Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tso Tsung-t'ang
TSO Tsung-t'ang 左宗棠 ( 季高, 樸存, 老亮, 忠介先生), Nov. 10, 1812–1885, Sept 5, military leader and statesman, was a native of Hsiang-yin, Hunan. Born in a family of moderate means but with scholarly traditions, his schooling began at an early age, first with his grandfather, Tso Jên-chin 左人錦 ( 斐中, 松埜, 1738–1817), and then with his father, Tso Kuan-lan 左觀瀾 ( 晏臣, 春航, 1778–1830). When he was eighteen sui (1829) he read for the first time the two great geographical works, T'ien-hsia chün-kuo li-ping shu by Ku Yen-wu [q. v.] and Tu-shih fang-yü chi-yao by Ku Tsu-yü [q. v.], and evinced a great interest in them. Doubtless the study of these works inspired a life-long interest in the topography of the Chinese Empire and later helped him considerably in military strategy. After his father's death, in 1830, the financial condition of the family became worse, but in the same year he met Ho Ch'ang-ling [q. v.], who saw in him great promise and gave him access to his own library. In the following year he studied in the Academy, Ch'êng-nan Shu-yüan 城南書院, in Shan-hua, Hunan, where Ho Hsi-ling (see under Ho Ch'ang-ling) was director. Both he and his older brother, Tso Tsung-chih 左宗植 ( 仲基, 景喬, d. 1872), became chü-jên in 1832. In the same year he married Chou I-tuan 周詒端 ( 筠心, 1812–1870) who left a collection of verse, entitled 飾性齋遺稿 Shih-hsing chai i-kao. They made their home with his wife's family in Hsiang-t'an, Hunan, until 1844. In the meantime Tso participated three times (1833, 1835, 1838) in the metropolitan examinations, but failed to qualify for the chin-shih degree. In 1837 he lectured in the Lu-chiang Shu-yüan 淥江書院, in Li-ling, Hunan, where he made the acquaintance of T'ao Chu [q. v.] who was then viceroy of Liang-Kiang (Kiangsu, Kiangsi and Anhwei). After failing for a third time in the metropolitan examination (1838) he determined not to try again.
Tso then studied seriously works in the fields of history, classics, geography and agriculture, particularly the last two. During this time, too, he familiarized himself with the 欽定皇輿西城圖志 Ch'in-ting Huang-yü Hsi-yü t'u-chih, an official work on Chinese Turkestan compiled during the years 1756–1782. In 1839 he compiled an historical atlas of military strategy which seems not to have been printed. He also promoted the planting of mulberry trees and introduced the members of his family to the art of sericulture. When his friend, T'ao Chu, died (1839) the latter left a request that Tso be the teacher of his son, T'ao Kuang (see under T'ao Chu), who later became Tso's son-in-law. Thereupon he taught in the T'ao family in An-hua, Hunan, for eight years (1840–48). During this period there occurred the Anglo-Chinese War (1840–42), and though he took no active part in it, he was deeply concerned over the course of events. In this period, also, he first made the acquaintance of Hu Lin-i [q. v.] who had great respect for his talents and did much to bring him to the position and the fame which he later achieved. As Tso's financial condition improved he bought a farm in his native district and moved his family there in 1844. He experimented in ancient methods of agriculture; he cultivated tea; he promoted sericulture; and therefore styled himself, "Husbandman of the River Hsiang" (湘上農人). In 1845 he wrote a work on agriculture, entitled 樸存閣農書 Pu-ts'un ko nung-shu. In 1848 he was recommended to Lin Tsê-hsü [q. v.], but for some reason did not join his staff. Yet when Lin was on his way from Yunnan to Fukien in the following year, Tso had an interview with him in Changsha. During the initial stages of the Taiping Rebellion in Kwangsi Tso and his fellow-townsman, Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.], found a place of refuge in the mountains east of Hsiang-yin. By 1851 he was already forty sui and that year marks the end of his early years of seclusion and comparative inactivity. From the year 1852 till his death in 1885, he was continuously connected with, or in charge of, military operations—campaigning against the Taipings, the Nien-fei, and the Muslims of the Northwest, or preparing for hostilities with the French on the question of Annam.
