In the province of Szechwan in China lived until last week Li Ching-yun. In China where Age means something he was a great man. By his own story he was born in 1736, had lived 197 years. By the time he was ten years old he had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs.
He continued to gather herbs for the rest of his first 100 years. He lived on herbs and plenty of rice wine. When asked for his secret of long life. Li Ching-yun gave it readily: "Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog." The "Scholar War Lord" Wu Pei-fu. not satisfied with this formula, took Li into his home and was lectured on "how to get the most out of each century" by maintaining "inward calm." Some said he had buried 23 wives, was living with his 24th. a woman of 60, had descendants of eleven generations. The fingernails of his venerable right hand were six inches long. Yet to skeptical Western eyes he looked much like any Chinese 60-year-old.
In 1930 Professor Wu Chung-chieh, dean of the department of education at Chengtu University, found records that the Imperial Chinese Government had congratulated one Li Ching-yun in 1827 on his birthday. The birthday was his 150th, making the man who died last week—if it was the same Li Ching-yun, and respectful Chinese preferred to think so—a 256-year-old.