Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ
CH'Ü Shih-ssŭ 瞿式耜 ( 起田, 稼軒, 耘野), Sept. 6, 1590–1651, Jan. 8, Ming loyalist, was a native of Ch'ang-shu, Kiangsu, a descendant of a noted family of officials and scholars. His grandfather, Ch'ü Ching-ch'un 瞿景淳 ( 師道, 昆湖, d. 1569, a chin-shih of 1544), was in 1567 concurrently vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies, chancellor of the Hanlin Academy, and chief editor for the second transcription of the Yung-lo ta-tien (see under Chu Yün). His father, Ch'ü Ju-yüeh 瞿汝說 ( 星卿, 達觀, 1565–1623, a chin-shih of 1601), was noted for his uprightness and incorruptibility. Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ became a chin-shih in 1616 and was appointed two years later magistrate of Yung-fêng, Kiangsi, where he encouraged classical studies and established a reputation for good administration. In 1621 he was ordered to be transferred to Chiang-ling, Hupeh, but the inhabitants of Yung-fêng insisted on retaining him. Two years later (1623) he returned home to mourn the death of his father, and about this time became interested in Christianity. A distant uncle, Ch'ü Ju-k'uei 瞿汝夔 (referred to in contemporary missionary accounts as Ch'ü T'ai-su 瞿太素), was one of the first followers of Matteo Ricci (see under Hsü Kuang-ch'i) and was baptized in 1605 by P. Jean de Rocha 羅如望 ( 懷中, 1566–1623) in Nanking under the name Ignatius. A son of Ch'ü Ju-k'uei, named Chü Shih-ku 瞿式穀, baptized as Matthew, invited P. Jules Aleni 艾儒略 ( 思及, 1582–1649) to Ch'ang-shu in 1623 to found a Christian church in that community. Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ was himself baptized by Aleni under the name Thomas (多默) and wrote a preface to Aleni's religio-psychological study, 性學觕述 Hsing-hsüeh ts'u-shu, 8 chüan (1623).
In 1628 Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ accepted an appointment as junior metropolitan censor, but before long was involved in the conflict that was raging between the Tung-lin party and the courtiers regarding the appointment of a Grand Secretary. The Tung-lin faction supported Ch'ien Ch'ien-i [q. v.] whereas the courtiers favored Chou Yen-ju (see under Chang P'u) and Wên T'i-jên (see under Chêng Man). Owing to the opposition of Chou and Wên, Ch'ien Ch'ien-i, then vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies, was dismissed from office (1628) and Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ, his fellow townsman and devoted disciple, was obliged to go with him. The dispute between these factions continued, for in 1637 an unscrupulous native of Ch'ang-shu, in conspiracy with the opposition in Peking, brought accusations against Ch'ien and Ch'ü which resulted in their imprisonment. But they were released not long thereafter when the situation at court turned against Wên who was forced to give up his post in July–August 1637.
For the next seven years, or until 1644, Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ seems to have lived in retirement at his home. But when the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) was proclaimed emperor at Nanking (June 19, 1644) Ch'ü accepted from him the post of vice-governor of Nanking and on January 25, 1645 was appointed governor of Kwangsi. On April 26 he set out to take up his post in that province. When he reached Wu-chou, Kwangsi (July 26), he learned that Nanking had fallen (June 8) and that the Prince of Fu had been captured. At Wu-chou Ch'ü made the acquaintance of Chu Yu-lang [q. v.] and Chu Yu-ai (see under Chu Yu-lang). On September 25, two months after Ch'ü's arrival at Wu-chou, Chu Hêng-chia 朱亨嘉 (the Prince of Ching-kiang 靖江王), who was a descendant of Ming T'ai-tsu's eldest brother, declared himself emperor at Kuei-lin, Kwangsi, and Ch'ü, because of his strong opposition to this usurpation, was escorted there under heavy guard. With the help of Chiao Lien 焦璉 ( 瑞亭, 國器, d. Oct. 15, 1651) who in missionary accounts is known as "Luke Chiao Lien", Ch'ü was able to effect the arrest of Chu Hêng-chia and later (March 26, 1646) to send him to Fukien where he was deprived of his title of prince, and his followers were executed. When the Prince of T'ang (see under Chu Yü-chien) ruled for about thirteen months (1645–46) in Fukien under the reign-title Lung-wu, Ch'ü was offered the post of junior vice-president of the Board of War, but declined. This prince, too, was taken captive by the enemy (October 6, 1646) and his effort to restore the Ming regime came to an end. Thereupon Ch'ü and his followers decided to welcome to Chao-ch'ing, Kwangtung (September-October 1646), the Prince of Yung-ming (see under Chu Yu-lang) to carry on the Ming court. On November 20 Chu Yu-lang was declared "administrator of the realm" (監國) at Chao-ch'ing, and Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ was appointed concurrently Grand Secretary and acting president of the Board of Civil Office.
