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Colonial Cases

Volume 2

ABSTRACT OF

PEKING GAZETTES: II

 

Appeals and Submissions 

to the Emperor 

regarding cases of murder and suicide, 1872-1877.

IN PROGRESS

1896-1899

 

 

SHANGHAI: Reprinted from

 "The North China Herald and Supreme Court and Consular Gazette."

 

 

The Civil Governors of Shen-king (Manchuria) memorialize forwarding their report upon the arrears of judicial cases in the magistracies under their jurisdiction, respecting which the Censor T'eng K'ing-lin complained at the close of last year. From enquiries made by delegates sent for the purpose to the different districts now in question, it appears that the judicial cases in suspense vary from a minimum of fifty or sixty, some being of a recent and others of long-standing origin. The cause assigned for the protracted delays on the part of the courts of first instance in pronouncing their judgments, is the apprehension of erring on the side either of leniency or of severity on the part of the Magistrates, where evidence is of a conflicting nature.  Thus, in the case of charges of homicide, the accused, who has taken a life, in dread of the penalty of the law will invariably seek to put the best face possible on the circumstances whilst the relatives of the deceased, in their desire to gain redress, will with equal certainty falsify their statements to enhance the gravity of the charge. The truth cannot possibly be arrived at without adequate witnesses but persons dwelling in the immediate vicinity of the scene of the crime complained of, and actual eyewitnesses thereof, either hesitate to give straightforward evidence, lest they incur enmity by doing so, or fearful of being involved in trouble themselves, they take refuge in flight. The decision of such charges is consequently impeded through the difficulty of arriving at the facts of the case. A similar difficulty makes itself felt in connection with charges of robbery with violence, owing to the difficulty of obtaining confession or the evidence of witnesses.  No remedy to the existing state of affairs can be suggested, as the idea of circuits of judicial delegates is shewn to be impracticable; and the only thing to be done is to issue renewed injunctions to the Magistrates to deal as speedily as possible with the arrears in question. 1874, Oct. 21st.

 

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 1897  -  pages 13  -  31

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Feb. 8th.  (5) The Captain-General of Gendarmerie reports the capture by his men of six desperadoes, members of a gang of bandits, who were arrested for the crime of murdering the head of a family whom they had robbed, and carrying away a quantity of valuables, &c., as booty.  Let the criminals be handed, at once, to the Board of Punishments for trial and punishment.

 

Apr. 2nd.  HOMICIDES.

Fu Jin, Givernor of Anhui, reports a case where an apprentice (already having passed his time and doing business on his own account) of a physician of T'aiho-hsien, Anhui, murdered his teacher as a consequence of the former's illicit relations with the daughter-in-law of the said physician, and the sentences given upon the murderer and his paramour, who it has been proved neither instigated the murder nor knew of the deed until it had actually been accomplished.

   Two years ago when Lu Hsio-lun was apprentice with the physician, Liu Feng-chao, the former was an inmate of the latter's home, and there Lu Hsio-lin met Liu Yuan-shih, the daughter-in-law of Liu Feng-chao, whose son, the husband of the woman, had left his home many years ago for parts unknown, and concerning whom the family had had no news for quite a long time.  The apprentice and the woman although intimate had then no illicit relations with each other, and it was not until the former had passed his examination and served his time and hung up his own doctor's sign that this took place. 

   It came about about a year after Lu had started in business.  Liu Yuan-shih went one day to Lu's house to borrow a cloth weaving loom.  Somehow the two became paramours which lasted some months until one day, when, the teacher happening to be out, Lu made his way to his paramour's house and was sitting at ease in her room when the old physician returned suddenly and saw the two together.  Lu managed to escape, but the old man would not be satisfied with the excuses offered by the daughter-in-law to account for Lu's presence in the house, and he accordingly belaboured her with many blows from a bamboo.  From that time Lu did not dare to make an appearance at his teacher's house who on his part kept strict watch and ward over the woman who had dishonoured his absent son.

 

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   But about a month after the above affair, taking advantage of the temporary absence of her father-in-law, Liu Yuan-shih stealthily slipped over to Lu's house to warn him of the strict watch kept over her and requesting him to refrain for ever from coming again to see her.  Lu, however, overcame her scruples and persuaded her to promise that she would elope with him.  He told her to conceal herself a day or two in an underground melon storehouse near by until the pursuit for her became cool again, when he would then make all preparations to carry her away with him to some other city far from T'aihohsien.  Accordingly upon a day agreed upon between the two lovers, the woman succeeded in escaping from the house unnoticed and concealed herself as arranged in the underground melon store.

   Search was made for the missing woman and the old physician naturally at once made for the house of his former apprentice and charged him with abducting his daughter-in-law.  This was denied, but the old man caught hold of Lu's queue and threatened to drag him to the magistrate's yamen.  Fearful of the consequences, Lu snatched up a sharp knife used by physicians to cut drugs and plants and threatened to cut the old man's throat if he persisted in his intention.  Apparently in trying to frighten his assailant Lu placed the point of the knife too near the throat of the old man, for in the struggle the weapon entered the throat and the old man loosening his grasp fell to the ground dead.

   Really frightened now at this denouement Lu hastily dragged the dead body into a sweet potato patch and there digging at the loose soil managed to conceal the body.  He then made his way to the melon storehouse and told his paramour of what he had done and the two made haste to escape the clutches of the law.  The old man not appearing the next day his brother Liu Feng-lin made search and going into the potato patch near Lu's deserted house he suddenly came across a loosely made mound which upon being dug into displayed the body of his brother.  The case was then reported to the district magistrate and pursuit made of the runaways, who were captured when not far off from T'aihohsien and imprisoned on the charge of homicide.

   The above was given in evidence before the said magistrate, repeated before the Provincial Judge and finally confirmed before the memorialist, who personally tried the case when brought to the provincial capital, Nganking, for sentence.  Now the law ordains that an apprentice in the trades or professions who murders his master or teacher must suffer the same punishment as a junior who beats to death a senior of his

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family or clan, namely, summary decapitation, and a woman who has been the cause of a murder by her paramour, but who did not instigate the deed should suffer death by summary strangulation.  Both sentences have therefore been given in the case of the two lovers, and memorialist begs his Majesty's sanction that the law may be allowed to take its course in the matter.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments speedily report thereon.

 

Apr. 10th.  A PARRICIDE.

Wang Wen-shao, Viceroy of Chihli, reports a case where a man named Chang Wan-ming, a native of Ch'ingyuanhsien, Chihli, while insane killed his father Chang Yu-kuei, with a dough roller.  It appeared that the parricide when in his proper senses was most filial to his parent and acted generally in a sober and well-conducted manner; hence when he had his insane fits on, taking into consideration his general good conduct, the parricide's relatives used their influence with the tipao to refrain from reporting the disease Chang Wan-ming had to the authorities in irder to escape the necessity of having him chained and confined in the district prison.  Furthermore, when Chang Wan-ming had fits of insanity he was invariable confined under lock and key in his father's house to prevent his getting into mischief.  Things went on in this way until one day eight months ago while Chang was insane his wife happened to stay overnight at her own parent's house, leaving the maniac alone confined in his room.  That night he somehow managed to free himself and picking up a wooden roller for rolling dough opened the front door of the house and went out into the street.     His father hearing the noise of the opening of the door immediately got up from bed and started to pursue his son.  Getting up to him, the son resented his father's catching hold of him, and turning around struck the former a fatal blow on the temple with the roller in question.  The maniac then fell tooth and nail on his prostrate parent and literally tore off the greater portion of his father's hair by the roots.  Before help came, Chang Yu-kuei was dead. The parricide was then stoutly bound with ropes and taken to the magistrate's yamen

   The law for parricides, regardless of the murderer being in his proper senses ore not, is death by the slow and shameful process (lingch'ih) and this sentence has been pronounced on Chang Wan-ming.  For refraining from reporting the insanity of the parricide the law directs that the relatives of the murderer and the neighbours living

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on the right and left of his house are to be punished by the infliction of 100 blows of the bamboo upon each individual.  All these sentences have been executed and his Majesty is requested to order the Board concerned to take note of the case.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments take note as requested.

