China 1840-1842 – part 11


Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Arrivals – HMS Melville (74) (bringing Rear Admiral George Elliot), transports Allalevie, Braemar, Marion and the storeship Kite.

Editor – HMS Blenheim, Nimrod, Wanderer and Columbine are expected. The last transport, Clifton, is also due. The British force has established depots on the two small islands called The Brothers, west of Kap Soy Mun.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Bombay Times, 15th April – We have received letters from well-informed insiders in London saying the opium scrip holders are sure to be indemnified. They say the government will certainly be prevented from repudiating Elliot’s conduct.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

The American Congress has requested the President to tell what he knows about American traders in China, the state of American trade there and the effect on American trade of Chinese measures to prevent opium imports. Congress also requires to know if Britain notified America of its purpose in blockading Canton and whether it has any other hostile intentions to China.

The Treasury was directed to report on trade and shipping to China from 1824 – 1839.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Capt Charles Elliot, Morrison and Elmslie (the British Commission) all boarded HMS Melville (Admiral Elliot’s ship) last night. Thom has offered to interpret for HMS Blonde.

HMS Melville sailed for the north this morning with HMS Blonde, HMS Pylades, the transports Allalevie and Braemar and the storeship Kite. The Admiral proposes to seize all the grain and salt junks he can find. The remaining ships will enforce the blockade of Canton.

Before he took ship, Capt Elliot said he expected the Queen’s Commission to be based in Chusan in a month.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

The Macau Governor’s policy of strict neutrality has been ratified by the Portuguese Queen. How can Macau be neutral when occupied by Chinese soldiers and with war-junks in the Inner Harbour? The Procurador reports the Tao Tai has told him that Chinese forces will be removed from Macau on application, provided the Portuguese give assurance that the British will not be permitted to occupy the enclave.

It would be most convenient and agreeable if both sides would guarantee the neutrality of Macau. The Tao Tai is also said to have ordered the market hawkers to keep their prices reasonable.

We think this occasion gives the Portuguese an opportunity to assume control of Macau. The Tso Tong’s office and Customs Houses should be dismantled.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

1/ Elliot’s Edict in Chinese to the Cantonese, 25th June (dated 31st March 1840):

Lin and Tang have contemptuously disregarded their Imperial instructions and falsely reported the worsening situation. The Queen of England has sent a force to make the truth manifest and restore peace. The Queen venerates the Emperor and cherishes the Chinese people.

Provided you do not resist us, your persons and property will be respected. Bring your provisions to the British forces and you will receive fair prices for them.

Lin and Tang have lied to the Emperor to obtain his order stopping British trade. Many of you have been injured by this.

You are informed that no Chinese ship may enter or leave the river until British trade is resumed. The exceptions are fishing boats during daylight and trading boats serving the British shipping.

2/ Elliot’s Edict in Chinese to the Macanese, 26th June (dated 31st March):

A year ago Lin came to suppress the opium trade. He found it stagnant; now it is flourishing, both here and along the coast. He came to regulate the lawful trade; it is now entirely a smuggling trade. The Emperor told Lin to distinguish the good foreigners from the bad so there might be no cause for trouble. Elliot is a good foreigner; he offered to help but was imprisoned for several weeks along with all the other foreigners. Lin stopped the supply of food and water to foreigners and threatened to kill them unless they gave him their opium. He has degraded the majesty of China and England.

Lin’s spoliatory policies require England to demand reparations. We have lost confidence in the Kwongtung Provincial government. Although the Emperor admonished him to maintain Imperial dignity, Lin repeatedly dishonoured his formal pledges on behalf of China. We do not trust him.

When foreign sailors fought the Tsim Sha Tsui villagers last July and killed one, Elliot investigated and punished those involved but the killer was not identified. For this he was expelled from Macau with the British community.

Lin attacked the Bilbaino at night, seized its crew, killed nine innocent people, mutilated others and still imprisons yet more. The fresh water springs have been poisoned. The English were forced to fight to get food (Battle of Kowloon Bay) and worthy Chinese officers and men were sacrificed while the truth was kept from the Emperor.

In the year of Lin’s tenure, Kwongtung has changed from a tranquil and flourishing province to a ruined one, prey to pirates everywhere with all commerce stopped. Those Chinese bold enough to remonstrate were answered with contumely and menaces.

The English Queen and people venerate the Emperor and cherish the Chinese people but they have been injured and the truth must be reported to Peking. Once the evil men have been punished, all can resume normally. All you Chinese in Macau should pursue your jobs peacefully. Elliot has commanded his officers to strictly protect you. No violence will come to you so long as you do not oppose the British forces.

Editor – we re-publish these tacky productions of Elliot’s. In politics a mistake is worse than a crime. We will comment further after we see the papers on China that are now before parliament. All we will note for the present is that:

1/ we were not driven to fight for food. We (the Editor) were in Hong Kong harbour last September and there was no shortage of Chinese provisions. Boats came alongside almost daily and several of the British fleet carried rice cargoes.

2/ Do we venerate (kung king) the Emperor? We understand there is no Chinese word that replicates ‘venerate’, only words that imply inferiority, dependence and abasement. Elliot should have remembered Napier when he noted Viceroy Loo’s allusion to the British King being submissive and asked Sprott Boyd to let the Chinese-side know the extent of British power and territory. For ourselves, we deny Elliot’s assertion of veneration with scorn.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Edict of the Governor and Leal Senado of Macau to the Macanese, 25th June 1840:

We have received assurances from the British and the Chinese that we merely have to maintain our neutrality to preserve tranquillity here.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Tariff of available rewards, 24th June (as published in Canton Press of 27th June):

  • Whoever seizes an English ship-of-the-line of 80 guns and delivers it to government gets $20,000. Smaller warships merit smaller rewards. For every gun we pay $100. Everything in the ship except arms, ammunition and opium, will belong to the takers.
  • Whoever destroys a frigate gets $10,000. Smaller warships merit smaller rewards.
  • Whoever seizes an English merchant ship gets the cargo except arms, ammunition and opium. For ships of 3 masts they also get $10,000, 2½ masts $5,000 and 2 masts $3,000. For large boats $300, small ones $100.
  • Whoever destroys an English merchant ship gets one third of the above.
  • For catching a senior English officer alive $5,000; junior officers merit smaller rewards.
  • For killing English officers, one third of the above.
  • For catching English or Indian merchants or soldiers alive $100, dead $20. For catching black devils, the reward varies, depending on whether they are soldiers or slaves.
  • For catching Chinese traitors (who provision the English or deal in opium), being subsequently convicted and decapitated, $100 each.

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Morning Chronicle of 14th March reports on Wm Jardine’s public subscription dinner at London Tavern, 12th March:

About 150 people subscribed, mainly those who had received Jardine’s hospitality in the East or otherwise benefited from his influence or benevolence.

Captain Hine was Chairman. He recalled the many kindnesses and charitable acts of Jardine to the ships’ officers of the India Company and his importance to their private commerce through his influence with the authorities at Canton. He mentioned his kindness to Napier’s widow and family.

The three MP’s – John Abel Smith for Chichester, W T Copeland for Stoke-on-Trent and Archibald Hastie for Paisley – recalled his integrity. No situation is more enviable to a Briton returning with a fortune than to be feted in his home country.

Jardine replied they were a bold group of people to fete the ‘head smuggler of Canton’. He said the Chinese were not concerned about opium, of which China is itself a substantial producer, but about the ‘leaking out of silver’.

Editor – This newspaper has heard that a quarter of the opium consumed in China is grown domestically. If we stopped production in India, China would replace us as supplier. Thus the wily Easterner tries to get the last laugh.[486]

Vol 13 No 26 – 30th June 1840

Letter to the Calcutta Courier, 6th November – Everyone knew the opium was being destroyed at the Bogue. There were sixty foreign ships nearby and 1,500 sailors. Why did not Elliot take it back? We might have sacrificed a few men but it would have been worth it.

Sgd Observer (from China)

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Mr Samuel Warren, a barrister of the Inner Temple, has written an opinion dated 14th January 1840 on the opium question:

Who pays the £2,400,000? Is the British government as Principal responsible for the acts of its appointed Agent, an Agent held out to third parties as fully authorised?

When an Agent acts within the scope of his usual employment, even without authority, the Principal is invariably bound. The opinion of the third parties who are influenced by the Agent’s acts is crucial.

The Act of Parliament and the Orders-in-Council were framed for the Company’s supercargoes. The Company has been disbanded. Legally, the Agent had no powers.

But he says in his pocket are secret instructions that fully authorise his acts. They are secret, they may not be disclosed. So long as Elliot thought he had construed those powers reasonably they were binding on third parties.

Elliot offered to endorse the receipts with his seal of office; to receive the opium in the name of and on behalf of the British government with an emphatic pledge of indemnity. Whatever the traders may have thought of Elliot, they trusted the government.

On the other hand those who oppose indemnity take a moral stance. They say the opium traders are smugglers who willingly and repeatedly injure the Chinese for reward. The Chinese officials from Emperor down often ordered them to stop but they were defiant. Their trade was at their own peril and they now have no just grounds of complaint.

The moral argument is unavailable to the British government because it was the government itself that grew and sold much of the opium for smuggling into China. And it appointed Elliot to preserve and protect trade.

Smuggling is common. The Examiner recently (17th November 1839) noted that about half of British goods sold to Spain are smuggled into that country; during the Great War many British merchants smuggled piecegoods to Hamburg. Chinese crepe, French lace and tobacco is daily smuggled into this country. For entire centuries all our trade with the Spanish colonies of South America was a smuggling trade. All this activity flourished under the connivance of Customs officials. None of the countries we smuggled into ever arrested our ambassador or our merchants.

The opium trade to China has developed since the end of the last century. No-one thought it illegal during the last 43 years except in name. Governments like the Spanish and Chinese that enact laws incapable of execution should blame themselves.

How can the British government now take advantage of its own wrong and plead immorality to escape its liability? Elliot was sent to China to protect a trade of which opium was an integral part and the British government was well aware of the fact from the proceedings of Select Committees.

The telling point is India. Warren Hastings said ‘we hold India by opinion’ (i.e. we say its ours). Our tenure will be loosened if government treats these claims without honour or justice. A failure to indemnify will spread dissatisfaction throughout India and our system of government in the East is based on India.

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Public Notice, 4th July – I am in charge while Elliot is away.

Sgd A R Johnstone, Deputy Superintendent of Trade, at Macau.

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Notice, 30th June at Macau – Wm Jardine’s interest in J M & Co ended today. The continuing partners are James Matheson, Henry Wright, Alexander Matheson and Andrew Jardine.

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Notice, 1st July 1840 – Robert Inglis retired on 30th June 1839 and Francis Charles Drummond joined today. Sgd Dent & Co

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Notice, 1st July at Macau – M/s Jamieson Cuthbertson and How have taken over the business of Jamieson McCracken & Co at Glasgow and Calcutta and will trade as Jamieson Cuthbertson and How at Glasgow, as Jamieson & Co in Calcutta and as Jamieson & How in Canton.

Cuthbertson and John Gifford of Calcutta are also partners in the Canton business.

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

We learn from Canton that all the Hong merchants were called into the city two days ago to interview Viceroy Lin.

He was angered by the capture of salt junks by our expedition and commended the resident foreigners to leave instanter.

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Letters to the Editor:

  • On the day that the blockade was supposed to commence, two foreign ships entered the river and later several grain and salt junks came out. The Americans, who are preparing to leave Canton, laughed. Sgd A British Subject.
  • The latest despatches from the British government to its Agents in China recommended continuing the temporising policy with China. The previous instructions, received in March, were drafted by Lord Auckland and Sir Frederick Maitland (respectively Governor-General and Admiral in India) and made complete sense. The new instructions overly restrain the British force. They have the stamp of that mean, pusillanimous and vacillating spirit who has ruled the Foreign Office for 30 years (Pam).

We need time, patience and determination to right affairs in China. The blockade finally commenced yesterday (four days late) and a salt junk was seized and taken to Kap Soy Mun but only the Bogue is closed, all the many other entrances to the river are unattended.

The British government is reluctant to start a hot war; Elliot assures the Emperor of our veneration; we promise all provisions will be fairly paid for; we profess goodwill to the Chinese. That is what we say, but what do we do? We blockade the river and other ports to the north, harass the trading people and seize and occupy Chusan. This is no good. If we have a real complaint we should fight. After the Chinese have learned to fear and respect us we can sit down and talk.

Sgd A British Merchant. Macau, 3rd July[487]

Vol 13 No 27 – 7th July 1840

Editorial – It seems Admiral Elliot did not agree with Bremer’s proposal for a blockade and that is the reason it was delayed. Had Capt Smith started it on time the Admiral would have had to countermand it.

The reason is simple – there are insufficient ships to perform it. This pompous notice of blockade is like a Chinese Edict – all form and no substance.

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

Elliot’s shortfall in opium he collected for surrender was 523 and 58/100ths chests. The shortfall is attributed to a ship sailing away without surrendering its stock.

The Canton Register attributes Elliot’s shortage to Pereira & Co but the Friend of China says it was a couple of the big merchants who caused Elliot’s problem by sending their ships to Manila.[488] Pereira & Co appears in the list of people surrendering opium and his company provided 33 chests.

Elliot had to buy the shortfall from Dents at £63,265.18.4d or £121 (c. $480) per chest. Dents had a ship that fortuitously arrived with new opium and was thus able to supply Elliot.

Elliot’s explanatory letter to Palmerston contrarily attributes the shortage to Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee for removing 406 and 58/100th chests and A & D Furdonjee for removing 117 chests from their reported stock. They surrendered 1,720 and 614¼ chests respectively. Explanatory letters were obtained from the Parsees saying they could not surrender the chests in time and agreeing that the value of the shortfall should be deducted from their claims.

The Foreign Office has initially refused to pay.

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

Some letters between Elliot (E) and Palmerston (P) are reproduced in the Singapore Free Press of 25th June 1840 and are recited hereunder:

P to E, 15th June 1838 Your letters of 16th, 18th November and 7th December 1837 deal with opium. The British government will not assist subjects to break Chinese law. Any losses resulting from Chinese enforcement of their law will be borne by the parties acting illegally.
E to P undated After Innes was caught smuggling opium in the river, I noted the air of independence which the smugglers have assumed as a result of their trade. They are inured to smuggling and do it with impunity. Eventually some gross insult will be perpetrated and the Chinese will resent it. They may be capable of an act of cruel violence that will force us to interfere militarily. The opium trade grows and grows and affects all our other trade. The shame of opium smuggling has been well indicated by the Chinese and the trade has fallen increasingly into the hands of desperate men. It is so widely known it disgraces our character.
E to P 13th December 1838 An attempt to strangle a Chinese at the factories has led to riots.
P to E 15th April 38 Were the rioters who resisted the Chinese officials British? What right did they have for the actions?
E to P 2nd January 1839 Give me power to control these rash people. Give me written support so I can show it to the community here.
P to E 13th June 39 You say the legal trade is stopped due to opium smuggling in the river. We approve of your actions in trying to restart trade.
E to P April/May 1839 We can no longer trade with China except over shipside. We need immediate and vigorous measures by Britain to restore our position.

We must conclude arrangements to cede Macau from Portugal and establish fortifications on it. I have asked the Portuguese governor for protection of all British people and property and offered him however much money he needs. He says he must maintain an austere neutrality. I asked him again after HMS Volage arrived but he was adamant.

E to P 5th September 39 I fired the first shot at Kowloon Bay on 3rd September. The Chinese were irritating me.
E to P Opium confiscation was public robbery and wanton violence on British officers and subjects and other foreigners. Great moral changes cannot be procured with violence. The Chinese should have continued to shame us and eliminate the trade that way. The seizure has strengthened the hand of the desperate Britons. They are willing to sell opium all along the coast and China cannot stop them.

Editor – When Wellington was in office in 1835 he wrote an opinion on Napier. The Chinese repudiated Napier because he went to Canton without permission or prior communication. He insisted to communicate directly with the Viceroy. Our officials should not depart from the customary mode of communication, whatever titles we give them.

On 19th March 1839, Palmerston told the House of Commons – “(there never existed) … in this country an administration which paid more attention to the commercial interests of the country than the present government.”

Here is a brief history of the British Trade Commission to China:

Palmerston yoked Napier with two Company-wallahs as colleagues and a third as Secretary. He ordered him to China to communicate with the Canton Governor. After Napier’s expulsion, the local British merchants petitioned the King-in-Council in December 1834 concerning the stability of British trade but receipt of that Petition was not acknowledged. It still has not been acknowledged.

Once Napier was dead the Commission fell under the control of the ex-Company officers for two years until December 36 when Elliot was made Chief of Commission. He had formerly been the Master Attendant on £800 p a responsible to allocate berths to British ships in the river, etc. If Navy regulations had been followed Elliot should have been on the retired list and unqualified for any type of service. Supporting Elliot was Napier’s private secretary Johnstone who became deputy Chief of Commission. The clerk Elmslie was raised to the important post of Secretary. None of these appointments would have been considered when the Commission was formed under Napier. Now the Commission is run by the ex-private secretary Johnstone with the youth Elmslie as Secretary. The expenses to date are about £200,000.

The Chief of Commission has acted in a way that the government cannot conceivably approve but the ministry has not only continued to employ Elliot but has promoted him to Consul to the fledgling Republic of Texas. This is the man who started a war because he was ‘irritated by the Chinese’. Is this the type of attention that Palmerston asserted to parliament on 19th March 1839?

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

Extract from a Petition of the East India & China Association to the British government, 24th February 1840:

….. long list of revenue grievances ….. our relations with China are stopped. You should encourage the farming of tea in Assam to counteract Chinese monopoly of production ……

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

American trade statistics with China:

The balance of domestic trade over 1820 – 1838 is $8,395,000 in favour of China.

After adding $3 millions for Indian cotton and $12 million for Indian opium, all shipped on American account, the trade balance becomes $7 million in favour of America.

$6 millions of this balance was exported from China as silver – $4 millions to India and $2 millions to England.

Wetmore was a leading American merchant at Canton. He amassed a little more than $1 million during his China-trading days.

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

The English have been driven out of Canton and Macau and all their trade is handled by Americans. To receive trans-shipment cargo from British ships and carry it 80 miles to Canton, the Americans charge $6 – $8 per bale. They are uniquely favoured by the Chinese for undisclosed reasons.

Formerly when there was a trade problem all foreigners suffered, now it is the English alone who are targeted for disfavour.

On 3rd September 1839 we fired on Chinese government junks and the fort at Kowloon City. We killed 1-2 officials and several inhabitants. Thereafter our troubles increased and we resumed the opium trade along the coast.[489]

Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840

Friend of India edition of 22nd August 1839 contains a letter from a correspondent in China:

The Canton Register says the To Kwong Emperor was an opium smoker and his eldest son died of his addiction. It says the Emperor was previously in favour of opium trade and most of his officers supported the clandestine trade. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Emperor has always opposed opium and most of his high officials are the same.

The Canton Register says Viceroy Tang kept five fast crabs for opium smuggling. It is true that some officials have assisted the smugglers and even allowed their own official boats to be used for opium transportation but they have been exposed to hazard in doing so.

No-one suspects Lin of opium smuggling but the Canton Register says his family in Fukien is involved.

The paper says anti-opium pamphlets were destroyed along with the opium at Chun How. How could any foreigner know this? No Edict has been issued on the subject.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

George Forbes, Charles Forbes, William Hay Leith and James Malcolmson, London merchants (Forbes Forbes & Co., formerly of Bombay), have petitioned the Commons on their China trade. They are Agents of 160+ Parsee and Muslim merchants of Bombay and the main item of trade is both Malwa and Bengal opium. They say:

The British government, through its Agent the Company, grew opium in Bengal for smuggling to China. The British government, through its Agent the Company, issued passes to attract Malwa farmers to send their opium to Bombay to be smuggled into China. The Bengal farming and Bombay passes have produced a huge income to the Indian government and enabled it to govern.

The Company was given a monopoly on China trade under the Acts 3 & 4 William IV Cap 85 and held absolute unsupervised power under Act 33 George II Cap 52 and other enactments. The monopoly ceased on 22nd April 1834 and the Company’s powers in China were transferred to Napier.

Successive Superintendents knew opium was imported to China and issued injunctions which were obeyed. Now the opium has been destroyed by the Chinese. Elliot and the foreign community was placed under duress by the Chinese and, in the expectation that someone would be killed, Elliot collected the opium on your behalf and gave it to the Chinese. He reported his actions to you and, as he was not recalled, we assume you approve.

These losses have arisen because we trusted your government. Please make enquiries.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Letter from a London correspondent 18th March 1840:

British ministerial policy towards China is to avoid war by yielding some points rather than irritating her.

A Board of Control dispatch to Calcutta is said to direct the Indian government to investigate the feasibility of abandoning the opium farming monopoly and open its cultivation to the free trade.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Editorial – Every London paper, Tory, Whig or Radical, misreports the China news. Instead of careful analysis we have fictitious facts and erroneous judgments, all motivated by party spirit. Opium is the greatest foreign question yet in the history of the 19th century and government should set the facts straight.

The Colonial Gazette of 1st April has Napier arriving in China, immediately going to Canton, landing secretly at midnight, and failing to superscribe his petition with pin which the Viceroy could not accept. Well, Napier spent ten days in Macau before going up, his arrival at midnight was just co-incidental and the Viceroy can do anything he chooses to do.

The Colonial Gazette praises Davis for staying at Macau. He left China as quickly as he could after Napier’s death. He refused the office and salary of Chief Superintendent of Trade because the duty could not be fulfilled.

The Gazette also says Robinson was prudent. Well, we never really knew what he did but one imprudent act was moving the Commission to Lintin on the Louisa.

The Gazette says Elliot’s first acts were skilful. He was ordered to never correspond with the Chinese through the Hongs. We approved his disobedience because his job was as a Trade Commissioner. He was imprisoned with the rest of the foreign community and we looked to him for redress of the insult.

The Gazette confuses the Lord Amherst’s East Coast voyage in 1832 with the Huron’s voyage in 1835. The former was English the latter American. The Huron distributed biblical tracts, the Lord Amherst did not.

