Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Hu Lin-i

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3639994Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Hu Lin-iTêng Ssŭ-yü

HU Lin-i 胡林翼 (T. 貺生, H. 潤之, also written as 潤芝 and 詠之), July 14, 1812–1861, Sept. 30, general and statesman, was a native of I-yang, Hunan. His father, Hu Ta-yüan 胡達源, (d. 1841, age 64 sui), the third highest chin-shih of 1819, who rose to be expositor of the Hanlin Academy and supervisor of imperial instruction, was a follower of the Sung Neo-Confucian philosophy. Hu Lin-i, too, was a brilliant student who obtained his chin-shih degree in 1836, and two years later became a compiler of the Hanlin Academy. From 1847 to 1853 he was first acting, then actual, prefect of various prefectures in the province of Kweichow. During this period banditti and secret societies were spreading in South China and Hu Lin-i distinguished himself by his efficient organization of militia to suppress them. He became noted, too, for his knowledge of military science. When he was promoted to intendant of the Kuei-tung Circuit (1854) the neighboring provinces of Hupeh and Hunan were menaced by the Taipings. With a regiment of militia from Kweichow, he went to the front and fought first in Hunan and then in Hupeh, quelling local uprisings and stemming the advance of the Taiping insurgents. He then went to the assistance of Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.] who was attacking Kiukiang. When the Taipings attempted to weaken the assault on Kiukiang by taking Wuchang (April 3, 1855) Hu Lin-i and his forces were sent from Kiukiang to recover that city. To promote this objective, and as a reward for his past exploits, he was appointed (April 18, 1855) acting governor of Hupeh. It was a time when government troops and provisions were inadequate and the power of the Taipings was becoming increasingly ominous. In this period of unprecedented turmoil and danger Hu Lin-i remained calm; he consoled and inspired his soldiers with Confucian admonitions of loyalty and faithfulness; and raised funds by the likin system (see under Kuo Sung-tao), by taxes on salt, etc.; and by appeals for help both within and without the province. When a relief expedition, led by Lo Tsê-nan [q. v.], arrived from Kiangsi the combined forces made a desperate, though futile, attempt to take Wuchang. The death of Lo, his most indispensable general, on April 12, 1856, was a severe blow to Hu, but with a competent substitute, Li Hsü-pin [q. v.], Wuchang was eventually taken on December 19 of that year. As a reward for his achievements Hu Lin-i was formally installed as governor of Hupeh and was given the button of the first rank.

After the devastations of the long war round Wuchang it devolved on Hu Lin-i to rehabilitate the government of the province. He selected with care competent military and civil officials, encouraged incorruptibility and efficiency, prohibited lavish social entertainments, and established a bureau to scrutinize and check government expenditures. He disarmed improperly trained soldiers and strengthened those portions that were well-disciplined. He set up a commissariat for munitions and rations and strengthened the defense of Wuchang so that it would not again fall to the rebels. He also promoted commerce and industry and so laid the foundations for the modern development of Hupeh.

At the same time actual military operations were not neglected. The Taipings were driven eastward step by step; Hupeh was fairly free of them by 1857, and Kiukiang was recovered on May 19, 1858, after a long siege and desperate attacks. For this achievement Hu Lin-i received the title Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent, and later was granted one hundred days leave to mourn the death of his mother. Meanwhile Li Hsü-pin and his force were crushed near Lu-chou, the temporary capital of Anhwei, and Hu hurried back to resume his task in order to keep the situation from becoming worse. In June 1859 Shih Ta-k'ai [q. v.] laid siege to Pao-ch'ing, Hunan, and Hu sent Li Hsü-i (see under Li Hsü-pin) to rescue the city.

