Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Li T'iao-yüan

LI T'iao-yüan 李調元 (T. 羹堂 or 秔塘, H. 雨村, 贊菴, 童山, 鶴洲, 卍齋, 蠢翁), Dec. 29, 1734–1803, Jan. 14, scholar, bibliophile, and official, was a native of Lo-chiang, Szechwan. His father, Li Hua-nan 李化楠 (T. 廷節, H. 石亭, 讓齋, 1713–1769), was the first student of his district to become a chin-shih (1742) during the Ch'ing period. As a child Li T'iao-yüan was talented, producing at the age of twelve (sui) a collection of verse, entitled 幼學草 Yu-hsüeh ts'ao. In 1752 he studied in the Fou-chiang Academy (涪江書院) at Mien-chou, Szechwan—a school founded by Fei Yüan-lung 費元龍 (T. 雲軒, 雲莊, H. chin-shih of 1736), who was then department magistrate in that locality. Li T'iao-yüan joined his father at Yü-yao, Chekiang, in 1753 where the latter was serving as magistrate (1753–56). After three years in Chekiang he returned to Szechwan (1756) where he competed in the provincial examinations, but failed to pass. Thereupon he rejoined his father who meanwhile had been transferred to Hsiu-shui, Chekiang, where he served as magistrate from 1756 to 1758. While there he took advantage of an opportunity to enlarge his private library, and to receive instructions from scholars in Chekiang, such as Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün [q. v.]. In 1759 he returned to his native place and studied in the Chin-chiang Academy (錦江書院) at Hua-yang, Szechwan, where he and the following five scholars: Ch'iang Hsi-ku 姜錫嘏 (T. 爾常, H. 松亭, chin-shih of 1760, 1726–1809); Chang Ho 張翯 (T. 鶴林, chin-shih of 1760, d. 1769); Mêng Shao 孟邵 (T. 少逸, H. 鷺洲, chin-shih of 1760); Chang Pang-shên 張邦伸 (T. 石臣, H. 雲谷, chü-jên of 1759, 1737–1804); and Ho Ming-li 何明禮 (T. 希顏, H. 愚廬, b. 1715, chü-jên of 1759), became known as the Chin-chiang Liu-chieh 錦江六傑 or the "Six Savants of the Chin-chiang Academy." In 1760 Li T'iao-yüan went to the capital where he made the acquaintance of a group of distinguished contemporaries including Pi Yüan, Wang Wên-chih, Chao I, and Ch'êng Chin-fang [qq. v.]. He took his chin-shih degree in 1763 and was selected a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. Three years later (1766) he was released from the Academy for appointment as secretary in the Board of Civil Offices, but late in 1769 was obliged to return home to observe the customary mourning for the death of his father.

Upon his return to Peking in 1771 he was reinstated in his former post as secretary in the Board of Civil Offices. In 1774 he went to Kwangtung to act as assistant examiner of the provincial examination, and left a record of this journey in some poems, entitled 粵東皇華集 Yüeh-tung huang-hua chi, 4 chüan. After his return to the capital he was promoted (1775) to assistant-director of the Department of Scrutiny in the Board of Civil Offices, a post he held until 1777 when he was appointed commissioner of education in Kwangtung. He gave a new impetus to scholarship in that province and brought together a collection of writings by local authors, entitled 粵東觀海集 Yüeh-tung kuan-hai chi, 10 chüan. While in Kwangtung he compiled, among other works, a collection of local folksongs, entitled 粵風 Yüeh-fêng, 4 chüan; a description of various kinds of fish in that region, entitled 然犀志 Jan-hsi chih, 2 chüan; a collection of notes in the examination system, entitled 制義科瑣記 Chih-i k'o so-chi, 4 + 1 chüan, with a preface by Li dated 1778; and a series of miscellaneous notes which he made while traveling in Kwangtung, entitled 南越筆記 Nan-yüeh pi-chi, 16 chüan. After three years he returned to the capital and was appointed (1781) intendant of the T'ung-yung Circuit, Chihli. On April 26, 1781, he was ordered to Jehol to try important cases in that region. This journey, which lasted from April 27 to May 18, he wrote up in a diary entitled 出口程記 Ch'u-k'ou ch'êng-chi, 1 chüan.