We now quote from the notes of one who spent more time in China than any of us:

“We were submissive in Amoy but were badly treated. When the merchant boats came alongside or even looked at us from a distance, the crews were taken on board the war-junks and bambooed. We heard their cries. They were later exposed in the streets wearing the cangue. The punishments were intended to intimidate the people generally and make us appear different to them.”

Gutzlaff says:

‘law is both made and enforced by the provincial officials. The Edicts are solemn and impressive but the officials retain the power of interpretation – whether to overlook some parts or neglect the whole’.

The Gazette has relied on Charles W King’s letter and Elliot’s dispatches. We have already disposed of King’s letter as bad authority. Elliot’s dispatches are not yet fully published. The Gazette says Elliot lacked the power of the Select to deport. He was directed on 18th November 36 to confine his actions ‘to friendly suggestion and advice’. On this basis his Public Notice of 18th December 1838 is indefensible (the Notice withdrawing British protection from boat owners smuggling in the river).

The annoying thing is that between two European powers, due allowance is routinely made for the intentions of writers and speakers but every word flowing from the lying functionaries at Canton is swallowed verbatim.

The Canton Register Editor then considered articles in the Globe, the Morning Herald, the Liverpool Mail and the Atlas and attacked them seriatim. He continued:

We know that the poppy is farmed all over Yunnan sufficient for several thousand chests. It is not that Peking encourages opium farming but that Peking is incapable of controlling its own people.

We could go on but will end with a few observations:

• Elliot was not empowered as he told us.

• He could not stop British trade, contraband or legal.

• His Notice stopping trade, if carefully read, is a Notice not an Order. When we asked about his powers he referred us to the published Orders-in-Council. He was intentionally misleading us.

• Palmerston asked Elliot if the people who prevented the execution in the square were British and whether other nationalities were also involved. Could Elliot’s report of 12th December have omitted this information when Palmerston was half a planet away?

• Did not Elliot tell Palmerston that he arrived at Canton at night on 12th December with 120 armed men?

• Elliot did receive approbation from London for forcing the ferry boats, etc., out of the river. The British government approved his assistance to the Canton government.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

A letter from Bombay dated 29th January says two Parsee opium traders have committed suicide and more deaths should be expected. The Parsees are an ancient people and cannot bear the disgrace of insolvency.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Wm Crawford, MP for the City, has outlined the development of the opium trade at Canton to the House and asked MPs to set-up a Select Committee to enquire into the opium surrender. The ministry agreed.

Crawford’s Outline:

Up to 1796 opium was admitted to China on payment of a fixed duty. That year the Kien Lung Emperor prohibited it. His law was disregarded and Canton officials allowed its continued import in return for money. In 1796 some 4,000 chests were sent to China; in 1839 this had increased to 27,000 chests.[490] Crawford outlined recent developments involving Lin and Elliot. Now the merchants want indemnity.

Sir George Staunton said the claims should be investigated. He understood the government was preparing to obtain redress from China.

Palmerston noted the powers of Elliot were not greater than the powers of the old Select Committee and were, in some instances, less. He thought Elliot had insufficient power to stop opium trading.

Editor – the MPs were noisy and inattentive throughout. The Select Committee thus established was directed to investigate and ‘report their observations’ on the grievance – in fact they made no observations and gave a ‘statement of facts’ to the MPs to decide.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Extract from the book Notes of a voyage up the East Coast of China in August 1838:

“British navy charts of the China coast are only accurate as far as Namoa. North of that island we used the Jesuit charts which are quite inaccurate for sailing. The sky was clear and sun sightings were easy but we could not find our way until we asked some passing fishermen.”

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

The Singapore Free Press edition of 2nd July publishes Elliot’s formal complaint against Capt Warner:

Warner brought the Thomas Coutts from Singapore to China. He did not join the British fleet in Hong Kong harbour but took a local pilot, signed the bond and entered the Bogue. Warner knew of the delicate state of my negotiations when he acted.

As a result Lin broke off discussions with me and demanded the entire British fleet either enter the river to trade or depart never to return.

Warner says he had legal opinion from India supporting his acts. That may be true but practically he was crazy. If ship captains each make agreements with China regardless of the principles that inform British policy, our trade will soon be ended.

I know what I am doing; those lawyers advising Warner do not. I had a done deal with Lin (for trading outside the river) but he withdrew his agreement because of Warner.

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Extract from Elliot’s report on the Battle of the Bogue:

Smith could not leave the Chinese fleet free to pass inside of him at night (and expose the merchant fleet in Hong Kong). He thought if he withdrew from the warjunks it would appear dishonourable. He wanted to stop them returning to their former anchorage (where their stores and provisions were).

I had done everything to satisfy them and the time had come to check their hostile movements. The Captain and I agreed. At noon the signal to engage was given. Our ships ran down the Chinese line firing broadside after broadside. We were able to turn and repeat the manoeuvre from the other side. One warjunk exploded, three sank and several were waterlogged. The Chinese Admiral fought well.[491]

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

An anonymous letter-writer tells us a huge trade is being carried on in the Broadway to the benefit of all concerned.[492] How can Bremer say the Canton River is blockaded at all its branches?

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

A joke is circulating that the Chairman and deputy Chairman of the organising committee for Jardine’s dinner at London Tavern (Captain John Hine and James Wilkinshaw) provided oil at one end of the table and vinegar at the other (a comment on their personalities)

Vol 13 No 29 – 21st July 1840

Letter to the Editor – The Whigs repudiated Elliot but have now appointed him in some capacity to the naval CiC (Admiral Elliot). We tremble with intuitive dread for the future. A momentous storm is breaking and we need a steady hand to steer us through to an honourable settlement. If mismanaged, we could bring down this mighty Empire and ruin our trade. Why is Elliot still employed? His incompetence is unparalleled and the extent of his blunders unprecedented.

After expulsion from Canton he did his best to stop trade. We ignored him and saved some of our business although the so-called ‘patriotic party’ he had assembled said we compromised our honour for money. Soon afterwards the ‘patriotic party’ fell apart, abandoned Elliot and emulated us in trade. Elliot then claimed that the trade has been maintained by him and he had achieved an average annual export of tea.

I will not comment on the Battle of Kowloon Bay, the blockade or the negotiations for trade at Chuen Pi. ‘An ominous fatality seems to hover over all his measures, marring everything he does.’ He is pitiful.

Turning to Bremer’s blockade, from what you have previously published on the law, it is an illegal act. Notice was given that on 28th June the river would be blockaded by all its branches. This has not yet been attempted. Why not? Elliot told some traders that the Broadway would not be blockaded.[493] Did he tell Bremer?

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

The Examiner, 29th March 1840:

Wm Crawford has successfully applied to the House to consider the opium indemnity in committee. Sir George Staunton seconded the motion. He said “Elliot forbad the opium trade in his notice of 11th September 1839. Had the order been issued 3 years (or even 7 months) earlier the surrender of our opium stock and the associated stoppage of trade would not have occurred. We would not now be obliged to consider a military contest with China, which is something we should really try to avoid.”

Editor – We have already established that Elliot had no powers to give orders. The old Select Committee could end practices that they thought injurious to trade generally but Elliot could not. Palmerston wrote to Elliot saying the Act of (20) George III gave the Superintendent powers over British traders. Elliot replied that those powers had been repealed by Cl 146 of Cap 52 in (33) George III and in any event they only empowered the Select to remove unlicensed traders. As licensing is no longer required, even if the power remained legally enforceable, it was redundant in the new circumstances. Elliot knew he had no powers to deport and asked Pam to provide some to avoid the embarrassment of the British government and he himself. He got none.

It may be concluded that the British government only wanted Elliot to encourage and protect British trade by precept and example and not by any executive action.

The anti-opium lobby (led in parliament by Lord Sandon[494]) wants to stop opium farming in India. The principle they base their arguments on is that the product is causing injury to China. If Britain is to cease manufacturing anything that might cause injury we should review other businesses as well as opium trading. Birmingham produces guns for export. We have sold rum to American Indians and ruined whole tribes thereby. We sell gin to our own people and continue to do so because we value the revenue more than their health and welfare. We sell many poisons to our people – prussic acid, arsenic and others – because they also have beneficial medicinal uses.

We also make the point that smuggling is widespread. France sells us more brandy than is good for us and much of it is smuggled. England has a body of merchants under a Consul at Cadiz whose main occupation is selling goods at Gibraltar for smuggling into Spain. Spain has never considered detaining the Cadiz merchants as security for the surrender of the Gibraltar contraband. If Spain did so it would be considered a hostile act by us. Spain can no more ask us to cease smuggling from Gibraltar than we can ask France to stop brandy crossing the channel illegally. China is the same.

Recent scientific opinion says some green teas are poisonous[495]

The problem is one of use and abuse. All these products can be used well and complement our society. Guns are for hunting or to keep ravenous pigeons off our wheat fields; rum is pleasant in moderation and so is opium. Lord Sandon grows barley on his estates. Barley is used to make gin. Should Sandon be responsible for gin drinking and the misery, crime and death that is associated with it?

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

Editorial – The House of Commons has heard that the Superintendents of British Trade had no powers over the British community in China. The Select Committee’s power to deport was terminated by Cl. 146 of Cap 52, 33 George III.

The only similar power that survived from the 1794 Charter renewal was the power to remove unlicensed traders but as no licence is required to trade since 1834, that power cannot be exercised.

All Elliot could do was not encourage or protect the smuggling trade.

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

Bell & Co’s circular to its constituents dated 23rd September 1839 on Fort William in Hong Kong harbour:

In our last circular of 21st August from Macau we told you our residence under Portuguese protection was causing the Macau authorities embarrassment with the Chinese and that we had sent our books to this ship for security. Lin then issued threatening Edicts against us, Chinese troops were brought to the barrier to expel us and we left Macau on 26th August.

The boats of our fleet at Hong Kong have been used against the Chinese in support of HMS Volage’s pinnace, Elliot’s Louisa and an opium schooner. This force attacked three war-junks in Kowloon Bay because they were so close to us they were deterring the coastal villagers from bringing provisions. Our food supplies are irregular but not entirely deficient. On that day no British ship was without fresh food. After several hours of engagement, the battle resulted in our disabling one war-junk and killing many Chinese including an officer.

This was an unprovoked attack by us and it failed in its aim. Our supply of provisions has not increased and might diminish as we were obliged to retreat from the Chinese. The action has excited the opinion of the other foreigners against us and we all regret it.

Secondly HMS Volage was suddenly appointed by Elliot on 11th September to blockade the river starting 17th September. The blockade responded to Lin’s order to his people to stop provisioning us and instruction to them to shoot or imprison us if we went ashore asking for food. It was also true that some Englishmen (Gribble et al) were thought at the time to have been seized by the Chinese.

We have said the supply of provisions was not a problem. We assume that the real reason for the blockade related to the missing men. This fear was exacerbated by a ship’s boat with 2 officers and 13 men who went to observe the war-junks and were then driven by the weather to Macau. It was feared they had been captured.

On 16th September Elliot withdrew his intended blockade. This pleased the Americans who are profiting immensely from our trade stoppage. His published reasons were a) the discovery that the missing men were safe and b) the start of discussions to have the Edicts threatening our lives withdrawn.

We merchants then held a meeting with Elliot to learn the nature of the discussions. We asked a) who had suggested them and b) whether they might lead to a resumption of trade or were just for our better protection pending for receipt of instructions from London. Elliot said he could only reopen trade on an honourable basis and nothing about the discussions could be revealed. We asked again but no better information was available. It’s a mystery.

With Elliot refusing to talk with us, we traders held another meeting on 19th September on this ship. We considered:

a) Chinese protection had been withdrawn from us,

b) food supplies stopped and water sources rumoured poisoned,

c) Lin’s public opposition,

d) the menacing fleet of fire rafts and war-junks,

e) the Battle of Kowloon Bay

and concluded we were living on an “enemy coast.” The insurances on our property did not cover losses due to lawful acts of the Chinese government. We were at risk of losing everything we have here.

The meeting agreed to select three firms to talk with Capts Elliot and Smith about our security. This firm (Bell & Co) was one of the three. Elliot was implacable. No idea of his intentions for our safety could be had. No idea of who started the discussions was given. All he would say was that he was in direct contact with Chinese officials and was discussing a plan to reopen British trade outside the river. We suspect Elliot has asked the Portuguese Governor of Macau to act as his intermediary as that officer has told us a letter from Elliot was sent to the Tso Tong of Macau, a 12th grade official whose rank is analogous to a magistrate’s assistant in Bengal.

We expect Elliot will engage to separate the legal from the illegal trade and establish the former at Chuen Pi. The Macau governor has said he will police the inner harbour against opium traffickers effective 1st October. Lin appears to have a personal grudge against Elliot judging by his recent Edicts. We wonder if anything can come of this initiative. Elliot said, if the negotiations failed, he would not order another blockade unless Britons were captured. He and Smith believe we are safe while HMS Volage is here.

The free trade is dissatisfied. We expected relief for our outside trade after Elliot left Canton. We expected trade through Macau while Canton was closed to us. However, even residence at Macau is denied us. The sudden proposal to start then not start a blockade and our realisation that the earliest we can expect help from England is February next year, are the roots of our dissatisfaction. The effects will influence you (our constituents) as much as us.

If we resume trade at Canton, and a Chinese is killed, trade will again be stopped. What we have been obliged to do is to identify our import connections at Whampoa / Canton to the Americans who will take our goods into the river for sale to those people. Cotton was the first article identified for sale in this way. In the few days before the intended blockade we also sold a lot of piecegoods in the same way. If Elliot’s plan for an outside legal trade fails, we have only the Americans to carry for us.

Editor – Elliot said his instructions prevented his reopening trade on any but a secure and honourable basis. When were those instructions sent? The Ariel arrived London on 21st September. The instructions could not have preceded the news of our imprisonment etc., carried by Ariel. Pam must have anticipated the trade stoppage and provided instructions for that case. That seems so improbable, it is risible.

Was Elliot’s proposed Chuen Pi trade secure and honourable? Lin made four precedent demands that required our compliance before he would agree. Did Elliot reject or obey those commands?

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

Asiatic Journal, February 1840 – If our China policy since 1834 has been intended to bring on a war it could explain Elliot’s strange actions at Canton. On the other hand, if our policy is to promote legal trade by controlling the smugglers and not irritating the Chinese, then Elliot’s policy is incomprehensible.

The principles that should guide Elliot were expressed by Charles Grant years ago. He said the Superintendent of British Trade is ‘an official authority, independent of all parties and unconnected with commerce of any kind.’

Elliot has identified himself with the smugglers who oppose China. He has fired on a Chinese war-junk which was deployed to prevent Chinese from provisioning the English ships. Having killed some Chinese but not obtained his end, he withdrew. He was already suspected of protecting the murderer of Lam Wai Hei (Mandarin – Lin Weihe). The position now appears to be that we either submit to the Chinese or fight them without justice in our cause.

The Editor of the Canton Register has identified the attack on the Black Joke as a piratical act of the Canton authorities. The identification is based on a Chinese official report which says ‘an English barbarian boat was observed spying at the Bogue and was fired on by Wong Chung, a naval officer, who killed more than ten men. The others escaped with their lives.’ If that was true it might represent a slight pretext for war but the Black Joke is a notorious opium smuggling schooner and the community initially thought the attackers were pirates not officials. Their main complaint was that the attack might not have occurred if Lin had not been so adversarial. Chinese friends of the Canton Register Editor told him the attack was made by officials and that the attacking ship was decked out as an official boat. The tindal who survived found an official’s hat on board after the pirates left. In any event, the attack occurred after Elliot’s initiatives and could not have been a cause of them.

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

Recent copies of the Peking Gazettes contain a new Edict:

Barbarian minorities in the east and west of Yunnan boil poppies to make opium. All the civil and military officers and their staff smoke this opium. The high officials will do their duty and investigate. If the poppy grows, if opium is made, if people smoke – the culprits must be caught and punished.

Do not allow the clerks and runners to cause confusion.

Formerly we did not have a law against the domestic farming of opium nor against the negligence of officials in permitting it. Now we do. Any official, civil or military, who is bribed in connection with opium or is negligent in discovering the use of opium commits an offence.

If the opium exceeds 100 catties (1 Picul, 133 lbs, a chest of Patna) he will lose one year’s pay; if ten chests he will be demoted one grade; if 50 chests he will be demoted and posted to a lower job. Those who are diligent will be promoted.

Editor – the only evidence we have for domestic production of opium is Choo Tsun’s memorial.[496] Now the Colonial Magazine has published our translations of Imperial Edicts against opium farming in Yunnan going back to 1823.

The old Select Committees of the Company collected Chinese documents in a ‘Book of Translations’ which they sent periodically to the Court in London – we suppose this is the magazine’s source. This shows the inefficiency or unwillingness of the Chinese government to seriously tackle opium. If the Yunnan provincial government ignored Imperial directions for so long we should also conclude that these Edicts are unimportant.

We ourselves hear Yunnan is covered with opium poppies. It is used by men and women of all classes. It is so widespread that the provincial officers told Peking they could not publish the Emperor’s Edict as it endangered social order. They were then ordered to publish anyway but allow a period of grace for smokers to kick the habit.

Vol 13 No 30, 28th July 1840

Letter from Kap Soy Mun (the smuggling base on Ma Wan Island facing Lantau Island), 24th July:

The longboat of the Coringa Packet was rowed ashore this morning and was immediately attacked. The Chinese were armed with knives on long poles. The gunner was stabbed in the back but everyone escaped. Capt Smith of HMS Volage has been informed.

Vol 13 No 31 – 4th August 1840

The five seamen convicted by Elliot of riot at Tsim Sha Tsui have returned to England on the Diana from Singapore. The law officers discharged them saying Elliot did not have the power to sentence them to confinement in England.

Vol 13 No 31 – 4th August 1840

An Order-in-Council has been issued at Buckingham Palace on 3rd April 1840:

The Queen requires that reparations and satisfaction be demanded of the Chinese Emperor. The required procedure is to detain his ships and cargoes. If reparations are refused the ships and cargoes may be sold. She requests the Advocate General and Admiralty to draft a commission in usual terms to the Lord High Admiral. Sgd C C Greville

Vol 13 No 31 – 4th August 1840

The Commons debate approving war with China:

Sir James Graham’s motion of censure on the ministry’s China policy was debated from Wednesday 7th – Friday 9th April. He censured the government for not providing Elliot with clear instructions or sufficient powers. Elliot wrote that with more power he might have prevented a breach. Sir John Hobhouse and Macaulay ridiculed the idea of Elliot being empowered to suppress opium trade. But all recognised that some powers might have allowed Elliot to preserve order and prevent collisions. He should have been empowered to stop the Thomas Coutts.

The charge of neglect against government was fully made.

Peel accused Pam (Palmerston) of ‘gross and intolerable neglect’ for ignoring Elliot’s pleas for assistance and advice. Pam was accused of misleading parliament in so far as when the China Courts Bill was debated in 1838 he knew conditions at Canton were worsening but concealed his knowledge from the members. Pam said ‘what would you have done?’ and the Tories seem to have agreed that Whig policy was appropriate.

Sir George Staunton said war was necessary for the safety of British domination in the East. The British complaint was of insulting language and poisoning wells.[497] It showed the weakness of the opium traders case, even in the absence of the Chinese view. No one has argued the Chinese case, indeed it is unknown.

Editor – Who is responsible? Well:

  • the government laid the foundation stone to its difficulties in 1833 with its slovenly legislation;
  • In 1834 the government gave Napier impracticable instructions;
  • Ministers subsequently (except Wellington) neglected Chinese affairs;
  • Elliot has too frequently been vacillating and inconsistent; and
  • the Company and the opium smugglers are most to blame for the conflict.

But war has strong supporters for the commercial benefit it is likely to bring.

533 MPs voted and the government obtained a majority of 9 – a victory almost as bad as defeat. Of the 271 members in favour, 37 are placemen who have no independent vote. The chief speakers were Sir James Graham, Macaulay, Sir Wm Follett, Sir Robert Peel and Pam. The debate was partisan.

Editor – when a government’s actions are censured, it seems wrong for the accused to vote in favour of their acquittal. If the ten ministers had abstained, the government would have lost this vote.

Towards the end of the debate on the late afternoon of Friday 9th April, the East India and China Trade Association submitted a memorial from China-traders in London:

“disclaiming a wish to dictate to the Chinese the way that British trade should in future be carried out …. The measures to be taken must be followed by firmness and energy so the trade is protected.”

The memorial was widely thought to have been solicited by Pam for use against Sir James Graham’s motion. Amongst the signatories – John Hine, H H Lindsay, Alexander Matheson, Magniac Smith & Co, etc.

With the failure of the censure motion, a subsequent vote of ‘no confidence’ was moved by Sir John Yarde Buller but also failed 287 – 308. Ministers declined to ask for a vote approving their policy. Such a small majority on an important question would previously have caused a change of administration. That the government is pressing ahead suggests a contempt for parliament.

A further similar motion was scheduled for 30th April but so few members turned up (it was a Friday evening) that is was adjourned to 12th May.

Vol 13 No 31 – 4th August 1840

Editorial – We have taken Chusan. The rice ships from Taiwan will now be exposed to our capture and the people of Fukien and Chekiang will soon be hungry.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

The Macau Taotai has gone to Canton to interview the Viceroy about Vincent Stanton’s detention. Stanton studied divinity at St John’s, Cambridge and came to China in 1838 as tutor to Richard Turner’s sons. He officiates at the English Chapel in Macau on Sundays.[498]

He was caught by Wong Chung, the Muslim guerrilla working for Lin, whilst swimming at Casilia Bay on the morning of 4th August. He was suspected to be an opium trader. He left home that morning at 4.45am 4th August and was not seen again. At 2 pm on Sunday 9th August we heard he was in Canton. Chinese friends say he was seen at the Bogue on Thursday 6th August, arms tied behind him and head bloody. He arrived at Canton on Saturday and was interviewed by Lin before being imprisoned.

