Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ho Shao-chi

HO Shao-chi 何紹基 (T. 子貞, H. 東洲, 蝯叟), 1799–1873, Sept. 11, poet and calligrapher, native of Tao-chou, Hunan, was the eldest son of Ho Ling-han (see below). After receiving his chin-shih degree (1836) and serving as a compiler in the Hanlin Academy (1839), he was engaged, during the years 1839–52, in various literary activities at Court, such as chief reviser in the Wu Ying Tien, and proctor in the Historiographical Office. In the meantime he was in charge of the provincial examinations in Fukien (1839), in Kweichow (1844), and in Kwangtung (1849). In 1852 he served as commissioner of education in Szechwan but, accused of making imprudent proposals to the throne, he was dismissed from office (1855). Upon his departure from Szechwan he travelled in Shensi (1855–56), Shantung (1856–57), Chekiang (1857–58), and finally became principal of the Lo-yüan Academy 濼源書院 at Tsinan, Shantung (1858–60). He returned to Hunan (1861) after visiting Honan, Hupeh, and Anhwei, but later made journeys to Kwangsi (1862), and Kwangtung (1863). In 1863 he became principal of the Ch'êng-nan (城南) Academy in Changsha, a position he held until 1866 or later. Thereafter he made his home at Soochow where he found himself a highly esteemed calligrapher—specimens of his writing being in great demand and amply rewarded.

As a calligrapher Ho Shao-chi first took for his model Yen Chên-ch'ing 顏真卿 (T. 清臣, 709–785?), but later he imitated the script of the Wei and Tang dynasties. After a long period of patient imitation of old masters he finally succeeded in establishing a style of his own. He excelled in the ts'ao 草 or cursive form, but was also adept in the chuan 篆 and in the li 隸 styles. He was likewise talented as a painter, his skill being shown best in the orchid and bamboo.

The literary works of Ho Shao-chi appeared in various editions during his lifetime and after. The most complete collection includes his miscellaneous prose writings, entitled 東洲草堂文鈔 Tung-chou ts'ao-t'ang wên-ch'ao, 20 chüan; a collection of verse, Tung-chou ts'ao-t'ang shih-ch'ao (詩鈔), 30 chüan; and of tz'ŭ (poems in irregular metre), Tung-chou ts'ao-t'ang shih-yü (詩餘), 1 chüan. His other extant works are 滇牘偶存 Tien-tu ou-ts'un (1825), and 何蝯叟日記 Ho Yüan-sou jih-chi, a diary composed by him in 1835.

Ho Shao-chi's father, Ho Ling-han 何凌漢 (T. 雲門, H. 仙槎, posthumous name 文安, 1772–1840, a chin-shih of 1805), was appointed a compiler in the Hanlin Academy (1805). He became commissioner of education in Shantung (1822–25) and in Chekiang (1831–33), and rose to the presidency of the Censorate (1834), of the Board of Works (1834–39), and of the Board of Revenue (1839–40). He was also a painter and calligrapher, and his literary works appeared under the title 雲腴山房集 Yün-yü shan-fang chi.

Ho Shao-chi had three brothers: Ho Shao-yeh 何紹業 (T. 子毅, 1799–1839), his twin brother, and an honorary licentiate of 1821; Ho Shao-ch'i 何紹祺 (T. 子敬, b. 1801), a chü-jên of 1834; and Ho Shao-ching 何紹京 (T. 子愚), a chü-jên of 1839. They all gained distinction as calligraphers and were collectively known as the "Four Masters of the Ho Family" 何氏四傑.

Ho Shao-chi's son, Ho Ch'ing-han 何慶涵, was a chü-jên of 1858. A collection of his literary works, 眠琴閣遺文 Mien-ch'in ko i-wên, 1 chüan, and Mien-ch'in ko i-shih (遺詩), 2 chüan, and verses by his wife, Li Mei 李湄, entitled 浣月樓遺詩 Huan-yüeh lou i-shih, 2 chüan, were published in his father's Tung-chou ts'ao-t'ang wên-ch'ao. A grandson, Ho Wei-ti 何維棣, received his chü-jên degree in 1873. Another grandson, Ho Wei-p'u 何維樸 (T. 詩孫, 1842–1922), a senior licentiate of 1867, was gifted in painting and calligraphy, and established a reputation in these fields.

[1/491/16b, 380/5b; 2/73/15a, 37/5a; 3/113/1a; 5/18/13a; 6/9/1a; 19/庚下/18a, 20b, 壬上/29b; 26/3/38a; 29/10/1a, 8/10b, 10/8a; Tao-chou chih (1878) 8/9a, 9/19a, 26a; Soochow-fu chih (1881) 112/56a; 昭代名人尺牘續集 Chao-tai ming-jên ch'ih-tu hsü-chi (1911) 13/23b, 16/13b, 21a.]

Li Man-kuei