3645502Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Liu ÊFang Chao-ying

LIU Ê 劉鶚 (T. 鐵雲, 鐵翁), Oct. 18, 1857–1909, Aug. 23, scholar and writer, was a native of Tan-t'u, Kiangsu. His father, Liu Ch'êng-chung 劉成忠 (T. 子恕), was a chin-shih of 1852, a compiler of the Hanlin Academy and one time intendant of a circuit in Honan. After his retirement Liu Ch'êng-chung made his home at Huai-an, Kiangsu, where he collected many books on mathematics, on world geography, and on other studies recently introduced from the West. Thus Liu E and his elder brother, Liu Mêng-hsiung 劉孟熊 (T. 味青), were educated not merely in traditional Chinese subjects, but with a lively curiosity about the world in general.

From youth on Liu Ê showed dissatisfaction with conventional moral and political standards. He sensed the futility of the traditional civil-service examinations, and for a time decided against an official career. He took up the practice of medicine at Shanghai, but could not so make a living. Then he embarked on several business ventures which all failed. At last an opportunity to display his abilities was offered him. In 1888 the Yellow River broke through the dikes near Chengchow, Honan, and the task of repairing them was entrusted to Wu Ta-ch'êng [q. v.], a friend of his father. After obtaining, by purchase, the rank of an expectant sub-prefect, Liu went to Honan and was engaged by Wu to help make the repairs. Liu discarded his official insignia and set to work as energetically as any of the laborers. When the repairs were completed, early in 1889, his energy and his knowledge of conservancy were highly commended by Wu who appointed him one of the supervisors for the compilation of an atlas of the Yellow River, describing its course from Honan to the sea. The atlas, entitled 三省河道全圖 San-shêng ho-tao ch'üan-t'u, was completed and printed (lithographically) in 1890.

Though Wu Ta-ch'êng retired early in 1890 owing to the death of his mother, he later recommended Liu to Chang Yüeh (see under Tuan-fang), governor of Shantung, who had learned to respect Liu for his conservancy work. After Chang's death in 1891 the new governor, Fu-jun (see under Wo-jên), took cognizance of Liu's abilities, particularly his acquaintance with Western science and industry—and recommended him (1894?) to the throne. Liu went to Peking, and was made an expectant prefect. He stayed there for two years, promoting the construction of a railroad to connect Chinkiang and Tientsin. But the project was shelved for the time being owing to the fact that in 1896 Chang Chih-tung [q. v.] obtained consent of the Court to construct the Hankow-Lu-kou-ch'iao Railway. Thereupon Liu promoted the opening of iron mines in Shansi, and in the course of this work came into contact with Westerners. For these affiliations he was denounced by conservatives as a traitor. He was in Shanghai when the Boxer Uprising overwhelmed Peking in 1900 and so escaped the fate of the reformers who lost their lives at the hands of the Boxers. He is reported as being then in the employ of certain foreigners. After the Allies had taken the capital, he went to Peking and there found many of the inhabitants starving. He managed to buy rice from granaries (then controlled by Russians) and to distribute it to the destitute. From then on he was prosperous and led a luxurious life, owning houses in Peking, Nanking, Shanghai, and Soochow, among which he divided his large collection of antiques.