In 1852, on the recommendation of Hu Lin-i, Tso Tsung-t'ang was invited to the secretarial staff of Chang Liang-chi 張亮基 (Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.], he went to Yochow, Hunan, to serve on the secretarial staff of Lo Ping-chang [q. v.], governor of that province. For more than five years he acted as Lo's chief assistant in supervising military affairs in Hunan. But the weight of his influence, and the frankness and self-aSsŭrance with which he performed his duties, aroused the jealousy of his colleagues, so that in 1859 charges of corruption and unruliness were lodged against him and he was ordered to Wuchang for inquiry. However, his friend Hu Lin-i came to his rescue and the charges were dropped.采臣, 石卿, 1807–1871) who was then governor of Hunan and later acting governor-general of Hu-Kuang (Hupeh and Hunan). Tso was given full responsibility in all military affairs. The Taiping forces were launching attacks at many points in Central China, with the result that Wuchang, the capital of Hupeh, fell early in 1853. But this city was recovered soon after, and when Tso's merits were reported to the government he was given the rank of a magistrate. In the same year (1853) Nanking fell into the hands of the rebels. Chang Liang-chi was transferred, in the autumn of 1853, to be governor of Shantung, and Tso then retired and went home. In the following year, in consequence of an interview with
He then decided to participate once more in the metropolitan examination, and early in 1860 set out for Peking. But a letter from Hu Lin-i intercepted him at Hsiang-yang, Hupeh, with the result that he went instead to Tsêng Kuo-fan's headquarters at Su-sung, Anhwei. His abilities as a soldier were brought to the attention of the throne from various sources, and as the pressure of the Taipings was becoming increasingly menacing, he was finally ordered to raise, in Hunan, a volunteer corps of five thousand men for service in Kiangsi and Anhwei. Upon his return to Changsha in June he raised his army and began training it in July. On September 22, 1860 he led his men from Changsha toward Nanchang, Kiangsi. His small force made a good showing, taking Wu-yüan (Anhwei) in December. The rebels then fled toward Chekiang. By October 1861 he had engaged them in more than twenty battles. On December 27, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the government forces in Chekiang. Two days later Hangchow fell into the hands of the Taipings for the second time. On January 23, 1862 he was appointed governor of Chekiang, at a time when virtually the entire province was in the hands of the enemy. But step by step he battled his way into the province to take over the administration. He recovered Ch'ü-chou and Yen-chou in 1862 and, by early 1863, Chin-hua and Shaohsing. On May 5, 1863 he was promoted to governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang. The siege of Hangchow began in the autumn of 1863 and by April 1, 1864 his forces entered that city. With the recovery of Hangchow the tranquilization of Chekiang was complete and Tso was rewarded with the rank of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent, with the coveted Yellow Jacket, and a little later with an earldom of the first rank and the designation Ko-ching (恪靖伯). Then he proceeded to Fukien. By February 1866 the last remnants of the rebels were pursued to Chia-ying chou, Kwangtung, and there they were annihilated (see under Hung Jên-kan). This campaign ended the Taiping régime and Tso was given the double-eyed peacock feather. His exploits in Chekiang are recounted in the work, 平浙紀略 P'ing-Chê chi-lüeh, 16 chüan, compiled by Ch'in Hsiang-yeh (see under Ch'in Hui-t'ien) and Ch'ên Chung-ying 陳鍾英. The preface is dated 1874.
Tso Tsung-t'ang was also an able administrator. In both Chekiang and Fukien he accomplished a great deal for the rehabilitation and reorganization of those provinces—paying special attention to education and to the storage of grain. In Foochow he established a bureau for sericulture and cotton and also a printing office named Cheng-i t'ang Shu-chü 正誼堂書局. Aroused by recurring international difficulties, he paid especial attention to naval matters and in 1864 when he was in Hangchow, he experimented with small steam-boats on West Lake. In Foochow he selected Ma-wei shan 馬尾山 as the site of a small navy yard which was later managed by Shên Pao-chên [q. v.]. But as China was still harassed by troubles in the North, which called for his military skill, his peaceful rehabilitation of the South was unavoidably cut short.
