China 1837-1838 – part 7


Vol 10 No 5 – 31st January 1837

Memorial of the Viceroy of the Two Kwong to the Emperor:

“The English merchants have the most trade at Canton. Formerly their business was managed by a committee of supercargoes (the Select) whose ships arrived in the second half of the year and departed early the following year. After departure of the shipping the traders applied for a passport and left Canton for Macau until their ships again arrived when they applied for a passport to return to Canton for business. All affairs were managed according to regulations.

“Now the English Company’s monopoly has been abolished and the committee of supercargoes comes no more. A man is required to manage the business of the English.

“Viceroy Loo was instructed by the Emperor to order the Hong merchants to enjoin on the said Select Committee the Imperial will that they write to their country to send a replacement chief to manage their trading affairs in accordance with regulations. In the 11th moon of this year, Elliot sent a petition from Macau claiming he is the manager of the English and he was apprehensive that his many countrymen at Canton and Whampoa were ignorant of the law and might cause disturbance. He asked to come to Canton to manage them. He refers to himself as a King’s servant (a member of the government) but the office he holds is analogous to a Taipan (honorific accorded to the President of the Select Committee). We do not know what rank he holds, whether he has come merely to control his countrymen or for his own trade as well. He has not submitted his Commission for our inspection.

“I sent officers with the Hong merchants to Macau to discover his true purpose. He holds public office in England’s fourth order of employment (military). He arrived in a warship and has remained two years at Macau until he became the manager of the English merchant ships. He signs their papers when they sail, however he says he is charged with managing the English people but not their trade. He has an official paper directing him to live at Canton and to exercise judicial authority over the English only in those cases where application is made to him. He has brought with him his wife and son and four followers. The English merchants told us Elliot is a peaceful man and there is no hidden purpose to his application.

“Since the closure of the English company no chief has arrived to manage their trade but Elliot has been at Macau signing papers for the English ships. This seems to be his duty. The English ships now continually arrive and someone must manage their crews. Elliot has credentials appointing him to a general control of Englishmen and, although he says he is not a trading chief, the difference seems one of form rather than substance. These circumstances justify a departure from old custom.

“I recommend he be allowed to come up to Canton to assume the duties of the former Taipan and Select Committee. In the interim I have told him to remain at Macau and wait for the Imperial will to become known. I wish to instruct the Hoppo to issue him a passport. He will be required to come and go in accordance with the old regulations and not linger through the summer and he will thus gradually learn our rules. I have alerted the civil and military officers and Hong merchants to observe his performance. If he steps beyond his proper duty, acts in a disorderly way or connects with ‘traitorous natives’ and opposes the laws he will be driven out. I now request your instructions.”

Vol 10 No 5 – 31st January 1837

Letter from Manila – Several Filipino sailors have arrived with many bars of gold with Chinese markings on them. They say they drifted to Luzon on the rudder of a ship. From the rudder size described, the ship was 300-400 tons. Others floated here on a figurehead depicting a mustachioed man.

Only one has been identified – Antonio Xavier Nunes. The police are instructed to seize them all and ascertain where the gold came from. (they are suspected to be the mutinous crew from the missing brig Fairy)

Vol 10 No 5 – 31st January 1837

Letter to the Editor – The mail ex Euphrates arrived Sunday evening and the St George ferry was ordered to take it up to Canton on Monday. It is customary to sort the letters into national bundles and the Parsee letters were placed in a separate bag as usual. Some Parsees asked if the mail could be sent up on the Bombay, which was also leaving Monday, and my clerk told them it was booked on the St George. Then Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee and Dhunjeebhoy Muncherjee said they would pay the postage if they could take the letters on the Bombay instead. The clerk agreed. The St George left Macau after the Bombay but the two named Parsees, who are the operators of the Bombay, went first to Lintin and thus arrived at Canton later than the St George.

I do not distinguish or select letters. Nothing is intentionally delayed. Your criticism of my postal service was severe. Please publish this correction. Sgd Robert Edwards.

Vol 10 No 6 – 7th February 1837


  • John Templeton of John Templeton & Co ceased business on 30th June 1836 and the company will continue as Middleton & Co. Dated 28th January 1837.
  • Samuel Wetmore Jr is today admitted a partner in our business. Sgd Wetmore & Co, 1st February 1837
  • Mr A Matheson has left China for Singapore and Bombay per Bombay Castle (Wemyss)

Vol 10 No 6 – 7th February 1837

Editorial – Men with personal interests in affairs attend watchfully to those affairs. It follows that the English community at Canton should guide the British government as they themselves best understand how to secure the tea revenue.

But the government contemptuously disregards local opinion and leaves it to Commissioners who do not attend at Canton, the place of business.

This is historically unique. It is more remarkable under a Whig ministry and a reformed House of Commons. The population overthrew the Company’s monopoly but now submits to this detrimental state of affairs.

Vol 10 No 6 – 7th February 1837

Peking Gazettes – The triennial embassy from Cochin China is permitted to arrive at Peking in August 1837. It will travel overland via Tongking, Kwangsi and Hukuang.

Vol 10 No 6 – 7th February 1837

H M Commissioners have objected to the English committee’s requirement of referring important matters to the membership in general meeting (relative to the Commission’s plan to confidentially consult British traders on matters that concern them). They had thought the representatives selected would have ‘full powers’ on behalf of the community to make commitments.

The type of business that the Commissioners had in mind in requesting the community to appoint representatives is not something that can be discussed generally.

The Commissioners propose that the committee consider circulating (sealed) letters to the membership in confidence and requiring opinions be returned within a time limit. Once 75+% of members agree to a proposal, it will go ahead; if not, it will be abandoned.

Vol 10 No 7 – 14th February 1837

Peking Gazettes – the Emperor is pleased with the recent seizure of 20,000 taels of sycee and requests that one or two of the responsible officers be selected for Imperial favours.

Vol 10 No 8 – 21st February 1837


  • Alexander Pearson Boyd is no longer connected with our firm w.e.f. 1st February 1837. Sgd Turner & Co, 18th February 1837
  • Sir George B Robinson and family left China for London per Orwell (Lancaster)
  • Sr Adriao Acacio da Silveira Pinto, Governor of Macau, arrived per Resolucao from Goa

Vol 10 No 8 – 21st February 1837

Wan Chong Hong is rumoured likely to fail. It had three partners. Ah Hing has died horribly of a rare disease called Koo Chang; Ah Ming Chow is in prison for smuggling sycee to us and Tak Qua has insufficient capital to continue.

Vol 10 No 8 – 21st February 1837

The Macaista Imparcial has published copies of correspondence between the Macau Tso Tong and the Portuguese Procurator concerning an attack by villagers of Lappa Island on some French officers from the ship La Bonite.

Five Frenchmen entered the Tso Tong’s home at night to expostulate and he did not understand what they said. He had his staff expel them. In consequence he issued an order on 13th January saying foreigners always trouble him direct whereas he has express orders that all foreign complaints be submitted to officials through the Hong merchants in Canton. He says foreigners may not enter Chinese courts without permission (he is a judicial officer and his home is his office). The next day the same five Frenchmen returned with 6-7 others and spoke loudly. He drove them away again.

On 19th January a memorial was submitted to the Tso Tong complaining the beating of a French officer of La Bonite and a French missionary named Guillet whilst walking on Lappa. They were attacked with sticks and stones by 60 villagers. They were robbed of their hats, a walking stick and a dollar coin before being allowed to leave.

On 21st January the Tso Tong replied that the villagers had been identified and had admitted taking the hats and stick but not the dollar. He returned the surrendered items to the French. He then declared it illegal for French officers to go ashore and walk about on Lappa Island and directed the Portuguese officials to instruct the French appropriately.

Vol 10 No 8 – 21st February 1837

The Rev Edwin Stevens has died. He has been chaplain to the seamen at Canton since October 1832. He was a clear and forceful preacher. He studied Chinese intending to benefit the local people. He made two voyages along the East Coast to spread Christianity. He died at Singapore having gone there to proselytise the Chinese emigrant community.

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

According to a Frankfurt paper, the merchants of Moscow and Kazan together with the Russian American Company, who all trade with China, have united in a plan to build a road around the south of Lake Baikal to improve communications with Kyakhta. The cost is estimated at 220,000 roubles. The Tsar has approved the plan.

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

W S Wetmore left China for New York on the American ship Panama (Benjamin)

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

On 23rd February, an Imperial Commissioner named Chu has commenced to investigate the Kwongchow foo and Shiu Kwan Foo both of whom are suspended and temporarily deprived of rank.

They are supposed to have been implicated in smuggling.

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

Letters to the Editor – your remarks about Wan Chong Hong are unnecessarily pessimistic. The remaining partner may not have much capital but he is relatively free of debt. Sgd CCC

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

On the 3rd day of Lunar New Year, while anchored in a bay off Fukien Province, I saw a large group of people, including two men in sedan chairs, on the beach. Then about 150 women and children embarked on a 90 ton junk. My Chinese crew told me it was a couple of gentlemen taking slaves to Taiwan.

I went on board the junk to see how the passengers were stowed. The hold was divided into four with the two gentlemen in the after compartment and the slaves in the other three. They were stowed close and smelled strongly although the weather was cold – so much so that the junk-master soon brought them on deck.

Most of the slaves were children of 2 years up. The children were $20 – 50 each and the women $30 – 80. I was offered a plump girl of about 19 years for $50. All the slaves had been sold by their parents or relatives due to poverty, it being thought better to sell them than risk their starvation.

There are incredible numbers of both slaves and free men emigrating from Fukien to Taiwan these days. Several new settlements have sprung up on the east and north-east coast and the Chinese should soon have the island under their complete control. The aboriginals are said to occasionally fight with the Chinese but they usually lose. Sgd A Coaster.

Vol 10 No 9 – 28th February 1837

The Englishman – British revenue for the year ending 10th October 1836 has increased by £2,365,681. This reveals increased consumption and presumptively infers an improvement in the general standard of living. It seems to justify the recent attempts of the Bank of England to curb speculation. All the staple branches of British industry are in a healthy state and we congratulate the country.

Vol 10 No 10 – 7th March 1837

Local news:

  • On 22nd February the Hong merchants Hing Tai and Tung Hing were interrogated by the Viceroy. Their offence is unknown but the provincial treasurer and judge have interceded with requests for mitigation of punishment.
  • William Howard Morss has been admitted as a partner. Sgd Olyphant & Co, Canton, 1st March 18371

Vol 10 No 10 – 7th March 1837

A lengthy biography and celebration of the life of James Horsburgh 1762 – 1836 appears in this issue.

Vol 10 No 11 – 14th March 1837

Advertisement – 30-day sight drafts on London up to £1,000 for sale by tender on or before 21st March. Apply to the India Company’s Agent at Macau.

Vol 10 No 11 – 14th March 1837

A Chamber of Commerce is to be established in Singapore. The provisional committee is Edward Boustead, Alexander Guthrie, Thomas McMicking, Ellis James Gilman and Wm Renshaw George.

Vol 10 No 11 – 14th March 1837

Local news:

  • An Imperial edict dated 20th December 1836 has arrived criticising the construction of the heavy ordnance which exploded while being tested at the Bogue Forts last year.
  • There is a widespread rumour that the Viceroy has determined on a military conquest of Lintin to remove the smuggling fleet.

Vol 10 No 11 – 14th March 1837

Editorial – In utter contempt of our interests, the British government (supposedly a reform ministry), collapsed before expediency or corruption and permitted the East India Company to establish its Agent in China. Since its first establishment, the Canton Register has acted as the voice of the free trade in continuously opposing it.

Another Canton newspaper (Dent’s Canton Press) has said that ‘at the end of 1836, while the Company’s treasury was still open for loans, the price of souchong was 33½ – 38 taels per picul but now (11th March) it is 22 – 26 taels. This 33% decline is due to non-availability of the Company’s trade finance’.

It was the company’s ready money that strengthened the combination of the black tea men against us. The negotiations on a scale of prices that we had with the tea men were not concluded until mid-December and shipments had to commence immediately thereafter. Everyone using Company money for tea purchases was contractually obliged to ship before 31st December and this unilateral term in the Company’s loan agreement forced prices higher than necessary.

However, the situation is not as bad as our competitor says. In fact the qualities of tea that cost 33½-38 taels in December are no longer available (The Canton Press prices for current supply are for inferior grades) but, nevertheless, there was an appreciable increase in costs to the benefit of the tea men and the Company at the expense of the British tea drinker.

Vol 10 No 11 – 14th March 1837

The 2nd Meeting of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was held 10th March at 2 American Hong with Wm Jardine in the Chair. The committee’s report was read:

We have not yet achieved much but, if we consider the position of our own country less than three centuries ago, we are encouraged. A light arose there from the darkness and has spread throughout the world. It will eventually penetrate the gloom that encompasses China. Look at India. Just fifty years ago hardly any Englishmen knew any of the languages of that vast sub-continent. Even fewer Indians were concerned to learn the language of the new intruders. Now Englishmen and Indians combine easily in the business of life. We influence not by years but by generations.

Some see the Chinese as industrious, cheerful and contented. They possess the arts and conveniences of essential value. But the principles of science are not understood in China. When they are, the time and labour of the people will be economised and the quality of manufactures much improved. Our scientific knowledge has allowed us to mechanise the production of many goods and the quality we achieve surpasses Chinese manufactures, even in products that were once solely Chinese. We must communicate this knowledge so the quality of their work is improved to our mutual benefit.

Our scientific revolution has caused a study of our commerce around the world and led to political change. If we can explain this to China, she should see the advantages she can derive from similar changes of policy. We will mention a single instance – the English method for manufacture of Prussian blue dye which was introduced to China by a Chinese, reduced the cost of dyeing and extended the market for blue cloth to the poorer classes. Indian indigo, though cheaper than Prussian blue, and better than the vegetable blue dye the Chinese themselves use, is not yet popular because the Chinese are reluctant to employ the chemical solvent (an acid) necessary for its use.

We also have something to learn from China. They showed the world how to make paper, porcelain and silk. They alone know the secrets of tea production and the chemicals to dye cloth to every colour imaginable. Our work is necessarily long-term.

Our difficulties have been two-fold. First the unfriendliness of the government in its policy of exclusion which restricts our ability to meet with the people and limits the printing and circulation of books (we now print in Singapore). Second is the dearth of competent authors who can write clearly in Chinese. All the present translators are too busy with religious or commercial work.

Nevertheless, we plan the production of works of history, biography, geography, natural history, medicine, mechanics, natural philosophy, theology and belles lettres. A general history of the world has been produced. A geography and atlas are being prepared. Mr Dyer in Malacca and M Pauthier in Paris are both working to produced Chinese type faces. The Morrison Education Society, the Anglo-Chinese College and the Singapore Institution have all helped us. These institutes train Chinese youth in science, arts and languages and we hope they will form the phalanx for our penetration of China.

Vol 10 No 12 – 21st March 1837

Local news:

  • The Hong merchants Hing Tai and Go Qua have been released from prison having paid 10,000 taels each.
  • H H Lindsay has left China for Calcutta per Cowasjee Family
  • A large fire has consumed 80 houses. One is a bakery owned by the Hong merchant Sam Qua.
  • Imperial Commissioner Chu left Canton to return to Peking on 14th March. He investigated two cases:
    1/ a woman in Tung Kwoon appealed a decision of the Che heen concerning a matter in which her son lost his life. She is allowed to appeal to the Board of Punishments.
    2/ extortion by the chief policeman of Poon Yu. The man was said to have paid the Manchu-General $8,000 but was vindicated.

Vol 10 No 12 – 21st March 1837

The Emperor’s response to Elliot’s application to go to Canton has arrived and the Viceroy has published an Edict:

“I the Viceroy received the Imperial will on 16th March. The Emperor says “Viceroy Tang has reported the English company is dissolved and a public officer has arrived to supervise the English traders and seamen. Although the public officer has neither the title nor office of former supervisors, yet his duties are reportedly the same. He may therefore come to Canton and the Hoppo will issue him a passport. He will conform with the regulations whether he is in Canton or, after the trading season, in Macau.

“He must be careful and diligent in his supervisory functions and not involve himself in other matters. The Hong merchants and district magistrates should continuously assess him and if he exceeds his duty, connects with traitorous Chinese, schemes for private gain or disobeys the law, drive him out.”

“I, the Viceroy, have communicated these instructions to all officials for their action.” 18th March 1837

Vol 10 No 12 – 21st March 1837

The investigation of the Filipino sailors with unexplained gold and silver has progressed. The brig Fairy has since been discovered sunk in 40 fathoms off Ilocos (N W Luzon). 7-8 men landed last September at Iloilo (very far from Ilocos) and two have been arrested and have confessed they took the ship to Philippines and sank her. They say some of the crew took to the boats while on the China coast and suggest that those men took the bulk of the bullion.

Vol 10 No 13 – 28th March 1837

Editorial – The foreign trade of China is dominated by England but we adopt the sentiments of Mr Pigou of the Company who recommended nearly a century ago that any requests made to Peking for trade concessions be made on behalf of and for the benefit of the entire world.

Now the events of the last two years have weakened the faith of the private English traders in the protection of England, and that government has repudiated our proven position that demolishing the Bogue forts and dictating to the Canton Viceroy is the way ahead.

For the time being, we think it important that Elliot should go to Canton and the British flag again fly there. As a commercial nation it is essential for honour, peace, goodwill and understanding that our government connect with the Chinese government.

Vol 10 No 13 – 28th March 1837

Letter to the Editor – H M Commissioners assert they may deport any British subject without trial. They say they have not previously used the power because they lack soldiers to enforce it. The Macau Governor has clearly said that any British subject who obeys the law and lives quietly will receive his protection. I asked him if he would surrender a Briton to the Commissioners though unconvicted of any crime. He evaded answering.

It seems possible that one might be torn from one’s business and sent home a prisoner, forcing an absence of at least 8 months. The net worth of all the Superintendents combined would not compensate 1% of my loss if I was thus deported. It seems prudent, for those British subjects whom the Commissioners find disagreeable, to leave Macau and live on a Lintin ship. Sgd A British Merchant, 25th March 1837

Editor – British Merchant (rumoured to be a Partner in Jardine Matheson & Co) wrote to us last week vilifying the characters of H M Commissioners. As he did not define the ill effects of their powers, we refused to publish his letter. We do not believe that Elliot will use his powers improperly. If British Merchant misconceives the duties of the Commissioners, believing them unconstitutional, it is a matter for H M ministers to correct.

Now he has written again saying the Macau government might assist the Commissioners in executing their duty. This support of an old ally is persuasive support for British Merchant’s fears so we willingly publish his second letter.

Vol 10 No 13 – 28th March 1837

The junk owner Tan Chuen of Pei Ho Island, Fukien wishes to express gratitude:

I sailed to Taiwan and loaded a rice cargo for the Chinese government. On board were my ten crew, four government inspectors, six soldiers and four passengers. I started back on 15th December 1836.

We were almost immediately caught in a gale, the sails and masts were carried away, and the ship drifted to the coast of Cochin China. We had little water and six men died.

On 12th January a British ship Bussorah Merchant (Montcrieff) rescued all eighteen of us but one fell in the sea and although he was recovered he later died. On 16th January Montcrieff landed us on Tan Teth Island (Pulo Aor). On 20th January the Pulo Aor headman sent us to Singapore where we arrived on 23rd January. Thanks.

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Local News:

  1. Ah Ming Chow (a partner in Wan Chong Hong), who smuggled sycee for us, reportedly died this week in prison. Our Chinese friends say he swallowed opium.
  2. A new Hong with four partners is rumoured to have applied for a license to commence trade in April. The Hoppo’s charge for enrolment in the Co-Hong was 60,000 taels.
  3. Four boats have recently been detected smuggling salt. They have been seized and their crews, totally 18 men, have been handed over to the Salt Commissioner.
  4. John Bibby & Sons of Liverpool, Frederick Huth & Co of London and Edmond Bibby & Co of Bombay have established an office at 5 Danish Hong, Canton trading as Bibby Adam & Co. 1st April 1837

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Officers of the Canton General Chamber of Commerce for 1837:


General Committee





M’gement Comm

Arbitration Comm

James Matheson Chairman, John C Green Deputy

English: Wm Wallace, J Matheson, Lancelot Dent, Richard Turner, Wm Blenkin.

American: W Delano, John C Green, C W King

Dutch: M J Senn van Basel

Parsee: Dadabhoy Rustomjee, Nanabhoy Framjee

Other nations: The Englishman A C Maclean

Wallace, King and Blenkin

Maclean, Dent, Turner, Blenkin & King2

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Letter to the Editor – Your paper professes to be the voice of the free trade and the opponent of Chinese wrongs. For several years you have been the rallying point for a majority of the foreign community in China. Today, it is no longer true that you represent our views.

You place the British Navy (Chas Elliot) in opposition to the British people over this unconstitutional power to deport unconvicted Britons.

You are inconsistent in now condoning the British authorities’ (Elliot’s) application to Hong merchants to perform his national business. Hitherto you insisted he deal with the Viceroy or Peking.

Did Napier die in vain?

You (Editor Slade) personally signed the petition of 95 British merchants to their King asking that no national representative enter China until the Chinese give adequate assurance of his suitably dignified treatment. What security does Elliot have against a repetition of Napier? But you call on Elliot to go to Canton and hoist the national flag!

If you would now publish the arguments in favour of a continued Company ‘Finance Committee’ at Canton, you will have reversed yourself on every important topic.

I hope you will publish this letter so your readers in foreign lands may know that the views of the British community here remain unchanged whatever you yourself have to say.

Sgd. An original subscriber to the Canton Register, 3rd April 1837

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Lintin is becoming crowded and the facilities are overstretched.3 The General Chamber has issued recommendations for faster turn-around at the anchorage:

Ships bound for Whampoa may remain for 15 days at Lintin to trans-ship their contraband cargo before entering the river, after which penalties to apply.

Ships discharging at Lintin may hold cargo on board for 15 days from the date consignees’ letters reach Canton, after which they must offload into receiving ships or direct to consignees.

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Numerous complaints of delayed departure from Whampoa have been received from members due to non-payment of import duties. The General Chamber’s resolutions, dated 4th March 1837, for obtaining Port Clearance are:

  • Foreign merchants should ascertain the rate of duty at the time of landing goods so the amount can be agreed timely.
  • Consignee’s representative should attend the measuring and examination of goods and procure the attendance of the Hong merchant’s representative at same so the total duty payable is agreed.
  • If no agreement can be reached, complaints to be forwarded to the Chamber for redress. It should be understood that the Chamber merely seeks to prevent delayed departure.

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

On 27th February the Emperor published the results of the triennial re-assessment of high officials. Here are his awards:

The Tribunal of Civil Office has reported on the Provincial Viceroys and Governors.

Chang Ling is now approaching 80 years and is profoundly learned. Poon She Gan, Muh Chang Ah and Wan Ting are diligent and have done well. Tang Kin Chow is just and intelligent. Lee Che Yan is careful. Kishen has been true and faithful. Hoo Sung Gih is discreet and circumspect. He Li Poo (Ilipu) is successful in soothing and managing the people. Lin King has honestly maintained the Yellow River in its banks. All these must be considered for rewards

Kwei San is coarse and remiss – he is demoted. Yih Tsih is unequal to a vice-President’s job – he is demoted. Viceroy Na Wih King Gih has failed to maintain order and did poorly in examinations – he is demoted to governor and has one year to manifest some ability. Tao Shoo has managed most affairs well but failed to collect the salt duties. Chung Sheung is depressed. Tang Ting Ching (Viceroy of the Two Kwong) has only evidenced literary talent. Shin Ki Heen is firm and diligent. These three have only recently been appointed to their offices.

You must all act with purity and devote your whole energy to diligent performance. Respect this.

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Editorial – the Canton Press says we have changed our position since signing the petition to the King in 1835. We still believe that the interference of the British government is essential to protect our free trade. It is unavoidable circumstances, forced upon us by the Chinese, that require Elliot in Canton. We are merely being pragmatic under existing conditions. The Canton Press holds that trade is progressing and this progress will be sufficient of itself to obtain a dignified position with the Chinese.

Have they forgotten Napier’s treatment when he trusted himself to one of their boats? That unjust event united most of the British community in expecting redress. A majority of Britons then contemptuously spurned any official British attempt to re-establish official communication with the Canton government. Now the British government has shown itself to be disinterested, circumstances have changed, and we need some point of contact with Canton officials.

Vol 10 No 14 – 4th April 1837

Extracted from Capt Basil Hall’s book Schloss Hainfeld:

The law in China equates proximity with complicity. If you are found near a dead body you may be responsible for the death. This precludes any assistance being given to people in danger of death.

The Neapolitans have a similar law. An English lady was driving in her carriage when her coachman had a fit and fell back unconscious into the compartment. The passers-by stopped their horses and watched but none would help. A passing Englishman resuscitated the coachman and all was well. Had the coachman died the Englishman might have been implicated in facilitating his death.

Editor – Capt Hall accompanied the Amherst embassy and should know better. Chinese law is reasonable and not as absurd as many parts of our own code. There is no such proximity law in China as the Captain alleges. 4

Vol 10 No 16 – 18th April 1837


  • The Commissioners invite tenders before 22nd April for silver in exchange for 30-day sight Bills on London.
  • H M Commissioners have a short list of fit seamen available for service. They can be delivered to Whampoa or Lintin free of charge.
  • A new club, the Juniors Club, has been established at Canton for younger members of the foreign community. Entrance fee is $25 and annual subscription $50. There are presently 11 members. The club closes at midnight.
  • Robert Edwards of 3 Imperial Hong has sold his auctioneering and warehousing business to Charles Markwick w.e.f. 1st April 1837.

Vol 10 No 16 – 18th April 1837

On 20th March local magistrates heard of a meeting of the Sarm Hup Wui (Triad Society). Some 400 men were said to have assembled. The magistrates sent runners and 40 men were arrested. The society is said to have branches in Manila, the Straits and at all the Indian ports.

Vol 10 No 16 – 18th April 1837

Honam Island opposite Canton city contains 33 villages. It has fertile soil and industrious residents. They grow much tea. Each Spring the women and girls pick the new shoots and flavour them with Chu Lan flowers. The men carry the prepared tea across the river to Canton for sale where it is retailed as Honam tea.

A village in Nam Hoi heen named Sze Chiu is also called Cha Sarn (Tea Hill). Since the Tang dynasty, tea has been grown there. The villagers grow the tea between rows of Koo Tang trees. Koo Tang leaves are mixed with tea to produce a bitter decoction for medicinal purposes.

Vol 10 No 17 – 25th April 1837

Local news:

  • Auction at Sir George B Robinson’s house near Penha Hill on Saturday 29th April of the contents of A P Boyd’s house on his departure from China. Sgd Robert Edwards, auctioneer
  • Auction at the Europe Bazaar, Canton on Wednesday 3rd May. Various silver-plate ware – dishes, dish covers, spoons, forks, ladles, decanter stands, candelabra and trays. Some household furniture, a theodolite and telescope all the property of A P Boyd. Sgd M/s Stanford & Marks, auctioneers.
  • Douglas Bros & Co of Batavia have admitted Henry Ritchie into partnership 1st March and will trade at Canton as Douglas Ritchie & Co. Sgd 24th April 1837

Vol 10 No 17 – 25th April 1837

H M Commissioners Elliot and Johnstone arrived at Canton on 12th April with M/s Elmslie, Morrison and Dr Anderson. They were entertained on 14th April by the Company’s Agents and on 18th April by Wm Jardine. The success of their commission was toasted by the British community at Canton.

Vol 10 No 17 – 25th April 1837

Manila news – four of the mutineers from the brig Fairy have now been arrested. The latest was Augustine de los Santos and he admitted partaking in the murder of Captain McKay. He says three filipinos commenced the mutiny at 3 am. They used clubs to kill the Chief Mate, then the Captain, then the 2nd officer and finally the gunner. Another officer jumped overboard.

On arrival off the Philippine Islands, they bored a hole through the hull and abandoned ship leaving the sails set. They saw her sink about ¼ mile offshore. Santos claims he left six chests of dollars and one of sycee on board. His group was only able to carry some $8,000 with them.

Vol 10 No 17 – 25th April 1837

Editorial – the Editor of the Canton Press continues to publish his assertion that the petition we addressed to His Majesty in 1835 was not representative of the views of the foreign community at Canton. We remind him that of the signatories, 36 are now British residents, chiefly merchants or their assistants, 29 were captains of British ships, including all those now here who formerly commanded the Company’s Indiamen, 25 were transient British merchants, supercargoes or pursers and 2 were Singapore merchants who have since established businesses here.

The Canton Press opposed the British Chamber and helped force the General Chamber on us. The views of General Chamber members are diverse and the majority have abandoned their former intentions and given way to the minority who threatened to withdraw from the Chamber unless their views were upheld. It is within each reader’s ability to review the Edicts of the Emperor and Viceroy to the Commissioners and compare them with the instructions formerly given to the Select. They can then themselves assess whether the Chinese government has at all resiled from its former haughty tone.

As regards Chinese politics, we cleave to the view that increasing trade (the mechanism identified by Canton Press that will ipso facto procure improved conditions for foreigners) will necessarily involve increasing regulation and this will eventually require interference by the British government and the assumption of an independent position in China by the foreign trade.

Vol 10 No 17 – 25th April 1837

Letter to the The Englishman, 30th January (a Calcutta newspaper):

“I visited a merchant at Canton and had a pleasant party at dinner. After we adjourned, several members of the community dropped in one after the other in a friendly way, including the two Editors of the local newspapers. These forgot their public differences and chatted and played whist together.

“But I was told this was exceptional and the ordinary routine of life in China is most wearisome. The two newspapers are supported by the two leading mercantile houses and one, the Editor of the Canton Press, told his readers that his predecessor had been removed for publishing views on British policy to China that were inimical with his sponsor’s. As a result the paper is not an organ of public opinion but of its sponsor’s opinions. This keeps this small community divided.

“A more honourable publication is the Chinese Repository. This is independent and well-informed and authoritative on China. Its circulation is about 800 – far greater than the other two.

“There is another divisive institution in Canton called ‘the Club’. Its meetings are held by rotation in the houses of members. Only partners of firms may join. Only those visitors who are also partners of firms or captains or better in the armed forces may attend. Such an exclusive club in this small group is bound to maintain the divisive spirit that characterises the foreign community at Canton. All intellectuals and travellers are excluded. None of the merchants are distinguished people whose presence might justify an exclusive club – they are all commercial people and clerks. I met some men, qualified to join, who declined to do so because of the club’s divisive character.”

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

Memorial of the foreign merchants to the Viceroy concerning Yiu Kei Chang, the proprietor of Hing Tai Hong:

“We came to Canton for trade. The regulations permit trade only with Hong merchants. Hing Tai Hong is a Hong merchant. We sold him our goods. Now he owes over a million dollars and says he is unable to pay. We are not allowed to obtain information of the dealings of Hong merchants with their own countrymen but, as Hongs are licensed by government, we place our confidence in them. We accordingly request government for the early settlement of our debts.” Sgd Dent et al 21st April 1837.5

Viceroy Tang’s answer:

“Hong merchants are forbidden to become indebted to foreigners. When they have been discovered to have done so they are punished. There are repeated precedents on the record.

“Hing Tai Hong has traded for seven years and you say he has debts of over $1,000,000 – the degree of bad management in his case must have been exceptional.

