The Twenty-first Dinasty, nam’d Ming, which contain sixteen Emperors in the Space of 266 Years.
TAI TSOU took possession of the Empire with a general Applause, in the forty-sixth Year of tho Cycle, and fix’d his Court at Nan king, Capital of the Province of kiang nan : The next Year he took Piking, after one Day’s Siege, and made this Country a Sovereignty, which he gave to Fo his fourth son, afterwards he gave the Title of Emperor to his Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, and his Great Grandfather’s Father.
He made several Laws to preserve the Peace of the Empire, by which he ordain’d,
1. That those who enjoy’d Sovereignties should not extend their Power beyond the Limits of their Territories, nor meddle with Publick Affair.
2. That Eunuchs should have no Employments Civil or Military.
3. That no Person should become a Bonze, or Bonzes, before the Age of forty Years.
4. That the ancient and modern Laws should be reduced into a Body of three hundred Volumes : This Work was an Age before it appeared.
5. That the twenty-seven Months, which was the Time of mourning for the Death of a Father or Mother, should be reduc’d to twenty-seven Days.
His Court was soon Crowded with Ambassadors from all Parts, Who came to congratulate him, on his Accession to the Throne, and brought him, among other Presents, a Lion, which was the first the Chinese ever saw : Corea, Japans, the Island of Formosa, the Kingdom of Siam, and the Southern Isles were distinguish’d for the most celebrated Embassies.
The Joy of the Court was very much damp’d by the Death of the Emperor’s Wife, named Ma, whom he highly esteem’d, and openly declared that he ow’d the Crown to her prudent. Counsel ; he was so griev’d for this Loss, that he never created another Empress.
Cycle 63. An. Dom. It being one of his chief Concerns to make Learning flourish, he granted great Privileges to the Imperial College, and assisted in Person at the Examinations for attaining the Degree of Doctor ; yet he would not suffer Confucius to be honoured like a King, as some of his Predecessors had done, but ordered him to be honoured in quality of Sien Ssee, that is, a Master of the Empire.
Among, the various Maxims of this Prince, these two are reported to be most familiar with him : When there is any Disturbance in the Empire, never take any hasty Measures. And again In times of Tranquility be cautious of treating your People with too much Severity, and of insisting upon Trifles. He used to say, that as Heaven and Earth produce all things necessary for the Support of Men, so a wise Emperor should only study how to provide for the Wants of his Subjects ; and tho’ with this View be might lessen the Imposts, and moderate publick Expences, he should always fear his Subjects might want necessary Provisions.
In a time of great Drought he dress’d himself in Mourning, went up a high Mountain, and staid there three Days to implore the Clemency of Heaven; and the Rain, which fell afterwards in great Plenty, was esteem’d the Effect of his Prayers.
As he took his Progress thro’ the Provinces of the Empire, accompany’d by his eldest Son, one Day he stopt his Car in the midst of the Fields, and turning to his Son, I took you with me, said he, that you might be an Eyewitness of the painful Toils of this poor Husbandmen, and that the Compassion this laborious Station should excite in your Heart might prevent your burdening them with Imposts.
The unexpected Death of this Son, which happened soon after, overwhelm the Emperor with Grief , he mourn’d for him three Years, contrary to the Law he had made, and named his Grandson Heir to the Crown.
A young Man named Soui, travelling with his Wife and Farther, fell unfortunately into the Hands of Robbers ; as they were going to murder the good old Man, his Son stopt before him, and begg’d with Tears that they would kill him instead of his Father ; and as they offered Violence to his Wife, Can you be guilty, says she, of such an infamous Action, while my Husband is living? There was a great Fire kindled near the Place, into which they threw the young Man, but the Wife ran directly into the Flames, and closely embracing her Husband they were both burnt to A flies.
The Emperor caused a fine Monument to be erected in memory of their Piety and Fidelity , but at the same time he severely punish’d another young Man for sacrificing his Son to an Idol, in hopes of recovering the Health of his Mother who was dying. This Prince died the fifteenth Year of the Cycle, aged seventy-one Years, and his Grandson Kien ven ti, who was but thirteen Years old, succeeded him.
KIEN VEN TI began his Reign with an Action of Clemency, for which he received the Blessings of his People; he remitted the third Part of the Taxes, and gave other Marks of his Concern and Compassion for the Unfortunate, all which promised one of the most happy Reigns ; but he was disturb’d from the beginning by the Ambition of his uncles , Sons of the late Emperor, who could not bear to see a Child preferr’d before so many Princes who Were of age to govern.
They attributed their Father’s Choice to private Contrivance of the Colao, whose Intrigues they had partly discover’d, but the fourth Son of Tai tsou , who was King of Peking, appeared the most incens’d and took up Arms to revenge the Injustice, as he call’d it, and to punish the Authors ; the Court sent a great Army to oppose his Designs, and an Engagement followed which was long and bloody; after which Peace was proposed, but Yong lo, for so they call’d the King of Peking, rejected all Conditions till the Emperor’s Ministers were delivered to him ; this being refus’d he march’d forwards, and arriving near the Imperial City, a Traitor, named Li kong long, opening the Gates of the City to him, a great Slaughter was made in the Town ; the Imperial Palace was reduc’d to Ashes, and the Body of the young Emperor, half consumed by the Flames, was brought to the Conqueror, who could not refrain from Tears at this sad Spectacle, and gave Orders for his Obsequies to be perform, in a manner suitable to his Dignity.
But the Ministers chiefly felt the Fury of the Conqueror, for he put many of them to cruel Deaths ; others prevented the Torments to which they were destin’d, by a voluntary Death, while others shaved their Heads, and made their escape in the Habits of Bonzes.
