Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Lê-pao

-pao 勒保 (T. 宜軒, clan name Feimo 費莫), 1740–1819, first Marquis Wei-ch'in (威勤侯), and one-time Duke Wei-ch'in, was a member of the Manchu Bordered Red Banner. His father, the Grand Secretary Wên-fu (see under A-kuei) was for a time commander of the armies fighting the Chin-ch'uan rebels of western Szechwan, but was killed in action in 1773. A student of the Imperial Academy, Lê-pao was selected in 1756 to be a copyist in the bureau for translating Buddhist literature into Manchu, and six years later was appointed a secretary in the Grand Council. After various promotions he was made a department director in the Board of War (1777). In 1778 he was sent to Urga as secretary to the Imperial Resident, later himself serving in that capacity (1780–85). In 1785 he was recalled to Peking and a year later was made governor of Shansi. From 1787 to 1795 he served as governor-general of Shensi and Kansu where he captured in several raids members of the secret religious society, Pai-lien chiao (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao), and in 1794 executed its leader, Liu Sung 劉松, a native of Anhwei who had lived in exile in Kansu for about twenty years.

In 1795 Lê-pao was transferred to Yunnan, and was ordered to assist Fu-k'ang-an and Ho-lin [qq. v.] in pacifying a rebellion of Miao tribesmen in Kweichow. For a time in 1796 he went to Yunnan, but was ordered to Hunan after Fu-k'ang-an died. Early in 1797, for his error in forbidding the Burmese to send tribute to Peking in the preceding year, he was ordered to redeem himself by joining the armies then fighting in Hupeh against the Pai-lien chiao rebels. After winning a battle at Ch'ang-yang, Hupeh, he was ordered to proceed to southwestern Kweichow where another group of Miao tribesmen had rebelled. After campaigning for half a year he succeeded (in September 1797) in capturing the Miao stronghold in the mountains near Hsing-i (present An-lung), Kweichow. A month later he was created a marquis with the designation Wei-ch'in. In November he was transferred to be governor-general of Hunan and Hupeh, and early in 1798 was made commander of the armies in Szechwan against the Pai-lien chiao rebels, in place of I-mien (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao). After winning a battle at K'ai-hsien in eastern Szechwan on his way to the rebel stronghold, he was made governor-general of that province.

At this time the main rebel bands of Hupeh were crushed on the northwestern border of that province (see under Ming-liang), but in eastern Szechwan three large bands still occupied a vast area. Lê-pao was ordered to concentrate on one of these—namely the one led by Wang San-huai 王三槐. He won many battles over Wang and finally captured him by the ruse of getting him to surrender. This feat was rewarded out of all proportion to its place in the general campaign, for he was raised to a Duke, as was also the powerful minister, Ho-shên [q. v.]. Though Peking celebrated the capture of this rebel, the conflict in Szechwan had not in the least abated. In the last few months of 1798 Lê-pao was reprimanded several times for failure to take any rebel strongholds.

Early in 1799 Emperor Kao-tsung died. Emperor Jên-tsung, blaming Ho-shên for making false reports of victory and for profiting personally by prolonging the war, had that minister punished. Thereafter the emperor himself directed the campaign, his first step being to centralize the command in Szechwan. Lê-pao was made commander-in-chief of the forces of five provinces—Szechwan, Hupeh, Shensi, Kansu, and Honan—with Ming-liang [q. v.] and E-lê-têng-pao as assistant commanders. They won several battles, and Lê-pao moved his headquarters to Ta-chou in eastern Szechwan. He adopted the new policy of arming the farmers and fortifying the villages, thus preventing the rebels from getting reinforcements or provisions. He also took steps to encourage deserters from the rebel ranks, especially those who had been impressed against their will. In the middle of the year 1799 he succeeded in rounding up the rebels in northeastern Szechwan. The emperor suggested sending ten to twenty thousand recruits to Szechwan in order to extirpate them at one blow, but Lê-pao insisted that he could do it without the recruits. He failed, however, to do so after several months of fighting. In September he was accused of loitering at Ta-chou while the rebels increased in number, and for this he was released from his command, in favor of Ming-liang who was soon replaced by E-lê-têng-pao. After two months' investigation the new governor-general, K‘uei-lun (see under Ts'ui Shu), reported that Lê-pao had not been guilty of misusing military funds, nor was he incompetent as a commander. The emperor, however, blamed Lê-pao for sending other generals to fight while he himself stayed at Ta-chou, and so had him imprisoned in Peking awaiting execution. All his ranks and titles were taken from him. Early in 1800, when Ê-lê-têng-pao was sent to Shensi, the campaign in Szechwan was entrusted to K'uei-lun who also suffered several defeats. In April 1800 Lê-pao was freed from imprisonment and was sent to Szechwan as provincial commander-in-chief (t'i-tu 提督) and concurrently as acting governor-general. A month later he and the great general, Tê-lêng-t'ai [q. v.], defeated the rebels near Ho-chou, Szechwan, and stopped a rebel thrust on western Szechwan. Then Lê-pao turned towards the northwest to pursue a band of rebels into Kansu. In the middle of 1800 he was made full governor-general of Szechwan and for a year pursued rebel bands in the eastern part of that province. In September 1801, for capturing the leader of an important band, he was rewarded with the hereditary rank of a third class baron. In the first six months of 1802 he captured or killed a number of rebel leaders in Szechwan and was raised to a first class baron. By the end of the year most of the important rebel bands were crushed. Hence, early in 1803, Lê-pao was raised to a first class earl and was restored his designation, Wei-ch'in. In September 1804 Szechwan was finally cleared of rebels and he began work on the demobilization of volunteers. At an audience in Peking in 1805 he was praised for his adoption of the policy to fortify the villages, which, according to the edict, was an important factor in the final victory. Thus Lê-pao was rewarded with the title, Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, and was decorated with a double-eyed peacock feather. From 1806 to 1807 he was active in crushing several revolts of recently reorganized provincial armies, and in 1808 put down an uprising of aborigines in southwestern Szechwan.

