Imatges de pÓgina

(бо9 )



KANGHI's anticipations were soon verified. Galdan had not abandoned the ambitious dreams of his prime, and the mistrust of his intentions shown by the Chinese authorities supplied him with some excuse, if not justification, for renewing his aggressions in the direction of the Khalka districts. On the advice of his ministers, the Emperor had not only left a numerous garrison quartered in their country, but he held two bodies of troops in readiness to march at the shortest notice. Nor was this all. A summons was issued to the Khalka tribes to assemble on the plain of Dolonor for inspection by the Emperor, and the commotion produced by this ceremony caused a great stir throughout the steppe. The principal chiefs were granted further titles of honour, and rich presents were bestowed upon all according to their rank. When Kanghi returned to his capital he could congratulate himself on the cordiality which marked his relations with his Mongol subjects and vassals. Galdan alone held aloof from these transactions, and showed by his attitude that he regarded with little sympathy these measures for the extension westward of Chinese authority. Galdan's disapproval became more emphatic in consequence of the diplomatic negotiations which had been for some time in progress between the Emperor and Tse Wang Rabda n, his nephew and sworn personal enemy.

The question of their mutual relations might long have remained in this uncertain state without provoking a fresh appeal to arms but for an unfortunate occurrence which VOL. I.

2 R

rendered war inevitable, and which precipitated the crisis that had long seemed imminent. This event was the murder of one of Kanghi's envoys. The messenger had been commissioned to proceed to the camp of Tse Wang Rabdan, and, while strengthening the friendly understanding with that potentate, he was also charged to impress upon him the importance of preserving peace in his region, for Tse Wang Rabdan had several times evinced a disposition to bring his feud with Galdan to a settlement by the summary means most in accordance with the customs of his race. The Chinese envoy effected his journey in safety across the desert of Gobi, and the small escort of sixty men, which the Viceroy of Shensi gave him as a bodyguard, sufficed to afford him protection against the nomad tribes who regarded that region as being under their peculiar patronage. He had almost reached the friendly shelter of the town of Hami, when he was beset by a large band, either of Galdan's immediate followers or of tribesmen subject to his authority. Plunder appears to have been their main object, as it is improbable that Galdan gave them instructions to commit this outrage, for the very simple reason that he had himself just despatched an envoy to Pekin. The result, however, was plain enough. The Chinese emissary and the greater number of his escort were slain, their baggage and the presents destined for Tse Wang Rabdan were carried off, and the fame of the achievement tended to enhance the reputation of Galdan in the eyes of the tribes as an individual not afraid to assert his power in the teeth of the Emperor of China himself.

Kanghi was either so desirous of peace, or so fully persuaded that Galdan would accept no alternative short of war, that, despite this outrage, he did not depart from his attitude of studied moderation. Galdan had broken the laws held sacred by all nations, and he could not but feel overwhelmed by the contrast of his conduct with that of the Emperor, who seemed anxious only for the preservation of peace. Kanghi still held open the door for the Eleuth prince to make reparation for his crimes, and to show that he desired to behave better in the future; but in the very letter in which he offered the opportunity of redeeming a fault, he resorted to the threat



that unless Galdan promptly made amends for so many outrages, he would come with arms in his hands to exact due punishment.

Nor was Galdan slow for his part in taking such measures as he could, both for the attainment of his objects against the Khalkas, and also for the defence of his possessions when the long-threatened storm from China should burst upon him. He sent emissaries among the Mongol tribes to sow distrust of the Emperor's intentions in their regard, and to dwell on the advisability of uniting in a single confederacy all the clans of the Chinese frontier. Nor did he stop with these diplomatic overtures and this declaration of hostility. The man who had once thought of taking high rank as a lama of Buddhism, now resolved to repudiate a religious belief which had tended rather to embarrass than to strengthen his position, for at every stage of his dispute with China he had been met with the menaces of his spiritual head, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. In 1693 he took the decisive step of proclaiming himself a convert to Mahomedanism, by means of which he hoped to gain the assistance of not only the Tartar tribes, but also of the Mussulman colonies in China. At the same time he showed no disposition to break with the Dalai Lama personally, whose moral support he strove to enlist in his behalf by promises to maintain his supremacy against the encroachments which rumour attributed to Kanghi's protégé, the Koutuktoo Chepsuntanpa. Galdan's policy was thus based on certain high pretensions, and he resorted to any artifice to supply the deficiencies of his position, and to procure some substitute for want of numbers, and inferiority in material

The Chinese proclaimed that "ambition became his only God," and that “to it he sacrificed even the religion of his fathers."

