Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Tsung-chou

LIU Tsung-chou 劉宗周, (T. 起東, H. original name 憲章, H. 念臺, 克念, 蕺山), Mar. 4, 1578–1645, July 30, Ming philosopher and scholar, was a native of Shan-yin, Chekiang. A posthumous child, he was educated by his maternal grandfather, Chang Ying 章穎 (T. 叔魯, 南洲, d. 1605, age ninety-two sui), and became a chin-shih in 1601. On account of the death of his mother in that year he did not take office until 1604 when he was appointed an emissary (行人) in the Office for the Transmission of Imperial Messages. He resigned the following year in order to take care of an aged grandfather but resumed his post in 1612, only to retire again two years later. In 1621 he was made a secretary in the Board of Ceremonies and nine days after taking office attacked the powerful eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], and his notorious accomplice, Madam K'o (see under Chu Yu-chiao). Despite the eunuch's enmity he was promoted in 1623 to the post of vice-president of the Court of the Imperial Stud, resigning in the same year on account of illness. At his retreat at Chi-shan 蕺山, near his birthplace, he lectured on Confucius, Mencius, and the Sung philosophers, and developed his practice of spending half of each day in study, half in meditation. In 1629 he resumed office as governor of Shun-t'ien-fu, but resigned the next year to lecture at the Academy, Shih-k'uei shu-yüan 石匱書院, in his native town. He held office again for a short time in 1636 as senior vice-president of the Board of Works. Finally in 1642 he was made president of the Censorate. He memorialized strongly on dynastic reform and defense, opposed the employment of the Jesuit Adam Schall (see under Yang Kuang-hsien), and so antagonized the emperor that he was dismissed in less than a year. When Peking fell he proved his loyalty to the dynasty, was again appointed president of the Censorate at the Nanking Court where he attacked the corrupt practices of Ma Shih-ying and Juan Ta-ch'êng [qq. v.] and resigned, finally terminating a turbulent official career during which he had held office six and one half years, been in active service four years and been degraded to the status of commoner three times. After Nanking and Hangchow fell in succession to the Manchus he despaired of restoration and refused food and drink until he died July 30, 1645.

A member of the Tung-lin 東林 party, Liu Tsung-chou deplored its partisan politics. He was a thorough Confucianist, following in the main the school of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei) but emphasizing meditation and self-examination (shên tu 愼獨), drawn from the phrase in The Doctrine of the Mean, "the superior man is watchful over himself when he is alone." For a time he admired Wang Shou-jên (see under Chang Li-hsiang) but became increasingly critical of his philosophy of "intuitive knowledge" (良知) especially as it was interpreted by the Ch'an (Zen) Buddhists who were attempting to use it as a means of winning over the Confucianists. The most famous of his pupils was Huang Tsung-hsi [q. v.] and it was largely to the latter that his popularity as a moral philosopher was due. His best known work is the 證人小譜 Chêng-jên hsiao-p'u, being a classification of men according to their moral standards. It was written in 1634 and revised several times. Four of his works were copied into the Imperial Manuscript Library (see under Chi Yün), two listed by title only, and one, comprising his memorials, entitled 劉念臺奏疏 Liu Nien-t'ai tsou-shu, was proscribed during the Ch'ien-lung period. One of his disciples, Tung Yang 董瑒 (T. 天休) collected his writings under the title 劉子全書 Liu-tzŭ ch'üan shu, in 40 chüan, including portrait and nien-p'u. This was first printed in 1822. A later student, Shên Fu-ts'an 沈復粲 (1779–1850), compiled a supplement in 24 chüan. The Ming Prince of Lu gave him the posthumous title Chung-tuan 忠端, the Prince of T'ang that of Chung-chêng 忠正, and in 1776 the Ch'ing court conferred the title Chung-chieh 忠介. In 1822 his tablet was placed in the Confucian temple.

[M.1/255/1a; M.59/13/1a; M.35/11/1a; 卹諡考 Hsü-shih k'ao 1/1b; M.83/62/1a; M.39/11/1a; Yao Ming-ta 姚名達, 劉宗周年譜 Liu Tsung-chou nien-p'u, Shanghai, 1934; Goodrich, L. C., Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung, pp. 144–45, 149, 150, 154; Watters, T., A Guide to the Tablets in a Temple of Confucius (1879), p. 220.]

Earl Swisher