Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Hung Chün
HUNG Chün 洪鈞 ( 陶士, 文卿), Jan. 12, 1840–1893, Oct. 2, scholar and diplomat, was a native of Wu-hsien (Soochow). He became a chü-jên in 1864 and four years later a chin-shih (1868), with the highest honors known as chuang-yüan. After officiating in various posts, such as educational commissioner of Hupeh (1870–74) and of Kiangsi (1880–82), and chief examiner at provincial examinations in Shensi (1876) and Shantung (1879), he was promoted in 1883 to sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. In the same year he retired owing to the advanced age of his mother who died in 1884. In 1887, at the conclusion of the period of mourning, he was appointed minister to Russia, Germany, Austria and Holland. Earlier in the same year he took as concubine the famed Sai-chin-hua 賽金花 (1874–1936, also known by the names 趙[傅?]彩雲 and 曹夢蘭), who accompanied him to Europe. During his sojourn in Europe Hung Chün translated into Chinese certain maps, made in Russia, concerning the Sino-Russian boundary. This collection of thirty-five maps was printed in 1890 under the title 中俄交界圖 Chung Ê chiao-chieh t'u. But more important than the maps was a study he made, entitled 元史譯文證補 Yüan-shih i-wên chêng-pu, concerning the history of the Mongols—in effect a supplement to the Yüan Dynastic History (Yüan-shih) based on sources which he found in European libraries. Prior to his time Ch'ien Ta-hsin [q. v.] and others had attempted to make improvements in the inadequately compiled Yüan-shih. A great step forward was the discovery of the Yüan-ch'ao pi-shih (see under Ku Kuang-ch'i) in a Chinese translation and in a phonetic transcription in Chinese characters. Hung Chün was the first Chinese to supplement these studies from Western sources. In the bibliography of his study he lists the works of Raschid, Juveini, Vassaf, Nessavi, Ibn Al Athir, Abulghazi, D'Ohsson, and Erdmann. He was very conscientious in obtaining information from Western sources, and took pains to inquire from diplomatic representatives of foreign nations the correct transliteration of names. The Yüan-shih i-wên chêng-pu was not quite complete at the time of his death, but he left his own draft in the possession of his son, Hung Lo 洪洛 (d. 1894), and transcripts in the hands of his friends, Lu Jun-hsiang 陸潤庠 (T. 鳳石, 雲灑, 1841–1915, chuang- yüan of 1874), and Shên Tsêng-chih 沈曾植 ( 子培, 乙盦, 1850–1922, chin-shih of 1880). In 1897 the Yüan-shih i-wên chêng-pu was printed in 30 chüan by Lu Jun-hsiang, and later was reprinted in the Kuang-ya ts'ung-shu (see under Chang Chih-tung).
Hung Chün's term as minister expired in 1890. Upon his return to Peking he was made senior vice-president of the Board of War and was appointed to serve in the Tsung-li Yamen. In 1893 he died at the age of fifty-five (sui). In the Ch'ing-chi wai-chiao shih-liao, the collection of documents which deal with foreign relations during the years 1875–1911 (see under I-hsin), there are some of Hung Chün's memorials and reports, as well as imperial edicts and official dispatches sent to him during his stay in Europe as China's diplomatic representative. These deal in general with the international problems of the time, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway, the status of Korea, commercial relations between China and Russia, and the relative objectives of the European nations. Appended to a memorial on the mining activities of the Russians, there is a list of the Russian groups which were operating gold mines near the border city of Kiakhta.
After leaving the Hung family, Sai-chin-hua became a well-known entertainer in Shanghai, Tientsin and Peking, making the acquaintance, it seems, of many of the important political and literary figures of her time. According to one popular account, not entirely verified, she is said to have gained the ear of Count von Waldersee 瓦德西 (1832–1904) and through him to have exerted some influence in obtaining provisions and securing the protection of the Chinese populace in the turmoil resulting from the Boxer uprising. In later life Sai-chin-hua married twice, and died in Peking in 1936 in destitute circumstances at the age of sixty-two. A long poem, entitled 彩雲曲 Ts'ai-yün ch'ü, written by Fan Tsêng-hsiang (see under Tuan-fang), and a novel, entitled 孽海花 Nieh-hai hua, written in 1907 by Tsêng P'u 曾樸 ( 孟樸, 東亞病夫, d. 1935), are both based on the story of Sai-chin-hua's early life.
[1/452/7b; 2/58/51a; 6/5/11b; Chin Liang, Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), p. 125; Liu Pan-nung 劉半儂, 賽金花本事 Sai-chin-hua pen-shih (1934); Chiang Jui-trao 蔣瑞藻, 小說考證 Hsiao-shuo k'ao-chêng (1919) 8/175a; The Kuo-wên Weekly, vol. 12 no. 38 and vol. 13 no. 35 凌霄一士隨筆; Li Hung-chang [q. v.], Li Wên Chung kung ch'ih-tu, vols. 1–17.]