Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ho Ch'o
HO Ch'o 何焯 ( 潤千, 屺瞻, 茶仙, 義門) 1661–1722, scholar, bibliophile and calligrapher, was a native of Ch'ang-chou (Soochow), Kiangsu. He went to Peking in 1685 as a student in the Imperial Academy. Although recognized as a good writer of the essays, known as pa-ku-wên 八股文, required in the civil service examinations, he never succeeded in passing even the provincial examinations for the chü-jên degree. Nevertheless he was welcome in Peking as a tutor in the houses of such high officials as Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh and Wêng Shu-yüan [qq. v.]. But he offended them by his plain-speaking—especially the latter who, according to some sources, was partly responsible for Ho Ch'o's repeated failure in the examinations. Ho Ch'o had better relations with Li Kuang-ti [q. v.] who as governor of Chihli recommended him to Emperor Shêng-tsu early in 1703. He was at once appointed to serve in the Imperial Study (see under Chang Ying), and by special permission was granted the title of chü-jên so that he might compete in the metropolitan examinations in the spring of that year (1703). Failing to pass these, he was nevertheless permitted to proceed to the palace examinations which he passed as the third chin-shih of the second class with appointment as bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. Later in the year (1703) he was ordered to serve as tutor to the Emperor's eighth son, Yin-ssŭ [q. v.], and concurrently as editor in the Imperial Printing Establishment, the Wu-ying tien 武英殿. Three years later he failed to pass the final examination in the Hanlin Academy but was allowed to retain his bachelorship there for another term.
In 1706, at the order of the Emperor's fourth son, Yin-chên [q. v.], Ho Ch'o collated and annotated the book of miscellaneous notes, 困學紀聞 K'un-hsüeh chi-wên by Wang Ying-lin (see under Ch'ien Ta-hsin)—a task left incomplete by the death of Yen Jo-chü [q. v.] in 1704. Ho Ch'o returned home presently to mourn the death of his father, leaving his infant daughter in the care of the wife of Yin-ssŭ. During his sojourn at home, prolonged by the death of his stepmother, he collated many difficult texts, some borrowed for this purpose from Mao I [q. v.]. In 1713, again on the recommendation of Li Kuang-ti, he was summoned to Peking to resume his duties. There he helped in editing an official text of the Classic of Changes, completed in 1715 in 22 chüan under the title Chou-I chê-chung (see under Li Kuang-ti). He read the proof of the Chu-tzŭ ch'üan-shu (see also under Li), being the collected works of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei), as re-printed in 1714; and of the 月令輯要 Yüeh-ling chi-yao, an official handbook of ceremonials and folk-ways printed in 24 chüan in 1716.
In November 1715 Emperor Shêng-tsu ordered the arrest of Ho Ch'o and a search of his belongings. The fact that Ho had entrusted his daughter to Yin-Yin-ssŭ was cited to show that he had conspired with that prince in the latter's contention for the throne. Two letters, now preserved in the Palace Museum, Peiping, and reproduced photographically in the Chang-ku ts'ung-pien (see under Hung Ch'êng-ch'ou) of June 1928, are supposed to have been the very ones used as evidence in this case. They were written by Yin-ssŭ to Ho Ch'o—both of the letters informing the latter of the health of his daughter, one of them alluding also to a son of P'an Lei [q. v.]. About ten years later this correspondence was used by the succeeding emperor, Shih-tsung, to discredit Yin-ssŭ. Despite these charges Ho Ch'o was imprisoned for less than a month after which he was again ordered to serve in the Wu-ying tien, although all his titles and ranks had been taken from him. He was one of the chief editors of the 分類字錦 Fên-lei tzŭ-chin, a classified thesaurus of phrases completed in 1720 in 64 chüan and printed in 1722, a few months after his death. All of his titles were posthumously restored to him together with the additional title of reader in the Hanlin Academy. He is described as having been short in stature, with a pock-marked face and a long beard—hence his nick-name "Pocket Edition of Ts'ao Ts'ao" (Hsiu-chên Ts'ao Ts'ao 袖珍曹操); hence also his seal reading Jan 髯, "bearded."
Although Ho Ch'o was known in his lifetime as a pa-ku essayist and a calligrapher, his most important contribution was in the field of textual criticism—the collation of texts that had been corrupted through successive printings. This science flourished in the succeeding Ch'ien-lung period under the name chiao-k'an hsüeh 校勘學. Ho's collation notes on three ancient works were brought together in 6 chüan and printed by a nephew, under the title 義門讀書記 I-mên t'u-shu chi. It was later expanded to 58 chüan, containing notes on eighteen works, and this was printed in 1769. Several of Ho's unpublished manuscripts were consigned to the flame, in 1715 by pupils or friends apprehensive that inquisitors might discover in them evidence which could be used against him, as in the case of Tai Ming-shih [q. v.]. His essays, poems, and letters were first collected by Wêng Fang-kang [q. v.], supplemented by Ying-ho [q. v.] and others, and finally printed in 1850 in 12 chüan by Han Ch'ung 韓崇 ( 履卿), Wu Yün 吳雲 ( 平齋, 退樓, 愉庭, 1811–1883), and Wêng Ta-nien 翁大年 ( 叔均). It was reprinted in 1909 by Wu Yin-p'ei 吳蔭培 ( 樹百, 穎芝) with four additional chüan of Ho's letters to his scholarly brother, Ho Huang 何煌 ( 心友, 小山, 1668–after 1741). These letters yield valuable information on the life of Ho Ch'o from the time of his release (late in 1715) until a few months before his death in 1722. An appendix to the 義門先生集 I-mên hsien-shêng chi gives a list of 381 of his pupils, among whom may be mentioned: Shên T'ung [q. v.] who wrote his biography; Ch'ên Ching-yün 陳景雲 ( 少章, d. 1747, age 78 sui) who also collated a number of important books; and Chiang Kao 蔣杲 ( 子遵, b. 1683, d. age 49 sui, chin-shih of 1713), a famous bibliophile; Hsü Pao-kuang (see under Wang Chi); Chin Nung (see under Hang Shih-chün); and Chiang Kung-fei 蔣恭棐 ( 維卿, 廸甫, 1690-1754).
[1/489/30b; 2/71/27a; 3/123/1a; 4/47/9a; 4/133/4b; 5/38/24b; 20/2/00 and I-mên hsien-shêng chi for portrait; 26/1/42a; 29/3/4b; Ssŭ-k'u, 118/10b, 119/6a; Yeh Ch'ang-ch'ih, Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih (see under P'an Tsu-yin) 4/54b; Fifth Annual Report of Nanking Kuo-hsüeh Library (1932) has a facsimile of his handwriting, and reproduces nine of his seals.]