On September 25, 1866 Tso Tsung-t'ang was appointed governor-general of Shensi and Kansu, a portion of the empire then harassed by a serious Mohammedan uprising. He left Foochow in December 1866, arrived at Hankow toward the end of January 1867, and there made preparations for his northwestern campaign. But on his way to Shensi he received an imperial order commanding him first to fight the Nien-fei, or mounted bandits (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in and Liu Ming-ch'uan) who since 1851 had spread carnage in the provinces of Honan, Anhwei, Hupeh, Shantung and Chihli. These bandits, being mounted, were very mobile; and, unlike the Taipings, made no attempt to settle in one place or to establish a government. Though Tsêng Kuo-fan and Li Hung-chang [q. v.] had in turn been made responsible for their suppression, one group of Nien-fei under Chang Tsung-yü (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in) began in 1867 a westward movement which caused the government to fear that they might join the Mohammedans. Late in the same year Chang's forces ravaged Shansi, Honan, and Chihli, and even endangered the Metropolitan area of Peking. For their failure to suppress them Tso Tsung-t'ang, Li Hung-chang and others were deprived of their ranks. In 1868 Tso moved his army to Wu-ch'iao, Chihli, and in the summer the Nien-fei were surrounded and annihilated at Ch'ih-p'ing, Shantung, by combined government forces. Tso's rank was restored to him and he was ordered to Peking for audiences with the Emperor (September 25, 30, 1868). By November 26 he was in Sian, the capital of Shensi, and there began to take measures for the suppression of the Mohammedan uprising.
For some eighty years following the northwestern campaign of Emperor Kao-tsung (see under Chao-hui) the Mohammedans in China except during the early Tao-kuang period (see under Ch'ang-ling), were fairly peaceful. Then, owing to the progressive weakening of the central government by the Opium War, the Taiping Rebellion, the wars of 1858–60, and the troubles with the Nien-fei, the hold of China on the Northwest steadily relaxed. Finally there broke out a Mohammedan Rebellion that lasted from 1862 to 1877 and devastated most of Shensi and Kansu. The outstanding leader of the Mohammedans in these two provinces was Ma Hua-lung 馬化漋 (d. 1871) who took as his base of operations Chin-chi-pu, Kansu. Tso Tsung-t'ang began his campaign by dividing his forces into three units and pressing on to Chin-chi-pu by three routes. By the spring of 1869 Shensi was pacified, and later in the same year Tso moved his headquarters to P'ing-liang, Kansu. However, the northern route army under the very able leader, Liu Sung-shan 劉松山 ( 壽卿, 1833–1870), suffered a serious reverse around Chin-chi-pu, and Liu died in action. His command was taken over by his nephew, Liu Chin-t'ang 劉錦棠 ( 毅齋, 1844–1894), who proved worthy of the charge. On February 17, 1871 Chin-chi-pu was taken and Ma Hua-lung was executed. Though occupied both in suppressing the rebels and rehabilitating devastated areas, Tso Tsung-t'ang had, by August 1872, moved his headquarters to Lanchow. Meanwhile he had a printing establishment set up in Sian and an arsenal in Lanchow. In October he joined his armies in the attack on Suchow, Kansu. On November 4, 1873 Suchow was taken and the entire province of Kansu was pacified, but about this time Po Yen-hu 白彥虎, another rebel Mohammedan from Shensi, escaped to Hami. Tso was made associate Grand Secretary, but remained at his post as governor-general. In reorganizing his newly-pacified provinces he carried out several important reforms, among them prohibition of opium culture, and encouragement of the cotton industry according to methods outlined in his printed booklets. He established factories for weaving both cotton and wool, and utilized the leisure hours of his soldiers in farming unused land-farms which were later transferred to the people. In the autumn of 1874 he was promoted to full Grand Secretary and in the following year was placed in charge of military affairs in Sinkiang.
