The Second Dynasty, called Chang, which comprehends the Lives of Twenty Eight Emperors in the Space of 644 Years.
THE Thirty Second Year of the Cycle this Prince ascended the Throne, and gave the Name of Chang to the Imperial Family : This was the Name of the little State which he had govern a long Time, in quality of a King, or Tributary Prince. His Modesty, Gentleness, Justice, and Application, had already gained him the Admiration of the People, and he was acknowledge Emperor by all the Provinces with universal Applause : He alone thought Himself incapable of sustaining so weighty a Burden, and therefore assembled his Ministers, and the Grandees of his Court, in order to deliver up a Crown, which any other, as he said, would wear more worthily than himself, and that it was sufficient for him that he had delivered his Country from the Persecution of the Tyrant , that he was satisfied with the small State which Heaven had allotted him j and that it was with a great deal of Grief and Concern he sat on a Throne to which he was not the lawful Heir.
The Nobles of the Empire remonstrated to him, that he sat on it by the particular Direction of Heaven, which, affected with the Misfortunes of the People, had chosen him to be the Deliverer of his Country , and that it was evident, from the unanimous Concurrence of all Orders and Ranks, that they Would have no other King but him.
Tching tang , whose Conduct was sincere, acquiesced at last in the pressing Instances of the nobles, and govern'd the Empire with the same Modesty as had induced him to refuse it.
He immediately abrogated the cruel Laws of his Predecessor, and established others full of Wisdom and Equity : He placed his Confidence in a Minister named Y Yin, whose Merit, Prudence, and Fidelity were perfectly well known to him, whom he fixed at the Head of his Council, and to whom he gave the Command of his Armies.
He brought the Soldiers under the strictest Discipline, who before had been used to Plunder and Rapine, and in a short time Order and Tranquility reign'd throughout all the Provinces.
He caused to be ingraven, on all the Vessels which were for the use of the Palace, the most instructive Maxims of Morality, that they might be continually, before his Eyes, and the Eyes of his Officers, that their Conduct might be always directed by those Principles.
He gave a Angular Mark of his Tenderness towards his Subjects, in the time of a universal Drought which lasted seven Years, which perhaps is the same that is mentioned in Genesis, imputing to his own Faults, the Cause of such a general Calamity , he devoted himself a Victim to the Good of his People. After that he had observed a rigorous Fast, he lay'd aside the Ornaments of his Dimity, had his Hair cut short, which then was worn very long, and being barefooted, as a Criminal, he lifted up his Hands towards Heaven, and entreated it to spare his Subjects, and to lay the Burthen of its Wrath on him alone. History relates, that at the end of his Prayer the Sky grew dark, and a general Rain followed, which made the Earth fertile, and restored Plenty.
The Death of this Prince, which happen'd the forty fourth Year of the Cycle, put the whole Empire in Mourning, and every one lamented for him as if he had loft his Father. His eldest Son Tai ting dying before him, the Crown devolved to his Grandson named Tai kia.
THE beginning of the Reign of this Prince gave a general Apprehension of his Administration ; far from following the Steps of his Grandfather, his Conduct was directly opposite, and such as was enough to draw on him the Contempt and Aversion of his Subjects.
Y yin, this wise Minister, whom I have already mentioned, and in whom Tching tang placed his whole Confidence, had acquired great Power in the Empire , he made use of it to remonstrate to the new Emperor the Abuse he made of the Power with which Heaven had intrusted him only for the Good of his People , he related to him the Examples of Divine Vengeance on vitious Princes, and endeavoured to inspire him with the Love of Virtues proper to a Sovereign.
But, as the young Prince gave no Attention to the wholesome Advice of such a wise and able Servant, this Minister found out an Expedient, the Rashness of which could hardly be excused, if the Integrity of his Intentions had not been well known to the whole Empire.
He built a House near the Tomb of the late Emperor, and locked Tai kia up in it, that he might have time to reflect on his ill conduct, and to form himself over the Ashes of his Grandfather, upon those Virtues which he had so perfect a Pattern of : At the fame time he declared himself Guardian both of the Prince and the Empire.
