China 1828-1829 – part 2


Vol 1 No 13 – 29th March 1828

The Board of Revenue at Peking has sent an express message to the Canton Governor to remit 300,000 Taels in respect of the provincial land tax.

Yu Cho Tung the new Judge (Yuen Cha Sze) has arrived to take up his appointment. He has a reputation for strict and impartial severity and he is expected to reduce the crime rate. His older brother was formerly the Whampoa magistrate and still lives here. While in office, the elder brother was as notorious as the younger is famous.

The new Hoppo is Heen Lung. The appointment of Hoppos to Canton is in the gift of the Emperor who always appoints one of his own household.

Na, the governor of Peking, who 20 years ago was governor of Canton and was recalled to assist in the preparations for the Amherst embassy, is ordered to Kashgar to assist Chang Ling in settling the rebellion and re-asserting Chinese sovereignty.

Vol 1 No 13 – 29th March 1828

We recently mentioned the financial embarrassment of a Hong merchant (Man Hop) but have withheld details as an arrangement was thought possible in which case he would have continued to trade. Now it appears he owes $1,700,000 and has few assets to pay. $400,000 of the debt represents unpaid Customs duty which is a secured claim and takes precedence over ordinary trade debts. The remainder is due to English and American traders.

The imminent arrival of a new Hoppo will bring this case to an early conclusion. Normally an insolvent Hong merchant is imprisoned and eventually transported to Ili but in recent years several have been pardoned and permitted to return to their homes.

Vol 1 No 13 – 29th March 1828

The edict of the Hoppo against the outside men which we recently published becomes effective in a few days. Usually such new regulations cause brief dissatisfaction which soon fades. The Hoppo’s imperative object is to confine the tea trade to the Hong merchants (the use of outside men to evade duty effects both imports and exports). Although the edict forbids the outside merchants (shopmen) to deal commercially with foreigners, there are some minor branches of trade that might conveniently be allowed them. This will be in the interests of the Hong Merchants.

Vol 1 No 13 – 29th March 1828

Trade – the Merope arrived 24th March with 1,050 chests of Patna and Benares from the first Calcutta sale of the year. Average purchase prices per chest were Company Rupees 1,730 and 1,577 respectively. Some sales have been made last week and the latest were at $1,000 Patna and $960 Benares. Company (and Damaun) Malwa is selling at $1,250. (Turkey is $740). There is rumour of a crop failure. Clearances this month out of the receiving ships at Lintin up to 23rd March were Patna 176, Benares 49, Malwa 244.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

A Chinese Admiral named Lee Heem Tong has written a book on the requisites for an effective naval establishment on the China coast. He previously served under his uncle Lee Chung Kei (known as ‘faithful and intrepid Lee’ and as Chung Kei Kung, a God-like name) in Chekiang and Fukien. Here are some extracts:

“Sea battles are more difficult than land battles because waves move the ships up and down and sails have to be continually hoisted and lowered. Also the capabilities of the sailors, and the armaments on each ship, vary. Victory depends on a good commander and good men, on seamanship, fighting methods, use of marines, teamwork, determination. Then one may withstand ten and ten oppose a hundred. Victory will result.

“But it is hard to find competent sailors. Those who have experience only know the seas in the immediate vicinity of their home village, a tiny part of the coasts of four provinces – Canton, Fukien. Chekiang and Kiangnan. As a result the commander has to attend the advice of his helmsman who may advance or retire depending on his view of the shoals, tides, submerged rocks, etc. Skilled officers are few. I myself was fortunate to grow up with my uncle who took me to the coasts of all four provinces to fight pirates. He never lost a battle and in ten years he taught me his mode of fighting.

“I am not a selfish man. Although I have this unique and invaluable information I am willing to publish it for the use of like-minded men. Naval commanders ought to know seamanship and the mode of fighting at sea. Warships must be strong and well maintained. Sails and rope and cleaning the ship’s hull must be carefully attended to. Then the ship is both safe and fast. She can rush through an enemy’s line and break it and ram.1

“The marines must be skilled sailors as well as fighters and be men of courage.

“Finally guns must be numerous and gunpowder dry and good quality.

“Thus equipped, you will win every battle. But there is more. Every warship should have thick netting hanging around its sides which is kept heavy with water to absorb the impact of the enemy’s shot. For every one hundred men there should be four hundred weapons. When closing with an enemy the great cannon should be used at a distance. When nearer use small arms, stones, arrows and fire arrows. When very close use fire canisters, fire tubs and stones. And when alongside let all the incendiary devices be used.

“When the enemy is at close quarters the marines must have firearms, spears and guns to oppose them. If the enemy is coming head-on, the men should use hooked or forked weapons, swords and shields and be prepared to throw combustibles. When the enemy ship catches fire he will try to flee and we must be ready with our hooks and forks to grapple him, tie up alongside, and, using the smoke for cover, board her and use the sword. In this way we can always advance or retire as appropriate.”

The Admiral then explains how small ships attack big ones, using combustibles and powder bowls to set fires and blow-up the enemy. He recommends transport boats are lashed ahead of the warship and long iron bars be lashed over the bows with sharpened points to penetrate into the hull of the enemy and lock there.

He next gives hints on shipbuilding technique and materials and what are the best materials for masts, sails and ropes.

On tides and currents he is very precise giving the distances that may be travelled in one tide all the way to Cochin China. He lists all the safe anchorages. He describes how to sail north to Tientsin against the wind all the way. He allows 13 watches (each of two hours) for the passage from Amoy to Taiwan and also lists the times required for a great many other destinations from Amoy. He says it takes 4-5 days from Taiwan to Manila.

He also describes the weather. After the summer solstice the north east wind prevails. Great heat produces strong winds and heavy rain. Little heat produces slight wind. A double rainbow signifies an approaching typhoon. Gales are expected in 4th, 5th and 7th moons and if the clouds are red, prepare for a strong gale. If the clouds have streaks of red or 3-5 different colours and the streaks are long with little rain, there will be light wind only. If the streaks are short and no rain falls, there will soon be a storm. If dragon-flies or white ants are numerous in the air and there is great heat, a typhoon is coming. If the sun is descending behind hills and the clouds become deep red, there will be a storm next day. If the sun or moon has a ring around it or if there are red clouds like feet, the weather will greatly change. To predict the weather, the sea state must be observed too. If the sea is rough in the absence of wind, a great and sudden typhoon may come. If the sea emits a bad smell or changes to red or black colour or large fish swim at the surface or flying fish are seen, a storm will occur.

The Admiral then mentions rocks and shoals along the coast. Chekiang has rocks but no shoals. Fukien has even more rocks and a few shoals. Canton has very many shoals but few rocks. Hainan has both rocks and shoals in abundance.

On currents, he says if the water makes a noise it is an eastern current.

The tides at the Bocca Tigris – on 1st, 2nd and 3rd days of each moon, high tide is at 8am and 8pm and low tide at 2 am and 2pm

The closing lines of the Admiral’s book are in verse:

Hoi sheung fung po sarm sup neen
Lo sum huet cheen marn yan tseen
Sheung yan hoi pui cheung kwan yin
Che mong fun meng kum kau teen.

Floating 30 years on sea and wind
Toiling heart, battling blood and 10,000 men
The Emperor makes me an Admiral
I hope my name will be known in the nine heavens.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

Peking Gazettes:

  • A heen magistrate in Shansi is convicted of extortion causing death.
  • Woo Ke Tai a censor has complained magistrate Kwan invited an actor to his home for drinking and the actor died. Kwan removed and interred the body without telling the police. Woo suspects the actor did not die from drinking and Kwan is ordered to the criminal court to explain himself.
  • The Governor of Kiangnan disputed with the Emperor on the best route for the rice tribute. The Emperor wants it sent up the canal for safety. The Governor wants to send it by sea (knowing the canal needs dredging which he will have to pay for).
  • Ko Shun Chang a magistrate in Chekiang is degraded for mishandling a robbery by bandits.
  • Two Manchus stole the sacrificial implements from a temple in Peking. One is to be branded, wear the cangue for two months in public and then be transported. The other will wear the cangue for a month in public and then be flogged with a whip and dismissed.
  • The Imperial army in Turkestan has lost most of its horses, camels and mules while fighting insurgents in the Gobi desert, due to drought and lack of provisions. The commander-in-chief however says he does not require replacements.
  • The Governor of Kiangning requests a transfer to Honan to be near his 74 years old mother but the Emperor declines as it is a bad precedent.
  • The four foreigners who were caught on the Manchurian coast 2-3 months ago have not again been mentioned. In 1816 two foreigners were caught in the same area and executed as spies. Perhaps these four have also died?

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

The Manchu Emperor is an absolute monarch over the largest country in the world. No other King has a similar extent of power. He is 47 years old. As a youth he practised martial arts to the extent that his health was damaged. He abstained from sex and sought to increase strength with medicines which caused all his teeth to fall out. Before he became Emperor he was quick, intelligent and irascible. He has since become more cautious and mild but is still strict.

On important anniversaries (accession to the throne, certain birthdays, completion of 60 year cycle) it is customary for the Emperor to grant a general amnesty except for the most heinous crimes. This Emperor has done little of this sort of thing. His father held enormous celebrations when he was 60 (and published what he would do at 70 but he died suddenly on the way to Manchuria a few years later).

Many Chinese statesmen disapprove of amnesties. Here in Canton the present crime wave is attributed to the activities of the amnestied pirates of Cheung Po Tsai’s fleet.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

The Governor of Shantung has requested Peking to send money to repair the Temple of Confucius at his birthplace in Keuh Fow. The Emperor has granted 21,800 Taels in order that the repairs be done properly so sacrifices may be done honourably and adoration given reverently. The Chinese do not consider Confucius a God. He never taught of spirits or immortal souls but spoke of annihilation at death. Nevertheless, they worship him.

The popular belief is that Emperors, hermits and virgins become Gods. They believe in transmigration of souls. They believe personal accountability is only for vice and virtue in the here and now. This is why the literati (which the officials are properly called) are a moralising, licentious group.

Confucians have greater influence over State policy than any religion in the West. They prevent the introduction of real knowledge and prefer domination to liberty and equality. They scorn the idea of ordinary people having their own opinions and set-up themselves (the literati) as the sole infallible guides.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

The Sumatra has arrived at Canton via Cape of Good Hope from Salem.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

Letter to the Editor – You mentioned the improvements intended for the area in front of the factories. Little progress has been made reportedly due to hostility of a certain individual. This is a popular object and it is a shock to hear one of the foreigners is opposed to it. I prefer to believe that the delay is due to tardiness by the Chinese authorities. The gentlemen on the committee are determined and progress will occur.

I have just returned from Macau where a new road is under construction. (This is the road from the walled Portuguese city passed the villages of Mong Ha and Mon Chien to the boundary gate.) I walked over one part and it is a great improvement. Macau will be a better place of residence once it is completed. One can now enjoy an evening’s ride and shortly it will be possible to take a carriage up to the boundary with perfect safety. I also learned that the Macau horse races are soon to be revived. In short our community is advancing and our native friends should adopt a more liberal policy towards us. Sgd N

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

Our trade in pepper is declining. Chinese coasting junks are taking the Cochin China supply direct to Nanking and supplying the north. Our supply is landed at Canton and subject to enhanced costs of inland travel. We have a small stock sufficient for provincial requirements. We sell at $6.50 – 7.00 per picul.

Orders for tin have also diminished lately. We have a stock of 6,000 piculs of Banca tin in Canton which is selling very slowly at $20 – $21 per picul.

Betelnut consumption is estimated at 30,000 – 40,000 piculs per annum. We still have about 30,000 piculs of last year’s crop. It sells today at $2.50 per picul and when the new harvest starts to arrive the price must fall.

Rattans, birds’ nests, camphor and many minor items of Straits and eastern islands produce need only be provided in good quality to gain a market.

Cotton is selling at one Tael less than its price last year. No improvement can be expected unless imports decrease or the local (Nanking) crop fails.

Vol 1 No 14 – 6th April 1828

The Netherlands ship Rotterdam van Amsterdam will be auctioned on 9th April at the Netherlands Consulate, Macau with all equipment and a cargo of 400 – 500 piculs of Japanese copper. A copy of the complete inventory is available at Canton from M/s Thomas Dent and Co.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Chow, the deputy Judge of Canton, interdicts armed clan fighting:

“Villagers are reminded that taking life for whatever reason is murder and the penalty is death. The Cantonese are perverse and cruel. They ignore the laws and have no regard for the preservation of life. They assemble in the halls of their ancestors, seize swords and spears and go out to fight and kill people. Then they pay money to the next-of-kin or, if refused, engage a man to impersonate the murderer and give away his paternal property to his wife and children. A feeling of devotion takes away all fear of death from these people. They stand erect and proclaim their guilt and appear quite superior until it is time to forfeit their lives when they seek to retract their confessions.

“Since commencing my job I have examined into many cases. In every one the prisoner enjoys a morning’s anger and is then brought to the torture from which there can be no pardon. This is remissness in exhortation and leadership of the heads of clans. It is better to command and interdict before the offence than to admonish and punish afterwards.

“I now instruct every inferior officer to publish an edict to the villages under his control – ‘pursue your livelihoods quietly and keep the law’. Heads of clans and of families must instruct the young to respect life and family. Trivial quarrels must be examined and clearly exposed. The strong and presumptuous may not oppress the weak.

“In these ways clan fighting can be brought to an end. If there are again clans fighting with weapons or causing murder, I will assuredly take the fathers and elder brothers of the involved clans and punish them heavily. All inferior officers are to report back on the actions they take and the punishments they propose so I may consider its appropriateness. Dread and respect this. Do not oppose.”

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Local edict – A wife is a husband’s equal. His concubine is permitted to stay with him only occasionally. They are clearly distinguished at law. To depress the honourable (wife) and exalt the base (concubine) is an offence against social order and will be punished severely.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

There is a type of Cantonese person that never stops gambling. They meet in flower boats or houses. Occasionally they are people of family or literary rank and of some property. They form partnerships and inveigle the sons of rich men to play. To inspire confidence they wear large gold bangles on their wrists. There are several notable gamblers in the vicinity of the factories of whom:

  • Cheung Heem is a 50 years old literary doctor.
  • Fei Ching Po is a fat 70 years old woman in robust health who is a good pugilist. She has a group of pugilists around her who act as her bullies. Many years ago a tea merchant saved her from prostitution and left her some money when he died. This was the capital she used to start her gambling house. She is helped by policemen and other swindlers whom she pays liberally. She lives on Honam Island and has a fortune of over $100,000. She is a friend of a Hong merchant’s wife (Poon Ki Qua’s) who has consented to be the adopted mother (Kai Ma) of Fei’s ‘adopted’ son.
  • Hung Kwai Sze is both a smuggler and a gambler.
  • Fei Chuk is shamelessly involved in gambling and kindred vices.

The Law of China is that anyone gambling for money or goods shall get 80 blows and the property in the gambling house will be seized and confiscated. Those who keep gambling houses get the same punishment.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

One of the ancient Imperial palaces at the Manchu capital of Mukden is dilapidated. The Imperial astrologers have been requested for an auspicious date to start repairs.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Nan mo sat no nan, San maon, san po to ke te nan” is a charm which superstitious people recite to Buddha’s mother.

If you repeat it 100,000 up to 700,000 times you will experience no calamity, sickness or vexation and know only harmony and peace. You will see the Buddha in your dreams and all the bad effects of your crimes will be annihilated.

If you repeat it 800,000 times all the bad karma in all your previous lives will be remitted and you will be assured of only human births for the remainder of your existence.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

When one asks a Chinese trader for the reason for a festival or social proceeding he invariably replies ‘hab custom’. Many old legal systems are based on custom but not the Chinese. Religion is customary but government admits no unwritten law and whatever custom there may be is the custom of the Emperor who is the source of all Law.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

In the west we swear oaths to assure ourselves that the speaker speaks the truth. Western civil servants say it is impossible to govern without oaths. But in monetary disputes ninety nine oaths out of one hundred are perjuries.

Even if only one in a hundred lied, or if none lied, still we deny the right of any inferior authority to make so many frivolous appeals to the supreme authority. China is governed without oaths. No Chinese court administers an oath. It seems possible to govern without oaths.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Popular Chinese proverbs:

  • He who is not mentally quick-eared and sharp-sighted is unfit to advise a King; He who cannot be both blind and deaf when necessary is unfit for public office.
  • If you would farm, seek a robust male slave; If you would weave silk, seek a strong female slave. This is domestic economy.
  • In national affairs when about to declare war, no King should consult a white-faced bookworm (a remonstrance presented to the founder of the Sung dynasty in 960AD and much approved since)

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The word sheung that is used to denote Highness i.e. the Emperor, is also the same word we use commercially to denote ‘first chop’ (highest quality)

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

In China it remains standard practice to take the severed head of a criminal to the place of his crime and there expose it in a little cage as a warning to others. The cage is made of wooden bars and is just large enough to contain a head.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

On 5th April a meeting of foreigners occurred in Macau and a variety of regulations concerning the new road through the Campo were agreed. A trustee and two managers were elected for the year. Afterwards a subscription was held and an ample sum raised for this undertaking, provided the Chinese authorities (who were apparently unrepresented) do not obstruct the works.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The ship Rotterdam was sold at auction for $4,900 on 9th April; the Japanese copper cargo at $25 per picul. The purchaser of copper had to pay Macau duty of 4% plus auction fees, totally about 7% on top of the bill.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Fighting has again broken out at Kashgar. Na Yen Ching, who was sent to the war to command Chinese forces has identified to the Emperor thirty officers who were killed by the rebels. Several were from the yellow banner army. His Majesty has ordered usual honours and the families will be compensated. We have the names but fear they will be unknown to our readers.

Unconfirmed reports say that Chang Ki Hur (Jahangir Khoja) is a prisoner and his army annihilated and dispersed.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Seven Canton policemen who were convicted of making false accusations to shake-down innocent citizens have been freed by the Governor and sent off to catch thieves. Success alone will atone for their crimes.

That merit atones for crime is a fundamental doctrine of Chinese administration – many people get an opportunity to redeem themselves.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The Brig Letitia, 92 tons, for sale by auction on 20th May. Apply B Barretto at Macau or M/s Magniac and Co at Canton, either of whom will provide papers permitting inspection.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The principle that guides commerce is liberality. We have sought to extinguish monopoly. There might occasionally be a need for secrecy to protect some process or mechanical ingenuity but, as a guiding principle, mystery is not beneficial to trade. The principle desired is liberality, openness of dealing.

This is why we publish exact and ample details of the opium trade. If the Indian crop or the rate of Chinese consumption doubles, we will report it – and the naturalist and the merchant will be equally interested.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

We recently reported a new regulation restricting the foreign trade to the Hongs by excluding the outside men. It has not been put into operation and business continues as hitherto.

The reversion is due to the new regulation being found impracticable. The Hong merchants were unable to support such an extensive monopoly as the officials were endeavouring to bestow upon them.

The government’s difficulty is that it is not adequately informed of the minutiae of foreign trade. Throwing out such a numerous class of men as the shopmen from the commercial system would cause unrest and demonstrations, much of it directed against English traders who had little to do with drafting the new proposals. We can now assure our distant readers that the outside men are still in business.2

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

A rise is expected in the local price of mercury but this will be depressed by any substantial importation.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Macau news – A petition of the villagers of Mong Ha (Wang Hea) has been presented at Canton (prepared by the priests at the Mong Ha temple):

“Charm Kan Ling and Ling Kwong Chan, bailiffs, with Mou Cheng and altogether nine residents of Mong Ha village, 120 li from Canton, petition against road repair.

“The area of the barbarians’ land at Macau is fixed by regulation – on the east the kennel gate, on the west the St Paul’s gate (sam pa). Beyond these limits is Chinese land.

“In 1802 / 1803 (7th year of the Ka Hing Emperor) barbarians employed labourers to make a road for rambling and riding horses from Kennel Gate to Bottle Dog Winding Hill. The road passed through our burial sites which were damaged and we immediately put a stop to it. For 12 years we have had peace.

“Then the barbarians requested the road again and the Tso Tong refused them.

“In 17th year of Ka Hing, labourers were bribed to push down the ‘coming-dragon’ rock at the red tea-garden hill in order to make a horse road. Then another Tso Tong, Chow, found the road would be detrimental to fung shui and ordered a stone tablet prohibiting road building to be erected there. Anyone digging or scraping in that vicinity was to be prosecuted.

“In 4th year of the To Kwong Emperor, the Tso Tong and Kwan Man Foo were both petitioned to prevent road building outside the kennel gate and they did so.

“All this history is on the record. We thank the government for preserving the dead and the living.

“But now barbarian wickedness has again arisen. At the beginning of the 1st moon this year armed barbarians, each leading a score of black slaves, came to the narrow path for cowherds and woodcutters near red tea-garden hill and removed a rock to widen the path for a horse road thus injuring the dragon. Old graves were scooped away. We all have ancestors and we cannot see them treated like this.

“We sent runners to petition the magistrate and the late Tso Tong Cham suppressed the work. But when Cham was transferred to Canton the barbarians again brought labourers to make the road straight from Kennel Gate to Dragon Fields and to increase its width along the side of the hill, regardless of our graves, to make it suitable for a horse road. Several scores of people found it prudent to remove the bones of their ancestors before the barbarians progressed to their graves and desecrated them. The path is level and has existed for several centuries. These barbarians say they are repairing the road for the benefit of pedestrians. This is a pretext. Actually they want to make a horse road.

