128 documents
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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Description
documentTypeBook
TitleJuguan shenxing lu 居官慎刑錄 [Records of Officials’ Leniency in Administering Justice]
Topic2.3 Judicial cases: historical casebooks
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
CountryChinese
Year1877
AuthorLiu Gongchen 劉拱宸 (Z. Bo’ai 伯璦)
Publication typeWoodblock
Abstract

Rem.: The work is entirely devoted to the theme of using torture with moderation and being lenient in administering justice. J. 1 is devoted to imperial edicts, headed by a 1730 edict of the Yongzheng emperor recommending expert interrogation and the use of torture only as a last resort in the provinces, as had been done in the central judicial offices since the beginning of his reign on the recommendation of his brother Prince Yixian 怡賢親王, whose memory the edict is celebrating. It is followed by three main parts: (1) A series of very clear explanations of the laws concerning the system, application, suspension, and instruments for punishments and torture, based on the penal code and the Mingfa zhizhang (q.v.) (j. 2-3). (2) texts concerning punishments extracted from various works in the four categories of literature: laws on punishments and their reduction in the classics; edicts, memorials, historical facts, and biographies of model officials in the histories; philosophers; maxims by ancient authors in the collectanea; plus literary works from the reigning dynasty (j. 4-7). (3) Biographies of cruel officials (j. 8). The fanli specifies that the author has chosen not to use the many specialized treatises on justice (mingxing zhi shu 明刑之書) available; the rules quoted from the laws and precedents are meant to help the scholars entering government without much knowledge of the penal code and likely to be misled by their underlings. The book was not yet printed when the author died in office; his sons edited the text, requested the prefaces, and ensured the engraving. Liu Qixian’s preface says that “the way [the author] places exhortations and warnings at the surface of his opinions is both profound and subtle”; and he expresses the hope that after the publication future officials will know how to use the work as a mirror.

Comment

    The work is entirely devoted to the theme of moderate torture and leniency in administering justice. J. 1 contains imperial edicts, headed by a 1730 edict of the Yongzheng emperor recommending expert interrogation in the provinces and the use of torture only as a last resort, as has been done in the central judicial offices since the beginning of his reign on the recommendation of his brother Prince Yixian 怡賢親王 (1686-1730), whose memory the edict is celebrating. It is followed by three main parts: (1) A series of very clear explanations of the laws regarding the application and suspension of punishments and torture, and the instruments used, based on the Penal Code and Mingfa zhizhang (q.v.) (j. 2-3). (2) Texts concerning punishments extracted from various works in the four categories of literature: materials concerning punishments and their reduction in the classics (經); edicts, memorials, historical facts, and biographies of model officials in the histories (史); texts from the philosophers (子); and maxims by ancient authors in the collectanea (集), to which are added literary works from the reigning dynasty (j. 4-7). (3) Biographies of harsh officials (j. 8). The fanli specifies that the author did not use the many specialized treatises on justice (明刑之書) available. The rules quoted from the statutes and substatutes are meant to help scholars entering government without much knowledge of the Penal Code and likely to be misled by underlings. The book was not yet printed when the author died in office; his parents and disciples edited the text, requested prefaces, and paid for the engraving. Liu Qixian claims in his pref. that “the way [the author] conceals exhortations and warnings in his outward expression of principles is both profound and subtle” (其寓勸戒于意言之表者尤深且微), and expresses the hope that once the work is published future officials will know how to use it as a mirror.

SubjectLaw
LanguageChinese
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