Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yung-hsüan

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YUNG-hsüan 永璇, Aug. 31, 1746–1832, Sept. 1, the first Prince I (儀親王), was the eighth son of Emperor Kao-tsung. His mother (see under Yung-ch'êng), a younger sister of Chin Chien [q. v.], gave birth to four of Emperor Kao-tsung's sons, namely: Yung-ch'êng [q. v.], Yung-hsüan, Yung-hsing [q. v.], and one who died in infancy. From childhood Yung-hsüan studied under Palace tutors, in particular, Ch'ên Chao-lun [q. v.]. In 1779 he was made a prince of the second degree with the designation I (儀郡王). In the same year he and Yung-hsing were appointed directors general for the compilation of the Imperial Manuscript Library, Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün), and served on that Commission until the project was completed.

It seems that Yung-hsüan was never assigned to any very responsible task during his father's lifetime. In 1799, however, after Emperor Kao-tsung died, the succeeding Emperor Jentsung immediately raised the ranks of his halfbrothers and nephews. Yung-hsüan's princedom was elevated to the first degree and several of his sons were given minor princedoms. When the unscrupulous Ho-shên [q. v.] was imprisoned, Emperor Jên-tsung appointed Yung-hsüan to supervise the Board of Civil Appointments, and Yung-hsing, the Board of Revenue. But later the Emperor relieved Yung-hsüan of his post as supervisor, on the ground that it was not wise to concentrate too much power in the hands of a prince, and because Yung-hsüan was already over-burdened with responsibilities. This was evidently the case, for Yung-hsüan was at this time holding the following posts: presiding controller of the Imperial Clan Court, chamberlain of the Imperial Bodyguard, lieutenant-general of the Manchu Plain Red Banner, curator of the Imperial Library, director-general of the Board of Music, and superintendent of the affairs of two palaces. As curator of the Imperial Library, Yung-hsüan was in charge of the printing office, Wu-ying-tien (see under Chin Chien). In 1809 his eldest son, Mien-chih 綿志 (d. 1834, posthumous name 順), was made a prince of the third degree and in 1813, for bravely resisting an uprising in Peking (see under Na-yen-ch'êng), was given the title of a prince of the second degree.

In 1819 Yung-hsüan and his son were accused of spying in the Palace to learn in advance the nature of certain appointments. Consequently Yung-hsüan, then seventy-four sui, was deprived of all his offices. But when Min-ning [q. v.] ascended the throne (1821) Yung-hsüan was accorded the honors due his age. After his death he was canonized as Shên 愼, and Mien-chih succeeded to the reduced princedom of the second degree. The princedom was successively reduced until 1902 when Mien-chih's great-great-grandson, Yü-ch'i 毓岐, inherited the princedom of the fifth degree. Mien-chih's fifth son, I-ts'ai 奕綵, was for a time (1838–42) the adopted grandson of Yung-lin [q. v.] and inherited the latter's rank of Prince Ch'ing (see under Yung-lin).

Yung-hsüan learned to write verse from Ch'ên Chao-lun and other eminent scholars. A manuscript copy of his collected poems, entitled 古訓堂詩 Ku-hsün t'ang shih, is preserved in the Library of Congress. This manuscript, in 14 volumes, contains the poems he wrote from about 1760 to 1820.


[1/171/12b; 1/227/3b; Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u (see under Fu-lung-an); Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress (1935) pp. 187–188.]

Fang Chao-ying