Table of Contents


The History and
Romance of



A Prison in Tangier

Oriental Prisons


by Late Inspector of Prisons in Great Britain

“The Mysteries of Police and Crime
Fifty Years of Public Service,” etc.




It is as true of crime in the Orient as of other habits, customs and beliefs of the East, that what has descended from generation to generation and become not only a tradition but an established fact, is accepted as such by the people, who display only a passive indifference to deeds of cruelty and violence. Each country has its own peculiar classes of hereditary criminals, and the influence of tradition and long established custom has made the eradication of such crimes a difficult matter.

Religion in the East has had a most notable influence on crime. In India the Thugs or professional stranglers were most devout and their criminal acts were preceded by religious rites and ceremonies. In China the peculiar forms of animism pervading the religion of the people has greatly influenced criminal practices. Murder veiled in obscurity is frequently attributed to some one of the legion of evil spirits who are supposed to be omnipresent; and to satisfy and appease these demons innocent persons are made to suffer. So great, too, is the power of the spirit after death to cause good or ill, that many stories are related of victims of injustice who have hanged themselves on their persecutors’ door-posts, thus converting their spirits into wrathful ghosts to avenge them. The firm belief in ghosts and their power of vengeance and reward is a great restraint in the practice of infanticide, as the souls of murdered infants may seek vengeance and bring about serious calamity.

Oriental prison history is one long record of savage punishments culminating in the death penalty, aggravated by abominable tortures. The people are of two classes, the oppressed and the oppressors, and the last named have invented many devices for legal persecution. In early China and Japan, relentless and ferocious methods were in force. One of the emperors of China invented a new kind of punishment, described by Du Halde in 1738, at the instigation of a favourite wife. It was a column of brass, twenty cubits high and eight in diameter, hollow in the middle like Phalaris’s Bull, with openings in three places for putting in fuel. To this they fastened the criminals, and making them embrace it with their arms and legs, lighted a great fire in the inside; and thus roasted them until they were reduced to ashes.

The first slaves in China were felons deprived of their liberty. Later the very poor with their families sold themselves to the rich. Although slavery has never been largely prevalent owing to the patriarchal nature of society, all modern writers agree that it exists in a loathsome form to-day. Parents sell their children and girls bring a higher price than boys.

Who does not know of the peculiar sufferings and wrongs inflicted for so many generations on the gentle peasant in the proud land of the Pharaohs, of whom it is said “that the dust which fills the air about the Pyramids and the ruined temples is that of their remote forefathers, who swarmed over the land, working under the fiery sun and the sharp scourge for successive races of task-masters—the Ethiopian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Roman, the Arab, the Circassian and the Turk.”

During the reign of Ismail Pasha we hear of 150,000 men, women and children driven forth from their villages with whips to perform work without wages on the Khedive’s lands or in his factories. It is a heartrending picture.

In earlier times the administration of the country districts was in the hands of governors appointed by the Pasha and charged by him with the collection of taxes and the regulation of the corvêé, or system of enforced labour, at one time the universal rule in Egypt. The present system established by Great Britain is in striking contrast to past cruelties.






Prison System in India



The Crime of Thuggee



Ceremonies of Thuggee






Characteristic Crimes



The Andaman Islands



Prisons of Burmah



Crime in China



Enlightened Methods of Japan



The Law in Egypt



Turkish Prisons


List of Illustrations

A Prison in Tangier


Execution in India



Chinese Punishment







Lord Macaulay’s work—Commission appointed to look into state of prisons—Appointment of an inspector-general of gaols—Charge of district gaols given into the hands of civil surgeons—Treatment of juvenile offenders in India—Prison discipline—The employment of convict overseers—Caste—Ahmedabad gaol—Prison industries—Alipore Gaol in Calcutta—Ameer Khan, the Wahabee—Description of the Montgomery gaol—The prison factory—Convict officials—The gaol of Sirsah—A native gaol of Orissa.

