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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 One’s Own Progress]
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

Advice for magistrates based on the author’s own experience. The text is composed of 41 rather short untitled paragraphs discussing in very factual and concrete terms the usual items found in magistrate handbooks, starting with the required visits upon arriving in the province, and including asking for advice, hiring secretaries and servants, disciplining clerks, reviewing pending cases, taking over accounts (交代), organizing the accounting office (帳房), identifying local bullies, gambling dens, etc., holding court, handling criminal cases, protecting one’s integrity and maintaining frugality (especially in “painful” posts, kuque 苦缺), controlling one’s household slaves (a problem particularly in evidence with Manchu officials), keeping the local gentry at a distance, dealing severely with local bullies and pettifoggers, chasing away or freeing the “port prostitutes” (馬頭娼婦), and dealing with natural disasters. There is very little moralizing. The author’s pref. features a long list of difficulties and threats to integrity (due in particular to debts incurred before assuming one’s position) encountered by a magistrate. Yan Xuchang’s pref. insists that the position of magistrate is much more difficult than that of prefect or intendant, and states that because of its clarity Wen Hai’s work is an even better guide for beginning officials than Muling shu or Fuhui quanshu (qq.v.); Yan got the work from his father, who had acquired it in 1851 in Guangxi, and published it while he was Shanhaiguan intendant in Fengtian. The Hubei ed. was produced by administration commissioner Wang Zhichun, who received from his brother a copy of this little-known work and thought highly of it.

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