Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ku Yen-wu
KU Yen-wu 顧炎武 ( 寧人, T'ing-lin 亭林, 蔣山傭), July 15, 1613–1682, Feb. 15, a leading scholar of the early Ch'ing period, was a native of K'un-shan, Kiangsu. He was descended from a family that produced a number of writers and officials in the Ming period. Originally his personal name was Chiang 絳 (also 繼紳, 圭年 T. 忠清), but after the Manchu conquest (1644) he changed it to Yen-wu. By his pupils and others he was commonly referred to by his hao, T'ing-lin. His father, Ku T'ung-ying 顧同應 ( 仲從, 賔瑤, d. 1626, age 42 sui), was a student in the Imperial Academy but failed seven times in the provincial examinations. Being the second of five sons, Ku Yen-wu was in infancy made the adopted son of his father's first cousin, Ku T'ung-chi 顧同吉 ( 仲逢), who died about the year 1602, age eighteen (sui), leaving no heir. Immediately after the latter died his betrothed (née Wang 王, 1586–1645), then aged seventeen (sui), came to live in the Ku household as though she were his widow—it being considered the highest virtue for a maiden to live in the family of her deceased fiancé. Eleven years passed thus, and not long after Ku Yen-wu was born, he became her adopted son. Much of his early education and austerity of character he owed to her, and after her death he wrote a moving account of her life, entitled 先妣王碩人行狀 Hsien-pi Wang-shih-jên hsing-chuang. When Ku Yen-wu was three sui an attack of smallpox severely affected and permanently altered the appearance of his right eye—a point noted by some of his biographers. Taking his licentiate in 1626, he gradually achieved fame as a writer and in 1643 purchased the rank of a student of the Imperial Academy. Prior to this last date, however, he was moved by the political and social chaos of the time to approach the literature of the past from a more practical point of view than most scholars of his day. He made extensive researches in the Dynastic Histories, the local chronicles, and the collected works of Ming authors, making careful notes on such subjects as economics, government and military defense.
In 1645, after the fall of Peking, he was given a minor official post in the court of the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) at Nanking. When the Manchus advanced to Kiangnan he and several friends, including Kuei Chuang [q. v.], directed the defense of their native city, K'un-shan, but when the city fell on August 26, 1645 Ku was with his foster-mother in a neighboring district and so escaped death. His foster-mother, unwilling to live under Manchu rule, starved herself for a number of days and died on September 19, expressing on her deathbed a wish that her adopted son would never serve the Manchus in any official capacity. Meanwhile the Ming Prince of T'ang (see under Chu Yü-chien), then in Fukien, appointed Ku a second class assistant secretary in the Office of Discipline in the Board of War. In the autumn of 1647 Ku attended to the burial of his foster-mother, and three years later began to travel in order to escape persecution by an enemy who coveted the family property. A slave of the family had conspired with this person to accuse Ku of seditious relations with Chêng Ch'êng-kung [q. v.]. In 1655 Ku apprehended the slave and drowned him. For this act he was imprisoned, but with the help of friends the sentence was commuted to flogging. His opponent, however, was relentless, and in 1656 engaged an assassin to pursue him when he was on his way to Nanking. The assault took place not far from the city and Ku was wounded. Believing it unwise to remain at home, he began in 1657 to travel in North China, moving back and forth in the provinces of Shantung, Chihli, Shansi, Honan and Shensi. He frequently paid his respects at the tombs of the Ming emperors north of Peking, as he had previously done at the tomb of the first emperor of that dynasty, just outside of Nanking. Except for two visits to Kiangnan in 1660–61 and in 1667, he passed the remainder of his life in the northern provinces, supporting himself while traveling by working for brief periods in the homes of his friends, by managing a farm in Chang-ch'iu, Shantung, and by breaking land for cultivation on the northern frontier of Shansi. He is reported to have encouraged the merchants of Shansi in the perfection of their nation-wide banking system, known as p'iao-hao 票號. At the same time he encouraged the use of labor-saving machinery and the opening of mines. Some sources hold that he secretly cherished the hope of some day overthrowing the Manchu power, and that he operated his farms to finance a future uprising. Others assert that his many journeys were designed to assemble supporters and to take notes on the strategic places in the empire. In 1668 he was imprisoned for more than half a year in Tsinan, Shantung, on the false charge of having sponsored the printing of a book unfavorable to the Manchu regime. He managed, however, to clear himself by his own defense and by the help of friends. In the following year P'an Lei [q. v.] joined him as a pupil.
