Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Li Chao-lo

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LI Chao-lo 李兆洛 (T. 紳琦, 申耆, H. 養一), Oct. 23, 1769–1841, Aug. 24, geographer, was a native of Yang-hu, Kiangsu. At five (sui) be entered school with his elder brother, Li K'ang-ling 李康齡 (T. 五初, 1767–1828). In 1781 he studied under his grandfather, Hsi Pin 奚賓 (T. 曰朝, H. 蕉峰, d. 1784), whose collection of essays, 蕉峰時文稿 Chiao-fêng shih-wên kao, Li Chao-lo edited and printed in 1834. In 1789 he began to study at the Lung-ch'êng Academy 龍城書院 in Ch'ang-chou, Kiangsu, which at that time was under the direction of the well-known scholar Lu Wên-ch'ao [q. v.]. From youth onward Li Chao-lo showed an interest in geographical and historical studies. In 1793 he engaged seriously in the study of geography, reading and making notes on the text of the Tu-shih fang-yü chi-yao (see under Ku Tsu-yü). He began teaching in 1792, and four years later wrote his first work, an outline history of China for children (in lines of four characters) which he entitled 歷代略 Li-tai lüeh. Another of his helps to study was a collection of notes on the "Mirror of History" which he printed in 1803 under the title 讀綱目條記 Tu Kang-mu t'iao-chi, in 20 chüan. In 1804 he became a chü-jên with highest honors, and in the following year a chin-shih. When released in 1808 from his studies as a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy he was appointed magistrate of Ch'ing-fu, Szechwan, but upon pleading for a post near his aged father he was sent instead to Fêng-t'ai, Anhwei. He assumed his duties early in 1809 and remained in Fêng-t'ai until 1814 when his father, Li Chêng-lan 李徵蘭 (T. 黼廷, 茀亭, H. 1743–1814), died. From 1812 to 1814 he was concurrently in charge of the neighboring district of Shou-chou. Under his energetic administration Fêng-t'ai progressed both economically and culturally. In 1811 he began the compilation of the local history of Fêng-t'ai, 鳳臺縣志 Fêng-t'ai hsien-chih, in 12 chüan, which was completed in 1814 just before he abandoned that post. Three years later he became director of the Chên-ju Academy 眞儒書院 in Huai-yüan, Anhwei. In response to a request from the governor of Anhwei, K'ang Shao-yung 康紹鏞 (T. 鎛南, H. 蘭皋, 1770–1834, chin-shih of 1799), he supervised the compilation of two local histories of that province, namely of Huai-yuan, completed in 1818, and Tung-liu, completed in 1817. When K'ang Shao-yung was transferred to the governorship of Kwangtung (1820) Li Chao-lo accompanied him, and there met the great official and patron of literature, Juan Yüan [q. v.]. After a sojourn in Canton of more than a year, he returned home in the autumn of 1821.

Having become interested in the Europeans whom he saw in Canton, Li produced a work, entitled 海國紀聞 Hai-kuo chi-wên, in 2 chüan, an amplification of an earlier treatise by Wu Lan-hsiu (see under Lin Po-t'ung), entitled 海錄 Hai-lu. The Hai-lu, reprinted in 1938 under the title, Hai-lu chu (注), with notes by Fêng Ch'êng-chün 馮承鈞, was based on the observations of a Chinese named Hsieh Ch'ing-kao 謝清高 (1765–1821) who after the age of eighteen (sui) worked for fourteen years on Western ships, visited several Western countries, and retired in 1790, owing to loss of eye-sight. Having made a study of the accounts of foreign lands in the official histories, Li Chao-lo produced another work, entitled 海國集覽 Hai-kuo chi-lan. In 1823 he accepted a post as director of the Chi-yang Academy 暨陽書院 at Chiang-yin, near his home. There he remained for eighteen years, until 1840—a year before his death.

The most important contribution of Li Chao-lo in the field of geography was a dictionary of place names, entitled 歷代地理志韻編今釋 Li-tai ti-li chih yün-pien chin-shih, in 20 chüan, completed and printed in movable type in 1837. In 1838 an historical atlas, 歷代輿地沿革圖 Li-tai yü-ti yen-ko t'u, designed to accompany the dictionary, was printed. Both works deal exclusively with the dynasties prior to the Ch'ing. The latter period is treated in another dictionary, entitled 皇朝輿地韻編 Huang-ch'ao yü-ti yün-pien, in 2 chüan, with an atlas entitled 皇朝一統輿圖 Huang-ch'ao i-t'ung yü-t'u, in 1 chüan (1832). This atlas, printed as a wall map (5 by 7 feet) in 8 scrolls, dated 1842, is in the Library of Congress. The two dictionaries were, as their titles indicate, arranged according to rhyme. The four above-mentioned works, together with a dictionary of reign-names, 歷代紀元編 Li-tai chi-yüan pien, 3 chüan, (compiled by a pupil, Liu Ch'êng-ju 六承如, under Li's supervision) were printed by Li Hung-chang [q. v.] in 1871 under the collective title 李氏五種合刊 Li-shih wu-chung ho-k'an. The Li-tai chi-yüan pien, re-edited and supplemented by Lo Chên-yü, was printed in 1925 under the title 重校訂紀元編 Ch'ung chiao-ting Chi-yüan pien. These works served as the basis of many recent ones of the same nature, but even so they have not lost their value. In addition to the local histories already mentioned, the following two were likewise compiled under Li's direction or with his collaboration: 江陰縣志 Chiang-yin hsien-chih, 28 chüan, completed in 1840, and 武進陽湖合志 Wu-chin Yang-hu ho chih, 36 chüan, completed in 1842, a year after his death. His collected literary works, 李養一先生文集 Li Yang-i hsien-shêng wên-chi, in 24 chüan, were first printed in 1852. When reprinted in 1878 four chüan of verse were omitted and the title was altered to 養一齋文集 Yangi chai wên-chi.

Having a keen interest in literature, Li Chao-lo compiled several anthologies of prose and verse, namely: 駢體文鈔 P'ien-ti wên-ch'ao; 皇朝文典 Huang-ch'ao wên-tien; 舊言集 Chiu-yen chi, etc. Being a calligrapher, he published collections of rubbings, among them 所見帖 So-chien t'ieh and its supplement, So-chien t'ieh hsü-k'o (續刻)—both printed in 1834. He also edited and printed the collected works of earlier and contemporary scholars, namely the 方孩未先生文集 Fang Hai-wei hsien-shêng wên-chi of Fang Chên-ju 方震孺 (T. 孩未, 1585–1645); the works of Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ [q. v.]; and the writings of two sons of Hung Liang-chi [q. v.]. He also edited a work by Liu Fêng-lu [q. v.] on the Kung-yang commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals and a work by Yeh Wei-kêng 葉維庚 (T. 貢三, H. 兩垞, 1773–1828) on reign-names, entitled 紀元通考 Chi-yüan t'ung-k'ao, 12 chüan (1827). His interest in scientific matters is shown by the fact that in 1833 he engaged a skilled coppersmith to help him construct a few astronomical instruments.

Li Chao-lo had two sons; the elder, Li Chuan 李顓 (T. 哲望, 1800–1831), died in early life; the younger, Li Yuan 李願 (ming changed later to Shao-hua 紹華 T. 慰望, b. 1802), attained some fame in calligraphy.


[3/247/1a; 5/73/1a; 20/4/00 (portrait); 26/3/5a; Chiang T'ung 蔣彤, 李申耆年譜 Li Shên-ch'i nien-p'u (1913); Wu-chin Yang-hu ho chih (1879) 23/54a.]

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