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Colonial Cases

Tsai Ah-Kao and Yin Yin Chuan, 1885

[larceny - controversy in Mixed Court]

Tsai Ah-Kao and Yin Yin Chuan

Mixed Court, Shanghai
Huang and Giles, May 1885
Source: North China Herald, 22 May 1885

Shanghai, 18th May.
Before his Worship HUANG, Acting Magistrate, and H. A. Giles, Esq., H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, Assessor.
  Tsai Ah-Kao, godown-keeper, and Yin Yin Chuan, carpenter, were charged with having from time to time stolen quantities of old iron from the Hongkew Wharf.
  The case created a considerable amount of interest on account of the recent action taken by importers of old iron in Shanghai with reference to a shortage in the delivery of his species of cargo landed and stored at the Hongkew Wharf.  Capt. McEuen appeared to conduct the case on behalf of the police, and it was intimated that a remand would be asked for in order that Mr. Dowdall might appear to prosecute on behalf of Messrs. Jardine. Matheson & Co., the managers of the Wharves.
  Inspector Mack, at the opening of the case, said he had arrested two men on Saturday night on suspicion of having stolen the iron, and Yin Yin-chuan then admitted that he had sold old iron but he had done so at the instigation of Ah-Kao.  Ah-kao was formerly a godown-keeper at the wharf, but was dismissed on the 1st May; and Yin Yin-chuan was a carpenter occasionally employed at the wharf.
  Ho Ah-wo, iron-dealer, of Broadway, was the first witness called.  He produced his account book and also a separate paper containing a statement of purchases of old iron which he had made from the prisoner Tsai Ah-kao.  The paper, he said, contained a true statement of all these purchases, but the book had been tampered with.  He bought altogether about 400 piculs.  It was weighed at witness's shop, and the price was not always the same.  Witness asked Ah-kai where the old iron came from, and he said it was surplus from the godowns.  Witness paid altogether for the iron Tls. 111 and $240.50.  He did not know the prisoner Yin Yin-chuan; he had bought all the old iron from Ah-kao.  A short time ago Ah-kao came to witness's shop and said to him, "Your entry in the book is not right; you had better tear it out and put in something else."  Witness accordingly tore out two leaves from his book, containing entries with reference to this iron; he had already been paid for it.
  Chang Yin-san, another iron dealer, said he had bought 2 tons and 120 catties of old iron from the prisoners, for which he had paid $11.52 and Tls. 37.  He had also bargained to buy another boat-load, but it was stopped by the authorities.  Witness had paid the sum of $9 as bargain-money on that transaction, and when the boat was sopped this money was paid back to him.
  A coolie in the employ of the last witness deposed to having paid $10 to Yin Yin-chuan as bargain money on one of his purchases of old iron.
  Ling Yuen-Kee deposed to having brought a little over two tons - say 38 Piculs - of old iron from Ah-kao, for which he paid $55.25.
  Hsu Ah-lin said he had bought 30 piculs of old iron from Ah-kao, for which he paid $1.60 a picul, or $48 in all. Ah-kao represented himself as a contractor and said the old iron was the surplus left over after completing some work which he had been engaged upon.
  The case was then adjourned till Friday morning, the 22nd inst.
North China Herald, 29 May 1885
Shanghai, 22nd May.
Before his Worship HUANG, Acting Magistrate, and H. A. Giles, Esq., H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, Assessor.
  Tsai Ah-kao, godown-keeper, and Yin Yin-chuan, carpenter, were charged on remand with having from time to time stolen quantities of old iron from Ningpo Wharf.
  Mr. Dowdall, solicitor, said he appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Shanghai and Hongkew Wharf Company and Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co., to whom the wharves jointly belonged.
  Mr. Drummond, barrister, said he appeared to watch the case on behalf of five foreign firms and seven Chinese firms, who were the importers of the old iron which was the subject of the suit.
  Mr. Dowdall said he understood that the chief prisoner was a man named Ah-kao, and that the charge was that he had stolen some old iron and some other things, or, what came to the same thing, that having sold a quantity of old iron and other things, he had not accounted to the prosecutors for the whole of the proceeds.
  Mr. Giles said there was nothing on the charge sheet about not accounting for any money; the charge was simply one of stealing.
  Mr. Dowdall said it might turn out that the offence consisted in not having accounted for the whole of the proceeds of the sales.
  Mr. Drummond said the wharf authorities must surely know whether they employed Ah-kao to sell old iron or not. If so, they ought to state it at once; if not, it was simply stealing.
  Mr. Dowdall said the Wharf Company had employed Ah-kao to sell old iron; and it might turn out either that he had sold some which he had not been instructed to sell, or that having been instructed to sell it, he did not account for the whole of the proceeds.  The circumstances were these. For many years there had been accumulations of old iron at the wharves, part of which was the remainder, the overplus, of cargo, part odds and ends of old iron which had got buried in the ground, and then dug out, and part the iron roof of an old godown belonging to the company, old mooring chains, etc. - things of which a proper account could not possibly be kept on account of their mixed character.
  Mr. Dowdall's statement having been interpreted to the magistrate by the Court interpreter,
  Mr. Giles said his Worship wanted to know whether Mr. Dowdall was prosecuting the prisoner or defending him.
  Mr. Dowdall said he was prosecuting; his object in saying what he had said was to show how it was that the prisoner had an opportunity of selling more than he had accounts for.  Some months ago it became necessary to change the compradore, and before the change was made it was necessary to have a proper stock list; and the agents of the Wharf then determined to sell all the old iron and these things that did not belong to anybody, and they instructed the manager accordingly.  Mr. Law, the manager of the Wharf, having received these orders, first told Mr. Cooper, who was under him, to see to the sale, this being in Mr. Cooper's department; and Mr. Cooper told the Chinese at the Wharf - including Ah-kao - to sell it for the best price they could get.  The iron was accordingly sold, and the amount sold and the price were reported to Mr. Cooper.  Mr. Dowdall hoped to prove, however, that the amount reported as sold, and the sums reported as having been obtained from the sales, were less than the amounts bought from Ak-kao by the Chinese merchants, and the amounts paid by them, so that Ah-kao must have sold more than was reported to the company.  In all three lots were sold, and the total amount reported as sold was 318 piculs; while evidence would be brought forward to show that Ah-kao had sold a great deal more than 500 piculs, which was dishonest.  The first and second sales were made a good many months ago, and he had got the particulars of these sales as written out by Mr. Cooper at the time.  The third sale was made on March, 1885, and Ah-kao then reported that he had sold 86 piculs, for which the Wharf Company received $109, the prisoner reporting that that was all he sold, and all the money he received. He also sold by direction of the Company some 20 piculs of rattan, for $21; but there was no charge about that.  That was in the whole case Ah-kao had reported to the Company that he had sold altogether 318 piculs of old iron, for $461, whereas, as a matter of fact, it would be proved that he had sold considerably more than hat.  The result was that the Wharf Company had received $461, which they kept to a separate account in case anybody should claim it, whereas they ought to have received a great deal more.