 

May 26th.  ROBBERY AND MURDER IN ANHUI.

Fu Jun, Governor of Anhui, reports the sentences given in the case of a gang of robbers who attacked the house of one Hsu Fu-yu, a native of Yut'aihsien, Anhui province, during which the complainant's father was killed by the robbers and a quantity of valuable plunder taken away by this gang of desperadoes.  They numbered ten in all under their chief, a certain Li Pa, who is still at large.  The gang was equipped with gun, s word, spear and bludgeon, and on the night of the robbery mustered in force at the house of the said Hsu Fu-yu, he being one of the richest merchants living in that district.  When the robbers arrived at the gate of the said house, their chief ordered three of the gang to remain outside to receive the plunder, as well as to keep a good look-out for the military patrol of the town.  He himself then accompanied by another (the lieutenant) climbed over the high wall surrounding the house and opened the entrance gates.  Once entered into the compound the chief again sprang up to the top of the house (one-storied) walked over the tiles and jumping down into the main courtyard, pried open the door leading into the main hall, where he opened the door to let the others in.

   While this was going on the noise awakened Hsu Sheng-yuu (the father of the complainant) who slept in the first court and he set up a cry of alarm for help.  Li Pa (the chief) who appeared to be prepared for violence at once gave the order to the lieutenant and another "to silence the old man."  The old man's noise was at once stopped and by the aid of lighted paper tapers dipped in oil, the whole gang, with the exception of the three outside the gates began to search for plunder, the remaining members of the Hsu family being terrified into perfect silence by the terrible example set before them of the murdered old man.  After ransacking the house of everything portable, i.e., clothes, money, jewelry, etc., and packing them on several donkeys belonging to the house, the gang gave the signal to those outside to lead the animals while the rest covered the rear.  But the three look-out men had, upon hearing the alarm given by the murdered man, already been scared away.  So the rest of the gang

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were forced to lead the animals themselves and by quickly marching overtook the runaways.  The whole gang then went to a solitary spot where they were not liable to be interrupted and a division of plunder took place.

   While the robbers were thus employed a lighted taper carelessly thrown away by one of them seemed to have communicated with some combustible matter in one of the side rooms of the house, with the result that a conflagration took place, the greater portion of the house being thus destroyed.  The neighbours were in this way alarmed and while helping to quell the fire, a body of the rest joined the yamen runners and military patrol to hunt for the robbers the same night.  No one was caught then, but gradually nine of the gang were one after another captured within the period allowed the district magistrate by law for their arrest.  The only man who has so far escaped capture is Li Pa, the leader of the gang.

   The law demands the summary execution of any members of a gang of robbers, with fire arms in their hands, who helped in plundering a place and finally took a share in the spoils, while those who joined to make a robbery but refrained eventually from doing the deed should be sentenced one degree more lightly, viz:- punished with 100 blows of the "heavy" bamboo and exile for three years.  This last sentence has been passed upon the three look-out men, the remainder of the gang who partook in the pillage and accepted a share of the spoils being sentenced to summary execution; and they are now awaiting the pleasure of the Throne.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments make haste and report thereon.

 

Jun. 3rd.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(1) Kuei Nien, Supervising Censor, Keeper of Seals, and Police Censor of the Middle City, and his colleagues, have sent up to us a report stated that certain Palace eunuchs had got into a fray with gendarmes of the city during which weapons were freely used by the former resulting in the fatal injuring of one of the gendarmes and serious wounding of others belonging to the force who had come to suppress the disturbance caused by the said eunuchs.

   It appears that on the 30th of May last a body of eunuchs, armed with swords, went to the Ch'ingho Theatre, situated in the Great Barrier-gates' ward, for the purpose of wreaking vengeance on certain persons.  As soon as the police officer of the ward, Yang Shao-chi, heard of this, he assembled as many of his gendarmes (foreign

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disciplined soldiers) as he could at the time and proceeded to the theatre to arrest these disturbers of the peace.  The eunuchs were, however, reckless and audacious enough to resist, arms in hand, the attempted arrest and during the fight which ensued a senior sergeant, named Chao Yun-ch'i, was cut down and slain by the eunuchs. 

   Such conduct is outrageous and unlawful to the last degree and should be most severely punished.  We, therefore, command that the captured eunuchs Li Ch'ang-tsai, Chang Shou-shan, Yen Pao-wei, Yuan Lien-yuen, and Ch'en Ho-yu, and the commoner Pi Wen-lu, be forthwith handed to the Board of Punishments for trial and be punished according to the law of the land.  Investigation shall also be made as to the names of the rest of those with the said eunuchs who are still at large, and search instituted in order that no one be permitted to escape just punishment.  As for the late sergeant who died in the execution of his duty, let the Board of War investigate his affairs and give his family the usual money grant directed by law in such cases.

   With reference to another memorial handed this morning to us praying that in view of the enormity and audacity of the crime, the guilty eunuchs shall be punished with double severity to that prescribed by law, in order to strike terror into the hearts of all Palace eunuchs (who have lately been conducting themselves in the city with utter recklessness and arrogance defying all and every one) and to warn others from following such pernicious example in the future, let the special law for eunuchs decreed by our predecessor K'ang Hsi (16th century) be observed when giving judgment in the present case.  The Board of Punishments is hereby commanded to report to us the sentences to be given upon each of the guilty eunuchs.

 

Jun. 4th.  MURDER OF A USURER IN KIANGSU.

Chao Shu-jao, Governor of Kiangsu, reports a case of homicide in the district of Tangshan, Hsuchou prefecture, where a nephew influenced by an outsider conspired to cause the murder of his uncle and cousin.  Ma Tien-pang and his only son Ma Liang-tien were usurers of Tangshan, and at one time made a loan to a certain fellow-townsman, named Sun Chia-pin, with interest at 84 per  cent per annum.  In course of time the borrower succeeded in paying off what he thought was principal and interest, but owing to certain dates when interest fell due and the borrower being unable to pay on time, the usurers thought themselves entitled to compound interest.  This was naturally resisted by Sun Chia-pin who refused to pay the compound interest but

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liquidated the rest.  In this way Sun who, before this, had nothing against the two Mas (father and son), entertained ill-feelings against the latter.  About that time a certain Ma Liang-kuei, a nephew of Ma Tien-pang, happening to be in want of money, tried to obtain a loan on similar terms (84 per cent per annum) from his uncle, but owing to the nephew's indigent circumstances the loan was refused.

   Ma Liang-kuei began from this point to hate his uncle and cousin.  When Sun Chia-pin learned of this he began to sound Ma Liang-kuei and in time got him to think that nothing but the blood of his relations could satisfy him.  This was further enhanced by the tempter, Sun, offering to help him if he would consent to divide the spoils of his uncle's house with him.  Just at this time, also, the conspirators learned that Ma Liang-tien's wife was about to return to her father's house for a few days, whereby only father and son would be the inmates of the house, where they lived outside the city walls of T'angshan.

   As circumstances seemed to favour the deed, Ma Liang-kuei and Sun Chia-pin agreed to commit the murder the very night Ma Liang-tien's wife left for her father's house.  On the night in question Ma Liang-kuei, armed with a sword, and Sun, armed with a bludgeon, forced their way into their victims' house and found them both fast asleep in their beds in a room, with a lighted lamp in it.   Sun advanced to Ma Tien-pang's (the father) bed and dealt him a crushing blow on his head with the bludgeon, causing instant death, while Ma Liang-kuei, sword in hand, stabbed his cousin, ripping the latter from the chest down to the abdomen.  Ma then ransacked the place and amongst others got hold of a box containing the promissory notes of the debtors of the usurers.  Sun then suggested that the house be set on fire in order to cover as much as possible of their foul deed.  Ma at once assented and, Sun having first escaped, Ma set fire to the house, commencing in the kitchen, and seeing that the flames were well in hand, pretended to give the alarm, rousing the neighbours to put the fire out.  The latter rose en masse and succeeded in putting out the fire before the dead bodies of father and son were charred beyond recognition.  The wife of Ma Liang-tien and other relatives of the family coming up to the scene of the fire they found upon examination of the dead bodies that there were marks of violence on them, and that they had not died from the effect of the fire.

