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3. Lecture III: Democratic China



Theoretically speaking, the Empire of China is ruled by an autocratic monarch, responsible only to God, whose representative he is on earth.

Once every year the Emperor prays at the Temple of Heaven, and sacrifices in solemn state upon its altar. He puts himself, as it were, into communication with the Supreme Being, and reports upon the fidelity with which he has carried out his Imperial trust.

If the Emperor rules wisely and well, with only the happiness of his people at heart, there will be no sign from above, beyond peace and plenty in the Empire, and now and then a double ear of corn in the fields-a phenomenon which will be duly recorded in the Peking Gazette. But should there be anything like laxness or incapacity, or still worse, degradation and vice, then a comet may perhaps appear, a pestilence may rage, or a famine, to warn the erring ruler to give up his evil ways.

And just as the Emperor is responsible to Heaven, so are the viceroys and governors of the eighteen provinces-to speak only of China proper-nominally responsible to him, in reality to the six departments of state at Peking, which constitute the central government, and to which a seventh has recently been added-a department for foreign affairs.

So long as all goes well-and in ordinary times that "all" is confined to a regular and sufficient supply of revenue paid into the Imperial Treasury-viceroys and governors of provinces are, as nearly as can be, independent rulers, each in his own domain.

For purposes of government, in the ordinary sense of the term, the 18 provinces are subdivided into 80 areas known as "circuits," and over each of these is set a high official, who is called an intendant of circuit, or in Chinese a Tao-t'ai. His circuit consists of 2 or more prefectures, of which there are in all 282 distributed among the 80 circuits, or about an average of 3 prefectures to each.

Every prefecture is in turn subdivided into several magistracies, of which there are 1477 in all, distributed among the 282 prefectures, or about an average of 5 magistracies to each.

Immediately below the magistrates may be said to come the people; though naturally an official who rules over an area as big as an average English county can scarcely be brought into personal touch with all those under his jurisdiction. This difficulty is bridged over by the appointment of a number of head men, or headboroughs, who are furnished with wooden seals, and who are held responsible for the peace and good order of the wards or boroughs over which they are set. The post is considered an honourable one, involving as it does a quasi-official status. It is also more or less lucrative, as it is necessary that all petitions to the magistrate, all conveyances of land, and other legal instruments, should bear the seal of the head man, as a guarantee of good faith, a small fee being payable on each notarial act.

On the other hand, the post is occasionally burdensome and trying in the extreme. For instance, if a head man fails to produce any criminals or accused persons, either belonging to, or known to be, in his district, he is liable to be bambooed or otherwise severely punished.

In ordinary life the head man is not distinguishable from the masses of his fellow-countrymen. He may often be seen working like the rest, and even walking about with bare legs and bare feet.

Thus in a descending scale we have the Emperor, the viceroys and governors of the 18 provinces, the intendants, or Tao-t'ais, of the 80 circuits, the prefects of the 282 prefectures, the magistrates of the 1477 magistracies, the myriad headboroughs, and the people.

The district magistrates, so far as officials are concerned, are the real rulers of China, and in conjunction with the prefects are popularly called "father-and-mother" officials, as though they stood in loco parentium to the people, whom, by the way, they in turn often speak of, even in official documents, as "the babies."

The ranks of these magistrates are replenished by drafts of those literati who have succeeded in taking the third, or highest, degree. Thus, the first step on the ladder is open to all who can win their way by successful competition at certain literary examinations, so long as each candidate can show that none of his ancestors for three generations have been either actors, barbers and chiropodists, priests, executioners, or official servants.

Want of means may be said to offer no obstacle in China to ambition and desire for advancement. The slightest aptitude in a boy for learning would be carefully noted, and if found to be the genuine article, would be still more carefully fostered. Not only are there plenty of free schools in China, but there are plenty of persons ready to help in so good a cause. Many a high official has risen from the furrowed fields, his educational expenses as a student, and his travelling expenses as a candidate, being paid by subscription in his native place. Once successful, he can easily find a professional money-lender who will provide the comparatively large sums required for his outfit and journey to his post, whither this worthy actually accompanies him, to remain until he is repaid in full, with interest.

