Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yüeh Chung-ch'i

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YÜEH Chung-ch'i 岳鍾琪 (T. 東美, H. 容齋), 1686–1754, Duke Wei-hsin (威信公), general, was a descendant of the Sung hero, Yueh Fei 岳飛 (T. 鵬舉, H. posthumous name 武穆, 1103–1142). For generations his family lived in Kansu, but his father, Yüeh Shêng-lung 岳昇龍 (T. 見之, H. posthumous name 敏肅, d. 1713), a commander-in-chief in Szechwan for many years (1696–98, 1700–11), was permitted by imperial decree to settle in Chengtu. Yüeh Chung-ch'i began his official career by purchasing the rank of a sub-prefect, but in 1711 he was appointed a major at Sung-p'an, Szechwan. Made a colonel in 1718, he was active in the following three years in stabilizing the Sikang region west of Szechwan, when the Eleuths invaded Tibet, a region he helped to recover in 1720 (see under Yen-hsin). After the triumphant return of the troops in 1721, he was made commander-in-chief of Szechwan. In the same year, for pacifying a tribe of aborigines, he was given the minor hereditary rank of Ch'i-tu-yü.

In 1723 the Khoshote prince of Kokonor, Lobdzan Dandzin (see under Nien Kêng-yao), rebelled. His father, having been defeated by Galdan [q. v.], surrendered to Emperor Shêng-tsu in 1697 at Ninghsia, and was made head of the Khoshotes in Kokonor with the rank of a prince. Lodbzan Dandzin inherited the princedom, but being ambitious, wanted to restore the former power of his family. After much intrigue, he brought the other chiefs of Kokonor under himself and in 1723 was proclaimed Kontaisha (king). The population of Kokonor, including many lamas, rebelled with him. To crush this rebellion, Nien Kêng-yao [q. v.] was made commander-in-chief, and Yueh became a member of the staff. In February 1724 Yueh was given the title of Fên-wei chiang-chün 奮威將軍 with orders to advance from Sining into Kokonor. He started in March, and in fifteen days (March 2–16) captured many chiefs and routed the rebels. Lobdzan Dandzin was chased out of Kokonor and the region was stabilized (see under Nien Kêng-yao). This victory was highly commended by Emperor Shih-tsung who ordered a stately celebration in Peking and rewarded Yüeh with the hereditary rank of a duke of the third class. After Yüeh returned to Sining, he was sent to Chuang-lang where he annihilated several tribes of aborigines who, as occupants of the mountain called Cho-tzŭ shan 卓子山, had for some time been in a state of rebellion. Later in the same year (1724) he was made concurrently acting commander-in-chief of Kansu. In June 1725, after Nien Kêng-yao was removed, Yüeh was appointed acting governor-general of Szechwan and Shensi, and three months later assumed full charge. Possibly owing to his prestige among the troops, Yüeh was successful in taking over the command in Kansu and was partly instrumental in substantiating several of the "crimes" of Nien Kêng-yao. Thus Yüeh became for a time one of the foremost henchmen of Emperor Shih-tsung.

During the years 1726–27 Yüeh Chung-ch'i and O-êr-t'ai [q. v.] succeeded in suppressing a rebellion of Miao tribesmen on the SzechwanYunnan border. This helped to enhance the prestige of Yüeh as a military man. Presently rumors spread that he was contemplating rebellion against the Manchu regime. Some originators of the rumors were found and executed. In 1728 a similar case arose to test Yüeh's loyalty. A messenger from Tsêng Ching [q. v.], an obscure pedagogue in Yung-hsing, Hunan, came to Yueh to persuade him that the time was ripe for revolt. By taking an oath of allegiance to the plotters Yueh was able to obtain the information he desired concerning the conspirators. The famous case of Tsêng Ching and Lü Liu-liang [q. v.] was thus brought by him to the attention of the Court. Yueh's report so impressed Emperor Shih-tsung that he confessed to reading it with tears of gratitude.

