China 1836-1837 – part 6


Vol 9 No 2 – Tuesday 12th January 1836

Edict of the Hoppo:

“The foreigners say they need the Jardine steamer to tow cargo ships up to Whampoa. This has never happened before. The Wei Yuen of the Macau Customs House has reported that the steamer travels all around the estuary and is presently anchored at South Bay (off Praia Grande, Macau).

“The Viceroy and I have already ordered the river forts to fire on the ship if it enters. If the army fails to prevent her entry the officers will be severely punished.” Dated 7th January 1836

Vol 9 No 2 – Tuesday 12th January 1836

The Protestant Chapel in Macau, which has been closed since the dissolution of the Company, was reopened last Sunday and services will be held by the American Reverend Bridgman who has hitherto organised services at the American factory. The chapel can seat 100 people.

Vol 9 No 2 – Tuesday 12th January 1836

A friend has sent us a Chinese book listing the payments required of ship’s compradors by the local government. It is entitled ‘A table of Fees on Larkins’ and Wolfe’s ships, Camden and Asia’. Translation has been difficult owing to the colloquial names that are used to describe the exactions and many are unintelligible to us. The contents will be new to many foreigners but should be carefully studied as these, like all the other exactions, are finally paid by the foreign merchant:

Fees at the Whampoa Customs House:

Ship’s bamboo ticket money
Certificate of arrival
The little counter (siu kwai)
Water warrant money
Bartering charcoal money
Cook and coolie money
Money for headman’s face
Weighers and sealers plank money
Purser’s Canton money
Weighers and Sealers ship money
Weighers and Sealers shoe money
Lau Tsun’s shoe money
Manager’s money
Gentlemen’s money
Lower chophouse manager’s money
Great Counter’s water bucket money (no bucket, no pay)
The Great Counter’s provision money
Crab (revenue) boats’ money
Permission to provision a ship
Permission to water a ship
For not examining the hold
Audience fee
Audience fee
Fee to the Wei Yuan at Canton Customs house
Incense for Tin Hau temple
Incense for To Moo temple
Customs house officer
$ 1
$ 1
$ 3
$ 2.57
$ 2
$ 5
$ 1
$ 5
$ 1
$ 6
$ 1
$ 8.25
$ 1
$ 0.50
$ 0.50
Arrival fee
Anchorage fee
Fee for sending provisions
Bridge fee
Fee on removing to Whampoa
The new fee
Fee on removing to 2nd bar
$ 3
$ 6
$ 2
$ 6
$ 4
$ 3

Fees at the upper Customs House at 2nd Bar

Fees at the lower Customs House at 2nd bar

Arrival fee
Bridge fee
Tea and tobacco money
Fee for non-examination of ship
Winter solstice festival and New Year’s fee
Courteous presents
Fee to all Ta Yay
Fees to head servants
$ 6
$ 3
$ 4
$ 3

Fees to the Yee Woo Foo

Fee for reporting arrival at Whampoa
Ditto (for reporting ship’s departure)
Fee for receiving orders
Fee for hire of two crab boats
$ 6
$ 6
400 cash
400 cash

Fees for the army post at Whampoa

Fee for receiving orders
Fee for hire of crab boat
200 cash
200 cash

Fees for the army post at Tien Seen

Fee for receiving orders
Fee for hire of crab boat
200 cash
200 cash

Fees at the Canton Customs House

Arrival fee
Fee to the two chambers
Fee for crab boat.
Hire of measuring ladder
Small boat hire
$ 4.50
$ 3.25
200 cash
$ 0.25

Fees paid to the eastern fort

Arrival fee
Servants and crab boats
The extra crab boat
$ 3.50
$ 1.50

Fees paid to the western fort

Arrival fee
Servants and crab boats
$ 1
$ 2.50

Fee at the Creek Customs House

Arrival fee $ 2

Fee at the Jackass Point Customs House

Arrival fee $ 1

Fee at the Cheung Hau Shan Customs House (near Whampoa)

6 mace 6 candareens 2 cash per month

Fees of the Poon Yu Heen

Bond money
Bond money fee
The bond money fee (payable to another officer)
Sunday warrant fee (edict – keep foreigners in order)
Cruising boat hire
Sunday boat guard
$ 6
5½ tls

Fees at the Bogue

Per Hoppo boat 400 cash

Payable at the inner harbour Customs house at Macau

Permit fee $19

Fee of the South Bay Customs house, Macau

Boat hire fee $ 7

Fees of the Keung Min Foo

Authorisation to compradors to start work $49.50

Fees of the Tso Tong of Heung Shan

Order fee
Shoe money (giving compradors’ names for service)
Shoe money (publishing the names of constables)
Fee to guard ship (ex. tea money 100 cash)
$ 2
$ 6
$ 6
4 mace

Fee of the Sheung Tei temple at Whampoa

Incense and oil fee $10

Fee of the Hung Shing Hall

Incense and oil fee $ 5

Fee of the Kih Ting District

Incense and oil fee $ 2

Whampoa market fee

Salt money $ 5

Fee for preservation of Po Shan’s grave, Whampoa (cows repeatedly trample the grave and compradors pay for its repair):

Cow hoof money $ 2

Fees of other recipients

Public management of compradors
Larboard guard’s wage
Candles and wooden wash basin hire (for the guard)
Guard boat’s coxswain
Provision on departure to the guard
Livestock on departure to the guard
Boat hire for the guard at the Bogue
Vegetables on departure
Starboard guard
Candles and wooden wash basin hire (for the guard)
Guard boat coxswain
Provision on departure to the guard
Livestock on departure to the guard
Boat hire at the Bogue for the guard
$19 p m
$ 2
$ 1
$ 2
$ 1
3 mace
$15 pm
$ 2
$ 1
$ 2
$ 1
3 mace
2 mace

These are the ship’s comprador’s expenses on each ship. Chop boats are hired at $23 per month; boats for coming up to Canton are $8 per month; receiving orders from Captains cost $30; boats to the second bar are $40; fee for packing cargo is $60.

Two bullocks cost $6. Food and oil for the comprador’s staff is $118 and pilot boats on station, if required, cost $160. This year the pilot boats have not been hired so this charge may be deducted.

Nevertheless, the total is over $1,400. We believe none of these fees are lawful but all are sanctioned by ‘olo custom’. We hear many ships no longer take a comprador at Whampoa so presumably they are relieved of these impositions. The Emperor himself has said that China is open to trade – it should not be necessary to employ those servants and compradors that cheat us and are in turn cheated by officials.

Vol 9 No 3 – 19th January 1836

One of the Nam Hoi Heen’s attendants named Wong Tuen who lives in Seen Soo Street has a 6 years old slave girl with hair done up in buns on each side of her head. On the evening of 11th January she was seized from his doorway.

The city gates were already closed and Wong supposed the kidnapper must remain in Canton overnight. He gave presents to all the gatekeepers who agreed to search for any young children. The kidnapper had rolled-up the child in cloth and endeavoured to carry her through like cargo but the gatekeepers were suspicious and discovered the girl. She was returned to her owner and the kidnapper has been sent to the magistrate. He managed to escape from the guardhouse but was seen, chased and recaptured.

Kidnapping of children is rife before Lunar New Year and many children have disappeared already.

Vol 9 No 3 – 19th January 1836

The new Hong merchant, Kai Tai Hong, who was supposed to have opened for business, is delayed in negotiating and fixing the fees of the Hoppo because that official has been unwell and unable to attend to his business.

Vol 9 No 3 – 19th January 1836

The Hoppo Pang has issued orders through the Hong merchants against the USS Vincennes. Her offence derives from information from the Weiyuan of Macau and the Pilots who all complain that the ship ran up to Lintin and anchored without using their services or paying anything.

They say they interviewed the captain and he said he came here due to adverse winds. They saw 26 gun ports on the hull and estimate a crew of 200 with 200 muskets & swords, 800 catties of gunpowder and 800 bullets. The pilots are strictly guarding the ship and awaiting the Hoppo’s instructions.

Wetmore, the American Honorary Consul, will be told by How Qua and the others that as the warship came neither to trade nor to convoy merchant ships, she cannot remain and must leave today. Her captain is not to tell lies or loiter about creating trouble but must implicitly obey. Dated 9th January 1836

Vol 9 No 3 – 19th January 1836

Readers may recall Hoo Loo who was sent to England for removal of a tumour but who regrettably died there on the operating table. We suppose, but do not know, that the influence of this misfortune on Chinese opinion was unfavourable.

Now a child has received a similar operation locally and survived. A painting of her before treatment is exhibited at Lam Qua’s Hong in China Street. The girl is a healthy and cheerful 13 year old. She has a large tumour from above the right eye extending down in front of the ear to the mouth. Its volume is about a quarter of the size of her head. It attained two thirds of its present size in the last three months.

Dr Parker conducted the operation and several other medical men attended. The tumour was removed yesterday morning at our Ophthalmic Hospital in Canton and the child appears to be recovering well.

Since opening the hospital on 4th November last, Dr Parker has treated over 800 Chinese. Mainly they have cataracts and have benefited from treatment. The Hospital is located at the end of Fung Tae Hong.

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

Local news – A party of foreigners assembled at the factories before 6 am last Sunday preparatory to a constitutional walk around the city walls when they saw smoke and discovered a fire had broken out in Carpenter’s Square. Many English and American traders helped extinguish the fire by 8 am. About 80 houses were destroyed.

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

Letter to the Editor – The Customs House close to the east-side of the Creek factory has been rebuilt and is now being used as a gambling den. When the fire in Carpenter’s Square broke out, embers were blown to the Creek Customs House’s thatched roof which instantly caught fire. This spread to the No 2 Creek factory while the occupants were engaged at Carpenter’s Square.

Fortunately a few foreigners, who were unable to force a way to Carpenter’s Square through the rear of the Dutch factory, were going round the other way and saw the new blaze. Flames had entered the open windows on 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors to light furniture, papers and books and, had no-one noticed, it would have taken hold. This all results from the Customs House being in the wrong place. Sgd Senex

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

Reply of the foreign merchants to an official complaint through the Hong against foreign seamen at Canton:

We have advised the ship commanders at Whampoa who will do what they can but the fundamental cause of disturbance comes from the sale of spirits in all the streets of Canton, particularly Hog Lane.

As soon as foreign sailors enter the street to buy things to take home, they are importuned by emissaries of the grog shops who inveigle them into the bars, ply them with drinks and thus make them less discriminating whereupon they are often relieved of their capital.

In thus removing the sailors from the streets they are removed from the sight of patrolling ship’s officers. We hope you will end these allurements and stop the provision of spirits to sailors. The sailors already receive a grog allowance from their ships which is sufficient. Should there be a dispute in future we think you will be responsible for it, not us.

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

From the Peking Gazettes – Imperial Edict 9th moon 12th day:

“I have inspected the Ho Ke Ying fort but all the guns fire short of their targets. The director Yih Shaou (the Emperor’s nephew), Meen Sew (the Emperor’s brother) and two others will deliver themselves to the Board of Punishment for examination. The artillery officers will be punished immediately. Respect this.”

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

Editorial – The belief exists in China that no new dynasty can succeed without Heaven’s mandate. Some Emperors have fought their way to the throne, others cheated, a few earned the honour by their own signal virtues but the majority attained the highest rank by succeeding to their fathers.

How can one then know that all these rulers enjoy the Heavenly mandate? The sages and excellent ministers influence public opinion.

Vol 9 No 4 – 26th January 1836

It is common to find most of the people in a Chinese village have the same surname. They occupy the flat land, control the water supply, and exclude others. Branches from this original family will occupy nearby valleys and streams like the roots of a banyan which connect to the ground from overhead branches. This is an important factor in the unchanging nature of China. These people have a kindred feeling for each other and their characteristics remain the same from generation to generation.

But a Chinese friend says the arrangement also preserves feuds which might continue for decades. He cites as example the Chung family on Dane’s Island and the Chui family at the second pagoda. These families came into dispute when a Chung was wronged by one of the more powerful Chui’s long ago. After many unsuccessful attempts to avenge himself, the Chung man bit his finger and wrote out the details of his complaint in blood for his posterity to avenge. And those filial descendants have preserved the bloody scroll which continues to incite them to vengeance. If a couple of Chui’s meet a Chung alone, or vice versa, beating and robbery occurs.

But the Chung’s have an advantage – Dane’s Island where they live is also the site of the Chui’s burial grounds and the Chui’s are reluctant to have the repose of their ancestors disturbed. Forsaking them is out of the question and neither can they be hidden but seeing their costly graves anonymously desecrated keeps the feud alive and keeps the Chui’s spending money on the upkeep of ancestors’ memorials. Europeans who have walked the island have seen the defaced and broken condition of many graves. At Ching Ming or Chung Yeung festivals the Chui’s sometimes find the putrid remains of a drowned John Doe lying over the grave of a distinguished relative.

Some villages have established a mechanism to deal with the effects of village vendettas. They maintain a list of people who offer (for reward) to confess to the crimes that a villager is accused of. These proxies attend the magistrate as defendants and lawyers are employed to mitigate their punishment. They usually escape with transportation for a few years or a fine but not invariably. Last year four were called and all obtained acquittal – if they had been executed, their families would receive lands and money up to $300 raised by a tax on all the villagers. These taxes, when called for, cannot be avoided.

Some villages have no government representative in them or just a Customs House. In these villages the senior residents chose a headman and vote his salary. He holds office until deposed by the popular will. There is no election but, as the inhabitants are often related, the selection of a headman is easy. Usually it is a senior member of the leading family. The government recognises these headmen and uses them as a conduit to the people. He adjusts all the petty disputes and can even order a flogging.

In Whampoa village, where 6,000 – 8,000 people live, there is a Customs office but it does not involve itself in local administration. There are also two officers of the Governor stationed there but they just receive compradors’ reports of arrivals of foreign ships (for a fee of $12 –15 each) and relay them to Canton. The headman gets $300 p a salary and employs 14 policemen who control Whampoa village. If any resident disputes the decisions of the headman, his appeal is to the chief officer of the Sze (a sub-division of a Heen). The Heen of Poon Yu has four Sze and that which contains Whampoa has totally 164 villages each directed by a headman.

Lately crime has increased in Canton due to increased membership of triad societies. Consequently, a new arrangement has been added. 24 villages have co-operated in building a meeting hall in the market town at the south of Honam Island. The headmen meet here, appoint a leader, and decide any cases referred to them by individual headmen. If this group agrees to accuse one of their villagers, they apply to the Che Heen and the man is removed and invariably transported. Proceedings are secret. The hall is also used to assemble those villagers who are students that the headmen may examine them. The possession of a smart student in a village promises fortune for all the other villagers and is encouraged.

But our Chinese friend tells us the frugal and honest habits of yesterday are disappearing. Previously subsistence satisfied the villagers – when the ferry man had earned enough for the day he let another take over his job and when the fisherman had caught enough for the day he stopped fishing. Now the young people are degenerate and seek surplus wealth. Even when they work all day and all night they are not satisfied. The fish in the river are depleted because some youngsters have used nets to catch them and taken them to market to sell rather than eat themselves. Now you can fish all week and catch only what would have been caught in a hour a few years ago. It’s the same with the wild animals and birds.

Theft, robbery, kidnapping and all sorts of commercial crime have burgeoned. In the last few years in our informant’s village, six young girls have been taken and sold into slavery or ransomed back by relatives. The kidnappers send word to the parents to deposit $15 – $100 in a certain place at a fixed time for the girl’s safe return. If they cannot raise the money, she is sold.

27 years ago a girl was stolen and sold to a man in Canton as his servant. She raised herself to become his concubine and later his favoured wife. Having raised her own children, her thoughts turned to her parents and she sought them out finding them poor and homeless. She was able to relieve them in their final years.

Vol 9 No 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 1836

Edict of Pang the Hoppo:

“The Emperor has told us an English ship has again been to Shantung and scattered foreign books intending to delude the people. He says ‘It must be the foreign eye who has ordered this proceeding; who else would dare oppose Us? Explain our laws to the foreign eye and his people. They are permitted to dwell and trade at Canton as a favour. They should obey our law. They may not indulge their thoughts and act irregularly or they will be driven out’.”

“I, the Viceroy, have told the Hongs to instruct the foreigners to obey. They must submit to restraint. The Hoppo is to ensure it.”

“I, the Hoppo, order the Hongs to immediately instruct the foreigners accordingly. If they disobey they will be driven out and their trade stopped.”

Vol 9 No 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 1836

In the most recent issue of our new competitor, the Canton Press, the Editor published his immediate resignation from office due to the owners’ complaint against his choice of dinner companion.

There is also a letter from ‘Crito’ describing us as the newspaper of the ‘warlike party’. It is untrue that there are war and peace parties amongst the foreigners. There is only commercial rivalry.

No foreigner will respect and obey the instructions of the Canton Government until they justly administer the law. Our submission induces further insult and ill-treatment. We should repel their exactions, ridicule their threats and maintain the position that our great trade and power has given us. It is their fear of our power that maintains us. Our position cannot be respectable.

‘Crito’ says Davis disowned the British Chamber. He did not. He wrote to the Chamber responding to its complaint that the Company was continuing to trade by providing finance and Bills. There were other letters including one of Elliot’s saying that the Superintendents did not object to the Chamber if it was open to all interested Britons. Later Davis said he would be pleased if the Chamber was beneficial to British trade.

Vol 9 No 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 1836

Letter to the Editor – The British ministry has approved the Company’s sale of Bills in China. I wish to show the English people what this costs them.

About £1 million of Indian revenue (valuing the Bengal Rupee at 2.10 per $ and the Spanish dollar at 4/8d) comes through China. If these rupees were sold in Calcutta as Bills on London they would produce about £844,000. Thus a gain of about £156,000 is made by transacting them in China which finances the Superintendents’ operating costs here (about £9,000 a year) leaving a profit of £147,000 to the Company. What does this cost the English people?

The company’s last price-list, before its monopoly was determined, had Bohea at 13 taels, Congous at 20-25 taels and Hyson at 46 taels. Today’s price is Bohea 15 taels, Congous 28 taels and Hyson 58 (using median figures), an increase of 2, 3 and 12 taels respectively due solely to the increased money-supply available for purchases. The average annual supply is Bohea 5 million lbs, Congou 21 million lbs and Hysan 2 million lbs. The additional cost totals 729,000 taels or $1,013,000 (Spanish) = £237,000. Deduct the £147,000 being the company’s profit on bills leaves £90,000 as the extra cost to the English people each year. I appeal to the tea merchants of Canton to approximately corroborate my calculations.

This is not all. Two tea-tasters employed by the Company in China are empowered to refuse any tea on which the Company has lent money. These two men thus exert a disproportionate control on the market. They customarily take commissions from the Chinese sellers as well as the foreign buyers. This contributes to the increased prices now being paid.

The Company also sells bills on other Chinese exports. Silks have increased in price almost as much as tea. These increases are occurring against a background of economic depression in England.

There is more on the import side. British produce shipped to China appears to be selling more cheaply than hitherto. I do not have enough information to finalise a view and invite other traders to write to this paper. Sgd A Tea Box

Editor – we believe the Act de-monopolising the Company was intended to make its Directors surrender their commercial ventures and focus on legislating for India. This accords with the spirit of Charles Grant’s correspondence with the Court of Directors in February / March 1833.

Now they have disgusted the Indian army by paying them in Sonat or Sicca rupees unilaterally deemed to be valued at 2/6d and 2/7½d respectively when those rupees can be sold in Bills at only 1/9d and 1/10½d. This high valuation for salaries is arbitrary and fictitious. The Company sells rupees for 30% more than they buy them.

Tea Box’s complaint is another aspect of the same grasping policy. British goods have been devalued while Chinese exports have increased in price. We have not yet received any complaints against the tea inspectors but soliciting double commissions is unheard of. The Company’s Bills agency in China is against the interests of the manufacturers and capitalists of England and works to entrench the Company’s influence with the Hongs and therefore the provincial government.

Vol 9 No 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 1836

Letter to the Editor – the gambling den on the Creek (a reference to the little Customs House) that so recently burned down, is already being rebuilt on 1st February. It will soon be in operation again.

Sgd Senex.

Editor – No 2 Creek Factory was set ablaze last Sunday by embers from this gambling den. The rebuilders are not the government but the proprietors of the den and its not just gambling that goes on there! This den of vice is located to allure our compradors and servants and thus endangers all the foreigners.

The present system of ‘fire companies’ in the factories is not enough. Every winter there are endless fires. We need a committee of foreign residents (with no party feeling or rivalry) to discuss what is needed to secure us from the fire risk.