He is accused of continuing to live at Macau after the English had been expelled. He replied that there are several Englishmen living in Macau. The Taotai, Tso Tong and Keunmin foo all say they know nothing of any British residents. They may be telling the truth so far as they know it but the Taotai had earlier promised the Procurador to remove Chinese troops and war-junks from Macau but has not in fact done so – on the contrary their numbers have increased. There is a large infantry and artillery camp on our racecourse (south of the barrier), on the peninsula opposite Ilha Verde, from whence the soldiers sally out and disrupt our constitutional walks. They also shake-down our servants.

The handful of British merchants still residing at Macau have petitioned A R Johnstone and Capt Smith of HMS Volage for relief. They say the increasing numbers of Chinese troops in Macau, the war-junks in the harbour, the increasing insults and robberies generally, the presence of the gang of guerrillas that burned the Bilbaino and attacked the Black Joke, all show Stanton’s detention is a further step in the escalating violence. They say this process can be stopped only by ‘energetic measures’.

Capt Smith categorised Stanton’s detention as a gross breach of the enclave’s neutrality – those Britons still in Macau will be protected by me, he said. The Chinese say there are two reasons for Stanton’s arrest – he took a share of the rice intended for the people of Mong Ha village and he is Gutzlaff’s son.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

A Dane named Wolf landed at the Praia Grande a few days ago, was hustled into Beale’s Lane by some fifteen ruffians and robbed of $15. This occurred in daylight on one of the busiest roads in Macau.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

Editorial – When Lin first published the proclamations inciting the general populace to attack English people and property, the British merchants asked Elliot for relief and he said he could not guard against treachery but if anyone was actually hurt, he would immediately take the Bogue forts and attack Canton.

Well, Elliot did nothing to preserve Macau for our residence; he neglected the Bilbaino and Black Joke cases, and he has now gone off with the fleet without saying a word to us.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

The house and godowns of Turner & Co at Praia de Manduco are for rent from Filippe Jose de Freitas.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

Galignani’s Messenger – Wm Jardine, who is said to have a fortune of £800,000 from opium, is to be the ministry’s candidate for the Totnes seat.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

In Sir James Graham’s motion of censure / no confidence, which was effectively a debate on British opium policy, Pam said his instructions to Elliot were the same as those given to other consuls – to get information, protect Britons and mediate with the local government.

It seems Elliot had no power to expel British ships or merchants involved in opium.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

Morning Post, 30th April – The memorial of the East India and China Association which Pam ‘solicited’ for Sir James Graham’s debate, is being used to establish that the British merchants at Canton think war with China is just.

We will review the recent history of this matter.

Ministers have said that Elliot’s opium scrip cannot be indemnified until we get the money from China. This is why the merchants want war – they have 2½ million reasons to fight. It is little known that many China-trade merchants refused to sign the East India and China Association petition.

Before the division bell, 7 – 8 MPs, who routinely support the government, said they supported Graham’s motion of censure on the basis of the debated facts. It was clearly a finely balanced matter and calling in a memorial from the China traders in support of the final speech was a device intended to obtain the right result.

The government deputed John Abel Smith MP and Wm Crawford MP to use their influence in the City. Both are China traders and interested, personally or through their connections, in the opium scrip. The government says that some of the merchant signatories to the Association’s memorial are respectable traders who generally oppose violent measures. We will provide brief biographies on each signatory so readers can assess the government’s view.

  • Larpent is a partner of Cockerell & Co, London agents of Bell & Co,[499] a holder of opium scrip for 40 chests. But Bell & Co do not support a war. Larpent therefore must have signed the petition in his other incarnation as Chairman of the East India and China Association which Association never instructed him to vote.
  • M/s Briggs Thurburn Acreman & Co are the London agents of Daniell & Co who have a claim for 1,465 chests
  • M/s Alexander George Milne & Co are hardly known in the city.
  • M/s Small Colquhoun & Co are agents of Turner & Co who have a claim for 71 chests.
  • J S Rigge is a junior partner in M/s Saunderson Frye Fox & Co, a quaker firm which has publicly repudiated Rigge’s act. They are said to represent Fox Rawson & Co of Canton. Fox Rawson have claims for 30 chests.
  • H H Lindsay has promoted violence against China in many pamphlets. He wishes to change Chinese commerce, morals and principles. He is the son of Captain Lindsay, a Company Director, and was himself a former Select Committee member. He is now a partner in Lindsay Kerr & Co of Canton.
  • Gregson & Co are London agents for MacVicar & Co of Canton, holders of some of Elliot’s opium scrip. Gregson always defers to Larpent’s opinions.
  • Daniell Dickenson & Co are also agents of MacVicar & Co
  • Crawford Colvin & Co are associated with Turner & Co. This is Robert Wigram Crawford (son of the MP for the City and later to represent Harwich himself) who co-managed the collection of signatures for the petition.
  • Larkins & Co are unknown to our contacts.
  • Lyall Bros & Co of Great St Helens are connected with Turner & Co. There has been misinformation circulated suggesting the company is associated with George Lyall, ex MP for the City of London
  • Walkinshaw & Co are pickle manufacturers. They have little involvement in China trade unless they speculate in tea.
  • Gardiner Urquhart & Co are deeply involved in tea speculation.
  • John Hine was formerly a Captain of one of the Company’s Indiamen. He is a protégé of Wm Jardine, who described himself at a London dinner in his honour as “the greatest of opium smugglers”.
  • W J Hall & Co is a firm of wharfingers, uninvolved in China trade. Their name was put in the list to add bulk.
  • Alexander Matheson is a partner in J M & Co
  • James W Smith was Jardine’s tea taster at Canton.
  • Walkinshaw Skinner & Co are Bombay merchants who export opium to China.
  • Magniac Smith & Co is run by J Abel Smith MP who organised this petition with R W Crawford. They are London agents of J M & Co and Hormusjee Framjee. The latter has an opium claim for 73 chests.
  • M/s Dallas & Coles are unknown
  • Wm Drayner was a Company ship-Captain and now a big tea trader. He has no other China business but tea.
  • C S Gover was a country ship Captain. He is heavily involved in the tea market.
  • Robert Eglinton & Co have correspondents at Bombay and Calcutta who trade in opium
  • John Brightman is an Anglo-Indian. His firm Brightman & Co did not sign the petition. The wealth of his company was founded on opium exports to China. It now deals in opium and tea.
  • C R Read & Co was misidentified in the House as Sir John Rae Reid & Co, an important firm. C R Read is actually a partner in A R Johnstone & Co of Singapore which is deeply involved in opium trade.

These 25 signatories (out of 30 petitioners) are Whig supporters of the government. The remaining five are honourable men.

  • J Horsley Palmer & J MacKillop are two of the six partners in Palmers MacKillop Dent & Co who signed their names individually. The precedent partner of the firm is George Palmer, MP for South Essex. This important house represents Dent & Co of Canton in claiming for 2,246 chests. The company must support war in order to recover the large claims of its correspondents and constituents.
  • Gladstane Kerr & Co are Agents for Lindsay Kerr & Co (c.f. H H Lindsay above) which is deeply involved in opium trade.
  • Hunter Gouger & Co are London correspondents of several opium traders in China and themselves have large tea interests.
  • Scott Bell & Co is believed to be associated with Bell & Co of Canton which has a claim for about 40 chests.

These thirty people influenced the result of the debate in its final moments and procured the government majority. We hope this trick will not be repeated.

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

Morning Post, 1st May – Since publishing the above yesterday we have received a river of letters from men in the City. They find our interest in their commercial operations inconvenient. Only one is a clearly worded impeachment and we reproduce it below together with one other. We should tell merchants that when they sign papers for presentation in parliament, they assert a political view and come to public attention. They merely have to stop influencing the government to avoid public scrutiny:[500]

  • Sir, the petition was carried around the City in the late afternoon of the Friday it was presented in parliament, without previous notice, and no-one had much time to consider it. It was carried by loquacious gentlemen who urged a duty on us to our distant constituents. No political reasons were adduced or discussed.
    By late afternoon on a Friday there are few partners in London offices and many of them first knew of the matter on reading their morning papers the next day. From those I have met, they are all astonished to find themselves cast in the role of supporting this rickety administration which has been the curse of businessmen. But do not expect a deluge of complaints from them – partners in a commercial business cannot express themselves so easily. Sgd A Partner
  • Sir, Lindsay & Co is not deeply involved in opium. We traded opium until the Chinese government started enforcing its law against it. Until then the trade was sanctioned by officials at Canton and owed its rapid growth to their support. We were not ashamed to be involved.When China strengthened its coastguard and started strong enforcement in December 1838 we stopped trading opium. It was the Chinese attempt to strangle a convict in the Square that persuaded me. We later surrendered all our opium to Elliot and have had no further interest.
    I am sad that this important commercial affair has become a matter for party politics. People are talking of an ‘opium war’. If I thought it probable that England was about to launch war on China to force opium on those people, I would join every honest man in the country in opposition to the measure. I expect all the other signatories feel the same. The problem in China is that the government is willing to punish the innocent instead of the guilty. British trade, wherever it is done, has a right to protection so long as it is conducted with justice and propriety. Sgd H H Lindsay, 22 Berkeley Square. 30th April

Vol 13 No 32 – 11th August 1840

Madras Extra – A meeting was held in the Freemasons’ Tavern in London on 24th April to protest against the ‘opium war’.

Earl Stanhope was in the chair,

The agreed formal protest ends with:

“ … this war must be to the eternal dishonour and disgrace of England. It is a declaration that because the Chinese will not have our opium, we will have their blood.”

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

The smuggling fleet shifted back to Kap Soy Mun early this month.

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Further official correspondence of Elliot’s has come to hand:

Elliot to Palmerston, 30th March 1839 “The safety of the British community depends on me. If I tell Lin I have no control over the opium fleet, he will revert to his original plan of seizing some individual merchants as security for his requirements. I expected their confinement would have been protracted and some lives may have been lost. My surrender of the opium without security of indemnity will convulse England and India and embarrass your government.
Elliot to Palmerston, 6th April 1839 “A R Johnstone left for Macau on 3rd and the blockade has been intensified. How Qua and Mow Qua visited yesterday with the draft of a bond from Lin. I refused it but they left it in the General Chamber office. Last night I got the letter that was supposed to accompany the draft bond and did not reply to it. This afternoon I had a note from Lin requiring this monstrous bond to be signed by all. Tomorrow is Sunday but on Monday I will reply. My best course is to get the British out of Lin’s control but if I simply ask to take them away, it will increase the danger we are in. We can only continue trading over the ships’ sides. Lin is continuing our imprisonment because he fears, if I leave, I will take Dent with me.

“On 19th March all communication with Whampoa was cut. No boat has got to Whampoa from here since 21st March (except my own on 24th March, coming the other way). When I passed the Bogue I saw the British ship Heroine was detained there although her papers were in order.

“Clearly the river was closed before I came to Canton and not as a result of my arrival.

“Before Lin’s arrival I had considered ordering the opium ships away but there were strong mercantile objections so I refrained. The change in Chinese government policy towards opium put the matter in doubt until Lin’s first Edicts appeared. Many thought it was just the precursor to a new squeeze. I concluded a few months ago that China was determined to stop opium trade but I was in doubt of their ability to do so. I did not want to publicly involve the British government in this delicate matter without the strongest necessity.

“My opinions were strongly opposed by the traders here. They felt that the increasing level of opium imports meant there was no real risk of effective counter measures. I wanted them to abandon the trade and ask Lin for a period of grace in which to do so in view of

a) the long history of connivance and

b) the recent deliberations on legalisation of opium use.

“Up to a very late date My Lord, no portion of the trade to China has so regularly paid its fees to the officers of this and the neighbouring provinces, high and low, as that of opium.” The sudden enforcement is public robbery.

“On 30th March I wrote you that I had decided to immediately withdraw the opium, in spite of the long course of encouragement, and either have the British opium traders bond themselves not to deal in it or myself to undertake on government’s behalf that no exception would be taken if the Chinese expelled them all. I expected the Chinese to offer reasonable security for future trade and some explanation for the change in their policy. When I arrived at Canton this rash man had already imprisoned the foreign community and I found no hope of his accommodating my proposals.

“The merchants could not themselves act because a large part of their interests belonged to their constituents and they had no instructions from the owners. I identified Lin’s demand for opium surrender as an act of spoliation and thus a right of indemnity remains with the British government. Great moral changes cannot be effected by violence. Lin should have shamed the participants and slowly embarrassed them into foregoing their profits.

“His action has encouraged the more desperate opium smugglers to extend their trade along the coast and they will sooner or later bring-on a serious breach.

“The chief danger is that Lin’s willingness to violence will adduce a violent response from the traders. These people only want money. I have no doubt that only the British government can save China from these men, right Lin’s wrongs and secure a permanent settlement for the foreigners. It will be in both China’s and England’s interest if you intervene.

Elliot to Pam from Fort William, 27th August I left Macau because I suspected the departure of the British Commission from thence would satisfy the Chinese and they would relax their measures against other resident Britons. The attached paper describes the piracy of the Black Joke. I am sure this was piracy and did not involve the high officials. I expect they will be alarmed by it.
Attached paper:
James Matheson on Maria anchored at Taipa Roads to Elliot 25th August Andrew Jardine will tell you of the attack on Black Joke. Seven armed rowing boats surrounded the schooner as she lay at anchor. The boats were armed and manned like official boats but I think, contrary to general opinion, that they were pirates.
Elliot to Lin 2nd September Chinese boats attacked the Black Joke. An official’s cap was left behind when they departed. Moss was stabbed in thirty places and lost an ear. Six crew jumped overboard and were drowned.

Editor – this is strange. Moss’ statement shows he found one corpse on deck which the tindal threw overboard; the brains of another were on the forecastle and the whole deck forward was coated with clotted blood suggesting knives had been used. Not much evidence of drowning.

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Supreme Court of Bengal, 6th July 1840:

Ramsakuck Mullick v Lawrence de Souza et al[501] – an appeal against a lower court’s order that the Defendants pay to the Plaintiffs the cost price of opium surrendered to the British government.

The Defendants contracted to sell the opium immediately on arrival at Lintin. They guaranteed safe return. The Plaintiffs complain the cargo was not sold immediately and the returns have not been received.

Dwarkanauth Tagore gave expert evidence for the Defence that when the ship arrived at Lintin, opium prices were nominal. On this evidence only nominal damages could be awarded. A Plaintiff is supposed to prove his loss. Mullick’s only evidence was that when the trouble at Canton became known at Calcutta in June, opium fell to about 200 Rupees per chest. At the same time Elliot’s opium receipts were trading in China at between 300 – 400 Rupees per chest.

Judgement – As trade continued at Lintin, however desultorily, we cannot give nominal damages. We award the highest known price of 400 rupees per chest to Plaintiff.

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Lin has built a sand battery immediately north of the barrier with Macau. It is on the coast facing east overlooking the sea route from Kum Sing Mun to Macau. The battery is designed for 18-20 guns.

Yih, the Macau Taotai went to Lin to provide information about Stanton and returned to Macau at the head of a body of troops.

The number of soldiers in and around Macau now exceeds 2,000. The Chinese population of Macau has reduced to 20,000 people.[502]

Capt Smith of HMS Volage objected to the hostile measures that the sand battery represents. He sent HMS Hyacinth and Larne, the steamer Enterprise and the cutter Louisa on 19th August with marines from HMS Druid and a party of Bengal volunteers.

HMS Hyacinth fired on the battery and HMS Larne fired on the war-junks in the inner harbour.

The Bengal marines were landed north of the barrier to dislodge a body of troops which then retired on Casa Branca. The 250 Bengal volunteers then landed and advanced on the barrier. A gun on the hill near Casa Branca was silenced and the advance on the barrier was continued. Once the barrier was occupied by the British they were fired on by the junks in the inner harbour and returned fire with musketry. The junk crews abandoned their ships and swam to Ilha Verde. We burnt the barrier fort and spiked the guns preparatory to our withdrawal.

The Chinese then opened fire from the guns at Lin Fa temple (now the Lin Fong Temple in Mong Ha, north of Macau). This fire was not returned for an hour as the temple is near Macau but eventually it was opposed by musket fire from the barrier and broadsides from HMS Larne.

Chinese losses were thought to be about 100 men although the Portuguese na China reported 300 Chinese dead. British troops re-embarked at 7 pm. Four English soldiers were seriously injured. The Taotai, Keunmin foo and Tso Tong with the Chinese troops have all left Macau. Since then about 6,000 Chinese troops have assembled at Casa Branca apparently preparing to re-occupy Macau.

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Chancellor of the Exchequer Baring told the Commons on 15th May that national income in the coming year would be £46.7 millions and expenditure £49.4 millions. He proposes to increase existing taxes by 10% and borrow £½ million.

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Lancelot Dent has gone with the British force to Chusan. He is appointed Paymaster to HM forces.[503]

Vol 13 No 34 – 25th August 1840

Framjee Pestonjee died at Bombay on 23rd June aged 42.

Vol 13 No 35 – 1st September 1840

Lord Stanhope has proposed an address to the Queen on behalf of the House of Lords to express concern that British forces are fighting in China to preserve the opium market for our traders. He says it is incumbent on Britons wherever they go, to obey the laws of the host country. He recalled that corruption of the Kwongtung provincial government was adduced as evidence that the Chinese wanted opium but it did not evidence Imperial corruption. Chinese national policy, contrarily, was clear from the law. Many people and officials have been punished for opium offences. Stanhope wants the British government to police British traders in China and prevent their smuggling.

He noted a British belief that Elliot could only enforce law within the river. He saw no distinction between the British at Lintin and say, a French smuggling group on the Isle of Wight.

The Chinese have continually been conciliatory. They had issued repeated Edicts against all the practices they complain of but still the smuggling continues. They have routinely cared for distressed British seamen. The British residents have responded insultingly and offensively. They have threatened force against the Chinese.

Elliot was not an ambassador – he was at most a Consular Agent. His imprisonment resulted from his forcing his way into the prison where the anarchic traders were properly detained. Those traders had no cause to complain – their opium offences were punishable by execution. At English law they would have been fined three times the value of their contraband whereas China merely confiscated the goods. Our attempts to suppress the slave trade have not been entirely successful and opium would likely be the same but that is no reason to not make the attempt. We are concerned to make more trade but opium is damaging our legitimate business.

Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, agreed that foreigners should obey the laws of the countries they visit but the enforcement of those laws was for the country itself. It was unnecessary for Britain to do coastguard duty for China. Britain does not know if China will legalise opium on a duty or continue its ban. The London government has difficulty sending instructions to China because the time delay before their receipt means they are always out-of-date and inappropriate. Elliot has a difficult job. His firing on the junks (the Battle of Kowloon Bay) was precipitant and the blockade was wrong but Elliot was concerned to ensure his community had adequate provisions and was irritated by Chinese opposition to what he considered were his friendly prior advances. Stanhope’s proposed memorial to the Queen will restrict our choices in China, whether they are for negotiations or hostilities. It will encourage Lin to expect unrealisable relief from the activities of our opium traders. Melbourne was not prepared to commend the India Company to relinquish the profits from opium.

The Duke of Wellington thought the existence of the opium trade was well known in Peking as they had held discussions on its legalisation. The British government has investigated and recognised the opium trade. It was hard to tell the traders they were now guilty of offences and justly punished by the loss of their property. He thought the language used towards Elliot and his treatment were both unbearable. Elliot had done his duty. He however concluded that no interference was appropriate for the time being.

Lord Ellenborough said it was inexpedient to stop opium farming in India. The opium revenue was over £1½ millions which was paid ultimately by the Chinese. If that income ceased to be available to the Company’s government at Calcutta, it would have to be raised by increased taxation on Indian subjects. Having ceased our own supply, we would not be able to stop others producing theirs. The common belief amongst some British manufacturers – if the Chinese stopped buying opium they would use the money to buy broadcloth – is unwarranted. The opium traders’ loss will not translate into the British manufacturer’s gain.

After the debate Stanhope withdrew his motion to petition the Queen

Editor – all we can say is that Wellington agrees with other Whigs that Elliot did not have sufficient powers. He disagrees with Whig views on Elliot’s actions and Chinese actions. He finds the treatment of Elliot unprecedented. The Emperor has known about opium smuggling for years but is only now doing something about it. Where was Imperial morality in the last couple of decades? Official boats are provided to transport the drug internally. Is paying a duty to the Emperor (if legalised) much different to paying bribes to Viceroys?

The real reason that the Emperor acted against opium was the economic one – silver was being removed from China. It was only after He found His income threatened that he took action. Until the silver shortage became acute He was happy to let opium imports continue.

The British government previously examined the opium trade and concluded it must continue. In such circumstances it is hard to accuse the smugglers of crime. They have lost their property and have caused a war.

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Journal of Commerce, 11th April (not the New York paper but a London journal):

The problem for our legislators is in deciding whether the opium war is righteous and just. The Chinese have a law against opium. Our traders smuggle opium into China. It is not for us to police Chinese revenue laws. If the Chinese cannot do it, they will have to suffer opium imports and silver exports. They decline to emulate our social arrangements saying we are uncivilised. But they allow our trade, their merchants become indebted to us, and they insult our honour.

It is impossible to have a trading relationship without some form of government relationship to regulate it. We must have this government connection to establish trade securely. If the Chinese insist not to trade with us until opium smuggling ends, we suppose we will never trade with China again.

Sir George Staunton thinks a treaty would smooth the way. It would require us to cease opium farming in India and smuggling in China. The Spanish King proposed a few years ago that the Philippine Islands become an opium farming district. In any event, if we accommodate the Chinese thus, who is to say there will not be other commodities they will object to. They have been developing a domestic cotton industry – perhaps later they will want us to cease importing Indian and American cottons.

Their economic theory requires specie to accumulate in their country. They reject trade that causes silver to be exported – they equate it with a loss of wealth. Our understanding of trade is that wherever there is demand it will be met, regardless of legal obstacles.

Lin’s strong enforcement action has made the entire trade a smuggling trade. As the Chinese cannot stop opium imports, we must negotiate with them for its admission on reasonable terms.

