35 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
TitleLü Fa xuzhi 律法須知 [What Must Be Known About the Law]
Short titleB3852900-00
Topic4.2 Magistrates handbooks: Handbooks for legal experts
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
CountryChinese
Year1803
Reprint (year of)1886
AuthorLü Zhitian 呂芝田 (Z. Deyao 德堯)
Publication typeWoodblock
Abstract

The author is reported to have been an experienced muyou who published three more works, entitled Kuannan huojie 款難豁解, Shenxiang beiyao 申詳備要, and Jingjing tang ji cheng’an 靜鏡堂集成案. The original edition was published in Guizhou. The work consists of 419 items (ze 則) distributed among ten “treatises” (lun 論), providing extremely clear and concrete advice on the successive steps of the judicial procedure and legal problems for various sorts of crimes and circumstances; they are: (1) writing down confessions (xugong 敘供, 40 items); (2) homicides (ming’an 命案, 93 items); (3) burglary (qiedao 竊盜, 78 items) (j. 1); (4) theft (qiangduo 搶奪, 5 items), (5) miscellaneous cases (za’an 雜案, 152 items: this long and somewhat disorderly section deals with cases involving officials or degree-holders, with general bureaucratic procedures concerning mourning leaves, taking up or leaving one’s post, opening coffins for autopsies, deadlines for solving crimes, kidnapping and elopement, wife-selling, sexual crimes, and a number of other crimes and misdemeanor classified as zafan in the Code, rules on boat registration, management of exiles, transportation of public funds, and much more); (6) impeachments (can’an 參案, 22 items); (7) writing conclusions, or kanyu 看語 (zuokan 作看, 9 items); (8) rejected cases (bo’an 駁案, 7 items); (9) answering complaints (pici 批詞, 11 items); (10) writing explanatory reports (zuobing 作稟, 2 items)—as opposed to formal reports (xiang 詳) exposing conclusions. Various models (geshi 格式) are provided along the way, including forms for reporting forensic examination in cases of homicide. The 1887 ed. published in Canton (Shoudu copy) has a special annex on this last topic (fu jianyan tongbao wen 附檢驗通報文), based on the Xiyuan lu (q.v.), and located in front of j. 1. Wu Zhongxi’s 1886 introduction says that reading this work will makes it possible “not to consider lawsuits as something that one can definitely not manage in person” (不至視獄詞為必不能親理之事). [n.p.]

Comment

Reportedly, Lü Zhitian was an experienced Guizhou muyou who authored three other works titled Yinan huojie 疑難豁解, Shenxiang beiyao 申詳備要, and Jingjing tang ji cheng’an 靜鏡堂集成案, seemingly unpublished. Shen Xizhou’s pref. indicates that the work was kept in Lü’s family in the form of ms. notes in some disorder. In his postf. Zhang Renjun wonders whether Lü’s pref. to the present work was not in fact to Yinan huojie. All the eds. available today are late-nineteenth-century eds. originating with Songchang’s decision to rescue the text: he explains that he contributed money to engrave the present version as a complement to the eds. of Lübiao and Xiyuan lu xiangyi (qq.v.) he was producing for distribution in every prefecture and county in his jurisdiction, and entrusted Wang Bing’en with putting the text in order and printing it. For his part, Shen Xizhou was shown a copy by his classmate Wang Bing’en and produced his own ed.; finally, Guangxi surveillance commissioner Zhang Renjun claims that many textuals errors have been corrected for his Guiyang shuju edition. The work consists of 419 items (則) distributed among ten “treatises” (論), providing extremely clear and concrete advice on the successive steps of the judicial procedure and on the legal problems related to various sorts of crimes and circumstances; they are: (1) “Writing down confessions” (敘供, 40 items); (2) “Homicides” (命案, 93 items); (3) “Theft” (竊盜, 78 items) (j. 1); (4) “Forcible robbery” (搶奪, 5 items), (5) “Miscellaneous cases” (雜案, 152 items: this long and somewhat disorderly section deals with cases involving officials or degree-holders, with general bureaucratic procedures concerning mourning leaves, taking up or leaving one’s post, opening coffins for autopsies, deadlines for solving crimes, kidnapping and elopement, wife-selling, sexual crimes, and a number of other crimes and misdemeanors classified as zafan 雜犯 in the Code, rules on boat registration, management of exiles, transportation of public funds, and much more); (6) “Impeachments” (參案, 22 items); (7) “Writing conclusions,” or kanyu 看語 (作看, 9 items); (8) “Rejected cases” (駁案, 7 items); (9) “Answering complaints” (批詞, 11 items); (10) “Writing explanatory reports” (作稟, 2 items)—as opposed to formal reports (詳) stating conclusions. Various models (格式) are provided along the way, including forms for reporting forensic examination in cases of homicide. The 1887 Canton ed. (Shoudu copy) has a special appendix on this last topic (附檢驗通報文), based on Xiyuan lu (q.v.), and placed in front of j. 1. Wu Chongxi’s 1886 intro. says that reading this work makes it possible “not to think of lawsuits as unmanageable by oneself” (不至視獄詞為必不能親理之事). Chen Li’s careful examination (see below) shows that the text is mostly derived from Bai Ruzhen’s Xingming yide (q.v.). While some entries in the original work have been omitted, a number of Bai’s sections have been copied almost verbatim, though in most cases there are updates or additions. Omissions and additions are especially in evidence in the section on “miscellaneous cases” (論雜案), where the latest examples included are dated 1808, suggesting that Lü may have continued to revise his work after the 1803 pref. In addition, he rearranged some of Bai’s entries. Comparison shows that Lüfa xuzhi was probably not directly indebted to the later version of Bai’s work titled Qintang bidu (q.v.), as the few additional entries appearing in it are not featured in Lüfa xuzhi. In other words, Lüfa xuzhi and Ban’an yaolüe/Qintang bidu seem to be based on two different variants of Xingming yide (see below, Chen Li).

SubjectLaw
LanguageChinese
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