   Suspicion was at once aroused against Ma Liang-kuei which was confirmed upon discovery of the box containing the promissory notes, &c.  The murderer then

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indicated his accomplice and instigator, and the two were taken to the district magistrate's yamen.  As this was a serious case of a junior murdering a senior, memorialist ordered the case to be brought up to Soochow and upon a personal trial the above facts were corroborated and confirmed.  The law in such cases is death by the slow and shameful process (Lingch'ih) for Ma Liang-kuei, and decapitation of Sun Chia-pin, the accomplice.  But as Sun had since died in prison at Tangshan his corpse will be beheaded at the next autumn criminal assizes.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments hasten to report thereon.

Jun 27th.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

 

(1) The other day the Supervising Censor Chin Yu denounced one Hsing Erh, a native of Shantung, who was charged with absconding after murdering a relation of his and after taking possession of certain lands of the murdered man, &c.  We ordered the Board of Punishments to investigate the matter and report truthfully to us.  The said Board now state that after careful and repeated trials they find that in not a single case have the charges of the said Censor been substantiated, while on the contrary owing to his baseless charges, many innocent people have been made to suffer and immense trouble caused to all around. Furthermore, Li Ping-heng, the Governor of Shantung, when applied to replied that the district magistrates of Yitu and Ch'angshan both have declared that no such murder took place there as was stated by the accusing Censor, nor could they find such a man as Hsing Erh in their districts, etc. 

   Now the said Board declares that "when a censor reports a baseless case to the Throne he should be punished with the same punishment he had intended to be conferred on the person or persons he accuses."  The said Board therefore prays for instructions as to what should be done to the culprit Censor. 

   It is evident that the said Censor had been listening to baseless reports made by interested people who intended to do grievous harm to innocent and well-behaved persons.  Chin Yu has therefore been decidedly reprehensible and as a slight punishment for a first offence we hereby command that he be cashiered and dismissed from the service.  The law for Censors who have been found guilty of interested motives in denouncing persons and have been receiving bribes is that they must be punished severely and the Throne would be the last to grant leniency in such cases.  We would in this instance however give a fair warning to all, and therefore notify all

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Censors and supervising Censors, that if any, of them in the future dare to follow in Chin Yu's footsteps and make baseless accusations against innocent and well-behaved people, the culprits will without ant doubt be most severely punished and no mercy will be shown by us in their cases.

 

Jul. 26th.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(1)  Wang Wen-shao, Viceroy of Chihli and Imperial High Commissioner of the Peiyang Administration, denounces an ex-district magistrate for trying to suppress the true facts of a most serious case of breaking the laws of nature in the murder of a step-mother and attempting to minimise the consequences by placing a different construction on the case in his report to his superior officers in the provincial capital, Paotingfu.  It appears that when Ch'en Tse-li, now cashiered, but at the time district magistrate of Sanhohsien, Chihli, tried a case the other day in which a certain woman of the common people, named Wang Yeu-shih, was murdered by the son of her husband's former wife, the said magistrate suppressed the original reports of the village headman, where the murder had taken place, and substituted for them false papers making the case an ordinary one.  When the Provincial judge ordered the trial of the case to be transferred to Paotingfu the said magistrate knowing that his conduct had been exposed to his superior officers failed to put in an appearance at the capital when commanded to do so and, on the contrary, absconded in fear of the consequences.  This action is a clear proof that the said magistrate was conscious of his guilt and therefore absconded from his post.  He has already been cashiered for this and we now authorise the said Viceroy to issue warrants for the said Ch'en Tse-li's arrest and to inform the Governor of Shansi, the native province of the absconding ex-official, that he may assist in bringing the refugee to justice.  When captured the prisoner is to be taken to Paotingfu for trial and punishment according to the laws.  The Boards concerned are to take notice thereon.

Note: In ordinary murders where only one life is lost the magistrate of the district where they have taken place, is exempt from anything but the most nominal punishment.  If more than one person is murdered the magistrate is liable to lose his button, temporarily, and be perhaps handed to the Board of Civil Appointments for the determination of some penalty.  But in the case of the murder of a parent, grandparent, or step-parent who had taken care of the murderer since childhood or

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infancy, the murderer does by the "shameful and lingering" process (lingch'ih), and the magistrate of the district is generally made to lose his post or, if a man of considerable family influence at Peking, is made to lose his button pro tem. and is transferred to another district. 

   It was apparently to avoid the first penalty that the absconding magistrate in the above decree tried to minimise consequences by transforming the murder of a stepmother into an ordinary murder.  Where two parents or grandparents are murdered the magistrate is cashiered and his superiors are penalised in varying degrees according to rank and proximity to the scene of the crime, that is to say the immediate superior of the cashiered magistrate loses his button or is transferred, and so on up to the Viceroy or Governor who is penalised by being mulcted of some months' pay.

   As an additional mark of the disgrace attached to the district city where such a double murder took place it was a part of the proceedings to knock off a corner of the city ramparts (it used to be the city wall but owing to the numerous rebellions of the present dynasty the ramparts are now only touched) in the direct where the bloody deed happened whether inside the city walls or out of them. 

   This refers to the system of mutual responsibility observed in the Government of this Empire where a father is responsible for the action of his sons, an elder brother for his younger brother, the neighbour's for each other's conduct, etc.  Further, if a district produces a child who has done an extraordinary act of filial piety, or a woman who has sacrificed her life to save her husband, or who commits suicide upon his death, the magistrate concerned received a promotion in rank and the Emperor's commendation of his virtuous influence over the people whom he rules. Translator.

 

Oct. 22.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(5) The captain-General of the Peking Gendarmerie reports the capture by his men of nine members of a gang of murderers and brigands who had been sought for murdering a man whom they had robbed, and against which gang also is the charge of having opposed, firearms in hand, the gendarmes sent to capture them, resulting in the wounding of some of the latter, etc.  Let all be sent to the Board of Punishments for trial and punishment in accordance with the law of the land.  Search is further to be made for another member of the gang who so far has escaped arrest.

 

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Jan. 15th.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(1)  The Supervising Censor of the Board of War and Police Censor of the Middle City, Ch'ing Mien, and his colleagues, conjointly denounce the arbitrary conduct of a certain Chang Te-peo, an expectant gaol-warden and investigating officer of one of the Metropolitan summary police courts.  He is accused of having used illegal tortures thereby encompassing the premature death of a prisoner brought to him for preliminary investigation before any guilt could be properly fixed upon the deceased.  This is a grave offence and we command that the accused officer be temporarily cashiered and placed under trial before the Court of the Police Censor of the Western City.  The Board of Civil Appointments is commanded to take note thereon.

 

Jan. 27th. SENTENCE ON MURDERERS.

Wang Wen-shao, Viceroy of Chihli, reports a crime of unusual gravity from his jurisdiction and the sentences imposed on the criminals.  The crime in question took place in December last in the district of Chuchou, where a son at the instigation of his mother murdered his father.  As this was a most serious crime memorialist ordered the case to be sent to Paotingfu for trial by the Provincial Judge, Chi Pang-chen.  The said Judge having made the usual investigations reported that he had found the murderers guilty of the crime they were accused of and recommended that both mother and son suffer death by the slow and shameful process (lingch'ih) in accordance with the laws of the land.  Memorialist, however, wished to be sure that the accusations were just and so ordered Yuan Feng-lin, the Provincial Treasurer, to make a special trial of the case.

