Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shên T'ing-fang

SHÊN T'ing-fang 沈廷芳 (T. 畹叔, 萩林, H. 椒園), Oct. 10, 1702–1772, Mar. 22, official and scholar, was born in Hai-ning, Chekiang, at the home of his maternal grandfather, Cha Shêng (see under Cha Chi-tso); but the ancestral abode of his family was in Jên-ho (Hangchow). He spent his boyhood in Peking in the residence which Emperor Shêng-tsu alloted to Cha Shêng. In 1736 he passed the po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination (see under Liu Lun) and was appointed a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy where he later was made a compiler. As a collator in the Wu Ying Tien (see under Chin Chien), he was assigned (1738) to assist in the preparation of the 1743–44 edition of the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih (see under Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh). In 1741 he was appointed censor and in 1743 was made inspector of grain transport in Shantung. Before long (1744) he was charged with abuse of his censorial privileges and was dismissed from office, but was soon pardoned and during the years 1744–48 was twice in Shantung as inspecting censor of grain transport. In 1748 he became intendant of the Têng-Lai-Ch'ing Circuit (登萊青道), Shantung, where he rebuilt schools and city walls. He took a sympathetic interest in the life of the people who in turn showed him much appreciation. In 1754 he was transferred to Honan as provincial judge, and early in the following year he went to the capital. There, in an audience with the Emperor, he requested leave to resign to look after his aged mother in Hangchow. In the autumn of the same year his mother died, and two years later he became principal of the Yüeh-hsiu Academy (粵秀書院) in Canton (1757–58). There he had charge of the compilation of the 廣州府志 Kuang-chou fu-chih, 60 chüan, printed in 1759. In 1758 he returned to Peking and received appointment as provincial judge of Shantung, a position in which he was greatly honored and loved. It was reported that when he left Tsinan to retire (1762) he was followed by a crowd of several thousand admirers to a distance of forty li. During the next few years he served as principal of three Academies: Ao-fêng Shu-yüan 鼇峯書院 in Foochow (1763–65), Tuan-hsi (端溪) Shu-yüan in Kao-yao, Kwang-tung (1766), and Lo-i (樂儀) Shu-yüan in I-chêng, Kiangsu (1767–70). While in Foochow he undertook the compilation of the 續福建通志 Hsü Fu-chien t'ung-chih, 96 chüan, which was commissioned in 1763, but was not completed until 1768. In 1770, on the occasion of the sixtieth birthday of Emperor Kao-tsung, he made his last visit to the capital to take part in the ceremonies. He died two years later in Peking at the home of his son, Shên Shih-wei (see below).

Shên Ting-fang received his training in the ku-wên 古文, or archaic classical style, from Fang Pao [q. v.], and acquired his technique in poetry from the brothers, Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.] and Cha Ssŭ-li (see under Cha Shên-hsing), who were distant relatives of his grandfather, Cha Shêng. He was also a student of Shên Tê-ch'ien [q. v.] whom he styled "uncle" and from whom he received much encouragement. His collected works, entitled 隱拙齋集 Yin-cho chai chi, were first printed in 22 chüan, in 1757, and were several times expanded. The most complete edition, published under the same title by his son, Shên Shih-wei, contains 30 chüan of verse which he wrote during the years 1722–66, and 20 chüan of miscellaneous prose with a supplement (hsü-chi) of verse, in 5 chüan, composed by him after 1766. The postscript is dated 1779. His contributions to classical studies appear in a work, entitled 十三經註疏正字 Shih-san-ching chu-shu chêng-tzŭ, 81 chüan, in which he corrected errors he discovered in various editions of the Thirteen Classics and their commentaries. He arranged a collection of episodes from history, entitled 鑑古錄 Chien-ku lu, 16 chüan, which was presented to the throne early in 1741. While teaching in Foochow (1763–65) he prepared a supplement to Chu I-tsun's [q. v.] Ching-i k'ao, which bears the title Hsü Ching-i k'ao.

Shên T'ing-fang compiled a list of the members of the Hanlin Academy, entitled 國朝館選錄 Kuo-ch'ao kuan-hsüan lu, printed in 1746. The printing blocks for this work were deposited in the Academy and the names of later members were added from time to time until 1904—the last year in which Hanlin scholars were chosen from those who obtained the chin-shih degree. However, in the period 1905 to 1911, a number of students who had studied modern subjects in colleges at home or abroad were admitted into the Academy. [Perhaps the most complete existing list of Hanlin scholars is the 詞林輯略 Tz'ŭ-lin chi-lüeh, 10 chüan, compiled by Chu Ju-chên 朱汝珍 (T. 玉堂, H. 聘三, 隘園, chin-shih of 1904) and printed about 1929.]

Shên T'ing-fang was gifted in painting and calligraphy. He had as a hobby the study and collection of ink-slabs, and for that reason called his residence Yen-lin 硯林, or "Forest of Inkslabs". His father, Shên Yüan-ts'ang 沈元滄 (T. 麟洲, H. 東隅, 1666–1733), was magistrate of Wên-ch'ang, Kwangtung (1722–25). The father's collective works, entitled 滋蘭堂集 Tzŭ-lan t'ang chi, consist of verse in 10 chüan and prose in 4 chüan.

Shên T'ing-fang had two elder brothers. The second, Shên Hsin 沈心 (T. 房仲, d. 1760), was so highly esteemed by Cha Shên-hsing for his poetic talents that he gave him his granddaughter in marriage. The poems of Shên Hsin were published under the title 孤石山房詩集 Ku-shih shan-fang shih-chi, 6 chüan. An anthology of his verse, compiled by Yao Nai [q. v.], is entitled 房仲詩選 Fang-chung shih-hsüan, 2 chüan. Shên Hsin also wrote the 怪石錄 Kuai-shih lu (1 chüan, preface dated 1749), a study of stones of curious formation found at Ch'ing-chou, Shantung, and used for rockeries. Shên T'ing-fang had two sons. The elder, Shên Shih-wei 沈世煒, chin-shih of 1766, was a secretary in the reception department of the Board of Ceremonies and was once in charge of the provincial examination of Yunnan (1770).


[1/490/1b; 3/177/31a; 4/84/14b; 23/27/7b; 26/1/57b; Ssŭ-k'u, 33/10a; Yeb Ch'ang-ch'ih (see under P'an Tsu-yin), Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih, 5/13b.]

Li Man-kuei