The Emperor, who had been blinded by his high Fortune, received Advantage from his Disgrace, and continued during three Years to make wholesome Reflexions on his own Misconduct, and on the Virtues necessary to the well governing of a great Empire. The Sincerity of his Change being evident, the Minister brought him out himself, and conducted him to the Throne from whence he had made him descend, caused him to be proclaimed Emperor the second time, and made him acknowledged by all the People.
The Emperor thought himself obliged to his Minister for his severe Behaviour to him, he Respected him as if he had been his Father, and follow'd always his Counsels, governing the Empire with a, great deal of Prudence. The Tributary Princes, who had began to revolt, submitted themselves with Joy to his Obedience ; the whole Empire was under constant Submission to the Death of this Prince, which happened the seventeenth Year of the Cycle. His Successor was Vo ting, another Grandson of the first Founder of this Dynasty,
THIS Prince, descended from Tching tang, did not disgrace the Blood he sprung from, but was Heir to his Virtues, as well as to his Crown. He had the same Confidence in Y yin as the other had ; this wise Minister dy'd in the eighth Year of his Reign, and the twenty fifth of this Cycle, when the Emperor, to testify his Esteem for so great a Person, did Honour to his Memory by most magnificent Obsequies, He was succeeded in his Place and Wisdom by his Son called Y pou, who was also honoured with the Confidence of this and the following Emperor. The Emperor died the forty seventh Year of this Cycle, and was succeeded by his Brother Tai keng.
HISTORY relates nothing remarkable of the Emperor, and the two following, except the Year they began their Reigns, and the Year they died.
This Emperor died the eleventh Year of the Cycle, and his Son Siao kia succeeded him.
ALL we know of this Emperor is, that he reign'd peaceably as his Father had done, and follow'd the Counsels of the same Minister. He died the twenty eighth Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Brother Yong ki.
THIS Prince was Son of Vo ting, but not by the same Mother as the two preceding Emperors : Some Disturbances were beginning in his Reign, by means of some tributary Kings or Princes having refused to come according to Custom to the Assembly, which the Emperors held from time to time. He died the fortieth Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Brother Tai vou.
[Cycle 13.Year before Christ 1617] HE was Son of the same Mother as Yong ki his Brother, whom he succeeded : His Zeal and Application to do his People Justice was so great, that he would give Audience very early in the Morning, and did not end it as long as there appeared any Person that required it. Among other Laws, which he either established or revived, there was one by which he ordered, that in every Town a certain Number of old People should be maintain'd out of the publck Treasure, which Custom is yet in practice.
After he had reigned in Peace seventy five Years, he died in the fifty fifth Year of the Cycle, in the Province of Ho nan, where he then kept his Court, and was succeeded by his Son Tchong ting.
THE frequent Inundations of the Hoang ho, or Yellow River, obliged this Emperor to abandon the City where he kept his Court, which was in the Province of Chensi, and to remove it first into the Province of Ho nan, and afterward into the Province of Pe tche li. His Reign was disturbed by a People who inhabited the South Part of the River Yang te Kiang [Cycle 14. Year before Christ 1557], who made Inroads into his Provinces, and committed all sorts of Violence, He sent Forces against them, who presently cut them in Pieces, and by that means prevented the like Outrages for the future. This Expedition re-established the Peace of the Empire, which the Emperor did not enjoy long, he dying the eighth year of this Cycle, when his Brother Vai gin ascended the Throne.
'TWAS at this time that the Civil Wars between the Brothers of the deceased Emperors and their Children, for the Right of the Crown, began. These Wars lasted near 200 Years , but as History mentions no Particulars, we must be silent on that Subject: This Emperor was very well respected and beloved of his Subject : He died in the twenty third Years of the Cycle, and Ho tan kia his Brother succeeded him.
HE kept his Court in a City of the Province of Ho nan, situated on a Hill, which prevented its being overflowed by the Inundation of the Hoang ho. He died the thirty-third Year of the Cycle, and left his Crown to his Son Tsou ye, who was worthy of succeeding him.
THIS Emperor had a Colao, or Prime Minister, called Yen, who was a very able and prudent Statesman, and through, whose wise Counsels the Empire enjoyed a lasting Peace, and the tributary Princes were kept in the perfectest Submission during this Reign : This Emperor dy'd the fifty-first Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Son Tsou sin.
