It is the custom in China , for a Mandarin of justice to administer it
daily , morning and evening , in his own house, where he is attended by
his secretary, or clerk, and by inferior officers, some of them bearing
iron shackles, and others, pan-tsees . Upon his right hand stands the
Prosecutor, or Informer ; and before him is a table with a covering of
silk , and the implements of writing for the secretary to take down the
depositions and defence . These having been written in black ink, the
magistrate signs them with red, and seals them with the same colour.
On the table there are, also, a number of small sticks, tipped with red ;
these are kept in open cases , and are used in the following manner : if
a culprit is convicted of a petty offence, the magistrate causes him to be
immediately chastised, and released . The usual punishment, upon such
occasions, is the pan -tsee, or bastinade, and the number of blows to be
inflicted is signified by the magistrate's casting some of the above men
tioned small sticks upon the floor : each stick denotes five blows.
The culprit, who, during the examination , has awaited the decree upon
his hands and knees , is then seized by the attendants, and punished as
will be seen in a subsequent Plate . After the magistrate has thrown the
sticks, he talks of other affairs, drinks his tea , or smokes his tobacco .
It is only for trivial breaches of the Chinese Laws , such as drunken
ness, cheating, squabbling, boxing, pilfering, insolence or inattention
towards a superior, or the like, that any magistrate is empowered to
administer punishment in a summary manner. Whenever the crime is
of such a description as to call for severer notice, it is generally exa
mined into by five or six tribunals, who not only require very particular
information concerning the charge, but scrutinize with minute exactness,
into the characters and manners of the accusers .
Their proceedings in capital accusations are thus protracted in China ,
lest any man should be unjustly deprived of the inestimable benefits of
honour or life : and no criminal can be executed , until his trial has been
sent to court, and his sentence has been confirmed by the Emperor.