Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Lin Tsê-hsü
LIN Tsê-hsü 林則徐 ( 元撫, 少穆, 竢村老人), Aug. 30, 1785–1850, Nov. 22, official, was a native of Hou-kuan, Fukien. His father, Lin Pin-jih 林賓日 ( 孟養, 暘谷, 1749–1827), was a teacher. Lin Tsê-hsü became a chü-jên in 1804 and was engaged as a secretary for several years by Chang Shih-ch'êng (see under Liang Chang-chü), governor of Fukien (1806–14). In 1811 he became a chin-shih and was selected a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy. Three years later he was made a compiler. After filling various posts, he was in 1819 made chief-examiner of the Yunnan provincial examination. A short work, entitled 滇軺紀程 Tien-yao chi-ch'êng, is his diary concerning this journey to Yunnan which started from Peking on July 29 and ended at Yunnanfu on September 19. With his appointment as intendant of the Hang-Chia-Hu Circuit of Chekiang in 1820 Lin began his career as an administrative official. He had, however, to abandon his post abruptly in the following year on account of the illness of his father. After service as intendant of the Huai-Hai Circuit in Kiangsu and as salt controller in Chekiang (1822) he was promoted (1823) to judicial commissioner of Kiangsu. In his judgment of cases he gained the reputation of being so just and humane that the people called him "Lin, Clear as the Heavens" (林青天). Owing to the death of his mother he went home in the autumn of 1824, but the period of mourning was interrupted for several months by an imperial summons (1825) to superintend repairs of a broken dyke on the Yellow River in Kiangsu. Two years later (1827) he was appointed judicial commissioner of Shensi and was then transferred to the post of financial commissioner at Nanking. Late in this year his father died and Lin once more retired to his home. Reporting in Peking in 1830 at the conclusion of the mourning period, he was made financial commissioner of Hupeh and then of Honan. In the following year he was transferred to a similar position at Nanking and then was appointed director-general of conservancy on the eastern stretches of the Yellow River and the Grand Canal, in Shantung and Honan, with headquarters at Chi-ning, Shantung. Early in 1832 he became governor of Kiangsu, a post he held until 1837. Under his administration the people of Kiangsu benefitted in many ways; by improved dams and embankments, by various forms of social relief, and by postponement of tax collection owing to flood conditions. During this period he also twice acted as governor-general of Liang-Kiang (1835, 1836). Early in 1837 he became governor-general of Hupeh and Hunan.
At this time the question of opium smuggling into China attracted nationwide attention and became a pressing problem. Drug addicts were rapidly increasing and a large amount of silver was being exported annually in payment for the drug, which in turn was associated with a rise in the price of silver and a corresponding rise in commodity prices. On June 2, 1838 Huang Chüeh-tzŭ 黃爵滋 ((December 31) Imperial Commissioner with plenipotentiary powers to examine the opium situation at Canton and put an end to the evil. Leaving Peking on January 8, 1839, he arrived at Canton on March 10 at a time when both Chinese and foreigners were anxiously speculating on what new measures would be put into effect.德成, 樹齋, 1793–1853, chin-shih of 1823) presented to the throne a significant memorial on this matter, recommending the enactment of drastic laws to prohibit the drug. The memorial was sent to all high administrative officials in the provinces for discussion. On July 10 Lin Tsê-hsü memorialized the throne on the subject with the result that his name was thereafter inseparably associated with opium suppression. He not only agreed with Huang on the necessity for stricter enforcement of the laws concerning opium but proposed definite steps to put them into effect; such as a systematic program for destroying the equipment of smokers, setting a time limit within which opium users were to correct their habits, and the punishment of dealers, smugglers, etc. In the meantime he actually enforced these measures within the territory of his viceroyalty—Hupeh and Hunan. He also had prescriptions made out for the gradual curing of the addicts. In September he reported that in his two provinces he had searched out and obtained some 5,500 pipes and some 12,000 Chinese ounces of the drug. He followed this with a hortatory memorial warning that the man-power and financial resources of the nation would be seriously imperiled should opium smoking fail to be strictly prohibited and suppressed. Stirred by his memorials and inspired by his achievements, the government summoned Lin to Peking (late in 1838). After nineteen audiences with Emperor Hsüan-tsung, Lin was appointed
