Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Yung

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LIU Yung 劉墉 (T. 崇如, H. 穆庵, 石庵), 1720–1805, Jan. 24, official and calligrapher, was a native of Chu-ch'êng, Shantung, and son of the Grand Secretary, Liu T'ung-hsün [q. v.]. A chin-shih of 1751, he was a year later appointed a compiler in the Hanlin Academy. In 1755 his father, then governor-general of Shensi and Kansu, was imprisoned by the emperor for failure in military operations. As a result of his father's disgrace Liu Yung, who had received several promotions during 1755, was also arrested. A month later he was freed but reduced to the rank of a compiler. Thereafter, he served as commissioner of education in Anhwei (1756–59) and Kansu (1759–62); as prefect of Taiyuan, Shansi (1762–65); and as intendant of the Chi-Ning Circuit in the same province (1765–66). In 1766 the magistrate of a district in the Taiyuan prefecture was found to have embezzled official funds during Liu Yung's term of office. Since, as prefect, he was held responsible for the conduct of all officials within his jurisdiction, Liu was removed from office and condemned to death. His sentence, however, was commuted by the Emperor to exile in army service. In 1767 he was recalled to the capital and given work in the Wu-ying tien, or Palace Printing Office and Book Bindery. Two years later, as a favor to his aged father, the emperor appointed Liu Yung prefect of Chiang-ning-fu (Nanking). He was made intendant of salt and couriers for Kiangsi the following year, and in 1772 was promoted to the office of provincial judge of Shensi. Upon the death of his father in 1773, he obtained leave of absence to return home and observe the customary period of mourning.

Returning to Peking in 1776, Liu Yung was made a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and one of the assistant librarians of the Imperial Library, Wên Yüan Ko (see under Chi Yün). A year later he was appointed commissioner of education of Kiangsu. While serving as commissioner he brought the writings of Hsü Shu-k'uei [q. v.] to the attention of the emperor and this resulted in a severe inquisition. Owing either to his alertness in this case or to his reputation as a just and efficient educational administrator, he was rapidly promoted, serving as governor of Hunan (1780) and, late in 1781, as president of the Censorate. In 1782 he was promoted to the presidency of the Board of Works, and during the same year was appointed chief tutor in the Imperial School for the Emperor's sons. In 1783 he was transferred to the presidency of the Board of Civil Offices and in 1785 was made an Assistant Grand Secretary. One day in 1789 the Emperor visited the Imperial School, only to find it deserted. Upon learning that neither tutors nor students had been present for seven or eight days he became angry and issued several condemnatory edicts. Liu Yung, as head tutor, was held primarily responsible for this breach of discipline and was reduced to the rank of a junior vice-president of a Board and was deprived of all his honors and concurrent offices. The other tutors and the students were punished correspondingly. Soon thereafter, Liu Yung was again made sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. He did not, however, remain long in disgrace, for after several promotions he was (early in 1791) again appointed president of the Censorate and within a month or two was made president of the Board of Ceremonies with his honors and concurrent posts restored. In 1792 he was transferred to the Board of Civil Offices. In 1797 he became a Grand Secretary, and in 1799 was honored with the title of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent. Despite his advanced age he continued to hold office, acting also as head librarian of the Wên Yüan Ko from 1803 until his sudden death in 1805. He was honored posthumously and canonized as Wên-ch'ing 文清.

Although Liu Yung was in active service during the period of greatest extravagance of the Ch'ing dynasty he was renowned for the high standards of honesty, frugality and propriety which he himself maintained and required of the members of his family. He did not attack openly the malfeasance of Emperor Kao-tsung's favorite, Ho-shên [q. v.], but he dared to oppose him outright in many matters of governmental administration. As an example of the latter may be mentioned the case of corruption in Shantung in 1782 when he was sent, together with Ho-shên and the censor Ch'ien Fêng [q. v.], to investigate charges brought by Ch'ien against the governor and the finance commissioner of the province who were two of Ho-shên's henchmen. Liu made a careful and just investigation of the affair and proved an incontestable case of corruption against the officials, after which Ho-shên could do nothing but sign the testimonials which resulted in the execution of his favorites (see under Ch'ien Fêng).

Liu Yung was a nationally renowned calligrapher. Many examples of his handwriting are extant, some of which, by order of Emperor Jên-tsung, were collected by his nephew, Liu Huan-chih (see under Liu T'ung-hsün), and w ere reproduced in facsimile, under the title 清愛堂石刻 Ch'ing-ai t'ang shih-k'o. Liu Yung's literary collection, entitled 劉文清公遺集 Liu Wên-ch'ing kung i-chi, 17 chüan, and a collection of his Court poems, entitled Liu Wên-ch'ing kung ying-chih shih (應制詩), were printed in 1826 by his grandnephew, Liu Hsi-hai [q. v.]. Liu Yung participated in the compilation of several works prepared under Imperial patronage, among them the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün) and the Jih-hsia chiu-wên k'ao (see under Chu I-tsun). He also officiated frequently at civil service examinations.

[1/308/8a; 2/26/26a; 3/30/1a; 7/16/13b; 20/3/00; 26/2/4a; 29/5/6a; Chao-lien [q. v.], Hsiao-t'ing tsa-lu and Hsü-lu, passim; Chu-ch'êng hsien Hsü-chih (1834) 13/1a; Portrait in 青鶴 Ch'ing-ho, vol. III, no. 24 (Nov. 1, 1935); Ku-tung so-chi (see under Lang T'ing-chi) 4/24b.]

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