A successful candidate, however, is not usually sent straight from the examination-hall to occupy the important position of district magistrate. He is attached to some magistracy as an expectant official, and from time to time his capacity is tested by a case, more or less important, which is entrusted to his management as deputy.

The duties of a district magistrate are so numerous and so varied that one man could not possibly cope with them all. At the same time he is fully responsible. In addition to presiding over a court of first instance for all criminal trials in his district, he has to act as coroner (without a jury) at all inquests, collect and remit the land-tax, register all conveyances of land and house-property, act as preliminary examiner of candidates for literary degrees, and perform a host of miscellaneous offices, even to praying for rain or fine weather in cases of drought or inundation. He is up, if anything, before the lark; and at night, often late at night, he is listening to the protestations of prisoners or bambooing recalcitrant witnesses.

But inasmuch as the district may often be a large one, and two inquests may be going on in two different directions on the same day, or there may be other conflicting claims upon his time, he has constantly to depute his duties to a subordinate, whose usual duties, if he has any, have to be taken by some one else, and so on. Thus it is that the expectant official every now and then gets his chance.

This scheme leaves out of consideration a number of provincial officials, who preside over departments which branch, as it were, from the main trunk, and of whom a few words only need now be said.

There are several "commissioners," as they are sometimes called; for instance, the commissioner of finance, otherwise known as the provincial treasurer, who is charged with the fiscal administration of his particular province, and who controls the nomination of nearly all the minor appointments in the civil service, subject to the approval of the governor.

Then there is the commissioner of justice, or provincial judge, responsible for the due administration of justice in his province.

There is also the salt commissioner, who collects the revenue derived from the government monopoly of the salt trade; and the grain commissioner, who looks after the grain-tax, and sees that the tribute rice is annually forwarded to Peking, for the use of the Imperial Court.

There are also military officials, belonging to two separate and distinct army organisations.

The Manchus, when they conquered the Empire, placed garrisons of their own troops, under the command of Manchu generals, at various important strategic points; and the Tartar generals, as they are called, still remain, ranking nominally just above the viceroy of the province, over whose actions they are supposed to keep a careful watch.

Then there is a provincial army, with a provincial commander-in-chief, etc.

Now let us return to the main trunk, working upward by way of recapitulation.

We have reached the people and their head men, or headboroughs, over whom is set the magistrate, with a nominal salary which would be quite insufficient for his needs, even if he were ever to draw it. For he has a large staff to keep up; some few of whom, no doubt, keep themselves by fees and douceurs of various kinds obtained from litigants and others who have business to transact.

The income on which the magistrate lives, and from which, after a life of incessant toil, he saves a moderate competence for the requirements of his family, is deducted from the gross revenues of his magistracy, leaving a net amount to be forwarded to the Imperial Treasury. So long as his superiors are satisfied with what he remits, no questions are asked as to original totals. It is recognised that he must live, and the value of every magistracy is known within a few hundred ounces of silver one way or the other.

Above the magistrate, and in control of several magistracies, comes the prefect, who has to satisfy his superiors in the same way. He has the general supervision of all civil business in his prefecture, and to him must be referred every appeal case from the magistracies under his jurisdiction, before it can be filed in a higher court.

Above him comes the intendant of circuit, or Tao-t'ai, in control of several prefectures, to whom the same rule applies as to satisfying demands of superiors; and above him come the governor and viceroy, who must also satisfy the demands of the state departments in Peking.

It would now appear, from what has been already stated, that all a viceroy or governor has to do is to exact sufficient revenue from immediate subordinates, and leave them to exact the amounts necessary from their subordinates, and so on down the scale until we reach the people. The whole question therefore resolves itself into this, What can the people be made to pay?