“However, we must settle with the foreigners to display our compassion to them. The senior Hong merchants will convene a meeting to examine the accounts of Hing Tai Hong. They will calculate the actual debts that the Hong has to foreigners. Then they will arrange for settlement.

“They should report their findings and proposals in ten days. If they delay I will close Hing Tai Hong and arrest and punish its manager for his illegal debts. The senior and other Hong merchants shall be accountable for settlement so the foreigners have some ultimate guarantee for the safety of their trade.”

Dated 23rd April 1837

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

By order of the British Commissioners of Trade:

Captains of British ships coming up to Whampoa are asked to visit the General Chamber of Commerce at Canton to report their tonnage and crew numbers.

Captains of ships coming to Lintin are requested to provide the same information to the receiving ships Jane or Hercules.

Sgd Edward Elmslie, 2nd May 1837

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

Mr A P Boyd and family left China for London per Asia

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

The Atheneum – The Hong merchants first appeared in 1760. They appeared to have been a response to the then English commercial system of monopoly exemplified by the East India Company. In 1757 the Kien Lung Emperor limited trade to Canton. We reciprocated by limiting Chinese trade to London.6

We then heard of the Manchu practice of kow-tow, theirs being a conquering race that required repeated ceremonials to maintain confidence in their power. This is reminiscent of the Irish insurrection of 1798 when peasants were convicted of treason for failing to pull off their hats to passing Englishmen.

Our relationship with China has not always been conducted with prudence. We have oscillated between temerity and timidity. Our national character suffered in 1808 when, unannounced, we occupied Macau and just as quickly were obliged to withdraw, allowing the Chinese to erect a monument to our ‘defeat’.

Then the firmness of Sir George Staunton in 1814 concerning our taking of an American prize in Chinese waters restored our reputation. Finally Napier, in defiance of the law, proceeded to Canton and was unceremoniously obliged to withdraw by the Canton government.

We conclude that the China trade will flourish best if the British government avoids all interference in it, naval, military or diplomatic. The trade has always increased and continues to do so. The obstacles to commercial success – the pride, corruption and greed of the Manchu – cannot last. 7

Editor – we cannot imagine how the Atheneum thinks the Manchu dynasty will fall. Their despotism will not so easily be overturned. They have provided two great emperors – Hong Hei and Kien Lung – who enjoy the respectful memory of the people, and the corruption of a Manchu appears much the same as the corruption of a Chinese. It is in pride that the Manchu excels and his is the pride of inferiority, of being undeservedly in command.

In Canton the Viceroy is usually Chinese while the Hoppo is invariably Manchu. The Viceroy has discretion in all civil affairs, the Hoppo over revenue and foreign trade. The potential conflicts between the two never seem to arise and Viceroy Loo told Napier that the Chinese government would never voluntarily abandon the Hong merchant system. Under this system there can be little expectation of an increase in the legal trade.

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

The General Chamber of Commerce has considered whether ship captains should be responsible to detain crewmen suspected of causing the death of a Chinese. The committee believes this duty lies with the Chinese government.

It advises that only in the event of undeniable culpability of a crewman in wilful murder should a captain detain the culprit.

Vol 10 No 20 – 16th May 1837

Viceroy’s orders regarding foreigners taking exercise at Canton:

“In 21st year of the Ka Hing Emperor (1817), the then Viceroy fixed 8th, 18th and 28th days of each moon for foreigners to exercise on Honam Island. They might go to Fah Tei in groups of up to ten people, leaving the factories at 7 am and returning by 3 pm. They were not allowed to drink wine or visit villages and markets.

“In 15th year of the To Kwong Emperor (1836), it was ordered that the foreigners were not to go in and out of the factories as they pleased.

“In spite of the regulation, the foreigners do go in and out as they please, they do not observe the appointed times for exercise but themselves hire small boats and set off left and right. On 22nd April Grant and two others walked to the Ma Chung bridge on Honam, refused to pay the toll and had a squabble with the villagers. The foreigners must be restrained to preserve tranquillity. The boatmen who ferry them over the river must be strictly examined and severely punished. Then their fear of government will exceed their greed for the foreigners’ money. If any boat is seen to contain foreigners, it must be seized immediately and the boatman taken before the magistrate.”

Editor – we unilaterally open hospitals and treat the Chinese but they deny us exercise and prejudice our health.

Vol 10 No 20 – 16th May 1837

Peking Gazettes:

  1. Ma Kang, Wang Tih Liang and their group of religious men and women made insurrection in Shantung. They attacked the civil offices and military stations and executed all the officers. They opened the gaols and released all the prisoners. They killed or wounded many others. Now King Gih Poo, the governor of Shantung has caught Ma. He was put to the slow death and his head exhibited as a warning to others.
    152 rebels have been caught. They all proudly confessed their crimes without concealment. The governor discovered they had been indoctrinated by Ma Tsin of Gan Kiu heen. Everyone connected with this rebellion must be rigorously investigated and the entire religious movement uprooted. None must escape the net of the law.
  2. 9th March the Viceroy of Chekiang and Fukien reported the settlement of the religious insurrection in Taiwan. Heung Ho and his gang, on the pretence of hunger, plundered the public granaries and killed officials. Now 360 rioters have been executed. Liu Lan and Shih Ta have escaped. Imperial rewards will not be given until these last two are captured and punished.

Vol 10 No 20 – 16th May 1837

Notice – Sr Bernardo Duarte dos Santos, the well-known Portuguese trader of Macau, has died in Batavia on 1st March 1837.

Vol 10 No 21 – 23rd May 1837

The continual reports of ship captains withholding mail has attracted the attention of the legislature in Calcutta.

A legal amendment is expected to be enacted requiring ship’s officers to provide immediate delivery of letters on arrival at each port.

Vol 10 No 21 – 23rd May 1837

The General Chamber has investigated the charges on rice ships discharging at Whampoa. It concludes the fees complained of are charges on the ship and not on the rice which is statutorily allowed in duty-free. The sum it recommends be paid by shipowners to the Hoppo is $939.30 and to the Linguist (for settling the demands at Whampoa and obtaining the Port Clearance) $250 making a total payment to government of $1,189.50 per rice ship. All other charges should fall on the owners of the rice.

Editor – The edict of 22nd May 1833 set the legal duty on rice ships at 629 taels ($873). The committee of the General Chamber propose giving the Hoppo an extra $100 and the Linguist $250. Some ships have paid $900 but the costs vary depending on whether you are a big merchant or a small one. The big players have the means to negotiate better terms with the Hongs. The ‘small potatoes’ have to do as they are told by Hong and Linguist. Why does the Chamber not take care of them? The practise has evolved of rice ships being required to take an export cargo or pay compensation of 300 taels. All this should be regularised.

In the case of a chartered ship, where the owners provide crew and victuals but the charterer pays port charges, the committee decided that the Whampoa comprador’s ‘cumshaw’ should be borne by the charterer.

Vol 10 No 21 – 23rd May 1837

The Company’s Agents at Canton have received advice from Calcutta that if no-one will buy the public clock on the front of the Company’s ex-factory, it will be shipped back to Bengal.

This would be inconvenient and a committee of Wallace, Delano, Turner, Blenkin and Dent has been appointed to test the community’s feeling and, if supportive, to commence a subscription for the clock’s purchase.

Vol 10 No 21 – 23rd May 1837

Imperial Edict, 5th March:

Viceroy Tang has memorialised that some of his che foo and che heen magistrates are useless and should be cashiered and / or demoted and the vacancies filled with capable people, of whom he has provided a list from the officers-in-waiting in his two provinces.

“I, the Emperor, agree Lee Tung Shan of Lin Chow is lazy and delays all cases; Ku Tai Fuk of Sai Ning is contentious but is young and may be capable of receiving instruction, and Wong Pin of Lung Chuen is always sick. All three may be dealt with appropriately.

“However Viceroy Tang should know that I select the officers to fill provincial vacancies and it is presumptuous disrespect for him to send in his list of recommendations. He and the Canton governor are to be reported to the Board of Punishment for consideration of their offence.”

Vol 10 No 21 – 23rd May 1837

The first Editor of the Canton Register was the American merchant Alexander Saunders Keating. He is now assisting the Editor of the Canton Press, the publicity instrument of Dent’s group.

Vol 10 No 22 – 30th May 1837

This issue is provided on English paper to subscribers. We hope it will not be necessary for us to again use Chinese paper.

(NB – Imported English paper turns-out to absorb the high humidity of the South China coast and cause the printing ink to be susceptible to smudging. Later this summer the Editor commends his subscribers to apply a hot iron on their newspapers before reading.)

Vol 10 No 23 – 6th June 1837

Calcutta Courier, 12th April – The Government of India proposes for this year to advance the following sums, first come first served, as trade finance on goods shipped to England:



7 million rupees

1 million rupees



2 million rupees

5 million rupees

The exchange rate for the Company’s Rupee is fixed at 2/2d. This 15 million Rupees will transfer over £1,600,000 to London towards disbursement of the ‘home charges’.

India and China merchants all complain this liberates too much capital in their buying markets which drives up prices of local produce to the detriment of the English consumer who has to pay for it.

Contrarily, while the consumer suffers, the exporters make more profit as trade finance allows them to double their financial capacity. It is a concealed transfer of wealth from the English consumer to the India and China trader.8

Editor – for how long must our China traders submit to this derangement of free trade? The Superintendents are empowered (by the Order-in-Council of 9th December 1833 at Brighton) to remove any British subject who ‘haunts the shores of China’ for unlawful trading. This Bill-broking business defies the Act of Parliament that ended the Company’s trade monopoly here. Why have the Superintendents never acted against the Company’s agents or published their powers? They sat in Macau from September 1834 to April 1837 doing nothing. Anyway the Order refers to only one Superintendent. If we sent the second away we could save his £1,500 salary.

Vol 10 No 23 – 6th June 1837

The Atlas, 8th January – G G de H Larpent recently chaired a meeting of the East India Merchants Association at the Jerusalem Coffee House in London to review their activities during the last year.

They have successfully obtained government approval to equalise the import duty on Indian sugar (with West Indian supply). They continue to press for a more equitable duty on bohea tea. The altered duty on paper and the proposed postage charges are also being discussed.

They continue to seek for the establishment of a Consul at Canton; for the withdrawal of the Company’s Agency there; for Chinese agreement to foreigners’ establishing warehouses; for foreigners to trade generally with Chinese merchants at Canton, Amoy and Ningpo, and for the cession of an island on the east coast to our use and under our jurisdiction.

They have applied to the Foreign Secretary for all these things. 9

Vol 10 No 23 – 6th June 1837

Local law enforcement:

  • On 28th May, 27 pirates from Chau Yang heen were delivered to the criminal court judge at Canton.
  • On 29th May, 8 robbers from Nam Hoi heen were tried and immediately executed.
  • The Salt Commissioner has arrested 4 Miao people for salt smuggling. They were sent to the Canton governor on 27th April for punishment.
  • Paou Hing has been sent to Canton as Imperial Commissioner to investigate a shortage in the army treasury. He is expected at end-May.

Vol 10 No 23 – 6th June 1837

Sai Ngon county is flooded and houses in Wai Chow are inundated to the eaves.

Vol 10 No 24 – 13th June 1837

Notice – The Company’s Agency is open for receipt of bullion in exchange for 30-day sight Bills on Calcutta at 218 rupees per $100 Spanish.

Sgd J H Astell & H M Clarke, Company Agents 12th June 1837.

(NB little interest was shown and, in any event, the exchange rate was quickly reduced to 216 rupees for the rest of the summer)

Note – Captain Burd of the Danish ship Syden is an interesting man. He is mentioned in today’s paper (Vol 10 No 24 – 13th June 1837) and in frequent prior issues. He would be called a niche trader today. Throughout the early 1830’s he eschewed the Lintin smuggling trade that captivated all his contemporaries and sailed his little ship to Lombok, Bali and other islands, his wife routinely accompanying him, where he had connections with the Rajah. He sold Indian cotton cloth and chinaware to the natives and bought rice to Whampoa and later Lintin for the ‘rice-ship scam’ up-river to Whampoa.

When life at sea became too rigorous for the couple in 1840’s they settled in the new colony of Hong Kong and operated a grocery store.

Vol 10 No 24 – 13th June 1837

The Viceroy has replied to Capt Elliot’s complaint of burglary in the Danish Hong. This is the first official communication Elliot has received. The Viceroy addresses him as Commissioner and says he has activated all the appropriate arms of government to ‘investigate, detect and arrest the culprits and recover the stolen property’. He has allowed his officers one month to complete the work.

Vol 10 No 24 – 13th June 1837

Macau news – When the people of Macau recently heard that the residents of Goa and Damaun had again adopted the Portuguese Constitution of 1822, they were disposed to follow their example.10 The Governor was warned that many of them would assume the government at the procession of Corpus Christi this year, when the entire Portuguese population is assembled, and he decided not to oppose its adoption although he was himself a follower of Queen Caroline’s faction and opposed Dom Miguel’s.

The inhabitants were then invited to ascribe their names to the Deed but it had been unilaterally amended to exclude one of the most important Constitutional provisions – the separation of executive and judicial functions. A popular resident made a violent proposition in front of the governor for which he was immediately incarcerated in the Monte Fort but the popularity of his cause – which was to bring an end to government monopolisation of commerce – was such that the military officers and their soldiers proposed to revolt and release him. A petition of 84 inhabitants was first presented to the governor indicating popular dissatisfaction and requesting the removal of the Judge.

The last governor, B J de Souza Soares Andrea, had removed the Judge from his other function as Head of Customs in 1835 but the currect governor Adriao Accacio da Silveira Pinto restored him, on orders from Lisbon, reverting to the old system whereby government control of trade was effected. They also demanded that the Leal Senado (The Loyal Senate), which former prerogatives had been usurped by the executive government, be restored. And they demanded a General Council be convened to decide the issues democratically should the governor himself feel reluctant.

On 1st June the Council met in the Leal Senado building. It was composed of civil, military and ecclesiastical officers and some merchants. They demanded the Judge be restricted to his judicial function. The governor said he was ordered by Lisbon (a decree of 7th June 1836) to have the Judge control Customs and he threatened his government’s resignation if the council opposed him.

The council adduced several examples of previous cases in which the orders of Lisbon had not been followed. They also complained of the Judge’s administration of the Orphans Fund which was not properly accounted for and had since been taken over by various Justices of the Peace. The governor remained obdurate.

The meeting was adjourned to 3rd June when the council agreed to the Judge being Customs chief provisionally, pending a reference to Lisbon, provided the revenue was deposited in the Royal Treasury and appropriated as the government directed i.e. the Judge was not to share in the revenue but deposit it all with government.

The governor was obliged to physically remove the Judge from the Leal Senado before he could make the deal.

Vol 10 No 25 – 20th June 1837

The Dutch schooner Alpha arrived 1st June and has been built specially for work as a ferry boat. She has a draught of 5 feet and will carry ten passengers. The deck-heads are 7 feet high. She is built to the design of Norwegian pilot boats. On her way here she weathered a gale and is reportedly an excellent sea boat.

Vol 10 No 25 – 20th June 1837

Hing Tai Hong’s petition, 5th June 1837:

“Dent and other foreigners claim Yen Kei Chang (Hing Tai Hong) owes them $2,850,000 (including compound interest). The other Hong merchants have examined his accounts and confirmed the original debts (excluding interest). Dent etc., have agreed that a part of the prices for tea and silk etc., that Hing Tai sells should be set aside to accumulate a fund to discharge his debts. The foreigners propose that all indebted Hong merchants be rehabilitated in the same way. The Viceroy has ordered the merchants to agree a plan amongst themselves for his ratification.

“The foreigners have unilaterally charged me for shortage and damage to goods I sold to them. They have recently added $624,000 to my debt purportedly for additional compound interest. These continuing adjustments prevent my agreeing the account with them.

“Formerly, when Hong merchants sold tea to the foreigners, they were permitted to add 7-8 taels per picul as their commission. This system continued for over a century and secured a certain profit to the Hong merchants so they could meet their expenses. There were few unanticipated debts. Originally the tea duty was fixed at 5 taels per picul.

“In 1834 the company was dissolved and the foreign trade became unregulated. Recently it was suggested duty be reduced to 2-3 taels per picul and some of my sales were in anticipation of this reduced rate. The injurious effects of hasty bargains and low prices followed the Company’s withdrawal. Expenses payable to the government and privately have increased and the likelihood of profitable business has decreased. I need to know if the suggested reduction of duty is approved before I can ascertain my solvency.

“The foreigners are aware of the straitened circumstances of the Hongs and have become reluctant to pay deposits on goods ordered. We need new regulations establishing the duties on all the staple imports and exports so those in debt can save themselves and those not in debt can trade profitably. I have $475,000 invested in goods shipped abroad but I have not yet received an account of the sale proceeds. After that I will know my financial situation.”

Viceroy’s reply:

“Yen is late to report and again says he cannot finalise his accounts. He owes over $2,000,000 and yet makes unprincipled suggestions. He asks that foreigners pay increased duty and complains their addition of several hundred thousand dollars to their claims for compound interest. How did he get in this mess?

“I order How Qua to make Yen Kei Chang reveal the debts his own accounts show in three days. Then I can consider the matter of new regulations.”

Vol 10 No 25 – 20th June 1837

Viceroy Tang’s further Edict on ferry boats, 22nd June 1837:

“The Hong merchants report that the foreigners need decked ferry boats to protect them from the wind and the rain. The law has been long fixed and permits them only open boats. How is it that for so long they have used open boats but now they must have decked boats? This last few years the foreigners have become abandoned and oppose the law and you Hong merchants indulge them. The Emperor has fixed the law and you will enjoin it on the foreigners. If you continue to question the Emperor’s wisdom I shall take it as presumption and you will regret it.”

Editor – these boats have been tolerated by the Hongs for several years on our undertaking they carry only passengers and baggage. They are now mainly used for smuggling. This is a breach of faith on our part. But we should not forego decked boats any more than we forego our regular exercises on Honam, both of which are formally proscribed. Decked ferry boats are essential for daily communication with Lintin and Macau and to transfer sick traders to the hospital ship at Whampoa or to Macau. We must have them.

In passing we see the Viceroy’s list of ferry boats excludes Russell & Co’s large boat which is regularly used for smuggling. It is the same in the Hong merchants’ return of companies involved in the opium trade whereby Russell’s name is omitted from their list although the company has a large receiving ship in the outer waters. Both omissions would appear to be the work of How Qua who favours his friends in this way. We should blackmail him for this.

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

Notice, 1st July 1837 – Mr John Smith has joined Charles Markwick to trade as commission agents, warehouse keepers and auctioneers under the style Markwick & Smith at 3 Imperial Hong. The previous business of Markwick, Edwards & Co is closed.

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

Mutiny at Lintin, June 1837 – Captain Fawcett of the Lady Nugent accepted cargo for Surabaya on inducement. Some of the crew, led by the boatswain, contended that the Articles they signed only covered a voyage to China. When the captain ordered ‘up anchor,’ eight senior crewmen refused to work. The captain took on two Chinese boat crews who prepared the ship for departure. In the South China Sea the crew still refused to work and the captain himself helped set sails, etc. The involved men were put on bread and water rations. The ship arrived Manila 4th July having been manned the whole way by ordinary seamen and boys. The captain protested to the Manila governor who took statements from the mutineers individually, sided with them and freed them. Captain Fawcett was obliged to carry them onwards. He engaged two Americans (one black), a European and six Filipinos to undertake their work and sailed from Manila on 11th July.

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

The Calcutta Courier and the Englishman both defend the Company’s trade finance in India and China. The Home Charges are overwhelmingly for the payment of shareholders’ dividends and staff pensions. They should be paid in India in Rupees and derive solely from the productions of the country. It should be the business of each shareholder and pensioner to arrange his own remittances.

The intention of the new arrangements that Mr Charles Grant set-up for the company was to bind the interests of the people of India to those of the company shareholders (in retrospect it actually sounds a bit silly – 100 million Indians at idem with 2,000+ English shareholders).

The Calcutta Courier defends the finance operation in China on the grounds it reduces Agency charges and preserves the outlay of merchants’ capital. It dismisses the increase in tea prices as a temporary phenomenon as, it says, supply can be increased more or less infinitely and as increased stock is accumulated in England it will reduce both wholesale and retail prices. The Calcutta Courier considers the interests of a handful of China merchants against the nation as a whole and sides with the latter. This is misleading.

The Chinese tea farmer has been getting better prices. He increases his plantation based on the new value of production. He is the beneficiary of the Company’s advances and British capitalists who invest in tea purchases are the victims. The free trade will only make tea cheap in England in proportion to the demand created for those English products that we exchange for tea. The item we presently barter for tea is silver. We must substitute this valuable metal for manufactured goods to the value of the tea and silk we buy, but this trend is impeded by the Company’s advances.

It is argued in favour of the Company that it regulates the rates of exchange. Exchange rates reflect the different balances of trade and are thus a legitimate source of profit. If a government interferes as regulator it falls into the swamp of trade fluctuations and must keep itself continually informed of all activity to avoid commercial perplexity and confusion. The handful of London merchants who deal in the China trade are like individual agents of the British people in preserving free trade.

The Englishman of 26th April recites the same arguments as the Calcutta Courier and neglects the effects of the Company’s sales of its tea stock in London. The company maintained two year’s stock and until this is run down, the London wholesalers will continue to be over-supplied. If the tea is sold off cheap, who will offer to import new stock? If the foreign traders in China do not buy tea each year, the Chinese will have no money to buy English manufactures. The Englishman should consider the effects of this on the mines and looms of England.

If the company is allowed to continue in trade as financier, it simply continues its monopoly. The Company was suspected in 1834 of undermining Napier’s attempts to establish open trade. It appropriated to its own use a large share of the moneys it had formerly advanced for trade. The Englishman describes it thus “The Company’s advances in China were not made in the open manner as is done here (in Calcutta) … it is said that favoured jobbers were allowed to book any sum they pleased without the security of goods, and they sold the Bills to genuine traders at a profit.”

Editor – The Company’s agents and jobbers do not belong in Canton, they should be in Botany Bay.

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

Local news – The Hongs say a new merchant is about to be licensed. It is a partnership. The front man is Ching who has the necessary reputation to be a licensee. The capitalist is Chow. He is a tea merchant from Kiangsi and used to sell tea here to the Hongs. Chow is a major creditor of Chun Qua and had taken a share in that business in lieu of repayments when the Hong failed. He then reverted to tea business but has now been induced to put his son forward as partner to Ching.

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

Letter of the Hong merchants to Jardine et al:

“We cannot reconcile the foreign claims of $2,850,000 on Hing Tai Hong with our own examination of his accounts. We confirm our agreement yesterday that you constitute a panel of three ‘fit and proper’ investigators to produce an agreed account with us and that those three be Elliot, Dent and Green.

“Yen Ke Chang does not speak English but the investigators must interview him and see all his records as he alone managed everything in Hing Tai Hong.”

Vol 10 No 27 – 4th July 1837

Peking Gazettes, 7th April 1837 – the censor Lee Pan Mo has petitioned for judicial vigilance:

“In peaceful times the people become careless and dissipated. The robbers Chow Kuen of Shansi, Chang Ping of Taiwan, Ching Man Lin of Shensi and Chow Kin Lung & Lan Yuen Kwang of Hunan have been exterminated and officials in those provinces strenuously maintain tranquillity.

“But this year Mu Kang and his religious group in Shantung killed officials and released prisoners. Although he has been punished, many of his companions escaped. Violent robberies on land and sea continue. When the victims complain, the officials order investigations but the magistrates bully the witnesses, accuse them of perjury and punish them. Thus the big case is concealed behind the small case and the people, fearing to get involved, withhold their evidence.

“The magistrates only worry about preserving themselves from censure and demotion. The interests of the nation do not concern them. They stand on ceremony in not making arrests or seizures in each other’s territories. When the time permitted for enquiry has lapsed they let the matter drop.

“Armed bandits rob openly, there is nothing they will not do. In all the provinces there are depraved people promoting religions in which the preceptor preaches forgiveness. These Imperial competitors are spreading their doctrines and causing interminable evil. The people must be encouraged to complain. The magistrates should not be allowed to change violent armed robberies into petty theft. The people should be allowed to appeal magisterial decisions so they can be evaluated.”

Vol 10 No 28 – 11th July 1837

The Canton Regatta Club will hold an Anglo-American regatta off the west coast of Macau (in the Inner Harbour) on 11th and 12th July for wherries, gigs and scullers. Elliot will be Umpire. In view of the summer heat all races will be completed before 7.30am

Vol 10 No 28 – 11th July 1837

Part of the property stolen from 5 Danish Hong in May has been recovered (a watch and gold chain and a seal) and returned to its owner. The thief has been beheaded.

Vol 10 No 29 – 18th July 1837

London New Prices Current, 14th February 1837 – The free trade tea sales that commenced 30th January have been concluded. 80,799 lots were offered, 16,000 were withdrawn, 30,000 were sold and the remainder were bought-in at prices above recent sale prices. Compared with December 1836, boheas and common congous are down 1d per lb. Demand was only for the finest pekoes. Campois and Souchongs were down 3d. Hysons down 2d

Vol 10 No 29 – 18th July 1837

Frankfurt Journal – Chinese language: The universities of Paris, Berlin and Munich all have Chairs of Chinese but the two countries that have most connection with China – England and Russia – have none.

Vol 10 No 29 – 18th July 1837

Viceroy Tang proclaims Jardine petitioned on 5th July saying:

“….. our accounts show Yen Ke Chang (Hing Tai Hong) owes us $2,158,349.68. There is no doubt of the amount. Yen says we have revived and added old claims on him.

“We thank Your Excellency for facilitating the meeting with Hing Tai. When we asked him to indicate the erroneous transactions he was unable to do so. We have selected three foreigners to investigate his accounts with the Hong merchants. We found he wished to exclude five items from his books which should all be included. We attach the corrected account on two pages.

“He himself has drawn up a new account which is different to his Hong account. But he cannot recall or explain the details of this new account. It seems spurious.

“He ran Hing Tai Hong alone and no-one else knows its business. We petition that he be arrested and interrogated so we can find our capital and recover it.”

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

The East India Merchants Association (Chairman – G G de H Larpent) minutes (continued):

We have impressed on government the need to better protect the China trade to preserve and extend what we have got. The Chinese are peculiar and our previous embassies all failed. The British government has been continually lobbied on the subject and we were invited to submit our members’ views. We have told the Foreign Secretary that a commercial agent with municipal and judicial functions (but not political) should be sent to Canton to make the foreign trade conform with Chinese law. We recommended that all ex-Company employees be withdrawn.

We ask for residence at Canton for the traders and their families; for permission to build warehouses and permission to trade with any Chinese not just the Hong merchants. We ask for direct communication with the Canton provincial government on trade concerns. We ask for access to Amoy, Ningpo and a third port near Peking. We ask for an island, by negotiation or purchase, on the East Coast where we can enforce English law and avoid disputes with the Chinese.

Palmerston replied 12th July 1836 – “your suggestions will have due attention in the consideration which H M Government is giving to the subject”

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

Advert – The Mahommedee will be despatched early from Kum Sing Mun for Bombay. The Isabella at Whampoa will take legal cargo to the Mahommedee. Apply Jardine Matheson & Co, 21st July 1837 (The Isabella is trading as a rice ship to Lombok, Manila, etc.)

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

Local news – The effects of the Viceroy’s expulsion orders on various foreigners is reflected in auctions of household contents and personal effects by the banished traders. For example:

Auction – 100 pcs camlets, some broadcloth, stationery, oil cloth, one Manton double-barrelled gun, 24 brass-mounted musketoons, 58 dozen assorted wines, 6 pairs of silver watches plus household furniture (dining table, wardrobe, beds, chairs, carpets, lamps) and some books – all for sale COD 27th July 1837 at our Canton Salerooms. M/s Stanford & Marks, Auctioneers.

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

Local news – Wang, the moneyed partner in Pau Ho Hong, has retired at the persuasion of his relatives and the Hong will not be continued.

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

Viceroy Tang has received Jardine’s petition of 18th June concerning Hing Tai Hong (Yen Kei Chang):

Jardine says when I ordered the Hong merchants to explain Hing Tai’s accounts to him, he approached How Qua but was told the high officers first wished to interview his brother Yen Kei Tseang and the matter was thus again delayed. Yen Kei Tseang was in the firm at the beginning and did its business. He is the only person, other than Yen Kei Chang, to know anything of the accounts. He says there is a precedent for this in the case of Chun Qua (Liu Ching Shu) and begs me to entreat Yen Kei Chang to produce Yen Kei Tseang so the matter can be cleared up.

I, the Viceroy, have checked the records. Yen Kei Tseang managed the Hong in 1831 but retired for ill health in 1836 and Yen Kei Chang took over. “I order How Qua and the others to produce the brother for examination.”

Vol 10 No 30 – 25th July 1837

Viceroy Tang has also replied to Dent and others on the same subject:

“Dent says a long time has elapsed and no progress made in elucidating Hing Tai’s accounts. He says he repeatedly called upon him to pay but he does not do so. The Viceroy ordered three Hong merchants and three foreigners to examine Yen but all he could say was that the account did not tally and he would not explain the error(s). He only seeks for delay.

“Dent begs me to compel Yen to co-operate. He says the new season is now commencing but old accounts remain outstanding. He says the foreigners not only mistrust Hing Tai but also doubt the viability of some other Hongs.

“I have already replied to Jardine on this subject. My officials are working as fast as possible. Wait until Yen Kei Tseang is produced then all can sit together and compromise the case. Do not trouble me too much.”

Vol 10 No 31 – 1st August 1837

The Asiatic Journal reports Robert Morrison’s widow has put his huge collection of Chinese books up for sale at £2,000. It consists of 900 works contained in 10,000 volumes which he collected during his long stay in China and it is the most comprehensive library of Chinese literature in Europe. It is suggested that the purchaser gift the library to the British academy that first establishes a chair of Chinese. This was Morrison’s own wish.

He established The Language Institution in Bartlett’s Building in London to contain the books and the Institution’s object was to give instruction to anyone desirous of learning Chinese and other Oriental languages. Dr Morrison attended regularly to provide this instruction but when he returned to China it was closed and the library placed under Trustees from the London Missionary Society.

They have offered it to government and other public bodies in England without success although the French repeatedly asked for it (and were denied).

When Morrison died unexpectedly his wife and seven children were not provided for and this sale will finance their living and education. Apart from his daily work of translation for the Select, he produced an incomparable Chinese / English dictionary, a Chinese version of the King James bible and he founded the Anglo-Chinese College.

The people who benefited from Morrison’s work from 1808 – 1834 were primarily the East India Company and it is they who might recognise a duty to buy the collection.11

Vol 10 No 31 – 1st August 1837

Letter to the Editor – I am a creditor of Hing Tai Hong. The Committee of Six (How Qua, Mow Qua, Pun Ki Qua, Dent, Archer and Green) have written me that their recommended elucidation of his debts will not constitute a precedent for the future. This committee was empowered to review his accounts and agree them in accordance with customary practice in Canton. They are not supposed to make bargains.

Sgd Creditor, 31st July

Vol 10 No 31 – 1st August 1837

Minutes of the first meeting of the Committee of Six 25th July at the Consoo House.

