Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chiang Shih-ch'üan
CHIANG Shih-ch'üan 蔣士銓 ( 心餘 or 新畬, 苕生, 清容, 定甫, 離垢居士), Dec. 2, 1725–1785, Apr. 1 or 3, poet and dramatist, came from a family which originally bore the name of Ch'ien 錢, and which resided for many generations in Ch'ang-hsing, Chekiang. In the turmoil accompanying the fall of the Ming dynasty, when Ch'ang-hsing was ravaged by soldiers and bandits, his grandfather, then in his teens, escaped to Yüan-shan, Kiangsi, and adopted the surname, Chiang. Thereafter the family was registered in the district of Yüan-shan, though it also resided elsewhere. Chiang Chih-ch'üan was born in Nanchang and lived there until 1735. In his childhood he studied under his mother, Chung Ling-chia 鍾令嘉 ( 守箴, 甘茶老人, 1706–1775), who was a well educated woman. In 1735 his father, Chiang Chien 蔣堅 ( 非磷, 適園, 1678–1749), took the family north and lived for nine years in Tsê-chou, Shansi. After he returned to Kiangsi, Chiang Shih-ch'uan became a hsiu-ts'ai (1746) and in the following year (1747) a chü-jên. Early in 1750 Ku Hsi-ch'ang 顧錫鬯 ( 孝爲, chin-shih of 1736), magistrate of Nanchang, initiated the compilation of the local history and Chiang Shih-ch'uan was invited to be one of the editors. This edition of the 南昌縣志 Nan-ch'ang hsien chih, in 70 chüan, was completed and printed late in 1751. Taking his chin-shih in Peking in 1757, Chiang Shih-ch'üan was appointed in 1760 a compiler of the second class and a proof reader in the Imperial Printing Establishment and Bookbindery in the Wu-ying tien (see under Chin Chien). In 1762 he was associate examiner of the Shun-t'ien provincial examination, and in the following year helped to revise the Hsü Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao (see under Ch'i Shao-nan). In 1763 he asked for leave to look after his aged mother. Upon his return to the South in 1764 he resided for a time in Nanking.
In 1766 Chiang Shih-ch'üan began his career as an educator. First he was in charge of the Academy, Chi-shan Shu-yüan 蕺山書院, in Shaohsing, Chekiang, then for a time of the Ch'ung-wên Academy 崇文書院, in Hangchow, and finally of the An-ting Academy 安定書院, in Yangchow. In 1775 his mother died. After observing the period of mourning, he went to Peking in 1778. While awaiting appointment as censor he was made, in 1781, a compiler in the National Historiographic Bureau (國史館). He took part in compiling the fourteenth chüan of the Huang Ch'ing K'ai-kuo fang lüeh (see under Sun Yü-t'ing). Soon after this appointment, however, he was afflicted with paralysis and retired, and so his name was not included in the list of compilers of that work. In 1781 he returned to his residence in Nanchang, which he called Ts'ang-yüan 藏園 and there he died four years later.
