Buildings housing the offices of Western traders at Canton frame a busy square. The scene is the start of a trial of seamen from the British ship Neptune accused of involvement in the death of a Chinese man while they were on shore leave carousing and drinking. The trial, begun on 8 April 1807, is well-documented and many of the figures can be identified by name. A companion painting shows the trial taking place inside the old English hong. Views of the square outside the hongs on the town side, rather than their harbour facades, are rare. The bustling activities of locals and Westerners making this an important document of the cross-cultural trading activities in Canton.