An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jiangzi wanji lun 蔣子萬機論

Jun 8, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Jiangzi wanji lun 蔣子萬機論 "Master Jiang's treatise on the ten thousand occasions" was a political treatise written by Jiang Ji 蔣濟 (d. 249 CE), courtesy name Zitong 子通. He hailed from Ping'a 平阿 (in modern Jiangsu province) and was accounting clerk in a commandery (jun jili 郡計吏), provincial administrative aide (zhou biejia 州別駕), and later rose to the post of Defender-in-chief (taiwei 太尉). In 249, he participated in Sima Yi's 司馬懿 (179-251) assassination of the regent Prince Cao Shuang 曹爽 (d. 249 CE), but he did not profit from the coup d'état as he died shortly afterwards. Apart from the Wanjilun 萬機論, he also compiled the treatise Sanzhoulun 三州論.

The Wanjilun was lost at an early point of time. The imperial bibliography Jingji zhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書 lists it among the "miscellaneous writings" (zajia 雜家) with a length of 8 juan, a statement that is followed by the bibliography in the history Jiutangshu 舊唐書 and the encyclopaedia Yilin 意林. Yet the bibliography in the Xintangshu 新唐書 speaks of 10 juan length, which might be an error. The book catalogue Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) says the Wanjilun was 2-juan long, but remarks that the Guange shumu 館閣書目 (today lost) spoke of 10 juan and 55 chapters. Of these, only 15 had survived at that time. Until the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), even these two fascicles were lost. Jiao Hong 焦竑 (1540-1620), compiler of a bibliography in his book Guochao xianzheng lu 國朝獻征錄 lists the Wanjilun among the Confucian treatises, with a length of 8 juan, and once again among the miscellaneous writings, with a length of 2 juan.

The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (1794-1857) assembled surviving fragment of the Wanjilun that are to be found in his series Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書. Yet he failed to include the quotations in the encyclopaedia Qunshu zhiyao 群書治要. The scholars Yan Kejun 嚴可均 (1762—1843), Huang Yizhou 黃以周 (1828-1899) and Wang Renjun 王仁俊 (1866-1913) therefore compiled their own collections of fragments from the Wanjilun. Yan Kejun's collection is part of his series Shiyuan congshu 適園叢書, fifth series, and that of Wang Renjun is to be found in the sequel to Ma Guohan's collection, the Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu xubian 玉函山房輯佚書續編.

Huang Yizhou's collection of fragments is probably the best among these because Huang analyses the content of the fragments and arranged them thematically. These fragments cover the following themes: employment of competent advisors, cautious use of the penal law, effectual and harmful use of war, extraordinary conduct of officials, the disastrous negligence of Confucian teachings in former times, funeral rites, and an assessment of selected worthies through the ages. Unfortunately, Huang Yizhou's collection has never made it to a printed publication but is only available as a manuscript.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1882.
Shi Xianghui 史向輝 (1990). "Jiang Ji yu Wanjilun 蔣濟與《萬機論》", Jilin Shifan Xueyuan xuebao 吉林師範學院學報,1999 (4): 43-45.