THE Brothers of the late Emperor would have usurp'd the Crown, to the Prejudice of their Nephew the lawful Heir, under colour of being of an Age more proper for the Government, and had created great Disturbances by dividing the Empire into Parties, if the Authority and Ability of Colao yen had not Prevented the Dispute, by supporting this Emperor in his lawful Possession of the Crown. He died in the seventh Year of the Cycle, and his Brother Vo kia succeeded him.
THIS Emperor usurp'd the Crown from Tsou ting his Nephew, and Son of the late Emperor, and enjoy'd it more fortunately than he deserv'd : The Design of the Usurper was to transfer the Crown to his Son , but his Measures were disconcerted by the Prudence of the lawful Heir, who ascended the Throne immediately after the Death of Vo kia, which happen'd the thirty-second Year of the Cycle.
TSOU TING, in the late Usurper's Time, conceal'd his Resentment with so much Art and Prudence, that hfc g,in'd his Confidence and Friendship ; and behav'd himself with that Wisdom and Secrecy, as to succeed to the Crown without making use of any Violence, tho' he excluded the Usurper's Son his Cousin.
He governed the Empire with equal Wisdom, and before his Death gave a great Example of his Modesty, by leaving the Choice of a Successor to his Ministers, in case they judg'd his Son incapable of governing his Subjects ; accordingly they chose Nan keng, the Son of Vo kia, who had been banish'd from the Empire.
This Prince dy'd the fourth Year of this new Cycle [Cycle 16. Year before Christ, 1437.], and Nan keng succeeded him.
ALTHO' Nan keng was chosen by the Ministers, yet their Choice was not generally approved of, the Governors of the Provinces declaring for the Son of the late Emperor, so that the Empire was divided into two Parties, which made a cruel War on each other, but the Party of Nan keng being the stronger, kept him in Possession of the Empire : He removed his Court into the Province of Ho nan. This Prince was succeeded by Tang kia, the Son of Tsou ting.
THE Discords in the Imperial Family caused great Troubles in the Empire ; the tributary Princes, refusing to pay either Obedience or Tribute to the Emperor, were on the point of rendering their little Sovereignties independant, which would have been the Overthrow of the Monarchy, if the Emperor had not dy'd, which happened in the thirty-sixth Year of the Cycle, and was Succeeded by Pouan keng his Brother, who usurp'd the Throne to the Prejudice of his Nephew.
[This Emperor changed the name of his Family from Chang to Ying.]
THIS Prince, altho' an Usurper, was the Restorer of the Empire, by his extraordinary Merit and great Application to publick Business. He kept his Court in the Provinceof Chansi , revived the ancient Laws of the Emperor Tching tang, which had been neglected thro' the Negligence of his Predecessors, and followed the Steps of that great Emperor in all his Actions. He made it a Rule never to intrust any important Charge, relating either to his Court or Empire, but with those of his Subjects in whom he found the greatest Share of Capacity and Merit. He established so good Order throughout the State, that the tributary Princes all returned to their Obedience, and paid him the usual Tribute.
He died without Issue, the fourth Year of the Cycle [Cycle 17, year before Christ 1377.], and his Brother Siao sin succeeded him.
THIS Emperor inherited his Brother's Crown, but not his Virtues : He left the Government intirely to his Ministers, to follow his Pleasures, and his inaftive and effeminate Life had like to have destroyed all good Order and Discipline in the Empire. He died in the twenty-fifth Year of the Cycle, and his Son Siao ye succeeded him.
THIS Prince was educated conformably to his Birth, and the wise Governors, who had had the Care of his Education, expected that he would have shew'd himself worthy of the Throne he was destin'd to , but he no sooner saw himself Master of that great Empire, than he forgot the good Incrustations they had given him, and followed the pernicious and wicked Example of his Father. He dy'd the fifty-third Year of the Cycles and was succeeded by his Son Vou ting.
VOU TING was yet young when he ascended [Cycle 18. the Year before Christ 1317.] the Throne: He intrusted the Government of Empire with his Prime Minister, during his three Years Mourning, and shut himself up in a House near his Fathers Tomb, in order to lament his Death, and to beg of Heaven to grant him the proper Virtues to qualify him for the high Station to which it had appointed him.
