Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Hung Liang-chi
HUNG Liang-chi 洪亮吉 ( 君直, 稚存, 北江, 更生), Oct. 17, 1746–1809, June 24, scholar and official, was a native of Yang-hu, Kiangsu. His given name was originally Lien 蓮 ( 華峰), later (1772) changed to Li-chi 禮吉, and finally (1781) to Liang-chi. His father, Hung Ch'iao 洪翹 ( 午峯, 楚珩, 1714–1751), died when Hung Liang-chi was only six sui. His mother (nêe Chiang 蔣, 1714–1776), being left in poverty, took Hung Liang-chi and his brother, Hung Ai-chi 洪靄吉 ( 赤存, 1750–1798), and her three daughters, to live with their grandmother in the Chiang family. There Hung Liang-chi grew up, attended school, and later (1765) taught. In 1768 he married his cousin, a daughter of Chiang Shu-hsien 蔣樹諴 ( 實君, d. 1758), his mother's oldest brother, in whose family he continued to live. He later wrote a short account of this family, entitled 外家紀文 Wai-chia chi-wên. In 1769 he was made a licentiate. Failing both in 1770 and in 1771 to pass the Kiangnan provincial examination, he went to T'ai-p'ing, Anhwei, with his friend, Huang Ching-jên [q. v.]. Chu Yün [q. v.] had recently been made commissioner of education of Anhwei province, and Hung and Huang became members of Chu's secretarial staff. It was there that Hung Liang-chi made the acquaintance of Shao Chin-han, Wang Nien-sun, Chang Hsüeh-ch'êng [qq. v.] and other promising young scholars of the time. In 1774 he came to know Sun Hsing-yen [q. v.], and in this year he again failed to qualify for the chü-jên degree. Two years later (1776), while assisting Wang Chieh (see under Chiang Fan), then commissioner of education in Chekiang, to conduct an examination at Shaohsing, his mother died. Apprised of this fact while on his way home, he was so overwhelmed with grief that he fell into the river and almost drowned. Early in the summer of 1779 he went to Peking where he obtained a position as editor of the books submitted from Kiangnan to the Ssŭ-k'u Commission (see under Chi Yün). In the following year he passed the Shun-t'ien provincial examination and became a chü-jên, but failed to qualify the next spring (1781) in the metropolitan examination for chin-shih. Summoned (1781) by his friend, Sun Hsing-yen; to join him as secretary to Governor Pi Yüan [q. v.], he proceeded at once to Sian, Shensi, where he met such scholars as Yen Ch'ang-ming [q. v.] and Ch'ien Tien (see under Ch'ien T'ang). He served under Pi for nine years—at Sian (1781–85), at Kaifeng (1785–88), and at Wuchang (1788–90). During his stay in Sian he assisted in the writing of the Hsü Tzŭ-chih t'ung-chien. (see under Pi Yüan) and took part (1782-83) in the compilation of the following local histories: 淳化縣誌 Ch'un-hua hsien-chih, 30 chüan; Ch'ang-wu (長武) hsien-chih, 12 chüan; and Ch'êng-ch'êng ( 澄城) hsien-chih, 20 chüan, While employed in Honan he compiled several local histories of that province: Ku-shih ( 固始) hsien-chih, 20 chüan (1785); Têng fêng (登封) hsien-chih, 32 chüan; and Huai-ch'ing (懷慶) fu-chih, 32 chüan (1786).
After failing four times in the metropolitan examination (1781, 1784, 1787, 1789), Hung Liang-chi finally took (1790) second highest honors, known as pang-yen 榜眼. Having thus become a chin-shih, he entered the Hanlin Academy as a compiler of the second class. While officiating as associate examiner of the Shun-t'ien provincial examination (1792), he received appointment as inspector of education in Kweichow. He took up his post in Kweiyang late that same year and remained in the province of Kweichow for three years, returning to the capital early in 1796. In 1797 he was ordered to serve in the School for Imperial Princes, and as special tutor to Prince Ch'un 奕純 (d. 1816).
