Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Fang I-chih
FANG I-chih 方以智 ( 密之, 曼公, 鹿起, monastic name 弘智, T. 無可, H. 浮山愚者, 藥地和尚, 五老, 墨歷, 木立 d. 1671?), Ming official and scholar, member of the politico-literary group known as Fu-shê (復社), and later a monk, was a native of T'ungch'êng, Anhwei. He came from a prominent family; his grandfather, Fang Ta-chên 方大鎮 ( 君靜, chin-shih of 1589, d. 1631), was in 1622 vice-president of the Supreme Court of Justice (大理寺少卿); and his father, Fang K'ung-chao 方孔炤 ( 潛夫, 仁植, 貞述先生, 1591-1655, chin-shih of 1616), served (1638) as governor of Hu-kuang (Hunan and Hupeh) where he fought against Chang Hsien-chung [q. v.] but was defeated (1639). Censored by Yang Ssǔ-ch'ang (see under Huang Tao-chou), he was imprisoned (February 4, 1640) and banished to Shaohsing. Recalled in 1642, he was made supervisor of military settlements in Shantung and Chihli with headquarters at Tsinan.
Fang I-chih took his chin-shih degree in 1640 and was appointed a corrector in the Hanlin Academy with assignment as tutor to Chu Tz'ǔ-chiung 朱慈炯 (b. 1632), third son of the emperor (Chu Yu-chien q.v.). When Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.] took T'ung-kuan, Shensi, Fang memorialized the emperor for a post in the army, but the appointment did not materialize. On April 25, 1644 Peking fell to Li Tzŭ-ch'êng and Fang was taken prisoner, but was freed, it is said, upon payment of a ransom. Hearing that the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) had set up his court at Nanking, Fang came to join him. He found the new court, however, under the domination of Ma Shih-ying and Juan Ta-ch'êng [qq. v.]. The latter, though a fellow-townsman of Fang, was unfriendly to him because of his connection with the Fu-shê party in which he and three friends—Ch'ên Chên-hui, Mao Hsiang, and Hou Fang-yü [qq. v.]—had been active. When Juan Tach'êng initiated a wholesale arrest of Fu-shê members, Fang I-chih escaped in disguise as a drug-peddler to southeastern China. After the fall of Nanking the Prince of T'ang (see Chu Yü-chien) set up a court at Foochow and Fang was invited to join him, but declined. When Chu Yu-lang [q. v.] was proclaimed emperor at Chao-ch'ing, Kwangtung (December 24, 1646), Fang I-chih accepted appointment as junior secretary of the Supervisorate of Instruction. In 1647 he was made concurrently vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies and Grand Secretary, but was soon dismissed. Although he was repeatedly recalled, he never returned to official life. He made his residence at P'ing-hsi ts'un 平西村, a village near P'ing-lo, Kwangsi, but before long the Manchus took P'ing-lo, and Fang was made captive. The enemy, failing to win him over to the Manchu cause, finally set him free. Thereafter he became a monk, took a monastic name, and spent the remainder of his life in travel, taking care, however, to change his name as he moved from one monastery to another. In 1671 he went to Chi-an, Kiangsi, where he paid respects to the tomb of Wên T'ien-hsiang (see under Chiang Shih-ch'üan). He died at Wan-an, Kiangsi, while on a pilgrimage.
At the age of fifteen (sui) Fang I-chih was already well-versed in the classics and in literature. His interests covered many fields, including astronomy, geography, music, mathematics, phonetics, philology, calligraphy, painting, medicine, history, etc. Among his writings the following may be mentioned: 通雅 T'ung-ya, in 52 chüan, an encyclopaedia completed in 1636 but not printed until 1666; 物理小識 Wu-li hsiao-chih, in 12 chüan, another encyclopaedia on miscellaneous subjects, printed in 1664; and 藥地炮莊 Yao-ti p'ao-Chuang, in 9 chüan, a treatise on Chuang-tzŭ 莊子. The first two were copied into the Ssǔ-k'u Manuscript Library (see under Chi Yün) and the last was merely given notice therein. His literary works, entitled 浮山全集 Fu-shan ch'üan-chi, in 22 chüan, and 流寓草 Liu-yü ts'ao , in 2 chüan, were banned in the Ch'ing period. Other works attributed to him are: 易餘 I-yü, in 2 chüan; 周易圖象幾表 Chou-i tu-hsiang chi piao; 烹雪錄 P'ang-hsüeh lu; 博易集 Po-i chi, 2 chüan; and 文章薪火 Wên-chang hsin-huo, 1 chüan of miscellaneous notes.
As a scholar Fang is highly praised by the editors of the Ssǔ-k'u Catalogue. Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung) attributed his clarity and independence of judgment to the following three characteristics: (1) a skeptical approach to his subject (尊疑), (2) a realization of the importance of evidence (尊證), and (3) an emphasis on present-day utility (尊今).
One of his outstanding contributions was in the field of philology. Like Liu Hsien-t'ing [q. v.] and Yang Hsüan-ch'i 楊選杞 ( 士季, 夢白齋主人), Fang I-chih was influenced by the Hsi-ju êr-mu tzŭ (see under Wang Chêng), a key to the pronunciation of Chinese characters, by Nicolas Trigault (see under Wang Chêng). Fang is regarded by some as the first Chinese to realize the advantage of the roman alphabet for the transcription of Chinese sounds.
Fang I-chih had three sons who also achieved reputations as scholars. The eldest, Fang Chung-tê 方中德 (田伯, 依巖), was the author of an encyclopaedia, entitled 古事比 Ku-shih pi, in 52 chüan, preface dated 1708, reprinted in 1920; the second, Fang Chung-t'ung 方中通 ( 位伯), was a mathematician and was the author, among other works, of a mathematical work, entitled 數度衍 Shu-tu yen, in 23 chüan. His discussions on mathematics, with Chieh Hsüan 揭暄 ( 子宣, 韋綸, 半齋), were published under the title 揭方問答 Chieh-Fang wên-ta. A third son, Fang Chung-li 方中履 ( 素北), was the author of an encyclopaedic work on various subjects, entitled 古今釋疑 Ku-chin shih-i, 18 chüan, which was banned but was given notice in the Ssǔ-k'u Catalogue.
[M.2/361/7b; M.36/16/3a; M.41/3/29b, 4/41b, 14/8a; M.59/24/8a; 1/505/10b, 511/7b; 2/68/5b; Wang Fu-chih [q. v.], Yung-li shih-lu 5/2a; Liang Ch'i-ch'ao 梁啟超, 中國近三百年學術史 Chung-kuo chin san-pai-nien hsüeh-shu shih, p. 240; Ma Ch'i-ch'ang (see under Fang Kuan-ch'êng), T'ung-ch'êng ch'i-chiu chuan 6/15b; Lo Ch'ang-p'ei 羅常培, 耶蘇會士在音韵學上的貢獻 in 國立中央研究院歷史研究所集刊 vol. 1, no. 3; Ssǔ-k'u 119/3a, 122/7a, 147/3a; L.T.C.L.H.M., 29a; T'oung Pao VI (1895) p. 428–29; Fang Hung 方竑, 方密之先生之科學精神及其物理小識 in 文藝叢刊 vol. 1, no. 2 (1934), pp. 179–99;桐城方氏七代遺書 T'ung-ch'êng Fang-shih ch'i-tai i-shu.]
J. C. Yang