Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chou Liang-kung

CHOU Liang-kung 周亮工 (T. 元亮, H. 減齋, 櫟園, 櫟下老人), May 7, 1612–1672, July 17, scholar and official, was born in Nanking. His ancestors, originally from Nanking, removed in the Sung period to Chin-ch'i, Kiangsi. His grandfather made his home in Hsiang-fu (Kaifêng), Honan. His father lived mostly in Nanking but the family retained its registry at Hsiang-fu where Chou Liang-kung took his district and provincial examinations. He became a chin-shih in 1640 and a year later was appointed magistrate of Wei-hsien, Shantung, where in 1642 and 1643 he successfully defended the city against the attack by the Manchu forces under Abatai [q. v.]. Early in 1644 he was called to Peking and was made a censor, but a few days after his appointment Peking fell to the rebel leader, Li Tzŭ-ch'êng [q. v.]. Chou escaped to Nanking but did not serve in the Court of Chu Yu-sung [q. v.]. In 1645, when the Manchu army under Dodo [q. v.] conquered Nanking, Chou joined the new regime, serving in northern Kiangsu, first as salt controller of the Huai River region (1645) and then as intendant of the Huai-Yang Circuit (1646). In 1647 he was sent to Fukien where he served as provincial judge (1647–49), as junior financial commissioner (1649–53), and as senior financial commissioner (1653–54). During these years of service in Fukien he subdued certain bands of criminals and office seekers, successfully defended several cities against the armies of Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.], and in various ways won the esteem of the people. Though busily occupied, he found time to make notes about the customs and products of Fukien, which were published in 4 chüan, under the title 閩小記 Min hsiao-chi, and were reprinted in 2 chüan in several ts'ung-shu. This work contains a passage on the introduction of the sweet potato to Fukien from the Philippine Islands about the year 1590.

In 1654 Chou Liang-kung was summoned to Peking and made senior vice-president of the Censorate. In June 1655, two months after he was raised to the rank of junior vice-president of the Board of Finance, he was accused by T'ung-tai (佟岱 or 屯泰), governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang, of corruption and of cruelty to culprits while he was in Fukien. Chou was dismissed and sent to Foochow for trial. In the meantime T'ung-tai, by intimidating the local judges, obtained testimony against Chou. However, the successes of the naval forces of Chêng Ch'êng-kung in Fukien and Chekiang caused the removal of T'ung-tai in 1656. While Chêng's forces attacked the city of Foochow, Chou, though a prisoner, was called upon by local officials to help in the defense of the city. Under his leadership the invaders were repelled, and his trial was resumed. After T'ung-tai's removal, the judges were no longer afraid to declare Chou innocent, but as some of them had previously turned in a verdict of guilty, they were themselves tried to ascertain why they had changed their minds. In 1658 Chou and the judges and witnesses were all escorted to Peking where the case was taken over by the Board of Punishments. As bribery was suspected, the prisoners were cross-examined and several of the judges died of injuries inflicted upon them. Although slated first for capital punishment and then for banishment, Chou took his imprisonment so calmly that in 1660 he edited his own poems, entitled 賴古堂詩 Lai-ku t'ang-shih—a work printed in Nanking about 1661 by his eldest son, Chou Tsai-chün 周在浚 (T. 雪客, b. 1640). Chou Liang-kung also wrote during imprisonment a volume of miscellaneous notes in 10 chüan, entitled 因樹屋書影 Yin-shu-wu shu-ying, which was printed in 1667—Yin-shu-wu being the name he gave to the cell in which he was lodged. Finally in 1661 he and others involved in his case were released in the general amnesty that followed the enthronement of Emperor Shêng-tsu. Later in the same year, for his part in defending Foochow in 1656, he was rewarded with the rank of an expectant secretary to a provincial judge. Thereafter he served as intendant of the Ch'ing-chou Circuit, Shantung (1663–66), and as grain intendant at Nanking (1666–69). While in Nanking in 1667 he printed several of his works, including the Min-hsiao chi, the Yin-shu-wu shu-ying, and the 字觸 Tzŭ-ch'u, 6 chüan, the last being a work on divination by the use of ideographs. Again accused of corruption in 1669, he was sentenced to be hanged, but once more was released in a general amnesty of 1670. In the latter year, before he was set free, he burnt, for reasons unknown, all his writings and printing blocks, but spared the works of his friends which he had edited. He died two years later.

