CHAPTER XXIII. BREAK-UP OF CHINA

We must turn to unorthodox China once more, and see how it fared after Confucius' death. After only a short century of international existence, the vigorous state of Wu perished once for all in the year 473 B.C., and the remains of the ruling caste escaped eastwards in boats. When for the first time embassies between the Japanese and the Chinese became fairly regular, in the second and third centuries of our era, there began to be persistent statements made in standard Chinese history that the then ruling powers in Japan considered themselves in some way lineally connected with a Chinese Emperor of 2100 B.C., and with his descendants, their ancestors, who, it was said, escaped from Wu to China. This is the reason why, in Chapter VII., we have suggested, not that the population of Japan came from China, but that some of the semi-barbarous descendants of those ancient Chinese princes who first colonized the then purely barbarous Wu, finding their power destroyed in 473 B.C. by the neighbouring barbarous power of Yueeh, settled in Japan, and continued their civilizing mission in quite a new sphere. Many years ago I endeavoured, in various papers published in China and Japan, to show that, apart from Chinese words adopted into Japanese ever since A.D. 1 from the two separate sources of North China by land and Central China by sea, there is clear reason to detect, in the supposed pure Japanese language, as it was anterior to those importations, an admixture of Chinese words adopted much earlier than A.D. 1, and incorporated into the current tongue at a time when there was no means or thought of "nailing the sounds down" by any phonetic system of writing. There is much other very sound Chinese historical evidence in favour of the migration view, and it has been best summarized in an excellent little work in German, by Rev. A. Tschepe, S.J., published in the interior of Shan Tung province only last year.

The ancient native names for Wu and Yiieh, according to the clumsy Confucian way of writing them, were something like Keu-ngu and O-viet (see Chapter VII.); but it is quite hopeless to attempt reconstruction of the exact sounds intended then to be expressed by syllables which, in Chinese itself, have quite changed in power. The power of Yueeh was supreme after 473; its king was voted Protector by the federal princes, and in 472 he held a grand durbar at the "Lang-ya Terrace," which place is no longer exactly identifiable, but is probably nothing more than the German settlement at Kiao Chou; in 468 he transferred his capital thither, and it remained there for over a century, till 379: but his power, it seems, was almost purely maritime, and he never succeeded in obtaining a sure footing north of or even in the Hwai valley, the greater part of which he subsequently returned to Ts'u. It must be remembered that the Hwai then had a free course to the sea, and of a part of it, the now extinct Sui valley, the Yellow River took possession for several centuries up to 1851 A.D. He also returned to Sung the territory Wu had taken from her, and made over to Lu 100 li square (30 miles) to the east of the River Sz; to understand this it must be remembered, at the cost of a little iteration, that Sung and Lu were the two chief powers of the middle and lower Sz valley, which is now entirely monopolized by the Grand Canal.

The imperial dynasty went from bad to worse; in 440 there were family intrigues, assassinations, and divisions. The imperial metropolis, which was towards the end about all the Emperors had left to them, was divided into two, each half ruled by an Eastern and a Western Emperor respectively; unfortunately, no literature has survived which might depict for us the life of the inhabitants during those wretched days. Meanwhile, the ambitious great families of Tsin very nearly fell under the dictatorship of one of their number; in 452 he was himself annihilated by a combination of the others, and the upshot of it was that next year the three families that had crushed the dictator and, emerged victorious, divided up the realm of Tsin into three separate and practically independent states, called respectively Wei or Ngwei (the Shan Si parts), Han (the Ho Nan parts), and Chao (the Chih Li parts). The other ancient and more orthodox state of Wei, occupying the Yellow River valley to the west of Sung and Lu, was now a mere vassal to these three Tsin powers, which had not quite yet declared themselves independent, and which had for the present left the old Tsin capital to the direct administration of the legitimate prince. It was only in the year 403 that the Emperor's administration formally declared them to be feudal princes. This year is really the next great turning-point in Chinese history, in order of date, after the flight of the Emperors from their old capital in 771 B.C.; and it is, in fact, with this year that the great modern historical work of Sz-ma Kwang begins; it was published A.D. 1084, and brings Chinese events down to a century previous to that date.