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LIN SHU 林紓 (1852 - 1924)


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Chronology of Lin Shu’s Life      林紓年譜


This chronology is mainly based on Zhang Xu’s Lin Shu nianpu changbian.



November 8, 1852 – Lin Shu 林紓 is born in Min county, today’s Fuzhou 福州. His original name was Qunyu 群玉, later Binghui 秉輝 and, once schooled, Shu . His courtesy name was once Hui , later Qinnan 琴南.

1856 – His father moves to Taiwan for business and Lin Shu starts studying the Chinese Classics, beginning with the Xiaojing 孝經.

1858 – He gets interested in poetry and classical literature. He finds and reads the Shiji 史記 in the library of his uncle Guo Bin 國賓 (1833-1886).

1859 –Studies the Classics by himself, including Maoshi 毛詩, Shangshu 尚書 and Zuozhuan 左傳.

1860 – His family chooses Liu Qiongzi 劉瓊姿 (1852-1897), courtesy name Mengzhi 孟質), daughter of Liu Youcai 劉有菜 (courtesy name Zuoji 作楫, assumed name Xiumei 修梅), as his future wife.

Middle, 1869 – Marries Liu Qiongzhi.

1870 – This year he witnesses the consecutive deaths of his paternal grandfather, his father and his paternal grandmother.

1872 – Starts teaching young kids in order to support his family.

1874 – Does private tutoring and studies painting with Chen Wentai 陳文台 (1816-1899).

1882 – Establishes the Branch Society of Fuzhou 福州支社, together with nineteen more poets, in Guanglu Lane 光祿坊, Fuzhou. The society will dissolve after Zhou Changgeng 周長庚 (1844-1893) passes away in the spring of 1893.

May 6, 1882 – Joins the preliminary round of imperial examinations (kekao 科考) in Min county.

September 20, 1882 – Takes the preliminary imperial examination in Min.

March 23, 1883 – Goes to Beijing to take part on the jinshi 進士 examination, which he fails.

1885 – Works as a teacher with Chen Chun 陳蒓 and Huang Yanhong 黃彥鴻 (1866-1923) for Xie Zhangting 謝章鋌 (1820-1903).

February, 1886 – Travels to Beijing to participate in the imperial examination of the Ministry of Rites 禮部, which he fails.

1888-1891 – Studies and lectures at Fuzhou’s Deep Study龍潭精舍.

Spring, 1889 – Goes back to Beijing to participate in the imperial examination of Ministry of Rites, which he fails again.

March, 1890 – Returns to Beijing to participate in the imperial examination of Ministry of Rites, which he fails again.

Spring, 1892 – Returns to Beijing for the fifth time to participate in the imperial examination of Ministry of Rites, which he fails again.

Spring, 1895 – Returns to Beijing for the sixth time to participate in the imperial examination.

March 28, 1896 – Returns from Beijing and gathers with Chen Yan 陳衍 (1856-1937) and others at Shuangcan Park 雙驂園 in Wushi Mountain 烏石山, Fuzhou.

March, 1897 – Lin Shu’s first wife, Liu Qiongzi, gets sick. He moves from his residence at Nantai, Cangxiazhou 南台蒼霞洲 to Xiahuang St., Jin Lane 下皇街金巷. Lin Shu’s former residence was reconverted into a school by Chen Bi 陳璧 (1852-1928), Li Jun 力鈞 and Sun Baojin 孫葆瑨, under the name Blue Clouds Study蒼霞精舍 (later named Fuzhou Public Blue Clouds Middle School 福州公立蒼霞中學堂).

Summer, 1897 – Shorter after his wife’s death, Lin Shu’s depression accentuates. His friend Wei Han 魏瀚 (1851-1929) introduces him to Wang Shouchang 王壽昌 (1863-1925), who studied in France for 6 years (1885-1891). He convinces Lin Shu to translate Dumas’ La Dame aux camélias into Chinese. According to Zheng Xiaoxu’s 鄭孝胥 (1860-1938) diary, Lin Shu had it already translated by December 10, 1898.