Thus was the Emperor destroy’d at seventeen Years of Age, in the fourth Year of his Reign, and the twentieth of the Cycle, and Yong lo, who took the Name of Tching sou, seiz’d on the Throne of his Nephew.
TCHING SOU, was Prince of great Spirit, and uncommon Sagacity, but he made himself dreaded at first by the cruel Examples of his Severity : He reestablished his Brothers in their Sovereignties, continued their Revenues, and rewarded all his Adherents with the same Liberality, except the Traitor Li kong long.
This Wretch committed a fresh Crime, and being condemned to die, insolently reproached Tching sou with Ingratitude: “Would you have been now reigning,” says he, “if I had not open’d the Gates of the City?” “Traitor,” reply’d the Emperor, “I owe the Crown to my good Fortune, and not to your treachery : Would not you have opened the Gates to any other Person with the same Forces?”
A great many young People having procured themselves to be consecrated Bonzes before the Age of Forty, against the Laws of his Father’s Reign, he obliged them all to quit their Monasteries, and burnt all the Books of Chemistry which treated of the pretended Secret how to become immortal.
The seventh Year of his Reign he removed his Court from Nan king to Peking, leaving his Son Heir at Nan king, with several Tribunals and Mandarins, like those establish’d at Peking.
One Day some Jewels being presented to him, which were found in a Mine discover’d in the Province of Chansi, he gave Orders to shut the Mine immediately, because he would not as he said, fatigue his Subjects with a fruitless toil, since these Stones however valuable they might seem, could neither feed nor cloath his People in a Time of Scarcity : He caus’d five Bells of Brass to be cast, which weighed each 120000 Pounds.
The thirtieth Year of the Cycle he appointed forty-two Doctors of the Court, called Han lin, to give more ample Explanations of the ancient Classical Books, and to confine themselves to the Opinions of two Authors, named Tching tse and Tchu tse, who had interpreted them, according to their own Fancy, about three hundred Years before, under the Dynasty of Song .
These Doctors composed a Work intitled Sing li la tsuen , which signifies Natural Philosophy, in which, seeming to preserve the ancient Doctrine, they endeavoured to make it agree with the Fictions of an empty System, by which it was intirely overthrown.
As this Work was printed by the Authority of the Emperor, the Authors holding a considerable Rank in the Empire, and as there are always some Spirits extremely fond of Novelties, it is not surprising that some of the Learned have embraced a Doctrine as opposite to found Reason, as it is dangerous to good Morals.
Yong lo, or Tching tsou, died in the forty-first Year of the Cycle, aged 63 Years, and his Son Gin tsong succeeded him.
GIN TSONG at his coming to the Crown gave a signal Instance of his Affection for his Subjects, for there being a general Famine in the Province of Chang tong, he ordered thither his Colao Yang tse kie ; but the Colao representing that it would be proper to consult the Tribunals how to succour such a numerous People, Let me not have so many Consultation, reply’d the Emperor, when my People are distress’d we must fly to their Assistance with as much Speed and Readiness as we would to extinguish a Fire, or stop a sudden Inundation. Some Persons proposing to make a Distinction between those who were more or less in Want, With all my Hearty reply’d the Prince, but let them be very careful not to enter too nicely into Particulars, nor be afraid of exceeding my Intentions by being too liberal.
He had a great Opinion of Judicial Astrology : One Day, after having sat up all Night observing the Stars, and perceiving some Revolution in the Heavens, he sent for two of his Colaos ; My Life is at an end, says he ; you have been witnesses of all I have suffer’d from my Enemies during the twenty Years I have resided in the Oriental Palace ; you have supported me by your Fidelity and Union, receive therefore this Token of my Friendship; speaking these Words, he gave each of them a Seal, on which was engraved these two Characters, Tchong tching, which signifies, faithful and upright Minister ; they took this Mark of Distinction with Tears in their Eyes, and ever after sign’d their Dispatches with this Seal : From that time the Emperor lay in a languishing Condition, and a Courier was dispatch’d to his Son, who kept his Court at Nan king, with an Account of it, but he had not the Comfort to hear the last Words of his Father, he dying before his Arrival.
This Prince died at the Age of forty-eight, in the forty-second Year of the Cycle, this Year being reckon’d in the Reign of his Son Suen tsong, contrary to the Custom of China, which includes that of the Emperor’s Death in the Years of his Reign.
SUEN TSONG publish’d an Edict in the beginning of his Reign, forbidding to confer the Degree of Licentiate on any of the Learned under the Age of twenty-five Years. Soon after his Uncle revolted, and being taken Prisoner in an Engagement, was condemned to perpetual Imprisonment. The Tartars were also punish’d for making an Irruption into the Empire , Suen tsong commanding his Army in Person gave them Battle, and intirely routed their Forces.
The King of Cochinchina who had been nominated to this Dignity by the Emperor, was killed three Years after by a Company of Rebels , who immediately sent Ambassadors to beg a pardon, and to implore the Emperor’s Clemency. The Emperor was inclinable enough to punish this Treason, but since it would have obliged him to send an Army into a distant Country, which could not be done without a great Charge to his Subjects, he alter’d his Resolution, and even sent back the Ambassadors with Title of Honour.
About this time the Palace took Fire, and continued burning several Days : A vast quantity of Gold, Brass, and Pewter were melted together into a mixt Metal of which great numbers of Vessels were made that are greatly valued to this Day, and bear a very great Price. Suen tsong died the fifty-second Year of the Cycle, aged thirty-eight Years, and his eldest son Yng tsong was his Successor.
