Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'i Chou-hua

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3634186Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'i Chou-huaFang Chao-ying

CH'I Chou-hua 齊周華 (T. 巨山, H. 漆若), 1698–1768, ca. Jan. 26, executed for offending the emperor by his writings, was a native of T'ien-t'ai, Chekiang, and a second cousin of Ch'i Shao-nan [q. v.]. He became a licentiate in the district school and achieved fame as a writer, but in the Yung-chêng period gained notoriety for being involved in the case of Lü Liu-liang [q. v.]. In 1731 Emperor Shih-tsung required all licentiates in the empire to express an opinion on the question of Lü's punishment as a traitor. Like many other licentiates Ch'i at first agreed that the conviction of Lü was just, but ventured, on second thought, to write a memorial expressing the view that Lü's descendants should be absolved. When the local authorities declined to submit the memorial to Peking Ch'i went in person to the capital. He accused the local officials before the Board of Punishments, but the Board declined to hear his case and returned him to Chekiang under guard. The local officials attempted, by imprisonment and torture, to extract a confession that he had written the memorial during a spell of insanity, but he stubbornly refused to comply. Finally he was adjudged insane and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in a general amnesty granted by Emperor Kao-tsung in 1735, he was released and was acclaimed by the public as a hero.

For some time (1737–39) he was engaged to compile the genealogies of several rich families in Ningpo. In 1741 he went to Nanking and for about fifteen years led the life of a wanderer, visiting most of the famous mountains in the empire. In 1743 he appeared in Changsha, Hunan, where he was a guest of Hsieh Chi-shih [q. v.]. When the latter retired in 1744 he took Ch'i with him to Kweilin, Kwangsi. However, Ch'i later left for the north by way of Kweichow and in 1746 went through Honan to Shensi where he lived for one or two years on Mt. Hua (華山). Later he studied Taoism on Mt. Wu-tang (武當山) in Chün-hsien, Hupeh, a place sacred to Taoists and a center for priests of that sect. There he remained until 1756 when his son found him and persuaded him to return home. But he was very unpopular among his clansmen and by 1760 he so alienated them that they expelled him from the clan. Then he lived in monasteries, probably as a Taoist priest, assuming such names as Hua-yang-tzŭ 華陽子, Han-yüan-tzŭ 含元子, Mêng-tung tao-shih 懞懂道士, and P'o-hsien 跛仙, the last meaning "Lame Fairy," because he was crippled. He also called himself Jên-ju chü-shih 忍辱居士, "The Recluse Who Endures Insults." He was eager to have his own works printed and began in 1761 to send his manuscripts to a block carver at Hangchow, planning to defray the cost by disposing of family property. His wife and sons implored him to desist, but he ignored them.

Taking advantage of a visit that Hsiung Hsüeh-p'êng 熊學鵬 (T. 雲亭, chin-shih of 1730), governor of Chekiang, was making to Mt. T'ien-t'ai (天台山) in 1767, Ch'i Chou-hua requested the governor to write prefaces to certain of his works that were then being printed. At the same time Ch'i submitted complaints to the governor charging his kinsmen with various crimes; his sons with having flogged him; and his wife, then almost seventy, with adultery. When the governor examined Ch'i's works he found that they contained passages prejudicial to the reigning house, and made use of characters used in the emperor's personal name which, by convention, were taboo. Among his works there appeared the unsubmitted memorial requesting lenient treatment for Lü's descendants. Ch'i thus became involved in a literary inquisition and his small hermitage in the country, some twenty li west of the city of T'ien-t'ai, was searched. A number of manuscripts and printed works further incriminating him were found—among them an epitaph of Lü Liu-liang, written while Ch'i was in prison at Hanchow. In the epitaph he eulogized Lü as the equal of Mencius. On this evidence Ch'i was declared a traitor and was put to death by quartering. His sons and grandsons were ordered to be executed, the sentence to be carried out in the following autumn. Later the sentence for one of his sons and for one of his grandsons was commuted to enslavement among the aborigines of the Amur River region. His brothers and their families were pardoned. The accusations that Ch'i lodged against his immediate family were shown to be baseless, but his cousin, Ch'i Shao-nan, whom he accused of usury, was arrested and tried and deprived of his titles for having failed to correct the conduct of a fellow-clansman and for having written, as far back as 1724, a preface to his cousin's works. Although no proof was offered that Ch'i Shao-nan had illegally accumulated wealth or had practiced usury, most of his property was confiscated.

The governor of Chekiang reported more than sixteen titles of works attributed to Ch'i Chou-hua—among them a collection of essays, 贈言集 Tsêng-yen chi, printed about 1761, and written by friends of Ch'i extolling him. The writers of these eulogies included such names as Li Fu [q. v.] and Hsieh Chi-shih. Ch'i, hoping perhaps to save these writers from being involved, insisted that their signatures were forged and that he himself had written most of the 'eulogies.' Some of those implicated had already died and most of those still living denied any acquaintance with the accused or any connection with him. Satisfied with the punishment given, and perhaps apprehensive of involving too many in the case, the Emperor ordered the incident closed. All works by Ch'i, including his collected verse, his pa-ku and other essays, and his travel diaries, were ordered to be destroyed and banned. Nevertheless, an original printed copy of a collection of his prose writings, entitled 需郊錄 Hsü-chiao lu, in 1 chüan, preface dated 1737, and a manuscript copy of another collection edited by himself and entitled 名山藏副本初集 Ming-shan-ts'ang fu-pên ch'u-chi, in 2 chüan (his preface dated 1761), are extant and have been used by the compilers of the 1926 edition of the T'ai-chou-fu chih. The Ming-shan ts'ang fu-pên ch'u-chi was reprinted in 1920, with the above-mentioned Tsêng-yên-chi as a supplement. After the fall of the Ch'ing dynasty the people of Chekiang erected a temple to the memory of Huang Tsung-hsi, Hang Shih-chün [qq. v.], Lü Liu-liang and Ch'i Chou-hua as outstanding fellow-provincials who had resisted Manchu rule.

[齊召南跋齊周台山遊記案 Ch'i Shao-nan pa Ch'i Chou-hua T'ien-t'ai-shan yu-chi an in 清代文字獄檔 Ch'ing-tai wên-tzŭ-yü tang, no. 2; T'ai-chou-fu chih (1926) 52/5b-7a; 文獻叢編 Wên-hsien ts'ung-pien, no. 15; Ming-shan-ts'ang fu-pên ch'u-chi.]

Fang Chao-ying