Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ming-liang
MING-liang 明亮 ( 寅齋), 1735–1822, Aug., general, Grand Secretary, and first Marquis Hsiang-yung (襄勇侯), was a Manchu of the Fuca Clan and a member of the Bordered Yellow Banner. He belonged to the most illustrious family of the dynasty which held one princedom, three dukedoms, and many other hereditary ranks (see under Misḥan). His grandfather, Li-jung-pao (see under Misḥan), had ten or more sons (the most illustrious being Fu-hêng, q.v.), and a daughter who became the first wife of Emperor Kao-tsung. One of the least known of these sons, Kuang-ch'êng 廣成, was the father of Ming-liang. He served as lieutenant general of a Banner.
Ming-liang became a licentiate and in 1753 married a granddaughter of Yin-t'ao, twelfth son of Emperor Shêng-tsu (for both see under Hsüan-yeh). From 1754 to 1765 he served in the Imperial Equipage Department and meanwhile competed in the provincial examination at Peking. But in 1765 Emperor Kao-tsung debarred him from taking more examinations and sent him to Ili as commandant of the forces under the military-governor, Ming-jui [q. v.], who was his cousin. In 1766 he returned to Peking and soon was made assistant military lieutenant-governor at Kirin City. Two years later he was transferred to Ninguta. The following year he took part in the Burmese War (see under Ming-jui) and from 1772 to 1776 fought under A-kuei [q. v.] against the Chin-ch'uan rebels of western Szechwan. In this campaign he commanded (1773–76) the southern route army which advanced northward while A-kuei attacked from the east—the plan being to converge on the rebel capital (see under A-kuei). For his distinguished services Ming-liang was created a first class earl with the designation, Hsiang-yung, and his portrait was placed in the Tzŭ-kuang ko (see under Chao-hui).
In April 1776, after the Chin-ch'uan War was over, the new office of Tartar General of Shêngtu was established to take charge of the affairs of the Tanguts living in Chin-ch'uan and other areas on the western border of Szechwan. This new office, of which Ming-liang was the first appointee, was unlike that of other Tartar Generals in that it controlled not only the Manchu garrison, but the Chinese army and the civil officials as well. Early in 1777 Ming-liang took to Peking twenty-nine loyal Tangut chiefs for an audience. They were well received and richly rewarded. While at the capital, Ming-liang was appointed a member of the Grand Council, but only for a few days since he was soon sent back to Szechwan as Tartar General. In 1778 he was appointed provincial commander-in-chief of the same province. In 1781 he took part in suppressing the Muslim rebellion in Kansu (see under A-kuei) and was made military lieutenant-governor at Urumchi. But two years later he was discharged, arrested, and escorted to Peking for trial on the charge of giving undue freedom to a prisoner destined for torture, with the result that that prisoner found a way to commit suicide. When Ming-liang reached Peking he was sentenced to imprisonment awaiting execution by hanging. All his ranks and offices were taken from him.
After about half a year in prison Ming-liang was freed, was given the rank of a junior Imperial Bodyguard, and was sent to Kansu to redeem himself by serving in the army then combatting a second rebellion of Mohammedans (see under A-kuei). His superiors commended him for his bravery and he was raised to a senior Imperial Bodyguard. In 1785 he became a captain general of the Guard Division. Thereafter he served as assistant military-governor at Ili (1785–86), at Ush (1786–87), and at Kashgar (1787–92). Early in 1792 he was promoted to military-governor of Heilungkiang, and early in 1795 was transferred to Ili. But in October 1795 he was again cashiered, this time on the charge of compelling his subordinates at Heilungkiang to sell to him goods at reduced prices. He was ordered to redeem himself by serving as a commoner in Urumchi.
In 1796 Ming-liang was ordered to serve the armies in Hunan then fighting Miao tribesmen (see under Fu-k'ang-an), but while passing through Shensi he was retained by the governor-general, I-mien (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao), who was then leading Shensi troops to attack the Pai-lien-chiao rebels in northwestern Hupeh (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao). On winning several battles, Ming-liang again rose to senior Imperial Bodyguard and to commandant of a detachment. After annihilating a band of rebels at Hsiao-kan (August 1796), he was given the minor hereditary rank of a Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü. A month later he was hurriedly dispatched to Hunan to take the place of Fu-k'ang-an and Ho-lin [qq. v.], both of whom died in rapid succession. After the Miao region was pacified (early in 1797) the rank of a second class earl with the designation, Hsiang yung, was restored to him. As the Pai-lien-chiao rebellion spread rapidly in eastern Szechwan he and his subordinate, Tê-lêng-t'ai [q. v.], were ordered to transfer their soldiers to Szechwan where the two fought together from 1797 to 1799. For errors committed in directing the campaign in 1798 Ming-liang was deprived of his hereditary rank and later was ordered to be arrested and tried. Yet, because he was urgently needed in the war, he was allowed to redeem himself under Tê-lêng-t'ai. For annihilating an important rebel army at Yün-hsi, Hupeh, in the same year (1798), he was given the title of deputy lieutenant general (see under Tê-lêng-t'ai).
Early in 1799, when Emperor Jên-tsung took direction of the campaign, Ming-liang was made an assistant commander under Lê-pao [q. v.], and was sent to southern Shensi. There he was ordered to co-operate with Yung-pao (see under Lê-pao) and with Sun Ch'ing-ch'êng (see under Sun Ssŭ-k'o). When Lê-pao was discharged Ming-liang was for a short time appointed commander-in-chief, but he was soon accused of corruption and was blamed by Yung-pao and Sun Ch'ing-ch'êng for issuing conflicting orders which caused their defeats. The three were tried and punished and Ê-lê-têng-pao was made commander-in-chief. In 1800 Ming-liang was sentenced to death, but was pardoned by the emperor and was sent to Hupeh as a corporal to serve under Sung-yün [q. v.]. During seven or eight months of fighting in Hupeh he was gradually promoted, but late in 1800 was again degraded for concentrating his attention on small rebel bands instead of on larger units. Thereafter he won several battles in western Hupeh and repulsed the attacks of rebels in Szechwan. By the middle of 1801 Hupeh was more or less freed of rebels and Ming-liang was recalled to Peking on the score of advanced age. For about a year he held some unimportant posts, and in August 1802 was again sent to Turkestan as assistant military lieutenant-governor at Urumchi. Early in 1803, when the war against the Pai-lien-chiao Rebellion was nearly over (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao), he was rewarded—in consideration of his services—with the hereditary rank of baron. In 1804 he was recalled to Peking and was made president of the Board of War. A year later he was raised to a viscount, and in 1809 to a third class earl. In 1810 he was made an Associate Grand Secretary, but that rank was revoked the following year on the ground that he falsified about servants gambling in his house (see under Ch'i-ying). In 1812 he was sent to Sian as Tartar General where he served about a year. From 1813 to 1814 he served as president of the Censorate and of the Board of War, and in September 1814 again became an Associate Grand Secretary. In 1817 he was made Chief Grand Secretary and two years later, at the age of eighty-five (sui), was raised to a third class marquis with the designation, Hsiang-yung. He retired in 1821 after serving the dynasty for more than seventy years. Upon his death, in the following year, he was given many posthumous honors and was canonized as Wên-hsiang 文襄.
Ming-liang was one of the great strategists of his time and this is probably the chief reason why, after several dismissals, he was always recalled. He attained moderate skill as a calligrapher and as a painter of bamboo. He was the last descendant of Misḥan to receive high hereditary rank.
[1/336/7a; 2/29/13a; 3/30/3a; 19/丁上/24a.]