Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Kao Pin

KAO Pin 高斌 (T. 右文, H. 東軒), May 29, 1683–1755, Apr. 19, official and specialist in river control, was a member of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner. His family was of Chinese origin and belonged to the class of slaves in the Imperial Household. After Emperor Kao-tsung had taken a daughter of Kao Pin as an imperial concubine the family was freed (1735), and later (1818) was given the Manchu clan name Kaochia (高佳). As a youth Kao Pin served in the Imperial Household where he became a Department Director (1723). After serving as superintendent of the Imperial Manufactories at Soochow (1726–28), he became successively financial commissioner of Chekiang (1728–29), of Kiangsu (1729–31), and of Honan (1731); and assistant director-general of Yellow River Conservancy in Honan and Shantung (1731–34). In 1732 he was appointed salt censor of the Liang-Huai region and in the following year was concurrently acting superintendent of the Imperial Manufactories at Nanking. In 1733 he was ordered to acquaint himself with river conservancy under the tutelage of Chi Tsêng-yün [q. v.], who was then director-general of river conservancy in Kiangsu and Anhwei. Early in 1734 he succeeded Chi to the same post in that region. Thereafter he was chiefly engaged in river control—in the repair of dikes, the improvement of water-gates, and in general continuing the work of Chin Fu [q. v.] and Chi Tsêng-yün. Owing to his practical knowledge, and his exceptional administrative ability, he effected many improvements in river control during the years 1734–41. In 1741 he was made governor-general of Chihli and director-general of river conservancy and irrigation in that province. After making a survey of the Yung-ting River he submitted a memorial recommending that the river be controlled by installing water-gates in its upper reaches and that it be dredged in its lower areas. In the following year (1742) he was sent with Chou Hsüeh-chien 周學健 (T. 勿逸, chin-shih of 1723), to carry on relief work in flooded parts of Northern Kiangsu. After his return to the capital he was successively made Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent (1745), president of the Board of Civil Office (1745–47), minister of the Imperial Household (1745), Grand Councilor (1746), and Grand Secretary (1747).

In 1748 Kao Pin was ordered to investigate the accusations against Ch'ang-an 常安 (family name 葉赫納蘭, T. 坦履), governor of Chekiang (1742–47), and later to take charge of the confiscation of the properties of Chou Hsüeh-chien. Charged with partiality and with failure to report the facts, Kao was dismissed from his post as Grand Secretary, but was re-instated in 1751. Meanwhile he was made director-general of Grand Canal and Yellow River Conservancy in Kiangsu and Anhwei (1748–53).

In 1753 the conservancy work of Kao Pin in these two provinces proved unsatisfactory, owing to wide-spread damage by flood. He was deprived of all his posts and titles, but was ordered to continue in service. In the same year, while he was attending to conservancy work in T'ung-shan, Kiangsu, two of his subordinates were executed for misuse of official funds. Held responsible for their offense, Kao Pin was also arrested, but his own punishment consisted in having to witness their execution. He died at his post in Kiangsu (1755), and was canonized (1758) as Wên-ting 文定. His tablet was ordered (1757) to be entered in the temple erected in 1729 at Ch'ing-ho for Chin Fu, Ch'i-su-lo 齊蘇勒 (clan name 納喇氏, d. 1729), and Chi Tsêng-yün. After the tablet of Kao Pin was installed, the temple was known as Ssŭ-kung tz'ŭ 四公祠, or The Temple of the Four Conservancy Officials of the Reigning Dynasty. By an edict of 1786 his tablet was also entered in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen at the capital.

Kao Pin was industrious and conscientious in the performance of his duties. Even though occupied with official tasks he took a great interest in poetry and philosophy. His literary collection was published (latest preface dated 1762) by his son, Kao Hêng (see below), under the title 固哉草亭集 Ku-tsai tsao-t'ing chi, comprising 4 chüan of verse and 2 chüan of miscellaneous prose.

A son of Kao Pin, Kao Hêng 高恆 (T. 立斎, d. 1768), was acting salt censor at Tientsin (1750) and at Yangchow (1758–65). In 1768, while serving as acting vice-president of the Board of Civil Office he was executed for corruption and for receiving bribes during his term at Yangchow as salt censor. (See also Lu Chien-tsêng).

A son of Kao Hêng, Kao P'u 高樸, was senior vice-president of the Board of War from 1775 to 1778. In 1776 he was sent to Yarkand as the Imperial Resident of that city, but two years later was condemned to death for smuggling and for illegally selling jade from a government mine near Yarkand.

Although Kao Pin's son and grandson disgraced the family, a nephew, Kao Chin [q. v.], was an able official and succeeded him in the work of river control.


[1/316/7a; 3/20/35a ; 11/47/34b; 碭山縣志 Tang-shan hsien-chih (1767) 2/10b; 清河縣志 Ch'ing-ho hsien-chih (1854) 3/15b, 5/9a with maps; Chang Ts'ai-t'ien (see under Su-shun), Ch'ing lieh-ch'ao Hou-fei chuan-kao (1924) 傳下 21b.]

Man-kuei Li