The opium poppy seems to have been unknown in China prior to the T'ang dynasty, and for centuries thereafter opium was used only for medicinal purposes. The habit of smoking opium arose with the introduction of tobacco with which it was first mixed. The first edict against it was issued in 1729 when not more than 200 chests (each about 120 pounds) entered the country annually. By 1796 the annual importation increased to some 4,000 chests and in that year, and again in 1800, edicts were issued prohibiting it. Though opium was thereafter contraband and could not be kept at Canton, it was transhipped at Macao, at Whampoa, or at Lintin Island, and then entered the country with the connivance of those Chinese officials who profited by its sale. Prior to the dissolution of the East India Company's China branch (1834), which did not transport opium in its own ships, a certain measure of restraint was exercised, but thereafter the greatest confusion prevailed, and it is estimated that for several years-before Lin's arrival in Canton nearly 30,000 chests were imported annually. Nevertheless the abuse was of such long standing, and the measures taken to suppress it had been so abortive that the foreign community at Canton was not prepared to believe that drastic measures would be taken.
On March 18, 1839 Lin issued an order to the Hong merchants warning them of serious consequences if the traffic were not suppressed. On the same day he informed the merchants in the factories that within three days they must sign and submit to him a bond promising that no opium would thereafter be imported. An offer to relinquish 1,037 chests was made, but this did not satisfy the Commissioner. On the 22nd he demanded that Mr. Lancelot Dent, who was regarded as one of the principal importers, be delivered to him—but suspecting that Dent would be held as a hostage until all the opium was surrendered, the western merchants replied that Dent could go only on guarantee of safe conduct. The Hong merchants, too, pressed for the surrender of Dent, for they in the meantime had been deprived of their buttons of rank, and two of their number, Howqua (see under Wu Ch'ung-yüeh) and Mowqua (Lu Wên-wei 盧文蔚, name as Hong-merchant Lu Chi-kuang 盧繼光), were made to appear with chains about their necks. When Captain Charles Elliot (義律, 1801–1875), Superintendent of Trade, arrived from Macao on the 24th he entered the factories with difficulty as the river was blockaded by cordons of boats and the streets to the factories were barricaded. Lin had ordered all servants and compradores in the factories to leave, so that between 200 and 300 Westerners were temporarily without help, without adequate supplies of fresh food and water, and without means of communication with Macao. On the 26th Lin issued another order for immediate delivery of the opium, and two days later Elliot found himself compelled to offer what was believed to be the full amount, or 20,283 chests. It turned out, however, that this estimate exceeded the number in hand, and 523 chests had to be imported later. It was agreed that the opium would be delivered in stages and that with each substantial delivery one or more of the restrictions on the factories would be relaxed. By April 19 most of the servants and compradores had been allowed to return; on May 4 the embargo on trade was removed; and on the following day the blockade of the river was lifted. Sixteen persons within the factories were not released, however, until they signed a bond never to return. On the 24th Elliot and all British subjects left Canton. Elliot refused to sign the bond for future nonimportation, believing that this was something he could not guarantee. The confiscated drug was deposited at the Bogue (虎門), and after being mixed with salt water and lime was allowed to flow into the sea. The destruction being completed on June 25, 1839, Lin reported that, with the exception of 8 chests sent to Peking as a sample, he had destroyed in all 19,179 chests and 2,119 bags of opium, totalling 2,376,254 chin or catties.
