqualified surrender. Galdan sent the Emperor a formal expression of fealty and obedience, and Kanghi in return wrote him a letter of forgiveness. This was in the year 1690.

A few months later, Kanghi sent Galdan the sum of one thousand taels for the purpose of alleviating the sufferings of his people ; but, although these arrangements were apparently satisfactory, very little confidence seems to have been felt in their enduring. Kanghi himself regarded the treaty as a hollow truce ; but as matters stood he could congratulate himself on the conclusion of his first contest with Galdan. He had certainly curbed the pride of the Eleuths, and given security to the Khalkas.

« AnteriorContinua »