120 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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TitleMuling xuzhi 牧令須知[Essential Knowledge for Magistrates]
Topic4.1 Magistrates handbooks: General
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
AuthorGangyi 剛毅
CollectionGuanzhen shu jicheng 官箴書集成
Number of volume9
Publication typeWoodblock
CommentRem.: According to the preface, a first edition had been printed at the Yunnan provincial treasurer’s office (where the author was in charge in 1884-1885); the present enlarged version was produced in Shanxi (whose governor he was during 1885-1888; he became Jiangsu governor in 1888). The author characterizes the original work as a compilation of “models of the different types of official documents” (lidu chengshi gezhong 吏牘程式各種) aiming to protect the magistrates from the manipulations of the clerks; for the new Shanxi printing he added materials on the particular problems met by officials assuming their new post (juguan lizheng 居官蒞政). J. 1, the only chapter with a table of contents, provides an overview of some of the common issues that magistrates confronted in the course of their daily activities: servants, defense, customary fees, clerks and runners, gambling, collection of taxes, the postal service, judicial procedures, natural disasters, and baojia; the author quotes from a number of his own proclamations (gaoshi 告示) and comments on them. J. 2-6 are organized along the six “bureaus” (liufang 六房) of an administrative yamen, likewise detailing their tasks through the presentation and explanation of documents. Thus j. 2 (personnel) provides examples of documents sent when arriving at a new post, evaluating a subordinate official, impeaching a superior official, requesting a leave of absence for mourning, and many other occasions; j. 3 (revenue) introduces scores of documents concerning the collection and reporting of taxes, the census, the care of the poor; j. 4 (rites), 5 (military affairs), and 6 (justice and public works) are similarly organized. The preface deplores the low quality of local government in the author’s days and emphasizes the necessity for an official to be familiar with the concrete realities of government, rather than delegating everything to the private secretaries and clerks. 
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