Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yin-chên

YIN-chên 胤禎 (H. 破塵居士), Dec. 13, 1678–1735, Oct. 8, third Emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty, ruled in the years 1723–36, under the reign-title Yung-chêng 雍正. He was the fourth son of Emperor Shêng-tsu. His mother, Empress Hsiao-kung [q. v.], was a maid-servant in the Palace, but a year after he was born she was elevated to an imperial consort of the fourth rank. In 1698 he was made a prince of the third rank, and in 1709 was raised to the first rank with the designation, Yung (雍親王). As a prince, he lived quietly at home, and became well-versed in Chinese and in Buddhistic literature. But when his brother, the Heir Apparent Yin-jêng [q. v.], twice showed signs of mental unbalance (1708 and 1712) and lost the favor of Emperor Shêng-tsu, and when the other princes organized factions to contend for his place, Yin-chên determined to obtain the throne for himself. Since he achieved his aim and so was able to re-write the official records at will, little is known of his activities in the struggle for primacy during the last twenty years of his father's reign. But it is clear that, as a prince, he took pains to cultivate the friendship of such able courtiers as Lungkodo and Nien Kêng-yao [qq. v.] and of those Bannermen in the companies assigned to him as his retainers. Judging from the irreconcilable attitude of his contending brothers, and from the harsh measures he used against them, it is clear that their hatred of him was deep-rooted and was aggravated by numerous unrecorded incidents which made reconciliation impossible. Yet it is likely that if any of his opponents had become Emperor, Yin-chên would have suffered similarly at his hands (see under Yin-ssŭ).

In the second decade of the eighteenth century Yin-t'i [禵 q.v.], fourteenth son of Emperor Shêng-tsu and a brother of Yin-chên by the same mother, was favored by the aged Emperor as Heir Apparent. In 1718 he was made commander-in-chief of the armies sent to the northwest to guard against invasion by the Eleuths and the Tanguts. Aware of his father's favor, Yin-t'i, though far away in Kansu, kept in constant communication with his supporters, being evidently eager for information about the situation at the capital.

However, late in 1722, Emperor Shêng-tsu suddenly took ill and was kept in bed at his country villa, the Ch'ang-ch'un yüan (see under Hsüan-yeh). On December 16 Yin-chên was sent to the Temple of Heaven to prepare himself ceremonially to represent the Emperor at the Winter Solistice Sacrifices which normally ended on December 22. But instead of completing these ceremonies, he was at the side of the Emperor when he died on December 20. According to the officially-prepared accounts, the Emperor declared to several of his sons and courtiers, before his death, that Yin-chên should be his successor. Unofficial chroniclers aver, however, that it was Yin-t'i and not Yin-chên who was designated successor to the throne, and that the will was altered by Lungkodo. Recent studies in documents of the period seem to corroborate some of these assertions, all the more so because of discrepancies in Yin-chên's own edicts relating to the last days of his father. Some of the unofficial accounts actually assert that Yin-chên murdered his father in order to take the other aspirants by surprise. However that may be, as soon as Emperor Shêng-tsu died Lungkodo, as commandant of the Peking Gendarmerie, kept the city under control. Yin-chên, escorting his father's remains and guarded by soldiers with drawn swords, entered the city and was recognized as Emperor, without disturbance. Yin-t'i, the most powerful other aspirant, could not retaliate, since he was far away and under the surveillance of the two generals, Nien Kêng-yao and Yen-hsin [q. v.] who favored his opponent.

During the first years of his reign, Yin-chên strenuously consolidated his power by putting his brothers under the surveillance of his friends and by appointing his own supporters to key positions. Some opponents he eliminated by imprisonment or execution (see under Yin-ssŭ); he severely punished those who criticized him (see under Cha Ssŭ-t'ing); and even did away with some former supporters, perhaps to prevent the disclosure of secrets. Throughout his reign he was busy suppressing any intimations by his opponents that he may have usurped the throne (see under Tsêng Ching).

Of great significance to the dynasty was his policy of depriving the princes of their power to control the Bannermen who were allotted to them as retainers. When the Eight Banners were established (see under Nurhaci) only one belonged to the Emperor; in theory, at least, the seven princes who each controlled a Banner had absolute power over the men in that Banner. But by 1651 three Banners had reverted to the control of the throne (see under Abahai, Dorgon and Fu-lin) with the result that the power of some princes was considerably curtailed. There were princes, however, who still held absolute power over their retainers; and, as the new Emperor was keenly aware, they could exercise it for their own advantage—as he had once done. Conscious of the danger of this system to the stability of the throne, Yin-chên worked strenuously to reduce the power of these princes (see under Yin-ssŭ, Yin-t'ang, and Yin-t'i) and make them more subservient to himself. In pursuance of these aims he compelled those princes who were young to attend a school inside the Palace, known as the Shang shu-fang 上書房, or Palace School for Princes. The tutors were select scholars who could be trusted to inculcate the virtues of obedience and lovaltv and who would frown on heterodox ideas. By such instruction the princes were kept in complete subservience to the throne for the remainder of the dynasty.

