Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ts'ui Shu

TS'UI Shu 崔述 (T. 武承, H. 東壁), Sept. 19, 1740–1816, Mar. 4, historian, was a native of Wei-hsien in the prefecture of Ta-ming, Chihli (present Hopei). When the River Chang inundated Wei-hsien in 1757 that city was abandoned and incorporated (1758) with Ta-ming, and for that reason Ts'ui Shu is often listed as a native of the latter place. His remote ancestors lived in Ta-ning-wei in present Jehol province. There, at the beginning of the Ming period, members of the family gained repute in military affairs and some of them became chieftains of local clans. Later they migrated to Hsin-an in the prefecture of Paoting, Chihli; and in the Shun-chih reign-period (1644–62) a certain Ts'ui Hsiang-hua 崔向化 was the first of the family to move to Wei-hsien. A son of Ts'ui Hsiang-hua, named Ts'ui Wei-ya 崔維雅 (T. 大醇, H. 默齋, a chü-jên of 1646), who is often referred to by Ts'ui Shu by his official title, Hsien Pu-chêng Kung 先布政公, belonged to an honored collateral branch of the family. He, too, was born in Hsin-an, but lived later in Wei-hsien. He achieved distinction as director of schools in Chün-hsien and as magistrate of I-fêng, both in Honan. During the years 1660–61 he was active in flood control in that province and left a work on the subject, entitled 河防芻議 Ho-fang chu-i, 6 chüan, which was given notice in the Imperial Catalogue, or Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu ts'ung-mu t'i-yao (see under Chi Yün). He became prefect of Ningpo and held other important posts. An account of his life appears in Ts'ui Shu's collected works.

Ts'ui Shu's great-grandfather, Ts'ui Chi-lin 崔緝麟 (T. 振侯, H. 段垣, a chü-jên of 1690), was a nephew of Ts'ui Wei-ya. He, too, was born in Hsin-an, moved with the family to Wei-hsien, and for many years accompanied his uncle, Ts'ui Wei-ya, to various parts of China on official duties. During the years 1713–15 he was director of schools in Ta-ch'êng, Chihli, and as such was highly respected by students. His advice on matters of river control was sought by the Grand Secretary, Li Kuang-ti [q. v.]. In his own community Ts'ui Chi-lin was respected for his upright conduct, his scholarly tastes, and his skill in calligraphy in which he excelled up to the time of his death at the age of eight-two (sui). He left a collection of prose and verse which, according to fragments which have survived, show him to have had unusually fine sensibilities. Unfortunately his manuscripts were lost in the great flood of 1757. In 1788 Ts'ui Shu and his brother, Ts'ui Mai (see below), brought together parts of this collection, but this too is lost, except for one delightful essay, 備廬說 Pei-lu shuo ("My Well-stocked Hovel"), which Ts'ui Shu had copied in his youth and later incorporated in his own collected works. A poem by Ts'ui Chi-lin also appears in the anthology of Chihli poets, 畿輔詩傳 Chi-fu shih chuan, compiled by T'ao Liang (see under Chu I-tsun) and printed in 1839.

