Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/I-hsin
I-hsin 奕訢 (T. 鑑園主人, 樂道主人), Jan. 11, 1833–1898, May 29, the first Prince Kung (恭親王), was the sixth son of Emperor Hsüan-tsung (see under Min-ning). His mother, Empress Hsiao-ching 孝靜成皇后, née Borjigit, 1812–1855), a concubine, was kind by nature and cared for the emperor's fourth son, I-chu [q. v.] after the latter's own mother had died (1840). Thus I-chu and I-hsin were brought up together and became very friendly. After Emperor Hsüan-tsung died (1850), I-chu (Emperor Wên-tsung) succeeded to the throne, and conferred on I-hsin's mother the rank of Empress Dowager.
By his father's will, I-hsin was made in 1850 a prince of the first degree with the designation, Kung. In 1852 he was given a palace of his own (see under Yung-lin). When the Taiping expedition to the north threatened Peking in 1853 I-hsin was one of the princes in charge of patrolling the Metropolitan area. Later in the same year (1853) he was made a Grand Councilor and in 1854 was given the concurrent posts of lieutenant-general of a Banner and presiding controller of the Imperial Clan Court. In August 1855, when his mother died, he was severely reprimanded by Emperor Wên-tsung for negligence in the observance of the mourning ceremonies. Whatever may have been the real cause of the dispute between them, I-hsin was deprived of all his posts and was ordered to study once more in the Palace School for Princes. In 1857 he was reappointed lieutenant-general of a Banner and two years later was named a senior chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard.
At this time the forces of the Western powers who were invading China were approaching Peking. In 1858 the British and French troops reached Tientsin where they obtained virtually everything they demanded. The treaties of Tientsin were signed by I-hsin's father-in-law, Kuei-liang [q. v.]. During this crisis I-hsin pointed out in a memorial that of all the demands of the Allies the most harmful to China was the opening of the Yangtze River to foreigners. He proposed retaliation against the British interpreter, H. N. Lay (see under Ch'i-ying), and also preparation for war. Later he headed the commission which conducted the trial of Ch'i-ying [q. v.]. The commissioners asked lenient treatment for the aged diplomat, but the request was denied.
In August 1860 the allied forces reappeared at Tientsin to avenge the defeat of the previous year (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in). Kuei-liang was again sent to negotiate with them, but he could not prevent their marching on to Tungchow. From September 8 to 21 the task of making peace with the invaders was entrusted to Tsai-yüan (see under Yin-hsiang and Su-shun). But on September 18 Tsai-yüan and Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in, acting on orders from Emperor Wên-tsung, held as prisoners the British secretaries, Harry S. Parkes (see under Yeh Ming-ch'ên) and Henry B. Loch (1827–1900), who had been sent as negotiators. In all, twenty-six British and thirteen Frenchmen were seized. This spurred the allies to fight, and on September 21 they won the battle of Pa-li-ch'iao (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in), thus preparing the way for the advance on Peking. On the 22nd Emperor Wên-tsung fled from the Summer Palace (Yüan-ming Yüan) to Jehol. On the preceding day he had entrusted to I-hsin the onerous task of making peace with the allies. On the one hand the emperor continued to issue positive orders, as for example the execution of Parkes; and on the other hand the allies insisted on the release of the prisoners as a condition of peace. Though the allies were then short of ammunition and supplies, I-hsin and Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in were not cognizant of that fact and worked on the supposition that they must negotiate peace. After the allies had obtained the necessary supplies they advanced on Peking, reached the Yuan-ming yüan on September 26, and for three days pillaged the Summer Palace. I-hsin who had up to this time been living in his garden near the Summer Palace now fled to Lu-kou-ch'iao 蘆溝橋. The city of Peking was thus left to the mercy of the allies.
I-hsin, of course, was in a precarious position. He had no soldiers under his command and only a few officials remained to assist him. Moreover, never having had contact with foreigners, he had to rely on the advice of Kuei-liang and Hêng-ch'i 恆祺 (T. 子久, posthumous name 勤敏, 1802?–1867, Jan. 30). In fact it was Hêng-ch'i who carried on the negotiations with the British and who on October 8 effected the release of the prisoners who survived. The Allies entered Peking on October 13 and, in retaliation for the death of thirteen British and eight French prisoners, burned the Yüan-ming Yüan (October 18). In the meantime I-hsin had moved on the 14th to the monastery, T'ien-ning-ssŭ 天寧寺, west of Peking, in order to be nearer the city. On October 24 he entered the city, exchanged with Lord Elgin the texts of the British Treaty of Tientsin and signed the Convention of Peking in nine articles. The next day the French treaty of ten articles was signed, and the texts of the Treaty of Tientsin were exchanged. The Conventions of Peking of 1860 guaranteed permanent residence for foreign envoys in the capital, named Tientsin as a treaty port, and granted an increase in indemnities. The British obtained the lease of Kowloon, and the French a promise that all the confiscated property of Catholic missions in China would be restored to the owners.