  Mr. R. Law, Acting Manager of the Shanghai and Hongkew and Jardine's Associated Wharves, was then called.  Referring to his books, he said the total amount of old iron reported by Ah-kao as having been sold was 380 piculs and 50 catties, which the total price, including rattans, was $483.23.
  His Worship, through the interpreter, asked Mr. Law if it was a fact that he tried to prevent Ah-kao from being arrested.
  Mr. Law said he did not.
  His Worship asked what Mr. Law was doing in Ah-kao's room when Ah-kao was arrested.
  Witness - I was waiting in the room until the detectives arrived, to point out to them that Ah-kao was there, because I had been to the police Station to ask why they were watching the Wharf, and I was waiting in the room till the detectives came, to point out that he was there.
  Mr. Giles - What had you told the detectives?
  Witness - I had asked them for some authority, or letter, to say why they were watching the Wharf.  I considered that as manager I ought to know what they were doing.
  His Worship -When was Ah-kao dismissed?
  Witness - On the 30th April.
  His Worship - At the time he was arrested was he dismissed?
  Witness - Yes; he was not in the Wharf Company's employ then.  He was arrested last Saturday.
  His Worship asked why the witness took any part in the matter of the arrest, since Ah-kao was no longer in the Company's employ.
  Witness - I did not know who was going to be arrested; that was why.  The report made to me was that the police wanted to arrest the second compradore; Mr. Poignand came and told me so.
  His Worship asked what Ah-kao was doing in a house at the Wharf, since he was no longer in the Company's employ.
  Witness - He was living there without my knowledge and without mu consent - in fact I never enquired where he was living.  These houses are adjoining the Wharf, and leased by the Wharf - set apart for their Chinese employees.  He was living there without my knowledge, and without my consent.
  Mr. Giles - But you were with him in his room when he was arrested?
  Witness - I have explained that.
  Mr. Giles - Is that the first time you knew he was living there?
  Witness - I never go into these houses at all.  I suppose that is the first time I have been to one of them for years.
  Mr. Drummond asked if he might put some questions to Mr. Law.
  After some conversation in Chinese between the Magistrate and the Assessor, Mr. Giles intimated that the Magistrate would allow Mr. Drummond to examine the witness.
  Mr. Drummond - Mr. Law, did you ever tell the police that you had authority from Mr. Keswick to give the police free access to the wharves at all times for the purpose of discovering anything they could with regard to the robbery?
  Witness - Yes.
  When did you get these instructions from Mr. Keswick? - About the first or second week in April.
  If Mr. Keswick had told you that previous day, how was it that you told the detective to bring some authority to show that they had a right to go on to the wharf to look for evidence? - Some time had elapsed since I had seen the police about this matter, and I concluded that they were not making any further enquiries about it.  I simply asked them to go and get a letter of authority for me, leaving one detective and one of the wharfingers to await their return from the police station.
  Had you any notice from Mr. Keswick that his instructions as to allowing the police free access had been countermanded? - None whatever.  I did not know that the police were looking for evidence with regard to that matter.  The report made to me was simply that they were looking for the second compradore, and I was misled.  If they had told me that they were investigating the same matter that I had been to the police about, I should have said nothing about it.
  Is Mr. Keswick the only person from whom you receive orders about your duties at the wharf? - Mr. Keswick, or Mr. Herbert Smith.
  And you never received any instructions from either of them to interfere with the police, or in any way obstruct them with regard to the finding out about the robbery and arresting anyone? - As I have said, I was misled by the statement that they were looking for the second compradore.
  Did you know what the charge against the second compradore was? - No, because we have no second compradore.
  You did not know whom they meant? - No.
  How did you know that the enquiries they wished to make were not connected with the robbery of old iron? - I did not know it.
  As you did not know it, and as you had received instructions to let the police go freely about to find out everything about this old iron, why did you not find out that the charge was against this man before you asked for fresh authority? - The information I got was that they were looking for the second compradore; that was all the information I could get.
  Have you anyone in the employ of the Wharf Company, or about the premises, who could interpret for you and tell you in plain English what the detectives wanted? - Very likely I had; but there was such a crowd about that I do not know who was there and who was not there.
  Bu had you any person in your employ who could translate very freely and find out for you what was stated? - Well, I might have done it, but I did not; for no special reason I did not do it, and I do not know who was present.
  I understand you to say that you were present in the house of one of the prisoners when he was arrested? - I was.
  Were you aware at that time that the other prisoner had been arrested? - I did not know anything about the other prisoner (Yin Yin-chuan) until I saw him here last Monday.  I did not know that he had been arrested.
  Did you know that the prisoner Ah-kao was going to Swatow? - No, Sir; I did not.
  Nothing about it? - Nothing about it.
  Not even when he was arrested? - No.
  When Ah-kao was arrested, who was in the room besides yourself and Ah-kao? - Three Chinese - I do not know their names - but I should know them if I saw them. They were Wharf employees.
  Was there no European in the room besides yourself? - None, that I saw.
  You are quite sure that Inspector Mack was not in the room? - Well, I did not see him there.
  Could he have been there without your seeing him? - I think not; but I do not know the Chinese house, I never was there before.
  Did you see him actually arrested? - Yes. Mack told this man here (a native detective) to tell Ah-kao that he was arrested on suspicion of stealing iron.