The second son of Ts'ui Chi-lin, named Ts'ui Lien 崔濂 (T. 周溪, d. 1748), was the grandfather of Ts'ui Shu and a military hsiu-ts'ai. The eldest son of Ts'ui Lien, named Ts'ui Yüan-sên 崔元森 (T. 燦若, H. 闇齋, 1709–1771), was Ts'ui Shu's father. He became (1745) the adopted son of his uncle, Ts'ui Han 崔瀚 (T. 春海), who died in 1744. At the age of seventeen (sui) Ts'ui Yüan-sên received instruction in composition from the classical scholar, Chao Kuo-lin (see under Wu Ching-tzŭ). About the year 1724 he married a daughter of Li Chiu-ching 李九經 a local scholar whose ancestors had come from Hsiang-yüan, Shansi. One of these ancestors, named Li Yang-chêng 李養正 (T. 若蒙, chin-shih of 1598, d. 1630), rose to be president of the Ministry of Justice. Ts'ui Shu's mother, née Li (her personal name is not known), was born in 1706 and died in 1780. She was a woman of great force of character and also of some education, for she gave her sons their first instruction in the Great Learning and in the Doctrine of the Mean. Ts'ui Shu's father, Ts'ui Yüan-sên, was likewise imbued with scholarly ambitions which, owing to extreme poverty, he could not fulfill. During the years 1726–36 he competed five times in vain for the chü-jên degree and finally resigned himself to the life of a village schoolmaster and to giving his sons a rigorous training in the classics. He was an ardent admirer of the practical aspects of Chu Hsi's philosophy and that of Lu Lung-chi [q. v.], and opposed the intuitional approach of Wang Yang-ming (see under Chang Li-hsiang). With considerable critical foresight, he insisted that his sons should acquaint themselves with the unannotated texts of the classics before taking up the commentaries of others—a method that Ts'ui Shu highly commended in his later years. When Ts'ui Yüan-sên died his epitaph was composed by Wang Shih-han 汪師韓 (T. 抒懷, b. 1707, a chin-shih of 1733), a noted director of-several Academies in North China. Ts'ui Yüan-sên had three sons and four daughters. The eldest son died at the age of eleven, the second was Ts'ui Shu, and the third was Ts'ui Mai 崔邁 (T. 德皋, H. 薜巖, 1743–1781) who showed intellectual promise equal to that of Ts'ui Shu but died an untimely and much lamented death at the age of thirty-nine (sui).

When Ts'ui Shu was fifteen sui (1754) he and his brother, Ts'ui Mai, went to Ta-ming to take the preliminary examinations. The prefect of Ta-ming, Chu Ying 朱煐 (T. 臨川, H. 龍坡, d. 1774, age 76 sui), a native of Shih-p'ing, Yunnan, and a chin-shih of 1724, was so impressed by the talents of the two youths that he arranged for them to be instructed along with his own son, in a studio, Wan Hsiang T'ang 晚香堂, in the courtyard of his yamen. This studio had been erected about 1570 and was still standing though in a dilapidated condition, when Ku Chieh-kang 顧頡剛 (b. 1893), William Hung 洪業 (T. 煨蓮, b. 1893) and others visited the site in 1931. In that studio the two brothers pursued their studies under congenial circumstances for eight years (1755–62). In the autumn of 1762 both received the chü-jên degree. The following spring they went to Peking to compete for the chin-shih degree. They were unsuccessful, but Ts'ui Shu at this time made the acquaintance of Li T'iao-yüan [q. v.], as we know from a consolatory poem which the latter dedicated to Ts'ui. Previously, however, the River Chang had overflowed its banks (1757) with the result that the ancestral home was ruined, and the family was left in abject poverty. In the tenth moon of that year the family moved its abode four times; and when, in the seventh moon of 1761, the city was again inundated, three more removals became necessary. More than once, when the sons set out to visit their parents, they rowed over a great expanse of water, and once at least crossed the top of the walled city of Wei-hsien by boat.

According to verses which Ts'ui Shu has left us, it seems reasonably certain that in the spring of 1764 he went to Shensi to marry Ch'êng Ching-lan 成靜蘭 (T. 紉秋, 1740–1814), a daughter of Ch'êng Huai-tsu 成懷祖 (T. 蘭田, 1707–1771), a native of Wei-hsien who served as a second-class assistant department magistrate in Pin-chou, Shensi, in the years 1750-66. The Ch'êng family came originally from Hung-tung, Shansi, moved to Chihli in the Yung-lo reign-period (1403–25) and became one of the leading families of Ta-ming. (For ancestors of note in this family see under Ch'êng K'o-kung). Ch'êng Ching-lan was born in the same year as Ts'ui Shu and died two years before her husband. For nearly fifty years she was his devoted companion, following every phase of his literary activity with understanding and intelligent interest, enduring without reproach all the vicissitudes of his lonely and difficult career. He wrote an account of her life which unfortunately is lost, though in 1928 there was discovered in Ta-ming an incomplete collection of her verse in manuscript, under the collective title 二餘集 Êr-yü chi, which yields important information about their joys and sorrows and her own high aspirations.

