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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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Title(Wen Jinghan xiansheng) Zili yan (文靜涵先生) 自歷言[Words from a Personal Experience]
Topic4.1 Magistrates handbooks: General
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
AuthorWenhai 文海 (Jinghan 靜涵)
CollectionGuanzhen shu jicheng 官箴書集成
Number of volume6
Publication typeWoodblock
CommentRem.: Advice for magistrates based on the author’s own experience. The text is composed of 41 rather short untitled paragraphs discussing in a very factual and concrete way the items usual in magistrate handbooks, starting with the visits to pay when arriving in the province, asking for advice, hiring secretaries and servants, disciplining clerks, reviewing pending cases, taking over the accounts (jiaodai), organizing the accounting office (zhangfang 帳房), identifying the local bullies, gambling dens, etc., holding court, handling criminal cases, protecting one’s integrity and maintaining frugality (especially in “hard” positions, kuque 苦缺), controlling one’s family slaves (a problem particularly in evidence with Manchu officials), keeping the local gentry at a distance, dealing severely with the local bullies and pettifoggers, chasing away or freeing the “pier prostitutes” (matou changfu 馬頭娼婦), and dealing with natural disasters. There is very little moralistic speech. The author’s preface features a long list of all the difficulties of a magistrate’s task and of the dangers to his integrity, due in particular to debts incurred before assuming one’s position. Yan Xuchang’s preface insists that the position of magistrate is much more difficult than that of a prefect or intendant, and states that because of its clarity Wenhai’s work is an even better guide for beginning officials than the Muling shu or Fuhui quanshu (qq.vv.); he held it from his father, who had acquired it in 1851 in Guangxi, and published it while he was the Shanhaiguan intendant in Fengtian. The Hubei edition was produced by provincial treasurer Wang Zhichun, who was sent by his brother a copy of this little-known work and thought highly of it. [Phtc. presque en entier]
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