MM The Fourth Dynasty, called Tsin, which had four Emperor in the space of forty-three Years.
THE banning of it his Prince's Reign is remarkable by the inroad which he made into the Territory of the King of Guei : At first he won several which alarm'd the other Princes, who, fear that after he had got the Empire he would depose them , and seize their Dominions, five of Princes, viz., the King of Han, Tsou, Yen, Tchao, and Tsi, joyned the King of Guei, their army consisted cf 200,000 Men, who defeated the Emperor's Army, and oblig'd him to retreat. During Transactions the Emperor died, and left the Crown to his adopted Son called Chi hoang ti, who took possession of it, the fifty-second Year of the Cycle, Chinese History says that he was born in the twelfth Month after his Conception.
IF the Confederacy which the six Kings, that I already mention'd, had continu'd, no doubt but that they would have been able to oppose the Forces of Chi hoang ti; but their Pride and Ambition soon ruin'd that alliance which they had made for their common Safety, for they entered into a War against each other, and so weakened themselves, that they soon became a prey to Chi hoang ti, who subdu'd them one after another, cutting the Throat of each of those Princes when he had conquered them, and putting to Death all Males of their Families, excepting the King of Tsi, whom he reserv'd for a more cruel and inhuman Punishment ; for he shut him up in a Grove planted with Pine-Trees, sending him as much Victuals as would hardly subsist him. This unfortunate Prince being oppress'd by Fortune, refus'd to eat any of the Provisions which they brought him, and starv'd himself to Death.
He sent a Colony of 300 young Men, and as many young Women, into the Japan Islands, under the conduct of a Sea Captain, who made himself Sovereign of those Islands ; and the People of Japan to this Day boast that they are of a Chinese Extraction.
[Cycle 36. Year before Christ 237.] Chi hoang ti, having visited his Empire, and finding that the Northern Provinces, especially those of Pe tche li, of Chan si, and of Chensi, were exposed to the Incursions of the Tartars, he sent an Army against them, and drove them a great way into Tartary beyond the Frontiers of the Empire : He likewise immediately began to put in Execution the Scheme he had form'd to build a Wall, which reached from the Sea to the Extremities of the Province of Chensi.
In the forty-second Year of the Cycle, he caused Ships loaded with Iron to be sunk into the Sea to secure the Foundation; one third Part of the Men in the Empire, who were able to work, were imploy'd at it : The Stones were joyn'd with a Mortar that was so hard that no Nail could be drove into it, and there were large Arches built for the passages of Rivers, as also Forts built at proper distances for Garrisons, and Gates to go into Tartary ; it was so thick that seven or eight Horsemen could ride abreast on it. This Wall is almost all standing to this Day, and which is most surprising, it was built in five Years time.
This stupendous Work was enough to immortalize this Prince; but it was not enough to satisfy his Ambition, for he was not pleased with the Comparisons which were made between him and his Predecessors ; he pretended that he had eclipsed all their Glory, and resolved that Posterity should be ignorant of all their Actions excepting his own.
In order to compass his Design he publish'd a Decree, commanding all his Subjects on pain of Death to burn the Books called King, and all the Works of Confucius, wherein the Lives and Actions of the best Emperors were recorded ; excepting from the Flames only those that treated of Architecture and Physick, accounting all Arts and Sciences, and all Learning to be of no Use, but rather an Encouragement to Idleness, and of dangerous Consequence to the State , whilst Agriculture, as he pretended, which was the Source of Happiness to the People, was neglected.
This Decree was executed by the Governors with the utmost Severity, and when Men of Learning were found with some of these valuable Books, they were immediately punish'd with Death : However some Copies of them were saved, as I have already mention'd in another Place. This Decree of the Emperor, and the Severity with which it was put in Execution, has made his Memory odious to Posterity to this Day, and the Loss of these ancient Monuments is much bewail'd by the Chinese.
The Emperor, after having been at War twenty-five Years, now enjoy'd an universal Peace: He made several new Laws, and abrogated others; but as he was not used to be at Rest, he resolved to make a second Progress through the Eastern Provinces of the Empire, and took his second Son with him. The Emperor fell dangerously ill, and died in the thirty-seventh Year of the Cycle.
Finding himself drawing near to his End, he write Letter to his oldest Son, declaring him Emperor, and delivered it, together with the Seals of the Empire, to his second Son, with a Charge to deliver them safely into the Hands of the eldest Son ; but the Emperor was no sooner dead, than the young Prince resolved to place the Crown on his own Head : The only way to succeed in this Affair was to engage Li Ssee, the Prime Minister of Chi hoang ti, in his Party, who was a Man of great Authority in the Empire : When the first Proposal was made to this Minister he rejected it, but new Solicitations being made to him, his own Interest, and the Merit of the young Prince, at last prevailed with him ; and through his Means the young Prince obtained almost all the Suffrages : The eldest Son of the Emperor having got together some Forces in order to maintain his Right, found that most of the Provinces had already acknowledged his younger Brother Emperor, and he was obliged to yield it up ; but the Steps that he had taken were look'd upon as Crimes of High Treason， and he was ordered to kill himself.
