Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shih Jun-chang

SHIH Jun-chang 施閏章 (T. 尚白, 屺雲, H. 愚山, 矩齋, 蠖齋), Jan. 6, 1619–1683, Aug. 5, poet, scholar, and official, was a native of Hsüan-ch'êng, Anhwei. His mother died when he was three (sui) and his father when he was nine (sui), leaving him to be brought up by a younger brother of his father. While still young he studied with a local scholar, Shên Shou-min 沈壽民 (T. 眉生, H. 耕巖, 1607–1675), read widely, and began to write essays and to compose excellent verse. Graduating as a chin-shih in 1649, he was appointed in 1651 a second class assistant secretary in the Board of Punishments. In 1656 he became commissioner of education for Shantung and in that capacity corrected the papers for the examination of 1658 in which P'u Sung-ling [q. v.], author of the well-known Liao-chai chih-i ("Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio"), took his hsiu-ts'ai degree.

In 1661 Shih went to Kiangsi as intendant of the Hu-hsi Circuit (湖西道) which included several districts in a badly despoiled region overrun by highwaymen and soldiers. It is from this period of his life that many picturesque stories arose concerning his skill, his amiability, and his integrity as an administrator. Unlike his predecessors who enhanced their difficulties by excessive cruelty, he both pacified the region and won the hearts of the people who affectionately called him "Shih the Buddha" (施佛子). A number of poems which he wrote at this time portray vividly the sufferings of the people. In this respect he was likened to the famous T'ang poet, Yüan Chieh 元結 (T. 次山, 719–772), who wrote verse in a similar vein when he was an official in this region. Wherever he went he encouraged education and rebuilt or founded Academies of learning. At the time of his retirement in 1667 the district of Ch'ingchiang, Kiangsi, erected the Academy known as Lung-kang Shu-yüan 龍岡書院 in his honor. The next ten years or more he devoted to a life of quiet study and to the writing of poetry. In 1679 he passed the special examination known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ (see under P'êng Sun-yü), becoming a sub-expositor in the Hanlin Academy with appointment on the editorial board which compiled the Ming History. In 1681 he was provincial examiner for Honan, and two years later was promoted to a sub-readership in the Academy. He died soon thereafter.

As a poet, Shih Jun-chang was linked with Sung Wan [q. v.], as shown in the popular saying, "Shih of the South and Sung of the North" (南施北宋), which is attributed to Wang Shih-chên [q. v.]. The latter especially admired his five-word lines. Shih and his fellow-townsman, Kao Yung 高詠 (T. 阮懷, H. 遺山, b. 1622), developed a type of poetry which came to be known, after the name of their home town, as the "Hsüan-ch'êng style" (宣城體). His collected prose writings, entitled 學餘堂文集 Hsüeh-yü t'ang wên-chi, in 28 chüan, and his verse, 詩集 shih-chi, in 50 chüan, were printed in 1708 by Ts'ao Yin [q. v.]. These, together with a supplement in 2 chüan, were copied into the Imperial Manuscript Library (see under Chi Yün). Six of his shorter works, his nien-p'u, and the collected poems of his grandson, Shih Li 施瑮 (T. 質存, H. 隨村), were printed from time to time. His complete works are published as 施愚山先生全集 Shih Yü-shan hsien-shêng ch'üan-chi. In 1769 his tablet and that of Huang Shu-lin [q. v.] were entered in a temple at Tsinan, Shantung, where the memory of Wang Shou-jên (see under Chang Li-hsiang) and two other heroes were celebrated—the temple being thereafter known as Wu Hsien Tz'ŭ 五賢祠.


[1/489/9a; 3/118/22a; 30/2/2b; 32/3/4a; Hsüan-ch'êng chih (1888) 15/ 9a; Shih Yü-shan hsien-shêng nien-p'u in his collected works (with portrait); 20/1/0 (portrait); 歷城縣志 Li-ch'êng hsien chih (1771) 11/31b.]

C. Martin Wilbur