Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ên Chên-hui
CH'ÊN Chên-hui 陳貞慧 ( 定生), Jan. 27, 1605–1656, June 11, descendant of the Sung scholar, Ch'ên Fu-liang 陳傅良 ( 君舉, 止齋, 1137–1203), came of a prominent family which migrated from Yung-chia, Chekiang, to I-hsing, Kiangsu. He was the fourth and youngest son of Ch'ên Yü-t'ing 陳于廷 ( 孟諤, 1565–1635, chin-shih of 1595), who was a member of the Tung-lin party and a censor noted for his outspoken criticism of government and for his straightforward memorials. When the conflict of the members of the Tung-lin party and those under Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.] became irreconcilable, Ch'ên Yü-t'ing and several members of the party, including Yang Lien [q. v.] and Tso Kuang-tou (see under Yang Lien) were dismissed (1624) from their posts. At the beginning of the Ch'ung-chên reign-period (1628) Ch'ên Yü-t'ing was reinstated, but was again dismissed in 1632 for his opposition to the punishment of two censors. He returned to his native place where he died three years later.
In his youth Ch'ên Chên-hui studied with his life-long friend, Wu Ying-chi (see under Chang P'u), at Po-ts'un 亳村, a village about 25 li from I-hsing. He took his licentiate in 1621 but failed in the provincial examination. Although he lacked a high degree he rose to great influence in the Fu-shê party (see under Chang P'u) which he joined in early life. He and three other members of the party, Mao Hsiang, Fang I-chih, and Hou Fang-yü [qq. v.], were known as the "Four Esquires" (四公子). In 1638, at Ch'ên's native place, the famous manifesto, entitled Liu-tu fang-luan kung-chieh (see under Chang P'u), was drafted by Wu Ying-chi but was chiefly sponsored by Ch'ên and Ku Kao 顧杲 ( 子方). It was a harsh attack on Juan Ta-ch'êng [q. v.] and was made public in 1639 when the latter was at Nanking. Juan, after his dismissal in 1628, had founded at his native place (Huai-ning, Anhui) a party called Chung-chiang shê 中江社 to compete with the Fu-shê, but it failed to prosper owing to a local disturbance. Thereupon Juan made his residence at Nanking where he offered his service to, and attempted to gain favor with, the members of the Fu-shê. But his efforts at reconciliation met with rebuff owing to his unsavory reputation and to his close association with notorious courtiers. He then organized at Nanking another party called Ch'ün (群)-shê in which Ma Shih-ying [q. v.] became an important member. But this faction, too, was short-lived, for Juan could not remain at Nanking after the promulgation of the manifesto. For a time the victory seemed to belong to the members of the Fu-shê, but they were again opposed when Juan and Ma Shih-ying came to power under the new court of the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) who was proclaimed emperor at Nanking after the fall of Peking (April 25, 1644). A wholesale arrest of the Fu-shê members was carried out according to a list of proscribed names known as Huang-nan lu (see under Chang P'u). Ch'ên Chên-hui was imprisoned (October 14, 1644), but was soon freed through the intervention of Lien Kuo-shih 練國事 ( 君豫, chin-shih of 1616), then senior vice-president of the Board of War. Ch'ên returned to his native place shortly before the fall of Nanking (June 8, 1645). Thereafter he lived in seclusion at Po-ts'un and it is said that he seldom left home to visit the chief city of his native district.
Ch'ên Chên-hui left among others the following works: 皇明語林 Huang-Ming yü-lin, 12 chüan; 雪岑集 Hsüeh-ts'ên chi; 毘陵棲逸志 P'i-ling ch'i-i chih, 1 chüan; 山陽錄 Shan-yang lu, 1 chüan, consisting of short biographical sketches of his friends; 秋園雜佩 Ch'iu-yüan tsa-p'ei, 1 chüan, a work in eight folios on a variety of subjects including tea, orchids, hazel nuts, mushrooms, ink-slabs, etc.; and 書事七則 Shu-shih ch'i-tsê, 1 chüan, a narrative of seven events that took place in his lifetime. The last three of the above-mentioned works were reprinted in the 昭代叢書 Chao-tai ts'ung-shu.
Ch'ên Chên-hui had three brothers. One, named Ch'ên Chên-ta 陳貞達 (則兼 or 則廉), was a minor official of Shun-t'ien prefecture who was killed when Peking fell in 1644.
The most famous of the sons of Ch'ên Chên-hui was Ch'ên Wei-sung [q. v.]. Another son, Ch'ên Wei-mei 陳維嵋 ( 半雪), married a daughter of Chou Piao 周鑣 ( 仲馭, 鹿溪, chin-shih of 1628). A third son, Ch'ên Wei-yüeh 陳維岳 ( 緯雲), achieved, like his brothers, some fame as a man of letters. A fourth, Ch'ên Tsung-shih 陳宗石 ( 子萬, 萬國, b. 1643), married the second daughter of Hou Fang-yü and lived with his wife's family at Shang-ch'iu, Honan. He served as magistrate of An-p'ing, Chihli, from 1683 to 1693, and afterwards became a second-class secretary of the Board of Revenue.
[M.39/16/12a, 16a; 1/506/5b; 3/141/52a; 3/463/15a; Ch'ên Wei-sung [q. v.], Hu-hai lou wên-chi 文集 5/1a; 宜興荊溪縣合志 I-hsing Ching-ch'i hsien ho-chih, 91/16a; Hsieh Kuo-chên (see bibl. under Chang P'u), Ming-Ch'ing chih-chi tang-shê yün-tung k'ao (1934) pp. 145-86.]
J. C. Yang