Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu T'ai-kung

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LIU T'ai-kung 劉台拱 (T. 端臨, H. 子階, 江嶺), June 24, 1751–1805, June 19, scholar, a native of Pao-ying, Kiangsu, was a descendant of Liu Yung-ch'êng 劉永澄 (T. 靜之, H. 練江, 1576–1612), a member of the Tung-lin Party (see under Chang P'u). His father, Liu Shih-mu 劉世暮 (T. 仿魏, H. 蓼野, 1725–1801), served as sub-director of schools at Chingchiang, Kiangsu (1780–87). In his boyhood Liu T'ai-kung studied the art of composition, but at the age of fifteen (sui) he became interested in Sung philosophy through the works of the local scholars, Wang Mou-hung (see under Yen Yüan) and Chu Tsê-yün 朱澤澐 (T. 湘淘, H. 止泉, 1666–1732). After obtaining his chü-jên degree in 1771, Liu went to Peking where he competed unsuccessfully in the metropolitan examination of 1772. Upon his return to Kiangsu he became acquainted (1772) with Wang Chung [q. v.] under whose influence he took an interest in the critical methods of the School of Han Learning (see under Ku Yen-wu). In 1778 he went for a third time to Peking for the metropolitan examination, and remained there until 1781. During his sojourns in Peking he made the acquaintance of many contemporary scholars such as Chu Yün, Tai Chên, Wang Nien-sun and Shao Chin-han [qq. v.]. After qualifying for the post of director of schools he left Peking (1781) to be with his father at Ching-chiang, but three years later returned to the capital where he competed for the sixth time for the chin-shih degree but failed. In 1785 he received appointment as sub-director of schools at Tan-t'u, Kiangsu, a position he held for seventeen years. In 1787 he competed for the last time in the chin-shih examination, and again was unsuccessful. Owing to his father's death he retired in the spring of 1801 to his native place, and four years later died there. During the latter half of his life he exchanged letters on classical researches with Juan Yüan, Tsang Yung, Yao Nai, Tuan Yü-ts'ai [qq. v.], and other prominent scholars.

Though influenced much by the School of Han Learning, Liu T'ai-kung was not a slavish exponent of its tenets. He accepted at the same time the good points of Sung scholarship. For this non-partisan attitude he was highly esteemed by Shao Chin-han. Though he published no work in his lifetime, his critical theories were adopted by others. About a year after his death his son-in-law, Juan Ch'ang-shêng (see under Juan Yüan), printed (1806) Liu's work on the Analects, entitled 論語駢枝 Lun-yü pien-chih, and two other works by him under the collective title 劉端臨先生遺書 Liu Tuan-lin hsien-shêng i-shu. Juan also printed in 1808 a supplement consisting of Liu's collected prose and his notes on the classics. Certain works by Liu, found after 1808, were included in the definitive edition of 1834 of the Liu Tuan-lin hsien-shêng i-shu. This edition was reprinted in 1889 by the Kuang-ya Printing Office (see under Chang Chih-tung). A part of Liu's works were also included in the Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh (see under Juan Yüan) under the title, Liu hsün-tao (訓導) i-shu.

A half-brother of Liu T'ai-kung, named Liu T'ai-tou 劉台斗 (T. 建臨, H. 星槎, 1759–1814), was a chin-shih of 1799 who rose to a first-class sub-prefect. He was known for his distinguished services in the river conservancy of Central China. Among the pupils of Liu Tai-kung the most brilliant was perhaps his second-cousin, Liu Pao-nan [q. v.]. Liu Taikung's contemporary and fellow-townsman, Liu Yü-lin 劉玉麐 (T. 又徐, H. 春浦, 1738–1797), left a collection of works on the Classics which was printed in the Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh and other collectanea, under the title 甓齋遺書 P'i-chai i-shu.

[1/487/24a; 2/68/61b; 3/256/37a; 4/135/2a; Liu Wên-hsing 劉文典, nien-p'u of Liu Tai-kung, with portrait, in 國學季刊 Kuo-hsüeh chi-k'an, vol. III, no. 2 (1932).]

Hiromu Momose