China 1839 – part 9


Vol 12 No 19 – 7th May 1839

Notice – Elliot reminds the English community that his obligations to the Chinese government have been completed with the surrender of opium. His advice to them of 23rd March remains valid (to apply for passports and adjourn to Whampoa for passage to Macau where the Portuguese Governor has undertaken to receive them provided they obey Chinese law).

Vol 12 No 19 – 7th May 1839

Kwongchow foo’s edict reopening trade:

“When Elliot agreed to surrender 20,283 chests there were conditions. When half had been delivered we agreed the ferry boats would recommence service. Before half had been delivered, as we were preparing the edict for the boats, Johnstone stopped the surrender from proceeding, intending to pressure us. We accordingly withheld the Edict authorising ferry boats. Now Johnstone has asked the receiving ships to hasten their delivery, we have issued the Edict. We have also removed the guards from the factories and reopened trade.

“Elliot originally said he would await complete delivery before going to Macau but now the boats are permitted to operate and he may pass to and fro as usual. This will help him to manage his community better. Those sixteen inveterate opium smugglers, per attached list, must remain temporarily at Canton until the surrender is concluded after which they can leave. This complies with the agreed conditions. In order to ensure they do not leave, we will check the identities of foreigners departing by boat. The Hong merchants will require the foreigners to provide pre-advice of any boat departure so the officials can prepare for the event. Provided none of the 16 named traders are aboard, the Hong merchants will give a passport, issued by the Kwongchow foo, for the voyage. If any of the 16 named traders escape, the Hong merchants will be held liable for it. The boats which have the character for ‘obedience’ painted on them may operate a service but they must stop at the Customs Houses.

“The L’Esperance wishes to leave and its captain is at Canton. He may immediately receive Port Clearance for his ship. All the cargo ships at Whampoa may reopen their holds and recommence trade. Those that are already loaded should apply for Port Clearance and depart. All the shipping waiting outside must wait a little longer until the opium surrender is concluded, when they will give their names and come up to Whampoa. Any boats passing between Whampoa and Canton must stop at the two Customs Houses in between. If they have any contraband or arms & ammunition they will be sent back. Let Elliot act accordingly.

“List of 16 inveterate opium traders – Bomanjee, Dadabhoy, Daniell, Dent, Foster, Framjee, Green, Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee, Henry, Ilberry, Inglis, Andrew Jardine, Alexander Matheson, I Matheson, James Matheson and Stanford.”

Vol 12 No 19 – 7th May 1839

Hongs to Wetmore of General Chamber, 4th May:

The government has permitted the licensed ferries to ply again. The details of any passengers must be written in the licence before each voyage. The small unlicensed passage boats are not yet permitted to operate but once the opium has been delivered we will petition government on their behalf.

Vol 12 No 19 – 7th May 1839

Hongs to General Chamber, 4th May:

The licensed ferry boats have been allowed to resume service. Any foreigners departing Canton shall be examined before they can leave. On arrival at any fort or Customs House the boat master will offer his boat for examination and stop if required to do so.

A Wei Yuen will check each boat before departure. Tell him the ferry schedule so he can attend but do not delay him – put the passengers’ details in the license for his checking.

In future no boat is permitted to carry arms and ammunition or to load round shot as ballast – it may load only stones for ballast.

Vol 12 No 19 – 7th May 1839

Hongs to General Chamber, 5th May:

The government has ordered that foreigners may not walk beyond Old China Street (the entrance to the factories) until all the opium has been surrendered. After that time, they may walk in and out as usual.1

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

Edict of the Macau Wei Yuen, 12th March 1839:

I am responsible for controlling the ferry boats and their passengers. On entering and leaving the river they must report to the Hong merchants who will petition me for approval, I will examine and authorise. Every ferry that moves must have an authorisation. Smuggling must be stopped but the passengers’ personal effects will not be disturbed.

Concerning Dent and the other named foreigners detained in the factories, they may petition to leave and the Customs Houses will allow them to pass without examination. But if any of them try to leave without my approval they will be brought back and punished together with their Linguist and Hong merchant. If the boat people assist foreigners to escape they will wear the cangue on the river bank.

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

Elliot to the British community, 11th May:

“The Chinese government has issued a list of 16 foreigners said to be inveterate opium traders. Some of the named people have never engaged in contraband trade of any nature. I doubt this is a deliberate mistake but the government has also told me, and the Dutch and American representatives, that all ships importing opium will in future be confiscated and their crews executed, based on the government’s own evidence of the offence.

“The Chinese government is clearly capable of making mistakes and I cannot allow British ships to give the required bond and come up to Whampoa where their crews will be exposed to juridical murder. This law is incompatible with the safe continuance of our trade. The British community at Canton may be held hostage for the actions of reckless foreigners in the estuary. The government relies on the Hong merchants, Linguists and compradors for its information about us. Their situation and liabilities make them unreliable reporters.”2

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

Edict of the Kwongchow foo on behalf of the Commissioner, 8th May 1839:

“The national representatives Elliot, Snow and Senn van Basel have petitioned to leave Canton and take their nationals away with them. China has no need of foreign trade but because the foreigners come so far we compassionately permit their trade at Canton.

“You have made huge profits from your trade. Provided you obey the law everyone should be satisfied but for tens of years you have brought opium and hurt us for reward. The Emperor has forbidden opium imports and the Commissioner has stopped this part of the trade.

“How will we stop it in future? The most prominent opium traders have already been banished. But besides Jardine et al there are a few who linger behind. If all the opium traders leave the trade will end. Once the opium surrender is complete the petitioners may leave and return to their countries. Those who leave will not be allowed to return. There will be no coming and going – no inconstancy.

“There are many foreigners here. They must all understand the inevitable capital award for opium offences and the inevitable confiscation of offender’s property. Enjoin this on the Consuls of the foreign nations.”

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

Singapore Free Press, 4th April – It was the enforcement action of the Kwangtung Provincial Government around the receiving ships that forced the opium importers into the river smuggling with small boats. The coastguard enforcement pre-dated and caused the river smuggling. Simply stopping the river smuggling will not satisfy the Chinese. They have unanswerable financial and moral arguments against the opium trade.

In 1833 China paid $11,618,167 for opium and received only $9,133,749 for tea. Added to the financial argument is the moral argument.

Foreigners in Canton are saying Elliot is disgracing the British character, that it is the Chinese government alone that is acting honourably and morally. The Christian people of Europe have been found morally inferior to the non-Christian Chinese whom they scorn.

Do they have the manly principles to turn away from their obscene profits? The Emperor might have allowed opium farming in China and destroyed their trade by substituting his own but he declined to profit from the ruin of his people. This leaves us in the role of greedy corrupters of Chinese society.

The Emperor has comprehensively humbled the British name and British honour.

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

A brief history of the Company’s trade with China in 17th and 18th centuries is reviewed.

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

Editor Slade’s opinion of Commissioner Lin:

We cannot trust him. First he says we just have to surrender opium and everything will resume normal. Now he publishes a list of 16 foreigners to be detained until the surrender is complete whereafter they must leave. Some of these foreigners are completely innocent of opium trading. A day or two later, he expels a foreigner. Then a few days on, he commands the three partners of J M & Co, which surrendered the greatest amount of opium, and a clerk in their employ (bearing the Jardine name) who has only been here 18 months, to leave but before they do so they must sign a bond never to return and should they do so to willingly submit to the law in respect of their past offences.

Since then Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee, one of the sixteen, has been ordered banished. All this is after we surrendered the opium and everyone has pledged himself not to trade in it. What has happened to the promised amnesty for past offences?

The review from the India Company records for the last 150 years (elsewhere in the paper) shows that the China trade has always been conducted on Chinese terms which are disgraceful to the foreigners engaged in it. British trade is the most powerful in China yet the Chinese have always set the terms of business. If the Company could not achieve an honourable position, what hope is there for the free trade, unless the British government helps us?

We have surrendered our opium and have pledged on 25th March not to trade in it. The Viceroy should be satisfied. We think it unlikely that opium importing can be stopped by executive actions. There are still addicted smokers whom importers will try to supply. China will find it cannot realistically deal with millions of addicts. It does not have sufficient prisons or executioners. It is the Indian government that can control the trade, not the Chinese. When China trade is reopened we must address this subject. Unless India puts some controls on production and sale, it will be impossible to prevent a supply reaching China.

The mistakes in the list of sixteen show this government does not get its details right. We should remember this error of Commissioner Lin. He has acted on the malicious report of a Linguist. We cannot allow these minions to jeopardise our trade or we will be faced continually with false accusations.

Vol 12 No 20 – 14th May 1839

It is reported that the people of Fukien and Chekiang suppose that, since the abolition of the Company charter in 1834, the foreign trade has become overwhelmingly the exchange of opium for tea and silk. All their junks trading to southern ports are detained and searched on return.

The commander of one of our opium clippers on the East Coast had a conversation with an opium broker about the extent of foreign trade at Canton. He asked the foreigner how many ships came each year and how much duty do they pay to the Chinese government.

He explained that the Emperor had complained that during the last two years the Customs revenue at Canton had decreased and it seemed to be due to smuggling.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Notice – The business partnership of M/s Joseph & William Cragg & Co of Canton is dissolved w.e.f. 11th May 1839.

Any outstanding matters will be settled by Gibb Livingston & Co.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Elliot’s two Proclamations, 19th and 20th May:

  • I require all British nationals at Canton and any on their way to China to not take their ships into the river until I say it is safe to do so. If you do not obey, your future claims for opium compensation may be forfeit.
  • I expect the whole opium stock will have been surrendered within the next 24 hours. Anyone claiming British protection should depart Canton with me thereafter.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

The Company has it on the record that ‘the maintenance of the British character for truth and honour may be considered the keystone of our influence and well-being in this extraordinary country’ but they did not recognise the dishonour of their King being characterised as submissively dependent nor did they object to the appellation ‘barbarian’ being applied to themselves.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Address to the people of Great Britain, explanatory of our commercial relations with China. This document was first published locally in 1836 and addresses the history of British attempts to open commercial relations with China. Much of it comes from the Company’s archives and was reviewed by the House of Lords Select Committee in 1830. Now we have suffered so severely, these twelve points should be our guide:

  • Recognition of the English King as a civilised and independent sovereign.
  • Apology for the treatment of Napier.
  • Compensation for losses due to the trade stoppage while Napier was in Canton.
  • Agreement that British subjects convicted of wrongs against other foreigners or Chinese be punished in accordance with the English legal tariff.
  • No taxes or duties to exceed the Imperial Customs tariff.
  • Non-trading ships to pay no duties but to be allowed to re-provision and water and repair.
  • Merchant ships to pay all charges based on their registered tonnage. Ship compradors not to be taxed for Customs duty on the goods they supply to foreigners.
  • British subjects may bring their wives to China and use whatever form of transportation (i.e. sedan chairs) they like.
  • British subjects be allowed to travel freely all over China.
  • British subjects to be permitted to reside anywhere upon reporting their names and addresses to the local magistrate.
  • British ships may trade at any port having a Customs House. If there is no British Consul at that port, in the event of disputes, they may be sent to the nearest Consul for discipline
  • British nationals can compete with Chinese in the coasting trade and pay the same transit dues.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Dumphries & Galloway Courier, 31st October 1838 – the John Dugdale has just arrived here from Singapore where it is rumoured that Admiral Maitland of the East India fleet is going to Canton to obtain redress for British merchants.

