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Colonial Cases

R v. Rice, 1864


R. v. Rice

Consular Court, Hankow
Source: The North-China Herald, 23 July 1864



To the Editor of the "NORTH-CHINA HERALD."

SIR, - After the decision given today in the Consular Court of Hankow, I am at a loss to understand how the English Authorities are, in future, to enforce capital punishment of any Chinaman for the murder of any of our countrymen.

Now, Sir, I maintain that this man was either guilty of a cruel, cowardly murder, and ought to have been given "life for life," or that he was innocent, and should have been acquitted.  For although it is the fashion  for certain people to consider a Chinaman's life as of little value, there is nothing wither in the Divine or English code of laws, that admits of this difference between a pagan and a so-called Christian.

In this case, an unfortunate old Chinaman who was come in from the country for a holiday, and is merely satisfying his curiosity by looking at a foreigner and his house, is at once shot without any warning.  This, however, is a trivial offence apparently for an Englishman to commit, as he is merely fined and ordered to leave China, an order that permits him to take up his residence in the pleasantest spot on the whole coast - Hong-kong.


HANKOW, 16th July, 1864.

To the Editor of the "NORTH-CHINA HERALD."

SIR, - In your paper of the 8th instant, appears a letter signed "Pistol," from Hankow, finding fault with the judgment given in the British Consular Court on the 1st instant, against Dr. Rice for shooting a Chinaman opposite his own door.'

The evidence adduced proved the occurrence to have been not in "hot blood" or with "intention to kill," consequently not "murder" as questioned by your correspondent; the punishment is generally regarded here as ample for the offence.

On the other hand, the penalty cannot be considered too severe for an act of indiscretion by a man of Dr. Rice's years, whose presence among us might lead to a repetition of the offence, and to more fatal consequences than in the present instance.  


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