Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sun Hsing-yen

SUN Hsing-yen 孫星衍 (T. 淵如, 伯淵, H. 季逑, 薇隱), Sept. 28, 1753–1818, Feb. 16, scholar, was a native of Yang-hu, Kiangsu. His great-great-grandfather, Sun Shên-hsing [q. v.], was noted during the last years of the Ming dynasty for his incorruptibility as an official. His father, Sun Hsün 孫勳 (T. 書屏), a chü-jên of 1756, lived to old age and survived his son. Early in 1772 Sun Hsing-yen married Wang Ts'ai-wei 王采薇 (T. 玉瑛, 1753–1776), the scholarly fourth daughter of Wang Kuang-hsieh 王光燮 (T. 麗三, H. 蓻三, 1711–1779) who was a chin-shih of 1737. In addition to being a poetess, she had a wide literary interest which extended even to works on Taoism. She left a volume of verse, entitled 長離閣集 Ch'ang-li ko chi, which later was printed at the close of Sun Hsing-yen's collected verse, entitled 芳茂山人詩錄 Fang-mao shan-jên shih-lu. Unfortunately she died at the age of twenty-four (sui), and Sun was so overcome by grief that he resolved to remain unmarried the rest of his life. His devotion won him much respect, despite the fact that at the age of forty (sui) he was compelled by his grandfather, who could not contemplate the lack of an heir, to take a second wife.

In 1774 Sun Hsing-yen entered the Chung-shan (鍾山) Academy in Nanking where he associated with such contemporaries as Hung Liang-chi [q. v.] and Yang Fang-ts'an (see under Sun Yüan-hsiang) and with such older scholars as Lu Wên-ch'ao, Ch'ien Ta-hsin, and Yüan Mei [qq. v.]. Having failed to qualify in a special examination given by Emperor Kao-tsung on the latter's fifth tour of South China in 1780, he remained in Nanking and studied in a Buddhist temple (Wa-kuan ssŭ 瓦官寺) where he had the opportunity to examine the Tripitaka. From this collection of Buddhistic literature he attempted to reconstruct the ancient Chinese lexicon 倉頡篇 Ts'ang-chieh p'ien. He also isolated, and later caused to be printed, the seventh century dictionary to the Tripitaka, 一切經音義 I-ch'ieh ching yin-i. Soon he was engaged as a secretary by Pi Yüan [q. v.] who was then observing the period of mourning for the death of his mother. Later, when Pi Yüan was recalled to the governorship of Shensi, Sun was invited to accompany him. Hence from 1781 to 1785 Sun resided at Sian where he enjoyed the company of other scholars (see under Hung Liang-chi). During this period he participated in the compilation of several local histories of Shensi: 醴泉縣志 Li-ch'üan hsien-chih, 14 chüan; 邠州志 Pin-chou chih, 25 chüan (in the Library of Congress); 澄城縣志 Ch'êng-ch'êng hsien-chih, 20 chüan (all the above printed in 1784); and San-shui (三水) hsien-chih, 12 chüan (printed in 1785). During these five years he also annotated and edited such ancient works as the herbal, 神農本草經 Shên-nung pên-ts'ao ching, and the work on military tactics, 孫子兵法 Sun-tzŭ ping-fa, etc. When Pi Yüan was transferred to the governorship of Honan in 1785 Sun accompanied him to Kaifeng. In 1786 Sun passed the Kiangnan provincial examination and became a chü-jên, along with Juan Yüan and Chang Hui-yen [qq. v.]. In the following year he became a chin-shih, with second highest honors. When he was about to be released from his period of study in the National Academy (1789) he utilized, in a quotation from the Historical Records (Shih-chi), a character of ancient form which Ho-shên [q. v.], the official examiner, did not recognize and took to be mistakenly written. For this he was marked down and appointed a second class secretary of the Board of Punishmnents, but two years later (1791) he was promoted to assistant department director in the same Board, becoming director in 1794.

In the following year Sun was made intendant of the Yen-I-Ts'ao-Chi (Yen-chou fu, I-Chou fu, Ts'ao-chou fu, and Chi-ning chou) Circuit, Shantung. At this time Juan Yüan was director of education of Shantung, and with Juan were such scholars as Wu I [q. v.] and Kuei Fu (see under Chou Yung-nien). In 1796 Sun was made acting judge of Shantung. During his stay in that province he engaged in research on sites of historical interest, attempting to identify the tombs of various disciples of Confucius, and of several emperors of antiquity who are now regarded as legendary. In 1798 his mother died and he went to Nanking to observe the mourning period. In the meantime Juan Yüan, having become governor of Chekiang, invited him to Hangchow (1800) and appointed him director of the Chi-shan 蕺山 Academy in Shaohsing. But soon thereafter the charge was brought that during his term as intendant in Shantung he and his successor had done inadequate work on river conservancy. The burden of making restitution fell wholly on Sun who was ordered to pay to the treasury 90,000 taels by instalments. In order to make these payments he reported at the capital in 1803 for another post and in the following year was made grain intendant of Shantung, an office he held until 1811 when he retired to Nanking on the ground of ill health. There he became director of the Chung-shan Academy, a post which he held until two years before his death.