The answer to that question will be somewhat of a staggerer to those who from distance, or from want of close observation, regard the Chinese as a down-trodden people, on a level with the Fellahin of Egypt in past times. For the answer, so far as my own experience goes, is that only so much can be got out of the Chinese people as the people themselves are ready and willing to pay. In other words, with all their show of an autocratic ruler and a paternal government, the people of China tax themselves.

I am now about to do more than state this opinion; I am going to try to prove it.

The philosopher Mencius, who flourished about one hundred years after Confucius, and who is mainly responsible for the final triumph of the Confucian doctrine, was himself not so much a teacher of ethics as a teacher of political science. He spent a great part of his life wandering from feudal state to feudal state, advising the various vassal nobles how to order their dominions with the maximum of peace and prosperity and the minimum of misery and bloodshed.

One of these nobles, Duke Wên, asked Mencius concerning the proper way to govern a state.

"The affairs of the people," replied the philosopher, "must not be neglected. For the way of the people is thus: If they have a fixed livelihood, their hearts will also be fixed; but if they have not a fixed livelihood, neither will their hearts be fixed. And if they have not fixed hearts, there is nothing in the way of crime which they will not commit. Then, when they have involved themselves in guilt, to follow up and punish them,-this is but to ensnare them."

In another passage Mencius says: "The tyrants of the last two dynasties, Chieh and Chou, lost the Empire because they lost the people, by which I mean that they lost the hearts of the people. There is a way to get the Empire;-get the people, and you have the Empire. There is a way to get the people;-get their hearts, and you have them. There is a way to get their hearts;-do for them what they wish, and avoid doing what they do not wish."

Those are strong words, especially when we consider that they come from one of China's most sacred books, regarded by the Chinese with as much veneration as the Bible by us,-a portion of that Confucian Canon, the principles of which it is the object of every student to master, and should be the object of every Chinese official to carry into practice.

But those words are mild compared with another utterance by Mencius in the same direction.

"The people are the most important element in a nation; the gods come next; the sovereign is the least important of all."

We have here, in Chinese dress, wherein indeed much of Western wisdom will be found, if students will only look for it, very much the same sentiment as in the familiar lines by Oliver Goldsmith:-

"Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,-
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride
When once destroyed, can never be supplied."

The question now arises, Are all these solemn sayings of Mencius to be regarded as nothing more than mere literary rodomontade, wherewith to beguile an enslaved people? Do the mandarins keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope? Or do the Chinese people enjoy in real life the recognition which should be accorded to them by the terms of the Confucian Canon?

Every one who has lived in China, and has kept his eyes open, must have noticed what a large measure of personal freedom is enjoyed by even the meanest subject of the Son of Heaven. Any Chinaman may travel all over China without asking any one's leave to start, and without having to report himself, or be reported by his innkeeper, at any place at which he may choose to stop. He requires no passport. He may set up any legitimate business at any place. He is not even obliged to be educated, or to follow any particular calling. He is not obliged to serve as a soldier or sailor. There are no sumptuary laws, nor even any municipal laws. Outside the penal code, which has been pronounced by competent Western lawyers to be a very ably constructed instrument of government, there is nothing at all in the way of law, civil law being altogether absent as a state institution. Even the penal code is not too rigidly enforced. So long as a man keeps clear of secret societies and remains a decent and respectable member of his family and of his clan, he has very little to fear from the officials. The old ballad of the husbandman, which has come down to us from a very early date indeed, already hints at some such satisfactory state of things. It runs thus:-

"Work, work,-from the rising sun
Till sunset comes and the day is done
I plough the sod,
And harrow the clod,
And meat and drink both come to me,-
Ah, what care I for the powers that be?"

Many petty offences which are often dealt with very harshly in England, pass in China almost unnoticed. No shopkeeper or farmer would be fool enough to charge a hungry man with stealing food, for the simple reason that no magistrate would convict. It is the shopkeeper's or farmer's business to see that such petty thefts cannot occur. Various other points might be noticed; but we must get back to taxation, which is really the crux of the whole position.