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Excerpt from a petition to the British government by Jardine and friends:

“In March 1839 Elliot and the foreign community were placed under duress by the Chinese government.

“Elliot feared for the safety of British lives. He thought himself empowered with the Select Committee’s powers and ordered the merchants to surrender their opium to him. They gave him a lot. Elliot said he would be responsible on your behalf. Please investigate.”

Sgd Wm Jardine, Alexander Matheson, T Horsley Palmer,[504] etc

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

The correspondence of the British Commission in China with the Foreign Office has been published by Palmerston in a blue book. The Canton Register Editor has previously recited a selection of them. Here are some more:

J F Davis to Palmerston, 7th August 1834 Napier will only communicate directly with the Viceroy. I agree. Our government by Hong merchants is detrimental to our trade. Under the Company, British buying and selling was concentrated and could be directed to alleviate the power of the Hongs. Since 1834 our trade has been fragmented and we do not have the Company’s ability to communicate directly. Without direct access we can do nothing.
Napier to Palmerston, 14th August 1834 I am supposed to report my arrival by letter to the Viceroy. Even if I petition through the Hong merchants, the present state of relations requires my letter to be refused.
Company’s Agents to the Court of Directors Napier requested marines from Imogene and Andromache to protect the Company’s treasury. He did not tell us first. Actually our treasury then contained less silver than many private companies’ treasuries.

Editor – the smugglers were alarmed and one made arrangements to transfer its treasure to Macau but the Company was less concerned as its trade was not objected to. It was only the private traders who were angering the Chinese.

J F Davis to Pam, 19th January 1835 We have two options – the withdrawal of our shipping from the river or the stoppage of our trade. A portion of the British traders have sent a crude petition to Her Majesty. Some of the more respectable houses declined to sign it. The petition was drawn up by a visiting lawyer from India who has never been here before.

Editor – Davis knew the petition represented the majority of Britons. The only people who did not sign it were L Dent, J C Whiteman and J N Daniell. Whiteman and Daniell did not sign because of their involvement in the matters of February 1834. Why did Davis consider them respectable?

G B Robinson to Pam, 13th April 1835 A violent party spirit prevails amongst the private merchants. The hostility Napier encountered at Canton was mainly caused by this party spirit.
Elliot to FO, 14th March 1836 I am making the Chinese so reliant on us that they will soon be obliged to admit direct correspondence with me.
Elliot to FO, 10th October 1836 We expect to soon receive the Emperor’s order legalising opium.
Pam to Elliot, 8th November 1836 The cases of Innes and Keating are inconvenient due to your lack of power to enforce your judicial decisions. We are now considering what powers you need. For the interim confine your actions to suggestions and advice. If you profess to have powers that you do not have, you will impair the authority of your Commission.
Elliot to Pam, 30th December 1836 The translation of my letter was then sealed and superscribed ‘pin’, signifying an address from an inferior to a superior, and was placed in an open envelope and attached to How Qua’s address to the Viceroy.
Elliot to Pam, 27th January 1837 I will solicit the Viceroy’s agreement to my settling the problems he has with the foreign trade. I’ll do it if I can receive sealed letters direct from the high officials.
Elliot to Pam, 2nd February 1837 The immediate political expedient is more useful than high principles and more mischief. The Imperial Edict banning opium seems to mean that the measure is determined upon. It only needs some severe restrictions to convince foreigners that even the Lintin market might be obstructed. I have offered our help to the provincial government.
Elliot to Pam, 7th April 1837 How Qua has pressed me to help the provincial government but I think I should leave matters to them. Johnstone agrees. I do not want to teach them how to control the trade.
Elliot to Viceroy Loo, 17th November 1837 I can only control the legal trade. Neither I nor my King know anything about the smuggling trade.
Elliot to Pam, 1st December 1837 The peaceful establishment of direct communications will soon be easy. A letter from you to the Court at Peking will obtain the concession.

Editor – in 1837 our trade was completely crushed by powerful Chinese enforcement against the local smugglers. This forced the foreigners to themselves assume the duty of carrying contraband the last mile, hence the trade in the river. The Chinese did not prevent that trade for fear of provoking our violence.

Elliot to Pam, 2nd January 1839 The Canton newspapers have censured me for requesting the Viceroy to attach some of his officers to me to bring about the removal of the ferry boats in the river. I did this because I had heard some of the boat operators were planning armed resistance to the government and I thought my presence with the Chinese officers might dissuade the Europeans from that course of action. Had they used guns in the river, someone would have died and we would all be in deep trouble. The legal trade would have been stopped to secure the surrender of the responsible man. I must consider the interests of those Britons who are not routinely breaking Chinese law, whose trade would likewise be stopped.
Elliot to Pam, 2nd January 1839 When I became Commissioner, the Chinese had renewed their law against foreign residence in China, expressly targeted against me. My accomplishment has been to obtain a permanent and direct communication with the Chinese.
Elliot to Pam, 30th January 1839 I don’t know what the Chinese might do but my action last month against the smuggling in the river should improve their opinion of me.
Elliot to Pam, 22nd March 1839 A firm tone will check the rashness of the provincial officers. I have also offered my services to the Chinese in fulfilling their reasonable requests.
Elliot to the Viceroy, 22nd March 1839 Your menacing preparations and the execution in front of the factories have destroyed all confidence in you. Is it your purpose to make war on us? Please reassure us of your peaceful intentions. I am willing to meet with you and fulfil the Emperor’s purpose. cc Keunmin foo.

Editor – fulfilling the Emperor’s will to the Viceroy; fulfilling their reasonable requests to Pam?

Elliot to Pam, 30th March 1839 Our servants have been withdrawn, our provisions cut off. The traders say it is because Dent refuses to go into the City. I attach Nos 13 – 24 of my correspondence. No 20 is a circular to all British subjects requiring them to surrender their opium to me for the service of the British government.
Elliot to Pam, 6th April 1839 When I arrived at Whampoa on 24th March and read the dark threats against Englishmen contained in Lin’s Edicts, I realised there was no hope of an accommodation with him. The merchant community was partially acting on behalf of absent cargo owners and could not make decisions. Only I was free to command. The only course forward was to surrender the opium as demanded. No alternative was on offer. I consider it was an act of forcible spoliation. Our restraints have continued despite our surrendering the property to Lin.
Canton Prefect to Elliot, April 1839 Your laws do not apply in China. If you come to China to trade, you must obey Chinese law. Your King should order you to do so. How can you expect your law to run in our country?
Elliot to Pam, 13th April 1839 The Chinese government lacks the power to maintain enforcement action against opium. Once the pressure is removed, the trade will resume its astonishing growth. Either the British government will intervene powerfully or the traders will overthrow the officials by discreditable smuggling along the coast. It will be easier and more just to both China and ourselves, for us to intervene to change the Emperor’s rash policy than to later remedy smuggling.
Elliot’s letter of 14th June 1839 The claims for indemnity must be paid quickly or we will lose our Indian Empire.

Editor – some merchants were content to abandon their opium. That was up to them. Opium shipments are part of a package of shipments that any Agent of an Indian house will receive. One can hardly represent a Principal if one refuses some of his business. On behalf of the Indian constituent, we sell his Indian goods and buy the teas and silks for England. Opium is the main Indian export. If we refuse opium, which readily converts to silver, we cannot be involved in the tea and silk markets. The Indian and English Principals will suffer along with the China trader himself. Such a trader would rapidly lose his business.

Elliot asks H M government to favour those traders who pledged not to trade opium. This group was almost exclusively the sixteen banished men who gave their pledge in return for their release. It was a wasted pledge. But the removal of all the leading traders made their assistants responsible and these second rank players are less competent.

Elliot to Pam, 28th November 1839 on HMS Volage at Tung Ku Lin has adopted a forceful policy. He never urges or encourages us as is customarily Chinese policy to foreigners. He has stopped British trade but we have continued for six months to trade through the Americans and others. The prices we are getting for both English and Indian goods is the best we have received since 1834. This is because the Chinese are impressed by Lin’s energy and fear the supply of foreign goods will soon end. They are willing to pay top prices to obtain the last of the supply. Some traders complain they would make more profit if they could sail up to Whampoa. Actually the reverse is the case. Even if a Whampoa trade was possible it would routinely attract the usual surcharges and our profits would decrease. The trans-shipment trade has avoided delays to our shipping. Effectively I have moved the legal trade outside the river to unite with the smuggling trade. I had proposed to use this initiative to force the Hongs and officials, should they welcome our resumption of inside trade, to negotiate for better terms. This plan has been destroyed by the act of the Master of Thomas Coutts.

Nevertheless, British trade is vibrant. Over 90% of Chinese imports from Europeans come from the English. America pays for its China trade in England. Lin does not understand that, in cutting off British trade, he is cutting off all foreign trade. Extreme measures are rare in China. It is seldom that the Emperor approves them. Moral government requires benevolence and forgiveness. For four months before Lin’s arrival the smuggling trade had been stagnant. Opium prices were well below the auction price. This resulted from enforcement against consumers.

Since then it has been buoyant. Once Lin rejected reasonableness and forced me to surrender the opium to him, I understood that compromise was impossible.

To remove 20,000 chests from the market when it was stagnant and the drug valueless was salvation for the smugglers. If Lin had given it back we would have been in a worse position. The artificial shortage created was just what the market needed to recover. The smugglers are deeply indebted to Lin. They can well afford to sacrifice the surrendered opium. The profits they have since made are enormous. The new crop they are selling at such high prices would have been valueless if the 20,000 stock still remained for disposal.

I should mention the honour of some merchants – they have voluntarily abjured the opium trade in face of the temptations that continuing smuggling offers. I hope the British government will relieve their difficulties and protect their lawful trade. Lin’s policies have separated the lawful from the unlawful traders and collected the former under his control at Canton. I have determined to never expose the lawful British trade in this way until the Chinese government accepts its responsibilities for our well-being.

Editor – trade at that time was terrible. Prices were well down as evidenced in the Prices Current for the period. The only advantage that the English had in using American trans-shipment services came from the anticipated profit on our tea exports which they brought down to us. We had to compete in this tea trade with the Hongs and the Americans. At that time, the Americans popularised an expression – ‘we milk the cow while John Bull holds the horns’

Elliot to Pam, 6th December 1839 The Chief Mate of the Bilbaino has signed a declaration that the ship was English and had just been sold to Spanish owners when it was burnt. This is how Lin adjusts the facts to suit himself. He would do the same to us, if our people were under his control in Canton. He might have done it to Dent if I had not prevented it.
Elliot to Pam, 6th December 1839 A Linguist tells us that the attack on the Black Joke was done by Wong Chung at Lin’s command. Wong was paid 200 Taels for the job. The recent affair of the Bilbaino makes the allegation more likely but I cannot believe a Linguist without corroboration.

Editorial – in considering Elliot’s letters generally we believe he is a vain and conceited man who lacks the self-confidence that flows from sincerity. He succeeded to his office and suddenly became capable of managing the Emperor, the Viceroy, the smugglers and the Foreign Office. He told Pam the opium trade would be legalised after Hsu Nai Tsi and others told the Emperor it was impossible to stop the smuggling. He thought all the Emperor had to do was indicate the outside trade could also be stopped, and that would bring the smugglers to negotiate and the whole trade could be returned to Chinese control. His intent seems to have been to succeed where all others have failed.

He says foreign officers are not allowed to reside in China when the French, Dutch and American governments have Consuls at Canton. Elliot did every reasonable thing and a lot more to open communication with the Viceroy and he failed. After December 1838 he became the tool of the Chinese government. A year before he said he could only regulate the legal trade; why did he then say the British government was ignorant of the illegal trade? He offers to help the Viceroy catch the smugglers in the river and tells Pam his duty is to prevent Britons from being caught by the Chinese. If the Viceroy had allowed him to go ahead and someone had been killed, what would he have done?

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

The House of Commons Select Committee examining the opium claims has interviewed James Malcolmson. He is a partner of Forbes, Forbes & Co, agent of the Parsee community at Bombay (and those few in Calcutta) in their claims for 5,000+ chests. The firm also represents some Chinese traders (How Qua and others) in their business to London.

Malcolmson said the Bombay commercial community is interested in small amounts, of one chest up, while the Calcutta merchants are big capitalists. The effect of the surrender was thus felt more widely in Bombay. Smaller merchants of that place have not been able to trade this year until their capital is returned to them. The Bombay merchants have accordingly missed out on the windfall profits that the trade is now returning – that has all gone to the large capitalists in Calcutta and China. Malwa stock at Bombay has been increasing but cannot be shipped off on arrival at Bombay but must wait until it is sold.

In answer to Mr E Buller’s questions – The Bombay community was shocked by the initial refusal of the British government to compensate. They expect to be compensated. They feel, if Britain can later recover its loss from China that is its affair. There have been few bankruptcies in Bombay connected with the opium claims but that is because the community does not chose to litigate amongst its own members. It will not do so unless Britain refuses compensation. Nevertheless, there have been two suicides which appear connected with the opium surrender.

In answer to Mr Brownrigg’s further questions – Forbes Forbes and Co’s Chinese principals own some of the surrendered opium, some own one chest, others more. We also represent these Chinese claims on the British government.

In answer to Mr Clay’s question – Some of our principals are no doubt again involved in the opium trade at Canton.

In answer to the Chairman’s questions – Had the opium not been surrendered, the trade would have been stopped and the traders’ lives endangered. The tea would not have been shipped. But the Chinese could not by their own act have taken the opium. The armed fleet at Lintin was equal to anything the Chinese could raise against it. The matter should be between governments. Britain will have to decide what it should do.

Continued in the 15th September edition ……

Long questioning of Malcolmson as to how long the Bombay Parsees might be willing to tolerate their loss. He says they expect assurance that they will be paid eventually so they can reassure their creditors but they expect payment as soon as possible.

There are many opium scrip holders at Bombay but there is no secondary market in Elliot’s paper. The receipts were sold at about £35 per chest in Calcutta (about a quarter of what Elliot paid Dents for the shortfall) but Bombay is insufficiently capitalised to trade scrip. One case has been adjudicated at Calcutta (Mullick’s case, above, with judgment for the Plaintiff against his Canton Agent). If Elliot had not offered to buy the opium, we would have simply lost it to the Chinese – it is a risk of trade when you are a smuggler.

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Quarterly Review – March 1840:

Lin proposed to make Dent hostage for the surrender of opium.[505] Elliot prevented it. Lin then required Elliot to provide the opium. He did. It showed that immoral action was unnecessary and appears to form a just criticism of the Emperor and was thus irresistible to the upright Lin. It both solved Lin’s opium problem and reminded the Emperor to act with justice.

The opium smugglers case is not just but it is intelligible. The city is talking of one China trader pocketing £180,000 since the surrender and a ‘well-known house’ cleared £400,000 in the same brief period. The government is in favour of war; the people seem to want it, the press wants it and journals only vary in the methods they recommend for its prosecution.

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Huang Tong Kao, a Chinese ambassador, has arrived at Amsterdam on a Dutch ship of the Handel Maatschappij with a letter from the Emperor empowering him to provide Chinese Imperial letters of marque to any ship willing to be employed against the British expeditionary force. Huang will visit the major European ports before continuing on to America.[506]

Vol 13 No 36 – 8th September 1840

Capt Charles Elliot’s relative, John E Elliot, the MP for Roxburgh, is on the committee investigating the opium claims and has voted against paying compensation.

Editor – Hardly surprising.

Vol 13 No 37 – 15th September 1840

Letter to the Editor – does anyone remember Elliot’s speech at a dinner given by Matheson in Macau last summer to celebrate the first anniversary of the banishment of 16 named foreigners?

Elliot said the outside trade had produced £2 millions of business to the traders and had allowed an adequate shipment of tea to England, providing the London government with 2/3rds of its usual revenue from tea.

He claimed this was due to his actions. This was under the roof of the very trader who invented the outside trade and is the chief actor in it.

In fact Elliot took steps to end the outside trade and if he had better help he might have succeeded.

Elliot misinforms Palmerston because that Lord disregards everything we traders send to him, the truth of our situation only appears in our own newspapers here.

Sgd Delta at Macau, 14th September 1840

Vol 13 No 37 – 22nd September 1840

Inverness Courier, 22nd November 1839 – James Matheson has bought the Estate of Achany and Dowla in Lairg, Sutherlandshire. He is the son of D Matheson of Shinness in the same parish. The tenants of the Estate lit five bonfires, three of them on hilltops, and kept them blazing until late in celebration.

The Matheson family lived at Shinness for several generations. James’ maternal great grandfather was the Rev John Mackay of Scovry and his son (James’ grandfather Thomas Mackay) were successively ministers to the parish of Lairg.

On three recent occasions James sent £10 to the poor of Lairg and similar sums to other parishes.

He has founded a parish school library which had long been needed.

Vol 13 No 37 – 22nd September 1840

Calcutta Courier – The Canton Register has published some of Elliot’s correspondence. A strange omission is the absence of all his letters to the Viceroy during the three days of detention.

Editor Slade of Canton Register says nothing important happened between 23rd – 27th March. That is untrue. In fact there were several insulting letters sent to Elliot. They are numbered 15 – 17 in the Blue Book. They required the surrender of the opium.

Vol 13 No 37 – 22nd September 1840

Editor Slade demands satisfaction from the Editor of the Canton Press for publishing a letter from ‘An American’ which asserts American non-involvement in the fight at Tsim Sha Tsui which killed Lam Wai Hei. Slade says the letter libels him. Slade believes ‘An American’ is F B Wells.

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

J Lewis Shuck (a missionary soon to be Editor of the Friend of China on temporary basis) has published a 200 octavo page collection of authentic Chinese state papers illustrating the history of the present position of the foreign traders in China. One page shows the original Chinese document, the opposite page shows an English translation.

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Letter to the Editor – The Duke of Wellington and other Lords who sat on the House of Lords committee investigating opium, concluded that the trade should continue. The Duke even put questions to witnesses asking if it could be extended. He already knew the Commons report recommended its continuance. So why did Elliot try to stop it?

In his letter to Pam of 28th November 1839 he says his measures against opium in the river in December 1838 slowed the trade, reduced prices and clearly separated H M Government from involvement in it. Had he done nothing, more opium would have been sold and less would have been available to Lin.

Elliot’s purpose in this letter was to improve his standing with Pam at the expense of the mercantile community who surrendered their property. Britain’s power and international standing is based on the activities of her merchants. They are our links to greatness. We demand justice. Sgd Z

Editor – We can easily answer Z’s question. Of the 20,000 chests, 12,000 had already been legally sold to the Macau brokers at the time of the surrender. They were scheduled for delivery commencing 6 am on 27th March. Freight, or deposits in lieu, had been received.

It is not widely known that the opium importers kept the Kwongtung government informed by publishing deliveries and prices in the press. We take care in our reports of Prices Current. It must be unique for us to publish details of our smuggling like this.

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Letter to the Editor – The Blue Book at pages 420 – 425 deals with the agreement I made with the Canton government in December 1838. Elliot reported the agreement was neither final nor authentic. He is wrong.

Wm Jardine and James Matheson acted for me and How Qua and Mow Qua acted for the Canton government. The agreement they reached put four requirements on the Canton government:

• Reopen trade as soon as I left Canton for Macau

• Cessation of action against the Thomas Perkins

• Preservation of my two coolies who were in expectation of execution.

• My undisturbed residence at Macau and speedy rehabilitation with permission ultimately to return to Canton.

The first two points were immediately agreed and were notified to Elliot by the Chinese. The third point is being permitted. One of the coolies was in my house yesterday and says the other will be released in ten days. He got $50 from How Qua and Mow Qua and says so did the other coolie. He has resumed his employment with me. The last point is still being discussed. It is delayed by Elliot’s interference in asking the Macau Governor to banish me. I expect the last point will be granted and have in fact already returned to Canton. Sgd James Innes

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Letter to the Editor – In September 1839 I visited Elliot on Fort William and gave him an account of my loss from the Black Joke piracy. I asked him to report to Pam. He said he had already reported in his No 34 of 27th August 1839. I have now seen the blue book and the letter is missing. This is negligence. Sgd Mark Moss.

Attachment to above: Fort William at Hong Kong, 21st September 1839 – I have received Mark Moss’ claim for $1,469 for loss resulting from the piracy of Black Joke. Sgd Elliot

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Notes on Bremaer’s Excursions in Russia:

Russian tea and English tea are as different as peppermint and senna. Ours is dull and flavourless; theirs is fresh and invigorating. It is said the sea air injures the flavour of tea. Russian tea travels overland through countries of low humidity. Englishmen first drinking Russian tea are surprised at the fullness of the flavour.

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Editor – Elliot is now calling himself ‘one of the Plenipotentiaries’. How can two men both hold full powers? Neither Admiral Elliot nor Captain Elliot appear to be either ministers-plenipotentiary or even ambassadors – they are joint commissioners.

Elliot has identified himself as Chief Superintendent of Trade and Joint Plenipotentiary. As regards trade, he is actually Head of Commission; as regards war, he is second Commissioner to the Admiral.

Opium claimants should take care how they describe him in their Writs.

Vol 13 No 39 – 29th September 1840

Editorial – The risible blockade of the river ‘by all its entrances’ is now explained by Elliot’s determination to limit it to Chinese Imperial ships, salt and grain junks. He said the foreign trade must not be obstructed. This is somewhat borne out by the following permit we have seen:

Capt Henry Smith of HMS Druid, commanding the blockade, to the commanders of British national ships – I hereby permit the junk Tang Ap Chuen to sail from Macau to Chin Chew with a cargo of British goods. 19th September 1840.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

House of Commons, 29th June 1840 – MacLean MP asked Pam about the opium scrip. Pam said there had been ‘no change in government thinking.’ He said it was not the government’s intention to recall Capt Elliot.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

The Chinese and the (British) Ministry’ by John Fisher Murray:

The deluge of pamphlets on the one hand exalting free trade and on the other opposing opium have not produced a consensus in this country. On the contrary, we have been overwhelmed with minutiae which obscure the important points. Everything said so far has been biased to one side or the other. The whole debate has been characterised by adversarial advocacy.