Chiang Shih-ch'üan was one of the foremost literary men of his time. He and P'êng Yüan-jui 彭元瑞 (Yüan Mei and Chao I [qq. v.], were the recognized masters of South China in the Ch'ien-lung period. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Chiang was not an admirer of the great T'ang poet, Li Po (see under Huang Ching-jên), nor of the Ch'ing poet, Wang Shih-chên [q. v.]; he regarded their poems as rather lacking in content. Both in his verse and in his dramas he leaned toward realism, preferring themes from historical or contemporary events in which he could demonstrate the virtuous qualities in human nature. His collected prose, in 12 chüan, is entitled 忠雅堂文集 Chung-ya t'ang wên-chi. His verse, Chung-ya t'ang shih-(詩) chi, appeared in 31 chüan, including 2 chüan of tz'ǔ 詞. These works were printed a few years after he died and were reprinted in Canton in the years 1816 and 1817.掌仍, 雲楣, 1731–1803), a fellow-provincial and like him a chin-shih of 1757, were in their younger days referred to as "The Two Celebrities of Kiangsi" (江石兩名士). Their later careers were widely different, for while Chiang remained an official of low grade, P'êng rose to the high rank of president of the Board of Civil Office (1789-91). In the field of poetry Chiang Shih-ch'üan,
Chiang Shih-ch'üan was the foremost dramatist of his time. He was an ardent admirer of T'ang Hsien-tsu [q. v.], and composed about T'ang and his masterpiece, Mu-tan t'ing, a drama entitled 臨川夢 Lin-ch'uan mêng. Nine of Chiang's best known dramas appear in print under the collective title, Ts'ang-yūan chiu-chung ch'ü (九種曲), but are also known as 紅雪樓傳奇 Hung-hsüeh lou ch'uan-ch'i, or 清容外集 Ch'ing jung wai-chi. Two of them, entitled 一片石 I-p'ien shih, and 第二碑 Ti-êr pei, commemorate the wisdom of the far-sighted Lou P'ei 婁妃, concubine of a rebel Ming prince, Chu Ch'ên-hao 朱宸濠 (d. 1520). The plays, 空谷香 K'ung-ku hsiang, and 香組樓 Hsiang-tsu lou, revolve about the tragic life of Yao Mêng-lan 姚夢蘭, concubine of the afore-mentioned Ku Hsi-ch'ang at whose request Chiang compiled the Nan-ch'ang hsien chih. The play, 四弦秋 Ssŭ-hsien ch'iu, is a dramatization of the famous lyric poem, 琵琶行 Pi-p'a hsing, written by the T'ang poet, Po Chü-i (see under Chang Wên-t'ao). The drama, 冬青樹 Tung ch'ing shu, deals with the career of the well-known Sung patriot, Wên T'ien-hsiang 文天祥 (1236–1282). The 桂林霜 Kuei-lin shuang rehearses the story of Ma Hsiung-chên [q. v.] who resisted to the end the pressure of the rebel, Wu San-kuei [q. v.]. Finally, the 雪中人 Hsüeh-chung jên, "The Man in the Snow", dramatizes an alleged incident in the life of Cha Chi-tso [q. v.]. The incident in question is related by Wang Shih-chên in his Hsiang-tsu pi-chi; by Niu Hsiu 鈕銹 ( 玉樵, d. 1704) in his book of miscellaneous notes, entitled 觚賸 Ku-shêng; and by P'u Sung-ling [q. v.] in his collection of short stories, the Liao-chai chih-i.
Chiang Shih-ch'üan had seven sons; the eldest, Chiang Chih-lien 蔣知廉 (用恥, 修隅, 香雪), was a senior licentiate (pa-kung) of 1777; the second, Chiang Chih-chieh 蔣知節 ( 守初, 冬生, 竹城, 秋竹), was a chü-jên of 1779; the third, Chiang Chih-jang 蔣知讓 ( 師退, 藕船), was a chü-jên of 1780; the fourth, Chiang Chih-po 蔣知白 ( 君質, 蓮友), was a senior licentiate of 1801. Chiang Chih-chang 蔣志章 ( 恪卿, 璞山, chin-shih of 1845, d. 1871), grandson of Chiang Chih-chieh and great-grandson of Chiang Shih-ch'üan, rose in his official career to the governorship of Shensi and was given the posthumous name Wên-k'o 文恪.
[1/490/10b; 3/129/3a; 20/3/00, portrait; Yüan-shan hsien chih (1873) 15/54b; Chu Hsiang 朱湘, Chiang Shih-ch'üan in the 小說月報 Short Story Magazine (July 1927), a special number, entitled 中國文學研究 chüan 下; autobiographical nien-p'u (not consulted); Ch'ên Shu 陳述, 蔣心餘先生年譜. in 師大月刊 Shih-ta yüeh-k'an, no. 6.]