   The evidence first reported was adhered to in this trial, which showed as follows:--

   Chang His-feng, the murdered man, was a well-to-do farmer of Ch'uchouhsien.  He had an only son (Chang Tse-kuang), the murderer, who was so petted and spoiled by his parents, especially by the mother, that as he grew older he became unmanageable and fell into dissolute habits.  To get money to supply his wants Chang Tse-kuang used to persuade his mother to get it for him until at last they began to sell portions of the land belonging to the father.  In spite of the latter's remonstrances the mother and son persisted in their course until it became evident to the father that unless something

 

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was done to stop the two they would soon sell the house which sheltered him and them.

   So the father one day assembled all the headmen of his clan and complained of the conduct of his wife and son and asked for protection against them.  It was then decided that the remainder of the property of 47 mow of land be retained for the support of the father in his old age, and the dissolute son and his mother were interdicted by the  seniors of their clan from touching this land on pain of suffering punishment administered by the clan.  This stopped the pair for a short time; but the gambling debts contracted by the son became too pressing and so, assisted by his mother, Chang Tse-kuang tried to mortgage or sell the 47 mow of land in secret.  The father found the matter out and forcible upbraided his wife and son for their conduct and in attempting corporal punishment on the son the mother assisted the latter in getting away from his father's clutches.   Exasperated beyond reason the father at last said that the best way to stop this would be to kill both wife and son.

   When the pair heard this they began to consult so as to lay hands on the father first before he could put his thereat into execution.  So on the night of the 30th December last Chang Tse-kuang having first filled himself with alcoholic drinks and aged on by the mother, who persistently declared that if they did not kill the father he would kill them, seized hold of an iron rake and marched into his father's room where he lay on the k'ang or stove-bedstead.  The mother also followed into the room to assist the son if necessary.  Three fearful blows were then dealt with the iron rake on the head of the murdered man, the third blow on the back of the head being the fatal stroke.  When Chang His-feng was killed, the mother dressed the corpse with an old cotton-wadded jacket and with the parricide carried the body to a back garden wall.  Placing the corpse beneath the wall the guilty pair pulled down a lot of bricks from the top of the wall, half burying the body with the debris, so as to make it seem to outsiders that the old man had been killed by the falling of the wall over which he was supposed to have tried to vault.  The next morning the brother of the deceased having his suspicions reported the matter to the magistrate of Chuchouhsien who finally extracted the above confession from the parricide and murderess.

   The law for this crime demands that both the woman and her son be sentenced to death by the lingchih process, the head of the son being exposed in the village where the crime was committed, the mother's head in consideration of it being a woman's

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being exempted from this exposure.  Memorialist upon receiving the above confirmed report at once gave orders for the carrying out of the sentence recommended by the said Provincial Judge, on accordance with the laws of the land.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments take note.

 

Feb. 11th.  A DOUBLE MURDER IN KIRIN.

Yen Mou, Military Governor and Tartar-General of Kirin, reports that in June last year a petition was received from the sub-prefect of Yitunchchoi, Kirin, to the effect that one Ts'ao Yung-tai, a native of the said sub-prefecture, had in a fir of madness murdered his uncle (who stood in the place of his father) and a fellow-lodger who had come to the aid of the first-named murdered man.

   It appeared that the murderer had been inflicted with intermittent fits of madness for several years, but as often as these fits would come on, so often they would subside soon after, during which times the murderer never exhibited any ferocity or thirst after blood.  He was an unusually mild monomaniac.  For this reason, therefore, neither his uncle, now deceased, nor the rest of the family or neighbours thought the malady serious enough to report to the local authorities, in order to have the said Ts'ao Yung-tai fettered and confined in prison out of harm way.

   So matters went on until the middle of June aforesaid, when all of a sudden Ts'ao Yung-tai was attacked by madness again.  In this instance he somehow got hold of a lance or broad bladed spear placed in the house with the other weapons used for defending the place against banditti.  Taking the spear outdoors the madman flourished it as if warding off an attack of imaginary enemies.  His father Ts-ao Shun being afraid that he would hurt some passer-by, came out of the house and tried to take away the spear.  Instead of complying the maniac made a lunge at his father, the point of the weapon entering the old man's left arm.  Another lunge pierced his left side when he fell down dead. 

   In the meanwhile a fellow-lodger, Jen Chen, hearing the noise at the door came out to help the old man to wrest the weapon away from the maniac; but the latter, now apparently madder than ever at the sight of blood, fiercely attacked Jen with the spear, killing him in the same manner as he had killed his father.  The nephew of the fellow-lodger happening to pass by, gave the alarm, and a crowd of neighbours collecting they soon overpowered the murder and took him to the sub-prefect of the city.  When

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the maniac was brought before the magistrate he is said to have suddenly assumed a sullen and morose air and seemed unable to comprehend any of the questions put to him.  In fact he displayed all the symptom ms of a monomaniac.

   Now the law demands that any person showing maniacal symptoms must be taken to the local magistrate for confinement by his relatives, or, failing them, by his neighbours, whom the law makes amenable to punishment if default is made and no report be made to the magistrate.  The right and left neighbours of the Ts'ao family were therefore guilty of a misdemeanour similar to that of a man who seeing or knowing of an intending murder fails to report the same to the authorities.  The law commands that a parricide must suffer death by the ling ch'ih process and his head be exposed in the place where he committed the murder.

   This has been done with the above named murderer, and the neighbours and relatives who failed to report the circumstance of the murderer's craziness to the authorities were also punished in the usual way by giving each 100 blows of the bamboo.  As the law allows the execution of criminals, where, the scene of their murder exceed 300 li in distance, to be done at the capital, and as Itungchou is more than 300 li from Kirin, the murderer was executed at Kirin and his head has been sent for exposure to the first-named city.

Rescript: Noted.  Let the Board of Punishments also take note.

 

Feb. 14th. BRIGANDS IN HSUCHOU.

Chao Shu-jao, Governor of Kiangsu, reports that he has executed several members of a gang of bandits amounting to nearly twenty in number, who had been pillaging certain farmhouses in Taoyuan and Tangshang districts in 1895.  In June of that year ten men of the gang robbed the farmhouse of Hu Li-yi in the first named district, the plunder consisting of oxen, mules, donkeys, opium balls, money, and clothes.  The robbers were armed with firearms, swords, and spears, and when a resistance was made, the robbers shot and killed a man named Hu Chin-kuei, a neighbour of the robbed family.  A month afterwards, the same gang, numbering eighteen men, raided the farmhouse of Chou Chia-yen, in the district of T'angshan, and shot and killed the younger brother of the said owner of the farmhouse.  The plunder taken by the robbers consisted of horses, mules, money, and clothes. 

 

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  Six of the bandits were captured and sent on to Soochow for trial.  In the meantime one man died in prison.  But when the time came to decapitate the robbers, the corpse of the one who had died in prison was also taken out on the execution ground and the head chopped off in company with the companions of his crime, in accordance with the law provided in such cases.

Rescript; Let the Board of Punishments take note.

 

Mar. 13th.  HOMICIDE.

Ch'ang Keng, Tartar-General of Ili and Chinese Turkestan, and Chung Liang, Civil Governor of the same province, reports the murder of a Manchu military colonist of the Sibe tribe, named E-ke-t'u-shan, by his wife Wa Hen-chih and her paramour, Mu Te-ch'un, also a Sibe colonist and a herdsman of the Imperial flocks in that province.  The illicit relations between the latter two began five years ago, but the husband, their victim, being compelled by his duties to be frequently away from home, knew nothing of the matter until late one night in November, 1894, when he unexpectedly returned to his home and found an intruder in it who, hiding behind the door as it was being opened, dashed through an opening just as the husband got inside.  As a result, the wife, Wa Hen-chih, being unable, satisfactorily, to give an account of her conduct, was severely beaten by her husband and the injunction was laid never to allow Mu Te-ch'un to enter the house again.  Being unwilling, for obvious reasons, to report the matter to the military authorities for the arrest of the paramour, the husband simply kept a strict watch over his wife's conduct, until he was compelled to leave home on duty again some months afterwards.