The prison system in India developed gradually under the British rule. At first but little attention was paid to the subject of penal discipline, and the places of detention were put in the charge of judicial officers who had complete control of the criminals in their districts. The judges and magistrates had but little time to attend to the gaols; the administration was chiefly in the hands of native subordinates, and abuses of every kind prevailed, as might have been expected.

The first important step toward prison reform was initiated by Lord Macaulay when a member of the Indian Law Commission in 1835. He suggested that a committee should be appointed to look into the state of the prisons in India and to prepare an improved plan of prison discipline. This suggestion was readily acceded to by the governor-general, Sir C. Metcalfe, and a committee composed of fourteen able and distinguished men was selected for the purpose. An extract from their report will best show the existing state of the prisons at that time, and runs as follows:

“In reviewing the treatment of prisoners in Indian gaols, although on some points which we have not failed to throw into a strong light the humanity of it is doubtful, yet generally the care that is taken of the physical condition of these unfortunate men in the great essentials of cleanliness, attention to the sick and the provision of food and clothing, appears to us to be highly honourable to the government of British India. When fair allowance has been made for the climate of the country and the habits of the people, we doubt whether India will not bear a comparison even with England, where for some years past more money and attention has been expended to secure the health and bodily comfort of prisoners than has ever been the case in any other country of Europe.... It appears to us that that which has elsewhere been deemed the first step of prison reform has been already taken in India. What after many years was the first good effect of the labours of Howard and Neild in England has already been achieved here. There is no systematic carelessness as to the circumstances of the prisoner, no niggardly disregard of his natural wants; he is not left to starve of cold or hunger or to live on the charity of individuals; he is not left in filth and stench to sink under disease without an attempt to cure him; he is not able to bribe his gaoler in order to obtain the necessaries which the law allows him. With us in England, the second stage of prison reform seems to be nearly the present state of prison discipline in India. The physical condition of the prisoner has been looked to, but nothing more, and the consequences here as in England have been that a prison, without being the less demoralising, is not a very pleasant place of residence.... The proportion of distinct civil gaols to all other gaols is very honourable to the government. The mixture of the two sexes in Indian prisons is unknown, and in general the separation of tried and untried prisoners is at least as complete in India as in other countries. We allude to these things, not to give more credit to the Indian government in these matters than it deserves, but to show that although we have found much fault and recommend many reforms, we do not overlook the fact that much has been already done.”

The second stage in Indian prison reform was the appointment of an inspector-general of gaols for every province. This was first tried as an experiment in the North-western Provinces after some hesitation on the part of the government, and it was proved conclusively by comparison with the statistics of former years “that the prisoners were generally more healthy, better lodged, fed and clothed, that the gaol discipline had been much improved and that the expenditure had been reduced” in those prisons which had been placed under the supervision of an inspector. Upon this evidence the government decided to make the office a permanent one, and it was finally established in 1850 in the North-western Provinces and shortly afterward in the Punjab, Bengal, Madras and Bombay.

The third important measure toward prison reform in India was initiated in the North-western Provinces. Until 1860, the management of the district gaols had been in the hands of the magistrates of the surrounding country, but it was found that owing to the increased pressure of work in the administration they were unable “to find time to regulate the management, economy and discipline of the local prison with the care and exactness which the pecuniary interests of the government and the purposes of civil administration demand.” Therefore the civil surgeon, who had formerly had charge of the medical department only of the local gaol, was now given the entire management. This change was finally sanctioned by the government in 1864, after due trial which showed that there had been an improved discipline and an improved economy in all the gaols in which the experiment had been tried. In 1864 two other important reforms were introduced: first,—that no central gaol (intended for all prisoners sentenced to a term exceeding one year) should be built to accommodate more than one thousand persons; and second,—that the minimum space allowed to each prisoner should be 9 feet by 6, or 54 superficial feet, and 9 feet by 6 by 12, or 648 cubic feet.

Some of the many difficulties in the way of prison reform besides those of finance are summed up in Lord Auckland’s resolution upon the prison committee’s report.

