Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu T'ung-hsün

LIU T'ung-hsün 劉統勳 (T. 爾鈍, H. 延清), Jan.–Feb., 1700-1773, Dec. 29?, Grand Secretary, was a native of Chu-ch'êng, Shantung. His father Liu Ch'i 劉棨 (T. 弢子, H. 1656–1717), was a chin-shih of 1685 who rose through various positions from a magistrate to financial commissioner of Szechwan (1713–17). He was one of the celebrated incorruptible officials of his day, enjoying a reputation similar to that of Ch'ên P'êng-nien [q. v.]. The Liu family of Chuch'êng produced many officials, but the most famous among them were Liu T'ung-hsün and his son, Liu Yung [q. v.]. Liu T'ung-hsün became a chin-shih in 1724, was selected a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy, and later was made a compiler. In 1727 he began to serve in the Imperial Study and in 1735 in the Imperial School for the Emperor's sons. In the meantime he was several times promoted. In 1736 Emperor Kao-tsung made him a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and sent him to Chekiang to learn from Chi Tsêng-yün [q. v.] about the construction of dikes along the coast. While there Liu was made senior vice-president of the Board of Punishments (1737) and upon his return to Peking in 1738 was placed in charge of the Wu-ying tien, or Imperial Printing Press and Bindery. But in 1739 he retired to observe the period of mourning for the death of his mother.

Recalled to Peking in 1741, Liu T'ung-Hsün was made President of the Censorate, and early in 1742 astonished the court with a memorial in which he recommended that the power of the Emperor's favorite, No-ch'in (see under Chang Kuang-ssŭ), be restricted, and that since so many Changs and Yaos from T'ung-ch'êng, Anhwei, were in government service, they should, for a period of three years, be debarred from promotion, in order that other officials might have a chance. It happened however that the Changs and Yaos who held official positions were relatives of Chang T'ing-yü [q. v.], a Grand Secretary who was also a favorite of the Emperor. Though such bluntness in memorials was surprising, Liu's act was warmly commended by Emperor Kao-tsung. That Liu dared to submit the memorial was proof to the Emperor that neither Chang nor No-ch'in was as powerful as Liu had supposed. Yet both were admonished to be more circumspect in the future. From early in 1743 to 1746 Liu was again in Chekiang to inspect the dikes. Early in 1750 he was made president of the Board of Works, was transferred, later in the same year, to the Board of Punishments, and in January 1753, became a Grand Councilor.

To facilitate preparations for the conquest of the Eleuths, Liu T'ung-hsün was sent west (1754) as acting governor-general of Shensi and Kansu. He established courier stations from Shên-mu, Shensi, to Barkul, and also made plans to transport horses and supplies to the front. Though Ili had been conquered, the rebellion of Amursana [q. v.] in 1755 nullified all the gains that had been made (see under Chao-hui). When the Manchu general, Yungch'ang (see under Amursana), retreated towards Hami, Liu memorialized the throne that the region, west of Hami should be abandoned. This so displeased the Emperor, who had planned to reconquer the territory, that he immediately ordered the arrest and return of Yung-ch'ang and Liu on the charge of neglecting orders, and of failure in military operations. Liu's sons, including Liu Yung, were imprisoned. The Emperor, however, put most of the blame on Yung-ch'ang and released Liu and his sons, with the understanding that Liu be returned to the front to redeem himself by service in the quartermaster's corps. In 1756 Liu was pardoned and the family property that had been confiscated in the previous year was restored. Thereafter he served as president of the Board of Punishments (1756–58) and of the Board of Civil Office (1758–61), and as a Grand Councilor (1756–73). He was also an Assistant Grand Secretary (1759–61) and a Grand Secretary (1761–73), holding at times the supervisorship of several boards and bureaus, including chief tutorship of the Emperor's sons in the Imperial School.

Despite the misfortune of 1755 in military matters, Liu T'ung-hsün was entrusted with many important affairs of state. He was sent several times to try officials accused of corruption, and usually his verdict won imperial approval, even though death sentences were meted out to several Manchus in high positions. He frequently conducted provincial examinations and four times supervised the metropolitan examination (1751, 1757, 1761, 1771). Three times he supervised the repair of broken dikes along the Yellow River (1753, 1756, 1761) and once the dredging of the Grand Canal (1769). For a time, in 1756, he was acting director-general of Yellow River Conservancy. He served twice as chancellor of the Hanlin Academy (1750, 1763–73) and as director-general of the State Historiographer's Office and of the Commission to compile the Ssŭ-ku ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün). When he died the Emperor personally visited his home to convey his condolences and was deeply impressed by the simplicity and frugality of the household. He was canonized as Wên-chêng 文正 (traditionally the highest posthumous rank), and his name was celebrated in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen. A set of the encyclopedia, Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng (see under Ch'ên Mêng-lei), was presented to his son, Liu Yung, in token of the esteem in which his father was held. Liu Yung also became a Grand Secretary. A grandson of Liu T'unghsün and nephew of Liu Yung, Liu Huan-chih 劉鐶之 (T. 佩循, H. 信芳, posthumous name 文恭, d. Jan., 1822), was given the degree of chü-jên in 1779 and became a chin-shih in 1789 with appointment to the Hanlin Academy. He rose later to the presidency of the Board of Revenue (1814–17) and of the Board of Civil Office (1820–22). Liu Huan-chih's son, Liu Hsi-hai [q. v.], was a well-known student of epigraphy.

[1/308/5b; 3/21/22a; 7/16/9a; 26/1/55b; Chu-ch'êng hsien-chih (1764) 33/8a and hsü-chih (1834) 13/1a.]

Fang Chao-ying