In view of the suspicions that surrounded his accession, it is natural that Yin-chên should have been greatly concerned about his place in history. One of his first acts as Emperor was to confiscate the manuscripts of the great encyclopaedia, Ku-chin t'u-shu chi-ch'êng (see under Ch'ên Mêng-lei), in order to deprive his opponent, Yin-chih [q. v.], of the name of having sponsored that monumental project. He suppressed so many documents concerning his brother, Yin-t'i (see above), that little is now known about the latter's expedition to Lhasa in 1720 (see under Yin-t'i and Yen-hsin). Knowing that some official records of the latter part of his father's reign were unfavorable to himself and that some were favorable to his opponents, he decided to suppress or alter any records which he disliked. One of the revealing facts about the shih-lu, or "veritable records", of his father's eventful reign is that they occupy a smaller compass per year than the shih-lu of any other Emperor of the Ch'ing period. [The average number of volumes of shih-lu for each of the reign-periods is as follows: Shun-chih, 1.7 volumes per year; K'ang-hsi, 1.1; Yung-chêng, 3; Ch'ien-lung, 6.2; Chia-ch'ing, 4.4; Tao-kuang, 5; Hsien-fêng, 9; T'ung-chih, 10.7; Kuang-hsü, 3.2]. The chief editor of the shih-lu for the K'ang-hsi period was Chang T'ing-yü [q. v.] who, by Yin-chên's last will, was given the highest award ever granted by a Ch'ing Emperor to a civil official--namely, to have his name celebrated in the Imperial Ancestral Hall along with several generals who had helped to found the dynasty. It would seem that, in the opinion of Yin-chên, Chang's editorship of the shih-lu of the K'ang-hsi period was not less important than a military victory in support of the throne.

Yin-chên's policy towards the Jesuits and other missionaries in China was largely influenced by the question of his accession to the throne. He disliked the missionaries because some of them had taken the side of his opponents (see under Sunu and Yin-t'ang). Those who had official posts in Peking he tolerated, but deported many others who worked in the provinces. Yet in 1727 he received with due courtesy a Portuguese envoy who came to Peking to ask for more lenient treatment of the missionaries. When in 1730 a severe earthquake reduced many of the buildings in Peking to ruins, be contributed to the reparation of the churches.

Yin-chên proved to be an able and conscientious ruler; he reformed the national finances; kept strict watch over officials: and tried to enforce the laws of the empire. He forbade officials to form cliques, and his 朋黨論 P'êng-tang lun, "Discourse on Parties and Cliques", published in 1725, was a warning on this matter. Because officials were often tempted to engage in corrupt practices, owing to inadequate salaries, he introduced the system of yang-lien 養廉, or extra stipends for "the cultivation of incorruptibility". In the last years of his aged father's reign many officials had lapsed into corruption, but Yin-chên's enforcement of the law rejuvenated the government and laid the foundation for the splendors of the succeeding reign (see under Hung-li).

Politically successful, Yin-chên was less fortunate in military affairs. In 1723 and 1724 Nien Kêng-yao and his aide, Yüeh Chung-ch'i [q. v.], suppressed an uprising of the Khoshotes of Kokonor and subjugated that region, but after Nien was removed (1725) the border campaigns ceased. In Yunnan O-êr-t'ai [q. v.] tried to eliminate the hereditary rulers of the Miao tribes and for a time appeared successful (1728–31), but not long after he had left the region the Miao again rebelled and all his efforts were nullified. The attempt of Yin-chên to conquer the Eleuths suffered an even worse setback. As his father had done in the case of Galdan [q. v.], he first made peace with Russia (1727, see under Tulišen). But despite extensive preparations, the Chinese forces were almost annihilated (1731) at the hands of the Eleuths (see under Furdan). For a time he was uneasy about the effects of this defeat on the Mongols, but a victory over the Eleuths at Erdeni Tsu in 1732 (see under Tsereng) gave him confidence to make peace with them without undue loss of prestige (see under A-k'o-tun).

One result of this war was the establishment, in 1729, of the Chün-chi ch'u 軍機處, or Grand Council. Prior to this time the Grand Secretariat was the office from which memorials were transmitted, where they were preserved, and where imperial edicts were drawn up. In the K'ang-hsi period some edicts were framed in the Imperial Study (see under Chang Ying). By tradition, each memorial or edict which passed through the Grand Secretariat had to have several transcriptions. But the delays and disclosures which this system entailed were found to he dangerous, particularly in time of war. When Yin-chên decided to make war on the Eleuths, he established the Grand Council to deal with military affairs speedily, and to guard state secrets with more care. His successors, even in time of peace, retained the Grand Council, entrusting it with most of the duties of the Grand Secretariat and the Imperial Study whose work was then confined to the supervision of records in the archives or the drawing up of unimportant state papers. Obviously only men trusted by the Emperor were appointed to serve as Grand Councilors and only those with exceptional abilities were selected as secretaries in the Grand Council.

