Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chang P'ei-lun

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CHANG P'ei-lun 張佩綸 (T. 幼樵, H. 繩齋,蕢齋), 1848–1903, Feb. 4, official, was a native of Fêng-jun, Chihli, but was brought up in Anhwei and Chekiang where his father, Chang Yin-t'ang 張印塘 (T. 雨樵, 1798–1854) held office. Chang Yin-t'ang was in 1853 made provincial judge of Anhwei where in co-operation with Chiang Chung-yüan [q. v.] he fought desperately against the Taipings, but died of illness in the following year. Left fatherless at the age of seven [sui], Chang P'ei-lun was forced to shift as best he could, wandering round the areas devastated by the war. But he studied diligently administrative methods, and went in 1870 to Peking where he obtained his chü-jên (1870) and chin-shih (1871) degrees. Thereafter he served in the Hanlin Academy, rising from a bachelor to a sub-reader. During the customary mourning period for his mother (1879–81) he did not take office but worked for Li Hung-chang [q. v.] as a private secretary on military affairs. Upon resuming his former position in the Hanlin Academy (1881) he was made deputy supervisor of Imperial Instruction, and in the following year was promoted to be acting vice-president of the Censorate. During these years he identified himself with a group of officials known as Ch'ing-liu-tang (see under Pao-t'ing) who were in the habit of denouncing the alleged misdeeds of high officials. Chang's denunciations were effective in removing four presidents of Boards: Ho Shou-tz'ŭ 賀壽慈 (T. 雲甫, original ming 于逵, 霖吉, 1810–1891), of the Board of Works; Wan Ch'ing-li 萬青藜 (T. 藕舲, posthumous name 文敏, chin-shih of 1840), of the Board of Civil Appointments; Wang Wên-shao 王文韶 (T. 夔石, H. 耕娛, 退圃, posthumous name 文勤, 1830–1908); and Tung Hsün [q. v.] of the Board of Revenue. Owing to his unsparing criticisms Chang was reckoned as one of the so-called Ssŭ chien-ch'ên 四諫臣 or "Four Admonishing Officials" at the close of the Ch'ing period—the others being Chang Chih-tung, Pao-t'ing and Huang T'i-fang [qq. v.].

A die-hard in his attitude toward foreign powers, Chang P'ei-lun severely criticized Ch'ung-hou [q. v.] for his ineffectual diplomacy with Russia. When Franco-Chinese relations became acute in 1882, he asked the Emperor to take decisive action—recommending T'ang Chiung [q. v.] as a commander and pleading that efforts be made to win Liu Yung-fu (see under Fêng Tzŭ-ts'ai) to the side of the Ch'ing army. Late in the following year, shortly after the Ch'ing forces were dispatched to Annam, he was ordered to serve in the Office of Foreign Affairs. When French naval units threatened the South China coast, he was appointed (May 8, 1884) commander-in-chief of the Fukien Squadron (see under Shên Pao-chên). On July 13, six days after he took over his new post, a battleship of the French fleet under the command of Admiral Courbet (see under Liu Ming-ch'uan) appeared in Fukien waters, and three days later the fleet threatened the mouth of the Min River. Chang appealed to the Peking authorities to send more naval vessels to strengthen the defense in Fukien, but Li Hung-chang and Tsêng Kuo-ch'üan [q. v.], recognizing the inability of the Chinese navy to cope with the French squadron, rejected his proposal. Nevertheless Chang's forces constructed several coast batteries and warded off the French fleet for about a month. Meanwhile a temporary Chinese victory at Kelung (see under Liu Ming-ch'uan) induced the Peking authorities to take more positive action. Realizing the disadvantage of dividing his force, Courbet concentrated on the Fukien coast and attacked Foochow on August 23. The battle began at 1:56 P.M., and within less than an hour all of the eleven Chinese warships were disabled or sunk by the French fleet of twelve men-of-war. Chang P'ei-lun, who watched the battle from the top of a hill, fled to a suburb only to meet the insults of the villagers. His report of the battle was so flowery and so adroitly worded that the actual outcome was not immediately apparent to Peking. The Emperor ordered that Chang be rewarded, but when a few days later the truth became known, he was deprived of his rank and his position, and was banished to the northern frontier where he remained about three years.

In his twenties and thirties Chang P'ei-lun married three times. His third wife, a daughter of Pien Pao-ch'üan 邊寶泉 (T. 潤民, chin-shih of 1863, d. 1898, an official who rose to be governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang), died soon after Chang was banished. Upon his return to Peking in 1888 Chang was invited by Li Hung-chang to be his secretary, and soon after he married Li's only daughter who was about twenty years younger than he and noted for her accomplishments. Thereafter Chang lived in Tientsin under the patronage of his influential father-in-law, assisting him in various political reforms. By some he was known as one of the Three Reformers with the Surname Chang (新政三張)—the others being Chang Chih-tung and Chang Yin-huan [q. v.]. But Chang P'ei-lun was unpopular with his colleagues who thought he relied on his connection with Li to act highhandedly. In the autumn of 1894 he was driven from Tientsin on the ground that he was an evil influence in the office of his father-in-law. After a short sojourn in his native place he retired (1895) to Nanking. During the Boxer Uprising in 1900, he was recommended by Li Hung-chang and was called to Peking where he received appointment as a compiler of the Hanlin Academy, but he returned to Nanking soon after because he differed with Lion on the policy toward Russia. In his declining years he had but few friends and even Chang Chih-tung is said to have turned against him.

Chang P'ei-lun was interested in classical study and produced a few works, among them one entitled 管子學 Kuan-tzŭ hsüeh, 24 chüan, on the ancient political work, Kuan-tzŭ. It was printed in 1928 by his son. He is reported also to have compiled a nien-p'u of Li Hung-chang. His literary works and his memorials were printed in 20 chüan in 1924 under the title, 㵎于全集 Chien-yü ch'üan-chi. His studio, styled Kan-chiu t'ing-li t'ing (柑酒聽鸝亭), contained a rich collection of books which, for a time at least, was not accessible to scholars.


[1/450/4a; 6/5/16a; 10/26/32a; Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), pp. 238–40; Ch'ai Ê 柴萼, 梵天廬叢錄 Fan-t'ien-lu ts'ung-lu (1926), chüan 7; Liu Shêng-mu (see under Chang Yü-chao), 萇楚齋隨筆 Ch'ang-ch'u-chai sui-pi (1929), second series 1/3b, fifth series 3/3a; T'ung-Ch'êng Wu hsien-shêng wên-chi (see under Wu Ju-lun) 1/38b; 清季外交史料 Ch'ing-chi wai-chiao shih-liao (1933), chüan 45–7; Roche, J. E., and Cowen, L. L., The French at Foochow (1884); Loir, Maurice, L'escadre de l'Amiral Courbet (1886), pp. 101–88.]

Hiromu Momose