“In Macau, the Portuguese require a licence from local officials to build or rebuild their houses and if the structure is being rebuilt, it must be exactly like the one it replaces. The horse road now under construction must be a violation of the Chinese law as no permission was requested.

“The Portuguese employ scores of black slaves on the work, they have levelled some hills, removed graves, rolled away rocks and fundamentally changed the fung shui with the unfeeling barbarity of wolves and tigers. They will not cease. They will continue to gouge the dragon’s body and the tranquillity and happiness of the hundreds of families in Mong Ha will be lost. We rely on the magistrate who loves us like his own children. We beg him that our complaint will be sent to all the great authorities and that a prohibition on the roadworks be issued. Then the living and the dead will be eternally grateful.”

Editor – the authors of this petition (the Mong Ha residents) are friends and neighbours of a late Hong merchant, whose sons are again rising, and of a Linguist. Their inherited money is entirely derived from foreign trade. Their unity contains a lesson for us. When will the barbarians unite to make tolerable roads over the peninsula? The Heung Shan magistrate approved the road; now the Kwan Man Foo proscribes it.

The Kwan Man Foo’s reply:

“I have previously instructed the barbarian eye (Portuguese Procurador of Macau) to stop work. He objected by petition and I dismissed his objection, telling him to terminate the matter without disturbance and keep all interested people content. I now again order the barbarian eye to stop the work of the black slaves. They may not disturb the graves and tumuli. If he disobeys he will be prosecuted with all the severity of the law. I assume he will not accept this heavy load of guilt. He will report to me his willingness to obey.”

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Canton trade is done partly in chopped dollars, weighed by the tael. The Company equates 1,000 Spanish dollars with 718 Taels but all the commercial houses and Hong merchants use 717 Taels and dealings with outside men (operating shops in the streets crossing the factories) are done at 715 Taels. Patna and Benares opium is always exchanged at 718 Taels. This is the only pre-eminence it enjoys over the Bombay supply.

Western firms keep their accounts in Spanish dollars and cents and settle bills with their comprador at an exchange of 717 Taels. This gives the comprador a slight benefit on every transaction and is one of his reliable emoluments.

For small transactions we use different rates. Trade in small quantities is exchanged at 72 Taels per $100. Boat expenses are billed at 74 Taels per $100. Ship compradors used to exchange at 75 Taels per $100 but latterly that has been reduced to 72 Taels and bulk dollars are converted at 715 Taels per $1,000.

There is a great variety of dollars in use but only the Spanish or Mexican or Grenadan dollars are received by number. The old and new heads (Charles III, Charles IV and Ferdinand VII) are preferred. Others are accepted at a slight discount (they are known as Gau Cheen, old money). They are all used as currency throughout China. All others dollars (the Republican dollars of the newly independent South American states) are sold at a premium or discount depending on demand. They are exported as a means of remitting profits to India when Bills of Exchange are unavailable. Some of these Republican dollars have reduced silver content.

There is another demand when the Chinese exporters return to Nanking or Chuan Chow and the tea districts at the end of the trading season. Then silver dollars are often at a premium of 3-5%.

In China only the copper cash is coined and the exchange rate has long been 1,000 cash to 1 tael silver. Cash is made of copper and tutenague. Even these small value coins are often counterfeited or adulterated. Petty Shroffs (money changers) are found in many streets exchanging single dollars or pieces of dollars into convenient cash (the money of the market place) for a commission. A Shroff from the shop will examine the silver before acceptance. His examination costs 1 tael or $2 per $10,000 accepted and he assumes responsibility for his assay.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Peking, 9th March 1828. An express has been received from Chang Ling at Kashgar reporting the capture alive of Chang Ki Hur (Jahangir).

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Rev David Collie, Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca, has made a new translation of the Book of Confucius.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

New Patna is selling at $1,030 and old Patna has fallen to $975-980. Benares is $10 less nominally but no new Benares has yet been sold. Malwa remains at $1,250 and Turkey is $730 per picul

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Canton trade report – Trade has never been so quiet. It seems due to the rebellion in Turkestan and the scarcity of money. The time to pay government duty is approaching and may interfere with commerce.

The first harvest of Canton silk will commence in mid May but the recent heavy rains could reduce supply.

The foreign trade of the outside men is still at issue.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Khee Qua, the celebrated outside man specialising in lacquerware, died suddenly on 18th April.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Kwan Fu Ji or Kwan Kung has been adopted as the patron divinity of the Ching dynasty. He lived in the 2nd century of the Christian era when China was divided. He followed Lau Pei, the Han King, and became a General. Other Kings sought his services to no avail. He was physically small but brave and daring. His first violence was a murder for patriotic reasons. He was captured by a rival General and beheaded with his son. A celebrated event in his life was after being hit in the arm by an arrow. The wound healed but the arm was acutely painful in damp weather. Hwa To the famous surgeon said poison had entered the bone and, to end the pain, the bone must be scraped. Kwan agreed and stretched out his arm. He drank wine, talked and laughed while the operation continued. There is a famous moral essay dedicated to him that exhorts men to fidelity, temperance and righteousness.3

After the recent capture of Chang Ki Hur the Emperor has proclaimed “Since our dynasty commenced, Kwan Tei (Kwan Kung) has rendered divine aid. Chang Ling reported when the rebels advanced to Aksu, a sudden wind raised dust like a red flame that blew against the rebels blinding them and permitting many prisoners to be taken. On another occasion at the Hwan River, the rebels caused minor incidents around the Chinese camp for the whole night. Our troops were prepared for the charge when a great wind blew against the rebels confusing them and allowing many rebels to be captured whose ears we cut off. At debriefing the captured rebels said they had detected large horses and giant men in the wind with whom they had no hope to contend and hence they had fled. These benefits arise from relying on the spiritual majesty of Kwan Tei.

We have thus been able to capture the rebel Chang alive and pacify our frontier. We now increase our devotion to Kwan Fu Ji hoping to obtain his protection and tranquillity for our people for ever. I order the Board of Rites to prepare a few words to add to the title of Kwan Fu Ji to express our gratitude”.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

In fighting the rebellion of Chang Ki Hur, the Chinese General Yang Yu Chun collected 3,000 convicts who had been sentenced to unpaid service in the army. About half of them were Cantonese. Yang said to them “If you want to be an official; if you want to return home, you will volunteer to help me. I will let you stand in the front rank of the army when we attack. You will receive a monthly allowance like regular troops. If you fight well you will share in the spoils with the regular troops as well.”

Then 2,000 men agreed, which number included all the Cantonese (this item was reported by a Cantonese soldier who was reprieved as a result of the victory). They were given swords and shields and placed in the front rank where they fought well.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

It should be known that the officials in Turkestan are unprincipled officers sent there as punishment for offences previously committed in China proper. Now Chang Ki Hur has been captured and the war is over, the Cantonese convicts are returning home. There are a 1,000 of them in Canton already. It is a fair inference that bad government contributed to the rebellion and this is what the Cantonese returnees say.

Chang Ki Hur is said to be rich, liberal and kind. The Muslims consider him a holy man. But the Chinese in Turkestan insulted the Muslims in much the same way that the Cantonese insult the Tanka boat people and the insults and oppression go on and on. The Muslims became resentful and in the last ten years they allowed their wrath to overflow.

The final insult was when land cultivated by Muslims was seized by Chinese and the authorities gave no redress. The Muslim inhabitants then approached Chang to intercede for them. The Chinese officials told him it was none of his business and gave him 40 blows. Then some revolutionary Muslims seeing him abused by the Chinese thought he would side with them and excited the crowds to declare their allegiance to Chang. Thus was leadership thrust upon him. Now he awaits a terrible fate.

There are other versions to this report.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Sales of opium have not kept pace with deliveries. Many chests recently cleared were in fact former purchases that had been deposited on loan as security for advances and only just now cleared for sale and consumption.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Editorial – Foreigners have presented two petitions at the city gate this week. Firstly the Americans petitioned for continuation of their trade with the outside men. Secondly a group of creditors of the failed Man Hop Hong have asked for compensation. These petitions were handed in at the gate because prior petitions through the Co Hong had been refused.

The foreigners’ claims on Man Hop are simple although large. They must be properly dealt with in view of the expected free-trade that we hope to establish with China. Then our connections will become more varied and many conflicts are possible. We ‘old hands’ in the China trade look forward with interest to that moment.

In this age of almost universal civilisation it is regrettable that our style of commerce should be excluded from China. Her coast abounds with good harbours able to receive every class of ship. Her rivers and canals intersect in every direction permitting easy internal transit of goods. The country seems designed by nature for commerce. Statistically there is a growing Chinese taste for European manufactures and the main handicap to further growth is the heavy duties at so many places due to foreign trade being confined to Canton at the southern extremity and having to pass too many Customs houses on its way to market. It is the same with many overpriced Chinese exports.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The new Provincial Judge Yau is very popular with the citizens and dreaded by the magistrates. The Governor sent two magistrates to meet him on the road and welcome him but he scolded both for neglecting their duty to the Emperor. He has brought with him only three trunks of possessions and five servants.

On arrival he attended the temple. He then attended his court where crowds of petitioners were waiting. He directed several to more appropriate venues and then dealt with his own cases. He is expected to actively redress grievances.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

The new Provincial Judge Yau opposes both the removal of the rubbish tip in front of the factories and that area’s enclosure for barbarian use. Governor Lee had been inclined to yield the point but the Judge has vetoed it.4

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Trade report – The US ship How Qua travelling from England via Gibraltar (departed November) back to the East has not been seen or spoken to.

The Dutch ship Wilhelmina has brought 3,000 piculs of sandalwood from Hawaii for local sale.

Vol 1 No 15 – Saturday 12th April 1828

Letters to the Editor may be deposited and extra copies of the newspaper received at the Europe Bazaar in the Canton factories.

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

An Edict written in H M’s own vermilion handwriting dated 11th March:

“The rebellion in Kashgar commenced in 6th year of my reign. Since then Minister Chown Chin Yung (one of the privy council of six – three Chinese, three Manchus) has daily helped me in preparing appropriate orders and no failure has occurred. Last year the four cities were recovered but the rebel leader was not caught and I dispensed few favours. Now he has been taken alive and complete victory is ours. The military officers are to be additionally rewarded.

  1. Chown is made an Imperial tutor and may constantly use the purple bridle.
  2. Wan Foo, President of the Board of Official Relations throughout the Empire, is made a Guardian of the Heir Apparent. He may use the purple bridle.
  3. Wang Ting, President of the Board of Revenue, is granted a peacock’s feather.
  4. Yu Lin, President of the Military Board is made Guardian of the Prince.
  5. Muchanga is allowed into the fraternity of great military officers.

The remaining members of the Council of War will be identified to me in two lists (Manchu and Chinese) for my decision.”

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

Another Imperial edict – “Chang Ling has reported the capture of Chang Ki Hur and raised the red flag of victory. It took 11 months from the recapture of the four cities to the capture of Chang. The Muslim territories are now subjugated and peace is expected. Rejoice and exult.

The officers of court will receive special favours.

  1. Prime Minister To Tsin has his purple bridle restored.
  2. The governor of Kiangnan Cheung Yu Tik (who was in the War Council at commencement) is made a Guardian of the Heir Apparent and a junior member of the Privy Council.5
  3. 18 months ago Ying Ho was degraded for recommending the opening and working of the silver mines and sent to Jehol. He is now restored.
  4. Old Sung Chung Tang can command Jehol.”

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

When an offence does not merit death it is commonplace to sentence criminals to transportation to Western Tartary (Ili) where they are given to the frontier garrison (mainly Eleuths) as slaves. The numbers of transportations have been so great that each soldier now has 10-12 slaves attending him. He is often oppressive and they often rebel. Slaves have occasionally murdered the entire household they are enslaved to.

Criminals in the north, many of them delicate females, are sent to the south and given to the Manchu soldiers garrisoning the towns. The wife, daughters and other female relatives of Chang Ki Hur’s uncle were recently sent south as slaves to the Manchu soldiers. The uncle and other captives have been sentenced to everlasting individual solitary confinement.

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

The Emperor commands – ‘My uncle (father’s older brother) Ek Tsin is 83 years old and remains strong which is a good sign for our family. He is allowed to visit Us in a chair carried by two bearers. It is not suitable that he be required to await Us along with the rest of the Imperial household very early in the mornings when it is cold. Instead on arrival he will at once be carried to the interior of the palace. In addition to his annual allowance as a King he is to receive 5,000 Taels to evidence Our regard and respect.’

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

The nature of the silkworm and the means of its culture until it delivers its treasure is well understood. This article deals with the seasons when harvests are made in China.

In Kwangtung the worm is cultivated within 25 miles of the provincial city. There are seven monthly crops from 4th to 10th moon. The quality is poor. The strength and size of the fibre and its colour are not good. The character of any one crop does not permit any inferences as to the character of succeeding crops – there are no connections. Only continual rain or long damp periods are known to injure the worm and adversely effect its silk.

The Kwangtung crop averages 300 – 400 piculs each month and after internal demand is satisfied the residue is brought to Canton and mostly shipped by Parsees to Bombay or the Straits. Little goes to Europe. The Canton mulberry is a small shrub quite different from the mulberry trees of Nanking. The northern tree is like the mulberry trees we have in Europe.

In Nanking they only get two harvests in 6th to 8th moons. The first harvest is always bigger and better than the second. The quality varies according to weather and also the skill of collection and preparation for market. In a good year 5,000 – 6,000 piculs are collected but there is often great fluctuations. It is graded in two classes Tsat Lee and Tai Saam. Tsat Lee is most expensive and popular in China while Tai Saam has become the silk of choice in Europe. The demand and limited area of supply keeps Nanking silk at a premium. It can seldom be had at Canton under 320 – 330 Taels a picul.

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

On 6th May 1828 the Hong merchant Man Hop was officially declared bankrupt and his Hong locked up.

Vol 1 No 19 Saturday 10th May 1828

H H Lindsay left Macau for Manila on 3rd May in the Spanish ship Union

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

Viceroy Lee has answered the American petition for business with the outside men:

Lee, Viceroy of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, tells the Americans – Talapa (Delano), Tun (Dunn), Lo Sze (Low), Lataman (Latimer?), Ah Lei Fun (Olyphant), Lui Kei Hoo and Ying Pe Le (the transliterated names of the American petitioners) – as follows:

“All foreigners coming to Canton to trade must deal with the government merchants. The shop-keepers are only permitted to sell the eight coarse articles. Any other trade with foreigners merits punishment for treason as only traitors have secret business with foreigners. In the 45th year of the Kien Lung Emperor and the 23rd year of the Ka Hing Emperor, the Kwangtung provincial treasurer consulted on this subject and reported to his superior provincial authorities.

“I, the Viceroy, have also previously discussed this with the Hoppo and issued a proclamation on the subject. The regulations have been in existence for decades and ought to be well known.

“A short while ago the barbarians repeatedly presented dunning petitions requesting all sorts of illegal things. This shows their rashness. For pity I did not chastise them but ordered the Hong Merchants to explain to them and manage them. I told the Hong merchants to remind the barbarians of the regulations for trade.

“Now yet again they petition. This time they say they did not know of the trading restriction of outside men to the eight coarse goods. They again ask to be allowed to buy tea, silk, cloth, sugar and chinaware from the shopmen whom, they say, will report the whole to the Customs House (for collection of revenue). This is wilful disobedience to the laws of this country. Their perversity is sublime.

“Clearly the shopmen must be concerting with the barbarians in the hope of benefit and are encouraging them to present these whining and dunning petitions. This is contempt for the law. The shopmen must be found and seized. The barbarians are reprimanded and ordered to obey the regulations. All trade in staples must be conducted through official Merchants. Shopmen sell only daily necessaries to foreigners. It is not allowed for them to clandestinely trade with foreigners. This is a serious offence.

“If the shopmen excite the barbarians into petitioning or trade with them then, the moment they are discovered, they will be punished with severity. The Hong merchants will investigate and identify the offending shopmen so they may be seized and prosecuted. Enacted 22nd day of 3rd moon.”

(This petition has been placarded all over town and stuck up on walls near the factories)

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

Bankers in China seem similar to European bankers. We call their establishments Shroff-shops. There are 60 –70 in Canton mostly in the suburbs. Some deal only in sycee silver and bullion. The owners are very rich. Others exchange dollars and do money transactions only. The Hong merchants employ these Shroffs to manufacture sycee when they need to remit duty to the Hoppo. These are of a known purity called Hoppo sycee. Every ingot is stamped with the Shroff’s name, the Shroff’s company name, the Hong Merchant’s chop and the date of melting.

Hong merchants are often in partnership with these Shroff shops. The manufacture of bullion and the maintenance of its purity is so sacred a duty that adulteration is never found. If it occurred, the parties stamping the ingot would be severely punished.

The Chinese have a similar approach to ascertaining purity of silver as ours but their procedure is simpler. When checking the calculation, great caution must be exercised for some assays are wrong.

Gold over 95 – 96% pure can be adequately assayed on a touch stone6 but as its gold content reduces so does the reliability of a touch stone assay. Under 95% the sample actually needs ‘roasting’, the same as silver. For total precision it must be taken to a mint and analysed by a ‘touch’ master.

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

The triennial examination of Great Officers7 approaches. A list of names has been presented to the Emperor who asserts he will not indulge the sick or idiotic. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is 80 years old but has passed. Indeed the Emperor has only dismissed one official, aged between 70 – 80 years, who was always sickly and even he was allowed to retain his rank.

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

The Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca, which has been liberally subvented by foreign traders in China, has again lost its Principal. The late Dr Milne was in office only briefly before his early death. The previous Principal, the Rev David Collie, left the college on 1st March last for a sea voyage to a cold climate but died the following day and was buried at sea. He was less than 40 years old when a disease of the liver ended his life. He was a product of King’s College, Aberdeen from whence both he and Milne came. The institution is now run by Rev S Kidd who has studied Chinese for 3 years. He will be joined by Rev I Smith who is also a Chinese scholar.

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

The failure of Man Hop was not solely due to his need to remit duty to the Emperor as a Penang newspaper has suggested. He had other onerous debts as well. The system for collection of revenue paid by the foreign trade to individual Hong merchants requires the Hongs to remit export duty to the Hoppo every week but import duty only once a year.

A period of grace is allowed but early settlement is always pressed for and usually achieved although several Hong merchants have difficulty. When the merchant is insolvent, security for the government claim is taken from his assets first, leaving the other creditors (usually the foreign community) to share out the remainder.

This way of remitting duty is unsatisfactory. It should be done instantly it is collected. To allow a merchant to collect government duty and not pay it over instantly is a mode of administration that is fraught with danger. Paying one’s way day by day is never a problem but paying at year-end, when the money amounts to a huge sum, is a burden. Its only advantage is that it is administratively cheap to collect.

Man Hop may have had loans from various individuals on interest as is customary but he was never a banker as the Penang paper says. Money is widely lent here at 1% per month or 12% per annum and Man Hop may have received several loans on this basis.

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

The damp weather this spring has been unusually protracted and many mud houses in Canton have collapsed.

A few days ago a fire started at Fatshan and burned 60 houses. Although it occurred at daytime still 10 people died. This was because one of the burning structures was a pawnshop, which a crowd of plunderers then broke into and, on not leaving, were locked in.

Vol 1 No 20 – Saturday 17th May 1828

In connection with the new road north of Macau, Chinese officials say that Portuguese jurisdiction, such as it is, involves only the area within the city walls. The Macau government contrarily asserts a right by a grant in the Ming dynasty to the entire peninsula south of the Porta Circa (the barrier wall). We hope the present Procurador can evidence the Portuguese claim.

Chu Pau, the village squire of Mong Ha, took a collection from the residents to fund a prosecution of the barbarians. They all met at the new Joss House where Chu produced such a fiery petition that the Governor of Canton felt it appropriate to send a dozen officers to inspect the road. They were satisfied, became vexed with the Squire and bound him over to end his complaints.

Now the villagers want him to refund their money.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

Some readers say we should have published the American petition for trade with the outside men. We approached several Americans but none would provide a copy. We published Governor’s Lee’s reply only to keep our readers informed of the regulations governing trade at this port.8

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

In the ordinary speech of two Cantonese people or between parents and their children, it is normal to describe non-Chinese in contemptuous terms – foreign devil, red haired devil, white head devil, black devil, flowery-flag devil. Even the Spanish dollar is called ‘devil-face money’ and foreign language is all promiscuously called ‘devil talk’.

The Hong merchants, the Hoppo and his staff, the magistrates – all officials use this language in speech and infrequently in writing to the parties concerned. From the Book of Odes it appears than in ancient times foreign countries were called ‘devil lands’. In using the term ‘kwai’ (devil) the Chinese seek to establish that non-Chinese are not of the same species as themselves. If they called us ‘men’ as we call them men (i.e. Chinamen) it would be tolerable.

All countries have disrespectful names for foreigners and the Chinese are not unusual in this respect but only the Chinese use insulting terms in their official correspondence. Barbarian (Yee) is the Chinese description of all non-Chinese people in the world. It is used even when the national name is known. For example Americans are Fah Kay Yee (flowery-flag barbarians). The ancient Chinese classic indicates the yee nations are in Hell. There are four names for non-Chinese barbarians. Those in the east are Yee; in the west Jung; in the North Tei and in the South Maan. None means foreigner.

