Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chu Shih

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CHU Shih 朱軾 (T. 若膽, H. 可亭) Sept. 19, 1665–1736, Oct. 22, official and Confucian scholar, was a native of Kao-an, Kiangsi. He became a hsiu-ts'ai in 1687; a chü-jên in 1693, and a chin-shih in 1694. As a scholar in the Hanlin Academy he studied the Manchu language. Not permitted to remain in the Academy, be was, after three years (1700) made district magistrate of Ch'ien-chiang, Hupeh. He returned to the capital in 1706 and was made a second-class secretary to the Board of Punishments. In 1707 he became a department director on the same Board. In 1709 he was appointed commissioner of education for Shensi where he emphasized the teachings of the Sung philosopher, Chang Tsai 張載 (T. 子厚, 1020–1077). His pupils were reared under the idea that knowledge of the rites would transform and perfect the natural disposition. Having again returned to the capital in 1714, he was elevated the following year to the position of governor of Fêng-t'ien-fu (Liao-ning province). In 1716 he was made a commissioner in the Office of Transmission. In 1717 he was appointed governor of Chekiang. While holding this office he was concerned with the strengthening of the sea walls at the mouth of the Ch'ien-t'ang River. Chu remained governor of Chekiang until late in 1720 when he was appointed to the presidency of the Censorate. In 1721 his father died. But such was Chu's serviceableness in an official capacity that Emperor Shêng-tsu ordered him to remain in office during the period of mourning. Chu begged that he at least be allowed to serve in some rigorous way, and asked to be permitted to follow the army into Mongolia. The emperor, instead, sent him in 1721 to Shansi to administer relief in a time of drought and famine. During this assignment, although suffering from a severe attack of dysentery, he memorialized the throne several times, outlining methods for the administration of relief and condemning certain corrupt practices of the officials in the stricken areas. He recommended that medical centers be established to prevent the danger of the spread of contagious diseases. After the death of Shêng-tsu in 1722 Chu was editor-in-chief for the compiling of the "Veritable Records" (實錄) of the reign of that emperor.

Under the new emperor, Shih-tsung, Chu continued in office as president of the Censorate and in 1723 was granted the honorary title of Grand Tutor to the Heir Apparent. In 1725 he was promoted to the office of Grand Secretary. The same year Emperor Shih-tsung ordered him, to assist Yin-hsiang [q. v.], the first Prince I, in irrigation work in Chihli. When the prince died, in 1730, Chu was put in charge of this work. In 1726 Chu's mother died, and again he was not permitted to retire entirely from his duties to observe the customary period of mourning. The emperor advised him not to let his grief endanger his health as his strength was of great value to the Empire. In 1735 all the dikes along the sea-coast in Chekiang were damaged except those which had been built under Chu's supervision. Chu thereupon volunteered to rebuild the damaged sections, but soon after he left Peking (1735) Emperor Shih-tsung died. Chu was recalled to the capital and the new emperor, Kao-tsung, awarded him the minor hereditary rank of Ch'i tu-yü 騎都尉. The same year Chu memorialized advising that the custom of measuring the land of farmers, in order to determine the amount of taxation, be discontinued because it led to injustice. He also memorialized about the excessive severity in the new courts, and recommended that no instruments of punishment be used except those explicitly recognized by law. In 1736 he was appointed editor-in-chief of the "Veritable Records" of the reign of Shih-tsung. In October of that year he became seriously ill. Emperor Kao-tsung went personally to inquire after him, and Chu, determined to abide by the ritual, rose from his bed, put on his court robes and went out to meet the emperor. Chu died the next day. The emperor, whose tutor Chu had been when the former was a boy, was overcome with grief. He discontinued Court for a day, went personally to offer sacrifices to the deceased, granted an official funeral, and provided funds. Chu was given the posthumous name Wên-tuan 文端. In 1738 his tablet was placed in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen. One of his descendants who succeeded to the hereditary rank was Chu Han 朱瀚 (original name 時序, H. 寅庵, died 1857, age 54 sui), a military officer who attained to the post of colonel of Yüan-chou, Hunan, and served under Hsiang Jung [q. v.] against the Taiping rebels. Chu Han was also a poet.

Chu Shih belonged to the Kuan School of Philosophy (關學) which grew out of the teachings of Chang Tsai, but his principal interest was in the rites, or rules of propriety. He thus emphasized practice rather than theoretical concern with such concepts as "human nature" 性, or "the mandate" 命. He reprinted Chang's collected works, 張氏全書 Chang-shih ch'üan-shu, 15 chüan. His 周易傳義合訂 Chou-i chuan-i ho-ting, 12 chüan, in part attempts to reconcile the interpretations by Ch'êng I and Chu Hsi (for both see under Hu Wei) of the Book of Changes. The explanations of other scholars are introduced, and when more reasonable than those of Ch'êng and Chu are given precedence over the latter. This work is commended for not being partisan. It was first printed in 1737, contains a preface by Emperor Kao-tsung, and has been copied into the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün). His 史傳三編 Shih-chuan san-pien, 56 chüan, the printing of which was completed in 1729, contains biographies of celebrated literati, of eminent ministers, and of virtuous officials. At the time of the completion of the work, the official Ming history had not yet been published. The narrative thus stops with the Yüan dynasty.

While in Chekiang in 1718–19, Chu reprinted several of the classics and some other works, sometimes in abridged editions. Among these are: 春秋鈔 Ch'un-ch'iu ch'ao, 10 chüan; 孝經 Hsiao ching, with a discourse about its different editions; 儀禮節略 I-li chieh-lüeh, 20 chüan; 大戴禮記 Ta-Tai Li-chi, 13 chüan; and 禮記纂言 Li-chi tsuan-yen, 36 chüan. Other works he reprinted were: 呂氏四禮翼 Lü-shih ssŭ-li i; 顏氏家訓 Yen-shih chia-hsün, 2 chüan; and 温公家範 Wên-kung chia-fan, 10 chüan. The printing blocks for the thirteen works listed above were destroyed during the Taiping rebellion in 1855. The works were reprinted in 1897 under the title, 朱文端藏書十三種 Chu Wên-tuan ts'ang-shu shih-san chung. His collected short prose writings, entitled Chu Wên-tuan wên-chi (文集), 4 chüan, were first printed in 1737, expanded to 8 chüan, and reprinted in 1871.

[Chu Wên-tuan kung nien-p'u (公年譜), originally compiled by Chu Han and revised by Chu Ling 朱舲; 3/13/1a; Ssŭ-k'u, 6/7b, 26/6b, 58/6b; Catalogue of the Kuo-hsüeh Library 30/30a–b; 敕修兩浙海塘通志 Chi hsiu Liang-Chê hai-t'ang t'ung-chih (1751), 4/5b; Kao-an hsien-chih (1871) 15/17b.]

Rufus O. Suter