In the crisis of 1860 Russia took the part of peacemaker. Her envoy, General Ignatieff (see under I-shan), asserted that the peace was made possible by his efforts, and so obtained from I-hsin the signature (November 14) of the Russian treaty of fifteen articles by which China ceded to her all the territory east of the Ussuri River. The demarcation of the boundaries took place in 1861 (see under I-shan).
I-hsin, as signer of these treaties, became responsible for their execution. In his previous contact with foreigners he had shown toward them an attitude of disdain mingled with hatred and fear. But after the conclusion of the Conventions of Peking in 1860 his attitude seems to have changed. As he understood the British better he began to show appreciation of them, if not outright admiration. His confirmation of H. N. Lay as inspector-general of customs and the trust he put in Lay's successor, Robert Hart (see under Chang Chih-tung), are indications of his altered point of view. On January 20, 1861 I-hsin's proposal to establish an office to take charge of foreign affairs was approved by the Emperor with the result that the Tsung-li ko-kuo shih-wu ya-mên 總理各國事務衙門, commonly abbreviated as Tsungli Yamen came into existence, and for some forty years played an important rôle in the modernization of China. I-hsin was placed in charge of this new organization with Kuei-liang and Wên-hsiang [q. v.] as his assistants. In order to train young men as interpreters, the Tung-wên kuan (see under Tung Hsün and Li Shan-lan) was established in 1862 as a subordinate office to the Tsungli Yamen.
After the Allied troops evacuated Peking, I-hsin repeatedly requested his half-brother, the Emperor, to return to the city, but the latter preferred to remain away and so avoid embarrassing audiences with foreign envoys. In addition, the Emperor shrank from viewing the ruins of his once lovely gardens. In August 1861 he died, having willed his throne to his son (Emperor Mu-tsung), with a regency during the son's minority, composed of the two Dowager Empresses, Hsiao-ch'in and Hsiao-chên, and eight officials (see under Hsiao-ch'in). But the empresses found the eight officials intractable and so conspired with I-hsin to remove them. In November a new arrangement was made by which the empresses acted as co-regents and I-hsin as I-chêng Wang 議政王 or Prince Counselor (see under Hsiao-ch'in and Su-shun). I-hsin declined an offer to make his princedom "perpetually inheritable" (世襲), but accepted the double annual stipend of a prince of the first degree. In addition to directing foreign affairs he was in charge of the Grand Council which advised the throne on all important matters of state; had supervision of Emperor Mu-tsung's education; and took charge of the Peking Field Force (Shên-chi-ying 神機營), a division of musketeers organized in 1862 with firearms presented by Russia.
In 1864 Nanking was fully recovered from the Taipings (see under Tsêng Kuo-ch'üan). I-hsin was lauded for his part in directing the campaign and was rewarded by being given the additional rank of a prince of the third degree which was inherited by his eldest son, Tsai-ch'êng (see below). Nevertheless, after foreign pressure had eased, and the civil war was nearly over, the powers of I-hsin were found to be too great for the comfort of the ambitious Empress Hsiao-ch'in. On April 2, 1865 he was deprived of all his offices on the vague charge that he had shown partiality to his relatives and was often careless in his conduct at Court. Though, owing to the urgent pleas of officials at Court, he was reinstated as head of the Tsungli Yamen (April 7) and of the Grand Council (May 8), he no longer held the rank of Prince Counselor. In 1872, when Emperor Mu-tsung married, he conferred on I-hsin's princedom the right of perpetual inheritance. Nevertheless, after the Emperor took over in 1873 the control which previously rested with the dowager empresses, I-hsin was not always in favor. By September 10, 1874 I-hsin had so displeased the Emperor that he was deprived of all his ranks and offices and was reduced to a prince of the second degree. His son, Tsai-ch'êng, was at the same time deprived of his rank as a prince of the third degree. The edict accused I-hsin of discourteous conduct in an audience. But the real cause was a dispute on the question of the restoration of the Yüan-ming Yuan, which was opposed by I-hsin. Nevertheless, on the following day the emperor, by order of the dowager empresses, and at the request of princes and high officials, was compelled to restore to I-hsin and to Tsai-ch'êng all their ranks and offices. It is said that the decision to retain I-hsin was in some way motivated by the strained relations then existing between China and Japan over the murder of Loochoo Islanders in Formosa (see under Shên Pao-chên). Late in 1874, when Emperor Mu-tsung had temporarily recovered from small-pox, he dispensed various honors to courtiers and at the same time had I-hsin's stipends tripled. In the course of the Emperor's illness I-hsin was entrusted with reading and answering memorials.