As a scholar, Sun Hsing-yen took special interest in editing and establishing more satisfactory texts for ancient works whose intelligibility had suffered after centuries of misprinting. His own works, and the texts which he reprinted, are embodied chiefly in two great collectanea: 平津館叢書 P'ing-ching kuan ts'ung-shu comprising 43 items, and 岱南閣叢書 Tai-nan ko ts'ung-shu comprising 19 items. From the latter 5 items were later selected for printing (1798) in a miniature edition known as the Tai-nan ko chin-hsiang pên (巾箱本) ts'ung-shu. The two original collections were printed at various times; one edition of the former appeared in 1885, one of the latter in 1924. In his task as a collator Sun Hsing-yen profited by the assistance of such friends as Yen K'o-chün and Ku Kuang-ch'i [qq. v.]. Among the ancient works reproduced, in whole or in part, in the above-named collections, are the philosophical treatises known as 孫子 Sun-tzŭ and 抱朴子 Pao-p'o tzŭ; the medical work 千金寶要 Ch'ien-chin pao-yao, published in 1124; fragments from the lost work on Han governmental administration, Han kuan-i (see under Chang Tsung-yüan); the lost seventh century geography, 括地志 Kua-ti chih; the partially lost third-century commentary, 春秋釋例 Ch'un-ch'iu shih-li; and the ancient glossary, Ts'ang-chieh p'ien (see above). These collections contain, also, the seventh century legal work 唐律疏義 T'ang-lü shu i; the ancient topographical work 元和郡縣志 Yüan-ho chün-hsien-chih (completed ca. 814 A.D.); and the long-neglected work by Mei Tsu 梅鷟 (T. 致齋, chü-jên of 1513) on the spuriousness of the so-called "ancient text” of the Classic of History, entitled 古文尚書考異 Ku-wên Shang-shu k'ao-i, printed in 1543 (for later works on this subject see under Yen Jo-chü, Hui Tung, and Ts'ui Shu). Sun Hsing-yen himself produced a work on the latter problem, entitled Shang-shu ku-wên chu-shu (注疏), which was first printed in 1815. For the ancient anthology of little-known verse, essays, letters, ancient documents, etc., entitled 古文苑 Ku wên yüan, he produced a supplement (續 hsü), in 20 chüan, which was first printed in 1812. He collaborated with Hsing Chu (see under Ch'ien Ta-hsin) in the compilation of the 寰宇訪碑錄 Huan-yü fang-pei lu (12 chüan, first printed in 1820), a list of inscriptions on stone gathered from all parts of the country. In addition to the afore-mentioned local histories he compiled in 1802 the 廬州府志 Lu-chou fu chih of Anhwei, printed in 1803; and in 1813 the Sung-chiang (松江) fu chih of Kiangsu, printed in 1819. His literary collections which appeared under various titles were printed in the Ssŭ-pu to'ung-k'an under the general title 孫淵如詩文集 Sun Yüan-ju shih-wên chi. In 1931 Wang Chung-min (see under Han T'an) brought together ninety-one additional essays, prefaces, letters, etc. by Sun Hsingyen which were printed by the Peiping National Library in the same year under the title Sun Yüan-ju wai (外) chi (6 chüan).

Sun Hsing-yen was also a bibliophile and calligrapher. The catalogue he made of his own library, entitled 孫氏祠堂書目 Sun-shih tz'ŭ t'ang shu-mu, 7 chüan, was first printed in 1810 in the Tai-nan ko tsʻung shu. He is said to have copied much of his material from the books in the Hanlin Academy and in the Wên Lan Ko Library at Hangchow (see under Chi Yün). As a calligrapher he was especially skillful in the chuan (篆) or seal style. He had a learned daughter, Sun I-hui 孫漪蕙 (T. 秋佩), who left a collection of poems, entitled 詩微室草 Shih-wei shih ts'ao.


[3/213/5a; 20/3/00 portrait; 29/6/32a; Chang Shao-nan, Sun Yüan-ju nien-p'u, 2 chüan; Wu-chin Yang-hu ho-chih (see under Li Chao-lo) ed. of 1886, 26/46b; Ku-hsüeh hui-k'an (see under Li Ch'ing) portrait.]

Tu Lien-chê