Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tai Ming-shih

TAI Ming-shih 戴名世 (T. 田有, 褐夫, H. 藥身, 憂庵, 南山), Apr. 15, 1653–1713, Mar. 3?, scholar, was a native of T'ung-ch'êng, Anhwei, the eldest son of Tai Shih 戴碩 (1633–1680). From the time he was nineteen he taught in the local schools, and in 1680 became a licentiate. After twice failing to pass the provincial examinations at Nanking, his native district supported him, in 1686, to study in the Imperial Academy at Peking. The following year he taught in a school for Bannermen. He became eligible for a magistracy, but preferred to continue his studies, eking out an existence by reading examination papers and by editing selections of pa-ku essays for students to imitate. Despite his fame as an essayist, he continued to fail in the provincial examinations. In 1701, when the first collection of his essays was printed, he entitled it 南山集偶鈔 Nan-shan chi ou ch'ao, implying nostalgia for the Southern Hills of his native district. He continued to take the provincial examinations and finally became a chü-jên in 1705 at the age of fifty-three (sui). Three years later he published an edition of the Four Books, under the title 四書大全 Ssŭ-shu ta ch'üan, using exclusively the annotations and explanations of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei). In 1709 he passed the metropolitan examination as first kung-shih (貢士) and the palace examination as second chin-shih of the first class, and was appointed a compiler in the Hanlin Academy.

In 1711 Tai Ming-shih was accused by Chao Shên-ch'iao [q. v.] of writings injurious to the Dynasty, and was imprisoned. The charge was based on a letter, included in the Nan-shan chi ou ch'ao, which he had written in 1683 to his pupil, Yü Chan 余湛, asking him to seek out a monk who had served in the palace of Chu Yu-lang [q. v.] and who had given an oral account of the latter's Courts in Yunnan and Kweichow. This account, which Yü Chan had noted down and had sent to Tai, differed in certain respects from the one in the 滇黔紀聞 Tien Ch'ien chi-wên, written by Fang Hsiao-piao 方孝標 (original ming 玄成 H. 樓岡, chin-shih 1649), who had been in Yunnan during the rebellion of Wu San-kuei [q. v.]. In this letter Tai expressed his interest in collecting the fast disappearing records of the Southern Ming Courts and in writing a true history of the period. His major offense, however, appears to have been the use of the Southern Ming reign-titles instead of that of Emperor Shih-tsu (see under Fu-lin). This was regarded as a denial of Manchu authority and hence treasonable.

Early in 1713 the Fang and Tai clans and all the scholars who were associated with Tai Mingshih or who had written prefaces to his books were listed by the Board of Punishments as deserving the death penalty. This sweeping judgment appears to have been due in part to an erroneous assumption that Fang Hsiao-piao was related to Fang Kuang-chên 方光琛 (T. 獻廷, H. 雲鶴, d. 1681) a native of Shê-hsien, Anhwei, who had served as a Grand Secretary in the rebellious Wu San-kuei regime. Emperor Shêng-tsu, however, mitigated the harsh verdict to some extent, with the result that only Tai Ming-shih was executed. Though Fang Hsiao-piao had been dead for years, his body was unearthed and dismembered, and his sons and their families were banished to Heilungkiang. The others involved, including Fang Pao [q. v.] and Wang Hao 汪灝 (T. 紫滄, H. 沅亭, chin-shih 1703), were condemned to penal servitude in one of the Chinese Banners, but were later freed. This episode is known in history as "The Case of the Condemned Writings of Tai Ming-shih" (南山集獄). All works from his pen were banned, and it was not until 1841 that one of his clansmen, Tai Chün-hêng (see under Fang Pao), brought together a part of his essays and historical papers and edited them. This collection, comprising 15 chüan, plus a nien-p'u in 1 chüan, was entitled 宋潛虛先生集 Sung Ch'ien-hsü hsien-shêng chi in order to conceal the author's identity. The name Sung was chosen in deference to a tradition that the surname Tai had been adopted by the descendants of Duke Tai of Sung (宋戴公), a figure in the Spring and Autumn Period.


[1/489/31b; 2/80/9b; 6/8/6b; Ch'ien-hsü hsien-shêng nien-p'u; Chi T'ung-ch'êng Fang-Tai liang-chia shu an (on the cases of Fang Hsiao-piao and Tai Ming-shih), in Ku-hsüeh hui-k'an (see under Li Ch'ing) vol. 11; Tung-hua lu, K'ang-hsi 51:1; Kuan-ts'ang Ch'ing-tai chin-shu shu-lüeh (on prohibited books in the Ch'ing period), in Fifth Annual Report of the Kuo-hsüeh Library, Nanking p. 25–29; Ch'üan Tsu-wang [q. v.], Chi-ch'i t'ing chi, wai-pien 22/18a; Goodrich, L. C., Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung p. 77–79; Liu Hsien-t'ing [q. v.], Kuang-yang tsa-chi 1/48b; Mao, Lucien, "Tai Ming-shih", T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol. 5, no. 4, p. 382–399.]

Fang Chao-ying