Mr. Conger to Mr. Hay

No. 1109.]

Sir: I regret to report that His Excellency Liu K’un-yi, the distinguished viceroy at Nankin, died suddenly yesterday morning.

Viceroy Chang Chih-tung has been temporarily transferred from Wu-ch’ang, and Tuan-fang, the governor of Hupeh, appointed as acting viceroy at Wu-ch’ang.

It is, however, regarded as certain that Chang Chih-tung’s appointment will be made permanent.

[Page 268]

Several men are being prominently mentioned as likely to receive the Wu-ch’ang appointment; among them Grand Secretary Wang Wen-shao, and Chou-fu, the present governor of Shantung.

I inclose copies of two imperial edicts on the subject, with most interesting notes made by Mr. Williams, Chinese secretary of this legation.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.
[Inclosure 1—Translated from the Peking Gazette of October 7.]

Imperial edict.

Let Chang Chih-tung be appointed acting viceroy of the Liang Kiang and proceed at once to his post, and let Tuan-fang temporarily take the position of acting viceroy of the Hu-kuang in addition to his present duties. (He is governor of Hupeh.)

Note.—Tuan-fang is a Manchu, comparatively young, 44 years of age. He has risen very rapidly within the past four years. In 1898 he was a censor, and was regarded as favoring the reform party headed by K’ang Yu-wei, but when disaster overtook its supporters he turned suspicion from himself by a well-turned ode to Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager, who at once rewarded him with the post of treasurer of Shensi. In 1900 he was acting governor of the same province and exhibited rare courage and tact. He received the fateful telegraphic edict commanding the extermination of foreigners, but had sufficient strength of character to disregard it; locked it up without showing it to any one, gave out that he was instructed to protect the foreign missionaries in his province, and threatened dire punishment for any antiforeign attack. He bade those who were inclined to side with the “Boxers” to prove their courage by going to the seaboard to attack the foreign armies and leave defenseless women and children alone. At the same time he sent for the missionaries and told them what his real instructions were, and arranged to send them under safe escort to the south. In this way they were all preserved from harm. Yet, when the court took to flight he made every preparation to receive them in his capital, Singanfu, and despite the famine which was decimating the population, succeeded in providing the necessary supplies. As a reward for the tact and executive ability shown he was made governor of Hupeh, and is now temporarily in charge of the viceroyalty. Whether he can retain the post permanently or not remains to be seen, but it is believed in the highest official circles here that he will be allowed a chance to demonstrate his fitness or unfitness for the post. His rapid promotion is generally regarded as phenomenal.

[Inclosure 2—Translated from the Peking Gazette of October 7, 1902.]

Imperial edict.

We have received with reverence the commands of Her Imperial Majesty, Tsu-Hsi, etc., Empress Dowager, as follows:

The viceroy of the Liang Kiang, Liu K’un-yi, kept a disposition honest and loyal; his talents were great and his plans far-reaching. From among the multitude of licentiates he raised himself by his military services, frequently achieving merit, and gradually attained to the position of a viceroy, where he was able to discharge the duties of his office with diligence. Later he received the appointment of viceroy ot the Liang Kiang and superintendent of trade for the south, which he has held for more than ten years past, preserving peace in the regions under his jurisdiction. The populace, military and civil, have loved and respected him. In the conduct of international affairs he has carefully assisted in determining our policy. Year before last, when the capital was in confusion, the said viceroy protected the southeast and reconstructed the general situation, whereby he still further increased his merit. Being experienced and reliable, as a minister he was in truth a pillar of the State. Recently, owing to his illness, we several times granted him leave of absence from his post and sent him presents of ginseng. Relying upon this prescription we hoped [Page 269] he would soon recover his health that we might long employ him and lean upon him; but we have suddenly heard of his death, and are deeply shocked with grief.

