Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shên Pao-chên

SHÊN Pao-chên 沈葆楨 (original ming 振宗 T. 翰宇, 幼丹), 1820–1879, Dec. 18, official, was a native of Hou-kuan, Fukien. After taking his chin-shih in 1847, he was made a compiler of the Hanlin Academy (1850) and in 1854 was appointed a censor. In his capacity as censor his memorials to the throne concerning the campaign against the Taipings (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan) attracted the personal attention of the Emperor. Early in 1856 he was appointed prefect of Kiukiang, Kiangsi. When this prefecture was occupied by the insurgents he was transferred in the same year to be acting prefect of Kuang-hsin in the same province. About two months after his installation he left the city of Kuang-hsin to make a tax levy. During his absence the city was menaced by the Taipings and most of the populace fled. His wife, Lin P'u-ch'ing 林普晴 (T. 敬紉, 1821–1877), daughter of Lin Tsê-hsü [q. v.], remained at his yamen awaiting a relief force which she begged of a general encamped in a neighboring town. Her letter—motivated by deep feeling and composed in faultless prose—was later carved on stone at Foochow. When Shên returned, he found his wife determined to defend the city to the last. The city, however, was saved by the forces called for. Shên's merits, and those of his wife, were reported by Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.] to the throne with the result that Shên was made an expectant intendant. He served as intendant of northeastern Kiangsi from 1857 to 1859. After several months' retirement he was again offered an intendancy (1860), but he declined in order to train the militia in his home town.

Owing to his evident ability Shên Pao-chên was repeatedly recommended by Tsêng Kuo-fan for an important post, and in 1861 was invited to work in Tsêng's camp at Anking while awaiting a more suitable appointment. But before he could reach Tsêng's camp he was made governor of Kiangsi (1862), where he taught the people to build strongholds for self-defense and encouraged all officials within his jurisdiction to suppress the Taipings. Though the insurgents repeatedly concentrated their forces on Kiangsi, they were time and again driven back, and finally several Taiping leaders, such as Hung Fu (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan) and Hung Jên-kan [q. v.], were arrested and executed in the province (1864). As a reward for his services Shên was given the button of the first rank and the hereditary title Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü of the first class, but he declined both honors on the ground that the achievements were not his but those of his generals. The Court insisted on bestowing the honor on the ground that not only his achievements in the campaign but his able administration deserved to be so rewarded. He had won a reputation for strict honesty and for diligence in the performance of duties. In 1865 he requested leave, owing to the illness of his mother, but before he could reach home his mother had died and he was allowed to observe the full period of mourning.

In 1867 Shên Pao-chên was appointed Imperial Commissioner and Director General of an arsenal for the construction of a navy. The project was suggested by Tso Tsung-t'ang [q. v.] when he was governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang. Tso selected a site for the Navy Yard (August 1866) at Ma-wei 馬尾 near Foochow, and made a contract with two Frenchmen, Prosper Giquel (日意格, 1835–1886) and Paul d'Aiguebelle (德克碑, 1831–1875), to serve as engineers and supervisors. Tso also determined to establish schools for training young students to construct and navigate ships. When these plans (after the submission of many memorials) received the imperial approval, and after some of them had been put into effect, Tso was transferred (September 1866) to Shensi, Kansu and Sinkiang. But before he set out for his new post he recommended Shên Pao-chên as the man most suitable for working out the ship-building program. Shên assumed the responsibility on July 18, 1867 and industriously carried out all the plans for building the yard, arsenals, schools, dormitories, etc.—at the same time strictly guarding against bribery and "squeeze". The Navy Yard operated according to schedule, and with such efficiency that in the years 1867–74 fifteen vessels were built, varying in displacement from 515 to 1,450 (metric) tons, with 80 to 250 horsepower, with speeds of 60 to 90 li an hour, and varying in length from 166 to 238 Chinese feet.

