Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ho Kuo-tsung

HO Kuo-tsung 何國宗 (T. 翰如, 約齋), d. 1766, official and mathematician, was a native of Ta-hsing (Peking). After passing his chin-shih examination in 1712 he was appointed a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy and was ordered to study mathematics. In 1713 he was made a collator in the Mêng-yang chai (see under Fang Pao) and then an editor of the newly-commissioned compendium on the calendar, mathematics, and music, which is known under the collective title 律歷淵源 Lü-li yüan-yüan. It comprises three works: 歷象考成 Li-hsiang k'ao-ch'êng, in 42 chüan, on the calendar; 數理精蘊 Shu-li ching-yün, in 53 chüan, on mathematics; and 律呂正義 Lü-lü chêng-i, in 5 chüan, on music. The collection was printed in 1723 with a preface by Emperor Shih-tsung, together with an official list of the collaborators. In addition to Ho Kuo-tsung and Mei Ku-ch'êng [q. v.], who were chief editors, the list gives the names of Yin-lu and Yin-chih [qq. v.] as princes in charge; Fang Pao [q. v.] and two assistant editors, Ku-tsung (see under Gubadai) and Minggantu 明安圖 (T. 靜庵); eight inspectors (考測); fifteen calculators (校算); and fifteen collators (校錄). Most of the work was based on western theories, methods, and tables of calculation introduced at the close of the Ming dynasty (see under Hsü Kuang-ch'i). The fifth chüan of the Lü-lü chêng-i, devoted exclusively to western music, is the work of Thomas Pereira 徐日昇 (1645–1708) and Theodore Pedrini 德理格 (1670–1746). It is said that this collection, like the encyclopaedia, Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng (see under Ch'ên Mêng-lei), was originally compiled by a secretary of Yin-chih who presented it to Emperor Shêng-tsu, but that by order of Emperor Shih-tsung the names of the original editors were suppressed (see under Yin-chih and Ch'ên Mêng-lei).

Meanwhile (1713) Ho Kuo-tsung was made a Hanlin compiler. After several promotions, he was in 1725 appointed by Emperor Shih-tsung a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and ordered, in the same year, to inspect conservancy work along the Grand Canal. The inspection lasted about a year, and Ho's suggestions for repairing several dikes and deepening certain parts of the river were approved. However, he was degraded for reporting extravagant sums for travel, and in 1727 was appointed to the lower rank of director of the Court of Judicature and Revision. In 1728 he was reinstated, and two years later was made junior vice-president of the Board of Works. He was again sent (1730) to inspect and supervise conservancy work along the Grand Canal, but when charged with having committed errors that resulted in floods he was deprived of all offices.

In 1737 Ho Kuo-tsung memorialized Emperor Kao-tsung on the necessity of revising and enlarging the afore-mentioned Li-hsiang k'ao-ch'êng. Seven years previously discrepancies between the calculations in that work and actual observations were noted by the Catholic missionaries, Ignace Kögler 戴進賢 (1680–1746) and André Pereira 徐懋德 (1690–1743), director and associate director respectively of the Imperial Board of Astronomy. These missionaries were thereupon authorized to add new charts to the work. Ho Kuo-tsung's purpose in submitting the memorial was to issue a supplementary work explaining these charts and making the necessary revisions. Ho was then ordered to serve on the editorial board assisted by Ku-tsung, Chang Chao [q. v.], Mei Ku-ch'êng, Minggantu, Kögler, and André Pereira. The new work, completed in 1742, was entitled Li-hsiang k'ao-ch'êng hou-pien (後編), in 10 chüan. In 1741 Ho was appointed one of the directors-general of the bureau for expanding the work on music, Lü-lü chêng-i (see under Chang Chao). This enlarged work, entitled Lü-lü chêng-i hou-pien, in 120 chüan, was printed in 1746. Meanwhile Ho served for a time, after 1739, as chief teacher of mathematics in the Imperial Academy. After he thus re-entered official life he held, until 1756, the following posts: vice-president of the Censorate (1745–48), junior vice-president of the Board of Works (1748), senior vice-president of the same Board (1748–55), and president of the Censorate (1755–56).

In 1755 a party of officials was dispatched to survey the newly conquered region of the Eleuths, known as Sungaria (see under Amursana), in order to bring up to date the map of China which had been completed in 1719 (see under Hsüan-yeh). Ho Kuo-tsung and two Manchu officials were sent to supervise the surveying which was done by Catholic missionaries, as in the case of the former map. Two Catholic priests known to have been in Ho's party as surveyors, were Felix da Rocha 傅作霖 (1713–1781) and Joseph d'Espinha 高慎思 (1722–1788). At Barkul the commission divided into two groups; one with da Rocha took a northern route to Ili, the other with Ho and d'Espinha took the western route through Turfan to Karashar, then up the Yurduz River and back to Barkul. Late in 1756 Ho was ordered to return to Peking. By this time the Eleuths had again rebelled (see under Chao-hui), and it was probably considered wise to shift him from the scene of danger. It seems, however, that the Catholic fathers continued to survey in Sungaria and Chinese Turkestan. They went as far as Bukhara, returning to Peking several years later (1759).

Early in 1757 Ho was made president of the Board of Ceremonies, but in a few months was dismissed for recommending his brother to an official post. It was asserted also that he was too old to conduct state affairs. Nevertheless he was recalled in the same year (1757) and, after being reinstated in his former post of Hanlin compiler, was ordered to teach in the Palace School for Princes (see under Yin-chên). Since the emperor specifically referred at this time to Ho's knowledge of mathematics, it seems likely that he lectured on that subject in the Palace School. In 1759 Ho was again made a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and, two years later, junior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies. He was ordered to retire in 1762, and died four years later.


[1/289/5a; 3/71/33a; 10/4/14b; 順天府志 Shun-t'ien fu-chih (1886) 101/19b; Yin-chên [q. v.], Chu-p'i yü-chih, case 12; Tung-hua lu, Ch'ien-lung 20:3, 21:11; Pfister, Notices, pp. 384, 647, 653, 776, 866; T'ao Hsiang 陶湘, 故宮殿本書庫現存目 Ku-kung tien-pên shu-k'u hsien-ts'un mu (1933) 儀象 1a.]

Fang Chao-ying