“Every reform of prison discipline is almost of necessity attended at the outset with extraordinary expense. To exchange the common herding together of prisoners of all descriptions for careful classification; to substitute a strict and useful industry for idleness or for a light, ill-directed labour; to provide that the life which is irksome shall not also be unhealthy, and that the collection of the vicious shall not be a school of vice,—are all objects for the first approach of which large buildings must be erected, machinery formed and establishments contrived, and in the perfect attainment and maintenance of which great disappointment has after every effort and expense in many countries ensued. In no country is it likely that greater difficulty will be experienced than in this for the mere locality of the prison; that which is healthy in one season may become a pesthouse by a blast of fever or cholera, in another. For its form—the close yard which is adapted for classification and is not unwholesome in England, would be a sink of malaria in India. For food, for labour and for consort there are habits and an inveteracy of prejudice bearing upon health, opposing the best management of prisons such as are not to be encountered elsewhere, and superadded to all this is the absence of fitting instruments for control and management, while it is principally upon a perfect tact and judgment and an unwearying zeal that the success of every scheme of discipline has been found to depend.”

The classification of the gaols in the North-western Provinces and Oude is made according to the number of persons they can hold, as follows: the central prisons of the first, second, third and fourth class; the district prisons, and the lock-ups. In the central prisons, all prisoners sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for any period exceeding six months are confined; in the district prisons all prisoners sentenced to terms not exceeding three months are sent for every kind of crime, also civil prisoners and prisoners committed for trial at the sessions court; in the lock-ups all prisoners under trial before any court are lodged.

There are no reformatories for juvenile offenders in India. The government has so far considered that there is no need for their establishment. This conclusion has been arrived at by a comparison between the state of civilisation in the European countries which have adopted this plan of dealing with juvenile criminals and that of India. In the former there is a large class of vagrant, deserted and neglected children, which is quite unknown in the latter country. The following figures will serve to show the truth of this assertion. In Ireland, in 1866, out of a population of 6,000,000, there were 1,060 juveniles, under sixteen years, committed to prison for various offences; whereas in the whole of India, with a population of more than 150,000,000, the commitment of juveniles was about 2,000 in the same year.

In the presidency of Bombay there is an institution of very much the same nature as a reformatory, called the David Sasson Industrial and Reformatory Institution, which owes its origin to private benevolence, but which now receives some support from public resources. It is quite separate from the gaols and under different management and control.

In the North-western Provinces “all boys and lads under eighteen years of age, sentenced to periods of imprisonment for three months, are transferred as soon after sentence as possible to the nearest central prison, where they are placed under a regular system of education with training in industrial labour; they are confined in separate cells at night wherever there are a sufficient number of these for their accommodation, which is the case at Meerut, Agra and Gorruckpore, and at all prisons they attend school and labour for fixed periods during the day under directors specially employed for that purpose. Boys, whether confined in separate cells or association, are kept, day and night, entirely separate from the adult prisoners.” In the Punjab there is a reformatory in connection with the gaol of Goordaspore to which boys sentenced to more than six months’ confinement are sent. This reformatory was first established in the Sealkote gaol in 1862, but was subsequently removed to Goordaspore. The warder in charge, the gaol officials, the inspectors and the teacher approved by the educational department, are the only adults allowed to enter this yard. In the majority of district gaols there is a special yard set aside for juvenile prisoners, and in those gaols, where no such yard exists, when juvenile prisoners are received they are placed in cells, or other arrangements are made for separating them from the rest of the prisoners at night, and during the day they are made to work in a part of the yard by themselves. In the Lahore central gaol there is a separate yard for juveniles under a specially selected warder.

