Page:Christianity in China, Tartary, and Thibet Volume II.djvu/334

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320 CIIKISTIANITV IN CHINA, KTC. decisive stroke, at lust collected all his forces uinl inarched them towards Pekin, knowing tluit with a despotic and perfectly centralised government the seizure of the capital is the conquest of the empire. J hit althou;:h Ly-Knuni:^ had a numerous and warlike army at his disp(xsal, he did not cuns^iiler it j)rudent tu venture an open attack upon Pekin. To take this large town was no easy matter, for, besides its great extent, it was tliorou^'-hly fortilied with thick ramparts, and well supplied with artillery. The circumference of the royal j)ahice alone was more than a league; it was de- fended i)y ]'v walls, as many tiitchcs, an»l a quantity of detached i'orts that could only be taken separately. These difliculties induced the chief of the insurrection to call ti'eason and fraud to his assistance, for both can be combined with the utmost facility in a Chinese character. With money and valuable presents, he bought over the principal eunuchs and the more im- portant officers of the court ; and when these preliminary arrangements, which did not occupy much time, were completed, he sent the most gallant and devoted of his captains to Pekin, disguised as merchants, and accom- panied by numerous clerks taken from the most trusty of his soldiers, instructing them to open shops, retail the valuable goods they took with them, and conduct them- selves, in a word, as men more intent upon their traffic than on the chances of war. When Ly-Koung had thus skilfully arranged matters, he advanced his army up to the walls of Pekin. The Emperor had not suspected the proximity of the danger ; for the courtiers, bribed by the rebels, had concealed it from him, bringing him nothing but the absurd pro-

phecies of the astrologers. No sooner was the presence