We have lately come across a book of travels, in six thin quarto volumes, written by no less a personage than the father of Ch’ung-hou. It is a very handsome work, being well printed and on good paper, besides being provided with numerous woodcuts of the scenes and scenery described in the text. The author, whose name was Lin-ch’ing was employed in various important posts; and while rising from the position of Prefect to that of Acting Governor-General of the two Kiang, travelled about a good deal, and was somewhat justified in committing his experiences to paper. We doubt, however, if his literary efforts are likely to secure him a fraction of the notoriety which the Tientsin Massacre has conferred upon his son. He never saw the moon shining upon the water, but away he went and wrote an ode to the celestial luminary, always introducing a few pathetic lines on the hardships of travel and the miseries of exile.
Herbert A. Giles, ‘Chinese Sketches,’ 1876, pp 162-163
This intriguing entry by the renowned sinologist, Herbert Giles, does not give the title of the wonderful work in question. The title of the unnamed book – 鴻雪因緣圖記 [hongxue yinyuan tuji] – has been variously rendered into English as: A Wild Swan’s Trail; Tracks in the Snow; Footsteps in the Snow of a Solitary Goose; Record of a Goose Life’s Traces in the Snow; Wild swan on the snow; among many others, by an author whose name – 麟慶 – is given as Lin Ch’ing, Lin-ching, Lin Qing or Lin K’ing.
This series of posts aims to present such parts of this book as have already been translated into English, along with the beautiful accompanying illustrations. (Click to enlarge.) Additional historical and bibliographical information will also be provided for interested readers, along with links to further related materials and downloads.
About the Book:
A curious work entitled Hung hsüeh yin yüan t’u chi, by Lin Chin, a Manchu official, is a record of the events of his life and picturesque scenes observed by him in the course of his travels. The original edition of this work, printed in 1849, is in three parts, bound in six volumes, and contains several hundred double-page folding woodcuts very clearly printed and doubtless of some historical and geographic interest, in addition to their value as samples of Chinese book illustrations of the period. That the work is popular in China is shown by the fact that a cheaper small-sized reprint was published in Shanghai in 1884.
Report of the Librarian of Congress, 1917, pp 91-92
Hung-hsüeh yin-yüan t’u-chi 鴻雪因緣圖記 (Illustrated notes on my life; literally: on the passing or elusive events of my fate). Lin-ch’ing describes in 240 plates the main events of his career. (…) The work is in three volumes, each with two parts. Vol. I, Lin-ch’ing’s life until his fortieth year; Vol. II, from 40 to 50; Vol. III, from 50 to his death. The first two volumes were printed between 1839 and 1841 and were first without engravings. The third volume was ready in 1846, the year of Lin-ch’ing’s death. His eldest son Ch’ung-shih put the finishing touches to the work and had it printed in Yangchow with the 240 engravings between 1847 and 1850. The first edition comprising 1,000 copies (size 24.6×16 cm) was brought to Peking, but the wooden blocks were left in Yangchow and were burned by the Taiping army in 1860. A photo-lithographed edition was published in Shanghai in 1880 with a colophon; the size was reduced to 20×13 cm. A third reprint was made between 1884 and 1896.
The Half-Acre Garden, Pan-Mou Yüan, J.L. Van Hecken & W.A. Grootaers, Monumenta Serica, Vol. 18 (1959), pp. 360-387
Portrait of Lin-qing
Chinese books are in general made of quite fragile paper, with the leaves doubled so that the folded edge is turned outward; and the paper is of course printed on only one side. The binding of each fascicule, often colored, is also not very durable. Numbers of such comparatively thin volumes, however, are finally housed within a well-made cloth case called a t’ao, which is the true outer cover; and for this one may use even the finest brocade or silk tapestry. Little clasps of jade or ivory, or else more humbly of carved bone, keep it secured, and these are often carved to harmonize with the binding.
George N. Kates: ‘The Years That Were Fat’, p 47.
The two main sources of information on Lin-qing and his books remain the entry in Hummel’s ‘Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period, 1644-1912’, US Government Printing Office, 1943, pp 506-507, by Fang Chao-ying, and the monograph The Half-Acre Garden, Pan-Mou Yüan, by J.L. Van Hecken & W.A. Grootaers, Monumenta Serica, Vol. 18 (1959), pp. 360-387. [JSTOR Link]
In addition to the recent Chinese reprints of 鴻雪因緣圖記, there have been some partial translations into European languages, but these, like the original Chinese editions, are rare and sought-after items:
• Selections from the Hung-Sueh sketches. Shanghai, Tien-Shih-Chai Photo-lithographic Works, 1879.
• J.R. Baylin: Visite aux temples de Pékin; traduit des carnets de voyage de Lin K’ing, Pékin, 78 pp. with 30 figs. Collection ‘Politique de Pékin’, 1921.
• F.M. Trautz: “Eine erhebende Musikaufführung am ‘fünffachen Stupa’”, Asia Major, II, Leipzig, 1925, pp 581-90.
• Extraits des Carnets de Lin K’ing. Sites de Pékin et des environs vus par un lettré chinois. 120pp. with 26 figs, Peiping, Albert Nachbaur ,1929. (Reprint of Baylin, 1921)
• A Wild Swan’s Trail: The Travels of a Mandarin, edited and translated by T.C. Lai, Hong Kong Book Centre, Hong Kong 1978.
Further Reading Online:
Scholars Yang Tsung-han and John Minford have also translated and annotated the work, parts of which may be found online:
• Exploring the Beauty of the Sui Garden (Renditions, No. 51, Spring 1999)
• Singing with the Spring (China Heritage Quarterly, No. 13, March 2008)
• Observing the Rites at the Ancient Abode of Confucius (China Heritage Quarterly, No. 17, March 2009)
• Mengxiang Discoursing on the I Ching (China Heritage Quarterly, No. 21, March 2010)
• Paying my Compliments to West Lake (China Heritage Quarterly, No. 28, December 2011)
麟慶：鴻雪因緣圖記 hóngxuě yīnyuán tújì volume 1 of 6
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A DJVU scan of a Chinese facsimile reprint (6 vols) can be found using the search function on iShare