The etymology is as follows. The character for Yee is a large bow, Jung is a man with a spear, Tei is a dog and fire, and Maan is a chattering insect but has evolved to also mean rude, cruel or savage. This has become the common expression for foreigner – maan yee – savage barbarian. Manchu were previously one of the Tei people, but since the Ching conquest the word has unsurprisingly dropped out of use. Confucius speaks of expelling bad men from the middle (Chung Kwok) to the outside (four Yee) i.e. one infers the lands beyond the frontiers of China contain the dregs of humanity. This is pernicious because such language perpetuates a reciprocal contempt in weak minds.

The Greeks and the Romans identified non-Greeks and non-Romans as barbarians and consequently asserted a right of dominion over them such as men have over animals. Aristotle advised Alexander to treat the Greeks as subjects and the barbarians as slaves. In recent times the Christians of Europe have treated Africans and Indians as inferior species. We should discontinue the use of contemptuous appellations.

The probably etymology of the Greek word barbaroi is from the Phoenician traders who frequently use the word bar, meaning ‘son’ or ‘son of’, in their names. Bar Jonas and Bar Timeus are well known biblical examples. Hence the Greeks called them bar bar people. Clearly it was not respectful but neither was it particularly reproachful. Barbarian came to mean a man who spoke unintelligibly to others. But it is usage not etymology that fixes the meanings of words and barbarian has come to mean uncivilised, a savage.

(NB – Some Chinese palaeo-anthropologists aver oriental physical differences can best be understood as the effects of a different evolutionary route from Europeans. They speculate Orientals evolved in Asia from an earlier migration of H Erectus out of Africa.)

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

China trade news:

  • Prussian blue dye is no longer imported by China as a consequence of a Chinese going to London not long ago and learning the method of its manufacture.
  • Betelnut was previously thought to be used for dyeing but is now known to be chewed only.
  • Cotton is grown around Nanking and harvested in 8th and 9th moons. A good crop is 100,000 bales or 200,000 piculs. The quality is fine and approximates the best Manila staple. It is used mainly in the north except when a surplus is available when it comes south as well and materially affects the Canton price of imported cotton.
  • Nankeens are made of brown or yellow cottons from Soochow district. The annual cotton requirement is so much greater than domestic production can meet, that an open economy should welcome the import of British manufactured cottons
  • Sandalwood – a small portion is reserved for making cabinets and fans. The remainder is used entirely for incense. In the north large logs of sandalwood are used as offerings at the altar.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

A desiderata for the Canton factories is the establishment of a post office for the carriage of letters to / from Macau.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

Letter to the Editor – The Chinese are famed for their industry and perseverance. We have long thought that the house occupied by the tide waiters (the small dilapidated Customs House by the Creek Factory) had been permanently abandoned but preparations are in hand for its reconstruction. We don’t know if the new structure is authorised but suspect that a little ‘exertion’ on our part will get it removed. Sgd Yee

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

The name of the new Judge Yau is derived from one of the most illustrious emperors of China. He has dismissed his uncultivated brother to return home and farm the family lands.

Yau goes out at night in disguise. He has been seen sitting near the gate of the Viceroy’s house listening to the prattle of the attendants. He has prohibited police runners from affixing their magistrate’s name to their lanterns. He has reduced attorney’s drafting fees for petitions to 1 mace 2 candareens per sheet. He has liberated some 300 prisoners who had been chained to stone blocks or upright iron bars with one end of the chain attached to the ankle and the other to the neck. Their offences were minor – shoplifting and the like – and the record contained insufficient evidence to transport or execute them.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

In Shantung a diligent judge has decided 300 cases in the last year and the Emperor has consequently promoted him.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

Ah Sheung, a coolie employed by a foreigner at Canton, became unwell and promised to pay a boatman $2 to take him to friends in Macau for treatment. The boatman put him in the hold and covered his body with deck planks (i.e. he had not bought a permit to take the man). In the hot weather the close confinement suffocated Ah Sheung, whose death was discovered before arrival the following morning.

Vol 1 No 21 – Saturday 24th May 1828

Shantung experienced drought and hail storms last year. As a result the Emperor has exempted several districts from the land tax for this year.

The troops from Kirin who are returning from the war in Western Tartary have enslaved many children along their line of march. The Emperor is displeased.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

In Canton province there are some 400 temples but four of them are pre-eminent – the sea screen temple, glorious filial duty temple, the flowery forest temple and the long life temple. These four are the main residences of monks and nuns. When parents decide to make a child into a priest they bring him to a senior religious man called a great teacher to see if the child is suitable. If the person seeking entry to the temple is an adult he will present himself to a Tai Sze (Abbot). Persons without family and those with criminal records are often applicants for monk-hood. Generally the temple will make the person wait several months to see if he is genuine before accepting him. Boys and girls, men and women, are all accepted.

When some 20 applicants have been approved the temple waits for an auspicious day when all the great teachers in the monastery will assemble and the applicants have their heads shaven and receive the rules of their order. The day and night before the ceremony is spent in worship. Rhythmic incantations are recited and homage paid to Buddha. After admission the novices are required to learn the prayers and recite them day and night. When they travel to another monastery they receive a badge from their Abbot. They must observe the rules of the temple they visit. Three of the temples (not the sea screen temple) accept female disciples but after induction they depart to reside in separate nunneries.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

There are three types of nun in China – the Buddhist and Taoist nuns and a type called Chai Kwu who are elderly spinsters or widows who live together, dress simply and eat vegetables. Any woman with bound feet on entering a Buddhist nunnery will unbind them but the Taoist nuns do not do so. They also bind up the hair and wear a loose fitting gown. Most live in idleness but a few sew.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Many traders come to Canton from Shensi and Shansi provinces in the North west. They bring furs, herbs and money. The money is not for trade but for lending. There are many capitalists in these two provinces. Their wealth is rumoured to derive from treasure buried by rebels who sought to subvert the Ming dynasty. These buried treasures are occasionally excavated in farmland.

They use the money to finance trade. If the trader proposes to go to Canton or some other distant mart he will ask the head of his clan to go security for him. The capitalist may take custody of the borrower’s wife as counter security. The loan is for a year. If the borrower does not return payment of principal and interest, his wife is enslaved. If he returns some money the situation is negotiable. Often the borrower finds his Canton trade partners themselves need to borrow or be provided with delayed payment terms. In any event, he must get word of his situation back to the capitalist before the year ends.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Peking Gazettes – A report has been made to the Emperor that the walls, roads and bridges in the Imperial city within Peking are dilapidated and require repair. The Board of Works is ordered to survey and report.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Peking Gazettes – An old offender Lee Cheah says “I am from Yuen Ping. I am 40 years old. In the 19th year of Ka Hing (1815) I was convicted of theft, branded and banished to Tibet. I escaped but was caught and banished to Kansu. I again escaped and was again caught and sent to Soochow. In the last year of the Ka Hing Emperor (1825) I again escaped and returned to Peking where I stole money and goods. I was caught and transported to Canton. In the 3rd year of To Kwong 1828 I escaped, returned to Peking and committed eight thefts.

“Then I was caught and sent to Kashgar to fight in the army. I was rewarded with a certificate of the 7th military rank and sent home. The magistrate gave me an official document and I was allowed to live where I chose. Because I was poor I stole again – on the night of 26th March I stole money from a hat maker’s shop. Then I climbed into the neighbour’s house and stole some things but was caught by police.”

An official has told the Emperor that this man is incorrigible. He will never cease stealing and cannot be rehabilitated. He has asked for his execution.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

An old unsolved case of murder in Canton in December 1827 has been reported. The Emperor authorises all the officers to buy information. This use of informants extends beyond the criminal law. The servants provided to foreigners in Canton by the Hong merchants are obliged to report both to the Hong merchant and to the police. They give information to whoever pays for it.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

At the Imperial annual judgment last autumn the Emperor said that condemned persons who have been reprieved thrice should serve some lesser sentence in order that His mercy may become known. He said there were then 10,990 prisoners in China awaiting execution. The supreme criminal court was ordered to examine into each case to see which sentences might be mitigated.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

The royal family and the high officers have suggested the Emperor assume an additional title to reflect His great victory in Turkestan. He notes there is precedent to do so but declines. He says the war was inevitable. He had no choice but to prosecute it. He relied on Heaven and his deceased ancestors to bring a quick end to the war. His ancestors were redoubtable warriors but both Hong Hei and Kien Lung had declined the honour that is now proposed for him. The emperor will instead worship the Gods of the Land and of the Grain, who are the protecting Gods of his dynasty, and will use especially humble and devout language. He has conferred new honours on those who sought to honour him.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

At Lunar New Year the Emperor bestowed the character for ‘happiness’ on the royal family members and great officers of state. On the elderly he bestowed the word ‘longevity’. We suppose the words were written in the Emperor’s own hand in vermilion on silk.

Such are the rewards that an ambitious Chinese official thirsts for – a purple bridle, a peacock’s feather or a bit of silk with writing on it.9

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

The Emperor has reviewed the war just ended in Turkestan and concluded that the majesty of China has been illustrated and foreign barbarians compelled to submit in fear. He is devoutly grateful and will sacrifice to Heaven, to His ancestors and to His dead mother to whose Imperial title another honourable word has been added. She is known in Peking as the ‘Holy Mother’, the name of a goddess in China. He feels he should go personally to the ancestral graves but fears the Imperial retinue, when added to the importunities of the returning army, might inconvenience people along the route. He has accordingly deputed some of the royal family to go in midsummer. Then in autumn he will himself visit his mother’s grave.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

The Governor of Peking, who was sent to Turkestan just before the news of Chang Ki Hur’s capture, has made recommendations for reform of the government of the Muslim states and the Privy Council has partly adopted them.

Firstly, The northern towns of Hami, Turfan and Palikun shall be under the presidency of Urumchi while the towns encircling the Takla Makan will come under Kashgar. Previously all these towns came under the control of Ili which is on the north side of the Tien Shan range.

Secondly senior officers will recommend and go security for their juniors.

Thirdly all civil service salaries will be increased. The Governor (presently at Ili) who gets 3,000 Taels will receive 4,000. Council members are revalued from 1,000 to 1,500 Taels. A General’s 400 Taels is increased to 800. The Resident (Amban) at Kashgar gets 1,700 instead of 1,500; his assistant gets 900 instead of 700, etc.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

The Canton Judge has prohibited all clerical staff of the provincial government from painting their office names (Judiciary, Customs, etc.) on their lanterns, as he believes they use the authority of their office names to squeeze the people.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

About 50 miles from Shao Kuan pass, north of Canton, a group of black and green tea merchants who were returning to the tea producing areas (carrying the proceeds of their Canton sales) were set upon by robbers and plundered of whatever they possessed. The army was sent after them and caught some.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

The gentry of Heung Shan have formed themselves into a group to deepen ‘the Flats’ (the channel north of Priest’s Island that links Macau with the Broadway). They expect this will both facilitate boat travel and the dredged soil will be useful for land reclamation. They say they have government approval.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Peking Gazettes – Some clerks of the Board of Revenue forged documents to extort money and were discovered. They are cangued in the Peking streets for 2 months. Then they will be cangued in Yunnan and Kwangtung for 3 months. Thereafter they will be given in slavery to the soldiers on the Yunnan frontier.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Last year the Yangtse overflowed in Hupeh and repairs to its banks will cost 99,874 Taels. The money will be paid by the government first and recovered from the benefiting residents over the next 8 years. The repair contractor must guarantee that the works last 10 years or he will have to refund the government money i.e. those residents who work on the bank repairs must get a certain wage from it to make it worthwhile.

Vol 1 No 22 – Saturday 31st May 1828

Prices at the 2nd Bombay auction averaged 1,754 Rupees. The 3rd Calcutta sale produced an average 1,728 Rupees for Patna and 1,600 for Benares.

Vol 1 No 23 – Saturday 7th June 1828

Respectful petition of Magniac and Co to the Viceroy, dated 18th May 1828:

“On 19th day of 12th moon last year we petitioned you concerning Man Hop, a Hong merchant, and Yee Lung, a shopman, who together stole 1,820 bales of our cotton worth $59,823.10 We later sent you three reminders and you told us an investigation was in train. Three and a half months have elapsed and we remain unpaid. Man Hop has since declared his insolvency and the partners of Yee Lung’s shop wander free in Canton. We understand both Man Hop and Yee Lung deny our charge. Regrettably the investigation was not commenced until Man Hop’s purser, cashier and coolies had all run away. His account books have not been scrutinised as you ordered (i.e. Magniac alleges the continuing Hongs are covering-up for him). We foreigners have total claims of $300,000 on Man Hop.

“We have not accused Man Hop wrongly in this single transaction. The facts are well known. If nothing improper had been done why did Man Hop’s staff all run away? If your excellency allowed Man Hop and Yee Lung to escape who will trust a Hong merchant again?

“You say it is legal and even praiseworthy for Hong merchants to entice foreigners to deposit money and for them to then hand the money over to secret partners in the city, leaving foreigners to be paid by instalments from the continuing Hongs.

“Magniac and Co has sustained losses from the failures of 5 – 6 Hong merchants and accused none of them of acting dishonestly. We pitied their misfortune and lent them more money when they were imprisoned by the then Viceroys according to law. Now we have accused a Hong merchant of stealing and he gets protection while his accomplices escape altogether. This is contrary to law and justice.

“We expect your Excellency to cause us to be immediately paid the value of our stolen property with interest. We will never cease petitioning until it is so.”

Vol 1 No 23 – Saturday 7th June 1828

Lee, Vice President of the Military Board, Governor of Canton, etc., makes public reply to the Indian barbarians Magniac and Jardine:

“The merchants have presented three petitions and the Heen magistrate has been ordered to prosecute. Man Hop’s property is confiscated for payment. Previously when Hong merchants became indebted they were punished. Everyone knows. In this case the barbarians traded with Fok Lung (Man Hop’s proprietor). In Canton there are many Hong merchants and the barbarians choose the most substantial and sell goods to him. Clearly there was reciprocal confidence between the barbarians and Man Hop. Now they are all at once devalued. It may suggest the Hong has no credit but it also shows the barbarians selected the wrong Hong merchant.

“They have repeatedly dunned me with petitions but provided no proof. I did not chastise them but ordered Man Hop imprisoned. I said if he had insufficient funds to meet his debts they should be settled according to law. The Nam Hoi magistrate is examining the relationship between Man Hop Hong and the shop Yee Lung. The barbarians should have waited for the conclusion of this enquiry but no … for the fourth time they petition falsely that the case is not examined, that the accused does as he pleases, without law or rule. This shows their rebellious audacity for which they should be immediately seized and punished but with clemency I merely issue this public reprimand.

“The Nam Hoi magistrate will continue to examine Fok Lung and other Hong merchants. If the barbarians again whine and dun me with petitions they will be seized, fettered and prosecuted and I will report their behaviour to the King of their nation. Perverse savagery must be suppressed and no indulgence will be shown. Tremble and obey.”

Vol 1 No 23 – Saturday 7th June 1828

The details of Chang Ki Hur’s capture are now told in an Imperial edict:

In February 1828 Chang (Jahangir Khoja) formed a coalition with many of the Poo Loo Tih (Puluti) tartars and entered the Chinese frontier. He advanced to the Muslim villages of Atu but was confronted by 400 armed black-caps, another type of Muslim, and retired beyond our frontier.

The army nevertheless pursued him to the Iron Topped Hill where they killed 200 of his group. Chang Ki Hur then led 300 cavalry in a charge against us but our troops used their pikes to meet him. General Chang Ling thus beat the rebels and killed another 300 and only some 30 on horses escaped into the hills.

The hills are steep and the path poor. The rebels alighted to walk their horses but our soldiers continued to pursue and sniped off another five. The remainder scrambled down the hill to escape over the great bridge but by then only about ten were left with Chang Ki Hur. They threw stones at us (i.e. their ammunition was exhausted). We caught up with Chang as he was trying to cut his own throat and captured him and another eight leaders. All the rest were killed.

Chang Ling has now caged the rebel Chang Ki Hur and sent him to Peking. This is much better than simply demanding the foreign barbarians (the peoples of the lands beyond Kashgar) to deliver him to us. Chang Ling receives in perpetuity the hereditary title Majestic and Valiant Duke, etc. The Governors of all the involved provinces are ordered to pass on the caged rebel with great care.

Chang Ling is ordered to hand over to Na Yen Ching (the ex-Governor of Peking) as soon as he arrives at Kashgar and come to Peking. This document is ordered circulated both within the Chinese Empire (to the provinces) and without (to the vassal states).

Vol 1 No 23 – Saturday 7th June 1828

A Chinese who was for many years comprador to an English merchant here and made a considerable fortune, retired to his birth place at Casa Branca and built a new house under the castle wall. An old tree stood in front of the new house and the geomancer who came to approve the building site said it was unlucky and should be cut down. Meanwhile the local police had noted his wealth and were looking for something against him. When he cut down the tree it struck the wall of Casa Branca and was said to have damaged it.

The police accused him of destroying Imperial fortifications. They abused him, took his money and prosecuted him. This is an example of a commonplace occurrence in these parts. Chinese, who are so clever at making money, can be really stupid when spending it. Wealth makes them proud. They set themselves up as fine gentlemen and, thus attracting attention, lose their property faster than they gained it.

Vol 1 No 23 – Saturday 7th June 1828

The death of a parent requires a Chinese official to immediately take three years off work for mourning. Manchu officers are allowed by law to mourn for 100 days only. These long periods of mourning open the doors of promotion to junior officers just as the marriages of fellows at Oxford and Cambridge do to their junior staff. But the Chinese official is back to work after three years whereas the Oxbridge fellow is disqualified for ever.

We are mentioning this because we see in the Peking Gazettes that Too Lee Kwan Ying Chu, the newly appointed governor of Urumchi, has taken leave of absence on the death of his mother.

Note: The Canton Register usually has a single small text advertisement on the front page in the first position on the left. It is so far always an advertisement of Magniac and Co. It is ships for sale at auction or today (Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828) for applications for carriage of goods and passengers to other ports.

By 1833 these advertisements extend over most of the front page, revealing the increasing tempo of trade in prospect of determination of the India Company’s charter.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

Petitioning in China is done to the lowest official first and appeals from him and subsequent decisions are made successively up through the hierarchy of Courts, finally to the Emperor himself. If the petitioner approaches higher authority at the beginning he gets 50 blows whatever the merits of his petition. Anonymous petitions are illegal and an officer acting on one is himself liable to 100 blows, the same award as for declining to receive or failing to act on a petition.

There is a procedure for presentation. Simply running through his retinue to push the paper into his hands is punishable by death. Every fifth day is petition day (the 3rd and 8th days of the ten day cycle – when foreigners are permitted to go to Fa Tei) and it is customary, although not legally required, to have them stamped by the official writer who is supposed to peruse them and ensure their contents are properly presented. Actually the official writer’s legal and formal function is to assist illiterate petitioners. We hear the magistrates sometimes tear a petition up and even throw it at the petitioner but the Cantonese are spirited people and they persevere with their complaints even to the extent of beating the drum at the magistrate’s office to demand redress (two drums are placed permanently outside the An Cha Sze’s gate for the purpose).

In this light, the following order from the provincial governor concerning petitions of foreigners seems unreasonable. It makes the Hong merchants responsible for the wording and contents of each petition. A direct correspondence with government is preferable as we know our own interests better than intermediaries. Governors should not persist in resisting it. The dicta of local government is not law and their assertions (as to what the law is) are not invariably believed. Foreigners must strenuously preserve the few privileges they enjoy. The proposition that foreigners have no rights cannot be approved by reason or common sense:

“Lee, Governor of Canton, proclaims that as a result of foreigners coming to the gate and throwing in petitions, I now interdict that proceeding.

“Foreigners have again presumed and shown opposition and obstinacy by reiterating petitions. The Hong merchants are remiss in not restraining and instructing them. They should heed this activity and prevent it. It would be right to seize and prosecute them but in clemency I proclaim again that when it is absolutely necessary for them to make statements to government, they must submit papers to their security merchant who will translate them. They may then submit both original and translation through the security merchant.

“If any foreigner again approaches the city gate to present a petition he will assuredly be punished and the security merchant will be severely punished. Take heed and do not experiment with the laws or you will regret. Tremble and obey. Do not oppose.”

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

The following Edict is issued 23rd May by the Viceroy and Governor of Canton concerning the Macau horse road for which the Procurador is said to have given a bond. The right of the Portuguese to use the land between the city walls and the barrier gate is contested by the resident villagers and the foreigners have submitted to the present Edict. We hope the Procurador and Judge of Macau will not for long allow the privileges they have so long enjoyed to be thus infringed upon:

“Lee, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, and Ching, the Foo Yuen of Kwongtung, have ordered Loo the Keung Min Foo and Lee the Heung Shan Heen to prohibit foreigners from making roads of their own accord.

“The red-haired foreigners are digging a road outside the Kennel Gate (which the Portuguese call the Gate of St Lazarus or campo) several li towards Lung Tin, Mong Ha (Wang Hea) and other villages and thence to the Bo Tse Temple.

