1801. London: printed for William Miller...by W. Bulmer and Co..., 1801.
Folio, [vi], Frontispiece and 21 hand-colored stipple engravings each with a single leaf of text printed on both sides in English and French. Full red straight-grain morocco, with roll-tooled panels in gilt and blind. Backstrip with gilt decorations and lettering, marbled endpapers, a.e.g. Boards are somewhat rubbed at the edges, backstrip somewhat sun-toned, some smudges and finger marks to several leaves, plates are bright; very good.
§ First edition, later printing with some leaves watermarked 1817, engravings are by Dadley for W. Miller. This work describes, in gruesome detail, the forms of punishments for numerous crimes committed in China. Each plate illustrates one type of punishment, ranging in severity, from the milder “Conducting an Offender into Banishment” to the more violent, “Hamstringing a Malefactor.” The accompanying text, in both English and French, explains the details of how the punishments are delivered. While the methods are clearly barbaric by today's standards, Mason's book, along with the translation of the Qing penal code in 1810, created growing anxiety in Western countries over the perceived severity of Chinese standards for criminal justice. Abbey Travel 532 (1804 edition); Colas 2010; Cordier Sinica 549. Item #106995