After the marriage, which probably took place in the autumn of 1764, Ts'ui Shu and his wife returned (1765) to Wei-hsien, where the family lived for a time on an elevation, known as Li Hsien Tai 禮賢臺, southeast of the city. The place had been allocated to the family against recurring floods by a magistrate of Ta-ming, named Ch'in Hsüeh-p'u 泰學溥 (T. 耐圃). From then on both Ts'ui Shu and his brother supported the household by teaching in neighboring villages, though they were constantly harried, and their studies were repeatedly interrupted, by poverty, illness, and death in the family. In 1771 the father died, and it was three years before they could afford to inter his remains in a plot outside the south wall of the city. Only in 1780 were they able to bury the remains of a sister who had died ten years previously. In the sixth moon of that year (1780) Ts'ui Shu lost his only son aged four (sui), and in the tenth moon his mother died. On August 17 of the following year his only brother, Ts'ui Mai, also died leaving three sons to be cared for.

There are many references in Ts'ui Shu's collected works to Ts'ui Mai, particularly concerning his studies in the Classic of History, but no extensive specimens of his writings were known to exist until in 1934 four collections comprising seven chüan of his prose and verse were discovered at Ta-ming. These items, though comprising by no means all of his writings, are published in volume 7 of the definitive edition of the Ts'ui Tung-pi i-shu of 1936 (see below), under the collective title 崔德皋先生遺書 Ts'ui Tê-kao hsien-shêng i-shu. Ts'ui Mai had the same critical interest in history as his brother—the same concern to establish the truth or falsity of events or of the written documents of antiquity. Both were keenly interested in proving the spuriousness of the so-called "ancient text" of the Classics of History. Their conclusions on this point coincide with those of Mei Tsu (see under Sun Hsing-yen) in the Ming period and of Yen Jo-chü [q. v.] in the Ch'ing but, owing to the isolation under which they worked, neither of them saw the studies of Mei or Yen, though they did read the 古文尚書考 Ku-wên Shang-shu k'ao by Li Fu [q. v.] which referred to the work of Mei Tsu.

In one of his numerous autobiographical notations Ts'ui Shu declares that before he reached the age of twenty (sui) he began to doubt the authenticity of certain passages in the Analects. About the age of thirty (1769) he concluded that the historical and other documents of the Chin and Han periods were often at variance with the accounts in the Classics. Particularly did he believe this to be the case in matters relating to remote antiquity. The School of Han Learning (see under Ku Yen-wu) had been content to rest on texts of the Han period which "being close to antiquity" were regarded as most authentic; but Ts'ui Shu believed these texts to be already marred by many accretions and false interpretations, and therefore decided to begin with a detailed comparative study of the Classics themselves which he believed to be for the most part unassailable or at least of such authenticity that the truth of the sages could, by comparative study, be derived from them. He was the first to observe that the model emperor lore was built up in successive strata so that, the more remote a given event was, the more detailed became the information about that event. Thus Yao and Shun are unknown to the earliest classic, the Odes; Shên Nung appears first in the writings of Mencius; the Huang-ti lore first became prominent in the Chin period (255–206 B.C.); and P'an Ku, supposedly the most ancient figure of all, is mentioned first in the literature of Han (206 B.C.–25 A.D.). After long transmission these accretions were accepted as fact, thereby vitiating many histories, commentaries and philosophical writings that appeared after the time of the Warring Kingdoms (403–255 B.C.). Ts'ui resolved therefore to write a work "to rectify unwarranted accretions in spurious books and to expose the fallacies in popular theories".