An ambitious ruler, Yin-chên tried to exercise control over the thoughts of his people. He re-issued his father's so-called Sacred Edict of sixteen moral maxims, adding long expositions of his own. This work, entitled Shêng-yü kuang-hsün, and its vernacular version (see under Hsüan-yeh), became a widely used textbook for the improvement of manners. It was repeatedly supplemented by hortatory edicts designed to keep officials obedient and the common people submissive. Yin-chên took advantage of the cases of Tsêng Ching and Lü Liu-liang [qq. v.], not only to justify his succession but to vindicate the Manchu conquest of China. His condemnation of Lu was due in part to the latter's advocacy of a racial revolution. To justify Manchu rule and his own policy in particular, he published the Ta-i chüeh-mi lu (see under Tsêng Ching) which for a time every licentiate in the empire was compelled to read.

Not satisfied with his temporal power, Yin-chên assayed the role of a religious leader. In 1732 he transformed the Yung-ho Kung 雍和宮, the palace in which he had lived before hecoming Emperor, into a Lama temple. Though he thus paid his respects to Lamaism, he was at heart a Buddhist of the Ch'an (Zen 禪) sect, and perhaps even had an ambition to unite Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism into one religion. During his last years (1732?–35) he assembled a group of fourteen persons for the study of Ch'an Buddhism—a group which included, besides himself, five princes, three high officials, five Buddhist monks and a Taoist priest. In 1732 he edited a, collection of writings and sayings of thirteen Buddhists and two Taoists, entitled 御選語錄 Yü-hsüan yü-lu, 19 chüan, printed in 1733. In this collection he included his own views under the title 圓明居士語錄 Yüan-ming chü-shih yü-lu. At the same time he seems to have established a press to reprint Buddhist works. In 1734 he reprinted the 宗鏡錄 Tsung-ching lu, 100 chüan, by the priest, Yen-shou 延壽 (904–975); and, early in 1735, made an outline of that work, entitled Tsung-ching ta-kang (大綱), 20 chüan. He also made a start at reprinting the sutras, but by 1735 only twenty-seven of them were published under the collective title 佛經二十七種 Fo-ching êr-shih-ch'i chung. He condensed twenty sutra into a work, entitled 經海一滴 Ch'ing-hai i-ti, 6 chüan, printed in 1735.

The religious efforts of Yin-chên were not confined to promoting orthodox teachings. In 1733 he published a work, entitled 揀魔辨疑錄 Lien-mo pien-i lu, 8 chüan, in which he attacked a school of Ch'an Buddhism as unorthodox. An abbot, named Yüan-wu 圓悟 (H. 密雲, 1566–1642), had a disciple named Fa-tsang 法藏 (H. 漢月, 1573–1635), who wrote a work, 五宗原 Wu-Tsung yüan, printed in 1628, in which he set forth views that were distinctly unorthodox. Yuan-wu pointed out Fa-tsang's errors by correspondence, but a disciple of Fa-tsang, named Hung-jên 弘忍 (H. 潭吉), wrote a work, entitled Wu-Tsung chiu (救), in which he defended the views of Fa-tsang. Shortly after the last mentioned work was published, Yüan-wu wrote (1638) a long discourse, entitled 闢妄救略說 P'i wang-chiu lüeh-shuo, 10 chüan, in which he vigorously attacked Hung-jên's views as heterodox. Yin-chên denounced both Fa-tsang and Hung-jên; ordered their works to be burnt; and forced their proponents to renounce them. In the Lien-mo pien-i lu he cited a number of passages from the writings of the two men, pointed out their alleged errors, and wrote a vehement denunciation of their views.

It is said that Yin-chên believed in the longevity theories of the Taoists and that he took various kinds of drugs, from whose effects he died. However that may be, it is significant that all the Buddhists and Taoists were expelled from the Palace about the time of his death. Among the many legends concerning the manner of his death is one that he was murdered by the daughter of a man whom he had executed. lit view of the many enemies he undoubtedly made, this supposition is not improbable. Nevertheless, official accounts state that he died peacefully in the Yüan-ming yüan (see under Hung-li) at the age of fifty-eight (sui). He was buried in the tomb known as T'ai-ling 泰陵, the first to be built in the Western Mausoleum (Hsi-ling 西陵) in the district west of Peiping. He was given the posthumous name Hsien Huang-ti 憲皇帝 and the temple name Shih-tsung 世宗.