The Time of his Mourning being expired, he returned to his Palace, and saw, in a Dream, a Man presented him by Heaven to be his Prime Minister ; he beheld him with Attention, and the Features of his Face were so strongly imprinted on his Fancy that he drew an exact Portrait of him When he awoke.
Upon this he assembled his Ministers, and having related to them his Dream, and Shewed the Picture to them, he sent several of them to seek for the Person whose Picture they had seen.
They found him in a Village in company with a great many other Artificers ; his Name was Fou Yue a Mason by Trade : He was immediately carried tor Court, where a great many Questions relating to Politicks and Government were proposed to him, to which he gave very proper and just Answers, with a great deal of Eloquence, to the Admiration of every one, so that the Emperor, after addressing him in the warmest Terms, immediately made him his First Minister.
Fou Yue prostrated himself before the Emperor, according to Custom, whom he found always very compliant with his Inflictions, the Particulars of which I shall publish in the Chu king ; the Emperor followed these Instructions regularly, and by that means became a Pattern for the best of Princes, and his Reputation extending to the most distant Nations induced them to come and pay Homage to him.
This Prince died in the fifty-second Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Son, called Tsou keng.
THIS Reign was so short, and the Order and Discipline of the Empire so exact and regular, that the Emperor had no other Care than to preserve it as he found it: He reign'd seven Years, and dy'd the fifty-ninth Year of the Cycle, his Brother Tsou kia succeeding him.
[Cycle 19. the year before Christ 1257.] THE great Virtues of his Father, Vou ting, the whom was still regretted, rendered the Vices of this Prince more odious : The Father was endued with Wisdom, Modesty, and Meekness , but the Son was full of Pride and Vanity, and given up to all manner of Debauchery, using his Subjects with the utmost Contempt : Such an irregular and disorderly Conduct caused Disturbances in the Empire, which seem'd to foretel the approaching Ruin of this Dynasty.
The twenty-seventh Year of the Cycle is remarkable for the Birth of Ven vang.
The Emperor dy'd the thirty-third Year of the Cycle, and left his Son Lin sin his Successor.
THIS Prince was, like his Father, a Slave to his Lusts, and so void of any Application to Business, that he left the Government of the Empire to his Ministers, forbidding them to give him any Account of publick Affairs, that he might have the more Leisure to follow his infamous Pleasures.
At length his Debaucheries shortening his Days, delivered the Empire from such a vicious Prince. He died without Issue the thirty-eighth Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Brother Keng ting.
HISTORY relates nothing of this Emperor, excepting the Number of Years that he reigned, and the Year of his Death, which was the fifty-ninth Year of the Cycle, and nine Years after the Birth of Vou vang, who was the Founder of the following Dynasty : This Emperor was succeeded by his Son Vau ye.
[Cycle 20. the year before Christ 1197.] AS Short as this Reign was it appeared too long to the Chinese : They speak of this Emperor as an impious and wicked Prince, who could not fail to draw on himself the Divine Vengeance: He was killed by Thunder as he was hunting, the third Year of the Cycle , his Son Tai ting succeeding him.
About this time Chinese Colonies were sent to inhabit some Islands to the Eastward ; and there are some who say that Japan began to be inhabited then.
THIS Emperor began his Reign by declaring War against a tributary Prince, whose little State was called Yen, in the Province of Pe tcheli, and Peking, which is now the Metropolis of the Empire, was one of the Towns of that State : He died the sixth Year of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his Son Ti ye.
THIS Emperor continued the War which his Father had begun against the Prince of Yen : He gave the Command of his Forces to a great General called Kilie, who defeated that little Sovereign, and depriv'd him of his State : The Emperor was so well pleased with the Conquest, that he gave that Principality to his General, and made it hereditary to his Family : Ki lie governed it seven Years, and his Son Ven vang succeeded him, who in time founded the Third Dynasty.
The Emperor dying the forty-third Year of the Cycle, was succeeded by Tcheou his third Son, who was the Son of the Empress, to the Prejudice of two other Sons whom he had before by a Woman of the Second Order, but as they were born before their Mother was Queen, they were deprived of the Succession : Not but that the Father, perceiving Tcheou's Want of all Merit, would have left his Crown to the eldest of the other two Sons, but the chief Ministers apposed it as a thing contrary to the Laws of the Empire, which they afterwards had sufficient Reason to repent of.
