Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang Yin-chih

WANG Yin-chih 王引之 (T. 伯申, H. 曼卿), Apr. 19, 1766–1834, Dec. 24, official and scholar, eldest son of Wang Nien-sun [q. v.], was a native of Kao-yu, Kiangsu. After taking his chin-shih degree with high honors in 1799, he was appointed a compiler in the Hanlin Academy. In 1801 he was dispatched to Kweichow as provincial examiner. In 1804 he was ordered to participate in the compilation of the 皇朝詞林典故 Huang-ch'ao Tz'ŭ-lin tien-ku, 64 chüan—a compendium of various matters relating to the history and the operation of the Hanlin Academy from the beginning of the Ch'ing period. This work, completed early in 1806, is an expansion of another with the same title which was commissioned in 1744 and completed in 8 chüan in 1748. In 1804, after Wang had discharged his duties as examiner in the provincial examination in Hupeh, his mother died at Tsining, Shantung, where his father was in charge of river control. He was recalled to attend to her funeral, and in the following year transferred her remains to the South. Thereafter he observed the period of mourning at his home in Kao-yu. Upon his return to the capital (1807) he was appointed commissioner of education in Honan where he served for three years. After several promotions in the Hanlin Academy he was appointed deputy commissioner of the Office of Transmission (1812), director of the Court of the Imperial Stud, and then director of the Court of Judicature and Revision (1813). In 1814 he became commissioner of education in Shantung where during a two-year term he attempted to improve not only the standards of the scholars but the social attitudes of the people. He denounced certain pseudo-Taoist sects for misleading the people. Later he served as senior vice-president of the Censorate (1817), senior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies (1817–19), examiner in the provincial examination of Chekiang (1818), assistant director of the metropolitan examination (1819), and vice-president of the Board of Civil Office (1820–7).

In 1820 he was appointed director-general for the compilation of the Jên-tsung shih-lu, 374 + 4 chüan—the chronicles of the reign of Emperor Jên-tsung (see under Yung-yen), completed in 1824. In 1821 he was again made examiner of the provincial examination in Chekiang, and then assistant director-general of the Historiographical Board. In 1823 he was director of the metropolitan examination and then of the metropolitan military examination, a post he again filled in 1825. He was promoted to the presidency of the Board of Works in 1827, and in the same year was ordered, together with I-hui [q. v.] and others, to correct errors in the famous dictionary, K'ang-hsi tzŭ-tien (see under Chang Yü-shu). The revision was completed in 1831 under the title 字典考證 Tzŭ-tien k'ao-chêng, 12 chüan—the number of corrections amounting to 2,588. It is reported that most of these corrections were made by Wang himself and by his father. In 1830–32 he was president of the Board of Ceremonies. A few months after his reappointment to the presidency of the Board of Works (1834) he died. He was canonized as Wên-chien 文簡.

In his philological studies Wang Yin-chih collaborated with and carried on the principles laid down by his father. The two works which have given him his greatest fame are the 經傳釋詞 Ching-chuan shih-tz'ŭ, 10 chüan, completed in 1798 and printed in 1819; and the 經義述聞 Ching-i shu-wên, 32 chüan, first printed in 1797 in 4 ts'ê (470 leaves). A second, enlarged edition of the latter work, arranged in 15 chüan, appeared at Nanchang in 1817, and a third, definitive edition in 32 chüan, was printed in Peking in 1828. After some revision, and rearrangement in 28 chüan, it reappeared in the Huang-Ch'ing ching-chieh (see under Juan Yüan). The Ching-chuan shih-tz'ŭ is a study of 160 grammatical particles, known to the Chinese as hsü-tzŭ 虛字 or "empty characters", whose uses are defined and differentiated with carefully selected examples drawn from various classics. It is the first systematic attempt to give order to these words so necessary to an understanding of ancient Chinese texts which, for want of such a study, had been constantly misinterpreted by scholars of former centuries. The Ching-i shu-wên consists of annotations and emendations of various passages in twelve ancient works. As the last two words of the title indicate, Wang Yin-chih regarded it as the continuation of a project begun by his father. The second edition of it has two added items: 太歲考 T'ai-sui k'ao, 2 chüan; and 春秋名字解詁 Chun-ch'iu ming-tzŭ chieh-ku, 2 chüan. The T'ai-sui k'ao consists of twenty-eight arguments attempting to show by classical examples that the terms t'ai-sui 太歲 and t'ai-yin 太陰 are identical. The Ch'un-ch'iu ming-tzŭ chieh-ku is a study of the relation between the ming 名 and the tzŭ 字 of personal names recorded in various works attributed to the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 B. C.). A work of the same nature, entitled Chou Ch'in (周秦) ming-tzŭ chieh-ku, which analyzes the personal names of the Chou and Ch'in periods, was completed by Wang Yin-chih in 1790. He collaborated also with his father in the compilation of the Tu-shu tsa-chih and the Kuang-ya shu-chêng (see under Wang Nien-sun), the tenth chüan of the latter being entirely his own work.

Wang Yin-chih had four sons. The youngest, Wang Shou-t'ung 王壽同 (T. 季同, H. 子蘭, 1805–1853), was a chin-shih of 1844 who, as intendant of the Han-Huang-Tê Circuit (漢黃德道) in Hupeh, lost his life defending the city of Wuchang from the Taiping Rebels (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan).


[3/76/41 pu-lu; 7/16/30a; 20/4/00; Ssŭ-k'u 79/4b; Kao-yu Wang-shih i-shu (see under Wang Nien-sun); Hu Shih wên-ts'un (see bibl. under Li Ju-chên), series 1, vol. 2, pp. 226–31; see bibliography under Wang Nien-sun.]

Li Man-kuei