Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Chuang T'ing-lung

CHUANG T'ing-lung 莊廷鑨 (T. 子襄), d. ca. 1660, was a native of Wu-ch'êng, Chekiang, the eldest son of Chuang Yün-ch'êng 莊允城 (T. 君維, d. 1663), a prosperous merchant of the town of Nan-hsün in the Wu-ch'êng district. Although he became totally blind after taking his hsiu-ts'ai degree he did not let this misfortune hinder him from carrying out his scholarly ambitions. In the early years of the Shun-chih period he purchased from the descendants of Chu Kuo-chên [q. v.] certain unpublished portions (consisting chiefly of biographical sketches) of the latter's history of the Ming dynasty and gathered together a number of scholars to revise it and add new data covering the years 1621 to 1644 and after. In this form it was entitled 明史輯略 Ming-shih chi-lüeh. Chuang T'ing lung himself died before the work was published, but his father carried it to completion. It was printed in November 1660 and was at once placed on the market. Certain passages in it dealing with events before and after 1644 alluded to the conquerors as still under Ming rule, referred to Manchu emperors by their personal names, and reckoned time in terms of reign titles of the Southern Ming princes—all acts designated by the new rulers as treason. Extortionists repeatedly took advantage of these indiscretions, threatening to bring them to the attention of the Court unless their lips were sealed by substantial sums of money. But Chuang Yün-ch'êng refused to be intimidated, repelling in particular the threats of Wu Chih-jung 吳之榮, a former magistrate of the adjoining district of Kuei-an who had previously been imprisoned for bribery, but had been released in a general amnesty.

Undismayed, Wu reported the matter in Peking in 1661 when Oboi [q. v.] was in power and when the authorities were in a mood to press such a case to the utmost as a warning to any recalcitrants of central and south China who still opposed Manchu rule. Chuang Yün-ch'êng was arrested and sent to Peking where he died in prison, January 1663. When the case was closed on July 1, the Chuang family, the family of the writer of the preface, and the families of those scholars whose names appeared in the work as assistant compilers were nearly annihilated. Males above fifteen sui were executed, and their women and children distributed as slaves to Manchurian families. The printers, and those purchasers of the book who could be identified, were executed. The corpses of both Chuang T'ing-lung and his father, as well as several others who were implicated, were disinterred and burned. Several officials who knew of the book, but had not troubled to inform the Court, were executed. A total of some seventy persons were put to death and a large number were exiled. All the families involved had their fortunes confiscated. Three scholars who were listed as assistant collators—Cha Chi-tso [q. v.], Lu Ch'i 陸圻 (T. 麗京, b. 1614), and Fan Hsiang 范驤 (T. 文白, d. 1675 age 68 sui)—reported in 1661 that they had no share in the compilation and that their names were employed without their knowledge. They and their families were imprisoned, but were later released.

Ku Yen-wu [q. v.] in his sketch (書吳潘二子事 Shu Wu P'an êr-tzŭ shih) of the lives of two assistant compilers, Wu Yen and P'an Ch'êng-chang [qq. v.], confesses that he himself narrowly escaped their fate. He also had been invited to collaborate on the history, but did not go on with it when he was convinced that the sponsor had not enough scholarship to carry on the task. The case is not recorded in the Tung-hua lu (see under Chiang Liang-ch'i) and only private records of it are extant, but it was often cited by Chinese revolutionists prior to 1911 to arouse hostility against the Manchus. The Ming-shih chi-lüeh was banned, but a partial transcript of it (entitled Ming-shih ch'aolüeh), said to have been made by Lü Pao-chung [q. v.], was recently found in the home of an old Soochow family, and reprinted in the third series of the 四部叢刊 Ssŭ-pu ts'ung-k'an.


[南潯志 Nan-hsün chih (1922) 42/1a–44/18a brings together all the most important documents in this case, including Ch'üan Tsu-wang's [q. v.] 江浙兩大獄記 Chiang Chê liang ta-yü chi and Yang Fêng-pao's (see under Juan Yüan) 記史案本末 Chi-shih-an pên-no; Hsieh Kuo-chên 謝國楨, 莊氏史案參校諸人考, in Lib. Sc. Quart. IV, 3–4, pp. 423–7; W.M.S.C.K. 1/31a–32b, 16/6a; Goodrich, L. C., The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung.]

L. C. Goodrich