Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yeh Fang-ai

YEH Fang-ai 葉方藹 (T. 子吉, H. 訒菴) May 20, 1629–1682, June 3, official, was a native of K'un-shan, Kiangsu. His father, Yeh Ch'ung-hua 葉重華 (T. 德元), was a chin-shih of 1628 who held various posts in Shantung and Kwangtung during the closing years of the Ming dynasty. Yeh Fang-ai became a chin-shih with high honors in 1659 and was made it compiler of the second class. In 1661 he was, by a technicality, involved in the so-called "Taxation Case of Kiangnan" (江南奏銷案) and for this was temporarily dismissed from his post. His name with that of 13,800 other natives of Kiangsu was hosted by Chu Kuo-chih 朱國治 (d. 1673), governor of that province, as one who had defaulted in the payment of taxes. On this charge many officials of that time were dismissed or degraded, students preparing for the examinations were deprived of their chances of advancement, and others were punished (see under Chin Jên-jui). Nevertheless he was later recalled to his post and cleared of the charge. His scholarship was recognized by both Emperors Shih-tsu and Shêng-tsu. After various promotions, he became in the summer of 1676, expositor, and later in the same year, reader in the Hanlin Academy.

In the following year Yeh was placed in charge of the official compilation of the 孝經衍義 Hsiao-ching yen-i, 100 chüan, an exposition and amplification of the Classic of Filial Piety. This work was commissioned in 1656, completed in 1682, and printed in 1690. In 1678 he became director-general for the compilation of the 皇輿表 Huang-yü piao, in 16 chüan—an official geography of the empire, which was printed in its final and enlarged form in 1704.

In the summer of 1676 he was ordered to serve in the Imperial Study (see under Chang Ying), and in the following winter became chancellor of the Hanlin Academy and concurrently vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies. He was one of four scholars selected to read the papers for the special examination, known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ of 1679 (see under P'êng Sun-yü). Thereafter he was appointed one of the directors-general to supervise the writing of the History of the Ming Dynasty (Ming-shih). In 1681, he became junior vice-president of the Board of Punishments, but died in the following year. He was canonized 文敏 Wên-min—one of the very few officials with such rank below a presidency of a Board to be so recognized. His collected poems, 讀書齋偶存稿 Tu-shu-chai ou-ts'un kao, 4 chüan, were copied into the Imperial Manuscript Library (see under Chi Yün). His elder brother, Yeh Fang-hêng 葉方恒 (T. 嵋初), was a chin-shih of 1658, and his son, Yeh Ying 葉渟 (T. 淵發), a chin-shih of 1688.


[1/272/1a; 3/51/28a; 崑新兩縣續修合志 K'un-Hsin liang-hsien hsü-hsiu ho-chih (1880) 24/19b, 30b, 25/26a; Ssŭ-k'u 94/2a, 173/5a; T'oung Pao 1931 p. 353; Wu-chung (吳中) Yeh shih tsu-p'u (Yeh Family Genealogy, 1911) 3/69a, 54/39a, 60 hsia 34a.]

Tu Lien-chê