Among other works written or compiled by Chou Liang-kung may be mentioned the 讀畫錄 Tu-hua lu (also known as 讀畫樓畫人傳 Tu-hua lou hua-jên chuan), 4 chüan, being short sketches of the lives of painters; the 印人傳 Yin-jên chuan, 3 chüan, about famous carvers of seals; and the 印譜 Yin-p'u, printed in 1667, being examples of well carved seals. His 同書 T'ung-shu, printed about 1649 in 4 chüan, contains facts and anecdotes grouped according to similarity. He edited a collection of short articles in prose by his contemporaries, entitled Lai-ku t'ang wên-hsüan (文選), 20 chüan, printed about 1667. This collection is rare because it contains the writings of several authors whose works were later banned, such as Ch'ien Ch'ien-i and Ai Nan-ying [qq. v.]. A copy of it is preserved in the Library of Congress. To commemorate his friends Chou Liang-kung edited three anthologies of letters by his contemporaries, known collectively as Lai-ku t'ang ch'ih-tu hsin-ch'ao (尺牘新鈔), printed in the early K'ang-hsi period. The first series, entitled simply Ch'ih-tu hsin-ch'ao, 12 chüan, was reprinted in 1847 in the Hai-shan hsien-kuan ts'ung-shu (see P'an Chên-ch'êng). The second series, known as 藏弆集 Ts'ang-chü chi, and the third, 結鄰集 Chieh-lin chi, each in 16 chüan, were reprinted in 1839. A fourth series, entitled 牧靡集 Mu-mi chi, was probably never printed. Chou Liang-kung attempted to print a ts'ung-shu comprising a hundred monographs under the title, Lai-ku t'ang ts'ang-shu (藏書), but the blocks for only seven items in the first series (甲集) were completed when he died. His fifth son, Chou Tsai-tu 周在都 (T. 燕客, H. 澌農, b. 1655), reprinted these in 1711, adding three more items to bring this first series to completion. As Chou Liang-kung had destroyed, shortly before he died, most of his own writings, his sons saw to it that they were reprinted. Thus Chou Tsai-chün reprinted his father's essays and poems in 1675 under the title, Lai-ku t'ang wên-chi (文集), 24 chüan, with supplements comprising a nien-p'u and biographical sketches of his father. The Yin-shu-wu shu-ying was reprinted in 1725 by his third son, Chou Tsai-yen 周在延 (T. 榕客, 龍客, b. 1653), and was again printed in 1814 by a descendant, Chou Hêng-fu 周恆福.

For more than a hundred years after his death Chou Liang-kung was widely acclaimed as a great writer. In 1776, when the compilation of the Imperial Library was in progress (see under Chi Yün), Emperor Kao-tsung ordered that officials of the Ming period who had accepted office under the Manchu regime should be designated Êr-ch'ên (貳臣), or "officials who served two dynasties". Thus men highly thought of in their day, such as Ch'ien Ch'ien-i, came to be regarded as disloyal and gained an unenviable place in the official history. Chou Liang-kung was classed with this group. Nevertheless the Imperial Library at first included four works written by Chou, namely the Min hsiao-chi, the Tu-hua lu, the Yin-shu-wu shu-ying, and the Yin-jên chuan. At the same time his works were frequently quoted in the Imperial Catalogue (see under Chi Yün). But in 1787 the emperor became infuriated when he observed in the Imperial Manuscript Library writings by Li Ch'ing [q. v.] slandering his great-grandfather, Emperor Shih-tsu. He therefore ordered a re-examination of the Library to expunge from it all works prejudicial to the reigning dynasty. The inquisitors discovered two lines of a poem which Chou had written and which was later reproduced in the second chüan of his Tu-hua lu, reading: 人皆漢魏上, 花亦義熙餘. These lines, which allude to the barbarian inroads on China in the fifth century A.D., were interpreted as a covert thrust at the Manchu invasion. Thus Chou's works were ordered expunged from the Manuscript Library and quotations from his writings were erased from the pages of the Imperial Catalogue of the Library. The Library of Congress possesses the original editions of the Lai-ku t'ang wên-hsüan, the Lai-ku t'ang chi, and the Chieh-lin chi. The last item was printed in 1670 and contains many letters written by persons whose works were listed among banned books in the Ch'ien-lung period.


[Nien-p'u in Lai-ku t'ang wên-chi; 2/79/32b; 4/10/21a; 29/1/20b; Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 23–24; 文獻論叢 Wên-hsien lun-ts'ung (1936) 論述 1, pp. 3–12; Goodrich, L. C., "The Introduction of the Sweet Potato into China", in China Journal, vol. XXVII, no. 4, Oct. 1937, pp. 206–08; W.M.S.C.K., 15/11a.]

Fang Chao-ying