Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Lun

LIU Lun 劉綸 (T. 如叔, H. 繩庵, 春涵), 1711–1773, Aug. 11, official and writer, was a native of Wu-chin, Kiangsu. While still a licentiate he was recommended to take the second special examination known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ 博學鴻詞 which took place on November 1, 1736. He passed first among some 180 candidates. Fifteen candidates in all were given the degree—these fifteen being classed into one high group of five and a lower group of ten. Among the other successful competitors of note were Hang Shih-chün, Ch'ên Chao-lun and Ch'i Shao-nan [qq. v.]. Following the examination, Liu Lun was made a compiler of the Hanlin Academy. Within the next few years promotions came to him in rapid succession, and toward the end he was shifted from scholarly to political duties. After 1749 he served in the Boards of Rites, Works, War, and Revenue, and in the Censorate, either as vice-president or as president; and finally in 1771 was made a Grand Secretary—a rank he held until his death at the age of sixty-three (sui). Concurrently he served for many years as a Grand Councilor (1758–65, 1767–73). He was canonized as Wên-ting 文定 and was commemorated in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

Liu Lun was noted for his simplicity and frugality, and even after he became president of a Board he continued to live in the same simple style. It is related that once on a very cold winter night when the eminent writer, Wang Ch'ang [q. v.], paid him a visit to discuss an important memorial Liu had nothing to offer him except wine and dates. Liu thus set an example of simplicity which his descendants tried for generations to follow.

Liu Lun was a talented writer of prose and verse and therefore was frequently put in charge of the compilation of official works. The year before his death he edited his own works into a collection, entitled 繩庵內外集 Shêng-an nei-wai chi, in 24 chüan, which was first printed in 1774 by his family.

Liu Lun had three sons: Liu T'u-nan 劉圖南, a chü-jên of 1768, Liu Yüeh-yün 劉躍雲 (T. 服先, H. 青垣, 1737–1808), and Liu Chao-yang 劉召揚 (T. 卣于, 1746–1803). Liu Yüeh-yün, though a chin-shih of 1766 and a man of unimpeachable character and good intentions, seemed to lack a thorough understanding of men and affairs. When he had charge, in 1792, of the provincial examinations in Shantung a rumor gained currency that he favored impecunious and aged candidates to the disadvantage of the talented. The published announcement of successful candidates was therefore derisively spoken of as "The punishing-ruler list" (戒尺榜), meaning that the victors were just poor, rod-using schoolmasters. In 1795 he was severely reprimanded for the poor results of the metropolitan examination of which he was one of the conductors. In 1804 he was promoted to be a junior vice-president of the Board of Works and later to senior vice-president of the Board of War, but he soon resigned. His collected works, entitled 貽拙齋詩文集 I-cho-chai shih-wên chi, were probably never published.

Liu Chao-yang was summoned to take a special examination in 1784 when Emperor Kao-tsung made a tour in South China. Though he surpassed the other candidates, he did not accept an appointment from the Emperor, preferring the life of an unpretentious schoolmaster in Hunan Shansi, and Shantung. He was a poet but was also interested in classics, history, mathematics and medicine. He left in manuscript a collection of prose and verse comprising 30 chüan. His son, Liu Fêng-lu [q. v.], was a noted scholar.


[1/308/4b–5b; 2/20/44a; 3/26/29a; 7/17/11a–12b; 12/21/53b; 23/27/6a; 26/2/3a; 31/1/1a; 33/70/2b; 清稗類鈔 Ch'ing-pai lei-ch'ao, 54/60.]

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