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With this blog we hope to draw attention to the intriguing and remarkably rare items discovered by Harvard Library users during the course of their research. Harvard Library Preservation routinely reviews books returned through circulation, knowing that these returns include a surprising numbers of works that are too deteriorated to survive continued use, and are that too rare and interesting not to share online with the Harvard community, and beyond.

Titles are selected for digitization through various criteria such as rarity, condition, use, research relevance, and/or visual content. We invite you to peruse the titles posted here as well as subscribe to our feeds and see what titles queued for digitization, as well as those already completed and online.

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Dr. E.G. (Ernest Goodrich) Stillman, son of successful banker James Stillman, received degrees from Harvard and Columbia before pursuing a career in medical research. A devoted philanthropist and conservationist, Stillman was a generous benefactor of Harvard University. Like many Americans at the end of the 19th century, Stillman was drawn to Japan for its art, literature, culture, and history. During a trip to Japan in 1905, he purchased some 5,000 objects, including prints, photographs, books, and pamphlets. In the 1940s, Stillman made a large gift to the university, including a number of items from his personal collection of materials relating to Japan. Some of the photograph albums he donated contain hand-colored albumen prints taken by notable photographers such as Felice Beato, Baron Raimund von Stillfried, Kusakabe Kimbei, and Tamamura Kozaburo. These photo albums were popular souvenir items for foreign tourists. The albums would often include images of priests, pilgrims, actors, singers, street vendors, along with representative locations ranging from the urban markets to parks and gardens to spiritual shrines.

In this two album set from the Meiji period are scenic views of Tokyo, Koganei, Yokohama, Kamakura, Kobe, Matsushima Bay, and Awaji Island. Beautiful photographs of natural scenery, people, daily life, traditional customs, with iconic images of cherry trees, gardens, temples, shrines, teahouses, ferries, and rickshaws.

In another three album composite souvenir set are photographs taken in and around the inland city of Nikko, with an emphasis on the historic Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.


Japanese photographs of the Meiji period [graphic]. 1868-1897? 2 albums. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Photographs relating to Japan, 1898 [graphic]. ca. 1880-ca. 1895. 3 albums. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


A slideshow of this collection is available at: 

Stillman Photograph Albums of Japan – Slideshow


Additional information on E.G. Stillman’s collections and access to the photograph albums is available at:

Harvard College Library-Early Photography of Japan



Party Like It’s 1899

 “The tinkle of the ice—the delightful 
odor of the lemon peel—the fragrance and 
flavor of this ice-cold appetizer, what an 
apology it has been for cold soup
and overdone entree !”

The term “cocktail” has origins dating back to the 18th century. However, it was with the 1862 publication of Jerry Thomas’s “How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant’s Companion” that the term became commonplace to describe drink recipes where bitters was an essential ingredient. Jerry Thomas became known as the father of American mixology, often referred to as the “Professor” for his creative combinations, and his publication helped sparked the cocktail craze. As the popularity of cocktails increased, so did the proliferation of novel recipes. Not to be left behind, the Ivy Leaguers developed and championed their own unique cocktail drinks. Students in 1898, like those before and those afterwards, exhibited the predilection to impress others by consuming copious amounts of the latest drink fetish. By the end of the century, new recipes were making their way into print and more guides were published annually in attempts to keep up with current recipes and recent twists on presentation. It was toward the end of the 19th century that the maraschino cherry and the olive were introduced as popular garnishes to top off a cocktail. Livermore & Knight began publishing cocktail guides, beginning with this small pocket-sized offering in 1898. This book was not published as a comprehensive guide for bartenders or drinking establishments, but oriented toward those planning and hosting domestic fetes.

A cocktail is an appetizer or stomach 
stimulant and differs from other drinks 
in that it is supposed to contain Bitters. 
It is the purpose of this book to give 
the rules for the mixing of simple and well known 
cocktails. As to rules for fancy 
cocktails there is no end, and the addition 
of the various ingredients for sweetening 
and blending of fancy cocktails has been 
left to the taste of the mixer. 

A cocktail should never be bottled and 
should always be made at the time of drinking. 
A bottled cocktail might be likened unto a
depot sandwich—neither are fit for use 
except in case of necessity. 

An old-fashioned yet attractive way of 
serving a cocktail to ladies is the wiping of 
the rim of the cocktail glass with lemon 
peel and then dipping the rim in powdered 
sugar, which leaves a frosty decoration on 
the rim of the glass.