After the Emperor's death, it would have been a simple matter to curb the ambition of Empress Hsiao-ch'in by choosing as Emperor a more mature person. But the opportunity was lost when Empress Hsiao-ch'in named her own nephew, Tsai-t'ien [q. v.], the son of I-huan [q. v.], successor to the throne (see under Hsiao-ch'in). The power of Empress Hsiao-ch'in was thus firmly established. Although I-hsin continued in office nine years longer (1875–84), his authority gradually diminished. In 1884, when war with France seemed inevitable, irresponsible censors, particularly Shêng-yü [q. v.], blamed him for mismanagement of the government. Consequently he and all the members of the Tsungli Yamen and the Grand Council were cashiered or degraded. Shih-to (see under Chao-lien) was given charge of the Grand Council (until 1901) and I-k'uang (see under Yung-lin) directed the Tsungli Yamen. But the real power rested with the emperor's father, I-huan, until the latter died early in 1891.
Thus after having steered the country on a safe course for twenty-three years, the experience of I-hsin was disregarded. He was allowed to retain his princedom as a perpetual inheritance, but was deprived of all his offices and of his added annual stipends. In 1886 he was again honored by being given double stipends, but remained in obscurity. To be sure, in the crisis of the Sino-Japanese War, he was again called upon to serve the country, for in October 1894 he was once more placed in charge of the Tsungli Yamen and was ordered to serve on the Board of Admiralty (see under I-huan) and on the War Council (Chün-wu ch'u 軍務處), an office especially created to direct the war with Japan. And in December he was made head of the Grand Council. Nevertheless, the war was already lost, and there was nothing I-hsin could do except to witness the conclusion of the ignominious Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 (see under Li Hung-chang). Moreover, he was old and infirm and was filled with resentment against the entire Court. He declined to assume full responsibility and spent most of his last days at his garden, Lang-jun Yüan 朗潤園, west of Peking and north of the present campus of Yenching University. In February 1898 he was made acting presiding controller of the Imperial Clan Court, but he died soon after. His passing was mourned by Empress Hsiao-ch'in and he was eulogized for his great contributions to the empire. He was canonized as Chung 忠 (Loyal) and his name was celebrated in the Imperial Ancestral Temple and in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.
I-hsin had four sons but the two younger ones died young. The eldest, Tsai-ch'êng 載澂 (posthumous name 果敏, 1858–1885), was made (1862) a prince of the third degree, but left no male heir. The second, Tsai-ying 載瀅 (T. 湛甫, H. 雲林居士, b. 1861), was for a time the adopted son of his uncle, I-ho (see under Min-ning), and inheritor of a third-degree princedom. In 1900 Tsai-ying was deprived of all his ranks because of his pro-Boxer activities. Early in 1897, by order of Empress Hsiao-ch'in, Tsai-ying's eldest son, P'u-wei 溥偉 (T. 紹原), was appointed the adopted son of the long deceased Tsai-ch'êng. Thus in 1898 P'u-wei inherited the princedom and became the second Prince Kung. I-hsin's eldest daughter, Princess Jung-shou 榮壽公主 (1854–1911), was adopted by Empress Hsiao-ch'in (probably early in 1862) and was brought up in the Palace. In 1866 she married Chih-tuan 志端 (d. 1871), a descendant of Ming-jui [q. v.]. After her husband's death Princess Jung-shou lived in the Palace as adopted daughter and companion to the Empress Dowager. In 1881 she was given the privilege of riding in a yellow sedan chair with imperial equipage.
I-hsin, as founder of the Tsungli Yamen and as its head for twenty-seven years (1861–84, 1894–98), conducted China's foreign affairs on a basis of conciliation. Owing perhaps to the experience he had gained in 1860, he knew what it meant to be defeated, to face internal rebellion and foreign invasion with no troops he could rely on, attended moreover by officials who gave him only half-hearted support. He had learned to make all necessary concessions in order to maintain peace. The less enlightened courtiers could not understand him and attacked him on the ground that he was weak. After his removal in 1884 China entered unprepared on the path of war and soon found herself embroiled with France and, ten years later, with Japan. When he was called on in 1894 to direct the Sino-Japanese war it was already too late. Had he been in power during the years 1884 and 1894, the disputes with France and Japan might have taken different courses. In any case he probably would have prevented the Empress Dowager from spending on the Summer Palace funds meant for the navy, and kept her from other follies which directly or indirectly led to the disasters of 1900.