Vol 9 No 5 – Tuesday 2nd February 1836

Died at Macau 30th January 1836 after a long illness – Richard Markwick

Vol 9 No 6 – Tuesday 9th February 1836

London news – Lord Auckland, 1st Lord of the Admiralty, is appointed Governor General of India. Lord William Bentinck is made President of the Board of Control

Vol 9 No 6 – Tuesday 9th February 1836

Petition of Arthur Saunders Keating to the Viceroy:

The building at the entrance to the Creek (the little Customs House) caught fire. It is on the opposite side of the creek but only 10 covids from No 2 Creek Factory (Tien Bo Hong) and the fire damaged my house and property in the factory.

This building replaced a boat in which two Customs officers used to be stationed in the creek for collection of tolls. It has repeatedly increased in size and is now a popular gambling den, open day and night. It is sited to attract custom from the foreigners’ servants. If No 2 Creek factory catches fire it will likely spread and much valuable property will be affected. Please prevent the re-erection of this building and revert to the boat formerly used.

Sgd Keating (numerous other foreigners also signed)

Viceroy Ke’s reply:

I have sent the Nam Hoi Heen to examine and report. If it is a gambling house it will be closed and a bond taken from the local headman.

Foreigners 2nd petition 3rd February:

Thank you for the quick reply but the gambling den is already being rapidly rebuilt day and night.

Viceroy Ke’s 2nd reply – be patient.

Vol 9 No 6 – Tuesday 9th February 1836

On the morning of 8th February the residents of Canton awoke to discover snow on the roofs of their houses. We had previously had 2-3 days of unseasonably hot weather. We have seen ice occasionally before but this is the first snow we can recall. The last recorded snow was 46 years ago but that was said to have been a lighter fall than yesterday’s. The locals call it ‘goose tail’ and ‘cotton’.

Vol 9 No 6 – Tuesday 9th February 1836

Letter to the Editor – the Company’s senior tea inspector has circulated a 2-page letter describing how he classifies teas. I now know from this expert (at the end of the season) that the Fukien Bohea I have been shipping is actually repackaged Congou. Quite likely this circular will be quoted in England as authoritative and Fukien Bohea will be subject to Congou duty as the King’s Customs inspectors need no encouragement to increase duty. We have an enemy in the camp and his gratuitous information is wrong.

Sgd Tu Doces, 7th February

Editor – Congou was often sold as Bohea under the Company’s monopoly. That was why tea blending commenced in England.

Vol 9 No 6 – Tuesday 9th February 1836

Editorial – East and West. Britain hopes to extend her commerce with China. How can we do that? China is well entitled to maintain her own laws and institutions but can the ruling family, or even the whole Manchu tribe, be the sole interpreters of those laws? Can the policy of the present conquerors of China demand the obedience and respect of the rest of mankind?

We say the principles of international diplomacy should be established in China. We contend we have a right to commerce and we should demand it from this Empire. We should be accepted as equals, not obliged to smuggle and daily break the law, seducing Chinese into combining with us against their own government.

This government will never voluntarily grant any rights to foreigners. That would take a revolution. The concept of rights is unknown in China except for the divine right of a despotic government, the right of office maintained by power. History teaches that the great men of Europe – the wise, the brave, the scientific, the enlightened – are the last to abandon a power they enjoy. Do we expect a divine Emperor to be so selfless as to descend to the level of ordinary mortals? We must show China that her Emperor is not Heaven’s eldest son and that China does not comprise the whole world. Why should China recognise our technical and scientific achievements when our relationship is conducted disreputably? Why should she transmute contempt into respect until she knows our power and virtues. At present Chinese and foreigners conspire in crime but not in virtue, bound together by common guilt and a need to keep their mutual activities secret, pandering to the willing corruption of government officials.

Such a system cannot long be maintained. A collision must occur and then what can we do without the help of our government? Property certainly, and life probably, will be endangered. An outraged Manchu or an indignant foreigner could light a conflagration, then can war be avoided? Can China defend herself? If war starts can it be stopped? Will the Chinese admit us only after they have been conquered?

It is the national honour and the national interest that must determine our course. This is our belief since the termination of the Company’s monopoly. We do not advocate coercive measures or acts of aggression but merely acts of self-protection; we are not latter-day Romans. We appeal to reason which the Chinese assert is the defining characteristic of their own race. We appeal to the honour of England because the best interests of mankind flow from the honourable acts of the individual. Honesty is always the best policy.

Vol 9 No 7 – 16th February 1836

The Canton Press in its latest issue contends that our relationship with China can be made respectable only by increased trade. It says as long as the present restrictions are maintained, the Chinese government will find itself unable to either prevent or control smuggling. It will therefore, sooner or later, recognise its own interest is to promote and regulate a trade it cannot control. The Canton Press then goes on to compliment the India Company for facilitating a better acquaintance of foreigners with Chinese.

We remind our competitor that the Company’s policy was to bar British subjects from China and to bribe their ship’s officers with privileged tonnage to maintain the company’s monopoly. The merchants of India understood and found ways around the company’s licensing requirements.

The Canton Press says the Company permitted private agents to reside at Canton – that’s nonsense. They simply could not prevent it. It was the Company’s own restrictive policy towards European and South American trade with China that roused the indignation of the British Empire against them. Their position was so untenable that when the dispute came before parliament they made no attempt to defend it. No modified monopoly was ever proposed by Leadenhall Street because they knew they had lost the confidence of the people. We owe the Company nothing except mistrust for their actions, particularly in its last years. The great increase in trade since the monopoly ended is cause for regretting it was not determined earlier. Canning had only wanted to renew the Charter for ten years in 1813. He was right.

The Canton Press says that our reference to an ‘acknowledged right of commerce’ presupposes a treaty. We do not mean that. An Imperial Edict would be sufficient guarantee of our rights in Chinese ports.

The Canton Press says, even if we had Chinese agreement to a commercial treaty, the smuggling trade will continue because it is based on opium and that commodity will remain illegal. We say smuggling results mainly from onerous duties. In respect of opium, the government of Great Britain encourages us to evade Chinese law. It is disgraceful to both the national character and to the government. It is indefensible but may be excused. A good man observes the law; a law-breaker cannot be a good man. If Britain wants to stop her merchants systematically breaking the law of China she should adopt a line of conduct that preserves her from disgrace.

The expedients we resort to now are very questionable but we are unprotected. The free trade does not have the force of the Company at its command. It is not reputable for a British trader to be a smuggler however much profit is involved. We are sure the smugglers feel the shame of this stigma and lament the devious means they adopt to make their transactions and protect the interests of their constituents.

Vol 9 No 7 – 16th February 1836

Last Friday the new Viceroy Tang Ting Ching arrived in Canton. He has come direct from Anhwei without visiting his family. This haste is reportedly to ensure he partakes of the New Year presents (tomorrow is Lunar New Year Day). The day after his arrival he called in the two Heen magistrates and told them gambling will in future be strictly forbidden.1

Vol 9 No 7 – 16th February 1836

In 1685 the Hong Hei Emperor permitted foreigners to trade at all His ports. In 1717 He limited foreign trade to Canton. In 1757 trade was again limited to Canton. This flexibility therefore makes it conceivable that the To Kwong Emperor might at some future time reopen Chinese ports to foreign trade. This is something Britain already does. Chinese junks from Fukien and Chekiang trade freely at Singapore, Malacca and Penang and are welcome in India, England and any British colonies, should they chose to come.

China cannot ask England to prevent opium smuggling. Its tantamount to placing China under British protection. China must herself prevent the opium trade. England does not seek to interfere in the internal administration of China. She seeks free trade at all the ports and wants her nationals accorded the usual decencies.

The Government of India thinks it becoming to produce opium at a profit for sale in China where it is proscribed. It relies on the free traders here to smuggle it across the borders. When the opium monopoly is ended and its cultivation neither encouraged nor forbidden, it is unlikely that private speculators could produce the quantities that the Company produces. The foreign trade of China would then become somewhat more respectable and the principled Chinese argument for insulting and denigrating us would be diminished. There is a real British interest in China trade and we should place it on the strong foundations of national power and good faith.

Vol 9 No 9 – Tuesday 1st March 1836


  • William Cragg is made a partner w.e.f. 1st March and the firm will in future be called Joseph and William Cragg & Co. Sgd Joseph Cragg, Canton
  • Cursetjee Jamsetjee, son of our senior partner, and Furdonjee Sorabjee are admitted partners 22nd October 1835. The firm will in future be called Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, Sons & Co. Anyone with claims on the old firm of Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy & Co will please send them in for adjustment.
  • Died – Sen Qua 65 years. He spent over 40 years in the foreign trade and was an honourable man. He will be missed by his many foreign friends.

Vol 9 No 10 – 8th March 1836

A responsible company in Singapore reports six instances of letters from China being kept on board visiting ships and carried on to Calcutta from whence it took months to return them to Singapore.

We must make up a separate bundle for discharge at Singapore so these negligent captains have no further excuse for interfering with our commerce.

Vol 9 No 11 – Tuesday 15th March 1836

Local news – Lee, the Salt Commissioner, has gone to Sam Shui to search for salt smugglers.

Vol 9 No 11 – Tuesday 15th March 1836

Imperial Edict, 12th December 1835 (Excerpt):

“Legitimate trade is done in daylight but there is a market near the Cheung Sau temple in Canton’s suburbs which operates before dawn and all sorts of contraband and stolen goods are sold.”

Vol 9 No 11 – Tuesday 15th March 1836

The Ophthalmic Hospital rents 7 Fung Tae Hong from How Qua at $500 per annum. It is operated by the American Dr Peter Parker. It has direct access to the street behind the factories so patients can come and go without passing through the foreign hongs or raising suspicion they are traitorous natives connecting with foreigners. There are similar institutions run by the American missionaries in Singapore and Bangkok.

There is a large room on the 2nd storey where 200 can sit awaiting treatment. The hospital can accommodate 40 in-patients. Eye disease is common in China and nearly 5,000 people are registered as blind in Canton, excluding all those with eye disease but not yet blind. The porter is given numbered slips of bamboo to hand out to attendees and patients are treated in order of arrival. A card is made out for each patient and, after the first visit, he just produces the card to get a bamboo slip. Up to 200 patients are seen each day. Thursday is surgery day.

It was feared females would be discriminated against as they are specifically forbidden to enter the foreign factories but in fact no difficulty has yet arisen. Those females who require admission are attended by relatives throughout their stay. More wealthy patients have their own food brought in while poor people are fed gratuitously. 925 patients were treated between November 35 – February 36 of which 655 were male and 270 female.

Vol 9 No 11 – Tuesday 15th March 1836

New Portuguese Regulations for Macau Customs, promulgated 27th February 1836:

All imports including opium (but excluding other Asian produce) will be landed on deposit of 1½% of invoice value, excluding godown storage fee (2¢ per cu ft per month) and coolie hire (2¢ per picul or 3¢ per package). Goods will be inspected.

Goods must be landed in Portuguese boats which will each carry a Customs House guard.

Re-export must be in Portuguese boats approved by the Customs.

Goods landed for consumption in Macau will pay local import duty less the 1½% already paid.

The deposit is valid for 6 months after which the goods must be re-exported or entered for consumption in Macau.

Traders may use their private warehouses for storage of imports after paying the deposit and such other security as may be required.

Goods to and from private warehouses will be escorted by Customs Officers. If they suspect fraud the packages may be opened.

Macau ships may load opium in Bombay and Calcutta either for deposit in Macau or trans-shipment outside Macau

Opium in foreign ships will be accepted on payment of deposit.

All opium landed pays $5 per chest. If consumed in Macau it also pays the local duty less the $5 per chest.

Opium re-exported to receiving ships must leave in the same chests it arrived, subject always to Customs House approval.

No other charges will apply

These regulations are provisional for one year in the first instance.

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

In an article about the appearance of Peking, a recent newspaper notes the house in which Lord Macartney and his embassy stayed had been built by a former Canton Hoppo who was said to have spent the equivalent of £100,000 on the structure.

The same paper notes the To Kwong Emperor is 50+ years old and in a weakened physical state from opium addiction.

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

The Linguist Ching Wo (Alan Tsai) will join the Co-Hong as a merchant this month.

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

An edict dated 10th February 1836 has been received recalling Pang Neen the Hoppo to Peking and appointing Wan Tseang to replace him

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

A poem is included in this edition about the Company. It repeats the common assertion of the free traders that the Company avoided the legislative Act requiring it cease trade by turning itself into a bank, selling Bills and providing trade finance. The poem is poor but here is the last two verses, sung to the tune of the popular Christmas carol:

So John being foiled, now wracked his brains some new plan to invent
By which he might his rivals all fully circumvent.
To be revenged upon them was his statesman-like intent;
And now I mean to show you all how ‘twas to work he went
So as to mar all their comfort and joy.

He got the Act into his fist and over it did range.
It will”, says he, “be odd indeed if I don’t ‘give them their change’”
And I’ve hit upon a plan to bother them and the fine free trade derange;”
I’ll turn my House into a bank and gain by the exchange”
Faith this will spoil all their comfort and joy.”

The Editor then notes that the company closed it treasury this year at the time the opium clippers were returning to Calcutta after delivering the stock from the first auction. He says at the very moment that silver dollars (from new opium sales) were becoming available and being tendered to the Company for Bills, it closed its shop.2

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

Letter to the Editor, dated 28th March:

The Company wishes to repatriate its Indian revenue to London on the best possible terms. They make a bigger profit on the transfer by issuing Bills in China. They have no other business here or anywhere nearby. Every business wants to maximise profits but this trade finance is influencing our market. By financing an exporter here the foreigner is able to use his capital at least two, more likely three, times. Thus the demand for Chinese exports is suddenly inflated by the greater purchasing power of the exporters and this has inevitably increased prices.

By financing tea exports, and subjecting availability of finance to the opinion of its own tea tasters, the India Company continues to control the tea market.

Worse, the rate of exchange between here and Bengal and London is fixed arbitrarily by the Company on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

I agree with the rest of the community. The Company was always run for the insiders – for the Directors and their relatives. That they continue to do so is unremarkable. But it has not withdrawn from trade as legislatively required to do and it should be examined by the Board of Control (Now run by Bentinck, ex Governor-General of India). Lord Melbourne’s ministry is always talking-up the free trade. Why is he permitting this monopoly to continue. Sgd Y

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

Letter to the Editor – We have traded here for over a century. The English flag has waved over our factory and we have frittered away our free birth in exchange for submission that permits trading rights for the Company. Within this century we have twice battered the forts guarding the river. Two years ago Napier came and died. Today we spend almost nothing in promoting our country in the eyes of the Chinese.

Let us review our establishment – our three Superintendents and their secretary provide valuable service; our two medical men deserve respect, our two interpreters are able as is our parson (particularly in levying fees for marriage services). This group of people cost the country over £20,000 a year.

And they cannot do as much as one doctor – Dr Peter Parker – has done for America. Dr Parker is now treating the Hoppo for cataract and will likely operate shortly. A successful operation will be news that spreads throughout the Manchu community at Peking to which Hoppo Pang is about to return.

Would Pang have volunteered for treatment if Parker was English? Why are we more disliked than any other nation here? What is to prevent foreign nations gaining Chinese support and entirely supplanting us?

Sgd Anglicus 26th March 1836, Canton

Editor – the Chinese dislike us because they fear us; and they fear us because they feel guilty for their policy towards us. It would be a unique pleasure to see any foreign nation gain the confidence of China but Chinese consciousness of unrequited obligations would simply make them hate us more.

Vol 9 No 13 – Tuesday 29th March 1836

Letter to the Editor – Luen Hong Street runs parallel with old and new China Streets but is a little to the west of them. It joins Thirteen Factories Street (Sup Sarm Hong Kai) to the river.

On the west side of the street near the north end are two book stores. I know of no other book stores in the Canton suburbs. They are branches of large establishments inside the city.

Mostly they sell novels, romances, songs and amazing stories but I also found a copy of the Canton Register for sale there.

Vol 9 No 14 – 5th April 1836

The new Viceroy Tang Ting Ching daily exercises the military officers of all ranks. Any officer falling short of his standards is summarily dismissed. A Lieutenant and a Sergeant have already been cashiered.

He is also strictly opposed to gambling and many people have been arrested. Few people now dare open a gambling den.

Vol 9 No 15 – Tuesday 12th April 1836

Editorial – The Canton Press of 9th April says the merchants who agreed to be members of the British Chamber of Commerce at its inception in 1834 were less numerous than those who declined. This is untrue.

At the meeting on 25th August 1834 in the hall of H M Superintendents the following Britons, either personally or by proxy, gave their names as willing to be members– Crooke, Dent, Fox, Henry, Innes, A Jardine, Wm Jardine, A Johnstone, A S Keating, A Matheson, J Matheson, Mendez, Thom, Vertannes, Watson, Whiteman, Nanabhoy Framjee, Borjorjee Furdoonjee, Dorabjee Hormusjee, Muncherjee Jamsetjee, Bomanjee Maneckjee, Framjee Muncherjee, Dadabhoy Rustomjee and Bapoorjee Viccajee, (totally 24 names) and the following were made the committee – Boyd, Dent, J Matheson, Turner and Dadabhoy Rustomjee – of whom any three formed a quorum.

A meeting was fixed for 11th September but before it was held some people asked for its postponement. It was however held and the Chamber formed. The following day seven of the eight Parsees withdrew their agreement to be members (leaving only Dorabjee Hormusjee). Only Dadabhoy Rustomjee gave a reason – that the meeting of 11th September had amended Clause 11 of the constitution making Parsees ineligible for the posts of President or Vice President of the Chamber. The other six said they would stay only briefly in Canton or they were too busy to get involved.

The first public dissent to the Chamber was a letter of 15th November 1834 to H M Superintendents signed by Daniell & Co, Thomas Dent & Co, D & M Rustomjee & Co, Whiteman & Co, Nanabhoy Framjee, Burjorjee Furdoonjee, Muncherjee Jamsetjee, Bomanjee Maneckjee, J S Mendes, Framjee Muncherjee and Bapoorjee Viccajee. Of these companies, Daniell & Co was not established at the time of the original meeting. This letter was published in the Canton Register of 16th December. Assuming this list of signatories is the list of dissenters and using the list of members of the Chamber at the time as confirmers, we produce the following table:


Thomas Dent & Co

D & M Rustomjee

Daniell & Co

J S Mendes

Framjee Muncherjee

Nanabhoy Framjee

Muncherjee Jemsetjee

Whiteman & Co

Bapoorjee Viccajee

Bomanjee Maneckjee

Burjorjee Furdoonjee
















Jardine Matheson & Co

R Turner & Co

J McAdam Gladstone

James Innes

A S Keating

N Crooke

J Templeton & Co

J Watson

Douglas MacKenzie & Co

T Fox o.b.o. Fox Rawson & Co

Editor John Slade














Concerning trade in China the confirmers had 76 ships consigned to them during 1834, the opposers 36. The remaining 28 ships consigned to English principals were people either uninterested in the Chamber or unavailable to vote.

Vol 9 No 16 – Tuesday 19th April 1836

The Company’s Treasury will be reopened on 2nd May to receive cash in exchange for 30-day Sight Bills on India at 220 Company Rupees per $100 Spanish.

Advances on Bills are available, secured on tea and raw silk for England, to two thirds of their value at 4/8d per Spanish dollar. At least 50% will be advanced in cash and the balance in Bills on India at the above rate.

Sgd J H Astell, H M Clarke, 18th April

Vol 9 No 16 – Tuesday 19th April 1836

Editorial – Our competitor, the Canton Press, has published a letter saying three founding members of the British Chamber have resigned including John Templeton & Co. We have received a membership list from the Chamber Secretary showing it has 13 members at present, including Templeton.

In 1834 and 1835 the Chamber published notices inviting any British trader to join and noting that the regulations were provisional and subject to alteration by a majority on 7 days notice of intention to do so. The Chamber has not met since Spring last year when a Chairman and committee were appointed. All it has done since then is publish statements on tea and silk trade to England. The Canton Press suggests the formation of a General Chamber of Commerce to replace the British Chamber. It’s the only good idea they have.

We also remind our competitor that this paper was founded in 1827 by James Matheson before he joined Magniac & Co. It is not under the control of Jardine Matheson & Co although we suspect that the Canton Press is under the control of Thomas Dent & Co. The first Editor of Canton Press was on Dent’s payroll and we suspect the present Editor is also. The paper operates on Dent’s capital whereas we rely on subscriptions.

Vol 9 No 16 – Tuesday 19th April 1836

The To Kwong Emperor is believed to owe his succession to his defence of his father the Ka Hing Emperor in 1813 when the latter’s assassination was attempted in a palace coup. Few details of the coup have been published but the aversion to Ka Hing must have been deeply rooted for the coup to have been kept secret in this country.