Lancelot Dent was appointed Chairman. The procedure agreed was to examine each account from smallest to largest except the accounts of Dents, Russells and Wetmores (in which the three foreign committee members are interested) which will be reviewed last. Each creditor will then be called in to prove his claim.

Vol 10 No 32 – 8th August 1837

Letter from the East India and China Association to the Company:

“For you to continue to receive the ‘Home Charges’ in London (estimated at £3,200,000 for 1837) we suggest £2 millions be raised in London by your selling Bills on India and £700,000, £200,000 and £300,000 by your financing of the export trade of respectively Bengal, Madras and Bombay. This will enable the mercantile community of India to better gauge the effects of your financial operations on Indian trade.

“Concerning the China trade, it had appeared in 1834 that your financing operations there would be advantageous but it has since transpired they are not. Please instruct your ‘Finance Committee’ at Canton to cease business.”

Sgd G G de Larpent and Archibald Haistie MP for Paisley, 27th February 1837

Vol 10 No 32 – 8th August 1837

Notice – J G Ullman, 76 years, Swedish Consul, former chief of the Swedish Factory, died at Macau 25th July 1837.

Vol 10 No 32 – 8th August 1837

Brig Fairy – When the Filipinos mutinied, Captain McKay, Chief Officer Guthrie, cabin boy George, the gunner and the serang were all murdered. The Filipinos attacked the Lascar crew whilst they slept but set the survivors adrift in a boat. The motive for the attack is uncertain but, as all reports say the Fairy was a happy ship, we assume it related to the valuable cargo. The survivors have now arrived in Canton and report having been well cared for in China.

Vol 10 No 33 – 15th August 1837

Arrivals – Mr G T Lay from Singapore per Himmaleh

Vol 10 No 33 – 15th August 1837

Two Macanese ship-delivery men were landed at Canton yesterday. They had delivered a junk to Namoa and were returning in a hired boat when they were driven by heavy weather into Kap Chee where they were arrested by the Chinese authorities and repatriated overland here.

Jardine’s ship Governor Findlay, which trades on the east coast, picked up two other Portuguese recently. One was the pilot of a Chinese junk and the other his sea cunny. In February they had agreed to navigate the junk to Min To for $300 and bring it back to Macau for an extra $100. They had almost completed the voyage on 19th July and had the Lima Islands in sight when the Chinese junk-owner turned the ship north along the coast (with hindsight it seemed he just wanted to learn the way).

When the junk arrived at Namoa the junk-master put both Portuguese into a sampan with all their belongings and sailed away. Next day two passing pirate boats took everything they had, including their clothes, and they were found by the Governor Findlay in this exposed condition. There is a buoyant employment market for Portuguese pilots on Chinese coasting junks.12

Vol 10 No 33 – 15th August 1837

List of foreign debts 1825 – 1834:


Con See Qua died 1823

Pak Qua failed 1824

Poon Qua died 1827

Man Hop failed 1828

Chun Qua failed 1829

Foreign Debt

$ 171,091

$ 671,463

$ 122,211


$ 579,193

Unpaid Duty

$ 88,090




$ 41,226

List of repayments of foreign debts by the Consoo Fund (Hong Yung):

1825 $34,218; 1826 $34,218; 1827 $166,777; 1828 $207,516; 1829 $406,962; 1830 $362,618; 1831 $321,882; 1832 $378,435; 1833 $378,435; 1834 $378,435. These payments are in complete settlement of all the above failures.

Settlement of historic debts of the Co-Hong:

  • Con See Qua’s debt was ordered by the Viceroy (in consultation with the Hongs) to be paid off in five annual instalments. The country trade protested and in Autumn 1824 camped at the city gate overnight for better terms. How Qua then agreed to repayment in 3 years.
  • Pak Qua had been in difficulties for years and was finally called to account in 1825. He was banished to Ili.
  • Poon Qua died in harness and his debt was paid off in three annual instalments.
  • Man Hop failed in early 1828 but repayments were not agreed until a year later. They were paid off in six annual instalments.
  • Chun Qua fled to Nanking in 1829 taking all the assets of his Hong and leaving his inexperienced brother in charge. It took nearly two years to get repayments started. The last three annual repayments have been from the Consoo Fund.

Vol 10 No 34 – 22nd August 1837

In response to the Viceroy’s objection, it is contemplated to remove the shipping from Kap Soy Mun (Ma Wan Island) to Hong Kong. This chasing of the shipping from harbour to roadstead and from roadstead to somewhere else should be carefully monitored.

Hong Kong is a good anchorage but is a long voyage from Macau and Canton. The renewed zeal of the coast guard suggests the shipping may not long remain there either. Whether the ships will be able to return to Lintin in November remains unclear.

These removals weaken our cause and encourage the local officials to believe they can stop the smuggling trade. Whilst the Canton government is enforcing these Imperial orders, we should continue to treat its officers with contempt.

Vol 10 No 34 – 22nd August 1837

Advisory – To counter the adverse effects of high humidity on our newspaper we recommend subscribers to have their laundresses place it opened on a board, cover it with a clean cloth and run a smoothing iron over each side. This will dry the ink, reduce stains and make the type clearer.13

Vol 10 No 35 – 29th August 1837

Local news:

  • the Fairlie (a rice ship) will leave Whampoa in a few days for Kap Soy Mun and Manila.
  • A new Hong merchant has been licensed. He is Pao from Shan Chang village in Heung Shan. He will trade as Yung Tai Hong. His elder brother is a Hanlin academician. The Hong is located near the bridge over the Creek east of the factories.
  • An ambassador from Thailand has arrived at Canton, His tribute was received by the Viceroy on 4th August. He will be escorted overland to Peking. The Hong merchants say he is an opium addict.
  • The recent law enforcement measures of the Canton government have suppressed several criminal gangs. Many Chinese have been imprisoned. The prisoners are united by blood Oaths to the police runners and clerks in the magistracies (i.e. they are triad society members) and some of these latter officials, realising their complicity may be revealed under torture, have not reported for work.
  • The Viceroy has personally sent a former magistrate of Heung Shan to cruise against the opium ‘fast crabs’ and has directed the Nam Hoi and Poon Yu magistrates to deal effectively with opium brokers. This has made opium very expensive in Canton and even ‘new faces’ in the broking community are afraid to deal in the Drug.

Vol 10 No 35 – 29th August 1837

Editorial – the Christian virtues of patience, submission and humility are well exemplified by the foreign residents of Canton. The officials describe us in their edicts as uncivilised (yee), an annual edict against our sexual activity is issued publicly, our women are kept from us, exercise is effectively forbidden, we can only buy food through compradors, our ferry boats are prohibited, boats with our despatches are stopped and searched, Hong merchants fail, we ourselves are robbed, and the Chinese say the profits of trade adequately compensate for all these restrictions.

We must insist on the government giving us the respect we deserve. A general meeting of all foreigners should be convened to protest these restraints. When the Select protested against the annual anti-sex Edict in 1829, the government replied ‘you have borne the restraint for decades, why do you complain now?’ Well, now it is not the Select that protests but the free merchants of Great Britain. We should not allow ourselves to become culpable of the same reproach.

Vol 10 No 35 – 29th August 1837

General Chamber of Commerce circular 24th August – Capt Elliot has agreed to establish a new post office provided we indemnify him for any losses. We think he will operate the service better than we ourselves can. The experiment is proposed to operate for one year. This circular is to invite views.

Vol 10 No 35 – 29th August 1837

Sheridan’s The Rivals was performed on 10th August by the English community at Macau. It was staged on the terrace of a famous trader’s house near the Church of San Lourenco before the Governor and a select audience.

George Chinnery played Mrs Malaprop, Captain Biden played Sir Anthony Absolute and Mr Leslie played Captain Absolute.

An excellent supper was provided by our famous host after which we performed a few quadrilles and waltzes accompanied by a fine band. Festivities concluded at about 3 am.

Vol 10 No 36 – 5th September 1837

Pestonjee Rustomjee arrived from Bombay and Singapore per Buckinghamshire.

Vol 10 No 36 – 5th September 1837

Singapore Free Press, 17th August – Readers may recall nearly three years ago that the Rev Dyer of Penang called for donations to make Chinese type faces for printing. He is now at Malacca and has completed 3,232 characters which he offers for sale at $625. This will be far better than the wood blocks that Chinese printers currently use.

Vol 10 No 37 – 12th September 1837

Local news:

  • Yen Kei Tseang (Hing Tai Hong) has fled to Chekiang.
  • About 100 suspected bandits have been arrested on the river
  • The Hong merchant Fatqua, who has long been imprisoned, was the subject of a successful plea by the other Hongs for his compassionate release. Regrettably he died on 2nd September just 4 hours after reaching home. Had he died in prison his family’s misery would have been bottomless so this death is considered, all in all, a happy one.

Vol 10 No 37 – 12th September 1837

Letter to the Editor – The clock tower in the factories, which was bought from the Company by public subscription, is being installed within the Company’s factory (I should say the Office of the British Trade Commission) where it is out of sight of almost everyone. It is so high on the wall that it is a strain to raise one’s eyes. There should have been some consultation about where to erect it.

I think most people would have chosen to put it in the Company’s garden (excuse me, Superintendents’ Garden) where everyone could see it.

Vol 10 No 37 – 12th September 1837

Letter to the Editor – With trade so slow this year it’s a good time to confront the ‘Finance Committee’ of the Company. We should take no advances from them. Of course the Company will try harder to press the money on the trade. The agents get 2½% commission and this is the reason they throw common-sense to the wind and continue to offer trade finance. Sgd Impartial Observer, 11th September.

Vol 10 No 38 – 19th September 1837


  • The factory at 3 Danish Hong is available for immediate lease. Terms from the Canton Register (an effect of the expulsion of some foreigners – see the Opium chapter)
  • David Kennedy has been a partner in our firm since 1st May 1837. Sgd Fox Rawson & Co, 18th September 1837
  • Lord Auckland will soon depart Whampoa for Lintin and Singapore. For freight apply Wetmore & Co, 18th September 1837

Vol 10 No 38 – 19th September 1837

Letter to the Editor – the decked Macau ferry boats have been withdrawn from service by the Viceroy because they were being used for smuggling. The community is now deprived of a fast and comfortable communication by the selfish acts of a few of their number. Some boats briefly continued the service after the proscription but one of H M Commissioners saw a boat opposite the factories and induced its owner to ‘send her away’. Several are now up for sale. The remaining boat operators decline to serve Kap Soy Mun or Hong Kong.

In fact I think only one British boat was caught smuggling. It seems unreasonable to punish all for the crimes of one.

Now only those who qualify to use H M sloop Louisa have comfortable passages from Macau to Canton. Louisa is not supposed to be a ferry boat nor should it be used to deprive the regular ferry operators of $10 fares. It should be restricted to official jobs and not the daily errands of H M Commissioners.

I wish the ferry service proprietors would protest to the British merchants, not to the Commissioners. Only the merchants have the influence with officials to restore the former service. Sgd A Friend of Justice, 13th and 23rd September

Editor – smuggling on the passage boats was notoriously widespread. If the proprietors did not know it, they should have done. The actions of one of the Commissioners cannot be held against all of them. Elliot was the first to suggest using the affray at Tien Chu Ma Tau to get the boats moved back opposite the factories. The General Chamber is also taking up the matter. The thing is that ferry boats should be used solely for passengers.

Vol 10 No 39 – 26th September 1837

Local news:

  • The Hongs report that Viceroy Tang is annoyed with the Hoppo for licensing three new Hongs. He wanted to limit their number to five or six for better control.
  • An affray occurred at Tien Chu Ma Tau on 20th September when a Lascar from one of the Macau ferry boats wounded two Chinese with a knife. The ferry boats now depart from and arrive at this pier for better Chinese control. It is below the Dutch Folly near the execution grounds.
    It is hoped this event might encourage the officials to change the berth back to opposite the factories where the crews are well known and the boats can be more easily supervised by their owners.
  • Two Heung Shan men who bought 10 catties of opium in Macau and tried to smuggle it into Canton were caught and turned over to the Heung Shan heen for punishment.


  • W & T Gemmell has closed its Canton office. James Innes or H Constable will settle all outstanding matters. 16th September 1837
  • Mr T Gemmell left China for the Straits and Bombay per Lord Castlereagh

Vol 10 No 39 – 26th September 1837

Macau news – The Macaista Imparcial of 20th September reports the Tso Tong has advised the Procurador that he hears some Portuguese families employ Chinese servants. This employment is not fixed through a comprador and is therefore unknown to the Canton government.

When there are complaints of dishonesty against these servants, the government is unable to pursue them as it lacks all details of their families, etc. In future all Macau families must employ servants through compradors or arrange a bondsman to be answerable for the employees.

Vol 10 No 40 – 3rd October 1837

Sir Alexander Johnstone the Chairman of the Royal Asiatic Society (former Chief Justice of Ceylon and father of the deputy Commissioner here in China) has eulogised the Anglo-Chinese College at Malacca which teaches European science and literature to Chinese students and thereby opens the opinions of those extraordinary people to our influence.

A young graduate now holds office in Peking and his knowledge of western languages and thought has brought him influence. This gentleman has reportedly memorialised the Emperor to consider the decriminalisation of opium use and its legal import under a fixed tariff.

According to local sources the graduate, Shum Teh, went to Peking in 1828 when an interpreter of western languages was requested from Canton. W C Hunter lived in the same room with him at the college and has provided some biographical details.

Shum left China aged 14 years and lived in Penang under the care of Catholic missionaries who taught him Latin. He then went to Malacca and lived in the college library with Hunter who recalls he was a proud, ambitious and diligent student. He spent no time in amusements but continuously read western books. His mastery of English, which he speaks with a Scottish accent, is exceptional. He is also well-informed in the sciences.

He translated a Latin account of China into Chinese for some supporter of the college who paid him handsomely for the service. After 2+ years at Malacca he came to Canton coincident with the Imperial request for a translator. In 1830 he wrote Hunter from Peking that he had been much employed in translating for the Russians. He had then become a 5th rank official on a salary of 8,000 Taels a year. He asked for some English books (Hunter recalls Euclid was amongst them) and directed how they might be sent to avoid detection.

Editor – the salary Hunter mentions must be wrong. Official pay in Peking is the lowest in the Empire.

Vol 10 No 40 – 3rd October 1837

Bennett & Tyreman’s Voyages – The extremes of wealth and poverty are nowhere more ludicrously contrasted than in China. The rich begrudge no expense for their luxuries. Edible bird’s nest are found in vast clusters in the Nicobar Islands and sold in Canton at $5,000 per picul. An army of men are employed preparing these for sale, picking out the feathers and extraneous matter and knitting bamboo slivers through the nest to preserve its form. Dried sharks’ fins are highly prized. The black beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) from the Pacific Islands is also esteemed.

While the rich pay astonishing sums for these delicacies, the poor, if they eat meat at all, live on the entrails and feet of chickens, on rice worms, rats and frogs. An acquaintance says his mornings are disturbed by the sounds of dogs and cats being slaughtered in the street market below. Not a bone or a green leaf is left in the street after market. Every morsel is taken up for food.

Vol 10 No 40 – 3rd October 1837

The Viceroy’s report to Peking on the Hong merchants, 29th August 1837:

“Formerly their number was restricted to thirteen but some failed to pay Imperial duty and others became involved in debt. For these reasons the Hoppo Tih King in 1814 requested that one or two rich and honest merchants be made responsible for the others. The names of these leading merchants were to be reported to the Board of Revenue and each year, when the Hoppo’s service expired, he was to make a list of approved Hong merchants and forward it to the Board. Thereafter, when a new Hong merchant was licensed, his colleagues were to enter a security bond for his performance. Only the top one or two merchants were expected to provide the bond but in fact none agreed to give it.

“By about 1830 many Hongs had failed and the seven that remained were unable to manage all the trade. The then Hoppo Yen Lung invited applicants but none came forward. Yen attributed this reluctance to the vicarious liabilities deriving from the bond (which they had refused to give but which Peking would enforce on them anyway) and requested to amend the regulations to accord with reality. For several years the foreign trade had increased but the numbers of Hongs had decreased. Thus not all affairs were properly managed and some confusion had arisen. Yen was allowed to select prospective Hong merchants who were rich, respectable and experienced. They were to act on probation for one or two years. If they proved capable, paid the duties timely and the foreigners trusted them, they were to be admitted as full Hong merchants. In such circumstances one or two existing Hong merchants were expected to accept to be bonded for the newcomer’s performance and the law of joint liability (of all) was repealed. Thereafter the numbers of Hong merchants increased and there are now again thirteen but the reluctance of the senior Hongs to secure the newcomers continues. The new Hong merchant Jin Ho Hong (Poon Wan Hai) has now been on probation for seven years but no-one is willing to provide a bond for his performance. Fu Tai Hong (Yip Yuen Chang), Tung Chang Hong (Lo Fuk Tai) and Gan Chang Hong (Yung Yew Kwan) have completed one or two year’s probation but have not been reported to the Board of Revenue as they have not produced the necessary bond. I have given them a month to get one or two securities so they can be formally admitted. If they fail I will wind-up their businesses and punish them.

“But the circumstances have changed and the revisions requested by Hoppo Yen may be no longer appropriate. The peculiar situation facing Hoppo Yen has not recurred. Now rich people are willing to be Hong merchants but a problem of smuggling has arisen. These new merchants are rich because they seek for gain. For more than ten years sycee has flowed out and opium flowed in. Smuggling and general evasion of duties has flourished. Successful smugglers tempt others to join them. In May this year Leung Ah Kei was caught. This led to the discovery that the Hong merchant Lo Fuk Tai had written to the shopman Ching Yung Ping implicating Captain Lo Hiu Fung of the Shao King squadron in bribing the Hoppo to get his (Lo Fuk Tai’s) Hong merchant’s licence. Lo Fuk Tai is suspected of smuggling. Captain Lo Hiu Fung has been cashiered and when he returns from Peking to Canton they are all to be tried together. Lo Fuk Tai’s capital is not large (i.e. his removal as Hong merchant will make little difference).14

“Now, although we put these people on probation, ‘the hearts of men are unfathomable’ and evil can disguise itself as good. Then when they revert to true form, losses arise and no-one will provide a bond.

“This plan of probationary service for Hong merchants is useless.

“Tih King’s old arrangement whereby the whole body of Hongs is jointly liable for the acts and omission of each other is productive of public good. The revised regulation of Hoppo Yen was simply to answer a problem of the moment. He did not expect the existing Hongs to maintain their refusal to bond the newcomers. If these securities are not required, there will be extensive bribery and gradually our control will wither. Furthermore when a Hong fails it is inadequate to seize its property in restitution of debts. We must require all the merchants to supply the deficiency. This is the existing state of the law whether there is a bond or not but a bondsman would be better as he will tend his investment and supervise the merchant.

“These are our opinions.

“We commend that the numbers of Hong merchants be limited to thirteen. Should one cease business, another may be permitted to replace him, but no greater numbers of Hongs is required, neither is there a need for probationary service. When we next licence a Hong merchant we will require all the existing Hongs to provide security for him. This will ensure that only just, upright, responsible and rich men will qualify for the job.”

Vol 10 No 40 – 3rd October 1837

Letter to the Editor – As you say, smuggling on the Macau ferries was too well known to survive long. You are right that smuggling is fashionable amongst both the great and small of our community. The practise is so widespread with foreigners that no odium attaches to it unless the commodity smuggled is opium. Our community only really considers opium as contraband, all the rest of our informal trade is thought of as ‘creative’.

Hopefully H M Commissioners can get the ferry boats returned to service from their former moorings. Sgd A Friend of Justice, 29th September

Vol 10 No 41 – 10th October 1837

Advertisement – Mr Ching, a native of Szechuan, who formerly instructed the India Company’s staff, will give lessons in Mandarin to a few Europeans. Contact Canton Register for details.

Vol 10 No 41 – 10th October 1837

Editor’s local news:

  • Ten Englishmen set off recently at 6 am to walk around the walls of Canton. On arriving at the east side they stopped at the artillery ground where some soldiers were exercising on foot and horseback with bows and arrows. One Englishman tried his hand but failed to hit the board. They then visited the execution ground where a head was exhibited in a box with the name attached to the hair.
  • There are daily opportunities to forward mail from Macau to Canton by Chinese junk at the old rate per mace. The letters are delivered in safety. Before the advent of ferry boats, the river junks provided the only means of communication and they are still reliable.

Vol 10 No 41 – 10th October 1837

Letter to the Editor – I am the owner of the ferries Sylph, St George and Union. I established ferry boat services in China in 1826. My boats are not involved in smuggling. Everyone knows which two boats are used for smuggling, even How Qua knows, and they are not mine. My boats go up and down to Canton. They do not stop at Whampoa.

Sgd Robert Edwards, 3rd October

Editor – the original advertisement of ferry services in 1836 just said application was to be made to 1 British Hong for passages. It did not identify the owners of the other ferries Rose, Bombay or Jane as different. We will take Mr Edwards at his word.

But Edwards did not originate ferry services. The first passage boat, the Sylph, was built by Alexander Robertson in 1824 for the use of himself and his friends, notwithstanding opposition from the Canton government.

Vol 10 No 41 – 10th October 1837

Died at Canton 3rd October – Frederick Perceval Alleyn, formerly surgeon of the company ship General Kyd. During the suspension of the company’s trade in 1829, Alleyn was the only company man to remain at Canton to provide for the medical needs of the largely American community. His remains have been sent to Macau and will be interred in the Protestant Cemetery.

Vol 10 No 42 – 17th October 1837

James Gathorne Remington, Mansfield Forbes and Matthew de Vitre, partners in the great Bombay Agency Remington & Co, have presented a huge silver salver to Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (known as JJ) as a testimonial of their friendship.

It is about 2½ feet in diameter and abundantly decorated. The form of the peacock appears often. Sir Charles Forbes procured permission from the Herald’s office in London for the use of this animal by JJ as his family crest.

Within the salver is a silver decoration containing inter alia a vase suitable for the service of over 3 gallons of wine which is delivered to the imbibers’ cups by three separate tapped stems. It is overall a rare specimen of art that will well accord with the other contents of JJ’s splendid mansion.

Vol 10 No 42 – 17th October 1837

Arrivals – Alexander Matheson per Red Rover from Calcutta and D Dyce Sombre per George IV from Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.15

Vol 10 No 43 – 24th October 1837

Palmerston presented a Bill to parliament in June 1837 for the establishment of Courts of Justice in China. The Court will have criminal and admiralty jurisdiction in the trial of British subjects. In Morrison’s Commercial Guide it is said this measure has been criticised as unjustifiable Imperialism and intolerable to Chinese sovereignty. The Guide says in fact the Chinese took no exception to the proposed judicial powers of Napier.16 In recent years they have simply demanded in every homicide that the murderer’s countrymen identify the culprit and hand him over to China for justice. However we know in the Chinese system from previous experience that men surrendered in this way are executed with little formality under the ‘life for a life’ principle that guides Chinese jurisprudence.

There is precedent for the expectation that they will agree to our own jurisdiction in such cases. For example, concerning an American homicide in 1821, the Viceroy said ‘as the officers of government do not understand the language of the foreigners, it has always heretofore been the practice to order the chiefs of the respective countries to find out the murderer, question him fully and ascertain distinctly the facts before delivering him up to government, after which a Linguist is summoned, the evidence translated and written down and the prosecution case presented.’

In Turkey we have a similar situation. According to McFarlane’s Constantinople ‘no such thing as an execution of a Frank (farang, ferengi = westerner) under Turkish law has occurred in the Levant, where offenders are given over to their Consuls who, if the offence be light, take their punishment into their own hands or, if serious, send them home to be tried under the laws of their own country’.

According to Ljungstedt’s Macau, ‘by an order of the Prince Regent of Portugal in 1803, no homicide shall be given up to the Chinese; the cases shall be tried by the civil authority of Macau; if the criminal be found guilty by the laws of Portugal, he shall suffer death at the hands of a Christian executioner. This command was first followed in 1805.’

Editor – It was most recently followed in 1826 when a slave was suspected of killing a Chinese youth. He was tried by the Portuguese judge, convicted, condemned and executed in the Campo by the Portuguese executioner in the presence of Chinese officials. We think the Chinese will see the attractions of shifting this emotive issue from their own shoulders to a British court for it lessens the chances of a confrontation between the countries. One serious consideration is to have a professional judge to represent British justice and not be placed in the equivocal position of having other duties to perform.

Terms of the Bill:

It is expedient to preserve good order amongst British subjects trading in China and to promote amicable relations with that country by preventing interruptions to our trade that may result from disputes. To this end a British court will be established in China by the Queen-in-Council to try all offences committed by Britons in China and decide civil cases relating to commerce with a right of appeal to the Supreme Court of India and ultimately to the Privy Council.

Her Majesty-in-Council shall appoint a judge and establish procedures for criminal and civil cases and establish rules for the conduct of Britons in China and shall specify penalties. The judge may send any convict out of the Court’s jurisdiction. Cases involving other non-Chinese trading to China may also be heard on application. These duties will not form part of the duty of the Superintendents of British Trade but will be managed by a Consul or vice Consul. However, the provisions of the law regulating the acts of the Superintendents will extend to the Consul(s). The limitation on commencing proceedings is six months from the date of offence or six months from the date the suspect comes within the jurisdiction of the court.

Vol 10 No 43 – 24th October 1837


The Cornwallis will receive freight at Lintin and sail mid-November for Singapore & Bombay.

The Balcarras will leave Whampoa for Lintin and Manila on 1st November.

For freight – apply to Jardine Matheson & Co, Canton, 23rd October.

Vol 10 No 43 – 24th October 1837

Advert – The Ardaseer will sail from Lintin for Singapore and Bombay soon. For freight apply to H & N Cursetjee, Canton, 5th September.

Vol 10 No 43 – 24th October 1837

The Provincial Treasurer and Judge have submitted their report on the insolvency of Hing Tai Hong:

The committee of three foreigners and three Hong merchants have examined the Hong’s books and found the original claim of Keating for $20,000+ is irregular and should be struck out.

The claim of Nasservanjee for $38,000 plus $33,800 interest is unsupported as that merchant says he maintains no books of account! Settlement of the books must await the return of Yen Kei Tseang. Inspection has reduced the documented claims to $2,797,415 of which $477,329 represents excessive interest and is disallowed. The adjusted debt was thus revealed to be $2,320,080.

Hing Tai Hong gave goods on consignment to foreigners worth $1,039,558 of which only $685,736 has been settled and the foreigners say Hing Tai Hong’s price for these goods was very high compared to other traders. When these goods have been sold, any necessary adjustment will be made.

According to the law, the Chinese and foreign traders are supposed to barter goods and any balance on account was carried forward to the following year. It is also law that none may incur heavy debts. Now Hing Tai Hong has only been a Hong merchant for 7 years but has amassed debts of over $2 millions. Clearly he traded unprofessionally expecting the other Hongs to supply the deficiency. This crime deserves banishment.

Not only that, but Yen Kei Tseang has disappeared. There is no record of a Hong merchant not paying his debts but this case is different as the foreigners traded year after year without settling accounts annually as legally required thus letting the amount become enormous. There is now a difficulty in repayment as the foreign trade has become less profitable in recent years and the remaining Hong merchants will have difficulty in preserving their businesses as well as settling this huge demand. They are all family men with responsibilities who have traded sensibly.

On the other hand we have compassion for foreigners and wish to put an end to the debts and establish new clear regulations to prevent them again arising so the foreign trade may again flourish.

The continuing Hong merchants are ordered to apportion the debts of $2,320,086 between the Yen brothers and consult on how repayment will be made. They will identify any debts they themselves have with foreigners and settle them by instalments. And they will clearly impress on the foreigners that Hong merchants are forbidden to incur debts. They will also examine the extent of duties unpaid and how they are to be paid. They must act honestly, then Chinese and foreign traders will receive equal advantages; deficiencies will be avoided and private property will remain secure. The Hong merchants must consult to bring this situation about and report to us so we may form appropriate regulations for the future conduct of trade.17

Vol 10 No 43 – 24th October 1837

Letter to the Editor – I had a man tied-up on my ship as corporal punishment. Several of the crew rescued him believing I had no right to administer corporal punishment unless it was expressly allowed in their Articles. The crew said I could confine them or limit their diet to bread & water or any other thing except corporal punishment.

It is an old truism that those who dictate the extent of their obedience are not the governed.

I determined to appeal to Capt Elliot as the British authority at Canton and request him to instruct the men on the extent of my powers as Master. He came on board and obliged. He even went so far as to delegate to me his own powers (as successor to Napier) in respect of British seamen. His intentions were wholly beneficial and he knew me as the senior commander present of the old East India Company fleet.

When the men continued to resist at sea I deprived them of food. They requested discharge and I refused. For nearly 48 hours the crew went without food. I think they really believed they had resisted an illegal order and were patiently submitting until an opportunity for redress arose. I assembled the crew and put this to them and they admitted it. I told them the coercion I was applying would be kept in force until I had their complete co-operation. If any one of them damaged the ship I said I would shoot him.

On return to Lintin the five men were taken away by Captain Elliot. They had hitherto been good men and on Capt Elliot’s suggestion of their penitence they were allowed one by one on board to express their contrition before the rest of the crew. They were then taken back on crew and have since been satisfactory seamen.

It is being rumoured about that I mistreated my crew and that Elliot exceeded his powers. Every ship commander will recognise that Capt Elliot’s intervention represents a positive advantage to Masters whilst at Whampoa.

Sgd Robert Scott, Commander Abercrombie Robinson, at Lintin

Vol 10 No 44 – 31st October 1837

Arrivals – James Matheson arrived from Liverpool per John O’Gaunt

Vol 10 No 44 – 31st October 1837

Notice – Kin Qua the Hong merchant died 21st October aged 77 years.

Vol 10 No 44 – 31st October 1837

The General Chamber has published a statement of American trade at Canton 1st July 1836 – 30th June 1837.

This suggests imports totalling $3,678,696, including $460,000 silver, were sold and Chinese exports of $8,025,869 were bought.

The trade was conducted by 11 general cargo ships going up to Whampoa, 63 rice ships at Whampoa and 22 other ships at Lintin.

Vol 10 No 45 – 7th November 1837

Letter to the Editor – The decline of discipline amongst English sailors at this port over the last ten years has become unacceptable. These days lawless crews follow one daring excess by another still greater crime. They accept no authority. When one is disciplined, the others revolt. They put their own legal constructions on every clause of our Maritime Law and dispute with their officers.

Commerce is the source of England’s rise to power. It must be cared for and managed in a coherent way. Life on a ship is unnatural and must be properly structured.

Dealing with the perils of the sea and with the stress of living in a small community is achieved by strict order. There is no room for trite quibbles about legislative intent. The reform movement is working to mitigate the severity of lawful punishments on seamen and this has stimulated the crews to rebellion. Sir James Graham’s Bill is manifestly in favour of the seamen over their employers and prescribes instant justice on owners and masters while any penalties of seamen are prospective (at voyage’s end) and uncertain.

