CHAPTER IV. THE SUNGS AND THE KINS
His son and successor, Chintsong, must be pronounced fortunate in that the first year of his reign witnessed the death of Yeliu Hiuco. The direct consequence of his death was that the Chinese were, for the first time, successful in their campaign against the Leaous. But this satisfactory state of things did not long continue, and the Leaous became so aggressive and successful that there was almost a panic among the Chinese, and the removal of the capital to a place of greater security was suggested. The firm counsel and the courageous demeanor of the minister Kaochun prevented this course being adopted. He figuratively described the evil consequences of retreat by saying, "Your majesty can, without serious consequences, advance a foot further than is absolutely necessary, but you cannot retire, even to the extent of an inch, without doing yourself much harm." Chintsong, fortunately for himself and his state, adopted this course; and the Tartars thought it best to come to terms, especially as the Chinese emperor was willing to pay annually an allowance in silk and money as the reward of their respecting his frontier. The arrangement could not have been a bad one, as it gave the empire eighteen years of peace, The country, no doubt, increased greatly in prosperity during this period; but the reputation of Chintsong steadily declined. He seems to have been naturally superstitious, and he gave himself up to fortune tellers and soothsayers during the last years of his reign; and when he died, in A.D. 1022, he had impaired the position and power of the imperial office. Yet, so far as can be judged, the people were contented, and the population rose to over one hundred million.
Chintsong was succeeded by his sixth son, Jintsong, a boy of thirteen, for whom the government was carried on by his mother, a woman of capacity and good sense. She took off objectionable taxes on tea and salt - prime necessaries of life in China - and she instituted surer measures against the spiritualists and magicians who had flourished under her husband and acquired many administrative offices under his patronage. After ruling for ten peaceful years she died and Jintsong assumed the personal direction of affairs. During the tranquillity that had now prevailed for more than a generation a new power had arisen on the Chinese frontier in the principality of Tangut or Hia. This state occupied the modern province of Kansuh, with some of the adjacent districts of Koko Nor and the Gobi Desert. Chao Yuen, the prince of this territory, was an ambitious warrior, who had drawn round his standard a force of one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men. With this he waged successful war upon the Tibetans, and began a course of encroachments on Chinese territory which was not to be distinguished from open hostility. Chao Yuen was not content with the appellation of prince, and "because he came of a family several of whose members had in times past borne the imperial dignity," he adopted the title of emperor. Having taken this step, Chao Yuen wrote to Jintsong expressing "the hope that there would be a constant and solid peace between the two empires." The reply of the Chinese ruler to this insult, as he termed it, was to declare war and to offer a reward for the head of Chao Yuen.
It was soon made evident that Chao Yuen possessed the military power to support an imperial dignity. He defeated the emperor's army in two pitched battles at Sanchuen and Yang Moulong, and many years elapsed before the Sung rulers can be held to have recovered from the loss of their best armies. The Khitans of Leaoutung took advantage of these misfortunes to encroach, and as Jintsong had no army with which to oppose them, they captured ten cities with little or no resistance. The Chinese government was compelled to purchase them back by increasing the annual allowance it paid of gold and silk. A similar policy was resorted to in the case of Chao Yuen, who consented to a peace on receiving every year one hundred thousand pieces of silk and thirty thousand pounds of tea. Not content with this payment, Chao Yuen subsequently exacted the right to build fortresses along the Chinese frontier. Soon after this Chao Yuen was murdered by one of his sons, whose betrothed he had taken from him. If Jintsong was not fortunate in his wars he did much to promote education and to encourage literature. He restored the colleges founded by the Tangs, he built a school or academy in every town, he directed the public examinations to be held impartially and frequently, and he gave special prizes as a reward for elocution. Some of the greatest historians China has produced lived in his reign, and wrote their works under his patronage; of these Szemakwang was the most famous. His history of the Tangs is a masterpiece, and his "Garden of Szemakwang" an idyll. He was remarkable for his sound judgment as well as the elegance of his style, and during the short time he held the post of prime minister his administration was marked by ability and good sense. The character of Jintsong was, it will be seen, not without its good points, which gained for him the affection of his subjects despite his bad fortune against the national enemies, and his reign of thirty years was, generally speaking, prosperous and satisfactory. After the brief reign of his nephew, Yngtsong, that prince's son, Chintsong the Second, became emperor.