Ireland’s Imperial Mandarin – How Sir Robert Hart Became the Most Influential Foreigner in Qing China
赫德傳 – 大清愛爾蘭重臣步上位高權重之路
Sir Robert Hart served as the Inspector-General of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service of the Qing dynasty from 1863 until his death in 1911. No foreigner has ever had or will ever have the life he did in China. He provided the government with more than 20 per cent of its annual revenue, set up the Chinese Post Office, founded a system of lighthouses along the coast, bought British warships that were the foundation of the modern Chinese navy and negotiated a peace treaty to end the Sino-French war of 1884-85. He was a trusted confidant of government leaders who constantly sought his advice in how to deal with aggressive and meddling foreigners.His personal life was just as dramatic. He had a Chinese lady friend, Miss Ayaou, with whom he had three children. He sent them to be brought up by a foster family in London. Then he married an Irish lady from his home place; they also had three children.