Upon the death in 1798 of his younger brother, Hung Liang-chi retired to his home, but after the decease of Emperor Kao-tsung (February 7, 1799) returned to Peking, receiving appointment first as a compiler of the official chronicles of Emperor Kao-tsung and then as a professor in the National Academy. Granted leave of absence, he was about to set out for home when, depressed by the state of the country, he ventured to offer advice on national affairs—although his official rank did not warrant his doing so. The aged Emperor, Kao-tsung, had just died, and the new Emperor, Jên-tsung, who had been debarred from active participation in government while his father was living, took over direction of affairs. The powerful Ho-shên [q. v.] had been put to death, rebellion fostered by organizations such as the White Lily Sect had spread widely through central and northwest China, and the dynasty was showing definite signs of decay. Oppressed with these conditions, Hung addressed a letter to Prince Ch'êng (i.e. Yung-hsing, q.v.) in which he expressed frankly his opinion about corrupt tendencies in officialdom, and even remarked on the Emperor's personal behavior. The letter was delivered to the prince on October 22 and was at once presented to the Emperor. On the following day Hung was dismissed from office and sent to the Grand Council and the Board of Punishment for questioning. A verdict was reached that he should be decapitated on the charge of "extreme indecorum" (大不敬), but the Emperor commuted the sentence to exile in Ili, Chinese Turkestan. On October 26 Hung set out on his long journey. He went through Sian and Lanchow, and reached his destination on March 5, 1800. That spring the metropolitan area suffered from drought; the emperor prayed for rain, and granted some pardons, but without result. On May 26 a pardon was issued for Hung and, according to reports, ample rain fell in Peking the afternoon of that very day. However that may be, the exile meted out to him was the shortest imposed upon any Chinese banished to that part of the empire. He left a diary of his journey to Ili, entitled 伊犁日記 I-li jih-chi, and brief notes covering the same region, entitled 天山客話 T'ien-shan k'o-hua. On October 24, 1800, he reached home safely, and in 1802 was invited to become director of the Yang-ch'uan Academy (洋川書院) at Ching-tê, Anhwei. While there he compiled the local histories: 涇縣志 Ching-hsien chih, 32 chüan (1806), and 寧國府志 Ning-kuo fu-chih, 50 chüan (1807). In his last years he traveled extensively in southeast China. On his return from a visit to Chiao-shan (an island in the Yangtze) in the spring of 1809 he became ill, and died two months later.
Hung Liang-chi made his greatest contributions in the field of geography. In addition to compiling the above-mentioned local histories, he left a geography of the empire, entitled 乾隆府廳州縣志 Ch'ien-lung fu t'ing chou hsien chih, in 50 chüan, which was completed in 1787 and was first printed in 1803. While in Kweichow, as inspector of education, he produced a work on the river systems of that province, entitled 貴州水道考 Kuei-chou shui-tao k'ao, in 3 chüan, which was later incorporated in his collected works. He also left three works on historical geography, entitled 補三國疆域圖 Pu San-kuo chiang-yü chih, 2 chüan; Tung Chin (東晉) chiang-yü chih, 4 chüan; and Shih-liu kuo (十六國) chiang-yü chih, 16 chüan. Of his studies in classics and philosophy the following may be mentioned: 春秋左傳詁 Ch'un-ch'iu Tso-chuan ku, 12 chüan; 六書轉注祿 Liu-shu chuan-chu lu, 10 chüan; and 漢巍音 Han Wei yin, 4 chüan. Attention has recently been drawn to his theory of population as resembling, in some respects, that of Malthus (see bibliography at close of this sketch).
Hung Liang-chi was celebrated as a poet and a man of letters, and in his younger days his fame in this field rivaled that of his contemporary, Huang Ching-jên. His collected literary works are entitled: 卷施閣集 Chüan-shih ko chi, 更生齋集 Kêng-shêng chai chi, and 附鮚軒集 Fu-chi hsüan chi. His complete works, 洪北江遺集 Hung Pei-chiang i-chi, were published in 1889—with the help of the official printing establishment of Hupeh—by his great-grandson, Hung Yung-ch'in 洪用懃 (彥哲). They comprise 24 titles, including all the above-mentioned works except the local histories.
Hung Liang-chi had four sons: the eldest, Hung I-sun 洪飴孫 (dent of history; the fourth, Hung I-sun 洪齮孫 ( 子齡, 芝齡, 1804–1859) was a chü-jên of 1839. Two works by the former, entitled 三國職官表 San-kuo chih-kuan piao, 3 chüan, and 史目表 Shih-mu piao, 1 chüan, were first printed by Li Chao-lo [q. v.] in 1822; and one by the latter, entitled 補梁疆域志 Pu Liang chiang-yu chih, 4 chüan, was printed by Li in 1835.孟慈, 祐甫, 1773–1816, a chü-jên of 1798), was for a short time magistrate of Tung-hu, Hupeh, and an ardent stu
Hung Liang-chi was respected as a calligrapher, particularly in the chuan (篆) and li (隸) styles. He was criticized by a contemporary, Chiang Fan [q. v.], as often dogmatic in his beliefs and statements on matters of scholarship.
[1/362/1a; 3/132/21a; 4/51/1a; 20/3/00 (portrait); 20/7/7b; Lü P'ei 呂培 et. al., 洪北江先生年譜 Hung Pei-chiang hsien-shêng nien-p'u; 武進陽湖合志 Wu-chin Yang-hu ho chih (1886) 22/34b; Lung, C. F., "A Note on Hung Liang-chi, the Chinese Malthus", in T'ien Hsia Monthly, Oct. 1935, pp. 248–50.]