The seamen themselves recognise the need for discipline – the mutiny at the Nore was only maintained by the leaders flogging dissenters. Recent precedents confirm the efficacy and legality of corporal punishment. A ship is not a democracy. The state of our merchant marine is derogatory of the British character and the principles of integrity and security must be reasserted. Sgd Capt Christopher Biden, Canton, 3rd November 183718

Vol 10 No 45 – 7th November 1837

Letter to the Editor – M/s MacLean and Layton were travelling from Macau to Canton in a ferry boat when they were stopped by officials in a patrol boat and their ferry searched revealing a cargo of opium. They were escorted back to Macau and Elliot had to undertake to produce them before they could be released.

Our only way of travelling between Canton and Macau is by chop boats. We have to give prior notice of departure and allow our personal effects to be scrutinised on embarking and disembarking. Searching may also occur at two stations in the river. We must protest this additional unexpected searching by patrol boats. How can we distinguish between an official boat and a piratical boat? MacLean and Layton might reasonably have resisted the patrol boat officers but, had any one of them been killed, our colleagues could have been judicially strangled.

The fact that opium was discovered is irrelevant. Ferryboat operators habitually take every kind of cargo without the knowledge of the passengers. Had the officials at the designated search places done their job properly it would have been discovered earlier. If you say that no inconvenience beyond a brief detention has occurred, I say how can we be expected to submit to unexpected searches? Only the expected searches are legal searches. We should resist all others and protect our nationals when they are endangered by such resistance. The Chinese government should be informed of our determination in all such cases. Sgd “J”

Editor – this is not just a right of resistance, it is a duty.

Vol 10 No 45 – 7th November 1837

Editorial – It is widely rumoured recently that some British merchants are proposing to commence a trade in tea. The Hong merchants themselves are reluctant to commence business with the tea merchants yet. What insanity is compelling these foreign merchants to step-in? Have we not learned over the last two years that delay in trading at Canton carries no danger?

Many foreign tea buyers are concerned for the interests of their constituents. It would be rash to ignore past experience and jeopardise the trade for some small advantage. We cannot have small groups pursuing their self-interest at the expense of the rest. We must act in unison to resist the combinations of Chinese traders, who have the support of the law and the encouragement of local officials.

The General Chamber may not be empowered to direct trade but it can publish recommendations to deter speculators. A delay in commencing buying of 6-8 weeks will bring prices down to a reasonable level. We had 60 million pounds of tea in stock at 1st January this year. We shipped 38 millions last year. The estimated annual consumption is 40 millions. Our existing stocks are quite adequate to allow for a delay in opening the market this year.

Vol 10 No 45 – 7th November 1837

The General Chamber’s annual report:

  • In response to popular requests, the Chamber committee has bought the old India Company clock for $1,000. The clock tower is dilapidated and the British Trade Commission requires its space for their own purposes. The clock will be erected elsewhere at an additional cost of $1,000 approx. Its new location is less visible but is the best available.
  • We have negotiated with the Hong merchants over the state of the area in front of the foreign factories. The Hongs say they employ cleaners daily and two boats are retained to remove dirt. If foreigners see any neglect they should report it.
  • The Hongs were also asked to remove the loiterers. They made an attempt but the strollers resisted forcefully and the Hongs say they must concede that there is no monopoly of use on the area by foreigners.
  • Arrangements for the new Post Office are still continuing. Capt Elliot has agreed to restore the regular ferry boat service on which the distribution of mail depends.
  • The committee has corresponded with its contemporaries in Singapore, Bombay and Calcutta. Bombay has enquired about losses sustained by its members engaged in Malwa sales. They suppose Chinese appreciation of the Drug differs from the opinion of the inspectors at Bombay. We have prepared samples of the popular type and sent them to Bombay for their information.
  • We have previously published our recommendations for 1/ lay-over times of shipping at Lintin and 2/ for procedure to be followed at Whampoa to avoid delay in obtained Port Clearance.
  • The committee was asked whether commanders of foreign ships at Whampoa had a duty to detain crewmen suspected of murdering Chinese. The committee reiterates its opinion that the enforcement of Chinese law is a matter for the Chinese. No commander should detain any seamen without undeniable proof of his culpability.

The Chamber has provided mediation etc., to settle the following disputes:

  1. Facts: A Delivery Order for opium was given to a Chinese in the usual course of business. He sold the Order to another who actually took delivery from the receiving ship. Some months later, when the sheepskin cover was untied and the chest opened, a deficiency of six balls was discovered.19

Opinion: the final buyer gave a clean receipt for delivery. No action is maintainable against the original holder of the Order.

  1. Facts: The committee was asked if the foreign issuer of an opium Delivery Order was liable only to the broker he directly sold to or also liable to subsequent purchasers of the order.

Opinion: The issuer is liable to the holder whoever he might be.

  1. Facts: The Chinese holder of an opium Delivery Order sold his title and six weeks later the buyer came to the receiving ship for delivery. Partial delivery per order was given that day and the remainder was provided from another shipment of similar quality. The committee was asked can the holder be compelled to take the similar opium or is he entitled to compensation?

Opinion: The delay precluded the holder from insisting on the contracted supply.

  1. Facts: When a consignee sends produce to his Canton agent for sale with the return to be made part in produce and part in Bills of Exchange, is the consignee allowed interest on the cash part of his return from date of sale of his original goods?

Opinion: It is not the Law Merchant at Canton to allow interest on balances unless specifically agreed. A minority opinion of the Board fixed the period on which interest is calculated at 365 days a year, not 300 days (i.e. including Sundays and Public Holidays).

The matter of compensation for shortage and damage to tea shipments was also considered. H H Lindsay, who formerly served the India Company, said the company used three methods to adjust claims:

  1. One, in respect of fraud (for example where the chest was found to not contain tea), the Chinese seller provided two chests for every worthless chest. This accords with historical American practice.
  2. The Americans now assess the actual loss by calculating the sale value of the missing tea at destination. To this they add interest at 1% p m or calculate the exchange at the place of settlement at the current rate of Bills drawn on Canton. The committee recommend adoption of the new American practice for assessment of principal and the Canton Bills rate for interest.
  3. In cases of claims for insolvency the committee recommend that publicity be used to expose the debtor for the protection of the community and, when appropriate, creditors should pursue their legal options in those jurisdictions that can provide a valuable remedy.

Vol 10 No 45 – 7th November 1837

Editorial – Pekoe is the Fukienese pronunciation of the Mandarin Pih Hau, ‘white down’. It refers to the very fine velvety covering found only on the early leaves when they first sprout in Spring before the rains.

It applies to tendrils obtained from the first harvest. The best kind is called Keun Mei and can be very expensive.

Vol 10 No 46 – 14th November 1837


  • Cornwallis is receiving cargo at Lintin and will sail in mid-November. The Earl of Clare will receive cargo at Whampoa for trans-shipment to the Cornwallis. Sgd Jardine Matheson, Canton, 8th November.
  • Eglinton Maclean & Co are appointed Lloyd’s Agents for Canton, 10th November 1837.
  • For sale or lease. The 2-storey house at St Antonio Street, Macau lately occupied by J W H Ilberry. Built four years ago. Owned by Major d’Almada. Viewing by application at the premises. Terms from Wm Bramston, Canton, 13th November.

Vol 10 No 46 – 14th November 1837

Editorial – We published the report of the General Chamber last week. An extraordinary omission was the absence of comment on the India Company’s Bills Agency which was one of the first matters to be referred to the committee for an opinion.

We suggest the activities of this Agency be advised to the Emperor, to the Hong merchants in Chinese and to the Chinese public generally through Gutzlaff’s Chinese Magazine.

Vol 10 No 46 – 14th November 1837

Edict of Hoppo Wan:

The Emperor has been told that society in Kwangtung province is decaying due to six things.

  • First, the Sarm Hup Wui (triad society), a hierarchical association of extortionists;
  • second, the grain tax is collected by the magistrates not in grain but in silver;
  • third, the system during shortages of providing food from public granaries;
  • fourth, the revenue cruisers do not prevent smuggling but protect it;
  • fifth, the salt monopoly is poorly administered and
  • sixth, the Customs duties are evaded by Jardine and other traitors who should be expelled with their store-ships.

The Emperor commands we investigate all these allegations, correct the errors and re-establish tranquillity. Regarding the sixth allegation, I will examine all my staff to see if any has sold his official pass to Chinese traitors to attend Jardine, Dent, Turner or Matheson in the factories to arrange smuggling business.

The Hong merchants have already been ordered to expel Jardine et al but they delay and still the date of the foreigners’ departure remains uncertain. They imagine this Imperial order is a trifling affair. It is apparent they are conniving at some secret business. This order originated with the Emperor and must be complied with. No delay is excusable.

Vol 10 No 47 – 21st November 1837

The office of the Canton Register is removed to 2 Creek Hong. The former office, in the upper part of 5 Danish Hong, comprising an entrance hall and six rooms, is to let. Contact John Slade, the Editor.

Vol 10 No 47 – 21st November 1837

The chaplain on the establishment of the British Commission arrived last week. He is George Henry Vachell. He will conduct services every Sunday afternoon at the Superintendents’ Hall.

Vol 10 No 48 – 28th November 1837

Advert – The Company’s treasury has reopened for advances on Bills of Exchange secured only on tea and Nanking raw silk for England, subject to our usual terms and conditions for advances in China. Exchange rate is 4/7d per Spanish Dollar. Payments will be received in cash only. Dated 25th November

Vol 10 No 48 – 28th November 1837

Notice – Any claims on the estate of the late Captain McKay of the brig Fairy should be sent in to Jardine Matheson & Co for adjustment.

Vol 10 No 48 – 28th November 1837

Andrew Jardine arrived per Eliza Stewart, which departed London 26th June. On arrival Lintin, Passenger Storm drowned while disembarking the ship.

Marquis Camden (Gribble) arrived from Madras.

Vol 10 No 48 – 28th November 1837

Editorial – the threat of the Viceroy to stop our trade has been partly withdrawn and is now presumed to be of the same meaningless character as the other threatening Edicts of the last 15-16 months. To give effect to it in Kwangtung and Fukien, even for one season, will irritate that part of the population that relies on the foreign trade and tend to enhance the risks of rebellion. It is accordingly inconsistent with the fundamental policies of the Emperor. It also risks failure with concomitant effects on the respect and authority that the people give to officials.

There have been constant insurrections in China this few years. This state of things cannot endure for many more seasons. Its just a matter of who blinks first. English ministers will be concerned to preserve a valuable and profitable trade and avoid the social and political consequences of losing it. The East India and China Association in London has proposed another Embassy and ministers are considering it. The Association says the Ambassador should be permitted to use his discretion about performing the kow-tow which Staunton, Morrison, Davis and most recently the Chinese Repository have clearly established is an act of fealty and worship.

These Association members are some of the leading merchants of England. We should not be surprised if they recommend Queen Victoria be admitted to an Imperial harem as well – if her ambassador is to submit, she should also. This is not what the free trade wants. England should not be tributary to China.

Vol 10 No 48 – 28th November 1837

At the recent AGM of the General Chamber it was proposed by MacLean, seconded by James Matheson, that the Chamber support the East India & China Association’s letter to Palmerston requesting the end of the Company’s Bills business at Canton.

Secondly, Matheson proposed, seconded by Dent, that the effects on our commerce of an English ambassador performing the kow-tow at Peking be evaluated.

Vol 10 No 49 – 5th December 1837


  • Maneckjee Rustomjee is admitted a partner in our firm today. Sgd Rustomjee Cowasjee, Calcutta, 2nd October 1837
  • All parties having claims on the Estate of Dr Alexander Pearson, late surgeon of the Company’s factory in China, should submit them to Wm Jardine and James Matheson, joint executors. 5th December 1837.20

Vol 10 No 49 – 5th December 1837

Public letter to British subjects at Canton:

I was instructed by H M Government to propose to the Viceroy a means of communication with him. He declines to accede to my proposals. All direct communication has been forbidden.

I wish to reassure you all of my sincere wish to assist and counsel you. I commend you to solicit from the provincial government a definite explanation of intentions concerning Hing Tai Hong’s debts. I should like to attach to my report to London (on the lack of communication), a statement from yourselves regarding progress in settling your claims.

Sgd Charles Elliot, 29th November 1837

Editor – On Saturday 2nd December Elliot left Canton for Macau. The reason for his departure is shown in the public letter above. He was farewelled by most British and many American residents. The Viceroy’s discontinuance of direct communication permits Elliot to ignore the Lintin complaint. International law should provide us with strong grounds for remonstrance against this act of the Viceroy.

Vol 10 No 49 – 5th December 1837

The General Chamber has considered various enquiries by members concerning their responsibility for the quality of goods they ship as Agents.

It opines the Agent is obligated to use due diligence and professionalism in his work for his Principal. It considers that the proper forum to adjust any claims should be in China.

Vol 10 No 49 – 5th December 1837

On 30th November Jardine et al memorialised the Viceroy on Hing Tai Hong’s debts:

‘We rejected the Hong merchants’ proposal for settlement over 15 years. Now we are concerned at your threat to stop British trade and expel our national representative. Please grant us justice in the settlement of our claims.’

Viceroy Tang replies:

“I have ordered that Yen Kei Tseang be produced to answer your claims. Even if the Yen brothers are found, they may not be capable of restitution, which will then fall on the other Hongs. The Hong merchants can only pay what they can pay. Nevertheless I have asked the Hongs for their best offer and told them I desire payment of your claims be guaranteed by them but they should not be destroyed with onerous requirements.

“Many of you foreigners are depraved and ignore our laws to achieve your own ends. Yet as soon as you get into difficulties you apply to our law for help.

“We have repeatedly asked you to remove your opium fleet and have been repeatedly ignored. If your Commissioner does not soon effect its removal, I shall apply to Peking to stop your trade. The resolution of your problems somewhat depends on your own conduct.

“I do not connect the Hing Tai debts with the Lintin fleet, but I will maintain the dignity of my government. I will deal with you fairly and your debts will be settled to the last penny. The Hong merchants are ordered to review their proposals and identify what improvements they can offer.” 1st December 1837

Editor – this is an unsatisfactory response. The Viceroy intends that the Canton system is not impeded by the settlement of our claims. He brings in the Lintin system and then says the two things are unrelated. We suspect he is saying ‘you get rid of the smuggling base and I’ll settle your debts’. This double-dealing is deplorable.

Vol 10 No 49 – 5th December 1837

John F Davis, formerly Chief Superintendent of British Trade, has been elected to the council of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Vol 10 No 50 – 12th December 1837

Dutch imports to and exports from China for the calendar year 1836:

Imports – Rice 102,392 piculs; rattan 7,481 piculs; sandalwood 2,736 piculs; pepper 2,100 piculs; cotton 699 bales; opium 10 chests.

Exports – tea 14,000 chests; umbrella 28,000 pcs; bags 180,000 pcs; floor tiles 14,000 pcs; opium 72 chests;

Vol 10 No 50 – 12th December 1837

A pamphlet Trade with China by G Tradescant Lay has been lent us by the author. He was formerly the naturalist in Captain Beechey’s expedition and now represents the British and Foreign Bible Society in East Asia.

Mr Lay’s concern is to promote the Bonin Islands as our colony for East Asian trade. The islands provide easy access to Japan, Loo Choo, Taiwan and China. The problem is that the only product we have that finds a ready market is opium and he believes its sale excludes other commodities by diverting all available capital to its purchase.

Vol 10 No 50 – 12th December 1837

Editorial on the India Company Bills Agency in China. We will summarise all the advertisements placed by the company for sale of Bills over the last four years to illustrate the baneful effect of this unnecessary extension of local credit:

Advertisement Comment
14th October 1834 – The Court intends to make advances of cash on cargoes shipped to England. Some traders have applied for these facilities. If they now make application we will let them know the terms. This advertisement was concurrent with Napier’s funeral. Which professional merchant would apply for funds before knowing the rate of exchange, etc.? The real purpose was to transfer the company’s cash to Daniell & Co to disburse. An application was made and three days later the following advertisement was placed ….
18th October 1834 – The Company’s Agents will make limited advances on ‘first come, first served’ basis at 4/7d per dollar This allocation of funds was taken up in its entirety by the Company’s senior agent, J N Daniell of Daniell & Co
1835 season – 30-day sight Bills on Calcutta available at 208 Sicca Rupees (SRs) per $100 Spanish.

In May 1835 the rate became 206 SRs and in August 210 SRs.

In September they offered 2/3rds finance (¼ cash, ¾ Bills on Calcutta) at 4/8d per dollar on tea or raw silk to England.

The terms required shipment of tea / raw silk before 31st December which is in the middle of the season when teas are still arriving at Canton. The company itself had often bought tea in the new year – why was the free trade restricted?

The ‘first come, first served’ principle was maintained causing some applicants to apply for more than they needed, whilst others, supposing they were too late, omitted to apply at all.

24th December 1835 – the availability of advances for trade finance and Bills for silver is extended to 31st March The take-up of funds had been inadequate and the time limit was extended to sell more Bills and loans.
15th March 1836 – the time limit for trade finance is further extended to 30th April. The time limit for buying Bills was not extended The non-availability of Bills caused the exchange rate per $100 Spanish to fall from 210 Sicca Rupees to 206 Rupees
19th April 1836 – the treasury will be reopened for sale of 30-day Sight Bills at 220 SRs per $100 Spanish secured on up to 2/3rds of the value of tea or raw silk exports at 4/8d per $1. Up to 50% value will be advanced in cash, the balance in Bills This received a flood of applications
28th May 1836 – open for 30-day sight Bills on Calcutta at 218 Current Rupees per $100 Spanish. Trade finance for tea and raw silk exports continues at 4/8d per $1 on up to 2/3rds of consignment value.
29th August 1836 – trade finance to 2/3rds of value at 4/7½d per $1 for goods shipped before 31st December 1836. 40% will be paid in cash; balance in Bills on India at 220 Current Rupees per $100 This was concurrent with the black tea men’s cartel raising the prices of tea. The time limit of 31st December forced the free traders into deals at inflated prices.
26th September 1836 – Treasury closed for both receipt of cash and sale of Bills
7th October 1836 – Treasury open for sale of Bills at 218 Current Rupees per $100
25th October 1836 – Treasury Bills rate improved to 220 Current Rupees per $100
31st December 1836 – Treasury closed. The Agents had expended all the cash they held and could no longer finance trade. They then offered Bills to obtain cash first at 224 Current Rupees and later at 230 Current Rupees thus devaluing their previous Bills (at 220 Current Rupees) by over 4%.
12th June 1837 – Treasury open for sale of Bills at 218 Current Rupees per $100
2nd August 1837 – Bills for sale at 216 Current Rupees per $100
6th October 1837 – treasury closed.
25th November 1837 – Finance available for Bills secured on tea or raw silk at 4/7d per $1. All payments in cash. Tea cargoes must be certified by Layton or Reeves. Only Layton is employed by the Company’s Agent. Reeves was by this time already a partner of Dent & Co. He had a duty to Dent’s constituents to make a profit. This is a gross case of jobbing. Thomas Weeding (a Company shareholder) has protested to the Court and we hope he will be upheld.

The Company’s agents, who can hardly be distinguished from the Superintendents, are ruling over the free trade and damaging its interests.

Vol 10 No 51 – 19th December 1837

Editorial – Supporters of the Company’s monopoly say it provided certainty in the supply of good quality teas to England. The free trade shipments, many of which comprise inferior goods, have shocked the home market but the economists plausibly assert that demand will regulate both the quality and quantity of supply. We believe this is true.

How then is the inferior free trade tea to be explained? There are 5-6 tea inspectors at Canton amongst whom are the Company’s two former tasters. The Company used to reject inferior tea and never bought it, even at reduced prices. It appears this is no longer the case. We have received a letter on the subject:

Letter to the Editor – I estimate the English tea stock at 1st April 1837 at 50 million pounds. I estimate consumption at about 40 million pounds and imports during this year to approximate 35 million pounds.

At 1st April 1838 there will still be over a year’s supply on hand. Prices increase if no tea is imported but a reduced import of 10 million pounds will prevent this, while an import of 15-20 millions will push prices lower.

I believe the price of tea under the free-trade system has not yet been established. The tea duty has been changed from ad valorem to fixed rate and this should stimulate the import of higher quality teas, but if the quantities imported continue high, prices of the most popular types will have to fall.

Silk sales are more natural because silk is not so heavily taxed. A decrease in price will soon cause an increase in consumption and it is in any event a luxury commodity. The poorer people would routinely chose to wear cotton or wool. With tea there is no alternative.

There is no market for coffee in England to displace tea.

Vol 10 No 51 – 19th December 1837

Local news – on 12th December 40 Englishmen attended at the Water Gate of the City to deliver a protest to the Viceroy against the seizure about two years ago of goods being trans-shipped between vessels at Lintin. The officials refused to accept the petition direct but only from a Hong merchant.

The leader of the foreigners, James Innes, refused to do so but agreed to withdraw the protest if the Viceroy personally confirmed that petitions could only be submitted through the Hongs. The Viceroy’s confirmation was not available and the forty then took a vote and agreed unanimously not to petition through the Hongs.

After two hours the foreigners withdrew.

The following day Innes was informed of an Edict of the Viceroy reiterating the ancient law on petitions (that they be submitted through the Hongs) and noting that foreigners had in recent years become presumptuous and sought by every means to change the law:

“The foreigners are treated fairly and should be grateful. The laws of China are not fixed by foreigners, Is the foreigners’ business impeded by compliance with the law?

“They are reminded yet again to follow the law – they should seal their addresses, date them, and deliver them to the senior Hong merchants for submission. The senior Hongs are also reminded that they must deliver all foreign addresses timely. None of my staff will receive addresses direct.

“You should obey the law and not create trouble for yourselves by disobedience. Foreigners should also recall they are strictly prohibited from entering the city walls. There is a law against it which I will enforce with whatever punishments are necessary to obtain compliance. You may not be disorderly and do as you please. You have been warned.”

Sgd Tang, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, 13th December.

Vol 10 No 51 – 19th December 1837

Protest of the Hing Tai Hong creditors, 2nd December. Jardine and others complain to the Viceroy that they fear payment of their debts is being linked to Elliot’s performance of the Viceregal order to expel the opium ships:

“The Viceroy said we would be paid ‘to the last penny’ but the Hongs said we will be paid without interest over 15 years. In a bankruptcy, the sureties take over the liabilities of the bankrupt. The sureties in the Canton system are the continuing Hongs. They levy a tax on the foreign trade expressly to settle the costs of discharging bankrupts. No claim has been made on this fund for three years – it must now be a large sum.21 The officials also levy arbitrary heavy charges on the foreign trade. How can it continue like this?

“We are legally restricted to a few Hongs for business. You should compel them to perform their engagements but we note the senior Hongs no longer secure ships nor purchase cargoes.”

The Viceroy replied, 17th December 1837:

“On reading this, I believe the foreigners assume the Hong merchants generally are their debtors. If Hong merchants decline to accept responsibility for others’ debts, to whom will they turn? The Consoo Fund they refer to is either money belonging to the Hongs as a body or is money levied for some public service. I have not heard of a Consoo Fund before but I will ask the Treasurer to advise me.

“They say fifteen years is too long for repayment. I have asked the Hongs to reconsider their offer. I have previously expressly said that Hing Tai Hong and Elliot’s disobedience are separate matters. Now the foreigners again ask the same question. They should desist from submitting confused memorials.”

Vol 10 No 51 – 19th December 1837

Editorial – G T Lay is promoting the Bonin Islands as our future emporium in the China Sea. Others prefer Taiwan, which is currently in anarchy.

Long-term Chinese settlers on Taiwan say there are three separate native groups. At the north of the island there are constant battles between Chinese and Aboriginals. Chinese officials pay $20-$30 for each native head surrendered while the natives award a young and fertile girl to the man bringing in a Chinese head.

The Fukienese conduct a dangerous trade in which the natives supply hides, nuts and camphor and the Chinese barter cloth, gunpowder, spirits and string. The Chinese are attempting to assert their hegemony over the natives by conquest.

It would be right for England, rather than let the island fall under Chinese mismanagement, to occupy Taiwan herself and provide a similar administration to the Dutch in Java or the Spanish in Luzon.

Until this can be achieved we could make-do with the Bonin Islands.

Vol 10 No 52 – 26th December 1837

The over-supply of tea to England, encouraged by the Company’s cash advances in China, has finally moderated. 8 ships have left, 14 are here loading, and six ships which have never loaded tea are likely to do so. We calculate that only 24 million pounds will be shipped this season.

Vol 10 No 52 – 26th December 1837

General Chamber resolution concerning tea and silk trade, 22nd December 1837:

Firstly, It has become fixed through the long practice of the Company that only Hong merchants are permitted to own boats to load and offload foreign ships; only Hong merchants are permitted to own warehouses for the storage of our imports and exports, and only Hong merchants are permitted to employ all the Chinese people involved in the foreign trade. It follows it is the Hong merchant who has possession of our goods from the moment of discharge from our ships. These goods usually spend a night on the river in the care of boatmen before they are delivered to the Hong merchant’s warehouse. It is the same with our purchases. This period of unsupervised exposure facilitates fraud.

Secondly, the value of tea depends on the time of year it is bought, the economic conditions in our markets and the capricious taste of consumers. The most skilful foreign judges cannot agree on its value. It is the same with silk. The quality of raw silk varies depending on where it is made and the packaging used. It is seldom uniform.

Now some English importers have refused to accept consignments of tea and raw silk that they ordered and they have declared the risk lies on the Agents at Canton for shipping goods of inferior quality to those ordered.

The General Chamber has passed the following resolution:

Provided the Agent in China has exercised due diligence and attention in his selection of goods, the response of the British importers is unjust and unreasonable, and in future it will be a term of business for tea and raw silk sales from Canton that the Agent will not be responsible for any alleged discrepancy in quality unless it is also proved that he failed to exercise due care, etc.

Sgd Jardine Matheson & Co, Dent & Co, Turner & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, D & M Rustomjee & Co, Lindsay & Co, Russell & Co, Russell Sturgis & Co, Wetmore & Co, Gordon & Talbot, S van Basel Toelaer & Co, Dirom & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, Bell & Co, J & W Cragg & Co, Eglintin Maclean & Co, H & N Cursetjee & Co, Bibby Adams & Co, Jamieson & How, Daniell & Co, Robert Wise Holliday & Co, Ilberry & Co, James Innes, Wm Macdonald, G G Nicoll, John Slade, W Haylett, J M Bull, A H Crawford and W Henderson.

Vol 11 No 17 – 24th April 1838

The Englishman, Calcutta, 13th February – The Canton General Chamber says its members will not be responsible to buyers for inferior quality of goods received from China. They made this resolution after filling orders from England that were rejected on delivery.

This type of dispute is settled in Court, not by vote of the Chamber.

If the China traders received money with orders they may succeed in their claims, but if they simply received and executed orders on trust, they will be held to the letter of their instructions and no resolution of the Chamber can save them. They should explain the Canton trade system to their buyers.

They are victims of the falling market in England. Whenever times are hard, buyers will seek for ways to renege on their engagements.

Vol 10 No 52 – 26th December 1837

Letters to the Editor:

  • I am astonished by the apathy of the creditors of Hing Tai Hong. H M Commissioner invited them to meet to consider Hing Tai’s affairs and to consider the affairs of the other Hongs and he agreed to forward their conclusions to the Viceroy. They have not met, they have not prepared a memorial.
    It may have done no good but it could not have done any harm. It would have indicated they are doing everything possible to recover their money. We should co-operate on these problems. Almost any one of the Hongs could become bankrupt tomorrow. We should guard against the evident procrastination of government.
    There is another matter being played out apathetically – Elliot’s withdrawal from Canton. His support can be judged from the huge number of merchants who saw him off. But he intended the whole commission should withdraw, not just himself.
    His deputy Johnstone is still at Canton with all the ‘small fry’. The insignia of office – the large black board with gilt letters – remains on the factory door. It seems equivocal. The Chinese will think the striking of the flag and departure of Elliot are part of some charade.
    British interests are being inconsistently managed in China. Sgd Zosteria
  • It is rumoured the reintroduction of opium wholesaling at Whampoa is the cause of the Hing Tai creditors being so moderate in their attempts to recover the Hing Tai debts. It is certain their attempt at the City gate produced nothing more than dissatisfaction. The law is that the Co-Hong discharge the debts of insolvent members but 15 years is too long. Many creditors and both senior Hong merchants will likely die before repayment is concluded. The remaining Hongs were said in the Consoo House today to be insolvent already. The creditors should be focusing on the Co-Hong and pressing their case. How Qua is bound to pay. In effect he and the others have become the debtors. Sgd No Creditor, 22nd December

Editor – The Canton Register has consistently called on the British government to protect Britons in the China-trade. The Hing Tai Hong creditors are said to be agreeable to settlement of their claims by periodic payments over 5 years. This is a surrender of British property to the chicanery of the Hongs, the Consoo Fraud and the rapacity of local officials. We are mere merchants – we cannot work out our own salvation without help. We are daily becoming weaker and more contemptible to the Chinese.

We hear some Hing Tai creditors propose petitioning the Queen. Such an appeal will be heard in the Commons. Their petition must catch the attention of the legislators and draw forth their best advocacy. Only then can the English people be galvanised into support.

Vol 11 No 1 – 2nd January 1838

Editorial – The violation of free trade by the Company’s ‘Finance Committee’ has been exacerbated by the loss of the Company’s tea taster Layton.22 Must trade be stopped until he rejoins? Free traders requiring finance for their tea purchases must now use Reeves, a partner of Dent & Co, to value their tea. Reeves says he is going home this year, taking his knowledge of the free trade’s tea business with him. We have the choice of either revealing our business secrets to Reeves or abandoning our tea trade.

Vol 11 No 1 – 2nd January 1838

On 25th December, Jardine and others petitioned about the hospital ship at Whampoa:

“It has long remained at anchor without returning home and has accordingly attracted several Viceregal edicts requiring its departure. Now the Hong merchants and linguists are continually requesting it be sent away. Elliot previously reported the facts of the case – he said the ship had been bought by the British King as a public service to the foreign community. It is unseaworthy and is used to treat our sick sailors. Its unseaworthiness is not such that it should be broken-up. As it belongs to our King we cannot do anything about it. Formerly the foreign traders were permitted to erect a bankshall on shore for treatment of sick sailors. Now there is only this ship for their treatment. If the Viceroy will permit the erection of bankshalls for hospital use we will forego the ship. If not, please instruct the Hong merchants and linguists to cease threatening its expulsion.”

Viceroy Tang’s reply, 27th December:

In the summer of 1837 Elliot asked that a hospital ship be allowed at Whampoa. Formerly the foreign doctors lived at Macau and sick sailors applied for a passport to go there for treatment. No hospital ship was permitted at Whampoa. The Hoppo has ordered the ship away and I have told the Hongs to fix a 5-day limit for her departure. Kin Qua (the security merchant for the ship) has repeatedly requested this limit be extended. If the ship’s hull has deteriorated let her be broken-up. Now the ship remains, she neither loads nor discharges cargo and breaking-up has not commenced. The foreigners simply say the ship has been bought with public money and they cannot themselves dispose of it without their own government’s instruction. The English King has hitherto been obedient. How can he now oppose our law?

This petition is nonsense. Any sick seamen will be sent to Macau for treatment. The ship should load a cargo and depart. If she is unseaworthy she should be broken-up. No permission for a hospital ship at Whampoa has been given. Obey the law. Do not be presumptuous or the Hong merchants will be punished.