The most significant of his treasures for scholarly purposes were the inscribed Yin 殷 oracle bones which he and Wang I-jung [q. v.] were the first to recognize (1899) as important for the study of ancient Chinese culture. They therefore began to make collections of them (see under Wang I-jung). Another antiquarian who made a similar collection at this time was Tuan-fang [q. v.]. After the suicide of Wang I-jung in 1900 his collection of inscribed bones came (1902) into the possession of Liu Ê who then owned some 5,000 pieces. In 1903 Liu selected 1,058 pieces whose inscriptions he reproduced lithographically, under the title 鐵雲藏⿔ T'ieh-yün ts'ang-kuei, 6 volumes. This is the first work on the study of inscriptions on tortoise shells and on animal bones, and marks the beginning of an important branch of knowledge now known as Chia-ku hsüeh 甲骨學. Liu was one of the first scholars to identify the inscriptions as works of the Yin dynasty, and Sun I-jang [q. v.] was the first scholar to utilize information from them to write a treatise on the Yin period. After Liu died his collection was dispersed. Part of it went to Lo Chên-yü (see under Chao Chih-ch'ien) who in 1915 reproduced some hitherto unpublished specimens, under the title T'ieh-yün ts'ang-kuei chih-yü (之餘). Another part was reproduced in 1917 through the generosity of Mrs. Hardoon of Shanghai, under the title 戩壽堂所藏殷墟文字 Chien-shou t'ang so-ts'ang Yin-hsü wên-tzŭ. A third part described by the owner, Yeh Yü-sên 葉玉森 (T. 葓漁), appeared in 1925, under the title of Tieh-yün ts'ang-kuei shih-i (拾遺).

Liu Ê also published reproductions of his collection of inscriptions on ancient pottery, with the title T'ieh-yün ts'ang-t'ao (陶). To this work he appended reproductions of his collection of ancient examples of "sealing clay" (fêng-ni 封泥) which bear the print of official seals. Other objects in his collection included ancient bronzes, rubbings of inscriptions taken from stone, official seals, coins, etc. There is a list of his bronzes, entitled 抱殘守缺齋藏器目 Pao-ts'an shou-ch'üeh chai ts'ang-ch'i mu.

When Liu Ê was in Peking he wrote a novel entitled 老殘遊記 Lao-ts'an yu-chi ("Adventures of Lao-ts'an"), in which he describes the ways of officials in Shantung. This novel first appeared in a Tientsin daily known as 天津日日新聞報 T'ien-chin jih-jih hsin-wên pao. The first twenty chapters were later issued in book form with a preface by the author, dated 1906. It has become one of the most popular novels of China. A supplement in 6 chapters appeared in 1935, under the title Lao-ts'an yu-chi, êr-chi 二集; Lin Yutang's translation (1936) is enentitled A Nun of Taishan. Aside from being a masterpiece, the Lao-ts'an yu-chi reflects the humane ideals of the author who almost explicitly attacks certain officials for subjecting innocent people to cruel torture. Among the officials so singled out was Yü-hsien (see under Jung-lu), the anti-foreign sponsor of the Boxers, who in his day was praised as able and incorruptible. Naturally these scarcely-veiled attacks were resented by conservative officials who denounced Liu for his friendship with foreigners and for his ideals of reform. Liu incurred the enmity of Tuan-fang who disputed with him the ownership of certain antiques. In 1908 he was accused of having in 1900 pilfered and sold rice from Imperial Granaries and on that charge was banished to Ili where he died the following year. His property was confiscated and his collection of antiques fell mostly into the hands of Tuan-fang who, as governor-general at Nanking, had charge of the confiscation.

Liu Ê was the author of a work on Yellow River conservancy, entitled 治河五說 Chih-Ho wu-shuo, with supplement. He also left two works on mathematics, entitled 勾股天元草 Kou-ku t'ien-yüan t'sao, also known as T'ien-yüan kou-ku hsi (細)-ts'ao, and 51 弧三角術 Hu-san-chiao shu, 2 + 1 chüan. In addition, he left a work on medicine, a collection of verse, and some notes on paintings, antiques, etc.

[Lao-ts'an yu-chi (Ya-tung 亞東 ed. 1925); Lao-ts'an yu-chi, êr-chi; Wu K'o-chai nien-p'u (Wu Ta-ch'êng), pp. 168–195; Tan-t'u hsien-chih (1879); 甲骨年表 Chia-ku nien-piao (1937); Postscript in Lao-ts'an yu-chi êr-chi; Shao Tzŭ-fêng 邵子風, 甲骨書錄解題 Chia-ku shu-lu chieh-t'i (1935); Lo Chên-yü, 五十日夢痕錄, in Hsieh-t'ang ts'ung-k'o (see under Ting Yen).]

Fang Chao-ying