“The original path was uneven and not a thoroughfare. It was never a high road and by its side the local residents interred their dead. The Foreign Eye (Portuguese Procurador) and the Squire of Mong Ha have been examined and deeply repent their errors. The Foreign Eye has prepared a bond and a sketch and put the matter before the Governor. Foreigners are only permitted to live within the city walls. They are not permitted to make roads outside their enclosure. As they have repented and given a bond of good behaviour we will not seize and prosecute anyone. The Keung Min Foo and Heung Shan Heen must be vigilant in prohibiting further work.

“This Edict is to advise all foreigners in Macau so they cannot later claim ignorance. Dwell quietly within your boundary. If you dig outside the kennel gate you will be seized and prosecuted. The law is immutable and no indulgence will be shown. Tremble and obey. Do not oppose. A special Edict.”

The Procurador’s Bond (edited):

“We intended to repair the road outside the kennel gate for the benefit of pedestrians. Now to preserve peace and harmony between foreigners and Chinese, having repaired part of the road, our wishes are satisfied and we undertake not to proceed further with repairs.”

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

Officers administering Kwongtung:

The head of both Kwong Si and Kwong Tung Provinces is the Tsung Tuk called “Viceroy of the Two Kwong” by the foreigners.

Next is the Foo Yuen, called Governor of Kwong Tung by some English. He is appointed by the Emperor to concert with and assist the Viceroy and deputise for him during absence. He also signs dispatches. He approves all death warrants and can withhold them if dissatisfied with the justice of the sentences. His rank (Foo Yuen) translates literally as ‘soother of the people’ and he is supposed to keep everyone tranquil.

Next is the treasurer called Pau Ching Sze.

Next is the judge called Yuen Cha Sze.

Then there are some officials who have no business with foreigners – Salt Commissioners, Grain Commissioners, etc.

Next is the Kwongchow Foo which approximates to Mayor of Canton. He is the chief city magistrate and he has 14 magistrates under him – the Poon Yu magistrate, the Nam Hoi magistrate, etc. Under them are the many Tso Tong.

The Customs Office is called Hoi Kwan, the Head Collector of which is vulgarly known as the Hoppo. He deals solely with the Hong merchants in taxing the foreign trade. His rank is equivalent to the Viceroy.

The chief of the provincial army is the Cheung Kwan, whom we call the Tartar General. He commands the Manchu garrison and has two generals under him called To Tung. They are responsible to defend the city.

Another part of the army, under Chinese officers, comes under the Kwong Heep. He assists the police in dealing with bandits and attending executions.

There are two other generals, the land Tei Tuk and water Tei Tuk. One commands the units of troops dispersed throughout the province; the other is a naval officer.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

The English magazine The Quarterly contains an article on Chinese novels said to be written by Mr Barrow, under-secretary of the Admiralty (who was on Macartney’s embassy). Two translations by Mr Thom, recently appointed as the Company’s printer at Macau, are criticised in the article.

Macartney’s embassy turned up no new facts on China. Their ability to understand Chinese was poor. For example, one of our Chinese translations of English papers submitted to the Emperor on behalf of the Embassy described Macartney as a red-haired barbarian.

We fear this criticism from the Quarterly is unjustified and its critic inexpert.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

Many bamboos flowered this Spring which is said to be prognostic of a bountiful year.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

The Peking Gazettes note many pirates infest the coast of Taiwan but the Imperial Navy is having some success against them.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

Local news:

  • On 8th day of 4th moon two men quarrelled on Honam Island over money and one killed the other. He has been handed to the Nam Hoi magistrate.
  • A few days ago a large boat, driven before both wind and tide, ran down a smaller boat from which three passengers and the boatman drowned. The people on the large boat have been arrested for investigation.
  • A local policeman lately thrashed a suspect until he died. He was gaoled but used his influence to avoid execution. Whilst gaoled he struck and killed a fellow prisoner. The Foo Yuen has approved a sentence of death.
  • Sturgeon is called Tsam Lung (searching dragons) in Cantonese. Some people consider it the king of fish. The fish is common in the Pearl River estuary. Two weighing 396 catties were caught off Lintin on 6th day of 4th moon and sold for 360 cash per catty. Buyers were delighted with the flavour.

Vol 1 No 24 – Saturday 14th June 1828

The Tien Fa Wui is the Cantonese name of the beggars’ association in the city. It has a thousand members. Annual entrance fee is $8. Four officers manage the club and enforce the rules. Beggars attend all births, marriages and funerals where they solicit gifts to bring good luck.

Beggars can be removed from a district by payment to the association which then publishes a notice forbidding begging for money at that location. The beggar can still beg for food. Those many beggars who assemble in front of the foreign factories each night making those doleful cries might thus be bought off.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

General Chang Ling has told the Emperor of Jahangir’s explanation for his second incursion into China. He says the descendants of Hapuhay follow him and he led 500 men to cause the Hau Han tribes to arise and retake Kashgar but the black-capped Muslims prevented him.

All his family members are with the Hau Han who have been persuaded by Chang Ling, in return for rewards, to deliver them up. The Chinese army was assisted by these Muslims in chasing and capturing Jahangir.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Kong Mun is south west of Wong Shan. The trade there is small and the Customs House has asked the governor to compel more junks to go there instead of Canton. He has agreed.

Early this year many international junk sailings have departed from Kong Mun for Tong King and Cochin China 6, Manila 5, Siam 4, Straits (Singapore and Penang) 3, Batavia 2, Surabaya 2.

They return in the 7th and 8th months. There are two big businesses associations in Kong Mun, the north and the south associations. They are regulated much as the Hongs in Canton. All imports are discharged into one or other Hong on arrival. They import rattans, pepper, betelnut and birds’ nests etc.11

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Letter to the Editor – Bok Tau Sang Yi (shoulder commerce), is what the Cantonese call hawking from baskets suspended from a bamboo over the shoulder.

The hawkers have complained to the Nam Hoi magistrate of the huge amount of fake tung cheen (copper cash) in circulation. Its not just counterfeit, it is as thin as paper and has the names of non-Chinese Kings like Kwong Chung and King Hing on it.

They are brought by the coastal trade from Cochin China cheaply. People say that the money of a foreign king circulating in China is inauspicious for the Emperor. The hawkers say they have to accept some of the bad money or go without business. They say they can get only 30% of the value of the Chinese copper cash for these coins. The shopmen will not accept them at face value when hawkers go to buy their stock. They request protection.

The Nam Hoi Yuen has complied. Offering counterfeit coin is a capital offence in China. Defacing the coinage merits 100 blows and transportation.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Some of the Straits tin supply is adulterated with spelter. The Chinese traders recognise it from the rough cracked surface but without knowing how heavily it is contaminated. They demand $6 – 8 per picul off the price.

This nefarious business is apparently done by Chinese exporters at Penang and Singapore and will eventually ruin them.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Quicksilver (mercury) sold in China is almost entirely converted to vermilion. A large amount is used in Peking, Nanking and Soochow and the rest is exported to India and Europe.

The Chinese silver mines are only worked when the Emperor orders it. At present the mines are closed and there is no demand for mercury for refining. There is a small indigenous supply of mercury which has infrequently been exported to England.

About 25% of the lead imported into China is instantly exported, mainly to England, in the form of linings of tea chests.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Chinese camphor is produced from a camphor forest in Chuan Chow and 2,500 – 3,000 piculs are harvested annually on average. Canton junks go up the coast and bring it back. The Chinese camphor tree produces no gum but its wood is used to line chests and trunks and prevent moth-damage.

Most ships officers visiting Canton will buy many of these chests which are exported mainly to England. The supply shipped to India is also mostly re-exported to England.

It is a Company regulation that no ship carrying tea may load camphor because of taste contamination. That limits the availability of space for its shipment.12

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Sugar is produced in the southern Chinese provinces and exported throughout the Empire. The main export market is to Bombay which takes 80,000 – 100,000 piculs annually of raw sugar and 15,000 – 20,000 piculs of bing tong (brown sugar candy).

The raw sugar is inferior quality to the Chuan Chow supply which is very white and pure. It is rumoured the water used there is responsible for the extent of refinement but the manufacturers’ say it is a trade secret.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

The India Company’s sloop Louisa (sometimes described as a schooner) was launched in Macau on Saturday. It will be used by the Select for professional purposes. A festival was held by the British Factory but it was too hot to have a ball and supper in the evening.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

The Penang Register denies our assessment of the size of the betelnut market in China which we said was 40,000 piculs. They say Penang alone exports 50,000 piculs to China annually without counting the supply from Singapore or Cochin China.

There is no self-interest served by our intentional dissemination of false information. The foreign traders at Canton almost never speculate in Straits produce and merely act as agents in its disposal.

Anyway, we were referring to the demand in Kwangtung Province not the entire Empire. The Penang export is shipped mostly in junks and carried all along the coast. The Portuguese also have a considerable trade via Macau that seldom comes into Canton. The junks on the Cochin China route stop at many ports along the China coast and the residue coming to Canton has been small. Imports at Canton have for years exceeded demand as evidenced by the increasing stocks and the losses of importers. We always try to report the truth.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

A Dr Ching in Heung Shan, whose family has been famous since the Sung dynasty, is the President of a new association called the Worshippers of Righteousness. A Hall is being built to contain the tablets of ancestors of 350 families which belong to the association. The tablets will be arranged according to rank and worth.

Each family pays 100 Taels per tablet to the treasurer. The 35,000 Taels thus raised will be lent at interest. Sacrifices will be offered in Spring and Autumn. If a subscriber is insulted or oppressed, all 350 families will unite for revenge.

If any family member attains a literary degree he will receive 300 Taels to finance his journey to Court and to pursue his studies. Dr Ching is rich. He has set up this association for the benefit of future generations.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

The Muslim community in Canton eat neither pork nor dog. The Canton government annually restates a prohibition on slaughtering cattle used for husbandry.13 As the Muslim diet in Canton relies on beef, they pay the police attending the buffalo market to permit them to buy cattle for food.

Lately the ‘eating copper’ policemen have become so oppressive that the Muslims petitioned the Governor to be exempted from their fees. They say they are only observing their religious rules.

They are now expressly permitted to eat old cattle and the police have lost a valuable source of income.

Vol 1 No 25 – Saturday 21st June 1828

Peking Gazettes – several magistrates are accused of having oppressed complainants instead of redressing their grievances. The Emperor directs they be degraded and tried by their respective governors.

Supplement 21st June 1828

Letter to the Editor, dated 18th June at Macau:

Some Englishmen sailed 15 miles west of Macau for a picnic. They landed and walked 2 miles into the interior. When they were returning and were about 1½ miles from their boat, they were approached by a Chinese who tried to seize the gun of the leading person. No blow was offered but the villager was struck on the forehead by the gun in the struggle. He shouted for assistance saying the foreigners had come armed for attack. Several villagers then convened around the foreigners. One Englishman tried to explain in Cantonese but the villagers shouted and blanketed his voice insisting that the foreigners were obviously armed to commit violence.

The numbers of villagers increased and the English became alarmed. They pressed-on towards the beach but met a party of villagers blocking the route a hundred yards from the boat. They were armed with spears, knives and bludgeons. A scuffle ensued and an Englishman was knocked down and bound to a tree. Negotiations then commenced and he was recovered for $60.

The leader of the villagers was the man from the small temple on the beach. He was assumed to be the Po Cheung (village headman) supposedly responsible for good behaviour. Foreigners should take care.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

R J A Gonsalves of St Joseph’s College, Macau, has made a Portuguese/Chinese dictionary.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

St Alban was seized by his pagan countrymen in 303AD for assisting a Welsh priest to escape. He was taken before the Roman governor. When he refused to sacrifice to their Gods, the Romans tormented and killed him.

In China there was a similar character named Wat Yuen who lived nearly 500 years before St Alban. Having attained a good reputation he became so depressed by bad men that he ’embraced a stone’ and threw himself into a river and drowned. His body was never found.

Now every summer in June we have dragon boats which purport to search for his body. Some boats can carry 100 men who use paddles to race. There are frequent accidents and the local magistrates have adopted the custom of issuing annual warnings on the dangers of the sport. These are disregarded but the festival is preserved and the magistrate can say he acted appropriately.

At Canton this year on 17th June five dragon boats raced down the river and ran down a dozen small boats. Five men and three women were drowned. Should the boats come alongside each other during a race, there is fighting and 14-15 men were wounded this year. The day before while practising near the Fah Tei garden a boat overturned and 18 men drowned.

On Wat Yuen’s Day the locals write charms and wedge them with rushes in the cracks of doors. In every house a glutinous rice pudding wrapped in leaves is served. It was originally designed to throw in the rivers as a sacrifice to Wat Yuen but has since become a popular snack. People hire pleasure boats to watch the races and feast on the puddings. Mechanics seldom work and shopkeepers close their businesses.

Editor – In our opinion, one day in seven is ample for holidays. China has too many.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

Loo Choo Islands (the island chain running between Taiwan and Japan):

In 1190 Shun Tin founded the kingdom of Loo Choo by military force. To this day, in the temple dedicated to him, is an arrow before his tablet to confirm his kingdom was founded by force.

The residents have been casting copper coin in Loo Choo since about 1660.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

An aspect of Chinese divination involves seen (fairies). To invoke the appearance of seen one must bathe in scented water the day before and that evening arrange fragrant flowers, gold- and silver-coloured papers, candles and fruit, etc. Sweep clean the best hall of the house and set-out two tables over which is spread a white powder. The devotee then takes a bundle of the powder, an upright stick (or pencil) and a horizontal spoke to hold the pencil. An illiterate boy is procured to guide the spoke, and thus the pencil, under the direction of the unseen seen. On the evening of the appointed day a magician comes and makes incantations. Then the boy’s hand moves irresistibly to write responses. No woman is permitted to be present.

Sometimes no seen operates the spoke; at others a vast number arrive, even Confucius, Kwan Dai and others, commenting on political affairs and the destiny of the dynasty. Such activities are illegal according to Staunton’s Ching Legal Code, Section CLXII, where praying to deceased sages is proscribed.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

On 17th June a thunderstorm occurred over Macau and lightning struck the flagstaff of the Praia Grande Customs House. A lady and her children appeared to be enveloped in the electric fluid but were unharmed. There have been a few fatalities due to lightning this year.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

A few days ago some Lascars from a country ship were attacked with whips by the low officers of the (supposedly abandoned) Customs House beside the Creek factory. The (unmentioned) act complained of was performed innocently but interpreted offensively.

Some foreign businessmen interfered and prevented serious injury and the Linguist promised corporal punishment of the offenders. We doubt this will happen. To suffer this offence in silence is to invite a repetition.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

The Viceroy’s edict disallowing our petitioning at the city gate is being notified to ship commanders as they arrive. We think it is unjust. If the Co-Hong was a reliable means of communication it would suffice, but it is a channel for misrepresentation and delay. In any event it is often the security merchants (the Co-Hong) who are the subject of our complaints.

A recent respectful petition (part of Magniac and Co’s ongoing struggle for compensation from Man Hop) was given to the chief of the Co Hong (How Qua Jr) for the Viceroy but still remains unopened on the table in the Consoo House.

A country ship remained for a fortnight without a comprador (the man who arranges provisions for the crew and supplies for the ship) because its commander declined to pay high prices for the service. The Linguist recommended payment. (Hong merchants and Linguists are both officially appointed but Hong proprietors are senior to Linguists. The latter, inter alia, supervise house and ship compradors and servants in the factories). The Hong Merchant declined involvement. Hong merchants are supposed to mediate our grievances. If they do not do so, we have no other recourse but to petition the Viceroy.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

The traders at Canton have been annoyed recently by delay in delivering mail from Bengal ships (those ships delivering cotton and opium – their information from outports is commercially valuable). Some letters are not received until a fortnight after the ship’s arrival.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

The Kwongtung silk harvest is abundant this year but the colours are poor.

Vol 1 No 26 Saturday 5th July 1828

The opium market remains dull. Turkey is little wanted as the Malwa and Patna is so cheap.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Peking Gazettes:

  • People more or less connected with the recent uprising in Turkestan are being arrested. Those directly involved are executed. Those peripherally involved, are transported into slavery. Some 100 have been sent to Peking for trial.
  • Sung, who escorted Macartney’s embassy to Canton, has reported a dispute in Jehol between two Manchu princes. Too Le Nas He is son-in-law of the Emperor. He has been known as a troublesome man since the 7th year of Ka Hing (1802). He was first reported for cutting down trees in the royal forests (the Emperor has a monopoly on the timber from these forests, on all ginseng, on locally harvested deer horn and the like) and was gated for a while but travelled around nevertheless playing with other men’s wives and daughters for which he received a second sentence of confinement of 3 years. He continued difficult and was banished first to Mukden then further away to Ili.
    When his wife died he was allowed home to care for his mother. His son and other Royals were ordered to perform sacrifices to their grandmother.
    At this ceremony, one prince passed in front of Too Le Nas He’s son who objected, pulled him back and upbraided him. Too Le Nas He then seized this other prince by his queue and thrashed him for the insult. He accuses him of lese majesty and unfilial behaviour.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Too Che Shin, Governor of Peking, has discovered a group of magicians who have plotted treason. The leaders have been arrested and confessed. Governor Too asks not to blame his predecessors in office as such an enquiry would detract from the jubilation of catching Jahangir. The Emperor agrees but insists all the involved people be arrested.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Local news:

  • Lee, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, gave a banquet on 23rd June for the Thai embassy that has just returned from Peking.
  • On 21st June all the provincial officers congratulated Lee on receiving a box of ‘purple golden ingot’ pills from the Emperor. These cure skin ulcers by external application.
  • The new Judge of Canton is continuing to conclude cases quickly. The Cantonese news-sheets attribute the following case to him:
    A woman was suspected of killing her husband but no external evidence of foul play was found on his body. The man was buried and the widow detained. Then the new Judge arrived and had the corpse disinterred. He called the same pathologist to re-examine it. This time he found the head of a long iron nail in the dead man’s rotting hair. It appeared to have been hammered into the man’s brain. The Judge asked why the pathologist did not find it earlier.
    After receiving 20 blows, he recalled that the widow had herself suggested he look in the man’s hair for a nail. She had been married to five husbands. The Judge called for her and had her fingers squeezed in a press. She then confessed to killing all five husbands in the same way. She was sentenced to death.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

A fire occurred on 24th day of 4th moon from the embers of a tea fire (a reportedly common cause of fires). The original house was burnt down and the ones at either side were pulled down to prevent spread.

We believe the Cantonese copied this creation of a fire break from us as they have also copied our fire engines, watches, telescopes and woollen clothes. They copy what they approve.

It is a fallacy to say, as is said in London, that they are not influenced by us. The Astronomical Board in Peking adopted Newton’s description of the universe from the Jesuits.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

In the Chinese courts, when the magistrate takes his seat, the lictors give a shout. An interpreter stands beside the magistrate. On the table in front of him are pencils, ink and paper, signal reeds to start flogging and a piece of flat hardwood which he strikes on the table to make a noise when he wishes to attract attention.

Plaintiff, Defendant and witnesses kneel before him and the instruments of torture are placed beside them. One is a flat piece of bamboo to beat the thighs. Another is a rattan for flogging. A third is the sole of a shoe to slap the cheeks. A fourth is a wooden press to crush the ankles. A fifth is a wooden roller to hit bony parts of the body (usually ankles). Sixth is a finger press.

Another common requirement is to have the suspect kneel on chains or other irregular metal items that hurt the knees; or to bend the man backwards across a bar and lock his knees and neck in that position; or to place a bar across his lower legs as he kneels and for lictors at either side to press it down; or to throw quicklime in his eyes. These tortures are designed to overcome any reluctance to testify.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Letter to the Editor – One of the oldest Asiatic customs since the time of Abraham 4,000 years ago (who asserted his purchase of a field to all who came and went through the city gate) is that the city gate is the place of judgement and council.

Publicity is the great safeguard of justice. It is this knowledge that originated the custom and has preserved it through the generations. All affairs of moment are put before the Algerian Dey at the city gate. The Ottoman Emperor is known as the Porte in remembrance of the time when business was transacted there. And the Emperor often descends to the gate of the royal court to judge his great officers.

The biblical character Mordecai, who was an officer of the court of Ahasuerus, sat at the King’s gate to transact public business. Daniel, who ruled a province of Babylon, likewise sat in the gate of the King. The significance of the gate explains an abstruse biblical passage – that the gates of hell (the plots of apostates) shall not subvert the Church of God.

In the same tradition, the gates of Canton have been the place where foreigners make public appeal for justice. If we can no longer do so, all publicity of our complaints will end and the end of publicity is the end of justice.

An American has told me that he thought we would in future desist from going to the gate for justice. This was a surprise as the Americans are champions of liberty and the rights of man. Although a governor may hate to have people rebuking his administration at the gate and abhor those who speak uprightly, still he cannot deny their right.

Sgd JL

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

In about 1810, Dr Pearson introduced vaccination to China. A pamphlet was written notifying Jenner’s discovery and the King of Spain’s magnificent effort to communicate it, by sending out a ship to the whole world. This pamphlet was translated into Chinese by Sir George Staunton. The then chief of the English factory, Drummond, together with Dr Pearson and Staunton all signed it.

