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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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TitleWeinengxin lu 未能信錄[A Record on Not Being Able to Trust Oneself]
Topic2.1 Judicial cases: general casebooks
Historical periodEarly Qing (1644-1796)
Reprint (year of)2005
AuthorZhang wuwei 張五緯
CollectionLidai panli pandu 歷代判例判牘
Number of volume9
Place of publication北京
Publication typePrint

 A collection of 9 judicial cases solved by the author when he was serving as a magistrate or assistant magistrate in several counties of Jiangxi in the late eighteenth century, plus 7 accounts of a more general nature, also on his administration in Jiangxi. He decided to publish the text as an example for his recently appointed younger brother and nephew. The title of the work expresses the notion that a judge must be constantly doubting not only others, but also himself. As says Zhang in his preface: “He who trusts himself  assuredly  has not an unprejudiced  heart (自信者必不虛心) ;  he who is able to  have an  unprejudiced  heart assuredly cannot trust [himself]” (能虛心者必未能信). The judicial cases, narrated at the first person, are preceded by a fairly technical discussion on the administration of justice entitled “Yuanqi zonglun”  原起總論, citing at length examples from the author‟s thirty-year experience,  in which  he insists on the extreme variety and difficulty of  the  “civil” cases brought to the tribunal (cisong  詞訟), which may entail going through large files of documents and arbitrating between many litigant contradicting each other (phtgr.). The cases in j. 1 and 2, recounted in much detail and rather vividly, include local bullies pretending to be servants of the provincial judge to extort money, a conflict between monks and civilians over the control of a hill in Nanchang,  salts smugglers having resisted arrest, a Confucian student wrongly accusing a broker,  the homicide of an assistant official who was arresting gamblers, and several other criminal cases. The texts in  j. 3 are more diverse in their nature, including among others several accounts of local conditions in the frontier regions of Jiangxi, based on the author‟s own inspections, female infanticide in Yuanzhou  遠州  prefecture,  pettifoggingin Jianchang  建昌,  and more. All the “cases” collected in the work are narratives, not administrative documents;  as  the author speaks at the first person  and  tends to be rather detailed on his actions, behavior and feelings, these accounts can also be read as fragments of a professional autobiography. An additional  j. 4  (placed after the postfaces)  reproduces the procedure established by Zhang to organize contributions aimed at combatting female infaticide (捐銀救溺一切章程) while he was acting prefect of Yuanzhou in 1793, introduced by directives of the governor and provincial treasurer. 

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