Let Liu K’un-yi receive additional favors; let him be raised posthumously to the ranks of baron of the first grade and grand tutor. In compliance with the custom observed on the death of viceroy, we contribute as a mark of sympathy the sum of 3,000 taels to the funeral expenses, to be paid out of the treasury at Nankin. We bestow also an altar of offerings, and depute the Tartar general at Nankin, É-lê-ch’un, to go and make the offering. We also bestow the posthumous title of Chung Ch’eng (loyal and sincere).

Let him be entered for worship at the temple of worthies in the capital, and let temples be erected for his worship at Nankin, at his native place in Hunan, and in the provinces where he won distinction, and let the State historiographer prepare a record of his life, that his deeds may be made known. Let all penalties for errors in administration be canceled, and let the yamen concerned examine and report what further mark of sympathetic consideration he should receive. When his coffin shall be carried back to his native place, let the local officials along the route make satis-factor arrangements to care for it. Let Chang Chih-tung at once inquire and report how many sons and grandsons he left, and an edict will be issued later bestowing favors, so as to manifest our purpose to show sincere remembrance of a perfect minister.

Note.—Liu K’un-yi was one of a number of Hunanese who greatly distinguished themselves during the T’ai-p’ing rebellion by their loyal services in behalf of the Imperial Government. Others from the same province were the two brothers Tseng Kuo-fan (father of Marquis Tseng) and Tsêng Kuo-ch’üan, both of whom also held at different times the post of viceroy at Nanking. Liu never took any literary degree above that of licentiate (provincial A. B.), but by his military successes he won the favor of the court and was gradually raised to the high rank of a governor-general. In 1861 he was appointed provincial judge of Kuangtung, the next year treasurer of Kiangsi, in 1865 governor of Kiangsi, and ten years later viceroy at Canton. In 1879 he was transferred to the most important post of viceroy at Nanking, but two years later was ordered to Peking, denounced, and, through the intrigues of his enemies, dismissed the service. In 1890 the Yangtze Valley was in a state of unrest, and Tsêng Kuo-ch’üan having died in office at Nanking, the Government looked about for a strong man to succeed him. In their extremity they turned to Liu, who, though already well advanced in years, proved fully equal to the responsibilities of the post. It has been very largely due to his influence over the Hunanese that central China has been kept in comparative peace through the past ten years. During the Japanese war, when the defeat of the Chinese forces had thrown Peking into consternation, it was again to Liu that the Government turned for advice, and he was made generalissimo of the army. Fortunately for his reputation he was not compelled to light, as peace negotiations were almost immediately entered into, and the war came to an end.

He returned to his post at Nanking, and has continued there until his death. In the year 1900, when the “Boxer” madness was spreading terror into the north, he took steps to preserve the southeastern provinces from infection, and entered into the compact by which that portion of the Empire was saved from invasion by the foreign forces. His health has been failing for some years past, but he retained his mental vigor to the last. He died at the age of 74 years.

Chang Chih-tung, who succeeds Liu at Nanking, is the well-known viceroy at Wuchang, opposite Hankow. He is between 60 and 70 years of age. Unlike his predecessor he is a man of great scholarship and has secured his advancement very largely through his literary attainments. He is a native of Chihli, the metropolitan province, and graduated with the doctor’s degree in 1863, standing third in his class.

He held various provincial offices and in 1884 became viceroy at Canton, from which post he was transferred to Wuchang in 1889 on account of his strong indorsement of the scheme for a railway from Peking, via Hankow, to Canton. While His Excellency Liu was in the north as generalissimo of the forces in 1894 and 1895, Chang was placed in temporary charge at Nanking, but with this exception he has remained at Wuchang, where he has distinguished himself by the introduction of various industrial and educational enterprises modeled on western patterns. Among these are the opening of mines, the purchase of a rolling mill, the equipment of a cotton mill, and the establishment of a military academy and an agricultural college. During the brief period in which the ill-fated reform party was in control of the Government he wrote a series of brilliant essays urging the adoption of the “new learning” as essential to the preservation of the State. These have since been translated into English and widely commented upon. * * *