National Geographic : 1978 Apr
used, and one can still travel from north to south by water. Ch'in Shih Huang Ti also re claimed wasteland for the cultivation of crops and introduced irrigation systems still in use. Confucians Feel Emperor's Fury The emperor's military government was progressive, but it was also ruthless. He felt that the scholarly but conservative Con fucian philosophy, which supported the old feudalistic system of the previous dynasty, was a threat to his authoritarian, centralized rule. He not only burned all books of the Con fucian school, except for those in the imperial library, but also buried alive Confucian schol ars who, after warnings, still openly opposed his reforms. The emperor's eldest son, Fu-su, attacked his father's decision to kill the scholars and was exiled to the northwestern frontier where he spent the rest of his life help ing direct the building of the Great Wall. I asked one of our Chinese companions why he thought the emperor had killed the scholars. His reply probably reflected not only the attitude of the Ch'in Dynasty but also of China today, where Confucianism is again officially disapproved. "Confucian scholars," he said, "were most conservative. They believed what Confucius approved must always be right and that the old ways of the Chou Dynasty were too sacred to be changed. How can progress be made if nothing can be changed?" In spite of all his power and success, the emperor could not rest and traveled al most compulsively on his newly built roads. DAGGER DRAWN, an assassin lunges at Ch'in Shih Huang Ti. The emperor leaps behind a column while he draws his own weapon. The attacking warrior, Ching K'o, had come as a friend, bearing the head of a slain enemy in a box but concealing his dagger in a rolled map. Although he and other would-be assassins failed, they caused the ruler immense concern. To prolong existence, he increasingly sought guidance from mystics; ultimately he even sent missions overseas in search of magical life-enhancing elixirs.