   Then Mu Te-ch'un again began to frequent the house and often asked the woman to conspire with him to encompass the death of her husband, to which she always gave her disapproval.  When the husband came back home again (this was in December, 1895) he found the wife working at a man's jacket which he shrewdly suspected was to cover the shoulders of the paramour.  Incensed beyond measure E-Ke-t'u-shan began to beat his wife again most severely.  On the 3rd of January, 1896, the paramour contrived to get an interview with the woman and said: "I have a plan now where you need not give manual assistance in killing your husband."  The woman asked that sort of plan this was.  Mu Te-ch'un replied: "Can you get him to go outside the city walls,

 

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tomorrow, to the temple of the goddess of the water mill?  If you can do so I will settle him for you." 

   The woman, who had begun to cordially hate her husband through the many beatings she had received at his hands of late, consented to do so, and the paramour then left.  The next day Wa Chen-chih told her husband that she wanted her fur clothes as it was getting colder and asked him to go to the pawnshop kept by Pe-na-erh-pei, near the temple of the goddess of the water mill, to redeem her clothes.  Not suspecting any foul play to be intended, E-ke-t'u-shan consented, and taking money with him for the purpose also told his wife to make ready and go with him.  Unable to excuse herself the woman was forced to go with her husband, and just as the couple passed out of the city gates she observed her paramour seated on horseback armed with a long quarter-staff awaiting at a distance outside the city.  When Mu Te-ch'un saw the pair coming out of the city he made a dash forward to the temple in question which was about a mile from the city and sparsely inhabited.  It was dusk when husband and wife started for the return journey, on foot, as before.

   The murderer, who had kept out of sight all the time, then galloped at full speed as the retreating figures were being lost in the gloom of fast darkening night.  When the horseman go tup to the pair there was no one else in sight.  Charging at full speed on the back of E-ke-t'u-shan Mu Te-ch'un swung his quarter staff and as he brushed past his victim the staff was brought down with crushing violence on the head of the husband who immediately fell stunned to the ground.  Pulling up his horse the murderer dismounted and approaching the prostrate form of his victim and clutching hold of his queue rained terrific blows on the head once more, and with such force that the brains of the murdered man were freely scattered about the spot and upon the garments of the murderer.  In the meanwhile, Wa Chen-chih frightened at the scene of blood fled city-wards without waiting to watch the result: but as soom as her paramour saw that his victim was stone dead he flung the body into a grass grown ditch at the side of the road so that no one should stumble over the corpse during the night, and regaining his horse galloped after Wa Chen-chih whom he carried on his horse behind his back and escorted to her home; telling her on the way that he had done.

   After he had seen the woman safely inside her home the murderer galloped back to the spot where his victim lay and carried the body to a large dry ditch farther away

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and deposited it.  This was about 4 o'clock in the morning.  This done the man returned to Wa Hen-chih's house and told her what had been done.  That same morning a heavy fall of snow occurred, still further obliterating for months to come any traces of the murdered man.

   But Chiu Li-shan, the latter's younger brother, happened to return that day from his camp and enquired for E-ke-t'u-shan.  The guilty women replied that he had left on the day before for the camp.  Chiu Li-shan immediately told an uncle of his of the matter saying that it was strange for his elder brother to go to the camp since he was off duty, and so the two returned to camp to hunt for the missing man; but of course failed.  Returning home again they questioned the woman, who prevaricated in such a manner that they began to suspect foul play and accordingly reported the matter to their military commandant.  The woman was arrested and confessed under torture the whole tale.  The woman was therefore sentenced to die by the slicing, or lingch'ih process and her paramour by decapitation according to the laws of the land.

Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments report at once.

 

Mar. 27th.  A SIX-FOLD MURDER.

Yen Mow, Tarter-General of Kirin, Manchuria, reports a six-fold murder, - which came dangerously near being a seven-fold one - in the Tartar village of Sunchiatun, Kirin province, on the night of the 7th of January last, and the summary execution of the sanguinary wretch whose horrible crime called for his instant removal from this world. 

   It appeared that the murderer, named Lu Ching-t'ang, was a hired labourer on the farm of the Blue Bannerman, Ch'eng Wan-hsuan, at Sunchiatun, and had always been liberally treated by his master.  In 1896 Lu Ching-t'ang became suddenly possessed of a strong desire to visit his native town in China proper, but was unable to do so owing to lack of the necessary funds to carry him home.  He apparently brooded a great deal over his misfortune but dared do nothing to forcible obtain the money he required owing to the awe he had of Che'eng Wen, the son of his master, who was possessed of immense strength and belonged to the local militia.  But on the 7th of January, Ch'eng Wen having important business away from home left the place unprotected, although there were other fellow-labourers besides the murderer on the farm.  When Lu saw that his young master was to go away for  the day and night it occurred to him

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(Lu) to impersonate a robber, as Sunchiatin being a small hamlet in a sparsely settled district the place had often been raided by scattered bands of brigands living in the neighbouring hills and forests.

   In the room the murderer usually slept in were four male labourers and two female hands.  Lu's first intention was to despatch these four and trust to frightening the females of the household to obtain the money and silver ornaments he wanted, while the great age of Ch'eng Wan-hsuan, his master, precluded any anticipation of any effective resistance on the latter's part.  Lu, therefore, waited until 10 o'clock on that fatal night, when finding that all in the room were fast asleep he rose, dressed himself, and then proceeded to the wood-yard to get the axe which was used to split fire-wood.  Having obtained his weapon Lu walked back stealthily to the general sleeping room, and began (contrary to his first intentions) to strike promiscuously those occupying the room with his axe, calling our "robbers!" with every blow of his weapon upon the unfortunate heads and shoulders of his sleeping victims.  The noise he made fortunately aroused one of the labourers, who slipping away from his bed, or k'ang, managed to get to the door before the murderer perceived his escape.  Lu, at once, gave chase without waiting to see whether his five victims were alive or not, but his intended victim succeeded in escaping.

   In the meanwhile Ch'eng Wan-hsuan, his master, being also aroused by the cries of the murderer made his way to the sleeping room of his labourers and was met halfway by Lu who replied to his master's question as to what was the matter by ,making a vicious swing with his axe at the old man's head.  The latter, however, evaded the murderous stroke and turning round wrested the weapon away from the murderer.  In this dilemma Lu ran to the wood pile and selected a club-like limb of a tree and dashing upon his master unawares brought him down with stunning blow.  Thinking that he had killed his master, the murderer suddenly bethought himself of those whom he had left in the general sleeping room.  So he returned to the apartment and began raining numerous blows with his club on the heads of each of his victims - three male labourers and two female field hands - who had, however, apparently already received their quietus from the axe, for the were all in the same position as he had left them when chasing after the escaped labourer.

   Being now satisfied with his handiwork the murderer tied his own clothes into a bundle and then visited the quarters of his master and mistress.  Just then he saw the

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aged wife of his master tottering across the courtyard to raise her husband's prostrate body.  The murderer at once brought her down with one blow of his clu, and then walked into her room with the intention of ransacking the place for money.  He, however, seemed to feel that some time must have already elapsed since he chased the labourer who had fled and that the latter must have by this tinme aroused the neighbours - who lived far separated from each other - in which case he (the murderer) thought that he had  no time to lose if he wished to escape arrest.  He had no time as he thought even to change his blood-stained garments now dripping with the gore of his victims.  A sudden fear seemed to seize the man and he at once fled from the house, forgetting even to take with him his own bundle of private effects.

   A few minutes after the murderer had done, Ch'eng Wen, the son, returned from his trip to town and saw the horrible sight that greeted him of his aged father and mother lying prone in the courtyard but still breathing and bleeding from fearful gashes on the head.  Assisting his parents to their room and leaving them in the hands of the female servants, Ch'eng Wen, armed with a sword, at once gave chase, vowing to cut the murderer down at sight.  In the meantime neighbours were coming to the rescue led by the escaped labourer, and to avoid these the murderer started for another point.  Here, however, a police patrol happened to be encamped and seeing the man and his garments reeking with blood at once stopped him and asked him whence he had come and whither going at such an hour of the night - long past midnight.  They were unable to make out his incoherent replied when Ch'eng Wen arrived on the spot and identified Lu as the murderer of five of his fellow servants - for the old mother was still alive when Ch'eng Wen started off in pursuit of the murderer.

