Block-print­ing in the Gar­den of Yan

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Shi Edited by Mark Zuiderveld

Yifeng­tang shi­cun, block- printed by the li­brary of Yench­ing University, wit­nessed glo­ries and leg­ends of its au­thor Miao Quan­sun and the Yench­ing University.

To­day many peo­ple hurry to and fro in Pek­ing University, but few peo­ple know that this place used to be­long to Yench­ing University, the most fa­mous Chi­nese Chris­tian university in mod­ern times founded by Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary John Leighton Stuart (1876–1962). He was also the first pres­i­dent of Yench­ing University. As Yench­ing University was founded, its li­brary was es­tab­lished also, which col­lected many books in Chi­nese and for­eign lan­guages.

In 1939, Yench­ing University's li­brary block-printed and re­leased Yifeng­tang shi­cun (“col­lec­tion of Yifeng's po­ems”), a col­lec­tion of po­ems by Miao Quan­sun (1844–1919). The book later be­came a clas­sic among the works block-printed by Yench­ing University's li­brary.

Grand University with High Rep­u­ta­tion

In mod­ern times, with the con­tin­u­ous­con­tinuo ex­pan­sion of West­ern coun­tries' in­va­sion­inv of China, West­ern mis­sion­ar­ies also came in throngs and preached in China. Af­ter the Sec­ond Opium War (1856–1860), mis­sion­ar­ies' ac­tiv­i­ties be­came more fre­quent. They preached Chris­tian­ity and es­tab­lished churches, and even spe­cially founded news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines and trans­lated and pub­lished books. Mis­sion­ar­ies set up many schools in the name of the church, many of which were pres­ti­gious with in­flu­ence on China's mod­ern ed­u­ca­tion.

The Bridg­man Girls' High School

was founded by Mrs. El­izah Bridg­man, a mis­sion­ary in China from the Amer­i­can Chris­tian Con­gre­ga­tional Church. In 1864, she es­tab­lished Bridg­man Girls' Ele­men­tary School at Dabo­geshi Hu­tong north of Deng­shikou Street in Bei­jing. She took charge of the small school's ad­min­is­tra­tive af­fairs by her­self. Later, the school em­ployed Chi­nese teach­ers and be­came more de­vel­oped. In 1895, it be­gan to take shape and the four-year Bridg­man Girls' High School was es­tab­lished. It later ex­panded and was re­named the North China Union Col­lege for Women.

In 1867, the Amer­i­can Chris­tian Con­gre­ga­tional Church founded the Jef­fer­son Academy in Tongzhou to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion, food and cloth­ing for chil­dren from low-in­come fam­i­lies. In 1889, the Jef­fer­son Academy was pro­moted to university sta­tus with “spread­ing the Gospel, open­ing up roads” as the goal and with The Holy Bi­ble, Chi­nese and English as the main courses. Stu­dents must par­tic­i­pate in all re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties and mostly be­came preach­ers af­ter grad­u­a­tion. In 1912, the Jef­fer­son Academy was re­named North China Union Col­lege, the pre­de­ces­sor of to­day's Bei­jing Luhe High School.

In 1889, the Amer­i­can Methodist Epis­co­pal Church es­tab­lished the Chongnei Rea­son-nur­tur­ing Academy at Chuan­ban Hu­tong near Chong­wen­men, later re­named Hui­wen University. It was the pre­de­ces­sor of to­day's Pek­ing Academy.

In 1900, dur­ing the Eight-na­tion Al­liance's in­va­sion of China, these three uni­ver­si­ties were dev­as­tated and couldn't con­duct teach­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. There­fore, the Amer­i­can Methodist Epis­co­pal Church, the Amer­i­can Chris­tian Con­gre­ga­tional Church, Amer­i­can Pres­by­te­rian Church and the Bri­tish Lon­don Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety merged the three church schools into the well-known Yench­ing University. Its first pres­i­dent was the mis­sion­ary John Leighton Stuart.