The Harvard cocktail

..and the competing Yale cocktail


Even the esteemed Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. recognized the value of a good cocktail. In his correspondence with colleague and protégé, Professor John Henry Wigmore, Holmes notes Wigmore’s proficiency as a “maker of first class cocktails”.



Cocktails :how to make them. Providence : Livermore & Knight Co., 1898. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University



The history of military action in Afghanistan is full of costly successes and bitter calamities. The First Anglo-Afghan War (which even became known as Auckland’s Folly) was fought between the British East India Company and Afghanistan from 1839-1842. The campaign resulted in the death of some 4,500 British and Indian soldiers as well as some 12,000 civilians. The British motivation for an invasion and occupation Afghanistan was to check the expanding Russian Empire from creeping further into British holding interests in the south and east Asia. The war was not without its naysayers, including Lord Aberdeen and Commander-in-Chief John Keane, who even prognosticated that the war would end in catastrophe. In 1842, The British would realize that catastrophe during the Battle of Kabul and its humiliating retreat. In the end, British eventually found it untenable to occupy the territory, only to re-invade Afghanistan in 1878. 

Rollo Gillespie Burslem served the British Infantry during the campaigns of 1838-1842 in Afghanistan. He participated in several battles, but also helped to survey the land for possible passes through the rugged and inhospitable mountain ranges and desert plains. Upon his return from the war, Captain Rollo Burslem authored an account of his expedition under the title “A Peep into Toorkisthan”, which was first published in 1846.

He opens his book with:

The following pages are literally what they profess to be, a record of a few weeks snatched from a soldier’s life in Afghanistan, and spent in travels  through a region which few Europeans have ever  visited before. The notes from which it is compiled were written on the desert mountains of Central  Asia, with very little opportunity, as will be easily supposed, for study or polish. Under these circumstances, it can hardly be necessary to deprecate the criticism of the reader. Composition is not one of  the acquirements usually expected of a soldier. What is looked for in his narrative is not elegance, but plainness. He sees more than other people, but he studies less, and the strangeness of his story must make up for the want of ornament.

Burslem later describes what difficulties any army would experience with traversing the harsh land:

We were now about to explore a part of Toorkisthan 
which I have reason to believe had never been 
visited by Europeans; the distance between Ghoree 
and Badjghar is about eighty miles, across as wild 
and romantic a country as can well be conceived, 
consisting of a succession of difficult and in some 
places perilous defiles ; the last of these was the 
famous Dushti Suffaed, which leads to Badjghar. 
There is a sameness in the features of these Toorkisthan 
passes which renders a faithful description 
tedious, from its monotony and the necessary repetition 
of similar characteristic features; yet the 
reader will hardly fail to draw important conclusions 
from the immense difficulty and almost practical 
impossibility that a modern army of considerable 
numbers, with all its encumbrances, through such 
a country, with any hope of its retaining its efficiency 
or even a tithe of its original numerical 
strength, will encounter.

He addresses the accusations of brutality and cruelty to the native population:

 I am aware that ill-informed people have accused our armies in Affghanistan, especially after the advance of General Pollock’s force, of many acts of cruelty to the natives, but I  can emphatically deny the justice of the accusation.  Some few instances of revenge for past injuries did occur, but I am sure that an impartial soldier would rather admire the forbearance of men who for days had been marching over the mangled remains of the Cabul army.

Immediately before us lay the populous city of Koollum ; 
the fortress standing on a small isolated eminence, 
and the dome-shaped houses embosomed in the 
deep foliage of their gardens and orchards clustered 
round it for miles on every side. Immediately on 
the outskirts of the city the desert commences, 
which, stretching away to Bokhara as far as the 
eye could reach, formed a melancholy and uninviting 
background to the busy scene before us.

 …human skeletons were strewed around ; as far as 
the eye could penetrate these mournful relics presented 
themselves ; they were very perfect, and had 
evidently not been disturbed since death.


Beautifully brilliant were the prismatic colours 
reflected from the varied surface of the ice, when 
the torches flashed suddenly upon them as we  
passed from cave to cave. Around, above, beneath, 
 every thing was of solid ice, and being unable to 
stand on account of its slippery nature, we slid 
or rather glided mysteriously along the glassy  
surface of this hall of spells.