Ka Hing’s reign was marked by a series of revolts that were quelled by bribes. His willingness to buy-off troublemakers reduced the administration to its present style. For example, after Ka Hing’s government had been dealing unsuccessfully with robber bands in Shantung, Shansi and Chih Li, it elected to stop confronting them and allow them some land to plunder.

Vol 9 No 17 – Tuesday 26th April 1836

On 11th April Wang Chin Kau of the Heung Shan Heen’s staff captured a fast crab and seized 50 piculs of cassia and several boxes of carnelians. The crew escaped. On 17th April he arrested a smuggler named Wong Ah Yan and seized 160 boxes of marble slabs.

Viceroy Tang is pleased and has given Wang presents.

On 20th April Wang seized another 420 chests of cassia from a smuggling boat. Smuggling is becoming difficult.

Vol 9 No 17 – Tuesday 26th April 1836

On 14th April a fire broke out east of the city and burned 13 Tanka huts on the river bank. Some small boats and three shops were also destroyed. Opportunist ruffians seized two female fire victims and are holding them for ransom.

Vol 9 No 17 – Tuesday 26th April 1836

Edict dated 15th April – Woo, the Chekiang Governor, has written to Canton officials concerning two foreign ships, one a three-master, that arrived off Chapu in November 1835. He drove them off and asks the Canton government to strictly restrict the foreigners to prevent further sailings. The Hong merchants have ordered the English Chief to obey and prevent other ships from sailing about.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

The Canton Salt Commissioner Lee has been posted as Judge of Shensi Province. The Grain Superintendent is appointed to the Salt job and Hung, one of the officials-in-waiting, gets the Grain job.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Letter to the Editor – I recently made a survey of the Pearl River Estuary. We started at Kap Soy Mun (Ma Wan Island) at the end of which was a perfect harbour. We then went to Lamma which had looked good but turned out to be unprotected from the weather – the best bay (Sok Kwu Wan) was too landlocked. We found a small but good harbour at the waterfall on Hong Kong opposite Lamma (Waterfall Bay, Pokfulam). This had good depth by two entrances. We then looked at Lyemun and, of all the harbours in this vicinity, this is the best. The entrance from Tai Tam is as safe as the Bogue and gives access to deep water passages both north and south of Lintin. Kowloon Bay is an excellent anchorage of 5-7 fathoms over a clay bottom, plenty of fresh water ashore and easy approaches east and west.

These observations lead us to conclude that if England is to occupy any part of South China it should be Hong Kong. If it was a free port it will be the most considerable mart east of the Cape. The Portuguese got it wrong – they accepted shallow water and exclusive rules. Hong Kong has deep water and should be a free port for ever.

Sgd A Passenger

Editor – The survey of the estuary was called by the Company’s Select Committee to discover the safest passages up the China Sea. It was not then intended to promote an extensive smuggling trade outside the river so not every bay was examined. Indeed a close inspection of the coast would have unsettled the local officials whom the Company was at pains to keep friendly.

Now the situation has changed but what does England want with Hong Kong and its wretched village of poor fishermen (Chek Chu, later called Stanley). If ‘A Passenger’ is suggesting we possess the islet and oust its inhabitants that would be a thievish, cunning and cowardly deed, unbecoming to our country.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Letter to the Editor – you query the usefulness of the Superintendents. Some say we just need a frigate, others that we need nothing.

I think a frigate is all we need. Warships have often stayed at Lintin without injuring trade. The Chief Superintendent Sir George B Robinson has long anchored his sloop Louisa at Lintin which suggests the government acknowledges the smuggling trade. We should thank Sir George for saving us time in getting our letters and clearing our ships (he signs manifests there).

A frigate based at Hong Kong, with a civil officer on board to liaise with the Canton officials, should meet the bill. Our smugglers will then soon be a match for How Qua and the Hongs. Sgd Brittanus

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Two large salt-smuggling boats were seized last Friday at Tan Chow in Poon Yu while on 2nd May the indefatigable Wang Chin Kau of Heung Shan Heen seized 52 pieces of English camlets and the boat containing them. The crew escaped.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

The recent new Customs tariff in Macau is confusing. The Macau papers are saying large quantities of cotton are being landed on payment of the deposit, either for local sale or in transit.

Actually, we hear not one bale has been landed on deposit yet. On 16th April agents of the Lady Clifford asked for permission to land cotton on deposit and were refused. All her cotton had to pay the usual Macau duty on entry. I am writing this to you so our Indian principals are not misled. Sgd Truth, 3rd May

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Book Review – Considerations respecting the Trade with China by Thompson.

Thompson worked 46 years for the Company. He was the writer who drafted the correspondence which the Court of Directors and their Secret Committee had with the Select here in China. Superficially he must be the best informed man to opine on the China trade but, alas, this book is very weak. The people of England will not learn from this work how the Company has hoodwinked them. The April edition of the Chinese Repository has a long review from which we have selected the following extracts:

“The Company’s supercargoes are considered as the Government of England by Canton officials because of the position they took in the Topaze affair at Lintin, in the conduct of the two embassies and the more recent visit of Napier. We have all seen how, for many months after Napier, the Chinese were nervous of our response, expected trouble, and checked all reports of arrivals of foreign warships. New forts were built and old ones strengthened. Many troops were brought to the Bogue. Large new cannon were cast and the military was more frequently visited and exercised.

“Englishmen usually sneer at the submissive attitude of the Dutch VOC in Japan but their own actions in Canton are similar. The Chinese are said to be peculiar and cunning. An insult from them is unlike an insult from another country. China doubted the English King would submit like the Company did to preserve its tea trade but now they have reassurance from the Napier affair that the King is just as submissive as the Company. It will be a hard task to disabuse them. An envoy should be given the fullest powers, supported by a respectable force, independent of all except the King, unconnected with trade or traders, and sent to Peking to save the situation.

“The envoy must be prepared to fight for civilisation against these Eastern conservatives and compel China to return to the family of mankind. We assert that China would listen to fair demands. The China-lovers, who rhapsodise about Chinese reluctance to change and the injustice of forcing change upon them, would be astonished by the results such an envoy could obtain by demands backed with force.”

Mr Thompson deprecates war simply for commerce. What war was ever started that would bear close scrutiny of its motives? England has used all conceivable pretences in its actions around the world – forcing taxes on Americans, forcing a King on the French, seizing a useless island or simply keeping a ministry in power by diverting national attention overseas. It is absurd that we should require a right to make war. If we have the power, we have the right. That is the way of the world. Everything else is humbug.

Mr Thompson considers the pros and cons of managing the China relationship and concludes Macau should be ceded to us and Company agents vested in its administrative control. The Canton Register doubts the fitness of the Company in this employment. Has it not been its submissive attitude that has whittled away our privileges and reduced us to our present degraded state? When Englishmen first came to China they were private traders who demanded respect, they returned insults and gave blow for blow. Now we buy our tea in fear that some drunken sailor will get the trade stopped. Our flag is despised, our King insulted, his envoy spurned. We are deprived of basic rights, of intercourse with our families, cooped up like rats, abused in public Edicts, denied appeal to the law and subject to all sorts of personal annoyance and moral degradation. This is the debt we owe the Company. Well, their time has passed. Let us have no more of them.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Letter to the Editor – Do not decry Hong Kong too quickly. There are fine granite quarries worked by industrious stone masons who will benefit if we fortify the island. There is a thriving fishing village whose business will improve if we move in.3 The present poverty of the Hong Kong people makes them more amenable to us. We can buy their land more cheaply. Sgd Temper

Editor – Hongkong is part of China, we cannot just take it. If we multiply Lintins along the coast we avoid the restrictive commercial laws by trading at sea. When we go on land we and our native trade partners are oppressed by the government. We do not have to forcibly take and retain an island – that would be piracy.

The China trade is too important for the British government to abandon or leave it subject to the interdiction of the Chinese government. If we seize an island, how can we carry on a trade in Canton within ten minutes walk of the Viceroy’s yamen? It would be too rapacious. We are despondent at British efforts hitherto to protect and promote the China trade but things are so bad they can only get better.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Petition of 25 British and American firms to the Viceroy and Hoppo:

For some years we have imported large quantities of cotton and woollen goods and paid the duty. Recently the Hong merchants and Linguists have been classifying our goods wrongly and assessing them at higher rates of duty than hitherto. Our difficulty is we do not know the real scale of duties you have set. We accordingly spend much time in discussion and negotiation on something that should be fixed. This diminishes the relationship between us and the Hongs and Linguists. We ask Your Excellency for a list of duties so this haggling may end. 23rd April 1836

Viceroy Tang’s reply:

The government permits you to trade from feelings of tenderness. The receipt of a few hundred thousand taels in revenue is nothing to China. How can you ask me to consider weights and measures? The duties on your goods has been established for centuries. How can you claim ignorance of them?

Nevertheless I will ask the Hoppo to instruct the Hongs and Linguists to obey the revenue law. There are no grounds for meddling or misunderstanding.

But you too must obey the law. You may not mix different qualities of goods together or seek for short measurement in the hope of windfall gains. In this way concord will be maintained and your trade will continue to be permitted. 27th April 1836

Pang the Hoppo’s reply:

I have always required the Hongs again and again to equitably impose duty on goods consistently with the revenue law. The foreigners have been coming here and paying the duties for 200 years. Now they say the quality and measurement of their goods is no longer assessed uniformly. This is the natural result of the dissolution of the Company since which qualities and dimensions of goods are no longer uniform. The foreigners should make their imports accord with the well known qualities and measurements of the Company then all difficulties are removed. If there is some uncertainty of quality, the goods will be classed at the lower rate. This is not a permit to assert first quality goods are second quality, etc. We treat foreigners tenderly but they should maintain equity and justice in their dealings. They should not intermingle articles of differing qualities.

The Hong merchants have distinguished long ells. Those of 100 covids4 are considered one piece and those of 200 covids as two pieces. This is practical and fair. As for broad cloth and camlets I have told the Hongs to be flexible within the terms of the tariff. They are not to meddle or cause irregularities. This is a matter of Imperial revenue and no interference will be tolerated.

Concerning the foreigners’ request for a tariff of current duties and a definition of the covid, a proclamation has already been issued and is on the record. Dated 5th May 1836

Vol 9 No 20 – Tuesday 17th May 1836

Letter to the Editor – the Viceroy ignores our plea saying weights and measures are beneath him. He says we have been paying duty for 200 years so how can we be ignorant of the amount. He hands us over to the Hoppo Pang who is the instigator of all the fraudulent duties.

Our complaint is that duties have recently increased. There has never been a fixed tariff here in the memory of any of the foreign traders. The amount of duty payable always depends on the bribes we pay to the Hoppo’s staff. Besides cotton goods have only been imported for the last 40 years and only in large quantities in the last few years. There is no 200 years of history behind them.

Mutual concord has not been maintained for 200 years either. The Bogue forts were battered twice. Then there was Baynes’ row, Marjoribanks’ row, Napier’s row and all of our own rows? Are these rows produced in the nature of trade or are they due to unjust and oppressive management?

The Viceroy appears to know nothing about trade. The Hoppo Pang has gorged himself on the spoils of trade and is now about to retire. He has been more rapacious than the three Hoppos before him combined. This is the man who publishes an Edict saying he again and again tells the Hongs to follow the tariff. We foreigners do not know if the revenue law or the tariff actually exist. If they do why are they not disclosed to us? Pang deserves punishment for misleading the Viceroy. He insinuates the free traders mingle the qualities of their goods and the Company did not do so before. Well, there were endless disputes under the Company’s monopoly as to quality. The Select used to pay first quality duty on British cottons when the Americans were importing the same stuff and having it assessed for duty as second quality. And why should the Company have cared about extra duty on teas when it held a monopoly on the supply? The British consumer paid. Whatever duty they paid was added to the cost and entitled the Company (by Act of Parliament) to raise the upset prices which were legislatively fixed on ‘cost plus’ basis at their auctions. The Viceroy effectively says that duties are beneath his contempt while the Hoppo says the Imperial revenues are fundamentally important – two closely liaising officials who do not tell the same story.

Government servants are paid a pittance; the troops are the same. Masses of soldiers exist on paper only (for the officers to claim their salaries); forts are in ruins. Everyone is cheating everyone else against a background of pompous professions of unlimited national wealth. We all suspect that venality and rapacity ensure the national treasury is constantly empty. We recall the Emperor could not assemble 10,000 troops in any southern province without bleeding the despised Hong merchants and salt merchants for contributions. How can China stop our trade? They fundamentally rely on it. I think they are more afraid of a stoppage than the Company was. Pang’s answers reveal the opposite of his intentions. Sgd Judex 14th May

Vol 9 No 22 – Tuesday 31st May 1836

The new Hoppo Wan has issued two Edicts:

  1. I hear when the foreigners travel between Macau and Canton they employ compradors whose business it is to negotiate fees with official boats and Customs stations met en voyage. This is illegal and does not accord with the Imperial principle of benevolence to those from afar.
    Henceforth the foreigners will obtain an official permit for the voyage at Canton or Macau. If they carry goods-in-trade they will pay duty. Their clothing, food and other personal effects are not subject to duty and not even a bowl of rice may be extorted for these things.
    If the foreigners complain I will strictly examine and punish. 18th May
  2. Customs duties pass through the Imperial treasury to enrich the country. It is good for everyone. The Hong merchants must carefully attend to their duty. The weights and measures must be exactly quantified and confirmed by my staff. Everything must be done truthfully. The foreign merchants must act sincerely. I suspect the pursers in the Hongs are bad men. They make connections with my staff and play all sorts of cheating tricks.
    It is appropriate at the commencement of my duty to warn all of them and I require the Hong merchants to respectfully obey. They must themselves attend weighings and measurings to ensure it is honestly done. If they cheat me and I find out they will be severely punished. All must obey. 16th May

Editor – the above two Edicts are good examples of obfuscating nonsense. The new Nam Hoi Heen has just issued some similar ones. They are all meaningless. The Emperor might occasionally accept the blame for a flood or a drought but none of his officers ever take responsibility for anything. On paper we are to be treated with compassion and benevolence but in reality we are bullied, cheated and despised.

Vol 9 No 23 – 7th June 1836

Dr Peter Parker, who operates the Ophthalmic Hospital in Canton received an enquiry on behalf of the Hoppo Pang to treat the latter’s eye disease. Pang did not wish to attend the hospital and Parker could not attend the Company’s factory (which Pang preferred). They agreed to meet at Parker’s residence but finally the Hoppo did not attend.

Vol 9 No 23 – 7th June 1836

A school for the study of Chinese language has been opened at Kiakhta in Mongolia to facilitate commerce between the Russian and Chinese empires.

Vol 9 No 23 – 7th June 1836

Editorial – The new acting Nam Hoi Heen Lo has issued a proclamation asserting his own honesty and alleging that if anyone claims to represent him in some corrupt enterprise he is a liar and is to be brought before the Heen for punishment. One wonders why he finds it necessary to profess his honesty to the community. Did not his predecessors also assert utmost integrity on commencing work?

Will Lo inaugurate a new era of straightforward administration? Who can believe such a thing. From the ‘vermilion pencil’ down to the Wei Yuen of Macau we find a constant spirit of weakness and corruption. All that they say they will not do is done and nearly all that they say they will do is left undone. The wonder is that a government of Manchu foreigners, known as ‘clamorous slaves’ to Chinese history, can continue to hold power.

The people must well know that the officials are corrupt, otherwise how can one explain their consistent failure to attain their stated ends. The administration of law is occasional and partial. A group of followers and retainers of office interface between the government and the people and succeed from time to time in getting things done which everyone knows should not be done. Yet the people submit to this as some immutable fact of life.

Instead of opposing the system, the ambition of the average Chinese is to join it, witness the huge numbers of applicants at provincial examinations (of whom less than 1% are successful) and the purchase of rank by those who have fortuitously amassed some capital without government finding out.

Vol 9 No 23 – 7th June 1836

The USS Peacock arrived Macau on 26th May 1836 from Siam bringing the US Government diplomatic agent Mr Edward Roberts of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Peacock is accompanied by the schooner USS Enterprise.

(NB – Roberts caught dysentery at Bangkok and died in Wm S Wetmore’s house at Canton on 12th June before entering upon his duties. The flags of all the foreign consuls in Canton were flown at half-mast)

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

James Matheson’s advice to Lord Palmerston, Foreign Minister:

Our China traders are unprotected. Oppression has worsened since Napier due to the consequent Chinese assumption that there is no form of injustice and indignity that we will not tolerate for money. In the last 17 years at Canton (until my departure last February) I have assumed an important position amongst the free traders. What I say is echoed by all of them. I attach a copy of a petition we sent to the King. 35 of the 45 British merchants in China signed this petition. All the captains of the Company’s ships (who have privileged tonnage to trade) signed it. Our subsistence depends on peace and harmony with China. This can only be gained by the usual diplomatic representation. We expect this from H M Government. We do not propose war or a breach of international law.

Our early trade history in China reveals the humiliations we now experience resulted from unsound policies of the Company. It was willing to pay bribes to benefit our trade over that of other nations and willing to instigate the Chinese to restrain other national companies except ours. The Company sacrificed our self-respect.

My proposals are modest and inexpensive. We already have a costly and useless establishment in Macau and the Indian squadron could easily cruise in Chinese waters instead of lying-up in Indian ports. If a plenipotentiary is felt unnecessary then the Admiral could represent the country. He might be given a letter to deliver to the Emperor in Peking, refer to Napier’s treatment, and insist on direct communication. Amoy harbour is ideal for British warships. No attempt to negotiate at Canton should be made. If it was, it will stop trade and in any event it is the venality and unreasonableness of the Canton officials that are the chief grounds of complaint.

Our China trade is growing and with protection it will become enormous. We must remonstrate against Napier’s treatment and death or the systematic evils will become aggravated and there will be constant stoppages of trade. The Company was sometimes able to confront the Cantonese officials because it unified purpose with plenty of money. We free traders are all independent, have no recognised common leader and cannot resist the united actions of the Chinese. To avert disaster I pray you will adopt the pacific course I recommend. Sgd James Matheson, 9 Hanover Street, Hanover Square. 21st December 1835

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

The Hoppo licensed Kwan Cheung Hong for foreign trade on 9th June. The office is located at Sheung Tau Laan in the upper part of Hog Lane. Another new Hong is expecting to open for business in the next few days.

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Peking Gazettes. The 27th March edition addresses ‘leaks.’ The Emperor notes that minutes of secret discussions have been published. It is not just one department’s secrets but several. He says that when the censors present papers for discussion they are secret and not to be talked about until agreement is finalised and published by the cabinet in formal Edicts.

“I do not conceal anything from the ministers and people but secret matters cannot be revealed. Exposing secret deliberations is disrespectful and undignified. If it continues I will hold the great officers to account and no-one else. On the occurrence of the next leak, I have told the army commander-in-chief to seize, prosecute and punish the responsible departmental head.”

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Peking Gazettes, 2nd April – The Emperor has proclaimed the law on donations:

A censor has reported the frequent embezzlement of donations to government and requested regulations for the provinces. Our government loves the people. We always try to relieve suffering from natural disasters. I intend that the relief given is substantial. No single member of the black-haired race may be destitute. When the provincial officers estimate the numbers of suffering people, I order abundant relief. If the inferior officers in the Chow and Heen districts extort, the peoples’ distress remains unrelieved.

These inferior officers open the doors of their granaries and treasuries but they are ‘discovered’ to be empty. They falsely report more people are distressed than actually are and take the surplus for themselves. The officers deputed to examine the disaster scenes do not check carefully. They use the relief grain and funds to supply themselves on their journey. When the account of disbursements is made up by the writers of the provincial officers, they screen the delinquent junior officers for their own profit. If they receive no share of the loot, they contradict the local officers and raise all sorts of allegations.

All this cheating and subterfuge arises from the inability of senior officers to control their juniors. To not mitigate the distress of the people is the worst form of mal-administration. In every future disaster, the Viceroys and Governors will exert themselves to end these abuses. They will conduct enquiries and ascertain the truth. If extortion continues they must identify the Chow and Heen officers and cashier them. The junior officers, their attendants and the village constables are to be punished. By the punishment of one, a hundred will be warned and Imperial protection of the people will be extended.

I, the Emperor need the help of you senior officials, to diminish the distress of my people. Respect this.

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

The first issue of O Macaista Imparcial has been published. It will appear in Macau every Monday and Thursday.

The Chinese say ‘writing is divine’ – when it was invented Hell wept and Heaven rained grain. ‘From the use of letters, the human heart began to operate’ they say. ‘Reason and justice was made manifest, the relations of social life became apparent and the necessary laws were fixed.’