Stuart was born in 1876 in Hangzhou. His par­ents were both mis­sion­ar­ies in China, and he be­gan to preach in many places in China at the age of 28. In 1918, the Amer­i­can North­ern Pres­by­te­rian Church and South­ern Pres­by­te­rian Church or­dered Stuart to es­tab­lish a “new com­pre­hen­sive university,” so af­ter the merger of North China Union Col­lege for Women, North China Union Col­lege and Hui­wen University, Stuart was ap­pointed pres­i­dent of Yench­ing University.

Af­ter tak­ing of­fice, he pre­pared to build a new cam­pus but had to so­licit con­tri­bu­tions from so­ci­ety due to lack of funds. He once rode a small don­key to se­lect a site for the new school, asked for do­na­tions ev­ery­where to raise funds for run­ning the school, and shut­tled in Bei­jing's high streets and back lanes. He also went a long way to raise funds in the US on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

At first, Yench­ing University used the site of the for­mer Hui­wen University at Kui­ji­achang in the south­east cor­ner of Bei­jing's in­ner city. Later, Stuart took a lik­ing to a gar­den north­west of Bei­jing and sought to buy the land with 200,000 sil­ver dol­lars, but that piece of land be­longed to Mil­i­tary Gov­er­nor of Shaanxi Prov­ince Chen Sh­u­fan (1885–1949). Af­ter he told Chen Sh­u­fan his thoughts, this war­lord showed great pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion be­yond his wildest ex­pec­ta­tion. Chen Sh­u­fan not only sold the land to Yench­ing University at the low price of 60,000 sil­ver dol­lars, but also took out 20,000 sil­ver dol­lars and do­nated it to Yench­ing University as a schol­ar­ship fund.

Stuart later men­tioned this ex­pe­ri­ence in his mem­oir My Fifty Years in China, call­ing it a beg­gar's trip. Af­ter rais­ing enough school-run­ning funds, he en­gaged Murphy, a fa­mous Amer­i­can ar­chi­tect, to carry out over­all plan­ning. The site of Yench­ing University is to­day's main cam­pus of Pek­ing University—the Gar­den of Yan. All build­ings in the com­plex adopted the style of an­cient Chi­nese palaces and im­i­tated ex­te­ri­ors of Chi­nese clas­si­cal build­ings as much as pos­si­ble. In terms of in­ter­nal func­tions, they adopted the most ad­vanced fa­cil­i­ties such as ra­di­a­tors, hot water sup­ply, flush­ing toi­lets and drink­ing foun­tains.

In 1926, Yench­ing University of­fi­cially moved to the Gar­den of Yan. Af­ter many years, Yench­ing University be­came China's most beau­ti­ful and ac­com­plished university. In terms of teach­ing phi­los­o­phy, this university im­ple­mented free teach­ing with­out em­pha­sis­ing Chris­tian ed­u­ca­tion. From 1929, the School of Arts, the School of Sci­ences and the School of Law were of­fi­cially es­tab­lished with nearly 20 de­part­ments in to­tal. Its grad­u­ates were ac­tive mainly in China's ed­u­ca­tional, po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious cir­cles.

Though Yench­ing University was a re­li­gious school, Stuart pro­posed the school­run pol­icy of “com­pletely Sini­ciz­ing Yench­ing University” and the motto of “Free­dom through Truth for Ser­vice.” He once said, “Yench­ing University must be a university in the real sense ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing any test, and one's be­lief is just a pri­vate af­fair.” As a prac­ti­tioner of ed­u­ca­tion, he deeply knew that “a university should have not only tall build­ings, but also great masters.” Yench­ing University en­gaged many for­eign teach­ers and gath­ered nu­mer­ous first-class Chi­nese schol­ars. Many well-known peo­ple such as Feng Youlan (1895–1990), Zhou Zuoren (1885–1967) and Zheng Zhen­duo

(1898–1958) taught at Yench­ing University, the Chi­nese cam­pus with the largest scale, the high­est qual­ity and the most beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment in mod­ern times. Its fast rise could be deemed leg­endary in China's his­tory of higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Culture and Grand Scale