In 1729 the Emperor, having decided to attack the Eleuths, made Furdan [q. v.] commander of the northern route army and Yüeh Chung-ch'i commander of the western route army. Yueh, with the title of Ning-yüan ta chiang-chün 寧遠大將軍, established his headquarters at Barkul. In 1730 he was summoned to Peking for a conference about the campaign, and left in his place as acting commander a Chinese general named Chi Ch'êng-pin 紀成斌 (d. 1733). During Yüeh's absence the Eleuths made a successful raid on an outpost held by a Manchu officer; and owing, it is said, to the punishment that Chi inflicted on this officer the Manchus united to manoeuvre against both Chi and Yüeh. At any rate, after Yüeh returned to Barkul, late in 1730, he frequently incurred the imperial reprimand for his alleged errors in directing the campaign. In 1731, after Furdan was defeated near Khobdo, Yüeh made a successful raid on Urumchi, but nevertheless remained in disfavor. Early in 1732 he was granted his request to fortify Mu-lei, a town west of Barkul. But before long he was reproved for failure to protect Hami from being pillaged by the enemy, and was degraded to a marquis. Later in that year (1732) he was recalled to Peking, and Chang Kuang-ssŭ [q. v.] was temporarily made his successor. When Chang reported on Yüeh's alleged errors in military tactics, particularly that the fortification of Mu-lei was inadvisable, Yüeh was imprisoned and his property confiscated. In 1733 his protègé, Chi Ch'êng-pin, was executed and in the following year Yüeh was sentenced to immediate decapitation. But the Emperor commuted this sentence to imprisonment awaiting execution. Finally (1737) he was released by imperial order.

After a tranquil life of eleven years (1737-48) at his home in Chengtu, Yüeh Chung-ch'i was recalled (1748) by Emperor Kao-tsung to assist Chang Kuang-ssŭ in fighting the Chin-ch'uan rebels in western Szechwan (see under Chang Kuang-ssŭ), and was again made commanderin-chief of the province. He led a detachment and gained several victories, but the whole campaign was doomed because Chang and his superior, No-ch'in (see under Chang Kuang-ssŭ), could not co-operate. Later in that year (1748), possibly with a desire for revenge, Yueh reported on the mistakes of Chang in conducting the war. Chang was in consequence arrested and executed. The command of the armies was then entrusted to Fu-hêng [q. v.]. Under Fu-hêng's direction Yüeh went personally, in 1749, to the rebel headquarters, and by the force of his personality persuaded the rebel chiefs to surrender. He was rewarded with a non-hereditary third-class dukedom, with the designation, Wei-hsin; and received additional honors when he reached Peking (1749). Thereafter he served in Szechwan as provincial commander-in-chief until his death (1754). He was canonized as Hsiang-ch'in 襄勤 and in 1755, in recognition of his merits, the minor hereditary rank of Ch'inq-ch'ê tu-yü of the first class was given to his youngest son, Yüeh Ching 岳瀞 (a chü-jên of 1753). The post which Yüeh Chung-ch'i had held in Szechwan was given to his cousin, Yüeh Chung-huang 岳鍾璜 (T. 渭章, posthumous name 莊恪, d. 1766), who filled it for twelve years (1754–66).

Yüeh Chung-ch'i's eldest son, Yüeh Chün 岳濬 (T. 厚川, H. 星垣, d. 1753, age 50 sui), served as governor of Shantung (1728–37), of Kiangsi (1737–40), of Kwangtung (1747–50), and of Yunnan (1750). Other sons were also officials.

Yüeh Chung-ch'i left a collection of verse, entitled 容齋詩集 Jung-chai shih-chi, 4 chüan, which was printed in 1754 (reprinted in 1828 in the 古棠叢書 Ku-t'ang ts'ung-shu). His wife, née Kao 高, was a poet.

[1/302/1a; 2/17/12b; 3/280/4a; 3/283/7a; 4/116/1a; 7/14/1a; 21 pu-i 11a; 西寧府新志 Hsi-ning fu hsin-chih (1747) 30/18a; Kansu hsin t'ung-chih (New Gazetteer of Kansu, 1909) 46/52a–58b; Wên-hsien ts'ung-pien (see bibl. under Dorgon), vols. 8, 14; Wang Ching-ch'i [q. v.], Hsi-chêng sui-pi, p. 24a; Biography of Yüeh, written by Fan T'ai-hêng 范泰恆, appears in 燕川集 Yen-ch'uan chi.]

Fang Chao-ying