   When Lu was brought back to the farm escorted by the police patrol, it was found that the old lady of the house had also died from the effects of her club wound, thus making six victims, while the master of the farm also lay in a precarious state, hovering between life and death.

   The law demands that when a murderer makes away with three lives he is to be sentenced to die by the slow and shameful process (ling ch'ih).  In this case Lu Ching-t'ang killed six; three males and three females.  Memorialist therefore ordered the sentence of the law to be carried out immediately after Lu Ching-t'ang had signed his confession before the memorialist without waiting, owing to the gravity of the crime, for His Majesty's Rescript in the matter.

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Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments take note.

 

Apr. 16th. (3)  E-k'o't'ang-a, Tartar General of Fengtien, Manchuria, denounces the carelessness amounting to crime of a certain T'ang Yu-ts'ing, First Captain of the left battalion of the Read Division of the Army of Fengtien.  It appears that one Wang Chao-kuei, an expectant chichsien, or district magistrate of Shansi, was returning from Shansi to his native city of Liaoyang, and was sailing up the Liao river accompanied by his family in three boats.  Not many miles from Liaoyang some pirates had attacked the mandarin's boats and after looting them had just rowed off, when the above-named captain and a squadron of cavalry, whose duty it is to patrol the river for pirates, rode up along the river banks attracted by the noise on the river.  Without making the least investigation as to who were the pirates and which were the plundered boats, the said Captain at once gave the order to his men to fire into the latter, probably taking them to be pirates.  The above-named district Magistrate fell at the first volley, while the real pirates escaped!  This is most strange, and must be strictly enquired into.  Let the said Captain be cashiered and handed over to the local authorities for trial and such of his men as were guilty of like carelessness, and let them be punished according to the law.

Note:  The above is an instance how affairs have sometimes to be falsified when reported to the Throne, for to tell the truth would have been fatal to some of the highest of the officials from Moukden to Liaoyang, where the murder took place.  The only portion of the above decree which was true was about the Shansi magistrate returning to his native city of Liaoyang.  As a mater of fact, it seems that the real pirates were the captain and his patrol.  But to acknowledge this to the Emperor would have been equivalent to acknowledging that all the troops in Fengtien were pirates and robbers, and the General himself the greatest of them all!  In such a case quite a number of heads would have to fall before the Emperor's wrath could be appeased, while the lightest punishment would have been banishment.

   A similar case happened in Honan some thirty odd years ago when Mei Ch'i-chao was Governor.  Thirty-three men were beheaded, including the Taotai, prefects, etc., of the Intendancy where the murder took place, while the Governor and Provincial Treasurer were exiled.  The Judge happened, luckily for him, to be in Peking at the time or he also would have been banished.  A Censor passing by the scene of the

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murder en route for Peking learned the whole story from the survivors, and reported the matter to the Throne with the above result.

   In the case under review there was no Censor.  The Captain and four of his men were eventually beheaded by the river side on the identical spot of the robbery and murder.  A compensation of Tls. 3,000was also given as solatium to the deceased mandarin's family.  -  Translator.

 

May 23rd.  PROMISCUOUS SHOOTING. 

T'an Chung-lin, Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent and Viceroy of the provinces of Kuangtung and Kuangsi, and Hsu Chen-yi, Governor of Kuangtung, send a joint memorial concerning a case of promiscuous shooting in the city of Lienpingchou, Kuangtung, wherein a man who was intending to shoot down his enemy, fatally wounded instead the latter's wife with the first shot, and with the second instantaneously killed his own mother.  Owing to the seriousness of the crime the culprit was brought to Canton for trial before the Provincial Judge, and later on, the evidence obtained by that officer was confirmed by a personal investigation before the memorialists themselves.

   The murderer was a member of the militia of the city of Lienpingcho and was noted for his filial piety towards his widowed mother.  The man he wished to kill was a neighbour, and the two men, moreover, owned an adjacent piece of land on the hills behind the said city of Lienpungchou.  One day, while the latter, a man named Liu Ah-hsi, was cutting trees and picking up brushwood for firewood in the hill land aforesaid, he happened to be standing just on the boundary separating the two properties when the mother of the murderer, (a man named Chou Ah-lu), passing by at the time, suspected that the former was stealing the brushwood from her property.  She at once accused Liu Ah-hsi of theft, and he conscious of having done no wrong naturally resented, resulting in hard language being used on both sides.  The old woman then returned home and told her son, who had just returned from guard duty, about the disrespect shown by their neighbour, living opposite the way.

   This si exasperated the son who was naturally of a violent temper, that he went at once across the street to seek for Liu Ah-hsi.  He found his enemy and without more ado struck at blow at Liu.  Liu dodged the intended blow and turned round to return the compliment, when Chou rang back to his own house and picking up a club came

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out again to attack Liu.  Just then Chou's mother came up and seeing her son with a club in his hand, ready for mischief, and on the point of crossing the street she laid hold of the club, and partly by force, and partly by words of command, persuaded him to go back into the house.  This done, the mother pushed the son into his room and locked him up inside.  This room faced the street and the wooden walls being full of crevices and apertures, Chou could easily see that was going on outside.

   He saw Liu still standing in the street in front of his own door, but swearing away and gesticulating in the direction of Chou's house.  This apparently so inflamed the hearer that he looked around for some means of getting out of his room "to have it out" with Liu.  At this moment he espied his musket which belonged to him by virtue of his connection with the city militia.  He instantly took down the weapon which hung on the wall ready for use, and drawing out the old charge reloaded the piece with a slug putting a fresh percussion cap on the nipple.  Chou then shoved his gun through an aperture in the wall and deliberately aimed it at Liu, who ignorant of the shot in store for him still stood swearing in front of his house.  Just as Chou pulled the trigger of his gun, Liu's wife issued from the door, and in so doing just covered her husband's person.  The result was that the woman received the ball in her left side, and fell moaning to the ground.  Enraged beyond bounds at this outrage upon his wife Liu dashed into Chou's house eager to wreak vengeance on the perpetrator, and crying out that he was determined to have the latter bound and taken before the authorities.  When Chou saw that his short had missed his enemy, and that the latter was actually in his (Chou's) house, the murderer reloaded his gun determined to shoot at him again.  His gun reloaded, Chou pushed the muzzle through an aperture near the door of his room.  But just as he fired his mother had rushed up in front of Liu to push him out of the way---knowing that her son would fire again, now that his blood was up.  In doing so the old woman received the bullet in her back killing her instantly, thus saving once more Liu's life.

   As soon as Chou recognised the enormity of his crime, although done accidentally, he at once came out gun in hand, and made his way to the sub- prefect's yamen to whom he gave himself up.  As the law makes no allowance for accidental homicide, the memorialist in consequence of the murder being that of the homicide's own mother at once ordered Chou Ah-lu to be executed by the lingch'ih or "slow and shameful process."  The sanction of his Majesty is requested to the above sentence.

 

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Rescript: Let the Board of Punishments speedily report thereon.

 

Aug. 10th.  AN INHUMAN MOTHER-IN-LAW.