The classical scholar, the historian, the mathematician and the astronomer all need letters to promote their arts and sciences.

Editor – If written words are a good thing, why are printing presses apparently a bad thing? There may be a mixture of good and bad publications but the good predominates or we would repudiate the whole arrangement.

In the first issue of O Macaista Imparcial is an article relating part of the ancient history of Macau. It is reproduced briefly hereunder:

D Melchior Carneiro was made Bishop of Nice in 1558 and sent to Ethiopia but refused entry. In 1568 he was ordered to take charge of the Catholic communities east of the diocese of Malacca. At Macau he founded the Hospital of St Lazarus for the Poor and the House of Mercy. He died in 1583 and is buried under the chapel of the church of St Pauls in a plain tomb covered in marble on which is inscribed a Latin epitaph.

In 1685 twelve Japanese arrived at Macau, saying they had been travelling between Japanese ports when they were blown south by a typhoon. They said the Japanese Emperor was under 40 years of age and his only son was 15 years old. This Emperor knew their were Christians in Japan but did not trouble them. ….

(Article is marked ‘to be continued’ but no further entry was found)

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Macau census of 1835 of the three parishes – Macau City, San Lourenço and San Antonio:



Male slaves
Female slaves
Under 15
Over 15
Under 15
Over 15





These figures, as in 1822, exclude the Portuguese troops, clergy and all the Chinese (a much larger figure of 40,000 – 50,000) & non-Portuguese foreign residents. The 1822 census had a total Portuguese population of 4,315.

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

The new Anglo-Portuguese commercial treaty provides for reciprocal free trade. Portuguese may reside and trade in Britain and vice versa. All are subject to the law of the land of residence. A most favoured nation (MFN) clause fixes duties at the lowest tariff whether carried in Portuguese or British ships (but by no other nationality).

The nationality of a ship is established from the nationality of its owners. All port charges are made uniform. The coasting trade is excluded and will continue to be a purely national affair. Trade and navigation in the Far East will revert to the arrangement before the Treaty of 1810 – i.e. same MFN basis.5

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Lo acting Nam Hoi Heen prohibits the manufacture of large knives:

The people of Canton are ferocious. Many of them band together and carry daggers concealed in their clothes for robbery. They bully, cheat and extort and when confronted or opposed they draw these sheung meen siu do (two-sided knives) and stab.

Iron workers receive high prices for making daggers, that is why they continue to make them when their manufacture has been repeatedly banned. The blacksmiths are so careless of the law that they send these knives to be openly hawked in the streets.

I am distributing this edict widely so none can claim ignorance of the law. Whenever these robbers are caught, quite apart from their offence, they will be closely questioned as to where they obtained their knives. Then the manufacturers will be punished along with the robbers to the same extent.

You should all cleanse your hearts, alter your lives and become good men. Those of you who have these knives should throw them into the fire. If you fail to change you will eventually be severely punished.

Dated 13th June 1836

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Letter to the Editor – It is well known that no security merchant will secure a rice ship at Whampoa without $1,150 being paid him for port charges. Why not clearly state this on your Prices Current?

The Linguists are clearly too strong both for us and the Kwangtung Provincial officials. The Viceroy says the fee on rice ships is $900 but the Linguists routinely take an extra $250. Ship operators need to know this. Sgd A Ship, 24th June 1836

Editor – the extra $250 is not for the Linguists but the Whampoa officials and the ship’s comprador. We have been reluctant to publish the customary levels of squeeze as it smacks of approval. Very infrequently, someone succeeds in avoiding the extra charges and that encourages us not to publish.

We are fighting to avoid all these illegal charges and will do nothing to support them. We must be firm and cleave to the law and the tariff. This will better position us when the British flag is again hoisted at Canton.

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Calcutta Standard, 12th April edition – 25 years ago the Company felt missionaries were so dangerous it forbade their carriage on its ships. They had to go to America to take ship and smuggle themselves into China. But missionaries do not meddle in politics or cause breaches of the peace.6 Now the Americans are importing shiploads of missionaries and the Anglican Church is training 200 for the cause.

20 years ago the Company said no-one else could trade with India otherwise the revenue would be entirely lost. Now precisely the contrary has occurred and trade is increasing with revenue.

2-3 years ago the Company said private trade with China was completely impractical. Now their monopoly has ended, better and cheaper tea is sent to England. (There were some hiccups at the beginning but these were caused by Earl Grey in sending out a useless Commission, not the China traders). Today there are complaints of rising tea prices but this is due to the Company reasserting its monopoly by financing trade here and creating a sellers market for the Chinese. This costs the English tea-drinker an extra 2 million Rupees which passes directly to the Company.

Even today the Company tried to force through an Indian Bill (the Metcalfe Mofussil Bill) preventing Europeans from settling in the interior or buying land in that country, which occupation they say, has caused a plot against their rule to oppress the poor and devalue the currency. Now we discover they were quite able to instantly extinguish the plot and the real purpose of the Bill (which was said to be essential to deal with the plot) has become murky.7

Money changers (shroffs) everywhere in India cheat and the Company leaves the people at their mercy. If European settlement was permitted it would end this and the other abuses of the rich native against his poor cousin. We hope Lord Auckland will not sign this Bill without detailed consideration.

Vol 9 No 24 – Tuesday 14th June 1836

Comparative wholesale tea prices per pound at London:





On the present increased consumption the nation saves £2,300,000 per year and gets fresh tea (instead of the 2 years old stuff from the India Company stockpile). Lower prices = increased sales = more government revenue. Win Win.8

Vol 9 No 27 – Tuesday 5th July 1836

Edict of the Hoppo Wan concerning special law for rice ships:

In 1824 Viceroy Yuen, Governor Chin and Hoppo Ta advised the Emperor about rice ships and received his instruction. The Hong merchants were to report rice ships and distinguish husked and unhusked grain in their reports. The grain was to be stored in the Hong merchant’s warehouse for sale. The ship bringing rice avoids port entry fees. Thus the domestic supply of rice is increased.

The rice ship was not allowed to load an export cargo so the barbarians had no way to ballast the ship or make greater profits. In our great compassion, after the rice had been landed and sold, we later allowed the foreigners to load export goods and depart but they had to pay the duty on the exports.

Afterwards the amount of rice imported became small. We fear the barbarians were deterred from bringing rice because the Customs House staff extorted too much. They are hereby explicitly ordered that only fees in the imperial tariff are permitted to be collected.

The ships of Macau are limited in number. The ships from Koszita (?) and Manila bringing rice to Macau and are welcome to sell their rice there. Ships bringing rice to Canton generally deliver at Macau. They avoid Canton.

Foreigners are naturally crafty and deceitful. It is difficult to deter their smuggling. The Hong merchants will instruct the foreigners that, apart from the limited number of ships permitted at Macau and those of Koszita and Manila which bring rice to Macau, all other ships bringing rice to China must come up to Whampoa where their cargo will be discharged for examination. No part of the cargo may be left outside for smuggling. Smugglers will be severely punished. Tremble and obey. 22nd May 1833 and 25th June 1836

Editor – The old Edict which the Hoppo mentions says rice ships do not pay the measurement fee or ‘present’. Viceroy Loo on 22nd May 1833 affirmed this in another edict and fixed the fees. Now the Hong merchants have worked those fixed fees up by an extra $250-400 and we regret to learn that most captains pay although a few have successfully resisted. If the Hong merchants cannot handle the foreign trade without illegal extra revenue they should address their own government not cheat us. But these extra payments do not go to the Hongs – they go to the official parasites at Whampoa, the Hoppo’s men and others. The Hongs could end all this government cheating if they wished but they do not.

Let the Consoo Fund feed the officials while it lasts. If we could only act unitedly we would prevail. We submit to the Regulations but we oppose the endless squeezes. The legal duty on rice ships is 629 taels 2 mace 7 candareens and 2 cents. Why are we paying more to the Hong merchant? Why should we reimburse the extortions of the Hoppo’s men to him. If we offer $900 (the approximate equivalent of 630 taels) to the Hong merchant and he declines to secure the ship we should appeal to the Viceroy.

Vol 9 No 27 – Tuesday 5th July 1836

Peking Gazettes, 11th May – The Viceroy of the Two Kwong reports that 140+ graves in Lung Kong village in Shun Tak have been opened and the coffins interfered with. The Che Heen Chang Hung failed to take appropriate action. He is dismissed as a warning to others.

Some of the responsible criminals have been caught and should be strictly examined so all the facts become known.

Vol 9 No 28 – Tuesday 12th July 1836

  1. Due to the retirement of our principal J C Whiteman on 30th June, our business is transferred to M/s Thomas Dent and Co. Sgd Whiteman & Co, 1st July 1836
  2. George T Braine, late of Whiteman & Co, is admitted a partner in our company which will hereafter be called Dent & Co. 1st July 1836

Vol 9 No 28 – Tuesday 12th July 1836

Leung Lun Kei, now renamed Leung Tung Sia, the son of the Hong merchant Kin Qua, has been elected to the Hanlin Academy where he will pursue a three-year course of study.

If successful he will be eligible for the highest offices in the land. The Leung family comes from Poon Yu.

Vol 9 No 28 – Tuesday 12th July 1836

English news – the maritime officers of the Company’s fleet have been negotiating for pensions for those many of their number that were laid-off in 1834 with a small gratuity (this particularly impacted officers previously manning the China-trade vessels). They have now been finally refused by a vote in the Court of Directors.

An association of shipowners and merchants trading to India and China has been formed to protect their interests. A committee of management has been appointed.9

Vol 9 No 31 – Tuesday 2nd August 1836

Memorial of the pawnbroker Kau Yang and others to the Nam Hoi Heen:

For years there has been a constant succession of crooks who forge the pawnbroker’s licence and seal on paper and make fake duplicate receipts which they sell to the common people as valuable title to goods. Some years ago Lin Ah Yuen was arrested by the people for this and in a separate case Lin Ah Lin was also caught. They were both handed over to the magistrate and confessed but were merely bambooed and sentenced to the cangue. Formerly such offences earned the severest sentence.

Swindlers have been encouraged by these mild sentences. Now we welcome our new magistrate and rejoice that you will catch these criminals. Recently the Lung Shing pawnshop handed over to you the cheat Wong Ah San who confessed to forging receipts twice and selling them for 80 taels of silver. He was banished. We praise you for this appropriate sentence but we fear, as the sentence has not been published in an Edict, that the people will remain unaware of the new tariff for forgery.

We humbly request you to issue a proclamation and have it pasted up conspicuously so all may see and know. This will relieve our anxiety.

Vol 9 No 32 – Tuesday 9th August 1836

The barque Suzana sailed from Bombay for Macau on 13th June with 1,382 chests of (Pass) Malwa and 200 bales of cotton. She loaded some Straits produce at Singapore and arrived in sight of the Canton coast, 30 miles west of the Ladrones on 31st July where she was caught in a storm and demasted.

The crew managed to anchor off a beach and called for help from some Chinese assembled there who threw out a rope which was secured on board. By this means the crew were able to pass from ship to shore but, as the first arrived on the beach, the rescuers released the rope in order to relieve the seafarers of their valuables and the remaining crew and passengers, in transit between ship and shore, fell into the sea. Seven Chinese, one Arab, two Macanese and Sr. H A Leiria, the supercargo, were all drowned.

Several of the Chinese passengers were merchants from Singapore bringing gold and silver for their relatives and villages. They opened these treasure chests before leaving the ship and distributed the contents to all who would carry them but those who got ashore were robbed of the precious metals and their finger rings, etc.

After the thieves departed, the survivors were helped by an elderly man named Cheung Hop who provided food and clothes and procured a boat for them in which they arrived at Macau on 7th August. The survivors include Capt Encarnacao, all the ship’s officers and the remaining passengers and crew. The late Sr. Leiria was a member of the Leal Senado and a well-known member of the Macau community. He managed to reach the beach but failed to revive and was buried there. A brig has been dispatched to reward Cheung Hop and recover whatever may still be left on the beach. The loss is estimated at over $1,000,000.

Vol 9 No 32 – Tuesday 9th August 1836

Undated letter from Fox and 22 other foreign merchants and firms to the Viceroy and Hoppo:

We have received your answer to our representations on import duties. The Co-Hong has supplied us with a tariff of proposed duties payable on woollen and cotton imports. The tariff is higher than the previous one. The great increase in woollen and cotton imports in recent years has caused a reduction in their cost, particularly cotton manufactures.

  • Longcloth sold at $12 for 40 yards twenty years ago; now it sells at $5. All qualities are equally effected. This makes the existing tariff proportionately greater and less supportable than hitherto. We solicit relief.
    There are frequent disputes over classification for duty of 1st and 2nd grade cotton longcloths. The Co-Hong have suggested we submit samples of each grade to your office so they may be officially stamped and deposited in the Consoo House for reference in any future dispute. We attach the samples which we believe are readily distinguishable.
    The revised tariff sets the duty on 1st quality longcloth at 98 cents per piece and 2nd quality at 44 cents per piece (both 40 yard lengths). This level of duty was hitherto levied on 80 yard longcloths. (NB – these longcloths were locally stated to be 100 or 200 cubits long)
  • On English and Dutch camlets, the proposed duty is prohibitive and enhances the likelihood that these items will be smuggled thus depriving the Hoppo of all his revenue on this commodity.
  • The dimensions of cotton handkerchiefs are disputed. We pray Your Excellency will firstly reveal the standard sizes on which 1st and 2nd class duties are levied so we may recognise the standard government measure and secondly provide us with a measuring rod to show the Chinese covid upon which length the duties are assessed.10
  • We frequently bring goods which turn-out to be unsuitable for your markets or for some other reason cannot be sold except at heavy discount. We pray that we may be allowed to re-export these goods free of all import and export duty. In these cases, to protect Chinese revenue, we propose all such test shipments be off-loaded into a special warehouse controlled by Hoppo and Hongs and that a reasonable time be permitted us to effect sales, say 9-12 months, during which time we must re-export them to qualify for duty rebate.
  • We wish to report a problem concerning goods landed damaged after our ships encounter heavy weather. We pray for a remission of duty, proportioned to the extent of damaged cargo.
  • Finally we wish to let you know we have received the scale of proposed duties for only a few articles of import. We respectfully request a copy of the general tariff on all foreign goods and that an officially authenticated version be made available in the Consoo House for reference at all times.

We believe the resolution of these queries on duties, which hitherto have annually increased, will facilitate an improved understanding with the Co-Hong.

Reply of the Viceroy Tang:

You petitioned me previously which I answered and also sought advice from the Hoppo which is now available.

  1. He says foreign goods should be regulated according to the measure and quality of the Company’s former imports.11 There is a marked difference between 1st class and 2nd class cotton goods but especially fine 2nd class cotton goods are usually still taxed as 2nd class. The foreign merchants must also be straightforward in correctly classifying their imports. Longcloth is taxed per 100 covids. Two longcloths are 200 covids. Broadcloth, long ells and camlets are all measured and a consensus reached on quality. The proclaimed tariff details have already been given to you. This is the Hoppo’s reply.
  2. I now turn to your latest petition in which you again request information on the same points. The Customs House tariff is fixed by the Board of Revenue and published under Imperial command. It is reverently and implicitly followed. How can the foreigners hope that because their goods are cheaper or because duties are prohibitive, a reduction will be made in the duties? Whether goods are damaged or not is irrelevant; they are assessed for duty in consideration of their condition. The Imperial regulations say nothing on reductions for damage. Market prices fluctuate but Imperial duties are immutable. Price fluctuations are part of the traders’ risk. So is testing the market with new goods. All these requests are flimsy pretexts and absolutely disallowed.
  3. The length of the legal covid has been given already. There can be no misunderstanding or irregularity. Only the request for officially approved samples of 1st and 2nd quality longcloth has merit. I have asked the Hoppo if he will certify samples to be kept by the Hongs and he will issue orders in due course. 28th July 1836.

The Hoppo Wan’s reply to the merchants (through the Hongs):

I have received a foreign petition in Chinese from Fox and the others and a copy of the reply from the Viceroy, directing me to consider the usefulness of maintaining quality samples of foreign cloth.

  • All duties are based on the Imperial tariff and the foreigners have always obediently paid these. How can the matter be left to the will of individuals or that the duties be increased or diminished in accordance with varying qualities and values? As regards smuggling, it is illegal. Why should high duties cause foreigners to smuggle? As the foreigners dare to suggest such a course of action they must already be doing it. The Hongs are to question the foreigners minutely and advise if a full investigation is necessary.
  • Concerning testing the market, as soon as duty is paid on imports it is officially recorded and the money sent to Peking. How can we return the money if the goods turn out to be unsuitable. This request reveals ignorance of our system and the inflated expectations of the foreigners. It will not be considered.
  • Concerning publishing the tariff, the late Hoppo Pang has already replied. Why do the foreigners again raise this question?
  • As regards cargo damaged in heavy weather, the foreigners may represent it at the time and we may compassionately consider it on a case-by-case basis No fixed rule is required.
  • As regards the request for us to maintain samples of different qualities of longcloth, these variations arise in both bleached and unbleached longcloth but the foreigners usually represent the unbleached as 2nd class or as coarse. This causes confusion. If we are to hold samples, they must be of both the bleached and unbleached longcloths. Only then can contention be minimised.

Let the Hongs consider all this and impress it on the foreigners for their obedience and so reduce their whining complaints. Sgd 31st July 1836

Vol 9 No 32 – Tuesday 9th August 1836

List of Chinese import duties on woollen and cotton cloth (the duties that have been revealed by the Hoppo on the staples of legal trade), all reckoned in exact accordance with weights, measures and charges in the stamped copy of the Customs House book:

Broadcloth100 covids Long Ells, 100 covids English camlets 100 covids Dutch camlets 100 covids Long cloth 1st Quality per 10 pcs.
Deemed weight of goods per picul duty 100 catties 50 catties 100 catties 100 catties 50 catties
Original duty 5 taels 1 tael 5 mace 6 taels 10 taels 5 taels

for silver loss

5 mace 1 mace 5 candareen 6 mace 1 tael 5 mace
% for

silver loss

7 candas 4 cash 2 candas 2 cash 8 candas 8 cash 1 mace 4 candas 7 cash 7 candas 4 cash
Charge on all goods per picul 3 candas 5 cash 1 canda 8 cash 3 candas 5 cash 3 candas 5 cash 1 canda 8 cash
Difference in Peking Customs

house scales & local freight

3 mace 7 candas 9 cash 1 mace 1 canda 4 cash 4 mace 5 candas 4 cash 7 mace 5 candas 5 cash 3 mace 7 candas 7 cash
Linguist’s allowance per picul 1 canda 4 cash 7 cash 1 canda 4 cash 1 canda 4 cash 7 cash
Difference in Customs house scales 4 canda 8 cash 1 canda 4 cash 5 candas 8 cash 9 candas 6 cash 4 candas 8 cash
Fees per picul to various officers 2 candas 6 cash 1 canda 3 cash 2 candas 6 cash 2 candas 6 cash 1 canda 3 cash
Allowance for inferior silver 4 mace 2 candas 5 cash 1 mace 2 candas 9 cash 5 mace 9 cash 8 mace 4 candas 5 cash 4 mace 2 candas 3 cash
Public expenses 6 mace 5 candas 1 mace 9 candas 7 cash 7 mace 7 candas 3 cash 1 tael 2 mace 9 candas 2 cash 6 mace 4 candas 6 cash
Total 7 taels 1 mace 5 candas 1 cash 2 taels 1 mace 6 candas 4 cash 8 taels 5 mace 6 candas 2 cash 14 taels 2 mace 1 canda 7 taels 1 mace 6 cash

There are five more examples in the text for 2nd class longcloth, coarse longcloth, large handkerchiefs, small handkerchiefs and chintzes (or palempores; one piece of chintz is deemed to equate with six palempores)

Vol 9 No 32 – Tuesday 9th August 1836

Peking Gazettes – Chang Ling, who is responsible to collect duty at the Tsung Wan gate, seized a man named Lee Shu Lung who was entering Peking supposedly to attempt the Imperial examination. He had 4 catties of ginseng. Lee comes from Shansi and previously worked to the north of Peking as a licensed ginseng dealer. He bought 1,800 taels of ginseng for resale in Kiang Nan but could not sell all of it. He then travelled to Shantung, Tientsin and Kiang Nan to dispose of it but still had 980 taels unsold.

He says “As the examinations were scheduled this year in Peking I came here to sell the ginseng to the students. I saw many groups of students on their way here each carrying a flag. I thought if I also carried a flag I could save paying the tax.” Chang Ling has examined Lee’s warrant for buying ginseng and his road passes and the former is for 2,200 taels of ginseng whilst the latter are in order. He now carries 980 catties of ginseng altogether. His evidence varies and Chang Ling is unsure if he is a genuine ginseng trader or a smuggler. He should be delivered to the army for strict examination. If he is smuggling, his ginseng should be seized and given to the Tartar domestic servants of the Imperial household. If he is really a licensed retailer he should be returned to me for punishment in respect of his attempt to surreptitiously bring ginseng into Peking.