For carrying on a campaign so far removed from his source of supplies, and in a land so sparsely settled as Chinese Turkestan, the two most pressing needs were food and money. Fortunately Tso Tsung-t'ang had always been interested in farming, and his practice ef putting his men to work on the land when they were not otherwise occupied, made it possible for him to meet in part, at least, the first of these needs. In June 1875 the Russian traveller, Sosnowsky, arrived in Lanchow on his way to Russia, and with him Tso contracted for the purchase of Siberian grain to be delivered at Ku-ch'êng, Sinkiang—it being actually cheaper to transport it from there than over the long route from China. By April 1876 the Russians had delivered four million catties of this grain. In order to provide funds for his campaign Tso memorialized the throne, urging that ten million taels be borrowed from foreign banks in Shanghai. This request, however, provoked the opposition of many officials in Peking who regarded the building of an adequate navy and coastal defense more pressing needs than the recovery of territory in far distant Sinkiang. Even those who believed in the prosecution of the campaign were not sufficiently convinced of its importance to advocate a foreign loan. Among those who held this view was the influential Li Hung-chang [q. v.]. But Tso Tsung-t'ang persistently pleaded his case and finally won his point. He argued that the recovery of Sinkiang was necessary for the retention of Mongolia which in turn was essential to the safety of Peking. Unless all the strategic points in Sinkiang were held by China the Mohammedan rulers of that area would sooner or later have to yield, either to Russia or to Britain. In his opinion, the primary reason for the encroachment of Western nations on the sea-board of China was for commercial advantages and not for territorial aggrandizement. This, he believed, was a problem to be solved by diplomacy rather than by force of arms. Moreover, funds had previously been ear-marked for a navy, and therefore the problem of coast defense had nothing to do with the crisis in Sinkiang. He obtained the loan early in 1876, and having previously made all preparations, moved his headquarters to Suchow with a view to regaining the territory north of the T'ien-shan and then taking the region to the south.
The dominant figure in Sinkiang at this time was Yakoob Beg 阿古柏帕夏 (c. 1820–1877). Some ten years previously (1864) a Mohammedan leader named chin Hsiang-yin 金相印 started a rebellion. Finding himself unable fully to overcome the Chinese government troops stationed in Sinkiang, chin requested help from Khokand 浩罕. But as Khokand was then in process of being absorbed by Russia, he could not expect much help from that quarter. Nevertheless Buzurg 布素魯克, a son of Jehangir (see under Ch'ang-ling), and Yakoob were sent to his aid. The two arrived in Kashgaria in January 1865. Yakoob, being the more able and aggressive, emerged by 1873 as master of the entire Tarim Basin from the Pamirs to Lob Nor. In the same year Po Yen-hu escaped from Shensi and Kansu to Sinkiang and paid allegiance to Yakoob who stationed him at Urumchi to guard the region north of T'ien shan. As soon as Yakoob assumed the leadership of all the Mohammedans in this area he attracted the attention of Delhi, London, St. Petersburg and Constantinople, and in the same year (1873) the Sultan of Turkey conferred upon him the title of Amir of Kashgaria. In that year, too, the British sent to Kashgar the Forsyth Mission to form an estimate of the situation. Yakoob had fought against the Russians for Khokand and he had no friendly feelings toward Russia which in turn feared lest he hold designs on regions farther north. In July 1871 Russia had occupied Kuldja. But in 1872 she signed a treaty of commerce with Yakoob, and in the following year Britain signed a similar treaty with him, thus effectually giving international recognition to his régime.