A few years af­ter Yench­ing University was founded, its li­brary was es­tab­lished in 1919. In mod­ern times, church uni­ver­si­ties and their li­braries oc­cu­pied a place in China's ed­u­ca­tion his­tory. At that time, church uni­ver­si­ties were only used for preach­ing, so their li­braries mainly col­lected books of West­ern lan­guages and re­li­gion. Af­ter the May Fourth Move­ment in 1919, Chi­nese in­tel­lec­tu­als' na­tional con­scious­ness was con­tin­u­ously awak­en­ing, so they grad­u­ally or­gan­ised move­ments to take back the right of ed­u­ca­tion from var­i­ous church schools. To sur­vive in China, church schools adopted the “Sini­ci­sa­tion” pol­icy and their li­braries also be­gan to col­lect large num­bers of Chi­nese books. Some of them even sur­passed other types of university li­braries in China in terms of an­cient lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal books. As a newly es­tab­lished com­pre­hen­sive university, Yench­ing University be­came a Chi­nese style university. Its li­brary not only col­lected Chi­nese books, but also could block-print books with block-print­ing tech­niques.

When Yench­ing University was es­tab­lished in 1919, its li­brary was lo­cated at Kui­ji­achang south­east of Bei­jing. At that time, there was only one house with a col­lec­tion of a lit­tle over 200 books. In 1925, the li­brary had only three houses with a col­lec­tion of less than 10,000 books, most of which were in West­ern lan­guages. In 1926, Yench­ing University moved to the Gar­den of Yan, in which its li­brary was a Chi­nese-style build­ing im­i­tat­ing the Im­pe­rial Li­brary, ca­pa­ble of hous­ing 300,000 books. In 1935, the li­brary was re­built to ex­pand the us­able floor area.

At that time, it was Yench­ing University's tra­di­tion to name build­ings af­ter donors, so the li­brary was named Berry Me­mo­rial af­ter the Mr. and Mrs. Berry, who do­nated funds. The Yench­ing University Li­brary Com­mit­tee was re­spon­si­ble for li­brary man­age­ment, con­sist­ing of the direc­tor of the li­brary and pres­ti­gious pro­fes­sors, among whom Hong Ye (1893– 1980) and Tien Hungtu con­trib­uted most to Yench­ing University's li­brary.

In his early years, Hong went to the US for study, taught at Yench­ing University af­ter re­turn­ing to China, and served as chair­man of the Li­brary Com­mit­tee. In 1928, Hong served as act­ing direc­tor of the li­brary. That year, he led the for­mu­la­tion of a se­ries of the li­brary's rules and reg­u­la­tions, pur­chased many books and pro­moted co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Yench­ing University's li­brary and Har­vard Li­brary.

Later, Tien who grad­u­ated as a li­brary sci­ence ma­jor from Boone University in Wuchang suc­ceeded Hong as direc­tor of the li­brary. Tien stud­ied in the US, served as an as­sis­tant with Columbia University Li­braries, learned about li­brary af­fairs, and con­trib­uted to Yench­ing University's li­brary.

Yench­ing University's li­brary had a large col­lec­tion of more than 300,000 books, sec­ond only to Pek­ing University and Sun Yat­sen University, in­clud­ing not only Western­lan­guage books of stud­ies on Chi­nese and East­ern cul­tures, but also many rare edi­tions of an­cient books and print­ing blocks. Its col­lec­tion of an­cient books, many of which were old edi­tions of the Song (AD 960–1279) and Yuan (1271–1368) dy­nas­ties, reached more than 3,000 ti­tles and at­tracted many read­ers. Yench­ing University's li­brary also block-printed many books us­ing tra­di­tional block-print­ing tech­niques, in­clud­ing Yifeng­tang shi­cun, a col­lec­tion of po­ems by Miao Quan­sun, a great scholar and founder of mod­ern li­brary un­der­tak­ings.

Miao was a na­tive of Jiangyin County, Jiangsu, born in 1844. When he was 17, the Taip­ing Heav­enly King­dom's army cap­tured Jiangyin, so he and his step­mother fled to Huai'an for refuge. Four years later, his fam­ily moved to Chengdu. He later stud­ied and passed the pro­vin­cial im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tions there. In 1876, Miao came to Bei­jing and par­tic­i­pated in the met­ro­pol­i­tan exam at age 33. He be­came a suc­cess­ful can­di­date in the high­est im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tions and was ap­pointed com­piler at the Im­pe­rial Academy. Later, he worked as an edi­tor for more than ten years, and com­piled Shuntianfu zhi (“an­nals of Shuntian Pre­fec­ture”).