Vol 9 No 33 – Tuesday 16th August 1836

Recent British publications about China:

  • Mr Gordon, who visited China in 1834 / 35 under instructions of the Bengal Presidency to collect different tea seeds and learn about the Chinese method of their cultivation, has published a paper “Address to the people of Great Britain, Explanatory of our Commercial Relations with the Empire of China, etc.” by ‘A visitor to China’, 1836. We have previously referred (Vol 8 No 22 – Tuesday 2nd June 1835 and Vol 8 No 40 – Tuesday 6th October 1835) to the success of Gordon’s venture in Governor Findlay and we only regret that he published his book anonymously. Had he described himself as a traveller in China it would have allowed greater confidence in his book. His is the best book in the China series.
  • Mr H H Lindsay joined the Company’s factory at Canton in 1821 shortly before the affray between the boat’s crew of HMS Topaze and the villagers on Lintin. Lindsay is an expert on China because of his knowledge of the Cantonese character, his voyages along the east coast and his understanding of Mandarin. His “Letter to Lord Palmerston on British Relations with China” appeared in its 3rd edition this year. However Lindsay’s advocacy of immediate and extensive hostilities against China is not something we advocate. British traders are winning the honour of England in their progressive trade and we only require the British government to let China know of our power and determination. If this is skilfully done, no rupture will occur. Lindsay’s argument is too abrupt and ill-considered in its details.
  • Finally there is James Matheson’s pamphlet ‘The Present Position and Prospects of British Trade with China’ 1836. He says British national honour and interests should be upheld, her flag respected and her subjects in China protected. This is what we want. How to obtain it is left to the judgment of H M Government. A respectable China squadron would be the cheapest means of awing the local government.

These are the expert opinions. The London newspapers have reported on the books and the Editor of the Morning Herald has professed an opinion. Does he suppose himself more honourable and honest than the British merchants of Canton? He says our opinion of the Chinese does not affect the taste of the tea they sell – well, it would taste the same if a British trader in Canton was judicially executed once a year. If we do not get satisfaction soon, the British government will deserve to lose its tea revenue, the fund-holders their interest and the manufacturers their market.12 It is impossible for the free trade to remain stationary like the Company’s trade. We should not think about what it is now but about what it will be when the Imperial government has been convinced of the necessity of dealing with us on equal terms.

Vol 9 No 33 – Tuesday 16th August 1836

Letter to the Editor – There is a review in the Asiatic Journal for April 1836 on Lindsay’s ‘Letter to Lord Palmerston’. The reviewer talks of the helpless position of the British traders since the Company left. He calls the removal of the Company ‘the casting away of the shield and bulwark of the valuable China trade’. He says had the company been preserved, no change in our political relations would have been necessary. Lindsay is of course the son of a Company Director and a late member of the Company’s factory here. Such reviewers should receive literary flagellation. Can you annihilate them with a word Mr Editor?

I see no difference now and formerly. We are insulted with slightly less frequency. The annual proclamation about our sexual proclivities is no longer openly published. We are less susceptible to a stoppage of trade for how can the Canton Government now punish all for the offence of one.

Are we more subject to extortion? The Company fought against openly stated duties and never complained about secret ones. We are more watchful and catch overcharging more frequently. Are we more vulnerable in event of murder? I think not. We will all aid an innocent fellow countryman threatened with severest punishment to escape. To whom will the Chinese then appeal to have him delivered up? Are our private comforts more abridged now? Not at all. The greater numbers of foreigners coming to Canton to trade has improved communications with Macau.

So how is our present condition worse than under the Company as the Asiatic Journal alleges? You Mr Editor may provide such information as he needs. Sgd Free Trade

Vol 9 No 34 – Tuesday 23rd August 1836

The Union Insurance Society of Canton’s London agent is Palmer, Mackillop, Dent & Co

Vol 9 No 34 – Tuesday 23rd August 1836

Arrivals – Hugh Hamilton Lindsay per Lowjee Family from Bombay.

Vol 9 No 34 – Tuesday 23rd August 1836

Further report of the Canton Treasurer and Judge concerning the outflow of silver sycee:

We find that the dollar coins, which were introduced by the foreigners, are now used for trade by all our own coasting vessels to buy daily necessaries. Their use cannot be reduced. They are common in Kiang Nan, Chekiang, Fukien and Kwangtung, all the provinces which the foreigners visit. They are not current in Chih Li, the two Hu, Szechuan, Yunnan, Kweichow or elsewhere. The foreign silver coins are impure and cause confusion.

We must establish regulations. Many people in the maritime provinces use dollars for rice and salt. In our markets many goods are priced in dollars. They are conveniently sized and must be retained. The inland traders coming to the coast find sycee inconvenient for their petty expenses. They fear the regulations prohibiting taking gold or silver out and find it essential to use foreign money.

The Spanish, Americans and English all have silver mines. The touch and purity of the coins is similar. Compared to sycee they are about nine or more touch. The foreigners have the habit of each managing his own affairs as suits his convenience. These foreigners come far to offer us precious stones, duties and tribute for their profit. Why fear the circulation of foreign silver coins? If the circulation of foreign money was regulated, it would not injure China. The danger is simply that neither its comparative weight nor purity is considered by the Chinese when using it.

The habit began in Canton where, to guard against forgeries, they sample the coins and assay them. But when these ‘broken’ coins arrive in the markets they are called laan pan and are bartered for sycee at a discount of 3-4%. In Kiang Nan and Chekiang it is the South American dollar that is current. In Canton these are exchanged for broken coin at 6-7% premium. Brokers often hoard them to increase the premium. If foreign coin is to circulate it must be weighed and not valued by numbers. Only sycee can be exchanged at a premium.

The debased foreign coins are easily detected and no law is required. Purity can be guessed by weighing. The Customs must newly prohibit the export of sycee and the foreigners are to be forbidden mixing sycee in their payments. They may not use it in any of their dealings. A sweet (voluntary) bond should be taken regularly from the Hong merchants to ensure it is so. If shopkeepers offend they should be punished even more heavily. Further the Customs and other officials, the military and police should all be clearly instructed to search the foreign ships diligently. Anyone catching offenders must receive a reward in sycee. Connivance must be stopped. If any sycee is found in a foreign ship, its previous movements must be clarified and the official stations it has already passed must be investigated as to why they failed to detect it. China is prosperous and has inexhaustible stores. The outside foreigners, even when allowed full scope, cannot harm our trade.

We ask the Emperor to permit foreign money to circulate in the maritime provinces. This will soothe the dispositions of the foreigners and be convenient for the people.

Vol 9 No 34 – Tuesday 23rd August 1836

London Morning Chronicle, 9th April 1836 – the demeaning way that Chinese officials talk of and to us has been so long allowed we can hardly complain of it now. They do not force us to trade with them. How can we say they have given us just cause for war?

On those few occasions they used violence we quickly demonstrated we were more accomplished at it than they. Our rational course, if we do not like their terms of trade, is to withdraw from it. The value of trade we bring to China is immense but they consistently deny its value.

If they do not want us, could we not grow the tea plant elsewhere ourselves and bring the relationship to an end? If war is appropriate it should be a commercial war with China for the international tea market.

Vol 9 No 34 – Tuesday 23rd August 1836

Editorial – The Singapore Chronicle of 13th August 1836 says we could be independent of China for our tea supply. The plant grows well in India and other British colonies. We should recall that the manufacture of tea from the leaves is labour-intensive and requires a minute sub-division of workers.

Tea is already grown, manufactured and drunk in Paraguay (maté) and elsewhere in South America but no-one has ever suggested it might compete with the product from the Wu Yi or Sung Lo hills.

Let us hypothesise that tea grows in Assam or elsewhere and satisfies our needs, is it the only trade that binds us to China? What about Chinese demand for our manufactured goods? Will India give up her trade in opium? No, the links are already too strong to break – we have to continue. All that is required here is British government protection of its merchants.

Some people say that wine could be produced in England. No doubt it is so but we procure wine from Europe more cheaply than we could hope to make it ourselves. Assam will eventually be able to compete with China but why should we abandon the cheapest market (China) simply to assert our independence? We can grow tea in India but we still need to trade with China.

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

The Viceroy recently ordered the Nam Hoi Heen to raid two carpenters’ shops in Sin Kei Tu Lo Street. The shops, Yee Shing and Yee Lee, were allegedly making tea chests with false bottoms for smuggling on the instructions of How Qua and others.

The raid was made in the early evening of 29th August, not apparently to seize the chests, but to first get the account books and proprietors for examination. Arriving at Yee Lee, the officers failed to identify themselves or their purpose and the proprietor, Wong Tien Chai, resisted. A scuffle ensued with staff of both shops fighting the officials who were driven to take refuge opposite and call for reinforcements. The officials finally left the scene at 10.30 p.m.

Next morning the Viceroy was informed and the Governor was sent to lead a renewed raid but both premises were found to be vacant and all stock had been removed.

On 4th September all the Hong merchants were called in and examined for the entire day. They returned to Court yesterday for further enquiries and the final outcome is not yet known.

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

McCulloch’s Commercial Dictionary – The average import of tea to England by the Company in its last four years was 31,500,000 lbs. This declined towards the end and 1833/34 saw only 29,500,000 lbs imported. In the first year of free trade we sent nearly 42,000,000 lbs. This extension of trade was not accompanied by any appreciable rise in tea purchase prices. This suggests there is abundant supply to export. The quality of free trade tea was generally agreed to be equal to Company tea and some commentators thought it better.

No interruptions of trade have occurred, apart from Napier’s, and he was not a free trader. Although inexperienced in this new business, the free traders have, with a few exceptions, conducted themselves satisfactorily They say cargo working at Canton is as good as Liverpool or London. The advocates of monopoly have been disproved.

Now we need the British duty reassessed. Tea of 10d per lb. pays the same duty as tea worth 5/0d – that is oppressive and unjust. The difficulty is in grading the tea and in accumulating a sufficient body of experienced graders to do so. The present duty (since July 1836) is 2/1d per lb. on all teas. This is 200% on the poor man’s ‘cuppa’ but only 50% on the rich man’s. If the government were to charge 1/6d on Congou and Bohea and leave the rest unchanged it would be more equitable.

Goods shipped to China have also increased. Indian cottons exports greatly exceed the earlier years in value and quantity. All descriptions of twist, except the highest singles, have been profitable. China free trade is set to grow and grow.

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

Edict of the Hoppo Wan, 6th September 1836:

Lately a foreign ship MacKenzie entered the inner harbour of Macau for repairs on the invitation of the Portuguese authorities. They are not allowed to do so but this is an affair between foreigners whose dispositions are inscrutable.

Now it appears several foreign ships have been repaired there and we may encounter future difficulties from the accumulation of foreigners. I have ordered the pilots to keep me informed and arranged for boats to watch the foreign ship to ensure the fishing and Tanka boats do not approach her. I solicit the Viceroy’s opinion on this development.

In the interim I require the Hong merchants to instruct all the foreigners that any ship requiring repairs must come to Whampoa and not Macau.

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

From the Minutes of the House of Commons Select Committee on Tea Duty:

  • Evidence of Edmund Edward Antrobus:

Londoners drink blends of common Congou and common Twankey. They prefer dust to leaf. They buy some of the better Congous too but always blend it. They profess to disdain Bohea, the cheapest tea by weight, because Congou gives more flavour so they may use less of it in each brew. The Company in fact sells huge quantities of Bohea but apparently no-one drinks it! I suppose it must be forced on the country people who do not know any better. Some of it may be blended. It is also the case that the Company describes Fukien Congou as Bohea. Campoi and Souchong are the same teas, but one has a stronger taste.

  • Evidence of John Miller of M/s Miller & Lowcock, formerly M/s Garratt:

I am a tea wholesaler. In England we supply 1 lb of Bohea to 5 lbs of Congou. In Scotland the ratio is 1:9. In Ireland it is 1:8. The teas are not normally mixed by wholesalers; blending is done by retailers. The popular tea in England is a blend of good Congou (black) and good Twankey (green). Congou is popular because you get more tea for the same weight.13

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

The Company, which continues to trade in China under the guise of its ‘Finance Committee’, has just unilaterally and arbitrarily altered its rate of exchange (to 220 Company Rupees per $100 Spanish). Merchants are saying they would not have sent Bills to Canton if they had pre-advice of the new rate. If funds for China-trade are provided here we should have a choice in the way we remit.

A major danger from Company financing here is the risk of favouritism in its disbursement. By financing the China trade, the Company displaces other financiers (the smugglers) who always want to exchange cash for Bills.

If we had a financial market here, excluding the Company, the Americans, who always have a problem with remittances, would pour contributions into the new treasury.14

Vol 9 No 36 – Tuesday 6th September 1836

Yesterday, at the sale of the damaged Malwa from the wreck of the Portuguese ship Susana, one chest, still in its original covering marked LB 55, turned out to be full of stones and rice straw. If any reader knows of a policy of insurance issued on this chest, I hope they will publish the details so an investigation can be made into the providers. This sort of fraud is inducement to wilful destruction of ships. Sgd Shareholder 13th September.

Editor – LB55 was not the only chest. Insurance agents in both Bombay and Canton are trying to trace the parties who have attempted to cheat them. The Susana was travelling Bombay to Macau. Not long ago a treasure ship travelling Macau to India was lost in the Straits and those treasure boxes that were recovered were found to contain stones as well.

Vol 9 No 39 – Tuesday 27th September 1836

The Peking Gazettes describe a great drought this past summer. Sacrifices have not availed anything, even by the Emperor himself and his near relations, and orders have now been given to examine into all the criminal cases. If any people are gaoled for trivial matters they are to be released instanter.

Vol 9 No 39 – Tuesday 27th September 1836

The To Kwong Emperor held his 55th birthday on 20th September

Vol 9 No 39 – Tuesday 27th September 1836

Editorial: British relations with China – Many say, instead of complaining, we should thank the Chinese for their tolerance. They say the practical difficulties we experience derive from the internal administration of China concerning which we have no right to interfere. They say that if we try to force the Chinese to accede to our wishes, we can neither justify our action on the basis of the published complaints nor be sure of success. We can only show we were determined to conquer the country.

Embassies have failed, our threats are ridiculed and blood has been shed. Is war the only alternative left and, if so, should it be fought merely for commercial advantage? Would it not be better for us to remain quiet and conform with every existing regulation and by trading peacefully gradually gain the confidence and protection of the Chinese? As we are only tolerated by the Chinese, we should accommodate ourselves to their habits and lull their mistrust and suspicions. This is the entire argument of those in favour of a submissive stance to China.

The majority of us say that the British government has a right to interfere for the protection of the lives and property of British subjects; for the credit and interests of the British Empire. If action is taken decisively and vigorously there need be no interruption to trade or revenue. It should be noted that we China traders, whose wealth depends on China and who will suffer most in a confrontation, are the most urgent advocates of interference. This gives our opinion great weight. We hold that England should establish a similar relationship with China to those she has with other nations in the World with which she has commercial relations. We note the difference in cultural customs and opinions of east and west. No thorough and amicable understanding has ever existed between the two countries but we know that, if satisfactory arrangements could be made, it would be to the commercial advantage of both countries. No reasonable man will deny that.

The Chinese cannot be better off in their exclusion than if the walls are pulled down, even if it kills a few of them in the process. Various Chambers of Commerce have echoed our complaints. Clearly they are not unfounded.15 The experience of 150 years strengthens them. Is it supposed that several hundred honourable merchants might complain of imaginary grievances? The fact is that firstly, the Imperial tariff is the unalterable law of China, so why is it routinely exceeded, and secondly, our ships are subject to piracy, their crews murdered and the cargo stolen but the pirates are not arrested. We should always recall that the Chinese government is unrepresentative of the majority of the Chinese people. We do not want to interfere in Chinese laws – we want redress of real grievances and assert that the Chinese government will accept any such request from Britain if properly presented and insisted upon. The political state of China ensures our success.

The appeasers say ‘if we do not like it, we can leave; but if we remain, we must accept the rules.’ This is a specious argument. International law acknowledges reciprocity. The Manchu Emperor has often promised an open market, protection and compassion but His actions do not conform with His words. What about the treatment of Napier? He refused to communicate through the Linguists and Hong merchants, people the provincial government repeatedly characterises as traitors, cheats and liars, yet the officials themselves refused to talk directly with him.

Great Britain has met other culturally-dissimilar peoples – the Persians, Turks, Egyptians – and her ambassadors, consuls and fleets are deployed to protect and promote trade with those countries. Yet in China, where trade is potentially greater, we are left to struggle. The reason we are left to ourselves is because Ministers are afraid to induce change. They fear losing the tea and the revenue from it more than they want the benefits of unquantifiably more trade with an exclusive country. Some have said the Chinese would uproot their tea plantations rather than open their doors to us. This is silly. Several Chinese and Manchu statesmen have only recently said in memorials that ‘it is not possible to interdict the foreign trade’. Their comments on opium suggest even this commerce cannot be stopped. It is not the wish of the Chinese people to stop foreign trade – just look at Lintin, Kum Sing Mun and the coasts of Fukien and Chekiang for reassurance. Trade is not endangered by its being protected and properly represented. It is not too much that we demand to be treated as equals, that our accredited representatives be allowed to reside in China and adjust difficulties as they arise. Does this offend the honour or trespass on the rights of China? The more that ministers consider the subject the firmer will the conviction become that a dignified interference is the wisest measure to adopt. While the Chinese have a tradition of contempt for non-Chinese, they are yet reasonable and compliant when they have no other alternative.

Vol 9 No 39 – Tuesday 27th September 1836

Lord Napier proposed the creation of a Hospital for British Seamen at Whampoa and the Superintendents offered to finance half the costs. James Matheson held a meeting in February 1835. $1,000 was then subscribed and further amounts were expected from captains and owners of visiting ships. Since then over $9,000 has been collected (JM & Co made the largest donation of $2,000). Any subscriber of 3 Guineas or more may vote for members of the management committee. JM & Co have chosen a steering committee of Wm Jardine, R Turner, J R Reeves, Framjee Pestonjee and W Blenkin which has drawn-up rules that were approved in June 1835.

The committee wish to buy a ship for the hospital but the funds earmarked for it are inadequate. Three suitable ships are available and only a little extra money is needed. In the interim the Assistant Surgeon to H M Superintendents has gratuitously served at Lintin or Kum Sing Mun, depending on where the contraband fleet has been anchored, and Mr Colledge, the senior surgeon, has dealt with Macau cases.

Mr Colledge has advised the committee “almost all the patients are young men in the prime of life just from Europe, full of health and vigour. The diseases at Whampoa in summer are highly inflammatory requiring prompt and energetic measures. A timely bleeding combined with anti-phlogistic measures will subdue an attack in days that might otherwise take weeks to cure, but the distance of Macau from Whampoa means I cannot provide this timely intervention.”

The committee have temporarily retained the services of Mr Johnstone, surgeon of the Earl Balcarras for Whampoa treatments.

Sgd W Blenkin, acting Secretary

(NB – The Hospital will treat indigent Chinese gratis)

Vol 9 No 40 – Tuesday 4th October 1836

A correspondent protests the Company’s ‘Finance Committee’. This committee acts under orders either from Leadenhall Street or from Calcutta

Editor – we believe the Government of India was ordered to transmit its remittable revenue through Canton as commercial capital to London.

The Company must have foreseen the results of its action. It has intentionally created difficulties for the nascent free trade. We already have problems with the Chinese government and Hong merchants. There are disturbances between ships’ crews and Whampoa villagers. Now the Company creates financial problems. We must give this matter the attention it deserves. We should convene a meeting preparatory to memorialising the King for protection of our free trade. Here is our correspondent’s letter:

“Sir, The Company has closed its Treasury. A week ago anyone could get finance on tea to England. We always foresaw that the expansion of available capital would increase prices of Chinese goods and that the employment of Company tea-tasters would introduce favouritism in the distribution of Company funds. For many months shipping was invited to Canton to load silk and tea for England on which cost the Company would loan two thirds at favourable rates of exchange. On 26th September, while several of those ships were still on their way here and without any advance warning, the Company closed its Treasury. Those ships will arrive at a market where the price of goods has been enhanced by superfluous capital but where they can get no finance to leverage their own capital” 30th September 1836

Vol 9 No 40 – Tuesday 4th October 1836

Local news – Shamian Island is notorious for its brothels. We also call it Anglice or Portsmouth Point. On 24th September four Heung Shan men, who work as coolies for the foreigners, were drinking there and at midnight they entered one of the popular houses and met a violent man whom they eventually attacked and killed.