The Americans have already used a warship to successfully demand reparations. We can do it too. The Admiral is also to investigate how the Dutch obtained privileges which are denied to Britons. The Dutch Consul is a skilled sinologist and popular with the Cantonese. He adopts Chinese habits and customs.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Yesterday, a second dividend of $123,516 on Hing Tai’s debt was paid by the Co-Hong. We have now received about $300,000 in compensation.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

The Hoppo has forbidden the Orwell, Reliance and George IV to move beyond the 1st bar. He is an idiot. The ships arrived on a flood tide and will leave on an ebb tide. They enter to discharge and leave to load. He knows nothing of ballasting and simply compares the weight of the rice imported with the tea and silk to be exported. He is just trying to stop our ships leaving so he can maintain control of the foreign trade. Here is his order:

Edict of the Hoppo, 18th May 1839:

Sau Qua has previously requested that the ship Marquis be permitted to cross the 1st bar to load the rest of her cargo. When the ship crossed the bar inbound in the autumn she declared her import to be 1.7 million catties of rice (1,000 tons). Now in the summer she is leaving with 600,000 catties (350 tons) of goods – why can she no longer cross the 1st bar?

Three more captains have asked for the same permit to leave Whampoa and pass beyond 1st bar in order to load their export cargo. All of these ships imported heavier cargoes than they are exporting. In the autumn the river is low, in the summer it is high. This is unreasonable.

They all want to go to 2nd bar, a notorious place for smuggling. The requests are denied. Only if they load more exports than they imported will I consider their request. The Hong merchants will explain to the foreigners.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Commissioner Lin has permitted the pilots to start bringing foreign shipping from Taipa roads into the river. He says after they have entered he will reveal the new regulations to them. We must take care.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Commissioner Lin will be promoted to the Viceroyalty of the Two Kiang, the two rivers – Chekiang and Kiangsi provinces. They contain the Yellow (?) and Yangtse rivers. It is the 2nd most important job in China after the Viceroyalty of Chih Li.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Everything being shipped from Canton to Macau, whether personal effects, furniture or goods, is being taxed at $1 per picul. This is corruption. We must protest to Viceroy Tang and Commissioner Lin or be disgraced. We have to leave Canton with our dignity intact. If the high officials do not provide a remedy, we can add this to our list of grievances against them.

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

We have obtained a translation of a Chinese paper concerning the receiving ships:

“There are three nationalities that bring opium – English, Parsees and Americans. The ones that do not bring opium are the French, Dutch and Spanish.

“Denmark (big yellow flag country) and Sweden (little yellow flag country) have not traded to China for many years. Austria traded in 1821, Hamburg in 1824, Armenia in 1825, Prussia in 1829. Russia came recently but was not allowed to trade.

“There are three foreigners who read and write our language – young Morrison, who is Elliot’s assistant and very dangerous, Thom, who is a good man, and Fearon who is only 20 years old and not involved in trade. He is also very good.

“The receiving ships are not only English. There are country ships from India and American ships as well. They have two or three decks with 7-8 guns on each deck on each side. The smaller ships have one deck and only 5-6 guns on each side. Their cannon are made of brass and the largest are 2,000 – 3,000 catties while the smallest are 1,000 catties. They have no guns on the forecastle and only a few swivels on the taff rail.

“These are the ships that store opium. After they sell it, they enter the river and load goods at Whampoa for export. Each ship has three masts and they fly their national flag when underway.”3

Vol 12 No 21 – 21st May 1839

Edict of Commissioner Lin:

“The surrender of opium is nearly complete. It is time to complete the regulations for future trade. The houses, shops and streets around the foreign factories are the resort of Chinese smugglers who must be separated from the foreign community. The magistrates are to meet with the Hong merchants and inspect. All the back doors of the factories are to be blocked. The open space in front of the factories will be enclosed with fencing and the streets through the factories will be closed. The walls around the foreign compound must be made higher and thicker. Only one entrance to the factory compound is necessary. It will have a gate and a military guard.

“The shop-keepers (outside men) are already clearly regulated but the shopmen in Luen King (Old China) and (New) China Streets are the close conspirators of the foreigners (New China Street has 64 shops and five are occupied by opium brokers). They suspend signboards at the front of their shops with English writing on them. This is disorderly conduct and must be ended so these suspected traders are brought to obedience in conformity with the other traders.

“Give the shopmen a time limit to remove their shops. Then the abandoned shops and any private houses in the two named streets are to be blocked up. If anyone disobeys they are to be punished. If any of them agitates crowds to go to the temples and pray for justice they are to be seized and their houses demolished. A force of watchmen is to be established in each street, so the traitorous Chinese can be identified and known to all. This must be done diligently so the smuggling can be ended in perpetuity.”

Editor – Most of the shops in Old and New China Streets have been stripped of their goods and the fixtures are being removed from some.

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Elliot’s proclamation to the British, 22nd May 1839:

“The provincial government ignores my offers, on behalf of the British government, to adjust differences. It has imprisoned the entire foreign community at Canton. The imprisonment has been unnecessarily protracted and our property has been forcibly seized. This is why I told you on 23rd March that I had no confidence in this government. As most of the objectionable initiatives are those of the Commissioner, I have no confidence in him as well.

“My recent demand that you surrender your opium to me was a matter of principle. I believe the compulsory measures against us were unjust but we had to submit to force majeure and I have merely shaped my responses to preserve our right to exact effectual security and indemnity in future. The surrendered opium represents a claim the traders have on the British government.

“We must remove ourselves from China before any counter-claims are pressed on us. I now require all British subjects at Canton to leave with me together. I will try to keep you advised timely but I have to complete my public duties to this government first. Anyone shipping goods on British account by whatever vessel is advised that their trade is at their own personal risk from today. You should each prepare sealed declarations of your claims on the Chinese and provide them to me. I recommend your claims be based on invoice cost but the final determination of their value will be made by the British government.

“All Britons now here, or hereafter to arrive, are advised not to bring any ship or cargo to China that might enhance the danger to British life and property until I say you can. I reserve the right to cancel or modify any future claims that are not in conformity with this order. If the British government decides to fight, it cannot protect Britons who chose to remain in Canton longer that I myself stay.”

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Elliot to the British community:

“I will leave Canton for Whampoa at 11 am on Friday 24th May. The persons who were ordered detained by the Canton government are required to accompany me but I do not want a big crowd gathering at the quay and attracting attention.”

Editor – The last chest of opium was surrendered at 2 am Tuesday 21st May. It is rumoured the entire consignment will be sent to Peking to evidence Lin’s victory – we wonder how many chests will arrive intact?

Elliot successfully brought the 16 banishees out of China on Friday as planned. He was delayed until 5 pm. He pushed off from the quay as How Qua and Mow Qua arrived and he necessarily returned to greet them briefly in the consulate garden.

Old China Street was re-opened on Saturday 25th May.

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Petition to Palmerston of 23rd May from the pacific party of China traders:

We are being attacked. The violence consists of:

  • Stopping the trade of ships against which no complaint is made
  • The detention of the foreign community at Canton with Elliot.
  • The seizure of opium belonging to the foreign traders and their constituents in India and Europe.
  • The threat to execute foreigners for future infractions of law.
  • The attempt to force bonds from us to submit to Chinese law on pain of death.

We live here on sufferance and have no way of knowing the Chinese law. Opium was legally imported on payment of a duty until 1796. Since then the trade has flourished for forty years with the connivance of government officials. Its legalisation was recommended to the Emperor in 1836. The opium law has never been enforced against foreigners before. All this comprises an estoppel.

A Select Committee of the House of Commons was formed in 1830 and investigated the opium trade. It reported in 1832. The Committee concluded it was inadvisable to abandon such an important source of Company revenue as Bengal opium. This suggests we have the implied sanction of the British government to our opium trade. This is supported by the revenue falling to Bengal from opium, some £1 – £1½ millions in each recent year.

We allow the Chinese the right of deciding what may be imported. We have all signed bonds to abstain from opium trade in future. But the long period that this trade was tolerated makes us question Chinese sincerity.

On the one hand, they have customarily connived at the trade and on the other, they propose capital punishment for engaging in it. The recent actions of the local government establish that they have the power to enforce their laws when they wish to do so, but that power has hitherto seldom been exercised except to exact higher fees for the introduction of opium. Elliot will tell you of recent developments here but we should say that we would not ourselves have surrendered the opium as most of it belongs to capitalists in India and Europe. Neither would we have given the required bonds.

Commissioner Lin allowed three days for the opium to be surrendered and the bonds made out. At the end of that period, the Hong merchants attended our factories in chains to report they would be executed at our doors on the morrow and the Commissioner commenced other menacing preparations against us. It was then that Elliot arrived in Canton.

We commend this officer to you for the sense of public spirit that induced him to rescue us against all odds. He relieved us of the responsibility to surrender the opium, in which respect we hope you will speedily fulfil his guarantee, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, to reimburse us and save us from ruin. We give you the opinion of the British community that your ratification of Elliot’s actions, followed by the early adoption of such measures as you think appropriate, will be sufficient to avoid any future dispute.

We also wish you to know, at the time of the opium seizure and our detention, that apart from opium there was a further £1 million of British property at Canton besides the value of the shipping at Whampoa, all of which was exposed to danger. The Commissioner never alleged any impropriety in respect of that other property and shipping but he failed to distinguish between the opium trade and the legal trade and arbitrarily arrested the merchants involved in both. After the opium had been surrendered, the Commissioner sought to reopen trade but we do not want trade under his new regulations as we fear we will be held accountable for our acts.

We hope you are convinced that our relationship with China must be changed so we are not again exposed to the mercy of a capricious and corrupt government. Please refund our money quickly and put the trade on a sound and permanent basis.