Dur­ing the Self-strength­en­ing Move­ment, Zhang Zhi­dong (1837–1909, Chi­nese politi­cian) en­trusted him with the task of sur­vey­ing and study­ing in Ja­pan. Af­ter his re­turn, Miao Quan­sun com­piled text­books him­self to de­velop ed­u­ca­tion, fos­tered many tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als, and founded the Jiang­nan Li­brary (to­day's Nan­jing Li­brary).

In1909, the Qing gov­ern­ment planned to build the Im­pe­rial Li­brary of Pek­ing, the pre­de­ces­sor of to­day's Na­tional Li­brary of China. Miao su­per­vised con­struc­tion of the li­brary's in­fra­struc­ture, en­gaged other li­brar­i­ans, clas­si­fied books and alone founded the Im­pe­rial Li­brary of Pek­ing. There­fore, Miao is re­puted as a “found­ing fa­ther” of mod­ern li­braries and “great mas­ter of a gen­er­a­tion.”

Af­ter the Revolution of 1911, Miao re­turned to Shang­hai. In his later years, he called him­self Yifeng El­der and par­tic­i­pated in com­pil­ing Qing­shi gao (“the draft his­tory of Qing”). Be­fore his death, he was still en­gaged in com­pil­ing Jiangy­inx­ian xuzhi

(“a sup­ple­ment to the an­nals of Jiangyin County”). In 1919, Miao died of gas­tric ul­cer in Shang­hai. He wrote many po­ems and es­says in his life­time, but most of them were lost. The only po­etry col­lec­tions left of his are Yifeng­tang shi­cun and Bix­i­ang ci (“fra­grant jade po­ems”). In 1939, Yench­ing University's li­brary com­bined the two col­lec­tions of his po­ems into one and fi­nally com­pleted the fa­mous edi­tion of Yifeng­tang shi­cun block-printed in 1939.

Re­fined Words, Out­stand­ing Es­says

In 1939, Yench­ing University's li­brary, ac­cord­ing to the in­tro­duc­tion by the great his­to­rian Deng Zhicheng (1887–1960), di­vided Miao's Yifeng­tang shi­cun into four vol­umes and at­tached the one-vol­ume Bix­i­ang ci to com­bine two po­etry col­lec­tions

into one. There are two edi­tions of this finely printed white-pa­per book: a black ink edi­tion and blue ink edi­tion. Very few copies of the blue ink edi­tion were printed, and the ex­ist­ing ones’ colour has turned a lit­tle green. The Chi­nese char­ac­ters are long and squar­ish, and each stroke is full of en­ergy. The words “Col­lected by Yench­ing University’s li­brary, Printed and Re­leased in the twenty-eighth year of the Repub­lic of China pe­riod” are on the ti­tle page. Af­ter this book be­came wide­spread, peo­ple grad­u­ally learned about Miao’s col­lec­tion of po­ems.

Miao made a living by writ­ing all his life and was au­thor of many works. In Nianpu (“chron­i­cle”), Miao wrote “I have been to 16 prov­inces and writ­ten 200 books,” ex­clud­ing some lo­cal chron­i­cles com­piled by him. Miao in­her­ited knowl­edge from his fam­ily in his child­hood and oc­ca­sion­ally stud­ied po­etry af­ter study­ing at age 12 to 13. He wrote many po­ems dur­ing his life, yet most were lost in the Revolution of 1911 and fewer than 200 re­main.