The brothel-keeper’s men then seized and detained the Heung Shan men and next day they were delivered to the magistrate.

Vol 9 No 40 – Tuesday 4th October 1836

Peking Gazettes, 10th July – The censor Hsu Kiu reports that a Foo Yuen is a great provincial officer. He should be upright and just as an example to his subordinates. Yang Ming Yang the Foo Yuen of Shensi was a good man and quickly promoted. This Imperial favour should have produced more zeal in him but he has lost his self-control.

A friend of Yang’s named Seun Urh Keen opened a silk shop in the capital city of Shensi and Yang lent him 4,000 taels of government funds. Seun arranged a feast which took place concurrently with the Foo Yuen’s porters delivering the boxes of silver and gave him an opportunity to boast of his connection. Because of this publicity, all the junior provincial officials were encouraged to make connections with Seun. One of Yang’s porters named Chang is known as Chang Ping Yew (ping yew, meaning ‘equal-sharer’ or ‘equally greedy’, suggests equality with Yang). Another porter named See is the sworn brother of Jin Keih Tse, who works for the business Yee Shing Hong outside the west gate of the Ching Wang temple in the capital of Shensi. The two constantly frequent the provincial treasury and intrigue for promotion of their supporters.

Wang Tih Ming, an official of Han Chung Foo, is a close friend of Yang who permitted him (Wang) to reside in the Kwan Chung College of the provincial capital to study. Yang lent him money to purchase higher office and used his name to open a silk-weaving shop. Later Yang bought houses in Han Chung Foo and used them as shops, all managed by Wang. Although Yang’s family are poor, three of his sons have bought official appointments.

Yang allowed the wives and subordinates of his officials to enter the public offices. This disorder allowed all sorts of unknown people to gain access to the public offices. Yang’s wife used to come into the streets with all the pomp of state. The wives of some officials addressed Yang as “Yee Foo” (signifying they have devoted themselves to him as to a father) and when he appears in the streets they do not retire before him. The citizens have made a song alleging these other officials’ wives are Yang’s lovers. The husbands of these lovers have been promoted to lucrative jobs.

The river banks and bridges of the province are in good repair yet Yang has issued ten letters to rich provincial families soliciting donations for river maintenance. Runners have also been sent to the less wealthy families for contributions. His actual expenditure has been about 50,000 – 60,000 taels and he has put the excess in his own pocket. When complaints commenced he ordered largesse from Peking to placate the dissenters.

In his province there have been successive poor harvests but he did nothing to relieve distress. In Nanshan district the starving villagers robbed for food. Formerly there were few robberies; now they are common and some victims are murdered. No one is arrested. Yang’s province is being destroyed but no report has been made. The money deposited at interest, which interest (15,000 taels) he is supposed to use to maintain the temples, has been appropriated on the pretext of funding the search for robbers.

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

John Russell Reeves, formerly tea inspector of the Company, is made a partner in Dent & Co effective 1st July 1836

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

On 28th September, while the Viceroy was inspecting the Bogue forts, one of the new cannon exploded and four soldiers, two gunners and a lieutenant were killed. The casting of the cannon had been supervised by the military official Hwang, who is now reported to the Emperor for negligence.

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

Peking Gazettes 30th July – The two Imperial Commissioners, Pih Yang King and Yang Kin Ching, who were sent to Canton last year, have been accused of receiving bribes whilst there and are suspended from office.

They are ordered to return to Peking for examination.

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

Peking Gazettes 30th July – Two Imperial Commissioners Chu Sze Yen and Kiying have arrived at Kiangsi for an enquiry. Afterwards they will continue to Canton to check the work of the Imperial Commissioners Pih Yang King and Yang Kin Ching who are suspected of corruption.

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

On 6th October the two magistrates of Poon Yu and Nam Hoi prayed for rain at the Dragon King temple. To propitiate Heaven, orders prohibiting the slaughter of animals for food were concurrently published.

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

The Company’s ‘Finance Committee’ has informally told merchants that they closed their treasury last month because they were receiving no more applications for Bills secured on tea or silk shipments to London.

On 7th October, in response to public complaint, they re-opened the treasury. So far this year the treasury has opened / closed many times (NB – CR = Company Rupees) :

  • 15th March closed, re-opened to 30th April.
  • 2nd May closed then re-opened until further notice at 220 CR per $100
  • 28th May closed then re-opened until further notice at 218 CR per $100
  • 29th August closed then re-opened until further notice at 220 CR per $100 for Calcutta Bills and 4/1½d + 40% in cash for London Bills
  • 26th September closed then re-opened on 7th October at 218 CR per $100

Vol 9 No 41 – Tuesday 11th October 1836

Captain John Rees of the Colonel Young has been investigating along the coast into the disappearance of the brig Fairy. Here is an extract from his diary:

On 26th September Captain Hadley of the Aurelia told me some Chinese junks near Tungsoa reported seeing 5-6 foreigners ashore from a shipwrecked vessel near there.

27th September arrived Amoy, landed at the chop-house (Customs House) and asked the officials if they had heard of any white or black foreigners ashore. They knew nothing but said if they should arrive they would send them to Canton. Sailed immediately to Dansborg Bay and sent a launch ashore but no information available from the villagers.

28th September ran into Tungsoa harbour.

29th September sent 2nd mate and a Chinese crew member across to the opposite shore for enquiry. I myself took the long boat into Tungsoa city, waited on the official who received my letter (written in Chinese by the Colonel Young’s Chinese shroff). He took it to the Ta Jin (great man – probably the City Magistrate). Ta Jin replied that 14 foreigners had landed and been sent to Fuk Chow. Returned to the ship and met 2nd mate. Villagers had told him several men had landed. One fisherman had housed a foreigner there for several days.

I ran 5-6 miles up the bay and landed at the village indicated. The people came out and confirmed a tall black man had been with them several days but had been taken away by the officials. He had two head wounds. They said there had been another man there, a white man. I offered a reward for salvage from the wreck but they said she had not been lost but had sailed away after 14 men came ashore in a ship’s boat. The boat had been immediately broken up for its planks. All the foreign men who landed were wounded.

I sent a runner to the nearest official (about 40 miles away) with one of my English crewmen and returned to my ship. About 36 hours later my man returned. He said the official wanted to know all the facts of the case before releasing the men. I sent the Chuan Chow man (the runner who had gone the first time) with a Cantonese crewman with letters in Chinese for the official and in English for the survivors. I waited over 30 hours then landed in expectation of their return and took the Chinese shroff with me to interpret. The Chuan Chow man soon returned. He said my Cantonese crewman had been detained by the official. He had met the white man, a Portuguese, and described him.

The white man had said that Captain McKay and an apprentice named George had both been killed. He said the official would not release him. Another 13 men had been sent to Fuk Chow 30 days before.

The Chuan Chow man would not go again fearing to be detained himself. I returned to the ship and in the morning went to Tungsoa city. I interviewed the magistrate there and begged for a chop for the release of the men but he said he could do nothing as it was outside his district. I left additional letters for delivery to the officials of the relevant districts and returned to my ship.

Evidence of Ah Chip, a native of Chuen Chow. (the man sent to Chiu Po Kwei on 29th September): I went ashore at To Lim in Shau Kwan district, one day’s journey from Chiu Po Kwei. I asked the people there if they had heard of a foreign shipwreck but they knew nothing. I befriended Ting Ko and Hoo as my guides. They had heard the Fairy crew had been delivered to the officials at Chiu Po Kwei and we went there. I saw the chief magistrate. I said I was a fisherman come to ask about some shipwrecked foreigners. I was taken to a white man with a long beard. I gave him an outline of a ship which Captain Rees had given me for identification of the Fairy and mentioned Rees’ name. The white man rejoiced. He said much that I could not understand. He drew a picture of a two-master with sails hanging down and the crew, some hoisting out treasure boxes and others getting into boats. He indicated the ship was sinking in the water. He gestured to show they got ashore, were attacked and the treasure taken. He showed me two wounds on his left, one on his right and another on his neck. He escaped the robbery by jumping in the sea and swimming to another place. He constantly said the words Chau Chiu which I do not understand. To my understanding the landing must have occurred at How To San village in Chiu Po Kwei district. The villagers there are given to piracy. He indicated Capt McKay and a boy were dead.

I returned to the Colonel Young to report and was sent back with Yim, a Cantonese who speaks some English. Yim was annoyed by the official’s questions but was permitted to interview the white man. During this interview Yim told me the captain and twenty crew had been killed. 13 survivors, including one seriously injured in the head, had been sent to Fuk Chow. The remaining survivors were to go to Fuk Chow immediately. The white man was receiving 30 cash a day from the official for food. I gave him some cakes. I handed him a letter from Captain Rees and a pencil. He read the note and appeared glad. He was commencing to reply when the police runners seized the pencil. Yim wrote two notes but we were then imprisoned. I was allowed to return to the Colonel Young with one of their men to get an interpreter and Yim was to remain as a hostage for the safety of their own man. After we had travelled several miles, this man handed me the note he was delivering to Captain Rees from the official, and refused to continue. I returned to the ship on 2nd October. Sgd at Kum Sing Mun 13th October

Vol 9 No 42 – Tuesday 18th October 1836

The London Sun – Lord Palmerston after a careful examination of the objects and duties of the British Superintendents in China, has concluded that their establishment may be considerably reduced.

The Chief Superintendent’s office, presently held by Sir George B Robinson at £6,000 per annum, is abolished.

Vol 9 No 43 – Tuesday 25th October 1836

Notice – If vagabonds continue to bath nude in front of my house (in Macau), they will suffer from broken glass. Sgd A Daniell

Vol 9 No 43 – Tuesday 25th October 1836

When the Hong merchants How Qua, Mow Qua, Poon Ki Qua and Chun Qua were powerful and in combination with the Company, the black tea men sought to similarly combine to force up prices but were eventually overcome before the shipping season commenced. Now the tea men have tried it again.

On the earlier occasion they might have had some real grievance but, in light of the huge windfall profits they made last year, this seems unlikely to be the case this time. They have issued a ridiculous manifesto that is indefensible on commercial grounds. We think they are just trying to maintain their high profits. We attach a translation of their manifesto:

The Wu Yi Cha Pang (Mo Yi tea brotherhood) New Regulations:

  • 30% of the contract price of all black tea sold to foreigners is to be advanced to our members within five days of contract-signing and at the latest by 2nd day of 2nd moon; the balance to be paid within a year.
  • When tea is delivered, any water-damaged part will be replaced but whole chests cannot be rejected.
  • Payments in uncut dollars will be reduced by 2½% of its face value to arrive at its pure silver value.
  • If silver alloy coins are presented in payment they must be changed in five days, if the face value of alloy coins exceeds 100 taels, and in ten days if less.
  • Once all teas on a contract have been delivered they must be paid for as contracted and no delay for weighing etc., is permitted.

These five regulations describe the practise of former years and are now re-enacted for our security. If not followed, further deliveries will be withheld. If any Canton tea merchant, or member of our club or trader who comes to Wu Yi Hills, attempts to defeat our combination, each offender will forfeit 1,000 taels to our Consoo.

Vol 9 No 43 – Tuesday 25th October 1836

Edict of the Hoppo Wan concerning the steamer Jardine (ex Greig):

This ship arrived in 8th moon last year and anchored at Kum Sing Mun. The then Hoppo immediately ordered it away. In 1st moon this year it left for Singapore and returned on 12th October.

The pilot Choo examined her on her return and found the funnel, paddle wheels and engine had been removed. Now she has anchored at Lintin. The Hong merchants are ordered to instruct the English business Chief to send her away. 18th October 1836

Vol 9 No 43 – Tuesday 25th October 1836

Statement of British Trade at Canton 1st April 1835 – 31st March 1836 in dollars:


Raw Cotton
Cotton yarn
Ctn cloth
Opium Patna


Black tea
Green tea
Nanking silk
Canton silk
Silk cloth





Black tea – 41,664,133 lbs; Green tea – 9,534,400 lbs

NB – disbursements on ships:

93 at Whampoa at $8,500 each
79 rice ships @ $2,200 each
67 at Lintin at $1,200 each

Trade balance is $32,426,623 – $24,877,799 = $7,549,824.16

Sgd Edward Elmslie, Secretary and Treasurer to H M Superintendents.

Vol 9 No 43 – Tuesday 25th October 1836

New York Mercury, 18th June 1836 – Mr John Platt of Marietta, Ohio has succeeded during the last ten years in cultivating the tea plant and has now discovered the art of drying and processing the leaf into a quality equal to Young Hyson. He offers to supply free seed to anyone interested in pursuing tea cultivation.

Vol 9 No 44 – Tuesday 1st November 1836

Peking Gazettes:

1/ Yeh Ching Keen, the late Heen of Heung Shan, was reported to have accompanied Pih Jang King, an informer of the censorate, to drunken orgies in brothels.

Later the censor Gang Ming and others arrived ‘for investigation’. They interrogated two prostitutes but both denied knowing either Yeh or Pih or attending orgies.

Gang Ming has since been disgraced by the Emperor for failing to manage the enquiry properly and Kiying and others have been ordered to Heung Shan to inter alia reopen investigations.

2/ Yang Chow, the chief policeman in Poon Yu heen, has been denounced by a censor as oppressive, violent, wicked and fabulously wealthy from corruption.

The heen magistrate has been ordered to detain Yang until Kiying et al arrive to investigate. Yang is rumoured to have amassed 100,000 taels but has removed his wealth from his house and hidden it.

Vol 9 No 44 – Tuesday 1st November 1836

Edict of the Hoppo Wan, 24th October 1836:

“Foreign ships on entering the river are all supposed to anchor at Whampoa. They are not allowed to anchor at Wu Chung or other places where they try to avoid my surveillance and engage in smuggling. Now I find that several still anchor far from Whampoa. This is excessive disobedience. The Hong merchants must order the head of each nation to ensure his ships anchor at Whampoa. If any disobey I will stop the trade of that ship. You are all warned.”

Vol 9 No 44 – Tuesday 1st November 1836

Editorial review of Matheson’s Present Position and Prospects of the British Trade with China – A complimentary review agreeing with Matheson and proposing the British government should take coercive measures to open trade with China.

Vol 9 No 45 – Tuesday 8th November 1836

Editorial – The Company improved its exchange rate for Bills on Calcutta on 25th October from 218 to 220 Company Rupees per $100. They also require goods on which advances have been made to be shipped before 31st December. These changes (and the temporary stoppage of trade finance on and after 26th September) are serious grievances.

There is now a stoppage of trade due to the black tea cartel, (see above). Ensuring our exports come within the Company’s unilateral time limit is doubtful.

One might wonder if they are supporting the black tea men to force us to pay the higher prices? The Company’s ‘finance committee’ should act on fixed rules and give timely notice of changes.

Vol 9 No 45 – Tuesday 8th November 1836

Petition of the British merchants to the Viceroy:

We are suffering because the Hoppo limits shipments of raw silk and silk piecegoods. The numbers of ships and consequently the amount of our sales to China have increased in recent years and inevitably our requirement for Chinese exports as return cargoes has equally increased. Although we now buy more silk, we are delayed in shipping until a vessel is available which has not fully utilised its silk allowance. Silk is a valuable commodity and we prefer to use our own ships or select good seaworthy ones rather than be forced to use any ship which has spare capacity for silk. Please remove the ‘per ship’ limit for silk exports. Sgd 38 foreign merchants. 10th October 1836

Viceroy Tang’s reply:

The export of silk was formerly prohibited. Later we allowed each ship to take 5,000 catties each of Canton raw silk and Nanking 2nd grade raw silk. If the silk has been made-up, 800 catties of piecegoods equate with 1,000 catties of raw silk. These arrangements were prepared by the Board of Revenue and approved by the Emperor. They have long been the law.

Now the foreigners request for more silk. They say the numbers of ships coming to Canton has increased. Accordingly the amount of silk they are able of export is also increased. The seaworthiness of foreign ships is not a matter to concern the Chinese Empire. Do the foreigners expect to buy and sell at their pleasure? This is unreasonable and extravagant and will not be allowed. The Hong merchants will tell the barbarians to obey the law and not indulge their wild expectations. 28th October 1836

Vol 9 No 45 – Tuesday 8th November 1836

Edict of the Hoppo Wan, 3rd November:

“On 1st November I received advice from the Viceroy that he had received a report from Admiral Kwan17 dated 18th October complaining that the foreigners’ ferry boats were not stopping to get passes at the Bogue forts.

“In the 14th year of the To Kwong Emperor (1835) the then Admiral Lee was ordered by the then Viceroy Loo to allow Select Committee members, ship captains and taipans of country-trade companies to hoist a national flag on their ferry boats when they travelled up the river. No other passengers could do so.

“Letters up and down the river could only be carried in ship’s boats. Such boats had to report to the Bogue fort on entry and provide its passport (issued at Macau) for inspection before proceeding. When the arriving boat comes to Whampoa it surrenders its pass at the Customs House. On departure the boat is issued with a new pass to show to the various Customs Houses en route (to ensure it is not smuggling). Each Customs House issued a new certificate of compliance which was tendered to the next and to any patrols met, etc.

“On returning to Whampoa the boat surrenders its pass at Tsung Suen Kau (where the river cruisers are based). If any weapons are discovered the boat may not proceed but otherwise their passage was not to be interrupted.

“I, the Hoppo, note that lately the ferry boats have not stopped at the Bogue fort on entry and hence the Customs Houses upstream are not aware of its approach. The Hong merchants are to remind the foreigners that it is imperative to always get a pass and report at the various Customs Houses en route.”

Vol 9 No 45 – Tuesday 8th November 1836

Editorial – We have read Davis’ book on China. Davis accompanied Lord Amherst to Peking. He then mastered written and spoken Mandarin and succeeded Napier as Chief Superintendent of British Trade. The book is readable but contains little new. He is too favourable to the Chinese. He confounds Canfu with Canton but otherwise there are few errors.

He extols Confucius for identifying basic truths through personal effort when the Greeks, who did the same, had the store of Egyptian knowledge to guide them. As a moral teacher Confucius always and only appealed to reason to justify his precepts. He never appealed to the hopes and fears of mankind, yet his message– benevolence, justice, decorum, knowledge and truth – was essentially religious.

It is on trade that Davis falls down. There is no masterly view of the present state or future prospects of British trade. We hear Davis left a paper of ‘hints’ to Robinson before leaving Macau for England but it does not appear here.

Vol 9 No 46 – Tuesday 15th November 1836

Notice – William Potter Livingston is admitted a partner in Gibb & Co effective 14th November 1836. The firm will henceforth be called Gibb, Livingston & Co. Sgd T A Gibb, Canton

Vol 9 No 46 – Tuesday 15th November 1836

Memorial of the Glasgow East India Association to Lord Palmerston (brought back for local publication by James Matheson):

Our property is in danger in China, We will not tell you what to do to remedy the danger but you must protect us as British subjects who have engaged in this trade under your sanction and encouragement.

You withdrew the Company’s monopoly to encourage us and adopted certain measures to afford us security and thereby draw our capital into the trade. You are bound to ensure those measures are effectual but over a year has elapsed since their failure and you have done nothing. There are now many more China traders than before and much capital has been invested. They break no Chinese laws but their property and persons are at the mercy of the local authorities at Canton.

In November 1835 the crew of the Pestonjee Bomanjee (a ship belonging to one of your memorialists) mutinied at Whampoa, the captain’s life was threatened but H M Superintendents told him they had no authority to intervene!

Our China trade is important and should be properly founded. It is not just China traders but English manufactures, merchants and shipowners who are exposed. The public expect to be supplied with China tea; the national revenue benefits handsomely from its import; India needs the China trade for its revenue and commerce. These are important national interests.

We want peace with China but every aggression left unremedied emboldens the Chinese to grosser outrage. Our acquiescence to Napier’s fate has brought us into further contempt. More attacks are likely and could be disastrous. We need the following privileges:

 Freedom to appeal over the Canton provincial government to Peking

 Residence at Canton for ourselves and our families

 Permission to erect warehouses at Canton

 Permission to trade with everyone not just Hong merchants

 The protection of Chinese law

 Trade at Amoy, Ningpo and another port in the north

 The cession of an island on the East Coast by negotiation or purchase for our extra-territorial use

 Admiralty Jurisdiction to at least secure discipline on our ships.

This is urgent. Sgd Kirkman Finlay, Chmn and A Wardrop, Sec’y

Editor – we have it ‘on good authority’ (Editor Slade was originally employed by Matheson who brought this notice back to Canton for publication) that the East India and China Association of London also communicated with the government on the same subject. Ministers were agreeable to extending the jurisdiction of H M Superintendents from Canton to the coast of China to give better effect to their authority. New regulations are being drafted.

