Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün

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CH'IEN Ch'ên-ch'ün 錢陳群 (T. 主敬, 集齋, H. 修亭, 香樹, 柘南居士), July 19, 1686–1774, Feb. 17, official, man of letters, and calligrapher, was a native of Kashing, Chekiang, where he made his home after moving from his ancestral place in the nearby district of Hai-yen. For five generations his ancestors had been officials or holders of degrees. Both his parents were skilled in poetry and he owed much of his early education to his mother, Ch'ên Shu [q. v.], who was also one of the most famous women painters of the Ch'ing period. When Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün was one year old there was an epidemic of smallpox in his neighborhood and he was sent to the home of his maternal grand-mother with whom he remained for seven years. Throughout his life he was grateful to her and in remembrance of her the patronymic Ch'ên was made a part of his personal name. After returning to his paternal home he devoted himself to study and in a few years began to compose poems and essays. In 1702 he became a senior-licentiate. Thereafter he moved back and forth between his home and Peking and in the latter place associated with such scholars as Cha Shên-hsing and Ch'ou Chao-ao [qq. v.]. After becoming a chü-jên (1714) he stayed in Tientsin for several years, where he made the acquaintance of An Ch'i [q. v.] and studied the latter's collection of paintings and calligraphy. In 1721 he became a chin-shih and was appointed a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy.

At the death of Emperor Shêng-tsu in the following year Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün was one of the nine men who were rewarded for the epitaphs and other documents which they had composed for the occasion. In 1723 he was made a compiler in the Hanlin Academy and in 1727 was appointed to the editorial board for the compilation of the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih, or "Comprehensive Geography of the Empire" (see under Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh). In 1729 he served as chief examiner of the provincial examination of Hunan and two years later was sent to Shensi to tranquilize the people who were suffering from the effects of the war against the Eleuths (see under Yüeh Chung-ch'i). In 1732 he returned to Peking where he was much applauded for his work in Shensi, and two years later was made an expositor of the Hanlin Academy. In 1735 he was appointed commissioner of education of Chihli and although he remained at home in Kashing for two years after 1736 to observe the mourning period for his mother he was reappointed to the same post on his return to Peking in 1738. In this capacity he assisted a number of young students who later became famous—among them being A-kuei, Chi Yün and Wêng Fang-kang [qq. v.]. After several promotions he was appointed junior vice-president of the Board of Punishments (1742) and in the following year senior vice-president of the same Board, serving in the latter capacity for nine years. Meanwhile he was twice (in 1747 and in 1750) made chief examiner of the provincial examination of Kiangsi, officiated several times in the metropolitan and the palace examinations, and served on the editorial board for the compilation of the Ta-Ch'ing hui-tien or "Collected Statutes of the Empire" (see under Wang An-kuo). When he accompanied Emperor Kao-tsung on the latter's first tour of South China in 1751, he was appointed one of the three examiners of group of select students, among whom was Ch'ien Ta-hsin [q. v.]. Early in 1752 the emperor wrote a colophon in honor of Ch'ien's mother, on a painting depicting Ch'ien as a young lad studying at night while she was weaving. The painting is entitled 夜紡授經圖 Yeh-fang shou-ching t'u.

In 1752 Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün fell ill and his resignation was accepted. The emperor wrote a farewell poem in his honor, the two having several times exchanged verses while Ch'ien was serving at Court. After Ch'ien returned home this poetic correspondence continued. Another poet-official, Shên Tê-ch'ien [q. v.], a friend of Ch'ien, was similarly favored. In 1761 these two went together to Peking to celebrate the seventieth birthday of the Empress Dowager, mother of Emperor Kao-tsung, and were entertained together with other aged ex-officials. Several years later (1765) they met the emperor on the latter's fourth tour to South China. The emperor conferred on each of them the title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent and granted them the highest annual stipends. In 1771, at eighty-six sui, Ch'ien again went to Peking, this time to celebrate the eightieth birthday of the Empress Dowager. He died three years later and was canonized as Wên-tuan 文端. His name was entered by decree in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

The first collection of Ch'ien's poems, entitled 香樹齋詩集 Hsiang-shu chai shih-chi, in 18 chüan, was printed in 1751. Poems written between 1751 and the year of his death were edited in a second collection of 36 chüan and posthumously printed. The first collection of his prose works, Hsiang-shu chai wên (文) chi, in 28 chüan, were probably printed in 1764. A second collection, in 5 chüan, was printed some years later. The eldest of Ch'ien's seven sons, Ch'ien Ju-ch'êng 錢汝誠 (T. 東麓, 1723–1779), was a chin-shih of 1748 and served, like his father, as a vice-president of the Board of Punishments from 1760 to 1761 and again from 1777 to 1779. He also served as one of the vice-directors for the compilation of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan shu (see under Chi Yün). Many of Ch'ien Ch'ên-chün's sons and grandsons were officials. Two of his great grandsons, Ch'ien I-chi and Ch'ien T'ai-chi [qq. v.], were eminent scholars.


[1/311/1a; 3/75/1a; 4/34/1a; 20/2/00: 26/1/37a; 29/3/19b; 錢文端公年譜 Ch'ien Wên-tuan kung nien-p'u (1894).]

Fang Chao-ying