Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ü Ta-chün

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CH'Ü Ta-chün 屈大均 (T. 翁山, 泠君, 介子, H. 華夫, 羅浮山人), Oct. 10, 1630–1696, poet, came from a family which for generations had lived in the district of P'an-yü (Canton). His father, Ch'ü I-yü 屈宜遇 (T. 原楚, 澹足, d. 1650), was adopted and brought up by a family in the neighboring district of Nan-hai and used the surname of that family, which was Shao 邵. Since Ch'ü Ta-chün was born in Nan-hai in the Shao family he, too, used that surname until he was sixteen sui. In 1645 he became a licentiate of the district school of Nan-hai, under the name, Shao Lung 邵龍 (later also written 紹隆, H. 非池). In that year he and his father went to their ancestral home in Sha-t'ing 沙亭 (in the district of P'an-yu) and formally returned to the Ch'ü family, making use henceforth of the surname Ch'ü.

For a time Ch'ü Ta-chün studied under Ch'ên Pang-yen (see under Ch'ên Kung-yin). When Ch'ên Pang-yen died, in 1647, a martyr to the Ming cause, Ch'ü lost all interest in the competitive examinations. In 1649 he went to Chao-ch'ing, Kwangtung, to join the Court of the Ming Prince of Kuei (see under Chu Yu-lang), and was recommended for a secretarial post, but late in that year his father took seriously ill and he returned home. On January 6, 1650 his father died. Two months later when the Manchu forces under Shang K'o-hsi [q. v.] besieged Canton, the Prince of Kuei fled from Chao-ch'ing to Kwangsi. Sensing the hopelessness of the Ming cause, Chü Ta-chün entered the Buddhist priesthood under the high priest, Han-shih 函是 (T. 麗中, H. 天然, 1608-1685), who was also the teacher of Chin Pao [q. v.]. Ch'ü was given the monastic name, Chin-chung 今種 (T. 一靈, H. 騷餘), and styled his dwelling Ssŭ-an 死庵, "Retreat of the Dead." In 1656 he met Chu I-tsun [q. v.] at Canton and they became intimate friends. Later in the same year Ch'ü travelled to Kiangsu and Chekiang where he made the acquaintance of local scholars and also visited the famous Ch'i family library at Shaohsing, Chekiang (see under Ch'i Piao-chia). After Chu I-tsun's return to Chekiang (1658), he was often visited by Ch'ü and introduced the latter to many of his friends. In 1658 Ch'ü went to Peking and there wept at the sight of the tree on which the last Ming emperor hanged himself (see under Chu Yu-chien).

About this time (1659) Ch'ü Ta-chün experienced a mental change, for he began to repudiate the Buddhist way of life and lived as a layman. When he came south to Shaohsing in 1660 he found that some of his benefacters (members of the Ch'i family) were under arrest for communicating with Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.] before and during the latter's invasion of Kiangsu in 1659 (see under Chang Huang-yen). Ch'ü himself was possibly involved, for he went into hiding in western Chekiang. In 1665 he went to Shansi and Shensi where in 1666 he established friendship with Wang Hung-chuan 王宏僎 (T. 山史, H. 無異) and with Li Yin-tu 李因篤 (T. 子德, H. 天生, 1631–1692). In the same year (1666) he accompanied Li to Tai-chou, Shansi, where Li taught the son of Ch'ên Shang-nien 陳上年 (T. 祺公), then intendant of the Yen-p'ing Circuit. With Li as go-between, Ch'ü married Wang Hua-chiang 王華姜 (1646–1670), daughter of a Ming general, Wang Chuang-yu 王壯猷, who was killed in battle against the Manchus. To explain his shift from the Buddhist priesthood to the life of a layman Ch'ü wrote an essay entitled, 歸儒說 Kuei-Ju shuo ("On My Return to the Life of a Confucianist"). He and his wife went from Shansi to Peking and Nanking; and finally, in the autumn of 1669, reached his home in P'an-yü. In the following year his wife died. Many of his friends wrote poems to commemorate his loss, and he himself expressed his grief in a number of poems and essays, some written years later.

