Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Wang Chih-ts'ai

WANG Chih-ts'ai 王之寀 (T. 藎甫, 心一), d. June 2, 1627, was a native of Chao-i, Shensi, who became a chin-shih in 1601 and rose to be a secretary in the Board of Punishments. In 1615 he acquired notoriety, and at the same time aroused the enmity of one of the Court factions, for his activity in the so-called "club case" (see under Chu Ch'ang-lo). On May 30 of that year an unidentified man broke into the palace of the Crown Prince and severely injured one of the guards with a club before he could be overpowered and captured. The censor in charge of the investigation pronounced the culprit insane, and this verdict was seconded by Wang's superiors on the Board who were natives of Chekiang. Not satisfied with the decision, Wang visited the prisoner on June 6 and secured from him a story which pointed to a plot, by eunuchs, on the life of the Heir Apparent. He reported the case and requested a retrial at which, despite attempts to suppress the facts, two eunuchs attached to the palace of the Emperor's favorite concubine, Chêng (see under Chu Ch'ang-lo), were implicated. On June 23 the Emperor called a meeting of his ministers in the apartments of the Crown Prince, this being the first audience he had granted them in twenty-five years. He displayed great affection for his son and, in order to dispel further suspicion, ordered the execution of the prisoner and the two eunuchs. Ten years later, when Wang had risen to the post of junior vice-president of the Board of Punishments, the case was revived, and revenge was taken by adherents of the eunuch Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.], then in power. Wang was accused of mischiefmaking and slander, and died in prison.

[M.1/244/25a; Chao-i-hsien hou-chih (1712) 6/10b; 明通鑑 Ming t'ung-chien 80/16a.]

George A. Kennedy