  Where was that? - In the room.
  I thought you said Mack was not there? - I thought you meant before the arrest. At the time of the arrest three detectives and Inspector Mack and myself and Ah-kao were there.
  Did you say anything to Ah-kao yourself? - I wished to explain to Ah-kao in English what the charges were.
  Mr. Giles - The detectives had explained it in Chinese?
  Witness - Yes, but I wished to tell him in English.
  Mr. Drummond - Will you tell us, now, what it was that you said to this man in English?
  Witness - Mack stopped me and told me I had better not say anything, so I did not say anything.  I began to say something, but I had only said a few words, "Well, Ah-kao," or something like that, when Mack stopped me.
  The Court Interpreter (to witness) - The magistrate says you are to tell the truth.
  Witness - I do not know that I have told a lie.
  Mr. Giles said the interpreter's command of English was not very great; the magistrate had not put the caution in quite so straight a form as that of the interpreter's translation, though very nearly.  His Worship could not reconcile the witness's statement that he had told Ah-kao what the charge was in English, with his knowledge that Mack had stopped him before he said anything.
  The Witness said he was beginning to explain the charge to Ah-kao in English, when Mack stopped him.
  Mr. Drummond - Were the few words you did say anything like this - "He no talkee steal; you no wantchee fear; he no can prove anything."
  Witness - No, Sir.
  You are quite positive about that? - I am quite positive that those are not the words I used.
  If Mr. Mack said he distinctly heard those words, would you say you did not use them? - I would still say so, on my oath.
  Had you any fear at that time that Ah-kao was going to run away? - None whatever.
  Then what made you go into his room? - When I went to the Police Station Mr. Mack told me that I had done an unwise thing in sending the detectives away.  I told him to send the detectives down, and then I looked at my watch to see what time it was.  Then, when I went down to the wharf, I went into the prisoner's room to see that he was there; then I told one of the wharf servants to go and fetch a detective and bring him to the room to see that Ah-kao was there, so that I might leave the premises. I was waiting there till the detectives came, to see that the man did not go away, so that the responsibility might be off my shoulders.
  So that you were doing the work of a policeman until the detectives came? - Yes, because Mack told me I had done an unwise thing in sending the detectives away.  I did it to guard myself against any suspicion that I was implicated - that I was concerned in the matter.
  What should make you think that anyone would suspect for a moment that you were implicated in the matter? -Mack told me that he had a suspicion that the man was going away, and said if the man got away I should be responsible for it, and it would look as if I was implicated, by my sending the detective away.
  And therefore you did the work of a policeman in looking after him? - I waited in the room until the detectives came.
  Now I understand you to say that Ah-kao was employed to sell these lots of old iron on account of the Wharf. That is so? - Yes.
  Was he ever employed to do this after he was dismissed from the Company's employment? - No, Sir.
  What was the pay of this man during the time he was employed by the company? - I do not know.
  Do you consider that he was a proper man to be entrusted to sell property of this kind on behalf of the shareholders of the Wharf Company? - He had been in several responsible positions before, and I had no reason to consider him anything but an honest servant.
  That is not an answer. Do you consider that he was a proper person to be entrusted with authority to sell property of this kind for the Company? - Yes.
  You do? - Yes.
  Do you know that there are not only foreigners, but also Chinese, trading in a large way, who would have been only too glad to have had the selling of that for the Company? - I do not know that.
  Do you know how this man went to work to sell - what steps he took? - Did he render you an account of each lot he sold? - I do not know what steps he took at all. When he got the money he gave it to me and accounted for it.  For the lot that was sold in December he handed the money to the compradore at that time, who has since gone away; but when he sold the lot in March or April he handed the money to me.
  Did he tell you how many piculs of iron it was for? - He did.
  Did you find out the price of iron at the time and see whether that was a proper price for the amount of iron? - I took his word for it.
   Then the price may have been a very bad one, ad much below the market price, and you would not have known it? - I did not enquire. I trusted to him.
  And you thought that was as good or better method of selling the goods by auction by a responsible man? - Well, I got no instructions from my employers as to what method I should adopt in selling the iron.
  And that was the method you adopted? - Yes.
  Is it not usual to give delivery orders when goods are to be taken away from the Wharf? - Yes - goods belonging to anyone.
   And in what way were the goods delivered that were sold by Ah-kao and others? - My instructions were the delivery order.
  When the purchaser comes, what does he produce to get the goods? - He goes to Ah-kao.
  And no paper appears at all? - No paper at all, no written delivery order.
  The Magistrate asked if that had always been the case.
  Witness - It has been the case in my time.
  Mr. Drummond - During your Acting-Managership?
  Witness - yes.
  Mr. Drummond - It is a matter left to your discretion, and that is how you exercised it? - When persons come to receive goods and have no orders, who delivers them?
  Witness - I suppose Ah-kao ells the coolies about the wharf to carry it to a certain place, and it is weighed on the scale and superintended by the weigher.
  The Wharf Company's weigher? - Yes.
  Then you trust Ah-kao to sell first, and then you trust him to point out the goods to the purchaser and hand them over? - Yes.
  You had no check on him to see that he did not hand over a great deal more than he was instructed to sell? - The weighing would show it.
  But there is no delivery order, and the weigher has no knowledge of what he has to deliver except from Ah-kao's statement, and if Ah-kao ells him double the right quantity he lets it go? What system have you got to prevent his selling other people's property? - If other people's property were taken away it would be found to be short.
  Yes, months afterwards? - Yes.
  It would not be discovered at the time? - No.
  It might be one or two or three months afterwards before the owner of the goods was notified that they were short? - It might.
  Now I understand that you have such things on the wharf as surplusages. Is that so? - Yes.
  How do these surplusages arise? In various ways.
  What would the surplusages consist of? - Primarily old iron - I should say in nearly all cases old iron.
Coal and coke? - Yes.
  And rattans - in fact all cargo in bulk? - Yes.

Can you tell me how these surplusages can exist in that shape? - By exposure to the weather, and rain, and from cargo which we get permission to cut into small pieces to enable it to be placed more easily on the scale. The coolies steal pieces at the wharf, and we take it from them as they go out.  We do not make a complaint in all cases - or almost any case; we simply take it away and pile it into a heap.  When we know what iron it belongs to we put it back; but when we don't we leave it there.  People who come to take delivery of the cargo are satisfied with the weight they get by the delivery order.
