CHAPTER X. THE SECOND PROTECTOR
All orthodox China seemed to feel now that the interesting wanderer, after all his experiences of war, travel, Tartars, Chinese, barbarians, and politics, was the right man to be Protector. But it was first necessary for Tsin to defeat Ts'u in a decisive battle; a war had arisen between Tsin and Ts'u out of an attempt on the part of CHENG (one of the orthodox Chinese states that had been uncivil to the wanderer), to drag in the preponderant power of Ts'u by way of shielding itself from punishment at Tsin's hands for past rude behaviour. The Emperor sent his own son to confer the status of "my uncle" upon him, - which is practically another way of saying "Protector" to a kinsman, - and in the year 632 accordingly a grand durbar was held, in which the Emperor himself took part. The Tsin ruler, who had summoned the durbar, and had even "commanded the presence" of the Emperor, was the guiding spirit of the meeting in every respect, except in the nominal and ritualistic aspect of it; nevertheless, he was prudent and careful enough scrupulously to observe all external marks of deference, and to make it appear that he was merely acting as mouthpiece to
the puppet Emperor; he even went the length of dutifully offering to the Emperor some Ts'u prisoners, and the Emperor in turn "graciously ceded" to Tsin the imperial possessions north of the Yellow River. Thus Ts'in and Tsin each in turn clipped the wings of the Autocrat of All the Chinas, so styled.
During these few unsettled years between the death of the first real Protector in 643 and the formal nomination by the Emperor of the second in 632, Ts'u and Sung had, as we have seen, both attempted to assert their rival claims. A triangular war had also been going on for some time between Ts'i and Ts'u, the bone of contention being some territory of which Ts'i had stripped Lu; and there was war also between Tsin and Ts'i, Tsin and Ts'in, and Tsin and Ts'u, which latter state always tried to secure the assistance of Ts'in when possible. From first to last, there never was, during the period covered by Confucius' history, any serious war between Tartar Ts'in and barbarian Ts'u; rather were they natural allies against orthodox China, upon which intermediate territory they both learned to fix covetous eyes.
The situation is too involved, in view of the uncouthness of strange names and the absence of definite frontiers - changing as they did with the result of each few years' campaigning - to make it possible to give a full, or even approximately intelligible, explanation of each move. But the following main features are incontestable: - Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Ts'u were growing, progressive, and aggressive states, all of them strongly tinged with foreign blood, which foreign blood was naturally assimilated the more readily in proportion to the power, wealth, and culture of the assimilating orthodox nucleus. The imperial domain was an extinct political volcano, belching occasional fumes of threatening, sometimes noxious, but not ever fatally suffocating smoke, always without fire. "The Hia," that is, the federation of princes belonging to pure Hia, or (as we now say) "Chinese" stock, were evidently unwarlike in proportion to the absence of foreign blood in their veins; but they were all of them equally ruses, and all of them past-masters in casuistic diplomacy. Trade, agriculture, literature, and even law, were now quite active, and (as we shall gradually see in these short chapters) China was undoubtedly beginning to move, as, after 2500 years of a second "ritual" sleep, she is again now moving, at the beginning of the twentieth century A.D.