Vol 11 No 1 – 2nd January 1838

Viceroy Tang, Governor Ke and Hoppo Wan have proclaimed on 27th December 1837 that foreign ships coming to Canton must completely load an export cargo before applying for Port Clearance:

“Foreigners come a long way to trade. It is unreasonable to bring a full cargo and purport to depart without one. Clearly traitorous natives are assisting these ships to load an export cargo at Lintin. Infrequently we permit a ship to depart not fully laden but this is a favour not a precedent.

“Lately the Eliza, Susan, Lord Auckland, William Huth and Syden have brought import cargoes of 500-800 tons but left with exports of 20-40 tons. The export duties paid on these ships’ cargoes were between 200 – 700 Taels each. Obviously ships coming a long distance must be worked efficiently. These paltry exports cannot be profitable. The owners are loading cargo elsewhere. The Hong merchants are employed to liaise with foreigners and report irregular transactions. They have a duty to China as well as to the foreigners. They cannot simply please the latter without satisfying the former.

“In the 1829-30 season the Hoppo’s revenue decreased 400,000 Taels compared with former years (concurrent with Baynes’ rebellion). We must take care to preserve our revenue to preclude an Imperial enquiry being made of us. The Hong merchants are instructed to report every article of export. If they allow ships to leave without full cargoes, those ships will be black-listed, and the Hong merchants will not again be permitted to apply for their Port Clearance Certificates. Thus the Customs duties will be protected and smuggling deterred. If the Hongs secretly disobey and the revenue continues to fall they will be held solely accountable. We will enforce the law. Do not say you were not warned.”

Vol 11 No 1 – 2nd January 1838

Letter from the Hongs to Jardine:

We hear opium is now being brought to Whampoa for sale and we are required to make a detailed report to government. The involved ships, as reported, are the Edinburgh (Marshall), Lady MacNaughton (Hustwick) and Marquis Camden (Gribble) and they are all under your Agency.

Previously, when we secured a foreign ship at Whampoa, the captain gave us a written bond that he brought no opium and only after our receipt of it was the ship permitted to trade.

Please provide a bond for each of these ships so we may petition that they be allowed to trade. If no bond is available, we cannot help you.

Sgd 11 Hong merchants

Vol 11 No 2 – 9th January 1838

A parliamentary return just to hand lists the following receipts by the British Treasury for tea duty. Under the India Company’s monopoly this duty was collected at the regular London tea auctions:

















Vol 11 No 2 – 9th January 1838

There were six main items in Macartney’s instructions:

  1. Open trade at Chusan, Ningpo and Tien Tsin.
  2. A sales warehouse at Peking.
  3. An unfortified island near Chusan for storing unsold goods and residence of foreigners.
  4. Ditto near Canton.
  5. Abolition or reduction of transit duties between Macau and Canton and
  6. An end to the Canton squeezes.

Those were our intentions fifty years ago. For the following 41 years, the Company monopolised trade. How far did the Company progress those national aims?

During the period Pon Qua, Gnew Qua, Con See Qua, Exchin, Pun Ki Qua, Man Hop, Chun Qua, Kin Qua and Fat Qua all became bankrupt whilst other Hongs were insolvent and unsafe depositories of British property. Chun Qua and Exchin particularly owed the company and individual Select Committee members large sums. To obtain their settlement, the Company abandoned the traditional system of trade and this precedent left the free trade with no protection for its property.

We now have to deal with the insolvency of Hing Tai Hong. The Consoo Fund were first imposed on the foreign trade about 50 years ago. It was intended to raise a yearly fund from which dividends could be paid to Hong creditors. We think it should be axiomatic that taxes to provide compensation for Hong failures should be paid by the Chinese. Both import and export trade must be profitable if it is to continue.

Between 1823 – 1829 Con See Qua, Pak Qua, Pun Ki Qua, Man Hop and Chun Qua failed with total debts of $2,669,496 which were paid off between 1825 – 1834 in full. The longest period for any one settlement (Man Hop – $1,125,538) was six years. We will explain how the Hongs can again settle debts (this time of Hing Tai Hong) in six years.

Under the Company, whenever the Select, or a solvent Hong on its behalf, advanced 3,000 Taels per purchase order of tea to an insolvent Hong, the duty payable on that chop was fixed at 7 Taels 7 mace per picul. If no advance was paid, the duty payable was reduced to 6 Taels per picul. 4-5 Taels per picul was charged on winter teas.

Now if the Hongs today were to levy a constant 5 Taels per picul on all teas, avoid speculating on tea which has invariably lost them money, but act solely as brokers between the tea men and the foreign buyers, insisting on payment of the duty and Consoo Fund charge in cash immediately, they would very quickly pay-off all debts and become a solvent body of merchants. There is no need for a new insolvency tax.

Vol 11 No 2 – 9th January 1838

Letter to the Editor, 3rd January 1838:

A considerable foreign merchant of Canton who is a member of the General Chamber was in dispute with another smaller merchant who was not a Chamber member. Without continuing the correspondence between the parties, the member submitted his case to the Chamber for decision, unilaterally presenting his own case at the committee proceedings, voting in his own favour in the award and obtaining an ex parte ruling against the non-member.

Is this how the Chamber proposes to wield its influence?

Vol 11 No 2 – 9th January 1838

Protest of Jardine et al to the Viceroy:

The Hongs’ latest proposal is to liquidate Hing Tai Hong’s debt over 12 years. The customary level of interest payable in the foreign trade at Canton (12% p a) would amount to twice the principal debt over this extended period. This is contrary to justice and precedent. The laws that the Viceroy has alluded to concerning this matter are domestic laws which are inapplicable to foreigners.

The Emperor has said that all foreign debts must be paid and you have confirmed this is also your wish. We do not chose to trade with Hong merchants – they are foisted on us by your government. It is the Chinese government that should be responsible to settle our debts, exactly as the Emperor has promised.

You say the Consoo tax is collected to settle debts. For nearly four years there have been no claims on the Consoo Fund. The monies must have increased to a substantial amount. Justice requires this Fund be disbursed to the creditors of Hing Tai Hong in proportion to their claims. In former years up to $500,000 per annum was paid in discharge of debts. In 1829 payments exceeded $650,000. A similar level of payment over the next four years would settle our claims for principal and interest. In taxing off the interest our funds should earn, you are being unjust and not settling the claim ‘to the last penny’ as you promised.

Viceroy Tang’s reply. 6th January 1838:

The vicarious liability of one Hong for another does not extend to the payment of interest on debts. It is solely to discharge the actual capital debt. Your desires are unreasonable. The Hongs asked to settle in 15 years and I have reduced that period by 25%. In consideration of your protest, I have now asked the Emperor for guidance.

Vol 11 No 2 – 9th January 1838

Report of the Provincial Treasurer and Judge on Hing Tai’s debts, 29th December 1837:

Formerly, in the time of the Company, debts were settled agreeably. The Company’s trade was profitable to all parties. Now all the British merchants trade individually and each has his own debt and his own idea. Hing Tai and Fat Qua owe 490,000 Taels to government for unpaid revenue. The foreign trade is no longer profitable like before. If the foreigners’ debts are preferred, when will the outstanding revenue be settled? If the settlement period is fixed at 12 years both foreign and government creditors can be settled together and the Hongs allowed time to recover their financial strength.

The former arrangement was that foreigners could trade only by barter with Hong merchants and at the end of each year they were to submit a note of any residual debts due from Hongs. Should a Hong subsequently fail, only those reported debts could be recovered in respect of the prior year’s trade. If the foreigners fail to submit their annual statements we have no knowledge of their purported debts. The Hong merchants are forbidden to lend to or borrow from foreigners. Such transactions draw them into secret business and are at the root of the smuggling. In 1829 the Company requested new regulations for trade. It asked that no Hong should be responsible for another’s debts but each should trade independently. The then Viceroy agreed to this proposal.

In the case of Hing Tai Hong no annual statements of indebtedness were provided by the foreign trade. No claims were notified during the seven years that Hing Tai’s debts were accumulating. Jardine now claims he is owed $1,700,000. Where did he find the confidence year after year to lend this astonishing sum and keep quiet about it? Clearly on the agreed regulations for trade very little need be paid to foreigners in liquidation of Hing Tai’s debts.

Nevertheless we help when we can and the continuing Hongs agree to make recompense in 12 years. Unless your hearts are made of stone, you should be overwhelmed with gratitude. If you continue to insist on expedited payment of this enormous sum, we really do not know what to think. In former years annual debt repayments were almost invariably about $200,000. You are being perverse. If the continuing Hongs refuse to contribute where will you be then? You should be more professional in your business. Nevertheless, we again order the Hongs to counsel you and settle your understanding of the period necessary for repayment.

Vol 10 No 3 – 16th January 1838


  • The Duke of Sussex will sail on 5th February for Manila, Singapore, the Cape and London. Cargo for all destinations is invited. Apply J A Mercer, 2 Danish Hong.
  • The Abercrombie Robinson will depart today for London carrying home the tea-taster J R Reeves.

Vol 10 No 3 – 16th January 1838

The recent seizure of 3 chests of opium in the river at Canton (Layton’s case) has been successfully covered-up and the Viceroy has not heard of it. Hopefully there will be no adverse consequences.

Vol 10 No 3 – 16th January 1838

Editorial – China and England have long been united by trade. Now the trade is so valuable it must not be jeopardised. What is the proper duty of the two governments to nurture and grow trade? The future can be espied from the past.

The permission to trade at all Chinese ports in 1685 and the restriction of trade to Canton in 1717 were both the despotic acts of the Emperor. We have no rights save the right to come and trade.

Our claims on Hing Tai are entertained as a matter of Imperial benevolence. In the company’s day, the free trade was called the country trade. It was a tolerated trade which enjoyed no rights; it could not defend itself; it was occasionally suspended by the Select Committee and it was subject to whatever privileges the hated Select chose to provide.

When Aristotle was developing his liberal ethics, Confucius was expounding his restrictive practices. Now China has become a closed society endlessly reflecting on its internal affairs. This closed system should be ventilated and invigorated by the fresh wind of our knowledge, science and religion. It is Britain’s duty to destroy Chinese exclusiveness.

We will consider our commended policy towards China in three parts – causes, means and ends. Concerning causes we will elucidate why greater exertions are required now than formerly; concerning means we will identify the necessary policies and concerning ends, it is of course a free trade based on mutual interest and good faith. We will conceal nothing.

At present Elliot has taken the British flag and left Canton. His correspondence with the local government is returned unopened. We are unprotected. Meanwhile Bills are before parliament for Courts to be established here. It is clearly the appropriate time to consider the situation and what must be done.

It is unnecessary to go back beyond 1750 to identify the salient features of the relationship between Chinese and foreigners. From about that year to the present there has been an incremental abridgement of our privileges combined with a progressive increase in our trade. The Company’s Select Committee and 3-4 leading Hong merchants dictated terms of trade in a few interviews and the result was a profit on imports and exports. Now trade has been free for four years and our expectations have not been realised. We expect the free trade to continue but unless the two governments talk we fear the conditions of trade will deteriorate. The present state of trade is equally bad for the Hongs as the foreigners. The Hongs, with 2-3 exceptions, are unworthy of commercial confidence. The Company supported several Hongs by allocating shares in its purchases to them and that helped to make the Hongs more independent of each other. But now everyone sells to How Qua and 1-2 others who buy the imports via the small Hongs and the system cannot be changed because official merchants are appointed to our trade. Our imports are thus insecure once they have entered port. Our interests now are separated whereas under the Company they were combined. We are unable to combine together in the way the Company traded. We thus cannot present a united face to the combination of Hongs and officials. This requires the British government to step-in and negotiate better terms for us.

The only question is the means which the British government should adopt to achieve this?

The historical actions of the British government reveal a sublime ignorance of this difficult task. In the West the countries all know each other and trade with confidence but in China the official position is restrictive and trade is allowed as a matter of favour. This relationship is unique and requires a unique procedure for its amendment. The principle underlying our trade is Imperial compassion and benevolence to foreigners. The Emperor is father to His people.

We note that a Chinese father has a legal right to determine whether his own issue at birth will live or die. He retains this power until the child achieves adulthood. Should he then kill, it is murder. So it is with the foreign trade. They might have killed it off in its infancy but now it is too mature to do so.

China has a right to self-existence and holds an acknowledged position in the world, but it should concede and respect the rights we have attained. On the Chinese principles of justice and benevolence to foreigners we now hold prescriptive rights23 in respect of our trade and it becomes the duty of the Chinese and British governments to defend those rights. This is the means whereby we can negotiate – on our rights and on the rights of China. The magnitude of our legal exports (tea in lbs.) is shown in the following statement:


1. 4.34 – 30.9.34

1.10.34 – 30.9.35

1.10.35 – 30.9.36

Black tea




Green tea












This great trade does not indicate prosperity. It is estimated that the tea and silk trade of the Company made a profit in favour of the Chinese sellers of about $4 millions. The present embarrassed state of the Hongs impedes our progress. We must act now or abandon our ‘prescriptive rights’. If we abandon our rights the resultant situation will be far worse. It is the duty of the British government to stand up, as the foremost foreign state trading to China, and protect our trade. There can be no half-measures. If there is unpleasantness, let it be so.

The latest novelty – a British Court in China – should be acceptable to the Chinese. They should take the same position as the Porte at Constantinople does to the British Consul there or the same position that the Americans and Swedes have arranged for their trade.

The treaty with Turkey signed at the Dardanelles in 1809 provides that disputes amongst Englishmen in Turkey will be decided by the British Consul.24 Disputes between English and Turkish people will not be heard under Turkish law until the British Consul is present. Suits above a certain value will be heard only at the Sublime Porte where the British Consul will answer for them. If an Englishman dies in Turkey his estate shall not be seized but delivered in accordance with the deceased’s will or, if intestate, to the British Consul. If any Englishman denies the Consul’s authority he may be sent to England to answer the charge. It follows that the British consuls in the territories of the Levant Company enjoy wide judicial powers but little else. Some say these powers have caused widespread mischief and the selection of the Consul must be made with care.

A similar capitulation to Turkey’s is made in the 1818 treaty between American and Sweden whereby consuls of each country reside in the other to act as judges in all disputes between Americans and Swedes. The only exception is those cases where the crews of a foreign ship disturb the peace of the host country in which circumstances the Consul may call for assistance in having his decisions enforced. All these consular actions are subject to review by the Courts of the home nation.

Is such a functionary required in China to protect the British opium trade? The matter of correspondence with Chinese officials requires attention. If the Consul requires communication with the An Cha Sze (judge adjudicating the criminal law of the province) he will be referred to the Hong merchants as the channel of communication. We have tried to impress the Chinese with our previous representatives. Should we send a bishop instead of a diplomat? To whom would he be referred for correspondence?

The fundamental problem in our relationship is the opium trade – it is a Company monopoly in Bengal and a smuggling trade in China. Public opinion will eventually conquer this poison. Otherwise a professedly Christian government will use this product to cause a fearful state of affairs. Instead of supporting and ornamenting life, we will be degrading and destroying it solely for profit. The opium trade must be free. We think the production of opium would then diminish.

Once opium has been dealt with, the British government can demand fair access to the Chinese market. We can expect our rights to be acknowledged and our grievances redressed. This would manifestly demonstrate the benevolence of the Emperor. We will preserve what we have got and extend it amicably. This is the way to open communication with the Chinese government.

For the last two years the Peking government has debated the opium trade. There are two parties that contend for power in Peking – one reformist, the other reactionary. The memorial of Hsu Nai Tsi for admission of opium on payment of duty was reportedly written at the instigation of the Empress. Before it was published, several changes amongst provincial high officials occurred, including the Viceroy of the Two Kwong. It is now reported that the Viceroy Tang is about to be recalled and the Empress’ other provincial appointments are also being reversed.

The Emperor should be expected to favour the reactionary party – new ideas are always suspicious to governments. Ultimate government policy towards opium remains uncertain but we have no doubt the Emperor is incapable of preventing its import. The officials here to the very highest level, know about our opium trade. Recent transactions at Whampoa have been obvious but no intention to stop the trade has been detected. The low salaries of officials seems to mean they are expected to make up the deficiency by an informal system of fines. Thus the illegal smuggling business is made possible by the corruption of the officials and both are fostered by the Bengal and Malwa governments. This suggests the trade will continue at least as long as the exclusive Chinese system continues.

How long will that be? It is unlikely that the smugglers would change to a legal trade and pay duty on opium as the other proposed condition (of barter) is unacceptable. Even if the change of law occurred, the smuggling would continue as it avoids contact with officials and Hong merchants. Thus China reaps the reward of its exclusive policy. It constantly fails to enforce the anti-smuggling law due to corruption of the enforcers. For us to obtain better trade terms we must deal with the Emperor not his subordinates. Only he can open other ports to trade. If the ‘existing regulations’ are insisted upon, it must be clearly shown that they are futile. To avoid a revolution in the maritime provinces, the Emperor must reform his trade and foreign policies.

Now is the time for change. Any delay will make our task more difficult. We cannot be satisfied with pretentious Edicts and ancient laws that are daily ignored. The repeated defeat of our ambassadors and Superintendents shows we must find a different way of communicating. We cannot continue to be considered as tributary.

The Asiatic Journal last September published an article ‘commerce considered as a means of promoting the civilisation of barbarous people’. It discussed the means of protecting the foreign native in his trade with the West. Here is an excerpt:

“In 1823 the government of the Cape of Good Hope prohibited trade with the natives on its eastern frontier to preserve peace. Trade is usually considered as a means of promoting peace. The African who told the Cape Governor 30 years ago that ‘peace cannot be assured without trade’ showed more political wisdom than the 1823 administration. Now trade with the tribes along the Cape’s frontiers grows day by day. But the western trader abuses the native traders with his superior knowledge and strength.”

Is this inapplicable to China which claims sole possession of civilisation? The Canton Register argues for British aid to China in expunging the opium trade before it compromises the legitimate trade. The object is more important that preserving a revenue to Bengal. But China adopts a restrictive policy to trade and threatens to cease trade on many minor pretexts. The trade of India with China has been free for decades. Now English trade is likewise, we expect protection from the British government.

It is pointless arguing our case under international law – the concept is not recognised by China. The Romans granted no privileges to their allies until they promised to obey Roman law. This is what the Chinese say – obey our law and you can partake of the advantages.

The first step must be to demand the Emperor acknowledge the English sovereign as his equal. The Portuguese are allowed to trade at both Macau and Canton. The Spanish have a right of trade at Amoy and Canton. Our own extensive trade should be on the same basis as the most favoured nation. Besides trade at Macau and Amoy we should also request re-establishment of the previous Ningpo factory, free navigation of the Yangtse and Yellow Rivers at least to Nanking, and trade privileges at the capitals of Shantung and Hunan. Whilst our own concerns are for better access on the coast, the Bengal government should be working to improve access through Tibet and Assam so our territories bordering China can co-operate more closely together. This time we must determine not to fail. The whole history of our relationship with China reveals that perseverance pays.

This proposed extension of trade must be supported by a political connection. Our ambassador must sit in Peking and freely communicate with all Britons in China. He should have direct access to the State Council and, if necessary, the Emperor. These interests are too serious to be disregarded. We must promote the concept of nationality to the Chinese. At present they are united solely by culture which recognises duties to Confucius and the Emperor.

The Manchu tribe did not have an alphabet 400 years ago. In 1650 there were about 10,000 of them – now there are about 100,000 Manchus. This is the group that vetoes Chinese involvement in the world. All our technical achievements are excluded to perpetuate this dynasty. We must teach China our new philosophy. We are not advocating the breach of Chinese law just for trade. The laws of China are daily broken by both sides. The independence of China rests on our guarantee of forbearance. The only Chinese virtue that should be preserved is filial respect – this is the root of their society.

Vol 10 No 3 – 16th January 1838

Editorial – The Chin Chew men come from the southern half of Fukien and the north eastern part of Kwangtung. They live in three districts – Chuen Chow and Chang Chow in southern Fukien and Chiu Chow in Kwangtung. Apart from a few fertile valleys, the area is inhospitable and only produces sweet potatoes. Rice production is inadequate for the population. There is a valuable sugar crop. That’s all.

But no other part of China proves the economist’s assertion that the riches of a country are its population.25 As these people cannot all support themselves at home, they travel everywhere for a living. The coastline has many good harbours and the Chin Chew men have devoted themselves to maritime trade. Nearly all the foreign commerce of China is in their hands. The Imperial and mercantile navies (some 150,000 men) are disproportionately manned by Chin Chew men. The fishermen of Chin Chew operate along the entire coastline. If one visits any coastal emporia he will find swarms of Chin Chew men either visiting or established in trade there. They do not confine themselves to the coast but travel everywhere there is profit to be made. The bankers of Peking, the hawkers of foreign goods and anyone involved in hazardous enterprise is likely to be a Chin Chew man. They live on the coast. If trade is poor they fish; if trade and fishing are poor they farm, turning marginal land into high productivity with manure. Look at the Chinese population of Macau – it is mainly comprised of Chin Chew men. Their diligence produces four or five crops a year off the meagre soil. In Canton they control almost all articles of commerce. If one was to investigate into the sources of silver that funds the foreign trade, one would find it is largely under the control of Chin Chew men. They have penetrated the Wu Yi Hills and planted the An Koi tea plant to the extent that commerce in An Koi tea is monopolised by them.

Whilst over a million Chin Chew men are spread over the other provinces of China where they out-compete the locals, they are even more distinguished as emigrants. They reclaimed Hainan from the aborigines and now more than a million of them live there. In the last few centuries they have attended to Taiwan making it a productive island where two million Chin Chew men have occupied the major part of the island. There are 1-2 millions in Thailand, Annam and Tong King.

Whilst all these people have emigrated, the population of Fukien remains high – they are fertile, active people. All this emigration is formally illegal and yet they persevere in it. Now there are ten times as many Chin Chew people outside their native area as are within it. Their invincible weapon is the hoe. They conquer entire countries by industrious farming, first by getting land, then producing abundantly from it to the point of becoming able to buy the land and eventually to develop it. As their operations extend they bring in new Chin Chew men to assist.

They mostly consider the Chinese government as an enemy and they have achieved much without its protection. They are the finest exemplar of industry as the road to wealth. They appear to offer the most suitable link between China and the West.

Vol 11 No 4 – 23rd January 1838

Editorial – Most foreign traders sell several minor articles to ‘outside men’. Many ‘outside men’ are as good in business as some of the Hongs.

A silver merchant in China Street, formerly in good credit, ran into heavy debt this year and was unable to either return goods or pay for them. After some delay a foreigner petitioned the Viceroy last month and got the response that dealings with ‘outside men’ were not allowed and he was on his own. The foreigner then went to How Qua for advice. How Qua agreed to call a Consoo meeting of all the Hongs and call the ‘outside man’ in to explain himself but the man declined to attend.

The foreigner then got five armed men, occupied the silver merchant’s shop on 18th January and seized his stock-in-trade, furniture, etc., intending to auction it all off in partial settlement of the debt. He later had to abandon this plan but he retains possession of the house and grounds. The tacit consent of the Chinese authorities to this action can be inferred from their taking no action against the foreigner and by the foreigner’s Chinese servants consenting to live with him in the silver merchant’s shop.

On 21st January Mow Qua visited the foreigner bringing the Viceroy’s order that the seized goods should be divided amongst the several foreign creditors. The foreigner however refused to admit the reasonableness of such an action as his improved position viz. the other creditors had been achieved as a result of his own initiative.

Vol 11 No 4 – 23rd January 1838

Peking Gazettes, 2nd October – Viceroy Tang has memorialised the Emperor concerning the regulation of the Hong merchants:

“In the reign of the Ka Hing Emperor the office of senior Hong merchant was established. When new Hongs were licensed the other Hongs were ordered to provide security bonds for the newcomer’s performance. As the foreign trade increased, the number of Hongs diminished and they were reluctant to provide the bonds. To increase the numbers of Hongs, applicants were permitted to operate temporarily and the requirement for a bond lapsed.

“The numbers of Hongs must again be increased and the old regulation be reinstated. Thereafter the number of Hongs will be fixed and when one is removed, another may replace him but beyond that not a single new Hong merchant is to be licensed. The permission for temporary Hong merchants should also be withdrawn. When a vacancy arises, the existing Hongs will select a suitable replacement and each provide security for his performance. Then the Hoppo will license the new man.

“The senior Hong merchants may not shirk their duties and pick & chose what they do. The whole body of Hongs will be responsible to prevent smuggling and the resultant loss of revenue. In this way selfishness will be avoided and the revenue increased.”

Vol 11 No 5 – 30th January 1838

Sr F J da Castano Amaral, the ex-Judge of Macau, has left for Batavia on the Portuguese ship Cesar.

Vol 11 No 6 – 6th February 1838

The 2nd annual report of Dr Peter Parker’s Ophthalmic Hospital is published. 1,225 patients were treated this year making a total of 4,575 for two years. The hospital treats mainly eye diseases but also receives any other case. It had two cases of opium mania during this year and fifteen over the two years. In a population of a million people in Canton city, this low number suggests opium is seldom taken to excess.

Vol 11 No 7 – 13th February 1838

Peking Gazettes, 23rd December:

  • On 6th October Viceroy Tang of the Two Kwong reported Lieutenant Colonel Yee Lin Fung and some other officers had arrested people but did not report any details of the arrests. He asks for their punishment.
  • A junk master Leung Lin Chu went to a military base on the islands and was robbed and murdered. The army officers did not report the case but took bribes to conceal it.
  • The Emperor orders the Colonel be demoted and given two months to conclude the case. His three officers are to be tried by the Viceroy.

Vol 11 No 7 – 13th February 1838

The censor Yuen Tung Sung complained 20th October about the collection of revenue. The servants of the Hoppo’s in all the provinces connect with clerks and runners and constantly impede the business of real merchants by delay and extortion. Vagabonds living near the Customs House volunteer to search cargo and then demand fees for their services. At Wuhu the junior Customs staff are in league with smugglers who are allowed to pass on payment of bribes. All this produces a constant deficit in revenue.

The Emperor orders all the Hoppo’s to exert themselves, control their staff and prevent cheating. Viceroys and Governors are to order their magistrates to perform their duty. Offenders must be heavily punished without forbearance.

Vol 11 No 8 – 20th February 1838

The fact that Chinese of the lowliest positions can appeal to the Board of Censors against officials and have their protests impartially heard by the Emperor is astonishing. We suppose justice follows protest as the people continue to indulge the right. But what is the significance of the acts of a few desperate appellants against the apathy of an entire administration? Every edition of the Peking Gazettes is a record of the weakness, corruption and hypocrisy of government.

A characteristic of Asian peoples is their submission to whoever wields power. The provinces are intentionally kept separate. One provincial army cannot enter another province. One investigator cannot pursue his investigation in another province. The independence of each provincial administration from any other is a fact. It is the same with the people. There is a guarded mistrust of neighbours and some friends that is superficially obscured by forms of politeness. This isolates families and individuals and divides the whole population, making it more easily governed.

But everyone recognises the paternal role of the Emperor and loves him. It is the officials who are to be avoided. They represent the bamboo, the chain, the tortured confession. Education is restricted to the ancient approved texts. Our technology may not be studied. The Chinese government has a case to answer and the day of reckoning may be close at hand.

Vol 11 No 8 – 20th February 1838

Peking Gazettes, 13th November 1837 – Lin Ying, Superintendent of Rivers in Kiang Nan, reports the God of the Hwae River has been very helpful in response to the many sacrifices made to his temple near Hung Tsih lake. Recently the river overflowed. Lin Ying meditated at the spot and the waters subsided, the wind dropped and the grain ships were no longer disturbed. To acknowledge the God’s protection, Lin wants a tablet to be placed in the temple. The Emperor agrees to write the tablet in his own hand as his response to the God’s favours.

Vol 11 No 9 – 27th February 1838

The To Kwong Emperor has now reigned for 18 years. He is a good old man. He lives life in retirement and little is known about him. He is said to keep his household in excellent order. He has little talent for public affairs and does not interfere much with his high officials in the administration of the Empire. His reign has been peaceful and tranquillity has generally been maintained but there have been almost annual floods, earthquakes and / or famines. If he were put to the test we suspect he would be found wanting.

Vol 11 No 9 – 27th February 1838

Letter to Captain Aaron Smith of the barque Mary Ann, Singapore 11th January 1838:

Our friends Magniac Smith & Co of Singapore will deliver a piece of plate worth £100 to you in recognition of your valuable service in combating piracy in the Straits.

Sgd Jardine Matheson & Co, Canton.

Vol 11 No 9 – 27th February 1838

The General Chamber’s recommendations to members for payment of import duty:

The proper time for settlement of import duty at Canton is either at the time of landing the goods under contract to the security merchant or at the time of landing as arranged with the Customs officials. Failure to do so will result in unilateral surcharges by the Hoppo’s staff which have to be paid before the Port Clearance Certificate can be issued. Consignees of goods should be aware that it is up to them to negotiate the rate of duty with the officers. No one else will do this for you.26

It was previously feared that a consignee taking a leading part in the negotiation of rates of duty would cause the Security Merchant to assume he (the SM) was no longer responsible for settlement, but experience has revealed this fear is groundless. The committee of the General Chamber concludes it should be the custom of this port for the cargo consignee to negotiate and settle import duties and they be held responsible to the ship’s consignee for performance.

Vol 11 No 10 – 6th March 1838

The American financial crisis that commenced in May 1837 appears to be ending. American banks are expected to resume cash payments soon.

T Wiggins & Co, the big American commission agent in London, has announced it expects to pay creditors in full.

The British firm of M/s Marjoribanks & Ferrars also expects to survive.

Vol 11 No 11 – 13th March 1838

Notice, Canton, 7th March – we have re-opened our firm Wm & Thos Gemmell & Co which was closed 16th September 1837. The Powers of Attorney granted to Henry Constable and James Innes are revoked.

Vol 11 No 12 – 20th March 1838

Beginnings of the free-trade cartel – The committee of the General Chamber has published the following recommended commission rates for commercial services provided by members at Canton – pwrcentages of sale price:

Sales of opium, cotton, bird’s nests and jewellery

Sale of all other goods

On returns (if goods)

On returns (if treasure or Bills)

On purchases of raw silk

On purchases of manufactured silk & all other goods

Inspections of tea

Sale or purchase of bullion

Negotiating Bills (when not drawer or endorser)

Negotiating Bills (when drawer or endorser)

Guaranteeing sales and remittance of proceeds

For procuring freight

Collecting house rent

Arranging trans-shipment of cargo

Acting as Executors of estates















5% of the Estate

And a long list of other services at percentage fees.

Vol 11 No 12 – 20th March 1838

The Frenchman Edward Biot has written a note on slavery in China:

Under the Ching dynasty banishment into slavery is a most severe punishment. The convict is generally sent to the Amur River or Ili. He is employed there in salt or iron mines under the supervision of officials.

Persons guilty of rebellion are executed and their wives and children given, if wanted, as slaves to the principal officers or else banished. The government has found slave labour does not produce cheap or good public works and prefers to use free men for these services. It sends the slaves to the frontiers where they are used for hard labour or induced to fight in the front ranks of Chinese armies to redeem themselves.

