Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Mao Ch'i-ling

MAO Ch'i-ling 毛奇齡 (T. 大可, 齊於, H. 西河), Oct. 25, 1623–1716, scholar, was a native of Hsiao-shan, Chekiang. His father, Mao Ping-ching 毛秉鏡 (T. 竟山), had four sons of whom Mao Ch'i-ling was the youngest. Two of the sons, Mao Wan-ling 毛萬齡 and Mao Hsi-ling 毛錫齡, were ardent students; a third, Mao Hui-ling 毛慧齡, died in early life. At the age of fifteen (sui) Mao Ch'i-ling became a hsiu-ts'ai. He and his eldest brother, Mao Wan-ling, came to be known as the "Elder and Younger Mao" (大小毛子). After the fall of the Ming dynasty (1644) he retired with several of his friends to study in the mountains near his home district, but in 1646 joined one of the southern Ming armies under the Prince of Lu (see under Chu I-hai). While thus engaged he aroused, by certain remarks, the anger of a military leader, Fang Kuo-an (see under Chu I-hai), who was then stationed in Chekiang. Thereupon he took refuge as a monk in a monastery near his home, but about 1651 he returned to the life of a hsiu-ts'ai.

Talented and proud and possessed of a sharp tongue, Mao Ch'i-ling incurred the enmity of many people in his home district. In 1651 he aroused considerable misunderstanding owing to an anthology of poems by Shaohsing authors which he had compiled. Later he wrote two dramas which were interpreted as ridiculing people of his native place. Finally the hatred against him grew so strong that he was charged with being the central figure in a murder case which occurred about the year 1657. Fleeing from home, he changed his name to Wang Yen 王彥 (T. 士方) and later to Mao Shêng 毛甡 (T. 初晴, 秋晴 and 晚晴). For some ten years he wandered in Kiangsu, Kiangsi, and Honan, and for a time was a guest of Shih Jun-chang [q. v.] when the latter was intendant of the Hu-hsi Circuit, Kiangsi (1661–1664). During his stay in Honan he made the acquaintance of T'ang Pin [q. v.]. About the year 1667, with the help of a friend, Chiang Hsi-chê (see under Wan Ssŭ-t'ung), his case was cleared and he returned home. While sojourning in Shanghai in 1678 he was recommended to take the special examination known as po-hsüeh hung-tzŭ which he passed successfully in the following year. He was made a Hanlin corrector and was appointed to the Historiographical Board which was then compiling the Ming History (Ming-shih). We are told that it fell to his lot to compile biographies of personages who lived during the Hung-chih (1488–1506) and Chêng-tê (1506–1522) reignperiods, and later to write on the aboriginal tribes and freebooters. In 1685 he officiated as an associate examiner of the metropolitan examinations. In the following year he obtained leave to bury the remains of his mother and, being himself afflicted with rheumatism, he retired to Hangchow.

