Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'in Hui-t'ien

3635487Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'in Hui-t'ienTu Lien-chê

CH'IN Hui-t'ien 秦蕙田 (T. 樹峯, H. 味經), Dec. 7, 1702–1764, Oct. 4, official, and scholar, was a native of Chin-k'uei (Wu-hsi), Kiangsu, a descendant in the twenty-sixth generation of the noted Sung poet, Ch'in Kuan 秦觀 (T. 少游, 1049–1100). His grandfather, Ch'in Sungling 秦松齡 (T. 漢石, 留仙, H. 對巖, 1637-1714), was a chin-shih of 1655 and a successful competitor in the po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1679 (see under P'êng Sun-yü). His father, Ch'in Tao-jan 秦道然 (T. 雒生, 1658–1747), was a chin-shih of 1709. Ch'in Hui-t'ien himself was adopted by his uncle, Ch'in I-jan 秦易然. In 1736 he became a chin-shih, taking third highest honors. His father (Ch'in Tao-jan), having been involved in the question of succession to the throne (see under Yin-t'ang), had been imprisoned since 1728. Hence the first act of Ch'in Hui-t'ien after obtaining his degree with honors was to memorialize the throne offering to relinquish the favors he had received, in return for his father's release. The request was granted without relinquishment of his privileges, and his father enjoyed eleven more years of his old age peacefully at home. After filling various posts Ch'in Hui-t'ien was made (1743) sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and two years later (1745) vice-president of the Board of Rites. When he concluded the period of mourning for the death of his father he was reappointed (1748) to his former post. Transferred to the Board of Punishments, he became concurrently (1757) president of the Board of Works and of the Board of Punishments and received also in the following year the honorary title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. In 1760 and again in 1763 he was chief examiner of the metropolitan examination. His request, early in the summer of 1764, to retire on the ground of ill-health was refused, but when he reiterated it in the autumn of the same year, it was granted. He died at Ts'ang-chou while traveling on a boat to his home in South China. He was canonized as Wên-kung 文恭. Ch'in Hui-t'ien's eldest son, Ch'in T'ai-chün 秦泰鈞 (T. 汝夏, H. 靜軒), was a chin-shih of 1754. One of his two daughters married Chi Ch'êng-Yü 嵇承豫 (T. 介于, H. 笠軒, 1734–1803), a son of Chi Huang (see under Chi Tsêng-yün).

From youth onward Ch'in Hui-t'ien was a student of the rites (禮). In 1724, he and a few friends of his native place began to study and collect notes on the various Classics of rites, and during the years 1747 and 1748 when he was observing the mourning period for the death of his father he began to read and examine the Tu-li t'ung-k'ao (see under Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh). Inspired thus to resume the study, he began to arrange and improve his old notes with a view to expanding the Tu-li t'ung-k'ao (which dealt only with the rites of mourning 喪禮) and to produce a work covering all the rites, as was once suggested by the philosopher Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei). After thirty-eight years of labor he finished in 1761 the 五禮通考 Wu-li t'ung-k'ao, or "Comprehensive Study of the Five Rites", in 262 chüan. The "five rites" in question, derived from a classification in the Institutes of Chou (周禮 Chou-li), are: Chi-li 吉禮, rites employed in sacrifice; Chia-li 嘉禮, rites for festive occasions; Pin-li 賓禮, rites proper to host and guest; Chun-li 軍禮, rites for military circles; and Hsiung-li 凶禮, rites for death and misfortune. Under these broad categories are seventy-five subdivisions, and all the data are arranged, as far as possible, chronologically. A section from the Chia-li, entitled 觀象授時 Kuan-hsiang shou-shih, was included in the Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh (see under Juan Yüan). In the preparation of the Wu-li t'ung k'ao Ch'in Hui-t'ien had the assistance of such scholars as Fang Kuan-ch'êng, Lu Chien-tsêng, and Ch'ien Ta-hsin [qq. v.]. The work not only received notice in the Imperial Catalogue but was copied into the Ssŭ-k'u Manuscript Library (see under Chi Yün). Ch'in's literary collection, entitled 味經窩類稿 Wei-ching wo lei-kao, is said to consist primarily of essays on the classics.

Ch'in Ying 秦瀛 (T. 淩滄, 小峴, H. 遂庵, 1743–1821), a great-great-grandson of Ch'in Sung-ling and grandnephew of Ch'in Hui-t'ien, was a chü-jên of 1774. He served as provincial judge of Chekiang (1797, 1800), of Hunan (1800–02), and of Kwangtung (1804–05); as governor of the Peking Metropolitan Area (1806–07); and as a vice-president of the Board of Punishments (1807–08, 1810). A famous writer of prose and poetry, Ch'in Ying left several works, including a biographical account of the successful candidates of the first po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination, entitled 己未詞科錄 Chi-wei tz'ŭ-k'o lu, 12 chüan, printed in 1807. He was also the chief compiler of a gazetteer of his neighborhood, entitled Wu-hsi Chin-k'uei hsien-chih (縣志), 40 chüan, printed in 1813. His son, Ch'in Hsiang-yeh 秦緗業 (T. 應華, H. 澹如, 1813–1883), was the chief compiler of the 1881 edition of the same gazetteer.

The Ch'in family owned a celebrated garden, Chi-ch'ang yüan 寄暢園, situated in the hills of Wu-hsi known as Hui-shan, 惠山. This garden was first built early in the sixteenth century, and was used as a hsing-kung 行宮, or "travelling palace", by Emperors Shêng-tsu and Kao-tsung on their tours to the south.

[1/310/5b; 3/81/19a; 7/17/12b; Wu-hsi Chin-k'uei hsien chih (1881) 21/32a; 3/118/17a (for Ch'in Sung-ling); 3/135/36a (for Ch'in Tao-jan).]

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