Vol 11 No 13 – 27th March 1838

Memorial to the Viceroy:

We decline settlement of Hing Tai’s debts in 9 years. Its too long. There are other insolvent Hongs we are also chasing for money. We need to know which Hongs are solvent for the safety of our future trade. We bring our property from afar and surrender it to merchants nominated by the Emperor. We think it is not the Imperial wish to detain our capital until it has doubled in value by addition of compound interest before repayment of only the principal is made. Your judge and treasurer say the trading situation has changed; that the foreign trade is no longer as profitable as when the Company was present. This is true but we individual traders cannot afford to lose capital like the Company. Besides the settlement of Hong debts has never depended exclusively on Hong profits but mainly on the collection of additional tax on our trade. Settlement of the Hing Tai debts will follow the same course. There is no injustice to the Hongs. We think another trading system is required to provide a level playing-field and we have asked our Queen for help in obtaining it. If in the interim you will order payment of our claims or any part of them, we should be pleased to receive same.

Sgd Dent & Co, Bell & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, Eglintin Maclean & Co, Dirom & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, J & W Cragg & Co, Daniell & Co, Robert Wise Holliday & Co, W Henderson. 31st March 1838

Vol 11 No 13 – 27th March 1838

The trade of the Hong merchants is at the lowest level in memory. It is partly due to their using their authority to ship off their own goods under the names of outside men. This has greatly reduced the trade ascribed to themselves.

They plan to limit the numbers of outside men who can deal with foreigners through the Hongs. If they can restrict one outside man to one Hong, he will become amenable to direction and they can deter smuggling and evasion of duty. This will also restore their own trade.

Many criminals have been arrested this month. Many seizures of opium have occurred, both in the river and outside.

On 24th February two magistrates brought a heap of seized opium to the factory landing place in front of our offices and residences and burned it.

Vol 11 No 13 – 27th March 1838

Editorial – Dent has published a paper on “The Chinese Security Merchants and their Debts”. A few years ago he was identified with the pacific party and asserted all our problems in China would be solved by the Chinese themselves simply in recognition of the fact that increased trade required a new system of management.

In 1834 he derided the idea of British intervention in China over Napier; now he commends it to recover private debts!

He says $3 millions are owed to foreigners by Hing Tai and Kin Qua and he wants it paid off in six years (i.e. the period in which it would double if compound interest at 12% could be applied as usual). The Chinese are holding out for nine years. Britain could insist on payment of the Hing Tai debt in six years because firstly the amount is agreed between Hongs and foreigners, secondly the Viceroy has expressly said it will be paid ‘to the last penny’ and thirdly a period of six years is just. Britain may be wary of dictating commercial regulations to the Manchu Emperor but in this case we are seeking for compliance with the rules He himself laid down. The Hong merchants are held out to be reliable and no-one else may trade with us. The Emperor should be responsible for the performance of the people he forces us to deal with. We must also have some protection from the likely defaults of other Hong merchants in future. This would help us and should also somewhat shield the Hongs from plunder by officials. We think the mere fact of a demand by the British government on China would accelerate payment as payment will pre-empt the possibility of further British action.

In pursuit of this aim the General Chamber of Commerce held a meeting on 21st March and agreed the wording of a memorial to be sent to the East India & China Association and to various Chambers of Commerce in Great Britain asking for their support with government in obtaining, by negotiation or otherwise, a better trading system at Canton. Some firms have withheld their signatures from the memorial which will weaken its force. We should achieve consensus here and persuade everyone to sign it.

What can the memorialists hope the British government to do? If it sends another Civil Commission it will be unable to correspond with the local officials. If the Commission is allowed a meeting with them it will be treated degradingly. Ministers will want to gauge progress thus requiring referrals back and forth and slowing progress. If we eventually succeed in getting settlement in six years, it will likely only start after several years of negotiation have elapsed and thus we will be no better off than with the nine years repayment presently on offer.

The memorialists assert that the mere intervention of the British government with Peking would get the Hing Tai debts settled. If the British government also asked that future debts be paid instanter and that Hong merchants be protected from extortion of officials, they think those demands would also be granted and the hazards to trade accordingly reduced.

How is this ‘mere intervention’ to be done? Another ambassador will have to kow-tow and we infer the memorialists expect him to do so. Otherwise he will be treated like Amherst and expelled. Do the memorialists envisage that the ambassador would have adequate force at his command to insist on an audience? If so, that makes the new petition similar to the free traders’ petition of December 1834 which the Pacific Party (Dent’s pro-India Company group) repudiated. We think the new position of the Pacific Party is a natural consequence of the development of free trade and the need for its protection. If we cannot be protected, we will assume the position of the Jews in Turkey.

Another problem for the British government is the opium trade and the entire Lintin smuggling system for evading Chinese law. This will deter the British government from involvement unless we insist they act. Palmerston will not want to ask the young Queen to coerce China so long as the tea duty is still being paid.

We conclude that the Hing Tai creditors should rely on their own efforts to make recovery. But we think the English and Indian trade to China needs British intervention to preserve it from further loss and the proper means of obtaining this is to assert that trade is a right of nations and not something in the gift of the Emperor. We have to remove this thing about compassion and benevolence to foreigners if we are ever to have any rights in trade. A display of power is what the Chinese respect and what England should provide. Then we can be confident of the security of our property.

Vol 11 No 13 – 27th March 1838

Canton Press – Memorial of the free traders to Palmerston through Elliot:

We ask you to obtain the Queen-in-Council’s agreement to powerfully interpose the British government with China to get early payment of our present and future claims. We are limited to 12 merchants for the main staples of trade, The merchants trade separately but have a joint liability for payment of Chinese revenue and trade debts. We know nothing of the method by which these merchants are selected but the Chinese government guarantees their engagements and for 20-30 years debts of individuals have been settled without interest by the whole body. The period of repayment has always been a matter of contention. The Hongs routinely fix a period in which the debt would be doubled if compound interest was allowed. The attainment of these agreements has historically been done by the Company using its large buying power which we cannot emulate.

At the beginning of 1837 there were 13 Hong merchants. 3-4 are now insolvent. The combined Hong debts exceed $3 millions to us and $750,000 to the Chinese government. One of the insolvent merchants called Hing Tai has formally been bankrupted and his debts agreed at $2.3 millions excluding some disputed debts. The Viceroy has left the period of repayment to be agreed between us and the Co-Hong. The Hongs started at 20 years and have incrementally reduced this to 9 years. We have declined all their proposals for two reasons. Firstly, as this is the first debt under the free trade, and it arises solely from trade and thus differs from former debts (for loans), we wish to avoid making a precedent for future settlements. Secondly, we wish to learn the financial position of all the Hongs so we can better assess them as trading partners. And we want to have all their debts settled.

The Co-Hong debts are never paid entirely out of Hong resources. They are mainly settled from a tax placed on the main staples of trade that we buy. The Hing Tai debts are to be settled in this way. When this tax is placed on our purchases for debt repayment, it is never annulled after the debt has been paid-off. Instead its collection continues on the pretext of accumulating a fund, called the Consoo Fund, for the settlement of future trade and revenue debts. The fund is also used to meet extraordinary items of central government expenditure. But in fact we believe that the fund has never really existed. The Chinese government sanctions the Consoo tax for payment of specific debts but permits its continuance after the debt is discharged. The Hongs are also daily plundered by the officials, chiefly the Hoppo, which impoverishes them even when they had the large and certain profits of the Company’s trade. Since the Company ceased trading the Hongs have suffered as business has become more competitive. We therefore fear that additional duties placed on the foreign trade will increasingly be diverted to central government expenditure and we hear anecdotally that this is so. This not only delays settlement of our claims but impoverishes the Hongs and tends to the accumulation of new debts by them. Eventually we fear that more than simple remonstrance will be necessary for the British government to successfully help us recover what is due to us.

Our complaint is that the Chinese government confines our trade to a few merchants and should accordingly be responsible for their performance. The provincial government is uniformly corrupt and the Hong merchants are inefficient. These two features are concealed from the Emperor by the provincial government.

Sgd Dent & Co, Bell & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, Lindsay & Co, Eglintin Maclean & Co, Dirom & Co, Bibby Adam & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, J & W Cragg & Co, Daniell & Co, W & T Gemmell & Co, Robert Wise Holliday & Co, Nanabhoy Framjee, W Henderson, W MacDonald. (This is the Pacific Party in alliance with the India Company)

Vol 11 No 13 – 27th March 1838

Western nations require people to swear Oaths to better establish the veracity of testimony. Chinese justice does not require Oaths of witnesses but an Oath is still a solemn engagement to Chinese. A person asserting a doubtful fact is taken to the temple where he cuts off the head of a chicken and, as it bleeds to death, he recites his declaration whilst calling for horrendous imprecations to fall upon himself should he speak untruthfully.

Fraternal Oaths are more common. The triad societies swear terrible Oaths and no members recant. They abjure human ties and even abandon their names for the society. But their historical object of freeing China from the Ching dynasty has been lost in defiance of society and the commission of every form of atrocity. Triad societies are criminal endeavours and may be found in every expatriate Chinese community. In the Hong Hei Emperor’s reign it was feared triads might bring down the dynasty and their many insurrections have kept the fear alive.

We recently saw an Oath nailed to a tree in a village. The villagers had sworn revenge on some thieves. Should any villager become friendly with any of the thieves he is to be expelled. Marriage or any other connection with them was strictly prohibited. Eternal hatred of the thieves was required of each villager.

The common Oath in daily use is the practise of pointing at some nearby thing and saying ‘so long as this exists, my words shall be true’. This is a largely meaningless Oath.

Vol 11 No 14 – 3rd April 1838

Letter to Robert Inglis (former Company writer in China, son of the Company Director and now a partner of Dents) from Elliot concerning Hong debts:

Your memorial and attachments will be forwarded to Palmerston. The importance of your appeal should ensure it receives urgent attention. Apart from the large amount of British capital involved, the altered nature of our trade suggests these embarrassments will become more frequent until the Chinese government makes the appropriate alterations. Until the trading system is changed these problems will only get worse. Now you have referred this matter to government, I want you to agree that the period of repayment be left to negotiations between the two governments. It would be prudent for you creditors to take no further action and merely receive what the Chinese see fit to pay until the matter has been suitably adjusted officially.

Sgd Charles Elliot

Vol 11 No 14 – 3rd April 1838

Local news:

At lunchtime on 24th March a huge riot occurred in Canton between the technicians who cut and set emeralds & rubies and those who cut and set cornelians.

Each side assembled nearly a thousand men outside the West gate of the City, armed with muskets, bows, knives and spears. Several men were wounded. Officials tried to intervene but were stoned by both sides. Eventually the contestants became tired and 5-6 men were seized.

These men were questioned and the leader of one rioting party was identified. The Kwong Heep visited the leader’s house on 30th March, pulled down the structure, arrested the leader, pierced his ears with arrows and paraded him through the streets as a warning to others. He is now in prison awaiting sentence.

Vol 11 No 14 – 3rd April 1838

Peking Gazettes:

The Miao minority in Szechuan rebelled. One of them stood on a hill and directed operations against the Imperial troops sent against them. His role in the rebellion was soon noted and he was shot, the hill taken, and all the rebels found there were slaughtered without exception. This caused the remaining rebels to submit. The Emperor orders they should all be seized and punished.

Vol 11 No 14 – 3rd April 1838

Edict of the Hoppo Wang to the Hong merchants for the foreigners, 23rd March:

Foreign ships have to pay duty on their cargoes before they can clear port. Lately some ships have duty payments outstanding but the Hongs still apply for their clearance. In future when ships enter and again when they leave, their duty assessments must be paid.

Once a Port Clearance Certificate has been applied for, no more goods can be shipped to that vessel. Advise the foreigners accordingly.

Vol 11 No 14 – 3rd April 1838


The Consoo Fund is in fact not a fund but a tax on foreign trade to settle bankrupt estates of former Hong merchants. It was set up in 1780 as a result of Captain Panton’s intervention (HMS Seahorse) when the foreign trade had accumulated debts of $3.8 millions with the Hongs, mainly due to non-performing loans from British and Armenian capitalists in Madras.

Panton had an audience with the Viceroy and, after making threats, got Chinese agreement to pay £200,000 immediately with a further £200,000 over ten years without interest.

These periodic repayments were to be raised from the new Consoo tax. Successive failures drained the fund year after year. The fund was also used to settle government demands for contributions to riverbank repairs, costs of putting down insurgencies, gifts for the Emperor and the like. The money is collected by individual Hongs and paid-in at the end of each year. This accumulation of wealth allures the provincial officials into maintaining their insatiable appetite for bribes. It should be discontinued. These paragraphs are a recital of an article in Canton Register on 1st February (year illegible – 1831 or 1834)

If the Fund was no longer available, money will become less easy to find, the exchange rate will firm and our imports will sell at better prices. Tea and silk will fall in price and the settlement of debts would come from the profits of the Hongs and their suppliers, the manufacturers of tea and silk, rather than from our profits.

In the Canton Press of 16th July 1836 it was said “it is laid down as a rule, sine qua non, by our principal supporters and friends that this paper shall advocate none but pacific measures to be adopted for the purpose of gaining a more genial and dignified station among the Chinese; and that the progress commerce is making is an agency quite sufficient to effect this ultimately and effectively.”

In Dent’s memorial is a request to the British government to ‘bring about, by negotiation or otherwise, a more safe and satisfactory commercial intercourse than has hitherto existed between the two nations’. It is clear the Canton Press no longer pursues a pacific policy. When governments become debt-collectors they act slowly – witness the delay of recent Danish claims on England and US claims on France.

As the Hongs do not have the money to settle with us, is it the memorialists’ expectation that the Emperor will pay on their behalf? If a British chartered company became insolvent would the British government pay the bills?27 Is it realistic to expect the Chinese government to settle with us? All our diplomatic attempts to connect with the Chinese government have failed. What new formula is to be used now? How do we assert our position on moral grounds without relying on threats and intimidation? The mere presence of one of our frigates is intimidation. If a naval force arrives it will be ordered away. Any ambassador will be excluded until the ships have gone. If he is allowed to go to Peking he must kow-tow to the Emperor. All other Europeans who have kow-towed have been treated with scorn. What is this ‘interposition’ that the memorialists urge on the British government? We tried diplomacy and failed; we tried threats (Panton) and partially succeeded.

At least the free traders are awake to the risks to their trade. They should now recognise that the mere progress of trade will avail them nothing. We should ask ourselves why the Chinese would voluntarily amend a system that is so beneficial to them. It is both convenient and expedient to China to continue the old system. But both convenience and expedience will vanish when the provincial government is required to be punctual, honest and just. The Emperor must know what His officials are doing in Canton. Several of His Edicts reveal His knowledge and anyway he gets an income from the foreign trade and will naturally support his own men against foreigners. A simple ‘interposition’, as the memorialists urge, will achieve nothing.

The Canton Press has likened this paper’s demands on China to France requesting for jurisdiction over the Isle of Wight. We do not insist on an island off the Chinese coast. We just insist Britain should take an equal place to the Emperor, then whatever we reasonably want will follow. None of us really wants access to Chinese Courts of Law. What we want is the law and protection of England. China characterises all foreigners as tributaries and any rights claimed are unacknowledged – there is Imperial compassion in their stead.

We conclude that the petition of the memorialists is too weak to involve the British government. China no longer guarantees the engagements of the Hong merchants with us – that is why there is a Consoo Fund. It should never have been allowed. The India Company should have remonstrated against it from the start. Whether the licensed Hong merchants have the experience and capital to conduct the foreign trade is not really our business unless we are to assert the rights of an independent country. We cannot assert those rights in China under a pacific policy. We conclude the memorialists were precipitant. They are mere creditors claiming on debtors. They represent a minority of the foreign trade and a minority of the foreign claims on Hing Tai. Palmerston should take care.

Vol 11 No 15 – 10th April 1838

Local news:

  • The Canton Foo Yuen is dismissed and required to present himself to the Board of Punishments; a replacement Governor named Hwang is expected to arrive later this month.
  • The provincial treasurer is sent to Peking to interview the Emperor and is succeeded temporarily by Judge Wang.
  • The judicial post will be filled by the Canton Salt Commissioner Chin.

Vol 11 No 15 – 10th April 1838

Edict of the Hoppo Wan, 2nd April:

“It is established law that the foreign ships at Whampoa may use open boats to transmit letters to / from Canton. The boats may have no masts or sails and must stop at the Customs Houses en route for search. Decked and masted boats are forbidden as they encourage smuggling.

“Many Edicts have been issued but the foreigners show no respect for our law and the Hong merchants permit it.

“Large decked and masted ferry boats still sail up the river and anchor off the factories and at Whampoa. This promotes opposition to law and facilitates smuggling. Opium has already been seized from the foreign boats.

“Captain Baker’s ship has long been anchored at Whampoa under the pretence of being a hospital ship (it arrived in October 1836) – how do we know it is not used to deliver smuggled goods to the ferry boats for distribution? When the ship arrived a Tsai Kwan was sent who remains on-station off the boat. His wages and provisions are paid by the ship and the expense is now over 50 Taels – obviously something is going on.28 For two years a useless expenditure has been incurred that will excite the suspicions of the Board of Revenue when they inevitably learn of it.

“The same pattern that exists at Lintin is being duplicated at Whampoa. The Hong merchants display contempt for the law. They must drive away Baker’s ship and the large ferry boats and preserve tranquillity. The foreigners trust to their own craftiness – they must not be allowed to do as they please or the Senior Hong merchant will regret it.”

Vol 11 No 15 – 10th April 1838

Dent has denied influencing the Editor of the Canton Press to assert the merits of the memorial to Palmerston. He says the published commentary originated with the Editor. He objects to our assertion that the memorialists are a minority of the trade.

Editor – This year 21,622 tons of shipping was consigned to British agents at Canton and sent off with teas for England. Of this 11,849 tons was consigned to people who signed the memorial (Dent’s group) and 9,773 tons to those who did not (Jardine’s group). It superficially appears the memorialists are preponderant but if we add the Indian trade (in cotton and opium) that preponderance disappears.

Vol 11 No 16 – 17th April 1838

A 20 year old well-dressed youth from a respectable family, an army recruit, lost $50 gambling which was well beyond his ability to repay. He went to the army post at the end of Old China Street (at the entrance to the foreign factories) and drank a bowl of laudanum.

Eventually the other soldiers informed Dr Cox but it was too late. The corpse was laid on a plank and carried to his friends for disposal.

Vol 11 No 16 – 17th April 1838

Editor – a creditor of King Qua has written to the Canton Register, signing his letter as ‘M’. He reports that Hong’s debt at over $2 millions, He says it should be repaid concurrently with Hing Tai’s debt.29 Hing Tai is in bankruptcy but King Qua still trades and is formally allowed to do so.

The debts should not be mingled for repayment otherwise we will never get our money – every time there is a repayment due another Hong will ‘fail’ and settlement negotiations recommence.

Vol 11 No 16 – 17th April 1838

Hong merchants’ letter to the foreign merchants:

You are not satisfied with repayment of Hing Tai’s debt in 9 years but we are unsure if we can achieve even that. Every year we have to pay 300,000 Taels to government as tribute, military expenses in Sinkiang, subsidies for port works and purchases of ginseng for Peking.

We are paying the revenue claims on Fat Qua Hong of 300,000+ Taels and Hing Tai of 100,000+ Taels.

We all have our own foreign debts to manage and discharge.

Now King Qua is in arrears on revenue payments of 300,000 Taels and his foreign debts are over $1 million. We understand you will co-operate with us in respect of King Qua and try to prevent his bankruptcy.

Although our accounts with you are marginally profitable on gross income, our expenses for repairs, labour and salaries make it unprofitable. You should know that if we have to pay Hing Tai’s debts quickly it requires us to temporarily cease payments on your other debts.

You may not know that we have had to solicit Imperial permission to pay the duty we owe by periodic payments over the next three years. You must be realistic and accept nine years if you wish to continue friendly trade.

Sgd by the Co-Hong – How Qua, Mow Qua, Poon Ki Qua, King Qua, Go Qua, Ming Qua, Sau Qua, Poon Hoi Qua, Sam Qua, Kwang Qua and Tak Qua.

Vol 11 No 16 – 17th April 1838

Viceroy Tang’s Edict, 11th April 1838:

“I have received more memorials from Dent, Jardine and Turner about Hing Tai Hong. They say How Qua assured them their claims would be dealt with quickly but no settlement agreement has been made.

“How Qua agrees that in the last four years foreigners have paid $1,500,000 to the Consoo Fund but he pleads poverty and asks for nine years. How Qua reminded the foreigners that the old debts of Gnew Qua and Pon Qua of nearly $2 millions were agreed for settlement in 10 years.

“The foreigners reply that the amount of trade then was small. Today it is nearly doubled. Between 1829-34 the debts of Man Hop and Chun Qua of $2 millions were paid by the Company out of its tea purchases when it only sent 30 million lbs a year. Over the last three years the Co-Hong has paid $378,434 each year in settlements from the Consoo Fund but we have paid the Consoo tax ($1½ millions approx), on a trade of $40 millions for each of the last four years, without any new claims. The foreigners say periodic payments are unreasonable and unjust.

“Turner says between 1829 – 34 the Co-Hong paid debts of $2,226,767 and revenue of $488,619 for insolvent Hongs. This equates with an annualised rate of over $540,000. It means the Hongs can pay more supposing no interest is allowed. He also says the trade, and thus the Consoo Fund, has increased in recent years and no new claims have been made on it. He says he looks to the Chinese government for settlement as it makes commercial law and licenses the Hongs for foreign trade. He provides a table of trade statistics:








Tea exports

347,318 piculs






Silk exports

6,283 bales






Cotton imports

449,068 piculs






“On examining the history of Hing Tai Hong it is certain the foreigners brought their trouble on themselves by lending repeatedly without repayment. They take large risks with their capital whilst secretly plundering our country. I did not enquire into this in deference to the Imperial order of benevolence to foreigners. I merely ordered the seizure of the proprietors of Hing Tai Hong and the distraint of their property while the foreign and Chinese merchants united to find a solution. I believe 12 years is a reasonable period for repayment and so ordered but the foreigners oppose me and scheme for earlier settlement. This is unreasonable.

“In explanation, the Consoo Fund was intended as a reward for the Hong merchants. It is not accumulated from year to year. Then the Hongs proposed to pay the Consoo Tax (Hong Yung) into the general revenue to secure their obligations for former debts. This was honourable. The foreigners say the Consoo Tax is solely for them – to indemnify foreign debts. Would they seriously hold, if the positions were reversed, that it was not part of Hong profit but simply a fund for debt-repayment?

“Turner says trade has increased but who can know if it might not decline? I have to keep the two provinces (East and West Kwong) tranquil and submissive, both Chinese and foreigners, yet I accept to deal with this trivial matter of debt. Dent and the others seem dead to my kindness. They say they have protested for redress to their own government. This is a perverse attempt to interfere in the administration of China. They should study and digest our law and make themselves aware of its awful majesty.”

Vol 11 No 16 – 17th April 1838

Viceroy’s edict on the hospital ship, 11th April:

“If it is not quickly removed I will seize the two involved security merchants and their compradors and linguists and send them all to the Nam Hoi Heen for punishment.”

(a similar Viceregal Edict concerning decked ferry boats is also mentioned by the Editor but not reproduced)

Vol 11 No 17 – 24th April 1838

Local news – before Governor Ke left for Peking, all the local magistrates gave him presents. The Poon Yu heen offered $2,000 but we hear this gift was rejected because the Shun Tak heen had given $3,000.

It seems the Foo, Chow and Heen magistrates must be assiduous squeezers if they are to satisfy their superiors. To be an honest official in China is not easy.

Vol 11 No 17 – 24th April 1838

The Canton Press reports that all the creditors of King Qua have agreed to not petition the government for the Hong’s liquidation if they can be assured of receiving the same deal as the creditors of Hing Tai. This suggests the creditors have decided to help King Qua trade through. The continuing Hongs say there is a reasonable prospect of success in rehabilitating King Qua.

The reason for this different treatment is clear – Hing Tai’s debts accumulated through trade whereas King Qua’s debts are for outstanding loans.

Trade debts are legally recoverable, unregistered loans to Hongs are not. The Canton government will not assist foreigners in recovering either principal or interest on their loans.

The Hongs have resolved to earmark an adequate part of their profits and pay them into the Consoo treasury from whence at year’s end they will be jointly disbursed in settlement of debts.

Vol 11 No 17 – 24th April 1838

Letter of 11 Hongs to the foreigners, dated 20th April 1838, setting-out their usual income and expenditure:

“You suggest that out of our commission of 5 Taels per picul of tea, we should set aside 1 Tael for debt repayment and thus the settlement will not be onerous. Our investigation suggests this arrangement will cause real hardship. The 5 Tael commission is not actually paid to us.

“Sometimes we contract for tea and before delivery the price falls or rises. Then we have to amend our contracts and the 5 Taels often gets absorbed in reaching agreement. Sometimes we buy tea on opportunity or order it directly from the farm. In both cases we cannot fix a price with the farmer until he has completed production and costed it. This is how we do business in China, not by contracts deeming what the future situation will be, but based on actual harvest quantities and qualities. We do not force a man to sell at a fixed price if it is less than he needs. What the tea men charge depends on the size and quality of their production. If it is better than sample, they renegotiate. They cannot be restrained by contracts. Where does the 5 Taels commission come from in such common circumstances?

“If you say we should sell as soon as we buy, it is only possible for 20-30% of our tea trade. You come here and order a particular tea at a particular price. We have to see what is available. When we have simply deducted the 5 Taels and remitted the balance to the tea men they often repudiate our orders.

“It is also the case that when we have obtained teas for you, your tea tasters take exception to the quality – declaring good tea as not good.

“Finally we note that tea prices in England have fallen and some buyers are reneging on their contracts, alleging differences of quality. In these circumstances much of the tea we have on hand is sold at a loss of 3 –10 Taels per picul.

“You know all this very well. Where is the 5 Taels commission in such circumstances?

“Duties and fees on tea cost us 3 Taels. A fourth Tael is consumed by interest on your prepayment, by transport charges and by the cost of a small surplus over order in case of shortage. Our own costs and hire of labour comes from the fifth Tael. You think we have a spare Tael when it is seldom the case. When we dealt with the Company, it shared its tea purchases amongst us, and we Hongs could anticipate a joint profit of 500,000 Taels or more each year.

“The Consoo Fund (Hong Yung) is just a name. There has never been an accumulated fund as such. Every year we pay first the revenue, then our operating expenses. Long ago, when a Hong failed, we agreed to extend the Consoo Fund, which is a fund for our general affairs, to include debt repayments and each of us pay-in according to the size of our share of foreign trade. If our trade is unprofitable, the only flexible thing is the operating expenses and we have to adjust our salaries, sometimes to the extent of 50,000 – 60,000 Taels per year. Big Hongs could do this but small Hongs fell behind. As their capital declined, they were forced into buying from you dear and selling to you cheap to address your perceived increased risk in dealing with them. All they could do was bear the difficulty until they recovered or failed. But every failure involved the whole body of Hong merchants in expense.

“There were Hong failures before the Company ceased trade – it is not a new thing. Since then Fat Qua and Hing Tai have failed with combined debts of $2.9 millions. The continuing Hongs have reported debts of $2.2 millions in new business and $100,000 in old business. In addition to these, we have to pay public expenses of many hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The annual cost of maintaining our Hongs totals 500,000 – 600,000 Taels.

“Since the Company ceased trade our shares of tea sales have not been profitable. The extra charges and duty payments are variable to the extent we cannot calculate them and never know if our business is profitable or not until auditing afterwards. The failure of Hing Tai has caused the duty and charges on cotton to increase from 8 mace to 1 Tael 1 mace; the duty and charges on tea have increased from 2 to 3 Taels. These are the chief commodities of foreign trade and neither is profitable. You say the quantity of imports and exports have increased but from our perspective, this simply means our losses have increased. Losing year after year, paying interest on interest, we have so quickly become liable for $2+ millions. This results from the change in trading style since the Company ceased to come. We are having difficulty staying in business and you want us to assume onerous responsibilities for debts.

“We have discussed this repeatedly amongst ourselves and have resolved that each Hong shall earmark his import and export profits and Consoo tax receipts and place them in the Consoo House (under his own control) and at year-end this fund will be disbursed to you in settlement of your debts. Hing Tai’s debt will be paid in 9 years. The other old debts and public claims will be settled as previously agreed. In future public claims will be settled as they arise. Any surplus will be redistributed amongst ourselves.

“Concerning King Qua his problem makes settlement even more difficult. These are the facts of the case for your information.”

Vol 11 No 17 – 24th April 1838

Viceroy Tang’s Edict to the Hongs on ferry boats, 22nd April 1838:

“In 1806 Viceroy Lee had already reported regulations for ferry boats to the Emperor. In 1814 the Viceroy Tseung promulgated the following instructions. He ordered the Customs Houses to issue and examine the papers of Macau ferry boats and search them. If smuggling was discovered it was to be stopped. When boats left Canton they required a Customs pass. If they went to Whampoa they delivered the pass there; if they went to the foreign warships outside the river, they delivered their passes at the Bogue forts. On return they collected a pass at the Bogue and delivered it at Whampoa or Canton depending on their stated destination. If the boat left from Whampoa downriver it got its pass there and delivered it at the Bogue or Canton. Each Customs House, on issuing a pass, communicated the boat’s destination to the cruisers and forts. Monthly returns of passes issued were to be reported to the Hoppo.

“Viceroy Loo (arrived December 1832 – died September 1835) received the Imperial instruction that the Company’s schooner (Louisa) was not to fly a flag.

“When I became Viceroy I examined to see if any decked or masted ferry boats came to Canton and anchored in the river thus breaking the law. The Hong merchants have repeatedly been ordered to drive the boats away but recently they have returned just like before. They smuggle goods, sell opium and defraud the revenue. This is due to negligent enforcement. The Hong merchants and enforcement officers should be punished. But before I do that, I direct you once more to uphold the law. The Hoppo will cause his officers to issue passes to only small open boats and report any smuggling. Large decked and masted boats are to be expelled.”

Vol 11 No 18 – 1st May 1838

There has been some interest in India concerning our revelations of the conduct of the Company’s Agents in Canton. We append the reports.

The Englishman, Calcutta, 25th January 1838:

The Canton Register of 12th December 1837 denounces the Company’s remittances from China as self-interest prevailing over public duty. Why does the Company operate a finance agency at Canton when it has been prohibited to trade there? If remittances are so important, why does not the Company establish a finance agency in every foreign port?

We all know the Company is a great promoter of patronage. A few new people in powerful positions, above the usual service requirements, add to the wealth of the Directors who appoint them. The Company cannot even forego the trade in opium which it grows in India far more cheaply than it could in England.

It’s the same self-interest underlying the finance agency at Canton. These agents in Canton are looking after themselves and their friends as much as the Company. The merchants of London, Liverpool and Canton will have to petition the Board of Control if they want the removal of the Canton agency.

The Company has to send £3 millions to England annually to pay the ‘home charges.’ It should send this money directly from India and avoid destabilising private trade – that requires openness. The Calcutta merchants do not complain of the Company’s remittances as it does not concern them. They believe the loans are made fairly but their complaint is that the Company, as government, acts without consultation. The occasional shortages tempt private capitalists to speculate only to find their investments unprofitable when government money suddenly floods the market. On the next shortage, fearing a similar experience, they withhold funds only to find the government does likewise.