THIS Prince, who was both a Usurper and a Murderer of his Brother, during the short Time that he reigned, shewed how unworthy he was of the Crown : He chose for his Colao, or Prime Minister, the greatest Enemy of the Family of Tsin, who affected outwardly a great Zeal for his Person, though secretly he was endeavouring to extirpate all the Princes of this Race.
This Prince had told him several times, that Life being short he would pass it in the most voluptuous manner that he could, and would gratify all the Pleasures of his Senses without Restraint.
The Colao advised him to remove out of their Places all the Ministers and Governors which his father had placed, They being the only Obstacle that might give him Trouble ; the Emperor followed this pernicious Advice, and filled up all their Places by Persons who were entirely devoted to the Colao.
This Change caused many Complaints and Murmurings ; the People were overburthen'd with Taxes to supply the Emperor's Expences in building Palaces, parks, and fine Gardens.
One of the Generals of his Army, who had been sent into the Eastern Provinces to quell some Troubles, was the first that revoked, and engaged the Troops to proclaim for Emperor the Son of the eldest Brother, to whom the Right of the Crown belonged.
At this Juncture of Time there appeared an Adventurer, called Lieou pang, who had been a private Soldier, and who now headed a Troop of Vagabond: He was endued with great Qualities, being couragieous, mild, and moderate, altho' severe to his Companions when military Discipline required it , he was also naturally eloquent : He was told by an expert Physiognomist: that he should be Emperor, and he out of Gratitude married the Physiognomist's Daughter. The General, who had revolted from the Emperor, march'd with his Army into the Kingdom of Tsou, in order to conquer it for himself, and attack'd a Place in that Kingdom ; the Governor of it finding himself distress'd, sent to Lieou pang for help, who immediately march'd with all his Forces to his Assistance, and obliged the Enemy to retreat.
But the Governor of the Place, instead of acknowledging the Service, shut the Gates against his Deliverer.
Lieu Pang being informed by a Letter, which was thrown into his Camp fasten'd to a Dart, that there was a Sedition in the Town, which the Ingratitude of the Governor had caused, he immediately scaled the Walls of the Town, and took it; the Governor was slain in the first Attack, and the Inhabitants of the Place declared themselves for the Conqueror, who now was General of a great Army, and Master of very rich Plunder.
In the mean rime, altho' the Emperor's Throne seem'd to shake under him, yet he could not recover himself out of that deep Lethargy, in which the Love of voluptuous Pleasures had thrown him. The unfaithful Colao, instead of endeavouring to dissuade him from such a vitious Course of Life, rather encouraged him in it, and falsely accused of Crimes die Ministers and Governors who were best affected to the reigning Family, and had them immediately put to Death. The Covetousness and Cruelty of this prince made him odious to his People ; and in the second Year of his Reign several Provinces of the Empire revolted, and elected Sovereigns to govern them ; among them were these five Kingdoms, Tsi, Yen, Tchao, Guei, and Tsou.
The King of Tsou took into his Service the brave Lieou pang, and having resolved to go and attack the Emperor in the Metropolis, he chose two other Generals, and gave to each of them an Army to command, and promised to bestow the Kingdom of Tsin on any of the three that would take the Metropolis, and drive the Emperor out of it.
The Emperor sent numerous Forces against the King of Tsou ; at first his Army defeated one of these three Generals, but was at last beaten by that which Hiang hiu, the General of Tsou, commanded.
The Imperial Army sent Deputies to Court to demand Succours, but the Deputies being obliged to return without haying had an Audience of the Colao, joined themselves, with their General, to Hiang Hiu, and increased his Forces.
The Colao having heard of the desertion of the Imperial Army, and fearing that his Treachery should be found out, he brought an Assassin into the Palace who murdered the Emperor in the twenty-fourth Year of his Age, and the third Year of his Reign. Thus perish'd miserably a Prince, who had cruelly imbrued hi his Hands in the Blood of his Brother to obtain his Crown.
In the mean while the Colaoj who had shut himself up in his Palace, pretending to be lick, came out in hafte, as if he wanted to discover the Authors and Accomplices of the R,icide, and to give less room for Suipicion, and to make an outward Shew of his Fidelity, he caused Ing vang, who was Grand Nephew to the Emperor, to ascend the Throne.
THIS Prince had been but three Days Possessor of the Crown, when he discovered that it was the treacherous Colao who had murdered the late Emperor , but it was not in the Power of the Emperor to punish him openly ; he pretended to be sick, and commanded his Son to stab him, when he came alone to Speak with him in private, which was put in Execution : Thus was the Empire rid of this Monster.
However lieou pang was drawing near to the Metropolis, which when the Emperor heard he drew out all the Garrisons to strengthen his Army : Lieou pang made use of a Stratagem to overcome him ; he sent abundance of his Soldiers to the Imperial Army pretending themselves to be deserters : These Soldiers craftily insinuated to the Soldiers of the Imperial Army, that it was their Interest to follow Lieou pang, who being informed that a Sedition was ready to break out in the Imperial Army, came upon it suddenly and entirely defeated it.
The Emperor finding himself forsaken by his Subjects, and fearing Death more than the Lois of his Crown, threw himself at the Conqueror's Feet, and delivered him the Seals and other Marks of the Imperial Dignity. Lieou pang entered the City in Triumph, which he gave leave to his Soldiers to plunder, forbidding them to use any of the Inhabitants ill : He preserved the Palace, in which he found immense Riches.