Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yüan Chi-hsien

YÜAN Chi-hsien 袁繼咸 (T. 季通, H. 臨侯, 湛思, 袁山), 1598–1646, Aug. 7, Ming loyalist, was a native of I-ch'un, Kiangsi. After becoming a chin-shih in 1625, he served as an emissary (行人) in the Office for the Transmission of Imperial Messages. In 1630 he was made a censor, and four years later became commissioner of education in Shansi where he was accused (1636) of bribery (see under Fu Shan) by an adherent of Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.]. When he was taken to Peking and imprisoned in the winter of 1636 the students of Shansi, of whom Fu Shan [q. v.] was the most active, petitioned the emperor on Yüan's behalf. As a result Yüan was set free in the following year (1637) and was appointed counselor to the financial commissioner of Hu-kuang (湖廣參議). After quelling several local uprisings, he was made (1640) governor of Hupeh, stationed at Yün-yang. Owing to his failure to defend Hsiang-yang, Hupeh, against Chang Hsien-chung [q. v.], he was degraded and exiled to Kweichow (1641). In the following year he was recalled and offered the post of supervisor of military colonization in Ho-pei (總理河北屯田), which he declined.

Meanwhile Kiangsi province was in danger of invasion by Chang Hsien-chung, and Yüan was appointed, on recommendation of Wu Shên 吳甡 (T. 鹿友, chin-shih of 1613), to the newly created post of governor-general of Kiangsi, Hupeh, Ying-t'ien, and Anking, with headquarters at Kiukiang. Upon the dismissal of Wu Shên in 1643 Yüan's post was given to Lü Ta-ch'i 呂大器 (T. 儼若, 先自, 東川), a chin-shih of 1628. But as the latter found it impossible to co-operate with Tso Liang-yü [q. v.], Yüan was reinstated. When the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung) was proclaimed Emperor at Nanking (June 19, 1644), it was Yüan who influenced Tso Liang-yü to recognize the newly-established Court. Tso, however, was opposed to Ma Shih-ying [q. v.] who at that time was influential at the Nanking Court. In the following year, urged perhaps by his subordinates, Tso led his army eastwards towards Nanking, taking Kiukiang on April 29, 1645. He died the same night and his son, Tso Mêng-kêng (see under Tso Liang-yü), was placed in command of the army. The son, however, unable to hold the loyalty of his father's troops, saw his power weaken, and possibly made overtures to the Ch'ing forces. He escorted Yüan—long sought by the Manchus—to Ch'ih-chou, Anhwei, where not long after Tso Mêng-kêng surrendered to the Ch'ing forces. Yüan was made prisoner (May 26, 1645) and was taken to Peking. After refusing repeatedly to take the posts which the Manchus offered him, he was finally put to death (August 7, 1646). In 1766 Emperor Kao-tsung conferred on him the posthumous name, Chung-i 忠毅.

Yüan's literary remains, entitled 六柳堂遺集 Liu-liu t'ang i-chi, in 3 chüan, and a collection of his verse, entitled 未優軒詩草 Wei-yu hsüan shih-ts'ao, were banned during the Ch'ing period. One chüan of the former, entitled 潯陽記事 Hsün-yang chi-shih, was reprinted in 1915 in the 豫章叢書 Yü-chang ts'ung-shu.


[M.1/277/1a; M.3/255/5b; M.35/12/6a; M.41/9/12a, 12/35a; M.59/15/4a; I-ch'un hsien-chih (1870) 7/11b, 8 chung-i 3b; 袁州府志 Yüan-chou fu-chih (1874) 8 chung-i 2/2b].

J. C. Yang