PRIDE, Luxury, Debauchery, Tyranny, and Cruelty, mounted the Throne with this Emperor : He married a Woman named Ta kia, who was the most beautiful Person in the whole Empire, but the most barbarous and wicked Wretch of the Age : She would have all things directed according to her Caprice and imperious Humour, and if the Ministers failed to conform to her Opinion, they were immediately either banished, or condemned to Death , to disobey her Orders, was accounted Rebellion, and she persuaded the Emperor that he could not be absolute Master of his Subjects, unless he made himself feared by them.
For that purpose she caused a brazen Pillar to be erected, which being made red hot with fire, the unfortunate Wretch, whom her Cruelty had condemned to this kind of Punishment, was brought to it, and forc'd to embrace it, till such time as his Flesh was consum'd to the Bone, which horrible Spectacle was an agreeable Diversion to her.
These, and other kinds of bloody and cruel Executions, did not intimidate the wise Ven vang, who had the Courage bravely to oppose such horrid Inhumanities : The Tyrant, who as yet Respected his Virtue, did not use him with the same Rigour as he had done others before him, whom he had unjustly put to Death for the same Cause, but sent him to Prison only to punish his Rashness, as he call'd it ; the principal Subjects of Ven vang, hearing of his Imprisonment, immediately resolved to send a Present to the Emperor to induce him to release him, and, among other things, sent him a young Girl of very great Beauty ; Tcheou was so taken with her Charms that he immediately ordered Ven vang to be set at Liberty, whose Joy was doubled, in that he not only obtained his Freedom, but at the same time was remov'd from so corrupt a Court.
Altho' Ven vang was Sovereign of a small State, yet he was as much Respected and esteem'd throughout the whole Empire, as Tcheou was hated and despis'd : This high Esteem he had acquired by his great Love of Justice, Meekness, Modesty, Frugality, Love of Learning, and great Application to publick Affairs,
The Reputation which he had acquir'd was so great, that forty tributary Princes chose him for their Sovereign, thinking that he alone could put a Stop to the Evils with which the Empire was then afflicted ; but he died before he could put that Deign in Execution, leaving his Principality and his Riches to his second Son, called Vou vang, whom he preferr'd to his eldest, because he would not enter into his Views of dethroning the Emperor ; or his Father's Death, he retir'd beyond the River Yang tse kiang towards the Borders of Se tchuen, and founded the two Kingdoms of Yue and Hou.
Mean while [Year before Christ 1137.] Tcheou became more and more odious to Subjects, who groaned under his Tyrannical Government: One of his Uncles, seeing that he was running headlong to his Ruin, made Remonstrances to him on his ill Conduct, whereupon the Emperor condemned him to Death immediately, which he must have suffer'd, had he not counterfeited Madness ; however, he kept him in Prison some time, to try whether it was real or pretended, but the Uncle acted his Part so well, that he deceived the Tyrant, and saved his Life. He caused also another of his Uncles to be immediately strangled upon the same Account, whose Heart he order'd to be brought before him, which he examined with great Nicety, more to satiate his Vengeance than to satisfy his Curiosity.
Such strange Inhumanity, carry'd to such a Length, provok'd at last the whole Empire to revolt : The Princes and Grandees intreated Vou vang to put himself at the Head of an Army, and to march against the Tyrant, promising to furnish him with what Forces Should be necessary.
The Emperor hearing of it put himself at the Head of a much more numerous Army, and marched against his Enemies; but scarcely was the Signal of Battle given, but the greater Part of the Imperial Army threw down their Arms, and join'd Vou vang.
Tcheou, finding that he was betray'd, fled to his Metropolis, and retiring to his Palace set it on fire, that he might not fall into the Hands of a rebellious Subject ; this happened the sixteenth Year of the Cycle : Through the Care that was taken to extinguish the Fire one half of the Palace was saved, and Vou vang entred it as Conqueror, where the first Object which he met with was the Empress Ta kia, whom he immediately slew with his Sword. Hereupon the tributary Princes, and the Grandees of the Empire, unanimously elected him Emperor, and he became the first Founder of the Third Dynasty, called Tcheou .
The Name of this Dynasty is pronounced differently from the same Name of the late Emperor.