Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sung-yün

SUNG-yün 松筠 (T. 湘浦), 1752–1835, June 17, official, was a Mongol of the Khorcin clan which took the surname Ma-la-t'ê 瑪拉特. An ancestor named Ta-êr-mi-tai 達爾彌岱 was a follower of Abahai [q. v.], and thereafter the family belonged to the Mongol Plain Blue Banner. Having trained himself as an interpreter, Sung-yün became a clerk in the Court of Colonial Affairs (1772). In 1776 he was appointed a secretary to the Council of State, and after various promotions became sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat (1783). In the following year he was sent to Kirin to supervise the gathering of ginseng. Owing to the rise of border troubles with Russia he was in 1785 sent to Urga, and in the following year became imperial agent, remaining at Urga until 1792. After the consummation of the Treaty of Kiakhta of 1727 (see under Tulišen), trade with Russia was interrupted several times owing to border disputes. The first suspension was ordered by Emperor Kao-tsung in 1764, but trade was resumed after a conference of the representatives of both countries in 1768. The second interruption lasted about a year (1779–80) and the third began in 1785 when the Buriats crossed the border and pillaged the Mongols. In 1792 Sung-yün and the Russian representative, Serabate, concluded a new agreement at Kiakhta, known as the New Commercial Treaty of Kiakhta. This contained five articles with little change in principle from the treaty of 1727 except that stress was laid upon the arrangement that criminals would be tried by the country to which they belonged—a practice then convenient to both nations.

Upon his return to Peking Sung-yün was appointed (1793) vice-president of various Boards and concurrently a Grand Councilor in the Council of State. He was one of the officials who escorted the Macartney Mission through the imperial garden, Wan-shu Yüan 萬樹園, at Jehol (September 15–17, 1793). He also accompanied the Mission on the return journey down the Grand Canal to Hangchow. Since Macartney had himself lived in Russia for three years, and since Sung-yün had dealt with the Russians in Siberia, the two had certain interests in common. Apparently Sung-yün made a good impression on the British who in their accounts of the Mission refer favorably to him as Sun-ta-zhin (gin) or Sung Tajin (i.e. 松大人).

Early in 1794 Sung-yün acted as military governor of Kirin and later in the same year was appointed imperial resident of Tibet, where he stayed for five years, until 1799. Concerning Tibet he wrote two works, entitled 西藏圖說 Hsi-tsang t'u-shuo and 西招圖略 Hsi-chao t'u-lüeh. To commemorate his tours in this western part of the empire he composed a long poem, entitled 西招紀行詩 Hsi-chao chi-hsing shih, and a number of short poems bearing the collective title 秋閱吟 Ch'iu-yüeh yin. He composed yet another long poem, entitled 綏服紀略 Sui fu chi-lüeh t'u-shih, which deals not merely with the history of Tibet but with relations between China and Russia. Scattered through these poems are detailed explanatory notes which yield useful historical information. During this period Sung-yün also compiled a biographical work, entitled 古品節錄 Ku p'in-chieh lu, 6 chüan, which consists of biographical sketches of famous officials from the Han to the Yüan dynasties inclusive—based principally on Chu Shih's [q. v.] Shih-chuan san-pien.

In 1799 Sung-yün became governor-general of Shensi and Kansu at a time when the campaign against subversive religious sects was going on in those provinces (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao). He thus participated in the military measures taken against them. In 1800 he was, for a time, acting governor-general of Hunan and Hupeh—then also ravaged by insurgent forces. Late in that year he was appointed military-governor of Ili, but owing to his reiterated memorials recommending that a ban on the private manufacture of salt and coinage be lifted in that region, he was denounced and dismissed, only to be reinstated in 1802. He remained at his post until 1809. Under his direction several scholars who had been banished to Ili compiled a history of Sinkiang. This history, begun by Wang T'ing-k'ai 汪廷楷, was continued by Ch'i Yün-shih [q. v.] , and was brought to completion by Hsü Sung [q. v.]. The work, in 12 chüan, was first entitled 西陲總統事略 Hsi-ch'ui tsung-t'ung shih-lüeh, but when it was presented to the throne in 1820 it received the title 新疆識略 Hsin-chiang chih-lüeh and was published by the Wu Ying Tien Press (see under Chin Chien) in 1821 with a preface by Emperor Hsüan-tsung. The Library of Congress possesses an old manuscript copy bearing the title I-li (伊犂) tsung-t'ung shih-lüeh, which differs a little from the Wu Ying Tien edition, and is probably an earlier recension.

Late in 1809, Sung-yün was transferred to the governor-generalship of Shensi and Kansu, and early in 1810 to the same position in Kiangsu-Kiangsi-Anhwei. He remained at the latter post until 1811, assisting at the same time in matters of river conservancy. Early in 1811 he was made governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi. Appointed an associate Grand Secretary, he was ordered, in the autumn of the same year, to return to the capital as president of the Board of Civil Office. In the summer of 1813 he began his second term, of two years, as military-governor of Ili, and concurrently was elevated to the post of Grand Secretary of the Tung-ko 東閣, and later (1814) Grand Secretary of the Wu Ying Tien. After 1817 he incurred the displeasure of Emperor Jên-tsung, owing to a memorial which he submitted in that year pleading with the Emperor not to visit the ancestral tombs in Manchuria. When Emperor Hsüan-tsung ascended the throne in 1820, Sung-yün was made president of the Censorate, and in 1821 he was again ordered to serve on the Grand Council. After terms as governor-general of Chihli (1822 and 1829) and as military-governor of Kirin (1823–24) he was ordered, in 1831, to retire. He was recalled in 1832 to be vice-president of the Court of Colonial Affairs—and finally retired in 1834. He died in the following year and was canonized as Wên-ch'ing 文清. His tablet was entered in the temple at Hui-yüan (Ili). As an official under three Emperors, his career was a long one, marked by many vicissitudes. He was recognized as incorruptible in character, but was sometimes criticized for being over-lenient with his subordinates. It is reported that he was an accomplished calligrapher, particularly in characters of large size. His son, Hsi-ch'ang 熙昌 (d. 1818), was a chin-shih of 1799 who rose to be a vice-president of the Board of Civil Office (1816–18).

[1/348/2a; 3/36/31a; 5/1/1a; Tung-hua lu; Robbins, Helen H., Our First Ambassador to China (1908), translated into Chinese by Liu Pan-nung 劉半農 (i.e. Liu Fu), under the title, 乾隆英使親見記 Ch'ien-lung Ying-shih ch'in-chien chi, with additional identifications and explanatory notes.]

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