In 1677 Ku Yen-wu went to Peking and while there paid his respects at the Ming tombs for the sixth and last time. A year later his name was proposed for the honorary examination known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ (see under P'êng Sun-yü), but he vehemently declined to compete, although his nephews, Hsü Yüan-wên and Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh [qq. v.], sons of his younger sister, were then influential officials in the capital. When the Historiographical Board for the writing of the history of the defunct dynasty (Ming-shih) was set up in 1679 he resisted all efforts of friends to have him appointed to it. Thereafter, except for occasional journeys, he lived in Hua-yin, Shensi, a place where he could study in quiet and yet keep in touch with events in other parts of the empire. He died while traveling through Ch'u-wo in south Shansi. A nephew, Ku Yen-shêng 顧衍生 (b. 1646), who was his adopted son, escorted the remains to K'un-shan to rest with those of his ancestors in the family cemetery. Ku Yen-wu's only son had died in infancy.
The thought and activity of Ku Yen-wu can be understood only against the background of social and political turmoil in which he lived. As a young man he had resisted the Manchus and was compelled, in the next thirty-seven years of his life, to live under Manchu rule. The weakness which the nation showed against the invaders he attributed to the preceding centuries of empty philosophizing by the followers of the Sung Neo-Confucian school whose teaching came to be known as Sung-hsüeh 宋學, or Li-hsüeh 理學 ("Rationalism"), the chief founders of that school being, among others, Ch'êng Hao and Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei). In the Ming period a branch of this school developed, under the influence of Wang Shou-jên (see under Chang Li-hsiang), an extreme which Ku recognized as having in reality been derived, not from an objective study of the Classics, as its proponents believed, but from Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. This Neo-Confucianism had for centuries been officially promoted by the civil service examination system with the result that officials throughout the empire were required to learn it, and for them it became the norm for the interpretation of the Four Books and the other Confucian Classics. Imbued with this narrow education, and filled with these preconceived ideas, even the highest officials and the most influential teachers of the time had failed completely to face the realities of the political situation or to save the country from internal strife and foreign invasion. No wonder that when the crisis came many of those officials and scholars, unlike Ku, readily gave their allegiance to the new rulers and served them with zeal.
Ku Yen-wu devoted his later years of alternate travel and retirement to showing the futility of Sung Neo-Confucianism and laying down the principles for a revitalized classical scholarship. Like all the great Confucian teachers, he stressed the importance of high ethical conduct free from duplicity and self-deception. For errors such as these he severely rebuked his nephew, Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh, and warned his pupil, P'an Lei, to avoid him. At the same time Ku preached a rigorous facing of those inadequacies in earlier thinking which had brought the nation to a condition of subservience and dishonor. Believing that the failures of the past could be retrieved only by a new broad outlook, he urged fellow-scholars to take into account, not a small selection of documents, as had been the custom in the past, but all the data necessary to a just conclusion. His general approach he summed up in two quotations from the Analects: 行己有恥, 博學於文 "In your conduct let there be some things that you are ashamed to do; in your studies make use of the widest range of sources." He stressed the importance of making new hypotheses, and testing these by evidence from all relevant sources, in the hope of thus achieving a new originality and a new practicality. Though some of his slightly younger contemporaries, such as Yen Yüan and Li Kung [qq. v.], took the same approach and emphasized the same methods in the philosophical field, as did also Hu Wei and Yen Jo-chü [qq. v.] in the field of historical and textual criticism, Ku himself must be regarded as the leading exponent of the new movement and the one who gave to it the greatest impetus. He laid down the method in various branches of study and outlined new avenues of approach which scholars in the ensuing two centuries pursued in greater detail.
