Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/T'ung Kuo-ch'i

T'UNG Kuo-ch'i 佟國器 (T. 思遠, H. 匯白), d. 1684, official and Christian convert, was a native of Liaoyang. He belonged to the famous T'ung clan of Fu-shun (see under T'ung Yang-chên). His great-grandfather, a wealthy country squire, was the first of the family to move to Liaoyang; and his father, T'ung Pu-nien 佟卜年 (T. 八百, H. 觀瀾, d. 1625), was a chin-shih of 1616, who served with distinction a term as magistrate of Ho-chien, Chihli (1619–21). In 1621 T'ung Pu-nien was promoted to be an intendant, serving in the army of Hsiung T'ing-pi [q. v.] in Liaotung. Hsiung hoped to induce the natives of Liaotung to enlist under T'ung Pu-nien against the Manchus, but their defeat at the hands of the Manchus in 1622 (see under Wang Hua-chên) put an end to the plan. Because of this defeat, both Hsiung and T'ung were imprisoned—the former charged with giving bribes to certain censors (see under Yang Lien) and the latter with being a spy for the Manchus. It happened that some of T'ung's clansmen of Fu-shun had gone over to the Manchus (see under T'ung Yang-hsing), and for that reason T'ung Pu-nien, though himself a loyal Ming subject, was under suspicion of communicating with his seditious relatives. Finally, in October 1625, a month after Hsiung's execution, T'ung Pu-nien was ordered to commit suicide in prison. But before his death he wrote an autobiographical sketch, entitled 幽憤先生傳 Yu-fên hsien-shêng chuan, in which he declared his innocence.

When T'ung Pu-nien was imprisoned in 1622, his family lost its home in Liaoyang, one of the cities taken by the Manchus. His wife (née Ch'ên 陳, 1589–1646), the mother of T'ung Kuo-ch'i, thereupon transferred the family to Wuchang. There T'ung Kuo-ch'i grew up and became a hsiu-ts'ai. Later (1643?) the family moved to Nanking and then to Ningpo (1645). When the Manchus conquered Chekiang, in 1645, T'ung Kuo-ch'i somehow joined his clansmen who were then serving the Manchus in the Chinese Plain Blue Banner. One of the generals who led Manchu troops to Kashing and Hangchow was his cousin, T'ung T'u-lai [q. v.], on whose recommendation T'ung Kuo-ch'i was probably accepted as a Bannerman. At any rate, in that same year (1645) T'ung Kuo-ch'i was appointed intendant of the Kashing-Huchow Circuit, in northern Chekiang, a post he held for two years. Thereafter he served as provincial judge of Chekiang (1649–51); financial commissioner of Fukien (1651–53); governor of Fukien (1653–55), of Southern Kiangsi (with headquarters at Kanchow, 1655–58), and of Chekiang (1658–60).

T'ung Kuo-ch'i's administration in Fukien, Kiangsi and Chekiang was so highly appreciated by the people of these places that they celebrated his name in the local temples erected to the memory of successful administrators. When he was leaving Kanchow in 1658 the people of that place erected a temple to his honor, known as shêng-tz'ŭ—that is to say, a temple in honor of one still living. In 1660, however, he was cashiered and taken to Peking in chains, on the charge that he had disobeyed imperial orders and had obstructed justice. It happened that in 1658, shortly before T'ung Kuo-ch'i became governor of Chekiang, the one-time Grand Secretary, Ch'ên Chih-lin (see under Ch'ên Shih-kuan), was banished to Manchuria and his entire family was ordered to join him in exile. Ch'ên's mother was then living at Hai-ning, Chekiang, and upon T‘ung devolved the odious task of sending the elderly lady to Peking for exile. Taking pity on her, he five times requested postponement of her departure on the ground that she was too aged and infirm to make the journey. After two years of entreaties in her behalf, he so irked Emperor Shih-tsu that the latter ordered that he be arrested and sent to Peking for trial. He was probably released in 1661 in the general amnesty following the enthronement of Emperor Shêng-tsu. Thereafter he made his home in Nanking.