Dent & Co, Lindsay & Co, Bell & Co, MacVicar & Co, Dirom & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, Charles S Compton, D & M Rustomjee, Jamieson & How, W & T Gemmell & Co, Bibby Adam & Co, Turner & Co, Robert Wise, Holliday & Co, Daniell & Co and twenty-six Parsees

(Editor – there were fewer people signing this petition than usual because so many British traders have been deported.)

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Letter to the Editor of the London Times, 9th January 1839:

Our present ministers, particularly Palmerston, are ignorant of China and have brought discredit to England. We expect to next hear of a stoppage of China trade and an embargo on British goods shipped there on 1-2 months credit and already in the possession of the Hong merchants.

Since the Company stopped trading, the Canton government has repeatedly insulted our officials – first Napier and now Elliot. It has additionally taxed our trade and restricted our merchants. After repeated applications to the Foreign Office for a sufficient show of force to arrive in next year (when the trading season is closed for the summer heat), to obtain redress without violence, Admiral Maitland arrived at Canton in August 1838 (the commencement of the trading season) with the Wellesley, a half-manned 74 gun ship accompanied by a gun-brig! The Chinese were not impressed. They returned all Elliot’s official correspondence and fired on a ferry boat which they believed to carry British naval officers from Maitland’s force. It is said the officer in charge of the forts sent Maitland a Chinese letter which is described by the Admiral as an apology. Nevertheless, there remain many outrages to be redressed. Only a few warships are necessary for success.

Timing is important. If our punitive force arrives in the trading season, the Hong merchants will not want to buy English manufactures, their capital may be endangered, their workmen dismissed whilst our shipowners will be paying ruinous demurrage on their shipping stuck at Whampoa. Chinese exports will become more expensive but the British government will obtain no advantage from it as the duty on Chinese teas, etc., is no longer ad valorem.

£3 – 4 millions is taxed off the China trade in England which also receives a large income for the Company’s government of India in respect of exports to China. The British traders at Canton have shipped their teas and silks and are preparing for hostilities. It is doubtful if we will get any clearer news before parliament reconvenes. Our national honour requires action.

Signed A Fan Qui, 5th January 1839

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

St James’ Chronicle – the tea auction rooms at Mincing Lane were crowded this morning for the first sale of Assam tea. There were three lots of Assam souchong and five of Assam pekoe. Each lot was sold without reserve.

All the souchong was sold to Captain Pidding, the blender of ‘How Qua’s Mixture No 10’, for 20+/- per lb. The first lot of pekoe sold at 24/- per lb; the last lot at 34/- per lb. All the pekoe was bought by Pidding as well. He is now the proprietor of Assam tea and well as ‘How Qua’s No 10’.

(NB from a private letter – a company is being formed by civil servants in the Company’s government of Calcutta for the development of Assam tea. They should themselves have sufficient capital to extend the cultivation. It may eventually affect the production of China.)

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

The Ariel will depart from Macau for the Red Sea on 29th May. Robert Inglis and C S Compton are passengers on the ship.4

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

W P Snow, American Consul, has circulated the following edict of Commissioner Lin, dated 18th May, for the information of the American community:

“Chinese officials have visited the fleet at the Nine Islands to examine the ships but an American ship raised its anchor and sailed away. The details of this ship are to be widely circulated so she can do no more trade in China.

“The foreigners say the Nine Islands anchorage is exposed and they want to move their ships to Tsim Sha Tsui. Thirteen ships at Macau have been measured and are ready to enter the river but the details of their cargo is not yet known. The foreigners speak in general terms in their routine attempts at deception but they have consented to be measured and have applied for a safer anchorage at Hong Kong so we will be compassionate to them.

“The (Chinese) officials at Macau will tell the foreigners they do not need to anchor at Tsim Sha Tsui – all ships may come to Whampoa for trade.”

Canton Register Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Edict of Commissioner Lin, 23rd May:

Bomanjee, Dadabhoy, Daniell, Framjee, Green, Henry, Ilberry, Inglis, Kay and Stanford are all habitual opium dealers. They should be punished but in consideration of our indulgence of foreigners, and as they have surrendered their opium and agreed to obey the law, we remit their punishment.

They may not remain in China lest their cunning is expressed again. Take voluntary bonds from these ten that they will never return and let them wait for their passports before expelling them. If they return under false names they will be severely punished and no further indulgence will be shown them.

NB – this excludes Dent, the four JM & Co men and Foster on the previous list

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

Edict of the Kwongchow foo, 14th May:

“We allow ten days for the occupants of New and Old China Streets to clear their shops and houses and remove. There are some Chinese at the north end of Luen Hong Street who trade with the foreigners, selling their goods through the windows of the foreign factories. The merchants in this street must remove their shops and houses within the ten days.

“There are a few other shops on the west and south of the factories. They trade lawfully and are further away from the foreigners. They may continue in business.

“The Hong merchants are to continually check if any shopman is trading in prohibited goods or connecting with foreigners. They must report offenders for punishment. There are many Chinese in Hog Lane who make clothes and hats for the foreigners. These items are in constant demand. If the Hongs will tolerate this minor infraction of their monopoly, and give a bond for the shopmen’s good behaviour, the tailors and hatters may continue. If not, they must close their shops and depart within ten days like the others.

“Public signs in foreign language are illegal. It has been tolerated for years and more and more laws have been ignored. Now the old regulations are being strictly enforced. Any slight infringement of the law will in future be heavily punished.”

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

The Commissioner has gone to the Bogue to dig a grave for £2½ millions of opium. Here is his Edict, 31st May:

I asked Peking if I should send the opium to them. Peking was pleased with the results of our acts but felt the opium should not be sent as it would require too many people and the route is difficult. I am instructed to destroy the opium before the eyes of the provincial officials and other interested persons, thus manifesting an awful warning.

A stone-lined trench is being prepared into which the opium will be thrown and mixed with unslaked lime and rock salt. When it is completely dissolved it will be sluiced off into the sea. Then everyone will know how great the anger of the Emperor has been over this matter. They will recognise that opium is useless. We had first thought to use it to fertilise our fields but excrement is better. Opium has no use and must be thrown away.

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

Letter from the 11 Hongs to the foreigners, 31st May:

We have instructions from Viceroy Tang for the consuls and merchants of every nation. Foreign ships coming to China must anchor near Shin Tsing village at Whampoa and there wait for examination and measurement. Thereafter they may open the hatches and discharge.

You are not allowed to anchor off Yu Chu or Wu Chung (the smuggling centres at 2nd bar) or anywhere else or you will be expelled. Ensure you take care to avoid crime.

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

Editorial – The 16 proscribed gentlemen includes an American but he was not required to give a bond for his future conduct. The other 15 traders were either British or British Parsees. They all had to give the bond. What is going on?

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

Editor Slade visited How Qua yesterday for permission to attend the opium destruction at the Bogue. He told How Qua that unless respectable foreigners attended, they would doubt the Chinese had really destroyed the opium.

How Qua said it was not a trade matter but a government matter and he had no standing in it. He asked Slade when the English would return to Canton and characterised their departure as childish.

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

These are the names of foreign merchants still resident in Canton:

G T Braine, Bell, Bull, Cooper, Cryder, Delano, Forbes, Gemmell, Hathaway, C A King, E King, Low, Nye, P Parker, Sachsen, Wetmore, Wilkinson.

There are also a few Parsees but their names are unavailable.

Vol 12 No 23 – 4th June 1839

Letter to the Editor, 27th May 1839:

You have published an article suggesting Asian people are less truthful than Europeans. The Editor is extensively knowledgeable – his columns overflow with justice, charity and philanthropy – but this assertion is wrong.

This is not a matter of Asian amnesia or imbecility or egocentrism as the Editor has suggested. It is due to European ignorance and self-love that we have come to consider the Asian as untruthful.

Sgd L (An American)

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839

Notice, 10th June 1839 – M/s Markwick and Smith are proprietors of the ferries Sylph, Alpha, Union and Rover. The numbers of our passengers has become small and we do not know how long we will be able or allowed to maintain the Canton / Macau service.

For the time being voyages to / from Macau and Canton, touching Lintin, will be $20 per head. Tickets to Kum Sing Mun and Hong Kong will be $25. No cargo is allowed and the attached Regulations of the General Chamber will be enforced. Baggage may be landed at the small Customs House on the Praia Grande but dutiable cargo (goods and silver) must be discharged at the inner harbour Customs House.

We no longer have a representative at Canton. C Lloyd will handle the boats there. Apply to him for passage and pay him for any mail you wish to send. All credit arrangements for cargo to Canton have ceased.

Chamber Regulations – Ferryboat masters must give notice of arrival and departure at Canton so searching can be arranged if necessary. The boats must stop off the Wang Tong fort for an hour in each direction in case the army officers wish to search. Boats used for smuggling inside or outside the river are liable to seizure. Even if the Chinese do not discover it, the Chamber will withdraw the licence of ferries that smuggle. Passengers and Lascars must give no gratuity to the Chinese Customs officials. If tips are demanded a report should be made to us.

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839

Asiatic Journal, September 1838, Letter of Captain Jenkins, British agent at Assam, to Governor General of India, 6th May 1838 – the birth of the Assam tea trade:

The first tea made by our Chinese artisans has been sent to England. We have sent boxes for private circulation and believe you will have tried it. There was a doubt whether the wild tea plant of Assam was green or black tea. The Chinese you sent to us are only able to make black tea. They say the manufacture of green tea is different.

I have always thought, from the fragrance of the leaves, that our wild shrubs were green tea shrubs. We have recently been able to make green tea and everyone says it is very good. When the Chinese green tea manufacturers arrive from Calcutta we will be able to export green teas every bit as good as the black teas we already make.

We need British capitalists to develop our farming. The wild tea plants extend over a huge area and the potential manufacture is on a vast scale. This opportunity should be published as it gives the prospect of immediate returns. We are still refining the manufacture, preservation, packing and distribution of tea and the quality of our products can only improve.

It would be a great national advantage to produce Britain’s tea needs in India. All we need is more capital investment.

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839

Foreign merchants remaining in Canton:

British – Bell, T Gemmell, Miller, Thom and Wilkinson.

American – W S Wetmore, Forbes, E King, Low, Delano, Lejee, Cooper, Morss, Hathaway, Bull, Nye, Ryan, Kellogg, Gilman, Spooner, Kimball, Cryder, C A King, P Parker and Captain Mott of the Indus.5

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839

Canton news:

  • The opium is being destroyed at a rate of 300 chests per day.
  • The square between Old China Street and Hog Lane has been fenced. The fencing from Old China Street to the Danish factory is nearly compete.
  • The shopkeepers in the factories have petitioned for relief from the Commissioner’s expulsion orders. We will publish a copy in the next issue.
  • The Americans have complained that the clock in the square has stopped. They are also shareholders in its purchase from the Company. All they need to wind it up is the keys to the clock-tower which we took away when we left Canton.

