Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ts'ai Hsin

TS'AI Hsin 蔡新 (T. 次明, H. 葛山, 緝斎), 1707–1800?, official and educator, was a native of Chang-p'u, Fukien. An uncle, Ts'ai Shihyuan 蔡世遠 (T. 聞之, H. 梁村, posthumous name 文勤, 1682–1733), a chin-shih of 1709, served as junior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies (1728–30), and was a teacher in the school for the Emperor's sons. Ts'ai Hsin ranked fourth among the chin-shih of 1736. Selected a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy, he was in the following year appointed a compiler. In 1745 he became a teacher in the school for the Emperor's sons where later he served as honorary or actual supervisor for nearly thirty years (1757–85). In 1746 he was made commissioner of education in Honan and in 1752 served successively as sub-chancellor in the Grand Secretariat, junior vice-president of the Board of Works, and junior vice-president of the Board of Punishments. The following year he was granted leave to return home to care for his aged mother. To her he devoted the next thirteen years—until her death in 1764. After observing the customary period of mourning he was made (1766) junior vice-president of the Board of Punishments and shortly thereafter commissioner of education in Chihli. In 1768 he was promoted to the presidency of the Board of Works and from that time until the close of his official life—though holding concurrently various other posts—presided over the following Boards: Board of Punishments, 1768–69; Board of War, 1769–73 and 1776–80; Board of Ceremonies, 1773–76; and Board of Civil Appointments, 1780–83. In 1773 he was presented by the Emperor with an official residence at Ch'êng-huai yüan (see under Chang T'ing-yü) and was permitted to ride horseback in the Forbidden City. In 1780 he was made an Assistant Grand Secretary, and in 1783 a Grand Secretary. Having reached (1785) the age of seventy-nine sui, he begged leave to retire. To this request the Emperor reluctantly consented, after bestowing upon him the honorary title of Grand Preceptor of the Heir Apparent. With the exception of a trip to Peking on the occasion of the Emperor's eightieth birthday (1790), Ts'ai Hsin spent the remainder of his life in Fukien. From time to time he exchanged poems with the Emperor; and his continued interest in governmental affairs is attested by his occasional memorials to the throne. As Ts'ai Hsin was approximately the age of Emperor Kao-tsung, and the last high official who had been closely associated with him during most of his reign, he was honored on a number of occasions with gifts. At the same time his son, Ts'ai Pên-chün 蔡本俊 (chin-shih of 1799), was granted several promotions. On learning of Emperor Kao-tsung's death (February 1799) Ts'ai Hsin, then in his ninety-second year, sought permission to go to Peking to pay his respects before the coffin of his master. But in a gracious edict by Emperor Jên-tsung he was excused on the ground of great age. Within a year Ts'ai Hsin himself died, and was canonized as Wên-tuan 文端.

Ts'ai Hsin's greatest service to his country was probably bis conscientious supervision for thirty years of the school for the Emperor's sons. There he carefully directed the education of the princes who regarded him with great respect. A strict upholder of the orthodox Confucian morality, he performed his official duties according to time-honored custom, and in this respect was an example of the intelligent, conservative, and dependable official of the old regime.

Ts'ai Hsin was not celebrated for his scholarship, but took pleasure in the writing of poetry. He left one collection of prose, entitled 緝齋文集 Chi-chai wên-chi, 8 chüan, and one of verse, entitled Chi-chai shih-kao (詩稿), 8 chüan, both printed in 1785.

[1/326/3a; 2/26/23a; 3/25/35a; 7/17/15a; 16/7/34a; 23/28/7a; 33/56/1a; Chao-lien [q. v.], Hsiao-t'ing hsü-lu, 3/11; Fukien t'ung-chih (1922) 列傳, 清5/7a.]

Knight Biggerstaff