Nearly every presidency and province of India has its gaol code, drawn up under the sanction of the Prison Acts. That of Bengal was compiled by Frederic J. Mouat, M. D., and was introduced in the year 1864. “It borrowed freely,” he says, “from all the existing European and Indian rules which seemed to me to be suited for introduction in lower Bengal, and contained some special provisions based upon my personal experience, and study of prison systems at home and abroad.... It defined in considerable detail the duties, responsibilities and powers of all classes of prison officers; contained provisions for the classification and punishment of all classes of offenders; their management in sickness and in health; their food, clothing, work, instruction; and, in fact, every detail of discipline during their residence in gaol, their transfer from one prison to another, their discharge, and in the execution of capital sentences.” Since these rules were framed a system of remission of sentence as the reward for good conduct in gaol has been introduced, based on the principle of what is known as the Irish system.

One of the chief peculiarities of Indian prison management is the employment of convicts in the maintenance of discipline. From the earliest days, prisoners were employed in the discharge of all the menial duties of the gaols, cooking, washing, cleansing, scavengering, husking rice, grinding corn and the preparation of food. The difficulty of obtaining trustworthy warders on the salaries allowed, and the impossibility of preventing the introduction of forbidden articles through their agency, led to the trial in the gaol at Alipore of well-behaved, long-term convicts as prison guards. They were found to be more reliable than outsiders, and to discharge their duties more efficiently. The practice was adopted in other prisons, and when conducted with care and discretion, worked so well that the system has been extended throughout India. Special provision for it has been made in all the gaol codes. As a reward for good conduct and strict obedience to prison rules, all convicts whose behaviour has been exemplary throughout, and who have completed the prescribed term of hard labour, are eligible for the offices of convict warder, guard and work-overseer. The number employed in these offices can never exceed ten per cent. of the criminals in custody. All such appointments are made with great care and deliberation, and are subject to the sanction of the head of the prison department, by whom they are closely watched. They are liable to forfeiture for serious misconduct or breach of duty.

As a measure of economy in diminishing the cost of guarding prisons, and as a means of reformation in teaching self-respect and self-control, the plan has been successful everywhere in India, contrary to the usual experience of penal legislators. The privilege is much prized, and few prisoners who have held such offices have relapsed into crime, while many have obtained positions of trust on the completion of their sentences.

In the gaols of Bengal the privileges of caste are respected in general, but no false plea of caste is permitted to interfere with punishment. With care, tact and such knowledge of the people committed to his charge as every officer in command of a prison ought to possess, no great feeling of dissatisfaction is likely to arise or to be created. But from the jealousy with which all proceedings within the prisons are watched by the outside population, and the rapidity with which intelligence regarding them is spread, it is evident that extreme care must continue to be observed in the matter. While it is well known that imprisonment with its enforced associations is always attended with loss of caste, that, however, is readily restored by the performance of slight penances on release. It is instructive to find, on tracing them throughout the country, how the same castes, whatever differences of names they bear, are most prone to the commission of the same classes of crime.

Again, it is strange to discover that belief in witchcraft and the existence of witch-finders is a source of crime in the East at the present time. Among the Kols, an aboriginal race in the south-west of Bengal, each village is supposed to have a tutelar divinity, generally an evil spirit to whom is assigned all the sickness, epidemics, diseases and misfortunes which occur in the village. To this spirit certain lands are assigned, and the produce of this land is used in propitiatory sacrifices. The existence of this superstition is said to be a frequent cause of murder and extortion. The Kols believe in the powers of divination of “witch-finders,” who are usually consulted when anything untoward occurs in a village. This witch-finder, who often lives at a distance, performs certain absurd ceremonials, and pretends through them to discover who in the village has caused the anger of the tutelar deity. The person denounced is generally called upon to pay handsomely for the evil caused, and usually does so, but if he refuses he is frequently murdered, and whether he pays or not, if the misfortune does not cease he is driven from the village, if no worse fate overtakes him. All this is done in the utmost good faith, faith as absolute as that with which witch-hunting was pursued by the puritans of Scotland and America.