In their search for new evidence the Ch'ing classicists discovered that scholars of the Han dynasty had studied the ancient texts successfully without benefit of Li-hsüeh and that, having fewer metaphysical preconceptions, they had no need to "resort to vague generalizations to cover up their intellectual poverty." A study of the views of Han scholars was alluring because, those scholars, being "not far from antiquity," presumably had a firmer grasp on the ancient texts. Because of this emphasis on Han commentaries the school which arose under Ku Yen-wu's influence came later to be known as the "School of Han Learning" (Han-hsüeh p'ai 漢學派), and the type of scholarship which it espoused came to be designated Han-hsüeh, to differentiate it from the Sung-hsüeh mentioned above. The Han-hsüeh school is also known as Chêng-hsüeh 鄭學 because it especially admired the annotations to the Classics made by Chêng Hsüan (see under Chang Êr-ch'i); and also as P'u-hsüeh 樸學, or school of "unadorned learning", for its advocacy of research in preference to literary elegance or philosophic speculation. The school came to stand for the inductive method of research, known as k'ao-chü 考據, or k'ao-chêng (證), as applied to those fields in which Chinese scholarship was then primarily interested, namely, historical and textual criticism, phonetics, and etymology.
It was in the field of phonetics—the determination of the ancient pronunciation of words by a classification and comparison of the rhymes in ancient poetry—that the utility of the inductive method was most conclusively shown. The pioneer user of this method in the recovery of ancient rhymes was Ch'ên Ti 陳第 (Chiao Hung [q. v.], Ch'ên determined with a fair degree of accuracy the ancient pronunciation of several hundred rhyming words in the Classic of Poetry. (A copy of the original edition of this work is in the Library of Congress.) To show what the ancient pronunciations were, and consequently how the words originally rhymed, he listed first all the instances he could cull from the Classic of Poetry itself, and then all the substantiating evidence to be found in contemporary or slightly later sources. The former he called "internal evidence" (pên-chêng 本證), and the latter "external evidence" (p'ang-chêng 旁證). What his predecessors in the T'ang and Sung periods had vaguely called "rhyme by poetical license" (叶韻) he showed to be a fiction, and demonstrated, moreover, that the ancient rhyming system could be recovered with a reasonable degree of certainty.季立, 一齋, d. 1620 or 1617, aged 77 sui), a native of Lien-chiang, Fukien, and one-time major in command of a garrison northeast of Peking. In a work entitled 毛詩古音攷 Mao-shih ku-yin k'ao, 4 chüan, printed in Nanking in 1606 with the aid of
Ku Yen-wu adopted Ch'ên's method in his own more extensive phonetical researches and, by adducing still more examples to show its applicability, he so popularized it that it became one of the most effective tools of Ch'ing scholarship. Without it many later examples of exacting philological and historical research would have been impossible. The great scholars, Tai Chên, Ch'ien Ta-hsin, Tuan Yü-ts'ai, Wang Nien-sun [qq. v.] and Chiang Yu-kao 江有誥 ( 晉三, 古愚) used it successfully in their further researches in phonetics and etymology, as did Yen Jo-chü and Ts'ui Shu [qq. v.] in the field of historical criticism and in determining the authenticity of ancient texts. This combination of historical research and textual criticism with the use of inductive reasoning, marked the highest attainment of scholarship in the Ch'ing period.
Ku Yen-wu's application of the method initiated by Ch'ên is found in his 音學五書 Yin-hsüeh wu-shu, which comprises five works on phonetics, printed in 1667 at Shan-yang, Kiangsu, with the assistance of Chang Shao 張弨 (立臣, 丞齋, 1625–1694). The individual titles are: 音論 Yin-lun, 3 chüan, a general discussion; 詩本音 Shih pên-yin, 10 chüan, on the rhymes in the Classic of Poetry; 易音 I-yin, 3 chüan, on the rhymes in the Classic of Changes; 唐韻正 T'ang yün chêng, 20 chüan, a comparison of the sounds in antiquity with those of the T'ang period; and 古音表 Ku-yin piao, 2 chüan, a table of the sounds in antiquity.