I-hsin left two collections of verse: one entitled 樂道堂詩集 Lo-tao t'ang shih-chi, another 萃錦吟 Ts'ui-chin-yin. The former is in six series, each with its own title, variously printed from 1856 to 1867. The latter, in 18 chüan, was printed about 1893. His prose collection is entitled Lo-tao t'ang wen (文) chi, 5 chüan. He headed the commissions for the compilation of the following two official works, both completed in 1872: 剿平粵匪方略 Chiao-p'ing Yüeh-fei fang-lüeh, 420 + 2 chüan, containing edicts and memorials relating to the Taiping Rebellion in the years 1850–66; and Chiao-p'ing Nien (捻) fei fang-lüeh, 320 + 1 chüan, relating to the suppression of the Nien bandits during the years 1851–68. The former should not be confused with the P'ing-ting (平定) Yüeh-fei chi ( 紀) lüeh, 18 + 4 chüan, printed about 1865 by Kuan-wên [q. v.]. I-hsin also supervised the editing of the official documents in these works which were completed in 1896, namely: 平定雲南回匪方略 P'ing-ting Yün-nan Hui-fei fang-lüeh, 50 chüan, concerning the Mohammedan uprising in Yunnan (see under Ts'ên Yü-ying) between 1855 and 1879; 平定貴州苗匪紀略 P'ing-ting Kuei-chou Miao-fei chi-lüeh, 40 chüan, on wars with the Miao in the years 1855–79; and P'ing-ting Shan, Kan, Hsin-chiang (陝甘新疆) Hui-fei fang-lüeh, 320 chüan, on the Mohammedan rebellions in the northwestern provinces (see under Tso Tsung-t'ang) from 1855 to 1889. I-hsin's own memorials appear in these works and also in the collections of documents relating to foreign affairs in the Hsien-fêng and T'ung-chih periods, known as: 籌辦夷務始末 Ch'ou-pan I-wu shih-mo, Hsien-fêng ch'ao, 80 chüan, completed in 1867, covering the years 1850–61; and the Ch'ou-pan I-wu shih-mo, T'ung-chih ch'ao, 100 chüan, completed in 1880, covering the years 1861–75. These two works, together with the Ch'ou-pan I-wu shih-mo, Tao-kuang ch'ao, 80 chüan, covering the years 1836–50, were printed by the Palace Museum, Peking, in 1929–31. I-hsin's memorials also appear in the 清季外交史料 Ch'ing-chi wai-chiao shih-liao, documents on foreign relations in the last two reigns (1875–1911) of the Ch'ing dynasty, compiled by Wang Yen-wei 王彥威 (T. 弢夫 H. 藜盦, original ming 禹堂 T. 渠城 Jan, 1843–1904) and printed in 1932–35. Appended to the compilation is Wang's work about affairs in 1900–02, entitled 西巡大事記 Hsi-hsün ta-shih chi, 11 + 1 chüan.
[1/171/24b; 1/227/9b; Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u (see under Fu-lung-an); Chin-liang, Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho) p. 45; Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping, vol. 7, nos. 3–4 (May–Aug. 1934); Ch'ou-pan I-wu shih-mo, Hsien-fêng, T'ung-chih, passim; Martin, W. A. P., A Cycle of Cathay (1896), pp. 344–47; Cordier, H., L'Expédition de Chine de 1860 (1906); Wolseley, G. J., Narrative of the War with China in 1860 (1862); Swinhoe, Robert, Narrative of the North China Campaign of 1860 (1861); Rennie, D. F., Peking and the Pekingese (1865), vol. 1, p. 221; Grant, H., Incidents of the China War of 1860 (1875); Loch, H. B., Personal Narrative of Occurrences during Lord Elgin's Second Embassy to China, 1860, 3d ed. (1900); M'ghee, R. J. L., How We Got to Peking (1862); Lane-Poole, Life of Sir Harry Parkes, 2 vols. (1894); Tung Hsün [q. v.], Nien-p'u, 2/46b; Bland and Backhouse, China under the Empress Dowager (1910), portrait of Tsai-ying opposite p. 252; Li Tz'ŭ-ming [q. v.], Yüeh-man t'ang jih-chi.]