Imatges de pàgina
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LAND OF VICISSITUDES. suggest in their work was equivalent to a command. It is to this period that must be assigned the various portraits we possess of the principal and earlier Manchus. Keen Lung seems to have greatly appreciated an art that served to bring events as well as persons prominently and clearly before him; and to the sense of gratification produced by this cause must be mainly attributed the more favourable opinion formed of the European missionaries by the Emperor during these last few years. As one of them wrote, China, indeed, was for them "the land of vicissitudes."

Much of Keen Lung's time was passed in his summer residence at Jehol, a small town beyond the Wall, where he was able to enjoy the quiet of the country, and the purer and more invigorating breezes of his native land. Here he varied the monotony of rural pursuits with grand ceremonies, of which he ordered a missionary selected for that purpose to draw him a picture, and although his instructions left little scope to the artist's genius or imagination, he passed no harsh criticism on his works, and generally sent him word that it was “very well." At last he was induced to sit for his own portrait, and so pleased was he with the result that he wished to make the painter Attiret a mandarin. The worthy missionary experienced much difficulty in escaping an elevation which he appears to have regarded with almost superstitious objection.

In order to gain some increased freedom in the practice of their religion, the French missionaries devoted all their ingenuity to the amusement as well as to the edification of Keen Lung. The automatons they invented and constructed, which were moved principally by clockwork, served to while away his hours of leisure, and their conversation enabled him to form a fairly accurate and complete idea of the kingdoms of Europe. To this period must be traced the conviction always existing in Keen Lung's mind that France was the great country of the West. The variety of Keen Lung's tastes kept all the foreigners employed at their different pursuits, and he seems to have taken peculiar pleasure in studying their practice of arts, which he admired and appreciated.

* From these peaceful pursuits, and this tranquil palace life, we have now to pass to the more stirring and exciting events that were in progress on the scene of foreign affairs, which occupied the greater part of Keen Lung's reign, and which have given it the prominent place that it can rightly claim in history. Throughout his life we find him equally determined to carry his ends, and to exact from all his officials the fullest amount of work of which they were capable. What he had shown himself to be in the smaller details, he was evidently resolved to prove in the larger affairs of government. He regarded the events in his neighbours' territories from the sublimity of the position of a Chinese Emperor, or, as he loved to call himself, of the Son of Heaven; and he expected all minor potentates to bow before him, and to resign themselves to his will. Such were the principles of his conduct; the result will show how well he could carry them into practice.

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The arrival of the fugitive prince Amursana at the Chinese Court called Keen Lung's attention to a very old question, which had been a source of trouble at an early period of Chinese history, and which has only been settled in our own time with any appearance of duration. This question was what relations should subsist between the Chinese and the disunited but turbulent tribes holding all the region westward of Shensi and Kansuh. In the eyes of these clans the wealth and weakness of China had for ages been at once the prize and the incentive of ambition. The Chinese were in the majority of years the victims and easy prey of these races, who were kept in order neither by the solemnity of their engagements nor by any political expedient that had up to this been devised. These tribes had on some occasions been welded into a military confederacy of no slight power, when the danger with which they threatened the Chinese and their Empire became proportionally increased ; and in the cases of the Kins and the Mongols their efforts had resulted in giving foreign dynasties to China. The Manchus, least of all rulers of the Celestial kingdom, were not disposed to regard with indifference the measures and movements of these warlike clans, for their own success warned them that the example they had set must find imitators, whose fate would depend on their own supineness or energy. The growth of Galdan's power had for that reason been watched with attention by the Emperor Kanghi, and when it threatened to absorb the faithful Khalkas all the resources of the Empire had been devoted to the task of arresting its growth, and of subverting the influence that chieftain had acquired. The overthrow of Galdan did not effect the durable remedy of the evil which Kanghi anticipated. That chief's nephew, Tse Wang Rabdan, became after his death an opponent hardly less formidable, and certainly not more friendly to the Chinese, although the pacific disposition of the Emperor Yung Ching had induced him to withdraw from the strife, and to leave this potentate and the hordes which acquiesced in his nominal authority masters of the field. The establishment of a Jungarian monarchy served to dispose the minds of Chinese statesmen to more willingly recognize the advisability of a policy of not interfering in the affairs of the Central Asian countries ; and, had it shown a capability to stand the test of time, their views of cultivating friendly relations with its ruler as the wisest and simplest solution of the difficulty might have finally prevailed. The contest for supremacy between Dardsha and Davatsi, followed by the rivalry and contention of Davatsi and Amursana, showed conclusively that the Jungarian monarchy was an ephemeral creation, that it would be speedily replaced by the old tribal chiefships, and that a fresh era of confusion and turbulence on the frontier was probably about to commence. Keen Lung had, therefore, as the responsible ruler of the Empire, to devise some means to avert these threatened troubles, and to ensure the security and tranquillity of his borders. Taking a large view of the situation, and regarding the matter in all its bearings and ramifications, as illustrated by the repeated occasions on which it had presented itself as a question of practical politics during the past history of his country, he arrived at the conclusion that the soundest course would be to seize the first favourable opportunity to attempt a settlement that should prove enduring. The flight of Amursana, and the tale of wrong which he carried to the foot of the throne of the Bogdo Khan, seemed to afford that opportunity, and Keen Lung did not fail to listen to the woes of a distressed prince whose information as well as whose sense of injury promised to afford him the

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means of realizing his object. It was one of the most cherished traditions at Pekin that the unfortunate or unsuccessful princes of the neighbouring states should be accorded protection against their opponents, and, where possible, assistance in recovering their lost possessions. Amursana's claim to the former was freely recognized, and, while the Emperor and his council were engaged in considering whether measures should be taken to reinstate him in his former rank, he was permitted to reside as an honoured guest in an apartment of the palace.

The Emperor Keen Lung has himself instructed posterity as to the motives which induced him to take up this quarrel, and also upon the objects which he set before himself for realization. With delicate tact he suggests that he inherited this difficulty from his father, whose vacillating policy and half-hearted measures had failed to provide a remedy for the evil, or in any way to curb the aggressiveness of his neighbours. While Keen Lung put prominently forward his desire and natural inclination to imitate the moderation of his predecessor, he did not fail to show his resolution not to shrink from the duties of his position. "If I draw the sword," he wrote, “it is that I may use it, but it shall be replaced in the scabbard when my object has been attained."

When Keen Lung first ascended the throne, his intentions were of the most pacific character. He resolved to continue the policy of abstention which had been adopted by his father, and on sanctioning the withdrawal of his troops from their districts, he announced that he did so in order that the Eleuths might be able to show, without pressure and of their own free will, their devotion to his person and his family. For a time that plan answered its purpose, and promised to work well; and several of Tse Wang Rabdan's successors paid to Keen Lung the formal recognition of his supremacy that he so eagerly required. It was not until the years immediately preceding the flight of Amursana, which had been caused in the manner already described, that these relations were violently disturbed, and that the Emperor again found himself threatened by the well-known VOL 1.

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