Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang Chi

WANG Chi 汪楫 (T. 舟次, 恥人, H. 悔齋), 1636–1699, Sept. 7, writer, official, and envoy, was a native of I-chêng, Kiangsu, whose father had migrated from Hsiu-ning, Anhwei. Wang Chi was recommended to take the special examination of 1679, known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ (see under P'êng Sun-yü), which he passed as fifteenth among the fifty successful candidates. Appointed a corrector in the Hanlin Academy, he served on the editorial staff of the Ming-shih. In the latter capacity he offered valuable suggestions as to methods of gathering historical material relating to the close of the Ming period. In 1682 he was sent as envoy of Emperor Shêng-tsu to confirm the title of king upon the ruler of the tributary islands of Loochoo—islands first mentioned in the History of the Sui Dynasty (隋書), which has a separate section devoted to them. According to that account, they were sighted in 605 A.D., and a Chinese envoy was dispatched two years later. The History of the Ming Dynasty states that the ruler of Loochoo first sent tribute to China in 1372 when regular official intercourse began. Wang Chi was the second envoy of the Ch'ing period to be sent on such a mission. Chu I-tsun wrote an essay, and Wang Shih-chên [qq. v.] composed several poems, to commemorate his departure. He set sail from Foochow on July 17, 1683, reaching Na-pa-chiang 那霸港, the metropolis of the islands, on July 20. This was considered the shortest time in which this journey had ever been made, and Wang Chi wrote several poems to commemorate the achievement. A travel diary, 中山傳信錄 Chung-shan ch'uan-hsin lu (preface 1721), written by Hsü Pao-kuang 徐葆光 (T. 亮直, H. 澄齋, d. 1723), vice-envoy to Loochoo in 1719, gives the length of time that Wang's predecessors took to make the same journey from Foochow in the years 1534, 1562, 1580, 1605, 1633, and 1663, the time required being 18, 11, 14, 8, 9, and 19 days respectively.

During his sojourn on the islands Wang Chi was requested to write inscriptions for the Palace and for many temples, including the Temple of Confucius, most of which are recorded as having been seen by his successor. Upon his return to China, after a stay of five months on the islands, he wrote two monographs on his experiences: the 中山沿革志 Chung-shan yen-ko chih, a work in 2 chüan on the history and government of the islands, and the 使琉球雜錄 Shih Liu-ch'iu tsa-lu, 4 chüan, on the customs which he had observed.

In 1689 Wang Chi became prefect of Honanfu, Honan, where he is said to have dispensed impartial justice, purchased land to support the local Academy—Sung-yang shu-yüan 嵩陽書院—and brought effective relief in time of famine. He was promoted (1693) to the post of provincial judge and later (1695) financial commissioner of Fukien, where he was likewise greatly admired. Summoned to the Court at Peking, he stopped to visit his home on the way, and died there in 1699. His library, which remained in the family for many years, was known as one of the most complete in the Yangchow area, and Lu Chien-tsêng [q. v.] frequently borrowed from it. The Huai-hai ying-ling chi, an anthology prepared by Juan Yüan [q. v.], reproduces a number of his poems and has a good sketch of his life. Twenty-nine poems by Wang Chi were included in the collection, Kan-chiu chi, compiled by Wang Shih-chên. He was also the author of a dramatic work entitled 補天石 Pu-t'ien shih.

[3/162/4a; 23/11/4b; 29/2/17b; I-chêng-hsien chih (1890) 36/13b et passim; Sui-shu 81/10b; M.1/323/ 1b; Chu I-tsun [q. v.], P'u-shu t'ing chi 41/2b, 73/8a; Chou Huang (see under Wang Wên-chih), Liu-ch'iu kuo chih lüeh (1757) 3/46a; Kan-chiu chi 7/30b; Kiangsu Kuo-hsüeh Library Catalogue 35/9a; Wang Kuo-wei, 曲錄 Ch'ü-lu 2/39a.]

Han Shou-hsüan