CHAPTER IV. THE SUNGS AND THE KINS
Having composed these internal troubles with enemies of Chinese race, Taitsou resumed his military operations against his old opponents in Leaoutung. Both sides had been making preparations for a renewal of the struggle, and the fortress of Taiyuen, which had been specially equipped to withstand a long siege, was the object of the emperor's first attack. The place was valiantly defended by a brave governor and a large garrison, and although Taitsou defeated two armies sent to relieve it, he was compelled to give up the hope of capturing Taiyuen on this occasion. Some consolation for this repulse was afforded by the capture of Canton and the districts dependent on that city. He next proceeded against the governor of Kiangnan, the dual province of Anhui and Kiangsu, who had taken the title of Prince of Tang, and striven to propitiate the emperor at the same time that he retained his own independence. The two things were, however, incompatible. Taitsou refused to receive the envoys of the Prince of Tang, and he ordered him to attend in person at the capital. With this the Tang prince would not comply, and an army was at once sent to invade and conquer Kiangnan. The campaign lasted one year, by which time the Tang power was shattered, and his territory resumed its old form as a province of China. With this considerable success Taitsou's career may be said to have terminated, for although he succeeded in detaching the Leaoutung ruler from the side of the Prince of Han, and was hastening at the head of his forces to crush his old enemy at Taiyuen, death cut short his career in a manner closely resembling that of Edward the First of England. Taitsou died in his camp, in the midst of his soldiers; and, acting on the advice of his mother, given on her death-bed a few years before, "that he should leave the throne to a relation of mature age," he appointed his brother his successor, and as his last exhortation to him said, "Bear yourself as becomes a brave prince, and govern well." Many pages might be filled with the recitation of Taitsou's great deeds and wise sayings; but his work in uniting China and in giving the larger part of his country tranquillity speaks for itself. His character as a ruler may be gathered from the following selection, taken from among his many speeches: "Do you think," he said, "that it is so easy for a sovereign to perform his duties? He does nothing that is without consequence. This morning the thought occurs to me that yesterday I decided a case in a wrong manner, and this memory robs me of all my joy."
The new emperor took the style of Taitsong, and during his reign of twenty-three years the Sung dynasty may be fairly considered to have grown consolidated. One of his first measures was to restore the privileges of the descendant of Confucius, which included a hereditary title and exemption from taxation, and which are enjoyed to the present day. After three years' deliberation Taitsong determined to renew his brother's enterprise against Taiyuen, and as he had not assured the neutrality of the King of Leaoutung, his task was the more difficult. On the advance of the Chinese army, that ruler sent to demand the reason of the attack on his friend the Prince of Han, to which the only reply Taitsong gave was as follows: "The country of the Hans was one of the provinces of the empire, and the prince having refused to obey my orders I am determined to punish him. If your prince stands aside, and does not meddle in this quarrel, I am willing to continue to live at peace with him; if he does not care to do this we will fight him." On this the Leaou king declared war, but his troops were repulsed by the covering army sent forward by Taitsong, while he prosecuted the siege of Taiyuen in person. The fortress was well defended, but its doom was never in doubt. Taitsong, moved by a feeling of humanity, offered the Prince of Han generous terms before delivering an assault which was, practically speaking, certain to succeed, and he had the good sense to accept them. The subjugation of Han completed the pacification of the empire and the triumph of Taitsong; but when that ruler thought to add to this success the speedy overthrow of the Khitan power in Leaoutung he was destined to a rude awakening. His action was certainly precipitate, and marked by overconfidence, for the army of Leaoutung was composed of soldiers of a warlike race accustomed to victory. He advanced against it as if it were an army which would fly at the sight of his standard, but instead of this he discovered that it was superior to his own forces on the banks of the Kaoleang River, where he suffered a serious defeat. Taitsong was fortunate enough to retain his conquests over the southern Han states and to find in his new subjects in that quarter faithful and valiant soldiers. The success of the Leaou army was also largely due to the tactical skill of its general, Yeliu Hiuco, who took a prominent part in the history of this period. When Taitsong endeavored, some years later, to recover what he had lost by the aid of the Coreans, who, however, neglected to fulfill their part of the contract, he only invited fresh misfortunes. Yeliu Hiuco defeated his army in several pitched battles with immense loss; on one occasion it was said that the corpses of the slain checked the course of a river. The capture of Yangyeh, the old Han defender of Taiyuen, who died of his wounds, completed the triumph of the Leaou general, for it was said, "If Yangyeh cannot resist the Tartars they must be invincible." Taitsong's reign closed under the cloud of these reverses; but, on the whole, it was successful and creditable, marking an improvement in the condition of the country and the people, and the triumph of the Sungs over at least one of their natural enemies.