All together the Chinese people may be said to be lightly taxed. There is the land-tax, in money and in kind; a tax on salt; and various octroi and customs-duties, all of which are more or less fixed quantities, so that the approximate amount which each province should contribute to the central government is well known at Peking, just as it is well known in each province what amounts, approximately speaking, should be handed up by the various grades of territorial officials.

I have already stated that municipal government is unknown; consequently there are no municipal rates to be paid, no water-rate, no poor-rate, and not a cent for either sanitation or education. And so long as the Imperial taxes are such as the people have grown accustomed to, they are paid cheerfully, even if sometimes with difficulty, and nothing is said.

A curious instance of this conservative spirit in the Chinese people, even when operating against their own interests, may be found in the tax known as likin, against which foreign governments have struggled so long in vain. This tax, originally one-tenth per cent on all sales, was voluntarily imposed upon themselves by the people, among whom it was at first very popular, with a view of making up the deficiency in the land-tax of China caused by the T'ai-p'ing Rebellion and subsequent troubles. It was to be set apart for military purposes only,-hence its common name "war-tax,"-and was alleged by the Tsung-li Yamên to be adopted merely as a temporary measure. Yet, though forty years have elapsed, it still continues to be collected as if it were one of the fundamental taxes of the Empire, and the objections to it are raised, not by the people of China, but by foreign merchants with whose trade it interferes. Here we have already one instance of voluntary self-taxation on the part of the people; what I have yet to show is that all taxation, even though not initiated as in this case by the people, must still receive the stamp of popular approval before being put into force. On this point I took a good many notes during a fairly long residence in China, leading to conclusions which seem to me irresistible.

Let us suppose that the high authorities of a province have determined, for pressing reasons, to make certain changes in the incidence of taxation, or have called upon their subordinates to devise means for causing larger sums to find their way into the provincial treasury. The invariable usage, previous to the imposition of a new tax, or change in the old, is for the magistrate concerned to send for the leading merchants whose interests may be involved, or for the headboroughs and village elders, according to the circumstances in each case, and to discuss the proposition in private. Over an informal entertainment, over tea and pipes, the magistrate pleads the necessities of the case, and the peremptory orders of his superiors; the merchants or village elders, feeling that, as in the case of likin above mentioned, when taxes come they come to stay, resist on principle the new departure by every argument at their control. The negotiation ends, in ninety-nine instances out of a hundred, in a compromise. In the hundredth instance the people may think it right to give way, or the mandarin may give way, in which case things remain in statu quo, and nothing further is heard of the matter.

There occur cases, however, happily rare, in which neither will give way-at first. Then comes the tug of war. A proclamation is issued, describing the tax, or the change, or whatever it may be, and the people, if their interests are sufficiently involved, prepare to resist.

Combination has been raised in China to the level of a fine art. Nowhere on earth can be found such perfect cohesion of units against forces which would crush each unit, taken individually, beyond recognition. Every trade, every calling, even the meanest, has its guild, or association, the members of which are ever ready to protect one another with perfect unanimity, and often great self-sacrifice. And combination is the weapon with which the people resist, and successfully resist, any attempt on the part of the governing classes to lay upon them loads greater than they can or will bear. The Chinese are withal an exceptionally law-abiding people, and entertain a deep-seated respect for authority. But their obedience and their deference have pecuniary limits.

I will now pass from the abstract to the concrete, and draw upon my note-book for illustrations of this theory that the Chinese are a self-taxing and self-governing people.

Under date October 10, 1880, from Chung-king in the province of Ssŭch'uan, the following story will be found in the North China Herald, told by a correspondent:-

"Yesterday the Pah-shien magistrate issued a proclamation, saying that he was going to raise a tax of 200 cash on each pig killed by the pork-butchers of this city, and the butchers were to reimburse themselves by adding 2 cash per pound to the price of pork. The butchers, who had already refused to pay 100 cash per hog, under the late magistrate, were not likely to submit to the payment of 200 under this one, and so resolved not to kill pigs until the grievance was removed; and this morning a party of them went about the town and seized all the pork they saw exposed for sale. Then the whole of the butchers, over five hundred at least, shut themselves up in their guild, where the magistrate tried to force an entry with two hundred or three hundred of his runners. The butchers, however, refused to open the door, and the magistrate had to retire very much excited, threatening to bring them to terms. People are inclined to think the magistrate acted wrongly in taking a large force with him, saying he ought to have gone alone."