Miao’s po­ems are im­bued with his ex­pe­ri­ences, and some even record valu­able his­tor­i­cal facts. In the third poem in Yifeng­tang shi­cun, Miao men­tioned the in­ci­dent of the Taip­ing army’s cap­ture of the Jin­ling camp in the be­gin­ning when he was less than 20 years old. In 1860, the Taip­ing army cap­tured Nan­jing, Danyang, Changzhou and Jiangyin suc­ces­sively and left af­ter burn­ing, pil­lag­ing and killing more than 200 men and women. Be­fore long, Miao learned that the Taip­ing army had with­drawn, so he hired a boat to cross the river. How­ever, af­ter com­ing back home, he saw only a di­lap­i­dated house with no clothes in­side and three un­known bod­ies. So he and an old man buried the three bod­ies. At that time, Miao felt sad and wrote four long po­ems. At the end of the fourth one, he wrote, “I’ve es­caped jack­als and tigers, while Jiang­nan is at­tacked by en­e­mies.”

In 1895, the Sino-ja­panese War broke out, and the Beiyang Fleet was wiped out. Af­ter China’s de­feat, Li Hongzhang (1823– 1901, Chi­nese politi­cian) signed the Treaty of Shi­monoseki with Ja­pan, ceded ter­ri­tory and paid in­dem­ni­ties in ex­change for tem­po­rary peace. On the 17th day of the tenth lu­nar month of 1896, the birthday of the pa­tri­otic poet Lu You (1125–1210) in the South­ern Song Dy­nasty (1127–1279), Miao thought about Lu’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to fight against the Jin Dy­nasty and re­cap­ture the cen­tral plains, but the im­pe­rial court’s ces­sion of ter­ri­tory and pay­ment of in­dem­ni­ties an­gered him, so he wrote: “A peace treaty was signed to end the war. I burst into tears for what hap­pened be­fore. Chrysan­the­mums are bloom­ing and the wine is strong. I see the por­trait of a per­son dead long.” At that time, Miao was filled with grief and in­dig­na­tion, want­ing to ded­i­cate him­self to the ser­vice of his coun­try and hop­ing a fa­mous min­is­ter like Lu would emerge. Af­ter the Sino-ja­panese War, Chi­nese na­tional con­scious­ness be­gan to awaken.

Af­ter Yifeng­tang shi­cun was block­printed, the print­ing blocks were kept at Yench­ing University for fu­ture print­ing. How­ever, af­ter two years, the Pa­cific War broke out and the Ja­panese army closed down Yench­ing University. The university had to move to Chengdu tem­po­rar­ily with Kung Hsiang-hsi (1880–1967) as pres­i­dent and Mei Yi-pao (1900–1997) as act­ing pres­i­dent. Af­ter the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­pan was won in 1945, Yench­ing University re­opened its cam­pus in Bei­jing.

Af­ter the Kuom­intang re­treated to Tai­wan, Yench­ing University in Hong Kong was merged into Chung Chi Col­lege of the Chi­nese University of Hong Kong.

Af­ter the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949, Yench­ing University was dis­solved in the re­struc­tur­ing of schools and de­part­ments in Chi­nese in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing in 1952. Most of its arts and sci­ence de­part­ments were merged into Pek­ing University, its en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ments were merged into Ts­inghua University, and its law school and so­ci­ol­ogy de­part­ments merged into China University of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law. Yench­ing University’s school build­ings were taken over by Pek­ing University, and Yench­ing University’s li­brary was also merged into Pek­ing University Li­brary.

In 1952, Pek­ing University moved to the Gar­den of Yan, where Yench­ing University was lo­cated. In China’s his­tory of higher ed­u­ca­tion, this university is re­puted as an “East­ern Har­vard” and can be called a mir­a­cle though it only ex­isted for more than 30 years. Yench­ing University has be­come his­tory, but books block-printed by its li­brary have been passed down.

“Yench­ing University is a grand and splen­did.” Now Yench­ing University’s school song is of­ten sung by peo­ple and brings that leg­endary university “forg­ing ahead ac­tively to ex­plore truth.” Yifeng­tang shi­cun block-printed by Yench­ing University’s li­brary is not only a wit­ness to Yench­ing University’s glo­ri­ous past, but also an ac­count of a great scholar’s ex­pe­ri­ences.

Yifeng­tang shi­cun by Miao Quan­sun

Pek­ing University’s pre­vi­ous cam­pus was that of Yench­ing University

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