Close Of Kiaking's Reign The Number Of These Useless Yellow Girdles Had
Risen To Several Thousand, And The Emperor, Alarmed By The Previous
Attacks, Or Having Some Reason To Fear A Fresh Plot, Adopted Strenuous
Measures Against Them.
Whether the emperor's apprehensions overcame his
reason, or whether there were among his kinsmen, some men of more than
average ability, it is certain that the princes of the Manchu family were
goaded or incited into what amounted to rebellion.
The exact particulars
remain unknown until the dynastic history sees the light of day; but it is
known that many of them were executed, and that many hundreds of them were
banished to Manchuria, where they were given employment in taking care of
the ancestral tombs of the ruling family.
Special significance was given to these intrigues and palace plots by the
remarkable increase in the number and the confidence of the secret
societies which, in some form or other, have been a feature of Chinese
public life from an early period. Had they not furnished evidence by their
increased numbers and daring of the dissatisfaction prevalent among the
Chinese masses, whether on account of the hardships of their lot, or from
hatred of their Tartar lords, they would scarcely have created so much
apprehension in the bosom of the Emperor Kiaking, whose authority met with
no open opposition, and whose reign was nominally one of both internal and
external peace. These secret societies have always been, in the form of
fraternal confederacies and associations, a feature in Chinese life; but
during the present century they have acquired an importance they could
never previously claim, both in China and among Chinese colonies abroad.
The first secret society to become famous was that of the Water-Lily, or
Pe-leen-keaou, which association chose as its emblem and title the most
popular of all plants in China.
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