Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Cha Ssŭ-t'ing

CHA Ssŭ-t'ing 查嗣庭 (T. 潤木, H. 橫浦), 1664–1727, April 12?, Ch'ing official, was a native of Hai-ning, Chekiang, and a chin-shih of 1706. After a period of study as a Hanlin bachelor he became a compiler in the Academy; and after several promotions, a vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies (1725). In 1726 he was sent to Nanchang, Kiangsi, to conduct the examinations for the chü-jên degree. As one of the subjects for composition he set a phrase from the Great Learning (Chapter III, 1), reading "where the people rest" (維民所止). These words were, by some, interpreted as a covert thrust at Emperor Shih-tsung because the first and last characters of the quotation looked suspiciously like the characters of his reign-title, Yung-chêng 雍正, but with the top parts cut off. The choice of the phrase was taken as indicating a hope that the emperor would be "decapitated." When the emperor heard of the incident he took it as a personal affront and on October 21 of the same year informed the Court that the house of the culprit had been searched and found to contain two journals of a seditious nature. At the same time he accused Cha of having intrigued with Lungkodo [q. v.] and this may have been the real reason for the emperor's hostility. At any rate, Cha died in prison and his body was ordered to be dismembered. His elder brothers, Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.] and Cha Ssŭ-li (see under former), were also cast into prison, the former being later released through imperial clemency, the latter dying in exile in Shensi. Cha Ssŭ-t'ing's wife was exiled to the frontier, but nevertheless achieved some distinction as a poetess.

As a result of this and similar cases involving natives of Chekiang (see under Wang Ching-ch'i and Lü Liu-liang), a decree was issued suspending examinations for the chü-jên degree in that province for a time. Actually, however, the triennial examination was resumed according to schedule in 1729 after the commissioner who was especially appointed to "examine and rectify social abuses" (觀風整俗使) reported that he could detect no signs of rebellion in the province.

[Tung-hua lu, Yung-chêng, 4:9, 10; 皇朝掌故彙編 Huang-ch'ao chang-ku hui-pien 35, 科舉 1/10; 國朝貢舉考略 Kuo-chao kung-chü k'ao-lüeh 2/4b; 清代徵獻類編 Ch'ing-tai chêng-hsien lei-pien 4/19a; 清代閨閣詩人徵略補遺 Ch'ing-tai kuei-ko shih-jên chêng-lüeh pu-i, 8a for biographical note concerning his wife; Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.], Ching-yeh-t'ang chi 41/16a and hsü-chi 3/18b, 5/11b (for dates); Hai-ning-chou chih (1922) 29/52b; Goodrich, L. C., The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung.]

L. Carrington Goodrich