YNG TSONG, being only nine Years old, was put under the Protection of the Empress and the principal Eunuch ; he began his Reign by rebuilding the nine Gates of the Imperial City , in his third Year he published an Edict prohibiting all Persons from doing Honours to Confucius in the Temples of Idols.
The Tartars, taking Advantage of the Emperor’s Youth, made continual Excursions into the Provinces of China which were near their Country, and committed the greatest of Robberies.
Cycle 64. An. Dom. 1444. The sixth Year of this Cycle, and the fourteenth of the Emperor’s Reign, the young Emperor, at the Head of a great Army, marched against the Tartars to the Other side of the Great Wall , but this Army, being very much weakened by want of Provision, could not stand the Shock of the Enemy, but was entirely defeated , the Emperor was taken Prisoner, and carried to the farthest part of Tartary.
This News put the Court in a great Consternation, his Son was placed on the Throne , who was but two years old, and King ti , the eldest Brother of the imprison’d Emperor, was made Protector, who soon usurped the Title and Authority of Emperor.
In the mean time the Empress sent a great Quantity of Gold, Silver and Silks for the Emperor’s Ransom, the Tartar King received the Presents and conducted the Prisoner to the Borders of China, as if he intended to have restored his Liberty, but in a few Days, pretending that the Ransom was too small for so great a Prince, he carried him back again to Tartary.
THE seventh Year of the Cycle King ti took Possession of his Brother’s Throne, who was prisoner in Tartary ; nevertheless a Convention was made for the Return of this Prince, and some of the Grandees were sent to receive him ; but the Tartar thought they were not worthy to accompany such a powerful Prince, and that all the greatest Men of the Empire ought to attend his Return.
He was escorted by a great Number of Men to the Frontiers of China, near the Mountain Tang kia lin, from which Place he wrote to the Court that he renounced the Empire to pass the rest of his Life in a quiet Solitude, and that there should be no Preparation made for his Reception ; and to avoid all Ceremony he enter’d the Town by a private Gate ; The two Brothers met, and after they had embrac’d each ether with the greatest Tenderness, King ti, follow’d by all his Courtiers, conducted his Brother to the Palace of the South, which he had chosen for his Retirement. King ti Continued to govern, intending also to declare his Son Heir to the Empire, and had fix’d the Birthday of the young Prince to perform the Ceremony.
Conversing one Day with a Colao, The Birthday of the Prince, my Heir, says he, happens the second Day of the seventh Moon. Give me leave to tell you, reply’d the Colao, That it is the first Day of the eleventh Moon, By this he let him know the Birthday of the Son of Yng tsong, who was the lawful Emperor : These Words silenced King ti, and there was no more mention made of declaring his Son Heir to the Crown : This Son lived but a Year, and King ti himself was seiz’d with a Distemper which was reckoned mortal. Yng tsong was brought out of the Southern Palace, and obliged to reascend the Throne before the Death of King ti, which fell out a year after.
AS soon as King ti was dead the Emperor was requested to blacken his Memory, and to erase his Name from all publick Acts, as a Punishment for having usurped the Throne ; the Emperor rejected this Proposal, and was satisfied with performing his Funeral Obsequies only with the Honours due to him as Prince of the Blood, and the Emperor’s Brother.
Tng tsong died at the Age of thirty-one, the twenty-first Year of the Cycle, and his eldest Son Hien tsong was his Successor.
HIEN TSONG was the Son of the Second Queen, the Empress having no Children; all that is related of him is, that he was strongly attached to the Sect of the Bonzes ; that the twenty third Year of the Cycle he defeated an Army of Rebels in the Province of Hou quang ; that the thirty-sixth Year he cut in pieces the Army of the Tartars, who from time to time came to plunder the Country ; that the next Year the King of Corea having proposed a shorter, and easier Way of paying his Homage, than by an Embassy, he would never consent to it.
He died aged forty-one Years, the forty-fourth of the Cycle, and was succeeded by his eldest Son Hiao tsong, who was before called Hong tchi.
IN the fifth Year of his Reign Hiao tsong declared; his Son Heir to the Crown, with great Solemnity : This Emperor is blamed for his Adherence to those ridiculous Superstitions of the Bonzes, for being fond of Chemistry, and for his Love of Flattery : The fifty-second Year of the Cycle one of the greatest Bonzes was brought to Court ; he was the Ringleader of a Sedition, and was taken Prisoner in an Engagement, and tho’ a Bonze was beheaded.
China was afflicted in this Reign with many Calamities ; the Famine was so severe in the Western Provinces, that Fathers were known to eat their own Children ; the Plague, which is an Evil scarce known in China, ravaged all the Eastern Parts of the Western Provinces, and there happened terrible Earthquakes, which buried alive several thousand People.
The first Year of the Cycle was remarkable for the Cycle 64. An. Dom. 1504. general Grief caused by the Death of the Empress, and for the Irruptions of the Tartars, and the great Booty they carried away : The Emperor died next Year, and his Son Vou tsong was his Successor.
SEVERAL new Disasters happened in the beginning of this Reign, which gave occasion to a Colao, named Tao, to present a Memorial to the Emperor Vou tsong , in which he counseled him to apply him, self diligently to the Affairs of State, to repress the Sallies of his passion, to moderate his excessive Love of Hunting, to remove from Court his Flatterers, and the the loose young People whom he chiefly favour’d, and to supply their Places with Men of approved Wisdom and Zeal for Publick Good, that by these means he might appease the anger of Heaven, and deserve its Protection for the future: The sixth Year of the Cycle the Tartars renewed their Ravages, and the Year following a petty Sovereign of the Imperial Family, having revolted, was taken Prisoner in a Battle, and punish’d with Death.
