CHAPTER XIV. MORE ON PROTECTORS
Just as Wu had been quietly submissive to Ts'u until the opportunity came to revolt, so did the still more barbarous state of Yueh, lying to the south-east of and tributary to Wu as her mesne lord, eagerly seize the opportunity of attacking Wu when the common suzerain, Ts'u, required it. The wars of Wu and Yueh are almost entirely naval, and, so far as the last-named state is concerned, it is never reported as having used war-chariots at all. Wu adopted the Chinese chariot as rapidly as it had re- adopted the Chinese civilization, abandoned by the first colonist princes in 1200 B.C.; but of course these chariots were only for war in China, on the flat Chinese plains; they were totally impracticable in mountainous countries, except along the main routes, and useless (as Major Bruce shows) in regions cut up by gulleys; even now no one ever sees a two-wheeled vehicle in the Shanghai-Ningpo region. It must, therefore, always be remembered that Wu, though barbarous in its population, was, in its origin as an organized system of rule, a colony created by certain ancestors of the founder of the Chou dynasty, who had voluntarily gone off to carve out an appanage in the Jungle; i.e. in the vague unknown dominion later called Ts'u, of which dominion all coast regions were a part, so far as they could be reduced to submission. This gave the Kings of Wu, though barbarian, a pretext for claiming equality with, and even seniority over Tsin, the first Chou-born prince of which was junior in descent to most of the other enfeoffed vassals of the imperial clan-name. In 502 Wu armies even threatened the northern state of Ts'i, and asserted in China generally a brief authority akin to that of Protector. Ts'i was obliged to buy itself off by marrying a princess of the blood to the heir-apparent of Wu, an act which two centuries later excited the disgust of the philosopher Mencius. The great Ts'i statesman and writer Yen-tsz, whom we have already mentioned more than once, died in 500, and earlier in that year Confucius had become chief counsellor of Lu, which state, on account of Confucius' skill as a diplomat, nearly obtained the Protectorate. It was owing to the fear of this that the assassination of the Lu prince was attempted that year, as narrated in Chapter IX. In order to understand how Wu succeeded in reaching Lu and Ts'i, it must be recollected that the river Sz, which still runs from east to west past Confucius's birthplace, and now simply feeds the Grand Canal, then flowed south-east along the line of the present canal and entered the Hwai River near Sue-chou. Moreover, there was at times boat- communication between the Sz and the Yellow River, though the precise channel is not now known. Consequently, the Wu fleets had no difficulty in sailing northwards first by sea and then up the Hwai and Sz Rivers. Besides, in 485, the King of Wu began what we now call the Grand Canal by joining as a beginning the Yang-tsz River with the Hwai River, and then carrying the canal beyond the Hwai to the state of Sung, which state was then disputing with Lu the possession of territory on the east bank of the Sz, whilst Ts'u was pushing her annexations up to the west bank of the same river. There were in all twelve minor orthodox states between the Sz and the Hwai. In 482 the all-powerful King of Wu held a genuine durbar as Protector, at a place in modern Ho Nan province, north of the Yellow River as it now runs, but at that time a good distance to the south-east of it. This is one of the most celebrated meetings in Chinese history, partly because Wu successfully asserted political pre-eminence over Tsin; partly because Confucius falsifies the true facts out of shame (as we have seen he did when Ts'u similarly seized the first place over Tsin); and partly owing to the shrewd diplomacy of the King of Wu, who had learnt by express messenger that the King of Ytieh was marching on his capital, and who had the difficult double task to accomplish of carrying out a "bluff," and operating a retreat without showing his weak hand to either side, or losing his army exposed between two foes.
In 473, after long and desperate fighting, Wu was, however, at last annihilated by Yiieh, which state was now unanimously voted Protector, Vae victis! The Yueh capital was promptly removed from near the modern Shao-hing (west of Ningpo) far away north to what is now practically the German colony of Kiao Chou; but, though a maritime power of very great-strength, Yiieh never succeeded in establishing any real land influence in the Hwai Valley. During her short protectorate she rectified the River Sz question by forcing Sung to make over to Lu the land on the east bank of the River Sz.