Late, 1898 – Lin Shu wishes to translate the biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte 拿破崙第一全傳 and Otto von Bismarck俾斯麥全傳, which were acquired by Zheng Shugong 鄭叔恭 in Paris, but his acquaintances found them too difficult and the project was abandoned. He also married his second wife, Yang Daoyu 楊道鬱 (1874-?), this year.

February, 1899 – Lin Shu is invited by Chen Xixian 陳希賢 to teach in the Dongcheng Study 東城講舍 in Hangzhou 杭州. Lin Shu returns to Min and takes his family back to Hangzhou, where he lectures on Han and pre-Han Chinese History. Lin Shu will remain in this institution for over three years.

April 29, 1899 – Lin Shu’s daughter Lin Xue 林雪 (1874-1899) passes away in Min. Lin Shu goes back with Gao Fengqi 高鳳岐 to mourn her.

1901 – Following the death of his friend Lin Qi 林啓 (1839-1900) in May 22, Lin Shu, Shao Zhang 邵章 (1872-1953), Chen Jingdi 陳敬第 (1876-1966), He Xiehou 何燮侯 (1878-1961) and others establish Lin Society 林社 in Beilu, at Western River’s Gu Mountain 西湖孤山北麓, Hangzhou.

March 5, 1901 – He collaborates with Yi Lin 譯林 publisher as translation supervisor (jian yi 監譯).

August, 1901 – His translation of Harriet Beecher’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Heinu yutian lu 黒奴籲天録) is probably finished or almost finished, since Cai Yuanpei 蔡元培 (1868-1940) read it before going to print.

Autumn, 1901 – Lin Shu moves with his family to Beijing, where he teaches at the Beijing Academy 金臺書院. He will remain in Beijing for eleven years, until 1912. He resides at Wai Yongguang Temple Street, Shunzhi Door 順治門外永光寺街.

May, 1902 – Lin Shu is appointed chief professor (zongjiaoxi 總教習) of Chinese Humanities 國文 at Five Districts Middle School 五城中學堂 by Chen Bi 陳璧 (1852-1928). He will teach here for fifteen years.

June 6, 1902 – Starts working with Yan Fu 嚴復 (1854-1921) at the Translation Department of the Imperial University of Peking 京師大學堂編譯局 by recommendation of Wu Rulun 吳汝綸 (1840-1903).

November, 1902 – The draft for Michael Haberlandt’s Volkerkunde (Minzhongxue 民種學) is completed.

December 17, 1902 – Lin Shu works as chief assistant (fu zongban 副總辦) in the Translation Department of the Imperial University of Peking 京師大學堂編譯局.

January, 1903 – Lin Shu is recommended to langzhong 郎中 by Chen Bi 陳璧 (1852-1928), a position he refuses.

September-October, 1906 – He is hired by Li Jiaju 李家駒 (1871-1938) to teach preparatory classes of Ethics 倫理學 at the Imperial University of Peking京師大學堂. Lin Shu relies on Ming scholar Sun Qifeng 孫奇逢 (1585-1675) and his Lixue zongchuan 理學宗傳.

1907 – Starts compiling his Qingchao wen duben 清朝文讀本. He also does part-time job as professor of Chinese Humanities 國文教習, teaching in Fujianese at the Fujian School 閩學堂 recently established in Beijing.

December 31, 1909 – He is appointed to the Department of Humanities of the Imperial University of Peking 京師大學堂文科 (starting February-March, 1910), while he still lectures at the Five Districts Middle School 五城中學堂, the Higher Industry School 高等實業學堂 and the Fujian School 閩學堂.

February, 1911 – Lin Shu joins the Xinhai Poetry Society 辛亥詩社 with Zheng Xiaoxu 鄭孝胥 (1860-1938), Chen Baochen 陳寶琛 (1848-1935), Hu Sijing 胡思敬 (1869-1922) and others.

Spring, 1911 – Lin Shu joins the poetry society established by Fan Zengxiang 樊增祥 (1846-1931) and Luo Dunrong 羅惇曧 (1872-1924).

September 15, 1911 – Following the recent Wuchang Uprising 武昌起義, Lin Shu decides to send his family to the concession territories of Tianjin.

November 9, 1911 – Lin Shu moves to the English concession of Tianjin.

