Sacred Rocks, Interior Of China

Sacred Rocks, Interior Of China.

Li hung Chang's visiting   card.

Li hung Chang's visiting - card.

A Joss   House

A Joss - House.

Watering   Place For Animals

Watering - Place For Animals.

Place Of Execution, Canton

Place Of Execution, Canton.

The object of most gruesome interest to me in Canton was its place of execution. On entering this, I looked about me with astonishment; for almost all the space between the rough brick walls was filled with coarse, cheap articles of pottery. Ah Cum explained, however, that when a batch of heads are to be cut off, the jars are all removed, much as a hotel dining-room is cleared for dancing. The condemned prisoners are always brought in baskets to this place, and are compelled to kneel down with their hands tied behind their backs. Their queues are then thrown forward, and they are beheaded at a single stroke. Traces of blood were visible on the ground, and from a mass of rubbish close at hand a grinning Chinaman pulled out several skulls which he had hidden there, and claimed a fee for exhibiting them. I was presented to the executioner, and asked him how many men he had himself decapitated, but he could not tell. He kept no count, he said - some days six, some days ten, in all probably more than a thousand. As he was resolutely opposed to having his picture taken, we placed his two-edged sword against the wall, and photographed that. When I was told that, once a week, twenty or thirty men are brought into this filthy court to die like cattle in a slaughterhouse, I stood aghast, but when I subsequently learned that this is the only execution-place in a great province with a population of twenty millions, the number did not seem so appallingly excessive. This is, however, merely the average in ordinary times. After certain insurrections, such as the Taiping rebellion, this hideous square has seemed almost a reservoir of human blood. The venerable missionary, Dr.

A Pagoda

A Pagoda.

Drawing Water

Drawing Water.

Female Culprits

Female Culprits.

Williams, states that he saw here one morning at least two hundred headless trunks, and stacks of human heads piled six feet high. Careful estimates place the number executed here during fourteen months, at eighty-one thousand, - or more than thirteen hundred every week!

I doubt if many criminals beheaded here feel much regret at leaving life, so horrible has been their previous condition in the Canton prison. We visited this institution, but to obtain a picture of it was impossible. Within an ill-kept, loathsome area, we saw a crowd of prisoners wearing chains, while around their necks were heavy wooden collars, which, being from three to five feet square, were so wide that the poor wretches wearing them could never possibly feed themselves, but must depend on others for their nourishment. How they lie down to sleep with them on I do not know. Yet they must wear such collars for weeks, and even months, at a time. I have no sentimental sympathy for criminals, and thoroughly believe in the enforcement of just laws, but I was shocked at the sight of these poor creatures. Whatever may have been their guilt, such treatment is a degradation of humanity.

A Prisoner

A Prisoner.

Leaving the place of execution, we made our way to one of the criminal courts of Canton. It was in session when we entered it, and I never can forget the sight that met my gaze. Before the judge was a prisoner on his knees, pleading for mercy and protesting innocence. Chains were around his neck, waist, wrists, and ankles. Beside him knelt an aged woman, whose gray hair swept the floor as she rocked back and forth, imploring vengeance on her son's assassin. At last the culprit confessed his crime of murder, and was led back to prison. How sincere his confession was, it would be hard to say; for if, in the face of powerful adverse testimony, an accused man still asserts his innocence, he is often punished in the court - room till he does confess. Around the hall were various instruments of torture - bamboo rods to flog the naked back; hard leather straps with which to strike the prisoner on the mouth, thus sometimes breaking the teeth and even the jaw; thumb-screws and cords by which he is suspended by his thumbs and toes; and heavy sticks with which to beat his ankles. I did not happen to see these used, because in the three trials I witnessed all of the prisoners confessed. But they are used; and just as I was entering the court, I met a criminal being led back to prison, so weak and crippled by his punishment, that he could hardly step without assistance. Curiously enough, after the torture has been administered, the culprit is required to fall upon his knees and thank the judge. This I should think would be "the most unkindest cut of all."