|JapSin I, 148, 148a-n|
Bingyin huike 丙寅會課.
By anonymous authors.
Manuscript, Chinese bamboo paper. Fifteen volumes, including four duplicates: 148d (=148c), 148g (=148f), 148j (=148i), 148l (=148k).
The cover of each volume gives the Chinese era (bingyin) and month but without the reign title of an Emperor. The Latin inscription on the cover of 148a reads: “Discursus varii | de variis supersti | tionibus | facti in Academiis | literariis, and on the cover of 148f: Sine valore. Discipuli . . . dissertationes.”The sizes of these fifteen volumes are not the same. In the following list we give the sizes (in centimeters), volume by volume (* = duplicate):
148--正月會課--24.5 x 14
148a--二月會課--24.4 x 14
148b--三月會課--25.2 x 13.8
148c--四月會課--24.2 x 13.8
148d*--四月會課--24.3 x 14.3
148e--閏四月會課--25 x 13.8
148f--五月會課--25.5 x 14
148g*--五月會課--24.1 x 14.3
148h--六月會課--25.3 x 14
148i--七月會課--25.5 x 14
148j*--七月會課--25 x 14.5
148k--八月會課--25 x 14.4
148l*--八月會課--25 x 14
148m--九月會課--25 x 13.8
148n--十月會課--24 x 13.8
These volumes (not including the duplicates) contain some one hundred essays (條). All these essays deal with the same subject: refutation of Chinese superstitious beliefs. In each of the eleven months there was, however, a specific theme:
Documents --- Themes
148 (30 folios, 16 essays): 辯持齊 (On the question of fasting).[The character bian 辯 (to discuss), given as a title on the cover, is no doubt a mistake for the character bian 辨 (to discriminate). Of the sixteen essays only three use the former character, while the rest use the latter.]
148a (30 folios, 16 essays): 符咒 (Charms and spells).
148b (33 folios, essays): 放生戒殺 (To release animals and the prohibition to kill [them]).
148c+d (18 folios, 8 essays): 雷震人畜等物之故 (Why thunderbolts strike men, animals etc.).
148e (15 folios, 8 essays): 佛之世尊道之原始天尊其說何居 (On what kind of theory is [the appellation] World-honored One for the Buddha and Celestial Worthy of Prime Origin for the Way based).
148f+g (14 folios, 6 essays): 釋氏所言地獄與正教 (The hell of which the Buddhists speak compared with that of the orthodox [Christian] teaching).
148h (20 folios, 9 essays): 文昌化書 (the Book of the Transformations of Wenchang [the God of Literature]). Cf. Jap-Sin II, 85.1 (duplicate).
148i+j (25 folios, 11 essays):輪迴 (Reincarnation).
148k+l (9 folios, 4 essays): 數術 (Numerology).
148m (8 folios, 4essays): 鬼祟 (Haunting).
148n (14 folios, 4 essays): 辯儒教與釋道邪正迴別二氏強附三教同 (In orthodoxy and heterodoxy Confucianism is very dissimilar with Buddhism and Daoism and these two unreasonably adhere to [the theory] that these three teachings have the same source).
The Chinese era bingyin corresponds to, among others, 1686 (Kangxi 25) and it likely that these essays were written in that year. Our hypothesis is based on an allusion in one of the essays. In Jap-Sin I, 148a, folio 6r, one writer says: “His Majesty who is now on the throne, is a talented and awe inspiring monarch. The (notorious) Zhu Fangdan 朱方旦 underwent capital punishment (under his rule). One must admit that in the courage of his decision he exceeded many of the monarchs who had gone before him.” The execution of Zhu Fangdan occurred in 1682 (Kangxi 21, second month), see Qingshi 清史, juan 7, p. 80 (4).
Moreover, of the bingyin years to be considered (1626, 1686, 1746, etc.), Kangxi 25 (1686) is the only bingyin year with an intercalary fourth month (Jap-Sin I, 148e). Another confirmation is found in an essay in Jap-Sin I, 148h, which says on folio 17:
“I still remember Mr. Li, magistrate of the district of Yuyi 虞邑 [in the prefecture of Changshu 常熟, Jiangsu], who, as soon as he came to this district had several hundred copies of the Wenchang huashu 文昌化書 printed. He presented me with two copies. I went through it. It says that Wenchang [i.e., the god of Literature] is Zhang Zhong 張仲. At that time Mr. Li wrote several poems in the lüshi style of seven characters 七言律詩. I was not able to refrain from smiling but I tore up the book before I could finish reading it and I threw it into the fire. After the lapse of twenty years I cannot recall the details [in the book]; hence I am not able to give a full discussion [of it].”
This account reminds us of the renowned Chinese painter and poet, Wu Li 吳歷 (1632–1718). He became a Jesuit in Macau in 1682 and was ordained a priest in 1688 in Nanjing. He was a native of Yushan 虞山 in the prefecture of Changshu. Our hypothesis, that the author of this essay is Wu Li, makes him thirty-four years of age when he met Mr. Li, the magistrate, and places him in Nanjing in 1686, preparing for the priesthood. He was then fifty-four years of age, having entered the Society of Jesus at the age of fifty in 1682.
These essays seem to have been written monthly by seminarians as exercises in Chinese style. Pfister, in the biography of Giandomenico Gabiani (1623–1694) says (pp. 317–318): “Il établit à Nankin une sorte de séminaire pour former, sous la conduite de lettrés chrétiens, les jeunes Chinois aux bonnes moeurs et à l’étude de leur littérature; il avait aussi des congrégations de lettrés et de catéchistes qui étaient florissantes, et quand, en 1685 les deux vicaires apostoliques, Mgr d’Argolis et Mgr de Basilée, s’arrêtèrent dans cette ville, il ne purent retenir leur admiration pour la bonne tenue de cette maison. (Dunyn Szpot, ad ann. 1685.).” Cf. Jap-Sin I 105, ff. 72b–73a.
Source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 199-201.