Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wêng Hsin-ts'un

WÊNG Hsin-ts'un 翁心存 (T. 二銘, H. 邃庵), June 15, 1791–1862, Dec. 27, official, was a native of Ch'ang-shu, Kiangsu. His father, Wêng Hsien-fêng 翁咸封 (T. 子晉, H. 潛 虛, chü-jên of 1783), served as director of schools of the department of Hai-chou in northern Kiangsu for eleven or twelve years, beginning in 1798. While Wêng Hsin-ts'un was living with his father in Hai-chou he was taught prose composition by the department magistrate, T'ang Chung-mien (see under Fa-shih-shan). In 1822 he became a chin-shih, was selected a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy and a year later was made a compiler. During the next twenty-eight years he held various literary posts, serving meanwhile as commissioner of education of Kwangtung (1825–29), of Kiangsi (1832–34), and of Fengtien (1835–36), and as a tutor in the Palace School for Princes (1829–32, 1837–38, 1849–59). Early in 1850 he was made a vice-president of the Board of Works, and a few months later was transferred to the Board of Revenue. Early in 1852 he was promoted to be president of the Board of Works.

In 1853, as the Taiping Rebellion extended to Nanking and North China, and after the government had spent twenty-five million taels in three years to check it, Wêng memorialized the throne on measures to put a stop to corrupt practices of the generals, and to raise more funds. He also recommended Chiang Chung-yüan [q. v.] as competent to command the government troops. In the meantime Wêng was concurrently made governor of the Metropolitan Area of Peking to prepare the defenses of that region against the northern thrust of the Taipings. The government, lacking metal for coins, began to issue paper notes, but Wêng objected to the use of these notes for the payment of troops and in consequence was impeached. Meanwhile he was accused of shielding guilty subordinates, and early in 1854 was cashiered. Nevertheless, after a few months he was recalled to service and was named a vice-president, first of the Board of Civil Appointments and then of the Board of Revenue. Early in 1855 he became president of the Board of Civil Appointments. Late in 1856 he was transferred to the Board of Revenue, acting concurrently as an Associate Grand Secretary. In 1858, when he was raised to a Grand Secretary, he was still ordered to supervise the Board of Revenue. At this time the revenue had decreased considerably while the expense of suppressing the Taiping Rebellion rose sharply. Wêng was opposed to unorthodox measures for raising funds, such as taxing the illegal sale of opium or issuing coins of value below par. In fact, he was opposed to many of the policies of Su-shun [q. v.] and in 1859 was forced to resign. Several times his opponents, led by Tsai-yüan (see under Yin-hsiang) and Su-shun, sought to incriminate him by finding fault with his administration of the Board of Revenue, but their efforts failed.

When Emperor Mu-tsung ascended the throne in 1861, Su-shun's party fell. Wêng was recalled from retirement and was again named a Grand Secretary. In 1862 he became one of four tutors to the youthful emperor (see under Li Hung-tsao), but he died in that same year. He was posthumously given the title of Grand Guardian and the name Wên-tuan 文端. in His memory was celebrated in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen and five of his grandsons were raised in their official ranks. Wêng Hsin-ts'un had three sons, all of whom achieved distinction. Of these the youngest, Wêng T'ung-ho [q. v.], was for many years in charge of the Board of Revenue; and the eldest, Wêng Tung-shu 翁同書 (T. 祖庚 H. 藥房, posthumous name 文勤, d. 1865), was a chin-shih of 1840 and a compiler in the Hanlin Academy. In 1853 the latter was sent to Yangchow where he joined the army under Ch'i-shan [q. v.]. He soon distinguished himself by recovering from the Taipings a number of cities in Kiangsu and Anhwei and in 1858 was made governor of Anhwei with headquarters at Shou-chou. In 1860 he and the local gentry quarreled with an unruly commander, Miao P'ei-lin (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in), who led an army to besiege Shou-chou. Called to Peking (1861) after the feud had ended, Wêng T'ung-shu was accused (1862) by Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.] of mismanagement, and was sentenced to imprisonment awaiting execution. In the following year, however, his sentence was commuted to exile in Ili. In 1864 he was ordered to serve with the army that was fighting Mohammedans in Shensi, and in 1865 shared in a spectacular victory for which he won fourth-rank decorations. He died of dysentery on December 14, 1865, and early in 1866 was posthumously given back his previous ranks. Wêng T'ung-shu's eldest son, Wêng Tsêng-yüan 翁曾源 (T. 仲淵), was the chuang-yüan, or highest chin-shih, of 1863, an honor which automatically entitled him to become a Hanlin compiler. A grandson of Wêng T'ung-shu, named Wêng Pin-sun 翁斌孫 (T. 弢甫, H. 人豪), was a chin-shih of 1877 and a Hanlin corrector. Thus for four generations—from Wêng Hsin-ts'un to Wêng Pin-sun—the family was represented in the Hanlin Academy. Two members of the family—Wêng T'ung-ho and Wêng Tsêng-yüan—obtained the highest honors (known as chuang-yüan). Wêng T'ung-chüeh 翁同爵 (T. 玉甫, d. 1877), second son of Wêng Hsin-ts'un, rose from a licentiate to the governorship of Hupeh (1874–77). He was the author of a work on military statistics of the empire, entitled 皇朝兵制考略 Huang-ch'ao ping-chih k'ao-lüeh, 6 chüan, which he compiled in 1861 and printed in 1875.


[1/391/4b; 1/433/5a; 2/45/42b; 2/49/41b; 2/54/46a; Ch'ang-Chao ho-chih (1904), chüan 27; Wêng Wên-tuan kung nien-p'u (not consulted); Wêng T'ung-ho [q. v.], Wêng Wên-kung kung jih-chi; Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), p. 1.]

Fang Chao-ying