These unexpected and unilateral financial operations of the Company thus cause fluctuations in the exchange rate independent of the factors which might normally be expected to effect it. The objection to the financial operations of the Company in China is that the agents advertise only some of the terms and this enables them to favour certain parties and to deny funds to others. This is the allegation that the Canton Register is making.

The Company’s regulator is the Board of Control and this Board is directed by accommodating politicians. If the Company insists China trade finance is too valuable to be foregone, the Board will agree. But at the least it should require the Company to issue rules to its Canton staff and make them public.

In fact the entire agency must be illegal in light of the end of the Company’s monopoly and its statutorily-required withdrawal from trade. The Company has no revenue in China. Its funds are drawn from Bengal and sold competitively in the market at Canton to finance the purchase of Bills on London. It is now said that private merchants cannot equally share in the availability of these funds which are directed to the Agent’s friends. The Bengal government should starve the Agents of cash and force them to be honest.

Letter to the Editor of the Englishman:

You libel the Company’s agents in China by publishing the Canton Register’s assertions. I deprecate the Company’s finance agency in China but I have no doubt the Agents are all honourable men and the rest of the foreign community at Canton will corroborate this. Sgd ‘A Canton Merchant’

Calcutta Courier:

…. The Canton Register tells us the former Agents distributed advances with partiality. The present staff of the Agency are not the people they accuse of partiality. They complain the present Agents only for valuing tea unfairly. J R Reeves used to work for the company. Now he is employed by Dent & Co but his own valuation is accepted by the Agents for trade finance.

Editorial – Our evidence is firstly of merchants with no goods to export applying to the Agents for funds at a fixed rate of exchange and transferring title to those funds to other merchants for profit. All the Calcutta merchants trading to China know about this. It means the Bengal government does not get the market rate for its funds and allows the missing balance to its contractor.

Secondly, on 14th October 1837 the Agents, per pro J N Daniell and T C Smith, advertised funds for sale but on 18th October withdrew the offer having transferred the entire amount to Daniell & Co, which is the business of one of the Agents. We do not say the Agents have been corrupt, only that they are not getting the real return on their employer’s funds.

The fact is we have adequate private capital in Canton to fund our own trade.

Vol 11 No 18 – 1st May 1838

London news – W H C Plowden, now of 8 Devonshire Place, London, has proposed to the shareholders of the Company that he should be made a Director. He first served in India and then spent 30 years in China, rising to President of the Select at the time of Baynes’ rebellion.

Vol 11 No 18 – 1st May 1838

The Canton Press says our comments on King Qua’s debts are unclear. We say there is no precedent for vicarious payment of an insolvent Hong’s debts until that Hong has been declared bankrupt.

We will elucidate by quoting from Dent’s ‘The Chinese Security Merchants in Canton and their Debts:’

“The four solvent Hongs sought to monopolise the foreign trade. The Select responded by managing the business of the five insolvent Hongs under a Trust Deed. Con See Qua, Exchin, Man Hop, Pun Ki Qua and Go Qua agreed with their creditors to trade through and successfully did so.”30

That is the course we commend to the foreign creditors of King Qua. We are not trying to injure the prospects of the British government in getting redress for Dent’s group.

Vol 11 No 18 – 1st May 1838

Letter to the Editor from a merchant CGR:

I write in support of my American friend CCC. He believes the Consoo tax is merely a paper tax and not the source of a fund to settle foreign debts. Many of us merchants agree.

The reasoning is as follows – when the old claims were paid off in 1834 all the Hongs knew their liability for foreign debts had been discharged. Thereafter the Hongs bought and sold without ear-marking profits specifically as the Consoo tax which simply merged into their (minimal) profits. Since 1834 we all know the Hongs have been trading too cheaply. They are not getting a fair price for their involvement even if, as you say, they still include the Consoo charge in their prices. The fact is that their businesses are unprofitable and they are one-by-one sinking, regardless of the increased level of overall trade.

Some foreign merchants insist they have paid Consoo charges since 1834 and the fund must by now approximate $1 – 2 millions if it has been collected on all the relevant trade. The Canton government and the Hong merchants both say no Consoo charges have been collected since 1834. The Viceroy identifies the charge as a fund for the benefit of the Co-Hong and indivisible from the Hongs’ ordinary profits-in-trade. The Hongs say the fund existed in name only and was never a fund of actual money. They say ‘whatever remained’ after settling public claims went to defray their business expenses. Whether you call this remainder Hong profit or Consoo Fund, it was used to meet current expenditure. This knowledge allowed CCC to not mislead his trading partners as to the existence of a reserve fund for debt repayment.

The foreigners raise two objections:

  • Firstly, they say local officials extort from Hongs and diminish their profits. On extortion it is CCC’s view that 80% of the informal taxes taken from the Hongs are for public works. That should put them on the same footing as Imperial duty. The fact that the Chinese government earmarks Hong funds for particular projects – riverbank repair, funds for Sinkiang, etc., – does not alter their nature. They are all enforceable Imperial taxes.
  • Secondly, foreigners say it is for the Hongs to make arrangements to meet the cost of insolvencies amongst their brethren. We should recall their resolution of 20th April whereby each Hong will set aside its profits-in-trade and Consoo receipts and disburse the same at each year’s end when all debts are to be paid.

How Qua refuses to do business with the English and has become our most powerful competitor in tea exports. Do we wish to make him the director of an uncompetitive monopoly under which our trade will wither? This is what CCC fears – the tendency of large insolvency payments to strengthen the Consoo and revive the combination of its members.

Editor – If CCC is right, why were woollens, calicoes and iron exempted from the Consoo tax? Surely the present determination of the Hongs to pay the Consoo tax into the Consoo House is a confession that it is a public revenue not Hong profit. We say there is this tax; its purpose is to pay foreign debts, and mingling it with trading capital alters nothing.

Continued in the next edition ……

…… letter to the Editor from CGR:

There are now 20 ships selling opium outside the river and on the East Coast and 30 armed boats smuggling the drug in the river. There is some authority to expect the US government to take a moral stance on the subject of its nationals being involved in opium smuggling.

The US Treaty with France of 1778 provides that where the citizen of one country commits crime in the other he shall be amenable to judicial process in the host country. The treaty with Sweden of 1823 requires the citizens of each country to submit to the laws of the other. The convention with Britain of 1815 provides that the merchants and consuls of each country are subject to the law of the two countries. The treaties with Russia, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Denmark, etc., all contain similar provisions. Several have lists of contraband that are offensive to both countries. The treaty with Morocco of 1786 provides that disputes between US nationals will be settled by the US Consul. In cases of injury or murder of a Moroccan by an American or vice versa the matter will be settled under the law of the country, the Consul assisting at the proceedings. The conventions with Tripoli and Tunis are similar. The treaty with Algiers (whilst under French occupation) gave the Dey personal responsibility to decide disputes between his citizens and Americans. The treaty with the Ottoman Porte of 1830 provides that American criminals will be dealt with by their Consul following the usage observed towards other ‘Franks’.

These extracts reveal a consistent American policy in respect of its nationals overseas.

The US Treaty with Thailand contains no agreement for a resident Consul but lists opium as contraband and requires Americans to not trade in it there.

In sum, the U S Government unreservedly submits its citizens to the foreign country’s judiciary in all cases it is confident of justice. The Thai treaty suggests America is reasonably confident of obtaining justice there. If a similar treaty was concluded with China, the majority of American traders at Canton would become criminals subject to Chinese law.

The American government believes the Chinese have always pursued a benevolent course. It calls on the representatives of each foreign nation to restrain his own countrymen. US policy is to prevent trouble rather than allow it to arise and punish afterwards. There seems to be no reason to provide protection to Americans at Canton.

The US administration has already considered the opium trade and concluded, in respect of Thailand, that it is wrong. For consistency it must take the same position in China. Americans in China should consider their diplomatic code and eschew trade in opium. Sgd CGR

Vol 11 No 19 – 8th May 1838

Edict of Adriao Accacio da Silveira Pinto, Governor of Macau, 2nd May:

The Supreme Government in Goa, India permitted a small number of Portuguese lorchas to be registered at Macau to meet the needs of the local people. Now many foreign schooners and boats arrive.

After 20th May every ship or boat entering the inner harbour of Macau, excepting only the Superintendents’ sloop Louisa, will require a permit and comply with the same regulations as Portuguese lorchas.

Vol 11 No 19 – 8th May 1838

Notice, 7th May – The business of James Hamilton & Co in Canton ceased today. Anyone with claims on the company or business to transact should contact Jardine Matheson & Co. Sgd Wm MacDonald.

Vol 11 No 19 – 8th May 1838

Letter to the Editor – 4th April is the birthday of our Queen, daughter of Dom Pedro, Duke of Braganza. You will know she recently gave birth to a son.

The Macau government thought it appropriate on that day to auction off the Baron’s property (the Baron is the Governor – see the earlier report above). The decision was made by Pedro Jose da Silva Loureiro, Bento Jose G Seva, Joao Diaz and Vicente F Baptista, the four remaining members of the Leal Senado.

While those four were having their sale, the Governor, the army, the church and most of the Portuguese people joined in celebrations for the Queen culminating in a splendid party at the Governor’s palace.

Sgd A Portuguese

Vol 11 No 19 – 8th May 1838

A shareholders’ meeting was held at India House, Sir James Rivett-Carnac in the Chair, to consider abolishing the Company’s Agency at Canton.

Weeding, a shareholder, proposed the motion:

  • The Agents at Canton draw Bills on Bengal which are bought with either specie or Bills on London on condition the goods secured by the loan are placed under the Company’s control. The Bills are drawn for 2/3rds of the value of the goods shipped. The Company has a right to sell the goods if the Bills are not paid. The effect of this financial operation has been to cause fluctuations in the exchange rate. Many thought the business illegal. If it was legal it was certainly against the spirit of Cap 85, Sec 4 (the Act abolishing the Company’s monopoly in China.) which provides that ‘the company shall … after 22nd April 1834 … abstain from all commercial business not incidental to closure or converting its property into money.’ Weeding noted the cost of conducting Bills business in China (mainly Agent’s commission) was nearly £20,000 a year. Disregarding questions of legality, he said the business produced loss in England. Company trade was taken over by private merchants and manufacturers, the latter of whom made £700,000+ profit that first year, the rate of exchange offered in April being 4/11d or 5/- per Spanish dollar. Then in October 1834 the Company by public advertisement cut the exchange rate to 4/7d per dollar thus occasioning a loss of £50,000 on the merchants’ trade of the prior six months. The private merchants were then preparing to buy £1 – £2 millions of tea but, with £900,000 new capital circulating as a result of the Company’s Bills business, the price of Chinese exports increased to meet the extent of available funds causing an additional loss of £250,000. Finally instead of 30 – 40 million lbs of tea being available as usual there was 40 – 50 million lbs that first free trade year. This belated over-supply cause tea prices to drop at the end of the season by 20% making a notional loss on the earlier purchases of £400,000. The effect of all this was that the Hongs made a windfall profit that year while the Company’s 2-year tea stock in London was devalued by £600,000. Thus all parties on the British side lost money.
  • Secondly the Agency has enabled the Hong merchants to increasingly export Chinese goods on their own account, independently of their imports and thus British trade in both India and England has been reduced.

From May 1835 – April 1936 the company transferred £2 millions at its own rate of exchange to the home treasury via China. Subsequent years were similar. The company is sovereign in India. It ought not to compete with the capital of private British merchants. The company gets large profits on bullion paid into its treasury. The profit on its Rupee is over 5% with interest. The legal justification for continued trade is mere sophistry. I propose the Bills Agency be closed.”

J C Whiteman (now a Canton free-trader) seconded Weeding’s proposal. He noted the Company had agreed to refrain from trade and commerce in India for forty years. It appeared to be in breach of this undertaking. The profit on the remittances to England was not less than 10-12%. The agency was unnecessary as the American trade with China of £3+ millions a year was already mainly financed by British capital. The Company would do better, if it insists on continuing involvement in China, to negotiate to open other ports on the East Coast.

Numerous shareholders spoke against the motion. A popular view was that if the Company was in breach of the law it was up to the government to act against it.

The Chairman said he was sad to hear shareholders arguing the interests of everyone except the Company itself. He said fixing rates of exchange was complicated by the numerous interests to be satisfied and should be left to the experts – the Directors. Money had to be remitted to England and this was always bound to irritate the private merchants who have already protested the Bills Agency to government. Government had reviewed the matter, drawn up a Bill that was subsequently enacted, and permitted the remittances. Could anyone suggest another way of remitting the home charges to London? If not, they should not interfere with the existing system.

Shareholder Twining (the tea wholesaler) said the Company’s financing activity in China increased the price of tea at the expense of the British consumer. If the shareholders agreed that tea now costs more because of the Bills, they should support the motion. Weeding’s proposal was then voted and defeated by a huge majority.

Bombay Gazette Editorial, 7th March 1838 – Rivett-Carnac is likely to lose his reputation for liberality. The changes of 1834 were intended to benefit the trader, the agent, the manufacturer at the expense of the Company – that is the name of the game now.

All our manufacturers and merchants will promote the national economic interest. The government is right to remove impediments to trade. We free-traders will create and spread wealth in a way the Company never did. Indian agriculture and commerce require better communications; education of the Indian workforce must progress.

If Rivett-Carnac is to be consistent he will have to oppose these needs in preference for the needs of the Company. Why, even the government’s supporters are wrong if they oppose the will of Leadenhall Street. In fact the interests of the country and the people are identical.

Rivett-Carnac says the remittances are essential to pay the home charges which include the shareholders’ dividends. He thus puts the interests of the Company in direct opposition to our mercantile interests.

If the home charges were remitted direct from India we would not complain. Company funding in China causes fluctuations in exchange rates and commodity prices. The interests of the free trade are sacrificed to the whims and patronage of the Directors. What right does the Company have to monopolise the exchange profits from trade in China? The Company should obey the law and confine itself to governing India.

All we can do is petition parliament but there is little chance of relief from the present ministry. The Company’s Bills business increases the price of exports, encourages the under-capitalised trade speculator and diminishes the profit of the better merchants. This forced demand for exports is raising tea and silk stocks in England and threatens to collapse prices. By destabilising the market, the Company encourages the possibility of a Bill holder failing, in which case it would assume title to his goods and get back into trade via the backdoor. The Company has no political standing in China, it should not influence the commerce of that country.31

Vol 11 No 20 – 15th May 1838

Excerpt from Gernelli Coreri’s ‘Voyage Around the World, 1695’:

The first part of China I visited was Macau, also known as Ah Ma Gow, the name of an idol adored at that place. It is sited on the point of an island called Hoi Chu (later Heung Shan and – since 20th century – Chung Shan) in Canton Province. It is shaped like an arm surrounded by sea except at the shoulder. The land features hills, valleys and plains. The houses are in the European style. The churches are fine especially the Jesuit College which has a noble front adorned with many pillars and contains a relic (a humerus) of St Francis Xavier. There are also churches of the Augustines, of St Francis, St Laurence, the Misericordia and the nuns, all well-built. There is plenty of stone and the streets are all paved.

The city has over 5,000 Portuguese and over 15,000 Chinese residents. It was founded 110 years ago after Portuguese came from Malacca to China for trade but suffered from bad weather in which many of their ships sank and made them request for a safe harbour. They asked for a place of safety until the wind permitted them to return and the Chinese, for their own advantage, gave them this peninsula, then inhabited by pirates, requiring them to expel the pirates before occupying the land.

The Chinese permitted them to build thatched houses but by bribery the Portuguese were able to build substantial structures including forts. One is at the harbour mouth called the Bar Fort built on Penha Hill below the hermitage of the Augustines. The other is the Monte Fort, a bigger fort, and there is a third one named for our Lady of Guidance (nossa Senhora da Guia).

Felipe Ferrarina was wrong to say Macau belonged to Portugal and was taken by China in 1668. It has never experienced revolution and remains a Portuguese colony by Imperial grant for which the Portuguese pay both a yearly tribute and taxes on ships visiting and goods landed. No ship can enter or leave without Chinese permission.

It is not a productive colony and all provisions are brought from the north. It is as though the Chinese had imprisoned the Portuguese here. They have secured the narrow neck of land linking it to the mainland with a wall and a gate which they can lock when they please and disrupt the inhabitants’ food supplies whenever necessary. Agricultural produce is so abundant in China that a silver dollar spent on bread will feed a man for half a year.

The Chinese allow the Portuguese the government of their city in respect of administration of justice for which the Portuguese pay 600 Taels a year plus the Customs dues on the ships and trade. The charge on each ship entering is 1,000 Taels. The city chooses its own Judge who manages all criminal and civil disputes that do not involve Chinese. The political government is by a Captain-General appointed in Lisbon and the spiritual government by a bishop. All these officers are maintained by the city. The Captain-General gets a dollar a day and $3,000 every three years; the bishop gets $500 a year and army captains get $150 annually with proportionately less to the soldiers. These costs are met by a charge of 10% on Portuguese goods and 2% on money imported. The Portuguese government in Lisbon pays nothing towards the upkeep of Macau.

The city is also burdened by visits of Chinese officials who have to be lodged and entertained – one official ordered a cow to be slaughtered on his arrival as he wanted some beef to ease an indisposition. All income depends on the sea. Everyone lives by trade. The gentry deal in money by loaning it locally or sending goods or gold to Goa. Although the city has no food production of its own, I have never fed so well as at Macau. The women are excellent cooks.

When the trade with Japan flourished, this city could have paved its streets in silver but after the slaughter of the Christians at Nagasaki, the trade was lost and the Macanese fell into poverty.

They now have five ships but these never return the 300% profits that the Japan trade did. They are further threatened by the new East India Company which prohibits their trade at some ports and in some commodities.

Vol 11 No 20 – 15th May 1838

Editorial – CGR has quoted American foreign policy against us. We revere Washington, the Pilgrim Fathers and the patriots of Bunker Hill. We attend closely to the hopes and prospects of the American people. But we also know the history of the World.

CGR expresses a democratic faith in man whilst there is persuasive authority for the proposition – “the heart of man is desperately wicked”

Vol 11 No 20 – 15th May 1838

Edict of Viceroy Tang, 27th April 1838:

“China tenderly cherishes foreigners and treats them the same as its own people. But there are rules of conduct for both foreigners and Chinese that are worthy of obedience.

“When a foreigner is sick he applies for a permit and goes to the hospital at Macau for treatment. Other hospitals are not permitted to avoid throwing the established regulations into disorder. Hence I ordered the expulsion of Baker’s ship at Whampoa. The foreign merchants who enjoy the privilege of trade with China should implicitly obey our law. This is a fundamental principle.

“Elliot says Baker’s ship has been bought by his King for a seamen’s hospital. I infer his concern for the health of his people. Elliot says he will speak to his King and come to Canton to attend to the matter. His conduct is worthy of commendation.

“I command How Qua to instruct Elliot to request for a permit to come to Canton and order Baker’s ship away before the end of this month. On leaving Baker may not delay anywhere. If he opposes, Elliot will order the destruction of the ship, which the foreigner’s say is unseaworthy, and the sale of its parts and report the same. This will conform with the law. If Elliot wishes to report this matter to his King that is for him to decide.

“Foreigners have always been directed by the Hong merchants. Elliot asks for direct communication. This is contrary to our practice and impossible to allow. Elliot merely has to manage British affairs with justice and propriety and he will then receive my tender consideration. He should not fix his heart on some alternative procedure.”

Vol 11 No 20 – 15th May 1838

Edict of Viceroy Tang to the Hongs responding to their earlier petition:

“How Qua and other Hongs say foreigners were only permitted to trade with shopmen in the eight articles (leatherware, chinaware, etc.). All other commodities traded and the payment of duty on them was the monopoly of the Hong merchants. By 1829 trade had increased to the point we agreed to extend the trade of the shopmen to include everything except the staples of the port. The staples were listed as 24 items of export, including tea and raw silk, and 53 items of import, including woollens. The shopmen were forbidden trade in these 77 items but Viceroy Lee (appointed 1828 – 1833) allowed them a trade in all others and in the supply of provisions.

“This regulation is not being followed.

“The shopmen Mih Hing, Chan Keung, Fung Lam, Yik Tuen, Leung Lam Fong and Cheung Fuk have been selling tea and raw silk to the foreigners below Hong prices. This has caused confusion and reduced the profitability of the foreign trade to the Hongs. They accordingly petition for a prohibitory edict to the shopmen and their exclusion from the foreign factories.

“I, the Viceroy, know the Hongs have a monopoly of foreign trade and a responsibility to direct and manage foreigners. The two go together. They are supposed to be the only point of contact that foreigners have and they are bonded to be liable for the submission of foreigners to our law. The trade of the shopmen has previously concerned the government and attempts to cater for foreign wishes were made ….

Editor Slade declines to publish any more opining that the Edict is absurd. He says he only published this much as the Edict was displayed on the warehouse wall of a Hong merchant. He says no Edicts are enforced and thus all may be safely ignored.

Vol 11 No 21 – 22nd May 1838

An important event has occurred in England. The Company has disposed of the last of its teas. After 200+ years of monopoly, the Company is finally out of the tea-trade. The India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth and abolished by Queen Victoria.

Attendance at the auction was huge and the remaining stock of 4.2 million lbs was quickly taken.

Company Director John Petty Muspratt supervised. There was considerable competition to buy the last chest, which was of congou, and it finally went to the broker R Gibb at 7/6d per lb, far above its value. Muspratt then wished the trade health and prosperity.

The company’s teas are preferred by both wholesalers and consumers and these last offerings were expected to bear a high premium.

It was publicly questioned whether the free traders will not establish a greater monopoly over tea than was ever exercised by the Company. Trade representatives said they will continue the Company’s practice of quarterly sales.

Vol 11 No 21 – 22nd May 1838

Official Notice of Elliot, 18th May:

The Macau Governor requires Chinese boats having Britons on board to stop at the Bar Fort for examination. His instructions are designed to avoid excessive inconvenience.

Should any Portuguese official within the inner harbour request for the boat’s passport, the passengers should direct the boatman to provide it.

The Governor asks that no discussion be held with the official but, in event of complaint, it should be addressed to him. I request any Briton having complaint to address it to me first for transmission to the Governor.

Vol 11 No 21 – 22nd May 1838

Canton Press, 19th May – The Medical Missionary Society held a general meeting at the Chamber of Commerce on 15th May, Wm Jardine presiding:

A list of published medical journals was provided to the meeting. It was agreed the society would write to the Editors of each for copies. It was resolved to raise funds for the hospital in Macau. A list of sympathetic Englishmen and Americans was provided to whom the society would apply for funds. A subscription would be opened at the principal places of business (the main Agencies in the factories and the receiving ships at Hong Kong) for donations.32

J C Green proposed, Bridgman seconding, that the presiding physician (Jardine) and Dr Anderson estimate the cost of providing the hospital with a store room for medicine, six male and six female wards and a room for the managing physician.

Vol 11 No 22 – 29th May 1838

The committee of the East India and China Association has presented its annual report. They have obtained the Company’s agreement to notify the extent of its expected remittances from India to allow the private trade to take precautions.

The Company expects its demand on India for 1837 and 1838 will be £3.2 millions per year. If there is any material change the Association will be notified.

The main concern of the committee this year has been treaty violations of the Dutch at Batavia in respect of Customs duty on trade.

Vol 11 No 22 – 29th May 1838

To let – the lower half of 2 Creek Hong with treasury and office on Ground Floor. For terms apply to the Canton Register.33

Vol 11 No 22 – 29th May 1838

Printing services:

Bills of Lading, Bills of Exchange, )
Opium Orders and Boat Notes.     )
Linguist’s Reports, Cargo Reports
$1.00 per 100
$1.50 per 100

Apply to the Canton Register office.

Vol 11 No 22 – 29th May 1838

Peking news – Hoppo Wan of Canton is recalled and will be replaced by Yu Kwan.

Vol 11 No 22 – 29th May 1838

Edict of the Viceroy:

“The Hoppo reports the foreigners’ large ferry boats still come and go with smuggled goods. It has already been ordered that firstly foreigners must apply for a pass to come and go and secondly they must stop at forts and for all government boats for examination. If they decline to be searched or if they are found to have no pass or to have smuggled goods or arms or ammunition then they are to be detained.34 Masted and decked boats are banned from the river.

“Now the Customs House at the Bogue has reported that four ferry boats entered the river in convoy and did not stop and report as required. When pursued and stopped the foreigners feigned incomprehension and continued on their way. This is contempt for our law.

“The foreigners are not completely stupid; obviously the Hongs have not explained the law properly. The Hongs must be ordered to give implicit obedience to the law.

“A few days later two more boats separately entered the river and a third departed the following day. None of these three stopped to get a pass. Customs officers pursued them and the foreigners fired muskets. It is fortunate no officer was wounded.

“Four days later two more large ferry boats entered the river without stopping for passes. The officers chased them and the foreigners again opened fire with their guns. The Canton cruisers and the eastern fort at Whampoa also report the ferry boats pass without stopping.

“The foreigners are indeed proud, obstinate and perverse. To be cont ……35

Vol 11 No 23 – 5th June 1838

Notice, 4th June 1838 – The Company’s Treasury is open for receipt of cash in exchange for Bills on India at 210 Current Rupees per $100.

Vol 11 No 23 – 5th June 1838

China news – Iliang, the newly appointed Viceroy of the Two Kwong has gone to Peking to receive Imperial instruction before taking up his new post. He was formerly a chefoo in this province and his brother was a Treasurer here. His wife is a niece of the Emperor.

Vol 11 No 23 – 5th June 1838

Viceregal edict – When the Customs House staff encounter foreign ferry boats that do not stop for inspection, they alert the cruisers and forts but they say neither will take any action against the boats. This is negligence.

The General and Admiral are to cooperate with the Customs. The Hongs are to reiterate the proscription to the foreigners. They may not bring large ferry boats into the river.

Vol 11 No 23 – 5th June 1838

A reward of $5,000 is offered for the capture of the 30 years old pirate Au Kin Sheung of Heung Shan. His wife has been seized and imprisoned and will be held until her husband is taken. He is reportedly in Cochin China.

Vol 11 No 24 – 12th June 1838


  • M/s James Hooker and William Lane have taken over the business of M/s Stanford & Marks on 1st June and continue to offer warehousing and auctioneering services.
  • Mr George Adam has withdrawn from the partnership of Bibby Adam & Co, Canton, 11th June 1838

Vol 11 No 24 – 12th June 1838

“Tobacco” from the Saturday Magazine:

At the time of the Spanish conquest of America, tobacco was seen to be smoked everywhere. The Spaniard Grijalva first saw it used in 1518 in a meeting with the headman of Tabasco. At about the same time they discovered it in Yucatan, Mexico. American Indians used it at their religious festivals, throwing the leaves on the fire and inhaling the smoke. It was probably used socially as well. Humboldt says it was used on the Orinoco from ‘time immemorial’. It was then introduced to Europe, although opposed by both civil and religious authorities, and is now universally used.

The Venetian and Genoese traders introduced it to the Levant and from there it spread to all Asia. It is now found in all the countries and islands that Europeans have visited.

The European history of tobacco is as follows:

In 1561 a Dutch planter gave seeds to Jean Nicot, Duc Villemain, the French ambassador to Lisbon and he sent them to Catherine de Medici who patronised it as a medicine. It became known as Herbe a la Reine until her death. The crowns of Europe railed against it. Queen Elizabeth of England opposed it saying it was a barbarian product and would promote barbarism in its users. King James later wrote his counterblaste, imposed a prohibitive duty of 6/8d per lb., and restricted the production of Virginia farmers to 100 lbs per year. Charles I made tobacco a royal monopoly as it still is in the Netherlands and France. In 1624 the Pope denigrated snuff-taking and in 1690 the then Pope forbade the use of snuff in St Peter’s church in Rome. In Berne, Switzerland, smoking was ranked with adultery as a crime.

An interesting aspect of British production in Virginia relates to the farmers, who in early 17th century were all English bachelor employees of the London Chartered Company that was established to colonise Virginia.

To better settle these farmers, a shipment of respectable young women was sent out and they were sold for 120 lbs of tobacco each, being the equivalent value of the passage ticket.

In Asia in 1590 Shah Abbis forbade its use in Persia but found his subjects adjourning to the mountains, beyond his control, to smoke. In 1625 the Grand Sultan Amnrath IV proscribed smoking on pain of death. In Constantinople (where smoking is now universal) any Turk caught smoking had a pipe forced through his nose and, thus decorated, was compelled to walk the streets and endure the verbal abuse and rotten vegetables of the populace. In Russia the Grand Duke of Moscow proscribed tobacco with beating for the first offence and death if caught again. Any Russian taking snuff had his nostrils split. A special tobacco court was established in Moscow in 1631 and continued for 120 years. Tobacco prevailed in spite of all the opposition.

Editor – this history of tobacco gives grounds for optimism in our opium trade.

Vol 11 No 24 – 12th June 1838

Chinese handbill posted at the end of Hog Lane and on Ming Qua’s Hong:

“I, Chow Kea Lan, a native of Ta Chow village, Shun Tak, will pay $60 to anyone who arrests my younger brother and takes him before the Shun Tak magistrate or brings him to our ancestral temple in Ta Chow.

“He was unfilial to his mother, he struck me and he breaks many other laws. I got the magistrate to banish him as a slave to the army in Yunnan but he has come back and is doing all sorts of illegal business in Canton. Recently, he brought his gang to my village, saying he had plenty of money here, broke into my house and stole my clothes. If I had been home I believe he would have killed me. Don’t listen to him, don’t come with him to my house. Just catch him and give him to the police. You will not be implicated.”

Vol 11 No 24 – 12th June 1838

Viceroy’s reply to Peking in May 1838 on civil disorder in Kwangtung:

“The people of Chiu Chow foo and Tung Kwoon heen in Wai Chow foo, Kwangtung are constantly assembling in crowds, fighting and robbing. The new Chefoo has travelled the areas and counselled the village headmen. This year Chiu Chow has somewhat improved but Tung Kwoon is still rebellious. The law must be enforced to tranquillise the people.

“Last year, in a dispute over non-payment of land rent in Tung Kwoon, seventeen people were killed and over thirty arrested and punished but this year the same dispute caused the deaths of seven more. I ordered an investigation into the origin of this dispute to see who is right and who is wrong so the matter could be redressed. But when I send soldiers, if they are few they are opposed, and if they are many the culprits run away. Robbery continues without end.

“At the beginning of this year I combined the civil and military forces and attacked. We have arrested 12 men in Tung Kwoon and are debriefing them. The work continues.”

Vol 11 No 25 – 19th June 1838

Notice – applications for advances on Bills secured on tea or raw silk exports to England will be received at 4/7d per Spanish Dollar, 50% in cash and the balance in Bills on India at 210 Current Rupees per $100.

Also 30-day sight Bills on India at 210 CRs per $100.

Sgd Astell & Clarke, agents to the India Company at Canton, 4th June 1838.

Vol 11 No 25 – 19th June 1838

Local news – 48 criminals from Shun Tak were beheaded on Sunday.

Vol 11 No 25 – 19th June 1838

The Dutch statesman Jan de Witte understood the contradiction of the India Company both governing and trading in India. A government promotes the interests of its manufacturers and merchants. A trader promotes his profit.

