Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Hui Shih-ch'i

HUI Shih-ch'i 惠士奇 (T. 天牧, 仲孺, H. 半農, 紅豆主人), 1671–1741, scholar, was a native of Yüan-ho (Soochow). His grandfather, Hui Yu-shêng 惠有聲 (T. 律和, H. 樸庵, d. about 1678, aged 70 sui), was a teacher of the Classics in Wu-hsien (Soochow). His father, Hui Chou-t'i 惠周惕 (T. 元龍, H. 研[硯]溪, 紅豆老人, original ming 恕), took his chin-shih degree in 1691, and about the year 1694 was magistrate of the Mi-yün district, Chihli, where he died shortly after. He was a noted scholar and left several works: among them the 詩說 Shih shuo, 3 + 1 chüan, which interprets the Classic of Poetry from a novel point of view; and the 研溪先生詩集 Yen-ch'i hsien-shêng shih chi, 7 chüan, a collection of his poems. His residence at Yüan-ho bore the name Hung-tou shu-chuang 紅豆書莊, so that contemporaries called him Lao (老) Hung-tou hsien-shêng (先生) and his son, Hui Shih-ch'i, Hung-tou hsien-shêng.

Hui Shih-ch'i began his studies under his father. He graduated as chü-jên in 1708 and as chin-shih in 1709. Having studied at the Hanlin Academy as a bachelor, he was made a compiler of the second class. He served as junior metropolitan examiner in 1713 and 1715, and as senior provincial examiner of Hu-kuang (Hunan and Hupeh) in 1720. In the winter of 1720 he was appointed educational commissioner of Kwangtung, a position he held for six years. During this period he promoted education in that remote region, and so won the admiration of the people that he was later enshrined at Canton, at Hui-chou, and at Ch'ao-chou. Many scholars, including the following, studied under him: Su Êr 蘇珥 (T. 瑞一, H. 古齋, 睡逸居士, 1699–1767); Ho Mêng-yao 何夢瑤 (T. 報之, 西池), a chin-shih of 1730; and Lo T'ien-ch'ih 羅天尺 (T. 履先, H. 石湖). Once during his term in office Hui Shih-ch'i exceeded his proper function by illegally appointing an educational official in the province. Emperor Shih-tsung acquitted him of this offense because of his usual faithfulness in the performance of duties. But when Hui Shih-ch'i returned to the capital, late in 1726, he was unacceptable to the Emperor, and in the following year was dispatched to Chinkiang to make amends by repairing the city wall at his own expense. Although he invested his whole fortune, he could not complete the work, and in consequence was, in 1731, deprived of his official position as compiler. In 1737 he was appointed by the new emperor, Kao-tsung, a sub-reader of the Hanlin Academy, but resigned two years later because of age.

Hui Shih-ch'i was a man of great erudition, and had such a retentive memory that he is said to have learned by heart most of the important Classics. According to some biographers, he recited, when once tested by some friends, an entire chapter of the Historical Record (Shih-chi) without an error. Like his father, he studied the Classics with great penetration, and late in life completed the following works: 易說 I shuo, 6 chüan; 春秋說 Ch'un-ch'iu shuo, 15 chüan; and 禮說 Li shuo, 14 chüan. In the first of these he criticized the current texts of the Book of Changes, including the comments of Wang Pi 王弼 (T. 輔嗣, 226–249) who had disregarded the interpretations of Han scholars. In the Ch'un-ch'iu shuo, Hui Shih-ch'i stressed the importance of the three ancient commentaries to the Spring and Autumn Annals, whose significance had, in his opinion, been overlooked by scholars after Wang T'ung 王通 (T. 公達, 503–574). In the Li shuo he emphasized the value of Chêng Hsüan's (see under Chang Êr-ch'i) comments on the Institutes of Chou (Chou-li) and disparaged those by the T'ang and Sung scholars. These three works by Hui Shih-ch'i, and the Shih shuo by his father, were later reprinted under the collective title 惠氏四說 Hui-shih ssŭ-shuo, and were also printed in the Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh (see under Juan Yüan) and other collectanea. The distinguishing feature of Hui Shih-ch'i's studies is that he regarded Han scholarship as the most authoritative in all matters concerning the Classics. While he was thus able to develop the theory of the School of Han Learning advocated by Ku Yen-wu [q. v.], his critical technique lacked the perfection of his son, Hui Tung [q. v.], who followed him in the same field.

Hui Shih-ch'i also studied astronomy and music, about which he is said to have produced two works: 交食舉隅 Chiao-shih chü-yü, 2 chüan; and 琴笛理數考 Ch'in-ti li-shu k'ao, 4 chüan. Several of his literary works were collected under the titles, Hung-tou chai chi (齋集) and Pan-nung (半農) hsien-shêng chi.


[1/487/8b, 9a; 2/68/21b; 3/124/1a; 3/224/28a; 7/33/11a; Ssŭ-k'u 6/8b, 16/8a, 19/8b, 29/7a; Wu-hsien chih (1933), 39下/13a, 66上/38b, 66下/4b, 6a; Morimoto Sugio 森本杉雄, 清朝儒學史概說 Shinchō jugaku-shi gaisetsu (1930) pp. 91–102: Yeh Ch'ang-ch'ih, Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih (see under P'an Tsu-yin) 4/47b.]

Hiromu Momose