The work can be described as a somewhat desperate attempt at easing the harsh realities of the troubled early Republican era by reviving the hallowed values of old-style local governance. Previously a close associate of Yuan Shikai and a champion of the late-Qing New Policies (新政), later a chief of staff in the Zhili army and a governor-general of the Northeast provinces, Xu was about to assume the presidency of the Republic when he composed the present work. J. 1 is devoted to military governors (督軍), who were preeminent in early-Republican politics; j. 2 and 3 deal with provincial civil governors (省長), and intendants and prefects (道尹), respectively. The rest is devoted to magistrates (知事), with sections on personal behavior, taxation, finances, police, law, agriculture, water control, famine relief, and more. While the author’s pref. celebrates the “democratic Republic” as a realisation of the teachings of the ancient sages, much of the contents of the work consist of quotations from ancient texts, or from such classic authors on local government as Chen Hongmou, Liu Heng, Yuan Mei, and others.