CHAPTER XIV. MORE ON PROTECTORS

The Five Tyrants, or Protectors, are usually considered to be the five personages we have mentioned; to wit, in order of succession, the Marquess of Ts'i (679-643), under whose reign the great economist, statesman, and philosopher Kwan-tsz raised this far eastern part of China to a hitherto unheard-of pitch of material prosperity; the Marquess of Tsin (632-628), a romantic prince, more Turkish than Chinese, who was the first vassal prince openly to treat the Emperor as a puppet; the Duke of Sung (died 637), representing the imperial Shang dynasty ejected by the Chou family in 1122, whose ridiculous chivalry failed, however, to secure him the effective support of the other Chinese princes; the Earl of Ts'in (died 621) who was, as we see, quietly creating a great Tartar dominion, and assimilating it to Chinese ways in the west; and the King of Ts'u (died 591), who, besides taking his place amongst the recognized federal princes, and annexing innumerable petty Chinese principalities in the Han River and Hwai River basins, had been for several generations quietly extending his dominions at the expense of what we now call the provinces of Sz Ch'wan, Kiang Si, Hu Kwang-perhaps even Yun Nan and Kwei Chou; Certainly Kiang Su and Cheh Kiang, and possibly in a loose way the coast regions of modern Fuh Kien and the Two Kwang; but it cannot be too often repeated that if any thing intimate was known of the Yang-tsz basin, it was only Ts'u (in its double character of independent local empire as well as Chinese federal prince) that knew, or could have known, any thing about it; just as, if any thing specific was known of the Far West, Turkestan, the Tarim valley, and the Desert, it was only Ts'in (in its double character of independent Tartar empire as well as Chinese federal prince) that knew, or could know, any thing about them. Ts'i and Tsin were also Tartar powers, at least in the sense that they knew how to keep off the particular Tartars known to them, and how to make friendly alliances with them, thus availing themselves, on the one hand, of Tartar virility, and faithful on the other to orthodox Chinese culture. So that, with the exception of the pedantic Duke of Sung, who was summarily snuffed out after a year or two of brief light by the lusty King of Ts'u, all the nominal Five Protectors of China were either half-barbarian rulers or had passed through the crucible of barbarian ordeals. Finally, so vague were the claims and services of Sung, Ts'u, and Ts'in, from a protector point of view, that for the purposes of this work, we only really recognize two, the First Protector (of Ts'i) and, after a struggle, the Second Protector (of Tsin): at most a third, - Ts'u.

But although the Chinese historians thus loosely confine the Five-Protector period to less than a century of time, it is a fact that Ts'u and Tsin went on obstinately struggling for the hegemony, or for practical predominance, for at least another 200 years; besides, Ts'in, Ts'u, and Sung were never formally nominated by the Emperor as Protectors, nor were they ever accepted as such by the Chinese federal princes in the permanent and definite way that Ts'i and Tsin had been and were accepted. Moreover, the barbarian states of Wu and Yueeh each in turn acted very effectively as Protector, and are never included in the Five-Great-Power series. The fact is, the Chinese have never grasped the idea of principles in history: their annals are mere diaries of events; and when once an apparently definite "period" is named by an annalist, they go on using it, quite regardless of its inconsistency when confronted with facts adverse to a logical acceptance of it.