When Wu San-kuei [q. v.] rebelled against the Manchus, late in 1673, it was proclaimed that the Ming Imperial House would be restored. Impressed with these aims, Ch'ü Ta-chün joined the rebellion and was appointed inspector of the army under Sun Yen-ling [q. v.] in Kwangsi and Hunan; but in 1676, for reasons unknown, he withdrew from service and retired to his home. He built himself a garden, Tsu-hsiang yüan 祖香園, in which he erected a temple, Sao-shêng t'ang 騷聖堂, to the memory of his supposed ancestor, the ancient poet Ch'ü Yüan (see under Ch'ên Hung-shou). In 1679, about a year after the Manchus recovered Kwangtung (see under Shang Chih-hsin), reprisals were meted out to those who had taken part in the rebellion. Ch'ü's friend, Ch'ên Kung-yin [q. v.], was imprisoned. Ch'ü retired with his second wife to Nanking for two years, returning to Canton in 1681. Thereafter he associated intimately with the Ch'ing officials in Kwangtung until his death.

As a man of letters Ch'ü Ta-chün became known, along with Ch'ên Kung-yin and Liang P'ei-lan [q. v.], as one of the "Three Masters of Lingnan" (嶺南三大家), and his poems were highly praised by such contemporary critics as Chu I-tsun and Wang Shih-chên [q. v.]. He also became a friend (1679) of the three Wei brothers and the "Scholars of I-tang" (see under Wei Hsi). His prose writings in 14 chüan, entitled 翁山文外 Wêng-shan wên-wai were printed in 1920 in the Chia-yeh t'ang ts'ung-shu (see under Cha Chi-tso), and his verse in 20 chüan, Wêng-shan shih (詩) wai, was printed in 1910. Ch'ü also wrote a short account of the Yung-li reign-period (1647–1661), under the title 安龍逸史 An-lung i-shih, in 2 chüan, which likewise was incorporated in the Chia-yeh t'ang ts'ung-shu. A valuable collection of classified notes, made by Ch'ü on his native province, is entitled 廣東新語 Kwangtung hsin-yü, in 28 chüan. For this work P'an Lei [q. v.] wrote a preface dated 1700. The P'an-yü hsien-chih of 1911 lists twenty-four titles which were either written or compiled by Ch'ü.

Although the ban on the anti-Manchu writings of Lü Liu-liang [q. v.] was temporarily lifted with the publication in 1730 of the Ta-i chüeh-mi lu (see under Tsêng Ching), there nevertheless were found in it certain quotations from Ch'ü Ta-chün which were regarded as unfavorable to the reigning dynasty. On hearing of it a son of Ch'ü, named Ch'ü Ming-hung 屈明洪 (T. 甘泉, H. 鐵瓢, senior licentiate of 1723), who was then serving as director of schools at Hui-lai, Kwangtung, at once submitted himself to the authorities at Canton. He was given the comparatively light punishment of banishment of himself and his family to Fukien. The writings of his deceased father were banned, but no further punishment was ordered. In 1737 he and his family were pardoned and were allowed to return to Canton.

But the case was reopened in 1774 when edicts were issued calling on all subjects to submit to the authorities for destruction any writings unfavorable to the reigning dynasty. Some petty officers of Canton inveigled a member of the Ch'ü family to sell an incomplete copy of the Wêng-shan wên-wai which should have been submitted to the authorities voluntarily. This led to the discovery of other writings of Ch'ü Ta-chün in the possession of various people. But Emperor Kao-tsung declined to press the case, and pardoned all those involved, with the proclamation that no possessor of a banned book would be punished if he voluntarily gave the book to the authorities. Despite the censorship, most of Ch'ü Ta-chün's publications are still available and some have recently been reprinted.

[3/429/14a; 7/38/12a; 20/1/00 (portrait); 23/23/7a; P'an-yü hsien-chih (1911) 18/15b; 清代文字獄檔 Ch'ing-tai wên-tzŭ-yü tang, vol. 2; Goodrich, L. C., The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung, pp. 112-35; Chu Hsi-tsu 朱希組, Ch'ü Ta-chün chuan (傳) in 中山大學文史學研究所月刊 Chung-shan ta-hsüeh Wên-shih-hsüeh yen-chiu so yüeh-k'an, vol. I, no. 5, May 25, 1933; Nien-p'u of Li Yin-tu, (李天生年譜 Li T'ien-shêng nien-p'u) in 關中叢書 Kuan-chung ts'ung-shu (1936); Ch'ên Po-t'ao 陳伯陶, 勝朝粵東遺民錄 Shêng-ch'ao Yüeh-tung i-min lu 1/25b.]

L. C. Goodrich

Fang Chao-ying