ECCP for the WEB
The text of Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced. These html-coded pages and the programmed pages for ECCP READER are © Tonseth House Studios 2021.

Chi Yün

Chi Yün 紀昀 (曉嵐, 春帆, 石雲) Aug. 3, 1724-1805, Mar. 14, official and scholar, was a native of Hsien-hsien, Chihli. When he passed first in the provincial examination for chü-jên in 1747 he attracted the attention of many older scholars. In 1754 he became a chin-shih and was made a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy. Appointed a compiler in 1757, he served several times as an examiner in the civil service examinations. In 1762 he was appointed commissioner of education in Fukien, but returned to his home when his father died (1764). In 1768 he was appointed prefect of Tu-yün-fu, Kweichow, but the emperor detained him in Peking on the ground that he could serve the throne best through his literary talents. Before long he was raised to the rank of a reader in the Hanlin Academy. Late in 1768 the bribery case of the salt commissioners of Yangchow came to the notice of the throne. One of the commissioners involved was the bibliophile, Lu Chien-tsêng [q.v.], whose grandson was the husband of Chi's eldest daughter. Aware that action would soon be taken, CHisecretly informed Lu of the seriousness of the case before official notice was served. When Chi's share in the affair was discovered he was discharged and banished to Urumchi in the newly conquered region of Chinese Turkestan (see under Chao-hui). Ae reached Urumchi early in 1770, but was recalled in the following year. On his return journey he wrote 160 poems in commemoration of his life in exile, which came to be known as 烏魯木齊雜詩 Ürümchi tsa-shih. Late in 1771 he was received by the emperor on the latter's journey back from Jehōl to Peking and was ordered to write a poem celebrating the return of the Turguts from Russia (see under Tulišen). This poem so pleased the [121]emperor that he had Chi restored to the rank of a compiler.

In 1773 Chi Yün and Lu Hsi-hsiung [q.v.] were appointed chief editors of the great Imperial Manuscript Library. A third chief editor, Sun Shih-i [q.v.] , served from 1780 to 1782. By an imperial edict of March 13, 1773, the enterprise was given the name 四庫全書 Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu or "Complete Library in Four Branches of Literature," (see under Chu Yün). For twelve years, or until the work was completed, CHiserved in the capacity of a chief editor, and his name has been identified with it ever since. This enormous collection of rare books was drawn from four sources: the imperial collection already in the palace library (see under Lu-fei Ch'ih); rare and valuable books copied from the Ming encyclopaedia, 永樂大典 Yung-lo ta-tien (see under Chu Yün); books submitted by provincial authorities and private collectors in compliance with an edict of February 7, 1772; and histories, documents and other books compiled by imperial order for inclusion in the Library. The carrying out of this ambitious project involved the following steps: 1) a critical review of every work available to the editors; (2) selection of the books worthy to be included in the library, of which a few were marked for independent printing (see comments on the Wu-ying-tien chü-chên-pan ts'ung-shu in the sketch of Chin Chien); (3) transcription in standard size volumes (and faultless calligraphy) of the works selected; (4) collation and binding of the completed manuscripts. The first two steps were put into effect by Chi Yün and Lu Hsi-hsiung, the last two by Lu-fei Ch'ih. Chi and Lu had as assistants a number of eminent scholars among whom may be mentioned Tai Chên, Shao Chin-han, Chou Yung-nien, Wêng Fang-kang [qq.v.], and Jên Ta-ch'un 任大椿 (T. 幼植 and 子田, 1738-1789, chin-shih of 1769), and to them must be given some of the credit for the success of the undertaking. The books they commented on and reviewed number approximately 10,230 titles, of which the texts, about 3,450, were copied into the Library.

The reviews were brought together in the great lmperial Catalogue, entitled Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu tsung-mu t'i-yao (總目提要), 200 chüan, which was presented to the throne in the second moon, 1781, but was revised in the ensuing two years. The material there described is divided into four grand classes and forty-four subdivisions and the Catalogue is still recognized as the most complete rd authentic reference work in the field of Chinese bibliography. Recently several convenient indexes to it have been prepared. But comprehensive as it is, it cannot be regarded as a complete survey of literature in the Ch'ien-lung period, and later efforts to supplement it (see under Juan Yüan) were not entirely successful. Naturally, it gives more extensive notice to works copied into the Library (存書) than to works that were not copied but merely reviewed, (存目). In 1782 a simple list of the 3,450 some works copied into the Library was presented to the throne, under the title (簡明目錄) in 20 chüan. A facsimile reproduction of this list, made from the Wên Yüan Ko 文淵閣 copy, together with
photographs of the Wên Yüan Ko, was made about 1920 and published in 1935. Other editions, with reviews in condensed form (see under Chao Huai-yü) or designed to give more bibliographical information (see under Shao I-Ch'ên), appeared after 1784. Minor comments and collation notes on the works copied into the Library were brought together under the title Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu k'ao-chêng (考證), 100 chüan, and printed in 1786.