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839

Editorial – Elliot has applied to Commissioner Lin for permission to British traders to transact their future business at Macau. He did not tell us first. We only know of his application from Commissioner Lin’s reply below.

It is singularly insulting that the Hong merchants should have delivered the Commissioner’s Edict of 9th June 1839 to the Americans to enjoin upon us:

“We allow the ships that have loaded export cargoes to depart for their own countries. The new ships that have arrived, if they are willing to trade under the new system, must come up to Whampoa and be examined, etc. If they are unwilling to submit to Chinese law they should return home.

“Elliot’s assertion that British ships cannot leave until their King permits it is evasive. The traders never brook delay. They come and go as fast as possible and do not wait for their King’s permission to do so. They are solely concerned for profit. Elliot assumes that we cannot contact his King and he can therefore attribute anything he says to his monarch.

“He also asks to land and sell cargo at Macau. This is completely discordant with the Regulations. He should send the empty opium ships back to his country and promote only lawful trade hereafter. We will not permit any more scheming. His job is to secure his nationals from loss. To do that he need only comply with the law and act with propriety. He should not “fly a kite and ask others to hold the string.” Either he orders his ships to Whampoa or he orders them away. There is no third way. He has delivered the opium and established his respect for Chinese law. He should not be ashamed.”

Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839


  • At Minto House, Roxburgh, 18th September, Ralph Abercrombie, H M Ambassador to Florence, to Mary Elliot, eldest daughter of the Earl of Minto.
  • At St Pancras Church, London 3rd October, Robert Wilkinson of Canton and Elizabeth Warden Dent eldest daughter of John Dent of the Madras civil service.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

New York Journal of Commerce, 13th June 1838 – China-trade ships returning to Salem report a conflict between the Chinese government and the opium smugglers. A crisis is expected. The senior Hong merchants have been imprisoned. We reproduce part of a letter from a trader at Canton to a firm here. It suggests trade will be interrupted. Our government will have to attend closely to these developments:

“Elliot left for Macau to await new instructions from London. He left Canton because the Viceroy would not communicate directly with him. His removal relieves him from supposed condonation of opium. The latest translations of Edicts suggest the Emperor might be persuaded to legalise the trade but he dreads the view that history will take of him. He has instead made the Canton Viceroy Tang personally responsible to expunge the trade. The Viceroy’s preventive efforts have pushed the Canton price of opium to $100 above the Lintin price and this enormous allurement has set all his work at naught. All sorts of boats, as well as the shipping, now bring opium into the river. Over 1,000 chests were recently brought up to Whampoa on payment of $100,000 to the officials (the reason for the enhanced street prices in Canton).

“No-one knows which official(s) is / are arranging this, but it reveals the weakness of the Chinese position. We expect a British envoy will be quietly sent to the north soon and, if he fails, a resort to limited force will be had. Will the U S Government stand-by while Britain secures the commercial advantages? We should be involved in the death of the Chinese trade system so we can partake of the spoils. Hitherto I expected nothing of England but this new Queen is vigorous and may out-distance us. A ship has left for London carrying the news of the Viceroy’s refusal to treat with Elliot. I doubt the ministry would have required him to request direct communication if they had not conceived of some means to enforce the requirement. Before leaving Canton, Elliot asked his nationals to prepare a full report on the Co-Hong to illustrate the risks that foreign capital is exposed to here. If our government joined England in an expedition to the north we would probably obtain our ends – is such a collaboration impossible?”

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

The Observer, 27th January 1839 – Admiral Maitland offended the Chinese by sailing the warships Wellesley and Algerine into their waters. Boats from the British shipping outside the river were fired upon. On 2nd July a British boat entered the river and was boarded by officials at the Bogue searching for Maitland, his women or any of his men. It was allowed to proceed but was later stopped again with the same enquiry. Some of the forts fired on her.

On hearing of this Maitland sailed to the Bogue with the Wellesley, Algerine and another small ship. He cleared for action and sent to the forts demanding reparations for the insult to the Queen. The Chinese admiral sent officers on board to disclaim any intention of disrespect. They assured Maitland that the offenders would be punished. They equated insults to Maitland with insults to their own Admiral. What a powerful force for peace is a British broadside.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

Arrivals / Departures:

  • The American ships Nantucket, Paris and Cashmere have come up to Whampoa from Hong Kong for trade.
  • The British ship Spy at Hong Kong has received an export cargo by trans-shipment and sailed for Singapore and Calcutta.
  • Mr Mrs Daniell and family have left China per Reliance.
  • Alexander Matheson has arrived from Calcutta per Mahommedee.
  • The David Scott, Mahommedee and Red Rover are about to leave Hong Kong for India and London.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

T Gemmell has left Canton leaving only four British nationals at the factories. On the other hand, the American community at Canton has been increased by the arrival of Grandy, Sacksen and D Eckley, making a total of 23 resident Americans.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

The American ship Splendid spoke with HMS Larne last week. The warship is cruising between Luzon and Cochin China in the South China Sea.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

Local news:

  • Commanders of American ships which have recently entered the river will today petition Commissioner Lin to trade on the former terms, i.e. without giving the opium bond.
  • The result of the shopmen’s petition to Lin remains unknown.
  • Macau’s trade has been stopped by the Commissioner for unknown reasons.
  • We hear the last British firm at Canton, Bell & Co, will leave for Macau tomorrow.

Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839

Meeting of the British merchants at Macau, 12th June 1839 at Dent’s office:

This meeting regrets that some British traders are preparing to send their ships into the river. We are resolved to ask Elliot whether his embargo on trade is legally valid and whether he thinks his negotiations with the Chinese will soon resolve our differences and permit trade to resume.

Elliot’s reply, 14th June:

An embargo is an act of government prohibiting the departure of ships and goods of another. My notices do not amount to an embargo but I believe they are all lawful orders. If British shipping and goods enter the river I fear they will be exposed to danger. You should evaluate my opinion in light of your own knowledge and interests.

Apart from the danger of entering the river, I also think anyone doing so allows the inference that they have confidence in the Chinese government to act fairly in spite of our recent experiences. Anyone submitting to Chinese jurisdiction is agreeing to capital punishment for any trivial smuggling offence. I hope you will do nothing until the Queen’s instructions arrive.

Concerning your second question, I see no reason to expect trade to resume normally in the near future.

Minutes of a meeting of British merchants in Macau, 17th June:

Resolved that Elliot’s order to stay out of the river is legal. We will obey as we expect the British government to adopt our cause with the Chinese.

Resolved that something must be done to turn-around the British ships in the outer anchorages.6

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

Peking Gazettes, Imperial Edict:

“Many reports of the rigorous enforcement of the anti-opium law have been received from the provinces. A great many people have publicly acknowledged their habit and surrendered their smoking paraphernalia but if there is delay, and the time limit for surrender passes with some smokers continuing their habit, then the evil will resume. The magistrates must not offer leniency or weaken the force of the law.

I, the Emperor, have heard that magistrates, bent on avoiding reprehension and wishing to appear zealous, are permitting many false representations. Acting solely for appearances is wicked. I wish to save the people but if they and the troops are unable to cease smoking, why would they surrender their pipes? There must be genuine repentance.

In future when opium smokers are arrested, you may not suggest their surrender of pipes. I will put an end to all false confessions and deceptions. Respect this.”

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

Imperial Edict:

Commissioner Lin has reported that the opium ships are about to leave. 20,283 chests of opium have been surrendered and twenty-two ships have been expelled. This suggests repentance and I permit the previous crimes of the foreigners be overlooked.

Lin has also reported the gift of some tea.

He should complete the receipt of the surrendered opium then send an officer to Peking to report everything in detail.

Commissioner Lin and Viceroy Tang have done well and will be rewarded.

Vol 12 No 25 – 18th June 1839

Viceroy Tang’s verbal order to the Hongs, 13th June 1839:

Concerning the American ships Nantucket, Paris and Remmonda, the bond from foreigners has not been settled and I need a progress report before allowing the ships to commence trade. Ships that trade legally are welcome. Ships that smuggle opium will receive no indulgence. Thus the merit of the good and the evil of the bad will flow from the foreigners’ own acts. I will not punish the good for the crimes of the bad. Neither will I show any favour to the bad for the sake of the good. The good may continue to trade. The bad must first sincerely reform themselves and not again indulge in imaginative plans to circumvent the law.

The Hong merchants will report on the foreigners’ attitude to the new order and identify who is good and who is bad. (This order was reported to Wetmore & Co and Russell & Co on 14th June)

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Bombay Times, 20th March – Wm Jardine has arrived in Bombay on the Bolton from China. He is returning home by the overland route to enjoy the fruits of his labours. He is universally respected. Before the departure of the final Company fleet from China he was dined by the commanders and officers who presented him with a £1,000 piece of plate as a token of their respect. He wore for a time the ‘Lion Button’.

We now recite a report from the Canton Register on a farewell dinner held for him in China at which 140 guests assembled in the Consulate Hall (the ex-Company dining room) to wish him well (reproduced in the Opium chapter).

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Letter to the Editor of the Calcutta Englishman, 19th April 1839:

We remain uncertain how the Chinese government intends to crush the opium trade. The latest advices from China reveal the Chinese are assembling a fleet to expel the receiving ships. Some opium speculators ridicule this as they do every act of the Chinese government. They are contemptible.

They should recognise that the Chinese can achieve their ends without firing a shot. They might surround the factories to prevent escape and then call on the English residents who are consignees for the involved ships to permit their search. And if they warn the English that any resistance at Whampoa or Canton will entail ‘a life for a life’, then the foreigners would tremblingly obey.

We hear the opium on the Attaram has been destroyed.

What would India lose if all the opium is destroyed? The opium speculators say the Chinese government would not dare to confront the trade in this way – it would be in breach of international law and we would certainly take reprisals. The Chinese have never admitted reciprocity between China and other countries. They are well-informed about the trade and its influence on the revenue here and in England. If, improbably, we took vengeance, we would not choose to reimburse the losers.

People may dismiss this but the opium question is seen as a matter entailing the political supremacy of the Ching dynasty. We have not yet heard the worst of it. Sgd P

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Calcutta Englishman, 18th April – There has been a rapid increase of recreational opium use in England. Chemists throughout the counties are reporting the same phenomenon.

In London the chemists like windfall profits and restrict their market by price but in the counties opium remains cheap. Turkey pays an import duty of 1/- per lb and wholesales at 15/- per pound. The usual dose is 1 grain. There are 7,000 grains in a lb.