Mean while the Famine, which laid waste the Provinces of Chan tong and Honan, and the heavy Imposts, had reduced the People to such Extremities that they took arms in despair, and forming several Bodies advanced to the Territories of Peking: They were called Lieou tse, because they suddenly over-spread the Provinces, destroying all before them: They were opposed by several Forces, who only check’d their attempt, and smother’d the Rebellion for a time, which appeared again upon the first favourable Opportunity.
The fifteenth Year of the Cycle Vou tsong laid the Design of marching against the Tartars, without making himself known, taking only the Title of Generalissimo; his Ministers strongly represented to him, that such a Disguise would greatly endanger his Person, and occasion several Revolts: This Opposition so enraged the Emperor that he drew his sabre to strike those who resisted his Will upon which one of his Colaos offer’d his head to be cut off; his resolute Behaviour appeased the Prince’s Fury, and he alter’d his Resolution.
The next Year, making Preparation to retire into the Southern Provinces, viz. Kiang nan, or Tche Kiang, his Colaos presented fresh Remonstrances, in which they observed that Tartars would certainly look upon this Journey as a shameful Flight, that they would grow more haughty and insolent, and that his Absence would leave the Northern Countries open to their Invasions.
He was highly incensed at these prudent Counsels, and to punish their Rashness he suffer’d them to remain exposed to the Weather five whole Days, on their knees, before the Gate of his Palace, and some of them he imprisoned. A sudden Inundation happening at this time he took it for a bad Presage; this entirely appeased his anger, so he sent home his Ministers, and laid aside all Thoughts of going to the Southern Provinces: This Prince being taken very ill the eighteenth Year of the Cycle, he assembled the Grandees of his court, and in their Presence declared that he appointed the Empress to be Protectress of his second Son, who was thirteen Years old, and whom he had nam’d his Successor; he died at age of thirty-one Years.
THE Behavior of Chi tsong in the beginning of his Reign gave great hopes of his future good Government, but the End was not answer to these Expectations : He examined himself the Petitions which were presented to him, and in a time of Scarcity he ordered his courtiers to tell him his Faults, giving large Sums out of the Imperial Treasures to relieve his People. He repaired the Great Wall which separates China from Tartary, and renewed the Law made by the Founder of this Dynasty, which ordained, that Confucius should be honoured only by the Title of Sien ssee, that is a Master of the Empire. Two young Maids perceiving that their Father’s Indigence inclin’d to sell them for Prostitutes, escaped this Disgrace by drowning themselves: Chin tsong erected a fine Monument to their Memory, with this Inscription, The two illustrious Virgins.
This Prince is blamed for his excessive Love of Poetry, and the Credulity with which he follow’d all the superstitious Whims of Bonzes: He caused diligent Search to be made thro’ the Empire for the liquor that bestows Immortality, which the Sect of Tao had Asserted was found : The eighteenth Year of his Reign he would have resign’d the Crown to his Son, but Was dissuaded by the great Men of the Court, who in several Memorials presented him, but without Success, to destroy the Sects of Foe and Lao Kiun.
The forty seventh Year of the Cycle the Tartars advanced to Peking with an Army of 60000 Men, but it was entirely routed by the Chinese, and above 200 Officers taken Prisoners. The next Year the Tartar King sent an Ambassador to the Court to ask the Emperor’s Pardon, and to beg that his Subjects might have Leave to come into his Dominions to sell Horses : The Emperor consented to his Request, but finding afterwards that his Permission granted to the Tartars was the Ground of frequent Quarrels between the Mandarins and the Dealers, and often occasion’d Revolts, he entirely prohibited this Trade. In the forty-ninth Year of this Cycle, the thirty-first of this Reign, and the 1552 Year of the Christian Ara, died St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the East, the second Day of December , aged forty-six, in the Island of Chang tchuen charn, or Sancian, as it is commonly called, which belongs to the Province of Quang tong.
The fiftieth Year of the Cycle some Pirates, whose Commander was called Hoang tche, infected the Coast of China with a hundred Sail of Barks and other Chinese Vessels. The fifty-second Year the Japanese, who before used to make Presents as Vassals of the Empire, threw off the Yoke, went to War with the Chinese, and made a Descent upon the Coast of the Province of Tche kiang, but were received very roughly ; they had 1800 Man killed, and the rest flying to their Ships were drowned in the Sea. The Year following they returned with l0000 Men ; Kao ling, a Chinese Captain, at the Head of 900 Men only, gave them a sharp Repulse, by which Time was gain’d for the Army to come to his Assistance ; the Japanese were surrounded, and not a Man escaped to carry home the News of their Defeat. These Losses did not cool the Ardour of the Japanese ,some Years after they made another Descent upon the Coast of Fo kien, but with as little Success ; for the commanding Officer of the Chinese, named Tsie, fell upon the Japanese unawares, and made a great Slaughter among them.
At the same Time Lieu han, General of the Chinefe Army, going beyond the Great Wall, invaded the Country of the Tartars, upon the Report of whose Arrival the Tartars fled for safety to the Forests : There were but twenty-eight Tartan killed in this Expedition, and the whole Booty was only 166 Camels.
