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Fang Pao

Fang Pao 方苞. (T. 鳳九, H. 靈皋, 望溪) May 25, 1668-1749, Sept. 29, scholar, was born near Nanking and lived most of his life in that city, but prior to the unrest at the close of the Ming period the ancestral home of the family was at T'ung-ch'êng, Anhwei. In his youth he studied under his father and his elder brother, Fang Chou 方舟 (T. 百川) fl. 1665-1701), and took his preliminary examinations in T'ung-ch'êng and Anking. After becoming a senior licentiate, he went to Peking (1691) and enrolled in the Imperial Academy. Soon his talents as a prose writer were applauded by many scholars, then in Peking, such as Han T'an, Li Kuang-ti, Wan Ssŭ-t'ung and Chiang Ch'ên-ying[qq.v. ]. There he became acquainted with the philosopher, Li Kung[q.v.], and had several disciples, among them Tai Ming-shih[q.v.]. For several years he taught in family schools in Cho-chou, Chihli; in Peking; and later in Pao-ying, Kiangsu. In 1699 he became a chieh-yüan, 解元, or the highest chü-jên, in the provincial examination of Kiangnan. Although he was successful in the metropolitan examination for chin-shih in 1706, when he learned that his mother was ill, he returned home without taking the palace examination. In the following year his father died and he mourned according to the ancient rites. Three years later (1711) there occurred the literary inquisition regarding the work known as 南山集 Nan-shan chi by Tai Ming-shih and in this episode Fang Pao was either consciously or unwittingly involved. Fang and Tai were fellow-townsmen who had achieved fame as writers and had known each other for some time: The Nan-shan chi contained a preface signed by Fang, or else was falsely attributed to him. Moreover, a fellow-clansman of Fang's, named Fang Hsiao-piao (see under Tai Ming-shih), had written a work about the rebellion of Wu San-kuei[q.v.] which was mentioned in Tai's writings. For these, or other reasons, the entire Fang family, including Fang Pao, were imprisoned. During his incarceration Fang himself was unperturbed and continued his studies. When the case was finally settled in 1713 Tai was executed, and Fang Pao and his entire family were uprooted from their ancestral home to serve as nominal slaves to bannermen in Peking or to be banished to Heilungkiang. It is said that Li Kuang-ti influenced the emperor to spare Fang's life on the plea that he had scholarship, and ability as a writer.

After his release Fang was ordered to serve in the Imperial Study (see under Chang Ying) and later was transferred to the studio, Mêng-yang chai 蒙養 齋, in the emperor's country villa, Ch'ang-ch'un yüan (see under Hsüan-yeh) where works on astronomy, mathematics and music were compiled. There he became acquainted with Hsiu-yüan-mêng (see under Shu-ho-tê) and Ku-tsung (see under Gubadai), two Manchus who were devoted to classical study and who often invited Fang to explain the texts of the Classics on Rites. Among his other colleagues were Ho Kuo-tsung and Mei Ku-ch'êng[qq.v. ]. In 1723 Fang was appointed director of the [236] editorial bureau of the Imperial Printing Establishment known as the Wu-ying tien. In the following year he and his family were freed and by edict of the new emperor, Shih-tsung, were permitted to return to their ancestral town of T'ung-ch'êng. Granted a year's leave in 1724, Fang returned to Peking in the following year, and although partially crippled he resumed his duties in the Wu-ying tien. In 1731 he was especially appointed to the office of a secretary of the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction, a post rarely given to one who had not been admitted to the Hanlin Academy. After several promotions, he was made a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat (1733), but requested permission to remain in the Wu-ying tien on the plea of the ailment in his feet. In the same year he was made a teacher to the bachelors of the Hanlin Academy and in the following year an associate director of the editorial bureau for the compilation of the anthology, Huang Ch'ing wên-ying (see under Tung Pang-ta).

In 1735 Emperor Kao-tsung succeeded to the throne and in the following year he ordered Fang Pao to select and edit a collection of pa-ku or examination hall essays of the Ming and early Ch'ing periods as models for students in the examinations. This anthology in 41 chüan, entitle d 欽定四 書文 Ch'in-ting Ssŭ-shu wen, was printed in 1739. Fang Pao also served as a director of the bureau for the compilation of the commentaries to the Three Rituals, th e 三禮 義疏 San Li i-shu. The texts and commentaries were printed in 1748 under the titles : 周官 義疏 Chou-kuan i-shu, in 48 chüan ; 儀禮 義疏 I-li i-shu, in 48 chüan ; and 禮記 義疏 Li-chi i-shu, in 82 chüan. He was appointed junior vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies but resigned early in 1738. He continued his editorial work, but was allowed the stipend of the higher post. When in 1739 the project for reprinting, in the Wu-ying-tien, the standard editions of the Thirteen Classics and of the Twenty-one Dynastic Histories began, Fang suggested ways of utilizing the most suitable editions, and of incorporating the collation notes on the Han shu, the Hou Han-shu, and the San-kuo chih which had been made by Ho Ch'o[q.v.]. Fang's suggestions were carried out, and Ho's unpublished manuscripts were borrowed for this purpose. In the same year (1739) Fang was censured by the emperor for recommending men for public office to whom he was personally obligated. In the edict relating to this matter it was pointed out that two of the men he had recommended had been his hosts in Peking. Fang was deprived of all rank, but was given a chance to redeem himself by working in the bureau for the compilation of the commentaries to the Three Classics on Rites. Upon his retirement soon after, he was granted the rank of a subexpositor in the Hanlin Academy, and spent the rest of his life (1742-1749) at his home in Nanking. His epitaph was written by Ch'uan Tsu-wang[q.v.] who lamented that after Fang and Li Fu[q.v.] had passed on there were no great teachers left in the country.

