Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sun Ch'i-fêng

SUN Ch'i-fêng 孫奇逢 (T. 啓泰, H. 鍾元, 夏峯), Jan. 14, 1585–1675, May 15, scholar, was a native of Jung-ch'êng, Chihli. He became a chü-jên in 1600 at the early age of seventeen (sui), but was unsuccessful in the examinations for a higher degree. His father died in 1605, his mother in 1608. For both parents he strictly observed the mourning rites. From 1611 to 1617 he lived in Peking teaching in the homes of wealthy families; thereafter he taught in his native town, Jung-ch'êng. In 1625 two friends, Tso Kuang-tou and Wei Ta-chung (see under Yang Lien), were imprisoned by the powerful eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], on the false charge of receiving bribes from Hsiung T'ing-pi [q. v.]. Most officials, fearing the wrath of the eunuch, refrained from interference in their behalf, but Sun did everything he could for them, protecting their sons and raising funds for their release. Although unsuccessful, he gained through his efforts a reputation for bravery and righteousness. In 1628 he was honored by imperial decree for filial piety and two years later was recommended to the Emperor as worthy of an official post, but declined the offer, preferring to teach and study at home. Recommended again in 1635, he declined once more. He was a friend of Lu Shan-chi 鹿善繼 (T. 伯順, H. 乾嶽, 江村, 1575–1636), who likewise lived as a retired teacher in the neighboring district of Ting-hsing. When Manchu forces invaded Chihli province in 1635–36, they attacked Ting-hsing. The city fell and Lu Shan-chi was killed. They also attacked Jung-ch'êng, but thanks to the skill of Sun Ch'i-fêng in directing the defense, that city withstood a seven-day siege. Realizing that the walls of Jung-ch'êng would be inadequate to withstand heavier onslaughts of bandits from the west and Manchus from the east, Sun sought a retreat in the mountains southwest of I-chou to which, in 1638, he removed his relatives and friends, establishing regulations for the community and continuing military preparations. In 1643 this community resisted an attack from Manchu troops then on their way home from an invasion of Shantung.

In 1644 Peking fell to the Manchus, and an alien dynasty was established. Four times, by imperial direction, Sun was offered posts in the new regime but each time he declined. In 1646 his farms and properties, as well as those of thousands of other land-owners in Chihli, were confiscated by the Manchus and appropriated for their own uses. After moving from place to place, he started southward in 1649, settling in the following year in Hui-hsien, Honan. After 1652 he resided in the village of Hsia-fêng, ten li southeast of Hui-hsien—and for that reason was familiarly referred to as "The Teacher of Hsia-fêng" (夏峯先生). There many students went regularly to learn from him or to pay their respects; and there it was that his most important works were compiled. In 1664 the publication of his 甲申大難錄 Chia-shên ta-nan lu, concerning the brave men who gave their lives in defense of their country in 1644, caused the imprisonment of the magistrate of Tsining, Shantung, who sponsored the printing. Hearing of his dilemma, Sun, then eighty-one (sui), hastened north and would have gone as far as Peking to defend himself and his sponsor had not the latter been released before Sun reached his destination. After careful official examination, the work was found to contain nothing prejudicial to the Manchus. Sun returned to Hsia-fêng in 1665. In the following year T'ang Pin [q. v.] went to visit him and became his disciple. In 1669, when Sun was eighty-six (sui), his great-great-grandson was born and elaborate congratulatory festivities were arranged to commemorate the event. In the following years several eminent scholars visited him, including Shih Jun-chang, and Fei Mi [qq. v.]. Even at the age of ninety-five (sui) his mind was clear, and until a few days before his death he was reading and writing.

Sun Ch'i-fêng was a disciple of the Confucian school of Wang Shou-jên (see under Chang Li-hsiang). Unlike Lu Lung-chi [q. v.], who advocated the philosophy of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei) exclusively, Sun was tolerant of both schools. The Imperial Catalogue (see under Chi Yün) sums up his viewpoint in the words, "If you are destined to endure poverty, then hammer out for yourself a superior character; if you engage in public service, make it your aim to reform society." He wrote three works on the Classics: 讀易大旨 Tu I ta-chih, in 5 chüan, completed in 1669; 尚書近指 Shang-shu chin-chih, in 6 chüan, completed in 1662; and 四書近指 Ssŭ-shu chin-chih, in 20 chüan, completed in 1659. Two biographical works on the famous men of Honan and Chihli, entitled respectively 中州人物考 Chung-chou jên-wu k'ao, and Chi-fu (畿輔) jên-wu k'ao, both completed in 1658, are authoritative studies when viewed from the Confucian standpoint. He also wrote a biographical work, 理學宗傳 Li-hsüeh tsung-chuan, in 26 chüan, printed in 1666 and dealing primarily with Confucian scholars since the Sung period. It was at his suggestion that T'ang Pin compiled the Lo hsüeh pien (see under T'ang), or biographical sketches of the philosophers of Honan; and that Wei I-ao 魏一鼇 (T. 蓮陸), a chü-jên of 1642, compiled the 北學編 Pei hsüeh pien (completed in 1646) on the philosophers of North China. The collected prose and verse of Sun Ch'i-fêng, entitled 夏峯先生集, Hsia-fêng hsien-shêng chi, in 14 chüan, including his nien-p'u, his family regulations under the title 孝友堂家規 Hsiao-yu t'ang chia-kuei, and lecture notes taken down by his disciples, were printed in the Chi-fu ts'ung-shu (see under Ts'ui Shu). His diary, 孫徵君日譜 Sun chêng-chün jih-p'u, 36 chüan, covering the years 1655–58, 1659–69, and 1672–75, was published by his descendants (with the help of many friends) in the years 1874–85.

His tablet was placed, by imperial decree, in the Temple of Confucius in 1828.


[Sun Hsia-fêng hsien-shêng nien-p'u; 1/486/3a; 3/397/11a; 4/127/13a; 17/1/1a; M.83/57/7b; Ssŭ-k'u 36/6a passim; Watters, T., A Guide to the Tablets in a Temple of Confucius (1879), p. 227.]

Fang Chao-ying