Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang Ming-shêng

WANG Ming-shêng 王鳴盛 (T. 鳳階, 禮堂, H. 西莊, 西沚), 1722–1798, Jan. 18, scholar, was a native of Chia-ting, Kiangsu. His grandfather, Wang Hun 王焜 (T. 大生, H. 卓人), was a chü-jên of 1696; and his father, Wang Êr-ta 王爾達 (T. 通侯, H. 虛亭, 1693–1768), was a scholar and teacher. From youth on Wang Ming-shêng was regarded as exceptionally brilliant. He became a licentiate at the age of seventeen (sui) and was then accepted as a student in the Tzŭ-yang 紫陽 Academy, Soochow. He passed the provincial examination for chü-jên in 1747, but failed in the following year to pass the metropolitan examination. Later he and a group of young students from Soochow continued their studies under Shên Tê-ch'ien [q. v.] who had retired from official life in 1749 and had accepted in 1751 the directorship of the Tză-yang Academy. In the collection of verse by seven of his young pupils, which Shên compiled under the title Wu-chung ch'i-tzŭ shih-hsüan (see under Shên Tê-ch'ien), Wang Ming-shêng is one of the contributors--the other six being Ch'ien Ta-hsin, Wang Ch'ang [qq. v.], Ts'ao Jên-hu 曹仁虎 (T. 來殷, 1731–1787), Chao Wên-chê 趙文哲 (T. 升之, 1725–1773), Wu T'ai-lai 吳泰來 (T. 企晉, H. 竹嶼, chin-shih of 1760, d. 1788), and Huang Wên-lien 黃文蓮 (T. 芳亭, chu-jên of 1750). Wang Ming-shêng studied the classics under Hui Tung [q. v.], and this fact may account for his strong stand in favor of the critical School of Han Learning (see under Ku Yen-wu). After taking his chin-shih degree in 1754, with second-highest honors, he was made a compiler in the Hanlin Academy. In 1759, while he was directing the provincial examination in Fukien, he learned that he had been promoted to be a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. But, on his return to Peking, he was denounced for having abused the privilege of using post-station horses, and on this charge he was degraded (1760) to a director of the Banqueting Court. Three years later (1763) his mother died, and after the period of mourning was ended he remained at home in retirement on the plea of looking after his aged father. At the age of sixty-eight (sui) he was stricken with blindness, but two years later (1791) regained his sight.

Wang Ming-shêng's major contribution to scholarship, the 十七史商榷 Shih-ch'i shih shang-chüeh, "A Critical Study of the Seventeen Dynastic Histories", in 100 chüan, was first printed in 1787 and later incorporated in the Kuang-ya ts'ung-shu (see under Chang Chih-tung). A work, entitled 尚書後案 Shang-shu hou-an, 30 chüan, first printed in 1780, was written to uphold the view of Yen Jo-chü [q. v.], Hui Tung, and others that the so-called "ancient text" of the Classic of History is a forgery. This study, and another on the Institutes of Chou 周禮軍賦說 Chou-li chün-fu shuo, 4 chüan, (preface dated 1771), were reprinted in the Huang Ch'ing ching-chieh (see under Juan Yüan). His miscellaneous notes, classified under ten heads and entitled 蛾術編 I-shu pien, comprised in manuscript about 95 chüan, but when first printed (1841) appeared in 82 chüan. His literary works, composed before 1763, were printed about the year 1766 under the title 西莊始存稿 Hsi-chuang shih-ts'un kao, 30 chüan. Those composed during the latter part of his life were published in 1823 under the title 西沚居士集 Hsi-chih chü-shih chi, 24 chüan.

A younger brother of Wang Ming-shêng named Wang Ming-shao 王鳴韶 (T. 䕫律, 鶚起, H. 鶴谿, original ming 廷諤, 1732–1788), was a scholar, calligrapher, and painter. He is reported to have written on the classics (particularly on the Spring and Autumn Annals) and to have left a literary collection. A sister, Wang Shun-ying 王順媖 (T. 正仲, 1728–1767), married in 1750 the well-known scholar, Ch'ien Ta-hsin, who came from the same locality.

In 1926 a descendant of the family, named Wang Yüan-tsêng 王元嗇, printed a collection of short literary works by his ancestors under the title 先澤殘存 Hsien-tsê ts'an-ts'un, with a supplement (續編). It reproduces, among others, three works by Wang Ming-shêng, entitled: 練川雜詠 Lien-ch'uan tsa-yung, 謝橋詞 Hsieh-ch'iao tz'ŭ, and 耕養齋遺文 Kêng-yang chai i-wên; and two by Wang Ming-shao, entitled 鶴谿賸稿遺什 Ho-hsi shêng-kao i-shih and 簑笠軒遺文 So-li hsüan i-wên.

[1/487/19a; 3/92/1a, 439/10a; 20/3/00 (portrait); 26/2/41b; Chia-ting hsien-chih (1880) 16/49b, 19/34b; L.T.C.L.H.M. 50, lists two paintings attributed to Wang Ming-shao; Ch'ien Ta-hsin, Ch'ien-yen t'ang wên chi (Ssŭ-pu ts'ung-k'an ed.) 43/5b, 50/12b; Yenching Journal of Chinese Studies, no. 3, pp. 467–69 for a partisan refutation of Wang's views on the ancient text of the Classic of History.]

Tu Lien-chê