Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Pao Shih-ch'ên

PAO Shih-ch'ên 包世臣 (T. 愼伯, H. 倦翁, 安吳先生), 1775–1855, scholar, was born in a country village in the Ching district, Anhwei. His father eked out a meagre living by teaching village boys. In his youth Pao Shih-ch'ên lived at Nanking for several years and studied military tactics and administrative methods. In 1792, owing to his father's illness, he was obliged to return to his native village where he raised and marketed vegetables while his mother and two sisters did needle-work. In 1797, three years after the death of his father, he was invited by Chu Kuei [q. v.], governor of Anhwei, to his office in Anking, where he studied the Classics. During the succeeding two years he served in local offices in Hupeh and Szechwan as an unofficial adviser in military matters. In 1801 he went to Kiangsu and Chekiang in search of a position, and finally settled in Yangchow. In the following year he was called to Shanghai to organize a force for the suppression of pirates, and there he remained for about half a year. For a time he lived at the home of Li Chao-lo [q. v.] in Changchow, where he had an opportunity to study. He competed many times in the provincial examination but he did not become a chü-jên until 1808. He tried a dozen times in the metropolitan examinations but was unable to obtain a higher degree. In 1811 he was invited by Pai-ling (see under Lin Po-t'ung), governor-general of Kiangnan and Kiangsi, to be his unofficial adviser. Thereafter, as an adviser, sometimes in matters of grain transport, and sometimes in matters relating to the canal, he traveled through the provinces along the Grand Canal for about twenty years. In 1826 he obtained temporary employment in the Hoppo's office in Canton. Finally, in 1839, he was made magistrate of Hsin-yü, Kiangsi, a position he held for about a year. His declining years he spent in Nanking as a critic of statecraft, under the patronage of various officials. He died in 1855 while seeking safety from the riots of the Taiping Rebellion.

In 1824, when a section of the Grand Canal was destroyed and the transport of grain was badly disabled, Pao Shih-ch'ên brought together his previously-written essays on this subject and published them, early in 1826, under the title 中衢一勺 Chung-ch'ü i-shao, in 3 chüan. He advocated the transport of grain by sea—giving full details of ways and means. His work won such public approval that it went through several editions. In 1844 he collected his writings and published them, two years later, under the title 安吳四種 An-wu ssŭ-chung, of which a revised edition appeared in 1851. It consists of four parts: Chung-chü i-shao, with 4 chüan of supplements; 藝舟雙楫 I-chou shuang-chi, 9 chüan, a prose collection; 管情三義 Kuan-ch'ing san-i, 8 chüan, a collection of his verse; and 齊民四術 Ch'i-min ssŭ-shu, 12 chüan. The last is a collection of his essays about agricultural, educational, judicial and military matters, based on his personal experiences. The original wood blocks of this work were destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion, but his descendants republished it with notes in 1872 and in 1538. We know from his studies that Pao Shih-ch'ên was a serious student of practical politics. Unlike contemporary scholars who pursued traditional learning for its own sake, he studied with the practical object of reforming a corrupt administration, his special interest being agrarian problems.

Pao Shih-ch'ên was a skilled calligrapher, particularly in the hsing 行 and ts'ao 草 styles. Specimens of his handwriting were brought together under the title 倦游閣帖 Ch'üan-yu ko t'ieh. He was, however, more renowned as a critic of calligraphy. His studies of ancient calligraphy, based on inscriptions on stone, were gathered in the I-chou shuang-chi. Those dealing with calligraphy in general were published in the Chih-chin chai ts'ung-shu (see under Yao Wên-t'ien), under the title An-wu lun-shu (論書). To develop further Pao's theories of calligraphy, K'ang Yu-wei (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung) completed in 1889 his Kuang (廣) I-chou shuang-chi, 6 chüan.

A cousin, Pao Shih-jung 包世榮 (T. 季懷, 1784–1826), a chü-jên of 1821, was a classical scholar of the Han school (see under Ku Yen-wu). He wrote the 毛詩禮徵 Mao-shih li-chêng, 10 chüan, published in 1827, and other works Pao Shih-ch'ên's work on political economy, entitled 說儲上 Shuo-ch'u shang, was reprinted in 1936 in facsimile from the original manuscripts by the Kuo-hsüeh Library of Nanking.


[2/73/20a; 5/79/1a; 6/41/1a; 29/8/11b; 江寧府志 Chiang-ning fu-chih (1881) 14/9 shang/3b; An-wu ssŭ-chung; Hu Yün-yü 胡韞玉, 包愼伯先生年譜 Pao Shên-po hsien-shêng nien-p'u (not consulted).]

Hiromu Momose