Three days later, October 13:-

"There is great excitement throughout the city, and I am told that the troops are under arms. I have heard several volleys of small arms being fired off, as if in platoon exercise. All the shops are shut, people being afraid that the authorities may deal severely with the butchers, and that bad characters will profit by the excitement to rob and plunder the shops."

Two days later, October 15:-

"The pork-butchers are still holding out in their guild-house, and refuse to recommence business until the officials have promised that the tax on pigs will not be enforced now or hereafter. The prefect has been going the rounds of the city calling on the good people of his prefecture to open their shops and transact business as usual, saying that the tax on pigs did not concern other people, but only the butchers."

One day later, October 16:-

"The Pah-shien magistrate has issued a proclamation apologising to the people generally, and to the butchers particularly, for his share of the work in trying to increase the obnoxious tax on pigs. So the officials have all miserably failed in squeezing a cash out of the 'sovereign people' of Ssŭch'uan."

I have a similar story from Hangchow, in Chehkiang, under date April 10, 1889, which begins as follows:-

"The great city of Hangchow is extremely dry. There are probably seven hundred thousand people here, but not a drop of tea can be bought in any of the public tea-houses. There is a strike in tea. The tea-houses are all closed by common agreement, to resist a tax, imposed in the beginning of the year, to raise money for the sufferers by famine."

In the next communication from this correspondent, we read, "The strike of the keepers of tea-shops ended very quietly a few days after it began, by the officials agreeing to accept the sum of fifteen hundred dollars once for all, and release tea from taxation."

This is what happened recently in Pakhoi, in the province of Kuangtung:-

"Without the consent of the dealers, a new local tax was imposed on the raw opium in preparation for use in the opium shops. The imposition of this tax brought to light the fact, hitherto kept secret, that of the opium consumed in Pakhoi and its district, only sixty-two per cent was imported drug, the remaining third being native opium, which was smuggled into Pakhoi, and avoided all taxation. The new tax brought this smuggled opium under contribution, and this was more than the local opium interest would stand. The opium dealers adopted the usual tactics of shutting their shops, thus transferring the onus of opposition to their customers. These last paid a threatening visit to the chief authority of Pakhoi, and then wrecked the newly established tax-office. This indication of popular feeling was enough for the local authorities at Lien-chou, the district city, and the tax was changed so as to fall on the foreign opium, the illicit native supply being discreetly ignored, and all rioters forgiven."

So much for taxation. Let us take an instance of interference with prescriptive rights, in connection with the great incorruptible viceroy, Chang Chih-tung, to whom we are all so much indebted for his attitude during the Siege of the Legations in 1900.

Ten years ago, when starting his iron-works at Wuchang, in the province of Hupeh, he ordered the substitution of a drawbridge over a creek for the old bridge which had stood there from time immemorial, the object being to let steamers pass freely up and down. Unfortunately, the old bridge was destroyed before the new one was ready. What was the result?

"The people rushed to the Yamên, and insisted by deputation and mass-brawling on the restoration of the bridge.

"Finally, the viceroy thought it worth his while to issue a rhyming proclamation, assuring the people that what he was doing was for their good, and justifying his several schemes."

Yet Chang Chih-tung always has been, and is still, one of the strongest officials who ever sat upon a viceroy's throne.