The result was a collection of twelve treatises on ancient history bearing the collective title, 考信錄 Kao-hsin lu, in 36 chüan, the substance of them being given in a magnificent summary called K'ao-hsin lu t'i-yao (提要). He began the work in 1783 and completed it tentatively in the autumn of 1805, but kept on revising it in part until 1814, scarcely two years before his death. It represents a lifetime of the most exacting and laborious research, and constitutes the major part of his collected writings. The title, K'ao-hsin lu, was derived from a phrase in the Shih-chi (see Chin Jên-jui) by Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien, "Though scholars [have at their disposal] a great many documents, they still must verify their beliefs by the Six Classics" (夫學者載籍極博, 猶考信於六藝). His is, therefore, "A Record of Beliefs Investigated". The direction in which his doubts led him can be inferred from the fact that he rejected much of the data about Confucius and his disciples in the Historical Record; he believed that the Preface to the Odes, and much in the last five sections of the Analects, belong to a later time; he did not think that Tsêng-tzu 曾子 wrote the Great Learning, or that Tz'ŭ-ssŭ 子思 wrote the Doctrine of the Mean; he repudiated the current text of the Bamboo Annals; he regarded the Shan-hai ching (see under Hsü Wên-ching) as a work of the Han period; he rejected the traditional dating of the Stone Drums; and regarded the 孔子家語 K'ung-tzŭ chia-yü ("Family Sayings of Confucius") as a forgery. Though not all of his conclusions can now be accepted, and though some of them seem now rather naive, he defended his positions with such critical acumen and with such palpable integrity that he must be reckoned among the great critical historians of any place or time. The comment which his great disciple, Ch'ên Li-ho (see below), made on the K'ao-hsin lu is both just and singularly prophetic. "Since his [Tsui's] ideas were of no practical advantage in the examination halls, there were few who believed in him. On the contrary, there were those who seized upon his most trustworthy conclusions and on his clearest expositions to discredit him. Within the next century there will surely be some in this broad empire who will truly understand him".

In 1769 Ts'ui Shu went to Peking to compete for the chin-shih degree. He was unsuccessful; but during this sojourn he met K'ung Kuang-sên [q. v.], one of the few great scholarly contemporaries whom he came to know in person. Upon his return he resigned himself to a life of scholarship, supporting himself precariously as a village schoolmaster. In 1772 he wrote a brief account of his fathers life, 先府君行述 Hsien fu-chün hsing-shu, which is marked by manly pathos and deep understanding. Extant also is a biographical sketch of his mother, 先孺人行述 Hsien ju-jên hsing-shu, written by him in 1782. Stirred by recurring droughts and the sufferings of the farmers in his neighborhood, he completed in 1774 a work on food in times of famine, entitled 救荒策 Chiu-huang ts'ê which, more than other treatises of this nature, penetrates beneath the official ineptitude and the popular vagaries of his day. To this he appended a note in 1814 asserting that in the meantime the economic condition of the people had steadily deteriorated. Doubtless the ravages incident to the wars of the White Lotus Sect had been a factor (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao). After the decease of his brother, Ts'ui began (178T) a long treatise on mourning rituals, entitled 五服異同彙考 Wu fu i-tung hui-k'ao, on which he labored assiduously for eight years, tracing the history of these rituals from earliest times with critical comments upon them. In 1789, when he was fifty sui, he brought together some two hundred of his poems in various meters under the title 知非集 Chih-fei chi. Except for a few verses which appeared in the above-mentioned Chi-fu shih-chuan in 1839, this collection was lost until, in 1931, William Hung discovered a nearly complete manuscript of it in the Yenching University Library.