The company’s then comprador Ah He (nicknamed ‘longhead’ for his appearance and superior mental abilities) submitted to the process and in 1816 published a recommendation to his countrymen to emulate him. It was reprinted in 1821. He overlooked the English origin of the idea in his writings, merely saying it came from Manila via Macau (i.e. from the Spanish Emperor’s ship).

In the introduction to longhead’s book it is said that the principle of vaccination comes from the Chinese work Pi Tsaou Kang Muh. This says that cow pox is transmitted to the cow by a blood-sucking fly and describes the Chinese method of vaccination – by collecting and drying some discharge from the infection and introducing it in a nostril. Ah He says this practice originated in the Sung dynasty (11th century). He denies vaccination can cause death. He says he was vaccinated at 32 years of age and has since vaccinated 10,000 others who survived to marry.

As a result, a Foo Yuen conferred the gold button on him and another official gave him a tablet in his own hand noting the ancient Chinese wish for “a cure without medicine”. A third composed a sonnet and presented it to him.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Peking news – A memorial has been submitted to the Emperor calculating the cost of repair of the Yellow River banks at 3,087,800 Taels.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Local news:

  • A series of seven unsolved murders that occurred 5 years ago has been revived and brought before Judge Yau. He has learned of an attempt to attribute the cases to an innocent man.
  • At midnight on 3rd July a fire commenced in a medicine shop 200 yards north of the factories. The inflammable nature of the stock in the shop and the fact the fire occurred at low tide (when little water from the river could be had) allowed it to continue until 8-10 houses had been destroyed.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Letter to the Editor – Chinese internal affairs are irrelevant to us. We cannot relieve their sufferings. We are so completely excluded it is difficult to sympathise. It is true they are fellow creatures, children of the same Almighty Father, but these fellowship principles are only for Sundays and Holidays.

In truth we have no inter-est and no con-cern; therefore we have no fellow feeling. Don’t tell us any more about Jahangir, about oppression and murder. We are not interested. A few are interested in opium but many are not. Beware or your newspaper will become so much waste paper.


Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Another letter to the Editor from BCD – Your printer murdered my last letter about ‘con-cern’ and ‘inter-est’. There is an indifference that Europeans feel towards the Chinese because they are inhospitable. Love begets love. Indifference begets contempt and hatred. When we are in China, the Chinese have the stronger hand. They seem to hate us. All Christians should love those that hate them. Melting acts of Christian kindness at least soften hate even if they fail to elicit love.

You are right to say a precise Prices Current has a moral quality because it provides equal knowledge to all and prevents selfish concealment by which one man can over-reach and commercially defeat another. But the Canton community is not purely commercial. They are all merchants but that is merely their livelihood. They do not live to trade, but trade to live as intellectual and moral beings.

The merchant who is a mere dollar collector has his soul locked up in his treasury. Trading must be kept subservient to the general welfare of humanity. Most traders are intellectual and benevolent men. They adorn their countries by diffusing education, religion and morals among mankind.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

Viceroy Lee of Canton continues to denounce his officials in Macau who failed to detect the horse road project. He says the Tso Tong is placed there precisely to discover such things but he neither stopped nor reported it. He says such weakness calls for his replacement. The Tso Tong is frightened for his life.

The governor suspects some traitorous Chinese have helped the barbarians and requested they be discovered but, luckily for us, such wishes generally fail.

Vol 1 No 27 – Saturday 12th July 1828

The Canton government has ordered that four stone tablets, engraved with an everlasting prohibition against the horse road, be set up at various places on the Campo in early July. One was later removed by a Portuguese.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

Two coffin makers on Honam Island have received best quality wood (probably wong muk – yellow wood from Kwong Si) for forty coffins which they are recommending to their friends.

Wealthy Chinese pay $300 – $400 for coffin wood which they buy when in perfect health and keep in their own houses to dry. They believe by so doing they lengthen their lives. The planks of wood are thus called ‘longevity planks’ and a man who has invested in wong muk is congratulated by his acquaintances.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

Letter to the Editor – Brahmins in India study the principles of religion and are superior to kings. Their admonitions and censures must be received by all with submissive respect. They are the aristoi and optimi.

Robert do Nobili, the Italian Jesuit, claimed in India that he was a Brahmin of Rome, more ancient than an Indian Brahmin, and therefore worthy of more respect. I think Brahmins are like the mandarins of China. Anonymous

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

Sumptuary Laws against extravagance in dress, food, furniture and general luxury have existed in most nations. Montesquieu said luxury was a good thing for monarchies but not for democracies.

In England we had laws from Cromwell’s time against long pointed shoes and a restriction on the breadth of the toe of a shoe to not exceed 6 inches.

The To Kwong Emperor has issued a law against luxury. He says luxury in China has reached unprecedented heights whilst he honours plainness and economy. He has printed and circulated laws regulating dress, ornamentation and wedding ceremonies for every rank. They prohibit gay colours except red to all. The people are to wear grey, black and blue. They are not allowed borders or facings on their clothes. Their shoes may not have the Egyptian border. Silk umbrellas are forbidden.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

A few days ago a woman living to the east of Canton, who had received the Tsing Pe Dou from the Emperor in respect of her vowed constancy, was caught with a lover. Both are condemned to death for violation of her vow in breach of which she has insulted the sovereign who gave her the award.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

There is a man in Canton who was born without arms and has learned to write with his feet. There have been similar cases in Europe. He makes an income by exhibiting his unusual talent.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

During the Han dynasty there was a judge named Pang Tung who is said to have recorded the evidence, viewed the prisoner and uttered his decision all at the same time. An accumulated backlog of over 100 days of cases was disposed of in one.

Now there is a man called Chu Hau Chang who, while teaching, copied a moral essay and dictated to two secretaries, one the preface of a book and the other a series of verses. Afterwards the documents were examined and found to be faultless.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

A Buddhist priest Wu She Cheah formed the Lung Fa Wui to cultivate alchemy. His disciples enrolled seeking to ascend to Heaven in daylight. Two heads of families were deceived by the Wui into believing they would become Buddhas. They invited the priest to their homes, kow-towed to him and asked what to do. He told them to fast 7 days, then they would escape from mortality and be able to fly to Heaven from the banks of the great lake.

The two took their families and servants to the banks of the lake where they fasted and died one by one. The priest put them in the invisible state (by burning their remains) but when questioned about their disappearance he admitted these facts.

He was sentenced to be decapitated.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

The penal code mentions the case of an effeminate 17 year old man who learned the female arts of sewing, embroidery etc., and passed himself off as a woman to the extent of marrying a man.

He was discovered and prosecuted under the law against deception. He was then judicially killed.

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

Confucian Ethics contained in the four books have just been translated into English. Twenty years ago only one Englishman could read Chinese. Since then several good Chinese language scholars have come and gone.

The late Dr Milne, first principal of the Anglo-Chinese College, translated the Sacred Edict of Ka Hing.14 He had been a shepherd’s boy from the hills above Aberdeen. The Rev Mr Ince was another competent Chinese scholar who died three years ago at Penang. The present translation by Mr Collie was just published when he died peacefully in the prime of life. He was a farmer’s son also from Aberdeen area.

In his preface he says he had good Chinese help in the work. His Chinese was flawless and his previous translations of English religious tracts were rendered in elegant Chinese. Friends of the Anglo-Chinese College, where he first studied, should be proud of this proof of the usefulness of their institution.

The British colonial government of the Straits Settlements runs the college as it feels a need to understand Chinese to better govern the large Chinese community there. Such knowledge is useful for settling property disputes and to ensure the rich Chinese and junk masters do not oppress the poor. Now Chinese in the Straits can give evidence in British colonial courts in Mandarin and it is understood.

The four books are esteemed in China, Japan and by all overseas Chinese communities. Confucius says ‘although a man has memorised the 300 odes if, when appointed to the civil service or sent abroad as ambassador, he is unable to reply to the questions put to him, what use is his memory?

Vol 1 No 28 – Saturday 19th July 1828.

HMS Blossom was at Acapulco on 18th March 1828. A correspondent reports that Mr G T Lay, the naturalist on board, described their reception in the Loo Choo Islands. Lay used Morrison’s Chinese Dictionary in an attempt to learn the Loo Choo pronunciation but could not reconcile the differences. The Blossom went on to Kamchatka and to the ice fields but made no new discovery.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

An Edict dated 19th July has just been received in Canton and fixes the principles on which foreign trade will in future be conducted.

Briefly, the main exports – tea, raw silk, nankeens and some other staples – will be the monopoly of the Hong merchants. So will imports of broad cloth and cotton etc.

Export of manufactured silk cloth and import of white piece goods are now formally thrown open to the shopmen.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Trade Report – Mercury has been $70 – $75 depending on the quantity imported. Several small shipments of sandalwood have arrived but not enough to depress the market. This year’s Nanking silk harvest is soon expected and reportedly is good quality. Some cotton from Calcutta has been sold at 8.2 Taels a picul. Nankeens have been advancing under American demand. Trade has been quiet but in a few weeks the season commences with the arrival of the first-class ships. Opium has been selling well, particularly Malwa at $850

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Renauldst’s account of Arab traders in India and China in 8th and 9th century mentions the following story:

The Tang Emperor, who then reigned at Nanking, sent a eunuch to Canton to buy goods from the Arab community there. The eunuch bought ivory from an Arab but set his own value on it and took the goods by force.

The Arab then made the two month journey to Nanking and made persistent demands for justice. He was finally admitted to an audience with the Emperor himself. The eunuch was later dismissed from office and deprived of his property. This occurred in the Tang dynasty.

All Cantonese call themselves men of Tang (Tong Yan) as it was during that dynasty that they were admitted to the Empire.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Canton has more beggars than any other place on Earth. Blind beggars are particularly visible. One often sees chains of ten or twelve of them – literally ‘the blind leading the blind’. Some aver that their sight is taken in infancy precisely to qualify them for begging. It is thus deduced that begging in China is systematic and professional (c.f. the beggars’ association mentioned above).

Others are different – they wander from street to street wearing a piece of matting round their waists and over their heads. They sleep at the rubbish tips where they search out scraps of vegetable and fish for sustenance. They are usually diseased and covered with vermin – a spectacle of humiliating and pitiable misery.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

We have heard that on 1st June at the southern gate of the Imperial palace, a scaffold 50 cubits high was erected and the Emperor attended in person to witness the execution of Jahangir Khoja by slicing. Afterwards he gave thanks to Kwan Dai, the God of War.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

The Cochin China fleet of junks has started to arrive at Canton and they report an immense fire at Saigon which burned for 3 days and consumed up to 4,000 houses. It is expected this event will have reduced the available supply of herbs and spices from that market and the price of those goods has already risen.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Tales of Judge Yau:

Judge Yau recently arranged one of his magistrates to hold an evening trial and then attended in disguise to listen to the proceedings. Thus he checks the performance of his staff.

Recently, whilst loitering in a crowd in disguise and listening to the popular tattle, it started to rain and he took shelter at an eating house. A policeman inside recognised him in spite of the disguise and knelt before him to do humble reverence as required. The judge did not wish to be recognised and later sent for the policeman and gave him 60 blows to teach reflection.

While passing along a narrow lane in the city he saw a woman at the door of her house suckling a child. For this want of modesty he awarded her 30 slaps on the face. Her husband got 40 blows for allowing it.

This is how a good man acts in a despotism.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Letter to the Editor – I read BCD’s nonsensical letter and finally realised it was supposed to be funny. Opium should not be mentioned in your paper at all. Opium! Oh proclarum et miribile nomen, soother of sorrows, manna of the minds of this afflicted people, why should you be banished? Because the list of Prices Current informs the world that foreign barbarians have abundant stores of heavenly happiness to trade.

I think you should instead tell us more pungent stories of China. Nothing is more interesting than the story of the girl Ah Kei who was sold by mistake and lived in Ah Chao’s bungalow with 40 fur traders ‘wishing to be virtuous’, until at last with her lover, when his money was spent, she took an opium overdose and died.

What an interesting death – each inhaling mortality from the same pipe. BCD should smoke a pipe of old Patna and dream of Ah Kei.

Sgd Pincher.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Letter to the Editor – When I first came to this country, knowing that the small foreign community was opposing the interests of China, I expected to find perfect unanimity amongst us. Even if there was disagreement, I expected the dissenters to keep quiet in the face of the will of the majority.

I have thus been puzzled by the activities of those gentlemen who, on the occurrence of a dispute between Chinese and Englishmen, take the part of the Chinese. When written documents are produced in evidence they say they cannot have much weight as they are not understood by both parties. The first time I saw these Sinophiles in action I supposed they had some joint interest with the Chinese in the matter. But no. On enquiry I discovered it was pure philo-ism so I wish to offer them some advice. Take care. The Chinese are an ungrateful race. Our instinctive sense of justice should tell us not to take sides.

Sgd Barbaros, Canton 13.7.28

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Letter to the Editor:

In September 1827 your paper said bombazine card has been made in China since the 9th century and that linen paper, made in the Chinese way, was produced at Samarkand in the 8th century.

Have the Cantonese any linen paper or cotton paper? Sha Ji (literally ‘sand paper’ – a Chinese invention) is the toughest type of paper. How do they make that?

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

The Canton provincial government has recently been preventing people building houses in the shallow waters at the river bank along the south side of the city (near the factories). The explanation is in the Peking Gazette where the Emperor has acted to prevent squatting on the great lakes within his lands. His action appeared at the same time we were trying to make improvements along our waterfront in front of the factories.

Now the Macau Tso Tong has pulled down a few huts on the banks of the inner harbour. He seems to be what the Chinese call a ‘merit-monger’ – a sycophantic officer who displays his loyalty in tyrannical proceedings.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Local news – A few days ago a party of ‘wolfish’ thieves, as our correspondent describes them, entered a village near Canton, kidnapped their prey and left quite openly. The villagers complained. The countryside abounds with bandits and neither villager nor foreigner is safe.

Last month a couple of salt smugglers fought against Customs officers for an entire night and only after they had been repeatedly wounded did they submit.

The Judge has received appeals from country people alleging murders in which three, five and, in one case, nine people lost their lives.

A man fled from Shantung to Canton subsequent to a fight connected with gambling in which he killed two men. He has now murdered two of the police sent to arrest him. As he was led through the streets recently to Court, he was laughing. He averred he is a skilful murderer.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Macau News, 19th July 1828:

  1. Last night in a strong breeze a sampan was upset and a man drowned.
  2. A policeman has single-handedly arrested a notorious bandit called Liu Ka Sung east of the city. He promised the man immunity if he would submit and reform. Liu has a history of removing peoples’ ears and kneecaps for the slightest offence and $1,000 had been offered for his capture.
  3. A female resident of a village near Macau, distressed by her husband’s gambling, has hanged herself.
  4. The young slave girl, who inherited $40,000 from Madam Meirop recently, died suddenly on 21st July from ‘inflammation’ and was buried the following day. She died intestate, so her property is transferred to the Leal Senado.
  5. The civil and military officers of Heung Shan have been roundly scolded by the Viceroy of the Two Kwong for permitting graves to be opened along the path of the projected, but now abandoned, horse road.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Plays are performed at Tan Shan Temple every year in the 1st and 2nd months. They cost $2,000+ each to put on. The Temple has little funds and makes no collections. Instead believers in the power of the temple idol make voluntary donations adequate to the need. The Chinese say this evidences the divine power of the idol.

Vol 1 No 29 – Saturday 26th July 1828

Canton foreign trade report, 26th July – No cotton has been sold this week. The Hong merchants want a share of the goods we deposited in their warehouses but are offering less than the last purchase price of Taels 8.2 per picul.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Proclamation of Lee, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, and Yen, Commissioner of Customs (Hoppo), notifying regulations for trade between the shopmen and the foreigners.

We, the provincial treasurer and Judge, were ordered to deliberate and report. We instructed the Kwongchow Foo and the magistrates of Nam Hoi and Poon Yu to examine the historical documents and provide an opinion. On this information we have resolved as follows:

“Foreign traders in Canton were formerly restricted in their dealings with shopmen to leather shoes, chinaware, etc., totally eight articles of commerce. Apart from this all exports and imports were handled by Hong merchants who undertook to pay duties, prevent smuggling and uphold the law. Linguists were appointed solely to interpret and had no functions in trade. They will continue to do so.

“The Hong merchants say the Americans wish to trade with both the shopmen and themselves whether for large or small quantities. They say the numbers of ships coming to Canton is increasing and the shopmen find the eight articles insufficiently profitable. The situation has changed. They wish to make out a list of the larger items of import and export trade for the Hong merchants and to change the law which would show compassion on the foreign traders and bring benefit to their home countries.

“The three officers have listed 24 exports and 53 imports15 which will be prohibited to the shopmen. All other goods may be exported or imported by foreigners using shopmen but they will be shipped by the Hong merchants who are still responsible to pay the duty. Worked silk is not brought here from Soochow or Hangchow but a small supply is produced to order by Cantonese craftsmen for the foreigners. The Hong merchants also permit this trade to the shopmen.

“Hereafter if the shopmen incur debts to the foreigners, the Hong merchants will have no responsibility for them and the foreign merchants will be left to clear his account alone. Someone should supervise the shopmen to ensure their good conduct. We (the Treasurer and Judge) suggest that the Hong merchants and Linguists make periodic checks. If the shopmen are detected smuggling then the Hong merchants will be responsible and punished along with the Linguists. This satisfies everyone and fixes responsibility for the revenue. We now submit these recommendations to you for your consideration and that of the Hoppo.

“Now I the Viceroy (here he recites the Treasurer’s and Judge’s corroborating recommendations) desire the Hoppo to instruct the Hong merchants who in turn will advise the foreigners and the shopmen of the new regulation”.

“Thus I the Hoppo have received the document and instruct the Hong merchants, Linguists, foreigners and shopmen (verbatim recital). They will implicitly obey and conform their dealings to the lists of exports and imports. Let shopmen recall that they are forbidden to have secret dealings with foreigners.

“Wrought silks are limited to 8,000 catties per ship.

“Shopmen can deal only in the miscellaneous articles not in the major staples of trade. Foreign merchants who wish to deal with shopmen will provide a list of goods required to the Linguist appointed to their ship who will be responsible to investigate and report. When reporting goods that are to be exported, he will clearly distinguish which are from the Hong merchant and which from the shopmen. The Linguist is responsible to avoid all confusion or he will be severely punished.

“The Linguists will also make a list of shopmen indicating their reputations and capital and the names of those who will be security for their good performance. If the shopman has debts let the foreigner beware. The Hong merchants and Linguists will control the situation. It is incumbent on them to report what they know and conceal nothing.”16

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

We have published the new trade regulations above. We believe our way of dealing will remain unchanged and collusion will be preserved. Smuggling and illicit trade will be unaffected. We regret the Hong merchants have surrendered their authority over the foreign trade. The only clever thing they have done is to avoid responsibility for the debts of the shopmen. Formerly they could not have been responsible as all foreigners were cautioned against trading with shopmen. We think that the Chinese government should now accept a measure of responsibility as it will be essential for us to give some facilities to the shopmen to make trade possible and trade is to the advantage of the national economy as well as to us.

Formerly there were 10-12 security (Hong) merchants. Now there are seven. The 3-4 most opulent are unwilling to buy foreign imports except the occasional cargo of cotton or an American ship (the Americans bring useful goods and silver for trade, the British bring mainly raw Indian cotton, woollen manufactures and some metals, none of which is markedly profitable). One of the rich Hong merchants says he is inadequate to the task whilst we British do not trust another (How Qua). That leaves one member of the Co-Hong supported by a capable outside man to handle the bulk of the foreign commerce with this country. This is the worst sort of monopoly.

If the Hong merchants were genuinely in business there would be competition but the opposite is the case in Canton. That is why the market has been reduced to such a deplorable condition for so long. The company’s monopoly on tea exports is unaffected but their cotton imports have become under-valued. And the company’s trade is not so great now in proportion to the entire trade. The American and country traders’ business, added to the trade of other countries, comprise more than half of the total. When some mal-arrangement is made by the Company we are all adversely affected. It seems in this restricted market it is impossible to completely satisfy the foreign trade. ‘Security merchant’ has become a meaningless term. The Co-Hong these days pleads poverty and requests for more time to arrange a delinquent member’s debts asking for eight years instead of settling instanter. In the midst of this distress government officials increase their demands on the Hongs which passively comply and recoup their expenses from the foreign merchants. Eventually these heavy taxes will make the trade unworkable. The Chinese are always willing to experiment and see how far they can go. They should be more careful or they will regret.17

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Letter from Macau – There is a spring at Penha, under the fort, drinking from which is said to cause virtuous people to become reprobates.

I was talking with a friend about the superior character of the Judge of Macau when he told me the man drinks only Penha water and will soon change his principles.

I do not fear this for I know that the Englishmen Mr B and Mr R also mainly drink Penha water. Sgd WC

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August.

