An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhong-Xi jishi 中西紀事

May 17, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhong-Xi jishi 中西紀事 "Events between China and the West" is a book on foreign relations written by the late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Xia Xie 夏燮 (1800-1875), courtesy name Qianfu 謙甫 (also written 嗛父) or Jili 季里, style Jiangshang jiansou 江上蹇叟 or Xieshan jushi 謝山居士. He hailed from Dangtu 當涂, Anhui, and was assistant instructor (xuandao 訓導) in several prefectures of Anhui and Zhili, and finally magistrate (zhixian 知縣) of Anren 安仁, Hunan. During the Taiping rebellion 太平, he was a member of the staff of Zeng Guofan 曾國藩 (1811-1872). Xia Xie was a well-known historian and inspired by the philosophy of Quan Zuwang 全祖望 (1705-1755). Among his rich oeuvre, the most important books are Zhongjie Wu Ciwei [i.e. Wu Yingji 吳應箕] xiansheng nianpu 忠節吳次尾先生年譜 (a biography), the chronicles or critial research to chronicles and history books Ming tongjian 明通鑒, Yuefen jishi 粵氛紀事, Mingshi gangmu kaozheng 明史綱目考證, Mingshi kaoyi 明史考異, Jiao Hanshu ba biao 校漢書八表, commentaries on Classical matters like Wufu shili 五服釋例 or Shujun 述均, and a book on arithmetics, Guochao Wang Lai suanxue shu 國朝汪萊算學書. His collected writings are called Xieshantang wenji 謝山堂文集.

The 24-juan long Zhong-Xi jishi is written in the style of historical events in their entirety (jishi benmo 紀事本末) and therefore also known with the title Zhong-Xi jishi benmo 中西紀事本末 (in the series Zhongguo yeshi jicheng 中國野史集成). It begins in the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) and describes events down to the Tongzhi reign-period 同治 (1862-1874). Of particular interest are the descriptions of the two opium wars and the intrusion of Great Britain, France, the United States, and Russia into Chinese affairs. The book criticizes the inaptness of the Qing government while praising the heroic fights of the common people and of Qing troops against the West. The text quotes from official documents and from the Unequal Treaties, and also from contemporary Chinese sources like Wei Yuan's 魏源 (1794-1857) Haiguo tuzhi 海國圖志 or works written by Westerners like Zhifang waiji 職方外紀 by Giulio Aleni (1582-1649), Hua-Ying tongshang shilüe 華英通商事略 as orally translated by Alexander Wylie (1815-1887), or Malixun zhuan 馬利遜傳, a biography of the missionary Robert Morrison (1782-1834).

The book was first printed in 1865 but was printed again three years later because the first edition had been proscribed. Younger editions were published in 1881 (Huixiang Studio 慧香簃), 1888 (Jiangshang Caotang Studio 江上草堂, with the 24-juan long appendix Toutouji 偷頭記), 1900 (lithographic print by the Shenbao Studio 申報館 in Shanghai). A modern annotated edition was published in 1988 by the Yuelu Press 岳麓書社.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 920.
Tang Xinglin 唐興霖 (1994). "Zhong-Xi jishi 中西紀事", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Lishi 歷史卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 204.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 127.