Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yung-ch'êng

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YUNG-ch'êng 永珹, Feb. 21, 1739–1777, Apr. 5, the second Prince Li (履親王) was the fourth son of Emperor Kao-tsung. His mother, nee Chin (金氏, d. 1755), was a younger sister of Chin Chien [q. v.] and a secondary consort of the Emperor. She was given the posthumous title, Shu-chia Huang-kuei-fei 淑嘉皇貴妃. She gave birth to four of the Emperor's sons, namely: the fourth, Yung-ch'êng; the eighth, Yung-hsüan; the ninth, who died in infancy; and the eleventh, Yung-hsing [qq. v.]. In 1763 Yung-ch'êng's granduncle, Yin-t'ao (see under Hsüan-yeh), died without a living heir and Yung-ch'êng was adopted as his grandson and heir to his estate. In conformity with the laws governing the imperial clan, Yung-ch'êng inherited the reduced rank of Li Chün-wang (郡王), or a prince of the second degree. He died in 1777, was canonized as Tuan 端, and in 1799 was posthumously raised to a prince of the first degree.

Yung-ch'êng was well educated in Chinese literature, and had among his tutors in the School for Princes a number of great writers, poets, and statesmen, such as Ch'ên Chao-lun, Ts'ai Hsin, Yin-chi-shan [qq. v.], Chou Huang (see under Wang Wên-chih), and Chin Shên 金甡 (T. 雨叔, H. 海住, 1702–1782). He left a collection of poems, entitled 寄暢齋詩稿 Chi-ch'ang chai shih-kao, of which 170 were printed in the anthology, Hsi-ch'ao ya-sung chi, compiled by T'ieh-pao [q. v.]. He served from about 1763 until his death in 1777 as superintendent of the Imperial Printing Office and Bookbindery known as Wu-ying tien (see under Chin Chien).

There is an unsolved mystery in the career of Yung-ch'êng which is known as "The Case of the Make-believe Imperial Grandson" (偽皇孫案). When, in 1780, Emperor Kao-tsung was returning to Peking from his fifth tour of the Yangtze Valley, there was brought to his attention at Cho-chou, southwest of Peking, a Buddhist priest who had with him a youth whom he claimed to be the second son of Yung-ch'êng by a concubine. The priest maintained that the boy, when attacked by small-pox in infancy, had been ejected from the palace of Yung-ch'êng by another concubine who was jealous of the child's mother. After ejection, the child was pronounced dead, and for proof, the body of another child was exhibited and buried. The monk claimed that he had rescued and adopted the real child, who was now being presented to the Emperor. Wishing to ascertain the facts, Emperor Kao-tsung ordered that both the priest and the boy be sent to Peking for investigation. The widow of Yung-ch'êng declared the story to be false, and the youth himself asserted (possibly under duress) that the claims of the monk were without foundation. The monk was executed and the boy was banished to Ili where he nevertheless continued to represent himself as the Emperor's grandson. Some years later he, too, was executed by order of Sung-yün [q. v.] when the latter was Tartar General of Ili (1802–1809). Chao-lien [q. v.], though skeptical of the priest's claim, recorded in his Hsiao-t'ing tsa-lu (6/18b) a report, alleged to have come from an aged monk, that in Yung-ch'êng's household a living child had once been exchanged for a dead one.


[1/171/9b; 1/226/11b; Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u (see under Fu-lung-an); Wan-ch'ing i shih-hui (see bibl. under Ch'ên Mêng-lei) 6/4b.]

Fang Chao-ying