I have examined the diplomatic papers (Murray calls them ‘trumpery’) to no effect. Diplomats do not give information, they withhold it. The public has pressed hard for disclosure and now we have it, it is useless. It is all falsehood or folly. The papers about the China situation merely illustrate the ignorance of the British government and the incompetence of its appointed officials. Our China policy has lurched from submission to resistance, both in excess.

Chinese military action is ridiculous. Remember the description of Elliot sitting on the Louisa’s deck under an umbrella as he forced an entry to the Canton River?

The Chinese tolerate our presence for commercial reasons. We went there seeking for trade. The Chinese neither wanted nor sought for us. We repeatedly solicited their trade and they allowed it on restrictive terms. We did not get all we wanted but they have treated the other Western nations in the same way. They are determined to have no other connection with us. We sent an embassy that asked for Taiwan; a demand as reasonable as China asking for the Isle of Wight. All permanent diplomatic connection was refused.

The opium merchants have unsuccessfully sought to make the Emperor agree to their trade. Corrupt Customs officers at Lintin and elsewhere do not prove that the Imperial government is corrupt, any more than corrupt Customs officers at Dover evidence venality at Westminster. The Chinese poet is eloquent on the subject:

Regard the opium drunkard lounging by the wall;
His skin the hue of oranges in the garden;
His garments hanging from his sides like the scaly bark of the tan tree;
His eye the eye of the fish in the bite of the pelican.
The fire has gone out in his hearth;
His wife and children wander to and fro in search of subsistence.

Our third and last representative (Napier) was of course an Elliot.

The Editor of a garbled Whig digest of parliamentary papers has said “He did not wait at Macau for a visa but proceeded uninvited to Canton. He demanded direct communication with the Viceroy. He rejected the correspondence sent to him through the Hong merchants. He placarded the streets with a statement of his circumstances, apparently appealing to the people against their own government.”

On 5th February 1838 Robinson wrote Pam “Whenever the British government directs us to prevent British ships engaging in opium traffic, we can enforce any order to that effect,[507]but a more certain method would be to prohibit the growth of the poppy and manufacture of opium in British India: and if British ships are in the habit of committing irregularities and crimes it seems doubly necessary to exercise a salutary control over them by the presence of an authority at Lintin”.

As for Pam, his duty should not have been as indifferent to him as his politics. Probably he has learned from long experience to neglect the former and despise the latter. This is not vindictiveness – who has ever heard of justice laying her hands on a Foreign Secretary? While he remains beyond punishment I will doubt his responsibility. But Pam is the author of the opium crisis in China. He has neglected the two-fold duty required of him by Elliot and this neglect has allowed the evil for which he is responsible.

Editor – Murray is absurd in all he says except his conclusion.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Editor – Those in Elliot’s confidence report he told them he never expected the British government to pick up the tab for the opium surrender. We cannot put him on Oath to confirm it but at least we can write to him and ask what his expectations were when he issued his Notice.

The day after his arrival at Canton (24th March 1839), he was seen pacing the verandah of the British Consulate agitatedly muttering ‘fearful, fearful.’ He was queried and said ‘I must send a letter to Macau to do nothing’. It was believed he had given Capt Blake of HMS Larne a request for some offensive action if nothing was heard from him within a stated period. At that moment, with the foreign community imprisoned at Canton, he feared for the effects of his requisition, should Blake act on it.

This was what decided him to submit to Commissioner Lin’s demands. The Blue Book (page 357) records he told Pam his submission saved many lives – well, we were anxious but none of us feared for our lives.

NB – James Matheson replies to this later in October in a letter to the Editor, saying he was present in the Consulate at the time and Elliot did ask someone to tell Blake to ‘do nothing’ but the rest of the report is untrue. [508]

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Edict of the Privy Council to Viceroy Lin, received at Canton 17th September 1840:

The English have come to Tientsin and respectfully complained. As a favour, We have allowed Kishen to write to the English forbidding any disturbance and sending them back to Canton to state their grievances. If there is any justice in their petition, Kishen will report it for our benevolent response.

The English have agreed to stop fighting everywhere and return to Canton. They say if they are attacked they will return the violence. They propose to withdraw half their troops at Ting Hai. These English barbarians have become disorderly due to over-excitement. They deserve our indignation and would have been annihilated had they continued their opposition. All the seaports have met the barbarian ships with thundering cannon, crushing their daring spirit and bringing them to terms. They now beg for Imperial favour.

The causes of their rebellion must be precisely ascertained. Kishen will represent us to manage the business at Canton.

We fear the officials in the maritime provinces may have misunderstood the present situation. We will send an express Proclamation to each so they may know the truth. If they see the barbarian ships at anchor they need not fire their guns but they should maintain a strict guard and not be the first to commence firing. They need not enquire deeply into the past. It is essential that there be no hint of disorder.

Kishen’s draft agreement with the barbarians will be sent to Ilipu for examination.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Letter to the Editor – You have castigated the American community. I will reply.

You say we have charged excessive commissions. Some of us charged only half commissions and some English followed our lead but the biggest English firms continued to charge their constituents a full commission on top of our charges.

Regarding the onerous freight rates, there are many English crews using American flag vessels to take cargo up to Whampoa that are charging the same high freight.

You should also know that much British cargo was found short-weight. How did that happen?

You say our sales are not checked at delivery. Your meaning appears to be that the short cargoes we received from you were actually full cargoes and the shortages occurred whilst in our care. This is an unsupported accusation.

Most Englishmen, but not you Editor Slade, were very pleased last year to have American ships to carry their cargoes. You are thought to be not accessible to advice but I expect you to publish this letter in correction. Your endless quarrel with the Canton Press and now with the Americans has made your readers weary. No-one wants to read these petty tirades. Sgd An English Agent.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Notice, 1st October – James Innes gives thanks to numerous Royal Navy captains (all named) of the expeditionary force for their help in refloating the smuggling brig Colonel Young after she recently went aground on the east coast.

Their efforts preserved a great proportion of the opium which value was vastly greater than the ship itself.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Letter to the Editor – I have received several letters from British traders all saying they have complete confidence in the American traders at this port. (one from James Matheson is reproduced).

Sgd Warren Delano Jr.[509]

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Letters to the Editor – Please cancel our subscriptions and cease publishing our advertisements.

Sgd Russell & Co and associated companies.

NB – all the American community withdrew their subscriptions at the same time.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

London news – Lord Melbourne, in response to questions from Lord Ashburton and others, has revealed in the Lords that the command of the China expedition is with a naval officer and he expressly said it was not Capt Elliot.

Editor – If Admiral Elliot is chief commissioner, we suppose Capt Elliot is his deputy.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Olyphant & Co have complained our report of the trial of the case Oliver G Gordon v Edwin W Benjamin. The case involved a shipment of opium belonging to Benjamin in New York and sent to Gordon in China. We said it proved Olyphant & Co dealt in opium. They say Gordon was their head clerk and not a partner – it was his personal business.[510]

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Announcement – the letter of James Matheson to Delano is derogatory of myself (Slade) and has diminished the circulation of this paper.

Matheson founded this newspaper and controlled it until December 1833. I have been responsible for the paper since January 1834.

Vol 13 No 40 – 6th October 1840

Editorial – We have just received calamitous advice from Chih Li. The Elliots have been fobbed off by the Emperor’s representative Kishen and have agreed to transfer negotiations to Canton.

Kishen has removed the English as far from Peking as possible knowing our costs are increasing daily. Perhaps it was to confirm his contempt, that Kishen required 60 days for himself to make the journey south. The military sacrifice has been in vain. Our position remains as it was in the Spring of 1839.

Vol 13 No 41 – 13th October 1840

Notice – Wm Wallace resigned on 30th June 1840 and Peter Wildredge was admitted on 1st July. Sgd Lindsay & Co

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th October 1840

Departures – per Sylph (Viall) from Macau 15th October:

Lt Ochterlony of the Madras Engineers, J H Astell and H M Clarke et al for Singapore and Calcutta.[511]

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th October 1840

Editorial on behalf of the merchants – Admiral Elliot is on his way back to Canton. We should draw up an account of what has happened here since 10th March 1839 (Commissioner Lin’s arrival) and list all the property we have here on which we can buy no insurance. We should ask him how the war is going, what his objects are, whether they are capable of fulfilment and how he will protect and promote our trade. We will then be able to authoritatively advise our constituents.[512]

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th October 1840

The Editor’s suggestion for provisioning the expedition:

…… the good old rule, the simple plan
That they should take who have the power,
And those shall keep who can.

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th October 1840

The sailing of some of our ships is delayed due to extensive desertions in the merchantmen crews. Macau recently appointed a Ghaut Serang (a leader of a group of Lascars) to assist in regulating the port and he has induced seamen to desert.

Macau is full of Lascars. They offer themselves for re-employment through the Ghaut Serang but at enormous salaries – $9 per month with six months advance payment on signing articles.

The Ghaut Serang has organised this labour movement – it is a conspiracy. He allures the Lascars with promises of high pay; they reside at his accommodation enjoying wine and women and incurring debts which he then distrains from their prospective wages.

A similar system was briefly attempted in 1816-17 in Calcutta and was brought to an end only after the seamen burnt some of the shipping in the Hooghly.[513]

Vol 13 No 42 – 20th October 1840

The House of Commons Select Committee on the opium scrip has produced a report of facts containing no conclusions or recommendations. They say they want the entire investigation placed before the House for a decision.

MacLean asked Palmerston whether the former decision of the Treasury not to accept Elliot’s bills for payment was still valid. Pam said it was. MacLean asked ‘as the government has repudiated Elliot’s scrip, will the Captain be recalled’? Pam said ‘No’.[514]

Vol 13 No 43 – 27th October 1840

In the Blue Book (page 421), Elliot tells Pam he intends to arrest me if my defiance of the Canton government appears to him to threaten the community. He asks for British government support.

If any party comes to my house to arrest me, the officer leading it will be shot through the head or heart. Thereafter the party may perform its lawless duty. Alternatively, if an order of the government of Macau for my arrest is issued, I shall obey it however it has been procured.

Sgd James Innes, 25th October 1840 at Macau[515]

Vol 13 No 43 – 27th October 1840

A vermilion Edict received 27th September:

Lin Tsih Tseu (Cantonese – Lam Jark Chiu), you were sent to Canton to:

  • cut off the opium supply externally and
  • arrest the Chinese traitors internally and then
  • cut off the provisions available to the foreigners

but these contemptible criminals are still disobedient.

You have failed on both counts and instead of improving the situation you have made it worse. You have made me both sad and angry and I want to see you. Your seals are confiscated and you will race to Peking to be examined. Governor Yee (Iliang) will assume the government of the Two Kwong.

Lin’s reply:

Your order has made me agitated and apprehensive. I read it on my knees and, oppressed by fear and shame, I beat my head on the ground. I sincerely request for the heaviest punishment. I cherished the trust confided to me. A year has passed and opium still comes. The barbarian ships have slipped away. Now I am like a worn-out old horse. My incapacity should be made a warning to others.

The anger of the English rebels is directed against Canton more than elsewhere yet they have gone north. The profits from opium are so great they will not relinquish them. Yearly they ship away millions of Taels of silver. They make their money here yet they have gone to the north.

They are selling opium on Chusan at $1 per catty. This is below cost price. Why do they willingly make a loss – are they disposing of their remaining stock or do they just need money to pay their soldiers? Whatever their thinking they cannot remain long. Soon they will be reduced to extremities.

Foreign letters (intercepted) from Chusan reveal they are dying from disease in their hundreds. The English have prevented other foreigners from trading at Canton and those people are calling in their own navies to restore trade. The rebels will soon find their choices of action circumscribed. Their confidence must be shaken but they are foolish from infancy. The more they are beaten, the more vicious they become. They stifle every natural feeling of repentance and substitute black schemes to make their wickedness prevail. Only after this fails do they instantly succumb. I thoroughly understand their dispositions.

We cannot fight them at sea. Our policy should be defensive until they have worn themselves out.

Our sacred Emperor cleaves to the Law and for thousands of years we have held this as our object. No Chinese can tolerate the use of opium continuing. If the English soldiers have come because we oppose opium, it is they whose depravity brings this curse and we must oppose them sooner or later. It only remains to consider whether the task will be heavier now or later.

Opium use is like a cancer – it starts small and grows and grows. If we had acted ten years ago, when there were few consumers, it would have been easy. Now it is widespread it has become like a life-threatening tumour – it must be excised without delay. Our actions have caused the English leader to petition me to receive his country’s opium – I have the original Petition in English and Chinese. I invited the foreigners to witness the destruction and the sole foreigner who came published several thousand words on it, lauding the justice of Chinese law. Then the other nations submitted and provided the required bond. They agreed to be executed and their ships and cargoes be confiscated, should they be caught smuggling opium.

Only the English refused to provide the bond and you cut off their trade in perpetuity. Now they are killing our officials and soldiers it will be difficult to pardon them and allow them to trade again. They must first be induced to submit. Some say our army is not equal to theirs and too much time has passed. They recommend we accommodate them but I know very well that they are insatiable and there are no limits to their wants. They can only be halted by a majestic display of Imperial power. Otherwise other countries will follow in their footsteps.

I am solely concerned for the good of China and the control of the English. We need ships and guns for defence. We need to deliberate maturely on a plan and identify a specific course of action. During your reign, the Canton trade has produced 30 million Taels in Imperial revenue (1.6 million Taels a year). We should not expect all profit and no loss. Had we earmarked a share of the income to military expenditure we could easily defeat the English. It is well-known that the revenue here is unimportant but the Kwongtung Customs revenue far exceeds any other province. We should apply some of this money from the foreigners towards our defence against them.

My foreign policy has egregiously failed and I now dare to offer you advice! Where China’s interest is concerned I must ignore my own existence. I have one request – that you order me to Chekiang there to expend my labour in the cause of my country (fighting the English) and thus to redeem my misconduct.

Vol 13 No 43 – 27th October 1840

A vermilion Edict received 28th September:

Lin was sent to Canton to consult with Viceroy Tang and manage the opium business. Still the opium comes and the natives distribute it. Worse, the barbarian ships have been cruising off my coasts causing problems for the army and reducing my revenue. This is all Lin’s fault. Lin and Tang will be delivered to the Criminal Board for severe punishment.

Kishen will be acting Viceroy of the Two Kwong. Governor Yee will fulfil the duty in the interim. The barbarians have left notices everywhere complaining of oppression. I now understand everything and know it was not the barbarians who began the trouble. Lin and Tang were supposed to manage this affair but they have been of little help. As a result of their actions the prosperity of China is threatened. For this enormity they will receive extra punishment. They should know they are not being punished for the barbarians’ complaints.[516]

Vol 13 No 43 – 27th October 1840

London Morning Chronicle – a French Commissioner, M Maurice Dargout, son of the Governor of the Bank of France, is going to China, we suppose he will be escorted by a naval force.

Vol 13 No 44 – 3rd November 1840

Notice, 22nd October – W & T Gemmell & Co will vacate their large house in Rua do Hospital on 1st November and it will be available to rent. Enquiries to J A Silva at Macau.

Vol 13 No 44 – 3rd November 1840

Letter to the Editor – Please stop printing the weekly list of British warships in China. It compromises our interests. We are driven by necessity into settling the most important commercial question in the history of trade. Let the Chinese think our navy is inefficient; that our ships are deployed elsewhere; that no ships or men can be spared for China.

Fifteen months have elapsed since Elliot ‘lost all confidence’ in the Canton government. A few weeks later he was negotiating with it. Twelve months ago he said all Lin’s engagements to him had been violated.

Lord Chatham noted that ‘confidence is a plant of slow growth’. Elliot’s confidence is like Jack’s beanstalk. He descended from an honourable to a dishonourable position and got nothing for it. Elliot pursued his course with all the eagerness of his quick but shallow nature and we watched with pity, recognising his difficulties but irritated by his undignified and unwise policy. He banned the trans-shipment trade ab initio; speculative prices were paid throughout 1839; all tea and silk had been sold before the intended blockade was promulgated.

Has the Plenipotentiary (Admiral Elliot) learned anything from his relative’s experience? Will ‘violated engagements’ weigh in his mind? Will he too become the plaything of Chinese diplomacy and the laughing stock of the World?

Elliot should think straightforwardly. Like the lady in the Spectator he cannot take his tea except by stratagem.

Our China expedition should by now have obtained a Chinese plea for peace but they are in fact coming back here. Why? They went to Chih Li to negotiate. Are they coming here to negotiate again? As the old Viceregal Edicts used to say “we go mindlessly here and there, staring about and gaping.” Two of H M ships retired from the fire of the forts at Amoy (HMS Alligator and the transport Braemar), another has been captured (the transport Kite); a substantial part of the force has succumbed to illness and inactivity on Chusan; many men have been taken hostage and what are we doing – we’re coming to Canton to negotiate.

I say Elliot has learned nothing from his experiences. It should be clear what he is likely to do. If he cannot get what he wants, he is absolutely sure to cobble together a compromise – yet another temporary solution. This may suit the Chancellor of the Exchequer but it will be no good for our outside trade.

If Elliot can negotiate why should not we negotiate too? The terms of the bond can be thrown away instanter. If the blockade is lifted we can immediately return to Canton and our ships to Whampoa. We will not again tolerate Elliot’s scheme of an outside trade carried on inside by nominee foreigners. We know how the British government views Elliot’s guarantees. Why should we negotiate his bad paper?

Sgd A British Merchant, 1st November 1840 at Macau

Vol 13 No 44 – 3rd November 1840

The Select Committee of the House of Commons called Inglis to explain our opium smuggling system. We have not yet seen his evidence but everyone in Canton knows that if they had been sincere in their investigations they would have called Wm Jardine.[517]

A selection of the evidence given follows:

(The Canton community, according to Editor Slade, has concluded that the appointment of a Select Committee is a device to enable the government to force its aggressive policy through. By its making no recommendations (as instructed), together with the last-minute petition of the City merchants, the right decision was procured)

  • Inglis’ evidence – I resided in Canton from 1823 until my expulsion. I was a partner in Dent & Co. One of my staff told me Elliot would demand the surrender of the opium to Lin. I said we must have his guarantee or pledge if we are to surrender to him. I spoke with Elliot and he confirmed he intended to ‘make the government decidedly liable for indemnity.’ We got him to repeat it once or twice. Before leaving I told him there was still time to retract but he seemed to have no doubts about it. I went home and we discussed the matter. Lin would not give us an indemnity so there was nothing else to do. At 10 pm that night I went over to the Hall to see Dent. Elliot beckoned me and said he was preparing the order of opium surrender and he wanted me to hear it. I asked him again if his instructions from government were sufficient and again indicated it was not too late to retract. We had a long conversation after which he was satisfied that his proposed act was entirely justified. He said he had made up his mind and was determined to see it through. I then wrote out an order and he called Dent in to hear it, to check if he had committed himself to anything unnecessary. Later he agreed to go home and sleep on it but the next morning (27th), he published it. In fact before he came to Canton he had already received some opium at Macau. The merchants there had voluntarily given it to Johnstone.[518]
  • Captain Thacker then gave evidence that he gave up his opium only because Elliot was offering indemnity. Without it he would have gone to prison before surrendering any property.
  • J N Daniell gave similar evidence.
  • James Matheson obeyed Elliot because he was the national representative. He told the Committee ‘we had the opium for sale and the British government was as good a customer as we could get’ (page 2,328). The detention at Canton was irrelevant to the decision to sell to Elliot. Matheson said he agreed that the opium value should be predicated on the actual selling price at Canton at the time (pages 2,400 – 2,402)
  • Wm Jardine gave evidence that when Lin demanded the opium there was no danger to British life or property. If more determination had been shown by the foreigners, the Chinese would likely have bought some opium to satisfy the Emperor, and the matter would have been glossed over as is customary. The Chinese would not take my property without paying for it. The only difficulty would have been in fixing the price. The Chinese would not have done what they did, but they found us yielding and were accordingly encouraged. Lin was reassured by the absence of resistance on our part and by Elliot’s offer to extinguish the opium trade. I have never known the community to act with so little spirit. Although we were routinely unprotected, we never parted with our property. The difference appears to be due to Elliot’s arrival. The petition we submitted to parliament afterwards referred to danger but that sentence was inserted to make the wording of the petition coincide with Elliot’s reports. When Lin demanded the opium, J M & Co’s opium was hundreds of miles away and they could not have seized it. There was no personal duress to us or to Elliot. No-one expected extreme measures against us, rather we thought that a little delay would bring about a renewal of trade. I think Elliot’s motive was to place the British government in the wrong. We surrendered opium to him only because of the inducement he held out to us.

The Select Committee concluded that Elliot had involved his country in war. The evidence revealed that one objection was worthless – that lives were in danger and had opium not been surrendered they might have been starved to death. In fact the community had offered 1,000 chests, which had been refused, and the advice of the Hong merchants was that 2,000 chests had prospects of acceptance and that would bring about the resumption of trade. It was asserted that the Hong merchants would, albeit slowly, have repaid the value of 2,000 chests, had they been surrendered. On Elliot’s arrival at Canton he stopped the merchants communicating directly with the Chinese and assumed control of communications himself (pages 222 – 229). He condemned the Hong’s proposal to surrender 1,000 chests saying he had foreseen what was now occurring and made plans for it. He was acting on his own responsibility and required no advice from us. He proposed to ask for passports and, on their refusal, to force a way out. This strong intent evaporated over the next three days and on 27th March, having endured modest privation but with three week’s provisions and water remaining in the factories, he unilaterally demanded the surrender.

To Capt Thacker he said, placing his hand on some papers on his desktop, ‘I have Pam’s instructions and the Chinese have put themselves in the wrong which will require the British government to bring them to book’ (pages 850 – 860).

Vol 13 No 44 – 3rd November 1840

Blackwood’s Magazine, June 1840 – There was a criminal want of foresight displayed by the present Whig administration in its handling of the opium case. Sir James Graham elucidated it but the subsequent debate overlooked it. The Chinese equally have a case to answer.

