Billeder på siden

restoring order in two of the "home provinces," Shansi and Honan; the other, Shantung, dispersed Li's rebel officials but remained for some time loyal to the Ming claimant. Li Tsu-cheng himself had to be pursued by Wu San-kwei and defeated in eight great battles during eighteen months before he ended his own life, a discredited fugitive in Hupeh. Dorgun very shrewdly proclaimed amnesty to all who would acknowledge his authority, and their old titles and emoluments to members of the old imperial household, even restoring the Ming tombs west of Peking and sacrificing to the manes of their former emperors. Many accepted his terms, but the family was large and produced a succession of futile aspirants to the throne-names to conjure with amongst a proud and loyal people, but all alike cowardly and trivial, unworthy even of sympathy in the disasters which infallibly crowned their recalcitrance. Five of these deserve mention for the trouble they created. A grandson of the famous old Emperor Wanli, known by his title of Fu Wang, was promptly recognized as emperor in the Yangtse and coast provinces, and established in Nanking, the original capital of his dynasty A victim of the weakness which marked all the degenerates of that dynasty, he gave his days to dancing girls and the business of restoring its fortune to one Ma Shu-ying, perhaps the most rapacious and unprincipled monster of these distressful times, ignoring the advice and devotion of his minister Shu Ko-fa, a noble contrast to the favorite. Shantung, deserted by Ming incompetency, was promptly subdued, and Nanking capitulated after the flight and surrender of the pretender. About the same time another army conquered Hupeh province, and Manchu supremacy obtained throughout the country north of the Yangtse. Had it not involved the compulsory change of head-dress to the plaited queue, that supremacy might have been supported with less contumacy on the part of the Chinese. The ordinance was enforced with vigor, presumably because the Manchus found it necessary amid frequent defections to insist upon some visible sign of submission among the natives, but the imposition of such a test upon a vain and self-sufficient people like the

Chinese reveals their incapacity to understand the mind of a more subtle race when its amour propre is concerned.

The second pretender, called the Tang Wang, once a Ming prince of Nanyang, found temporary support in Kiangsi and Fuhkien, but it melted away through the perfidy and incompetence of his generals. His brother Yü Ngao established the imperial pageant in Canton after his destruction in December, 1646, but the city was soon captured by a surprise and he killed himself in the presence of the Chinese traitor who made him prisoner. A fourth Ming, known as the Lu Wang, had ere this set up as an opposition emperor in Chehkiang, where, partly through the assistance of pirates, he regained all of Fuhkien between 1648 and 1650; but he fell foul of Koxinga's ambitions and was drowned in 1653 at Amoy. The last aspirant for Ming leadership, Yowliang the Kwei Wang, a great-grandson of Wanli, was proclaimed emperor in Kwangsi as a rival of Yü Ngao He was utterly worthless, like the rest, but the strength of Chinese hostility to the Manchus was revealed in 1648, when after being chased into Yunnan, a sudden resurgence of opposition throughout the whole of China swept the seven southern provinces and Szchuen under his allegiance, and the Regent was confronted with the task of reconquering the greater portion of the empire. To add to his difficulties a famine again exhausted the north, the Mongols got out of hand and raided over the Wall, the Mohammedans rose in Kansuh, and bandits swarmed in every province. In this new crisis of their affairs the dauntless Wu San-kwei was given the chief command, and very slowly the Ming supporters were pushed back by their own countrymen until the cowardly Kwei Wang fled over the Yunnan border into Burma, to be surrendered in 1661 by the Burmese and die by his own hand a captive of the great general.

The year 1661 marks the first lull in the secular resistance of China to the imposition of foreign rule. The country was conquered but not convinced. In the general wreckage of seventeen years of war it had exhausted its resources without developing a commander fit to excite an

enduring loyalty or unite the diverse desires of different sections. Under the apathy that ensued after this bitter experience the Manchus very prudently encouraged reconstruction by appointing Chinese officials chosen according to the ancient tests throughout the empire, and China returned sensibly though sullenly to her age-old life of toil under her new masters. Ten years before this date Dorgun the Regent had died, leaving Shunchi to direct the imperial policy in person at the age of twelve. We do not hear much of his intellectual endowments, but he had been nurtured in a household of sturdy kinsmen and he must have matured early to have employed his talents successfully at this age. He did in 1661 in his twenty-fourth year, leaving the empire to a son eight years old whose reign name Kanghsi is one of the most brilliant in Chinese history.

