November 19, 2014

Foochow Teacher in the Qing Court


The Foochows towards the end of the Qing Dynasty were already clamouring for political changes and many were even thinking of migrating.

They were hardworking and the port of Mawei was an exit port of all Southern China. So with tales carried home from overseas, many of the Foochows were already thinking of moving away from the difficult country and they had nothing to lose.

But right in the middle of the Qing court in Beijing was Chen Bao Shen, a Foochow tutor for the young Pu Yi, who was to be the Last Emperor of China. Chen was born in 1848 in Fuzhou , a region which had produced many scholars for Imperial China. He was a great scholar, knowledgeable in history, philosophy and the Confucian classics. He passed many public exams to become a Mandarin. Before he was 30 he was already a prominent official at the Manchu court. 

He was married and had sixteen children. 

Because he was fairly forthright and having a great sense of justice, the Dowager Queen expelled him from the court and he had to return home to Fuzhou. However she changed her mind when the young Pu Yi needed a good teacher. She recalled Chen to Beijing where he remained for the next 21 years. Chen was loyal and carried out his duties as imperial tutor.

Pu Yi had written in his autobiography, “With Chen Pao-shen, I had one spirit. When Johnston came, I had two spirits.” 

So there were two very famous Foochows who were closely connected with the Qing Dynasty - Ling Zexu and Chen Baoshen.

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