The third Year of this Cycle, a Memorial was Cycle 66. An. Dom. 1564. presented to the Emperor, in which he was advised to be more regular in his Conduct, and to take more Gare of publick Affairs : It represented that for twenty Years past the Laws had insensibly lost their Force, and that the Empire was going to Destruction ; that he seldom conversed with the Prince his Heir ; that his most faithful and honest Vassals were either despised or ill used without a Cause, or upon the slightest Suspicions ; that he spent his Time amidst a Company of Concubines, despising the Empress his lawfull Spouse; that he imploy’d Men to command his Army, who were unskill’d in the Art of War, and who were fonder of Gold and Silver than of Hornour and Glory ; that the Finances were every Day exhausted by his ridiculous Expences, either in building Palaces, or making Gardens, or in supporting, the Charges of the extravagant Ceremonies of the Bonzes, and seeking after the pretended Liquor that bestows Immortality, which, as those Impostors declared, was come down from Heaven, as if there had been any Person who could prevent the fatal Necessity of dying, since the happy Times of the Emperors Yao and Chun. The Emperor reading this Memorial, could not restrain his Rage, and threw it on the Ground ; but soon after he took it up again, and seem’d sincerely sorry for his Errors ; however he had not Time to reap the Benefit of his Repentance, for he fell sick in a few Days, and died immediately after he had drank the pretended Liquor of Immortality, being fifty Years old : His Son, named Mo tsong, succeeded him.
MO TSONG began his Reign with Acts of Clemency, releasing from Prison all those whom his Father had confin’d upon slight Occasions, and conferring Titles of Honour on some others, as an amends to their Families who had been put to Death : As for other Matters, he could never bear that his Ministers should give him Advice, and some of them having taken this Liberty were degraded to an inferior Rank.
As the Laws of China forbid any Person to have an Employment in the Magistracy of his native Province, the Emperor, at the Request of a Colao, made some Exceptions to this Law ; he permitted the Mandarins of the lowest Rank, viz. such as are Inspectors of Learning, and those who collect the Taxes, to possess these Employments in their native Country, The ninth Year of the Cycle this Prince was taken ill, and declared his Son Heir to the Crown, who but ten Years old, putting him under the Care of the Empress, and of a Colao nam’d Tchang kiu tching. This Prince was named Van lie, but from his Accession to the Throne he was call’d Chin tsong.
THO’ Chin tsong was but ten Years old, there appeared in all his Actions a Prudence unusual at his Years : He paid so much Respect to his Tutor Tchang kiu tching, that every time he came to give him a Lesson, if it was in Summer, he order’d a Servant to fan him, and in Winter he had a double Carpet spread upon the Floor ; he also visited him when he was sick, and gave him Food and Medicines with his own Hands. This Colao had a Son, who in the Examination for the Doctor’s Degree had obtained the first Rank of the second Order, and the Emperor out of Respect to his Matter raised him to the second Rank of the first Order: This amiable Disposition was supported by a natural Love of Justice : He had moreover a lively and penetrating Wit, and a strong Inclination to make himself Master of the Chinese Sciences : He ordain’d, that for the future the Emperor should defray the Expences of the Journey of the Licentiates from the Provinces to the Imperial City, when they came to take the Degree of Doctor, and he frequently assisted at their Examination. Every Day, at four in the Morning, he examined and Answered the Petitions which had been presented the Day before : He ordered, for the convenience of the Publick, that every three Months a Book should be printed, containing the Name, Rank, Degree, and Country of every Mandarin in the Empire, which is practiced to this Day.
The eleventh Year of the Cycle the Tartars, who had made an Irruption into Leao tong, were entirely routed : The Emperor, at his Mother’s Request, who had a great Esteem for the Idols, form’d a Design to grant a general Amnesty, but he was dissuaded from it by his Colao , who represented to him, that the Hope of escaping Punishment would open the Door to all manner of Crimes, and that he ought to imitate the Lord of Heaven, who sooner or later never fails to punish notorious Villains. The Emperor was married the sixteenth Year of the Cycle, and immediately after his Wife was made Empress : The eighteenth Year of the Cycle deserves to be remembered, because this Year Michael Roger came into China ; he was the first Missionary of the Jesuits who came to preach the Gospel in this Country : The nineteenth Year there was such a terrible Famine in the Province of Chan si , that vast numbers of People died of Hunger : Sixty great Pits were dug in different Places, which held each about a thousand Bodies , they were called on this account Van gin keng. A Woman seeing her Husband, who had died of Hunger, thrown into one of these Pits, threw herself after him : She was taken out by Oder of the Mandarin, but to no purpose, for not being able to survive her Loss she died three Days after.
The same Year was remarkable for two great Events ; one was the Defeat of the Tartars, of whom ten thousand were slain by the Chinese General Li tchin ; the other was the Loss the Emperor sustain’d in the Death of Tchan kiu tching, his Tutor and Colao ; he honoured him after his Death with the Title of Ven chong, that is, a Man remarkable for bis Learning and Fidelity : His Body was carried in a pompous Manner, into the Province of Hou quang to his Sepulchre : But these Honours lasted but a short Time, tor two Years were hardly past when his Enemies, having accus’d him of great Misdemeanors, prevailed by their Power, and he and his Posterity were deprived of their Honours, and his Estate was confiscated ; his Son kill’d himself thro’ Grief or fear of Punishment. The twentieth Year the Rivers were froze, which gave the Tartars an easy passage into the Empire ; but tho’ they came in great Numbers, they were all cut off by the Chinese Troops : The same Year, viz, 1583 of the Christian Aera, P. Matthew Ricci came into China, where, during the twenty-seven Years he lived, he wore himself out with his continual Labours and Fatigues ; he is justly esteem’d the Founder of this noble Mission. The twenty-second Year a great Dearth was fatal to the Empire ; and the Emperor gave stronger Proofs than ever of his Affection for his Subjects ; he often implor’d the assistance of Heaven, remitted a great Part of the Taxes, and sent Mandarins into all the Provinces to examine the Conduct of the Governors, and to relieve the Miseries of the People. The twenty-ninth Year of the Cycle a Comet appeared towards the East ; upon this Occasion a Colao, named Fong ngen, presented a Memorial to the Emperor, which admonish’d him to remove from Court certain Ministers, who took Bribes, and preserved their Employments by the basest Flattery: The Emperor was incensed by his Counsel, and ordfer’d him to be imprisoned, and condemned him to suffer Death, but his Son coming to offer his own Life to save his Father’s, the Emperor relented, and changed the Sentence of Death to that of Banishment. The thirtieth Year of the Cycle the Inhabitants of the Province of Ho nan were reduced to that Extremity by Famine, that they fed on Human Flesh, upon which the Emperor immediately order’d them proper Supplies out of the Imperial Treasury : The same Year the Japanese enter’d the Kingdom of Corea, spreading Destruction With Fire and Sword wherever they came, and took several Towns : The King was forced to fly till the Succours arrived from China, which he had Felicity by his Ambassadors. These Succours came very seasonably, and there ensued an obstinate and bloody Battle, in which the Japanese were intirely defeated. After their Defeat they implored the Emperor’s Mercy in a solemn Embassy, by which, after they had begg’d Pardon for their conduct, they pray’d him to grant their Chief a Title, which should authorize his Claim : The next Year the Emperor granted him the Title of Ge puen vang, which signifies King of Japan, forbidding him to fend any more Ambassadors to China.