At the close of 1859 Hu Lin-i and Tsêng Kuo-fan laid plans to take Anking, capital of Anhwei, by approaching the city from four routes. Hu was responsible for the third route, and labored as Tsêng's chief support in command ing troops and supplying provisions. Perceiving great ignorance of military tactics on the part of his co-generals, Hu, with the help of Wang Shih-to, Mo Yu-chih [qq. v.] and others, compiled (Mar. 5, 1859–Jan. 22, 1861) a handbook on the subject, entitled 讀史兵略 Tu-shih ping-lüeh, printed in 1861 in 46 chüan, and made up, as the title indicates, from accounts of battles which he had read in histories. At the beginning of 1860 the plan to take Anking met with serious obstacles. Though by February Hu Lin-i's third route army had advanced to T'ai-hu, and was therefore not far from Anking, the Great Camp at the walls of Nanking (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan) was conclusively defeated. Tsêng Kuo-fan had, in the meantime, been appointed governor-general of the Liang-Kiang and was unable to take up his post at Nanking owing to the pressure on his forces at Ch'i-mên, Anhwei (1860–61). Moreover, in 1860–61, the Taipings were making counter-attacks on Hupeh from many sides in the hope of lifting the siege of Anking which was being pressed by Tsêng Kuo-ch'üan [q. v.]. At this critical moment Hu strongly advised Tsêng Kuo-fan to continue the siege of Anking and to withstand the attack at Ch'i-mên while Hu himself went back to Hupeh to repulse the Taipings there. He gave to Tsêng all the financial aid he could, even to a part of his own salary. In order to raise more funds he repeatedly solicited the Emperor to approve a reduced rate for the sale of official titles. When Anking was finally taken, on September 5, 1861, Tsêng Kuo-fan recommended that Hu be given chief credit for the success of the campaign. Accordingly Hu was given the title, Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, and the hereditary rank, Ch'i-tu-yü. But unfortunately he, worn out by his exertions, had already been spitting blood for four months, and died in office at Wuchang. He was canonized as Wên-chung 文忠, was posthumously given the title of governor-general, and in 1864 the hereditary rank of Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü of the first class. Later he was posthumously raised to the hereditary rank of a baron of the third class. As Hu had no son, he adopted a nephew to inherit the rank. Hu's wife was a daughter of T'ao Chu [q. v.].

Hu Lin-i was gallant and dignified and is said to have had a long face and penetrating eyes. He was quick in decision and persistent in action—an important factor in his success being also his ability to co-operate with both is superiors and his inferiors. He was versed in military lore and at the same time knew how to control his generals. His sayings and those of Tsêng Kuo-fan on military matters were brought together in a discerning work, entitled Tsêng Hu chih-ping yü-lu (see under Tsêng Kuo-fan). Hu Lin-i, Tso Tsung-t'ang, P'êng Yü-lin [qq. v.] and Tsêng Kuo-fan are recognized as the four outstanding leaders of this period—each contributing in his own sphere to the success of the campaign against the Taipings.

Hu Lin-i's memorials, his letters, and his nien-p'u were brought together under the title 胡文忠公遺集 Hu Wên-chung kung i-chi, 10 chüan, and printed in 1863 by Yen Shu-sên 嚴樹 [澍 chu] 森 (T. 渭春, a chü-jên of 1840, d. 1876) who succeeded him as governor of Hupeh (1861–64). The collection was later enlarged to 86 chüan, printed under the same title in 1867, and later reprinted several times. While in Hupeh Hu Lin-i sponsored the editing of the famous geographical atlas, 皇朝中外一統輿圖 Huang-ch'ao Chung-wai i-t'ung yü-t'u, 31 + 1 chüan, based on the Ch'ien-lung map of the Empire (see under Ho Kuo-tsung), and on the atlas by Li Chao-lo [q. v.]. It takes account of geographical changes such as the altered course of the Yellow River (1855). When Hu died in 1861 the atlas was barely completed, but was printed in Wuchang by Yen Shu-sên in 1863.

[1/412/5b; 2/42/44b; 5/25/15b; 7/26/20a; 8/2/1a; Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.] Yang-chih shu-wu wên-chi 17/36a, 19/32b; Hsüeh Fu-ch'êng [q. v.] Yung-an wên-pien, chüan 4.]

Têng Ssŭ-yü