An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shuyuan jilüe 樞垣記略

Jan 19, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Shuyuan jilüe 樞垣記略 "A concise report on the State Council" is an institutional history of the State Council (junjichu 軍機處), the center of state administration, written during the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Liang Zhangju 梁章鉅 (1775-1849), courtesy name Hongzhong 閎中 or Chailin 茝林, style Chailin 茝鄰 or Tui'an 退庵, and enlarged by Zhu Zhi 朱智 (juren degree 1851).

Liang was himself five-years long member of the State Council as a secretary (junji zhangjing 軍機章京) during the early Daoguang reign-period 道光 (1821-1850). He had therefore the chance to read a huge amount of documents about this central government institution and to copy many of them. For his book he also consulted poems and prose writings of former members of the State Council, visited their home places, and drew information from biji 筆記 "brush notes"-style writings, local gazetteers and many other types of sources.

In 1822 he withdrew from office and began to compile his 16-juan long book. It is divided into seven chapters covering the themes imperial instructions (Xunyu 訓諭), appointment (Chushou 除授), ranking by grace (Enxu 恩敘), rules (Guizhi 規制), bestowal of titles (Timing 題名), poems written by members of the institution (Shiwen 詩文) and miscellanea (Zaji 雜記).

The book covers the time between 1730 and 1822 and is a relatively complete overview of the history of the State Council, its structure and functioning, its members, and their careers and standpoints, and is therefore a very important addition to the greater histories like the statecraft canon Da-Qing huidian 大清會典, the collection Qingshilu 清實錄 or the official history Qingshigao 清史稿.

In 1875 Prince Ihin 奕訢 (1833-1898) read the Shuyuan jilüe and felt that was necessary to rewrite the history of the State Council, not only because more than half a century had passed since its publication, but because the structure of the institution had changed somewhat. He therefore ordered Zhu Zhi to revise and continue Liang's original book.

Zhu Zhi 朱智, courtesy name Mingsheng 茗笙, hailed from Qiantang 錢塘, Zhejiang, and was likewise secretary of the State Council. Under the Guangxu Emperor 光緒 (r. 1874-1908) he held the titles of Chamberlain for the Imperial Stud (taipusi qing 太僕寺卿), and Right Vice Minister of War (binghu you shilang 兵部右侍郎).

The result of his work was a book of 28 fascicles with the same number of chapters as the original book of Liang Zhangju, but it narrated the history of the State Council until 1875. The chapter "miscellanea" was not finished before the book was published. In 1984 the Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局 published an edition annotated by He Yingfang 何英芳.

Table 1. Contents of the Shuyuan jilüe 樞垣記略
1 訓諭 Instructions and edicts
2-5 除授 Appointment
6-12 恩敘 Honorific rankings by grace
13-14 規制 Rules and regulations
15-19 題名 Names of members
20-26 詩文 Poems and prose writings
27-28 雜記 Miscellaneous notes
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. 1, 1424.
Shu Yu 舒玉 (1992). "Liang Zhangju yu Shuyuan jilüe 梁章鉅與《樞垣記略》", Shanxi dang’an 山西档案, 1992 (6).
Wu Yuxi 吳雨希, Zheng Bilian 鄭碧蓮 (2014). "Shuyuan jilüe de bianzuan tedian ji qi qishi 《樞垣記略》的編纂特点及其啓示", Dang'an 檔案, 2014 (2).
Zhao Yanchang 趙彦昌, Tang Ying 唐瑩 (2009). "Cong Shuyuan jilüe kann Qingdai junjichu de wenshu guanli gongzuo 從《樞垣記略》看清代軍機處的文書管理工作", Wenhua xuekan 文化學刊, 2009 (1).