Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Fang Kuan-ch'êng
FANG Kuan-ch'êng 方觀承 ( 遐穀, 問亭, 宜田), Sept. 13, 1698–1768, Sept., official, came from the celebrated Fang family of T'ung-ch'êng, Anhwei, which was involved in the case of Tai Ming-shih [q. v.]. In 1711 Tai was accused of treasonous writing and two years later was executed. Fang Kuan-ch'êng's great-grandfather, Fang Hsiao-piao (see under Tai Ming-shih), wrote a work containing information about the late Ming princes of South China, and some of this information Tai reported in his works. Consequently Fang Hsiao-piao was posthumously convicted, his remains were dishonored, and his descendants were banished to Heilungkiang or enslaved in Peking. One source maintains that the harsh treatment meted out to him and his descendants was due to Emperor Shêng-tsu mistaking him for someone who had joined the rebellion of Wu San-kuei [q. v.]. However that may be, Fang Kuan-ch'êng's grandparents and parents were banished (1713) to Heilungkiang where they lived the rest of their lives.
Fang Kuan-ch'êng's grandfather, Fang Têng-i 方登嶧 (author of an account of Heilungkiang, entitled 龍沙紀略 Lung-sha chi-lüeh.鳬宗, 屏垢, d. 1728), was in childhood adopted by an uncle, yet he was banished for being the son of Fang Hsiao-piao. His father, Fang Shih-chi 方式濟 ( 沃園, d. 1717), was a chin-shih of 1709 and a secretary in the Grand Secretariat. Fang Têng-i and Fang Shih-chi were compelled to live in exile in Tsitsihar (then known as Pu-k'uei 卜魁). The grandfather and the father each left several collections of verse—the latter being also the
Fang Kuan-ch'êng was born in Tungchow, east of Peking, when his grandfather was serving as a secretary of the Grand Secretariat. Later he lived chiefly at Nanking where the family owned some property. At first he and his elder brother, Fang Kuan-yung 方觀永 (盥若, 辨菽), were not sent into exile, but remained for some time at Nanking to manage the family property, taking turns in visiting their elders in Tsitsihar. Fang Kuan-ch'êng first lived at Tsitsihar for five years in 1716–21, studying under his grandfather and working on the farm to raise food and pay taxes. In 1721 he went to Peking and from there to Wuchang. He visited his grandfather in 1723 and spent the following two years in Peking and another two years at Nanking. In 1728 he went to Taitsihar to inter his grandfather's remains and lived there again for some time.
In 1732 Fang Kuan-ch'êng was engaged as a secretary by Fu-p'êng 福彭 (d. 1748, posthumous name 敏), a descendant of Yoto [q. v.] in the fifth generation and the fifth inheritor of the rank of Prince P'ing (平郡王). In 1733 Fu-p'êng was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Mongolia that were fighting the Eleuths (see under Furdan and Tsereng). He requested Emperor Shih-tsung to allow him to take Fang Kuan-ch'êng as his secretary. The emperor granted Fang an audience and gave him the nominal title of secretary of the Grand Secretariat. In this capacity Fang accompanied Fu-p'êng to the latter's headquarters at Uliasutai, and in 1734 to the Altai Mountains. In a short time peace was concluded with the Eleuths and the armies were gradually withdrawn. Late in 1735 Fang returned with the prince to Peking. For his merits he was appointed a secretary of the Grand Secretariat, thus finally becoming an official at the age of thirty-eight (sui).