The thirty-third Year the Emperor, contrary to the Advice of his Ministers, commanded the Gold and Silver Mines to be open’d in the Provinces of Honan, Chen si , and Chan si, but six Years after they were closed again : The Year following, which was the 1597th of the Christian Aera, the first Martyrs of Japan suffer’d a glorious Death, and were crucified out of hatred to the Faith : Four Years after P. Matt. Ricci was the first time introduced to the Emperor, who expressed a great Regard for him, and kindly received the Presents he brought, among which was a Picture of our Saviour, and another of the Holy Virgin, which were placed in an honourable Part of the Palace.
In the mean time the Niu tche, or Eastern Tartars, began to grow formidable ; they were divided into seven Classes, or different Dynasties, which were united into a Kingdom under one Prince, after they had been long at War with each other : As to the Tan yu, or Western Tartars, they liv’d peaceably within their own Territories, giving no Disturbance to China, as they had formerly done by their frequent and unexpected Irruptions.
The fortieth Year of the Cycle, that is to say in the Year 1610, died P. Matt. Ricci, aged fifty-eight, after having establish’d several Communities of devout Christians in the several Provinces of China, either by his own Labours, or by the Assistance of the Companions of his Zeal, The Emperor gave a large Space of Ground to bury him in, on which there was a House and Garden, belonging formerly to an Eunuch while he was in Favour, but was taken from him since his Disgrace.
The fifty-second Year a Mandarin called Chin ki, thro’ a false Zeal for his Sect, excited a cruel Persecution in the Province of Kiang nan ; some of the Preachers of the Gospel were bastinado’d, others sent to Macao , or dispersed in different Places, and forced to conceal themselves ; but this Persecution lasted only six Years, for the Persecutor died depriv’d of his Honours, and true Religion became more flourishing than before. The fifty-third Year the Tartars, who by being united were rendered capable of some considerable Enterprise, no longer thought of making flight Excursions into the Empire, but intended to seize on those Towns which were most for their Convenience, for they were incensed against the Chinese, because the Mandarins abused their Merchants who came to trade in the Leao Tong, and because they had seiz’d their King by treachery and cut off his Head : The Son of this Prince named Tien ming invaded Leao tong with a strong Army, and took the Town of Cai yuen , he wrote at the same Time to the Emperor to inform him of his Grievances, protesting that he was ready to restore the Town, and to lay down his Arms, if his Majesty would give him a proper Satisfaction for such a cruel Injury : The Emperor communicated the Letter to the Mandarins who were concerned in this Affair; they look’d upon it as a trifling Matter, and did not deign to send an Answer , this scornful Usage enraged the Tartar, and he swore he would sacrifice 200000 Chinese to his Father’s Spirit.
At the Head of 50000 Men he took the Town of Leao yang, entered the Province of Pe tche li in Triumph, and was preparing to attack the Imperial City, but he was repulsed by some Chinese Forces, and obliged to retire into the Leao tong, where he haughtily assumed the Title of Emperor of China.
The fifty-fifth Year of the Cycle the Tartar King, under the Pretence of a solemn Embassy, made his Troops file off towards the Empire ; the Artifice was discover’d, and the Chinese Army sent to oppose them. The Tartars fled at their Approach, and having drawn the Chinese after them by this sham Flight, they surrounded and made a great Slaughter of them, and the Chinese General was found among the Slain.
Next Year the Emperor opposed the Tartars with a very numerous Army, supported by 12000 Auxiliaries from the King of Corea : The Armies engaged, and the Victory remained a long time doubtful, but declared at last for the Tartars, who marched towards the Capital City ; this caused such a Consternation that the Emperor had abandoned the Town, and retired to the Southern Provinces, if his Council had not represented to him that this Retreat would disgrace him, and raise the Courage of the Tartars, that it would sink the Spirits of his Subject, and cause great Troubles through the whole Empire.
This Prince died during these Transactions, aged fifty-eight Years ; his Son, named Quang tsong, who was before called Tai chang was his Successor.
QUANG TSONG died a Month after his Accession to the Throne, aged thirty-eight Years, his Death is attributed to the Neglect and Ignorance of his Physician, but before he died he declared his eldest Son Hi tsong Heir to the Crown, who was before called Tien ki.