In the beginning four essentially identical sets of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu were made on the best white paper known as k'ai-hua chih 開化紙, each set comprising a total of some 36,000 volumes. The first set, completed early in 1782, was housed in a building known as the Wên Yüan Ko 文淵閣, erected on the palace grounds, during the years 1774-76. The building was presumably modeled after the very old T'ien I Ko Library of the Fan family of Ningpo, Chekiang (see under Fan Mou-chu), but in reality its massive proportions have more in common with the adjoining palace structures than with the simple building at Ningpo. The set that was housed in the Wên Yüan Ko is now in the Palace Museum (故宮博物院) and is the one from which 231 rare works were reproduced photographically in 1935 under the collective title Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu chên-pên (珍本).The second set, also completed in 1782, was housed in the Wên Su Ko 文溯閣 at Mukden, and is said to be still there. The third set, originally deposited in the Wên Yüan Ko 文源閣 on the grounds of the Old Summer Palace (Yüan-ming Yüan), was destroyed in 1860 when those palaces were pillaged and burned. The fourth set (reported as complete in an edict dated January 6, 1785) was originally placed in the Wên Ching Ko 文津閣 at Jehōl, but is now in the National Library of Peiping. [122]
All these four depositories were constructed on the same general plan. By imperial decree of August 16, 1782 three more sets were ordered to be prepared for the Wên Hui Ko 文匯閣 at Yangchow, for the Wên Tsung Ko 文宗閣 at Chinkiang, and for the Wên Lan Ko 文瀾閣 at Hangchow (see under Lu-fei Ch'ih, Wang Chung, and Ting Ping). All three were completed by 1787 and were the only ones open to students possessing the requisite credentials. During the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) the sets in Yangchow and Chinkiang were entirely destroyed, and the one at Hangchow partially so. By 1926 the copy in Hangchow was almost completely restored by transcription from the Wên Ching Ko copy which was then in the Metropolitan Library. The basic printed books and manuscripts from which these seven transcriptions were originally made were (with the exception of those that were borrowed from private collections) deposited in the Hanlin Academy where students could consult them on application. As soon as the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu was initiated Emperor Kao-tsung ordered that a smaller collection of the most important titles be copied which could more easily be housed in a study in the palace. Two such sets, comprising 473 works, were transcribed and given the comprehensive title Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu hui-yao (薈要). Only one of these sets is now in existence; the other was also destroyed with the Yüan-ming Yüan. In sponsoring the compilation of these great manuscript libraries it is possible that Emperor Kao-tsung had in mind, not only the preservation of ancient literature, but the detection and suppression of specific works regarded as hostile to the reigning dynasty. Be this as it may, it is significant that at the time the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu was compiled thousands of works with their printing-blocks were destroyed and a considerable number of authors were persecuted (see under Ch'ü<> Ta-chün).

For his work in connection with the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu, Chi Yün was several times promoted, frequently honored by gifts, and usually exempted from punishment for editorial errors. In 1773 he was made a sub-reader in the Hanlin Academy and in 1776 a reader. In the latter year the Wên Yüan Ko was completed and Chi Yün was appointed librarian-an office that was abolished in 1788 after which the library was under the jurisdiction of the ministers of the Imperial Household. When thirteen bibliophiles were rewarded in 1774 for the loan of rare items to the Ssŭ-k'u, Chi Yün was one of nine to be given a copy of the phrase dictionary, P'ei-wên Yǔn fu (see under Chang Yü-shu and Ts'ao Yin), the four largest contributors being given a copy of the famous encyclopaedia, Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng (see under Ch'ên Mêng-lei). When the first complete set of the library was presented to the throne (1782) the memorial that accompanied it, elegantly written in the balanced prose, or p'ien-t'i 駢體 style, is said to have been drafted by Chi Yün. A separate edition of this memorial, entitled Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan- shu piao-wên chien-shih (表文箋釋) in 4 chüan, appeared with annotations in 1915. In 1782 Chi was promoted to the post of junior vice-president of the Board of War and three years later was made president of the Censorate.

Meanwhile many errors were discovered in the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu ; some, of course, had previously been noted, but were not regarded seriously. But in 1787 the emperor was much disturbed when he himself found errors, even at random. That summer he ordered all the officials in the capital who could be spared to recollate the sets in Peking and at the Summer Palace. The collators found, in addition to blunders of copyists, remarks unfavorable to the Manchus (see under Li Ch'ing and Chou Liang-kung) which were expunged. For allowing such works to be incorporated into the Library, Chi Yün undertook to make, at his own expense, the necessary corrections and to substitute new works for those that were banned. A number of former collators were also induced to proceed to Jehōl to collate the Library there at their own expense. The revision of the three supplementary sets was completed in 1789. At the same time Lu-fei Ch'ih and Lu Hsi-hsiung were punished. In 1790 Chi Yün was again chastened by being ordered to revise the two sets of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu hui-yao. Errors in the first four sets of the complete work were inevitable, in view of the fact that the copyists were not paid directly but were rewarded with official posts after they had transcribed a given number of words within a limited time. Some perhaps employed other copyists, less responsible than themselves, to do the work for them. For that reason, when the three supplementary sets were made, the emperor specifically ordered that the copyists should be paid from the national treasury and should work under strict supervision.

