Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ên Shih-kuan

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3634070Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'ên Shih-kuanLi Man-kuei

CH'ÊN Shih-kuan 陳世倌 (T. 秉之, H. 蓮宇) Nov. 15, 1680-1758, May 21, official, was a native of Hai-ning, Chekiang. He received his chin-shih degree in 1703 and became a compiler in the Hanlin Academy (1706). Thereafter, until 1722, he filled various posts in the Hanlin Academy, serving concurrently as provincial examiner in Kwangtung (1714) and as commissioner of education of Shun-t'ien (1720–22). In 1724 he was appointed sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat, and later in the same year, governor of Shantung. In 1727 he was placed in charge of conservancy work in Kiangnan. Accused of dilatoriness in the performance of his duties, he was dismissed (1729) and was ordered to supervise the reparation of the Temple of Confucius at Ch'ü-fu, Shantung. In 1732 he returned to his native place, Hai-ning, and devoted himself to study. When he resumed official life he was made senior vice-president of the Censorate (1736–37, 1739–40), superintendent of government Granaries (1737–38), senior vice-president of the Board of Revenue (1738–39), and president of the Board of Works (1740–41). In 1741 he was promoted to be Grand Secretary. Early in 1749 he was once more dismissed for an error he is alleged to have made in an official communication, but was pardoned, and in 1751 was reinstated in his post as Grand Secretary. In the following years he served twice as director-general of the metropolitan military examination (1752, 1754). In 1757 he was permitted to retire and was honored with the title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent. He died in the capital and was canonized as Wên-ch'in 文勤. He was known as a man of great industry and discretion, and is said to have been frugal and abstemious in his diet. His collected works are said to have the title 嘉惠堂集 Chia-hui t'ang chi.

Ch'ên Shih-kuan came from the famous Ch'ên family of Hai-ning—a family that produced, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries inclusive, thirty-one chin-shih, one hundred and three chü-jên, seventy-four senior licentiates, and about one thousand hsiu-ts'ai and students of the Imperial Academy. Three became Grand Secretaries, thirteen were officials above the third rank, more than three hundred stood below the third rank, and thirteen were given a place in the national biographical records. The ancestor of this illustrious family was Kao Liang 高諒 (H. 東園) who in the early Ming period married a daughter of the Ch'ên family and later adopted his wife's family name. One of his descendants, Ch'ên Yu-hsiang 陳與相 (T. 卜野, H. 虛舟, 1545–1628), became a chin-shih in 1577, and this branch of the family produced most of the noted officials. Ch'ên Yü-hsiang's grandson, Ch'ên Chih-lin 陳之遴 (T. 彥升, H. 素庵, 1605–1666), was a chin-shih of 1637 and the first one of the family to surrender to the Ch'ing dynasty. He rose to be a Grand Secretary (1652–53, 1655–56), and his wife, Hsü Ts'an 徐燦 (T. 明霞, H. 湘蘋, 紫䇾) was a poetess. A great-grandson of Ch'ên Yü-hsiang, Ch'ên Yüan-lung 陳元龍 (T. 廣陵, H. 乾齋, posthumous name 文簡, 1652–1736), was a chin-shih of 1685 and was the second member of the family to become a Grand Secretary (1729–33). Ch'ên Yüan-lung was also a calligrapher and a poet. His collection of poems, entitled 愛日堂詩集 Ai-jih t'ang shih-chi, 27 chüan, was printed in 1736. He was the compiler of a classified encyclopedia, 格致鏡原 Ko-chih ching-yüan, 100 chüan, printed from 1717 to 1735, which covers a wide range of subjects in the arts and sciences.

Ch'ên Shih-kuan's father, Ch'ên Hsien 陳詵 (T. 叔大, H. 實齋, posthumous name 清恪, 1642-1722), was a chü-jên of 1672 who served as president of the Board of Ceremonies (1713-19). The third son of Ch'ên Hsien, Ch'ên Shih-jên 陳世仁 (T. 元之, H. 換吾, 1676–1722), a chin-shih of 1715 and a corrector in the Hanlin Academy, was a mathematician whose work 少廣補遺 Shao-kuang pu-i, 1 chüan, was copied into the Ssŭ-k'u (see under Chi Yün) Library. He is credited with another work on mathematics, 方程申論 Fang-ch'êng shên-lun, 6 chüan. Ch'ên Shih-jên's wife, Yang Shou-hsien 楊守閑 (T. 禮持), was a poetess, and his grandson, Ch'ên Yung-fu 陳用敷 (T. 正誼, H. 錫民, d. 1800), chin-shih of 1760, served as governor of Kweichow (1785, 1795), of Anhwei (1787–90, 1794, 1799), of Kwangsi (1790–94), and of Hupeh (1794–95). In 1789 Ch'ên Yung-fu was deprived of his rank (remaining, however, as governor of Anhwei on probation) for failure to report a book that was regarded as seditious.

There is a legend to the effect that Emperor Kao-tsung was born into the Ch'ên family—that he was, in fact, a son of Ch'ên Hsien. This son is alleged to have been secretly adopted as an infant into the imperial family in exchange for a daughter of the imperial household. Those who defend this legend so account for the many members of the Ch'ên family who were granted imperial recognition. They assert, too, that Emperor Kao-tsung was himself aware of his ancestry, and that the visits he paid to the garden of the Ch'ên family, An-lan yüan 安瀾園, in Hai-ning, were for the purpose of paying respects to his ancestors.

[1/309/2a, 280/6a, 295/12b; 3/16/1a; 62/6a, 12/37a; 4/26/1a, 20/30a; 26/1/35b; Hai-ning chou-chih (1776); Hai-ning chou-chih kao (1921); Hai-ning hsien-chih (1765); Ch'ien T'ai-chi [q. v.], Hai-ch'ang pei-chih (1846); 硃批諭旨 Chu-p'i yü-chih, for memorials of Ch'ên Shih-kuan; Ch'ên Ch'i-yüan 陳其元, 庸閒齋筆記 Yung-hsien chai pi-chi, chüan 1; 海寧渤海陳氏宗譜 Hai-ning Po-hai Ch'ên-shih tsung-p'u (1882).]

Li Man-kuei