The Story of Xin Yuan《欣園記》
欣園者，吾友順德黃君維琩讀書臨池之所也。當抗戰期中，君播遷入蜀，於宅邊闢地植竹及蒔花， 觀其欣欣向榮以為樂，始以欣園榜其居。洎倭降還都，徧遊東南、東北諸勝，歸粵止於海隅，所居仍號欣園如故。叩之，則曰：「向之所欣，俯仰之間，已為陳迹。亦以志所遇之不常而已。」余曩在金陵，數與君從冒鶴亭、靳仲雲、商藻亭諸老為清溪白門社集。君好余詩，嘗謂耳余名，讀余詩久矣，因置酒園中為薄飲，酒酣耳熱，歴數蜀道崎嶇、塞外荒寒之遊蹤，與夫世事滄桑之往迹，慨然興嘆，即起研墨捋袖濡毫作書數十紙，須臾墨盡擲筆， 又要余評其所為書。余固不解書，第觀今人，於吾國藝事，率多唾棄不講，弗獨書矣。君為書三十年，兼工諸體，於漢隸用力尤深。二十年前吾粵以隸書稱於時者，君以外，如胡隋齋足稱先進；又若林直勉兼擅諸碑額，多為臨本；胡展堂專宗曹全，神貌均肖，惟出以凌厲廉悍之筆，識者或病其剛勁有餘，要亦一時之傑已。君則兼事小學，於隸書主廣其用，每書碑銘洋洋千餘言，下筆中繩墨，其為曹全，能兼遒勁秀麗之長，於張遷、石門、禮器亦皆可觀，尤擅以隸作擘窠書，此前哲以為難能者。抑吾聞古者隸真同源，未有能隸而不能真者 ，君真書直造河南之室，偶擬山谷，亦別饒神韻，而結構間架，規矩方嚴，尚其餘事。夫書雖小道， 可以識其人，觀其學，柳誠懸曰：「心正則筆正。」王禹卿曰：「心則通矣，入於手則窒手則合矣，反於神則離。」然則書豈易言哉。吾與君交有年，而觀其書，益深識其為人與其學，蓋不僅以書傳矣。今者欣園，草木雖與昔殊，而君富於春秋，治學作書，孜孜勿倦，時招朋從集園中，出其所為詩文書法示同座，暢論竟日，欣然忘世慮，固無殊於昔也。因書以為欣園記。庚寅冬日，南海吳天任時同客香江。
‘The Story of Xin Yuan’ (欣園記) – a brief translation
This is a biography of Mr WONG Wai Cheong (黃維琩 1902-1993) written by his friend Mr NG Tin Yam (吳天任 1916-1992) in 1950. The title of the biography is called ‘The Story of Xin Yuan’ (欣園記).
The calligraphy was the work of Mr Wong’s student, FUNG Kai Kee (馮啓圻). Kai Kee was a highly gifted student and he wrote this piece at the age of 13. A brief translation of the main contents of the biography is as follows.
Mr Ng met Mr Wong in Nanjing (南京), formerly known as Jinling (金陵). They admired each other in poetry and literature and became close friends. They formed an association with famous scholars like MAO Guangsheng (冒廣生 1873-1959, alias Mao Heting 冒鶴亭), JIN Zhi (靳志 1877-1969, alias Jin Zhongyun 靳仲雲), SHANG Yanlin (商衍鎏 1875-1963, alias Shang Zaoting 商藻亭).
Mr Wong worked for the Chinese National Government around 1930s and 1940s. During the Japanese invasion the capital of Nationalist Government was moved inland first to Wuhan, then to Chongqing, deep in Sichuan. Mr Wong followed the government. Life was hard during war time but Mr Wong planted bamboo and flowers by the side of his house. He enjoyed watching how the plant grew luxuriously and named his studio ‘欣園 Xin Yuan’ which means a thriving garden.
After the surrender of the Japanese in 1945, peace was restored and Mr Wong left Sichuan. He travelled to various places at the southeast and northeast of China and then settled in Guangdong. He still named his studio ‘Xin Yuan’ (欣園) as Wang Xizhi (王羲之) in his Lanting Xu (蘭亭序) mentioned about ‘向之所欣 (xin), 俛仰之間，已為陳跡.’ The three phases can be translated as ‘As for all that happiness, in a blink of time, it is already a past tantalising memory’.
Mr Wong liked to talk about his past experiences, especially his visits to adventurous places in Sichuan and the wilderness on the frontiers of China. After a few drinks, he took his brush and ink and began to write calligraphy delightfully on dozens of rice paper sheets.
Mr Wong excelled in clerical script (隸書), he specialised in the styles of Epitaph for Cao Quan (曹全碑)，Epitaph for Zhang Qian (張遷碑)，Ode to Shimen (石門頌)，Stele about Ritual Objects (禮器碑). For regular script (楷書)， Mr Wong was famous for writing in the style of Chu Suiliang (褚遂良) Preface to the Sacred Teaching at the Wild Goose Pagoda (雁塔聖教序). For running script, Mr Wong adopted the style of Huang Tingjian (黃庭堅). Mr Wong’s calligraphy showed the importance of yun (韻), which can be translated as ‘grace’ or ‘good taste’. Yun should imply the scholarship and morality embodied in a work of art.
Great Calligrapher Liu Gongquan (柳公權) said, ‘If our mind is upright, our writing is neat and tidy’ (心正則筆正). Our handwriting shows our characters. Mr Wong’s calligraphy showed his high moral standard and academic temperament. He was very diligent in his scholarly work and wrote books on poetry and literature.
Unfortunately a good photography of this piece of calligraphy cannot be found and there is only a small print of this piece on an envelope.
This piece has been enlarged and fortunately, most of the characters are visible. The poor quality of the print does not do justice to the beauty of the original calligraphy.
Enlarged photocopy of 欣園記
The following are examples of the work of the three famous calligraphers mentioned in 欣園記.
林直勉 (1888 – 1934), 原名培光，字紹軒，晚號魯直。在與朋友的通信中，曾落款林畬、林虞、林愚。廣東東莞石龍人。中國民主革命家，中華民國政治人物、書法家。
胡毅生 (1883 – 1957) 名毅，字毅生，號隋齋，以字行，廣東番禺人。中國民主革命家，中華民國政治人物。
胡漢民 (1879 – 1936), 原名衍鴻，字展堂，號不匱室主，清末民初廣東番禺縣人。自稱漢民，意為不做滿清臣民，做大漢之民。中國國民黨元老和早期主要領導人之一，也是國民黨前期的右派代表人物之一。
I would like to thank most sincerely Mr H Y LEE (李慶餘先生) for explaining the text to me in contemporary Chinese and Professor Peter Y K LAM (林業强教授) for his kind advice and guidance.