The Tenth Dynasty, called Leang, wbich had four Emperors in the Space of 55 Years.
SIAO YUEN, who by his Crimes got possession of the Imperial Throne, assumed the Name of Kao tsou vou ti , he descended from the ancient Family of Siao ho , and was not without eminent Qualities, being active, laborious, and vigilant; he managed all his Affairs himself, and dispatch’d them with wonderful Readiness ; he was skill’d in almost all the Sciences, particularly the Military Art, and was so severe upon himself, and so thrifty, as ’tis said, that the same Cap served him three Years ; his Fondness at last for the whimsical Conceits of the Bonzes, carry’d him so far as to neglect intirely the Concerns of the State, and to become in effect a Bonze himself: He put out an Edict forbidding to kill Oxen or Sheep even for the Sacrifices, and appointed ground Corn to be offered instead of Beasts.
In the fifteenth Year of his Reign he laid Siege to the City of Cheou yang in the Province of Chan si , which lasted ten Years, and an incredible Number of Men perish’d in it by Sword and Famine.
At this time happened the entire Ruin of the Empire of the North, called Guei ; this vast Dominion was divided between two Sovereigns, one having the Eastern, the other the Western Part, but at last it came into the Hands of the King of Tsi and Tcheou : The Empress of the North, named Hou, caused a Monastery of vast Extent to be built, wherein a thousand Bonzes might dwell, and gave it the Name of Yong tching, i.e. Perpetual Peace. For twenty-six Years the Emperor governed with Success, till a Whim took him to leave the Court, and live in the Temple of the Bonzes, where he had his Head shaved, wore a coarse Garment, and lived upon Herbs and Rice: The Grandees of the Empire went to fetch him out, and brought him back by force to his Palace, but this made no Alteration in him, for he still continued to live after the manner of the Bonzes. According to the Doctrine of Transmigration of Souls, he could not put any Criminal to death, tho’ ever so much deserving of it, so that this Impunity increased Licentiousness, and produced infinite Murders and Robberies. Kien ouen, the Prime Minister, being grieved that he was forced to serve an Usurper, refused all Nourishment, and starv’d himself ; a kind of Death very common among the Chinese ; when the Report of his Death came to the Emperor’s Ears, he cry’d out. Don’t I I hold my Crown from God ? Am I beholden to the Grandees of the Empire? What Reason then, had this miserable Man to destroy himself?
Heou king, who was King of Ho nan, and the Emperor’s Vassal, revolted suddenly, and making him, self Matter of Nan king, seiz’d the Emperor, who appearing before his Conqueror with a firm and steady Countenance, and without the least Token of Concern, the Rebel, tho’ naturally stout, was scarce able to look his Master in the Face, and so moved that the Sweat ran down in Drops ; I could not have believed, said he, that it was so difficult to resist a Power which Heaven has establish’d. so that he durst not imbrue his Hands in the Blood of the old Man, but contented himself to starve him by degrees, by cutting off some Part of his Sustenance every Day.
There were great Encomiums made at this time on the filial Affection of a young Man fifteen Years of Age, call’d Kie fuen. Whose Father being condemned for Offences committed in his Magistracy, Kie fuen , as soon as he was informed thereof, went and threw himself at the Feet of the Prince, intreating him with Years to accept the Offer he made of suffering in his Father’s stead , the Prince examined him strictly, to show if he was in earnest, and if he made this Offer of his own accord ; but when he was assured of the Sincerity of his Resolution, in consideration of such remarkable Tenderness, he pardon’d the Father, and conferred a Title of Honour upon the Son, which yet he constantly refused for this Reason, Secause the Title wherewith he was honoured would continually call to mind his Father’s Faults.
Kao tsou Vou ti calling for a little Honey to take Cycle 49. A.D.544. away the bitter Taste he had in his Mouth, and being deny’d it, he died immediately, at fourscore and six Years of Age, and was succeeded by his third Son Kien ven ti.
Heou king did not suffer this Emperor to sit long upon the Throne, for he seiz’d his Person in the second Year of his Reign, and murder’d him, assuming the Title of Emperor, but hardly preserv’d it one Year. Kien ven ti, when kill’d, was forty-nine Years of Age, and was succeeded by Yuen ti the seventh Son of the Founder of the Dynasty.
TCHIN PA SIEN, being Sovereign of a Small Principality, and at the same time Prime Minister of the Empire, went and attacked Heou King, and cut off both him and his Army : This Prime Minister also revoked in his turn, and laid Siege to Nan king, where the Emperor resided, who was taken up with the Vagaries of the Sect of Lao Kiun, of which he was fottishly fond ; at the News of this Revolt he took Arms, and went round the Walls of the City, but seeing all was given over for lost, broke his Sword, and burnt his Library, which consisted of 140000 Volumes, saying. There was an end, for the future, both of the Sciences and Military Art, After this the Rebel made himself Master of the City, and Yuen ti, mounted on a white Horse, went and surrendered himself into the Hand of his Conqueror, who slew him at the Age of forty-seven, and King ti his ninth Son succeeded him.
IN the thirteenth Year of the Cycle this Prince was advanced to the Imperial Dignity, which he held not above two Years, the Murderer of his Father dispatching him likewise when he was yet but sixteen Years old , with this Prince fell the Dynasty of Leang, and Tchin pa Sien, the Founder of the Dynasty of Tchin, made himself Matter of the Empire, taking the Name of Kao tsou vou ti : In the same Year the Emperor of that Part of the North, called Tcheou, caused all the Temples of the Bonzes, and their idols, to be burnt.
The Eleventh Dynasty, called Tchin, which had Five Emperors in the Space of 33 Years.