Fang's whole life was devoted to study, and even in his official career he concentrated on literary activity. A bibliography of his works (see below) lists 39 titles. His collected works of 16 titles, known as 方望 溪全集 Fang Wang-hsi ch'uan-chi, or 抗希堂 十六種 K'ang-hsi t'ang shih-liu chung, were printed at various times by friends or disciples during the last thirty years of his life. Seven of these titles deal with the Classics on Rites but they were unimportant in comparison with studies on the same subject made by Ch'in Hui-t'ien, Hao I-hsing[qq, v.]and others. He also made a study of the Spring and Autumn Annals and the Tso-chuan, but was more interested in the literary style of these works than in questions of philology or history. Yet he was held in high esteem as a master of the ku-wên 古文 style and as founder of the T'ung-Ch'êng School 桐城派. He himself had no intention of founding such a school, but was exalted by other writers after his death (see under Yao Nai). Nevertheless he did state his views on this type of writing in his preface to an anthology of selected examples which he compiled in 1733 under the title 古 文約選 ku-wên yüeh-hsüan. His selections were made from the Han-shu, the Hou Han-shu, and from the writings of the "Eight Masters of the T'ang and Sung Dynastie s" 唐 宋八家 namely: Han (see under Mao Chin); Liu Tsung-Yüan 柳宗元, 773-819; Ou-yang Hsiu (see under Shao Chin-han); Su Hs un 蘇洵 1009-1066; Tsêng Ku ng 曾鞏, 1019-1083; Wang An-sh ih 王安石, 1021-1086; Su Sh ih 蘇軾, 1036-1101; and Su Che 蘇轍, 1039-1112. Fang Pao maintained that by a study of this anthology a student might readily discover the i-fa 義法"purpose and mode of expression" of deeper works, and might more easily compose in the pa-ku or examination style. Some held that the anthology could serve as a key to the teachings of the sages, and open the door to fame and wealth through the examination system. This [237] may account, in part, for the great popularity which the T'ung-ch'êng School enjoyed. But the conception of the i-fa which Fang Pao advocated was not his own invention--it had been in vogue as a pedagogical device during the Ming dynasty. In fact it was Yao Nai[q.v.], the real founder of the school, who popularized Fang Pao's works and attributed to him the views which continued to be so popular during the remainder of the Ch'ing period. Fang was elevated because he had been a high official, had lived a long and respected life, was held in esteem by emperors as a ku-wên and a pa-ku writer, and, not least of all, was a native of T'ung-ch'êng, the city from which Yao Nai himself came.

Fang wrote very few poems, owing, it is said, to the advice of a candid friend. The first collection of his essays, entitled 望溪先生文集 Wang-hsi hsien-shêng wên-chi, 18 chüan, appeared in 1746 and was frequently reprinted. In 1851 Tai Chün-hêng 戴鈞衡 (T. 存莊蓉洲 1814-1855) re-edited this collection, adding 10 chüan of Fang's works drawn from various sources, together with a nien-p'u of Fang's life compiled by Su Tun-yüan 蘇惇元 (T. 厚子 H 欽齋, 1801-1857). This edition by Tai, entitled Wang-hsi hsien-shêng chi-wai wên ( 集外文) was expanded by a supplement ( 補遺) of 2 chüan in 1852. Both Tai and Su were natives of T'ung-ch'êng and were writers of the T'ung-ch'êng School. Two more supplements were added by later admirers.

Fang Pao upheld the teachings of Chu Hsi (see under Hu Wei) and repeatedly asserted that he had converted a number of heterodox scholars to the Sung philosophy. In a letter to Li Kung on the occasion of the death of the latter's eldest son, Fang remarked that the calamity was a portent sent by Heaven for Li's attacks on Chu Hsi. Such bigotry was characteristic of the T'ung-ch'êng School which limited itself to the study of Chu Hsi's commentaries and to the prose writings of a few men, branding other types of literature as harmful to the mind. Among those who openly criticized the works of Fang was Ch'ien Ta-hsin[q.v.] who pronounced his writings both empty and unscholarly.

[ 1/296/3b; 3/69/la; 4/25/19b; 17/4/48a; Su Tun-yüan, Wang-hsi hsien-shêng nien-p'u (1851); Liu Shêng-mu 劉聲木, 城文學淵源考, T'ung-ch'êng wên-hsüeh yüan-yüan k'ao 2/la; 桐 城文學撰述考 T'ung-ch'êng wên-hsüeh chuan-shu k'ao 1/8b (both in 直介堂 叢刻 Chih-chieh t'ang [237]ts'ung-k'e); Ch'ien Ta-hsin, Ch'ien-yen t'ang wên-chi 31/17a, 33/14b; Ma Ch'i-ch'ang (see under Fang Kuan-ch'êng), T'ung-ch'e"ng ch'i-chiu chüan.]