Spring, 1912 – Lin Shu and Cai Yuanpei 蔡元培 (1868-1940) start the Jinhua zazhi 進化雜誌.

June, 1912 – Joins the Confucian Guild 孔教公會 with Yan Fu 嚴復 (1854-1921), Liang Qichao 梁啟超 (1873-1929), Ma Qichang  馬其昶 (1855-1930), Yao Yonggai 姚永概 (1866-1923) and others.

October, 1912 – Lin Shu takes his family back to Beijing.

April, 1913 – Lin Shu leaves Beijing University.

Summer, 1914 – Lin Shu is appointed to emeritus compiler (ming yu zuanxiu 名譽纂修) by the government, but he rejects the position.

1915 – Attends a youth meeting in Beijing, where he gives a conference under the title “Youths should respect the country” 青年宜尊重國家.

July, 1916 – Editor chief of Wenxue jiangyi 文學講義 of the Zhonghua bianyi she 中華編譯社 in Shanghai.

July 5, 1917 – Lin Shu moves his family to Tianjin, but he remains in Beijing.

Winter, 1917-April/May, 1920 – Series of conferences about classical Chinese, for which see our Chronology of Lin Shu’s works.

September, 1918 – Contributions to Wenxue changshi 文學常識, together with Zheng Xiaoxu 鄭孝胥 (1860-1938), Ma Qichang  馬其昶 (1855-1930), Yao Yonggai 姚永概 (1866-1923) and Chen Yan 陳衍 (1856-1937) under the direction of Liu Jinjiang 劉錦江.

October, 1918 – Joins the Dusk Room Poetry Group 晚晴簃詩滙 with Fan Zengxiang 樊增祥 (1846-1931).

January 31, 1919Emperor Puyi 溥儀 (1906-1967) gives Lin Shu for the third time an Spring Bar (chuntiao 春條).

1919 – Moves to Rongxian hutong 絨線胡同, near the Female Higher Normal School.

May, 1920 – Lin Shu joins the Chinese Painting Research Association 中國畫學研究會.

Spring, 1921 – Participates in a Scholar Meeting of Poetry at Beijing’s Martyr’s Shrine 法源寺, together with Fan Zhibo 潘之博, Liang Hongzhi 梁鴻志 (1882-1946), Lin Sijin 林思進 (1874-1953), Zhao Xi 趙熙 (1867-1948), Chen Yan 陳衍 (1856-1937), Hu Sijing胡思敬 (1869-1922), Chen Baochen 陳寶琛 (1848-1935), Zheng Xiaoxu 鄭孝胥 (1860-1938), Luo Dunrong 羅惇曧 (1872-1924), Mao Guangsheng 冒廣生 (1873-1959), Zeng Xijing 曾習經 (1867-1926), and Wen Su 溫肅 (1879-1939).

Winter, 1921 – Lin Shu stops his translator activities.

August 9, 1922 – Lin Shu gets sick. He is attended by the German doctor Edmund Dipper and later hospitalized until August 29.

1922 – Lecturer at the Confucian University 孔教大學.

March-April, 1923 – Lectures at the Lizhi School 勵志學校.

October-November, 1923 – Lin Shu gets sick.

June 10, 1924 – Lin Shu gets sick.

June 20, 1924 – His last conference at the Confucian University 孔教大學.

August 26, 1924 – At night Lin Shu feels unwell and passes out. He is finally attended by Edmund Dipper, who diagnoses him with heart failure.

August 28, 1924 – Conscious of his imminent death, he writes his own memorial.

September 29, 1924 – Lin Shu’s sickness aggravates and his body rejects food and drink.

October 8, 1924 – Unable to eat or speak, he writes his famous last words on Lin Cong 林琮’s (1904-?) hand: “The undying principles of Classical language, do not be dilatory and take care of them” 古文萬無滅亡之理,其勿怠爾修.

October 9, 1924 – Lin Shu dies at 2 or 3 in the morning at his residence in Beijing. His body is moved to the Longquan Temple at southern suburbs 龍泉寺, unable to go back to Fujian due to Second Zhili-Fengtian War.

1925 – His body is finally moved by his family to Fuzhou.