Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chêng Man

CHÊNG Man 鄭鄤 (T. 謙止, 祚長, H. 峚陽), Sept. 22, 1594–1638, Oct. 3, Ming official, was a native of Wu-chin, Kiangsu. His father, Chêng Chên-hsien, 鄭振先 (T. 太初, d. Nov. 5, 1628, chin-shih of 1595), often took him when young into learned circles from which he profited greatly. He passed the examination for chin-shih in 1622, together with Huang Tao-chou [q. v.] and Wên Chên-mêng 文震孟 (original name 從鼎, T. 文起, 湛持, 1574–1636), after which he and Huang worked together as bachelors of the Hanlin Academy. A strong friendship developed between them. But owing to their outspoken opposition to the misgovernment and arbitrariness of the eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], and those associated with him, Chêng Man's official rank was reduced, in consequence of which he resigned his post after filling it but a few months.

In 1625 the wholesale arrest of the Tung-lin politico-literary group was effected by Wei Chung-hsien (see under Chang P'u and Yang Lien), and Chêng, apprehensive for his personal safety, set out on a journey to Kwangtung (1627). In the meantime the power of the eunuch was undermined by the death of Emperor Hsi-tsung (see under Chu Yu-chiao). When Chêng Man returned to his home in 1628 he was summoned by the new emperor (i.e. Chu Yu-chien [q. v.]) to resume his post, but was unable to proceed to Peking because of the death of his father in that year. Three years later his mother died. After the prescribed period of mourning he returned to his post at the capital, arriving on November 22, 1635. There he discovered that his friend, Wên Chên-mêng, had been expelled by Wên T'i-jên 温體仁 (T. 長卿, chin-shih of 1398, d. 1638), one of the most unscrupulous Grand Secretaries in the history of the Ming dynasty. About a month later Chêng was accused by Wên of the grossest immorality in private life. Without legal process, he was imprisoned on December 20, 1635, four days after the accusation. His comrades stood up in his defense, among them Liu Tsung-chou [q. v.] and Huang Tao-chou. The latter was reduced an official rank (1638) for his interest in the case and, refusing further posts, returned home. Although Wên T'i-jên resigned from his office as Grand Secretary in the summer of 1638, his followers still held the reins of government and Chêng, after more than three years in prison, was sentenced to die by slow mutilation. While in prison he is said to have dictated to his son, who attended to his wants, his lectures on the Four Books, entitled 峚陽草堂說書 Mi-yang ts'ao-t'ang shuo-shu, in 7 chüan, and his chronological autobiography. The former received notice in the Imperial Catalogue (see under Chi Yün); the latter, entitled 天山自述年譜 T'ien-shan tzŭ-shu nien-p'u, was published together with other sources relating to the case against Chêng, under the title Chêng Man shih-chi (事蹟), in the Ku-hsüeh hui-k'an (see under Li Ch'ing).


[明季北略 Ming-chi pei-lüeh 15/2a; Sun Ch'êng-tsê [q. v.], Ch'un-ming mêng yü lu 45/51a; Huang Tsung-hsi [q. v.], Nan-lei wên-ting, third series 2/14a; Wu-chin Yang-hu hsien-chih (1879) 21/69b, for biography of Chêng Chên-hsien; 明史紀事本末 Ming-shih chi-shih pên-mo, 66/19, 66/21.]

Toomoo Numata

J. C. Yang