How did Lin get hold of 20,000 chests? Little of it was ashore and only a small part of that was in Canton. It was mostly in ‘the outer waters’ beyond Lin’s reach. If Lin had thought he could get it directly, what need did he have of Elliot. Lin merely took advantage of Elliot’s willingness to co-operate, to bring the opium within his grasp. That is why he extended a modicum of friendliness to Elliot. He knew very well that the Captain wanted recognition and he purported to show it was ‘on the cards’ in his agreement to have the Kwongchow foo correspond direct with Elliot. Effectively they did a deal – the British protector of trade surrendered the opium in the hope of recognition and acceptance by Lin as an equal.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. No diplomat gives away anything without a struggle and only then when the quid pro quo is irresistible. Where in fact is the reciprocity? What did Elliot actually get? He seems to have re-interpreted his analysis at the first suggestion of rebuff and retired from the game. He gambled our opium for nothing. Is this why Elliot so publicly vilified Lin for ‘breaking his engagements’? In fact Lin could never have got such a measure approved voluntarily at Peking. He might have hinted at it but he could not seriously have promoted it with the Emperor.

That is the case against the Chinese.

But far worse and far less speculative is the case against the British government. Elliot gave an official guarantee of indemnity. Had the government instantly disavowed his action it might have made a case for its non-liability. It did not do that. It appointed Elliot, it delegated authority to him, gave him his great seal of office and notified all concerned. The British government knew he would be 4 – 5 months away by letter. It is a rare case for a minister to disavow his own Agent. It is only precedented where the Agent flagrantly abuses his powers but that is a political matter. With Elliot we are talking about money guarantees – buying the opium stock, insuring the shipping outside – which are routinely issued on the Treasury by naval officers and consuls worldwide. The government’s concern is not the scrip itself but the amount involved.

The facts are that Elliot acted to improve his value to Lin, that he expected the British government to pay the bill (5% of annual national revenue), that the traders, as third parties, believed he was empowered to give the receipts and that the government did not repudiate his act until long after it learned of the liability it had incurred on his behalf.

The government will say the opium was unsellable at any price. Its surrender was a condition for renewed trade and this is the nub of the matter. Lin’s agenda required the opium be surrendered; Elliot’s that trade not be interrupted. The compromise that met both these ends required a transfer of the property. Lin finally revised his agreement to make it conditional on additional points. That was the ‘breach of faith’ that so annoyed Elliot.

The British Plenipotentiary has now set upon a course of reprisals against Chinese coastal shipping. We believe any successful appeal to Chinese justice must contain some threat to work on their fears. We have asked for better trade conditions repeatedly and they have implacably denied us. But this is not the reason the British ministry adduces for their reprisals – the reason is that they are unwilling to pay compensation and wish the Chinese to pay for them. They have sent a fleet to China to shake-down whoever can be found and accumulate sufficient wealth until the sum required has been reached. In Europe such intentions are well understood and each country maintains a navy in proportion to its merchant fleet in order to protect against it. If a country cannot protect its commercial shipping at sea it is at risk of violent seizure of its property – that’s the way we Europeans are.

But in the China seas there are only commercial ships and no warships worthy of the name. We are not about to meet a Chinese fleet that has any prospects of competing with ours. The common risk in Asia (excluding perils of the sea) is piracy and that is what we have become. The Chinese government will be little involved – our compensation will come from any merchants who foolishly allow their junks to travel the rivers and seas where we can get at them. It is this vast community of private Chinese merchants who are to indemnify us.

The whole matter should be seen as a process in which the first act anticipates the last. It is only intelligible in this way. The true cause of the war is thus ransom and if we get anything else out of it, it is ‘icing on the cake’.

Vol 13 No 45 – 10th November 1840

Admiral Elliot returned 38 sugar junks to the officials at Ningpo last month without any quid pro quo. Capt Elliot and Gutzlaff protested but were ignored. It appears the joint plenipotentiaries are not at idem.

Vol 13 No 45 – 10th November 1840

On St Andrew’s Day last Monday, Matheson gave a magnificent dinner in Macau for 80 Scots.

Vol 13 No 45 – 10th November 1840

Lancelot Dent (as the regular Canton Register correspondent Delta) has submitted a list of Elliot’s allegedly illegal acts:

June 1839 Inducing the Governor of Macau to deport Innes.
July 1839 Drawing Bills on the Treasury to $65,000 in favour of Dent & Co when he knew it exceeded his authority.
August 1839 Deportation of 5 seamen convicted of affray (released on arrival in England).
September 1839 Notice of 1st blockade.
October 1839 Measures to stop Thomas Coutts (Towns).
November 1839 Written threat to Abercrombie Robinson (Scott) of violence if the ship entered the river.

December 1839

Seizure of the Portuguese brig Anna (the second seizure occurred after the Governor of Macau had established her nationality)
January 1840 Warning to British Customs not to allow Thomas Coutts’ to land her cargo in British ports.
January 1840 Notice of 2nd blockade.

Vol 13 No 45 – 10th November 1840

Editor Slade’s advice to Admiral Elliot – you have been fighting for five months and have only captured Ting Hai. Stop listening to Capt Elliot and take effective measures. We must all soon send letters home reporting that Britain has been defeated by China.

Vol 13 No 46 – 17th November 1840

A truce has been agreed and was notified on 6th November 1840. Neither party may advance beyond the boundary assigned him (British boundary is the Chusan group) and Chinese coastal trade will not be interrupted.

Admiral Elliot is satisfied that friendly relations with China are in prospect. The expedition depends on provisioning from the Chinese – we need their trade. Every officer and gentleman should co-operate in cultivating a good understanding with the people.

Sgd George Elliot, C-in-C

Vol 13 No 48 – 1st December 1840

Admiral Elliot has returned to Lintin and resigned his appointment on grounds of ‘severe illness’ (heart palpitations are rumoured). Bremer will take over. The Admiral landed from HMS Hyacinth looking ill and feeble. He will stay in Capt Elliot’s house. He plans to go home in HMS Volage when she returns from Manila.

The Prime Minister expressly said Capt Elliot would not command the expedition, now it appears he will.

Vol 13 No 48 – 1st December 1840

Better details of William Jardine’s evidence to the Select Committee (see 3rd November edition above for details of other witness statements):

I never saw the Chinese government use violence to Europeans. Infrequently there were riots that caused injury or soldiers on duty who struck out but they were invariably first provoked by the Europeans themselves.

When Lin demanded the opium surrender I did not anticipate any danger to my life or property. As a general rule greater resistance ameliorates official measures. My firm did not sign the address to Pam. That part of the petition relating to the fear we were in was redundant, so I did not sign. I expected the matter with Lin to be settled by the purchase of opium by the Hongs for surrender to the officials. I thought that would satisfy them. I held no apprehension that the Chinese might take my property from me – they are routinely fair. The only question was the price to be agreed.

I believe the Chinese were earnestly trying to stop the opium trade but they would not have adopted the means they did if they had not found the Europeans yielding. I do not think opium smoking is unhealthy – my comprador, who had charge of my cash, smoked for 30 – 40 years. He handled more money than the Company’s Treasury ever did and never made a mistake in three decades. I have known many opium smokers who enjoyed life into their 70’s and 80’s. I think in moderation it was less injurious than alcohol. The evils of opium result from excess.

Vol 13 No 49 – 8th December 1840

Jardine’s evidence continued:

Everyone participated in the trade except C W King. Subsequently Cushing stopped too but that was due to his connection with How Qua. There was no moral objection – the Company grew and sold it; the Houses of Commons and Lords, with the bench of bishops behind them, found it inexpedient to do away with it – our moral scruples did not need to be great.

The only chap I recall who repudiated the trade and declined a partnership in a great firm was Gilbert Farquhar Mathison (a travel writer of 1820s who appears to have visited Canton at the time Jardine arrived). Another man named Robertson, who previously had been in the Scottish church, objected too. Then there is C W King, the American. His objection was that it demoralised the Chinese and he found smuggling objectionable although he himself smuggled everything but opium. The two Scots considered it was an illegal trade prohibited by imperial Edict although the local officials allowed it. They also felt the Chinese were demoralised by it.

I recall Edicts against Christianity that were equally as severe as Edicts against opium.

Vol 13 No 50 – 15th December 1840

Literary Gazette:

The war that now our trade with China fetters
Is nothing but a mere affair of letters.
A question ‘tis of O, P, M and T.
The Chinese war-commissioner is E
And we are going to bombard them by C
Because their nation and ours don’t G
And they won’t let our smuggling clippers B

Vol 13 Nos 51/52 – 22nd/29thDecember 1840

Vincent Stanton was released on 10th December 1840 after an imprisonment of four months. He attributes his liberation to the efforts of Capt Elliot. He says:

“On 6th August I completed bathing at Casilia Bay and was dressing when I was surrounded by 12 armed men, my arms and legs held and I was taken to a boat anchored in the lee of the hill at the north of the bay. I was hit 2-3 times around the head. After sailing for 2-3 hours I was transferred to a larger boat and shortly afterwards some officials came aboard and questioned me – my name and nationality. I was then taken on deck and found I was within the Bogue.

“I was told I had been arrested at the particular order of the Viceroy but they did not know my name. Two officers took me in charge, one a crystal the other a gold button official, and took me to a government boat. We reached Canton at 7 am the next morning. I was surrounded by guards with drawn swords, a heavy chain was put around my neck and I was landed to the beating of gongs. I was taken to the courtyard of a large government office where the former Viceroy Tang, the Governor and some civil and military officials were waiting. I was questioned through linguists about my background and employment. They were particularly concerned to establish my involvement in opium traffic. By noon they seemed to be satisfied and the officials left.

“At 5 pm I was questioned again by the Canton prefect, an officer of the Viceroy’s and others. They worked through a written list of questions. They required details of the capture of Chusan, saying they already had the Macau papers and information from Ningpo. They wanted details of the English forces that had arrived, England’s resources, our opinion of the Chinese navy, the numbers of English residents at Macau, what they were doing there and the present state of trade. I didn’t know much about ships and trade but I tried to convince the magistrates of my good intentions towards China. I knelt throughout my questioning and initially before the new Viceroy Lin but thereafter a chair was provided to me. I received the greatest consideration and respect from the highest to the lowest official. Indeed one of the men who captured me gave me money if necessary for food.

“I was questioned again on the evening of 7th and then committed to the Nam Hoi magistrate’s gaol. Here my ankles were chained together allowing only small steps. Whenever I was taken out for questioning I was also manacled and a chain put around my neck. I believe that is customary. I stayed in a room with four prison officers. One was a former Linguist. The Hong merchants provided clothes, food and a servant. After the Viceroy was degraded I also received a bible and prayer book and the Americans at Canton sent food and clothing regularly.

“I was questioned again on 10th August and on two other days. They were particularly interested in the geography of Europe, Africa and Asia, so much so I wondered if they were considering an Embassy to England. Lin sought for instruction in the principle of steam power. I am afraid I connected the pistons to the crankshaft rather more simply than is actually the case. The Canton Register is read in the Viceroy’s yamen and I was asked to translate a long extract from the Spectator that had been published by you a few days before my capture. It was difficult to explain the significance of the phraseology of politicians in Westminster debates. It took half an hour to explain the first paragraph of 3½ lines. This convinced them that the whole piece was meaningless and they gave-up.

“In the Nam Hoi gaol were also a French Catholic missionary and his Chinese friend, taken in October in the river, and a Lascar and a Macau negro. The Lascar had deserted his ship and been caught near Lintin in July. The black was caught in Heung Shan wearing Chinese clothes.

“On 10th December I was taken before Kishen and my chains, etc., were removed. I spent the night in his yamen and left in a chair, the finest I have seen.”

Vol 14 No 8 – 23rd February 1841

Extracts from a memorial of the East India and China Assoc to Pam:

In November 1816 Sir Theophilus Metcalfe, as President of the Select, wrote the Court of Directors explaining Sir Murray Maxwell’s forced entry to the river. He wrote “Everyone who has worked in China for the last 20 years knows that the arbitrary and unjust acts of the Chinese must be routinely resisted.”

Plowden in his evidence to the Select Committee in August 1831 said “the proper use of force might succeed in getting a relaxation of business regulation”

Editor – No-one more strongly supported the submissive system than the Directors.

Vol 14 No 8 – 23rd February 1841

The To Kwong Emperor on foreigners:

“I the Emperor early considered them to be unsettled and inconstant; certainly it is not by good faith and justice that they are now to be admonished.”

Vol 14 No 8 – 23rd February 1841

Yih Shan, the Emperor’s nephew is coming to Canton to manage affairs.

Vol 14 No 10 – 9th March 1841

The family and property of a Hong merchant was being removed from Canton in a fleet of his boats when it was captured by pirates in the river.

He was fleeing in response to Elliot’s military action against the city, apparently in preparation for its occupation.

Vol 14 No 12 – 23rd March 1841

Elliot’s Notice, 20th March – Canton is open for trade. Smuggling is permitted as is the introduction of prohibited articles.

Vol 14 No 12 – 23rd March 1841

Editor John Slade has completed a course of Chinese studies and has commenced making his own translations of Edicts which he initials JLS.[519]

Vol 14 No 13 – 30th March 1841

Mrs Noble’s account of her imprisonment at Ningpo is reproduced.

Vol 14 No 13 – 30th March 1841

20th March – an Imperial rescript has been received. The English have seized the Bogue forts and approached Canton. “I, the Emperor, now swear that both empires cannot stand.”

Vol 14 No 13 – 30th March 1841

Most of the foreign shipping has returned to Whampoa in response to Elliot’s public invitation.

Vol 14 No 13 – 30th March 1841

The novel ‘Robinson Crusoe’ mentions carrying a cargo of opium from Siam to China. It was published in the reign of King William.[520]

Vol 14 No 13 – 30th March 1841

The Emperor fears that Kishen has been bribed by the English. It is a perennial fear of the Ching dynasty – it was how they came to rule China themselves.

The Emperor has published Kishen’s crime:

“Holding meetings with Elliot on equal terms and taking only an unofficial interpreter, Pau Pang, to accompany him.”[521]

Vol 14 No 16 – 20th April 1841

Petition of the Bombay merchants to the House of Lords:

“On 30th August the Elliots met with Kishen at Chih Li. Kishen requested the meeting adjourn to Canton and the Elliots agreed.

“In late November the Elliots returned to Canton and Kishen also arrived.

“On 29th November Admiral Elliot resigned his commission and Capt Elliot continued as sole Plenipotentiary.[522]

“On 4th December Kishen refused to meet with Elliot.

“The impact of war on the Imperial mind was allowed to dissipate and all advantage lost. The Canton authorities have resumed their haughty tone towards the foreign community. Our trade since early 1839 has been destroyed for two years and our shipping unemployed. Please grant relief.“

Vol 14 No 16 – 20th April 1841

The Canton community learned in late March 1841 that Kishen had been disgraced and his Convention of Chuen Pi will not be ratified. Kekung will replace him and Lin is rehabilitated ‘by popular demand’ with 1st degree of 2nd rank and sent back to Canton to help.

Vol 14 No 16 – 20th April 1841

Extracts from Kishen’s memorial in defence of his conduct:

“The Chinese marines (who man the Bogue forts) are drawn from the people of the coastal villages and their training is uncertain. On 7th January after the battle, they went to their General (Lin’s bearded guerrilla Wong Chung) and threatened to disband unless they were paid more. The General told me he had pawned his clothes and possessions to give each marine a bonus of a few dollars and they remained at their posts. I feared they would run away at the approach of danger. There are a few veterans amongst them but they seem inadequate to inspire the whole force. Our war-junks are small and comparatively weak.

“I assess the characteristics of the Cantonese are falsehood, ingratitude and greediness. I am not speaking of the many traitors but the ordinary people. They have all been mixed up with the foreigners and are unlike Chinese people elsewhere.

“I have consulted with the Manchu-General and his adjutants, with the Viceroy and Governor, judge and treasurer, magistrates and the ex-Viceroys Tang and Lin. We have unanimously concluded our defences are unreliable.”

Vol 14 No 17 – 27th April 1841

Several days ago How Qua’s grandson was struck by lightning and instantly killed. He was in the Hong having his head shaved at the time. A black mark was seen on the back of his neck.

Vol 14 No 17 – 27th April 1841

Quotation attributed to Su Tung Po (the 11th century statesman and renaissance man who became well-known in the west through Arthur Waley’s translations) – “barbarians are like animals and are not to be ruled on the same principles as citizens. Were anyone to attempt controlling them by the great maxims of reason, it would lead to nothing but confusion. The ancient Kings well understood this and accordingly ruled barbarians by misrule. To rule barbarians by misrule is the true and best way of ruling them.”

Vol 14 No 18 – 4th May 1841

Calcutta Courier, 17th February 1841 – Not two years ago we were severely circumscribed in our dealings at Canton – restricted to a small area, not allowed exercise, confined and starved when the officials felt like it, regularly insulted and bullied and finally banished with our national representative in perpetuity.

Now we have annihilated Chinese trade whilst our own has grown and become ever more profitable; we are to receive an indemnity for past losses and an island at the mouth of the Canton River for our use (the main terms of Elliot’s Treaty of Chuen Pi with Kishen).

Seldom can the relations between two countries have been so totally reversed in such a brief time. We now have official communication on a basis of equality – this must mean an exchange of ambassadors.

Vol 14 No 18 – 4th May 1841

Elmslie is sick and Morrison Jr will replace him. This means that both Elliot and his right-hand man are anti-opium on moral and religious grounds.

Vol 14 No 18 – 4th May 1841

The Chinese Repository believes the ransom of Canton was a better step than its occupation. Had the city been entered, the paper believes the provincial government would have collapsed and the entire province become anarchic.

Canton is again emptying of people. The citizens fear the expected arrival of the Emperor’s brother will introduce another round of fighting.

Vol 14 No 18 – 4th May 1841

Kishen told Elliot he could not surrender Kowloon to the English (to add to Hong Kong) but we could pop-over and take it. He cannot tell the Emperor he gave it to us.

Kishen has lost his cabinet seat and the governorship of Chih Li. He is yet to be punished for his ‘high treason’.

Vol 14 No 19 – 11th May 1841

The Chartered Bank of Asia is capitalised at £1 million divided into 10,000 shares of £100 each. The directors are Wm Jardine Chairman, Stephen Rowan Crawford, Captain John Hine and 11 others.[523]

The bank has the support of the India Company and will start business when £250,000 has been subscribed.

Editor – These colonial banks are profitable. The Australasian Bank was launched in 1835 with shares of £40 each which now trade at £70 and it has paid 8% every year. Numerous others have achieved comparable results.

Vol 14 No 21 – 25th May 1841

A battle has been fought in the river at Canton. Tremendous destruction has been caused. The factories were looted by Manchu soldiers and the British factory was particularly and completely vandalised. We suppose this heralds the arrival of the Emperor’s brother.

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

A Tso Tong is an assistant magistrate. He is appointed at busy ports like Macau. For military purposes, Hongkong is included in Tai Pang district, a town to the east of Hong Kong & Kowloon (on the spit of land between Mirs and Daya Bays) where the Tso Tong of Sai Ngon (the sub-district of Tai Pang in which Hong Kong is sited) resides.

There is an army commander (Heep Toi) at Tai Pang who splits his time between that place and the government office in Kowloon City. The following is a list of the settlements on Hong Kong with their approximate populations:

Chek Chu 2,000; Shaukeiwan 1,200; Wong Nai Chung 400; Heung Kong (later called Aberdeen by the foreigners) 200; etc., totally some 4,200 people plus 2,000 boat people and 800 shopkeepers in the bazaar.

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

Editorial – The Duke of Wellington said “a great nation cannot make a little war.’ We have fought the Chinese in and around Canton. How Qua, Alan Tsai the Linguist, and the Kwongchow foo have come and offered $6 millions to us to stop and $2 millions compensation for the damage done in the factories.

Apparently Elliot has accepted although Hugh Gough and Senhouse (commanders respectively of the land and sea forces) know nothing of it.

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

Some of the guns found in the Canton forts had elevation screws made of machined parts and double sights that revealed they were not of Chinese origin.

Editor Slade recalls the American, Coolidge, told him a year ago that Alan Tsai, the Linguist, had approached him with an order for guns for the government. Coolidge said Alan Tsai had told the government the guns would cost $1,200 each whereas he knew they could be landed at Canton for less than $800. He proposed to Coolidge that they share the balance 50/50. The American rejected this proposal. Now it seems someone else did not.

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

Brisk are the troops, all roaring like thunder.
Eager for battle, impatient for plunder…”

The ransom of Canton is 4 millions in sycee and $2 millions in coin / goods. The Canton government has paid the sycee to us in boxes already made up for Peking indicating they are diverting the Provincial land tax receipts to us. The Emperor’s brother has still not, reportedly, arrived. The fifth million is to be paid in dollars and the sixth in debentures for tea from the Hongs.

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

We say the Chinese are perfidious and they say we are. Yang Fang notes Elliot said he wished only for peace and hoped only for trade to be resumed.

He now notes Elliot is constructing roads on Hong Kong island, selling Hong Kong land at auction and keeping his warships in the river. Napoleon would say ‘Perfidious Albion’.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Editorial – Elliot is to be replaced, probably within the week. “Praised be God and not our strength for it”

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Proclamation of the people of 36 Cantonese villages to the English, 2nd June 1841 (preliminary to the San Yuan Li incident):

“You have fought our troops and attacked our country with utter disregard of the law. You foolishly believe you can change our ways with your trite and exotic doctrines. Although we are mere villagers we are still children of the Emperor who cares for our families and our country. We are fired with indignation and will oppose you without troubling our government. You practise diabolical arts, you usurp Hong Kong, you seize our government’s taxes. At Ting Hai you raped the wives and daughters of our people. All your acts are lawless and your wickedness overflows.

“We have now bound ourselves by Oaths. Although the government may condone your acts, we understand the principles of righteousness. We are not skilled soldiers but the entire population is determined to make your presence here unpleasant.

