Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ien Ch'ien-i

CH'IEN Ch'ien-i 錢謙益 (T. 受之, H. 牧齋, 牧翁, 虞山老民, 籛後人, 蒙叟, 東澗遺老) Oct. 22, 1582–1664, June 17, poet, scholar, and Ming-Ch'ing official, was a native of Ch'ang-shu, Kiangsu. He was born in a scholarly family and became a hsiu-ts'ai in 1598. Two years later he married a lady of the Ch'ên 陳 family, who died in 1658. In 1605 Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ [q. v.], then aged sixteen (sui), came to study under him. After graduating in 1610 as chin-shih with high honors, Ch'ien was appointed a Hanlin compiler, but owing to his father's death he soon returned to his native place where he remained about ten years. In the winter of 1620 he resumed his former official post, and in the following year served as provincial examiner in Chekiang. Soon thereafter he was promoted to junior secretary of the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction and was ordered to take part in the compilation of the official chronicle of Emperor Shên-tsung (神宗實錄). In the winter of 1622 Ch'ien asked for leave, on grounds of ill health, and returned to Ch'ang-shu. Two years later (1624) he was recalled to the capital and appointed a diarist. In the following year he was promoted to supervisor of instruction, but was dismissed for active membership in the Tung-lin party (see under Chang P'u and Yang Lien). At the commencement of the Ch'ung-ch'ên period (1628) he was recalled to Peking and made chief supervisor of instruction, and soon afterward was appointed concurrently junior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies and a reader in the Hanlin Academy. When the question of the appointment of a Grand Secretary arose (see under Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ), Ch'ien was accused by Wên T'i-jên (see under Chêng Man) of connection with a bribery case which occurred in the provincial examination of Chekiang in 1621 when Ch'ien was examiner. Consequently he was dismissed (1629) and retired to his home in Ch'ang-shu.

In the following year (1630) he built a studio, named Ou-kêng t'ang 耦耕堂, in the country villa, Fu-shui Shan-chuang 拂水山莊, where he resided until 1637 when a charge was lodged against him by a native of Ch'ang-shu which resulted in Ch'ien's imprisonment (see under Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ). But Ch'ien was released in the following year (July 5, 1638) after the accuser was put to death. In the same year Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.], then aged fifteen (sui), came to study under Ch'ien who gave him the appellation Ta-mu 大木. In 1640 Ch'ien shifted his abode to the hall called Pan-yeh t'ang 半野堂, and at the close of that year made the acquaintance of the famous singing girl, Liu Shih [q. v.], who in the following year (July 14, 1641) became his consort. Ch'ien gave her the sobriquet, Ju-shih 如是, taken from the conventional phrase which introduces so many Buddhist sutras, 如是我聞 "I heard it said." Her residence he similarly named Wo-wên shih 我聞室. For her he built in 1643 the studio known as Chiang-yün lou (see under Liu Shih) where Ch'ien kept his great collection of books. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1650—most of the rare editions that were saved from the catastrophe going later to his relative, Ch'ien Tsêng [q. v.].

When the house of Ming collapsed in 1644 Liu Shih is said to have implored her lover to sacrifice his life, but he would not. He became president of the Board of Ceremonies (July 11, 1644) under the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) in Nanking, but when the victorious Manchu prince, Dodo [q. v.], arrived at the gates of Nanking (June 8, 1645), Ch'ien is said to have been one of the first to declare his allegiance. He proceeded to Peking and there, early in 1646, became a senior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies, but by the middle of the same year he begged leave to retire. In 1647 he was accused of giving aid to a plot against the new regime and was imprisoned in Nanking, but protested his innocence and was permitted to return home in the spring of the following year. For the next sixteen years he sought release through travel and writing and in Buddhistic studies to which he was inspired, it is said, by a Buddhist image that he saved from the burning Chiang-yün lou in 1650.

Ch'ien Ch'ien-i compiled an anthology of Ming verse entitled 列朝詩集 Lieh-ch'ao shih-chi, 81 chüan, printed by Mao Chin [q. v.] in 1649. He was one of the most popular poets and essayists of his day, and is still considered, as Mr. Lin Yutang 林語堂 says, "a beautiful writer." Ch'ien criticized adversely all the poetry of the Ming period, but was not able to create a new school as was done by Wang Shih-chên [q. v.] who followed him. Ch'ien was in some respects a bibliographer and a historian, his great library giving him in this field an unrivalled opportunity. A catalogue of his collection of books, entitled Chiang-yün-lou shu-mu (書目) appears in the Yüeh-ya t'ang ts'ung-shu (see under Wu Ch'ung-yüeh) and a supplement to it, edited by Yeh Tê-hui (see under Chu I-tsun), was printed in 1902 in the Kuan-ku t'ang shu-mu ts'ung-k'o (see under Ts'ao Jung). Several manuscript copies of the catalogue are extant. Ch'ien Ch'ien-i compiled a history of the Ming dynasty under the title 明史稿 Ming-shih kao, 100 chüan , but it was destroyed when the Chiang-yün-lou was burned. He was the first to point out the significance of Hsü Hung-tsu's [q. v.] travel diary, and was likewise one of the first Chinese scholars to study the Nestorianism and Manichaeism of the T'ang period. There are two collections of his works in verse and prose, entitled 牧齋初學集 Mu-chai ch'u-hsüeh-chi, 110 chüan, printed by Ch'ü Shih-ssŭ in 1643 (original edition in the Library of Congress), and Mu-chai yu (有) hsüeh chi, 50 chüan, printed in 1664 (also in the Library of Congress). Several selections of his works were later edited by his admirers, and a supplement to these collections was edited by Ho Ch'o [q. v.]. Owing to his interest in Buddhism, Ch'ien in his later years edited several Buddhist works. Despite the popularity of his writings in the early Ch'ing period, Emperor Kao-tsung violently opposed them when he found that they contained scornful and antagonistic remarks about the Manchus. In edict after edict he fulminated against them, but his efforts at complete destruction were not wholly successful, though they did cause Ch'ien to be unpopular for more than a century. His writings regained popularity as resistance to Ch'ing authority increased, so that by 1910, just before the fall of the dynasty, there ap- peared a collection of his writings in 163 chüan, entitled Mu-chai ch'üan (全) chi. It is rather extraordinary that among the items saved were two poems and several essays included in the official encyclopaedia, Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng (see under Ch'ên Mêng-lei). Other items were preserved in private libraries in Japan. At present there is a considerable vogue for reprinting these as they are made available.

[1/489/6b; 2/79/33b: 6/44/1a; Chin Ho-ch'ung 金鶴冲, 錢牧齋先生年譜 Ch'ien Mu-chai Hsien-shêng nien-p'u (1932) with portrait; Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng VI, 767, 11a/b, XXIII, 128, 13a, 201, 12a–15b; Ma Chun 馬準 and Ku Chieh-kang, Library Journal of Sun Yat-sen University (Canton) 1928, pp. 12–16; Aurousseau, B.E.F.E.O., XII, no. 9, p. 98; Goodrich, L. C., The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung, especially pp. 100–07.]

L. Carrington Goodrich

J. C. Yang