The Manchus were not ungrateful to the Chinese generals who had enabled them to win an empire. Wu Sankwei, whose pursuit of the Kwei Wang had completed the crowning performance of that great conquest, was given the title of prince and made absolute lord of the two provinces of Yunnan and Kweichow, with his own army and entire control of the civil appointments and revenues of the territory. Two other generals, both Liaotung men, were in like manner created princes of the maritime provinces of Kwangtung and Fuhkien, from which, as from Wu's domain, all the Manchu soldiery was withdrawn. Judged by the event this method of rewarding their services seems imprudent, but amid the multitude of traitors that must have made China appear to these Tartars as infected with perjury, these men had resisted the temptations to which others had succumbed and remained loyal to the end. Their honors were awarded in proportion to the magnitude of their efforts. But Prince Wu, either because he wearied of his sovereign state in a remote province, or because he was apprehensive of the imperial plans to reduce his army, after accumulating stores and revenues revolted in 1674, soon after the young Kanghsi had assumed control of the government. With him arose also the Prince Kung of Fuhkien;

and in a few weeks the empire was once more ablaze with insurrection, officials everywhere surrendering their cities and the people gladly removing their queues. Six provinces turned against their Manchu masters; a seventh, Kwangtung, remained neutral because its old Prince, Shang Ko-si was loyal, but his son Chu-sin, a drunkard, accepted the title of Great Commander from Wu, assumed the old Chinese headdress and made his aged father a prisoner. The latter died in 1676, and Chu-sin, rather alarmed at Wu's attitude toward him, made his peace with Kanghsi. The other rebel prince (of Fuhkien) after some serious fighting, was pardoned and re-employed by the Manchus in 1677, but was subsequently executed in Peking, a fitting end for his cruelty and crimes. The defection of these coast provinces, though badly led, was heartily endorsed by their inhabitants whose hatred of the Manchus has never much abated, and a considerable Manchu army had to be employed in bringing them to order. Wu San-kwei raged up and down the western provinces, where his armies at one time had possession of Shensi and even threatened Peking. So long as he lived there seemed to be a magic in the old warrior's name that paralyzed the troops brought against him. All his campaigning was carried on in the enemy's country, and though he was presently driven out of Shensi and the two Kwang, he died holding his own in Hunan, while none dared to attack his base in the southwest. During four years this indefatigable fighter had wrenched nearly half of China from Manchu control and maintained his upstart government upon the resources of the least productive portion of the empire. Kanghsi, who inherited the physical vigor of his great ancestors, was with difficulty dissuaded from taking charge of the campaign against this formidable rival in person. His counsellors were probably justified in their fears of losing Peking in an émeute if he left the capital, but his resolution in the crisis and the resources at his command-chiefly in the better fighting qualities of the Mongols and northern Chinese troops-eventually achieved a hard-earned victory over all his foes in 1681. Wu had succumbed to an illness in 1678; his grandson and

successor, Shu-fan, was beheaded upon the fall of his capital Yunnan, and his head hung upon one of the city gates of Peking. The rebellion had failed, and the emperor could congratulate himself that he had accomplished what was necessary for establishing his autocracy, the disarming of the vassal princes. So long as they retained their hereditary powers the Manchu was little more than the feudal suzerain of China. Their revolt was a declaration of the right of the Chinese to rule themselves, and in this sense these eight years were the concluding act in the bloody drama begun in 1644. To insure the future Kanghsi abolished the title of Wang except as bestowed upon members of the imperial clan, nor was it made hereditary even amongst these.

In the settlement of the country Manchu troops were quartered in permanent garrisons in a score of the more important cities of the empire. These "bannermen" were forbidden to intermarry with the Chinese or to engage in any occupation except that of arms. So long as these warriors were regularly exercised in their profession under the great military emperors, chasing bandits or campaigning in Central Asia, they remained a valid defence to the throne. But they never constituted an important element in the forces of the empire.1 In later times, becoming utterly demoralized through inaction, compelled to remain aliens in spirit as well as in race to the industrious Chinese who surrounded them and to whom they represented the yoke of a foreign master, they sank into forlorn and useless drones whose descendants were the first victims of the Chinese revolution of 1911. This was Kanghsi's reply to the intransigeants of China. He was logical, perhaps, but time, a profounder logician, proved it to be fallacious. The conquest had not in reality been effected by Manchu braves or even by Manchu wisdom, nor could the Manchus ever retain their hold upon China merely by the valor of their men. Their at

1In Chienlung's reign there were 45,500 Manchu bannermen disposed in twenty towns of China Proper, 8,750 near Peking and 15,000 in eight garrisons in Turkestan, besides about 100,000 guarding the imperial palace. The total Chinese army was 662,000, besides 700,000 provincial troops.

« ForrigeFortsæt »