Lin Tsê-hsü was now at the zenith of his power, and the objective he set for himself, namely the destruction of the opium traffic, seemed to have been achieved. His purpose was laudable, and his long letter addressed to Queen Victoria on the subject (written in August 1839) is full of righteous indignation. But he showed little appreciation of the real grievances under which all trade had long been conducted. Moreover, there was involved in the question a conflict between Chinese and Western ideas of punishment which could not easily be resolved by the means that Lin employed. Though opium was the immediate cause of the ensuing war there were other, perhaps more fundamental, causes. On July 7 a Chinese named Lin Wei-hsi 林維喜 was injured in a brawl of British and American sailors on the Kowloon side of the Hong Kong anchorage. The injured man died on the following day and to smooth over the incident Elliot made a partial settlement with the villagers and with the family of the victim. But Lin demanded of Elliot that the murderer be found and turned over to the Chinese authorities. Elliot offered rewards for the apprehension of the culprit, but unable to single him out, he held on August 12 on an English ship a formal trial of those accused, and fined and sentenced the most likely culprits to imprisonment in England. In deference to a long-standing practice he persistently declined to turn them over to a Chinese tribunal. Not satisfied with the trial, Lin ordered the expulsion of all British residents from Macao—their removal to Hong Kong being effected on August 26 with much hardship to those concerned. When on September 4 the British sent to Kowloon for food, they were denied the right to purchase it. Angered at the refusal, a British captain opened fire on some junks and thus the first shot of the Anglo-Chinese War was fired. After a few other skirmishes Lin ordered, on November 26, that no British ships should be allowed to proceed to Canton after December 6. This order was supplemented by an imperial edict of December 13 ordering stoppage of all trade with England. The Chinese began to look after their defenses and before many months British men-of-war assembled on the South China coast. Early in 1840 Lin was made governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. The British, in the meantime, had instructions to carry the war to northern waters. They occupied Ting-hai, Chekiang, on July 5, and then continued northward. This new threat stirred the entire nation—and Lin's policy in regard to opium was seized upon by many influential Chinese as the cause of the war. When the British ships reached Tientsin negotiations were conducted in a concilatory manner by Ch'i-shan [q. v.] who later became Commissioner at Canton.
On September 28, 1840 Lin Tsê-hsü was dismissed from office and was ordered to go to Peking to await punishment. He served for a time in Chekiang in military headquarters, and then was sentenced to exile in Ili. In the autumn of 1841, however, owing to flood conditions on the Yellow River, he was ordered to Kaifeng to assist in conservancy work under Wang Ting 王鼎 (Mu-chang-a [q. v.] Wang's son did not dare to present the document. On August 11, two days after the British occupation of Nanking, Lin Tsê-hsü set out from Sian, Shensi, for Ili accompanied by two of his sons. The diary which he kept of this journey, beginning on August 11, 1842 and continuing to December 11, the day after his arrival at Ili, is entitled 荷戈紀程 Ho-ko chi-ch'êng. He remained in Ili for three years. In 1844 at the recommendation of Pu-yen-t'ai (see under I-shan), military governor of Ili (1840–45), he was charged with colonization affairs in Sinkiang. He made personal inspections in various regions and opened up some 37,000 ch'ing 頃 (more than 500,000 acres) of land to cultivation.定九, 省崖, 1768–1842, chin-shih of 1796). When the river work was concluded early in the following year (1842), Lin was ordered, despite Wang's favorable report, to proceed to Chinese Turkestan. Before long Wang Ting died in Peking. According to some sources he really committed suicide in order to indicate his disapproval of the government's foreign policy in regard to England and his opposition to the banishment of Lin Tsê-hsü. It is reported that there was found on his person a last memorial to the throne (known as shih-chien 尸諫 or 'corpse admonition') but that owing to the powerful opposition party led by
As a reward for his merit in this work he was ordered back to Peking in the autumn of 1845 to await another appointment. Late in the same year he was made acting governor-general of Shensi and Kansu. In the following year (1846) he became governor of Shensi, and in 1847 was appointed governor-general of Yunnan and Kweichow. In Yunnan there had for some time been trouble between the Muslims and the Chinese inhabitants, but after two years of Lin's administration conditions so greatly improved that in 1848 he was rewarded with the title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. In the summer of the following year he retired from office on grounds of illness and set out for his native place in Fukien. However, shortly after the death of Emperor Hsüan-tsung early in 1850 he was strongly recommended for active service. The Taiping rebels were beginning to be active in Kwangsi, and Lin was once more appointed Imperial Commissioner—this time to take charge of the suppression of the rebels and also to be acting governor of Kwangsi (autumn 1850). While on his way to these new posts he died at Ch'ao-chou, Kwangtung. He was granted all appropriate honors and was canonized as Wên-chung 文忠. In 1851 his name was entered in the Temple of Eminent Officials (名宦祠) in Yunnan; and in 1865, in Kiangsu. In 1852 a special temple was erected to his memory in Sian, Shensi; and two temples were dedicated to him in Foochow. In 1929 the Chinese Government set up a memorial to him at the Bogue, and designated June 3 (the day when he began the destruction of opium) as a national Opium Prohibition Day.