Sir Richard Temple, one of the most famous of India’s recent proconsuls, passes an approving verdict upon Indian prisons as they existed to the date of his volume, “India in 1880.” He was of the opinion that they were managed conscientiously and as far as possible, with the means available, according to accepted principles. They erred perhaps in construction, and showed many shortcomings as regards sanitation and disciplinary supervision, but an earnest desire to improve them has animated the Indian government and its officials. Native states, a little tardily, perhaps, have followed suit, and many possess prisons imitating some of the best points of the British system. They long clung, however, to the old barbarous methods of punishment, such as short periods of detention with flogging, various kinds of fining, compensation to the relatives of murdered men, and mutilation in cases of grave robbery. A capital sentence was very rarely inflicted.

Gradually public opinion in India awoke to the belief that something more than mere penal detention was needed for the treatment of prisoners. Outdoor labour, chiefly employed hitherto, was deemed injurious to health and demoralising to discipline, entailing undue expense in staff and guards; and so employment within the walls was substituted, with organised industries and manufactures by hand and with the help of machinery. The work done includes the weaving of carpets, which have a certain value and reputation, and much cotton and other fibres are manufactured; and the prisoners work at printing, lithography and other useful trades. The rules for wearing irons and fetters have been revised, and a consistent attempt has been made at classification by separating the old habitual criminals from the less hardened offenders. The system of earning remission by industry and good conduct, as practised in the British prisons, has been introduced with good results. Sanitation and ventilation have been much improved, so that mortality has greatly diminished. Solitary confinement is enforced as a means of discipline, but the cellular separation of prisoners by night makes only slow progress, and the association of all classes, good, bad and indifferent has a generally injurious effect upon prisoners.

According to Sir Richard Temple’s figures, there were in his time more than two hundred prisons in all India, exclusive of 386 lock-ups, and the daily average of inmates was 118,500, of whom only 5,500 were females. The annual number of crimes committed and charged was 880,000, and as more than one person is often concerned, the number of persons tried amounted to 970,000, of whom 550,000 were convicted, the balance being under trial or discharged. The labours devolving upon the police were obviously severe, and the prisons were always full.

Among the leading Indian prisons of to-day, one of the largest, the Ahmedabad gaol, was originally a Mohammedan college and was converted to its present purpose in 1820. Miss Mary Carpenter, who visited it in 1868, describes the gaol as follows: “It is a fine-looking building and near the citadel, but not of course well adapted to its present purpose, though the large space enclosed by the buildings gives it great capabilities of improvement. The first thing which struck us painfully was that the men had irons on their legs. This barbaric custom, which has long been exploded in our own country, is here preserved and is indeed general in India in consequence of the usual insecurity of the premises. The prisoners were working in large open sheds with little appearance of confinement. A number were occupied in weaving strong cotton carpets which appeared well calculated for wear. Others were making towelling of various kinds, very strong and good, from the cotton grown in the neighbourhood, while others were manufacturing pretty little cocoa mats and baskets. There was in general a criminal look in the culprits; they were working with good-will and appeared interested in their occupation, as in an ordinary factory. Except the chains, there was nothing of a penal description in the scene around us; and although this cheerful open place, with work at useful trades, might not give the intended feeling of punishment, still it was to be hoped that training these men to useful labour, under good moral influences, must have a beneficial influence on their future lives. On remarking this to the superintendent, he informed me that the salutary effect of the day’s work under proper supervision was completely neutralised, or even worse, by the corrupting influences of the night.

“There are four hundred prisoners in this gaol, for whom the number of sleeping cells is totally inadequate and three or four are consequently locked up together in the dark for twelve hours. There is no possibility during this period of preventing communication of the most corrupting nature, both moral and physical. No man convicted of a first offence can enter this place—which ought to be one of punishment and attempted reformation—without the greatest probability of contamination and gaining experience in evil from the adepts in crime who are confined with him; no young boy can enter without his fate being sealed for life.

