China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

By Peter C. Perdue | Go to book overview

Appendix B

The Yongzheng Emperor Reels from
the News of Disaster, 1731

In this anguished, rambling, and intimate confession to his premier general, the Yongzheng emperor takes responsibility for the great defeat and tells his general to be cautious, but affirms the dependence of all affairs on the inscrutable will of Heaven.

An edict to Generalissimo Yue Zhongqi: From last year until now, nothing has turned out as 1 expected. I am really anxious and afraid. Painfully I reflect on my responsibility, and 1 find that we, ruler and minister, have brought all the blame on ourselves. Military strategists say: Those who show force arrogantly will lose; those who deceive themselves about the enemy will lose; those who do not know the other will lose. Our army has committed all these mistakes. Even worse, with the full blessings of Heaven, the preparations for armies on both routes, all were excessive. I regret it endlessly. I can only confess my sins to Heaven and atone for my crimes. What else can I do? The enemy's power has been far beyond what I had known or expected. As for the plan to advance and annihilate the enemy, not only is our strength and skill dubious, but also, seeing that Heaven does not favor us, do we dare violate Heaven's will? If we, ruler and servant, arouse the troops even further, our crimes will be even more unforgivable. But only the two of us should know these intentions. Not even the Vice Generals must be aware of them, lest the enemy extend his wild ambitions. If we are arrogant about our forces, underestimate the enemy, burden Heaven, and act impatiently, "the vice generals" will certainly move at the wrong time and miss their chance. For now I will respond to circumstances

-571-

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