Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/I-li-pu

I-li-pu (Elipoo) 伊里布 (T. 莘農), d. Mar. 5, 1843, age 72 or 73 (sui), official, diplomat, was a member of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner. He was an Imperial Clansman, a descendant of Gunggadai 鞏阿岱 (d. 1652) who was a son of Bayara (see under Nurhaci). Gunggadai was executed for being a henchman of Dorgon [q. v.], and his descendants were excluded from the Imperial Family. Only in 1799 were they restored to the Imperial Clan, and then were made to wear red girdles to distinguish them from the regular Imperial Clansmen who wore yellow. I-li-pu became a chin-shih in 1801, but waited four years before he received appointment as archivist of the Imperial Academy. In 1812 he was sent to Yunnan and in the following year was appointed a second class sub-prefect of Yunnanfu. Promoted to be department magistrate of T'ang-yüeh, he distinguished himself twice in military affairs—first in 1819 when he captured a number of Burmese bandits in his department, and again in 1821 when he assisted the provincial authorities to put down a rebellion in the subprefecture of Yung-pei. For the latter exploit he was decorated with the peacock feather, and late in 1821 was promoted to be prefect of T'ai-p'ing-fu in Anhwei. Thereafter he rose rapidly through the offices of intendant of the Chi-Ning Circuit (冀寧道) in Shansi (1822–23), provincial judge of Chekiang (1823–24), and financial commissioner of Chekiang (1824–25). In 1825 he was made governor of Shensi, was then transferred to Shantung and, after being allowed a hundred days to mourn for the death of his father, was appointed acting governor of Yunnan. From 1827 to 1835 he served as full governor of Yunnan, and from 1835 to 1839 as governor-general of Yunnan and Kweichow. In 1838 he was concurrently elevated to Associate Grand Secretary, retaining his post in Yunnan; and later in the same year he was decorated with the double-eyed peacock feather for quickly subduing a rebellion of the aborigines on the Szechwan-Kweichow border.

Early in 1840 I-li-pu was transferred to Nanking as governor-general of Kiangsu, Kiangsi and Anhwei. At this time the First Anglo-Chinese War had been going on for a year (see under Lin Tsê-hsü) and was spreading northward. On July 5, 1840 the city of Tinghai, Chekiang, on the island of Chusan, was lost to the English. A month later I-li-pu was ordered to proceed to Chekiang with the title of Imperial Commissioner to ascertain why Tinghai was lost so easily, and to strengthen the defenses on the mainland. The defense of Kiangsu was entrusted to Yü-ch'ien [q. v.], then governor of that province. I-li-pu arrived at Ningpo on August 23, and began to rally the troops. In mid September he was ordered not to attack Tinghai because peace negotiations were in progress (see under Ch'i-shan). From late in September 1840 to February 1841 he corresponded many times with the British at Tinghai and conferred with Captain Elliot (see under Lin Tsê-hsü) before the latter left for Canton. A truce was signed on November 6, 1840, providing for the temporary occupation of Chusan by the British, pending further negotiations by Ch'i-shan [q. v.] at Canton. The conferences at Canton proved a failure, and early in January Emperor Hsüan-tsung decided to yield no more. However, the British acted first, occupying the fort of Chuenpi (January 7) where Ch'i-shan was forced to sign a convention granting the cession of Hong Kong in return for Chuenpi and Tinghai. But Emperor Hsüan-tsung was determined to resist forcibly. On January 26, two days before I-shan and Yang Fang [qq. v.] were sent to Canton as commanders of the troops, I-li-pu was ordered to advance on Ting-hai. He replied that he could not advance without more troops and guns. On February 10, 1841 the emperor received another report from I-li-pu that the attack on Tinghai had to be postponed until the troops from Hunan and Anhwei could arrive. The emperor was so incensed that he ordered I-li-pu to return at once to his post at Nanking, and made Yü-ch'ien Imperial Commissioner to supervise the attack on Tinghai. Before Yü-ch'ien arrived at I-li-pu's headquarters at Chenhai, Chekiang, Tinghai had already been returned (February 24, 1841) by the British, in accordance with the terms of the peace of Chuenpi. Nevertheless, the emperor punished I-li-pu (March 6) for his reluctance to attack the British at Tinghai by depriving him of his ranks (Associate Grand Secretary and governor-general) but ordered him to remain at his post as governor-general of Kiangsu, Kiangsi, and Anhwei. The emperor was then collecting evidence against I-li-pu and Ch'i-shan, probably thinking that they had made some secret agreement with the British. In May I-li-pu was ordered to Peking where he was tried for disobedience and for having exchanged presents with the British. On July 31 he was sentenced to banishment.

