Imatges de pàgina

deposed the Khan who had been elected in his place after the murder of Tsenka, and as the next step decreed the death of all the members of his family whose opposition to his plans might be expected. This holocaust in the camp of the Eleuths terrified the people into a state of subjection, which it became Galdan's main object to make as light and durable as he could. Galdan had done enough for the moment towards strengthening his own position. He had now to consolidate his power by systematic encroachments on the lands of his neighbours; and as the preliminary to these latent designs he sent a mission, nominally of congratulation, but really of inquiry and investigation, to the Court of Kanghi. It arrived at the very moment when the rebellion of Wou Sankwei was at its height, and it returned before the death of that prince and the subsequent pacification of the South had taken place. The tale it brought back to Galdan was one, therefore, not of the power and resources of the Manchus, but of their weakness and embarrassment. These Central Asian envoys may well have been excused if they spread the rumour that the brave young Tartar ruler stood on the verge of ruin.

When Galdan received the report of his messengers he abandoned whatever intention he may have had of preserving the peace with the Chinese Empire. The opportunity of advancing his interests at its expense, for which he had been on the look-out, seemed to have arrived, and he lost no time in beginning the encroachments over which he had long meditated. The Khalkas, who had given a willing and sincere recognition to the Manchu authority, presented the mark upon which he could most easily vent his simulated indignation and his deeply-felt ambition. They were within the reach of his power, and too remote to receive from China the aid which could alone enable them to resist his attack. The invasion of the Khalka districts formed the task undertaken by Galdan in his first campaign ; but at the same time he sent troops in the direction of the Chinese frontier. The approach of his force induced many to flee within the Emperor's territory, and to seek the aid of his officials in recovering their possessions from an aggressor with no valid ground of complaint against them. Kanghi gave them



permission to settle on the frontier, and provided them with a few necessaries. But at first he could not do more than watch the progress of events with vigilant attention, and this he was always careful to do. His generals on the frontier were ordered to send spies into the territory of the Eleuths, and these reported that Galdan had established a formidable military power, and that he meditated extending his sway over all the regions adjacent to China.

While employed in the serious business of advancing his authority into the lands of the Khalkas, Galdan amused himself by frequently sending missions to Pekin, with the double object of increasing his information and of blinding the Emperor as to his plans. So little was known about the state of the regions beyond the Chinese frontier, that for a long time Galdan was able to keep the execution of his plans without the knowledge of the Chinese officials. So well did he combine the arts of vigilant activity in the field and of dissimulation in his diplomatic negotiations, that in the year 1679, when his encroachments on the Khalka country were beginning to assume tangible form, his ambassador at Pekin was accorded a flattering reception, and returned to his master with the seal and patent of a khan.

Three years later Kanghi commissioned two of the principal officers attached to his person to proceed to the camp of Galdan to ascertain how far the disquieting rumours concerning his movements and military preparations were true. At the same time he sent other envoys to the Khalkas, and among these may be noted Feyanku, then a young captain in the bodyguard, but afterwards one of the most celebrated of Chinese generals. These diplomatic agents were the bearers of the usual number of presents for the princes' to whom they were about to proceed; but their instructions were of the simplest kind. One and all of the potentates whom they visited were to acknowledge the supremacy of the Chinese Emperor and to renew the formal expression of their allegiance at stated intervals. Of these missions, the result only of that to Galdan had any practical significance.

The laws of hospitality are sacred and exacting. Galdan, enraged at heart at the pretensions of a monarch whose power he affected to despise, lavished on Kanghi's envoys all the resources of his people and circumstances. The arrival of an embassy in his poor country from the rich and powerful Emperor of China was an event, he said, that would be handed down to posterity as the most glorious of his reign; yet he was no doubt thinking that his relation to Kanghi might become very similar to those of the early Manchu leaders with the last of the Ming emperors.

The Chinese envoys did not succeed in obtaining any of those formal concessions which they were expected to bring back from him, and the indifference of Galdan's attitude was enhanced by the unaffected cordiality of the pledges of friendship given by the Khalkas. To this they were impelled both by their apprehensions of Galdan, and also by the divisions and rivalries which disturbed the harmony of their assemblies.

The dissensions of the Khalkas afforded Galdan his opportunity, and when Kanghi succeeded in 1687 in effecting a reconciliation between these princelets, who swore before an image of Buddha to keep the peace among themselves, Galdan resorted to all the artifices within his power to disturb the harmony of this arrangement and to revive the feuds and discord that many hoped had been happily healed. Kanghi addressed them by letter in terms which sought to bring before them all the risk and attendant evils of the course they were pursuing; but his principal aim was to check the pretensions and encroachments of Galdan. Early in the following year, therefore, he sent a new embassy into the Khalka country; and he attached so much importance to its success, that he entrusted the mission to some of his nearest and most intimate advisers. Prince Sosan, a captain of the bodyguard and minister of state, was placed at the head of the embassy, and with him was associated Tong Kwekang, another official of high rank, and Kanghi's maternal uncle. With these Chinese dignitaries also went the two European priests, Gerbillon and Pereira, as interpreters, for to the complications among the Khalkas there had been added a dispute with the Russian colonists, who had crossed a continent to find a fertile place of settlement on the banks of the Amour.

The Russians had constructed along the Southern border



of their new possession a line of block-houses, but, as their presence in this remote quarter did not apparently disturb the Chinese, they soon began to fortify their stations on a more pretentious and formidable scale. A fort was erected at Albazin, a place on the upper course of the Amour, and the Russian authorities in this quarter anticipated being able to derive substantial benefit from the disturbed state of the country held by the Khalkas as well as from the rival pretensions of Galdan and the Emperor Kanghi. In this expectation they were doomed to disappointment, for the Chinese troops sent into the neighbourhood by Kanghi, with the aid of the surrounding tribes, fell upon the garrison of Albazin, captured the place, and carried off a band of Russian prisoners to Pekin, where their descendants still remain. The Russians returned and re-established themselves at Albazin with that obstinacy which is one of their characteristics, and which they derive from their Tartar origin. Hostilities recommenced and languished throughout the year, and then it was that Kanghi, more anxious to crush Galdan than to embroil himself in an indefinite quarrel with the Russians, accepted the overtures that came to him from the Muscovites for a pacific arrangement. This embassy had almost reached the scene of its proposed diplomatic labours, when an event compelled its sudden return. War had at last broken out between the Eleuths and the Khalkas, and Galdan was in the act of invading the very territory whither Kanghi's representatives had gone to assert his right against the Russians. Although the diplomatists were recalled, the negotiations were only suspended, and not broken off. In the following year it may be stated that they were brought to an auspicious termination by the treaty of Nipchu.

Galdan had on his side speculated on the possible advantages he might derive from the appearance of these Russians, and possessed with the idea that it must tend to his advantage, he resolved to defer no longer his open rupture with the Khalkas. Even in these uncivilized regions, where the law of might supersedes every other consideration, the moral sentiment of the human race requires that some cloak shall be given to acts of wanton aggression. Galdan specified his 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

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