But the work by which Ku Yen-wu is most generally known is his collection of carefully written notes on a great variety of topics, entitled 日知錄 Jih-chih lu—first printed by him in 8 chüan in 1670. After many revisions and amplifications it was edited by P'an Lei and printed in Fukien in 1695 in its present form of 32 chüan. The notes are the result of thirty years of wide and thoughtful reading and on the observations he made in the course of his long journeys on horseback. Not one of these notes, he says, was written without long meditation, and many of them were revised again and again. The 32 chüan edition may roughly be separated into the following topics: chüan 1–7 on the Classics; 8–12 on government and economics; 13–15 on ethics and social relations; 16–19 on the civil service examinations and the writing of essays; and 20–32 on literary, historical and philological matters. The second edition was an improvement over the first, owing in part to alterations suggested by various scholars, particularly by Yen Jo-chü. Other alterations were made in order not to offend the susceptibilities of Manchu rulers. A modern scholar, Huang K'an 黃侃 ( 季剛, 1886–1936) compared the 1695 edition with an old manuscript and published his collation notes in 1933 under the title, Jih-chih lu chiao-chi (校記), indicating at the same time the alterations that were made by P'an Lei. An edition of the Jih-chih lu, published in 1795, contains 4 chüan of supplementary notes not included in the edition of 1695. The edition now most popular is one printed in 1834 by Huang Ju-ch'êng 黃汝成 ( 庸玉, 潛夫, 1799–1837), with annotations by various scholars. Since then Li Yü-sui (see under Li Fu-sun), Yü Yüeh and Ting Yen [qq. v.] have made valuable additions or emendations of their own.
In the field of geography Ku Yen-wu has three extensive works to his credit. One, bearing the title 肇域志 Chao-yü chih, is a compendium of historical geography rather similar to the Tu-shih fang-yü chi-yao of Ku Tsu-yü [q. v.]. It was never printed, but two incomplete manuscript portions are preserved in the Kuo-hsüeh Library, Nanking. Some indication of the scope of the work can be gained from a statement in the preface which reads, "First I drew on the general gazetteers of the empire; next on the provincial, departmental, and district chronicles; and finally on the Twenty-one Dynastic Histories. In all I consulted more than one thousand works". His second work in which he laid stress on plans of strategic military importance, on taxation, on waterways, is entitled 天下郡國利病書 T'ien-hsia chün-kuo li-ping shu. Like the work just mentioned, this compilation was begun in 1639; the preface was written in 1662. A poorly printed edition of it, separated into 120 chüan, was produced by Lung Wan-yu 龍萬育 ( 爕堂) in Szechwan in 1811 with a revision to 1823, and this is the print most generally known. But fortunately the original draft, partly in Ku Yen-wu's own hand, was reproduced in 1936 in the third series of the 四部叢刊 Ssŭ-pu ts'ung-k'an. Ku's third topographical study, entitled 歷代帝王宅京記 Li-tai ti-wang chai-ching chi, 20 chüan, on the capitals in various dynasties, was first printed in 1808. It was completed toward the close of the author's life and is more systematically arranged than the other two. It may also be mentioned that Ku assisted in 1673 in editing the gazetteer, 德州志 Tê-chou (Shantung) chih, a work in 10 chüan, printed in that year. A copy is in the Library of Congress.
Ku Yen-wu was an ardent collector of inscriptions taken from bronze and stone, and a recorder of antiquities which he found in various provinces. His 金石文字記 Chin-shih wên-tzŭ chi in 6 chüan, is a study of some 300 inscriptions from ancient times down to the Ming dynasty—the last section being a comparative study of the ancient and modern forms of Chinese characters. It was printed by P'an Lei about the year 1695 in the collective work, 亭林十種 T'ing-lin shih-chung. Earlier (1661) Ku had compiled a record of the antiquities of Shantung, entitled 山東考古錄 Shantung k'ao-ku lu. A similar treatise on the antiquities east of the capital (Peking), entitled 京東考古錄 Ching-tung k'ao-ku lu, was extracted by him from various works and published by Wu Chên-fang 吳震方 (Hang Shih-chün [q. v.].石紹, 青壇, chin-shih of 1679). Inscriptions on stone which he had copied during his travels, and which had not been recorded elsewhere, were edited and published in 1 chüan under the title 求古錄 Ch'iu-ku lu. A study by him of the Classics which had at various times been carved on stone, entitled 石經考 Shih-ching k'ao, 1 chüan, was criticized and corrected by
