Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chao-lien
CHAO-lien 昭槤 (H. 汲修主人), 1780–1833, eighth inheritor of Daišan's [q. v.] princedom (Prince Li 禮親王), was a competent scholar and a descendant of Daišan in the sixth generation. His father, Yung-ên 永恩 (posthumous name 恭, 1727–1805), was the second son of Ch'ung-an, the third Prince K'ang (see under Giyešu), who died in 1733. Although Yung-ên was the rightful heir to the family hereditary rank, he was passed over by Emperor Shih-tsung who in 1734 selected his uncle, Bartu (see under Giyešu), as the fourth Prince K'ang and sixth inheritor of Daišan's princedom. Yung-ên was given the rank of a prince of the third degree. In 1753, after Bartu died, Emperor Kao-tsung did not permit the rank to remain in Bartu's family but restored it to Ch'ung-an's descendants. Thus Yung-ên became the seventh inheritor of Daišan's first degree princedom, and the fifth Prince K'ang. In 1778, in memory of the exploits of Daišan, Emperor Kao-tsung changed the designation of the family hereditary princedom from K'ang (which was first given to Giyešu) to Li (which was Daišan's original title). Yung-ên, being by nature conscientious, executed his duties well but remained inconspicuous throughout his fifty-two years as a prince. He was a writer and an artist and the author of a work on the principles of music, entitled 律呂元音 Lü-lü yüan-yin, 4 chüan.
Chao-lien as Yung-ên's son, was in 1802 (at twenty-two) given the rank of a prince of the eighth degree and in 1805 succeeded to the family hereditary rank as Prince Li. Two years later (1807), his palace caught fire and was entirely destroyed, and with it many treasures of the family, including the family seal. Emperor Jên-tsung was moved by Chao-lien's misfortune and contributed 10,000 taels toward the rebuilding of the residence, at the same time making presents of garments and silk.
Late in December 1815 Chao-lien was accused of three misdemeanors: exacting obedience from a high Manchu official, berating another official of high rank, and torturing the manager of one of his farms. Instances like the first two offenses were frowned upon after the beginning of the Yung-chêng period (1723–36) when it was decreed that high officials owed allegiance to the throne alone. No doubt Chao-lien was quick-tempered and when provoked could cite, from a wide knowledge of Manchu history, evidence to support his display of princely power. But times had changed, and undue assertion of power on the part of princes could not be tolerated by the Emperor.
The third charge involved a certain Ch'êng Chien-i 程建義, who as manager, or chuang-t'ou 莊頭, of one of Chao-lien's estates, refused to comply with his wishes. In retailation Chao-lien had the manager and his brother subjected to torture—the flesh of their backs being cut with broken pieces of porcelain. In addition, agents were sent to destroy their home and rob them of their annual harvest. After the loss of his palace by fire Chao-lien was doubtless financially hardpressed. His household was large and involved the support not only of his immediate family but distant relatives, secretaries, servants, and a troupe of actors of whom he was very fond. Yet, irrespective of the provocations he was under, Chao-lien had obviously gone too far. An immediate investigation was ordered, and on December 26, 1815, the truth of the accusations was verified. The Emperor divested Chao-lien of his princedom and ordered that he be confined in the Imperial Clan Court awaiting trial. Two days later he was fined 200 taels which were paid to the victim as part compensation. The farm of 960 mou of which Ch'êng had been manager was taken from Chao-lien and given to another prince who employed Ch'êng as manager. On January 5, 1816 Chao-lien was sentenced to three years' confinement, and five days later his rank as Prince Li was given to his cousin (son of his uncle), Lin-chih 麟趾 (posthumous name 安, d. 1821).
On August 13, 1816, when Emperor Jên-tsung was perusing the "veritable records", or Shih-lu, of Emperor Shêng-tsu (see under Chiang T'ing-hsi), he came across a case similar to that of Chao-lien. The offender, a great-grandson of Yoto [q. v.], had in 1687 killed an innocent man and had chopped off the hands and feet of two others. The perpetrator of the deed was in this case merely deprived of his princedom. The emperor, feeling that, in comparison, he had perhaps dealt too severely with Chao-lien, ordered his release from confinement.
Chao-lien is now chiefly celebrated for his collection of miscellaneous notes on the history of the Ch'ing dynasty, entitled 嘯亭雜錄 Hsiao-t'ing tsa-lu, 10 (8) chüan, with a supplement (hsü-lu 續錄) in 3 (2) chüan. The main work was completed about 1814 or 1815 and the supplement was written during the years 1817–26. The former, having evidently undergone editing by the author, is better organized than the latter. Whether either was printed before 1880 is not clear. About 1875 the first Prince Ch'un [ I-huan, q.v.], bought a copy of both items and had them re-edited by his secretaries before printing. This edition, bearing a preface dated 1880 and the name of I-huan's studio, Chiu-ssŭ-t'ang 九思堂, has the main work in 8 chüan and the supplement in 2 chüan. About the same time the newspaper, Shun Pao 申報 of Shanghai published another edition with the main work in 10 chüan and the supplement in 3 chüan. The two editions differ occasionally in wording, and a number of articles at the close of I-huan's edition do not appear in the Shun Pao edition. These two collections of miscellaneous notes constitute a valuable source for the history of the Ch'ing dynasty, particularly in the Ch'ien-lung and Chia-ch'ing periods (1736–1821). Chao-lien must have begun these notes long before 1815, for thereafter he devoted the rest of his life to making additions and corrections. His information he obtained by active research, by personal inquiry, and from the traditions handed down in his family. His purpose in writing was not merely to amuse himself, but to leave something worthwhile to posterity—and this aim he may be said to have achieved.
Chao-lien's career after 1816 is very obscure. Apparently the last recorded date in his notes is 1825—an entry concerning I-li-pu [q. v.] as governor of Yunnan (1825–35). Lin-chih, the tenth successor to the rank of Prince Li, died in 1821. The rank was handed down to Lin-chih's grandson, Ch'üan-ling 全齡 (posthumous name 慎, d. 1850), and then to his great-grandson, Shih-to 世鐸 (d. 1914), who served as a Grand Councilor from 1884 to 1901.