“Juvenile delinquents, casual offenders, hardened thieves sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, are all herded together without any possibility of proper classification or separation. The condition of the thirty-two whom I had seen at the court on the day before was even worse than the others; they were all penned up together without work. There they had been for many months; and still they all were without any attempt being made to give them instruction, which might improve their moral and intellectual condition. This state of things was not owing to any neglect on the part of the superintendent, a man of enlightened benevolence, who devoted himself heart and soul to his work. The conditions of this gaol are such that though able and willing to remedy all these evils if authority and means were given to him, under the existing circumstances he is powerless. There is ample room on the premises for him to construct separate cells for all the prisoners with only the cost of material, but this is not granted to him; he cannot therefore carry out the printed regulations that the prisoners are not to be made worse while in custody. The regulations direct that the juveniles shall be separated from the adults; this is now simply impossible. Rules are made that the prisoners shall receive instruction, but no salary is allowed for a schoolmaster; there is no place appropriated for instruction and no time is granted for schooling; there are ten hours for labour, two hours are requisite for meals and rest and during the remainder of the twenty-four hours the prisoners are locked up. It is indeed permitted by the regulations that some prisoners may be employed as instructors but with the proviso that their hours of labour shall not be abridged for the purpose. Such instructors could not be expected to exercise any good moral influence on the other prisoners; yet to commence with these, if any educated men were among them, might lead to some better arrangement. The old college hall might possibly be employed as a schoolroom for a couple of hours after sunset; but light would then be required and oil did not form a part of the authorised expenditure. There were, then, obstacles to any kind of instruction being imparted to the prisoners which no amount of earnestness on the part of the officials or the superintendent could surmount.

“On inquiring whether there were any females in the gaol, we were conducted to a small separate court where in a dismal ward there were some miserable women employed in drudgery work. There were no female attendants and indeed no attempt appeared to be made to improve their wretched condition. I felt grieved and shocked that in any part of the British dominions women who were rendered helpless by being deprived of liberty, and thus fell under our special responsibility, should be so utterly uncared for as to be left under the superintendence of male warders and without any means of improvement. In all these observations I found that I had the full accordance of the superintendent; who, so far from being annoyed at the discovery of so many evils in this place, only rejoiced that some one should add force to his own representations by an independent testimony. He stated that he understood it to be in contemplation to build a large central gaol for the long-sentenced prisoners; the removal of these from his own gaol would of course remedy the overcrowding, though it would not enable each prisoner to have a separate cell. In the meantime the evils were very great from a sanitary as well as from a moral point of view. On one occasion more than a hundred had died owing to a want of good sanitary arrangements. Immediate attention to the condition of this gaol appeared therefore necessary. Considering this as a common gaol without long-sentenced prisoners, the following points suggested themselves as necessary to carry out the intentions of government. First, a number of well-ventilated sleeping cells should be constructed without delay, so as to enable every prisoner to have a separate cell for sleeping. Second, a trained and efficient teacher should be engaged to carry out instruction; arrangements should be made to provide a cheerful and well-lighted schoolroom. Educated prisoners may be employed as assistant teachers; these should be specially trained and instructed by the headmaster in their labour hours so as to provide as efficient a staff as possible. Third, the mark system and classification should be carried out. Fourth, prisoners awaiting trial should be kept in separation, but not under penal condition; the female department should be completely remodelled under female warders; all the advantages provided for the men should be given to the women.”

Mr. Routledge, speaking of the Alipore Gaol in Calcutta which he visited in 1878, says:—

“It contained 2,500 persons when I saw it, and with a few exceptions, as in the case of those undergoing punishment, all were employed in remunerative labour. There were masons erecting buildings, weavers making gunny-bag cloth of jute, a factory of jute-spinners, lithographers, painters, carpenters, blacksmiths and many other classes of workmen, all engaged in task work. If they exceeded the task a small sum was carried to their credit to be paid to them on leaving gaol. An amusing story was told of a shrewd Yorkshireman who when sent out to “manage a jute mill” was faced by the reality of some hundreds of criminals not one of whom knew anything of the work. First he despaired; then he hoped a little; finally he succeeded and had a capital jute mill. Dr. Faucus, the governor of the prison, told me that the men they sent out with trades hardly ever had returned; and there was an instance of a man whose time had expired begging permission to remain a little longer in gaol to more completely learn his trade. It was to my view a humane and judicious system.