  Then by surplusage you mean cargo for which no owner is known? - That is hardly the way to put it. We give a receipt for so much weight, we deliver that weight, and we sometimes have over that weight. It arises in various ways.
  Mr. Giles - To whom does it belong?
  Witness - It belongs to the cargo-owner, and is delivered to him on his application for it.
  Mr. Drummond - When you can find out whose it is?
  Witness - Yes.
  How can surplusages arise out of the action of the weather? - Exposure after weighing it. Coal and coke would weigh heavier.
  Do you take care to notify owners that there is more weight than the paper shows? - We advise them of it.
  In every case? - In every case, now.
  When did you commence that? - We commenced it on the first of April.
  This year? - Yes. But previously we informed owners that it was there. At the request of the firm especially, and at the request of others, we have made it a practice to do so now.
  And the practice was commenced on the 1st of last month? - It may have existed in isolated cases previously to that, but it began regularly then.
  I understand, then, that previously to the 1st April, when surplusagae was discovered you did not make it a practice to inform the owners of the cargo of the fact; but since that date you have made it a practice, founded on the complaints of several firms? - Yes.
  Before the 1st of April, when any surplusage occurred, what was the practice with regard to it? - When there was an order to deliver it, it was delivered, and when there was no order it was left on the premises.
  Then, as the firms were not informed that there was this surplusage, I suppose in no cases did the firm apply for what they did not know existed? - I suppose the Chinese might report it.
  You think the Chinese might tell their masters, and their masters might ask for it? - They might.
  And if they did not, the Wharf kept it? - It was left on the Wharf premises.
  Then these suurplusages, I understand, were left there if not applied for by the cargo-owner, and were sold off periodically through the agency of this man Ah-kao, and similar men? - On only two occasions do I know of there being any sales - December, 1884, and March, 1885.
  You do not remember any surpulsage being sold off on any other occasions? - N.
  How long have you been Acting Manager of the Wharf? - Since the 1sr April, 1884.
  What do you think became of all the other surplusages that occurred during that time? - I have no knowledge. My duties were in the office; I had nothing whatever to do with it; I was accountant.
  I mean from the 1st of April to December, 1884.  Do you know of no sales during that time? - No, but there have been surplusages delivered to various firms.
  If they found out that it existed? - Whether they found it out or not, if the last delivery included it.
  They must find out that there is a surplusage before they can make out an order and sent for it? - They do not make out an order.  They are generally on a bill of lading and the man who takes the last is entitled to all that is left.  In that case there would be no necessity to notify the owners, because he has given over the bill of lading to the purchaser.
  You give him the amount that comes out of the ship? - Yes, and anything in excess of it.
  You then give it him without any further application? - Anything in excess of he landed weight, without any further application.
  Then why is it necessary to inform any body at all of the fact that there is an excess of weight, as you say has been your practice since the 1st April? - Because it was evident to me from what had transpired that the Chinese who had the surplus did not inform the foreign firms.
  How do you think the surplusage can have arisen in this particular case? - I cannot account for any particular surplusage.  They are small lots from every wharf.
  In what way do you think they could have become detached from the cargo to which they originally belonged? - I have no knowledge; I can give no explanation; I do not know how they were detached.
  That surplusage, I suppose, could not have arisen from the action of the weather? - I have said I do not know how, except in the way I have stated - surplusage unapplied for, and shifted about in the course of business.  We cannot have small lots lying about in the middle of the wharf, and it is shifted to one side.
  Is it not a fact with regard to the delivery of coal and old iron that there is always a heavy percentage of loss? - I believe so.
  What is the highest? - I do not know, but on the average 2 ΒΌ per cent.
  But does it not sometimes rise to 15 per cent? - It might, but I have no knowledge.  I could not instance a case in which it was 14 or 10 or 20 per cent.
  But it is almost invariably the case that there is a loss in the weight shown by the bill of lading? - Yes, I believe so.
  Mr. Giles - The magistrate thinks we are wandering a little from the case before the court.  He asks me, "What is this to do with the two men here?"
  Mr. Drummond said it might be that the prisoner was a very guilty man, or that he was not.  There was a great deal in the case that it was very desirable to get at before the Court could come to a clear conclusion.  However, he would confine his questions to one more point.  He asked - Do you remember, about the first or second week in March, that you were sent for to go to the office of Messrs. Jardine and Matheson Co. and see Mr. Herbert Smith?
  Witness - Well, I go there every day.
  Mr. Drummond - Then I will give you some other information to fix it.  The compradore was there at the same time, and the godown-keeper, and Mr. Vale.  They were all present at an interview at which you were present at Messrs. Jardine's office.
  Witness - I do not remember an interview3 in March; I remember one on the 1st April.
  Who were present? - Mr. Herbert Smith, Mr. Vale, Dong Ching-kee and myself.
  Mr. Dowdall asked how this could possibly be evidenc4, if the prisoner was not present.
  Mr. Drummond submitted in the first place that this was a technical rule of English law which did not apply to the Mixed Court, and in the second place this interview was entirely on the question of this very iron.  Besides, the prisoner was actually present at part of the interview.
  Witness - He was sent for later n.  I am speaking of the first part of the interview.
  Mr. Drummond - What happened at that interview?
  Witness - I went there to explain to Mr. Herbert Smith why a boat-load of old iron was leaving the wharf.  I produced my letters to show why I was doing it, and Mr. Smith showed them to Mr. Vale, and we talked the matter over, and Ah-kao and the Compradore were sent for to give their information.
   Were you no asked how much iron there was?
  Mt. Giles - The Magistrate says there does not seem to be any case against these men.
  Mr. Drummond - I am not surprised at his thinking so.
  Mr. Giles - Something more must be made of the charge against these men.  At present there is no case, in the magistrate's opinion.
  Mr. Drummond - I have no doubt Mr. Dowdall will do more after I have done with Mr. Law.  It is now only with regard to the interview that I wish to question him. (To the witness) - You say you were asked by Mr. Smith how much iron there was.  What did you tell him?