Yin-chên had ten sons and four daughters, of whom four sons and one daughter lived to maturity. Fully aware of the danger of designating an Heir Apparent, he put the name of his successor in a sealed box behind the tablet bearing the characters "Shêng-ta kuang-ming" 正大光明 in the hall Ch'ien-ch'ing Kung 乾清宮. The name—supposed to be known to no one—was to be revealed only after his death. In this way he chose his fourth son, Hung-li [q. v.]. As to his other sons, the third, Hung-shih 弘時 (1704–1727), led a wanton life and died young. He so offended his father that his name was struck from the Yü-tieh 玉牒, or Genealogy of the Imperial Family; and not until 1735, when Hung-li ascended the throne, was it restored. Yin-chên's fifth son, Hung-chou 弘晝 (H. 旭日居士), was made a prince of the first class with the designation Ho Ch'in-wang 和親王. He was canonized as Kung 恭 and left a literary collection known as 稽古齋全集 Chi-ku chai ch'üan-chi, 8 chüan. One of the wealthiest princes of his day, he took pleasure in assembling the paraphernalia necessary to his own funeral, and having the rites rehearsed before him while he wined and dined. Yin-chên's sixth son, Hung-yen 弘曕 (1733–1765), inherited the first class princedom left by his uncle, Yin-li (see under Hsüan-yeh), and became in 1738 the second Prince Kuo (果親王). In 1763, on the charge of greed and imprudent conduct, he was degraded to a prince of the third degree. Shortly before he died he was raised one degree to a Chün-wang 郡王. He was canonized as Kung 恭. His great-grandson, I-hsiang 奕湘 (T. 楚江, d. 1881), inherited the rank of Prince of the fifth degree (1833) and served as Tartar General at Canton (1843–45), at Mukden (1845–47), and elsewhere.

Yin-chên's literary collection, entitled Shih-tsung yü-chih wên-chi (御製文集), 30 chüan, was printed in 1738. His more important writings were primarily political documents, most of which he composed himself. He wrote comments and instructions on most of the memorials submitted by provincial officials. A collection of memorials bearing his comments, entitled 雍正硃批諭旨 Yung-chêng chu-p'i yü-chih (often known as Chu-p'i yü-chih), contains examples submitted by 223 officials arranged in 112 volumes in 18 cases. Some of these comments are much longer than the original memorials, showing the pains he took in national affairs. The collection was printed in 1732 with additional materials printed in 1738. Some of his edicts concerning Bannermen and the Banner system were collected under three titles: 上諭八旗 Shang-yü Pa-ch'i, 13 chüan; Shang-yü Ch'i-wu i-fu (旗務議覆), 12 chüan; and 諭行旗務奏議 Yü-hsing Ch'i-wu tsou-i, 13 chüan. His edicts issued through the Grand Secretariat, entitled Shang-yü Nei-ko (內閣), 159 chüan, concern national affairs. All the edicts issued from 1722 to 1727 were printed in 1731; those issued in the years 1728–35 were edited and printed in 1741. There are two other collections of his edicts; one dealing with Buddhism, dated between the years 1733 and 1735; and the other concerning right conduct and similar themes, issued in 1729. A classified selection of his edicts, entitled Shih-tsung shêng-hsün (聖訓), 36 chüan, was printed in 1741. Some hitherto unpublished writings of his have recently appeared in periodicals issued by the Palace Museum, Peiping. Some of these concern Nien Kêng-yao and other officials whom he at first praised highly but later condemned to death or imprisonment.

Judging from his edicts, Yin-chên was a very able and ambitious man, but jealous. It is said that his spies swarmed in the empire and that almost every important action of an official was reported to him. His reign has been branded as cruel and some of his officials as unjust (see under T'ien Wên-ching). Nevertheless, many of his acts were beneficial to the empire, or at least to the reigning house. His reorganization of the finances brought a higher income to the state; corruption was checked; power was centralized in the hands of the Emperor; and laws were enforced. All of these reforms contributed in some degree to the splendors of the succeeding Ch'ien-lung period.


[1/9/1a; 1/226/17a; Shih-tsung Hsien Huang-ti shih-lu ; Ch'ing Huang-shih ssŭ-p'u (see under Fu-lung-an); Ku-kung T'ien-pên-shu-k'u hsien-ts'un mu (see bibl. under Ch'ên Mêng-lei); Tung-hua lu, Yung-chêng, passim; Backhouse and Bland, Annals and Memoirs of the Court of Peking (1914), pp. 239–309; Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, Missions de la Chine, pp. 330–697; 樞垣記略 Shu-yüan chi-lüeh; Ch'ing-ch'u san ta i-an k'ao-shih (see bibl. under Fu-lin); Pa-ch'i chih-tu k'ao-shih (see bibl. under Dorgon).]

Fang Chao-ying