In November, 1882, there was a very serious military riot in Hankow, on the opposite side of the Yang-tsze to Wuchang. It arose out of a report that four soldiers had been arrested and were to be secretly beheaded the same night. This rising might have assumed very serious dimensions, but for the prompt submission of the viceroy to the soldiers' demands. As it was, the whole city was thrown into a state of the utmost alarm. Few of the inhabitants slept through the night. The streets were filled with a terror-stricken population, expecting at any moment to hear that the prison doors had been forced, and the criminals let loose to join the soldiers in their determination to kill the officials, plunder the treasury, and sack the city. Many citizens are said to have fled from the place; and the sudden rush upon the cash shops, to convert paper notes into silver, brought some of them to the verge of bankruptcy.

I have recorded, under March, 1891, a case in which several Manchus were sentenced by the magistrate of Chinkiang, at the instance of the local general, to a bambooing for rowdy behaviour. This is what followed:-

"The friends of the prisoners, to the number of about three hundred, assembled at the city temple, vowing vengeance on the magistrate and general. They proceeded to the yamên of the general, wrecked the wall and part of the premises, and put the city in an uproar. The magistrate fled with his family to the Tao-t'ai's yamên, where two hundred regular troops were sent to protect him against the fury of the Manchus, who threatened his life."

This is what happened to another magistrate in Kiangsu. He had imprisoned a tax-collector for being in arrears with his money; and the tax-collector's wife, frantic with rage, rushed to the magistracy and demanded his release. Unfortunately, she was suffering from severe asthma; and this, coupled with her anger, caused her death actually in the magistrate's court. The people then smashed and wrecked the magistracy, and pummelled and bruised the magistrate himself, who ultimately effected his escape in disguise and hid himself in a private dwelling.

Every one who has lived in China knows how dangerous are the periods when vast numbers of students congregate for the public examinations. Here is an example.

At Canton, in June, 1880, a student took back a coat he had purchased for half a dollar at a second-hand clothes shop, and wished to have it changed. The shopkeeper gave him rather an impatient answer, and thereupon the student called in a band of his brother B.A.'s to claim justice for literature. They seized a reckoning-board, or abacus, that lay on the counter, struck one of the assistants in the shop, and drew blood. The shopkeeper then beat an alarm on his gong, and summoned friends and neighbours to the rescue. Word was at once passed to bands of students in the neighbourhood, who promptly obeyed the call of a distressed comrade, and blows were delivered right and left. The shopkeepers summoned the district magistrate to the scene. Upon his arrival he ordered several of the literary ringleaders, who had been seized and bound by the shopkeepers, to be carried off and impounded. In the course of the evening he sentenced them to be beaten. A body of more than a hundred students then went to his yamên and demanded the immediate release of the prisoners. The magistrate grew nervous, yielded to their threats, and sent several of the offending students home in sedan-chairs. The magistrate then seized the assistants in the shop where the row began and sentenced them to be beaten on the mouth.

Next morning ten thousand shops were closed in the city and suburbs. The shopkeepers said they could not do business under such an administration of law. In the course of the morning a large meeting of the students was held in a college adjoining the examination hall. The district magistrate went out to confer with them. The students cracked his gong, and shattered his sedan-chair with showers of stones, and then prodded him with their fans and umbrellas, and bespattered him with dirt as his followers tried to carry him away on their shoulders. He was quite seriously hurt.

The prefect then met a large deputation of the shopkeepers in their guild-house in the course of the day, and expressed his dissatisfaction at the way in which the district magistrate had acted. A settlement was thus reached, which included fireworks for the students, and business was resumed.




Any individual who is aggrieved by the action, or inaction, of a Chinese official may have immediate recourse to the following method for obtaining justice, witnessed by me twice during my residence in China, and known as "crying one's wrongs."

Dressed in the grey sackcloth garb of a mourner, the injured party, accompanied by as many friends as he or she can collect together, will proceed to the public residence of the offending mandarin, and there howl and be otherwise objectionable, day and night, until some relief is given. The populace is invariably on the side of the wronged person; and if the wrong is deep, or the delay in righting it too long, there is always great risk of an outbreak, with the usual scene of house-wrecking and general violence.

It may now well be asked, how justice can ever be administered under such circumstances, which seem enough to paralyse authority in the presence of any evil-doer who can bring up his friends to the rescue.