Chi Yün and Tai Chên were good friends and [123]ardent promoters of the new critical study of the classics, Tai being a guest in the home of Chi Yün for a number of years after 1760. As editors of the Annotated Catalogue of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu they lent their sanction to and crystallized the views of the century-old School of Han Learning (see under Ku Yen-wu) with its covert attack on Chu Hsi and other Sung and Ming philosophers. In later years Chi composed a series of fables and anecdotes designed to point a moral or to satirize the pedants and hypocritical moralists of the prevailing Sung philosophical school. These anecdotes which appeared in five series during the years 1789-98, were published in 1800 under the collective title 閱微草堂筆記Yüeh-wei Ts'ao-t'ang pi-chi. They have been popular ever since. Perhaps Chi realized that an allegorical presentation would find a wider circle of readers than a serious work. Except for these pi-chi, the Ssŭ-k'u Catalogue, and various official documents which he edited, Chi Yün did very little other writing. His collected essays and poems, each in 16 chüan, were published in 1812, under the title 紀文達公遺集 Chi Wên-ta kung i-chi. He was a collector of ink-slabs whose designs and inscriptions he had copied into a volume which was reproduced in 1916 under the title Yüeh-wei Ts'ao-t'ang Yen-p'u (硯譜). He edited, for the use of younger students, under the title 史通削繁 Shih-t'ung hsüeh fan, a condensed edition of the well-known critique of history, 史通 Shih-t'ung, the latter completed by Liu Chih-chi 劉知幾 (661-721) in 711 A. D. Chi Yün also edited a collectanea of ten works, entitled 鏡煙堂十種 Ching-yen t'ang chih-ch'ung--after the name of a studio in the Educational Commissioner's residence at Foochow, where Chi Yün stayed from 1762 to 1764. Presumably this ts'ung-shu was printed at Foochow about this time. Some of the items consist of anthologies and others are treatises on rhyming, poetic criticism, etc. Among the anthologies is the 庚辰集 Kêng ch'ên chi, 5 chüan, comprising the Court poems written by members of the Hanlin Academy who had been admitted during the cycle, 1700-60. It was edited by Chi himself and was annotated by his disciples, among them Li Wên-tsao (see under Chou Yung-nien). Chi included in the collectanea his own Court poems, entitled 館課存稿 Kuan-k'o ts'un-kao, 4 chüan.

In later life Chi Yim held the following posts: president of the Censorate (1785-87, 1791-96), president of the Board of War (1796), and president of the Board of Ceremonies (1787-91, 1797-1805). On his eightieth birthday, in 1803, he was given special honors by Emperor Jên-tsung. In 1805 he was made an assistant
Grand Secretary, but died a few days after taking office. He was cannonized as Wên-ta 文達.

Chi Yün was afflicted with short-sightedness-a defect once referred to by Emperor Kao-tsung. He was a humorist, and many anecdotes are attributed to him, some perhaps fictitiously, on account of his fame. He was an indifferent penman, and the pieces of calligraphy that bear his name are said to have been penned by his disciples.

[ 1/326/66; 3/31/1a, 補錄; 10/23/20b; 13/6/lb; 20/3/00; Wang Lan-yin 王蘭蔭, 紀曉嵐先生年譜 Chi Hsiao-lan Hsien-shêng nien-p'u in 師大月刊 Shih-ta yüeh-k'an, vol. I, no. 6 (1933) ; Hsien-hsien chih (1925);辦理四庫全書檔案 Pan-li Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu tang-an (1934); Bulletin of the National Library of Peiping, vol. Vü, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct., 1933);文淵閣藏書全景 Wên-yüan ko ts'ang-shu ch'üan-ching, containing a copy of the Chien-ming' mu-lu (1935); jên Ch'i-shan, 任啟珊, 四庫全書答問 Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu ta-w"ên (1928); Mayers, W. F., "Bibliography of the Chinese Imperial Collections of Literature", The China Review, vol. VI (1877-78), pp. 291-99; Goodrich, L. C., The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung (1935);摛藻堂四庫薈要目 Ch'ih-tsao t'ang Ssŭ-k'u hui-yao mu (1933), p. 21b;內務府古物陳列所書畫目錄 Nei-wu fu ku-wu ch'ên-lieh-so shu-hua mu-lu, 2/18b; Ichimura Sanjiro 市村瓚次郎, 四庫全書﹖文淵閣﹖に就いて, Shigaku-zasshi, 史學雜誌 vol. ZüI, nos. 7, 8, 9.]