Vol 9 No 46 – Tuesday 15th November 1836

Arrivals per William Jardine from Liverpool 11th November – Mr A P Boyd of Turner & Co and James Matheson of J M & Co.18

Vol 9 No 46 – Tuesday 15th November 1836

Local news – A fire broke out in a brothel on Shameen waterfront and spread to several other brothels as well as adjacent flower boats and four shops. Each house lost 2-3 of its occupants and one woman could be seen burning to death but many of the girls are thought to have seized the opportunity to escape from their masters as some few were caught and ransomed by vagabonds.

Vol 9 No 47 – Tuesday 22nd November 1836

Editorial – Performing the kow-tow in China, quite apart from considerations of national dignity, does not offer any advantages. The Dutch in the 18th century did everything required of them but were then neglected and received no commercial advantage. A later Dutch embassy in 1795 fared no better. van Braam observed that subsequent to kow-towing they “received some sheeps’ trotters on a dirty plate which had already been picked over and gnawed clean”. Their treatment on the journey back was most degrading. At that time it was fashionable in Europe to wear ‘small clothes’ and these Dutchmen evoked considerable amusement amongst the officials whenever they were required to expose their bottoms in tights.

The Russians refused to perform the act of vassalage and have since obtained residency at Peking. Many Asian countries seek to have foreigners degrade themselves publicly. Sir John Malcolm has written persuasively about Persian attempts. This ritual must go right back to the ancient Greeks for Timagoras was sent as ambassador to Persia and prostrated himself but was condemned to die for it on his return.

Gerbillon records that when a Chinese officer of the Hong Hei Emperor was captured by the Eleuths he was ordered to speak on his knees. He refused saying he was a vassal of the Manchu Emperor not of the Eleuths. A Chinese account notes that a Chinese ambassador to Japan refused to kow-tow and thus returned to China without delivering his communication. The kow-tow is not a ceremony – it is a rite whereby the Kings of Cochin China, Korea and Loo Choo do homage, through their emissaries, upon having their investiture confirmed by the Manchu Emperor. It is a vassal’s homage to his lord.

Every country with professions of independence must decline to perform it. All those countries that send tribute, whose ambassadors undergo a form of allegiance, form part of the Chinese Empire. Their kings rule with the sanction of the Manchu Emperor. This may not signify much practically but the effect is keenly felt in China. Any obedience to degrading demands feed Chinese pride and inflate notions of Chinese importance. du Halde observed in 1687 that European princes should take care how they phrase their letters to China lest they unknowingly become tributaries. All these forms of submission and devotion to another do no harm if they are reciprocal for they do not damage notions of equality. It is when they are not reciprocal, as in China, that they are damaging.

Vol 9 No 47 – Tuesday 22nd November 1836

Edict of Viceroy Tang and Hoppo Wan, 5th November 1836:

Foreigners cannot easily understand the culture of China so security merchants and Linguists are required to manage their trade. These officials must give unceasing instruction to the foreigners to suppress their pride and profligacy that their hearts may be changed and their selves renovated. Then each can recognise and confine himself to his own station and employment. The security merchants must preserve their respectability and conduct trade on just principles without fraud or falsehood. Then the foreigners will have confidence in them.

We find some of the Hong merchants were formerly lawless and devised a hundred plans to seduce foreigners. They brought young boys to be their domestic attendants and invited boat-women to lodge with them. This is contrary to our Customs. We apprehend that there may still be some amongst the Hong merchants who follow the old ways to whom we now issue this advice.

All you Hong merchants, linguists and police must reform your characters. The foreigners dwell near the river. The Tanka and other small boats are not allowed to remain near the factories. The foreigners are not to hire the Tanka or other boats to travel to and from Whampoa. They may bring their own servants. If the Hong merchants etc., hire native servants and young boys for the foreigners to seduce, to spend the night drinking in the river boats, or bring loose women by night to the factories, should we hear of it, the foreigners and the Hong merchants will all be delivered to the magistrate for punishment of the utmost severity. If the police accept bribes to assist the foreigners they will wear the cangue for a month and then be bambooed. We will not show any favours. You should all tremble and obey and not experiment with the laws.

Vol 9 No 48 – Tuesday 29th November 1836

Notice – the interest of Andrew Johnstone in our business ceased on 30th June 1836.

Sgd J M & Co 24th November 1836

Vol 9 No 48 – Tuesday 29th November 1836

A General Chamber of Commerce is to be formed in Canton to unite all the national and individual interests of foreign traders. “Knowledge is power, union is strength”.

At a meeting in the Hotel of M/s Stanford and Marks in the Canton factories at which at least one member of each firm attended, it was agreed that H H Lindsay be chairman and W Sprott Boyd Secretary. Lindsay said he hoped the Chamber would be operational within a year.

He said “The utility of Chambers is now universally recognised and few important commercial towns lack one. The general principles on which the Chamber is to operate have been circulated and seem to be approved. The committee will frame appropriate regulations. I must just mention that we are widely accused of allowing partisan feelings to interfere with public welfare. This slur is no longer justly applicable. We will prevent its recurrence by allowing our neighbour that credit which we, with justice, claim for ourselves – namely a sincere and earnest desire to enhance the public good”.

Lancelot Dent moved the 1st resolution:

“I should be better pleased had Jardine made this proposal as he heads a house of extensive business however the presence of his partner Matheson is sufficient guarantee of J M & Co’s concurrence. Thanks are due to those who have arranged this business. I myself have refrained from involvement believing time alone could remove the obstacles to the establishment of this new Chamber. These I believe no longer exist. The increase in our community and trade and our peculiar position call for this institution.

“There are many objects for consideration – I mention only the restriction on silk exports, the want of accommodation for residents and the removal of heaps of filth in front of the factories. It will also be useful as an authority on commercial questions and on mercantile practice at this port.

“I propose the 1st resolution ‘that a General Chamber be established which must comprise the most respectable resident merchants of all nations amongst its members’.” Seconded by Wetmore and carried unanimously.

James Matheson then moved the 2nd resolution:

“First, I wish to say that Jardine and the other members of our firm fully sanction the whole tenor of the resolutions we have assembled here to discuss. When we heard of the proposal to establish this Chamber we first asked if it was generally desired and, finding it was, we willingly co-operated. We support any measure that tends to increase the prosperity of commerce at Canton.

I now propose the 2nd resolution ‘the object of the chamber is solely commercial and not political’. Seconded by Fox and carried unanimously.

Proposed by Green and seconded by Maclean – ‘all firms in China and individuals are eligible for membership on paying the fee (Corporations $50, Individuals $30) and annual subscriptions (Corporations $25, Individual $15)’. Passed unanimously.

Proposed by Turner seconded by Wallace – ‘a committee of 13 be elected by ballot to make rules for submission to a general meeting for approval’. Unanimous

Proposed Blenkin seconded Dadabhoy Rustomjee – ‘Those present may join immediately.’ unanimous

Proposed Bell seconded Alexander Matheson – ‘Firms have two votes, individuals have one vote.’ unanimous

Proposed Gibb, seconded Inglis – ‘No one firm shall have two committee members.’ Unanimous

Proposed King seconded Gray – ‘the committee shall reflect approximate national proportions in the formula English 5, American 3, Parsee 2, Dutch 1, French 1, other nations 1’. Unanimous

Proposed How seconded Stewart – ‘the ballot for the committee will be held on 30th November. Gibb and Gordon to be scrutineers’. Unanimous

Proposed Dent seconded Matheson – ‘thanks to Lindsay for his trouble.’ Unanimous. Dated 28th November 1836

Vol 9 No 48 – Tuesday 29th November 1836

Editorial – Why do the Chinese repeatedly issue strict and unalterable Edicts to manage foreigners when their main effect is to incite the most profound contempt in us for their government. Is this government willing to wound but afraid to strike? Is it a mere shadow of government? Suppose we did turn our affairs over to the Hong merchants, sent away our ships and departed. We suspect that would really make Viceroy Tang tremble. Suppose we could enforce a strict and universal obedience to orders. If we all left on a week’s cruise we would soon be invited back.

We think every minatory Edict issued by the provincial government and disregarded by foreigners tends to weaken the claims of the former over the latter. Their offence is corruption and weakness; ours is in responding naturally.

Vol 9 No 49 – Tuesday 6th December 1836

Notice – James Strachan of Strachan & Co of Manila joined our partnership from 1st May 1836. Sgd Fox, Rawson & Co, 1st December 1836

Vol 9 No 49 – Tuesday 6th December 1836

Editorial – some say that as China only deals with foreign states as tributaries, she ought to be left alone by us. If this line of thought is followed to its logical conclusion, we must cease our commercial relationship with the other Asian states – Persia, Turkey and Egypt – because we cannot treat with those countries on a basis of equality and confidence as we do with, say, France.

Diplomacy teaches the wise politician to adapt his relationships with other countries to account for their power, culture and the ends sought by both parties. It is impossible that China be excluded from diplomacy with us. Our policy should be based on the knowledge of China that we have developed over the years. What does this history tell us?

We break Chinese law daily and hourly. What we have to do is convince the Chinese that we also have a King and a government.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

Departure – per the American ship Himmelah for Singapore, Mr G T Lay.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

We hear the Linguist Ah Ming Senior has been accused of smuggling, taken into the city and bambooed.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

The Glasgow East India Association has memorialised H M Commissioners for Indian Affairs (formerly the Board of Control).

The Company injures the India and China trades by remitting its Indian revenue to London by advances paid on Bengal and China produce for the home market. This has created more competition between the Company and private capital than existed under the old monopoly. Private capitalists loan their money on a normal commercial basis. The Company has suddenly introduced its money into the China market, bringing its immense sovereign capital to provide loans there. This indiscriminate invitation to the public to use the proceeds of Indian territorial revenue for trade purposes has encouraged over-trading and speculation. It is incompatible with healthy trade. These effects are not solely felt in Bengal and China but pervade the whole Eastern region. The gain that the company makes on this trade is insignificant when compared with the damage it occasions to commerce. The exchange rate has been deranged, the value of merchandise affected and trade has become artificially based, thus increasing hazard and uncertainty with unforeseeable consequences.

This activity of the Company is at variance with the terms of the 1833 Act whereby it was required to cease trading in 1834. The object of the Act was to relieve and protect trade, not simply by suppressing the Company’s name, but by causing its withdrawal and freeing commercial capital from competition with the revenues of India. The government agreed at that time that a Sovereign rival in trade was unfair. If private merchants are in error as to the intention of the Act, it follows that no protection of the trade can be claimed but your Board was invested with ample statutory powers of control.

By putting its revenue into the shipment of produce, the Company is able to realise a higher rate of exchange than would otherwise be available to it. The availability of credit is a temptation that traders cannot resist even at rates that the trade does not itself warrant. The loss will fall on the borrowers while the gain to the company will be that part of the rate of exchange that is beyond the trade to support. This stimulus is injurious.

Is it fair to sacrifice trade to the revenue of India? If the answer is affirmative, it would be better that such additions to the revenue be derived from a direct tax on trade. The Company must admit that the rate of exchange is inconsistent with healthy trade. Trade cannot be healthy unless private capital can be employed in it safely and profitably. When these advantages are ordinarily available, commercial capital becomes available to any extent. If the Company is allowed to persist in its loans business, it should be at the exchange rate that British capitalists pay for drafts on the Indian treasuries. That rate of exchange would be unfailingly accurate.

The bullion rate for the Sicca Rupee in Bengal is about 22½d while Bills on Calcutta in London, 60 days sight, are 21¾d. This rate of exchange has been constant for the ten years prior to the company’s cessation of trade. The subsequent deviations are not attributable to improved trade, they are simply due to the altered state of mercantile credit together with speculative operations and uncertainties in the money markets, all caused by the Company. This explains our confidence in asserting that Indian revenue should only be remitted to England by the sale of Bills in England on the Indian treasuries. Such sales would realise at least the bullion rate of exchange. We request the Company be restricted to transmitting revenue only by sale of Bills in London.

Sgd Kirkman Finlay, Chairman and Wm P Paton, Secretary.

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

The London Portfolio of 11th July 1836 has an article on Sino-Russian relations. The writer suspects the annoyances we receive at Canton are in part due to the machinations of the Russian mission that has been in Peking for the last century. The writer suspects that Russia, aided by Prussia and Austria, wishes to supplant British interests in Asia.

He says that the Prussian Customs Union, contrived on the ruins of constitutional freedom of the smaller German states and the independent sovereignty of the German principalities, is actually the western bulwark of a league aimed against the commercial prosperity of England. Its aim is to place the markets of Asia under Russian control and, by providing a land route for goods to and from Europe, to strike a blow against our maritime supremacy.

Now we hear Prussian diplomacy at Vienna and St Petersburg is about to produce a Convention to facilitate transit trade to China via Russia. This could mean that the manufactures of Germany will appear along our Indian frontiers and quite possibly supplant us throughout central Asia. This Customs Union is as bad as Napoleon’s continental system. We must take care.

Editor – China’s parental despotism combined with her neighbourhood to Russia and the similar Russian despotic culture, may lead to a combination of these two most populous nations.

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

Editor Slade includes the following to indicate the steps taken by British merchants in Turkey to protect and promote their trade:

Letter of the British merchants at Constantinople to Palmerston – An Englishman named Churchill has been beaten by the Turkish authorities and imprisoned for several days. The beating was done by junior officers but the imprisonment was sanctioned by an official who is fully aware of our treaty arrangements. This is in breach of our treaty terms with Turkey. The British ambassador has protested to the Porte and no doubt informed you of the event but we hear that the matter has not been settled as expected.

The Turkish government has not yet agreed to punish the responsible officers; nor has it solemnly assured us this abuse will not recur. This is only the most flagrant abuse; there have been other offers of personal violence to Englishmen here. We fear the Turkish government is trying to assert a control over us which it has already surrendered (its agreement to the extra-territoriality clause).

There are also arbitrary surcharges on our trade. Forbearance and indulgence only encourages aggression. We hope you will assert our privileges and guarantee their observance.

Sgd 13 British merchants.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

Editorial – The Hong merchants have made an arrangement with the black tea men. This season 1st grade Congou will cost 30½ taels per mace, 2nd grade 29½ and 3rd grade 23½. All qualities will be available on a deposit of 5 taels per mace.19 There are four annual gatherings of leaves, three in the Spring and one in the Autumn. It is the time of gathering that accounts for the different grades. The cost of gathering this season has been 18-20 taels per picul. To this should be added the interest on money borrowed and costs of labour. Using these figures we compute the tea men have negotiated a price that gives them a 50% profit.

It is only in the case of tea that we are entirely in the power of the Chinese growers and processors. The Chinese are generally reasonable in their pricing and content with moderate profit. Although they are persevering businessmen, they never contemplate huge returns.

But tea is different. This year the qualities are lower than usual. The tea trade is under the control of the Hong merchants and we should consider applying to the Viceroy for protection from extortion and for guaranteed supplies of good quality teas. If the trade was free we would deprecate any government interference, but in this case, with the entire chain of providers in combination against us, we have to protect ourselves somehow.

A union of foreign interests to counteract the combination of the Chinese would be productive. If we are divided the impositions will increase. The new General Chamber should consider this.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

Kiying, a near relative of the Emperor and the first of the two Imperial Commissioners who are assigned here for investigations, has been recalled to Peking. The two Commissioners stopped on their way at Kiangsi to investigate some other matter and Kiying ordered the punishment of an Imperial graduate who then died of his injuries. This may be part of the reason he is recalled but he was also implicated in the cover-up of a prior gambling case at Peking involving the chief Imperial eunuch Heu Foo Shen and his two assistants (also eunuchs) Chang Tsin Chung and Chang Urh Han.

How can the Emperor repose trust in Kiying when he connives with eunuchs in their improper conduct?

The 2nd Commissioner is promoted to 1st and ordered to associate with the Manchu General in Canton, as acting 2nd, in his enquiries. This has surprised locals as an investigation into the misdemeanours of Canton officials should firstly not be entrusted to a locally-based official and secondly, a civil enquiry should not be handled by a military man.

Vol 9 No 50 – Tuesday 13th December 1836

The new General Chamber of Commerce has elected its 13-member committee by ballot:

H H Lindsay, J Matheson, L Dent, R Turner, T Fox
W S Wetmore, J C Green, C W King
Dadabhoy Rustomjee, Framjee Pestonjee
S van Basel, Hon Consul
B Gernaert, Hon Consul
The Englishman W Bell

The committee met on 6th December and elected Matheson as Chairman with Wetmore as Deputy Chairman.20

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

Notice to consignees and captains of British ships at Canton:

To speed clearance of ships while the Superintendents are absent from Canton, commanders may sign their export manifests in the presence of any two British merchants (not being the consignees themselves) and this will be accepted by H M Superintendents.

The British Port Clearance Certificate will be issued at Lintin by either of the commanders of the receiving ships Hercules or Jane in exchange for a copy of the signed manifest.

Sgd Edward Elmslie for the Superintendents, Macau 15th December 1836

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

New arrivals from London say that the office of Chief Superintendent of Trade here has been abolished. Robinson is accordingly unemployed and 2nd Superintendent Charles Elliot assumes his job, renamed Senior Superintendent.

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

Extract from Notices on the British Trade to Canton, London, 1830:

Open trade cannot co-exist with the Hong monopoly. If we trade on our contractual system, the Hong merchants will be in a dilemma between their national duty to the tea men and their contractual duty to us.

If they honour their contracts they will become obnoxious to their countrymen, their wealth would accrue mainly from us and thus be reduced, and their power in the Chinese system would be eroded.

The Chinese government would formally ‘discover’ what has been going on and quite likely feel increasingly obliged to dissolve the monopoly.

Vol 9 No 51 – Tuesday 20th December 1836

Letter of the foreign merchants to the Viceroy concerning silk21:

Britain consumes about 55,000 bales of silk a year. We get 40,000 bales from Italy and other European countries, 5,000 – 10,000 bales from India and Persia and 6,000 – 12,000 bales from China. We also buy several million dollars of silk piecegoods each year from China.

This year we have bought a lot of Nanking raw silk and silk piecegoods for Europe and USA but we cannot export it because of the Hoppo’s restrictive regulations. Our trade is delayed, the silk merchants and manufacturers are paid late (when the goods are loaded) and the goods are exposed to the increased winter risk of fire in Canton.

If the limit per ship is continued, we will have to stop buying silk piecegoods in China. We cannot pay the increased prices and the double duty. Our ships will leave only part full. Whatever the amount of silk in our ships, the revenue to China is the same.

We buy 50 – 60 million catties of tea each year which supports the living of the Chinese involved in tea production. The same applies to our silk purchases.

Please grant us relief from these arbitrary restrictions. Then we will get the cargo we need; the Chinese government will get more revenue and the Chinese people will be better supported.

Sgd: numerous Foreign merchants, 19th November 1836.

Viceroy Tang’s reply of 5th December 1836:

Each foreign ship is allowed to take 5,000 catties of best quality raw silk and 5,000 catties of 2nd quality. There is no permission to export Nanking raw silk.

The foreigners’ petition is clearly wrong.

They say as each ship takes a lot of tea, it cannot load its silk allowance and therefore request that the allowance on the total number of ships be calculated and this quantity be allowed to be taken by just a few ships. Our laws are strict and we have not permitted this before.

It is impossible for me (the Viceroy of the Two Kwong) to ignore the Emperor’s will concerning the tariff. The number of ships arriving varies and the computation of the total allowance would be impossible to precisely quantify. Thus averages and estimates would creep in and evils arise.

The petition is refused.

The barbarians have been compassionately treated. They ought to obey the law. Instead they talk about increasing trade and mutual profit. They must recognise the primacy of law. We Chinese do not seek for present gain regardless of future consequences.

Vol 9 No 52 – Tuesday 27th December 1836

Notice – the office and salary of Chief Superintendent of British Trade is abolished. From today Capt Charles Elliot will assume the duties of Chief of Commission.

Sgd Edward Elmslie, Secretary, dated 14th December 1836.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

On 11th December Viceroy Tang, Admiral Kwan and the Hoppo sent a joint memorial to Peking reporting Colonel Han Shao King’s seizure of two fast crabs and arrest of 14 smugglers. The first boat with 4 men was empty of goods but the crew’s information led to the capture of the second boat on 27th November with 9 men and 19,800 taels of sycee.

Under interrogation they confessed they were smugglers and implicated many accomplices. The contraband silver has been distributed amongst the revenue men effecting the capture.