Between neighbours thus situated it could not be long before frequent conflicts would ensue on borders which were but vaguely ascertained, and at points to which both sides advanced equal claims. Kanghi's general, Feyanku, who had risen so high in the service that he now held the post of chief commander on the Shensi frontier, sent reports of several of these combats, and he was not less desirous than his master


of demanding the reparation necessary for the satisfaction of the military honour of his country. Kanghi continued to collect troops, and held several meetings with the chief of the Kortsin Mongols, the most powerful tribe of Mongolia, to arrange for a joint expedition against Galdan. These interviews took place in the year 1695, when Kanghi had so far lost patience with his neighbour that he had resolved to effect his complete overthrow. Nothing short of the utter and irretrievable ruin of Galdan would satisfy the imperial wrath.

While Kanghi thus sought to lead his enemy into a trap, the extensive preparations he made for war showed that his determination was fixed to compass the destruction of Galdan -even at the cost of an extensive and hazardous expedition into the recesses of Central Asia. It was not until the year 1696 that he had perfected his arrangements and brought together a force specially raised and equipped for a protracted war beyond the frontier. The principal command of this great army was entrusted to Feyanku, who left his post on the frontier to receive from his sovereign the personal instructions he desired to give for the conduct of the war. The importance of the occasion was marked by an imposing ceremony at Pekin on the eve of the great national holiday, known as the Feast of Lanterns, when China old and young gives itself over to rejoicings and festivities that recall the Saturnalia of the ancients.

All the mandarins to be employed in the war, the special corps of artillery, cavalry, and infantry upon whose efficiency so much care and forethought had been expended, and the body of commissaries who had been trained for the supply services with much prudence and knowledge of war, were assembled in a double line along a parade extending between the principal gates of the city. The Emperor, surrounded by his court functionaries and the principal officials of his Government, took up his position on a raised platform, from which the whole scene could be surveyed. His heart might well have swelled with pride at this spectacle of the chivalry of the brave Manchu race, and at the power displayed before him of a great Empire. When Kanghi had carefully surveyed the

[blocks in formation]

serried lines of his troops, and the attentive and respectful groups of his ministers and generals, and as soon as the noise of the trumpets, proclaiming to the capital the presence of the Emperor, had ceased, Feyanku approached his sovereign. Then Kanghi handed him the cup of wine, which Feyanku received on his knees, and which, having descended from the steps of the throne, he quaffed in the full view of the thousands of spectators. Having thus drunk success to his master's cause and confusion to all his enemies, Feyanku retired. Precisely the same ceremony was performed by each of his lieutenant-generals, and then by the subordinate officers of the army, who, ten at a time, approached the steps of the throne. Success having been thus drunk to the army charged with the overthrow of Galdan, the final preparations for the opening of the war were completed. Feyanku left the capital with his reinforcements to assume the active command in the field, and Kanghi, eager to compass the overthrow of his enemy, set to work to raise a second army, of which he proposed to take the command in person.

While Feyanku was hurrying towards the West to begin operations from the side of Kansuh, Kanghi was busily employed in drawing together from the garrison of Pekin, and also from the Manchu Banners, another army, with which he proclaimed his intention of himself proceeding against the Eleuths. That opinions were divided among his ministers on the subject of these campaigns in a remote and little-known region may be judged from the open disapprobation with which the latter announcement was received. The censors, ministers of state, and other great functionaries, proceeded in a body to impress upon Kanghi the inadvisability of his taking the field. They were thanked for their solicitude, but the Emperor's intentions remained unchanged. The departure of the second army, which was to follow the route through Kukukoto, a place of great strategical importance beyond the Wall, was fixed for the day month after the ceremony attending the appointment of Feyanku.

The difficulties incident to campaigning in a sterile country compelled the further division of the expedition, and the task of effecting the overthrow of Galdan was finally entrusted to

« AnteriorContinua »