On December 24 Chu Yu-lang was proclaimed emperor with the reign-title Yung-li and Ch'ü was promoted to Grand Secretary of the Wên Yüan Ko 文淵閣留守. But the tenure of the court at Chao-ch'ing was short-lived, for on January 20, 1647, Canton fell to the Manchu forces under Li Ch'êng-tung [q. v.], thus causing Chu Yu-lang and his court to flee through Wu-chou (February 5) to Kuei-lin (February 25). The Manchu forces took Chao-ch'ing on February 20, Wu-chou on March 5, and laid siege to Kuei-lin on April 18. Chu Yu-lang by this time had fled to Ch'üan-chou, Kwangsi, and later to Wu-kang, Hunan. Ch'ü was appointed concurrently president of the Board of Civil Office, president of the Board of War, Grand Secretary of the Wên Yüan Ko, and was placed in charge of the defense of Kuei-lin (留守桂林). In the course of one year (April 18, 1647–April 14, 1648) Kuei-lin was three times attacked or besieged by Manchu forces but without success, owing to Ch'ü's energetic defense of the city. It is said that Ch'ü was aided in this defense by Western cannon (西洋銃) provided through the help of missionaries. In consequence of his valiant efforts Ch'ü was given the title "Earl of Lin-kuei" 臨桂伯 and made Grand Tutor to the Heir Apparent (June 30, 1647). Before the third siege of Kuei-lin (April 14, 1648) Chu Yu-lang returned once more to that city, but set out for Nan-ning, Kwangsi, on March 16, thus beginning his long wanderings which lasted more than fourteen years. But the rebellion of Li Ch'êng-tung and Chin Shêng-huan [q. v.] against the Manchus in the spring of 1648 shifted the center of warfare and gave temporary respite to the Ming cause, thus permitting the recovery of considerable territory. Yet the gains were temporary, for in the late summer of 1649 K'ung Yu-tê [q. v.] pressed down on Kwangsi from Hunan with twenty thousand men, and another Manchu army led by Shang K'o-hsi and Kêng Chi-mao [qq. v.] advanced on Canton through Kiangsi. After a siege of eight months Canton again fell to the Manchus (November 24, 1650) and three days later Kuei-lin was taken. Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ and another official, Chang T'ung-ch'ang 張同敞 ( 別山), were captured. When the two were led into the presence of K'ung Yu-tê the latter tried in vain to win them over to the Manchu cause. K'ung even proposed to release Ch'ü if he would submit to tonsure as a Buddhist monk and so, in a sense, satisfy the Manchu requirement for shaving the head. But when a letter of rebellious intent which Ch'ü had secretly transmitted to Chiao Lien was discovered, K'ung had both executed. Chin Pao [q. v.] submitted a long memorandum to K'ung requesting permission to take care of the remains of Ch'ü and Chang, but meanwhile a disciple of Ch'ü, named Yang I 楊藝 ( 碩甫), had the corpses interred.
During their confinement of forty-one days the two unfortunate men wrote a number of poems which were published under the title 浩氣吟 Hao-ch'i yin. Ch'ü's collected works, entitled 瞿忠宣公集 Ch'ü Chung-hsüan kung chi, in 10 chüan, consisting of memorials, poems, and letters, were first published by Li Chao-lo [q. v.] in 1835 and were reprinted in 1887. The Ming court conferred on him the posthumous name, Wên-chung 文忠 and Emperor Kao-tsung, the name Chung-hsüan 忠宣 (1776).
[M.1/280/9a; M.3/260/9a; M.36/7/1a; M.41/17/21b; M.59/28/1a; M.64/辛9/2a; 鹿樵紀聞 Lu ch'iao chi-wên (in 痛史) 卷下/14b; Wang Fu-chih [q. v.], Yung-li shih-lu 2/1a; 行在陽秋 Hsing-tsai yang-ch'iu 上/46b in 明季稗史彙編 Ming-chi pai-shih hui-pien for date of birth of Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ; 明季南略 Ming-chi nan-lüeh 12/7a, 13/1b, 15/3a; 常昭合志稿 Ch'ang-Chao ho chih kao (1904) 25/21a, 25/56b, 44/13b; Kwangsi t'ung-chih (1801) 252/13a; Ssŭ-k'u 子/雜志9; Ch'ü Chung-hsüan kung chi with portrait (1887) in Library of Congress; Fr. Von Jäger, "Die Letzten Tage Des Kü Schï-sï, Sinica VIII (1933) 197–207; P. Pelliot, "Michel Boym", T'oung Pao (1934) 95–151.]
J. C. Yang