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Unless otherwise specified, the descriptions of sources in this section are extracted from Pierre-Etienne Will and collaborators,Official Handbooks and Anthologies of Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
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documentTypeEdited Volume
TitleDa Qing lüli anyu 大清律例按語 [Notes on the Great Qing Code]
Topic1. Code and commentaries
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
AuthorPan Deshe 潘德畬
Number of volume104
Publication typePrint

This is the most extended and complete edition of the Qing code with substatutes in force through times, which fall into four parts: Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing and Daoguang.


The work (here described from the 1847 ed.) amounts to a commentary to the Code, more specifically to the substatutes and their revisions, produced by the offices of the Ministry of Justice. Huang Entong (himself an official of the Ministry for fifteen years, including ten years as supervisor of the Bureau of the Code 律例館提調, and later governor of Guangdong 1845-46) explains in the pref. that despite their rich qualities the treatises published in the Ming and Qing—he cites Fajia pouji and Dulü peixi (qq.v.)—are either partial or far-fetched, whereas the anthologies of judgments—e.g., Zheyu guijian or Minggong shupan (qq.v.)—concentrate on court proceedings or value literary quality; in other words, they are of interest to legalists (法家) but do not amount to a true “legal science” (律學). In the process of adding or removing substatutes (條例), he thinks, the present dynasty has consistently dwelt on the Ministry of Justice officials’ careful consideration of the proposals sent by the provinces, guided by a concern for humaneness based on equity (以中正為體以仁恕為用); hence—in Huang’s rosy appreciation—for two hundred years there were no cases stranded in the courts (公庭無滯獄) and no people unjustly imprisoned (囹圄無冤民). The present work is based on a ms. compilation called Jin’an 謹按 held at the Ministry—up till then a “secret treatise of the official bureaus” (官閣秘本), of which only a few incomplete ms. copies circulated, and to which officials in charge of composing substatutes, like Huang himself, would refer whenever they had doubts about a law and needed to trace the discussions that had accompanied its elaboration (每于法有疑,得參末議,沿流溯源,必稽求謹按一書以為準繩) in order to understand the “intent” of the lawmakers (立法之意). It includes excerpts from memorials sent in response (覆奏檔案) since the Yongzheng period, and is described by Huang as an anthology of materials on the intentions presiding over the creation of law (其于立法之意擇精語詳). Pan Shicheng (h. Deshe 德畬) (1804-73), the scion of a wealthy Canton merchant family (see ECCP, 605-6) and a former Ministry of Justice official—in his pref., Huang Entong describes him as “a famous director at the Ministry of Justice and a lofty talent of the Bureau of the Code” (雲署之望郎, 雪堂之峻品)—who had a complete copy in his “trunk,” decided to print it in his Haishan xianguan congshu. (In fact the congshu itself does not includes this title.) Huang notes that although “the law belongs in common to the government and people” (惟法者國與民共之者也), its text contains many subtleties that can only be taken into account by those able to understand the genealogy of the laws (詳其沿革) and see their connectedness (觀其會通). In this way, by making everything immediately clear (無不昭若發矇,瞭如指掌), the Anyu can be of considerable help to beginners at a loss at court and not knowing how to adduce the correct law in difficult cases. According to Huang, the work should make the consultation of the previous treatises largely useless. The 1847 ed. is divided by reigns, viz. Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing, and Daoguang. Within each reign it quotes the statutes, including the revised versions—the revisions concerning essentially the small-character inserted comments—as the case may be, followed by the substatutes and their later revisions or replacements, in the order of the Code. (For the Daoguang period this arrangment is repeated under four years, namely 1824, 1829, 1834, and 1839, which were years of “small revision” of the Code.) The more or less extended commentary, introduced by the words 臣等謹按, follows the text of the statute or substatute to which it applies; it makes the meaning of the text more explicit and its area of application clearer, recalls the circumstances of revision, and occasionally suggests a better placement for a substatute within the Code. In this way the work is not unlike the later Duli cunyi by Xue Yunsheng (q.v.). The ms. ed. at Princeton, which contains a few slips pasted in and pointing character errors, is in part a different sort of work. It has no division by reigns but displays a continuous text, with dates of statutes (always 1740) and substatutes (always Qianlong-period) indicated in the central margin; the copy is incomplete and seems to be in 30 juan. There are comparatively few commentaries. It is almost certainly earlier than the printed version. Jia Hui (see below), who says he could not see the 1847 Haishan xianguan ed., describes an undated ms. ed. in 12 fasc. at Zhengfa that seems different from the one in the online cat. (see above); it covers the revisions of substatutes in 1824, 1829, 1834, and 1839.

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