Yu T'ung

Yu T'ung 尤侗 (T. 同人 and 展成 H. 悔庵 and 艮齋 and 西堂老人), June 16, 1618-1704, July, scholar and calligrapher, was a native of Ch'ang-chou, Kiangsu. In 1648 he was made a pa-kung, or senior licentiate of the first class. Appointed police magistrate of Yung-p'ing-fu, Chihli, in 1652, he remained at this post until 1656. For more than twenty years thereafter he led a life of leisure, finding his chief pleasure in literature. His literary compositions were widely known, even during his youth, despite the fact that he had not obtained a high degree. In 1678 he was recommended to take the special examination, known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ǔ, which he passed in the following year as the oldest of the fifty successful competitors (see under P'êng Sun-yü). He was then made a corrector in the Hanlin Academy with appointment to assist in the compilation of the Ming Dynastic History (Ming-shih). He retired in 1683.

During his three years on the Historiographical Board Yu T'ung wrote 6 chüan of Ming biographies (明史擬傳), 8 chüan of accounts relating to foreign state 外國志 and 4 chüan consisting of a bibliography of Ming literature (明史蔭文志). Only the first two of these works are reproduced in his published writings. Though the last work, which lists 7,141 titles, was not printed, it nevertheless set a new standard for dynastic bibliographies in that it aimed to include only titles of books written in the Ming period-apparently following in this respect a suggestion made by the Pang critical historian, Liu Chih-chi (see under Chi Yün). In the opinion of the compilers of the Ssǔ-k'u Catalogue (see Chi Yün) it fell short of this aim since it included some forty works that were written in [936] former dynasties. Though the later editors of the Ming history declined to utilize Yu T'ung's bibliography, they did adopt his plan of listing only the literature of the dynasty in question--a procedure that was followed by the compilers of the Draft History of the Ch'ing Dynasty, 清史稿 Ch'ing-shih kao, printed in 1927-28. Special favors were bestowed on Yu T'ung by Emperor Shêng-tsu on the latter's tours to South China in 1699 and in 1703. A collection of Yu's works, entitled 西堂全集 Hsi-t'ang ch'üan-chi, was first printed in 1686 and was provided with a supplement (餘集 yü-chi) of which the preface is dated 1691. His compositions in musical drama, known as yüeh fu 樂府, were highly praised in his time. His son, Yu Chên 尤珍 (T. 慧珠,謹庸 H. 滄湄, 1647-1721), was a chin-shih of 1682.

[ 3/119/3a; 20/1/00 (portrait); 6/1/39a; 323/12a; autobiographical nien-p'u down to the age of 86 (sui) appears with portrait in Hsi-t'ang yü-chi; Soochow fu-chih (1881) 88f15b; Ssǔ-k'u 87/3a.]