Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Shih

LIU Shih 柳是 (T. 如是, H. 河東君, 蘼蕪, 我聞居士), 1618–1664, July 21, originally was variously known as Yang Ai 楊愛, as Yang Yin 楊因, and as Liu Yin 柳隱. Though a singsong girl of Wu-chiang, Kiangsu, she achieved fame as a poetess and calligrapher. Having determined to marry a learned man, she went to Sung-chiang to visit Ch'ên Tzŭ-lung [q. v.] but he declined to see her. In 1640 she visited Ch'ien Ch'ien-i [q. v.]. On July 14, 1641 she became his concubine, and two years later he built at the foot of the hills called Yü-shan in Ch'ang-shu the library building known as Chiang-yün lou 絳雲樓 where the two studied, composed poems, and compiled books. It is reported that in 1645, when Nanking fell to the Manchus, she tried in vain to persuade him to commit suicide rather than surrender to the conquerors.

In 1647, when Ch'ien was arrested for harboring a Ming loyalist, she did her utmost to comfort him during the forty days he was imprisoned, and finally to have him released. In 1648 she gave birth to a daughter who later married Chao Kuan 趙管. Chien Ch'ien-i also had a son by his wife (née Ch'ên 陳, d. 1658), named Ch'ien Sun-ai 錢孫愛 (T. 孺貽, later ming Ch'ien Shang-an 錢上安), who became a chü-jên in 1646. Liu Shih lived loyally with Ch'ien and his family, sharing their joys and misfortunes. After the Chiang-yün lou caught fire, in 1650, and most of the treasures and books were lost, both she and Ch'ien devoted themselves to Buddhistic studies, and in 1663 she tonsured her hair after the manner of a Buddhist nun. In June of the following year Ch'ien Ch'ien-i died.

Ch'ien had enemies both among his fellow townsmen and his clansmen who barely a month after his death pressed Liu Shih and Ch'ien's son to relinquish almost all the family property. Among his enemies was Ch'ien Tsêng [q. v.] whom Ch'ien Ch'ien-i had taught and had often patronized. It seems that Ch'ien Tsêng was forced by another person to act as middleman in applying pressure on Liu Shih. After the farm land, jewels, and even the servants and slaves had been taken from her, she was pressed for 3,000 taels in cash. Having then no money left, she decided to sacrifice her own life in order to save her daughter and her stepson further trouble. She hanged herself, leaving word that the authorities should be notified and should be appealed to for help. Friends of Ch'ien Ch'ien-i and others then combined to denounce Ch'ien Tsêng and the blackmailers. Finally the quarrel was settled out of court and Ch'ien Sun-ai was left something to live on. After 1675 he served as magistrate of Yung-chêng, Honan.

Liu Shih helped Ch'ien Ch'ien-i to edit the section on women in his anthology of Ming poets, Lieh-ch'ao shih-chi, printed in 1649 (see under Ch'ien). The poems they wrote together, entitled 東山酬和集 Tung-shan ch'ou-ho chi, appeared as chüan 18–20 in Ch'ien's collected work, Ch'u-hsüeh chi. Her own poems appear in various anthologies and in Ch'ien's collected works.

Ch'ien Ch'ien-i's house in Ch'ang-shu was later divided between the Temple of the City Rampart (Ch'êng Huang Miao) and the office of the sub-prefect. In 1724, when the district of Chao-wên was created from part of Ch'ang-shu district, Ch'ien's house became the office and residence of the magistrate of Chao-wên. But the structure in which Liu Shih committed suicide, being supposedly haunted, was not used. In 1808, at the suggestion of Ch'ên Wên-shu [q. v.], the magistrate, Hsieh P'ei 謝培, a native of Shang-yü, Chekiang, and a chü-jên of 1783, converted the building into a temple to her honor.


[19/癸上/8b; Ku Ling 顧岺, 塔影園集 T'a-ying-yüan chi, 1/10b (in Yin-li-tsai-ssŭ-t'ang ts'ung-shu); see bibliography for Ch'ien Ch'ien-i; Sun Yüan-hsiang [q. v.], T'ien-chên-ko chi, 19/5b; Ch'ien-shih chia-pien lu in Ching-t'o i-shih (see bibl. Yüan Ch'ung-huan); Niu Hsiu, Ku-shêng (see biog. of Chiang Shih-ch'üan) 3/3b.]

Fang Chao-ying