By force of hard experience, Fang Kuan-ch'êng became a faithful and able official. He achieved rapid promotion, becoming successively a secretary of the Grand Council (1737) and of the Board of War (1738). In 1742, as director of a department of the Board of Civil Appointments, he was appointed intendant of the Ch'ing-Ho Circuit in Chihli. Emperor Kao-tsung praised him as reasonable, yet systematic, and ordered the governor-general of Chihli to consult him on conservancy of the Yung-ting River 永定河. In 1743 he was promoted to be provincial judge, and a year later financial commissioner. For several months (1746–47) he was in Shantung as acting governor; and then returned to his post as financial commissioner of Chihli. After serving a year as governor of Chekiang (1748–49), he was made governor-general of Chihli, a post he held for eighteen years (1749–55, 1756–68). For only half a year (1755–56) was he absent from that province when he was sent as acting governor-general of Shensi and Kansu to inspect military preparations at Hami and Barkul for the campaign against the Eleuths. During his long sojourn in Chihli, he worked mostly on river conservancy and on the establishment of granaries. As each year the emperor made several trips from the capital, chiefly in or through Chihli, the roads had to be repaired and the houses where the emperor stopped overnight had to be kept in order. These tasks Fang accomplished well. For his efficient services he was given in 1750 the title of Junior Guardian of the Heir-apparent and five years later he was made Senior Guardian of the Heir-apparent. Although he was several times reprimanded by censors, he was invariably pardoned by the emperor. He died at his post in 1768 and was canonized as K'o-min 恪敏. In 1776, in recognition of his services, the emperor made his son a secretary of the Grand Secretariat. In 1779 the emperor wrote five poems, each honoring a governor-general in his service. One of these poems was a eulogy of Fang Kuan-ch'êng. In 1786 Fang's name was entered in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.
One of Fang Kuan-ch'êng's qualifications as an administrator was his recognized ability as a keen judge of men. The hardships of his early life did not embitter him against the world but only enhanced his ability to give diligent and conscientious service. As governor-general of Chihli he sponsored the compilation of a work on the waterways of that province, entitled Chih-li ho-ch'ü shui-li shu (see under Chao I-ch'ing and Tai Chên). He also supervised the drawing of sixteen illustrations on cotton culture and weaving, with explanations by himself, which he submitted to Emperor Kao-tsung in 1765, under the title 棉花圖 Mien-hua t'u. In the same year the Emperor added one poem in his own handwriting to each picture. Soon thereafter Fang had the whole carved on stone, and rubbings of the work appear in sets of two albums, prefaced with a long prose poem by Emperor Shêng-tsu, entitled 木棉賦 Mu-mien fu. In 1808 Emperor Jên-tsung ordered an official reprint of the work which appeared early in the following year in rearranged form and with additional documents, under the title 授衣廣訓 Shou-i kuang-hsün, 2 chüan.
About the year 1753 Fang Kuan-ch'êng published the works of his grandfather, of his father, and of himself under the collective title, 修本堂詩集 Hsiu-pên t'ang shih-chi. It comprises five collections of verse by Fang Têng-i; two collections of verse and the above-mentioned Lung-sha chi-lüeh, by Fang Shih-chi; and eight collections of verse by himself. About 1809 three collections of Fang's later verse were published under the title, Hsiu-pên t'ang shih hsü (續) chi by his son, Fang Wei-tien 方維甸 (南耦, 葆巖, 1756–1815).
The official career of Fang Wei-tien was similar to that of his father. He was first made a secretary of the Grand Secretariat (1776), and then served for three times as a secretary to Fu-k'ang-an [q. v.] on the latter's campaigns in Kansu (1784), Taiwan (1787) and Tibet (1791). After various promotions he became governor-general of Fukien and Chekiang (1809–10). He was canonized as Hsiang-ch'in 襄勤. His son, Fang Ch'uan-mu 方傳穆 ( 彥和, 仲雯), was a chin-shih of 1819 and a member of the Hanlin Academy. According to the 桐城耆舊傳 T'ung-ch'êng ch'i-chiu chuan, written by Ma Ch'i-ch'ang 馬其昶 ( 通伯, 1855–1929), and comprising biographies of famous men of T'ung-ch'êng, Fang Kuan-ch'êng was a noted calligrapher, and his father, Fang Shih-chi, excelled in painting.
[1/134/9a; 1/330/1a; 2/17/41b; 3/75/1a; Hsiu-pên t'ang shih-chi; 記桐城方戴兩家書案 Chi T'ung-ch'êng Fang-Tai liang-chia shu-an in 古學彙刊 Ku-hsüeh hui-k'an; Hsü Ao 徐璈 (compiler), 桐舊集 T'ung-chiu chi, chüan 1–3; Ma Ch'i-ch'ang, T'ung-ch'êng ch'i-chiu chuan 9/8b.]