The Zijinglu自警錄 (A record for self-alert), a book in four juan totaling over 90,000 Chinese characters, was compiled in 1737 by Tang Yingqiu湯應求 the county magistrate of Macheng麻城 of Hubei. The book is a record of lawsuit papers and official deliberation about a complex and intriguing lawsuit between the Yangs 楊and the Tus涂, two big clans in Macheng.
The case started with a woman Yang being married to a Tu. The woman was found missing one night after quarreling with her mother-in-law and husband. The Yang family accused the Tu of murdering her, while the Tu family alleged that she had actually eloped. As the Macheng county magistrate, Tang Yingqiu trailed the case and found no evidence to substantiate accusations from both sides. Then a corpse was found by a river bank, and the Yangs claimed that this was the body of the missing woman. Tang's forensic investigation convinced him that the corpse was in fact a male, not female. Tang's verdict was however overruled by his successors, and Tang found himself entrenched in a lawsuit battle that was to last for five years against his colleagues and supervisors. In the end, Tang was convicted of accepting bribery and tempering with the corpse, and sentenced to death penalty by strangling. Tang narrowly escaped the penalty, had his life saved and reputation rehabilitated, when his next successor found the woman, who was hiding in her brother's home for years. In a sense, this 18th-century Macheng case was similar to the case of "the return of Martin Guerre" in 16th-century France.
Tang published the Zijinglu in 1737, but the one that is extant is a reprint of 1828. At least two copies of this 1828 reprint are known to exist, one in the Library of the Institute of Legal History of the Chinese Academy of Science, and one in the Library of the Peking University.