Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tung Hsün

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3658551Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — Tung HsünTu Lien-chê

TUNG Hsün 董恂 (T. 忱甫, H. 醞卿, original ming 椿, original tzŭ 壽卿, changed to 醇 in 1833, and to 恂 in 1861), Sept. 5, 1807–1892, Aug. 10, official and scholar, was a native of Kan-ch'üan, Kiangsu. When he was seven sui (1813) his grandfather died, and when he was eight sui (1814) he lost his father. As the family was in reduced circumstances, he was compelled, at an early age, to assume financial responsibilities. In 1824, when he was eighteen sui, he began to teach, and continued to do so for sixteen years. He became a chü-jên in 1837 and a chin-shih three years later, being thereupon appointed to serve in the Board of Revenue, where he remained until 1852. In this service he obtained much knowledge about matters of revenue, the tribute grain transport and the river systems of China. In the autumn of 1852 he was appointed grain intendant of Hunan. Arriving at his post in Changsha, late in the spring of 1853, he found Wuchang already in the hands of the Taipings. Three months later his mother died and he returned home to observe the period of mourning. While there he compiled and printed (1855) the 甘棠小志 Kan-t'ang hsiao-chih, 4 chüan, a topographical work on his native town, Shao-po Chên 邵伯鎭. Returning to Peking in 1856, he was made intendant of the Ch'ing-Ho Circuit (清河道) in charge of the water-ways of southern Chihli, with headquarters at Paoting. In 1858 he became prefect of Shun-t'ien fu, the metropolitan area of Peking. This was a difficult time in the capital with increasingly pressing and complicated foreign relations—the climax being reached when the Court fled to Jehol and allied troops destroyed the Yüan-ming yüan (1860).

In January 1861 the office of foreign affairs, known as the Tsungli Yamen (see under I-hsin) was established. Later in the same year Tung Hsün was made junior vice-president of the Board of Revenue, with appointment to the newly-established Yamen where he served for two decades. Owing to the fact that the second character of the young Emperor Mu-tsung's personal name, Tsai-ch'un 載淳, was rather similar to his own ming, Ch'un 醇, he voluntarily altered it to Hsün 恂, although the character in question did not violate a taboo. In 1862 the T'ung-wên Kuan 同文館, or College of Foreign Languages was founded at the Tsungli Yamen. With this school Tung Hsün had close contacts, and there he later made the acquaintance of W. A. P. Martin 丁韙良 (T. 冠西, 1827–1916). For a short time, early in 1863, he was sent to Tientsin to act as minister-superintendent of trade for the three ports of Tientsin, Chefoo and Newchwang (see under Ch'ung-hou). In 1864 he was appointed assistant compiler of the official chronicle of Emperor Wên-tsung (Wên-tsung Hsien Huang-ti shih-lu, see under I-chu), a work completed in 1867. In this year (1864) he wrote a preface for Martin's translation of Wheaton's Elements of International Law—a work entitled 萬國公法 Wan-kuo kung fa, dedicated to Anson Burlingame 蒲安臣 (1820–1870) and presented to the throne in 1865. As envoy plenipotentiary he, together with Ch'ung-hou [q. v.], negotiated with Belgium, in 1865, a treaty of commerce. Later in that year he was promoted to be senior president of the Censorate, and in the following year president of the Board of War. On his sixtieth birthday, he was favored by the Emperor with special gifts. Commenting on this fact, Wêng T'ung-ho [q. v.] states in his diary that such favors had by precedent been bestowed only on high officials on their seventieth birthdays, and that these extraordinary rewards must have been due to Tung's meritorious service in foreign affairs.

In 1869 Tung and Ch'ung-hou were appointed to negotiate a treaty with Austria, and in the summer of the same year Tung became president of the Board of Revenue. When Anson Burlingame was sent, in 1867, to represent China as ambassador at large to Western nations, a supplementary treaty with the United States was concluded at Washington. Tung was authorized to exchange that treaty (November 18–24, 1869) with S. Wells Williams 衛廉士 (T. 聽泉, 1812–1884), then chargé d'affaires of the United States at Peking. At the time of the so-called Tientsin massacre (1870) he was much occupied in interviewing, and negotiating with, the various legations. When the regency of the Empress Dowager ended, and Emperor Mu-tsung formally took over the reins of government (1873), the foreign ministers stationed at Peking had their first audience with the Emperor (June 29). As a member of the Tsungli Yamen, Tung Hsün played an important role at this ceremony. Strongly in favor of stationing ministers in foreign countries, he rejoiced at the appointment of Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.] as minister to England (1876). In 1878 he served as a chief compiler of the official chronicle (Shih-lu) of Emperor Mu-tsung, a work that was completed in 1880. In the summer of the latter year he was ordered to cease his connection with the Tsungli Yamen, and two years later (1882) was dismissed from his duties as president d the Board of Revenue on the ground of advanced age, but actually because of the memorialized denunciations of Chang P'ei-lun [q. v.]. Studious by nature, he spent the remaining ten years of retirement chiefly in reading and writing.

Owing to the fact that a large part of his career was devoted to questions of revenue, Tung Hsün wrote two works on the tribute transportation systems. One, entitled 楚漕江程 Ch'u Ts'ao chiang-ch'êng, 16 chüan, dealing with grain transport on the Yangtze, from Chang-sha through Hupeh, Kiangsi, and Anhwei to Yangchow, was completed in 1854 and printed in 1877. The other, entitled 江北運程 Chiang-pei yün-Ch'êng, 40 chüan, deals with water transport north of the Yangtze, from Yangchow through Shantung and Chihli, to Peking. It was co mpleted in 1860 and printed in 1867. His autobiographical nien-p'u, entitled 還讀我書室老人手訂年譜 Huan-tu-wo-shu shih lao-jên shou-ting nien-p'u, 2 chüan (with portrait), conluding in 1891, the year before his death, was printed by his grandson, Tung Ch'êng 董誠 in 1992. Tung Hsün also produced scores of travel diaries and memoirs of his various missions, among them: 度隴記 Tu Lung chi, on a journey to Kansu in 1849-50 in the company of Ch'i Chün-tsao [q. v.]; 鳳臺祗謁筆記 Fêng-t'ai chih-yeh pi-chi, on a mission to the Eastern Imperial Tombs in 1870; and Yung-ning (永寧) chih-yeh pi-chi, on a mission to the Western Imperial Tombs in 1872. Tung Hsün's collected liter ary works, entitled 荻芬書屋文稿 Ti-fên shu-wu wên-kao, 2 chüan; and Ti-fên shu-wu shih (詩) kao, 4 chüan, were printed during his lifetime. His comments to Wên-k'ang's novel, Êr-nü ying-hsiung chuan (see under Wên-ch'ing), are quite popular.

[Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), 114; Martin, W. A. P., A Cycle of Cathay, pp. 355–58; Tung-hua lu; Ch'ou-pan i-wu shih-mo (see under I-hsin).]

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