Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chang Li-hsiang

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CHANG Li-hsiang 張履祥 (T. 考夫, H. 念芝) Nov. 5, 1611–1674, Aug. 29, moralist and teacher, was a native of the village of Yang-yüan 楊園 in the district of T'ung-hsiang, Chekiang. When he reached the age of nine [sui] his father died, leaving the family in poverty. His mother consoled him, saying "Confucius and Mencius were also children of families that lost a father, but because they had determination they became sage-scholars." In 1642, age thirty-two [sui], he met Huang Tao-chou [q. v.] in the Ling-yin Monastery (靈隱寺) at Hangchow, and two years later went to Shao-hsing, Chekiang, to receive instruction in the school of Liu Tsung-chou [q. v.]. Believing that factional disputes in southeast China and bandit uprisings in the northwest were causes contributing to the Manchu conquest, he refused to join any party, preferring to eke out a meager livelihood as a teacher in the homes of local gentry. Nor did he proceed beyond the licentiate in his examination career.

A bitter opponent of the prevailing philosophy of Wang Yang-ming 王陽明 [Wang Shou-jên 王守仁 (T. 伯安, H. 陽明, 1472–1529)], he was one of the last Ch'ing scholars to re-emphasize the teachings of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei). His objection to the former is clearly brought out in the words, "The followers of Wang Yang-ming regard his teachings as a shortcut [to knowledge]; even a slight drawing near to things and investigation of their principles they consider unimportant and troublesome." Again he said, "There is no knowledge other than living a life of human-heartedness, and acting from a sense of duty to others; there is no work other than preserving a reverential mind and investigating the principles in things." His collected works, 楊園先生全集, Yang-yüan hsien-shêng ch'üan chi, in 54 chüan, together with a nien-p'u in one chüan, were printed in 1871. They contain his poems, letters, prefaces, miscellaneous notes, and essays on ethical problems. His 言行見聞錄 Yen-hsing chien-wên lu, whose preface is dated 1644, records interesting dialogues with contemporaries. Essays such as the 經正錄 Ching-chêng lu (1652) and the 訓子語 Hsün-tzŭ yü (1665) contain chiefly pedagogical advice based on years of experience as a teacher of youth. A treatise on agriculture, 補農書 Pu nung-shu, is a supplement to a small monograph, entitled Nung-shu, by a writer of the clan name, Shên 沈. In order to illustrate the importance of husbandry he himself frequently tilled the soil and pruned mulberry trees. In 1871 his name was entered by imperial decree in the Temple of Confucius, on a tablet adjacent to that of Sun Ch'i-fêng [q. v.]. Since he left no descendants after the second generation, his tomb was neglected, but beginning in 1721 and thereafter it was adequately cared for by local officials or admirers. About 1878 the site of his residence was made public property and a tablet was erected to his memory.


[1/486/13b; 2/66/5b; 3/396/1a; 14/2/2b; 17/6/5a; Yang-yüan hsien-shêng ch'üan-chi with portrait; T'ung-hsiang hsien chih (1887), chüan 5, 13, passim; Watters, T., A Guide to the Tablets in a Temple of Confucius (1879) p. 232.]

Michael J. Hagerty