In March 1842 the troops under I-ching [q. v.] suffered many reverses in Chekiang, and the governor of that province, Liu Yün-k'o (see under Yü-ch'ien), recommended I-li-pu as capable of making peace with the British. Early in April I-li-pu was made a seventh rank official and was sent to Chekiang. A month later he was given the rank of a fourth grade official and was appointed acting assistant military lieutenant-governor at Cha-p'u. His predecessor in that office had died of wounds received while resisting the British attack. As Cha-p'u was still occupied by the invaders, I-li-pu had to stay at Hangchow or Kashing. In the meantime the Court had learned from various sources that the British respected I-li-pu and wanted him as a negotiator. When the British advanced up the Yangtze River, the emperor ordered Ch'i-ying [q. v.] and I-li-pu to Soochow where they could be at hand to make peace when the time came. In July Ch'i-ying and I-li-pu went to Soochow, and a month later they joined the governor-general, Niu Chien (see under Ch'i-ying), at Nanking. I-li-pu was given the rank of a first grade official to sign the Treaty of Nanking (see under Ch'i-ying). He was then very ill, advanced in age, and suffering from heat, exhaustion and mental anxiety.

In order to negotiate about the tariff and other details in accordance with the Treaty of Nanking, I-li-pu was made Tartar General at Canton and given the title of Imperial Commissioner. Soon after his arrival at Canton he took ill and died. He was given the posthumous name, Wên-min 文敏 and the title, Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. The negotiations at Canton were carried on by Ch'i-ying.

I-li-pu was one of the early diplomats who later were condemned as traitors. Fortunately he died early and so escaped the wrath of the Court that later fell on Ch'i-ying. I-li-pu was criticized also for upholding the British protest on the maltreatment of British prisoners of war in Formosa (see under I-liang). The British found him cordial and polite in his dealings with them, both at Chusan and at Cha-p'u.

I-li-pu had a servant, named Chang Hsi 張喜 (also known as Chang Shih-ch'un 張士淳, T. 小滄), who served him in Yunnan and then assisted him at Nanking and at Ningpo in 1840. Chang Hsi carried messages between I-li-pu and the British at Tinghai. When I-li-pu was tried in Peking (1841) Chang was also severely interrogated. And when I-li-pu returned to Chekiang (1842) to resume negotiations he requested Chang to assist him. Chang was active in the negotiations at Nanking and received for this the nominal rank of a fifth-grade official and one thousand taels silver. He later went to Tientsin and, with the documents at his disposal, wrote two accounts of his activities in the Anglo-Chinese War; the first, entitled 探夷說帖 T'an-I shuo-t'ieh, tells of his six journeys to Tinghai as a messenger of I-li-pu; the second, entitled 撫夷日記 Fu-I jih-chi, describes the negotiations at Nanking and relates illuminating details concerning I-li-pu and Ch'i-ying. Chang's account does not bear out the story told by Cunynghame that I-li-pu's illness was due to an overdose of medicine procured from the British surgeon. The Fu-I jih-chi, printed in 1936 from old manuscripts, contains a facsimile reproduction of one of I-li-pu's letters to Chang.

[1/376/3a; 1/221/17b; 2/36/36a; 3/40/10a; I-hsin [q. v.], Ch'ou-pan i-wu shih-mo, Tao-kuang; Arthur Cunynghame, The Opium War (1845), p. 139; see also bibliography under Ch'i-ying.]

Fang Chao-ying