Huang Huai-sen, an officer of the brevet civil premier button and Governor of Yunnan, reports a case of horrible cruelty on the part of a woman belonging to the district of Ningerhhsien, in Yunnan, assisted by her daughter on the person of her daughter-in-law.  The murderess was likewise of an exceptionally cunning nature, and, but for the energy and shrewdness of the acting magistrate of the said district, Sieh Shih-sun, might probably have escaped detection and a crime of surpassing and revolting inhumanity and fiendishness allowed to go unpunished.  But the gods never err in sending retribution and the culprits were arrested and have been condemned to the death which their crime deserved.  As soon as the case was reported to the memorialist by the said magistrate and considering the matter to be one of great urgency that retribution should be swift, instructions were at once sent to get a true confession from the criminals so that they might be sent to the capital to suffer the last penalty as soon as possible.  As a proof of the cunning of the chief criminal she persuaded her daughter to retract their former confessions before the district magistrate when the case was heard by T'ang Shou-min, the Provincial Judge.  So the case was referred to a lower court, namely to the judicial tribunal of the prefect of Yunnanfu, which succeeded at last, with two assessors from the Provincial Judge's tribunal of the First Instance, in getting the true account of the affair which substantially tallied with what was confessed at the time of their detention by the magistrate of Ningerh.

   The details as given in final evidence before the memorialist were as follows:--

    The chief criminal was the woman Huang Yuan-shih, and her accomplice in crime was her unmarried daughter Huang Tsu-ying.  The victim of their fiendish and horrible cruelties was Huang Li-shih, the wife of Huang Ta-chang, the only son of the chief murderess, and the sister-in-law of Huang Tsu-ying.  The husband of the murdered girl - she was only seventeen years of age - and his father were licentiates and acted as teachers in the city of Ningerh, some distance from their home, and so they were seldom at home.  The old woman kept an inn in the country on the great highway leading past the city of Ningerh to the provincial capital, Yunnanfu.  About

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eighteen months ago a certain traveller, a stranger named Lung, happened to put up in the Huang family's inn and being an avaricious beldame, the old woman Huang Yuan-shih accepted the offer of the said Lung to prostitute her daughter Huang Tsu-ying.  For this Lung paid the old woman six taels, staying in the inn two nights.  It so happened that the man Lung greatly admired Huang Li-shih, the daughter-on-law, on account of her beauty for which the poor girl was famous in that part of the country, and which was the cause of her death.

   A month later the same traveller having occasion again to pass through the village of the Huangs, once more put up at their inn and then secretly consulted with the old woman to prostitute the daughter-in-law for which the man paid in advance six taels to the old woman.  But when she took the money she did not calculate upon the chastity of her daughter-in-law, who declared that she would prefer death before she could be induced to be unfaithful to her husband.  In spite of entreaties and threats Huang Li-shih remained firm to her principles of chastity, and so to the old woman's great chagrin she had to give up the six taels of silver that the man had handed to her earlier in the evening, while he being unable to get his desire gratified started off the next morning on his travels.

   As soon as Lung had gone the old woman determined to wreak vengeance on the daughter-in-law "for pretending to be more virtuous than her betters," and aided by the daughter Tsu-ying mixed water, that they had washed their feet in, with fowls' dung which was forced down the throat of the unfortunate Li-shih.  To crown matters, when the son happened to return home that same evening the old woman assumed the role of injured dignity and called upon her son to beat his wife for being unfilial in her conduct towards his mother!  Huang Ta-chang, being a student of Confucius was naturally filial and listened to his mother's complaints, whereupon he punished his wife for her "unfilial conduct to his mother."

   Somehow Li Che-siang, the brother of the poor girl, heard a rumour of the ill-treatment his sister was undergoing and went to the Huangs pretending that his mother was sick and that she wanted her daughter home, hoping in this way to get her away from her tormentors.  But the old woman refused to allow her daughter-in-law to leave the house, fearful lest she should persuade her own people to complain to the authorities on the charge of forcing a respectable girl to become a prostitute, a crime which the law is very strict against.  Unable to bear longer the stories that went the

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round of his sister's sufferings in the Huang family, Li Chen-siang assembled in January, 1896, a crowd of his fellow villagers to go with him to the Huang's village and demand satisfaction from Huang Ta-chang and his father Huang Ch'i-chien. The upshot of this was that after Li-shih had told the assembly of the cruelties she had suffered for refusing to be unchaste, that the old man Huang Ch'i-chen publicly scolded and beat his wife and daughter for what they had done, and also ordered his son to kowtow to the brother-in-law and his fellow villagers as a sign of apology, at the same time promising on behalf of the old woman his wife that no attempts would be made to prostitute Li-shih again.

   This apparently satisfied the brother and his fellow-villagers and they went back to their homes.  Huang Ch'i-chen then re-entered his house and have his wife, the old woman, and his daughter another beating, after which he had to return to the city to re-open his school after the New Year holidays.  His son did not accompany him on that day, so when night came the old woman, being filled with a great hatred against Li-shih for being the cause of her receiving two beatings at the hands of the old man, peremptorily ordered the son to beat his wife.  The son went down on his knees to his mother to pray for mercy for his wife, but the old beldame was determined and the young man goaded to madness by his mother's taunts picked up a stick and struck Li-shih several times with it, but not sufficient to hurt her.  Then the old woman reproached her son for not striking Li-shih hard enough and she being on the floor received a couple of kicks which hurt the poor girl on her right side.  When Li-shih upbraided her husband for treating her like this, the young man threw down the stick and dashed off in a frenzy outside the inn gates.

   The room now bring left to the three women, the old beldame at once picked up the stick dropped by her son and commenced to belabour her daughter-in-law with the greatest cruelty, drawing blood from the head of her poor victim.  The sight of blood seemed to have maddened the old woman for she ordered the daughter to take a rope and twist it tightly round Li-shih's neck to prevent her calling out for help, while she herself got hold of a pair of scissors and using a chopstick to force Li-Shi's tongue out the old beldame clipped off the edge of her daughter-in-law's tongue, calling out at the same time "There, you can now talk like a blackbird and tell the whole village how I treat you!"  Not satisfied yet the old woman tore off Li-Shih's clothes and slipped off her left nipple and a piece of the flesh on the left thigh.  Seeing that Li-

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Shih was still alive, she perpetrated other fiendishness too horrible to put down on paper, which effectually killed her victim, the daughter all the while helping the mother by holding Lih-Shih down on the ground and preventing her from getting up and trying to escape after her cowardly husband, who should have remained and prevented his mother from making a murderess of herself. 

   They then secreted the body of the poor girl and gave out next day that she had run away, while they accused Li Chen-siang, the brother, of having helped his sister to escape.  There were some indeed who were even inclined to believe this story, but in the meantime the district magistrate heard an imperfect rumour of the affair, and set about to discover the whole thing by himself.  After some detective work during which he made personal enquiries at the inn in ordinary clothes, his suspicions were so far confirmed that he sent his runners to summon Li Chen-siang, the brother of the missing girl, and then in official state went to the inn and ordered a search to be made on the grounds.  The sudden appearance of the magistrate, whom the old woman and her daughter at once recognised as the disguised fortune teller who had lived in their inn for two days, so frightened them that they confessed, without torture, the whole of their inhuman c rime and pointed out the well into which the body of the poor girl had been thrown four days before.  The remains were in a horribly mutilated state and the whole of the Huang family were arrested and thrown into prison, while instructions were asked from memorialist as to what should be done in the matter.  In the meanwhile, Huang Ch'i-chen, husband of the murderess, being sick at the time of his arrest became worse, and died before the criminals could be sent under escort to the provincial capital. 

   As the circumstances are so unusual, insomuch that there is no law covering the case the memorialist has been compelled to sentence the murderess and her family by analogy and comparison with the law governing cases almost similar, but not exactly like it.  Hence he has sentenced the old beldame to decapitation, which, under the circumstances of being a senior of the victim, is the severest he can give by law, although she deserved a more dreadful penalty.  The daughter has been sentenced to death by strangulation after the autumn assizes this year.  As for the husband and the analogy in his case - that of a man grievously beating his wife without just cause, but not fatally - the law provides that he should be bambooed 60 blows and banished for a year, but owing to his conduct having been done at the command of his mother

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whom he could not disobey, the sentence has been made one degree lighter and that is 100 blows and a short imprisonment.  The old man who had been reprehensible for not preserving better order and family government at home should also be made to suffer for his neglect, but since he has died in the meantime there is no necessity for going further into his case. The man Lung, the author of all the subsequent troubles, should also be punished and a warrant for his arrest has been sent out by the Provincial Judge.

