Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang I-jung

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WANG I-jung 王懿榮 (T. 廉[蓮]生, H. 正孺), 1845–1900, Aug. 15, official and scholar, was a native of Fu-shan, Shantung. His grandfather, Wang Chao-ch'ên 王兆琛 (T. 叔玉, H. 獻甫, 西舶, d. 1852), was a chin-shih of 1817 who rose in his official career to governor of Shansi (1846), but was denounced for bribery and exiled to Sinkiang (1849). His father, Wang Tsu-yüan 王祖源 (T. 淵慈, 蓮塘, 老蓮, original ming 伯濂, 1822–1887), was a senior licentiate (pa-kung) of 1849, who, after holding minor positions in Szechwan, became acting governor of that province (1879). His sister became the wife of Chang Chih-tung [q. v.]. Wang I-jung himself became a chü-jên in 1879, and in the following year a chin-shih and a member of the Hanlin Academy. In the winter of 1880–81 he returned to his native place and then visited his father at Chengtu. In 1883 he was made a compiler of the second class, but retired from office upon the death of his father in 1887.

When the period of mourning was over (1889) he reported at the capital and was entrusted with the management of the festivities incidental to the wedding of Emperor Tê-tsung (see under Tsai-t'ien). Thereupon he was given the rank of a sub-expositor. In 1893 he was chief examiner for the Honan provincial examination. Promoted a year later to be sub-reader in the Hanlin Academy, he was ordered to serve in the Imperial Study (1895) and concurrently as acting libationer in the Academy. When, in the course of the Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), his native province of Shantung was menaced, he begged leave to return home to organize volunteers. Though permission was granted, peace was soon concluded and he returned to the capital where he was reappointed libationer. Upon the death of his mother, in 1896, he returned home to observe the period of mourning. Two years later he went to Peking and was again made libationer of the Imperial Academy. In 1900 he took the opportunity of an audience with the Emperor and the Empress Dowager to protest against reliance on the help proffered by the Boxers, but their activities were already beyond control. He and a fellow provincial, Li Tuan-yü 李端遇 (chin-shih of 1863), then junior vice-president of the Board of Works, were appointed to organize a volunteer corps. He accepted the post, realizing however that resistance was hopeless. About a month later (July 12) Tientsin fell to the Allied troops; on August 14 the Allies entered Peking, and on the following day the court fled to Shensi. On that same day Wang I-jung committed suicide, first taking poison and then leaping into a well. He left a note stating that when a monarch is humiliated his ministers should die. He was canonized as Wên-min 文敏.

Wang I-jung was a connoisseur of ancient stone and bronze objects of which he possessed a good collection, many of the items being gathered in the course of his journeys. His notes on these objects, and on the rare books in his library, brought together under the title 天壤閣雜記 T'ien-jang ko tsa-chi, 1 chüan, appear in the Ling-chien ko ts'ung-shu (see under Ho Ch'iu-t'ao). A catalogue he compiled concerning extant inscriptions derived from stones of the Han period, entitled 漢石存目 Han-shih ts'un-mu, 2 chüan, was first printed in 1889. Supplemented and re-edited by Lo Chên-yü (see under Chao Chih-ch'ien), it was reprinted in the Hsüeh-t'ang ts'ung-k'o (see under Ting Yen). A similar catalogue by him, relating to the Six Dynasties, 南北朝石存目 Nan-Pei ch'ao shih ts'un-mu, 8 chuan, is preserved in manuscript in the Kyoto Institute of the Academy of Oriental Culture. A series of rubbings of ancient coins, which Wang entitled 古泉精選 Ku-ch'uan ching-hsüan, 1 chüan, was reproduced in facsimile by the Shên-chou Kuo-kuang shê 神州國光社. In 1855– 1884 his family printed a collectanea, entitled T'ien-jang ko ts'ung-shu (叢書), which contains twenty-three items on various subjects by both ancient and contemporary authors, including selections from the works of his grandfather and his father. In the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu chien-ming mu-lu piao-chu (see under Shao I-ch'ên), there are many bibliographical notes by him. A collection of his memorials, entitled Wang Wên-min kung tsou-i (奏議), was printed in 1911.

Wang I-jung was one of the earliest collectors of inscribed oracle bones of the Yin period, which were discovered about 1899 in the An-yang district of Honan. In the autumn of that year a dealer in antiques, named Fan Wei-ch'ing 范維卿, of Wei-hsien, Shantung, sold to him twelve specimens. Thereafter he and his friend, Liu Ê [q. v.], began to take an interest in collecting inscribed bones of this type. In the spring of 1900 he purchased from Fan eight hundred such pieces, among them an entire tortoise shell. After Wang's death his son, Wang Ch'ung-lieh 王崇烈 (T. 翰甫), a chü-jên of 1894, sold all of his father's antiques in payment of debts—the inscribed bones, numbering about one thousand pieces, coming in 1902 into the possession of Liu Ê.

The Library of Congress possesses a 1494 movable type print of the 錦繡萬花谷前後續集 Chin-hsiu wan-hua ku ch'ien hou hsü chi, 36 volumes, and also a 1531 woodcut edition of the 初學記 Chu hsüeh chi which, according to the seals, were once in Wang I-jung's library.


[1/474/2b; 2/65/52b; 6/33/11a; Chin-liang, Chin-shin jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), p. 200; Fêng Shu, Kêng-tzŭ hsin-hai chung-lien hsiang-tsan (see bibl. under Ch'ung-ch'i), portrait; Fu-shan hsien-chih (1931), 7 (2)/29a; Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih (see under P'an Tsu-yin) 7/10a; Tung Tso-pin, Chia-ku nien-piao (see bibl. under Liu Ê); Shao Tzŭ-fêng, Chia-ku shu-lu chieh-t'i (see bibl. under Liu Ê); Menzies, J. M., 甲骨研究 Chia-ku yen-chiu (1933).]

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