In 1782 he was ordered, by imperial decree, to be responsible for the transport of a set of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün) from the capital to the library, Wên Su Ko 文溯閣, at Shên-yang (Mukden). In the course of the journey the set was damaged by rain, and after recriminations between himself and Kung Yang-chêng 弓養正, prefect of Yung-p'ing, Chihli, he was imprisoned (early in 1783) and, when tried, was sentenced to banishment in I-li, but was allowed to redeem himself by the payment of a fine, upon the recommendation of Yüan Shou-t'ung 袁守侗 (T. 執沖, H. 愚谷, posthumous name 清愨, 1723–1783). He retired in 1784 to his native place and lived there until his death eighteen years later. During his retirement he and three other notables, including Yüan Mei [q. v.], Chao I, and Wang Wên-chih, were known as the Lin-hsia Ssŭ-lao 林下四老 or the "Four Retired Scholars."

Li T'iao-yüan was a bibliophile and his interest in book-collecting began when he was with his father in Chekiang. On his return to Szechwan (1759) he had accumulated some 10,000 chüan for which he later (1785) built a private library known as Wan-chüan Lou 萬卷樓. Prior to its destruction in 1800 this was considered the largest collection of books in Western Szechwan. In 1781, while serving as circuit judge in Chihli, he enriched this collection by copying from the Ssŭ-k'u Imperial Library a number of rare works, most of them about his native province or by his fellow-provincials. These works and most of his own writings, totaling some 142 items, were included in his collectanea, 函海 Han-hai, which was compiled and printed during the years 1778-84. A continuation of this collectanea under the title Hsü (續) han-hai, consisting of 11 items, was printed in 1801. The Han-hai was re-edited and re-printed several times after Li's death and the 1882 edition has a total number of 159 titles. About half of the works in this ts'ung-shu are by writers who lived from the Chin (晉) to the Ming period inclusive, and the other half consist of some 40 works by Yang Shên 楊愼 (T. 用修, H. 升菴, 1488–1559) whose nien-p'u Li compiled, and some 50 works by Li himself. While Li was in prison in Peking (1783), and before the Han-hai was completed, the printing blocks were claimed by his publisher, but were later released to him through the financial assistance of his friend, Ch'ên Tsung (see under Chang Hsüeh-chêng).

Li T'iao-yüan was an extraordinarily prolific writer. He produced some 14 works dealing with nearly every one of the traditional classics. His notes on the Historical Record (Shih-chi) and on the Han Dynastic History (Han-shu) were brought together under the collective title, 史說 Shih-shuo, 6 chüan. Not satisfied with the dictionary of obsolete terms, 奇字韻 Ch'i tzŭ yün, 15 chüan, compiled by Yang Shên, he rearranged and enlarged it under the title Ch'i tzŭ ming (名), 12 chüan. Deeply interested in the meaning and sounds of Chinese characters and phrases, he compiled the following works: 彙音 Hui-yin (or 古音合 Ku-yin ho), 2 chüan, a list of characters with two or more sounds; 通詁 T'ung-ku, 2 chüan, a study of the meaning of literary terms; 字錄 Tzŭ-lu, 2 chüan, on the meaning of archaic characters; 六書分毫 Liu-shu fên-hao, 2 chüan, a collection of characters similar in form but with different meanings or with variant forms but identical meanings; and 方言藻 Fang-yen ts'ao, 2 chüan, a collection of colloquial expressions used in literary writings. He also made a study of the sources of quotations and episodes, under the title 唾餘新拾 T'o-yü hsin-shih, 10 chüan, with supplements. He reprinted the 蜀碑記 Shu-pei chi, 10 chüan, a collection of inscriptions on stone in Szechwan by the Sung scholar, Wang Hsiang-chih 王象之 (T. 儀文, chin-shih of 1196), with a supplement (pu) by himself in 10 chüan. [The Shu-pei chi was reprinted in 1869 by Hu Fêng-tan 胡鳳丹 (T. 月樵) with the latter's corrections, under the title Shu-pei chi pien-o k'ao-i (辨譌考異). Hu's work appears in his own collectanea, 金華叢書 Chin-hua ts'ung-shu, printed during the years 1869–82]. Li left several books of anecdotes about poetry (shih-hua 詩話) about various types of verse, the titles of which need not here be given. His notes on the drama were published under the title 劇話 Chü-hua, 2 chüan. Two lists compiled by him of paintings and calligraphy in various collections bear the titles: 諸家藏畫簿 Chu-chia ts'ang-hua pu, 10 chüan; and Chu-chia ts'ang-shu (書) pu, 10 chüan. His literary collections are called 童山詩集 T'ung-shan shih-chi, 42 chüan; T'ung-shan wên- (文) chi, 20 + 1 chüan; T'ung-shan hsüan- (選) chi, 12 chüan; and 蠢翁詞 Ch'un-wêng-tz'ŭ, 2 chüan. A collection of his verse, drawn from the T'ung-shan shih-chi, and entitled T'ung-shan shih hsüan (選), 5 chüan, appears in the Ku-t'ang ts'ung-shu (see under Yüeh Chung-ch'i).

