EVERY Province is subdivided into a certain Number of Jurisdictions, called by the Chinese, Fou, on which depend others of much less Extent, termed, Tcbeou and Hien. The Presidents of the former have the Appellation of Tchi fou, and of the latter Tchi tcheou, and Tchi hien. In the larger Cities there is always one Tchifou, and generally two Tchi hien, who have each a distinct Jurisdiction over their proper Districts. In Peking there are fix principal Courts of Judicature, besides one proper to that City, which is the Capital of the Empire, this has the Name of Chun tien. Under this there are two other Tribunals of the two Hien, or Cities of the third Rank, one of which is call'd Tai hing, and the other Hen ping.
In the Provinces there are other Cities, where Tribunals are named Quei, and their Mandarins have the Title of Ouei cbeou pei; and these are Officers of War, who have commonly no Jurisdiction out of the City, There are another Kind in the Villages, and these genially take Cognisance of nothing, but what relates to certain Persons who are destin'd by their Rank and Birth to Offices of State.
All these Tribunals depend upon a Viceroy, and four other General Officers, who are his Assistants When Occasion requires as for Instance, in Causes relating to the Revenue and Civil Matters, the Treasurer General, Or Pou tching se is concern'd; if it be a criminal Affair it is refer'd to the Lieutenant Criminal, Ngan tcha se ; if it regards Offices, Salt, &c. they have recourse to the Yen too ; in short, if it relate to Provisions which are gathered by way of Tribute, they apply to the Leang to; But besides these Affairs, which are essential to their Tribunal, the People may have recourse to4htm in Causes of all Kinds, because the inferior Courts depend upon them, and they are by their Office hereditary Counsellors of the Viceroy, It is in this Quality that they are oblig'd, several times in a month, to be present at the Tribunal of this chief Mandarin, where they are to declare their Sentiments concerning the principal Transactions of the Province.
As the Officers in the Army depend in some sort on die Viceroy, they are obliged, under great Penalties, to give notice of the lest Commotions among the People, which happen within the Bounds of their District ; by which means it comes to pass, that almost all the Affairs of the Government, whether Civil, Criminal, or Military, are brought before his Tribunal 5 and what renders him still more considerable, is, that the supreme Courts at Peking do not commonly make their Decisions, but according to the Informations given by him, and they almost always ratify the Sentence which he has pronounced against the Mandarins, which he in a manner displaces before hand by taking away their Seal.
It is true, that the Treasurer General, and the Lieutenant Criminal, may accuse the Governor of a Province, but they seldom put it in Practice, because it would prove their own Destruction in the end. And, indeed, they generally agree but too well, in winking at each other's bad Conduct ; if ever it happens otherwise, the Fault must be extremely exorbitant, or it must nearly concern their own private Honour and Repose.
The publick Censors of the Empire are call'd Co-tao yu se and reside at Peking. They are the most dreaded of all the great Mandarins, because they have the Inspection of the whole Empire, every one having his particular Province assign'd him. These Censors are very vigilant, and are informed by their Spies of every thing that passes ; and it is by their Influence that good Order is preserv'd. If any Mandarin fails of his Duty in an important Affair, wherein the Welfare of the People is concerned, and the Viceroy neglects to proceed against them immediately, they are obliged to give Information to the Supreme Courts, and to the Emperor, by a publick Accusation, even when there is not absolute Proof of what they advance ; and if they are the first from whom the Emperor learns the Disorder, it redounds greatly to their Honour ; but if they are guilty of any Failure, they are liable to be reprimanded by the Emperor, and even to be remov'd from their Office.
The Dread of these publick Censors, chiefly contributes to the Preservation of Order, and the ancient Customs ; and prevents the Troubles and Commotions commonly caused by the Love of Novelty, to which the Vulgar are but too much inclin'd. That which adds to their Authority, is, that if they are ill used, either by the Intrigues of the Grandees, or by the Emperor, who sometimes does not relish the Advice which their Office obliges them to give him, the whole People regard them as the Fathers of their Country, and Martyrs for the Publick Welfare.