Portuguese letter to the Editor:

Your correspondent WC was wrong. The supplies of spring water to Macau are from the Lilao fountain (to the south of Lilao) not the Penha fountain.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Peking Gazettes:

  1. The Emperor has made new appointments to the military council. Three members are in future to be at his door at 4am each morning in case he wishes to consult.
  2. The Emperor has been told that the Temple of Fame in which the tablets of great warriors are placed is dilapidated. He is considering the matter.
  3. A general in Hami has asked that people be forbidden to carry arms as they are shooting all the game. The Emperor however wants all Manchus under the eight banners to practise shooting. He ordered that Chinese and those who are not members of the several clans must surrender their arms. They will be compensated by government.
  4. 750,000 Taels are required to repair the banks of a branch of the Yellow River. The Emperor complained of the huge annual demands for repair of this river and insists on economy. Another branch of the same river in Honan needs 57,800,000 stones which will cost 55,200 Taels.
  5. Chuang Tsin, the tenth daughter of the Emperor, intends to live the remainder of her life in celibacy and the Emperor has approved.
  6. The Empress Dowager has been given the title Hwui. This was the title of a 5th century Emperor who had 31 sons and made each the King of a province of his lands. This is uncharacteristic of the present dynasty which gives honours only to the royal family while considering them all unfit or unsafe to govern.
  7. The Emperor has ordered a stone monument be erected at the foot of the hill on which Jahangir was captured to commemorate the event with a suitable inscription glorifying China. He also requires a history of the war be written.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Trade report – Sycee silver has dropped to 4 – 4½% premium FOB Lintin. Gold leaf in Canton is $24.75 per Tael.

Samples of the new Nanking silk have arrived – the colour and quality is good and eager buyers will push prices high although the harvest is said to be big.

Nankeens have been increasing in price as the main season for our buying approaches.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Peking Gazettes:

  • A Censor has told the Emperor that Kwong Si Province contains many wandering groups of beggars. We have ourselves seen such groups from time to time in Canton. Some of these people have lost their homes and property in floods and other natural disasters and many members of these groups steal to maintain themselves.
  • Another Censor complains of the exactions of the police around Peking. They are so assiduous in their corruption they make the people weary of life, he says.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

A couple married and settled down in Shun Tak. A group of robbers made plans to rob their house while the husband was away. Their group included an old hunchback man whom they dressed as a woman and sent to the house to impersonate a distant relative of the husband who was still unknown to the new wife. Such visits are quite normal in China. The hunchback was accepted and the wife made a meal at which he drank so much he collapsed.

‘She’ was carried into a room in course of which the servants detected weapons on ‘her’ person. The wife was alarmed and had the hunchback tied to the bed. She peeped outside her door and saw a dozen men with faces blackened. She barricaded the door and took a gong to the roof and beat it to arouse the neighbours who ran to her house and the robbers fled.

The hunchback has been identified at Chang Yuen. He identified the leaders of the robbers and all were sentenced to be transported to Yunnan.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Emigration from China is illegal but is widely practised by the coastal peoples. The last Singapore Chronicle we have received reports the arrival there of four junks from China containing 1,600 passengers intent on living in the Straits. These people have concluded there are more opportunities for advancement outside China than within it. They are mainly artisans – mechanics, craftsmen, carpenters and blacksmiths – who are guaranteed work in the new settlements. The overseas Chinese have become conspicuous by their usefulness and industry. We estimate the annual emigration from China is large.

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

Proclamation in Macau, 4th August 1828 (13th day of 6th moon of 8th year of the To Kwong Emperor)

Lee, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, issues a proclamation against the staff and watchmen of the Praia Grande Customs House and their Macau coolies to stop their extortion and tranquillise the foreign merchants:

“Plowden, the English Taipan, and his colleagues memorialise that passengers arrive at Macau on merchant ships from England and India and are subjected to arbitrary charges by the Praia Grande Customs House staff. My investigation reveals the runner Chow Kut and the watermen Tsang Kwai, Lam Heen and Leung Chung, who all work there examining passes, always make an outcry on the arrival of English passengers until they get paid. When the passengers’ baggage is landed or when they return to the ship to leave, the coolies Chan Bong, Cheuk Hei Kan and Chan Ah Yat, request inflated fees for carrying the bags demanding routinely $7 – $12 from each passenger. If the passengers attempt to evade payment by having their own black devils carry the baggage, then the coolies raise a clamour until they are paid off.

“I have ordered the Macau Tung Che and the Heung Shan magistrate to arrest the named men, chain, try and publicly cangue them as appropriate. And I have asked the Hoppo to prosecute Chow Kut and any others of his own staff who are involved. I have suggested he consider engraving a rock at the landing place to publish the prohibition on extortion in perpetuity.

“The Customs House staff are reminded they are only permitted to search and examine. They are not allowed to levy fees depending on the numbers of pieces of baggage or the numbers of women in the party. They can charge only the same fee18 that Macau coolies charge for carriage of baggage. If they again insult, extort and disturb the foreign passengers, Plowden may report them for seizure and punishment.

“This is not a licence to the foreigners to act disorderly or make false accusations. Those acts are also crimes. Let all implicitly obey. Oppose not.”19

Vol 1 No 30 – Saturday 2nd August 1828

A French sailor who was on a ship that was in Cochin China when the Diligente was there has arrived in Macau on a fishing boat. He says the Captain and 13 crewmen of his ship tried to take passage in the Diligente to Macau but had to ultimately travel on a Chinese junk.

When they arrived near Macau, the junk crew attacked the 14 Frenchmen and murdered all except this one survivor who is a good swimmer and jumped overboard when the attack commenced. He was later rescued by the crew of another junk from Tien Cheen.

The Portuguese governor of Macau is to address Canton officials on the matter.

Vol 1 No 31 – Saturday 9th August 1828

Editorial – Some subscribers are dissatisfied with our publication. We have sought to expose injustices. We have made occasional pronouncements on free trade. We are not hostile to established authority. We do not seek the end of the company’s monopoly but occasional we discuss ‘rights’, particularly the right to petition. Some subjects we touch upon are contentious but we merely put the facts before our readers.

One objection is that many of our articles about the Chinese focus on depravity and are said to libel the Chinese in general.

We will in future publish articles on Chinese virtues. We will continue to provide useful commercial information. We will oppose the ‘cash-collecting spirit’ of the country. We will publish more on the laws, customs, politics and domestic events of China so our readers may become acquainted with them.

We understand the purpose of a public newspaper in Canton is always to disseminate useful knowledge and not merely to censure, criticise and ridicule.

Vol 1 No 31 – Saturday 9th August 1828

In a recent squall at Whampoa a chop boat overturned but, unusually, the cargo and crew were all saved.

Vol 1 No 31 – Saturday 9th August 1828

Trade report – Cutch ( a brown dye extracted from the acacia tree) and ebony imports have recently increased and prices are expected to fall.

Vol 1 No 31 – Saturday 9th August 1828

The French sailor who was recently brought to Macau has told the Chinese magistrate that 11 of his countrymen were killed by the crew of a Fukien (Chuan Chow) junk when in sight of Grand Ladrone island. The Frenchmen’s property consisted of 100 piculs of silk and $14,000 and was stolen.

The Tso Tong has reported the facts to the Viceroy.

Vol 1 No 31 – Saturday 9th August 1828

The Canton trading community expect a large transfer of silver will be remitted to India by the country traders this year as most export cargoes are too expensive. The company’s treasury remains shut and no Bills are available.20

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

European news – Chinese affairs are receiving more attention in Europe. The London newspaper Oriental Herald has published articles about the renewal of the Company’s monopoly in 1834. It is mainly merchants and literati who are subscribers.

The governments of Europe and America have little to say. The British government has stopped English warships from visiting China (since the naval atrocities at Lintin which cost the Company dear in lost tea shipments and the home government in lost revenue).

The French Journal Asiatique and English Asiatic Journal (the best periodical on China we have seen, says the Editor) are reporting more Chinese news. America has very little news and Spain and Portugal nothing. The desired work is less the translation of Chinese texts into English as vice versa. The English in the Straits and the Dutch in Java should encourage more effort in this field.

At present we are unable to influence the mind of China concerning the social improvements now being made in Europe. With more translations of our works into Chinese they would eventually find their way to the Emperor and benefit all East Asia.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

In Europe and America the idea of popular education has been accepted. It is being widely attempted in British colonies in Asia. Even girls are being taught to read. In China education is overwhelmingly confined to boys.

No system has been established in Macau where the poor desire education and under-employed youth might provide the instruction. This matter comes under the Macau clergy but whether they approve of general education is unknown.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

The Governor of Nanking has asked the Emperor to deify a person who drowned a century ago whilst building a pier at the mouth of the Yangtse River. Last Autumn a breakwater was being constructed at the same place to direct the tidal force and the works were in imminent danger of destruction by an east wind. Prayers and sacrifices were offered to the drowned man – Chow Chung Hung – and the wind suddenly shifted to the west, the tide fell and remedial work on the breakwater was concluded safely. The Governor wishes to build a temple there to Chow and offer sacrifice each Spring and Autumn.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

A large number of the Muslim inhabitants of Aksu, who supported Jahangir, have had their property seized by the Emperor. 81 estates, 440 houses and 57 fruit gardens are to be sold off to provide funds for rebuilding of the city walls.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

An embassy from Nepal was supposed to leave Kathmandu in July last year to travel to Peking via Tibet but there has been nothing in the Peking Gazettes since.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

A low-ranking officer of the Military Superintendent at Whampoa punished a pilot with 20 blows recently because he would not report a country ship as the Company’s ship. Company ships pay larger fees. The pilot complained and the officer has been dismissed.

Many articles in this edition reveal that the Chinese system permits redress of grievances. They should help to remove the impression of many foreigners that society here is poorly ordered. Our popular foreign view stems from the incessant squeezing which we seem incapable of resisting. The Whampoa pilot has shown us our error.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

The London Oriental Herald reports a plan for the translation of Oriental works. Mr Huttman, the secretary of the proposed translation board, has obtained support from the King and bishops and some Royal Dukes (Clarence, Sussex and Gloucester) to patronise the endeavour by paying 10 guineas each.

The project is to have Orientalists in Asia submit translations to a committee of the Royal Asiatic Society in return for money or medals. Translation is unpleasant work and few people have spare time. The late Rev Collie in the preface to his translation of Confucius says that in consideration of the low value of the work and the importance of his primary occupation, he should not have spent so long on it. We think many translators will feel the same.

Pagan literature is mainly translated for amusement. We would rejoice to see another organisation translating European books into Chinese. This would be more conducive of improvement to mankind than the present scheme.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Cutting off a Chinaman’s queue is locally called ‘petty murder’. It is both grossly insulting and unlucky.21 A 40 years woman Wong Hei was indebted to a 30 year man Leung Kun in 580 Taels but she was unwilling to pay. She planned to cut off his queue and at the same time cry out that he was assaulting her. The neighbours ran in and bound Leung and took him to the magistrate.

Wong said she was willing to forgive Leung if he would abandon his claim. The magistrate suspected Wong and ordered her fingers squeezed. She then confessed the above plan and was imprisoned for debt. The man was given a flowery hat as compensation (a means of disguising a lost queue by a fake one attached to the hat).

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

The Emperor has reprimanded all the tribes of Mongolia after a Mongol official was found to have allowed theatricals to be performed in his own house. It is said he brought contempt on his rank.

The Emperor says the traditional habits of the Mongols are being replaced by luxury. They should spend their time in archery and horsemanship not theatricals and showy extravagance.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Local News:

  1. Some policemen had a warrant to seize a shopman for debt. He works up the Canton river at Sam Shui. The shopmen fled before their arrival leaving his accountant, who was not named in the warrant, in charge of the business. The policemen however averred the accountant was named and demanded $100 to let him off. The accountant had the money but, recognising that the policemen had no idea of his name, refused to pay whereupon they seized him and took him to their boat.
    His wife, 8 months pregnant, followed and tried to physically hold back the boat. A policeman drew his sword and threatened to cut off her fingers. She let go and, the boat having already passed into deep water, overbalanced and was drowned. The body was found two days later and it is said the infant cried when removed from his mother. The Sam Shui gentry have complained.
    Judge Yau has sentenced the policeman who held the sword to decapitation and the rest to transportation.
  2. A religious drama was recently performed in Shun Tak and a large crowd of mainly women and children assembled to watch. Commencement is usually announced by beating a large drum on three successive occasions and letting off rockets. At the second drum and rocket, the latter fell back onto the dried leaves comprising the roof and set fire to them. Many women and children fell down in the panic and sixty died.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Picturesque Chinese metaphors:

“A dog barking at a tiger” – a presumptuous act

“Chasing the wind” or “catching a shadow” – wasting time

“The moon reflected in water” or “scented flowers in the mirror” – Buddhist expressions for the illusory nature of the self-concept.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Local news – The Fukienese junk in which the French were killed, landed 12 passengers before attacking the foreigners. 16 policemen have been sent and located all of them. They have identified the junk owner and junk master as rich merchants (called Chor Sarn ‘sitters on the mountain peak’ – a euphemism for capitalists).

The port admiral for Canton River is an officer of their shipping business.

Enquiries are continuing. Meanwhile the survivor has revealed he floated for many hours before being saved.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

The Governor has replied to Magniac’s complaints concerning Man Hop’s failure. We have a rough translation and will remedy any errors in our next. Briefly, he says it is impossible for the Co-Hong to discharge such a large debt in less than 8 years.

The government restricts foreigners to trade only with Hong merchants. It should itself be responsible for compensation, irrespective of whatever future arrangements may be made.

To pay this debt the remaining Hong merchants have already increased the duty on our Indian cotton (a commodity that competes with domestic cotton) by 2 mace per picul. This will amass an adequate sum within a far shorter period than 8 years but increases the fair market price of imported cotton.

Effectively they are making the foreigners pay the Co-Hong’s debts and in due course, when Man Hop’s debt is paid-off, the Hong will profit out of our loss.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Jahangir has become so famous in China that his portrait is on sale in the Canton shops.

Vol 1 No 32 – Saturday 16th August 1828

Local News:

  • Pak Qua the Hong merchant who has long been imprisoned in Canton for debt is soon to be banished to Ili. He traded with integrity and both Hong merchants and foreigners want to mitigate his fate.
  • Many holders of cotton, expecting no improvement in the market, are selling their best lots at 7.5 – 8.2 Taels per picul. Part of the problem is the recent practise of sending cotton cargo by the eastern route – Sunda Straits. This means stock arrives out of season when not expected. Recently the Bengal Government sent 15,000 bales unannounced to the Company here. We have no information on the size and quality of the Nanking crop this year.
  • Nanking silk is daily arriving and is better quality than last year. Chinese holders expect great demand and good prices.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Macau News:

  1. Two of the senior officers (northerners) at the Macau Inner Harbour Custom House (the main Customs house) have been recalled by the Hoppo on 7th August for not preventing abuses at the Praia Grande Custom House against which the Viceroy recently made a proclamation. They were escorted to their boat by staff of all the minor Custom Houses and 7,000 fire-crackers were immediately set off. Also 5 baskets of cakes, a roast pig and a jar of wine were presented to them for their journey. The two officers gave $6 to the bearers of the presents.
  2. On the evening of 6th August several watermen from a passage boat attacked a fruit stall operator in Macau with iron bars, killed the proprietor and injured his partner. The magistrate has been informed but has not yet taken action.
  3. A shopman, Yun Wo, used his own staff to transport 100 piculs of goods. About 100 Macau coolies assembled outside his shop and said the shopman should employ them to transport the goods, not his own staff. As they had come to the shop they felt they should be paid whether the shopman used them or not. They demanded $10 and on being refused, broke the furniture in the shop and thrashed the shopman and his partners. The shopman complained to the Tso Tong and some of the coolies were identified and arrested. The Canton Viceroy recently forbade Macau coolies to molest foreign passengers at the landing pier but we do not expect them to attend to it for long. To obtain order in Macau would require a resident authority. We suppose this should be the Portuguese but their difficulty in getting justice means they are ineffective.

Foreigners in China are selfish and jealous of each other. The national groups never combine to oppose injustice, oppression, violence or insult. We should display more public spirit amongst Europeans in claiming the common ‘Rights of Man’ from the Chinese. The Macau road was such a case.22 So is the clearance of the area in front of the factories. These works would have improved our conditions but have been cancelled.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Leung Ah Sung is the man who was executed a few days ago. While drunk he cut off his aunt’s ears because she scolded him. A police runner who could identify him was sent to arrest him but had his eyes dug out. Leung then fled to Tong King (the Red River delta of present-day Vietnam) and wrote a letter to his wife which was the means of his discovery.

The magistrate sent 20 people to arrest and recover him. Apparently China can do that in Tong King (it’s a vassal state and Leung had a reward of $3,000 on his head). Of the 20 runners sent to catch him, 2 were killed before they effected their purpose. Leung was retrieved and condemned to die.

Three days ago he was beheaded at the execution place (on the river bank east of the factories). Thousands watched. He showed no remorse. The government gives a pastry and some wine to each man led out to death. Few criminals eat and drink on their way to execution but Leung did. He seemed pleased by the large crowd. He was 31 years old.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

The Heung Shan magistrate arrived in Macau on 14th August on his way to the Grand Ladrone Island to look for witnesses about the murdered Frenchmen. The west side of the Canton river estuary comes under Heung Shan’s jurisdiction whilst the east side is Sun On County. The aggrieved party has applied to both jurisdictions but Chinese law requires the arrest of the pirates within 2 months of report. Failure entails possible dismissal. Neither of the county offices have formally taken up the case yet.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Peking Gazettes – On 25th June the Emperor proclaimed ‘since the 25th year of the Ka Hing Emperor, Jahangir has been entering Our frontier and creating trouble. In 6th year of the To Kwong Emperor he united with the Puluti Muslims and occupied four of My cities. I sent My soldiers and recovered the cities but the rebel escaped.

Last year he had the temerity to enter My lands again. Then General Chang Ling and Yang Fang caught and caged him and he is today presented at my gate. Heaven and My ancestors have helped Me. I have already rewarded the general. I now confer other awards and give an extra half month’s pay to the soldiers of Peking.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

On 26th June the Emperor examined Jahangir. He is rumoured to have said ‘I gave you many favours but you are ungrateful and excite rebellion’. Jahangir said “I am not a rebel. The eight Muslim cities are the inheritance of my forefathers which I tried to recover. How can this be rebellion?”

He was then taken to the market place and cut to pieces. His head was exposed on a pole. The Emperor commanded his heart be removed and given to the sons of King Chiang and Wulungo as a sacrificial offering to their fathers (who died in the campaign). King’s father committed suicide at Kashgar when he lost the town. Wulungo died fighting.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Ships’ pilots and ships’ compradors complain of government extortions at Canton. All the government offices, the forts and the war junks make demands. Passes for river transit are issued by the Kwan Man Foo at Macau. There are 14 pilots licensed for foreign ships. The India Company pays $60 per ship for pilotage of which about half is distributed in bribes straight away. There are five forts at Chuen Pi and generally 4-5 patrolling war junks. The pilot must ‘show his pass’ (i.e. pay a fee) to each of these. Formerly the pilot paid 30 cash for each inspection; now it is 150 cash. Non-payment results in delay.

The pilot is abused by his own government officers and often by the ship’s ignorant foreign captain. Their Protest names one foreign captain who flogged a pilot for delay that was caused by venal government officials. Some foreigners believe one pilot ran a ship aground at the First Bar in revenge for insults offered by his foreign captain. The ship’s compradors say conditions are now so bad they lose money but cannot readily find other employment so they make this complaint in the hope things will improve.

Pilots say they have many additional unpaid duties, the most troublesome of which is the return required every ten days of the names of smuggling ships at Lintin. The Canton government insists on this information.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Local news:

  1. The Fung and Liu families of Whampoa have been in dispute for fifty years over a grave in the hills which both claim contains one of their ancestors. Neither party has a title deed to the land and no-one lives in the grave’s vicinity who might give clear evidence. Both families have nevertheless been paying the land tax. Year after year, when they inevitably meet at the grave for sweeping, the dispute is renewed.
    They applied to the magistrate but he could reach no decision. Last Ching Ming festival they had a fight at the graveside and five people were wounded. Judge Yau tried to settle the dispute but failed. The site is particularly auspicious and was first occupied during the civil wars of the Ming dynasty. Most people suspect both families claim the grave because they want the site. It is said Judge Yau wanted to confiscate the site but could discover no legitimate grounds. He then persuaded both family leaders to co-operate in sacrificing peacefully.
  2. Recently the Nam Hoi magistrate arrested 8 robbers who were previously in the army as convicts but won their freedom at Kashgar. The leader, named Liu Kwan Tei, had an honorary button for his martial services. There is still a valid $1,000 reward for his arrest.
  3. 36 bandits were brought-in from the countryside this week. One, a woman who tried to poison her mother-in-law, is to be executed.

Vol 1 No 33 – Saturday 23rd August 1828

Heen Qua, the supposedly bankrupt Hong merchant who ran away before Man Hop’s difficulties were disclosed, has been restored to the honorary rank of Tao Tai by the Emperor.

Vol 1 No 34 – Saturday 6th September 1828

Imperial Edict:

“Before the Muslim regions were included in our Empire, the people were ill-used by their leaders and robbed by the Puluti tribes. Since the Ching dynasty conquered Turkestan the peoples’ compulsory services to the state are reduced and exactions have become small. Many of the Puluti have also settled down and live tranquil lives. Some of the original rebels still exist outside our frontier but they lead a fugitive life. Formerly Samusaki and others tried to stir up trouble outside our frontier but it never amounted to anything until Jahangir united with the Puluti tribes to make war. Gantseyen also assisted him.

