Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ên Ta-shou

3634076Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'ên Ta-shouFang Chao-ying

CH'ÊN Ta-shou 陳大受 (T. 占咸, H. 可齋), Aug. 15, 1702–1751, Oct. 9, official, was a native of Ch'i-yang, Hunan. In 1729 he took his chü-jên degree in Peking, and four years later became a chin-shih, with appointment as bachelor of the Hanlin Academy. In 1736 he was made a compiler. A year later Emperor Kao-tsung ordered that all members of the Hanlin Academy and of the Supervisorate of Education should be examined regularly by himself personally—the first such examination being held in that year. Ch'ên was graded the highest of all the competitors and was given the unusual promotion to sub-reader of the Academy. Thereafter he was quickly elevated through various offices until in 1738 he became a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. In 1739 he was made junior vice-president of the Board of Civil Offices, and late in the same year was appointed governor of Anhwei. From 1741 to 1746 he served as governor of Kiangsu, and from 1746 to 1747 as governor of Fukien. As governor of these provinces he performed his duties to the satisfaction of Emperor Kao-tsung who in 1747 gave him the title of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent. In the same year (1747) Ch'ên was recalled to Peking and was promoted to president of the Board of War. In 1748 he was transferred to the Board of Civil Offices and served concurrently as Associate Grand Secretary and Grand Councilor. In 1749 he was given the higher title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent and for several months in that year he served as acting governor-general of Chihli. After recovering from an illness he was appointed, early in 1750, governor-general of Kwangtung. He died a year later and was posthumously given the name Wên-su 文肅 and his memory was celebrated in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

The second son of Ch'ên Ta-shou, named Ch'ên Hui-tsu 陳輝祖 (T. 孝蘊, H. 雨亭, 1732–1783), was in 1751 given the rank of an honorary licentiate and four years later was made an assistant department director in the Board of Revenue. Promoted through various offices, he served as governor of Kwangsi (1769–71), of Hupeh (1771–79), of Honan (1779), and as governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang (1781–82). In 1781 he was ordered to arrest Wang Tan-wang 王亶望 (d. 1781), former financial commissioner of Kansu (1774–77) and governor of Chekiang (1777–80), who was accused of having misappropriated about a million taels from famine relief funds and from funds paid by those who sought the title of chien-shêng 堅生, or student of the Imperial Academy. Involved with Wang were more than a hundred former officials in Kansu, among whom were Ch'ên Yen-tsu 陳嚴祖 (1743–1782), a brother of Ch'ên Hui-tsu, and fourth son of Ch'ên Ta-shou, and Min Yüan-yüan 閔鵷元, a brother of Min Ê-yüan 閔鶚元 (T. 少儀, H. 峙庭, 1720–1797), then governor of Kiangsu. Ch'ên Yen-tsu, Min Yüan-yüan and some fifty others were executed. Emperor Kao-tsung reprimanded Ch'ên Hui-tsu for failure to report on the corrupt conduct of his brother, but allowed him to remain in office and to conduct the confiscation of Wang Tan-wang's estate in Chekiang. When Wang's assets were forwarded to Peking, early in 1782, it was discovered that some gold ingots had been exchanged for silver and that many pieces of jade and other precious stones had been replaced by articles of inferior quality. In October Ch'ên Hui-tsu was cashiered and was tried for appropriating some confiscated articles. Early in 1783 he was taken to Peking and was sentenced to imprisonment awaiting execution. In March 1783, when it was reported that he had failed to memorialize about several serious local disturbances and about deficits in the provincial treasuries of Chekiang and Fukien, he was ordered to commit suicide. In 1788 an edict was issued blaming him posthumously for uncorrected abuses in his administration of Hupeh. One of his sons was ordered to be banished to Ili and the others were barred from official posts. There is little doubt that Ch'ên Hui-tsu had engaged in corrupt practices, but from the way his trials were conducted, and from the wording of the edicts, it seems that the powerful minister, Ho-shên [q. v.] was responsible for pressing the case to the end. At any rate, a part of the confiscated property of Wang Tan-wang was later found in the possession of Ho-shên, who also had one of Wang's concubines. If Ho-shên had not been in power it is improbable that provincial officials like Wang and Ch'ên Hui-tsu would have gone to such extremes.

The third son of Ch'ên Ta-shou, named Ch'ên Shêng-tsu 陳繩祖 (T. 孝祜, H. 絙橋, 1733–1784), served as grain intendant of Kwangtung from 1778 to 1781 and then retired. His collected poems, entitled 素園集 Su-yüan chi, were never printed and probably are lost. One of the latter's granddaughters was the mother of Shên Kuei-fên 沈桂芬 (T. 經笙, 1817–1881, January), who was Associate Grand Secretary (1875–81) and Grand Councilor (1867–81). One of Ch'ên Shêng-tsu's twenty-four great-grandsons was Ch'ên Wên-lu 陳文騄 (T. 仲英, H. 壽民), a chin-shih of 1874 and a Hanlin compiler who later served as prefect of Hangchow and other prefectures in Taiwan and Anhwei.

In 1890 Ch'ên Wên-lu edited a collection of articles about members of his family, entitled 陳氏清芬錄 Ch'ên-shih ch'ing-fên lu, 2 chüan, which was printed early in 1891, together with the following works: a chronological biography of Ch'ên Ta-shou, written by Ch'ên Hui-tsu, entitled Ch'ên Wên-su kung nien-p'u (年譜): and a collection of works by Ch'ên Ta-shou, entitled Ch'ên Wên-su kung i-chi (遺集) in 1 chüan. As more of Ch'ên Ta-shou's works came to light, Ch'ên Wên-lu supplemented the Ch'ên Wên-su kung i-chi—once in 1895 and again in 1900, bringing it finally to 2 chüan.

[Nien-p'u (see above); 1/313/5a; 2/18/346; 3/25/1a, 補錄; 4/26/14b; 33/55/1b; (see bibliography under Ho-shên).]

Fang Chao-ying