HI TSONG being naturally timorous, and placing great Confidence in the Eunuchs, of which their were 12000 in the Palace, every body fear’d he would never be a Match for the Tartars : Nevertheless he took Courage, and endeavoured to curb these formidable Neighbours effectually ; he augmented his Army with a great number of new Troops, which he drew from all the Provinces of the Empire, he sent magnificent Presents to the King of Corea, and demanded a greater Number of Men than had been sent to the Emperor his Grandfather, at the same time there arrived a Chinese Amazon, if we may give this Name to a Woman who commanded a Body of several thousand Men , they came from a little State which her Son enjoy’d in the Mountains of the Province of Sechuen. The Emperor likewise fitted out a Fleet to preserve the Dominion of the Sea, and say all these Preparations he put himself in a Condition to humble the Pride of the Tartars. Upon this occasion two Christian Mandarins of the Court advised the Emperor to send for Portuguese Engineers from Macao, the Chinese having been little used to manage Cannon, but before they arrived the Tartars were driven out of the Province of Leao tong : Their King Tien ming was engaged in a War with some Tartars , and the Capital City was easily recovered, for the Inhabitants of the Town and the neighbouring Country detested his Cruelty : As soon as the Tartar King had finished his Expedition in Tartary he return’d to Leao tong, and laid Siege again to the Capital : The Chinese lost 30000 Men during the Siege, and the Tartars 20000; at length the Town was deliver’d to them by Treachery, and as soon as the King was Master of the Place, he published an Edict, which commanded all the Chinese to shave their Heads after the Tartar Fashion, but several thousand Persons chose rather to lose their Life than their Hair.
Mao ven long, one of the most skilful Chinese Generals, was sent with fresh Troops against the Tartars, who so strongly fortified the Cittadel of Chong hai that it was reckoned impregnable, and by this precaution he shut up the passage into China from Tartary.
The same Year, which was the second of the Reign of Hi tsong, the Town of Macao was besieged by the Dutch both by Land and Sea : The Emperor gave this Town to the Portuguese, for their important Service in clearing the Chinese Seas of Pirates ; the Portuguese forced the Dutch to raise the Siege, and take to their Ships in haste, after they had lost a great many Men. Cycle 67. An. Dom. 1624. The first Year of the Cycle was very unfortunate to the Empire, for a great Number of seditious People, and Robbers, call’d Lieou tse, raised fresh Troubles, and overran four Provinces which they plundered, their Numbers increasing daily.
The second Year was remarkable for the Stone Monument which was dug out of the Earth, near the Capital of the Province of Chen si, it had an Inscription in Syriac Characters, containing an Abridgment of the Christian Religion, and the Names of sixty-six Preachers of the Gospel : It was a matter . of great Joy for the Neophytes, and an undeniable Testimony of the Truth of that Faith which was preach’d by the missionary Jesuits.
The fourth Year the Emperor died, aged thirty-two Years ; his Successor was Hoai tsing, before call’d Tsong tching, who was his Brother, and the fifth Son Quang tsong.
Tien ming, King of the Tartars, who had signalized himself by his brutish Fierceness, died the same Year. He was succeeded by his Son Tien tsong, who was very unlike his Father, for he was a Prince of great Clemency and goodness.
The Chinese Power ended with the Reign of Hoai tsong, to give place , the Tartars, who still govern this vast Empire with an absolute Authority : Hoai Tsong was a great Lover of the Sciences, and wrote the Chinese Characters very neatly ; and tho’ he had some favourable Thoughts of Christianity, which he protected on several Occasions, yet he continued extremely bigotted to the Bonzes : He suppress’d the Luxury which began to appear, especially in Apparel ; he was meek, chaste, and temperate, but very flow in resolving, and of a mistrustful Temper, not confiding in his most faithful Ministers, and forbidding the Mandarins to have any Correspondence with the Eunuchs: The latter having introduced Soldiers into the Palace, the Emperor gave them a Furlow for a Month to visit their Native Country and Relations, ordering them Money for their Journey, but afterwards forbid their Return : He had often advis’d his Brother to get rid of the Chief of the Eunuchs, who domineered in the Palace with the most insufferable Pride and Insolence.
This Villain poison’d himself as soon as Hoai tsong came to the Crown, and escaped by Self-murder the Tortures due to his Crimes : His Body was torn in pieces by the common People, his immense Riches confiscated, and the Temples which his Flatterers had dedicated to his Honour burnt or demolish’d.
The Army being employed on the Borders of Tartary, the riotous Multitude increased in the Provinces, and the greatest dispatch was required to suppress these Disorders ; this induced the Emperor to make a Peace with the Tartars, and send a fresh Army into Tartary, the Command of which he gave to an Eunuch named Tuen, with full Powers to treat of Conditions of Peace.
This Eunuch was a Villain, and a Traitor, who suffering himself to be bribed, made a Peace upon the most shameful Terms , but the Emperor refusing to ratify it, the Traitor to force him took the following Measures,
Mao ven long, whose Fidelity was unalterable, commanded the Chinese Army , Yuen invited him to a Feast; and poison’d him ; after this he advis’d the tartan to go directly to Peking , taking a different Way from that in which his Army was encamp’d; they put this Design in Execution without the least Opposition, and besieged the Imperial City : Orders were instantly dispatch’d to Yuen to succour the Town with his Forces ; he set out directly, not in the least suspecting that his Treason was discover’d, but as soon as he was got into the Town he was put to the Torture, and after being convicted of his Perfidy was strangled: The Tartar was no sooner inform’d of his Death, but he raised the Siege, and return’d to Leao tong, loaden with rich Spoils.
