Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Han T'an

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HAN T'an 韓菼 (T. 元少, H. 慕廬), 1637–1704, official and scholar, was a native of Ch'ang-chou (Soochow), Kiangsu. Passing first in both the metropolitan and the palace examinations of 1673, he was given the rank of Hanlin compiler of the first class. During the ensuing years he helped in the compilation of several important official works of the period, including the 平定三逆方略 P'ing-ting San-ni fang-lüeh, 60 chüan, commissioned in 1682, completed in 1686, and printed in 1934 in the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu chên-pên (see under Chi Yün); and the Ku-wên yüan-chien (see under Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh), completed in 1685. After several promotions, he was made in 1685 a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. Retiring to his home town in 1687, he remained there for eight years, reading widely and intensively. In 1695 he was summoned to Peking to supervise the compilation of the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung-chih, a project previously undertaken by Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh [q. v.]. In 1697 he was made junior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies and concurrently chancellor of the Hanlin Academy. Early in 1700 he was given the post of junior vice-president of the Board of Civil Office and in the same year was made president of the Board of Ceremonies. While at this post he was at first much in the emperor's favor, but in the end displeased him by his outspoken frankness. Worried by the accusations of his foes, and failing in his repeated requests for retirement, he weakened himself by drinking wine to excess and died in 1704. During his life he enjoyed due fame as an essayist. His collected works, comprising 22 chüan of prose and 6 chüan of verse entitled 有懷堂集 Yu-huai t'ang-chi, were printed by himself late in 1703. He was given by Emperor Kao-tsung, in 1752, the posthumous name, Wên-i 文懿. His sons, Han Hsiao-ssŭ 韓孝嗣 (T. 祖語, chin-shih of 1709), and Han Hsiao-chi 韓孝基 (T. 祖昭, H. 東籬, 1664–1753, chin-shih of 1700), were known as essayists. A daughter, Han Yün-yü 韓韞玉, was a poetess.

In 1703 Han T'an wrote a preface to the work, 天學本義 T'ien-hsüeh pên-i, attributed to the Jesuit missionary, Joachim Bouvet 白晉 (T. 明遠, 1656–1730). This work is a collection of quotations from the Chinese Classics and of idioms in everyday use, annotated by the missionary from the Christian point of view, in order to compare the Chinese concept of T'ien (Heaven) with the Christian concept of God. According to the opinion of Mr. Wang Chung-min 王重民 (T. 有三, b. 1903), Bouvet's work was based on an earlier one, 天儒異同考 T'ien Ju i-t'ung k'ao ("A Comparison of Christianity and Confucianism", manuscript in Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris), written by a scholar and a Chinese convert, Chang Hsing-yüeh 張星曜 (T. 紫臣, b. 1633, d. after 1711), who was baptized in 1678 under the name Ignace. Two manuscripts of the T'ien-hsüeh pên-i are extant, one in the Vatican Library, Rome; another in the Bibliothèque Nationale. This work was expanded and revised in 1707, under the new title, 古今敬天鑑 Ku-chin ching-t'ien chien, 2 chüan, of which at least six manuscripts are extant—four in Paris, one in Rome, and one in Moscow. In one of the manuscripts in Paris, after Bouvet's own preface, there is this note: "When Grand Secretary [sic] Han read this book, the references in the Jih-chiang [日講, Daily Discourses on the Classics to Emperor Shêng-tsu by selected officials] and other works had not yet been copied into it".


[1/272/7b; 2/9/42a; 3/58/1a; 4/21/1a; 21/2/16a; Tung hua-lu, K'ang-hsi 36:9; Wu-hsien chih (1933) 68上/8a, 11b; T'oung Pao (1924), p. 366; Pfister, P. L., Notices Biographiques et Bibliographiques I, p. 438; 國朝鼎甲徵信錄 Kuo-ch'ao ting-chia ch'êng-hsin lu, 1/27b; Pelliot, T'oung Pao (1932), p. 106.]

Fang Chao-ying