Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/I-hui

I-hui 奕繪 (T. 子章, H. 太素道人, 幻園居士), Feb. 20, 1799–1838, Aug. 26, Imperial Clansman and poet, was a great-grandson of Emperor Kao-tsung (see under Hung-li). His grandfather, Yung-ch'i 永琪 (H. 筠亭, posthumous name 純, 1741–1766), was the fifth son of Kao-tsung and held the rank of a first class prince with the designation, Jung (榮親王), conferred in 1765. His father, Mien-i 綿億 (posthumous name 1761–1815), on coming of age in 1784, was made a prince of the third degree but was raised in 1799 to a prince of the second degree with the designation, Jung. I-hui inherited in 1815 the rank of a prince of the third degree. He was well educated, excelling as a calligrapher, as a connoisseur of antiques, and as an architect. But he was chiefly famous for his poetry. He left a collection of ruled verse, entitled the 流水編 Liu-shui-pien, and another collection of verse in irregular meter (tz'ǔ 詞), entitled 南谷樵唱 Nan-ku ch'iao-ch'ang. These works are collectively known as 明善堂集 Ming-shan t'ang chi, or as 子章子 Tzŭ-chang tzŭ. He served at Court as a junior assistant chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard (1825–35) and filled several concurrent posts. He retired in 1835 and died three years later.

I-hui took as his concubine a celebrated poetess named Ku-t'ai-ch'ing 顧太清 (T. 子春, H. 雲槎外史, 1799–?), sometimes known as Tai-ch'ing ch'un 太清春, or as Hsi-lin ch'un 西林春. It is not clear whether she was born in a Chinese or a Bannerman's family. She was not only a writer of verse, but could paint, and made a collection of art objects. She and I-hui led a happy life together and had seven children. After I-hui died his son, Tsai-chün 載鈞 (d. 1857), by an earlier wife, inherited the rank of a prince of the fourth degree. This son was not on good terms with his father's secondary wife and therefore expelled her from the princely mansion to live in a rented house. Ku-tai-ch'ing managed, however, to bring up her children so that they married into noble families. In 1875 she became blind, and a year later was still living. The year of her death is not certain.

In the poetic style known as tz'ǔ Ku-t'ai-ch'ing ranked with the best masters, such as Singde and Li Ê [qq. v.]. Her poems in this mode are simple and moving, and yet show a characteristic rhythm and a rich choice of words. The collection of her verse in both the ruled and the tz'ŭ forms is entitled 天游閣集 T'ien-yu ko chi, 7(?) chüan. In 1910 Mao Kuang-shêng (see under Mao Hsiang) printed it in 5 chüan (in reality only 4 of the original 7 chüan) from an incomplete manuscript, but without the poems in the tz'ŭ form. In 1914 he printed a collection of her tz'ŭ, under the title 東海漁歌 Tung-hai yü-ko, 4 chüan (in reality only the first, third, and fourth of the original 6[?] chüan). The Japanese scholar, Suzuki Torao 鈴木虎雄, records that he saw a manuscript of the T'ien-yu ko chi containing 7 chüan of ruled verse and 6 of tz'ŭ. The alleged missing chüan 2 of the Tung-hai yü-ko appears in the magazine 詞學季刊 Tz'ŭ-hsüeh chi-k'an (vol. I, no. 2, Aug. 1933). The same Journal (p. 26) states, on the authority of a descendant of I-hui, named Hêng-hsü 恆煦, that Ku-t'ai-ch'ing was the great-granddaughter of O-êr-t'ai [q. v.] and was reared by a Ku family belonging to a company of Chinese Bannermen controlled by the family of I-hui. The aforementioned Journal (vol. II, nos. 1 and 2) prints the poems of I-hui in irregular meter (tz'ŭ) under the title, 寫春精舍詞 Hsieh-ch'un ching-shê tz'ŭ. The poems are said to be based on I-hui's original manuscript. A later issue of the Journal (vol. II, no. 4) contains what is believed to be the portrait of Ku-t'ai-ch'ing.

An unfounded rumor to the effect that Kung Tzŭ-chên [q. v.] was in love with Ku-t'ai-ch'ing possibly had its origin in the reference to a lilac bush mentioned in the poems of both these writers. The lilac in question grew on the banks of the pond known as T'ai-p'ing hu 太平湖 in the southwest corner of the Tartar City, Peking, where the palace of I-hui was located. This palace later came into the possession of I-huan [q. v.] and thereafter was called Ch'i-yeh-fu (see under I-huan). It was the birthplace of Emperor Tê-tsung (see under Tsai-t'ien) and was later converted into classrooms for the Min-kuo University (民國大學).

[1/171/10b; 蘇雪林, 清代女詞人顧太清 in 婦女雜誌 Fu-nü tsa-chih, vol. 17, no. 7 (July, 1931); Ibid., 清代男女兩大詞人戀史的研究 in 文哲季刊 (Quarterly Journal of Liberal Arts, Wuhan University), vol. 1, no. 4 (Jan., 1931); Suzuki Torao, 支那文學研究 Shina bungagu kenkyū, pp. 248–66.]

Fang Chao-ying