Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Fêng-lu

LIU Fêng-lu 劉逢祿 (T. 申受, 申甫, H. 思誤居士), July 26, 1776—1829, Sept. 13, scholar and official, was a native of Wu-chin, Chekiang, and a descendant of a distinguished family. His grandfather, Liu Lun [q. v.], and his two uncles, Liu T'u-nan and Liu Yüeh-yün (see under Liu Lun), achieved note in their political careers and for their writings in prose and verse. His father, Liu Chao-yang (see under Liu Lun), was a scholar of wide learning, and his mother, who lived in the years 1744–1808, was a daughter of Chuang Ts'un-yü [q. v.]. She had a good knowledge of the Classics and history and left in manuscript a small collection of poems, entitled 操縵室藁 Ts'ao-man-shih kao.

During his boyhood Liu Fêng-lu was educated both by a tutor and by his mother. When he was eleven and twelve sui he read with his mother the Elegies of Ch'u (Ch'u-tz'ŭ, see under Ch'ên Hung-shou), the Wên-hsüan (see under Wêng Fang-kang), and the prose and verse of T'ang and Sung authors. She remarked that these were the traditional fields of study in her family which her descendants must not forsake. Once when he visited his maternal grandfather, Chuang Ts'un-yü, his fluent answers brought forth the speculation that this boy would be the one who would transmit his grandfather's studies. At twenty-five sui his scholarly reputation paralleled that of Li Chao-lo [q. v.]—the two being known, because of the courtesy-names they had in common, as "The Two Shêns of Ch'ang-chou" (常州二申). Despite this reputation, however, Liu did not obtain the chin-shih degree until 1814 when he was thirty-nine sui. Three years later he received an appointment as a second class secretary in the Board of Ceremonies. In 1824 he became a department director in the same Board and remained there until his death. Though during his twelve years in the Board he sometimes lagged behind in his work, his able interpretation of puzzling problems on the basis of the Classics always threw much light on their solution.

Liu Fêng-lu's interest in the Kung-yang interpretation of the Spring and Autumn Annals, which came to be known as Kung-yang hsüeh 公羊學, came from his reading of the History of the Former Han Dynasty where his attention was drawn to a work of the second century B. C., known as Ch'un-ch'iu fan-lu (see under Liu Wên-ch'i). He found this last-mentioned work very suggestive and one in which he thought the true doctrines of Confucius were treasured. In addition, his attention was called to the 公羊春秋何氏解詁 Kung-yang ch'un-ch'iu Ho-shih chieh-ku, in which Ho Hsiu 何休 (T. 劭公, 129–182 A.D.) revealed his interpretations of the Kung-yang commentary. Liu exerted all his efforts for several months to understand this work until its principles seemed clear to him. His conclusions are embodied in his Kung-yang ch'un-ch'iu Ho-shih shih-li (釋例), 30 p'ien (篇) in 10 chüan, his own preface being dated 1805. To elucidate difficult and doubtful points he produced two other works, one entitled 何氏解詁箋 Ho-shih chieh-ku chien, in 1 chüan; and 答難 Ta-nan, in 2 chüan. In a work entitled 申何難鄭 Shên-Ho nan-Chêng, 4 chüan, Liu compared the Tso and Ku-liang commentaries with the Kung-yang, much to the advantage of the last mentioned. In his as 議禮决獄 I-li chüeh-yü, 4 chüan, he singled out from history many cases which in his opinion violated the principles laid down in the Classics. Next in importance to the Spring and Autumn Annals, he placed the Analects of Confucius (Lun-yü), since for him both works disclosed the hidden meanings of the Master. Seizing upon certain pregnant sentences attributed to Ho Hsiu, he utilized them to exemplify the inner doctrines of Confucius and thus wrote the 論語述何 Lun-yü shu-Ho, 2 p'ien, with a preface dated 1812. Under the title 春秋賞罰格 Ch'un-ch'iu shang-fa ko, 2 chüan, he brought together examples to illustrate Confucius' use of certain terms for purposes of praise and blame. Believing that K'ung Kuang-sên [q. v.] had violated the orthodoxy of the Kung-yang school (不守公羊家法), and knowing that Ch'ien Ta-hsin [q. v.] before him had doubted that fixed principles could be deduced from the Annals, Liu wrote the Chun-ch'iu lun (論), 2 p'ien, giving many reasons why he adhered to the viewpoints of Ho Hsiu.

But his cardinal work on the Tso-chuan, and one that was almost epoch-making, was the 左氏春秋考證 Tso-shih ch'un-ch'iu k'ao-chêng, in 2 chüan. In the first chüan he examines evidence for the belief that Liu Hsin 劉歆 (T. 子駿, d. 23 B.C.) had a hand in its rearrangement; in the second chüan he compares the annotations of various commentators from Han to T'ang times. The Tso-shih ch'un-ch'iu k'ao-chêng was reprinted in 1933, with modern punctuation, in the series 辨僞叢刊 Pien-wei ts'ung-k'an. Liu's comments on the Classic of History, entitled 尚書今古文集解 Shang-shu chin-ku wên chi-chieh, in 30 chüan, were in reality based on two works by Chuang Shu-tsu (see under Chuang Ts'un-yü), known as 書序說義 Shu-hsü shuo-i, 1 chüan, and Shang-shu shou-tu (授讀), 1 chüan. It is evident that he did not credit the authenticity of the 'ancient text' (see under Yen Jo-chü). As for the Preface to the Classic of History, he seems in his Shu-hsü shu-wên (述聞) to accept its authenticity, though on the first page of his Tso-shih ch'un-ch'iu k'ao-chêng he remarks that it may be a forgery of the Eastern Chin period (317–419 A.D.). In his study of the Classic of Changes he was a follower of Chang Hui-yen [q. v.] whose incomplete work on the subject he continued under the title, 易言篇 I-yen pien. Other works by Liu in this field are the following: 易虞氏變動表 I Yü-shih pien-tung piao; 六爻發揮旁通表 Liu-yao fa-hui p'ang-t'ung piao; 卦象陰陽大義 Kua-hsiang yin-yang ta-i; 易象賦 I-hsiang fu; and 卦氣頌 Kua-ch'i sung—each in 1 chüan. His interest in phonetics is exemplified in the 詩聲衍 Shih-shêng-yen, 28 chüan, which probably was not printed. But from the abstract by Ch'ên Ch'ao 陳潮 (T. 東之, H. 1801–1835), which appears in Liu's collected works, it is clear that he attempted to ascertain, by comparative methods, the ancient pronunciations and meanings of characters. His other works on the study of astronomy, mathematics, and geography, and his various anthologies of ancient prose and verse, are indications that his interests were very wide.