Burslem, Rollo Gillespie. A peep into Toorkisthān. London : P. Richardson, 1846. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Edo (Yedo) Castle, constructed in 1457, transformed Tokyo (then called Edo) from a small fishing village into an urban center for trade, culture, and politics. Edo Castle became the official residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Upon the shogun’s arrival in 1603, the castle was in shambles, requiring an extensive 40 year reconstruction project. The castle was upgraded to be an appropriate residence for the shogun as well as an administration center for a unified Japan. At the time, it was the biggest castle in the world with a defensive perimeter of over 10 miles comprised of an inner and outer moat. The moats were crossed by 36 gates or watchtowers, each heavily guarded. In 1868 the Tokugawa shogun’s power toppled and the emperor was restored to the supreme ruling position, ending the feudal era and ushering the modernization of Japan. Emperor Meiji resided at the castle from 1868 to 1888 before moving to the newly constructed Imperial Palace. Unfortunately, there is little that remains of the original castle structure today. Much of it had been destroyed due to fires and earthquakes, including most of the gates. The remnants are currently being preserved as historical landmarks.

This extravagant publication at the end of the 19th century tried to capture the magnificence of the gates for tourists and historians alike. Each of the 36 gates is depicted in color with an accompanying historical description.

OTE-GOMON (THE MAIN CASTLE-GATE.) When the Shogun passed the gate, all the people were to be sent away (they being not allowed to take sight of the Shogun), except the Daimyo, who was the master of the guards, his Karo (1st class steward), and Rusui (a Daimyo s deputy keeping a castle or mansion).

Since the disastrous fire, of 1806, which, however, did not destroy the gate or its bridge, the site of the residence of Matsudaira Noto-no-kami was made an open space for protection against fire.

Within this gate, there was a well called Himega-i famous for good water. The lord of the Nabeshima clan used to contribute one to of rice at the end of every year for its maintenance.

The gate was called Hokuto-Kwaku (lit. : polar-star gate). The place outside the gate facing toward Hitotsugi was called Fujimi-Kwaku (probably from its having the view of the Mount Fuji)


Shimizu, Sanju. The pictures of the 36 gates of the Shogun’s castle in Yedo. Tokyo, Japan : Dobun-Kwan, [1896?].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University



Chandler Owen (1889-1967) was a prolific writer, editor, and early activist for African-American Civil Rights. In 1916, he joined the Socialist Party of America and became a follower of the Harlem activist, Hubert H. Harrison. In 1917, Owen founded a socialist journal, the Messenger, where he published political and social commentary, promoted unionism, and literature of the New Negro Movement. The journal was both progressive and radical, taking the stance that African Americans should not fight in WWI for a “so-called” democracy of Europe while still being denied equality in their own homeland. Owen was arrested under the Espionage Act for his incendiary comments in the journal. The Messenger folded in 1928 and Owen became disenchanted with socialism. He eventually joined the Republican Party believing it would provide the best forum for increasing political rights and equality for blacks. By the mid-1920s Owen had become a speechwriter for local Republican candidates. Though he was no fan of President Roosevelt’s policies toward African Americans, Owen worked for the Allied war effort in WWII. He took a job with the U.S. Office of Information, a government propaganda bureau, and wrote Negroes and the War, a booklet that presented arguments in favor of black support of the war effort. Owen saw this world war as a true threat to democracy, especially toward African American aspirations for progress and equality. The US government wanted the support of blacks in the war effort, and while Owen’s political leanings and activism were controversial, his credibility with the minority population was viewed as an acceptable compromise. OWI published and distributed 2.5 million copies of Negroes and the War. Heavily illustrated to demonstrate the roles of blacks in the war, the pamphlet also featured imagery of growing opportunities and achievements of blacks in American society, such as professional work, education, religion, athletics, and entertainment.

Some Negro Americans say that it makes no 
difference who wins this war”. They say that 
things could not be any worse under Hitler.
These are the people who emphasize liabilities; 
they never appraise their assets. They magnify 
the bad. They minimize the good. 
Without underestimating the Negro’s liabilities
without denying the fact of handicaps and 
inequalities, I want to set down just what stake 
the Negro has in America—just what he has to lose under Hitler.