The government is now searching for all the accomplices. A partner in one of the new Hongs (Ah Ming Chow of Wan Chong Hong, the former Linguist) has been named, seized and beaten.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Canton News:

  • Ah Ming Chow, a partner in Wan Chong Hong, was brought to How Qua’s hong yesterday in the cangue. He will thus spend two days in front of each of the 13 Hong buildings for admitting that he provided sycee to us for export. His punishment is a warning to the other Hongs.
  • The three junior Hongs, Heng Tai, Ming Qua and Sao Qua, before they had traded for three months, were required to contribute to the debts of failed Hongs. When they had completed three year’s business they each paid a fee to the Hoppo to get on the list at Peking of senior and responsible Hong merchants.
  • The India Company had no claim on Chun Qua or Man Hop in their bankruptcies but some individual Select Committee members were creditors for their private trade. The Select accordingly reduced payments due from the Company to the other Hongs in order to recover the debts of these supercargoes and ships officers from the two troubled Hings. It was How Qua who advised the Select how best to apportion the reductions between the Hongs.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Recital of Notice – British masters who abandon crew-members here will be prosecuted on indictment at King’s Bench, Westminster.

Sgd Edward Elmslie for the British Commission at Macau, 15.4.36

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Madeira wine and Malmsey for sale from the Hercules receiving ship at Lintin. Apply to J A Innes, 26.12.36

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Robert Wise, Holliday & Co of Manila, Singapore, Batavia and Capetown have opened an office at Canton in partnership with Robert Wise, Fairbridge & Co of London and Robert Wise & Co of Liverpool. Dated 1.1.37

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Samuel Russell and Augustine Heard have resigned from our partnership 31.12.36. Sgd Russell & Co

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Markwick Edwards & Co., auctioneers and commission agents, has ceased business. Claims should be sent to Robert Edwards at 5 Imperial Hong who will continue the business in his own name. Dated 31.12.36

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

George T Braine, ex Whiteman & Co, and John Russell Reeves, ex Company tea inspector, have been partners in our firm since 1st July 1836. Sgd Dent & Co.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Wm & Thos Gemmell & Co have started business at Canton as commission agents in connection with Wm Gemmell of Glasgow and Gemmell & Co of Valparaiso. dated 3rd November 1836

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Editor – The Canton Register has bought a larger printing press and will in future publish in folio instead of quarto, if our subscribers have no objection.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

The Calcutta newspapers report that Chambers of Commerce have been formed in Madras and Bombay.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Editorial – the only way to place our trade on a firm footing is to buy or occupy an island. The Emperor has received a memorial from one of his advisers suggesting this is likely to occur. If the Chinese already expect it, why should we doubt it? The Chinese government has shown it cannot stop free trade. They can avert a political and commercial evil by surrendering an island to us.

To do a great good we are justified in doing a little wrong.

A British settlement on the Chinese coast would civilise the neighbourhood. It would be another Tyre.22 We will leave the acquisition to some future Raffles and merely take this opportunity to review the candidates. As Sir James Urmston has recommended in his pamphlet, an ideal location would be near the central or northern coast. It should be extensive, have a good harbour and be situated on the coasting trade routes. But the choice is not ours:

  • Hainan is productive, well inhabited and mainly under Chinese jurisdiction. It has several good harbours but is too far south and few junks visit so its trade is limited.
  • Taiwan is the largest Chinese island with three considerable cities with bar-harbours along the west coast – Taiwan Foo, Lokang and Tam Shui. There is one good harbour on the north coast at Kee Lung which would make a flourishing colony. But the Chinese are unlikely to cede any part of this island at whatever price we offer because Taiwan is inextricably linked with Fukien and if we had a foothold in the former we would soon influence the latter. The east coast of Taiwan is little known. Benkowsky’s Travels has some further information on Taiwan
  • Bashi Channel Islands – These are inhabited by hostile savages and experience numerous heavy gales. Navigation is difficult. There are no good harbours reported.
  • Northeast of Taiwan are the Eight Islands (Sakishima in Japanese). They are beyond Chinese influence and are inhabited by a humane race of tributaries to the Loo Choo kings.
  • Loo Choo (the six islands, called Ryukyu in Japanese) – These have a close political connection with China but are too far from the coast. The Kings would unlikely concede territory voluntarily.
  • Bonin Islands (now called Ogasawara in Japanese) – these are too distant for the junk trade to reach.
  • Coastal islands – there are a large number between Hainan and the Yangtse estuary. Those west of Canton are unsuitable for settlement. The Pearl delta has many good harbours amongst which Hong Kong has long been considered eligible, but, like Hainan, it is at the extremity of the Empire. If we are restricted to a settlement in this location, Hong Kong is the best.
  • Namoa – is on the trade route of the coastal junks. The harbour is large and communications with the mainland easy. It is thinly populated and largely barren but contains an important Chinese naval station.23
  • Tungshan – north of Namoa and just within the Fukien border is barren but with good harbours and well located for trade.
  • Kum Mun, actually Ko Long Tsui island opposite Har Mun (Amoy) and Har Mun itself – both are well known and are excellent entrepots. The harbours are spacious and easily accessed. They are centres of the Chinese junk trade.
  • Pescadores – the islands are barren but secure. They are used solely as anchorages en voyage between the mainland and Taiwan. Whoever controls the Pescadores controls the cross-straits trade of Fukien.
  • Nan Jih (opposite Ping Hai) – this and the neighbouring islands are occupied by fishermen who are friendly to foreigners and scarcely under Chinese control. There are some good harbours.
  • Hai Tan – This is more fertile than the other nearby islands but has only one harbour, of tolerable use, and does not seem well suited for trade.
  • Lo Yuen – the huge bay extending north from Lo Yuen is studded with islands and safe harbours. It is only 60 miles from the tea farms of the Mo Yi Hills but separated from them by a mountain chain.
  • Chekiang coast – this is indented and studded with islands. Off Shui Kan and Wen Chou are several island groups, the largest of which is Ta Yu Shan but none have been visited by western ships. Judging solely from the huge coasting trade there, we think there are many harbours. Tai Chou also has many islands which are heavily inhabited and well cultivated.
    Superior to all is Chusan which has a central location allowing easy communication with Ningpo, Hang Chow, Shanghai and Japan. Superior anchorages, harbours, soil fertility, climate and population are united at Chusan. From the outset of European exploration, the Portuguese considered Chusan the fittest place for trade. They built and operated a flourishing colony on it for many years.
  • Tsung Ming – at the mouth of the Yangtse is inaccessible to large ships due to sand banks.
  • Yun Tai Shan is an island north of the Yellow River that is little known to foreigners.
  • The north coast of Shantung has several islands but they are small and unimportant. They just provide anchorages.
  • West coast of Korea – here are hundreds of uninhabited and unclaimed islands, some with good harbours and fertile soils.

In conclusion Chusan is the best place for our trade. In the south Hong Kong and Namoa are both well adapted for our purposes. If an uninhabited place is necessary we may have to settle for some part of the east coast of Taiwan.

We hope the British government will not neglect its China-trade much longer. This is just shameful carelessness for our commercial concerns. China’s 400 millions would open a new world to trade. The opportunity is being lost through ignorance and incapacity.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Peking Gazettes 1.11.36 – Imperial Edict:

“Kiying did not oppose the solicitations of the palace eunuchs and the censorate has requested he be deprived of rank. He has previously done well. I will dismiss him from most offices but retain him as a vice-President.

“I am the Emperor. I govern the country with justice. Those who commit errors should expect no indulgence.”

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Copied from the Canton Repository for December 36:

Captain James Horsburgh is dead. He was an employee of the India Company and first visited China as quartermaster on the company ship Cirencester.

To commemorate his life, a Lighthouse Committee has been formed at Canton of Wm Jardine, L Dent, Captain John Hine (of the Earl of Balcarras), Captain Young (of the Fergusson), W S Wetmore, J H Astell, M J Senn van Basel, Thomas Fox, Framjee Pestonjee as members and Wm Haylett as Honorary Secretary.

A subscription has already amassed $4,191 in Canton. The Singapore Straits are suggested as the best location to commence lighting the eastern seas.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

10 pirates who attacked coasting junks from a base in the Soko Islands (south of Lantau) have been executed at Canton.

Vol 10 No 1 – Tuesday 3rd January 1837

Editorial – Local affairs are reaching a crisis. Appeals to officials are of little use. Someone must regulate the affairs of state. We need direct communication with Peking. The Chinese must understand that we demand free trade, free from all illegality and injustice.

Western governments must tell the Emperor that we insist on being respected and given due consideration upon which prosperity can be assured.

Vol 10 No 2 – 10th January 1837

Notice 31st December 1836 – From the date of publication of this Notice, the authority of the Superintendents of Trade is extended from Canton to include British subjects at Macau (without prejudice to Portuguese rights) and Lintin.

Sgd Charles Elliot and A R Johnstone.24

Vol 10 No 2 – 10th January 1837

The Hong merchants met in the Consoo Hall yesterday to consider the Viceroy’s request for the names, addresses and family details of each member of their staff.

The merchants have already given a bond that none of their relatives are engaged in illegal trade. Now the Viceroy will extend this to any other staff in their employ.

Vol 10 No 2 – 10th January 1837

Editorial: We are informed that the joint liability of the Co-Hong for the debts of each other is too strongly based on Chinese law and custom to be repealed. It is a liability that the Hong merchants themselves do not question. Foreigners may rest assured that China is not without a bankruptcy law.

In America the Federal Supreme Court has declared bankruptcy laws unconstitutional as they are adjudged to frustrate contracts.

We have no doubt that the fewer laws there are, the higher the moral tone of the people will be. Solely on this test Chinese law is excellent. Its major fault is the excessive power of the ‘One Man’.

Vol 10 No 2 – 10th January 1837

The Viceroy has ordered the Nam Hoi heen to search all the shops for tea and silk or other staples of the foreign trade. Outside men are only permitted trade in the Eight Articles – canes, caps, shoes, bamboo & wooden utensils, etc., – all other exports are the monopoly of the Hongs.

Vol 10 No 2 – 10th January 1837

Further report on the mutiny on the Fairy smuggling brig:

Chin Kwok Shui, the heen of Chang Pu in southern Fukien rescued 14 distressed foreign seamen in August 1836 and petitioned to send them to the provincial city. In October another foreigner arrived and requested to take them away and I drove him off. I checked all around and at Chee Hoo I found a lone foreigner begging for bread. This man had a wound on his left temple. I thought it suspicious. The 14 foreigners had landed at Nan King and been robbed by the fishermen. My investigators returned many conflicting explanations for their presence. I then enquired directly of the lone foreigner without letting him contact the others.

He said he was a sailor of a foreign ship. Some crewmen had planned to murder the Captain, steal the silver cargo and escape in the ship. He refused to mutiny and was forced into a boat with other dissenters and set adrift. The ship then sailed away. He did not know what had become of the others. I examined him over several days but the lack of an interpreter made it difficult. I sent soldiers to Amoy for an interpreter and one was sent who confirmed what I had discovered. But the people at the place he was discovered said the foreigner had initially said he was shipwrecked. I found him anxious and he said, as the other crew had mutinied, it would be difficult for him to prove his innocence. I am not satisfied the foreigner has been entirely truthful. I request an intelligent Linguist be sent from Canton to assist in his interrogation. Then ‘the water will flow away and the stones appear’.25

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

Letter to the Editor – The Euphrates delivered mail for China residents at Macau last Sunday using its own boat. They were sent to the tavern of the Postmaster, (Charles Markwick’s pub on the Praia Grande) where his partner Edwards the postmaster works. The letters for Europeans were sorted and immediately sent up to Canton on the St George. Letters for Parsees were detained.

I enquired and Edwards requested $8 for postage before delivering the Parsees’ letters to me. He had done nothing to earn a postage fee. I wish to know why I had to pay and why letters for Parsees were detained.

A Parsee Merchant, 13th January 1837

Editor – this is gross dereliction of duty. Edwards should be replaced. HM Superintendents and / or the General Chamber should provide the Post Office.

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

Editorial: We mentioned the Consoo Fund in our last. Where is its treasury? In fact it is absorbed as soon as payments are made into it. It is simply a levy on foreign trade to pay off the government.

Whenever we claim on the fund, the Hongs collect the money from us then pay it back. The General Chamber must take this up and lobby to have the real Imperial tariff published.

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

Local news:

  • We hear the Viceroy has again reported on opium and the Emperor has fixed a time limit on the continued stay of the expelled foreigners.26
  • On 30th November the Emperor appointed Chin Kea Shu as Salt Commissioner for Kwangtung.

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

The Peking Gazettes of 7th October 1836 and 10th December 1836 contain two Imperial Edicts that should be published:

  • Previously anonymous memorials have been burned unread but we still receive many libellous anonymous documents against magistrates. The Viceroys and Governors are to examine this phenomenon. It damages reputations. Let the malicious writers be punished.
  • Imperial revenue is being paid later and later. It must be paid timely. Canton was supposed to pay 150,000 taels for land tax last year – it is still outstanding. The treasurer is to be punished. This year Canton is supposed to pay 200,000 taels of land tax. It must be sent now.

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

Letter to the Editor – As H M Superintendents exercise no jurisdiction at Canton, the recent extension of that jurisdiction to Macau and Lintin is meaningless. Sgd QED

Vol 10 No 3 – 17th January 1837

Died at Macau, 8th January – Mrs Bovet, wife of the watch-maker, at 23 years of age.

Vol 10 No 4 – 24th January 1837

Peking Gazettes – People who assisted in firefighting at the Yuen Ming Yuen on 4th November 1836 are to be rewarded.

Vol 10 No 4 – 24th January 1837

The Viceroy had ordered the Hongs to report every change in their establishments so he can keep the register of their employees up to date. No-one who is not on the list may enter any of the foreign factories.

The rule also applies to the Linguists but they have yet to report the identity of their employees. It is expected that those shopmen who deal with foreigners will also be included in the arrangement.

Vol 10 No 4 – 24th January 1837

The Linguist Ah Tung is to go to Fukien to provide interpretation to the detained Lascars from the brig Fairy. His colleagues have subscribed $300 to defray his expenses and compensate his loss of business while away.

Vol 10 No 4 – 24th January 1837

A meeting of the British residents, with Jardine in the chair, Blenkin as Secretary, was held in the hall of the Company’s factory, lent by the Company’s financial agents for the purpose, to consider an application from Elliot as British Commissioner for a discreet channel of communication with the British mercantile community.

Present were W Blenkin, W Cragg, L Dent, Douglas, Gemmell, Gibb, Gray, Holliday, How, Innes, Wm Jardine, Layton, Lindsay, A Matheson, J Matheson, Robertson, D Rustomjee, P Stewart, Turner and Wallace.

It was agreed that the General Chamber was not such a channel as its membership included many nationalities.

Resolved that five representatives be elected by ballot annually to form a committee to correspond with the Superintendents on behalf of all British traders, one of their number to be Secretary. If the representative is a firm, it has two votes; if an individual, one vote. This committee is not authorised to correspond with the Hongs or Canton government without a general meeting. It will canvass the membership before responding to important initiatives of the Commissioners.

The first committee is W Blenkin (Sec’y), L Dent, T A Gibb, J Matheson and R Turner.

The concern of the Superintendents is to regularise memorials to the British King, remonstrations against ministers and requests for assistance from the Governor-General or Naval commander-in-chief in India.

In all these cases the Commissioners consider they are the appropriate channel for communications. They caution that, should the merchants neglect this channel, or continue to disregard official form, they may defeat their own ends.

Vol 10 No 4 – 24th January 1837

Letter to the Editor – this correspondence committee will divide the community. We already have a General Chamber. In what way may the interests of English traders differ from others?

There are people sitting on both committees who will on the one hand consider the interests of the community as a whole and on the other the interests of England alone.

It is also the case that many English companies have appointed American agents here. This was one of the reasons we formed the General Chamber in the first place. And why is the American Honorary Consul not on the committee of the Chamber? Sgd ‘Dust & Ashes’.



1 Editor Slade’s insulting guess is wrong. Viceroy Tang brings opium smuggling under Chinese control by the end of 1838 and provokes the smugglers to greater excesses.

2 The amount of silver taken from China each year is greater than the amount the Company needs to exchange for Bills to fund the Home Charges. This article seems to suggest the Company did not particularly favour the opium traders but sold Bills to all-comers.

3 A reference to Chek Chu, the major settlement on Hong Kong island at that time which was renamed Stanley by the British when they assumed sovereignty over the island. Most Chek Chu villagers moved out when the British moved in. We disallowed Chinese officials to licence their fishing and the Hong Kong villagers, who caught most of their fish in Chinese waters, removed to maintain their livelihoods. Hong Kong was repopulated with the people who assisted foreign trade.

4 The length of a covid varied depending on whether one is in China (15″) or India (18″).

5 The material benefit from Anglo-French military support for King Pedro. The MFN clause ensures no country may show favouritism towards preferred trading partners – it must trade with all on equal terms. All British commercial treaties had the MFN clause.

6 Not true. There was Catholic missionary involvement in the White Lotus Sect before this time. Christian support to the Tai Ping rebels in 1850s is well known.

7 This is indeed a murky area of currency manipulation that is technical and not further mentioned in the newspapers of the day but may be elucidated on the ‘cui bono‘ rule. It is still overlooked now.

8 The free trade’s argument against the Company’s trade finance at Canton is academically valid but these prices suggest something different.

9 A good many of these officers have reappeared in China as free traders, with and without ships – it’s the job they know.

10 The Chinese covid seems to be c. 15 inches whereas the Indian covid is said to be 18 inches. The absence of uniform weights and measures in international trade endured for an astonishingly long time and still plagues our supposedly globalised society today.

11 The Company invariably bought the highest quality products manufactured in England. The free trade brings a wider variety of qualities. This is the factual basis to the enhanced level of disputes over the appropriate level of Customs duty.

It is also the case that the free traders are too busy to attend surveys jointly with the Customs staff. They all operate with the absolute minimum number of staff to maintain the highest profitability per man and rely on their hong merchant / linguist to settle customs dues.

12 The impetus to free trade that is being pressed on the British Government by the merchant statesman Peel et al is a threat to the political power of the China traders. Once London is no longer reliant on the swingeing tea duty, they will have less leverage.

13 Any reader trying this should note the amount of green tea in the blend is tiny – 1 or 2% – just enough to add the fresher taste without overwhelming the black tea flavour.

14 Here two aspects of basic economics in the free trade are inter alia identified – if the money supply is increased, as the Company’s trade finance has done at Canton, the extra capital increases Chinese export prices proportionately. Secondly, control of the money supply permits the capitalist to insert himself between buyer and seller and influence the market by the amount of capital he provides and the rate of exchange / interest rate he requires for it. This is the prominent feature of the Anglo-American financial system, contrary to the traditional system described in Urquhart’s Turkey at the start of this chapter.

15 The opinions of Midland and Scottish Chambers are readily manipulated by exponents of free trade visiting from China with the assertion that only Chinese government regulation limits their exports. James Matheson was particularly effective in this respect as an individual campaigner and as an author. He is now publishing (1836) his ‘British Trade with China’.

16 Young Elmslie’s account has an additional £4+ millions of bullion and specie as an export. The trade imbalance is unsustainable. Note the bribe payable per ship at Lintin has reduced to $1,200 from the previously reported $1,500.

17 He is the linear descendant of Kwan Kung, the hero of the Three Kingdoms romance,  and will soon confront British warships in the Battle of the Bogue.

18 Matheson has, inter alia, been telling British Chambers of Commerce that greater trade will result from British government intervention in China.

19 Mace in this article (3.8 gms) must be a compositing error for ‘case’ – the usual measure of value, equating with a picul of tea. The subsequent comments on Chinese business morality and pricing is still true today except for the new service industries and the manufacturers of Hong Kong and Singapore where western principles have entered and costs are disconnected from prices. In those cases prices are set by the leading trader with others discounting from that level, a phenomenon called ‘market-adapted pricing’ by economists.

20 The Parsee wish for the entire membership (rather than the Committee) to elect officers has been overlooked.

21 The traders’ policy of involving the Viceroy in the minutiae of trade appears to have been proposed by the warhawk H H Lindsay and adopted by the General Chamber. It is a common and predictable response of traders to any restraint placed on them.

22 The port south of the Dardanelles that taxed the Levant trade to the Greek states and Black Sea colonies 2+ millennia earlier.

23 This naval base is about a hundred metres from the foreign smugglers’ residences and stores.

24 Elliot has just assumed the functions of Commissioner of British Trade and now promulgates an extension of jurisdiction. He will shortly be criticised for a series of unauthorised acts. This seems to be the first of them.

25 See the 11th October 1836 edition for the original report.

26 See the Opium chapter for details of all the banished foreigners.

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