Suppose the retail chemist marks up the price by 400%, then a farthing (¼d) will buy two doses of laudanum. This is much cheaper than alcohol. It is well known that opium in moderation is beneficial to health. In the recent biography of William Wilberforce, his sons note he could not drink wine without feeling heated but laudanum always provided the well-being he sought.

The temperance societies and the wine trade will oppose opium in England. It is the wine trade that is publishing the increased use of opium. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China has offered a prize of £100 for the best essay on the commercial, political and moral effects of opium and how the trade should be handled in future. But the society has not allowed contributors to copyright their entries so the quality may be low.

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Foreign merchants still in Canton:





Bull, Cooper, Cryder, Delano, D Eckley, Forbes, Gandy, Gilman, Kellogg, Kimball, C A King, E King, Lejee, Low, Morss, Nye, P Parker, Ryan, Sacksen, Spooner and Captain Mott of the Indus.

Thom and Millar

C Lloyd

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Letter from Elliot to the British merchants dated 14th June at Macau:

“I believe I have not exceeded my powers in ordering an embargo of the port of Canton. I do not want any British ships or goods entering the river now because I cannot protect them. Anyone going there tends to reinforce the Chinese position – that the foreigners are being treated fairly and that they consent to capital punishment for smuggling offences.

“I hope you will not risk your crews in this way. This situation will continue until I get new instructions from London.”

Vol 12 No 26 – 25th June 1839

Elliot to Commissioner Lin:

Your officials in Macau have published notices inviting British merchants to enter the river for trade contrary to my instructions to them. The notices do not explain why we left. I have ordered them not to go and I have the power to do so.

Commissioner Lin replies:

I have published every Edict I have made on the subject of opium but Elliot has withheld his replies and tried to make his correspondence secret. Elliot should explain why he required the British community to leave Canton and cease trade.

Editorial – On 24th March Elliot arrived in Canton determined to fulfil the Imperial commands and end the confrontation. He was then detained with the rest of the foreign community for 7 weeks, deprived of servants and provisions, although he was trying to promote the Chinese position. Was this the act of a friendly power?

Elliot just tried to preserve the British community from any worsening of the situation. This crusade against opium has caused a change in Chinese policy.

Instead of expressing tenderness for ‘men from afar’, the Commissioner made a series of promises and then broke them. Our servants were not restored when a quarter of the opium had been surrendered; the ferries were not permitted to run when half had been surrendered; the trade was not reopened when three quarters had been delivered, and trade did not resume normally when all had been delivered.

Instead of normal trade, the foreign factories are now a prison with only one entrance; 16 traders have been expelled – some have never dealt in opium whilst others are mere clerks following the orders of their employers.

When justice is forsaken to achieve commercial and social change, the Emperor’s purpose is not complied with. We will tell the Emperor that the opium trade has continued for decades because his officers have protected it, because opium importers have paid his senior officials more bribes than any other branch of our trade.

The Chinese must fail in their attempt. Free trade will not be frustrated in this way. The immediate effect of the seizure has been an astonishing impetus to opium smuggling after several months of stagnant trade. Stopping opium imports will impoverish the coastal provinces, thousands of families (Chinese and foreign) will be ruined and the peaceful relationship we have with China is jeopardised. We must have justice for our opium traders and redress for the Commissioner’s insults.

Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839

Lancelot Dent is about to leave China per Emily Jane for Manila and London. The Hon F C Drummond is also a passenger on that ship.

Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839

Foreigners still resident in Canton this week:





Forbes, E King, Delano, Low, Lejee, Cooper, Morss, Bull, Nye, Ryan, Gandy, Sacksen, Kellogg, Gilman, Spooner, Kimball, Cryder, F A King, D Eckley, P Parker and Capt Mott.


C Lloyd

Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839

The Canton Register press has arrived in Macau and the Portuguese governor has permitted us to publish here. We have no news from Canton but hope to have the latest Peking Gazettes forwarded to us soon. The visits that Chinese officials have recently made to the foreign factories in Canton appear to have been solely intended to collect information.

Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839

The wording of the new bond requires only the Captain of the ship to sign. He pledges that he knows the proscription on opium in China and the penalties for bringing it, and he undertakes that his ship brings none.7

Vol 12 No 28 – 9th July 1839 (actually published 12th July)

There are now 22 fully-loaded English ships anchored in Hong Kong harbour awaiting to discharge their cargo. Several American ships have entered the river and their captains have signed the required bond. It seems that trade at Whampoa will continue under the American flag.

The bond has Chinese at the top and the English version underneath. The ship’s captain signs in the presence of his Consul and endorses his signature to the effect that it refers only to the English version. The English version says that ‘the foreign captain has been told new regulations strictly prohibit opium and he will not oppose them’.

Consuls are supposed to understand the language of the country they are appointed to. The American Consul repeatedly declared to the Kwongchow foo in April that US law forbad American nationals from signing any bond.

These ‘new regulations’ have hitherto only been published in the bond proposed by the Commissioner to the foreign community. We reported on the terms of that bond in our 9th April edition and it refers to its coming into force in the autumn. Anyone signing this present bond now is apparently submitting to some unknown regulation.

Vol 12 No 28 – 9th July 1839 (actually published 12th July)

An affray on the Hong Kong waterfront between foreigners and Chinese has caused the death of two of the latter. We await details.

Vol 12 No 28 – 9th July 1839 (actually published 12th July)

The Colonist, 6th April 1839 – Dr Sigmund has addressed the Medico-Botanical Society on the cultivation of tea.

He said when the time for picking the finest leaves arrived, the Chinese pickers had to avoid gross food and restrict themselves to the purest diet to ensure their breathe is fresh whilst working amongst the shrubs. They wear gloves to prevent any contamination of the leaf through the skin.

Dr Sigmund exhibited samples of every type of tea imported into England including the caravan teas imported via Kyakhta and How Qua’s Blend. He said the Hong merchants had not historically supplied the finest teas for export but since the commencement of the free trade we had received many new varieties and one, How Qua’s Blend, had become the standard tea in England.

The flower of the Chinese tea plant has a fine fragrant aroma which the wild plants of Assam lack.

The Doctor illustrated his talk with some superb paintings supplied by Mrs Morrison from her late husband’s collection.

The Chinese like strong tea. They have a proverb about poverty which reveals this preference – ‘drinking weak tea, eating tasteless rice’.

Vol 12 No 29 – 16th July 1839 (issued at the temporary press office at Rua do Hospital, Macau until further notice)

Mr Fearon has now translated the new Regulation requiring the bond. It is to be signed by both the ship’s captain and the security merchant for his ship. They volunteer to surrender any opium found on board and bind themselves to willingly submit to Chinese justice in respect of their crimes. Anyone signing this bond in good conscience must thereafter desist from smuggling, whether his goods are contraband or not. He cannot continue to participate in our war on the Chinese Customs revenue.

Edict of Hoppo Yu to the Linguist Tsai Mo (or Ah Tom sometimes Old Tom, or Kwan Ho or Foon Wo) et al, 23rd June:

American ships have entered the river and the Sze magistrates have framed new Regulations for their management.

Whenever a foreign ship arrives in the outer waters for a pilot, an official will attend on board to measure her and check her draught. When the ship arrives at Whampoa an officer will again measure her and check her draft. Any discrepancies will be instantly reported.

The foreigners bring opium and dutiable but legal goods to Lintin and traitorous natives smuggle them all into China. The foreign ship then enters the river to load an export cargo. This is wicked. The foreigners have been obliged to surrender their opium and they are sternly prohibited from again introducing it. But they are tricky deceitful people and we must guard against them lest they again indulge their former wickedness.

We will in future apply the same Regulations to foreign ships that we now apply to grain ships. Formerly no senior official was based at Whampoa because it is so near Canton but in future we will deploy an acting magistrate there to superintend the management of this new Regulation. He will be provided with Linguists and necessary staff. He will cause the ships to be measured and their draughts checked in the outer waters. On arrival at Whampoa he will measure the ship and record its draught again. He may return to Canton when these duties in respect of each foreign ship have been concluded. We will infer smuggling if there is any discrepancy between the draught measurements taken outside and inside.

When the foreign ship anchors at Whampoa the acting magistrate will deploy his men in a boat on her port side while the Hoppo will continue to deploy his man in a boat on the starboard side. They may call upon the assistance of soldiers on the cruising warjunks as necessary. These precautions will awe the foreigners. The loading and unloading of cargo to / from the ship will be observed by the Whampoa staff; the lighters carrying cargo between Whampoa and Canton will be observed by the river police.

If these orders are enforced all smuggling in the river will be ended. To this end I will appoint another officer to watch the watchers. The least failure of duty will be reported and attract the heaviest penalties. Thus we will deploy a capable officer and Customs staff and naval patrols to closely watch. The superintending officer will have a history of reliability.

At present there are few acting officers or officers awaiting appointment in Canton and few, if any, of them are fit for this duty. Those who are competent have other duties and may be called away. It will also be difficult to obtain volunteers as this duty will be onerous. I allow any of the officials-in-waiting or acting magistrates to take up this employment but they may have no other responsibilities and must remain at their post while foreign ships are at Whampoa.

Whenever a foreign ship arrives in the outer waters it must be timely reported so the above official can go to Whampoa and attend to his duty without delay. If any of the parties charged with enforcing this regulation appear to be remiss or indulgent, a secret report must be sent in so they can be punished.

As for the fishing boats, ferries and comprador’s boats that ply amongst the foreign shipping at Whampoa, they should also be searched so their operators are deterred from involvement in smuggling. If many foreign ships arrive together we will need additional officers to enforce the terms of this Regulation. Any failure in duty will be judicially examined and will merit demotion and dismissal on conviction.

The Viceroy has rescinded all former Regulations in so far as they differ from this one and set this one up as the basic law for the future deterrence of smuggling.

I command Mow Qua and Pun Ki Qua to secure the two incoming American ships in accordance with this Regulation. They will forthwith attend at Whampoa and carry out their duty. The requisite bond will be signed by both the foreign captain and the Security Merchant so they are aware they must abide by the consequences of their actions should opium be found. The Hong merchants and Linguists must sincerely manage this business. They formerly permitted smuggling. If they do it again they will regret it.

If opium is again found, all the Hong merchants and Linguists will suffer for it. Extreme punishment with no indulgence will be their reward.

Vol 12 No 29 – 16th July 1839

Editor Slade of Canton Register applied to How Qua to witness the destruction of the opium by Commissioner Lin but was turned down. Now he has received the following report from a friend who just went there unappointed and was warmly welcomed by the Commissioner. Slade infers that How Qua allowed his personal feelings against the Canton Register newspaper to influence his decision.