But Tso Tsung-t'ang, having secured the necessary funds and made his preparations, planned his campaign and started westward. One city after another fell into his hands, and during the year 1876 the north T'ien-shan region was pacified. At this juncture the British government, through Sir Thomas Francis Wade 威妥瑪 (1818–1895) in Peking and through Kuo Sung-tao in London, proposed that Yakoob Beg would surrender should China, allow him to keep his kingdom under Chinese suzerainty. When the offer was reported to Tso he memorialized the throne that the status of Yakoob was purely a domestic question and if Britain wished to create a buffer state in Central Asia she was herself well able to furnish the territory. In the following spring (1877) Tso's victorious forces moved southward. The much heralded Yakoob Beg did not put up a vigorous defense for his régime and, with the fall of Turfan on May 16, 1877, the kingdom of Kashgaria came to an end and Yakoob is reported to have committed suicide by poison. Po Yen-hu and Yakoob's sons struggled along for a short period and later fled across the border to Russia. Early in 1878 all of Turkestan was recovered. Tso Tsung-t'ang was rewarded by being raised to a second class marquis (侯), and Liu Chin-t'ang was made a baron. Among other generals who were rewarded with minor hereditary ranks for their services, may be mentioned: Chang Yüeh (see under Tuan-fang, posthumously raised to a baron in 1891); Yü Hu-ên 余虎恩 (raised to a baron in 1891, d. 1905); Huang Wan-p'êng 黃萬鵬 ( 搏九, raised to a baron in 1897, d. 1898); Chin-shun 金順 ( 和甫, 1835–1885, posthumous name 忠介); and Tung Fu-hsiang (see under Jung-lu). The official account of Tso's campaign against the Mohammedan rebels, entitled P'ing-ting Shan, Kan, Hsin-chiang, Hui-fei fang-lüeh (see under I-hsin), was printed in 1896.
Since Sinkiang had now become tranquilized, negotiations about the Russian evacuation of Ili began. When Russia moved her troops into Ili in 1871, she gave aSsŭrances to the Chinese government and to the world that the territory would be restored to China as soon as that country was in a position to assert her authority there. At the close of 1878 Ch'ung-hou [q. v.] was sent to St. Petersburg to demand the return of Ili, and in the following year he concluded with Russia the Treaty of Livadia. When the terms of this Treaty became known in China they met severe opposition, and it was obvious that it would not be recognized. Hence on February 12, 1880 Tsêng Chi-tsê [q. v.] was appointed minister to Russia to negotiate a new one, but as the outcome of the renewed negotiation remained uncertain, China continued her military preparations. In May Tso Tsung-t'ang's forces took up positions in Sinkiang and, in June, he made his headquarters at Hami. At the same time there were troop movements in Tientsin, Mukden and Shantung. If Tsêng Chi-tsêis to be praised for his diplomatic success in concluding the new Treaty of St. Petersburg (February 24, 1881), it must be granted that the achievement of Tso Tsung-t'ang in recovering Chinese Turkestan was an important factor in that success.
From the area in Turkestan recovered by Tso, and the territory of Ili returned by Russia, a new province was created in 1884, and given the name, Hsin-chiang (Sinkiang). Liu Chin-t'ang was the first governor (1884–89), being succeeded by Wei Kuang-tao (see under Wei Yüan).
On August 11, 1880 an Imperial order was issued, summoning Tso Tsung-t'ang to Peking for advisory duties. He arrived at the capital on February 24, 1881, on the very day that the Treaty of St. Petersburg was signed. After an Imperial audience he was appointed to serve in the Grand Council and in the Tsungli Yamen, with the honor of being permitted to ride horseback inside the Forbidden City. But his long years of isolation on the wind-swept plains of Central Asia and his honesty and outspokenness made it difficult for him to fit into the ways of an effete officialdom. He did not feel at home in Peking, and his colleagues felt uneasy in his presence. After taking a month's sick leave in the autumn (1881) he was on October 28 appointed governor-general of Kiangnan and Kiangsi. He assumed his new post on February 12, 1882, after a visit to his native place in Hunan. By the end of the year he was a tired and sick man and had lost the use of his left eye. He begged leave to retire, but in deference to his fame and his position his wish could not be granted. He was given instead three months' leave. In the fall of 1883 he was called to quell an uprising in southern Shantung and before long he had the situation in hand. When trouble with the French over Annam became acute he was once more summoned to Peking. He reached the capital in June 1884 and was put in charge of all military affairs of the Empire. By August conflict with the French along the coast of Fukien became serious (see under Chang P'ei-lun) and Tso was appointed high commissioner of that province. In September 1884 he left the capital, and in December reached Foochow which he had left some twenty years previously. Before long a settlement with France seemed imminent and negotiations were resumed in the spring of 1885. On June 9 a treaty was signed by Li Hung-chang. On September 5 Tso Tsung-t'ang died in Foochow, age seventy-four (sui). He was granted all appropriate posthumous honors and was canonised as Wên-hsiang 文襄.