  Witness - I told him probably about 2o piculs, but the books would show how much.
  Did you say anything about the value of it? - No, I did not know the value.  I told him I thought there was about 20 piculs, but the weigh-book would show.
  And was that the amount taken out of the boat? - No, Sir.
  How much? - 75 piculs, 31 catties.
  Did Dong Ching-kee make any observation when you said you thought it was 20 piculs? - Yes, I believe I said it was considerably more than that.  I do not remember whether he mentioned any particular quantity.
  After you said that, was anybody sent for? - Yes, Ah-kao and the Compradore.
  And they came? - Yes.
  When they were asked the same question, what amount did they say? - The compradore said nothing; Ah-kao said, I think, about 50 piculs, but the books would show.
  And then Dong Ching-kee repeated what he had said before - that there were 74 piculs? - I do not know whether he mentioned the amount.
  But he tried to get you and Mr. Smith to go down to the Wharf and have it weighed? - It was arranged that we should go down and have it weighed.
  And what was the amount? - 75 piculs odd.
  That is what you thought was 20 piculs? - Yes.
  This finished Mr. Drummond's examination.
  Mr. Dowdall then proposed to call some of the iron-dealers who purchased old iron from Ah-kao, four of whom were examined at the first hearing of the case.  Hos Worship, however, did not wish to hear them again.
  Captain-Superintendent McEuen said there were two more purchasers who were ready to be called, the total amount of all the purchases being $610.94.
  Mr. Giles said the magistrate had got a view of his own about the case, which the interpreter would explain.
  Interpreter - He says the prisoner was only a broker, and he was entrusted to sell.
  Capt. McEuen - Yes, but he sold more than he was entrusted to sell.
  Interpreter - There is no proof of the amount he was entrusted to sell.
  Mr. Drummond - Perhaps the prisoner may be able to give a satisfactory explanation of how he came to sell more. He may have come by it honestly or dishonestly.
  Mr. Dowdall thought it was clearly established that the prisoner Ah-kao had sold mire iron and received more money than he had accounted for; and if that was proved he thought a conviction should necessarily follow.
  Mr. Giles said the magistrate did not consider it to be proved; it was only stated in evidence.
  Mr. Dowdall said Ah-kao had reported having sold a certain amount and denied having sold more; and the Chinese witnesses had given evidence that he had sold more than this amount.  If the Court did not think that was sufficient for a conviction it was no use his carrying the case any further.
  Mr. Giles - The magistrate thinks he was employed by somebody else. The magistrate does not believe that he received instructions to sell a certain amount and that he sold more and kept the money all on his own book; he believes that he was simply a tool.
  The prisoner Ah-kao was then examined by the magistrate; but very few of his statements were interpreted into English.  He declared that he had accounted to Mr. Law for all the iron that he sold, and that it was all in Mr. Law's books; but he confessed that he did not know what was in Mr. Law's book. In answer to questions as to the quantities he sold and the amounts received, he persistently said that he could not recollect.  His salary was $25 a month.
  Mr. Drummond asked to be allowed to put a few more questions to Mt. Law.  The magistrate assented, and Mr. Law was recalled.
  Mr. Drummond - When did the robbery occur?:  When was the first suspicion of the robbery having occurred?
   Witness - I had no suspicion at all that a robbery had occurred.
     Not at any time? - Not at any time.
  Not even when the men were arrested? - No, not when Ah-kao was arrested.  I did not know that the other man was arrested.
  You did not know why Ah-kao was arrested? - I did not know, beyond that it was on suspicion of stealing iron - I did not know what iron.
  Who do you consider are the proper persons to prosecute on suspicion of stealing iron from the wharf? - I suppose the General agents.
  Did you report the fact of the man having been arrested on suspicion of stealing iron from the wharf to the General Agents? - Yes, on the evening of the same day.
  Did you receive instructions to prosecute? - I got no instructions at all.
  Mr. Keswick, I understand, gave you no instructions to prosecute? - He gave me no instructions at all.
  Did you know that there was a suspicion of old iron being stolen from the wharf on the 1st April, the day when you saw Mr. Smith and Mr. Vale and the compradore? Was it not then mentioned that there was a suspicion of old iron having been stolen from the wharf? - It may have been mentioned; but I have no recollection of it.
  Did not Dong Ching-kee express himself very plainly as to what he thought about the iron being stolen? - Yes, I believe he did.  There was a great deal said about what was stolen and what was not stolen.
  Then did you have it brought to your notice on the 1st April that there was a strong suspicion of iron being stolen from the Wharf? - Yes.
  And you took no steps at all? - I took no steps at all.
  And, so far as you are aware, the General Agents took no steps? - I have no knowledge of what the General Agents did - except what I told you.  I was instructed to go to Captain McEuen, and Captain McEuen had a letter from Mr. Keswick, to state that he police would be allowed access to the wharves.
  You did not consider it your duty to put anything in motion with regard to making enquiries, unless you had instructions from the General Agents? -  No.
  Mr. Dowdall -Do you know when I was first instructed?
  Witness - Between Saturday and Monday last, I believe; but I have no knowledge of what was done.
  In answer to the magistrate, Mr. Law said the weighers were all Chinse; they were employed by the Company, through the Compradore.  The Compradore received a lump sum, and supplied them.   
  Ho Ah-wo, iron -dealer, was then recalled and examined at some length in Chinese.
  After a colloquy between the Magistrate and the Assessor;
  Mr. Giles said his Worship would deliver his judgment in writing, as there was a difficulty in getting it interpreted properly.  The gist of it would be that there had been considerable fraud, but there was difficulty in fixing it on either of the two prisoners.  Ah-kao would be released on security, and Yin Yin-chuan would be released altogether.
  Mr. Drummond supposed that practically the case against both prisoners was dismissed.
  Mr. Giles said that was so.
  The Court then rose.