Letter to the Editor:

I see you were denied permission to observe the opium destruction. That is unfortunate. Had you attended you would have enjoyed an audience with the Commissioner. That would have provided you with an opportunity to air your ideas. Commissioner Lin absorbs new ideas like blotting paper absorbs ink. He is assiduous in seeking information about us. Herewith are the notes I made of the event for the Chinese Repository.

Sgd Rev E C Bridgman

Visit of Bridgman and Charles King to Chun How, 17th June 1839:

Our object was to witness the destruction of the opium in light of the widespread foreign belief that none would be destroyed or, if some was, it would be attended by massive pilferage. We also wished for authoritative information on the new Regulations to be applied to foreign shipping entering the river.

We had expected our presence to be opposed but we were welcomed. In fact the Imperial order for opium destruction anticipates that Chinese and foreigners should see it.

We anchored off Chuen Pi near the place that the opium was delivered from the receiving ships. It is about 2 miles below the Ah Nung Hoy fort and ½ mile from both the Chuen Pi guns and the fleet of warjunks in Anson’s Bay. We gave the naval officer our cards, asked to see the destruction and, after saying we should have applied in Macau, he forwarded our request.

At 9.30 am on 17th June Captain Loo Tse Yu came aboard with the Admiral’s and Commissioner’s joint permission to attend. Mrs King was also invited. Loo enquired after Admiral Maitland and young Morrison whom he had met a few months ago. He also asked if Elliot and Johnstone were at Macau. We were told to leave any weapons behind and were escorted by several boats.

At 10.00 am Mr Mrs King, Captain Benson (of our ship Morrison), myself and six seamen boarded Loo’s junk and our gig followed. Many of the other warjunks followed us, their crews in joyful mood. East of Anson’s Bay we passed between the ruins of an old fort on our left and an islet on our right and then crossed Sam Hau (three mouths) and continued N E up a small creek over Sha Kok (Sandy Point) to Chun How. The journey took less than an hour. Chun How is 5-6 miles from the Chuen Pi fort and 2 miles east of the Ah Nung Hoy fort. Chun How is a long narrow village on the east bank of a creek.

The site for the opium destruction was north of the village and comprised a square of 400 – 500 feet sides surrounded by a stout bamboo fence. There were crowds in boats on the river and around the site on land. As we approached the landing place we saw two divisions of troops in full uniform drawn up north and south of the enclosure. The Chinese were all delighted to see us but I nevertheless felt sad and somewhat sick at heart. Before we had tied-up, Loo asked if we would see the Commissioner. We assented at once. He asked if we would kow-tow and we declined. He then immediately agreed that we might conform with our own custom in such circumstances. He then went ashore to make the arrangements.

He soon returned with the Commissioner’s aide, a Muslim from the north named Wong Ching who was dressed like a warrior with boots and belt and heavy cutlass – tall, dark, stout and with a long black beard. Loo indicated he had arranged for us to inspect the whole works before interviewing the Commissioner. He said we might take as long as we wished. We landed and entered the enclosure, finding gates on three sides but not on the east. Each gate was guarded and no-one could enter without a ticket or leave without being searched. Within the enclosure were about 500 workmen and 60-80 officials. The officers were a fine body of men such as I have not previously seen. Even the clerks and attendants looked better. There were elevated seats at the periphery under mats where lookouts observed the entire scene continually. Nothing would have escaped their attention. They remained at these posts performing shifts day and night. The opium chests were stacked in small enclosures. As each was taken from the stow it was checked against the manifest made at the time of discharge from the receiving ship. At the western side of the enclosure were three trenches aligned east to west. Each was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide and 7 feet deep. They were paved with stone and lined along the sides with heavy timbers. Each trench was encircled by its own fence with entrances on only one side. When we arrived one was not being used, another was being filled and the third appeared ready to be emptied.

The destruction procedure was like this. A nearby stream had been tapped for a fresh water supply. This was used to fill a trench with 2 feet of water. Across the trench were many planks which the coolies used. They received the opium balls in baskets and carried them over the trench. Each ball was taken out and stamped upon until it was broken down into small pieces which were kicked into the water and sank. Other coolies were standing in the water with hoes and broad wooden spatulas which they used to beat and turn the opium to dissolve it. Other coolies then brought salt and lime which they spread over the water. This had the effect of decomposing the opium. When decomposition was complete, a sluice was opened at the river bank. This was about 2 feet wide and deeper than the trench. A fine screen across its mouth prevented any undissolved pieces of opium from entering the river.

By 11.30am we had examined the procedure fully and the care and fidelity of the work far exceeded our expectations. The policing was much stricter than when the Europeans were detained at Canton. One fellow who tried to take out some small pieces of opium was instantly beheaded. If there was any pilferage at all it must have been tiny.

Mrs King was given a seat in one of the watch houses where she and Captain Benson were provided with confections and tea while King and I were taken to the east side where the Commissioner had a large and commodious hall built of bamboo like the temporary structures used for Chinese opera. The audience hall was on the west side of the structure. It was about 20 feet square and slightly elevated so the commissioner could maintain a clear view of proceedings from inside. The floor was carpeted and the walls hung with scrolls. As we approached, Loo identified each of the officials within. Lin sat alone on a sofa on the east side of the room with a table at either side. The admiral sat alone on the north side. The Hoppo and Provincial judge sat together on the south side. All the other officials were standing. We approached the Commissioner, doffed our hats and bowed while Captain Loo and Wong Ching prostrated themselves. We then had a two hour conference. Lin commenced by asking King if he had received the Commissioner’s letter sent him some weeks before while in Canton. King took the chance to mention the inconveniences of the detention and asked whether it would happen again. We thus entered straight away on a discussion on the future terms of trade. Lin said opium smuggling had grown insidiously because offenders were treated leniently. Now the time had arrived when forbearance was no longer possible. Every inconvenience that the foreigners had been subjected to was directed to the suppression of the opium trade. Now the illicit trade was stopped the legal trade could recommence with full protection.

Lin spoke animatedly and a length on the subject before given the following note to us in writing:

“Vessels engaged in legal trade will receive additional favours and not be involved in difficulties. Vessels engaged in opium trade will be treated severely without any trace of indulgence. The good are conscious of their morality; the bad are conscious of their immorality. They will not be confused. The good will not be punished with the bad and the bad will not be excused on account of the good. The good may resume their trade without anxiety. The bad must reform and abandon their vain expectations.”

King presented two papers. One requesting that his own ships might enter and trade freely which the Commissioner instantly granted. The second dealt with our detention in the factories and requested 1/ reparation for losses unjustly incurred and 2/ security for continuation of the legal trade. To preserve peace, extend trade and remove evils, he asked that the port charges be related to the value of goods traded. He requested that three more ports be opened to foreigners in the north. He asked that traders might live with their wives and children; that in the prosecution of a foreigner, he be tried before his own Consul sitting jointly with the Chinese judge; that ambassadors be allowed to live near the Emperor at Peking.

Before addressing any of King’s points, Lin was first concerned to know the intentions of the English in withdrawing from the port. He asked the best way of sending letters to western sovereigns to solicit their cooperation in suppressing the opium trade. He asked for maps, geographies and particularly for Morrison’s Chinese dictionary.

As the interview progressed, I became convinced that the Commissioner was motivated solely by a determination to bring an end to the opium trade; to protect the honourable and expunge the dishonourable. He is about 45 years old, short and rather stout with keen dark eyes and a slender beard. His character is bland and urbane and he has that distinctive trait of the statesman representing his country. His voice is clear and his words distinct. He has the appearance of a careful and thoughtful man. He laughed once – when King was trying to avoid opining which of the Hong merchants were good.

We told him something of British naval power, particularly the new steamers, and this brought a frown to his face. We were finally conducted back and a large number of presents were sent after us. By 5 pm we were on our way back to Macau. At about 9 pm Loo returned the papers King had submitted, they being beyond the Linguist to translate. The next day we arrived in Macau where we would make the requested translations for re-submission.

I should mention that the Commissioner has four Chinese serving him who are somewhat familiar with foreigners. One was educated at Penang and the college at Malacca and was for some years employed by the government in Peking (presumably W C Hunter’s friend Shum Teh). The second was an old man from Serampore. The third was a young man who schooled at Cornwall, Connecticut and the fourth a youth educated in China but able to read and translate non-technical foreign papers with ease.

Vol 12 No 29 – 16th July 1839

Commissioner Lin’s letter to Queen Victoria, 10th April 1839:

Imperial Commissioner Lin, Viceroy Tang and Governor Yee request Queen Victoria to cause the production and sale of opium to end.

Our humanity requires all people to act selflessly, to never injure others in order to obtain benefit for ourselves. All people are the same. Who does not fear death? Who does not hope to prolong life?

The people of your country, although far from China, are subject to the same feelings as us. Everyone can distinguish what is beneficial from what is not. China looks upon all men as brothers. Our Emperor’s benevolence influences everyone.

Since the time when we ended restrictions and permitted trade with non-Chinese at Canton up to the present, the Chinese people and the foreigners have gleaned profit from commerce. Our Chinese teas, silks and rhubarb have become necessaries for your people and we have not sought to prevent supplies to you. We have always provided you with the quantities you wanted in the hope you would appreciate the moral principles under which we all live.

We regret to tell you there is a class of depraved foreigner who cultivates and prepares opium. He brings this to China and sells it stealthily to our people, deluding them as to its true nature, and thus bringing about our peoples’ loss and injury (from opium directly and from judicial punishment for its illegal use). Formerly opium importation was small scale but in the last few years it has spread everywhere. Our population is huge and increasing.

The opium smoker brings evil upon himself and perhaps you feel there is no need to display tenderness for him but throughout our Empire it is incumbent on us to remedy the matter and reform men’s hearts. We cannot stand by and see our land corrupted by a deadly poison. We are now treating the seller and smoker alike and we punish both with the utmost severity.

In several of your tributary states depraved men clandestinely manufacture opium. We cannot believe you permit them to do this. Indeed in the whole world there are few countries that produce opium. We hear you do not permit your own subjects to smoke opium. If you disallow smoking, why not disallow its farming and manufacture too? That would end the evil. If you yourselves do not smoke it, yet you produce it for ignorant people, this is securing your own life at the expense of others. It is not humane and raises indignation against you.

The Emperor rules over all people in China, Chinese and foreigners. Why should He not judicially execute foreign opium sellers?

But before doing so, it is right we should warn you of the situation first so you may issue the appropriate prohibitions should you chose to do so. We hope you will stop this trade for ever. We prohibit opium and it is just that you should also prohibit it. All the opium that has already been prepared for sale should be discovered and destroyed. Then our people will be relieved of the poison and your own people will escape any involvement in it. Then we will both enjoy mutual peace and happiness and you will have evidenced your respect for the eternal law and your compliance with it. Your action will accord with propriety and no natural retribution can operate against you.