As in the case of most great characters of history, many anecdotes, usually exaggerated and sometimes without foundation, are told about Tso Tsung-t'ang. Some of these relate to alleged misunderstandings between himself and Tsêng Kuo-fan. It is clear that these two great heroes—natives though they were of the same province—were not good friends. They differed much in tastes, temper, and other characteristics, and their estrangement seems to have grown deeper as the years passed. Nevertheless, they had great respect for each other and they never permitted their differences to degenerate into a feud. Another point frequently mentioned, and as often over-emphasized, is the assertion that Tso in suppressing the Mohammedan uprising resorted to unnecessary cruelty and wholesale slaughter of the native population. That there was much killing is certainly true, but it does not follow that Tso himself was a cruel man. Though he was strict he was fair, and when the conflict ended he did what he could to rehabilitate the devastated areas. The great highway in Kansu, lined on both sides with willow trees, still stands as a testimony to his concern to make the land fairer and more habitable.
Tso Tsung-t'ang had four sons: Tso Hsiao-wei 左孝威 (子重, 1846–1873, chü-jên of 1862), Tso Hsiao-k'uan 左孝寬 (b. 1847), Tso Hsiao-hsün 左孝勛 (b. 1853), and Tso Hsiao-t'ung 左孝同 ( 子異, 逸叟, 1857–1924). A son of Tso Hsiao-wei, named Tso Nien-ch'ien 左念謙 (d. 1892), inherited the rank of marquis.
The complete works of Tso Tsung-t'ang, comprising 134 chüan, are entitled 左文襄公全集 Tso Wên-hsiang kung ch'üan-chi. They include 64 chüan of memorials, 26 chüan of letters and dispatches, 7 chüan of literary works, 12 chüan of other official papers, 10 chüan of memorials drafted for Lo Ping-chang, 4 chüan of memorials drafted for Chang Liang-chi, 1 chüan of table-of-contents, and 10 chüan consisting of a chronological biography of Tso written by Lo Chêng-chün (see under Wang Fu-chih), under the title Tso Wên-hsiang kung nien-p'u. The collection as a whole was printed in 1888–97. A small collection of his essays, entitled 盾鼻餘瀋 Tun-pi yü-shên (68 double pages), was printed at Sian, Shensi, in the spring of 1881, and was reprinted in Peking in June of the same year. The Library of Congress possesses a copy which includes additional essays written as late as 1884 (106 double pages).
[1/418/1a; 2/51/34b; 5/6/3a; (Ch'in-ting) Chiao-p'ing nien-fei fang-lüeh (see under I-hsin); Wei Kuang-tao, 戡定新疆記 K'an-ting Hsin-chiang chi (1899); Tsêng Wên-wu 曾問吾, 中國經營西域史 Chung-kuo ching-ying hsi-yü shih (1936); Bales, W. L., Tso Tsung-t'ang, Soldier and Statesman of Old China (1937); Boulger, D. C., The Life of Yakoob Beg (1878); Piassetsky, P., Russian Travellers in Mongolia and China, vol. II (1884); Wang Hsien-ch'ien (see under Chiang Liang-ch'i), 虛受堂文集 Hsü-shou t'ang wên-chi, 11/7a.]