   Finally, the poor victim Li-shih, who stood firm in her determination to be chaste, although death was staring her in the face at the hands of the hag whose glaring optics were bent over her - such firmness to do right deserves the highest commendation and should be made an example to the women of China for all time.  Hence memorialist has arranged to have a p'ailou or memorial arch erected over her grave with a sketch of her sad life and horrible ending.  Memorialist, in conclusion, thinking that summary retribution should be made in a horrible and fiendish case like the present in order to strike terror into the hearts of similar natures, therefore ordered the execution of the woman Huang Yuan-shih immediately after it was determined upon, and her daughter was also strangled at the same time.  His Majesty's approval is requested thereon.

Rescript: Noted.  Let the Board of Punishments also take note.

 

Aug. 14th.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(1) The Censor Sung Peh-lu reports to us a case which happened last year in which two men were poisoned to death in the Middle City, but which was hushed up owing to the influence and wealth of the guilty parties who heavily bribed the Police Censor, Chang Chung-yi and other subordinate officials of the said Middle City.  Further that in spite of the repeated attempts of the widowed mother of one of the poisoned men to ask for an investigation and inquest the officials of the said city have, so far, succeeded in preventing her petition from getting beyond their courts.  The memorialist hearing of the matter accuses the said Police Censor Chang Chung-yi of trying to suppress such a case of vital importance as that of murder and prays that the Board of Punishments may be commanded to take up the matter and make a thorough investigation, so that the guilty ones may suffer and the unfortunate widow get justice. 

 

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The memorial is hereby granted and the said Board is ordered to investigate in a strict and impartial manner and report to us.

 

Aug. 29th.  IMPERIAL DECREE.

Lu Ch'uan-lin, Viceroy of Szech'uan, reports that on the 12th of June last a condemned criminal, named Wen Pai-yuan, confined in the prisons of the sub-prefect of Yuyang, in Szech'uan, assisted by twenty-three others, suddenly rose against the gaolers and in the fight that ensued killed and wounded a large number of the latter as well as some soldiers who came upon the alarm being given.  Some of the prisoners made their way to the private apartments of the acting sub-prefect Ch'en Te-tung with the object of murder and pillage, and severely wounded him.  The latter's son, Ch'en Hung-cho, an M.A. of Hupeh, seeing his father in danger came to the latter's rescue, and in trying to protect his parent from further harm was killed by the gaol-breakers.  Wounded though he was, however, the said sub-prefect bravely led his men to the attack and, assisted by the military, managed to kill on the spot nine of the prisoners, recapturing alive the ring-leader Wen Pei-yuan and six others.  Three others were subsequently captured. These ten were eventually summarily executed by an order of the said Viceroy.

   We hereby command the gaolwarden of Yuyang to be forthwith cashiered and arrested and brought to Ch'engtu for trial before the said Viceroy.  As for the said sub-prefect, having but lately arrived at Yuyang and being then, moreover, busy with issuing famine relief coupled with his subsequent conduct during the fighting that occurred, we must commend him for what he did and excuse him from the penalties which such an affair would surely have been imposed upon him.  The filial piety shown by his son is also most commendable, and we hereby grant permission to the aid Viceroy to suggest something to commemorate the deceased M.A.'s filial piety.

 

Sep. 2nd.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(4) Decree commanding Lu Ch'uan-lin, Viceroy of Szech'uan, to summarily decapitate the recaptured prisoners who tried to break gaol in August last at Yuyang, and who killed a number of gaolers, and soldiers and also the son of the chihsien, a chujen of Hupeh, who was on a visit to his father.  The name of the son of the said magistrate of Yuyang is permitted to be recorded in the historical archives for his

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filial piety in trying to defend his father, thereby receiving the death blow which was meant for his parent.

 

Sep. 14th.  IMPERIAL DECREE.

(1) With reference to the case of one Wang Yuan-lai, a citizen of the Middle City of Peking, whose death, under suspicious circumstances, was reported to the Throne by the Censor Sung Peh-lu, and in consequence of which we ordered a special tribunal of the Board of Punishments to try the case and bring the guilty ones to justice, we have now further received a memorial from Ting Chih-shih, a Supervising Censor, who denounces the methods of the said tribunal in investigating the case and accusing the judicial deputies of having been guilty of using illegal and excessive tortures while trying to obtain "confessions."  The second memorialist prays that some high minister of the Court be specially appointed to go over the whole ground, etc.

   As we find upon enquiry that the said case is still in suspenso and that a verdict is, as yet, as far off as ever, we hereby command that the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Court of Censors shall join the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Board of Punishments in forming a special tribunal to re-try the said case and earnestly endeavour to get at the truth of the whole matter.  We insist that the case be sifted to its very dregs. [see Aug. 14th above.]

 

Nov. 28th.  IMPERIAL DECREES.

(1) On a former occasion the censor Sung Peh-lu denounced the officials of the Middle City for having accepted bribes in a case of alleged murder in consequence of which the guilty persons escaped the punishment they deserve, etc.  We therefore command[ed] the Board of Punishments to investigate the matter.  While the trial was going on, the Supervising Censor Ting Chih-shih denounced the officers of the said Board composing the tribunal trying the case for using illegal tortures, etc., in order to force the witnesses to give the evidence desired.  We therefore commanded the President of the Court of Censors, Yu Te, and the President of the said Board to make a careful investigation of the whole affair and report to us at once.  The said officials now report that it had transpired that after all there had been no foul play but that the dead persons had been asphyxiated with charcoal one cold night while sleeping in

 

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their shop, the same having been proved by actual demonstration as well as by the evidence of the relatives of the dead men.

   Further that the censor Sung Peh-lu had only done his duty in reporting to the Throne what he had heard amongst the common people, having no enmity at all to the officials he had denounced.  Again, the bambooing given to the obdurate witnesses who said one thing one day and something else another day could not be considered illegal, and therefore the memorialists recommend that no further notice be taken of the case, and that all those wrongly imprisoned be forthwith released.

The memorial is hereby granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan. 24th. IMPERIAL DECREES.

(2) Owing to an attack upon certain missionaries the other day in Chuye district, Shantung province, resulting in the death of some of the said missionaries, the said robbers have been captured and punished according to law. 

   We now command that Li Ping-heng, then Governor of Shantung but promoted to the Viceroy-ship of Szech'uan, be ordered to resign his appointment, and because he was not able to prevent such attacks of robbers while holding the supreme control of the province of Shantung her has been guilty of reprehensible conduct and he is hereby handed to the Board of Civil Appointments for the determination of an adequate penalty.  The said Governor's subordinates at the time, namely Hsi Liang (Manchu) Taotai of the Yen-Yi Ts'ao-Chi Intendancy; Wan Pen-hua, Brigadier-General of the Military Circuit of Ts'aochoufu, are hereby also to be handed to the Boards concerned for determination of adequate penalties.  As for Hsu Ting-jui, district magistrate of Chuye, aforesaid, having proved himself most incapable in his duties, with an effete police organisation, and further failing to report promptly the occurrence of the attack and murder of the said missionaries by robbers in his district, we command that he be cashiered and dismissed for his misconduct.  [also mentions an attack on a chapel, and fighting "between Christians and the people,..."  The punishments were published on 31st January and 1st February.]

 

Jun. 20th. IMPERIAL DECREES.

(4) Chang Ju-mei, Governor of Shantung, denounces one Ko Hung-on, magistrate of Feihsien, Shantung, for having neglected to investigate into a case of robbery upon the property of a commoner under his jurisdiction, but on the contrary wrongfully punished the latter on the ground of having given a false report of robbery, insomuch that this victim of the robbers and officials in his despair of getting justice committed suicide, etc.  This is a most despicable instance of muddle-headedness and stupidity on the part of the accused magistrate that we have ever heard of, and we hereby cashier him at once as a warning to others.

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Unfortunately, after this time, crime took a back seat to History.

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