To begin with, there is in China, certainly at all great centres, a large criminal population without friends,-men who have fallen from their high estate through inveterate gambling, indulgence in opium-smoking, or more rarely alcohol. No one raises a finger to protect these from the utmost vengeance of the law.

Then again, the Chinese, just as they tax themselves, so do they administer justice to themselves. Trade disputes, petty and great alike, are never carried into court, there being no recognised civil law in China beyond custom; they are settled by the guilds or trades-unions, as a rule to the satisfaction of all parties. Many criminal cases are equally settled out of court, and the offender is punished by agreement of the clan-elders or heads of families, and nothing is said; for compounding a felony is not a crime, but a virtue, in the eyes of the Chinese, who look on all litigation with aversion and contempt.

In the case of murder, however, and some forms of manslaughter, the ingrained conviction that a life should always be given for a life often outweighs any money value that could be offered, and the majesty of the law is upheld at any sacrifice.

It is not uncommon for an accused person to challenge his accuser to a kind of trial by ordeal, at the local temple.

Kneeling before the altar, at midnight, in the presence of a crowd of witnesses, the accused man will solemnly burn a sheet of paper, on which he has written, or caused to be written, an oath, totally denying his guilt, and calling upon the gods to strike him dead upon the spot, or his accuser, if either one is deviating in the slightest degree from the actual truth.

This is indeed a severe ordeal to a superstitious people, whatever it may seem to us. Even the mandarins avail themselves of similar devices in cases where they are unable to clear up a mystery in the ordinary way.

In a well-known case of a murder by a gang of ruffians, the magistrate, being unable to fix the guilt of the fatal blow upon any one of the gang, told them that he was going to apply to the gods. He then caused them all to be dressed in black coats, as is usual with condemned criminals, and arranged them in a dark shed, with their faces to the wall, saying that, in response to his prayers, a demon would be sent to mark the back of the guilty man. When at length the accused were brought out of the shed, one of them actually had a white mark on his back, and he at once confessed. In order to outwit the demon he had slily placed his back against the wall, which by the magistrate's secret orders had previously received a coat of whitewash.

I will conclude with a case which came under my own personal observation, and which first set me definitely on the track of democratic government in China.

In 1882 I was vice-consul at Pagoda Anchorage, a port near the famous Foochow Arsenal which was bombarded by Admiral Courbet in 1884. My house and garden were on an eminence overlooking the arsenal, which was about half a mile distant. One morning, after breakfast, the head official servant came to tell me there was trouble at the arsenal. A military mandarin, employed there as superintendent of some department, had that morning early kicked his cook, a boy of seventeen, in the stomach, and the boy, a weakly lad, had died within an hour. The boy's widowed mother was sitting by the body in the mandarin's house, and a large crowd of workmen had formed a complete ring outside, quietly awaiting the arrival and decision of the authorities.

By five o'clock in the afternoon, a deputy had arrived from the magistracy at Foochow, twelve miles distant, empowered to hold the usual inquest on behalf of the magistrate. The inquest was duly held, and the verdict was "accidental homicide."

In shorter time than it takes me to tell the story, the deputy's sedan-chair and paraphernalia of office were smashed to atoms. He himself was seized, his official hat and robe were torn to shreds, and he was bundled unceremoniously, not altogether unbruised, through the back door and through the ring of onlookers, into the paddy-fields beyond. Then the ring closed up again, and a low, threatening murmur broke out which I could plainly hear from my garden. There was no violence, no attempt to lynch the man; the crowd merely waited for justice. That crowd remained there all night, encircling the murderer, the victim, and the mother. Bulletins were brought to me every hour, and no one went to bed.

Meanwhile the news had reached the viceroy, and by half-past nine next morning the smoke of a steam-launch was seen away up the bends of the river. This time it bore the district magistrate himself, with instructions from the viceroy to hold a new inquest.

At about ten o'clock he landed, and was received with respectful silence. By eleven o'clock the murderer's head was off and the crowd had dispersed.