North China Herald, 5 June 1885
THE shameful scene which occurred on Friday morning in the Mixed Court can have but one result.  It is clear that Mr. Giles can never consent to sit again with the present Acting Magistrate, and the removal of Huang from the position he has disgraced should be firmly insisted upon, not by the British Consul-General only, but by the entire consular body.  Every Consul in Shanghai has been insulted by the insult offered to Mr. Giles and we hope that the other Assessors will one and all decline to share the Bench with the unmannerly ruffian who has at last shown himself in his true colours.  For months past the British Assessor had had to engage a hand-to-hand fight with the glaring venality and injustice of Mr. Huang.  It has been impossible to obtain just decisions from him; even when he has been forced to decide equitably it has been a matter of the greatest difficulty to get him to put his judgment in writing; and in many instances, when this has been done, his written judgment has been found to be quite different from that agreed upon between him and Mt. Giles.  The gross outrage of Friday morning, however, must bring matters to a head.  It is impossible that the affair can be passed over, and if the miscarriages of justice which have gone on for so long past are put a stop to by the appointment of a more respectable person we shall not regret that the occurrence has taken place.  Even the Chinese must unite in condemning the action of this mandarin.  Corruption on the part of an official is regarded almost as a matter of course, but the loss of temper, and indulgence in personal assault, are regarded by all cultured natives as marks of the worst possible breeding and unworthy of a Chinese gentleman.  We can only trust that the Chinese authorities will act firmly and wisely in this emergency, and accept no reparation short of the immediate removal of Mr. Huang from the bench of the Mixed Court.
[See also Mixed Court, North China Herald, 22 June.]   


North China Herald, 3 July 1885
WE have of late been careful to avoid all unnecessary reference to the state of affairs, respecting the Mixed Court, partly from a knowledge that the matter was receiving daily attention at the hands of the proper authorities and partly from a feeling that while this was the case any allusion to it would be more likely to do harm than good.  But there are features about this most disastrous business in the present stage which render it unadvisable to keep silence any longer.  In the first place it is a fact - incredible as it may seem - that many persons are absolutely ignorant of the Mixed Court having been closed for several weeks past.  They will tell you that they remember there being a "row" here some time ago, but they are under the firm though utterly baseless conviction that it has long since been patched up, and hat business is proceeding there every day as usual.  This strange ignorance simply shows how utterly apathetic people may be upon matters which affect their own interest most vitally.  The facts are, of course, the reverse of all this.  There is no Mixed Court, and at the present moment there does not appear to be very much chance of there being one for a considerable time to come. The attitude of partial conciliation adopted by the local authorities immediately after the rupture has been long since abandoned.  If report is to be believed, the Fu-t'ai and the Provincial Judge of Kiangsu are both delighted with the spirit shown by Mr. Huang, and there seems no doubt that his performance has marked him out for eventual if not speedy promotion.  The Tao-t'ai, we believe, has been supporting him energetically meanwhile, and although he has now consented to Huang's withdrawal, he only the other day sought to force the hand of the Consular Body by sending him back to his original position.  The dispute has, of course, been referred to Peking, and communications are doubtless of frequent occurrence between the Ministers and he Tsung-li Yamen; but no modus vivendi except on impossible conditions has been arrived at yet, and hitherto he Chinese magistrate has been in calm possession of the situation.
  Now apart from the wretched scandal and serious inconvenience of the whole affair, there are certain principles involved of the highest importance, as touching the constitution of the Court; and as these principles will have to be very carefully sifted on both sides before the negotiations are at an end, it may prove that good will be brought out of evil. For example, the right of an Assessor to make his voice heard in a case in which he plaintiff is not a foreigner - an old point of cavil - is involved in the terms of the dispute.  The Chinese may say, with true Oriental cunning, that, interfering at all between Huang and the case before the court, the British Assessor exceeded his duty, by attempting to do that which he had no business to do; and that upon him therefore must rest all the responsibility of what followed his illegal action.  Such an argument would afford an admirable opportunity to the foreign authorities, and one of which, we hope, they would not be slow to take advantage.  For it is clear, in the first place, that if a single precedent exists in favour of the Assessor's right to share in discussing a case in which foreigners are not immediately concerned, the objection recoils upon those who advance it; and that such precedents are to be found no one, we should think, will deny.
  In the second place, the question arises as to what is, or can be, the nature of cases in which foreigners are not concerned. Every crime or misdemeanor, committed within the boundaries of
a Settlement set apart for the occupation of foreigners, and under foreign jurisdiction, has a very important interest for all who live in tat Settlement; every resident here is interested in the maintenance of morality and order; and every breach of either morality or order is liable to have prejudicial reflex consequences upon the foreign community either in an individual or collective sense.  The authorities should therefore hold fast to the contention that there are and can be cases brought before the Mixed Court in which the foreign Assessor has a right to interfere, for the simple reason that there are, and can be, no cases in which the interests of foreigners are not more or less involved.  And the enforcement of this principle might be very considerably strengthened by a counter-attack.  It should be clearly put to the Chinese that whatever may be thought of the right of the British Assessor to take part in the particular case in question, he had at least a right to his place on the Bench; while Huang had no right to his.  Huang was put in, after the removal of Chen, as Acting Magistrate, at a reduced salary; he difference, amounting we believe to about a hundred and forty taels a month, being paid to Chen as clerk in the Tao-t'ai's Yamen.  Now a year is the limit of an Acting Magistrate's term, and Huang has been mis-administering justice now for more than twenty months.  This is illegal, and forms a strong point against the arguments of the Tao-t'ai.  The very right of Huang to sit in Court should be disputed, both on this ground and also on the ground of his inadequate rank.  It was only gross ignorance on points of this sort that could have permitted the Shen Pao to publish the ridiculous libel on Dr. Luhrsen which appeared in Saturday's issue.  A joke is a joke, but this one goes too far, and its insertion reflects high discredit upon the foreign editor or proprietor of our contemporary.  Dr. Luhrsen is, we all know, a most tractable and well-intentioned officer in Chinese eyes - a man of whose anxiety to please not the most prejudiced Mandarin can be in doubt; but to represent him as deliberately petitioning the Tao-t'ai for the return of Huang is a gross offence, and we are glad to hear of Dr. Luhrsen's indignation at the statement.