When, in 1784, Chang Wei-chi (see under Chang Hsüeh-ch'êng), the magistrate of Ta-ming, initiated the compilation of a revised gazetteer of that district, Ts'ui Shu was one of the editors, as was also his brother-in-law, Ch'êng Shih 成詩 (T. 伯顧, H. 惺齋), a chü-jên of 1774. The celebrated historian, Chang Hsüeh-ch'êng [q. v.], is known likewise to have advised the magistrate of Ta-ming on the arrangement of this gazetteer, but there is so far no evidence that Chang Hsüeh-ch'êng and Ts'ui Shu ever met. The gazetteer, completed under another magistrate in 1789, is of interest because it contains, among other items by Ts'ui Shu, a work on river control in his neighborhood, entitled 大名水道考 Ta-ming shui-tao k'ao. Though listed in the index to Tsui's collected works, it was not included, thus making its preservation in the gazetteer, and its discovery by Hu Shih (see below), a fortunate circumstance. During this period (1785) Ts'ui wrote a preface to the genealogical record of a certain Tsao family which displays, from another angle, his persistent interest in historical veracity. He commends the compiler for including in his genealogy only verifiable data and for declining to trace his ancestry back, as so many genealogies do, to a questionable antiquity. One of Tsui's very practical minor essays, entitled 爭論 Chêng-lun ("On Conflict"), is likewise significant because he there takes a position diametrically opposed to one of the most prevalent ethical doctrines of his day. He insists that yielding to an aggressor is not necessarily a virtue, because it whets the appetite of the aggressor and then there comes a time when the person imposed upon can yield no further. These minor works of Ts'ui Shu, as well as his letters and more solid treatises, are enlivened throughout by a direct and simple prose style, by apt citation of proverbs and appeal to homely matters, and by astute observations on local customs and the superstitions of his day. This spirit is shown anew in a manuscript collection of his letters, verse, and antithetical couplets, entitled 荍田賸筆 Chiao-t'ien shêng-pi, of which considerable fragments were discovered at Ta-ming in 1933.

In 1791 Ts'ui Shu completed the first draft of his 洙泗考信錄 Chu-ssŭ k'ao-hsin lu, namely, that section of his magnum opus which deals with the life of Confucius and his disciples. The final draft, however, was not completed until 1810. It is the most exacting life of Confucius ever written up to that time, and takes into account all available sources in the light of the historical and cultural background. This is one of several works which Ts'ui took with him to Peking in 1792 when he determined, in the interest of the family economy, to seek an official post. While residing there in an inn he showed the work to Ch'ên Li-ho 陳履和 (T. 介存, H. 海樓, 1761–1825), a native of Shih-ping, Yunnan, a chü-jên of 1780, and a fellow-townsman of the afore-mentioned Chu Ying who had befriended Ts'ui and his brother in Ta-ming. So impressed was Ch'ên by both the man and his writings that he begged to be regarded as his pupil. The teacher and pupil were together only two months when Ts'ui returned home; and though Ts'ui went again to Peking in 1794, his pupil had gone. Neither saw the other again. But there developed between them a friendship, unique in the history of literature, and far-reaching in its consequences to Chinese scholarship. Ch'ên spent the remainder of his life, until his death in 1825, in printing his masters works, and sacrificed, in the process, all of his personal means and all prospects for a high official career. It is safe to say that except for Ch'ên's unflagging devotion few, if any, of Ts'ui Shu's writings would have survived.

In the first moon of 1796 Ts'ui Shu was appointed district magistrate of Lo-yüan, Fukien. In the fourth moon of that year he and his wife started south, attended by his concubine, Chou Li-ê 周麗娥 (1770–1800), whom he had taken in 1785 at the request of his wife who feared they would have no heir and no one to care for them in their old age. On August 15 Ts'ui took up his duties at Lo-yüan, a district notoriously difficult to govern and one from which several previous officials had been dismissed. Seven days prior to his arrival certain sentries employed by salt merchants of an adjoining district were wounded by smugglers when the latter resisted arrest—one of the sentries being drowned. The villages involved attempted by misrepresentation to have the case adjudicated in Lo-yüan, in the hope that a new and inexperienced magistrate would deal leniently with them. But the subterfuge was so patent, and the evidence so incriminating, that Ts'ui felt it necessary to bring to light all the facts—a task for which he had qualified himself by years of historical criticism. He thus incurred the enmity of many unscrupulous persons, including minor officials who profited by these local disorders, but in the end the higher officials of the province sustained him. Other cases, equally vexatious, involved merchants or travellers who were blackmailed and who, if they did not bribe subordinate officials, were falsely accused of smuggling, were detained and robbed, or were subjected to other indignities. For liberating persons thus falsely accused, Ts'ui was denounced before higher officials. The governor-general, Kuei-lun 魁倫 (T. 敍齋, d. 1800), annoyed by the relevancy and directness of Tsui's findings, sought his dismissal, but the governor of the province, Wang Chih-i 汪志伊 (T. 稼門, 1743–1818, chü-jên of 1771), stood firmly by him.