“The Muslim cities have received our kindness for 60 years. Why did they follow an outsider? They were deceived by the descendants of Ho Cho who were not entirely exterminated. Some Muslims understand propriety but many are easily deceived. Now the leader has been destroyed and the area tranquillised. Let everyone be aware of the consequences of rebellion. Let them not again be duped by others.”

Vol 1 No 34 – Saturday 30th August 1828

No investigative development has occurred in the search for the murderers of the Frenchmen. It now seems possible that they will escape retribution. It is especially regretted that the foreign community did not combine in confronting the government and demanding redress which might then have been obtained.

We have learned that some British ship masters, who were at Macau when the news arrived, offered to pursue the murderers but their offer was declined.

Vol 1 No 34 – Saturday 30th August 1828

Canton trade report, 6th September – Cochineal has been over-supplied to Bombay and has been on-shipped here in such quantities that the price has materially fallen. Ebony has also been over-supplied and dropped to $4 per picul. Cotton cloth and English cotton yarn are so over-supplied they are unsellable. Now the Company’s ships are starting to arrive, the prices of Nankeens have risen.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

On 5th September, Pak Qua, the late security (Hong) merchant, commenced his journey to Ili to start his banishment. The chop boat anchored off the factories to await the tide during which time several of the foreign merchants who had done business with him took the opportunity to visit and condole. As misfortune rather than fraud is the cause of Pak Qua’s fate, he is expected to return in 3-4 years.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Local news:

  1. Later this month some 10,000 students will assemble in Canton to sit the provincial examinations. Various officials have issued edicts proscribing ghost-writing of essays and warning petty-fogging attorneys not to extort money by subpoena-ing students as witnesses in trials during the examinations. Candidates are secluded for the duration of the examinations and may not be called to inferior courts. These annual and triennial examinations excite as much interest amongst the gentry as an election does in England or America.23
  2. A leading literatus in Canton kicked his servant to death last year. The Viceroy and his staff covered up the matter until a few days ago when an order from the criminal board arrived. It is supposed that the upright Judge Yau discovered the concealment and reported privately to Peking.
  3. A short while ago on Honam Island, opposite the foreign factories, a policeman arrested a youth for salt smuggling. The boy’s father attempted to intercede with the policeman but was kicked and died instantly. The policeman is in prison pending a decision on his fate.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Macau report – There is a small market here for the sale and purchase of slaves.24 36 slaves recently deserted their Macanese masters and formed a group for their own protection. They have gone into the hills beyond the last fort in Macau and live in the caves there during the day, descending on the town at night to plunder for food.

The Procurador sent men who tried to smoke out the ex-slaves unsuccessfully. Now a more resolute official has captured them. Their leader is said to be an abandoned man.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Trade report – The large numbers of junks from all along the China coast that trade with the Straits have been bringing back such a load of betelnut, pepper and tin this year that all these markets are ruined.

Its impossible to do business with outside men. Even if you did agree to sell something to him, you cannot buy the main products required in western markets from him as they are restricted to the Hong merchants.

Without the bulk of the value of trade being absorbed in barter, none can trade with a shopman.25

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Macau news:

  • Died at Macau on 6th September, the Armenian trader Mr C Cachatoor, one of the longest resident foreigners in the local community.
  • James Matheson arrived back at Macau from Calcutta per HCS Sir David Scott on 13th September.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Local news – The following Edict allots 7 years for repayment of Man Hop’s debts by the remaining members of the Co-Hong. For many years an impost, called the Consoo charge, has been levied on the foreign trade precisely for the settlement of such debts. Had the fund not been misappropriated it would have sufficed to settle these claims.

Yen the Hoppo has told the Hong merchants he has received a message from the Viceroy.

The Nam Hoi magistrate Lok Heung Yung reported to His Excellency. “I assembled the Hong merchants, How Qua Jr and others, to identify the shortest period for repayment of Man Hop’s debts and to assess the merits of the charge that Man Hop with Wong Sei Kuen and others used foreigners’ goods to pay off older debts. I summoned Wong Sei Kuen and the others and confronted them with Man Hop. After this I called Ng Shih Cheung (Cantonese Romanisation of How Qua Jr’s name), Mow Qua, Chang Qua, Pun Ke Qua, Go Qua, Kin Qua and Fat Qua (the Hong merchants) and examined them. All the merchants said trading conditions had been very difficult this last few years and they are paying off other prior debts. They note Man Hop’s debts are large and they entreated me for a period of 8 years to pay. The foreign creditors are claiming about $1,000,000. Eight years, when compared with the precedent cases, is not excessive. After all, these are not their debts and there are only 7 Hongs at present. They have paid or are paying the debts of Con Se Qua, Lei Shing and Chung Tai and $300,000 remains outstanding from those old cases. If a shorter repayment period is insisted on, it could ruin the remaining Hongs. But the foreigners press strongly and I have accordingly cut one year off the requested period. I hope this will not be too onerous for the Hongs while at the same time be acceptable to the foreigners. I suggest repayments commence at the beginning of next year and that no excuse for delay be entertained.”

I the Governor agree and order the Judge and Treasurer to require the Nam Hoi magistrate to instruct the Hongs accordingly. I copy this order to the Hoppo to order the Hong merchants accordingly.

The Hoppo did so on 18th August. The Nam Hoi Yuen did so on 3rd September.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Parsees dying at Canton are commonly exposed on Dane’s Island.

Vol 1 No 35 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Letter to the Editor – A young Chinese just returned from England to which country he had accompanied an Englishman, again left his wife and family in Macau after only one day, to visit Canton.

His wife was so distressed by this repeated departure that she committed suicide. The young man was informed and returned to be abused by the officials who suspected him of impropriety and requested a bribe. We hear that Chinese females not uncommonly destroy themselves in similar circumstances.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Local news – The Chinese life cycle is 60 years and its completion is a cause for celebration. We remember the great festivities in Peking when his late Majesty reached that age. This year the senior Hong merchant (How Qua Jr), the Rothschild of China, will be 60. He is mentally clear and esteemed by all. He is too rich to involve himself in commercial fraud but in the politics of commerce he avails himself of the privilege of all diplomatists.

He is expected to spend lavishly on the celebrations. We have seen a List of Presents that includes tripod drinking cups, official cups for the first rank, an official vest, Peking boots, longevity candles, cakes and peaches and several exotic foods (beche de mer, sharks’ fins) as well as suckling pig, mutton hams, roast geese, pork hams and a jar of Siu Hing wine.

On 4th October a few people, disguised as the Kwongchow Foo and his retinue, proceeded with cards and $50 of presents to the Hong merchant’s house. How Qua was so pleased he performed devotions and rewarded the bearers with ten times the amount they gave. This group had scarcely left the gate when the real Kwongchow Foo arrived. How Qua says to prosecute such a case ‘no hab handsome lookey’ and the entire community think its a good joke.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

On 23rd September the Hong Merchants published a reward of $500 to any person giving information on breaches of the new regulation dividing trade between the Hongs and the outside men (the shopmen).

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

On 4th day of 5th moon a flooding occurred at King Tak Chun in Kwangsi. Six hundred houses, in which the manufacture of porcelain takes place (there is an immense source of kaolin nearby), were destroyed. Traders are expecting late delivery and reduced quantities of china-ware this year.26

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

The 15th day of 8th moon (23rd September this year) is a popular Chinese holiday (mid-Autumn Festival) and lanterns were erected above the tops of most houses in Canton. They were lit for three nights. This festival is one of the account-settling festivals and the great scarcity of money amongst the Chinese has caused anxiety for merchants.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

General Chang Ling has been appointed Secretary for the Frontiers by the Emperor. This more or less equates with a Foreign Minister’s job.

Yanguchun, the Chinese General taken ill at Kashgar, who thereby lost the opportunity for honours in the capture of Jahangir, is a Roman Catholic Christian from Szechuan.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

Local news: 27

  1. Lancelot Dent arrived at Whampoa from Calcutta on the British ship Jane 2nd October.
  2. C Marjoribanks Esq arrived from Madras on W. Fairlie on 13th October.
  3. The old Hong merchant (How Qua Jr) pretended sickness to excuse himself from business on 1st day of 9th moon (9th October this year) and worshipped Ursa Minor instead (his 60th birthday approaches. Ursa Minor has Polaris at its north end and is consequently important to mariners. It is called Little Dipper in America). The Chinese call it the ‘nine Emperors’ constellation’. He lit candles at noon and presented bread and fruit before them. He expects to receive longevity and prosperity. This star-worship normally lasts 9 days and requires fasting and prayer.

Vol 1 No 36 – Saturday 20th September 1828

The literary examinations for the second degree were completed at Canton on 30th September. 4,800 students attended from 18th September. Three examinations, each lasting three days, were held behind locked gates. The Governor presided and afterwards dined with the Manchu General.

A slight disturbance occurred when the chief examiner declined to ‘pass’ people on a list of names given him by a truculent provincial officer. Since then a placard against the examiner has been published in the streets. Its contents were discussed at the Governor’s dinner and the irritated examiner was provoked into a long and indignant speech at the end of which he threw his wine cup to the floor and shattered it. This is tantamount to an oath. The other guests were distressed and left soon after.

At the last examination 46 students were expelled for violating the rules of composition. These are an endless list of restrictions on candidates.

The theme for the first exam was taken from the four books – Chuang Tse’s aphorism ‘to possess ability and yet ask those who do not, to know much but enquire of those who know little, to own and yet appear not to own, to be full and yet appear empty’. The second was ‘He took hold of things by the two extremes and, in his treatment of the people, maintained the golden mean’. The third was from Mencius ‘In childhood study right principles. In manhood put them into practice’.

The next part of the examination – verse composition with 5 characters per line – was on the theme ‘the sound of an oar, the green of the hills and water’.

This was the course for the first three-day exam. The candidate proceeds to the second and third exams. Finally on the last day there is an examination of written questions on the ancient classics, interpreting abstruse passages; geography and history of China and the biographies of eminent national statesmen and former Cantonese officials.

On 10th October the 75 successful applicants will be identified and their best essays published. All these candidates seek for political office – they are not examined for scientific knowledge.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

We approach the first anniversary of this newspaper and we hope in review that we have provided useful information to our readers. We permit contrary opinion such as the letter of Hardface whose pro-Chinese sentiments are not typical of the English community at large.

His assertion that merchants have a low position in Chinese culture is repudiated by us. Lord Amherst did not make a ‘political error’ as Hardface says. Whilst Governors of provinces may not welcome the company of merchants, they do accept it from time to time. For example the present Viceroy is friendly with a salt merchant and the senior Manchu army officers visit and dine with one of the Hong merchants (facilitated by the rank which that merchant has purchased).

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

Junior Canton officials have been interfering with European recreations and interrupting our correspondence by intercepting the letters of ship masters at Whampoa to their principals in Canton.

The Select Committee has remonstrated with the Viceroy and some relief has been obtained from him via the Hong merchants. Interestingly these advantages were only obtained when we presented the petition at the city gate. The reply was astonishingly quick – after one day – and conceded all that had been asked.

How Qua Jr told us the Viceroy had agreed to redress future grievances and he offered an explanation for the annual publication of an offensive placard.28 It seems if we address the Viceroy in a manly way we get results.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

A criminal gang is operating in Macau, based at the English cemetery. They were attacked there by a force of negroes acting for the Portuguese and a few were captured. Several placards, said to contain treasonable expressions against the Emperor, were seized and are being translated but they are believed to be just a simple gang of apolitical robbers from one of the neighbouring islands.

It is speculated that they might attack the foreign community when the murderers of the French seamen arrive for punishment.

In 1826, when a slave was executed, the occasion was used for anti-foreign rioting and this may be a repeat. The Chinese officials in Macau have warned the Portuguese to be on guard and guns have been distributed to strategic places. Citizens throughout the town are arming.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

Peking Gazettes:

  • The Emperor has approved a new supply of arms to Fukien for the maintenance of order on Taiwan.
  • The King of Korea, on hearing of Chinese success in Turkestan, sent a congratulatory embassy to the Emperor which has been graciously received.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

Local news – Judge Yau has published a notice prohibiting suicide. He says the Cantonese are foolish and cruel and always in dispute with their neighbours. They view death as a return to one’s proper place. Suicides in Canton are thought to comprise 80-90% of all untimely deaths and, of those attempting it, 60-70% are women. Some hang themselves in an unoccupied room, others throw themselves in the river, others use knives to cut their own throats and a few take the joo poison.

The Judge is persuaded that the event precipitating these suicides is usually something trivial. Some wives are disobedient to their mothers- or fathers-in-law and cannot tolerate being reproved by their husbands, others assert an injustice and hope the investigation of their deaths will identify and correct it.

The proclamation is very long and contains detailed reasoning on why suicide is not an approved course of action. The Judge notes some women bind themselves into sisterhoods that profess a disregard for life. They say being born a woman is a punishment for sin in a former life as is being married to a poor husband.

The Judge says suicide is a wicked custom of the coastal communities and must be stopped. He says death is not preferable to womanhood or poverty. He points out that a death without marks of violence on the body is unlikely to be investigated or result in punishment of the provocateur. Women should remember that their bodies will be exposed at a Coroner’s enquiry.

He mentions a 20 years old woman in Macau whose relatives had systematically stolen her husband’s property. He complained to the wife. She then put on her best clothes and drank poison prepared by a servant girl. The local magistrate was then examining another case of suicide by a young man so there was no investigation until the girl’s relatives intervened at the funeral procession and caught and beat the husband at the city gate. He fled to the house of an Englishman. Her coffin was left in a field several days until a traditional booth was erected and appropriate Buddhist rites performed.

We have just heard of another case in Wai Chow (Huizhou). A woman’s father-in-law asked her to lend dresses to his daughter for her wedding. The woman was reluctant and instead prepared a poison for the other woman which was mistakenly drunk by the father. When the son found out, he killed himself. The local magistrate was bribed by the wife’s relatives but the facts still came out. The woman has reportedly been judicially dismantled in the market place.

Judge Yau is sufficiently disturbed as to wish to execute the magistrate. Fortunately for that gentleman he is a relative of both the Governor and the Manchu General. As the General is unfriendly to the Judge he cannot ask for favours but the Governor has told the Judge that officials should help each other. The Judge says he can do only what the Emperor would approve.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

How Qua’s 60th birthday on 4th October was shared with his wife. They are both 60. The birthday hall is a spacious room with an altar, behind which is a screen listing in gold letters all the honours received by the family from successive Emperors. Their family eminence results from foreign trade. Relatives, friends and some acquaintances kow-tow before the screen. Next to the hall is a dining room and a theatre where opera is performed throughout daylight hours. Three plays are performed, the first showing astrological benefits on the family, then a mime about obtaining high office and finally a play about a young man with 12 women, one of whose children ascends into the sky and becomes a star – a wish for numerous progeny. One celebration involves prayer for the ancestors. Vast numbers of the House of Ng (Mandarin – Wu) have been wined and dined and since then two parties for How Qua’s European and American friends have been held, including a theatrical performance.

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

Trade news – The India Company treasury was opened 1st – 25th October for the sale of Bills on Calcutta and received subscriptions of $2,000,000

Vol 1 No 38 – Monday 3rd November 1828

The local grocer for foreign victuals in the Canton factories is M/s Markwick and Lane. The firm sells salt meats, wines and champagne and this newspaper.

Vol 1 No 39 – Saturday 15th November 1828

Edict of Viceroy Lee to the Hong merchants:

“Plowden has petitioned complaining that the Poon Yu marine police intercepted a letter. There are long-standing regulations for correspondence. I asked the Poon Yu magistrate to check and explain. He says the army officers at Whampoa seized Chan Ah Hei who carried a foreign letter from Captain Farrer. Chan received it from the ship’s comprador To Wah Ying who was acting on Farrer’s orders. To Wah Ying is accordingly also arrested on suspicion of treason. I have ordered the Hong merchants to translate the letter and, if it refers solely to commercial matters, to return it.

“Sending letters in this way is improper. In future, foreigners sending letters will give them to the ship’s comprador who will personally arrange delivery. Compradors may not delegate this duty to others. The Hong merchants will enforce this instruction and be responsible for performance.

“Plowden also complains the inconvenience of reporting to the Customs House for a pass and being cleared before travelling on the river. These requirements were made by Viceroy Cheung in the 19th year of the Ka Hing Emperor (1814) to combat smuggling. They are long-standing and have hitherto been observed. They will continue.

“Chan Cheung and others at the Praia Grande Custom House say foreigners refuse to allow inspections and land their own cargo alleging the Customs staff extort money and make false accusations. The statements of the foreigners differ from those of the Customs staff – one must be false. The Hoppo is requested to examine Chan Cheung and the compradors and ascertain the truth. Whoever is lying, Chinese or foreigner, will be punished.

“Not long ago I received a complaint that the foreigners sail and row their boats on the river for amusement and cause anxiety to native boat operators. I instructed the foreigners to cease so injury might be avoided. I simply prohibited regattas for sporting purposes. Whenever the foreigners have a proper reason for boating back and forth it is approved.

“The foreigners must attend to the regulations. They are drafted in clear language. The content is not for discussion. They should peacefully obey the law and the Hong merchants are ordered to explain everything to them. The foreigners are here for trade and they must obey the law to avoid bringing trouble on themselves.”29

Vol 1 No 39 – Saturday 15th November 1828

An emissary from Nepal has arrived in Szechuan.

Vol 1 No 39 – Saturday 15th November 1828

The Liu family of Chang Yuen near Canton had one troublesome son of 16 years age. The neighbours complained of his thefts which brought shame on his parents and the father agreed to execute him. He strangled the lad that night and interred the body on common land outside the village.

Everyone knew about it. An old Chinese on hearing of the matter recalled he had a grandson who had been similarly dispatched (fathers have the power of life and death over their children in certain circumstances).

Vol 1 No 39 – Saturday 15th November 1828

Peking Gazettes:

Yuen, the late Viceroy of the Two Kwong, is now in Yunnan and reports that salt production from the mines is reduced and the fixed government tax must be re-assessed. The Emperor agrees.

Another ex-Viceroy of the Two Kwong (during Admiral Drury’s invasion), Na Yen Ching, is at Kashgar and governs Turkestan. He has asked for a reduction in local court fees. It transpires the officials previously distressed the Muslims with extra charges which they kept for themselves. The Emperor has agreed. A stone post is to be erected outside the court with the fees engraved upon it so the Muslims will know and an appeal mechanism to the Chinese Resident is also approved. An aggrieved person may further appeal from the Resident’s decision to Peking once a year.

The Emperor left Peking on 17th October to visit his ancestral graves and examine progress in construction of his own tomb. Work on the Imperial mausoleum commenced 8 years ago. The Emperor has discovered that the superintendents ignored geomantic advice and sited the tomb so low on the hill that it fills with water. All the superintendents and hundreds of inferior officers are to be punished.

Vol 1 No 39 – Saturday 15th November 1828

This week’s Prices Current must be considered nominal as there is a great scarcity of money amongst the Chinese. Sycee is 6% premium, dollars 1% premium and gold at $26 per ounce.

10th November Robert Morrison’s wife had a baby daughter at Macau.


The remaining 1828 issues are missing.


Vol 2 No 1 – 3rd January 1829

Thomas Dent and Company announce the admission of Mr Thomas Wilkinson to the partnership w.e.f. 1.1.29.

The interest in the firm of Mr Charles Bright ceased on 30th June 1827

Vol 2 No 1 – 3rd January 1829

The partnership established for three years and trading as The Widow Payva and Sons has expired. The company’s outstanding business will be liquidated by the managing partner Sr. Joaquim Joze Ferreira Vieiga.

Sgd Joaquim Joze Ferreira Vieiga and Ignacia Vicencia de Payva.

Vol 2 No 1 – 3rd January 1829

The new Governor has received his seals of office and issued a proclamation:

“Good government depends on the extensive collection of public opinion. An official must constantly attend to all affairs. I have been an official for twenty years. Wherever I serve I investigate what it is that tends to the advantage and disadvantage of the people. Now as Foo Yuen my eyes and ears must stretch to the 13 foo districts and the 3 chow departments. (Here follows a list of major things he must attend to – all administrative things plus spiritual welfare). I require the help of the people and the officials. You must all advise me what you think benefits and injures the people. This is not merely a form letter.”

Editor’s comment – our own legislature asserts it is impossible to govern without oaths. They need the church as a tool of the state. In China they tolerate religion rather than harness it, but spiritual feeling is alive.

The Governor, whose proclamation above has provoked these comments, recently went 20 miles down river to pray at the Nam Hoi Temple. When the old Foo Yuen left recently he went with the Viceroy to another temple on Ho Nam Island (which we Europeans call the Ho Nam Josshouse) but that was mainly for a meal (they took their own cooks with them). Chinese monasteries often provide board and lodging.

At Macau recently there have been celebrations to Tin Hau, the Queen of the Sea. They were commenced by the port admiral who donated $100 to a fund which accumulated $11,000. It is a popular festival. The temple is on the rocky promontory near the Bar Fort and was recently rebuilt in granite. The old image of the Queen, which was a foot high and was burnt in a fire, has been replaced with a new one of the same size. In the celebration, the eye of the image was vivified with a dab of red ink. Then all the people, great and small, offered incense and sacrifices.

