Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Shih Yün-yü

SHIH Yün-yü 石韞玉 (T. 執如, H. 琢堂, 獨學老人, 歸眞子), 1756–1837, June 7, official, scholar, and calligrapher, was a native of Wu-hsien (Soochow). Taking his chü-jên degree in 1779, he was employed during most of the ensuing eleven years as secretary to various magistrates or prefects. In 1790 he passed the palace examination with the highest honor, known as chuang-yüan, and was appointed a first class compiler of the Hanlin Academy. In 1792 he served as director of the provincial examination of Fukien and in the same year was appointed commissioner of education of Hunan. He returned to Peking in 1795 and thereafter served as a diarist (1796) and as a teacher in the school for the emperor's sons (1798). Late in 1798 he qualified for the post of prefect, and in the following year was appointed prefect of Chungking, Szechwan, at a time when the Pai-lien chiao insurgents (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao) were active in that province. He was entrusted with the defense of Chungking, which he carried out successfully. During his six years at Chungking he was regarded as a good administrator, and once was summoned by the governor-general of Szechwan, Lê-pao [q. v.], to assist in drafting memorials to the throne on military operations against the insurgents. After the war he was commended, and in 1805 was granted an audience with the emperor. As he was returning to his post in Szechwan he received the higher appointment of intendant of the T'ung-Shang Circuit (潼商道) in Shensi with residence at Tungkwan. Within the same year (1805) he was again promoted, this time to be provincial judge of Shantung, but two years later (1807) was dismissed for a mistrial. The emperor, remembering Shih as an able official, gave him the rank of a compiler of the Hanlin Academy. Shih stayed in Peking for a few months, and in the winter of 1807 requested sick leave. He did not resume official life.

Shih Yün-yü was fifty-two sui when he retired, and lived to be eighty-two. The first five years of his retirement he spent near Hangchow, but in 1812 returned to his ancestral home in Soochow. The house in which he lived was once owned by Ho Ch'o [q. v.]. Thereafter Shih taught in the Tsun-ching 尊經 Academy, Nanking, and at the same time helped to collate the Ch'üan T'ang wên at Yangchow (see under Tung Kao). For more than twenty years after 1816 he directed the Tzŭ-yang 紫陽 Academy, in Soochow, he himself having once studied in it under P'êng Ch'i-fêng (see under P'êng Ting-ch'iu). Meanwhile he was chief compiler of two gazetteers: the 蘇州府志 Soochow-fu chih, 160 chüan, printed in 1824; and the 崑新合志 K'un-Hsin ho-chih, 42 chüan, printed in 1826.

The literary works of Shih Yün-yü were printed in five series, under the collective title 獨學廬詩文稿 Tu-hsüeh lu shih-wên kao, making a total of 53 chüan. These comprise 26 chüan of verse, 5 chüan of tz'ŭ, or poems in irregular meter, and 22 chüan of prose. The first series was printed in 1795 when Shih was in Hunan; the second in 1805, at Chungking; the third in 1817; and the fourth and fifth about 1826 and 1832, respectively, at Soochow. All series were beautifully printed in the handwriting of able calligraphers—especially series one and two. Shih himself was a noted calligrapher, and it is reported that he was a skilled player of the ch'in 琴, or lute.

Shih Yün-yü had among his friends a cousin, the bibliophile Huang P'ei-lieh [q. v.], and the scholar, Wang Ch'i-sun 王芑孫 (T. 念豐, H. 惕甫, 1755–1818). Like them he was interested in book collecting—his library, Ling-po ko 凌波閣, containing more than forty thousand chüan. Another friend, Shên Fu [q. v.], was his secretary in the years 1805–06. During the celebration of the Chinese New Year in 1822, Shih invited to a dinner-party three men who, like himself, held the chuang-yüan degree. It was an unusual occasion, not only because four chuang-yüan seldom gathered outside of Peking, but also because all four came from the same city of Soochow. The three men were P'an Shih-ên [q. v.], chuang-yüan of 1793; Wu T'ing-ch'ên 吳廷琛 (T. 震南, H. 棣華, 1773–1844), chuang-yüan of 1802; and Wu Hsin-chung 吳信中 (T. 靄人, H. 閱甫), chuang-yüan of 1808. Several poems written by them on this occasion were printed by Huang P'ei-lieh in 1824 under the title 狀元會唱和詩 Chuang-yüan hui ch'ang-ho shih.


[2/72/51b; 3/195/30a; 20/3/00; Tu-hsüeh lu shih wên kao 四稿, 文2/21b, 池上集1/7b; Yeh Tê-hui (see under Chu I-tsun) 郎園讀書志 Hsi-yüan tu-shu chih 14/8b.]

Fang Chao-ying