The third Year of the Cycle, which agreed with the Year 1631 of the Christian Era, the R. R. P. P. the Dominicans came into China to preach the Gospel : They were followed soon after by the R. R. P. P. the Franciscans : Two Years after died the celebrated Dr. Paul Sin, who, from First President of the Tribunal for Church Ceremonies, arrived to the Dignity of Colao, he was in this high Station one of the strongest Supports of Christianity, and in time of Persecution he compos’d a fine Apology in Defence of Religion, in which he offer’d to lose his Honours, Estate, and even Life, if there Was any thing in the Doctrine of this Religion which did not appear to be most holy : He recommended Father Adam Schaal to the Emperor to reform the Calendar.
At the same time, by Consent of the Emperor, several Court Ladies of the first Rank were instructed in the Christian Religion, and received Baptism.
The twelfth Year of the Cycle died Tuen tsong , the Tartar King, who was succeeded by his Son Tsong tse, Father of the following Dynasty : This Tsong tse was a very affable, good natur’d Prince ; he had been secretly educated from his Infancy among the Chinese, and having learnt their Language and Sciences, at the same time imbibed their Temper and Manners : This gained him the Friendship and Esteem of the Chinese General and Mandarins, who insensibly lost their Love for the Emperor, whose Misfortunes having Suite altered his Temper, he grew uneasy, thoughtful, melancholy and cruel. This Year of his Reign, and the following, was a continued Series of Murders. Robberies, and intestine War, a vast Number of seditious Male-contents forming themselves into eight Armies, each having a Commander, but they were afterwards reduc’d to two Chiefs, who were nam’d Li and Tchang.
That they might not hurt each other they agree’d to divide the Provinces between them ; Tchang took the Western Provinces of Se tchuen and Hou Quang for his Share ; and Li going Northwards seiz’d on great Part of the Province of Chen si , and entering Ho nan, besieg’d the Capital Cai fong, but was forc’d to raise the Siege with Loss : Six Months after he renew’d the Siege, but met such an obstinate Resistance, that the Besieged chose rather to feed on Human Flesh than surrender : The Imperial Army having time to come to their assistance, the Chinese General thought he should infallibly have destroy’d all the Rebels by breaking down the Dikes of the Yellow River, but they escaped to the Mountains, and the Town being much lower than the River was laid quite under Water, which the General had not foreseen, so that this Inundation drowned 300000 of the Inhabitants ; nevertheless Li entirely subdu’d the Provinces of Ho nan and Chen si, murder’d all the Mandarins, and exacted great Sums from those who had been in publick Employments ; he favoured only the meaner People, and to gain their Interest freed them from all manner of Taxes.
This Behaviour drew to his Party great Numbers of the Imperial Soldiers, and he found himself so powerful that he did not scruple to take upon him the Title of Emperor : He afterwards advanced to the Imperial City, which had a Garrison of 60000 Men, but was assur’d they would make no Resistance ; he knew the Divisions of the Mandarins and the Eunuchs, and besides a great number of his Soldiers had convey’d themselves into the Town in Disguise, and gain’d a considerable Party, who were to open the Gates upon his Arrival.
Three Days after his Arrival the Gates were opened, and he entered in a triumphant manner at the Head of 300000 Men: The Emperor was shut up in his Palace, taken up with the foolish Superstitions of the Bonzes, not knowing what was doing in the City ; but he could not remain long in this Ignorance, and when he found he was betray’d, would have gone out of the Palace with six hundred of his Guards, but they forsook him ; being thus depriv’d of all Hopes, and chusing Death rather than to fall alive into the Hands of Rebels, he went into his Garden, and after he had wrote these Words on the Border of his Vest, My Subjects have basely abandoned me ; use me as you please, but spare my People; he kill’d his Daughter with the Stroke of a Sabre, and hung himself upon a Tree, being thirty-six Years of Age: The chief Colao, the Queens, and the most faithful Eunuchs, followed this Example, and kill’d themselves.
The Body of the Emperor, which was found after a long Search, was brought before the Tyrant seated on a Throne, who after he had treated it with Indignity, caused two of the Emperor’s Children, and all his Ministers, to be beheaded, but his eldest Son escap’d by Flight.
Every body submitted to the Power of the Usurper, except the Prince Ou san guey, who commanded the Chinese Army in Leao tong, the Tyrant set out with his Army, and having besieg’d the Town where , Ou san guey was Governor, shew’d him his Father loaded with Chains, declaring he should be instantly slain if the Town was not surrender’d ; this brave Man, seeing his Father from the Top of the Walls, fell on his Knees, and bursting into Tears begg’d his Father to forgive him, if he sacrificed his filial Tenderness for his Duty to his Prince and Country , this generous Father applauded the Resolution of his Son, and submitted to his Fate.
Ou san guey, to take a double Vengeance for the Death of his Prince, and of his Father, procured a Peace with the Eastern Tartars, nam’d Mantcheoux, and call’d them in to his assistance against the Rebels : Tsong te, King of these Tartars, soon came with an Army of 80000 Men, and the two Armies uniting the Usurper raised the Siege, and hasten’d to Peking ; but not thinking himself safe there he plundered the Palace and set it on fire, and then fled with his Army to the Province of Chen si, enrich’d with the Spoils of the Empire, and loaded with the general Curses of the People.
Tsong te died presently after he arrived in China, but before his Death he declared his Son Chung tchi Emperor, who was but six Years old, and committed the Care of him and the Empire to A ma van his Brother.
The young Prince was conducted strait to Peking, and received with great Acclamations of Joy, the People looking upon him as their Deliverer ; nothing was heard on all sides but Long live the Emperor ! May he live ten thousand Years ! Van soui, Van soui ! a Chinese Expression, which signifies May he live many Years ! This Revolution happened the twenty-first Year of the Cycle, which is 1644 Years after the Birth of Christ.