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Yeh Kuei

Yeh Kuei 葉桂 (T.天士 H. 香巖 or 香嵒 1666-1745, physician, a native of Wu-hsien, Kiangsu, came from a family of physicians, his grandfather, Yeh Shih 葉時 (T. 紫帆), being the first of the family to specialize in medicine. His father, named Yeh Chao-ts'ai 葉朝采 (T. 陽生, d. c. 1679, age about 50 sui), was also a famous physician. Yeh Kuei received his first medical training from his father and later studied under one of his father's pupils. So eager was he for diversified information that between the ages of twelve and eighteen that he is said to have had some seventeen tutors. He soon surpassed his tutors in skill and became one of the most respected physicians of his time. According to Chang Wei-p'ing [q.v.], he excelled Hsü Ta-ch'un [q.v.] in medical technique, Yü<> Ch'ang in sincerity, and Ch'ên Nien-tsu in discretion (for the last two names, see under Hsü Ta-ch'un).

Yeh Kuei is regarded as a pioneer in the employrnent of aromatic stimulants for epidemic fevers--a line of treatment also adopted by his fellow-townsman and contemporary, Hsüeh Hsüeh 薛雪 (T. 生白 H. 一瓢, 掃葉山人,槐雲道人, 磨劍道人), [903] a poet and painter, as well as a physician. Although both Yeh and Hsüeh were adherents of the school which favored modern masters, they were not on friendly terms. Hsüeh is even alleged to have chosen for his residence the name, Sao-yeh chuang 掃葉莊, "Villa with the Leaves Swept Out," because the word yeh could be taken to mean either "leaves" or the surname, Yeh. As a physician, however, he is reported to have praised Yeh highly. Their prescriptions, together with those of their fellow-townsman, Miao Tsun-i 繆遵義 (T. 方彥, chin-shih of 1737), were published by Wu Chin-shou 吳金壽 under the title, San-chia i-an 三家醫案, 3 chüan.

Yeh Kuei died at the age of eighty sui, leaving a large estate accumulated through many years of medical practice. He had a high standard of medical ethics, and before he died he is said to have admonished his sons, Yeh I-chang 葉奕章 and Yeh Lung-chang 葉龍章, as follows: "Whether you should or should not become physicians depends on whether you have a natural aptitude and lively perceptions. Only by extensive study can you acquire the necessary skill to serve your generation; otherwise you will scarcely avoid being murderers--making use of medicines instead of swords."

Unlike other physicians of note, Yeh Kuei is said to have written very little--most of the works that bear his name having been either compiled by his followers or falsely attributed to him. A collection of his prescriptions, entitled Lin-chêng chih-nan i-an 臨證指南醫案 (commonly known as Lin-chêng chih-nan), 10 chüan, was edited by his followers--among them Hua Nan-t'ien 華南田 (T. 岫雲, d. 1773) and Li Kuo-hua 李國華 (T. 大瞻, H. 翰圃), the latter's preface being dated 1766. A supplement to this work, edited by Hua Nan-t'ien under the title Hsü. (續) i-an, 4 chüan, includes a treatise on fevers by Yeh, entitled 溫爇論 Wên-jih lun. In 1832 Yeh's great-grandson, Yeh Wan-ch'ing 葉萬青 (T. 訥人), collected two more chüan of Yeh's prescriptions and published them (about 1836) under the title 葉案存真 Yeh an ts'un-chên. This work was later annotated by Chou Hsüeh-hai 周學海 (T. 澂之) and was reprinted under the title P'ing-tien (評點) Yeh-an ts'un chên lei-pien (類編), appearing in the collectanea 周氏醫學叢書 Chou-shih i-hsüeh ts'ung-shu (1891 and later). A commentary by Yeh Kuei on an earlier collection of recipes, known as Chêng-lei p'u-chi pên-shih fang 證類普濟本事方,~also known as P'u-chi pên-shih fang, 10 chüan, by Hsü Shu-wei 許叔微 (知可, chin-shih of 1132), was published under the title, Pu-chi pên-shih fang shih-i (釋義), 10 chüan. Yeh Kuei is reported to have written a work on diseases of children, entitled 幼科要略 Yu-k'o yao-lüeh, 2 chüan, which was highly praised by Hsü Ta-ch'un, who ordinarily was a severe critic of Yeh's writings.

Some other works attributed to Yeh are the following: 本草經解要 Pên-ts'ao-ching chieh-yao, 4 chüan, an exposition of the important parts of the great herbal, Pên-ts'ao kang-mu (綱目), 52 chüan, compiled by Li Shih-chên 李時珍 (T. 東璧) and printed in the years 1590-96; 業氏眼科方 Yeh-shih yen k'o fang (or Yen k'o fang), 1 chüan; a collection of prescriptions on ophthalmology. Which appears in the collectanea, 荔牆叢書 Chi-ch'iang ts'ung-shu; and 傷寒辨舌觀驗 Shang-han pien-shê kuan-yen, 1 chüan, a treatise on fevers which is listed as in manuscript form in the catalogue of the Kuo-hsüeh Library, Nanking. Owing to his great popularity, his name was often used by publishers and anonvinous writers in order to increase the circulation of their works. A case in point is the 景岳全書發揮 Ch'ing-yüeh ch'üan-shu fa-hui, 4 chüan--in reality a work by Yao Ch'iu 姚球 of Wusih, Kiangsu, written in criticism of the Ch'ing-yüeh ch'üan-shu by Chang Chieh-pin [q.v.],. But a publisher attributed it to Yeh Kuei, possibly in the hope of finding a better sale. It became, in fact, one of the popular medical works. Another work, entitled 葉選醫衡 Yeh-hsüan i-hêng, 2 chüan, bears Yeh's name, but is generally considered a forgery.

Being so eminent a practitioner, Yelt Kuei had numerous followers, among them Wu T'ang, Wang Shih-hsiung (for both see under Hsü Ta-ch'un), and Chang Nan 章楠 (T. 虛谷) the last-mentioned being the anthor of the medical work, 醫門棒喝 I-mên pang-ho, 4 + 9 chüan (1829 and 1839). A grandson of Yeh Kuei, Yeh T'ang, was a dramatist who compiled, among other works, the .Nan shu ying ch'ü-p'u (see under Wang Wên-chih).

[ 1/507 /6b; 3/482/22a; -1, 147 4b; Wu-hsien chih (1933) 56 hsia llb, 70 shang 31b, 75 shang 37a; Shih Yün-yü [q.v.],, preface to the above-mentioned Yeh-an ts'un-chên; Wong, K. Chimin and Wu Lien-teh, History of Chinese Medicine, passim.]