Li compiled two anthologies of poetry: one on the poets of his native province beginning with the early Ch'ing period, entitled 蜀雅 Shu-ya, 20 chüan; the other an expansion of Wang Shih-chên's [q. v.] Wu-tai shih-hua, 5 chüan, entitled 全五代詩 Ch'üan Wu-tai shih, in 100 chüan. Of his numerous collections of notes the following maybe mentioned 井蛙雜記 Ching-wa tsa-chi, 10 chüan, with a preface by the author dated 1769—dealing with events and episodes in the history of his native province; 勦說 Chiao-shuo, 4 chüan, on the interpretation of words and phrases in the Classics and in the Dynastic Histories; 卍齋璅錄 Wan-chai so-lu, 10 + 2 chüan, on the meaning and use of certain characters; 淡墨錄 T'an-mo lu, 16 chüan, author's preface dated 1795, on the life and character of eminent men of the Ch'ing period who were successful in the competitive examinations; 官話 Kuan-hua, 3 chüan, observations on the usage and terminology of official intercourse; 弄譜 Nung-p'u, 2 chüan, a description of various types of games; and 東海小記 Tung-hai hsiao chi, 1 chüan, on the products of the region of Shanhaikuan. He compiled a gazetteer of his native place under the title Lo-chiang hsien-chih, 10 chüan, printed in 1802. It was included in the 1882 edition of the Han-hai, but an independent copy is in the Library of Congress. Fourteen items by Li were reprinted in 1881 under the title 李雨村所著書 Li Yü-ts'un so-chu shu, in 201 chüan. Though Li paid high tribute to the style of the famous collection of short stories by P'u Sung-ling [q. v.] known as Liao-chai chih-i; he criticized it on the ground that it is too far removed from reality. At the same time he produced a collection of his own, supposedly based on fact, which he entitled 尾蔗叢談 Wei-chê ts'ung-t'an, in 4 chüan.

Li T'iao-yüan had two cousins, Li Ting-yüan 李鼎元 (T. 和叔, H. 墨莊, chin-shih of 1778) and Li Chi-yüan 李驥元 (T. 其德, H. 鳬塘, chin-shih of 1784, 1755–1799), both of whom achieved literary fame. The three are known together as the Mien-chou San-Li 綿州三李 or the "Three Lis of Mien-chou." Li Ting-yüan was sent by the emperor in 1800 to confirm the accession of a new king to the throne of the Loochoo Islands. His account of that voyage was published under the title 使琉球記 Shih Liu-ch'iu chi, 1 chüan.


[2/72/22b, 23b; 3/147/34a, 212/19b; 7/44/1b; 19/丁下/69b; 23/40/14a, 45/8a; Lo-chiang hsien-chih (1802) 6/10b, 8/7b, 9/4b, 7b, 9b, 11b, (1815) 35/10a; Hsü-hsiu (續修) Lo-chiang hsien-chih (1864) 24/1a, nien-p'u of Li T'iao-yüan.]

J. C. Yang