“You should think carefully about the future. If you cannot awaken to morality and continue enmeshed in stupidity, we will ambush your people wherever we find them. You will have no enjoyment of your crimes.[524]

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

The Editor has continued his Chinese language studies and provides a useful dictionary of the Chinese names of places that are all familiar to the Europeans:

Lee Pau Toi is the battery on Shamian;
Hoi Chu Pau Toi (Sea Pearl) is the battery at Dutch folly;
Tang Pau Toi is the battery at French folly.
Tai Ping gate is the City Gate – nearest the factories;
Ning Ching gate is the Gate near the French folly;
Sau Tung gate is the gate at the S E of the city.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

The Salt Commissioner has lent Wu Tung Yuen (How Qua) 500,000 Taels on 31st May as contribution towards the ransom.

Meanwhile Yih Shan and the other Imperial Commissioners have moved their camp away to Fatshan.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Friend of India, 15th April 1841 – The cause of our war with China was originally equivocal. Our grievances could hardly be separated from the grievances we had inflicted. It is only after starting war that we have found a good pretext for continuing it, in the perfidy of the Chinese response.

We had to take French observers along to assuage the mistrust of Europe as to our motives. They suspect our ambitions. Now our moderate demands have been rejected, apparently as a matter of Imperial pride, all Europe can see it is China that is being unreasonable.

This war has clearly illustrated the intrinsic weakness of China. The Emperor has ordered troops from all his provinces to Canton yet the total numbers are unlikely to reach thirty thousands and most of them require training.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

A Chinese complaint:

“How did Kishen allow the foreigners to defeat him at Canton. They are but a few thousand extortionists. Kishen had the entire Manchu garrison; the Viceroy’s standard, the Governor’s standard, the Chinese General’s standard and the naval military force, which altogether comprise over ten times the number of foreigners. He should have overwhelmed them. Perhaps the foreigners can defeat us at sea but they cannot prevail on land.

“Further, when the foreigners come to Canton they must employ compradors and these are the people who tutor the foreigners in mischief. When Tang Ting Ching was Viceroy, he mentioned Dent’s comprador Pau Tsung as the foremost knave. When the law officers sought to arrest Pau, he fled to Shantung and thence to Chih Li where he changed his name to Pau Pung. While residing in that Province, he befriended Kishen, who has brought him to Canton and uses him as a go-between with Elliot.

“When traitors represent our diplomats we should be concerned. Pau should be executed before we can reliably deal with the foreigners.”

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Yukien’s analysis of the enemy mindset, c. March 1841 (he is the Imperial High Commissioner):

The foreigners’ minds unite greed with fraud. If they are treated with kindness, they immediately want more. The nature of their society is like that. They can never be satisfied.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

The press in India and Europe is critical of our difficulties in China. They say ‘it will be argument for a week, laughter for a month and a good jest for ever’.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

The Hong merchants and Linguists begged Elliot to stop the attack on Canton. He required $6 millions in 7 days on payment of which he would withdraw the English fleet from the river and soldiers from the hills surrounding Canton.

He insisted on cession of Hong Kong as well.

Yih Shan (the Emperor’s nephew and the first Imperial Commissioner) has approved the payment but needs Imperial sanction for surrender of land.

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Commodore Bremer is Prince Albert’s German relative and former Governor of Port Essington (an abortive settlement in Australia across the bay from Darwin). He commented on the ransom of Canton:

‘Forbearance is misunderstood and further punishment must be used to bring this perfidious government to reason.

‘Elliot however wants to try another Proclamation to evidence his desire for an equitable adjustment.’

Vol 14 No 25 – 22nd June 1841

The Chartered Bank of Asia merely awaits Lord Auckland’s approval to commence business.

Vol 14 No 26 – 29th June 1841

According to a notice published 19th June 1841 at Macau, Bremer has been appointed Joint Plenipotentiary by Queen Victoria.

$4 millions of the Canton ransom has been sent back to Calcutta per HMS Calliope at a freight rate of 1%. Reportedly both J M & Co and Dents offered to carry the silver back for ½% but were declined.

The remaining $2 millions (one million cash and one million securities / goods) is rumoured to have been loaned to Matheson and Dent as a quid pro quo for negotiating future naval and military Bills (they have financed the expedition so far) but this may be untrue as Elliot is also selling Bills himself.

Capt Warren of HMS Hyacinth has been sent to Canton to claim some additional indemnity for the firing and plundering of the factories and the loss of the Spanish brig Bilbaino.

Sycee sells at a 5% premium in Canton and a variable discount in London. Had it been traded here for Bills on London a considerable risk-free profit would have been available. If it must be sent away, why not to Calcutta where it could be melted and minted as Rupees and be circulating in 5-6 weeks. That would get the Bengal economy humming again. What is going on? Is it like the plundered gold of India that Burke warned us against 40 – 50 years ago?

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

Daniell & Co closed for business on 30th June 1841. The incompleted transactions of the firm will be concluded by us. Sgd W C Le Geyt & John H Cannon

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

The Hongs’ contribution to Elliot’s ransom in Dollars was distributed as follows:

How Qua

Poon Ki Qua

Sam Qua, Sao Qua, Foo Tae, Gow Qua @ $70,000

(All four have an obligation to pay a further $50,000)

Mow Qua, King Qua, Ming Qua, Poon Hoi Qua @ $15,000

Balance available from the Consoo Fund (How Qua)







The four $70,000 contributors initially offered $20,000 each saying How Qua should pay the rest but he has incurred an additional $750,000 loss from the firing of his two packing houses on Sha Mian Island.

Elliot has also demanded indemnity for the Bilbaino and received a promise of payment.

Editor – is it not a Spanish ship?

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

The Emperor’s reply to Yih Shan’s report on the ransom has arrived but has been withheld from the Kwongchow foo and Treasurer and we do not yet know what it says. The two officers are suspected of assisting the ‘red haired barbarians’.[525]

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

A Review of British affairs in China from April 1834 to March 1839 has been published anonymously. The writer censures the Whigs for neglecting China. He defends Napier. He seems to have sourced his information from this newspaper.

He calculates the average daily dose of an opium addict at 30 grains. This suggests a total of 1.4 million smokers in China out of a population of 350 millions. If this is correct, each Chinese addict smokes four times the amount that each British user eats.[526]

Of the opium traders, the author notes J M & Co has a larger business turnover than the India Company ever achieved in China. He says the opium traders are more opulent than the ‘princely merchants’ of Calcutta.

The writer marks Elliot as a funny chap. As 2nd Commissioner, he made a run around Robinson’s back and the Foreign Office indulged him. It is widely believed that he intrigued against Napier too.

The writer notes that no-one really believed Elliot was authorised to receive the opium for surrender because its value was simply too great to make the suggestion credible. What government would bestow such unlimited powers to its representatives in distant lands or indeed have even contemplated such an eventuality arising?

The opium traders could not have got a better result if they had paid Elliot to buy it!

Opium was then unsellable in Canton at any price and Lin was implacably determined to have it. The only conceivable buyer in the entire World for the 20,000 chests over-hanging the dead market was Elliot and he, astonishingly, agreed to the deal. With hindsight, once Elliot’s pledge had been honoured, war became inevitable.

Accordingly, after much delay, several scary reversals and a couple of wars, £2 millions was transferred from the Chinese people to the foreign traders – now that’s pro-business government.

Editor – On the whole we recommend this pamphlet in spite of the anonymity of the author.

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

An extraordinary inventory, said to be of Kishen’s seized property, has been published in one of the Peking Gazettes:



Foreign money


Money changers


270,000 Taels

3,400,000 Taels

2,000,000 Taels

39,000 mow (c. ½ acre per mow)

84 silversmith shops

168 girls

Caveat – In the following week’s paper, Editor Slade says the chap who gave him the list of Kishen’s property has published a letter in the Canton Press saying he doubts its authenticity.

Vol 14 No 27 – 6th July 1841

Obituary – James Innes died at Macau on 1st July 1841 aged 55 years. He came to China in 1826. His father held the estate of Durris in Kincardineshire on a 99 years lease but the tenure was declared invalid by Lord Eldon on the death of the Duke of Queensbury (who had granted the lease). The family was thrown into poverty and James came here.

He had a long and severe illness which was known to be terminal from the outset. His frequent and spirited acts in defence of the free trade against illegal and oppressive acts of the Canton government, the Hong merchants and others were important contributions to our protection. He was buried the following day in the English cemetery at Macau.

Wm Jardine, Kames and Alexander Matheson are his nominated executors to whom claims should be made. Anyone indebted to Innes should pay to M/s Innes Fletcher & Co.

Vol 14 No 28 – 13th July 1841

Readers will recall Admiral George Elliot (Lord Minto’s brother) left China citing sudden heart disease as cause. We were doubtful because on arrival at Macau he walked to Capt Elliot’s house unaided and without great difficulty.

The Bombay Times has new information recited from the Naval & Military Gazette and carried in the Singapore Free Press.

It says a month after the Admiral’s resignation, Sir J J Gordon Bremer, the joint Plenipotentiary, wrote that all campaign decisions were made by the Elliots alone and he only learned of them subsequently.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

At the election of new Company Directors in April 1841, Plowden was successful along with five other applicants.

A statistical review of entrances and clearances of British shipping in and out of the Company’s domains in 1839 and 1840 shows a near doubling of registered tonnage trading to India.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Palmerston has received a delegation of City merchants on 21st April. The group comprised Wm Crawford MP for the City, John Horsley Palmer former Governor of the Bank of England, Wm Jardine MP for Ashburton, Jamieson and Milligan.

They discussed Elliot’s negotiations with the Chinese.

They said they were apprehensive and needed reassurance. No-one knew what Elliot was doing.

Palmerston was not sure either.

The deputation said it spoke on behalf of the merchants in China, Calcutta, Bombay and those interested in East India trade in London. They had all lost confidence in Elliot and wanted to know what the government would do now. They insisted that government policy should consider their commercial interests. They thought none of the objects of the expeditionary force would be met by Elliot’s preliminary negotiations.

Jardine explained the trading systems in detail to illustrate his advice that British trade could unlikely be transferred to Hong Kong. Palmerston mentioned a Petition from Bombay which said “According to the press and private letters, Elliot has made a treaty which abandons our protection. We want to talk with you.” It was signed by 39 Bombay merchants and dated 12th March 1841 at London. He said it was due to be debated in the Lords.

Editor – Great to see Jardine, with 20 years experience in China, upholding our view on the uselessness of Hong Kong.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Open letter to Palmerston in The Sun dated 21st and published 26th April 1841:

My friends and I think our policy in China is vain and impolitic. I’ve lived in India and I know these Asiatics. Our fear that they will stop selling tea to us has caused innumerable evils. We have to pay homage to a semi-barbarous people. They stage fraudulent bankruptcies and squeeze us intolerably. We are not allowed to correspond with the provincial government but are regulated through the merchants themselves.

All your appointments to China have been unequal to the task of moderating this imposition. Elliot is the worst. He’s a mere military man and knows nothing of diplomacy and commerce. He ignores all the insults and just presses on with his own wild plans.

These Asiatics are impressed by outward appearances, dignified language and some slight revelation of our technological genius. That has always been our policy. The moment the natives suspect us of weakness we get contempt. The first Edict of Lin should have called forth a strong response threatening violence.[527]

It is widely believed that at the time you told Elliot to make terms with the Chinese, you were primarily alarmed at the prospect of war with France. This is the only explanation we can conceive of for the strange haste of the deal done with Kishen. We get $6 million and the barren islet of Hong Kong. This is supposed to recompense £3-4 millions of lost opium and the trade debts. The cost and sacrifice of the expedition have both been wasted. Hong Kong will be another Ascension Island – expensive and burdensome.

We should have opened the ports and demanded free trade everywhere. Don’t ratify this wretched treaty. Recall Elliot. No more nepotism and patronage, send someone fit for the job – Holt MacKenzie of Bengal, Francis Warden of Bombay or Charles Metcalfe could all do a proper job. This treaty is like another Convention of Cintra.[528] You must say something publicly and soon. Sgd Mercator.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Extract from a private letter from a Lieutenant Colonel in the Bombay Army:

….. I saw a note that Henry Pottinger wrote in Grindlay’s office dated 4th May.[529] Sir John Hobhouse PC (President of the Board of Control) has sent for him to be the next envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary to the Imperial Court in China. The naval taskforce in China will be pleased.

He is Irish and has been in the diplomatic line in India for almost all his service. He travelled through Baluchistan in disguise a few years ago, was captured and feasted on tree bark and grass to survive.

As Resident at Cutch he did the treaty with Sind and became a baronet for his services. He went home last year after 31 years service.

Editor – wonderful news. We hope he gets here quickly. Sir Hugh Gough could do the job equally well and he is already here. The task requires only honesty and a sense of national honour.

We must memorialise Pottinger when he arrives warning him to restrict the interpreters to their proper duties and not use Chinese in his communications. If the Chinese officials don’t understand or get wrong translations that is their problem.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

The Peking Gazettes of 28th & 29th April 1841 publish a memorial to the Emperor from the Imperial High Commissioner Yukien and the Governor of Kiangsu presently resident at Ting Hai:

The military council received a recommendation from General Hai Ling that the ports and harbours along our coast be closed so our food cannot get out to the foreigners. He says once the country is closed to the sea, the traitors who support the foreigners will lose their livelihood and become amenable to us. You have asked our opinion on this proposal.

The coastal people lead a seafaring life and little rely on the land for their sustenance. They live on their boats and exchange sea produce for rice and vegetables. They produce huge amounts of salt. Those with a little money trade north and south. They bring foreign goods, the sale of which provides employment for multitudes of poor people.

In Chekiang and Kiangsi there are several tens of thousands of people leading this maritime life while the numbers of people who depend on their imports for employment are great.

In Kwangtung and Fukien the salt production is even greater and the trading consequently more extensive. The numbers of dependent people are uncountable.

If we suddenly shut the coast, the traders will be able to substitute some other activity but the poor people who depend on them will be forced into piracy for their sustenance.

When Ting Hai was lost last year, the local fishermen could not support themselves. Hundreds of them importuned the officials with plans to recover the islands but were denied by the army. This shows their patriotism. In the 6th month last year the foreigners sailed all along the coast seeking for beef and fresh water but, although they were desperately poor, the villagers did not supply them until they saw the officials bestowing provisions on the foreigners and thereafter we could not prohibit them. It continued until the new Governor Lu Yun Ko forbad it. Basically these coastal people are reliable and can be managed as they have a little property to lose.

It was the coastal merchants who helped us by carrying our army across to Chusan in their boats. They spied for us and took off those dispossessed natives of Ting Hai who wanted to leave. They made the fire rafts. They brought the grain and army wages over from the mainland.

There are traitorous fishermen but they are few. If we closed the ports and harbours, the main victims will be our upstanding and reliable fishermen. They fish all day every day to maintain themselves. Most have never seen a silver dollar. If the foreigners threatened any one of them with their huge wealth they might not be able to resist but their community would condemn them.

To be safe, we should circulate notices promising rewards for killing or capturing foreigners. Anticipating your agreement I rewarded the men who captured Anstruther and Douglas last year and all the Ting Hai fishermen were delighted.

As a result I have sent many common people to the little islands to welcome the foreigners, offer fish or ask for opium, and see how we can best ensnare and capture them one by one.[530]

This plan is likely to be opposed by the military which will see its importance diminished but the idea of closing the ports is not a good one. Traitors in Chekiang and Kiangsi are rare – those in Kwangtung and Fukien are still Your Majesty’s children. Their greed is excited by poverty but the door to repentance should be kept open for them. Those who surrender should be required only to show their sincerity and find someone to give a bond for their behaviour. Their former offences may then be forgiven. Those few who are obstinate should be beheaded and their heads exposed to warn the others.

Your slave’s foolish view is that the ports be kept open but provisions to the foreigners cut off. We fight the foreigners by fighting the determined traitors. Governor Lu agrees.

Editor – General Hai Ling’s idea comes from the Hong Hei Emperor’s closure of the coast in late 17thcentury to deny provisions to Koxinga. Its surprising he suggests it. China has developed considerably and Koxinga is not comparable to the Royal Navy.[531]

Yukien is right that for the first three months on Chusan we could not get any fish. Although the people are just as greedy as the Cantonese, they held the law in greater respect. We recall the hawkers leaving when Yu was transferred there. They said they had finished their business and would not say more. One fellow complained that the Madrassis billeted in his house had taken down his father’s spirit table. We told him we would fix it up immediately if he would get some copies of the Peking Gazettes for us (he went to Ningpo every week) but he refused us. We paid extortionate prices for the little we could get and made no friends at all.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Peking Gazettes – Commissioner Lin and Viceroy Tang have been banished to Ili according to an Imperial Edict of 4th July 1841:

“In 1832 Li was Viceroy of the Two Kwong and Lew was the Manchu General. They did not support the army and allowed the province to become defenceless. They have since been banished.

“Tang Ting Ching was then appointed Viceroy for many years but he was also careless and exercised the troops only to fraudulently abstract government funds.

“I sent Lin to take charge. He knew the troops were debauched and should have constantly exercised them.

“Tang has already been stripped of rank. Lin is demoted to the 4th grade and is banished to Ili as a warning to the others. Respect this.”

Editor – no foreigner believes they will really be banished. All the high officials turned out to see Tang off from Canton as though he was going on holiday.

This To Kwong Emperor is a strange fellow – Lin and Tang really tried to enforce His orders while Kishen was a traitor to China but remains in favour.[532]We should not talk with Kishen if he is sent back here to negotiate.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

We reported the marriage of Alexander Matheson to Mary Crawford McLeod in February this year. We now have to report the death of Mrs Matheson, aged 18 years.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Now that local opinion against Elliot is hardening, we have learned from a resident in Macau that Elliot bought the 523 chest shortfall from Dents at $500 per chest and in payment offered Treasury Bills at 12 months Date but he actually supplied 12 month Sight bills. Dent had no choice but to receive them.

This has long been known but what is new is our Macau friend’s evidence that Elliot told him at the time “ I told Dent that the Bills would not be accepted. I said to him ‘now mark me – put it down in your book this day what I tell you – those Bills will come back for I have no authority to draw them.’ He claimed to have said it more than once.

Did Dents know this on 11th May when they delivered the opium to Elliot? Had Dent identified himself as the honorary French Consul, as he was at the time, the British Treasury could hardly have repudiated its liability particularly as the India Company is treaty-bound to sell 150 chests of opium to France every year.[533] What do Dent and Elliot have to say?

If Elliot knew the Bills for these few chests would be repudiated, what of his undertaking for the 20,000 chests? It begins to appear to have been a gambit solely to gain time.

Vol 14 No 30 – 27th July 1841

House of Lords, 29th April 1841 – Lord Ellenborough has drawn parliament’s attention to the disastrous state of commerce in Bombay as a result of the China problem.

British trade in China has been stopped for a year and the Bombay people rely on it for sale of their cottons and opium.

Wm Crawford made the same plea in the Commons.

Vol 14 No 30 – 27th July 1841

24th April 1841 – Tsar Nicholas has issued a Ukase forbidding the export of opium from Russian lands into China for sale. He has been formally advised it is a prohibited import. This Ukase is said to confirm the long-subsisting harmony between the Russian and Chinese Empires.

Editor – this seems intended to embarrass the English with whom the Tsar recently fought a proxy war in Afghanistan.

Vol 14 No 32 – 10th August 1841

The Laird of Kowloon’s negotiations. Performed in verse by ‘maestro Capt Charles Froth.’

(to the tune of ‘there was an old chap in the west countree’):

I am the governor of Hong Kong
But I do not think I’ll be here long
And therefore good folks, I’ll give you a song
About my negotiations.
As I understand that very soon
I can simply write my name ‘Kowloon’
Which you must all think but a trifling boon
For my negotiations.
If once made a Peer I shall not care a Pin
For Lord Palmerston or Commissioner Lin.
In my sleeve at the pair I shall heartily grin.
Hurrah for negotiations.
I had scarcely landed and taken Chusan
When the mandarins found I was just the man
So with pens ink and paper we forthwith began
Milk and water negotiations.
The ships once got to the great Peiho
Where I might have struck a most terrible blow
Prostrating the Tartar pride quite low
But proffered negotiations.
It was there that I met with the famed Kishen
Who civilly asked the old Admiral, when
We will return to Canton to be gulled again
With fresh negotiations.
Having had at Chusan very little to do
And finding the Chinamen fought with samshoo
On the wings of the north east monsoon we all flew
To finish negotiations.
Kishen, being tardy, I told the rogue
‘Sir Gordon will shortly visit the Bogue
With some of the very best methods in vogue
For shortening negotiations’.
The Imperial envoy dreaded a row
And felt disinclined to Bremer to bow,
So he witnessed the fate of Tai Kok Tau
And then hastened negotiations.
Folks say that the bargain’s loosely made
And differ with me on the law of blockade
But all these trifles are thrown in the shade
By my splendid negotiations.
Perhaps you will hear, in time for next mail,
The Emperor refuses to pay on the nail,
So I’ll get for the opium Kishen or Lin’s tail
And conclude my negotiations.
Should the opium merchants want their cash
And fancy my doings in China are rash
With my taking title, home I’ll dash
And cut future negotiations.

Vol 14 No 32 – 10th August 1841

Colonel Henry Pottinger and Admiral Parker arrived at Macau this morning (9th or 10th August) and left for Hong Kong in the afternoon.

Vol 14 No 33 – 17th August 1841

From a formal standpoint, the appointment of Napier as Chief Superintendent of British Trade was followed by the appointment of Pottinger on 14th May 1841. None of the intermediary holders of the office were formally appointed; they merely assumed the office in order of seniority.

Lord John Russell has told parliament that Elliot has been recalled.

Vol 14 No 33 – 17th August 1841

Hugh Hamilton Lindsay has been returned as MP for Sandwich

Vol 14 No 33 – 17th August 1841

Calcutta Eastern Star, 27th June 1841 – The Tibetans are said to be an exclusive people but they used to trade with India and our best experts believe they are keen to trade with us.

A few years ago they sought to build a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Calcutta for the use of their visiting trade caravans but were prevented from doing so by the Chinese Amban at Lhasa.

Last year they reportedly expelled all the Chinese officials in their country.

