Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Li Wei

LI Wei 李蔚 (T. 景霱, 臺書, H. 坦園, 據梧居士), 1625–1684, July 22, official, was a native of Kao-yang, Chihli. An ancestor in the fifth generation, Li Yen 李儼 (T. 仲威, 1438–1503), was a chin-shih of 1478 who served as an assistant financial commissioner of Shansi. His father, Li Kuo-p'u 李國𣚴 (T. 元治, H. 續溪, 1585–1631, posthumous name 文敏), was a chin-shih of 1613, a corrector in the Hanlin Academy, and later a Grand Secretary (1626–28). For serving in that exalted position while the eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], was in power, Li Kuo-p'u was sometimes criticized as a member of Wei's clique. Soon after Wei's downfall in 1628, he resigned and lived in retirement at his home.

Li Wei was seven sui when his father died. As his mother had died in 1626, he was brought up by his father's concubine, née Chang 張, a native of Peking. When in 1638 Kao-yang was taken and looted by the Manchus under Dorgon [q. v.], she took Li Wei to live in Peking. In 1645, one year after the Manchus set up their Court in Peking, Li competed in the provincial examination and became a chü-jên. A year later he became a chin-shih and was selected a bachelor to study Manchu in the Hanlin Academy. Made a corrector in 1647, he rose rapidly in rank and was made a Grand Secretary in 1658 at the age of thirty-four (sui). During the early 1660's he was careful not to offend the powerful Manchu regents (see under Oboi), but stood aloof from them. He was much relied upon by Emperor Shêng-tsu for his advice during the years of turmoil resulting from the rebellion of Wu San-kuei [q. v.]. After the rebellion was suppressed he was appointed (1682) to direct the compilation of several official works, including the chronicles of the revolt (P'ing-ting San-ni fang-lüeh, see under Han T'an). For his part in re-editing the Ch'ing T'ai-tsung Wên Huang-ti shih-lu (see under Abahai), he was given the title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent. After his death he was given various posthumous honors, and was canonized as Wên-ch'in 文勤. In 1710, in memory of his services, Emperor Shêng-tsu specially raised the ranks of one of his sons and a grandson.

Li Wei left two collections of poems: 心遠堂詩集 Hsin-yüan tang shih-chi, 12 chüan (printed in 1671 and again in 1677); and Hsin-yüan t'ang shih êr-chi (二集), 4 chüan. A collection of his works in prose, entitled Hsin-yüan t'ang wên-chi (文集), 12 chüan, was printed in 1691.

A clansman of Li Wei (a descendant in the seventh generation of an uncle of Li Kuo-p'u), named Li Tien-t'u 李殿圖 (T. 九符, H. 石渠, 石臞, 露桐居士, 1738–1812, posthumous name 文肅), was a chin-shih of 1766 and a member of the Hanlin Academy, who served as governor of Anhwei (1801), of Fukien (1802–06), and of Kiangsi (1806). Li Tien-t'u's grandson, Li Hung-tsao [q. v.], likewise rose to be a Grand Secretary.


[11/256/1a; 2/7/31b; 3/3/3a; Kao-yang hsien-chih (1933), with portraits of members of the Li family and examples of their handwritings; 露桐先生年譜 Lu-t'ung hsien-shêng nien-p'u (concerning Li Tien-t'u); Wang Ch'ung-chien [q. v.], Ch'ing-hsiang t'ang wên-chi, 7/7a.]

Fang Chao-ying