In the fourth moon of 1799 Ts'ui was transferred to Shang-hang, also in Fukien. Like Lo-yüan it, too, was a district much given to litigation. Though it might have proved a lucrative post for Ts'ui, he devoted its surplus revenues to the apprehension of pirates; and refused, as before, to overlook blackmail or to curry the favor of possible trouble-makers by expensive entertainments. After a brief but successful year-and-a-half at Shang-hang, he was re-instated (tenth moon, 1800) in his old post at Lo-yüan. The populace welcomed him with great jubilation, but in carrying out his duties he showed no hint of slackness. Granaries wm supplied with fresh grain, public buildings were repaired, and social abuses—such as female infanticide, costly weddings, and vulgar chaffings of brides—were discountenanced. In addition to his official duties he lectured on the classics, on the authenticity of ancient books, and on new methods of historical research.

Wishing to devote his remaining years to the completion of his manuscripts, Ts'ui Shu begged repeatedly to be relieved of his post, but each time the governor, Wang Chih-i, urged him to remain. When, however, a deficit, left by his predecessor, was made up, Ts'ui felt he could leave in good conscience. In the spring of 1802 he and his wife travelled northward, happy to be released from six years of irksome official life. (The concubine, Chou Li-ê, had died in 1800.) They spent their remaining years in the neighborhood of Ta-ming and Chang-tê, still harassed, however, by poverty which in times of famine was so acute that once, at least, they had to pawn their garments to obtain food. Nevertheless, the work that Ts'ui was able to do on his manuscripts and the printing of occasional items, helped both of them to forget that old age was stealing upon them.

Ever since Ts'ui Shu and his devoted disciple, Ch'ên Li-ho, met in Peking in 1792, they had kept in touch by correspondence, but were never near enough to meet personally. In 1797 Ch'ên accompanied his father, Ch'ên Wan-li 陳萬里 (T. 飛九, H. 鯤池, 1740–1813, a chü-jên of 1780), to Kuang-fêng, Kiangsi, where the latter was magistrate. At Nanchang, in that province, Ch'ên Li-ho printed (1797) four of Tsui's works under the collective title, 東壁先生書鈔 Tung-pi hsien-shêng shu-ch'ao, of which there is a copy, bearing a postscript dated 1800, in the Library of Congress. The years between 1801 and 1816 he spent in assisting his father in other posts, recovering from a long illness (1805–08), begging for funds to print his teacher's works, or in travelling. The labor of printing was especially arduous because Ts'ui's manuscripts were frequently revised, and had to be transmitted over long distances by friendly messengers. Ch'ên managed, however, to print or reprint several items at Nanchang in 1805, and another in 1808. In the meantime Ts'ui himself printed an item at Lo-yüan (1801) and three at Chang-tê (1806–10)—one of the latter in movable type.

Chên described his teacher as being tall and graceful and as having a handsome beard. He was an engaging conversationalist, interlarding his speech, as he did his writings, with apt jokes and proverbs, to the great amusement of his listeners. In 1810, when Ts'ui was seventy-one end, his eyes began to trouble him, but he found pieasure in humming the Odes, especially the one beginning "In the seventh moon the Fire Star passes the meridian" (七月流火)—a song he had loved from childhood. By 1813 his strength so failed him that he became incapacitated for work. In that year Ch'ên set out to visit him, but turned back to Yunnan, owing to the death of his father. In the fourth moon of the following year Ts'ui Shu's wife (Ch'êng Ching-lan) died, aged seventy-five (sui). Ts'ui had previously written an account of her life and appended it to a collection of her verse, but Ch'ên was unable to print it and consequently it is now lost. Scattered through Ts'ui's writings, however, are many informative references to her—all of them indicative of a sincerely affectionate relationship. He was thus left with only a concubine (taken in later years) to look after him. Realizing that his own end was near, he compiled a table-of-contents of all his writings, wrapped the precious manuscripts in nine portfolios, and on October 24, 1815 penned a last statement which reads: "In my lifetime I have written thirty-four works in eighty-eight chüan; save them until Ch'ên Li-ho of Yunnan comes in person to claim them." Though the table-of-contents is included in Chên's final edition of 1824-25, Ch'ên was able to print, before he died, only nineteen items in 54 chüan. Except for a few which have been recently found, the rest are lost.