-Owen Chandler

Howard University

The legendary Tuskegee Airmen

Joe Louis enlisted as a private in the army and became a recruitment icon


Owen, Chandler. Negroes and the war. [Washington, D.C. : U.S. Office of War Information, 1942].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


                Carte-de-visite of Laura Bridgman

Before the remarkable accomplishments of Helen Keller, there was Laura Dewey Bridgman (1829-1889), a deaf and blind woman from New Hampshire, who amazed educators and the American public with her exceptional achievements in language and education. She was the first deaf and blind person to ever be taught language formally, having lost her sight and hearing at the age of 2 from a bout with scarlet fever. Bridgman began her education in 1837 at the recently established Perkins School for the Blind. Samuel Gridley Howe, the first director, had developed an embossed version of the alphabet as a tool for teaching language to the blind. He actively sought out Laura Bridgman and convinced her family to have her move to the school at the age of eight. During her time at Perkins, Howe taught Bridgman language by first using words before individual letters. He would place paper labels on everyday objects such as forks, spoons, knives, or keys, with the names of the item printed in raised letters. Bridgman would feel the labels by themselves, learning to associate the raised letters with the corresponding item. With time, she was able to quickly identify the correct label when given a mixed pile of objects. From there, she was taught the individual letters of the alphabet to spell and write. Bridgman was a miraculous success, studying reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, history, grammar, algebra, geometry, physiology, philosophy, and history, and along the way, changed the way the world viewed the education of women and the deaf and blind. Her story was published in numerous outlets and even Kate Keller, mother of Helen Keller, read about Bridgman through an account by Charles Dickens, thereafter giving her the motivation to seek out the assistance of Anne Sullivan, a former pupil at Perkins.

In January 1842 Charles Dickens visited the Perkins Institution, intrigued by the story of Laura Bridgman. He described his meeting with the 12 year old Bridgman in his American Notes.

“Her social feelings, and her affections, are very strong; and when she is sitting at work, or at her studies, by the side of one of her little friends, she will break off from her task every few moments, to hug and kiss them with an earnestness and warmth that is touching to behold. When left alone, she occupies and apparently amuses herself, and seems quite contented; and so strong seems to be the natural tendency of thought to put on the garb of language, that she often soliloquizes in the finger language, slow and tedious as it is.  But it is only when alone, that she is quiet: for if she becomes sensible of the presence of any one near her, she is restless until she can sit close beside them, hold their hand, and converse with them by signs. In her intellectual character it is pleasing to observe an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a quick perception of the relations of things. In her moral character, it is beautiful to behold her continual gladness, her keen enjoyment of existence, her expansive love, her unhesitating confidence, her sympathy with suffering, her conscientiousness, truthfulness, and hopefulness.”

With the fame of Laura Bridgman, reproductions of her compositions became interesting for educators and the public. Below is a rare surviving facsimile of her handwriting, demonstrating the Howe alphabet with its angular forms and absence of capitals.

              Rare facsimile of the handwriting of Laura Bridgman

One of the earlier biographies of Laura Bridgman from 1878.

Bridgman, Laura Dewey. Fac simile of the handwriting and composition of Laura Bridgman. Boston : Thayer’s Lith., [between 1840 and 1851?].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Bridgman, Laura Dewey. photograph. Boston, Massachusetts, c 1865.
Persistent Link:
Special Collections, Fine Arts Library
Harvard University


Lamson, Mary Swift. Life and education of Laura Dewey Bridgman :the deaf, dumb, and blind girl. Boston : New England Pub. Co., 1878.
Persistent Link:
Gutman Education Special Collections 
Harvard University



Mesmerism orginated with Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 –1815), a German physician who postulated the theory of natural energetic transference, which occurs in all animated and inanimate objects. The term he used for this energy was “animal magnetism”. Mesmer considered all human illness a breakdown in the balance and flow of this magnetic force. When nature failed to resolve this blockage spontaneously, “mesmerism”could be used to remedy the problem. Mesmerism attracted practitioners and audiences, with its peak between 1780 and 1850. The technique usually involved some social role-playing where the mesmerizer would make suggestions to his clients who eventually became absolutely “mesmerized” by him in some sort of hypnosis-like trance. Mesmer used his extraordinary powers of suggestion to send people into frenzied convulsions, swooning, or sleeplike trances. It was all very ceremonious and dramatic, attracting audiences to observe and participate.

Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was a poet who became fascinated with mesmerism during his tour of Germany. He became a enthusiastic supporter for its further study and application in England. Townshend is now mostly know for his collections donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum, but during his lifetime, he was an established literary figure and close friend of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations was dedicated to Townshend). Townshend published a work on mesmerism in 1841 where he acknowledged the worldwide skepticism of the theory, but offered a counter-argument for continued experimentation and examination. To support his quest, he supplied a number of testimonies, including Louis Aggasiz, who participated as a mesmeric subject for Townshend in 1839.

Townshend states:

“The original cause of the ill reception which
mesmerism has met with from the world, is undoubtedly
to be found in the character of its discoverer, Mesmer,
in his want of candour and philosophic strictness.
Had it been introduced to notice by a Newton or an
Arago, by one who would have stated his facts honestly,
and drawn from them none but legitimate conclusions,
the difference of its career may be estimated by
all who are aware how much depends upon a propitious
beginning. But, unfortunately, from the very outset,
mesmerism was associated with the soiling calculations
of self-interest and the errors of an over-heated brain.
Mesmer wished to make a monopoly of that which
should have been the property of all mankind..

…We should lay aside all prejudice,
connected either with the origin, name, or injudicious
exposition of mesmerism, and try the subject,
wholly and impartially, upon its own merits.
Unalarmed by the apparent strangeness and incongruity
of the phenomena to be investigated, we should call
to mind how frequently “appearances of external nature,
puzzling at first sight, and seemingly irreconcilable
with one another, have all been solved and harmonized
by a reference to some one pervading principle”… – Townshend


Under “hypnosis”-

Nothing could be more curious than to
see the two sisters sitting opposite to each other, both
with their eyes shut, and yet, by the expression of their
countenances, appearing to look at each other. I now
went away to another part of the room, when Anna
M got up, and walked to just half way between her
sister and myself; but she seemed arrested there by the
attraction of contending forces, and so she remained,
turning from me to her sister, and vice versa, as if she
knew not to which she should go, till I put an end to
this curious scene by returning to my sleepwaker, and
begging her to awake her sister. This, however, she declared
that she could not do, but added, ” The moment that
you awake me, my sister will wake also.”

While mesmerism began a steady decline in popularity in the later part of the 19th century, one practitioner carried on the tradition into the 1880s. D. Younger advertised broadly in newspapers as a mesmerist and healer of various maladies.

“With an experience of nearly forty years as a professional 
practitioner of mesmerism, I publish this work to demonstrate 
the wonderful resources of this science, especially in its 
application to the alleviation of suffering and cure of disease. 
The results I have been able to accomplish by this natural 
method of treatment, in conjunction with the various herbal 
remedies I recommend, have, in many cases, been most surprising, 
never failing to afford relief, and often effecting a 
permanent cure, after all the usual orthodox methods have been 
tried in vain. “

Producing mesmeric sleep

producing a cataleptic state

Breathing into the patient


Townshend, Chauncy Hare. Facts in mesmerism :with reasons for a dispassionate inquiry into it. New-York : Harper & Brothers, 1841.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Younger, D. Full, concise instructions in mesmerism (falsely termed hypnotism), curative magnetism, and massage :with brief hints on natural medicine, etc. : with illustrations showing various phases of mesmeric treatment. [London] : E.W. Allen, [1887?].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University



Family outings at Mt. Auburn Cemetery


Life is full of changes ; and Mount Auburn itself is an illustration
of a change. A fairy region it has seemed to the traveller and student,
who have sought its sequestration for the purposes of intellectual
indulgence ; — a terrestrial paradise it has proved to all seekers after
the beautiful in nature; and, so enticing have been its groves, its
scenery and associations, that it received long since, the significant
appellation of  Sweet Auburn”— a name, as yet, unforgotten, though
innovation has been at work, and the favorite resort of the promenading
explorer, the inviting ground of the botanist, the charmed retreat
of the thoughtful student, has become dedicated earth— a consecrated
spot — a rural cemetery — a ” garden of graves !”


Mt. Auburn Cemetery is considered a landmark in the history and development of American parks, public spaces, health, burials, and even education. The ambitious nature of the cemetery was the brainchild of one Dr. Jacob Bigelow.  Bigelow, often considered a 19th century Renaissance man, was a doctor, botanist, Harvard professor, author, architect, and the person responsible for popularizing the term of “technology”. Bigelow taught medicine and botany at Harvard and published numerous books, including one of America’s first botanical books, American Medical Botany. His theories and teachings moved medicine away from old traditional methods of bloodletting and purging, and toward the use of safe and less invasive therapeutics. He recognized a growing health concern with overcrowded urban burial grounds and the rapid growth of American cities. Poor planning and traditional burial practices were a major cause of widespread disease, pollution, and even poor mental health. With the help of civic leaders, along with a few landscape gardening enthusiasts, Bigelow proposed the creation of a new kind of burial ground near Boston — a garden cemetery.