On the other hand, now that we have rigidly prohibited opium smoking in China, even if you permit its continued manufacture you will have nowhere to sell it. In the absence of profit from opium it would be better to develop some other manufacture. All the opium that was brought to China for sale has been collected and destroyed. If ships again bring opium we will confiscate it and the other cargo on board will likewise be in jeopardy. Thus while you might still make a small profit on one ship you will make a large loss on another and ruin will stalk you. In attempting to injure others you will have brought injury upon yourselves. China rules over the entire globe because we understand the divine law which is beyond your peoples’ comprehension. Do not say you were not warned.

The English Queen should stop opium leaving her ports and advise us when it is done. Do not delay or procrastinate. We anxiously await your reply.

Editor – The Canton Press reports that Elliot has agreed to forward the Commissioner’s letter to Queen Victoria if Lin will replace the character he uses that denotes he is corresponding with an equal with the character routinely used when officials correspond with the Emperor. We do not know where the Canton Press got this idea but it sounds most unlikely. Have they forgotten Viceroy Loo’s refusal to receive Napier’s letters. They have overlooked that we call the Queen Wong Hau not the four-stroke ‘Wong’ used in this letter – this ‘Wong’ is an honorific accorded to many of the Manchu Imperial family. And in our diplomacy Kings correspond only with Kings – it is rare for a King to correspond with a subject.

If the Emperor was to write to the Queen we suppose Elliot would forward it provided it was diplomatically phrased and all the derogatory stuff about rhubarb and the like was omitted. No British official will forward a letter requiring his sovereign to acknowledge respect and submission to the Emperor.

Finally the facts are wrong. The use of opium is legal in England and is increasing.8

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Some Company statistics in Rupees:

Annual Exports





Imports of treasure to India





Trade Year











Value Rupees











of which







of which fm China
















NB – As a generalisation, English traders are strong in the Calcutta market and remit part of their treasure back to England whereas the Parsees dominate the Bombay market and remit all their treasure back to India.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

The Wei Yuen with the Hong merchants Mow Qua, Poon Ki Qua and King Qua arrived in Macau last week but the purpose of their visit is unknown. It is rumoured that the Commissioner is also coming soon.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Reports from Canton say the approaches to the river are now closed every night at sunset. No arrival from Whampoa is allowed to land at Canton during darkness.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Copy of the Bond given by the American trader Charles King on 20th July 1839, copied from the Canton Press:

“I, Charles W King, fully approving the acts of the Emperor to suppress opium traffic, hereby declare that I will now and forever endeavour to further the Imperial purpose. I further declare that the American ship Morrison now arrived at Whampoa and consigned to me has no opium on board and that I have charged the captain to prevent any being taken on board by his officers and sailors.

“Should any person connected with the ship be charged with opium smuggling, I consent to his open trial before the Provincial Judge assisted by the defendant’s Consul. If the man is convicted I agree that all his property on the ship may be confiscated. If the convict is a foreigner unfamiliar with Chinese law, I beg the Emperor that the award for a first offence shall be perpetual banishment instead of death as would be inflicted on a Chinese. Should he return and repeat his offence I agree he may be executed on conviction.”

Editor – Olyphant & Co should not forget they too once trafficked in opium and other American firms have done so more than occasionally. American agents were sent to Calcutta and Bombay to make connections for their opium trade.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Letter from the British free traders to Elliot, 10th July at Macau:

Concerning our meetings with you at Dent’s Macau offices on 12th and 17th June and 8th July, we enclose a copy of the minutes together with a proposed scale of demurrage for shipping in the outer waters. We do not know who should pay demurrage – it is a legal matter unless the British government will pay. The consignees will not pay demurrage. The ship can only detain goods for non-payment of freight. Captains and consignees will make Protests here. They propose to sue for demurrage in England.

Concerning trans-shipment of our goods to other vessels, this can only be done if you, as the official British representative, will be responsible for insurance. At present we are all holding our underwriters liable for our losses and cannot take any action that might avail our insurers of a defence to our claims. If consignees agree with ships’ masters to trans-shipment, the trade can be continued. If trans-shipment becomes necessary it will be your responsibility to charter the necessary store-ships and decide on the necessity of each case. Sgd G T Braine.

Minutes of the 17th June meeting:

Present W Dent, A C MacLean, D Rustomjee, C Kerr, A Jardine, G Smith, G T Braine (chairman).

We agree with Elliot’s suggestion to make a scale of demurrage for shipping in the outer waters. There is no known legal precedent and we do not know if claims for demurrage are maintainable or who should pay. Our purpose is solely to establish a uniform rate of charge.

Vessels going up to Whampoa are divided into three classes based on registered tonnage – under 350 tons, between 350 – 600 tons and over 600 tons. Demurrage will commence one month after arrival in Macau roads or Hong Kong but in no case less than one month after Elliot’s public notice of 23rd March

Monthly rates of demurrage to shipowners:

1st class ships from India – on cotton

2nd class – do –

3rd class – do –

Sandalwood / fish maws all ships

Saltpetre, betelnut, pepper, tin and all

other Indian produce, all ships

Ships from England:

measurement goods

metals and deadweight

50¢ per bale of 300 lbs

60¢ per bale of 300 lbs

75¢ per bale of 300 lbs

20¢ per picul


10¢ per picul


$2.50 per 50 cu ft.

$1.00 per 20 cwt

Elliot to G T Braine for British traders 15th July:

I agree the subject of demurrage is a matter for the English courts to settle. I will be responsible to insure the cargo of those ships that have been partially unloaded and which wish to continue to discharge into store ships for trans-shipment. The cargo must not be contraband and the store ship must be a British vessel.

It is understood that if demurrage is later judicially ascertained to be due from the shipper, the master must be justified in trans-shipping at the risk of the merchant. As responsibility is subject to legal interpretation, it is inappropriate to make actual payments at this stage.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Copy of a letter to Olyphant & Co dated 23rd July, Macau:

The Canton Press of 13th July says C W King induced the captain of a ship consigned to your company to sign a bond agreeing punishments for dealing in opium. This was contrary to the determination of all your fellow Americans. You contrarily have asserted it is proper for all Americans to give the bond the Chinese require.

I cannot let this pass.

We English do not consider our interests separate from yours. We are influenced by the same principles. We should co-operate in our trade with China. If smuggling opium is offensive, Americans are as guilty as the other western nations.

At present almost all the American trade in the river (the trans-shipment traffic from Hong Kong) contravenes Chinese law. Europeans have joined in this new illicit trade but it is Americans who organise it and whose captains sign the required bonds. You comply with the law concerning one commodity while violating it in respect of all the others. For several months Olyphant & Co has been the censor of our morals and we have endured your assumption of superiority but our patience has limits. Sgd Vivian.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Petition of the British merchants of Bombay to the Queen’s Privy Council, 1st June 1839:

We own a large quantity of opium in China. Elliot, in a public notice to British subjects in China, ordered us to surrender our opium to him on behalf of the British government and place our opium ships under his control.

Elliot undertook to deliver the opium to the Chinese government.

He said if the opium was not surrendered that same day, the British government would not be responsible for the consequences. He said proof of British ownership and value would be determined by the British government on principles it would define. He also said the maintenance of the national character and the validity of claims for indemnity would depend on scrupulous fidelity to his terms.

In obedience to this instruction, and relying on the promised indemnity, our agents at Canton surrendered our opium under their control to Elliot and we have been deprived of a considerable part of our property. We have confidence in British justice and expect to be indemnified without delay. If the British government will make an interim payment our distress can be alleviated and our confidence in British protection enhanced. If you cannot pay us immediately at least declare that you accept our claims and publish your acceptance in the Government Gazettes of India.

Our claims rest on your honour and justice. The opium trade has been promoted by the Indian government under the sanction of the British government. You have full knowledge of it from the deliberations of the Select Committee that enquired into the business from which you were made aware that the trade is confined to China and is there contraband and illegal. During the last 20 years the opium trade has produced initially £500,000 and latterly £2 millions annually to the Indian government. The prosperity of India cannot be less important that the prosperity of Britain.

Since the abolition of the Company’s charter it has been mainly due to opium sales that the Company has been able to easily meet the Home Charges and the China merchants have held sufficient funds to make the tea purchases for England from which your government derives an important revenue. These two advantages have been obtained through the capital and exertions of your petitioners and those others involved in the trade which we feel assured you will not overlook. The most important relief we crave is early indemnification. (names of signatories not published)

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Letter of Bombay Chamber to China & East India Association, 3rd June 1839:

You will know China has destroyed the opium trade and seized our property. This action has also devalued opium in production and in storage in India. We are all involved.

Elliot promised indemnity to our agents in China. This must imperatively be assured to relieve our trade of the uncertainty it labours under. The losses have fallen disproportionately on Bombay. We beg for your powerful intercession with the British government to obtain an early assurance that our claims will be met.

This is not a call to enquire into the propriety of the opium trade. The trade has been encouraged by the Indian government under the sanction of the British government for state purposes and has been developed through the use of our capital and enterprise. Latterly nearly 10% (£2 millions) of the Indian government’s annual revenue has come from opium sales. Both the Indian and British government know the trade is proscribed in China but have nevertheless promoted it to the point that two thirds of the total exports of Bengal and Bombay are opium exports. We attach a statistical table for your perusal. You will see that a valuable part of the silver that the Indian government requires for its monetary currency is derived from opium sales in China. It is also the case that 1/ the extent of Indian trade to China predicates the extent of Chinese purchases of British manufactures and 2/ without opium the Company cannot so easily remit the ‘home charges’.

Before the opium trade developed, Britain had to send silver to China to buy teas. Although the Indian government’s involvement in this trade should be condemned, the advantages we have obtained from it are so fabulous it should not be abandoned in fairness to those engaged in it.

To illustrate this, we note the value of the surrendered opium exceeded £2 millions. This alone should convince you of its disastrous effect on Indian trade. One half of the value is owned in Bombay. The absence of the usual proceeds has already produced a cash shortage and reduced our ability to buy English goods. If you delay in announcing your policy and delay settling our claims, the evils we experience will be aggravated. Matters of this importance must be swiftly attended to.

We believe the importance of the opium revenue to India caused the British government to avoid insisting on a more stable footing for our China trade, one more honourable to the British character. Now the trade has been ended, and as some reparation must surely be demanded for the detention of the British representative, we trust you will join us in urging the government to take this opportunity to set our trade on a firm and honourable basis.