On, or shortly after, August 8, 1816, Ch'ên arrived in Chang-tê, expecting once more to greet his teacher after a lapse of nearly twenty-four years. But Ts'ui had died on March 4, nearly six months earlier. Ch'ên bowed reverently before the coffin and received with tears the manuscripts written in his masters hand. After discussing with Ts'ui's nephew the plans for the burial, he went on to Peking, and in the autumn received appointment as magistrate of Taiku, Shansi. There he arranged for the printing of four more items, including a reprint of the Chu-Ssŭ k'ao-hsin lu, which was financed by a local descendant of Confucius, named K'ung Kuang-yüan 孔廣沅. But Ch'ên was in Taiku less than a year when he had to leave a successful post (1817) to mourn the death of his stepmother. While travelling in the southwest in 1818 he wrote a long sketch of the life of Ts'ui Shu which is now a part of the collected works. In 1821 he returned to Peking and there saw to the printing of four items. In the spring of 1823 he assumed the post of magistrate of Tung-yang, Chekiang; and early in the following year completed the carving of the blocks for twelve items of the final Tao-kuang edition of the 崔東壁遺書 Ts'ui Tung-pi i-shu. Of this edition there is a copy in the Library of Congress. Ch'ên died leaving an official debt and a son aged five (sui) with no means of returning to the ancestral home in Yunnan. But the prefect of Chin-hua, Chekiang, named Hsiao Yüan-kuei 蕭元桂 (T. 芬圃, H. 鏡巖), a chin-shih of 1808, contrived ways to meet the debt and to convey Chên's dependents back to Yunnan. He and eight fellow-magistrates contributed the sum of six hundred taels and stored the blocks (twenty boxes) of the Ts'ui Tung-pi i-shu in the prefectural school. His preface, recording these details, was added to the Tao-kuang edition in the seventh moon of 1826. Another preface, dated a month later, was written by a sub-director of studies in the Chin-hua Academy, named Yang Tao-shêng 楊道生. Several years earlier a preface had been written for the K'ao-hsin lu by the President of the Board of Ceremonies, Wang T'ing-chên 汪廷珍 (T. 玉粲, H. 瑟菴, 1757–1827, chin-shih of 1789), one of the very few high officials of the time who expressed written appreciation of Tsui's historical researches. Other men of foresight who encouraged him in early life were Shih I-mu, younger brother of Shih I-chih [q. v.], who examined him for the chü-jên degree in 1762, and the afore-mentioned Wang Shih-han.