We should take the opportunity of this Tibetan repudiation of Chinese hegemony to offer ourselves as trading partners and protectors. They need our woollen cloth. Who knows what they might have to offer in return.

Their country also offers a route into Szechuan and the western provinces of China.

Vol 14 No 33 – 17th August 1841

The Cantonese say the exceptionally violent recent typhoons, which have caused us so much damage, injury and death, are Heavenly retribution for our immorality.

Vol 14 No 33 – 17th August 1841

Wm Jardine has been presented at the Court of St James and will certainly be returned as MP for Ashburton in the minister’s faction.

Vol 14 No 34 – 24th August 1841

To the electors of Ashburton (near Exeter):

I am a firm friend of civil and religious freedom. I want to remedy every abuse, remove every grievance and allow everyone to receive the benefits of the Reform Bill as intended.

I oppose the existing draft of the Law Amendment Act until it better protects the poor.

I will only support ministers when I think they are right.

I have long been connected in commerce with the staple trade of your town (serge – a heavy woven woollen twill, like tweed) and will try to promote and advance it further. I will not neglect your local and private interests.

Sgd Wm Jardine.

A song was sung at his reception:

Stand fast reformers in the field
Opponents to your strength must yield,
Tory corruption must give way
And Jardine now shall gain the day

Jardine was cheered by hundreds of people present who shared his liberal views. He said he had fought against oppression for 25 years in China and would continue to do so in England. He said he had refused the offers of three Dukes to recruit him as an MP. He wanted the suffrage extended to end bribery and intimidation. Many former Whigs were in the audience and clearly supported Jardine.

An old rich manufacturer Solomon Toger addressed the meeting and mentioned the improved trade that Jardine would bring to Ashburton. Sir Warwick Tonkin then proposed Jardine be returned as candidate. He was so well received that his election appears quite secure. The Tory candidate MacKillop will canvass shortly.

Editor – Ashburton is a prescriptive borough. It was named one of the four leading towns of Devon by Charter of Edward I. It formerly returned two members but was reduced to one in the 1832 Reform Act. It now has a population of about 5,000. We do not expect Jardine to be much good as a debater but he will be valuable in committee where all important parliamentary business is done.

Vol 14 No 35 – 31st August 1841

Departures per the Company’s armed steamer Atalanta for Singapore, Madras and Bombay on 24th August (omitted from last issue due to lack of space):

Capt Elliot and family, Commodore Bremer, Capt W Warren, Dr Alexander Anderson and David Jardine.

The San Pedro Fort at Macau fired 13 guns on Elliot’s embarkation. There were no English marks of respect for the departing Plenipotentiary.[534]

Vol 14 No 36 – 7th September 1841

Bremer and Senhouse have been made KCBs. Neither of the Elliots has got anything but Admiral Elliot has made a miraculous recovery from his heart disease and is expected to be appointed to the lucrative command of the Plymouth Dockyard.

Vol 14 No 38 – 21st September 1841

Sir Hugh Gough’s report on the attack on Canton of May is reproduced in full in the issues of this week and next. He was north of the city while Elliot was south. Having captured the heights and put Canton at his mercy he received a note from Elliot saying the city had been ransomed.

Friend of India, 13th August 1841 Editorial:

The Chinese reports do not mention a ransom. Yih Shan, the Emperor’s nephew, says the foreigners were asked why they were attacking Canton and they said it was for compensation for the destroyed opium. If they received 1 million Taels immediately, they would cease.

Elliot’s term in the treaty with Yih Shan requests $6 millions ‘for the use of the Crown’ – the same phraseology as his request for the opium surrender. It seems Elliot considered the money as compensation for opium and not ransom for the city, in spite of what he told Gough. Perhaps we should ask Yih Shan what he understood it was for?

From the Chinese side, two Imperial Edicts have been received dated 27th July and 21st August respectively:

  • When the English soldiers were threatening Canton, the goddess Kuan Yin manifested and poured rain on them, extinguishing their matches and rockets. Thereafter the city became tranquil.
    Votive tablets, in my own hand, will be sent with the profoundest reverence to Canton to be suspended in the temples in gratitude for the Goddess’ protection.
  • It is reported that typhoons have occurred and the barbarian ships have been seriously damaged. I am filled with gratitude for and dread of Heaven’s majesty. The barbarians have been iniquitous but must bow their heads to Heaven.
    The silent influences have swept away the murderous influences and established peace. Yih Shan and the others will go to the temples and announce My reverent thanks. They will fast during the preceding day.

Vol 14 No 44 – 2nd November 1841

Lord John Russell was married on 29th June at Minto House to Francis Anna Maria, 2nd daughter of the Earl of Minto.

Lord and Lady Dunfermline, Lord Edward Russell, Lord Melgund, Lady Elizabeth Elliot, Admiral George Elliot and Capt Charles Elliot all attended.

The couple will stay a few weeks at Bowhill, near Selkirk, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch.

Vol 14 No 44 – 2nd November 1841

The general election is over and it has been a disaster for the liberals. The conservatives have a majority of over 70 (291 : 368). Melbourne’s government must resign.

Lord John Russell addressed the City merchants of his disappointment:

“As you know income has been inadequate to defray expenses. We thought the reduction of Customs duties that we legislated for would increase the volume of trade and generate more revenue while concurrently getting the necessaries of life to the people at better prices. We wanted to free trade with the colonies for the same reason. Our opponents said we were buying votes. Our proposals were defeated and an election called.

“The great industrial cities and boroughs have supported us but the counties have overwhelmingly rejected us.[535]

“We have previously abolished slavery in our colonies and destroyed the monopoly of privilege in our municipal corporations.

“We have made protestants and Catholics equal and thus secured the loyalty of Ireland. All these measures were opposed by the Tories.” Etc….

Vol 14 No 44 – 2nd November 1841

The London Times, 4th August:

A case has come on in Bombay concerning Elliot’s Treasury Bills for surrendered opium.

The Plaintiff is a native Indian who consigned 200 chests to the Agents of Dent & Co in Bombay telling them to invest the China sale proceeds in sycee for return to Bombay. The Defendants are these Bombay Agents of Dents. They advanced $72,115 to the Plaintiff (c. 720 Rupees per chest) and he drew a Bill on Dents payable to the Defendant Agents as security.

The opium arrived in China and was sold to Elliot to complete the number of chests he had engaged to deliver to Lin. Dents received Elliot’s Bills on the Treasury in return. They accounted to the Plaintiff for the sale less the prepaid ‘security’ Bill and sent Elliot’s Bill to £5,385 for the balance which they endorsed to Dents’ Agent for the Plaintiff’s account.

Dents wrote to the Defendant Agents enclosing Elliot’s Treasury Bills and recommending they not be negotiated locally (as they showed Dent & Co’s name and were likely to be repudiated thus jeopardising Dent’s credit at Bombay) but be sent to London for collection.

The Plaintiff wanted the Bills in Bombay but eventually agreed to the delay incurred in their going to London from whence they were returned protested.

The Plaintiff again asked Defendants for the Bills which they agreed to deliver conditionally – on Plaintiff’s express absolution of themselves and Dents from all liability.

He then sued for the value of the Bills and obtained a favourable Judgment.

Vol 14 No 44 – 2nd November 1841

Lin has been sent to deal with extensive flooding of the Yellow River in Hunan. The provincial capital is submerged.

Vol 14 No 48 – 30th November 1841

The Portuguese are producing tea in Brazil and the Spanish are doing so in Paraguay. Since the war English importers have been investigating this supply and contracting for sample shipments. It is called Paraguay tea or maté and is made from a plant like the camellia but bigger. It has a bitter taste like Bohea.

Vol 14 No 50 – 14th December 1841

Queen’s Speech – the extraordinary expenses caused by events in Canada, China and the Mediterranean and the costs of maintaining a force adequate to protect Our extensive possessions makes an increase of the public revenue necessary. H M hopes this will fall primarily on the production of foreign countries.

Some of the duties in the Customs tariff are so trifling in amount they cost more to collect than they are worth. The principle of protection, on which many of these duties are founded, should neither injure the State nor the people.

She hopes her Commons will enact means to relieve the distress of widespread unemployment.

Editor – Peel is the new Prime Minister and Aberdeen the Foreign Secretary. Melbourne fell in August over the Corn Laws – their effect was to increase fluctuations in supply, cause embarrassments to trade, derange the currency and produce hardship for the people all to the sole advantage of speculators.

Vol 14 No 50 – 14th December 1841

Elliot has been made British Consul-General to the Republic of Texas. He’ll probably get the orders en route home and go there directly. This appointment might have two purposes – firstly, it will permit his rehabilitation in a remote place and secondly, it could facilitate the repudiation of his opium debts.

Vol 14 No 52 – 28th December 1841

Obituary of Mr Thomas Beale – he came to China as a youth over 50 years ago and developed a prosperous business until 1815 when, through trusting an unreliable friend, he suddenly became completely bankrupt. He has since lived quietly in Macau.

On 10th November 1841, after one of his creditors sent in the bailiffs, he left home. He was seen at about 6 pm that day on the path from the Campo towards Mong Ha village but was not seen again. He is not the sort to commit suicide but has been missing for over a month.

The creditor speculated that he might have boarded the Spanish brig that left Macau on the morning of 11th November for South America but that has since been discounted.

There will now be a sale of his personal effects by the creditors. He has a large collection of specimens of stuffed birds and plants. A detailed account of Beale and his collections may be found in Bennett’s Wanderings in New South Wales.

Beale provided good service to the provincial government in 1807-1808 by fighting and / or paying-off pirates who then infested the waterways and threatened Canton. He received some small compliments from the Provincial government for his services.

Vol 14 No 52 – 28th December 1841

A long editorial criticising Pottinger’s Proclamation in which he complains against the British opium traders who have gone to Canton for business while Pottinger’s army is fighting the Chinese everywhere else.

Pottinger believes the smugglers are at risk while they believe the Canton Provincial Government and the Hong merchants will adequately protect them.[536]

Vol 15 No 4 – Tuesday 25th January 1842

J A Mercer’s house caught fire early on 19th January. The chimney caught and it spread through the roof timbers to engulf the entire house. It is situated at the south end of the Praia Grande.

Mercer, returning from his morning walk, raised the alarm. Mrs Mercer escaped from the bedroom but lost her clothes and jewellery.

The house was built in 1812 as the residence of J F Elphinstone, then President of the Select and was occupied by Company officers up to 1834.

Vol 15 No 6 February 8th 1842

Address of the Chinese merchants of Singapore to A R Johnstone – illegible

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

Gutzlaff is appointed interpreter and magistrate at Ningpo; Thom is to perform the same function at Chinhae; Walter Medhurst is interpreter at Ting Hai.

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

Henry Wright, a partner of J M & Co., is leaving China per Earl Grey on retirement. He was one of the most clear-headed of the India Company’s pursers and was selected as Confidential Assistant by the Firm in about 1828 when it still traded as Magniac & Co.

After a few years he was made a partner. He is a diligent and urbane man and was held in high esteem by all the mercantile community.

The Parsees have addressed him:

“After a residence of some 17 years you now return to your friends and associates to pursue your predilections of earlier years. Although you are invariably busy, you have always had time to counsel us. We have arranged for Magniac Smith & Co of London to present a piece of plate to you on your arrival there.”

Sgd – a long list of Parsees.

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

The British magistrates appointed at Ningpo and Chinhae have issued many passports to Chinese inhabitants permitting them to remove. Had they refused to issue them, the people would have stayed outside where their treasure was (they all left on the arrival of the British).

At Tinghai a different system was employed and the people have remained at home.

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

Administratively the province of Kwangtung is divided into 9 fu, each of which is sub-divided into increasingly smaller units called chau, ting and yun.

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

Prices Current (discontinued in July 1839) recommence in this issue.

Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

Mr Challaye, the French Consul[537] with two nationals, whilst en route from Canton to Whampoa in a local junk, stopped at the halfway pagoda for an inspection visit and his party was attacked by a crowd of villagers and soldiers under the mistaken belief they were English. They were escorted back to Canton under guard of 5 officers and some 150 soldiers.

Arriving at 9 pm, two Hong merchants and some Linguists turned out to identify them whereafter the Manchu General and Yih Shan with their attendants (all in full dress) arrived and apologised for the inconvenience.

Both parties then shook hands and the French were taken via the Linguists’ houses back to their factory, arriving at about 2 am.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. The Portuguese had removed some 250 tons gold and 500 tons silver from Japan by the time the missionaries caused them to be expelled in early 17th century (The Dutch took about £6 million in bullion from Japan – say 10.5 tons of gold – in the same period). Jardine may have had this history in mind but a more compelling motive for China arose from the disabled state of her addicted soldiers. This effect persuaded the Spanish Viceroy at Manila, the Sultan of Johore, the Rajah of Lombok and several other South East Asian Kings to also proscribe opium use in their countries. The India Company naturally banned its use in British India.
  2. This initial war with China, Part One of the first Opium War, was projected by the India Company in its own self-interest. Part Two commences with the appointment of Henry Pottinger and has a more national flavour. The letter-writer, British Merchant, is most likely James Matheson who spent the war in Macau as a guest of the Governor.
  3. In the 28th January edition, the Editor noted the Mars was bringing 600 chests back from Manila when she struck the Pratas reef and foundered. As mentioned earlier and later in the text, Manila briefly became the depot for opium shipped to the East Coast. M/s Pereira & Co appear to have responded to an Order of the Macau Governor, issued the day before Elliot’s request for surrender, which required them to remove their opium from Macau.
  4. The Editor suggests smuggling along the coast was stopped until after Elliot’s Battle of Kowloon Bay. That does not accord with his own record of events above and is more likely another of his attempts to improve the smugglers’ case. There was a delay when the stock was surrendered until new supply became available. This might well have been very approximately concurrent with Elliot’s action at Kowloon Bay.
  5. Precise figures are not very important to an understanding of the dispute and may be only indicative in any event, but the 1839 / 40 import according to Morse in ‘International Relations’ was 20,000 chests, about half of the figure for the 1838 / 39 year prior to Lin’s actions and rather more than half of the following 1840 / 41.
  6. After this engagement the British warships hurriedly adjourned to Macau fearing a Chinese response against the British community living there. This left Admiral Kwan and his war-junks in possession of the field of battle.
  7. The Broadway is a huge and important waterway to Canton, West of Macau.
  8. He spoke of offering an American ship an exemption to blockade.
  9. Lord Sandon was one of 42 members on the 1832 Select Committee investigating the opium trade.
  10. The source of this seems to be the tea-taster Reeves. He gave evidence that a Hong merchant took him to see some water-damaged black tea. It had been received at Canton after the floods of last year. The teamen dried the tea in woks embedded in chunam over charcoal fires. The tea expert added some turmeric while the tea was being turned giving it a yellowish tint. He then pounded a little Prussian blue and much gypsum together and put a teaspoonful in each wok. Blue + yellow = green. With turning, this produced the fine colour of hyson and much the same fragrance. The ‘hyson’ was then sorted and graded. The finest particles were called ‘hyson skin’ and the coarsest ‘young hyson’. Reeves supposes ‘its not surprising that analysis reveals green tea is sometimes poisonous.’ Had the Hong merchant not been present Reeves thinks he would not have been allowed to see what was being done to mitigate the water-damage. Even with the Hong merchant present, many doors were closed to Reeves. The careful reader will note Reeves says black tea was converted into green tea by addition of turmeric and Prussian blue dye. Neither is poisonous and Prussian Blue is actually an effective treatment for heavy metal poisoning.
  11. See 31st March 1840 edition for overlooked evidence of Major Burney, British Resident at Ava, and a secondary source in Phipp’s book on China.
  12. The allegation of poisoned wells first arose from the Hong merchants who suspected troops from Hunan had poisoned wells in North Canton. It was later a verbal threat of unidentified Chinese, unsupported by any actual incidents.
  13. Stanton wrote a report on his four month’s captivity that is reproduced in the final issue of Canton Register for 1840. It is interesting for confirming that the Canton Register was regularly received by Commissioner Lin and some other officials.
    Mrs Turner and the two boys returned to England in early May 1840 but Stanton remained in Macau to conduct church services for the remaining British Protestants.
  14. Larpent is earlier shown (in an advertisement) to be a partner in Bell & Co of Canton. The company has a London office of the same name. He is shortly to be returned as MP for Nottingham.
  15. In fact merchants had to influence government in the British economic system. They evolved ways of doing so discreetly with the co-operation of MPs, commonly by creating advisory boards in government departments. It is also true that the best parts of the British economy are not open to competition.
  16. de Souza operates from Calcutta, Bombay, Macau and from 5 Danish Hong in the Canton factories. Together with Pereira, he is the doyen of Portuguese opium traders at this time. He was active at the Calcutta auctions on behalf of Bombay Malwa merchants.
  17. Normally it is 40,000 – 45,000 according to the occasional census.
  18. Dent earlier wrote an intemperate letter to the Editor protesting the initial British government decision not to indemnify opium holders. He and J M & Co have the silver income from their smuggling trade to buy the expedition’s Bills and pay the soldiers. The selection of Dent for this role reveals the India Company’s preference.
  19. Palmer had been Governor of the Bank of England, 1830 – 33. he is now precedent partner in Palmer McKillop and Dent Co.
  20. Lin was certainly well aware of the effectiveness of a hostage; his own teacher, an elderly opium smoker, was detained in Peking at that time and told he would be beheaded if Lin failed.
  21. This worthy Chinese initiative is unknown in published British histories. It failed because Britain controlled the seas and had a standing army of 150,000 in India.
  22. Robinson’s method of enforcing British policy on the smugglers is likely that revealed in Elliot’s Notice of 7th January 1840 against Captains Towns and Warner – any goods shipped from China to Britain or British colonies that lacked his (Elliot’s) seal would be confiscated.
  23. Matheson was wrong about the Black Joke. One wonders whether he was right this time.
  24. So far as the published documents are concerned, this dispute ends with F B Wells instructing Fearon to request Slade to nominate a second for a duel.
  25. See the Opium chapter for the original report.
  26. Astell & Clarke, ex-Company officials in China (supercargoes – members of the Select) and most recently the Company’s Agents at Canton, have since transferred to the Bengal Civil Service and have been providing administrative and political services to the military expedition during a leave of absence. Both have been assisting in the government of Chusan.
  27. Goods remaining in the ships soon become uninsured.
  28. It emulates the practice of ‘crimps’ on the Thames in the Napoleonic Wars.
  29. Like Commissioner Lin, he is to be kept in the job to redeem himself.
  30. Innes is the chap who fired Congreve rockets at the Viceroy’s yamen. He likely trades in arms and ammunition.
  31. The Editor says he obtained both Edicts from an official at Casa Branca.
  32. They do – see below. It seems possible that Editor Slade has become unwell.
  33. The Macau Governor had ordered all opium removed from the enclave the day before Elliot ordered its surrender to him. The British in Macau expected their servants to be required to report opium in their houses. They passed it to Johnstone.
  34. This course of study was forced on him by the British Trade Commission withholding its own translations of Chinese documents. Readers will note all the early translations are copied from the Canton Press which Slade says is favoured with copies of official translations.
  35. It mentions two profitable opium voyages to China.
  36. Pau Pang turns-out to be Dent’s former comprador under a new name – see below.
  37. The Bombay Times later reported that Commodore Sir J J Bremer was a joint Commissioner with the Elliots but he returned to India soon after this time leaving Capt Elliot briefly in sole command.
  38. Crawford had been a partner in Gilmore & Co of Calcutta in 1830s.
  39. The appropriate response to a militarily superior enemy – passive resistance to his face with deniable resistance at his back. It was the advice that Chinese Gordon gave the Emperor when Russia was nibbling at the northern frontier a few decades later – allow them to come in, the further the better, and pick them off one by one over the next few years. It is the thrust of the military tactics commended in Mao’s Little Red Book – “the enemy advances, I retreat; the enemy camps, I harry; the enemy retreats, I attack.” Fortunately for England, the villagers were obliged, with their lives, to comply with their government’s response and be entirely passive.
  40. A possible indication of the source of the Editor’s knowledge of Chinese initiatives. Red-hair barbarian – Cantonese ‘hung mo gwai’ – is still occasionally heard in Far Eastern cities. In Singapore they have a red-hair bridge ‘ang mo kio’ (in the Fukienese dialect) built by British prisoners in WWII. Western films, particularly the sex and violence epics, are called red-hair films ‘ang mo hei’.
  41. Including all the opium prescribed medicinally i.e. this calculation is nonsensical.
  42. These considerations became imperial policy – consider the gorgeous uniforms British Imperialists wore to impress Asians and the doctrine of the ‘stiff upper lip.’
  43. The agreement in the Napoleonic War whereby Sir Huw Dalrymple agreed to transport a defeated French army in Portugal back home in British transports. See the Iberia Chapter.
  44. Grindlays Bank was an old British Bank in India which later opened branches throughout Asia. It continued trading until a few decades ago.
  45. Capt Stead of the armed transport Pestonjee Bomanjee was a notable victim
  46. Readers of the Europe chapter will recall the British ministry, when faced with the prospect of French invasion in the Napoleonic Wars, also planned to withdraw provisions from coastal areas.
  47. Keshen is a Manchu.
  48. The quantity in an earlier report was 300 chests. I have failed to locate the authority for this proposition but it may represent one of the myriad settlements made at Vienna after Napoleon or conceivably an Asian treaty between the Company and the French Viceroy.
  49. This withholding of respect for leaders of the British community in China becomes the norm. All the early Governors of Hong Kong were ignored by the mercantile community on their departures.
  50. This was one of the advantages the merchants obtained from their financing of government in the debt-based system adopted by Wm Pitt. After a few years, they were able to have Customs and Excise duties on their trade reduced and Income Tax on the general populace was substituted to make up the revenue. The arrangement was packaged by the merchant-statesman Peel as ‘free trade’.
  51. The Editor’s criticism is mainly interesting for an allusion to James Matheson privately obtaining the release of the crew of the captured British steamer Madagascar from the Chinese.
  52. Dent is the occasional and honorary French Consul when the official incumbent is away.

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