“Eighteen months later I visited the Presidency Gaol in Calcutta, and the governor, Dr. Mackenzie, kindly showed me the wonders of the place. We saw in the yard, ‘a mild Bengalee,’ whom flogging, short diet and even the dreaded solitary confinement had failed to compel to work. ‘He is one of the few prisoners who ever beat me,’ the governor said. A hundred or so of the prisoners were breaking stones; some were on the tread-mill, a frightful punishment under such a sun; some were mat-making, on very heavy looms. We came to a separate cell, the inmate of which was a loose-jointed, misshapen, weak-looking, thin-faced native man, apparently about twenty-five years of age, though he might, for anything one could judge, have been any age from eighteen to forty. ‘That,’ said the governor, ‘was one of the most daring and relentless Dacoits we have ever had.’ In a cell a few yards distant, there was a grave and venerable looking old man who had attained the very highest grade in a different profession—that of a forger. He had been convicted in attempting to obtain money from an officer—I think the head of the police—by means of a letter purporting to be written by Mr. Reilly, the well-known detective. The forgery was perfect, and no one would have disputed the letter but for one small mistake; the two initial letters of Mr. Reilly’s Christian name were transposed. This interesting old gentleman when questioned as to the amount of work he had done, put his hands together and gravely confessed that it was far short of the task. The governor spoke sternly and threatened short diet. Evidently the old artist was out of his vocation when attempting slow, patient work. When the same question was put to the Dacoit he pleaded pitifully, ‘Only four bags, but I’ll do forty to-morrow.’ Forty was the number required to be sewed per day.

“There were many wealthy natives among the prisoners; and I was sorry to find a number of English sailors and soldiers committed for deserting regiments or ships. It was impossible to look upon them as criminals. They were kept apart from the other prisoners. Some of them were very fine fellows, who probably never were in prison before nor would be again. Another class was that of the vagrants, termed ‘loafers.’ There were some very respectable looking men among them, ‘turned away from the railways,’ they said, or ‘brought from Australia in charge of horses and then dismissed’—the most prolific source of ‘loaferism’ in India.

“Six young native boys were separated from the rest. They had their own yard and each a little garden and a division of work. One was cook, another housemaid, and so on. They were drawn up in line and questioned, the cook first.

“‘What are you here for?’

“‘Murder; I struck another boy on the head and killed him.’

“‘And you?’

“‘Murder; I threw a child into a well.’

“The answers were given as if they had related to common matters. We went no further in the list. An Indian prison is marvellous for its mixture of races. The Hindu cannot eat with the Mussulman. To step inside a cookhouse is to defile it even for prisoners. Yet even Brahmins, old offenders, had been known to beg for the office of mehtars (sweepers, lowest menials), so great was their dread of the hard labour.

“What were called the ‘non-habituals’ were employed as at Alipore and taught trades where necessary. I noticed particularly an intelligent Chinaman busy at the lathe. I said, ‘He never gave you any trouble?’ ‘No; he was entrapped into a robbery, caught and convicted, and he immediately made the best of his position. He is a quiet, respectful, intelligent man.’ He spoke English like an Englishman. There were several Chinamen in the prison and all of the same class. We came to a long line of men, seated on the ground, engaged in hand spinning; the fourth from one end was old Ameer Khan, the Wahabee. He was a tall man, I should say nearly seventy years of age, stout, with flabby cheeks, a rather fine forehead and an extraordinarily furtive eye.”

The trial of Ameer Khan, the Wahabee, caused a great sensation in the Indian law courts in the year 1870. The Wahabees were a sect founded by a young Arab pilgrimwarrant about which there was some question. He was then tried before a civilian judge at Patna, where