Liu Fêng-lu was survived by four sons: Liu Ch'êng-k'uan 劉承寬, a chü-jên of 1816; Liu Ch'êng-hsiang 劉承向, and Liu Ch'êng-shih 劉承實, both students of the Imperial Academy; and Liu Ch'êng-an 劉承安. Another brilliant son, Liu Ch'êng-ch'ung 劉承寵 (1798—1827), who died before his father, left a collection of prose and verse, entitled 麟石詩文鈔 Lin-shih shih-wên ch'ao, in 2 chüan, which is appended to his father's collected works. This last, entitled 劉禮部集 Liu Li-pu chi, in 12 chüan, with a preface written by Wei Yüan [q. v.], was first printed in 1830 by the Liu family.

The achievements of Liu Feng-lu as a scholar are attributable in part to the rich heritage he received from both sides of his family and in part to his contacts with eminent contemporaries, such as Sun Hsing-yen, Tuan Yü-ts'ai, Chang Hui-yen, Li Chao-lo, Yün Ching, Hsü Sung [qq. v.], Ch'ên Huan (see under Wang Hsien), and others. He proposed to Juan Yüan [q. v.] the printing of the (Sung-pên) Shih-san ching chu-shu and the Huang Ch'ing ching-chieh (for both see under Juan Yüan)—two great collectanea for which the public had been waiting for years.

Though Chuang Ts'un-yü was the one who laid the foundations of the so-called modern text (chin-wên 今文) school of classical criticism, he nevertheless credited the authenticity of the 'ancient text' (ku-wên 古文) of the Classic of History whose spuriousness Yen Jo-chü had demonstrated some decades earlier. But Chuang's grandson, Liu Fêng-lu, laid the foundation for a new approach to the Classics and so gave new inspiration to the chin-wên school. He was the first scholar to point out the alleged misuse of the Tso-chuan by Liu Hsin. He believed that the Tso-chuan was originally not a commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals but a separate history whose material was rearranged to form such a commentary. Hence in his opinion, the existing Tso-chuan, officially known as the 春秋左氏傳 Chun-ch'iu Tso-shih chuan, should in reality be called to 左氏春秋 Tso-shih ch'un-ch'iu after the manner of the 晏子春秋 Yen-tzŭ ch'un-ch'iu and the Lü-shih ch'un-ch'iu (see under Liang Yü-shêng)—both independent works of the pre-Han period. He observed that the structure of the Tso-chuan is in some respects similar to that of the Kuo-yü (see under Huang P'ei-lieh) and concluded that it was unjustifiably rearranged to follow the chronological order of the Annals. He implied that Liu Hsin had political reasons for giving supremacy to the Tso-chuan and therefore wished to make it appear as a commentary to the Annals. It remained for the modern scholar, Ts'ui Shih 崔適, in his important 春秋復始 Chun-ch'iu fu-shih, 38 chüan, published in 1918, and in his 史記探源 Shih-chi t'an-yüan, 8 chüan, preface dated 1910; and above all for K'ang Yu-wei (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung) to develop the implications of these suggestions to their fullest extent and thus to find in Confucius an adequate sanction for the reforms that modern China was facing. Liu Fêng-lu stressed the study of the Annals because it was the only work that could conceivably have been written by Confucius himself. He favored the Kung-yang commentary above either of the others because it seemed to take him closer to the time of Confucius and because it embodied certain recondite concepts that could be elaborated into a social and political philosophy consonant with the needs of a changing social order. In the hands of his followers his aims became political rather than historical. Such an approach is known to modern Chinese scholars as t'o-ku kai-chih 託古改制, the practice of "finding in antiquity the sanction for present-day changes". This accommodation of ancient thought to modern ideals was in vogue until the close of the dynasty.


[1/488/16b; 2/69/34a; 3/148/36a; 3/420/58a; 5/72/9a; 7/17/12b; 7/35/14b; 13/4/22a; Li Chao-lo [q. v.], Yang-i-chai wên-chi, 14/1; 武進陽湖合志 Wu-chin Yang-hu ho-chih 26/21; Ch'ien Hsüan-t'ung, Ch'ung-yin Liu Fêng-lu T'so-shih ch'un-ch'iu k'ao-chêng shu-hou, 師大學術叢刊 Shih-ta hsüeh-shu ts'ung-k'an, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 25–42; William Hung, "Prolegomena to Index to Ch'un-ch'iu and Commentaries," Historical Annual (史學年報), vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 19–96.]

Fêng Chia-shêng