For fully a century after Ts'ui Shu's death his writings were strangely neglected. By the time the Tao-kuang edition was printed (1824–25) critical scholarship had gone into a decline from which it began to recover only in the 1890s. The unmistakable decay of the ruling dynasty, devastating internal rebellion, and ominous foreign intervention claimed the attention of both scholars and statesmen. What these men now wanted was consolation, and they found it in the ethics of Sung philosophy. Cold, calculating historical criticism could not answer their needs. Though a number of Tsui's works were printed, only a few scholars—among them Wang Sung 王崧 (T. 樂山, 1752–1837, a chin-shih of 1799) and Chang Wei-p'ing [q. v.]—delved into his researches with sufficient penetration to discourse intelligently upon them. Not even one of his classical studies was incorporated in the massive Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh, printed by Juan Yüan [q. v.] in 1829 or in the continuation of that work by Wang Hsien-ch'ien (see under Chiang Liang-ch'i), printed in 1886–88. A reprint of the Tao-kuang edition appeared in 1875, and fourteen items of it (chiefly the K'ao-hsin lu) were printed in 1879-92 in the 畿輔叢書 Chi-fu ts'ung-shu, a collection of writings by authors of the metropolitan area, arranged by Wang Hao 王灝 (T. 文泉, 1823–1888). This last mentioned source, however, was not generally accessible until 1906. In 1903–04 there was published in Japan a complete reprint of the Tao-kuang edition with added punctuation and with important annotations and summaries by the Japanese scholar, Naka Michiyo (see under Shêng-yü), in four volumes. Though this is an excellent reprint, it attracted little notice in China. Aside from a few scattered articles in journals, such as the Kuo-ts'ui hsüeh-pao (see under Liu Yü-sung) and brief references in miscellaneous works (some with errors showing only a superficial acquaintance), the significance of Ts'ui Shu did not dawn on modern Chinese historians until 1921, or more specifically in 1923, when Hu Shih 胡適 (b. 1891) published the first parts of a chronological biography, entitled 科學的古史家崔述 K'o-hsüeh ti ku-shih chia Ts'ui Shu ("Ts'ui Shu as a Scientific Historian"), in the 國學季刊 Kuo-hsüeh chi-k'an, volume 1, number 2. Although two other reprints of the Tao-kuang edition were made in 1924 and 1926, full justice was not accorded him until in 1936 there appeared the definitive edition of the Ts'ui Tung-pi i-shu, in eight volumes, repunctuated and edited by Ku Chieh-kang. In addition to reprinting the afore-mentioned chronological biography (carried by Hu Shih to 1796 and by Chao Chên-hsin 趙貞信 to 1825), this edition brings together biographical sketches of all personages concerned, descriptions of almost all known printed portions and manuscript fragments, and the estimates of Chinese (and of some Japanese) scholars, past and present. Included, also, is an index to Ts'ui's writings.

Since 1921 interest in Ts'ui Shu's writings has not abated, though his deficiencies have repeatedly been brought to view. In January of that year Hu Shih wrote, "There is much in the K'ao-hsin lu to make one lose heart...but no one in all our history can compare with him in daring or in pungency of expression." Though Ts'ui Shu devoted his life to pointing out discrepancies in uncanonical literature, and anachronisms in the classics, he never abandoned s conviction that there is in the classics an irreducible minimum of unchallengeable truth beyond which the most rigorous criticism cannot go. This kernel of truth, which the sages transmitted, he believed it was the duty of scholarship to protect and to defend. Though he perceived that books written after the period of the Warring Kingdoms distorted our knowledge of antiquity and the truth of the sages, he could not admit that the sages, too, may have distorted the past in the interest of their own special views. Criticism of this sort can, however, easily become ungracious and captious—overlooking the contributions which Ts'ui Shu actually made, expecting of him complete modernity when he was in fact a man of the eighteenth century. A more just attitude was proclaimed by Hu Shih in the chronological biography referred to above, "If we wish to surpass him, we shall first have to follow him."


[Hu Shih and Chao Chên-hsin, Chronological Biography mentioned above; Ts'ui Tung-pi i-shu, 1936 definitive edition, passim; 古史辨 Ku-shih pien (1926) 上編, pp. 19, 22, 27, 59f.; Li T'iao-yüan [q. v.], T'ung-shan shih-chi, 7/17b, for the poem referred to above. It was not noticed by the editors of the definitive edition of 1936, but has been found since then by Tu Lien-chê; 建陽縣志 Chien-yang hsien chih (1929) 10/39a for biography of Hsiao Yüan-kuei; Ts'ui's essay, Chêng-lun, translated by A. W. Hummel under the title, "The Place of Acquiescence in Conflict" appears in T'ien Hsia Aug.–Sept. 1940, p. 87–93.]

Arthur W. Hummel