The establishment of Mt. Auburn Cemetery in 1831 marked a major departure in the way Americans buried their dead. This cemetery was the first large-scale designed landscape that was not just for burials, monuments, and dedications, but as a space open to the public with a multitude of uses. Mt. Auburn Cemetery set the style for other American cemeteries, but also deeply influenced the approach of public park and garden design, eventually having a direct impact on the creation of New York’s Central Park just a few decades later. Mount Auburn Cemetery provided its visitors with educational recreation, to learn the lives of heroes, appreciate the beauty and mystery of nature, and study architecture and design. It was a popular place for “courtship walks”, contemplative thought, or just simple relief from the frenetic pace of the city. Mt. Auburn became a tourist destination in its own right, similar to a museum, with guidebooks suggesting routes and offering highlights of individual monuments.

This published work by Cornelia Walter (considered to have been the first woman editor of a major newspaper in the United States) provides a description of the cemetery as it appeared in the middle of the 19th century. Walter makes particular emphasis of the cemetery as a place for the nourishment of mind, body, and soul, and James Smillie’s elegant engravings add to the notion.


A teaching moment

Admiring the beautiful landscape

An environment for discourse

A place to read with one’s dog.

Walter, Cornelia W. Mount Auburn illustrated :in highly finished line engraving, from drawings taken on the spot. New York : R. Martin, 1847.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University

Thomas Allom (1804–1872) was an English architect, artist, and illustrator, who published books on his travels from Europe to the Middle East and throughout Asia. In 1842, the treaty of Nanking was signed after the British were victorious over the Chinese in what is usually refered to as the “First Opium War”.  The treaty gave the British additional control over Chinese ports, opened trade restrictions, and ceded Hong Kong to British sovereignty. It was during this period of rapid change and increased British presence in China that Thomas Allom published an extravagent 2 volume set on Chinese history and culture. The publication provides a narrative, as well as a mulititude of illustrations on topics such as topography, social customs, history, law and politics. Although Allom traveled extensively, many of his Chinese illustrations were actually based on the works of other artists, including Lieutenant Frederick White, R.M., Captain Stoddart, R.N. and R. Varnham, rather than on his own firsthand accounts in China. The descriptions that accompany Allom’s works reveal the biases and prejudices of the Victorian mindset toward China at the time. Within the second volume, Allom devoted a significant section on aspects of crime in China, including the judicial system and the application of punishment.

Policeman and Prisoner

“The policemen, not enrolled in the military ranks, are described by one, who according to Mr. Montgomery Martin, “has closely studied the subject,” as being “a collection of the very scum of the nation; well versed in all tricks; personaly acquainted with thieves, robbers, and gamblers; initiated in all the mysteries of iniquity; and often partaking largely not only of the bribes, but also in the practice of abomination, in the very haunts of vice.” Their pay is small-from one to two dollars per month; but many serve gratuitously, and some even pay for the appointment -”proof that their situations must be worth something;”

Examination of a Prisoner

“The forms of justice are few and simple. When the police apprehend a Chinese for any offence, he is taken before a magistrate, who is seated at a table (as we see in the engraving.) The prisoner is made to kneel in front of what forms the tribunal of justice—his captor on one side, and another policeman, with the instrument of punishment, on the other. The magistrate has his clerk; but in no case is there either jury or pleading. He hears the witnesses, and passes sentence; intimating the number of blows to be given (if flogging is awarded), by throwing on the ground some of the reeds which are seen in two small boxes at the corner of the tale. If it is an offence punishable by the bamboo, bastinado, or cangue, that punishment is immediately inflicted; if it is more serious, and death or banishment is the sentence, the offender is sent to prison, or to the place of execution.”