The appearance of the Queen of Heaven is derived from a young Fukienese virgin named Lin who lived about 600 years ago. She was deified in a previous dynasty but it was during the Ching that she was raised to a national religion. Her abode in Macau is honoured as an Imperial chapel to which the Emperor sends an official annually to offer incense and prayer.

Vol 2 No 1 – 3rd January 1829

The Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca has Sir George T Staunton for its patron. It was founded on 11th November 1818. Now, ten years later, its sixth report has been published. Its objects are to cultivate Chinese and English literature in the Far East and spread Christianity. It is non-denominational and amongst its students have been Catholics and atheists. An American youth (W C Hunter) studied Chinese there. The Chinese language teachers are both European and Chinese people.

It lost its first two principals – Drs Milne and Collie – whilst they were still young. Marjoribanks visited the college a few months ago and, finding good progress, made a handsome donation. On his return to England he initiated a subscription for the college.

The present principal has now asked us to publish his thanks to the English Factory at Canton, and some other people, for their support.

Vol 2 No 1 – 3rd January 1829

A large shipment of sandalwood has arrived in Canton from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). This has become a staple export from those islands. The Sandwich Islanders are improvident. Having sold their wood to the foreigners they have not been replanting and now the supply is finishing.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

On Tung Jeet (Winter Solstice) the civil and military officials, all in court dress, go to the Man Sau King at 3 or 4 am to do the three kow-tows. The common people make rice pies with pork in them and large round cakes. Everyone prepares special food and sacrifices to ancestors before feasting.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Eleven Japanese sailors have been rescued in Chekiang after being blown ashore. They had two Loo Choo fishermen with them whom they had themselves previously rescued. The Chekiang Governor says there was no contraband in their ship and he will care for them and send them back to Japan when the annual Chinese fleet from Chapu goes there for copper. The 2 Loo Choo men are to be sent home via Fukien which has occasional trade with the islands.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Peking Gazettes of 22nd December report a rebellion in Yunnan under Chow Ying Lung and Lee Yang Chu. Their accomplice Wong Sze Lin engraved an Imperial seal and published a manifesto on the border inviting revolution in Tong King. A man named Lee gave information against them to Governor Yuen and two were arrested and executed but Chow escaped into Annam.

Editor – There appears to be a disposition amongst part of the people to expel the Manchus but they are poorly led and recent revolutions have failed.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

We have a report from Macau on progress against the murderers of the French sailors on Le Navigateur:

  • The survivor has been presented with $100 to buy warm clothing. He has all along been receiving 3 Taels a month for subsidence from the Viceroy and various other small sums from sundry officials. On 15th August the magistrates of Casa Branca in Heung Shan and Macau and two naval officers went to the Great Ladrone Island. The survivor, an interpreter and another Portuguese went along as well. They found no trace of the bodies.
  • Letter of Liu, the Heung Shan heen, to the Procurador of Macau. “I have been asked by the Viceroy to detain the survivor Francisco Mangiapan for identification of the criminals and the Tso Tong has been ordered to provide for him. You will conform with this order.”
  • The Casa Branca magistrate offers a reward of $200 for the heads of the criminals whose descriptions are given. A reward of $50 is offered to each person giving information. Two are – Yu Tien from Chuan Chow in Fukien and Lin Ah Hang of Fuk Chow. (junk crewmen)
  • The Casa Branca magistrate reports that the Governor of Amoy received intelligence of the junk but it left before he could take action. It sailed to Tung Ting Island where it was destroyed on the rocks. 11 crew men were rescued and confirmed that the French had been on board. They had agreed to rob the Frenchmen when passing the Ladrones. They killed 12 but two got away. They then shared out the goods and money. One man had killed three and four, others had killed one each. Six denied involvement. He will send all the men to Macau for adjudication.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

The governor of Kirin reports that the issue of licences to people to dig ginseng (an Imperial monopoly) in his Province this year is 104 less than last year. He suspects the Emperor’s ginseng harvest and revenue will be reduced.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

There is an officer in Peking called the Tung Ching Sze through whom all correspondence to and from the Emperor passes. Our estimable Judge Yau of Canton has just been appointed to this post.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Admiral Liu Kei Tung of Fukien has visited the Peng Hu Islands (Pescadores) and Taiwan and reviewed all the Chinese stations at each place.

He degraded one officer for want of skill but said the others and the troops were alert and their arms in good condition.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

The Imperial Commissioner at Kashgar is Na, who, when Viceroy of Canton in 1809, refused to see Admiral Drury. He has interdicted most of the local trade to keep Muslims out. The Hau Han tribe continue to operate a market under the gaze of 200 Chinese soldiers. All sale prices are fixed by the officials. No Chinese money may be taken out of China and all trade is by barter. If cash is used, it and the goods are confiscated and the traders punished. The Emperor fears enforcement of these arrangements will soon become lax. He charges Na and his officers to be diligent.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Two handbills have been posted in Canton concerning child stealing. A 13 years old boy and a 13 years old slave girl are missing and rewards are offered for information and/or their return. One bill has been posted for three months.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Lee, the Governor has published a new law on long leases. Houses and lands can only be leased for a maximum 9 years. They may be renewed by agreement after that time. If not, the property is transferred to the tenant. Lee complains longer leases cause quarrels when the owner tries to recover the property.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

During the recent fire at Whampoa, a building belonging to one of our house compradors caught fire. Whilst everyone stood looking at the burning front, a group slipped around the back and removed contents. The army fortuitously caught some and discovered that they were relatives of the comprador who had assured neighbours they were merely removing family heirlooms to safety.

The comprador will not support their prosecution and has instead issued a notice that he will himself redeem whatever of his property is in pawnbrokers’ hands (where the relatives disposed of the loot). This support for family honour before self-interest is being praised as virtue.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

Lee Lok Yay, the great salt merchant and confidant of Viceroys, has taken the son of an army officer to his home to marry his daughter. Normally the daughter goes to the husband’s house but the reverse occurs with the daughters of rich people.

Vol 2 No 2 – Saturday 17th January 1829

We are reliably informed that an acceptable plan for the liquidation of the insolvent Hong merchant Man Hop’s debts and compensation for Magniac’s stolen cotton has been agreed. Repayment will be made over six years. This shows the utility of perseverance.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

On 24th January the Navigateur criminals were brought to Canton for trial in the Hong merchants’ Consoo House. The prisoners began to arrive in cages (3’ x 3’ x 2’) before noon. A round hole in the roof of each cage allowed the head to protrude. They each had light chains around their necks, legs and wrists. On each cage was written the occupant’s name and his punishment. Each one was emaciated and most appeared sick. Some showed signs of torture wounds.

One man, a 50 years old prisoner named Chai Kung Chow, gestured that he wished to speak through an interpreter. A foreign sinologist (Robert Morrison) spoke privately with him. He said he was falsely accused. He said he spoke only Fukienese whilst the others spoke different languages. The others had accused him of killing 3 Frenchmen and under torture he had confessed.

The prisoners were brought up in groups of three and five and confronted by the foreign survivor Francisco. Most of them he readily recognised. He hesitated on two and on another said he had been present but had not taken part. Francisco had often spoken previously of his deliverer – a crewman who had exposed the plot to him and helped his escape. This turned out to be Chai.

In the course of the investigation 47 suspects were arrested and 35 were produced at Court. Two died in prison. Chai will still be punished, probably banishment, as he was aboard the ship but Francisco agreed to send a note to the Viceroy requesting clemency. The court proceedings were dignified and impressive with the exception of the filthy lictors who shouted and abused the prisoners.

On 30th January 17 prisoners who were principals in the massacre were executed. Executions are done in an open yard 200 feet long and 30 feet wide. The avenue to the place from the riverbank was lined with soldiers. Two crosses were erected for the condemned but one was taken away. The swords used were heavy – about 3 feet long and 2 ins wide and incredibly sharp. At 10 a.m. the judge and magistrates arrived and sat at one side. Then the prisoners were carried-in in their cages. They had previously been stopped at the gate where a piece of pork, four cakes and two cups of spirits were offered to each as a sacrifice. Some ate and drank these offerings. Each had his name and sentence inscribed on a long slip of wood on his back. They were placed about eight feet apart immediately in front of the foreigners and, after confirming that the French survivor was present, they were decapitated immediately. Each prisoner had his arms bound to his sides. Each was well clothed and clean. They believe they will be wearing these clothes in the after-life so they invariably select their best. The clothes were stolen from the bodies soon after death. A Guard held the convict’s upper arms from behind and thrust him forward to receive the blow. Six executioners did the work. One convict lamented and another peered around but all the others displayed total resignation. The one affixed to the cross (for an abbreviated form of Ling Chi) received quick cuts to his forehead and arms and then a sword thrust to the heart. Not a moan was heard.

The skilful executioners importuned the foreigners for cumshaw but were not obliged. They are Chinese soldiers from the small Customs House on the creek adjacent to the foreign factories. They have devoted themselves to this service and receive 50 cents for every head. For Ling Chi they get 3 Taels. They removed the heads with a single blow except in two cases which were finished off with a knife. Against the wall was a railed cage containing about 100 heads from previous executions. Two gentlemen in crimson satin with green trim appeared. They are the official executioners but take no part in the proceedings. One of these had previously told foreigners that he has executed over 10,000 men since taking office. He receives a commission per head from which he remits a little to the soldiers. He said during the years of active piracy a while back he was executing 1,000 men each year. One remarkable thing was that the culprits were positioned to face the foreigners leaving their backs towards the seated officials. Normally a condemned man must face to the north, towards the Emperor, to acknowledge the justice of his sentence.

A man with no brothers can sometimes evade execution as there is no-one to carry forward his family line. In this execution one young man was proved to be an only son and his family had been preserved for three generations by only sons. On this evidence he was spared by the Governor.

The governments of two Provinces have given us good service in this case. So has Sr. Veiga, the late Procurador of Macau. It was he who suggested the Chinese commence their investigation with the Chinese passengers who disembarked before the massacre.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

A plague of small-pox has spread through the community at Canton and several Europeans are afflicted.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

A few years ago a Buddhist priest was cangued in public in Canton and a pair of small women’s shoes were nailed to the cangue to indicate the nature of his offence.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

Law in China flows from the Emperor. His decision becomes national law until he next considers similar facts. Here is a new law from Issue No 121 of one of the Peking Gazettes:

‘When several people in a family are murdered leaving no male heir alive, the son(s) of the murderer will be presented to the keepers of the Imperial harem in prospect of castration and the Emperor will be requested to make a ruling on the case.’

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

The censor Chang Tsang has informed the Emperor that foreign copper cash, with Chinese characters written on it, circulates in Canton and Fukien provinces. The Emperor instantly forbade it.

The censor says as much as 70% of the circulation is made up of these coins (they come from the provinces that comprise present-day Vietnam – Tong King in the north, Annam in the centre and Cochin China in the south). They are introduced by overseas Chinese. They are prohibited because they are foreign but they have Chinese characters on them.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

The Emperor has signed 789 autumn death warrants this year. These are exclusive of provincial executions. 90 men from Yunnan will be executed. The province contains some new territories and three people from those are to die. An additional 111 from Szechuan, 95 from Canton and 24 from Fukien are scheduled for execution this autumn.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

The superintendents of the Imperial mausoleum have been sentenced. Ying Ho, late minister of state, is condemned to be decapitated but the Emperor says he will just banish him to Huk Lung Kong (the Black Dragon – or Amur – River Province). The other officers are to be transported to Ili or the northern frontier.

Vol 2 No 3 – Monday 2nd February 1829

Last year the Emperor’s younger brother gave sanctuary to a eunuch who had been involved in the coup d’Etat of 1813. He was disgraced with demotion.

On that earlier occasion his present majesty, who was then in the harem, saw two rebels climbing over a wall and shot them. Their accomplices were intimidated and no more tried to enter the palace harem.

Now the Emperor has forgiven his younger brother and restored his rank.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

Chinese news publications are limited to the Peking Gazettes, which report mainly the events at Peking and the Emperor’s responses to them, and to the daily Court Circulars of the provincial Governors which list the governor’s schedule, details of people arriving and departing, treasure remittances to Peking, occurrences of fires, executions and the like. Little background information is provided (the relative absence of public media contributes to Chinese reliance on word of mouth)

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

The seventeen heads of the murderers of the French crew of the Navigateur have been sent to Macau and placed in small wicker cages suspended from poles that have been erected on the hill above the Bar Fort.

The result of this investigation has been a triumph for Chinese justice but it is well known that many innocent people, including women and children, were arrested, incarcerated and tortured before the evidence was obtained that led to the arrests. Even then, one convict denied involvement right to the end.

It seems provincial officials are as concerned to produce a good-looking report for Peking as exercise justice for their people. The An Cha Sze, the criminal judge of the province, still wished to execute Chai because of his confession (extracted under torture) but the Kwongchow Foo, whom Robert Morrison beseeched for mercy, was able to over-rule him.

The Chinese were first shocked then pleased with Morrison’s intervention. Morrison has previously on several occasions pleaded for mercy on behalf of foreigners accused of murder (in cases we consider as manslaughter or justifiable homicide). Now his intervention on behalf of Chai suggests he is impartial.

Nevertheless, it seems likely, now that 17 Chinese have been executed for these French deaths, that our future attempts at mitigating the absolute requirement of a life for a life will become more difficult.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

The Governor has ‘recognised’ the French Consul M. Gernaert and will send him the property recovered in the Navigateur case for disposal.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

On 2nd November the first dividend on Man Hop’s liquidation, amounting to one sixth of his debt, was paid by the Co-Hong.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

Yee, the word we normally translate as barbarian, is used in one of the books of Tao to describe a member of a cursed race with bald heads, deep-set eyes, long noses and fat smelly bodies.

All of these physical characteristics and the unfortunate place of their birth are said to result from Karma, having sinned in former lives. This insight makes our understanding of yee even more objectionable that hitherto.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

The progress of Canton as a centre of foreign trade is evidenced by the rise of marine insurance. The risks are underwritten by the merchants of India and China as joint shareholders. Payment of claims is usually done in one of the presidencies in India but some pay in London and China. Premiums are not much higher than Lloyd’s. Here is a list of the free-trade’s agencies for insurance:

Local Agent

A Pereira


J R Latimer

L Calvo & Co

Magniac & Co







Robertson Cullen & Co

Thomas Dent & Co





Hindoostan Insurance Society

Asiatic Insurance Office

Ganges Insurance Office

Casa de Seguros de Manila

8th Canton Insurance Office

Bengal Insurance Society

Bombay Insurance Society

Calcutta Insurance Office

Equitable Insurance Society

Hope Insurance Co

Phoenix Insurance Office

Commercial Insurance Co

Bombay Insurance Co

Calcutta Insurance Co

Globe Insurance Office

India Insurance Co

Liable to $

















The Manila Insurance Office has limited annual claims to the amount of its capital of $266,000 plus the premiums it earned in the relevant year.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

The population of China is now estimated at nearly 200 million and nearly all of them profess to be Confucians.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

Na Yen Ching at Kashgar has been honoured by the Emperor with a double peacock’s feather for his management in suppressing Chang Ki Hur’s (Jehangir’s) rebellion.

Vol 2 No 4 – Thursday 19th February 1829

Indian cotton imports to China 1828:

  1. Bombay – 142,431 piculs,
  2. Bengal – 58,326 piculs,
  3. Madras – 13,643 piculs

Export of silver from China 1828:

  1. To Bombay – $3,427,680 (mainly broken dollars) and Tls 233,620 sycee
  2. To Bengal – $ 465,468 and Tls 84,260 sycee
  3. To London – $ 150,000 and Tls 122,615 sycee30



1 The Chinese were the originators of the extended keel which was a feature of war-junk construction (for ramming). It was found to increase the ship’s speed and its linear descendant can now be seen in the bulbous nose of many modern ships.

2 It was the Parsees and Armenians who initially favoured the outside men for trade. They were later joined by the Americans and such English as could evade the Company’s licensing control.

3 These events are recorded in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Kwan is still revered in Hong Kong in police and fire stations and some commercial ventures.

4 The rubbish tip is composed of debris removed from the factories to permit reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1822. The foreigners assess it is their landlords’ job to remove it. Over the years it has become the home of beggars.

5 Cheung was Governor of Canton in 1817 when Amherst passed through. They met at the Joss House on Honam Island

6 A touch stone, marked with all the gradations of touch, is worth $150

7 Members of the Imperial Court

8 It has been mentioned elsewhere but for good order is recited here that Chinese administration details the substance of a petition in the official’s reply to it. Thus a reproduction of a petition is unnecessary.

9 This is ‘tongue in cheek’ posturing. Since Napoleon, all European governments have substituted swords and medals for the former cash awards – its cheaper.

10 Foreigners store their goods in Hong merchants’ warehouses until sale but the practice evolved of passing imports to shopmen to sell. By not entering the warehouse, the goods evaded the Hoppo’s duty and were accordingly more profitable. The claim here equates with an astonishing $33 per bale.

11 In Hong Kong today these North and South Associations are united in the Nam Buk Hong (South North Company) in the area of Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan which represents the importers of dried foods and medicines from both North and South. It is the major distributor of these goods to wah yan throughout the world.

12 The Camphor tree (jeung) is widely planted throughout Canton (Guangzhou) along the river banks as a shade tree. The knobbly bark is distinctive.

13 Due to Chinese respect for helpful animals like buffalo that are used for ploughing. The Cantonese of that time did not rear goat or lamb, considering the smell and taste of the meat offensive. Chicken and fish were preferred foods for the middle class, pork during festivals.

14 This refers to the poetic Sacred Edict of the Hong Hei (Kang Hsi) Emperor which Milne translated.

15 The exports are 1 All teas, 2 Raw silk from Au Kwong, 3 Silk prepared for weaving, 4 Canton raw silk, 5 All sorts of cloth, 6 Chinese cassia, 7 cassia buds, 8 sugar candy, 9 sugar, 10 tutenague, 11 alum, 12 cloves, 13 nutmeg (or mace), 14 mercury, 15 Chinese camphor, 16 rhubarb root, 17 galanga, 18 China root (sarsaparilla), 19 vermilion, 20 Gamboge, 21 Dammar, 22 Star anise, 23 pearl shells, 24 cochineal.

The imports are principally western cloth, American ginseng, sandalwood, ebony, sapanwood, ivory, bird’s nests, spices, foreign metals, animal skins, etc.

16 This is a development engineered by the Americans in collaboration with How Qua who commended it to the Viceroy to promote trade. The Hongs have the Viceroy’s agreement they are not responsible for shopmen’s debts and the Edict makes the Linguists responsible for supervising shopmen. This concession soon develops into a major means of evading import duty on the shopmen’s sales.

17 It was considerations along these lines that likely induced the Hongs to approve the outside men’s access to foreign trade.

18 2 candareens for two coolies to anywhere within the precincts of Macau

19 The Macau Tung Che (or Tung Chih) is the head of a sub-prefecture, a vice Prefect. See Hucker ‘Official Titles in Imperial China’.

20 The Company trades at Canton only in the winter months and adjourns to El Palacio in summer. The small group of licensed free traders – English, Armenians and Parsees – plus the New Englanders trade at Canton all year round.

21 It is what the Christian missionaries do when baptising a new convert – to indicate the man has transferred his allegiance from the Ching Emperor to Christ. After the occupation of Hong Kong in 1840s it became an occasional judicial punishment.

22 The foreigners wanted it for horse-riding, a popular exercise.

23 Effectively it is an election. Successful candidates will become officials-in-waiting and assume magisterial positions as they become available.

24 The occasional census indicates about 500 slaves are kept in Macau, sourced from Madagascar and Timor.

25 It seems the English are little admitted to the shopmen’s trade. Its mostly with Americans and Parsees, financed by the buyers through the Hong merchants.

26 King Tak Chun in Kwong Si was the source of porcelain for the English market until the method of manufacture was learned in England and a domestic industry developed in mid-18th century whereupon imports were taxed-out. Orders, often from British nobility, were brought out one season, the required wordings and decorations were made and the good shipped back the next year.

27 This edition confirms the Canton Register is now under a new un-named Editor (later revealed to be John L Slade). The first Editor (also un-named here) was the American merchant A S Keating.

28 The well-known poster placarded around the factories at the commencement of each trading season. It inter alia counsels the foreigners to abstain from ‘flower girls and boys.’

29 The Viceroy’s edicts are law. Chinese citizens always conform their acts with law whilst finding ways around its inconvenient aspects. The foreigners may lack this mental flexibility and routinely adopt the unprecedented course of objecting to the Viceroy. They are conditioned to expect punishment for illegality and cannot respect laws that are enforced by instruction – this was the evidence of their barbarity. Rowing on the river in front of the factories was an occasional form of exercise by some foreigners – W C Hunter, for example.

30 This is an early quantification of the annual silver export. It has been continuing and accelerating through most of the 1820s. The export of Indian produce to England has been ended by taxation and only opium for Asian consumption remains. It will soon have national economic effects, refined silver metal being the currency of China by weight.

The Western response to silver shortage is to commend increased mining, i.e. in the British economic system, mineral wealth is treated as income and may be provided in whatever extent is required as long as it lasts. This policy ultimately derives from the Biblical concept of domination and the unlimited use of global resources. The contrary Chinese view, which was traditional, was to treat mineral wealth as capital and to preserve it as much as possible as an aspect of duty to ancestors and those yet to come.

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