Mao Ch'i-ling was a man of wide learning who wrote not only on the Classics, but also on phonetics, music, history, geography and philosophy. He was skilled in various types of literature, and was known as a calligrapher, a painter, and an apt player of the flute (簫). A prolific writer, he left a collection of his works, entitled 西河合集 Hsi-ho ho-chi, comprising 117 items in 493 chüan. This collection was first printed about 1699, but was revised and expanded in a second edition in 1720 which was reprinted in 1770 and again in 1796. The Ssŭ-k'u Catalogue lists sixty-three of his works, of which twentyeight were copied into the Imperial Manuscript Library (for both see under Chi Yün). A man of outstanding ability, but tenacious and dogmatic in his opinions, he was often subjected to severe criticism when he engaged in controversy with the scholars of his time. In phonology he took issue with Ku Yen-wu [q. v.], and on the question of the authenticity of the "ancient text" of the Classic of History he took issue with Yen Jo-chü [q. v.]. In reply to Yen's famous Ku-wên shang-shu shu-chêng, proving the "ancient text" to be a forgery, he brought out two works, 古文尚書冤詞 Ku-wên shang-shu yüan-tzŭ (8 chüan) and 尚書廣聽錄 Shang-shu kuang-t'ing lu (5 chüan), written, as the first title states, "to right an injustice". During his sojourn in Peking he composed a work of 4 chüan on music, which he credited to his father, under the title 竟山樂錄 Ching-shan yüeh-lu, Ching-shan being his father's tzŭ or courtesy name. In 1699, when Emperor Shêng-tsu made his third tour of South China, Mao, then retired, presented to the Emperor a work on Music, entitled 樂本解說 Yüeh-pên chieh-shuo, in 2 chüan. A book on the Classic of Changes, entitled 仲氏易 Chung-shih i in 30 chüan, written after he had retired to Hangchow, he credited to his second eldest brother, Mao Hsi-ling—the words Chung-shih in the title meaning "Second in the Family”. In connection with his activity in the Historiographical Board Mao Ch'i-ling wrote the following works all of which are included in the Hsi-ho ho-chi: 武宗外紀 Wu-tsung wai-chi, 1 chüan, an unofficial biography of Emperior Wu-tsung who ruled during the years 1506–1522; 後鑒錄 Hou-chien lu, 7 chüan, a record of the freebooters of the Ming dynasty; 王文成傳本 Wang Wên-chêng chuan pên, 2 chüan, a biography of the well-known Ming philosopher, Wang Shou-jên (see under Chang Li-hsiang); 勝朝彤史拾遺記 Shêng-ch'ao t'ung-shih shih-i chi, 6 chüan, biographies of empresses and imperial consorts of the Ming dynasty; and 蠻司合傳 Man-ssŭ ho-chuan in 15 chüan, a history of the aboriginal tribes of southwest China during the Ming period. He wrote comments to the well-known drama, Hsi-hsiang chi (see under Chin Jên-jui)—his annotated edition having been reprinted by Tung K'ang (see under Juan Ta-ch'êng) in recent years. In literary circles he was known as one of the "Three Maos of Chekiang" (文中三豪 浙中三毛), the others being Mao Hsien-shu 毛先舒 (also ming 騤, T. 稚黃, 馳黃, 1620–1688) and Mao Chi-k'o (see under Chao Shih-lin).

Mao Ch'i-ling had many pupils, the most noted perhaps being Li Kung [q. v.] who made the journey from North China to Hangchow and studied music with him in the period 1697–99. Li wrote a preface to Mao's collected works, as well as introductory remarks to some individual works such as the Ku-wên shang-shu yüan-tz'ŭ. Other pupils of note were Shao T'ing-ts'ai [q. v.], and a well-known woman poet, Hsü Chao-hua 徐昭華 (T. 伊璧, H. 蘭癡), daughter of Hsü Hsien-ch'ing 徐咸清 (T. 仲山, a competitor in the po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1679 who died in 1690) and wife of Lo Hsiang-chin 駱襄錦 (T. 加采). She was skilled not only in poetry but also in painting and calligraphy. One chüan of her poems was printed as a supplement to Mao Ch'i-ling's Hsi-ho ho-chi. Her mother, Shang Ching-hui 商景徽 (T. 嗣音), and her mother's elder sister, Shang Ching-lan (see under Ch'i Piao-chia [q. v.], achieved distinction in poetry—they being commonly referred to as the "Two Mesdames Shang" (二商夫人).

Having no son of his own, Mao Ch'i-ling adopted a nephew, Mao Yüan-tsung 毛遠宗 (T. 姬潢, a chin-shih of 1706). Mao Ch'i-ling's reputation for polemics and for disregard of others did not die down until long after his death. A later scholar and fellow-provincial, Ch'üan Tsu-wang [q. v.], wrote a very unfavorable account of his life. It should be added, however, that a still later scholar, Li Tz'ŭ-ming [q. v.], also of Chekiang, wrote in 1862 an essay in Mao's defense in which he takes exception to the criticisms of Ch'üan Tsu-wang.


[1/487/6b; 3/119/21a; 20/1/00 (portrait); 26/1/33a; 32/3/20a; Shao-hsing-fu chih (1792) 53/57b; Ssŭ-k'u, passim; Li Tz'ŭ-ming 李慈銘, 越縵堂文集 Yüeh-man t'ang wên-chi (1929) 6/15a; Suzuki Torao 鈴木虎雄, 毛奇齢の擬連廂詞 in 支那文學研究 Shina Bungaku Kenkyū, pp. 509–17; 莊諧選錄 Chuang-hsieh hsüan-lu (1904), 3/19b; Ch'ien Mu 錢穆, 中國近三百年學術史 Chung-kuo chin san-pai nien hsüeh-shu shih, pp. 220–58.]

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