Peng Yulin, known as Xueqin, was known as “Xue Shuai”. He is also known as one of the “Four Great Ministers of the late Qing Dynasty” along with Zeng Guofan, Zuo Zongtang and Hu Linyi. He was the founder of the Xiang army navy and is considered by later scholars to be the founder of China’s modern navy.
Peng Yulin was the governor of the two rivers and minister of commerce in the South China Sea, as well as the minister of war. Rarely, he resigned several times from important positions in the imperial court, but was retained in his post, and was also given a high rank.
In the official history, Marshal Xue was a commander of the Xiang army with outstanding war achievements and merits. He was very strict with his men, both in military and official governance. The imperial court had set up a special status for him as the Minister of Qintao – the inspector of the Yangtze River naval division, and sent him to inspect the naval divisions of the five provinces along the Yangtze River.
According to the inscription of the Divine Principle of Peng Gangzhi, during the period when he was appointed to inspect the Yangtze River, the atmosphere along the Yangtze River was new, the people lived in peace and prosperity, and the morale of the sailors and soldiers was high. Merchants sailed thousands of miles as if they were entering and leaving their own gateway, and there were no incidents of piracy for decades. Marshal Xue’s reputation grows, the Yangtze River around the officials and people hear his name, will be respectful. This is not due to his authority, is because he acted deeply in the hearts of the people.
As mentioned in “A Short Biography of Modern Celebrities”, Peng Yulin sometimes wore cloth and straw shoes when he toured the Yangtze River, and no one could recognize him as an important minister of the dynasty. Peng Yulin visited the Yangtze River in private, eradicated the fierce and vicious slaves, and cleared the people’s injustice, and there was a saying among the people at that time: “When Peng Gong came out, the rivers and lakes were solemn.” These deeds were compiled into songs and became sung by folk artists.
He was a Confucian general with both civil and military skills, a heroic hero who galloped on the battlefield and reigned over the clouds. But off the military uniform of the snow marshal, but also a gentle and elegant artist.
When Peng Yulin was young, handsome and elegant, suave and elegant, quite a jade tree style. He and a relative’s daughter, Mei Gu, promised each other a lifetime and set a white wedding date. Later, because the elders of the family objected, the matter was put on hold (one said that Mei Gu was the adopted daughter of his grandmother, and the generations did not match). Later, each married, Mei Gu finally martyred in return (one said that died in childbirth). Xue Shuai is very sad, vowed to paint 100,000 plum blossoms, in order to repay Mei Gu.
Xue Shuai painted a lot of plum blossoms, inscribed a lot of poems. One of them, “Caishiji Tai Bai Lou”, said.
“The poetic realm of Taibai Building is renewed, and the green hills and bright moon are right at the head.
On the stone of three lifetimes, the cause is there, and the plum blossoms are repaired.”
“I have never dared to write a poem here, but the mountain of Cuiluo embraces the shrine of the relegated immortals.
I was so drunk that I wrote a hundred thousand plum blossoms.”
“I remember my old friend by the Gushu River, and the jade platform is free from dust.
A letter from the south of the Yangtze River is sent to me frequently in autumn and spring.”
“The drums and horns of peace are quiet, and the banners of the north are in full view.
I am ashamed of myself for not making up for the hardships of the time, and I have a heart for plum blossoms.”
The poems are so heartfelt and sincere that reading them is like weeping blood, which makes people feel the same way.
At that time, Yu Yinfu (1821-1907), a master of the science of Park (koan), was the chief lecturer of the exegetical school in Hangzhou. The so-called “exegetical house” means not forgetting the old work, diligently cultivating and constantly learning new studies; the house was originally a place for monks to practice, but here it refers to the place where Han students live. Peng Yulin once borrowed the Lake House and promised to paint a plum blossom as rent. Yu yinfu wrote a poem to present it to him: “A building is willing to let Yuanlong lie down, and several points of plum blossoms are in spring for ten thousand years.”
Yu Yinfu saw a couplet written by Peng Yulin at the place of calligrapher Ru Guanjiu, with a small seal inscribed: “The heart of a child, the liver of a hero.” Later, I heard from Le Shaozhong that Marshal Xue also had a small seal engraved with the words, “The ancient sad man.” Read Shuai Xue escapades, can know the reason for his sadness.
Time passes, the deeds of the sages become the legends of future generations. In Marshal Xue’s illustrious career, he trained the navy, ruled the army strictly, and toured everywhere, coming and going like the wind. When he was nearly 70 years old, he also led the brave and fierce Qing army and achieved a great victory in the Sino-French war at Zhennan Pass. Peng Yulin was described as lean and thin, with an air like a wild crane, speaking in a subtle voice that could not be easily heard. However, once he was angry, anyone who saw him would shudder.
Hubei prefect Chen Baozhen commented on Peng Yulin: “Do not want money, do not want officials, do not want life.” Do not want money, do not want high officials, do not want life in war Confucian general, but has a smitten side, indifferent to fame and fortune, independent of the world, a lifetime of love painting plum blossoms, plum blossoms are also like his confidant, with his soul and dreams, finally is the answer to the poem.
“I would like to spend my life with plum blossoms. Only the heart of a jade man is like iron, and always lives up to the alliance of the cold years.”
(According to “Anecdotes of Famous People”, Volume 2; “Qing Dynasty Historical Manuscript”, Volume 400)