The wife of T'ung Kuo-ch'i, known in Western accounts as Madame Agathe, was a devout Catholic who, like Agnès Yang (see under Yang T'ing-yün) and Candide Hsü (see under Hsü Kuang-ch'i), did much for the early Catholic Church in China. It was probably owing to her influence that in 1655 T'ung Kuo-ch'i, then not yet a Christian, rebuilt the church in Foochow. A stone tablet, dated June 18, 1655, giving his account of the dedication of the structure, is still standing. He also repaired the church buildings at Kanchow and elsewhere in Kiangsi. In Hangchow, on the site of the sanctuary built in 1627 by Yang T'ing-yün, T'ung erected a large church building in Western style. It was probably this structure which Li Wei (see under T'ien Wên-ching) took over and changed in 1731 into a temple to the Goddess of Sailors (T'ien-hou 天后).

T'ung Kuo-ch'i wrote prefaces to at least the following three theological works composed by missionaries: (1) 天主聖教蒙引要覽 T'ien-chu shêng-chiao mêng-yin yao-lan (also known as Mêng-yin), by Antoine de Gouvea 何大化 (T. 德川, 1592–1677), T'ung's preface being written at Foochow in 1655; (2) T'ien-chu shêng-chao shih-chien chên-ch'üan (十誡眞詮, on the Ten Commandments), by Emmanuel Diaz (see under Li Chih-tsao); and (3) 提正編 T'i-chêng pien, by Jérome de Gravina 賈宜睦 (T. 九章, 1603–1662)—each of these having a preface written by T'ung at Hangchow in 1659.

In 1664, when Yang Kuang-hsien [q. v.] brought charges of sedition against the missionaries, he named T'ung Kuo-ch'i as one of the three high officials who had sponsored foreigners. Other accused officials lost their offices, but T'ung was probably not molested, since he was then living in retirement. He was finally baptized at Nanking, in 1674, by Félicien Pacheco 成際理 (T. 竹君, 1622–1686). He died ten years later.

T'ung Kuo-ch'i had a garden in Nanking named P'i Yüan 僻園, in praise of which Sung Wan [q. v.] and others wrote a number of poems, collected under the title P'i-yüan ch'ang-ho shih (唱和詩). T'ung himself left a collection of poems, entitled 茇亭詩集 Po-t'ing shih-chi, as well as several collections of memorials. He had several sons, among whom may be mentioned T'ung Shih-nan 佟世南 whose collection of poems is entitled 東白詩集 Tung-po shih-chi; and T'ung Shih-lin 佟世臨 (T. 醒園), who also left a collection of poems, entitled to 如是遊草 Ju-shih yu-ts'ao.

Several other members of the T'ung family, though not baptized, were interested in Christianity. The brothers, T'ung Kuo-kang and T'ung Kuo-wei [qq. v.], were intimate with the missionaries and are reported to have had a Christian chapel in their house.


[3/151/23a; 7/2/14a; 24/2/3a; T'ieh-pao [q. v.], Hsi-ch'ao ya-sung chi, 2/3b; Chekiang t'ung-chih, chüan 121; Hsüeh-ch'iao shih-hua (see under Shêng-yü), hsü-chi 2/30b; Tung-hua lu, Shun-chih, 17:2; Kan-hsien chih, 49 (4)/32a; Kanchow fu-chih, 41/34a, 72/1a, 72/2b; Ch'ien-Ch'ien-i [q. v.], Mu-chai yu-hsüeh chi, 16/15b, 33/4b; T'ien-chu-chiao ch'uan-hsing Chung-kuo k'ao (傳行中國考) TT ), chüan 5; Couplet, P., (see under Wu Li), Histoire d'une dame chrétienne de la Chine (Chinese tr. by Hsü Yün-hsi 徐允希, 1938).]

Fang Chao-ying