When the Company can make more money importing Japanese cloth or manipulating the supply of eastern spices, it does so to the detriment of raw silk imports for the Indian silk processing industry or freight for its shipowners engaged in foreign trade.

Editor – the merchant capitalists of England and India should unite with the traders and agents in Canton to break the money chains that restrict us.

Vol 11 No 25 – 19th June 1838

Intelligence: Sir Frederick Maitland, Admiral commanding the East India fleet, is expected to visit China soon with a squadron of warships.

Vol 11 No 25 – 19th June 1838

Peking Gazettes – The Abbot of the Buddhist monastery at Poon Yuen in Poo Ching heen in Fukien has come to Peking to accuse the Small Swords Society:

“Chang Lau and Yuen Tiu Yuen are the chiefs. They appointed Heung Leung Yee as their leader and changed their name to the Beggars’ Association. They carry arms, extort from the people and seize men, women and children.

“In 1834 they seized 70 acres of our monastic land. I complained but nothing happened and I withdrew my monks into the monastery.

“Further seizures were made and I again complained. The culprits were informed of my complaint and captured one of my monks. They say they killed him but the body has still not been found. They have told people I know that they will blind me if they can find me”.

The censors have interviewed the Abbot and confirmed his report. They recommend an Imperial order against the criminals and action against the negligent officials.

Vol 11 No 26 – 26th June 1838

Local News:

  • Whampoa Hospital Ship – at a meeting of subscribers to this institution last week, it was agreed that as Kin Qua, security for the ship (Hope), is likely to be prosecuted if it remains any longer, the equipment and stores are to be sold to the Co-Hong for $8,000.
  • The new Viceroy of the Two Kwong, Iliang, had an audience with the Emperor in May and immediately left for Canton.
  • The new Hoppo Yu Kwan is also on his way here from Peking.

Vol 11 No 26 – 26th June 1838

Editorial – the eleven Hongs offered on 17th June to settle Hing Tai’s debts in 8½ years. Given the passage of time, it is the same as the nine years offered previously except that they have specified 30th April as payment day each year.

Whether we should await a response to our Memorial to the British parliament requesting that government’s intervention or accept the latest offer is up to the creditors but we should also be concerned for future debt.

If the Consoo Tax was honestly managed it would suffice for all claims. The Hing Tai creditors are in a position to demand that it is. The Hong merchants cannot be trusted to properly account for a fund in their own possession. The foreign creditors must be made joint-trustees of the Consoo Fund with How Qua.

We have threatened the Viceroy with British intervention. We should await its result. The Chinese will consider our debt repayments as a harness on us. They expect us to submit for nine years to get it. We must have immediate payment and security for the future. If the Queen can support us, by negotiation or otherwise, we could have safe trade next year. We should not accept this renewed offer which is so similar to one already refused. It is not in our long-term interest.

Vol 11 No 26 – 26th June 1838

Letter of Kin Qua (Leung Shing Wo) to his creditors:

“I am grateful you did not press for settlement when my financial troubles commenced two years ago. I hope to pay off all debts in a few years. I am not an extravagant hedonist but since 1823 I have had difficulty.

“The bankruptcies of other hongs were onerous to discharge and payments continued until 1834. Since then I have been free of the debts of others and expected things to improve until Hing Tai’s problem arose. When he failed I began to despair of paying off my debts.

“Now I have agreed with the other Hongs for repayment over several years. I am grateful to them for a loan of $100,000 annually from the Consoo Fund. I have agreed with the Hoppo for similar periodic repayments on overdue revenue. My debts to foreigners are $1.1 millions which I can pay in ten years. If this is too long, I will pay you 5% interest as well, settling the principal first and the interest after. The interest payments will add two years to the repayment period. If trade is good I may be able to pay more quickly. The various bonds I am willing to make with each of you expressing the amount of my indebtedness should be kept by you until repayment is concluded.”

Editor – The Hoppo is also concerned for the financial capability of Lum Qua’s Hong. We will report further next week.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838


Notice – Mr Crawford Kerr has been made a partner w.e.f. 1st July 1838. Sgd Lindsay & Co

To Let – the large office and treasury at 2 Creek Hong. Apply on the premises.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

From Philip’s History of Cultivated Vegetables:

Tea-making – the infusion has a richer flavour if done in a silver pot but the second infusion will have a poorer taste. It is advisable to use a heated crockery teapot if two infusions are required. A spherical pot is best because it has the least surface area and hence the water loses heat less quickly. Once the tea has infused, any further addition of leaf has a diminished effect on flavour strength as the water has cooled – it is better to make a second pot.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

  • Letter from the English Tea Brokers Association (the representative body of the buyers at tea auctions) to the East India and China Trade Association, 6th November 1837: The quarterly sales of India Company teas will end this year. Sales of free-trade tea have been held twice a quarter since 1834. The dealers and brokers say the interval between free-trade sales is too short to clearly compare quality and value. There is insufficient time to get feedback from retailers on how teas are selling before they are obliged to bid for new stock while they still have considerable supply from the last sale. The effect is a lack of bids for some teas and their withdrawal from sale only to be re-offered at the next auction. This constant re-offering of rejected tea has depressed the market for better qualities. Now the Company’s sales are concluded we commend you to offer teas quarterly. Sgd J Williams, Chairman, Tea Brokers Association.
  • The East India and China Trade Association held a meeting to consider this and agreed to hold quarterly sales in future. Sgd Archibald Hastie MP, Deputy Chairman.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

J N Daniell and J C Whiteman, late agents of the Company’s ‘Finance Committee’ at Canton, are both candidates for seats on the board of the Company.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

Editorial – Chinese officials have seized the ferry boat Poppy, arrested its crew and searched them. Elliot should protest. When Admiral Maitland arrives from India he should be informed also.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

The Viceroy has issued another order against ferry boats on 21st June:

“The navy will stop the large masted and decked boats from entering the river. They are forever excluded. The small boats will stop at each station in the river to show their passes and be searched. Smuggling will be stopped.

“Instead of submission to the law, some small boats have resisted and fired upon officials. If this recurs I will order that violence be met with violence so this audacious opposition to our law may be ended.

“The Hongs will report all entry and clearance of small passage boats. They must each apply for a passport and submit to search at every station en route. How can we know they are not smuggling if they resist being searched?

“Our law is detailed and severe. It must be obeyed if the foreigners are to enjoy the benefits of our trade. These foolish foreigners seek to try my patience.

“The large ferry boats that forced an entry on 10th and 11th June must be located and removed from the river in three days. If you do not impress this on the foreigners you Hong merchants will surely be punished.”

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

La France Maritime, Vol II – During July 1833 an English family was murdered at sea, off Carthagena, New Grenada (the state occupying the land of present-day Colombia, Panama and part of Ecuador).

The English and American consuls took boats to search for survivors. They returned with bodies and met the French consul Barratt (an English officer) at the quay. As the bodies were being laid out, a policeman ordered the French consul away. He complied to avoid a disturbance, intending to seek for redress later. He returned to his consulate but was followed by the policeman who entered the consulate without authorisation and arrested the consul. Barratt used threats to eject the policeman and sent a firm protest to the Governor but no satisfaction was offered.

Meanwhile Barratt was tried in his absence for armed resistance to the law and awarded a prison sentence. The first he knew of the matter was an order to surrender himself at the prison gate. Barratt wrote to the governor refusing to surrender and demanding his passport. Captain Gilbert of the French national ship La Topaze visited the governor and told him Barratt did not acknowledge his offence. He would embark on La Topaze and only violence could stop him. Barratt then left his consulate in full uniform and walked with Captain Gilbert to the quay where one of La Topaze‘s boats was waiting.

The populace had meanwhile been inflamed by racial placards and some 4,000 – 5,000 excited negroes and sailors were outside Barratt’s house, armed with sticks and stones. Members of the government and the national company were amongst the crowd and stirring it up. Barratt arrived at the city gate through which he could walk to the quay but the gate was closed and locked. He returned to his house finding it had been occupied by soldiers who refused him admission. He was then taken to prison to commence his sentence. A higher court was petitioned and Barratt was offered freedom but declined to accept the condition that he remain in the country. The court then offered unconditional freedom and Barratt was released after 2 weeks.

In October two French corvettes arrived off Carthagena. These obtained the trial of the policeman for insulting France. He was fined and imprisoned and debarred from police duty for two years. Governor Vesga of Carthagena was dismissed. The ring-leaders who provoked the populace against Barratt were prosecuted. The French asked for other remedies but these were beyond the powers of the town’s governor and were referred to Bogota.

In July 1834 an agreement was reached between the countries providing Barratt with satisfaction. Barratt and the commander of the French West Indian fleet firmly enjoined these terms on the governor of Carthagena. He was required to come onto the flagship of the French fleet and apologise to Barratt before the assembled French merchants of the port. Hands were shaken in reconciliation and the governor left the ship. Barratt and some 30 officers from the squadron then landed at the quay. They walked to the consulate, the tricolor was hoisted and Barratt resumed his official functions. The new governor held a dinner for the French that evening.

Editor – We are publishing this event as it is striking how differently the French and British react to insult. Of course there are treaties between France and New Grenada (thus invoking international law between the parties) while we have none with China but at the same time as Barratt’s problem, Lord Napier was writing to Viceroy Loo and having his letters returned. Loo knew that Napier had arrived on a national ship but claimed he had come on a merchantman to make his (Loo’s) position appear more equitable. All the Chinese misrepresented the facts, from the linguists and Hong merchants, to the high officials, the Viceroy and even the Emperor.

The squadron that obtained satisfaction for Barratt comprised two frigates, four corvettes and a brig. If we had a squadron at Canton when Napier was there, and its officers were suitably instructed, we could have obtained a similar result. Then our free-traders would not have been exposed to government corruption and the Hong system of trade. The imprisonment of Hing Tai and his subsequent bankruptcy might have been averted. Instead the reforming ministry of the reformed parliament reacted with fear and ignorance. The consequences of our indecision are apparent. The acts of Barratt are worth emulating and should be a model to British representatives in China.

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

Viceroy’s reply to the trader Bontin, 25th June 1838:

“You petition that on 18th June you were coming to Canton in a ferry and anchored off the eastern fort at the river mouth awaiting the tide. You had sandalwood and beche-de-mer on board on which you say you intended to pay the duties at the Customs House at the factories. You say these goods were intended for your private consumption not sale.

“You say you were boarded by Customs officers who seized rings and ear-rings from your Lascars and their treasure chest containing $185. They also took the cargo and made a hole in the hull. You ask that the property be returned and the Customs officers warned to prevent a recurrence.

“The Hoppo has already reported the seizure of your ferry-boat. He says you foreigners admitted smuggling sandalwood, cow bezoars and snuff. The seizure of the boat is warranted.

“How can you seriously suggest the Lascars owned the jewelry and silver dollars? They are poor people. 18 piculs of sandalwood (over a ton) was seized – by what stretch of imagination can that be for private consumption? In any event all the cargo is dutiable regardless of quantity.

“This petition is glossing nonsense. You Hong merchants should advise Bontin accordingly.”

Vol 11, No 27 – 3rd July 1838

Letter to the Editor of the Morning Post, London, 19th February 1838:

The Company used to maintain a tea stock in London to avoid shortages. Since its cessation of business, the free-trade have maintained only some 6 months stock here. Tea is a necessity of life. If there is a dispute at Canton, or tea shipments are delayed for any other cause, we might exhaust our stock. We should provide against this contingency. Sgd “A”

Editor of Canton Register – at the time of this letter there was nearly 47 million lbs of tea in England, about 18 months supply. Why did “A” not recommend buffer stocks of sugar and tallow – they are more fundamental than tea?

If there is a dispute with the Chinese it will affect the free trade precisely as it would have affected the Company, there is no difference.

Vol 11 No 28 – 10th July 1838

Advertisement – We have opened a shop at 26 Old China Street for the retail of British goods, thus precluding any inconvenience from the Hongs stopping the trade of Chinese shopmen. You support is welcomed. Sgd J M & Co, 1 Creek Hong, Canton.36

Editor – with Admiral Maitland daily expected, this is nicely timed. Hoppo Wan is leaving and Yu Kwan only arrived yesterday. If the Hoppo does not instantly close it, Jardine can assert ‘prescriptive rights’ to continue in retail business. The Hongs have closed many shops and there is a demand for these goods.

Vol 11 No 28 – 10th July 1838

Edict of Hoppo Wan, 29th April 1838

“The Hong merchant Lo Fuk Tai (known as Ah Lam, the proprietor of Tung Chang Hong) is in debt. I sent him to the Nam Hoi heen who procured a security bond for $2,500 on Lo’s behalf from the money-changer Tse Sang. This money will be assayed and applied first in settlement of overdue revenue.

“Now the Viceroy has informed me that Henderson has complained Tung Chang Hong owes him $3,000 and M/s H & N Cursetjee claim a delivery of cotton to that Hong is also unpaid. Cursetjee say they took a Promissory Note from Lo’s partner Wang Chin Kow but it is now overdue for payment. As Lo has other debts he cannot yet be released from prison.”

Lo Fuk Tai says:

“I have $40,000 debts with foreigners. Last year the government ordered all Hongs to reveal their debts to foreigners. My partner fixed the sums with the foreign creditors and a repayment schedule was agreed. It was reported to government.

“This year Henderson and H & N Cursetjee demanded early settlement. My partner disagreed to their preferential treatment and they responded by reporting me to government. When the government declined to intervene, Henderson accepted the previously agreed periodic payments.

“I have now paid the outstanding revenue and request to be released to continue business.”

Receiving this, I the Hoppo, see Lo considers he has settled his outstanding debt to government and arranged his debts with foreigners. But Cursetjee again complains of debts and I have repeatedly demanded payment of Tse’s bond unsuccessfully. Neither the foreigner nor the government have been satisfied.

I order the Hong merchants to examine Lo’s accounts and report.

Vol 11 No 28 – 10th July 1838

It is anomalous that Britain takes a leading position in China trade but is the least informed western nation in studying Chinese language. France, Prussia and Bavaria teach Chinese in their universities, we do not.

Thirteen years ago Dr Morrison brought an extensive library of Chinese literature to London to establish a chair of Chinese in one of our universities. He died during the Napier crisis but the library remains and contains much useful information including the works of the Jesuits.

Now a professorship of Chinese is offered at University College London and the Rev Samuel Kidd, formerly principal at the Anglo-Chinese College in Malacca has agreed to take it up. All that is required is £2,000 to pay Morrison’s dependents for the library.

Vol 11 No 29 – 17th July 1838

Notice – Cash advances on shipments to England will be given on current terms (no terms published). Apply to Jardine Matheson & Co.37

Vol 11 No 29 – 17th July 1838

Arrivals – HMS Wellesley (84) and HMS Algerine bringing Admiral Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland. The ships are anchored at Tung Ku. This is the first time we have had a flag officer here since Drury thirty years ago. The Wellesley has left many of her guns at Ceylon.

Vol 11 No 29 – 17th July 1838

Macau – the dissension between the Leal Senado and the Macau Governor has hopefully been ended by an order from the Viceroy at Goa to elect a new council.

A new military commandant with six officers and 90 men has arrived to reinforce the garrison under the command of the Governor. The newly appointed councillors are:

Francisco Jose de Payva as Procurador

Jose Vicente Jorge, Felipe Jose de Freitas and Joao Jose Vieira as Vereadores

Bernardo Gomes de Melos and Antonio Joaquim Cortella as Judges and Antonio Vicente Cortella as Tesoreiro

The Governor is ordered to revert to the system in force prior to the late governor Bernardo Jose de Souza Soares de Andrea’s changes. When the Senado learned this they protested and the Governor replaced them with the 1835 Senate members pending for the election above.

Vol 11 No 29 – 17th July 1838

The new Viceroy of the Two Kwong is expected to arrive later this month.

Vol 11 No 29 – 17th July 1838

Report of the Ophthalmic Hospital in Canton by Dr Peter Parker:

We only treated a thousand patients this year. It has become unpleasant to attend the hospital as importunate applicants surround the entrance, seize my arms and fall on their knees, etc. They all say they have come a long way, waited many days and have no money. They even pursue me home.

I have restricted treatments to officials.

One is Ching Chung Yew, 56 years, who first attended in December 1837. He was a magistrate in Hupeh for 30 years and suddenly became blind in 1837. he travelled six weeks to come here. He is an urbane and prepossessing man. He knelt to report his symptoms. His job requires continual examination of documents often at night under inadequate light. I found the iris had adhered to the lens in both eyes. The lenses themselves were slightly opaque. He was just sensible to light.

First I bled him. Then I applied belladonna to somewhat separate the irises from the lenses. The improvement in his sensibility to light delighted him. Over the next ten days strychnine was applied to blisters at the external angles of each eye. I continued the belladonna and in March I started small internal doses of strychnine until the spasmodic effects on his system manifested. No further improvement was seen.

As a last resort I proposed to depress the lenses. He agreed and in April I operated on the left eye. No inflammation occurred but his sight remained the same. I discharged him two weeks later.

Vol 11 No 30 – 24th July 1838

The Englishman, Calcutta, 2nd June 1838:

The average price of tea in England was 22% higher in 1837 than 1836. The increase was entirely on the cheap teas. Fine teas advanced only slightly and the finest actually declined in price. In consequence consumption of the cheaper teas, the blends that common people drink, declined by 2.8 million lbs (c. 10%) while fine teas increased by 1 million lbs. Even the middling classes of tea were consumed more, by about a million lbs. Thus a superficial appearance of only slight decline in consumption has arisen.

Since 1st July 1836 the tea duty has been fixed at a flat rate of 2/1d per pound. The lower prices of free trade tea have diminished the smuggling trade across the channel. British tea revenue for 1837 should be about £3.9+ millions. This is about £700,000 over the amounts formerly collected on the India Company’s tea imports.

Vol 11 No 30 – 24th July 1838

Editorial – We note there is support in our community for establishment of a Seamen’s Home in Canton. Every year How Qua warns about foreign sailors. The ‘timid young girl’ wants them confined to their ships but they are not savages and may be trusted with liberty. There are extenuating circumstances for their drunkenness – they drink the creations of Hog Lane instead of good liquor.

Now the Hospital Ship is removed from Whampoa, a Seamen’s Home is particularly important.

Vol 11 No 30 – 24th July 1838

Hoppo Wan reports on 18th July 1838 that on 15th July the Tung Che of Macau reported the arrival of HMS Wellesley at Tung Ku. The pilot has reported that the ship has come from England with an Admiral to examine into British trade. It carries 500 people, 74 large cannon, 300 muskets, 300 cutlasses, 1,500 catties of gunpowder and 1,500 cannonballs.

Accompanying the Wellesley is HMS Algerine with 80 men, 10 cannon, 40 muskets and cutlasses, 50 catties of gunpowder and 50 cannonballs.

The Tung Che ordered Elliot to enjoin the law on the Admiral, to keep his sailors tranquil and not to come to Canton. The army and navy should go to Tung Ku to observe the warships, urge their instant departure and prevent traitorous natives from provisioning them.

The Viceroy says previously Elliot claimed control of the English traders. He petitioned the Hoppo for a passport, a report was made to the Emperor, and he was allowed to come up to Canton.

Now another English chief has come and is loitering outside. The thinking processes of the foreigners are inscrutable but this looks very suspicious.

Cruisers manned with soldiers will go instantly to Tung Ku and observe the foreigners. They are not allowed to go to Macau or Canton, indeed they may not land anywhere. The boat people must be prevented from supplying them with provisions or they will be heavily punished.

Vol 11 No 30 – 24th July 1838

Local news:

  • Hoppo Wan departed for Peking on 18th July on conclusion of his tour of duty at Canton. His purchases of gold (leaf and ingots) prior to departure were so extensive that the local market price has risen.
  • The well-known opium broker Ko Kwan was arrested on 13th July.

Vol 11 No 30 – 24th July 1838

Letter to the Editor – the proposed Seamen’s Home is an excellent idea. A few days ago a party of British sailors arrived at the steps in front of the factories with $500 for shopping. They were importuned by harpies representing the grog-shops and were soon drunk and fleeced of every dollar.

Our community gives so liberally to charity. We should protect our own. The sailors presently have no chaplain and Elliot has withdrawn. Whampoa will soon be filled with ships and the sailors will need protection.

At present the Chinese see our sailors getting blind drunk and they think we are all the same. We all want to prevent disturbances and the Hongs are individually responsible for the consequences of disorder. We should request the Hongs to clean up the factories so our national character may be elevated in Chinese eyes. Please call on the General Chamber to take the initiative with commanders of our ships. Sgd RC

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838


  • Andrew Jardine is admitted a partner w.e.f. 1st July 1838. Sgd J M & Co, 2nd July 1838
  • HMS Larne has arrived from Manila.

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

London news – Sir J L Lushington and Jenkins MP have been elected Chairman and deputy Chairman of the India Company.

Thomas Charles Smith, previously of the Company’s China factory, has been elected a Director. He is also a principal of Magniac Smith & Co of London.

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

Parliamentary papers – G Palmer MP asked Palmerston in the Commons if he knew Elliot had withdrawn from Canton. Palmerston said he had read something in the newspapers but was awaiting definitive information.

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

The new Hoppo Yu is a hands-on man. He is requesting the minutest details about everything. All his staff have been replaced and the new clerks are ignorant. Consequently, his endless questions fall upon the Hongs and Linguists to answer.38

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

On 26th July a party of 12 foreigners went to the city gate to petition the Viceroy against the Hoppo who has re-rated our long-cloth at a higher quality than before. Even goods already graded by his predecessor’s staff are affected.

Mr Thom39 framed the petition and is interpreting for the group. Two Hong merchants took the petition to the Viceroy whose reply is awaited.

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

The Canton Register has always opposed the notion that H M Commissioners need Imperial consent to perform their functions. Ours was for years a lonely view. We doubt the expediency of Elliot’s submission to Imperial order to go to Canton in April 1837. The only privilege obtained is in the name – the officials called Elliot Ling Sze whereas the President of the Select was a mere Tai Pan.

Elliot left Canton in November 1837. He had been ordered to communicate with the Viceroy and that officer refused to permit it. Nothing has changed.

We were accordingly surprised to see Elliot again in Canton last Wednesday and the British flag again flying from the British consulate pole. We do not believe he has new instructions from London but perhaps the Admiral has told him something.

Vol 11 No 31 – 31st July 1838

Memorial to the Emperor:

The people require severe punishment to be manageable. Officials must perform their public duty even if it arouses hatred. The prevalent opinion that opium smokers are too numerous to be confronted is overly indulgent.

If they have a year to abandon the habit, many will comply and others will be deterred from taking up the habit. The magistrates should examine all taxpayers under their jurisdiction. Take a bond from every five families to not smoke. This will suffice for rural communities.

In the cities, where people come and go, the neighbourhood associations must be used. Shopkeepers must be particularly impressed not to allow their premises to be used for smoking.

If any civil or military officials smoke after the year’s grace they must be more severely punished than is customary. The sons and grandsons of civil and military officers may be excluded from the public examinations.

Magistrates who successfully eradicate opium use in their areas will be rewarded. Magistrates who fail will be punished. Bonds are not required of every soldier but some joint bonding should be fixed on them.

Let this order be published everywhere so the people may know that the Emperor cares for their wealth and welfare. Opium smokers must purify their hearts and abandon their habit. Then opium will cease coming and silver will cease disappearing and the Empire will be peaceful for ten thousand years.


1 Olyphant & Co were known to the foreign community as ‘Zion’s Corner’ for the Christian morality they sought to introduce to China-trade.

2 The French Consul has vacated his seat in the Chamber.

3 Apart from storing and wholesaling contraband, Lintin is also the trans-shipment depot where vessels trading in and out of the river are loaded and unloaded. This is a consolidation exercise so fewer ships with more cargo enter the river and overall costs of port entry and cumshaw fees are reduced.

It is a fee-earning service of the receiving ship owners. Apart from this commercial activity, the water supply at Lintin is limited.

4 I think this is a mis-statement. Proximity is always a factor in crimes of violence but the respect given to luck in Chinese society is another important factor. It is an aspect of the reality of myriad causes underlying the unfolding of events, only few of which are examined in subject / object thought. This is undervalued in the west except by imaginative defence lawyers. Events result from one’s good or bad luck which should not be obstructed or interfered with, as they are manifestations of Heavenly will. This belief incidentally causes the common Chinese attitude to gambling – good luck is evidently a manifestation of favour from Heaven and must be respected.

5 Readers will recall the joint liability of the Hongs was withdrawn in 1830 after a request of the old Select Committee in 1829. Debts were then to be agreed annually and registered with the Canton government. This requested arrangement was never actually pursued by the foreigners and would no doubt have been inconvenient for them. If loans to Hong merchants were prohibited, the means of getting the Chinese trader’s support in smuggling would be lost. Now Dents et al are effectively requesting the former joint liability be restored.

6 A convivial restriction to the Company and the British Customs Department.

7 It is the smuggling trade that continues to increase – the legal trade is diminishing. It is a point that the Atheneum overlooks but not the Canton Register Editor in his comment.

8 The availability of the Company’s capital in Canton enables small traders to increase their business to the detriment of the big self-financed players. More money causes price increases. The Company thus democratises commerce (with a price increase) at the expense of the big private traders who are denied their expected control of trade as the ‘men with the money’. It has been well said that “every free trader is a monopolist at heart”.

9 Larpent is a partner in Bell & Co. of Canton but based in London. He is one of the promoters of the proposed Chartered Bank of India. He becomes an important lobbyist of the British government for the free traders. The Jerusalem Coffee House is patronised by East India Company staff as a coffee shop and information exchange.

10 See Bombay Courier extracts in the Europe chapter for the previous attempt in 1823.

11 The Company never supported Chinese language instruction in England, probably because it might supply a stream of competent speakers into Asia beyond its influence and control.

12 The Portuguese in Macau routinely learn to speak colloquial Cantonese. It gives them better local access than the British.

13 The Editor changed from Chinese to English paper in May this year but the latter is more affected by humidity.

14 See an article dated 19th September 1837 in the Opium chapter for better details of Lo Fuk Tai’s offence.

15 Mr Dyce Sombre’s family are substantial opium farmers in Meerut. He is the grandson of the Begum Sumroo and features briefly in the Political Management chapter when he buys the rotten borough of Sudbury.

16 They were formally unaware of them.

17 The matter of Hing Tai’s debt is adopted by the foreign trade to progress its attempts to change the Canton trade system in the way envisaged by the Company and Dent’s group – make trade unprofitable to China by smuggling and silver export to induce a voluntary amendment of the Regulations.

It will be recalled that the Western analysis was that trade at Canton would become entirely a smuggling trade once the Company’s monopoly was determined. Chinese trade revenue is already known to have greatly diminished and the ‘pacific party’ believes it is well on the way to success. This characterises the foreign trade relationship right up to the arrival of Commissioner Lin.

18 As Captain Scott said in his letter above “those who may dictate the extent of their obedience are not the governed.” This problem of order that ships’ officers have with British crews is precisely the problem that Chinese officials have with British traders. Neither sailor nor merchant will submit to law. It seems to suggest the Britons of that time responded only to punishment.

19 This is Bengal opium – only the Company puts sheepskin covers on its chests.

20 Jardine had cultivated connections with the Company’s ships officers over many years pre-1834 and disposed of the bulk of their privileged tonnage.

21 A reference to the Hong Yung, which translates as Hong merchants’ commission, but is called ‘the Consoo Fund’ by the foreigners.

22 See the 7th November 1837 edition for the original report in a Letter to the Editor. Layton was released by the Chinese on Commissioner Elliot’s agreement to go security for him but he then disappeared.

23 The term ‘prescriptive rights’ (‘olo custom’ when asserting the Chinese view) becomes the war-cry of the free traders.

24 This agreement was obtained after Sir Sidney Smith’s destruction of the Turkish fleet whilst Constantinople was under his threat of bombardment.

25 Arnold Toynbee makes the same point in his Study of History concerning the wealth of barren Attica. He refers to ‘Attic salt and Boetian swine’ in comparing the qualities of residents of neighbouring hard and soft countries.

26 I have omitted most of the daily complaints of foreigners against inappropriate levies of Customs duty but it should be noted that they invariably indicate that the foreigner did not attend at the assessment himself. I have assumed it was too time-consuming. It should be recalled that a very small foreign trading community is transacting an enormous amount of business.

27 Pitt allowed the bankrupt Bank of England to continue trading by limiting its liability for its debts and substituting credit (banknotes) for value (gold/silver) domestically. There is evidence above that the British government guaranteed the India Company’s dividend to shareholders, presumably after receipt of some reciprocal counter-guarantee of the Directors to government. I found nothing in the newspapers on the demise of the Levant Company. It became insolvent and its monopoly trading area was opened to free trade in 1754. Its diplomatic functions appear to have been assumed by the India Company earlier.

After Lieutenant Panton’s venture on HMS Seahorse on behalf of the Admiral and the Madras financiers, the India Company legislated to expressly exclude its own liability to claimants in respect of Indian exports.

28 It will be recalled that the Hoppo and Viceroy each send an officer to station himself in a boat port and starboard off every foreign ship to observe activities. This officer is a Tsai Kwan. The hospital ship is moored amongst the opium fleet at Whampoa and supposedly provides services to those well-paid crews.

29 The Editor says foreign creditors have not pursued King Qua while his father, who enjoyed a high reputation amongst them as a Hong merchant, was still alive but he died at the end of 1837 and they now feel free to press their claims.

This puts further pressure on the Hongs and the provincial government – it’s the policy of the foreigners to impoverish the Hongs to destroy the Canton trade system.

30 This initiative of the Company in late 1820s put those Hong merchants briefly under its control but was ended by Baynes’ attempted extension of that control to the entire foreign trade which induced the provincial officers to restate the ‘Eight Regulations.’

31 This may be considered as another step on the road to war. The government has repudiated the demands of the China-traders; now the Company has done the same. This focuses the smugglers’ efforts on British Chambers of Commerce and those Trade Associations representing the China trade agencies in London.

32 This is the first year that the smuggling fleet spent the summer monsoon at Hong Kong harbour. The move is required by successful Chinese law enforcement against the other smuggling bases.

33 I had thought that 1 xxx Hong, 2 xxx Hong, 3 xxx Hong, etc., referred to the floor number but this advertisement reveals each Hong is a terrace of buildings with No 1 adjacent to the square overlooking the river and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 successively occupying tranches of the structure back to Thirteen Factories Street. 2 Creek Hong is the premises into which the Canton Register removed six months earlier and which is apparently larger than required.

34 Western trade in arms and ammunition to China seldoms appears in the English-language press. All I have found has been the regular saltpetre smuggling, Glasspoole’s ransom and Innes’ possession of Congreve rockets, but this Edict reveals it is continuing.

35 I found no continuation in those subsequent editions that are still available.

36 The address is one of the shop spaces at either side of the street that are normally used by shopmen retailing necessaries to the foreigners.

37 This is the first published confirmation that the free traders are offering trade finance. It is not necessarily private finance however – J M & Co also act as Agents of the India Company.

38 This reported replacement of all Customs Dept staff suggests Peking has started tackling the problem of reduced revenue from foreign trade.

39 Thom has learned to speak and write Mandarin Chinese and  interprets the Edicts of officials. His teacher is known in Cantonese as Man Mui. Together they have translated and printed a Chinese version of Aesop’s Fables.

Comments are closed.