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Chang Tai

Chang Tai 張岱, (T. 宗子, 石公 H. 陶庵, 蝶庵), Oct. 5, 1597-1684?, historian and essayist, was a native of Shan-yin (Shaohsing), Chekiang. His great-grandfather, Chang Yüan-pien 張元汴 (T. 子蓋 H. 陽和, 1538-1588), became a chin-shih in 1571 with highest honors. Like his ancestors, he was a strict moralist. The grandfather of Chang Tai, named Chang Ju-lin 張汝霖 (H. 雨若, d. 1625), was a chin-shih of 1595 who held, among other posts, the intendancy of a Circuit in Kiangsi. But beginning with Chang Ju-lin the family gradually fell into luxurious habits. Chang Tai's uncles and his father, Chang Yüeh-fang 張耀芳 (T. 爾弢 H. 大滌, 1572-1633, Feb. 5), were notoriously extravagant, building showy houses, maintaining several troupes of actresses, collecting antiques, and inclining to all sorts of sensual pursuits. Hence during his youth Chang Tai was accustomed to all the luxuries of the time. He professed a liking for cozy houses, pretty maids and pages, colorful clothes, good cooking, horses, lanterns, fireworks, opera, music, antiques, flowers and birds. He was a connoisseur of tea and was an expert on water from natural springs for the making of tea. He learned to play the lute and organized a club for practicing it.

Though he enjoyed a comfortable life, Chang Tai studied hard and achieved proficiency as a writer of prose. During the years 1627-31 his father served as secretary to the eleventh Prince of Lu (Chu Shou-yung, see under Chu I-hai), whose estates were in Yen-chou, Shantung. Chang Tai made several journeys to that city to visit his father; except for these journeys he spent most of his life at home or in the neighboring cities of Hangchow, Soochow, and Nanking. In 1645, after Nanking fell to the Manchus, the thirteenth Prince of Lu, Chu I-hai, fled to Shaohsing and visited the home of Chang Tai where he was elaborately entertained. Later Chu I-hai became regent, making Shaohsing his capital for less than a year. Chang Tai served in Chu's, court for two or three months, but resigned and went to live in the mountains southeast of Shaohsing, taking with him a small part of his library which comprised some 30,000 chüan Early in 1646 he was forced to pay a large ransom to redeem his son who had been kidnapped by one of Chu I-hai's generals. That general later ransacked Chang's home and destroyed almost all [54] his property. In July 1646 Shaohsing fell to the Manchus and Chang Tai fled to his retreat in the mountains, remaining there the rest of his life.

The second phase of Chang Tai's career contrasts sharply with his early life of luxury. With the exception of some books, he now had no property. Refusing to acknowledge Manchu sovereignty by shaving his head, he led a hermit's life in the mountains, suffering frequently from lack of shelter, clothing and food. While thus undisturbed, he took to writing and completed many manuscripts, mostly reminiscent of his eventful career and of happenings in the later Ming period. About 1665 he built a tomb where he hoped to be buried, and wrote his epitaph in which are listed the titles of fifteen works he had written. Only a few of these works are extant—the most celebrated being a collection of notes on his experiences and on customs that prevailed at the close of the Ming period, entitled 陶庵夢憶 T'ao-an mêng-i, 8 chüan. It was first printed from an incomplete manuscript by chin Chung-ch'un 金忠淳 (T. 古還) in his collectanea, 硯雲甲編 Yen-yün chia-pien (1775). Although this edition contains only about a third of the more complete edition of 1852 in the Yüeh-ya t'ang ts'ung-shu (see under Wu Ch'ung-yüeh), it nevertheless has several articles not included in the latter work—some giving information about Chang Tai's relation with the Prince of Lu (Chu I-hai). Another work by Chang Tai is a collection of writings in prose, entitled 瑯嬛文集 Lang-hsüan wên-chi, 6 chüan, first printed in 1877 from a well-preserved manuscript. He also wrote a work about West Lake, Hangchow, entitled 西湖夢尋 Hsi-hu mêng-hsün, 5 chüan. It was written about 1671 from memory. Mention is made of it in the Ssŭ-k'u Catalogue (see under Chi Yün) and it was printed in 1883 in the Wu-lin chang-ku ts'ung-pien (see under Ting Ping). Another important work by Chang Tai is a history of the Ming period, entitled 石匱藏書 Shih-kuei ts'ang-shu, 220 chüan, with a supplement (hou-chi 後集) in 63 + 1 chüan. A manuscript copy of the main part—said to be the original draft—is in the possession of Professor Chu Hsi-tsu 朱希祖 (b. 1879); and a manuscript of the supplement is in the Kuo-hsüeh Library, Nanking. It is believed that Ku Ying-t'ai [q.v.] drew much information from it for the writing of his Ming-shih chi-shih pên-mo (see under Ku Ying-t'ai). When Mao Ch'i-ling [q.v.] was serving on the Commission for the compilation of the official Ming history (Ming-shih) he wrote to Chang Tai requesting that a copy of the manuscript be made for the use of the Commission. Whether this request was granted is not known.

[Lang-hsüan wên-chi (1935), pp. 101-29, 137-40; M.60/3/10a; Mao Ch'i-ling, Hsi-ho wên-chi, 17/13a; W.M.S.C.K., 1/4a.]