Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/P'êng Ting-ch'iu

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3649349Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — P'êng Ting-ch'iuRufus O. Suter

P'ÊNG Ting-ch'iu 彭定求 (T. 勤止, 訪濂, H. 止庵, 南畇), June 2, 1645–1719, May 27, philosopher, was a native of Ch'ang-chou, Kiangsu. His ancestors, engaged for the most part in military service, had come from Ch'in-chiang, Kiangsi, in the time of the first Ming emperor. When P'êng Ting-ch'iu was a child, his father, P'êng Lung 彭瓏 (T. 雲客, H. 一庵, 1613–1689), introduced him to the teachings of Kao P'an-lung 高攀龍 (T. 存之, H. 景逸, 1562–1626), who was one of the Seven Worthies (七賢) of the Ming period—another being Wang Yang-ming (see under Chang Li-hsiang). The father directed his son to study the 太上感應篇 T'ai-shang kan-ying p'ien, a widely read Taoist tract about future rewards and punishments (see under Hui Tung and Fu-lin). The son regarded T'ang Pin [q. v.] who had befriended his father, as his teacher.

Having passed first in the Palace Examination for the chin-shih degree (1676), P'êng Ting-ch'iu was appointed a first class compiler in the Hanlin Academy. In 1684 he became editor for the compilation of the edicts of T'ai-tsung and Shih-tsu. The following year he was Court diarist, and was appointed a tutor in the Imperial Academy. As tutor he was especially interested in the moral education of the sons of Manchu officials. He ordered that the Classic of Filial Piety be translated into Manchu (1686), and the text—which contained also the Chinese version—was used by order of the authorities in the teaching of the Manchu students. Late in 1688 he became a sub-expositor, but he had begun to think about the advanced age of his father and longed to return to his native village. Granted leave, he set out for Ch'ang-chou early in 1689. He passed through Sui-yang, Honan, and there paid his respects at the coffin of T'ang Pin. When he reached Fêng-yang, Anhwei, he received word that his father had died—a source of much grief to him. In 1691, after the mourning period was over, he begged that his leave of absence be extended. He did not return to Peking to resume his duties until 1693, and then found that most of his former colleagues had gone, and that a new generation of men had taken their places. He wished, furthermore, to devote all his time to study and to the cultivation of his moral character. Therefore, in 1694, he memorialized Emperor Shêng-tsu for permission to retire permanently to his home—a request that was granted.

In Ch'ang-chou he organized a vegetarian society, patterned after the Tou Fu Hui 豆腐會 or Association of Bean-curd Eaters, formed by Kao P'an-lung. Occasionally he lectured to his younger fellow-villagers at the local Temple of the God of Literature. In 1705 Emperor Shêng-tsu, then on his fifth southern tour, ordered P'êng to assist in the compilation of the Ch'üan T'ang shih, or complete poetic works of the T'ang dynasty (see under Ts'ao Yin). On the occasion of the Emperor's birthday, in 1713, P'êng visited the capital to pay his respects, but left immediately after having completed the ritual. In 1718 he wrote his own epitaph. After his death his tablet was placed in the local Temple of Worthies, and a separate temple, at the left of the local Confucian Temple, was built to his memory.

P'êng's philosophy was the product of a tradition which came from Wang Yang-ming by way of T'ang Pin, Sun Ch'i-fêng [q. v.], and Lu Shan-chi (see under Sun Ch'i-fêng). Like T'ang and Sun, he was not narrowly sectarian, being as willing to adopt ideas—if they seemed sound—from Lu Chiu-yüan (see under Li Fu) and Wang Yang-ming as from Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei). The kernel of his philosophy was the idea of a fundamental unity behind the differences of the schools. He was antagonistic towards all wrangling about doctrine, and he advocated a revival of attention to conduct. At one time he had felt a mild sympathy for Buddhism, but afterwards concluded that if Buddhism became rampant everything which had been inherited from Confucius and Mencius would be destroyed. He emphatically opposed the idea that Wang Yang-ming had been influenced by Buddhism.

P'êng's teaching that the different schools of Confucianism are fundamentally one is set forth in a preface to his compilation 儒門法語 Ju-mên fa yü (1697) which is a collection of extracts from twenty-one philosophers—Chu Hsi and Lu Chiu-yüan of the Sung, and the rest, of the Ming. He prepared a simplified version of the works of T'ang Pin, entitled 湯潛庵文集節要 T'ang Ch'ien-an wên-chi chieh-yao, which is based on an edition of T'ang's writings, entitled T'ang tzŭ i-shu (see under T'ang Pin). There is a collection of P'êng's works entitled 南畇詩文稿 Nan-yün shih-wên kao, printed in 1881. It is divided into four parts: the Nan-yün wên-kao, 12 chüan, which consists of prefaces, colophons, biographies, epitaphs, prayers, letters, etc.; the Nan-yün shih-kao, 24 chüan, comprising his poetry; the 密證錄 Mi chêng lu, which contains the attack on the idea that Wang was influenced by Buddhism; some biographical material including a biography of P'êng revised by his great-grandson, P'êng Shao-shêng [q. v.]; and finally, the Nan-yün hsiao-t'i (小題) wên-kao, short essays in the style required in the examination halls.

P'êng's grandson, P'êng Ch'i-fêng 彭啓豐 (T. 翰文, H. 芝庭, 香山, 1701–1784), was an official. He passed first in the metropolitan examination (1727), and third in the palace examination. Emperor Shih-tsung, however, personally raised him to first place. The more important positions he held were: provincial director of education for Chekiang (1750); vice-president of the Board of Punishments (1743–44); vice-president of the Board of War (1753–55); vice-president of the Board of Civil Office (1750–53, 1761–62); senior president of the Censorate (1763); president of the Board of War (1763–66). In 1766 he was degraded to the vice-presidency of the Board of War for telling Emperor Kao-tsung an untruth. The Emperor described him as a tolerably good scholar, but not particularly able at administration. In 1768 he was retired with permission to hold his official titles, and in 1776 was granted the title of president of a Board. An edition of his works, entitled 芝庭先生集 Chih-t'ing hsien-shêng chi, 18 + 1 chüan, was compiled by Wang Chin 汪縉 (T. 大紳, 1725–1792) in 1785. P'êng Ch'i-fêng, like his son P'êng Shao-shêng, inclined toward Buddhism, and achieved some fame as a painter of landscapes. His great-grandson, P'êng Yün-chang [q. v.], became a Grand Secretary.

[1/486/11a; 3/117/4a; 南畇老人自訂年譜 Nan-yün lao-jên tzŭ-ting nien-p'u, appended to the Nan-yün shih-kao; Ssŭ-k'u, 97/8a, 181/14a, 183/5b.]

Rufus O. Suter