Punishment of the Bamboo

“No person in China, whatever his rank, is exempt from the punishment of flogging. As we have stated elsewhere, officers of the army are subject to it. A mandarin who interferes in government matters is fined, and receives besides eighty blows; as does any official who recommends an improper person for promotion; or is guilty of neglect or delay in performing the business of his office. Subordinates of government are examined at the end of each year, and if they are found not to have improved, they receive forty blows. Physicians, who prescribe improperly for their patients, receive one hundred blows; the punishment of domestics for making a noise or disturbance in the imperial palace, is one hundred blows; and their masters (being considered responsible for the behaviour of their servants) receive fifty. The smallest number of blows inflicted is five.”

Punishment of the Rack

“One of the worst features in the criminal procedure of the Chinese is their retention of torture. While religious fanatics and hypocrites have been compelled to lay aside that horrible engine of barbarity, the rack, the Chinese are still permitted to employ it for the purpose of extorting confession; and, as Queen Victoria has interceded for the abolition of death as a punishment of apostasy in Turkey, it is to be hoped she will extend her humane influence to the extinction of an infinitely more cruel practice in China—a country which recent events have taught to respect her power.”

Street Punishment

“The Chinese appear to be fond of public punishments: and we give two engravings, from Chinese drawings in the library of the East India Company, showing two culprits undergoing the sentences awarded by the mandarins. In our first plate there is a group of four figures, all engaged in receiving or administering a penalty awarded, we should say for piracy—when we look at the pigmy banners which are fixed behind the ears of the culprit, being apparently stuck into his head; causing a torture, we should think, at least equal to the flagellation itself. The first figure is striking a gong; this is to call the attention of the public, to whom he announces the crime, and the number of blows with the bamboo the prisoner is to receive. Then follows the prisoner, his hands tied behind him, and his countenance betraying both pain and terror; his feet are bare, and his dress of the thinnest description. The third figure is the flagellator, who brandishes the bamboos, four in number, as if he were intending to lay them on with a will. The fourth figure is a petty mandarin? who has the charge of the prisoner, and is present to see that the punishment is properly inflicted. The ensemble is indicative of an uncivilised and a barbarous regime, little accordant with European habits and modes of thinking in the nineteenth century.”

Street Punishment

“In Plate II, the unhappy culprit is undergoing a species of torture. He is suspended from a cross-pole, supported by two uprights, by a rope passed round his neck and under his arms—his feet being tied together, and drawn up higher than the level of his head, by another. His breast rests on a long bamboo, which is held at each end by a policeman; and it is evident, that by elevating and lowering this pole, letting the prisoner fall upon it each time, the severity of the punishment is greatly increased.”

China: its scenery, architecture, social habits, &c. illustrated. London : printed and published by the London Printing and Publishing Company, Limited, [1843?].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University

Eliza Grew Jones, a member of a Baptist missionary to Burma, compiled one of the first known Thai-English dictionaries, completing it in December of 1833.  She was incredibly talented with languages, having even taught herself Greek. She despearately wanted to preach the Gospels, but being a woman, was prohibited. She married missionary Rev. Dr. John T. Jones in 1830, and soon after, sailed for Burma and Siam with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. While there, she studied the Thai language, carefully making journal entries of the words, terms, and phrases she learned. In spite of her dedication to this work, it appears that her original dictionary was never published and the wherabouts of her original manuscript is unknown. It is theoroized that the difficulty of printing Thai characters prevented this dictionary from being published. Years later, she created a romanized script of Thai characters to facilitate printing, eventually publishing portions of the Bible in the Thai language. Not long after this accomplishment, Eliza Grew Jones succumbed to Cholera in 1838. All that remains from Jones’ original dictionary is this hand-copied version by Rev. Samuel P. Robbins, completed in May of 1839. This bound manuscript, held by Widener Library, contains more than 8,000 Thai words with English translations, as well as several interesting illustrations. The volume is a unique resource for comparative and historical linguistic research and East-Asian scholarship.

“You will rejoice with me when I tell you
that I have at last finished the Siamese dictionary,
the arrangement and copying of which has been my
chief business in that language, for nearly a year past.
It contains many thousand words, and though it is imperfect,
and will require much correction hereafter, I hope it may be useful”

-Excerpt from Memoir of Mrs. Eliza G. Jones :missionary to Burmah and Siam. Philadelphia : American Baptist Publication Society, 1853.

Eliza Grew Jones entry for the sacred Mount Meru and its surrounding peaks that act like a pair of stairs. According to Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmology, Mt. Meru is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.


Dictionary of the Siamese language containing more than 8000 words : copied from Jones’ latest dictionary : manuscript, 1839.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


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