Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung

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3634082Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'ên Tzŭ-lungEarl Swisher

CH'ÊN Tzŭ-lung 陳子龍 (T. 卧子, 懋中, H. 軼符, after 1645 大撙; monastic name 信衷, T. 瓢栗 H. 潁川明逸), July 12, 1605–1647, June 15, Ming author and patriot, was a native of Hua-t'ing (present Sung-chiang), Kiangsu. He wrote poetry and prose in the style required in the examinations (ku-wên), being particularly adept in the p'ien-t'i, 駢體 or paired sentence style. He was a member of the politico-literary society, Fu-shê (see under Chang P'u), and of a smaller local group, Chi-shê 幾社. A chin-shih of 1637, he was on his way to the post of police magistrate, of Hui-chou, Kwangtung, when his step-mother died. During the three years of mourning at home he studied in various fields. In 1638 he and two associates compiled the 皇明經世文編 Huang-Ming ching-shih wên-pien, in 508 chüan, a collection of essays and memorials to emperors of the Ming dynasty concerning political and economic problems. In the following year (1639), while this was being printed, he edited Hsü Kuang-ch'i's [q. v.] 農政全書 Nung-chêng ch'üan-shu, a comprehensive work in 60 chüan on agricultural science, from original manuscripts entrusted to him in 1635 by Hsü's second grandson, Hsü Êr-chüeh (爵, see under Hsü Kuang-ch'i). The book was printed by two local officials and in 1643 was presented to the throne by the third grandson, Hsü Êr-tou (see under Hsü Kuang-ch'i), who was awarded the post of a secretary in the Grand Secretariat. This work served as the basis for the compilation, by imperial order, of the work on agriculture, 授時通考 Shou-shih t'ung-k'ao, in 78 chüan, completed in 1742. Believing the original edition of the Nung-ch'êng ch'üan-shu to be too long, Ch'ên revised and contracted it to 46 chüan.

In 1640 Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung was appointed police magistrate of Shao-hsing, Chekiang. There he carried on some social relief work and patronized such literary men as P'êng Sun-i [q. v.], and the so-called Ten Poets of Hangchow (西冷十子). For his services in quelling a local uprising, early in 1644, he was named a supervising censor and sent to Chekiang to inspect the military defenses of the province. Before he assumed office, however, Peking fell and he went to serve the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) at Nanking. As his aggressive military program was ignored by the prince, and his agitation for reform in the court was unpalatable to Ma Shih-ying [q. v.], he resigned. In 1645 he undertook the defense of his native Sung-chiang against the Manchu invaders and was given posts by the Ming courts, both of the Prince of Lu (see under Chu I-hai) and of the Prince of T'ang (see under Chu Yü-chien). When the city fell (September 22, 1645), he fled to the mountains and disguised himself as a Buddhist priest. Then he lived with his ninety-year-old grandmother in the home of a disciple until she died the following spring. At this time Wu Yang 吳昜 (or I 易 T. 日生), who had been defeated by the Manchus in the previous year, rallied his scattered forces east of Lake T'ai-hu, near Soochow, gained several victories and was made Earl of Ch'ang-hsing (長興伯) by the Prince of Lu. Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung joined Wu's army, was given a minor title, and managed to escape when the army collapsed. In 1647, along with many other scholars whom the Manchus wanted to get rid of, he was charged with complicity in a rebellious plot. He fled to Chia-ting, was arrested, but jumped from the boat on which he was confined and drowned himself. In 1776 he was given the posthumous name, Chung-yü 忠裕.

Besides the works already mentioned Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung compiled the 明詩選 Ming-shih hsüan, 13 chüan, a critical anthology of Ming poetry. His own writings were collected by Wang Ch'ang [q. v.], under the title Ch'ên Chung-yü kung ch'üan-chi (公全集) 29 chüan, printed in 1803. This includes an autobiographical nien-p'u, with a supplement for the years 1645-47 by his disciple, Wang Yün 王澐 (T. 勝時, H. 1619-ca. 1693), and a portrait.

[M.1/277/12b; M.35/18/48a; M.40/75/2a.; M.41/3/25a, 6/42a, 10/41a, 14/23b; M.55/1/7b; M.59/44/1a; Sung-chiang-fu chih (1884), 55/48a; Hua-t'ing hsien chih (1884) 15/32a; Ssŭ-k'u (see under Chi Yün), 102/2b, 3a.]

Earl Swisher