Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/K'uei-hsü

K'UEI-hsü 揆叙 (T. 凱功, H. 惟實居士), 1674(?)–1717, Feb. 16, poet and official, was the second son of Mingju [q. v.] and a member of the Plain Yellow Banner. A pupil of Wu Chao-ch'ien (see under Singde) and Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.], he was, like his brother Singde [q. v.], well versed in Chinese literature. Beginning his career as an officer of the Imperial Bodyguard, he was promoted in 1694 to the post of sub-expositor in the Hanlin Academy. In 1703 he was appointed a chancellor of the Academy, a position he held, with additional duties, for fourteen years until his death. Early in 1708 he was made concurrently a junior vice-president of the Board of Works. On December 25 of that year he sat in the memorable gathering which Emperor Shêng-tsu convened in the garden known as Ch'ang-ch'un yüan (see under Hsüan-yeh) to recommend an heir-apparent to succeed his second son, Yin-jêng [q. v.], who had been confined for insanity. Much to the dismay of the emperor, a unanimous recommendation was sent up in favor of his eighth son, Yin-ssŭ [q. v.]. Suspecting a dominating hand at the meeting, the emperor imprisoned Maci [q. v.] and reprimanded T'ung Kuo-wei [q. v.] as the moving spirits. From 1712 to 1717 K'uei-hsü served concurrently as president of the Censorate. He was canonized as Wên-tuan 文端.

In 1724, seven years after K'uei-hsü's death, the succeeding Emperor, Shih-tsung (see Yin-chên), accused K'uei-hsü and Alingga (see under Ebilun), then also deceased, of having sixteen years previously proposed the name of Yin-ssŭ and so caused his (Yin-chên's) father, Emperor Shêng-tsu, many anxious moments. Shih-tsung went so far as to say that K'uei-hsü, by making use of a fortune of several million taels inherited from his father, Mingju, had not only financed the campaign for Yin-ssŭ but had tried to block Yin-jêng's way back to his former position as heir-apparent. Always merciless toward his ambitious brothers and their followers, Emperor Shih-tsung decreed that K'uei-hsü should be deprived of all posthumous titles and honors and that on his tomb-stone should be inscribed the opprobrious epitaph: 不忠不孝柔奸陰險揆叙之墓 Pu-chung pu-hsiao jou-chien yin-hsien K'uei-hsü chih-mu, viz, "This is the tomb of K'uei-hsü, the disloyal, the unfilial, the underhanded, and the treacherous".

K'uei-hsü, like his brother Singde, distinguished himself beyond other Manchus of his day by his talents as a poet. His collected works, 益戒堂集 I-chien-t'ang chi, comprising 16 chüan of poetry and 2 of prose, were first printed in 1703. He compiled by imperial authority an anthology of poems by women authors of various dynasties, entitled 歷朝閨雅 Li-ch'ao kuei-ya, in 12 chüan, and himself brought together a volume of miscellaneous notes, 隙光亭雜識 Hsi-kuang-t'ing tsa-chih, in 6 chüan. These and several other minor works are comparatively rare, although they were never formally banned.


[1/293/4a; 11/32/56a; Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.], Ching-yeh-t'ang shih-chi 18/16a, 46/10a; Shêng-yü [q. v.], Pa-ch'i wên ching 57/14b; Kuo-hsüeh chi-k'an, vol. II, no. 4, p. 753.]

Fang Chao-ying