Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wei Hsi

WEI Hsi 魏禧 (T. 氷[凝]叔, H. 勺庭, 叔子 and 裕齋) Mar. 2, 1624–1681, c. Jan. 6, scholar, a native of Ning-tu, Kiangsi, was the son of a philanthropist, Wei Chao-fêng 魏兆鳳 (T. 聖期, 1596–1654). In his youth Wei Hsi was greatly influenced by the scholarship of his sister's husband, Ch'iu Wei-p'ing 邱維屏 (T. 邦士, H. 松下先生, 1614–1679). When he was twenty-four sui (1647), he refused to write in the pa-ku 八股 style required in the literary examinations of the period and endeavored to devote his life to what he termed more useful work. Loyalty to the Ming cause and grief over the calamities arising during the transitional period of the new regime (1644–46) caused his family to seek the seclusion of Ts'ui-wei fêng 翠微峯, one of the beautiful summits of Chin-ching shan 金精山 about ten li west of the city of Ning-tu. It was on this summit that Wei Hsi together with his two brothers, Wei Chi-jui and Wei Li [qq. v.], rebuilt and enlarged an old house which became the meeting place of a group of scholars who were content to live in simplicity for mutual advancement in literary ability and for the discussion of learning beneficial to society. Besides the three Wei brothers, there were six others in this group, namely: Ch'iu Wei-p'ing; Tsêng Ts'an 曾燦 (original ming 傳燦 T. 青藜 H. 止山); Li T'êng-chiao 李騰蛟 (T. 力負, 咸齋); P'êng Shih-wang 彭士望 (original name 危士望 T. 躬菴, 達生, 1610–1683); Lin Shih-i 林時益(T. 確齋, H. 冠拓, original name 李中尉 T. 用霖, 1618–1678); and P'êng Jên 彭任 (T. 中叔). Together they were known as the "Nine Scholars of I-t'ang" (易堂九子)—I-t'ang being the name of a studio of the Wei family. As time went on the name "I-t'ang" became popular throughout the country. Wei Hsi and his brothers, known as the Three Wei (San Wei 三魏), particularly achieved literary fame. Their popularity was partly due to the efforts of Tsou Chih-mo 鄒祇謨 (T. 訏士, H. 程村, chin-shih of 1658), a native of Wu-chin, Kiangsu, who helped them in publishing their essays.

Wei Hsi's collected works, being a part of his writings from 1644 to 1679, published in various places by his friends, contain the 魏叔子文集 Wei Shu-tzŭ wên-chi, in 22 chüan, compiled mostly by his nephews between 1664 and 1677; the Wei Shu-tzŭ shih-chi (詩集), in 8 chüan, compiled in 1679 by his adopted son, Wei Shih-k'an 魏世侃 (T. 直士), and his disciple, Ou-yang Hsün-wan 歐陽遜萬 (T. 士杰), a direct descendant of Ou-yang Hsiu of the Sung dynasty (see under Shao Chin-han); and the Wei Shu-tzŭ jih-lu (日錄), in 3 chüan, compiled in 1672 by his friend, T'ang Ching-sun 唐景宋 (T. 邢若), of Soochow. The whole forms an essential part of the complete works of the three Wei brothers, entitled San Wei chi, published in 1679. To the San Wei chi were joined in 1678 the Tzŭ-shih wên-kao, in 6 chüan, by Wei Shih-chieh (see under Wei Chi-jui); the Kêng-wu (耕廡) wên-kao, in 10 chüan, by Wei Shih-hsiao (see under Wei Li); and the Wei-ku (爲谷) wên-kao, in 8 chüan, by Wei Shih-yen (see also under Wei Li). The San Wei chi was banned in the Ch'ien-lung period. Owing to lack of funds, many important manuscripts remained unpublished and were kept in the family, among them the 左傳經世鈔 Tso-chuan ching-shih ch'ao. As stated by Wei Hsi in a letter to Wang Chi [q. v.], this work on the Tso-chuan required twenty years of labor, and the cost of its publication would have amounted to several hundred taels. Only one fourth of it was printed, and this was made possible through the kindness of a friend. The rest—totaling eight hundred sheets (頁)—was copied by hand by his nephew, Wei Shih-hsiao, around 1702. The preface, which is included in the Wei Shu-tzŭ wên-chi, was written by Wei Hsi and explains what he meant by useful learning, that is to say, learning which is the result of clear reasoning and which can be put to practical use. Knowledge which can not be so applied is, according to Wei Hsi, no knowledge at all. From this it is clear why he and his friends of I-t'ang dropped the pa-ku style of essay writing and pursued more useful studies. Interested in military tactics, as shown in the great campaigns of history, he compiled a work in 12 chüan, entitled 兵跡 Ping-chi (In the Footprints of Armies), which was published in 1915 in the Yü-chang ts'ung-shu (see under Yüan Chi-hsien) from the original manuscript. Like his brothers, he traveled extensively, and after 1662 made trips to Soochow and its environs where he made such, outstanding friends as Yün Jih-ch'u (see under Yün Shou-p'ing), Mao I (in whose library he studied), and Ku Tsu-yü [qq. v.]. The last mentioned was the first to arrive for the mourning rites following Wei Hsi's death at I-chêng near Yangchow.

Wei Hsi left no children, but adopted Wei Shih-k'an, third son of Wei Li. The Nine Scholars of I-t'ang were closely connected with the Six Philosophers of Ch'êng-shan (程山六子) in Nan-fêng, and with the Seven Anchorites of Chi-shan (髻山七隱) in Hsing-tzŭ, Kiangsi. The former were headed by Hsieh Wên-chien 謝文洊 (T. 秋水, H. 約齋, 顧庵 and 程山先生, 1615–1681), and the latter by Sung Chih-shêng 宋之盛 (T. 未有, 1579–1668).


[1/489/2a; 3/425/19a; 20/1/00 (portrait); M.60/4/1a; Kiangsi t'ung-chih (1881), 169/19a Hsing-tzŭ-hsien chih (1871), 10/3b–4a; Kiangnan t'ung-chih (1736–37), 166/36b; Nanchang fu-chih (1873), 43/27b; Wei Shu-tzŭ wên-chi, 6/3a, 11/50a, 72a, 16/28a; Wei Chi-tzŭ wên-chi, 15/37a; Wei Po-tzŭ wên-chi, 4/10a; Kêng-wu wên-kao, 2/37b, 44b, 59b.]


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