A collection of Ku Yen-wu's prose and verse, in 6 and 5 chüan respectively, appears among the ten items in the T'ing-lin shih-chung. Thirteen other items by Ku were added to make a larger collectanea, and these were printed in 1888 by Chu Chi-jung 朱記榮 (Lu Hsin-yüan [q. v.], is in the Seikadō Bunko, Tokyo. Apparently a work bearing the same title and printed in the above-mentioned T'ing-lin i-shu hui-chi, is not authentic. A partial collection of Ku's poems, in a manuscript of three chüan, entitled 蔣山傭殘稿 Chiang-shan yung ts'an-kao, is reported to be in the Osaka Prefectural Library.懋之, 槐廬), under the title 亭林遺書彙輯 T'ing-lin i-shu hui-chi. One of these items is the 聖安皇帝本紀 Shêng-an Huang-ti pên-chi, 2 chüan, sometimes shortened to Shêng-an chi-shih (記事). A work with a similar title, Shêng-an pên-chi, sometimes attributed to Ku, is in reality the prohibited work 甲乙事案 Chia-i shih-an, written by a contemporary of Ku, named Wên Ping 文秉 ( 蓀符, 1609–1669). The name of this work was evidently changed to avoid inquisition. In a work entitled 明季實錄 Ming-chi shih-lu, 1 chüan, Ku brought together various documents relating to the last days of Ming dynasty. A collection of his miscellaneous notes, entitled 菰中隨筆 Ku-chung sui-pi, in 3 chüan, was never printed, but a manuscript copy, once owned by
A number of scholars have undertaken to write on the life of Ku Yen-wu—some favorably, others unfavorably, depending on their approval or disapproval of Ku's approach to the Sung philosophers. A representative of the former was Ch'üan Tsu-wang [q. v.]; of the latter, Li Kuang-ti [q. v.]. Ku's adopted son compiled a chronological biography which became the basis of six or seven others, all bearing the title, Ku T'ing-lin hsien-shêng nien-p'u (先生年譜). One of these was compiled by Wu Ying-k'uei 吳映奎 ( 止狷, a senior licentiate of 1802) and printed in 1878, and again in 1885; another by Ch'ê Shou-ch'ien 車守(Ch'ih 持?)謙 was printed in 1844; a third was compiled by Chang Mu [q. v.]; and a fourth was completed by Ch'ien Pang-yen 錢邦彥 in 1908 and printed as a supplement to the Ssŭ-pu ts'ung-k'an edition of the T'ien-hsia chün-kuo li-ping shu. A collection of Ku's poems, annotated by Hsü Chia 徐嘉 ( 遯葊), and printed in 1897 under the title 顧詩箋注 Ku-shih chien-chu 17 chüan, also contains what is essentially a chronological biography.
Several shrines were raised to the memory of Ku Yen-wu, the most celebrated being the one sponsored by Chang Mu and Ho Shao-chi [q. v.]; in 1843. It is located in the South City, Peking, near the monastery, Tz'ŭ-jên ssŭ 慈仁寺, where Ku had lived some time in 1668, prior to his imprisonment in Tsinan. There a number of well-known scholars met annually to pay their respects and to offer sacrifices. A record of these gatherings, covering the years 1843–73, was recently reproduced in facsimile under the title 顧先生祠會祭題名第一卷子 Ku hsien-shêng tz'ŭ hui-chi t'i-ming ti-i chüan-tzŭ. By an edict of 1909 the name of Ku Yen-wu was entered for commemoration in the Temple of Confucius.
[Nien-p'u mentioned above; 1/487/1b; 3/400/17a; 4/130/1a; 20/1/00; Hsieh Kuo-Chên, 顧寧人學譜 Ku Ning-jên hsüeh-p'u (1930); 善本書室藏書志 Shan-pên shu-shih ts'ang-shu chih 11/5a, 14/15b; Shun-t'ien-fu chih (1884) 16/48a; Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Chung-kuo chin san-pai-nien hsüeh-shu shih (see bibl, under Hui Tung) p. 83–107, 346, 355; Ssŭ-k'u, passim; Chu Hsi-tsu, 鈔本甲乙事案跋, in Bul. Inst. of Hist. and Phil. (Academia Sinica), vol. 2, pt. 2 (1930), p. 153–56; 青鶴 Ch'ing-ho, vol. 3, no. 12 (May 1, 1935), for pictures of his tomb and other relics; 舊都文物略 Chiu-tu wên-wu lüeh (1935), ming chi shang, p. 16; Ch'ien Mu 錢穆, Chung-kuo chin san-pai nien hsüeh-shu shih (1937) pp. 121-57.]