Lin Tsê-hsü had three sons: Lin Ju-chou 林汝舟 (Shên Pao-chên [q. v.].鏡颿, b. 1814, chin-shih of 1838), Lin Ts'ung-i 林聰彝 ( 聽孫, b. 1824), and Lin Kung-shu 林拱樞 ( 心北, b. Jan. 1827). The two younger sons accompanied him to Ili. One of Lin's daughters was the wife of
Most of the writings of Lin Tsê-hsü were printed after his death by his family. A collection of his memorials, comprising 37 chüan, is entitled 林文忠公政書 Lin Wên-chung kung chêng-shu. His collected verse and prose bear the titles 雲左山房詩鈔 Yün-tso shan-fang shih-ch'ao, 8 chüan and Yün-tso shan fang wên (文)-ch'ao, 4 chüan, respectively. He also left a short work on the water facilities of the metropolitan area of Peking, entitled 畿輔水利議 Chi-u shui-li i. While he was in Canton he paid much attention to the geography and the sciences of the West. He was particularly interested in Western weapons of warfare and means of maritime defense, and employed a staff to collect and translate material from Western sources—mostly periodicals. This information was brought together in the 四洲志Ssŭ-chou chih which Wei Yüan [q. v.] acknowledged as one of the important sources for his Hai-kuo t'u-chih. Lin's Ssŭ-chou chih, his Tien-yao chi-ch'êng and his Ho-ko chi-ch'êng were all reprinted in the Hsiao-fang-hu chai yü-ti ts'ung-ch'ao (see under Hsü Chi-yü). Eight of his previously unpublished memorials were printed in the 史料旬刊 Shih-liao hsün-k'an (No. 35, May 11, 1931). His great-grandson, Lin Hsiang 林翔 ( 璧如), brought together some of the documents on opium prohibition in one volume, entitled 信及錄 Hsin-chi lu, and his memorials on the same subject under the title 林文忠公禁煙奏稿 Lin Wên-chung kung chin-yen tsou-kao (1929). Lin Tsê-hsü was widely known as an accomplished calligrapher. A few of his letters were reproduced in 1887, in facsimile handwriting, in the 名人書札 Ming jên shu-cha.
[1/375/1a; 3/203/14a; 7/25/1a; 20/4/xx (portrait); 26/3/20b; Wei Ying-ch'i 魏應祺, Lin Wên-chung kung nien-p'u (1931); Min-hou hsien chih (1933) 69/10a; Tao-kuang ch'ao Ch'ou-pan I-wu shih-mo (see under I-hsin); Li Kuei 李圭, 鴉片事略 Ya-p'ien shih-lüeh (1931); Kuo, P. C., A Critical Study of the First Anglo-Chinese War with Documents (1935); Ch'ên, Gideon, Lin Tsê-hsü (1934); Shên Wei-tai, China's Foreign Policy 1839–1860 (1932); Murray, Alexander, Doings in China (1843, with portrait of Lin from a drawing by a native artist); Morse, H. B., The International Relations of the Chinese Empire vol. I; Giles, H. A., Gems of Chinese Literature, pp. 259–61, for English trans. of letter to Queen Victoria; Overdijkink, G. W., Lin Tsê-hsü, een biographische schets, Leiden 1938; Chinese Repository 1839, 1840, British Parliamentary Papers, "Correspondence Relating to China 1840"; Jano Jinichi 矢野仁一, 近世支那外交史 Kinsei Shina gaikō-shi (1930), pp. 170–351.]