  In conclusion, we can only trust that the present deadlock, with all its annoyances, inconveniences, and anxieties, will prove the means of bringing about a thorough reconstitution of the Mixed Court.  Hitherto is has been an almost useless institution. Its judgments have been many cases puerile and unjust, and where they have been less open to such criticism the Court has shown no power whatever to enforce them.  
  What we want is a court which shall make its influence felt, a Court which shall be a power in the Settlement, and not a laughing-stock or source of mischief.  But that is what we shall never get until the Settlement is put entirely, instead of partially, under foreign rule, and the Mixed Court is presided over by a foreign magistrate by whose side a Chinese Assessor might be allowed to sit in order that he might be able to form some slight idea of simple and impartial justice.
*** Since this article was published in our daily issue a Mr. K'o has replaced Mr. Huang as Acting Magistrate at the Mixed Court. - ED.


North China Herald, 10 July 1885
  The Official Gazette of 1st July, published at the Fan-T'ai's Yamen, contains the following announcement:-
  In consultation with the Tao-t'ai of Shanghai, independent sub-Prefect Lo, of Chu'an-sha, has now been transferred to the vacancy of sub-Prefect in the Mixed Court for foreign and Chinese affairs at Shanghai.
  And the post of sub-Prefect at Chu'an-sha being thus vacant, and moreover being a very important one on the sea-board, it becomes necessary to depute a specially able an experienced officer to act in the place of Lo.
  Now the Expectant Assistant sub-Prefect Huang possesses the required ability, and he is hereby appointed accordingly.


North China Herald, 17 July 1885
THE MIXED COURT - 14th July.
THE Mixed Court affair, thanks to the most improper and indefensible behaviour of the Tao-t'ai, has advanced an appreciable step.  As will be seen from the facts we publish in another column, the Tao-t'ai has taken upon himself the responsibility of offering a very great affront, not to Mr. Giles - that might have been expected - but to the representative of Great Britain at Peking, and, through him, to the British Government.  It appears that the Charge d'Affaires, in pursuance of an understanding arrived at with the Tsung-li Yamen, instructed the Consul-General that the British Assessor was to resume his seat and function at the Mixed Court yesterday morning.  This was duly communicated to the Tao-t'ai, who at once announced that the arrangement could not possible be carried out.  It was clearly no affair of Mr. Huang whether the magistrate K'o was or was not willing to share the bench with the British Assessor; his duty was simply to carry out his instructions from Peking, and the responsibility of thwarting them must rest entirely with the Tao-t'ai.  It was no doubt the orders of that person that the court was announced as closed, then the doors were shut in the face of the British Assessor, that the magistrate was absent, that the Assessor was for some time refused admission, and that he was eventually informed by a Chinese clerk that Mr. K'o had stepped out.  We do not regret the incident.  The Tao-t'ai has made a grave blunder, and delivered himself into the hands of his opponents.  By his conduct the affair has been raised a stage; it is no longer a conflict between individuals, it is fast assuming formidable diplomatic proportions, and unless the Tsung-li Yamen deals peremptorily with the obstructive official who seems bent upon causing all the irritation possible, I may prove necessary for the British representative at Peking to bring such pressure upon the Yamen as shall result in the appointment to Shanghai of an officer rather more deeply versed in the amenities of civilized life than the present incumbent of the post.
*** Since this article was in type, the Tao-t'ai has come to his senses. The British Assessor attended, by special request of the Tao-t'ai, on Wednesday morning, and was received with much effusion and champagne by the new acting Magistrate, with whom he shared the bench as usual. - ED.
II - 17th July.
IT would clearly be in very questionable taste to indulge in anything like a 'crow' over the undoubted victory that the British authorities have gained in the dispute about the Mixed Court. Considering, however, the honours that have been offered to the late Acting Magistrate by the Chinese public - the scrolls that have been presented to him, the red umbrella, the flattering inscriptions, and the tablets - we may be permitted to point out to his admirers that these are the only things that he has gained by his action, and that as regards any public and official demonstration he has not been upheld by the Chinese authorities.  The British Consul-General demanded from the first, that Huang should be removed, and that the British Assessor should continue to discharge his duties with another magistrate.  The requirement was refused, and Huang retained his post.  After a considerable time, however, another magistrate was appointed, Huang was removed without being promoted, and the British Assessor reinstated in his seat upon the Bench.
  The Tao-t'ai, who all along said that any such arrangement was out of the question, and who is credited with having made up his mind to circumvent the Tsung-li Yamen by instigating all his wei-yuens to decline to sit with Mr. Giles, has been compelled to obey orders from Peking; and when we consider how deep the mortification must be it is impossible not to award him a meed of praise for having submitted, at last, in a handsome and graceful manner.  Mr. Giles was received at the Mixed Court on Wednesday morning with effusiveness; and, to dispel all appearances of a grudging spirit, a bottle of champagne was opened to celebrate his return.  We trust that the same cordial and friendly spirit will continue, and that the present Acting Magistrate, K'o, and the gentleman who will soon take up the post permanently, Mr. Lo, will prove themselves free from the bad spirit which animated their predecessor.  We do not scruple to affirm that it was his veniality and injustice that was the real cause of all the Mixed Court troubles of the past twelve months; and we trust that his successors will allow themselves to be convinced that the exercise of pure, even-handed retituder is the only means by which future disputes can be avoided.  The accumulation of civil cases is, we believe, formidable enough, and these will have to be dealt with promptly.  No less than sixty thousand pounds sterling, we believe passed through the Mixed Court in the year 1884; so much as at different times at stake, and the Mixed Court had to decide between the respective class of foreigners and natives to that amount.,  This act shows the deep interest that the foreign community has in the purity of th Mixed Court magistrate and the vigour and clear-sightedness of the Assessor; and now that so ,many cases are coming on for hearing, I is greatly to be desired hat the two officers will co-operate harmoniously, having but one object in view - the speedy and impartial evision of all disputes that may be brought before them.

