Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chuang Ts'un-yü
CHUANG Ts'un-yü 莊存與 ( 方耕, 養恬), 1719–1788, scholar and official, was a native of Wu-chin, Kiangsu, member of a family claiming descent from the ancient philosopher, Chuang Chou 莊周, or Chuang-tzŭ (fourth century B. C.). His great-great-grandfather, Chuang T'ing-ch'ên 莊廷臣 ( 龍祥, 凝宇, a chin-shih of 1610), rose in his official career to financial commissioner of Hu-kuang (Hunan and Hupeh). His father, Chuang Chu 莊柱 ( 書石, 南村, 1690–1759, a chin-shih of 1727), served from 1739 to 1741 as intendant of the Wên-Ch'u Circuit, Chekiang. The father had four brothers, each of whom led a successful official career, namely, Chuang K'ai 莊楷 ( 書田, 鹿原, 雪丁), a chin-shih of 1713; Chuang Yün 莊橒 ( 書雲), a chü-jên of 1720; Chuang Ta-ch'un 莊大椿 ( 書年), a fu-pang 副榜 of 1729; and Chuang Tun-hou 莊敦厚, a chin-shih of 1724. Chuang Ts'un-yü himself became a chin-shih with second highest honors (known as pang-yen 榜眼) in 1745, and his younger brother, Chuang P'ei-yin 莊培因 ( 本淳, 仲淳, 1723–1759), had the distinction of being chuang-yüan, or optimus, in the palace examination of 1754.
Despite his high standing in the regular examinations, Chuang Ts'un-yü ranked so low in calligraphy, at the third year examination in the Hanlin Academy (1748), that he incurred the imperial reproach, and was suspended from his position as compiler of the second class until 1751 when this rank was restored to him. As an official he served principally in an educational capacity—four times as examiner in provincial examinations (Hupeh 1752 and 1753; Chekiang 1756 and 1771), once in the metropolitan examination (1771), and four times as provincial commissioner of education (Hunan, 1753–55; Chihli, 1756–58; Shantung, 1774; and Honan, 1774–76). He also served in the Imperial Study (1752, see under Chang Ying) and in the School for Princes (1768, see under Yin-chên), reaching his highest post in 1784 when he was made senior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies. In the following year he became a member of the commission appointed by Emperor Kao-tsung to supplement the Lü-lü chêng-i (see under Chang Chao).
During his term as inspector of education in Chihli (1756-58) Chuang Ts'un-yü made proposals that resulted in the improvement of the examination system. He memorialized that all licentiates (生員) be required to register in the Board of Ceremonies, hoping thus to abolish the practice of substitutes taking the examination under assumed names. He effected similar reforms in the examinations conducted for members of Manchu and Mongol banners. Various evils had also in time crept into their system, such as bribery, the illicit transmission of information to and from the examination hall, and even the use of pigeons as means of communication. When, in 1758, Chuang conducted the examination for bannermen on terms more strict than usual, his innovations precipitated a riot among the students. The affair was brought to the attention of the emperor in consequence of which the leaders were severely punished and the necessary reforms were instituted. In a memorial submitted in 1758 Chuang recommended a decrease in the number of successful competitors permitted to receive the degree of chü-jên in the provincial examinations. According to his recommendation, which was approved, the number then apportioned to each province was as follows: for populous provinces such as Chihli, Chekiang, Hu-kuang, etc., one chü-jên for every twenty candidates, or two when the candidates numbered more than thirty and less than forty; for less populous provinces such as Shantung, Honan, etc., one for every fifteen candidates, or two when they numbered more than twenty-two and less than thirty; for the least populous provinces such as Kwangsi, Yunnan, etc., one for every ten candidates or two when they numbered more than fifteen and less than twenty. In 1786 Chuang retired on grounds of old age, retaining however his highest rank. He died two years later.
Chuang Ts'un-yu was primarily a scholar of the Classics whose special interest was the Spring and Autumn Annals. His collected works, the 味經齋遺書 Wei-ching chai i-shu (reprinted in 1882) contains fifteen titles devoted exclusively to the Five Classics, the Four Books, and to ceremonial music. He was the first great scholar of the Ch'ing period to stress the importance of the Kung-yang commentary for a study of the Spring and Autumn Annals, and so paved the way for the revival of the chin-wên 今文 or "modern text" school of historical criticism. Other early exponents of this school were his grandson and pupil, Liu Fêng-lu and the eminent scholar, Kung Tzŭ-chên [qq. v.]. The last great exponent of the chin-wên school was K'ang Yu-wei (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung).
The works of Chuang Ts'un-yu on the Spring and Autumn, entitled 春秋正辭 Ch'un-ch'iu chêng-tz'ŭ, 12 chüan; Ch'un-ch'iu chü-li (舉例), 1 chüan; and Ch'un-ch'iu yao-chih (要指), 1 chüan, were first printed in 1827. On the Classic of History he composed two works, 尚書旣見 Shang-shu chi-chien, in 3 chüan, and Shang-shu shuo (說), in 1 chüan. Although he himself agreed with the conclusion of Yen Jo-chü [q. v.] that the so-called "ancient text" is a forgery, he contended that both the "ancient text" and the "modern text" are useful for purposes of research.
Chuang Ts'un-yü had three sons: Chuang Fêng-yüan 莊逢原, chü-jên of 1765; Chuang T'ung-min 莊通敏, chin-shih of 1772; and Chuang Hsüan-ch'ên 莊選辰, chin-shih of 1778. A grandson, Chuang Shou-chia 莊綬甲 (in the field of etymology, epigraphy, and phonetics. The collected works of Chuang Shu-tsu were published under the title 珍藝宧遺書 Chên-i i i-shu with a preface by Li Chao-lo [q. v.], dated 1837.卿珊, 1774–1829 Jan. 27), followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and became, like him, a student of the classics. A nephew, Chuang Shu-tsu 莊述祖 ( 葆琛, 珍藝, Jan. 10, 1751–1816), the only son of the afore-mentioned Chuang P'ei-yin, was a chin-shih of 1780, who also wrote extensively on the classics and a little
[1/311/9b; 3/88/33a 補錄; 6/3/8b; 武進陽湖合志 Wu-chin Yang-hu ho-chih (1886) 26/25a; Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, 清代學術槪論 Ch'ing-tai hsüeh-shu kai-lun (1934) p. 121–132; 4/108/24a; Chuang Shu-tsu, Chên-i i wên-ch'ao (文鈔) 7/7a.]