Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shên T'ung

3649415Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — Shên T'ungRufus O. Suter

SHÊN T'ung 沈彤 (T. 冠[貫]雲, H. 果堂), 1688–1752, Nov. 30, classicist, was a native of Wu-chiang, Kiangsu. When young, he studied under Ho Ch'o [q. v.], but when in 1736 he was recommended to be admitted to the special po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination in Peking (see under Liu Lun), he was so deliberate in composing his poem that he had not finished it by midnight and therefore failed to qualify. He remained a licentiate all his life. Shên also studied under Chang Po-hsing [q. v.] and Yang Ming-shih 楊名時 (T. 賓實, 凝齋, 1661–1736). After his failure at the special examination he was invited to aid in the compilation of the San Li i-shu (see under Fang Pao) and the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih (see under Hsü Ch'ien-hsüeh). This task completed, he was granted an appointment of low order (ninth grade); but because he was ashamed of his inability to secure a higher position, and because of the advanced age of his parents, he returned to his home in Kiangsu, without entering into the duties of his office. Shên loved the mountains and rivers, especially those of antiquarian interest, and travelled in Shantung, Honan, Anhwei and other places. It is said of him that when he was on expeditions of this sort he would forget to return home. He was particularly noted for his filial piety and fraternal love. Having no son of his own, he adopted a nephew, Shên P'ei-ying 沈培英, who followed his foster-father as a student of the Classics. Shên was fortunate in the quality of his friends and associates. Among these were such notables as Fang Pao, Li Fu, Ch'üan Tsu-wang (who wrote his epitaph) and A-k'o-tun [qq. v.], who invited him to his home to educate his sons. After his death his disciples gave him privately the posthumous name Wên-hsiao 文孝.

Shên's specialty was the study of ancient ceremonials. His best work, according to the judgment of the Ssŭ-k'u (see under Chi Yün), is the 周官祿田考 Chou kuan lu t'ien k'ao, 3 chüan, which he wrote in the winter of 1751. His next best work is the 儀禮小疏 I-li hsiao shu, one chüan, unfinished—a collection of annotations to five chapters of the Decorum Ritual. Quotations from it appear in the I-li i-shu (see under Fang Pao). There is a collection of his shorter works under the title: 果堂集 Kuo-t'ang chi, 12 chüan, of which two prefaces by a relative, Shên Tê-ch'ien [q. v.], are dated 1749 and 1754. One essay in this collection is physiologico-lexicographical, the 釋骨 Shih-ku, or "Treatise on Bones". Shên was the author of two other physiological or medical books, the 內經本論 Nei-ching pên lun and the 氣穴考略 Ch'i hsüeh k'ao lüeh, 5 chüan, neither of which was published. He took part in the compilation of gazetteers for the Wu-chiang and Chên-ts'ê districts, Kiangsu, 59 and 38 chüan respectively, both completed in 1746.

Shên's work is commended for his simple, unadorned style, and for his criticism of those who stressed form at the expense of meaning, and of those who spent their energies on minute textual analysis for fear of not being exhaustive.

[1/487/13b; 3/409/34a; Ssŭ-k'u 19/9a, 20/9a; Shên Tê-ch'ien, biography of Shên T'ung in Kuo t'ang chi.]

Rufus O. Suter