North China Herald, 31 July 1885
MR. GILES has now sat for the last time in the Mixed Court; and his place is to be taken by Mr. G. M. H. Playfair under circumstances which every foreigner in Shanghai must grievously deplore.  The miscarriage of justice is little less than scandalous. Here is a Consular officer who, ever since his arrival in Shanghai, has been fighting the battle of equity and justice against unblushing veniality and corruption. At the very moment when he was struck by the Chinese magistrate, he was exerting himself in defence of one of the most vital principles affecting our position here - the inviolability of the foreign settlements with regard to likin runners; he has throughout done all that in him lay to render the Mixed Court a useful, powerful, and effective institution; he has been ably seconded by his superior in office; but his reward for all this is dismissal, at the behest of the Tao-t'ai and in consequence of the hopeless incompetence of the Charge d'Affaires in Peking. It appears to us, therefore, that a duty, promoted alike by considerations of gratitude as well as of private and public interest, devolves upon all foreigners here, of whatever nationality they may be.  A strong Protest against the action of Mr. O'Conor should be drawn up, and signed by every man or firm who acknowledges the fact that it was in defending public liberties that the late British Assessor incurred his dismissal from office.  We wish to put the matter plainly, and harsh as the word 'dismissal' may sound it is that and nothing less that has taken place.  The case against Mr. O'Conor is so strong that we are convinced that such a memorial as we propose, taken together with the firm official protests that are being sent home to the Foreign Office, will certainly have good results.  From every point of view the occurrence is most disastrous, and if ever the history of the Mixed Court comes to be written he names of two British officials will stand out as having bartered away the rights and privileges committed to their care. One will be that of the Assessor who delivered Tsao Si-yung up to the tender mercies of the mandarins; the other, that of the man who, by his disastrous blundering and incapacity, sacrificed the only British Assessor who for years has adequately defended the rights and privileges of Englishmen resident in Shanghai.


North China Herald, 21 August 1885
SHANGHAI, China, 12th August, 1885.
To SIR ROBERT HART, K.C.M.G., Her Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Peking.
  SIR, - We the undersigned British merchants at Shanghai desire respectfully to draw your Excellency's attention to the general disappointment and chagrin caused in Shanghai by the recent suspension of Mr. H. A. Giles, late British Assessor at the Mixed Court.
  Your Excellency must be well aware that it is only by the closest attention and vigilance on the part of the Foreign Assessors that the Court is made to work satisfactorily at all.  Unfortunately the Tao-tai was allowed to appoint as Chinese Magistrate an official, Mr. Huang, who was not, we believe, of the rank intended when the Court was established, who was a relative of the Tao-tai, and was believed by natives and foreigners alike to be open to the influences of bribery and other forms of  corruption.  It would be invidious in us to make any allusion to Mr. Giles's predecessors on the Bench; it is enough to say that he had only filled he post of Assessor a very short time, when the community, native and foreign, recognized that they had in him an official who was determined to see justice done without fear or favour, who not only cleared off the arrears hat he found, but kept his own calendar up to date, and who refused to be intimidated by the Chinese Magistrate, or swayed against his own conviction by the foreign parties in suits before the Court.
  This determination on the part of Mr. Giles to see absolute justice done as far as was in his power, was naturally distasteful to a person of Mr. Huang's character, and on more than one occasion the relations between the magistrate and Mr. Giles were considerably strained.  It must be remembered that the British Assessor sits on three days every week, and that at least eighty per cent of the civil business brought before the Court comes before him; and there was, therefore, very much more chance of friction between Mr. Huang and the British Assessor than with the other Foreign Assessors.  On the 29th of May last the occasional disagreements between Mr. Giles and Mr. Huang culminated in a quarrel provoked by Mr. Huang, which ended in the latter so far forgetting himself and Chinse official etiquette as to strike Mr. Giles an actual blow.  Several foreigners witnessed the affair; but we understand that Mr. Giles is perfectly content to take his stand on the report of it in the Shen Pao, which is certainly not anti-Chinese, and to which we beg to refer your Excellency.
  The Chinese authority have neither denied nor apologized for this blow.  In consequence of the fracas, the Court was closed for some time, and at last Mr. Huang was removed and a Mr. Ko Sheng-hsia was temporarily appointed, with whom the other Foreign Assessors sat for the despatch of business, no arrangement being made at first for the reception by Mr. Ko of Mr. Giles.
  On 13th Jul last, Mr. Giles by order of H.M. Charge d'Affaires presented himself at the Mixed Court, and was refused admission on the plea that Mr. Ko was absent.  On the 15th July, Mr. Giles, having previously sent up his card, presented himself again and was courteously received by Mr. Ko, and from that time to the end of the month the business of the Court went on as usual, and we congratulated ourselves that the matter had been settled in a manner appropriate to what was due to Mr. Giles, and to the dignity of H.M.'s representatives in China.
  To our astonishment, on the 31st July, nothing so far as we know having occurred in the meantime to weaken Mr. Giles's position in any way, he was superseded by orders from H.M.'s Charge d'Affaires; and Mr. Playfair, an officer several years junior to Mr. Giles, was appointed Assessor in his place.  We submit that if there was anything blameworthy in M. Giles's conduct in the affair of the 29th May, he should have been superseded at once.  If he had been in any way to blame, H.M.'s Charge d'Affaires would not have sent him back on the 13th of July.  It appears to us that to send him back on the 13th July, and remove him for no apparent reason on the 31st of July, is a great injustice to Mr. Giles, and a severe blow at the interests of all foreigners here, and a perfectly needless and dangerous concession to the unreasonable prejudices of the Tao'tai. It appears to us that the inevitable result of the action in his mater of H.M.'s Charge d'Affaires must be to weaken the public spirit and independence of all future British Assessors, and oblige them to truckle to the Chinese magistrate lest they be superseded as Mr. Giles has been.
We humbly beg your Excellency to look carefully into the whole affair, and to reinstate Mr. Giles, whom the foreign residents of Shanghai consider to be eminently fit to be Assessor at the Mixed Court, and whose services while in that position they will ever remember with gratitude.
  You will see from the names appended hereto that the feeling we express is almost universal.  We trust that our memorial will be successful, and we shall be sill mire glad if this unfortunate incident shall lead your Excellency to examine the whole question of the constitution and working of the Mixed Court, and to induce the authorities at Peking to sanction such a reorganization of the Court as is absolutely demanded by the extension of the population and the business importance of Shanghai since it was originally instituted.
We have the honour to be, &c.  [List of all subscribers.]

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School