In conjunction with the Navy Yard, Shên Pao-chên developed the Naval Academy known as the Ch'iu-shih tang i-chü 求是堂藝局 which was opened early in 1867 to teach the French language as means to a knowledge of naval construction, and the English language to promote a study of navigation—the students being drawn chiefly from Fukien and Hong Kong. After five years of such training, the most promising students were to be sent to France or England for three to six years of further study. Not only were a number of technical men thus trained in the applied sciences to take the place of some fifty Westerners employed in the ship yard, but there also emerged several admirals, a number of naval officers, and few great scholars. One scholar so trained was Yen Fu 嚴復 (original ming 體乾, 宗光, T. 又陵, 幾道, 1853–1921) and one naval man, Sa Chên-ping 薩鎭冰 (T. 鼎銘, 1858–?). Both were sent to England in 1877 to pursue their studies and after graduation from the Greenwich Naval College returned to China (1879). Yen became one of China's best translators of Western scientific and sociological works and Sa became an admiral. Of the eight fundamental works translated by Yen Fu, in his distinguished style, may be mentioned Thomas H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics (天演論, 1896), Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (原富, 1901), and Herbert Spencer's Study of Sociology (羣學肄言, 1903). These translations exercised a great influence on Chinese thought and would continue to do so if they had been composed in the vernacular style. The eminent place which Sa Chên-ping and others took in the naval service established the tradition of appointing natives of Fukien to the most important positions.

Shên Pao-chen was Director General of the Arsenal from 1867 to 1874, with three years' leave (1870–72) owing to the death of his father. After he resigned from his post, the ship administration gradually deteriorated owing to the fact that the Court had no strong desire to develop a modern navy—the funds allotted to the Navy Yard being both inadequate and undependable, and those in charge being not so capable or honest as Shên.

In 1874 Shên Pao-chên was ordered to inspect conditions in Formosa where some shipwrecked sailors from the Loochoo Islands had been killed by independent tribes of the mountains three years previously. Japan, assuming suzerainty over the Loochoos, demanded redress for the death of her subjects. To support her demands she sent (1873) an expedition to Formosa. Before long Shên reached the Island and punished the tribes; more Chinese soldiers were later dispatched, and secret preparations were made for war. After long negotiations an agreement was signed (October 31, 1874) whereby Japan agreed to withdraw her forces and China paid to Japan an indemnity of half a million taels. Thereupon Shên memorialized the throne to reorganize the government of Formosa, develop the backward areas of the country, build fortresses, and establish several new cities. When affairs in Formosa were readjusted Shên was promoted (May 1875) to governor-general of Kiangsu, Kiangsi and Anhwei—acting concurrently as superintendent of trade for the southern ports. This appointment, it is said, struck terror into the hearts of the established personnel who had reason to respect his probity and strictness in the conduct of public affairs. True to his reputation, he quickly altered the existing corrupt and slack atmosphere. While in this office he begged the Emperor to reduce the land tax of some cities in Kiangsu. He forbade the planting of opium, and discouraged excessive expenditures for funerals. In 1878 he memorialized the throne to abolish the official examination for military degrees, but this suggestion was not acted upon. He was also very strict in suppressing bandits, and during his tenure there was peace, order, and good administration in his jurisdiction. He died in 1879 and was granted posthumously the title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, was honored with a tablet in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen, and was canonized as Wên-su 文肅. In 1886 his portrait was hung in the Tzŭ-kuang ko (see under Chao-hui). His memorials to the throne were collected under the title Shên Wên-su kung chêng-shu (公政書), 7 chüan (1880).


[1/419/45, 513/21b; 2/53/34b; 5/27/13b; 8/17 上/1a; 21/10/8a; 船政奏議彙編 Ch'uan-chêng tsou-i hui-pien, 54 chüan (1888); Fukien t'ung-chih (1922); "Development of the Foochow Arsenal" (in Chinese), Tsinghua hsüeh-pao (Tsinghua Journal) vol. 8, no. 1 (1932); Giquel, Prosper, The Foochow Arsenal and its Results, 1867–1874, trans. by H. Lang, Shanghai, 1874]

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