Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh

HSÜ Ch'ien-hsüeh 徐乾學 (T. 原一, H. 健庵, 玉峯先生), Nov. 24, 1631–1694, Sept. 6, official, scholar and bibliophile, nephew of Ku Yen-wu [q. v.], was a native of K'un-shan, Kiangsu. In 1670 he passed the palace examination as t'an-hua 探花, or third ranking graduate. He and his two younger brothers, Hsü Ping-i 徐秉義 (T. 彥和, H. 果亭, 1633–1711), a t'an-hua of 1673 who later rose to high official positions, and Hsü Yüan-wên [q. v.], a chuang-yüan 狀元, or first ranking chin-shih, of 1659, were known as "The Three Hsüs" 三徐. In 1672 Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh had charge of the Shun-t'ien provincial examinations. His mother died in 1676, and in the following year (during the period of mourning) he began, with the help of others, the compilation of the important work on mourning rites, known as 讀禮通考 Tu-li t'ung-k'ao, in 120 chüan. After various revisions it was printed by his sons in 1696, two years after his death. Some sources, it should be stated, attribute this compilation to Wan Ssŭ-t'ung [q. v.].

In 1682 Hsü was placed in charge of the compilation of the 明史 Ming-shih and in 1685 was promoted to the sub-chancellorship of the Grand Secretariat and later (1686) to the vice-presidency of the Board of Rites. Appointed in 1685 an instructor to the bachelors of the Hanlin Academy, he compiled for them a book of instructions and regulations which was printed in 1831 in the Hsüeh-hai lei-pien (see under Ts'ao Jung) under the title, 教習堂條約 Chiao-hsi-t'ang t'iao-yüeh. In the same year (1685) there was completed, also under his direction, the annotated anthology of essays which had been selected by Emperor Shêng-tsu and published in 64 chüan under the title 古文淵鑑 Ku-wên yüan-chien. In 1687 he was made president of the Censorate and concurrently director-general of the commission appointed to compile the 大清一統志 Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung-chih, or "Comprehensive Geography of the Empire." A year later he was chief examiner of the metropolitan examination and then also became president of the Board of Punishments.

A prominent figure in the party struggles in the last half of the seventeenth century, Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh first took sides with Mingju [q. v.] against the party of Songgotu [q. v.], and after splitting with the former, organized his own clique, sometimes known as the southern party (南黨) as contrasted with the northern party (北黨) led by Mingju. According to Li Kuang-ti [q. v.], Hsü was treacherous and dangerous in Court politics and, after Songgotu was overthrown, joined hands with him and with Hsiung Tz'ŭ-li [q. v.] to oppose Mingju. Accused of receiving bribes from Chang Ch'ien (see Ch'ên T'ing-ching) when the latter was governor of Hu-Kuang, he resigned from official life but remained in the capital in charge of various literary projects. In 1689 he was again embarrassed by his opponents on account of the misdeeds of one of his sons who, among other offenses, had fraudulently obtained the chin-shih degree. His request to be relieved of his literary duties in the capital was granted, and in the spring of 1690 be went home to continue the compilation of the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih and a supplement to the Mirror of History, known as 資治通鑑後編 Tzŭ-chih t'ung-chien hou-pien. After his retirement repeated complaints were lodged against him on grounds of bribery, oppression of the common people, or the misdemeanors of his sons and servants. Owing to these accusations he was in 1691 deprived of his official honors and rank. In 1694 an imperial decree was issued summoning him to Peking to fill certain literary posts, but he had already died.

When Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh returned south to compile the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih, he invited to his villa at Tung-t'ing shan 洞庭山 on Lake T'ai-hu, southwest of Soochow, some of the most noted scholars of his day, among them Yen Jo-chü, Ku Tsu-yü, Hu Wei, and Huang Yü-chi [qq. v.]. Hsü and these scholars labored assiduously on the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih, drawing their information chiefly from Hsü's famous library, Ch'uan-shih lou 傳是樓. A catalogue of this library, entitled Ch'uan-shih lou shu-mu ( 書目), was first printed in 1915—appended to it being a catalogue of Hsü Ping-i's library, entitled P'ei-lin t'ang (培林堂) shu-mu. After Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh died (1694) his valedictory memorial was sent to Peking, together with the draft copy of the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih and serveral other works. The manuscripts of the gazetteer were revised time and again until they were finally put into shape in 1743 and printed in 1744 in 356 chüan. A second edition in 424 chüan was printed in 1790—one feature being that it included the newly conquered area in Turkestan and elsewhere. A third edition was completed in 1842, and was reproduced in 560 chüan in 1934 (see under Yung-yen).

The above-mentioned Tzŭ-chih t'ung-chien hou-pien, 184 chüan, was printed in 1898 by Hsü Chên-wu (see under Pao-t'ing) who supplemented it with 15 chüan of collation notes. Hsü's collected literary works, entitled 憺園集 Tan-yüan chi, 36 chüan, were printed in 1694. The Ssŭ-k'u Catalogue (see under Chi Yün) gives notice of six works by Hsü of which three were copied into the Imperial Library. The collectanea of studies in the Classics, T'ung-chih t'ang ching-chieh (see under Singde) was compiled and printed by Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh for his pupil, Singde, under whose name it is commonly listed.

Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh had five sons, all of whom obtained the chin-shih degree. The eldest, Hsü Shu-ku 徐樹穀 (T. 藝初, H. 以約, chin-shih of 1685), was a censor. The second, Hsü Chiung 徐烱 (T. 章仲, H. 自強, 花谿, chin-shih of 1682), was intendant of the Tungchow-Yung-p'ing Circuit in Chihli (1715–16). The third, Hsü Shu-min 徐樹敏 (T. 師魯, H. 玉山, chin-shih of 1703), served as magistrate of An-yang, Honan, from 1711 to 1719. The fourth, Hsü Shu-p'ing 徐樹屏 (T. 敬思, H. 省庵, chin-shih of 1712), was commissioner of education of Kwangsi (1720–23). The fifth, Hsü Chün 徐駿 (T. 觀卿, H. 堅蕉, chin-shih of 1713), one time a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy, was discharged for carelessness. The names of many descendants of these five sons are recorded in local gazetteers as holders of official posts.

[1/277/1a; 3/57/1a 補錄; 4/20/19a; 20/1/00 (portrait); 崑新兩縣續修合志 K'un Hsin liang-hsien hsü-hsiu ho-chih (1880) 24/32a; Ss'ŭ-k'u 20/10a, 47/14a, 97/8a, 183/4a, 190/1a, 194/6a; 文獻叢編 Wên-hsien ts'ung pien (1930) 4, 5; Li Kuang-ti [q. v.], Jung-ts'un yü-lu, hsü-pien.]

Tu Lien-chê