Early in 1810 Lê-pao was made a Grand Secretary and later was called to Peking to serve in that capacity. Before he arrived, however, he was accused of failure to report—when he was in Szechwan in 1809—a scandal about the high officials of that province. Inquiries by the emperor resulted in his degradation to president of the Board of Works. When he reached Peking he was transferred to the Board of Punishments and served concurrently in other posts. Early in 1811 he was sent to Nanking as governor-general, but in July was again recalled to Peking as a Grand Secretary. In 1812 he was made concurrently a chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard and was given a garden near the Yüan-ming Yüan, or Old Summer Palace. A year later he was given the concurrent post of a Grand Councilor. Soon he was troubled with his eyes and in 1814 he retired because of that ailment. He died in 1819, aged eighty (sui), and was canonized as Wên-hsiang 文襄. His hereditary rank was posthumously raised to a third class Marquis. The rank was inherited by his son, Ying-hui 英惠 (d. 1832), who served as military lieutenant governor of Urumchi (1822–29) and as assistant military governor at Kobdo (1831–32).

Lê-pao's younger brother, Yung-pao 永保 (posthumous name 恪敏, d. 1809), was in 1796 commander of the forces fighting the Pai-lien chiao rebels in Hupeh, but was arrested late in that year for errors in directing the campaign. He was imprisoned and all his property was confiscated. In 1798, in deference to his brother's successes, he was released and was given the command of a small force. In 1799, however, he was again imprisoned—at a time when his brother was also punished for military failures. In the account-book of a convicted official in charge of military expenses it was revealed that Yung-pao had received bribes of various amounts. Hence his property was again seized. In 1800 he was released and sent to Uliasutai in Mongolia to redeem himself. Late in 1802 he was made governor of Yunnan and in 1808 was transferred to Kwangtung, but died on the way.

The Ch'ing government gave most of the credit for the victory over the Pai-lien-chiao rebels to the Manchu generals, Ê-lê-têng-pao, Tê-lêng-t'ai, Lê-pao and Ming-liang, and to the Manchu soldiers from Kirin and Heilungkiang under their command. But a close study of the documents of the war shows that the Manchu soldiers did little of the fighting, the brunt of the resistance being borne by the farmers who, after their farms were devastated, were virtually compelled to join the army as volunteers in order to escape starvation. These farmer-soldiers, or hsiang-yung 鄉勇, as they were called, endured much and received few rewards—their defeats were ignored and their victories were reported as those of Manchu troops. Nevertheless, in 1799 reforms were initiated; the hsiang-yung were accorded better treatment and their commanders were recognized. It was they who finally put an end to the war. Among their commanders may be mentioned Lo Ssŭ-chü 羅思舉 (T. 天鵬, 1764–1840, posthumous name 壯勇), a native of Tung-hsiang, Szechwan, who was in the war from the beginning and who rose to the rank of a colonel in 1804, one year before the war ended. Later he served as provincial commander-in-chief of Kweichow (1821), of Yunnan (1821–25), and of Hupeh (1825–40). For collaborating with Hsi-ên (see under Ying-ho) in stabilizing the revolt of the Yao 猺 aborigines in Hunan in 1832, he was given a minor hereditary rank. Another general, Liu Ch'ing 劉清 (T. 天一, H. 松齋, 1742–1827), a native of Kuang-shun, Kweichow, began his career as a civil official and served as magistrate in Szechwan when the war started in 1796. He commanded a group of volunteers and rose to be provincial judge of Szechwan in 1802. While serving as salt commissioner of Shantung (1812–16), he took part in stabilizing the T'ien-li chiao rebellion (1813, see under Na-yen-ch'êng). Then he served as a brigade-general in Shantung from 1816 to 1822 when he retired.

One factor contributing to the success of the war against the Pai-lien-chiao rebels was the strategy known as chien-pi ch'ing-yeh 堅璧清野, or "strengthening the walls and clearing the countryside". This involved concentrating people and food in fortified towns and villages and stripping the countryside of everything, in order that the rebels might obtain neither provisions nor recruits. The plan was originally suggested by Kung Ching-han 龔景瀚 (T. 惟廣, H. 海峯, 1747–1803, Jan. 19) of Foochow, a chin-shih of 1771 who served as magistrate (later a prefect) in Shensi, and as secretary to Governor-general I-mien (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao) from 1796 to 1799. His long article on the above-mentioned strategy was widely read before the plan was adopted by Lê-pao after 1799.


[1/350/1a; 2/29/1a; 3/33/4a; 3/186/42a; 3/314/16a; 3/318/19a; 3/321/45a; 3/324/39a; Wei Yüan [q. v.], Shêng-wu chi; 四川通志 Szechwan t'ung-chih (1815), chüan 83; Kung Ching-han, 澹靜齋全集 Tan-ching chai ch'üan-chi.]

Fang Chao-ying