Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chang Wên-t'ao

CHANG Wên-t'ao 張問陶 (T. 仲冶, 樂祖, H. 船山, 藥庵退守, 蜀山老⿰虫袁, 老船), June 26, 1764–1814, poet and painter, was a great-great-grandson of Chang P'êng-ko [q. v.]. His ancestral home was in Sui-ning, Szechwan, but he was born in Kuan-t'ao, Shantung, where his father, Chang Ku-chien 張顧鑑 (T. 鏡千, a licentiate of 1741), served as magistrate in the years 1760–69. Chang Wên-t'ao became a chü-jên in 1788 and a chin-shih in 1790 and was selected a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. In 1791 he asked leave to return to his native place, and late in the following year (1792) he and his second wife, Lin P'ei-huan 林佩環 (T. 韻徵, another ming 頎), journeyed back to the capital. Upon his arrival in Peking, early in 1793, he was made a corrector in the Hanlin Academy, a post he held for four years (1793–97). Once more he went back to Sui-ning (1797), but returned to Peking in the following year (1798) by way of Pao-chi, Shensi, where he wrote a poem of eighteen stanzas, entitled 宿寶雞題壁 Su Pao-chi t'i-pi. This poem, which treats of the sufferings of the common people in times of confusion, immediately won for him nation-wide fame and comparison with the great T'ang poet, Tu Mu 杜牧 (T. 牧之, 803–852), who wrote on the same theme. In 1800 he was made assistant examiner of the Shun-t'ien provincial examination and was appointed in 1801 professor in the Department of Study of the Hanlin Academy. In 1805 he was made a censor, and in this capacity became famous for his straightforward utterances. After serving as assistant examiner in the metropolitan examination in 1809, he was made in the same year director of the Department of Grants in the Board of Civil Office. In the following year (1810) he was appointed prefect of Lai-chou, Shantung, a post he held until 1812 when, having offended his superior by his outspoken manner, he resigned. He then went to Wu-hsien, Kiangsu, where he built a residence which he styled Lo-t'ien T'ien-sui lin-wu 樂天天隨鄰屋, "Having Po Chü-i 白居易 (T. 樂天 Lo-t'ien, 772–846?) and Lu Kuei-mêng 陸龜蒙 (T. 魯望, H. 天隨 T'ien-sui, d. ca. 881) as my neighbors". He died two years later.

As a poet Chang Wên-t'ao was highly praised by many contemporaries such as Hung Liang-chi and Yüan Mei [qq. v.]. Being a poet of wide reputation, he had a great many literary friends, among them Sun Hsing-yen, Shih Yün-yü, Wu Hsi-ch'i, Fa-shih-shan, Chao Huai-yü [qq. v.], Wang Ch'i-sun (see under Shih Yün-yü), I Ping-shou 伊秉綬 (T. 組似, H. 墨卿, 1754–1815), Li Kêng-yün 李賡芸 (T. 生甫, H. 書田, 許齋, 1754–1817), and Wang Hsüeh-hao 王學浩 (T. 孟養, H. 椒畦, 1754–1832). Chang Wên-t'ao was also an intimate friend of two fellow-provincial poets—Li Ting-yüan (see under Li T'iao-yüan) and P'êng Hui-chi 彭蕙芰 (T. 樹百, H. 田橋, chu-jên of 1800)—whom he often mentions in his verse. In his introduction to a poem, entitled 贈高蘭墅同年 Tsêng Kao Lan-shu t'ung-nien, he states that the last 40 chapters of the famous novel Hung-lou mêng (see under Ts'ao Chan) were added to the novel by Kao Ê 高鶚 (T. 蘭墅, chü-jên of 1788 and chin-shih of 1795)—thus giving information of real value concerning the authorship of that novel.

Chang Wên-t'ao was both a calligrapher and a painter-being ranked in the latter field with the Ming artist, Hsü Wei 徐渭 (T. 文長, 天池, H. 青藤道士, 白鷴山人), 1521–1593. He was one of twelve members of the Hanlin Academy who in 1800 were selected to write on a screen in the Yang Hsin Tien 養心殿, a hall in the Palace.

A collection of Chang Wên-t'ao's verse, entitled 船山詩草 Ch'uan-shan shih-ts'ao, 20 chüan, was printed in 1815. This selection, arranged by himself chronologically, consists of poems written during the years 1778–1813. Another selection of verse, arranged by Shih Yün-yü under the title Ch'uan-shan shih-ts'ao hsüan (選), 6 chüan, appeared in 1817 in the collectanea, Shih-li-chü Huang-shih ts'ung-shu (see under Huang P'ei-lieh). A supplement (補遺) in 6 chüan to the Ch'uan-shan shih-ts'ao was edited by Ku Han (see under Ku K'uei-kuang) and printed in 1849.

Chang Wên-t'ao's biographer, Chang Wei-p'ing [q. v.], writes that Chang's features resembled those of a monkey. Perhaps for this reason Chang styled himself, Shu-shan Lao-yüan, the "Old Gibbon of Szechwan". Chang Wên-t'ao's wife, Lin P'ei-huan, was a painter. His elder brother, Chang Wên-an 張問安 (T. 亥白, 季門, chü-jên of 1788), left a collection of verse, entitled 小瑯環詩集 Hsiao-lang-huan shih-chi. The latter's wife, Ch'ên Hui-chu 陳慧殊 (T. 緗箬, d. age 29 sui), was the author of a collection of verse, entitled 香遠齋詩稿 Hsiang-yüan chai shih-kao.


[1/490/7b; 2/72/50a; 3/244/46a, 補錄; 7/44/1a; 19/戊上/36b; 21/6/19b; 23/51/10a; 29/7/7a; Sui-ning hsien chih (1929 passim, for characters see under Chang P'êng-ko); L.T.C.L.H.M., 271a lists 11 paintings attributed to Chang Wên-t'ao.]

J. C. Yang