We have to change the way we trade with China and this present opportunity also gives occasion to revisit the usefulness of the Company’s financial operations in Canton. If the Court of Directors fix a fair exchange rate and steadily maintain it, we believe the amount of funds sent home would substantially increase. We are conferring with the Calcutta and Madras Chambers and will write again on this subject.

Sgd H G Gordon, Chairman, Bombay Chamber of Commerce.

Vol 12 No 30 – 23rd July 1839

Letter to the Editor of the Bengal Hurkaru (this letter is a partly illegible legal opinion. The legible part reads as follows):

The arguments in your paper and the Englishman concerning the opium trade require development.

The British government controls the Indian government. The Indian government controls the production and sale of opium. The opium is taken privately to China and smuggled into that country to deprave the residents. It is inconceivable that Britain could avoid indemnifying the claims for opium surrender.

As regards the duties of a sovereign and his subject, this question turns on Elliot’s actions – his proclamation, his right to make it and the necessity of obeying it.

The 3rd and 4th William IV Cap 93 Sec 5 enacts that ’it is expedient for the China trade to establish a British authority in China’ and authorises a Superintendent of Trade. Sec 6 gives the Superintendent authority to govern British subjects in China, impose penalties for breach of his orders and to regulate British China-trade.

This was Elliot’s authority and he did not exceed it. If Elliot made an error of judgment, its consequences fall on those who appointed an incompetent Superintendent and nowhere else. The matter of the surrendered opium thus becomes one between Sovereign and Subject. Elliot’s involvement is irrelevant to the validity of the claims.

It has been said that the opium was delivered under duress. To establish ‘duress’ it is necessary at English law to prove a reasonable man in the same circumstances would have believed he could preserve his life and liberty only by surrendering the opium. The duress of relatives and friends is irrelevant. Dent’s position or that of the Hong merchants cannot assist Elliot in explaining his actions. If there is no danger there is no duress.

The objectionable feature so far as English law is concerned is the detention of the British Representative and the threat of his execution when he had done no wrong. The hearsay information suggests A R Johnstone, the Deputy Superintendent, has even stronger grounds for legal remonstrance. The Chinese have an army and navy that might have attacked the opium fleet at Lintin but they chose to seize foreigners and ransom them to obtain the result they should have obtained militarily. I attribute this course of action by the Chinese to the policy of Elliot in disclaiming the opium trade and trying to suppress it. When the Chinese saw the British leader was opposed to the trade they attributed his measures to cowardice. Thinking he feared them they seized him and threatened his execution. Bullying is an aspect of power that the Chinese well understand. Their law is fundamentally different from ours. It is lawful in China to seize and imprison a guilty man’s innocent relatives to encourage the surrender of a culprit.

This chasm between us requires we meet them on their own ground. Threat must be met with threat. When hundreds of your citizens are threatened with execution until they surrender valuable property it is appropriate to canopy Canton with Congreves and canister until the property is returned.

If no response is given to this insult we will have to watch the changing attitude of the Burmese and Nepalese under the influence of Chinese agitation and even our hold on British India will be endangered. The frontier states have long been disposed to resist us and Nepal and Burma are well positioned to threaten Calcutta. Sgd ‘Nomen’, 22nd May 1839

Editor – Nomen misunderstands Elliot’s proclamation of 18th December 1838 – it was directed against the opium trade in the river not the outside trade. Seizures of both opium and sycee occurred more than once in the river and none of the owners dreamt of complaining about it. We disagree with Nomen’s understanding of duress. Elliot surrendered the opium under a threat of execution.9

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Notice to British Subjects from Elliot, 26th July:

The following practice rules for a Court of Admiralty and Criminal Jurisdiction for the trial of Britons in China is promulgated. (note – this introduces simplified English legal practice to China, e.g. – provisions for arrest):

1 Charges against Britons must be made on Oath before the Commissioner of British Trade.

2 Arrest may be under the Commissioner’s signed and sealed warrant, or by word of the Commissioner or his deputies, or, in case of sudden breach of the peace or felony, in the presence of the Commissioner’s deputies, by word of a deputy.

3 Arresting officers have the same immunities as those in England

NB – The rules deal seriatim with commitment, bail, pleas, trial, attendance of witnesses and jurors, and judgment, but are not reproduced here.

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Notice of the Dutch Consul M J Senn van Basel, 21st July:

Consignees of Dutch ships should notify me before applying for a pilot at Macau and proceeding to Whampoa. Captains will be held accountable for the consequences of disobedience.

I have already confiscated the register of the Dutch ship L’Esperance and she may no longer trade under the Dutch flag.10

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Editorial – It is extraordinary that the Friend of India, the Bengal Hurkaru, the Calcutta Englishman and the Singapore Free Press should have all concluded our opium trade is indefensible when none of these editors is in possession of Elliot’s secret correspondence with Commissioner Lin. They only know one side of the story. This unbounded faith in Chinese declarations is like a return to the Jesuits of the previous century.

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

The last issue of the Canton Press contains recriminatory correspondence between Olyphant & Co and Russell & Co. We do not know who is right but they both seem ashamed.

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Editorial – Elliot’s proclamation of 22nd May, that all British shipping must leave and not re-enter the river until he permits it, has not been followed in spite of the supportive resolution of the British merchants on 17th June. Elliot’s initiative was intended to lessen the responsibility of the Crown. The British shipping has since been in Hong Kong harbour. If consignees are able to successfully employ American agents and trans-ship cargo to American ships we cannot see much point to Elliot’s notice. He should only do what the commercial community tells him to do.

Extract of Elliot’s letter to How Qua, undated (about 15th – 20th July):

I have long been your friend. We mutually respect each other. It is the duty of friends to help each other. The foreign ships are now at Hong Kong where unscrupulous people trans-ship British goods to the ships of other nations to sell in Whampoa. How can you allow this opposition to the law for a trifling profit?

British traders only want to trade uprightly. They do not support illegality. I am waiting for a British warship to arrive to act against this trans-shipment business and bring the facts before your government. Then you will routinely be accused of connivance.

You are a clear-headed and talented man. Illegal trade is improper. It would be better to do no business than illegal business. I have already told you why British ships cannot trade with you. I attach all the copy documents for the avoidance of doubt.

Listen to my warning and trade properly so innocent foreigners are not again involved in loss. You should also urge your government to act honourably. If they only trusted me we could yet arrange things satisfactorily and avoid a collision. Beware of the consequences of your actions. Sgd Elliot.

Notice to British subjects from Elliot, 29th July:

I have asked the British and Indian governments to forbid the entrance of tea and other China-goods carried in British ships from Canton to England. I have asked that, if they see your manifests are not signed by me, they be repudiated and the cargo embargoed. Your continued trade by trans-shipment violates the instructions I have given to you and diminishes the effectiveness of the measures I am trying to take to secure your future business.

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Editorial – last week when the Wei Yuen left Macau he took copies of the last three editions of the Canton Register with him. The Commissioner has interpreters who can satisfactorily translate the contents. He has even issued an Edict in English to the ships in the outer waters to come into the river and trade. How did he get this printed? Does he have a foreign press and typefaces?11

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Readers will recall that on 25th June we published Elliot’s response dated 21st June to an Edict of the Prefects of Canton and Macau. We have since heard that a printed translation of that Edict was circulated to all the British shipping in Hong Kong harbour by a staunch friend of our country. Why did he do it? Has he become an emissary of the Chinese government? Anyway we now publish the Edict below:

Prefects Lew and Tseang proclaim that opium importation has enraged the Emperor who has sent Commissioner Lin to Canton to end the trade. The opium receiving ships anchor for months and years in the outer waters and greedy foreigners receive freight for storing the filth.

Now it has all been surrendered why do you remain outside? Are you hoping for a change of policy?

All the 18 waiting ships that have brought valuable cargo wish to dispose of it. While opium was being surrendered they could not do so. Now they are again welcome. The American ships Paris and Nantucket have applied to enter port and trade as usual – why do you eighteen ships not do so?

We suppose Elliot has deluded you with his wild plan to base the foreign trade on Macau (see the Opium chapter). He has been reprimanded by the high officials and Macau is disallowed you as a port of entry. It is also prohibited to remain in the outer waters. What are your receiving ships and merchantmen waiting for? You have come so far and we pity you.

Those receiving ships that surrendered opium should sail home. Those merchantmen that seek for legal trade should enter port. If you want profits you only have to trade honourably. Do not wait idly, expecting a change in our law. Dated 14th June 1839

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Edict of the Viceroy of the Two Kwong and the Governor of Kwongtung, undated:

“Trade was stopped while opium was surrendered but is now reopened. American ships continually come and go. Over ten have been examined and have brought no opium. The Hong merchants and the consignees have willingly given their bonds.

“The English ships remain outside fearful of the rumour they will be punished for their former crimes.

“The Chinese government treats Chinese and foreigners equally. If you bring opium you will be punished; if you trade honestly you will be welcomed. If you wish to trade legally, come into port, allow your ship to be examined and make the requisite bond like the Americans.

“Then you can do your business, take your export cargo and return to your homes. Do not require us to continually issue invitations to you.”

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Commissioner Lin’s report to the Emperor:

“All China belongs to the Emperor and all mankind wants to dwell in our country. They are welcome but they must cause no injury. Foreigners have been manufacturing and selling opium to reap immense profits and injure our people. Even death is an inadequate punishment but the Emperor has responded with love and benevolence.

“I was sent to Canton to end the opium trade. I told all the foreign consuls to have their people surrender their opium stocks. They understood and complied showing their respect. Opium will not again be allowed. If anyone brings it they will be immediately executed and their property confiscated.

“This was explained to the British Commissioner Elliot and he obeyed the law. The American Consul Snow said he always obeyed the law and would instruct his people accordingly. He added that if he discovered any Americans smuggling opium he would order them home. The Dutch Consul Senn van Basel petitioned that he also understood the new law.

“Now the English ships have withdrawn to Hong Kong harbour and they have killed a Chinese blacksmith, secretly compensating his next-of-kin to avoid detection.

“The English have instigated the Portuguese to reinforce their forts at Macau in preparation to resist Chinese troops.

“An opium ship off Fukien, in protecting its Chinese buyers, has fired on a government coast-guard vessel and killed over ten of her crew. It then boarded the coast-guard ship and ransomed the surviving crew for the release of its customers, the arrested Chinese opium smugglers.

“These foreigners are proud, haughty and disrespectful. They despise our law. They have no gratitude for the trade we allow them.”

Vol 12 No 31 – 30th July 1839

Commissioner Lin’s edict to the opium dealers and users (undated):

Opium has long been prohibited. Formerly its insidious effects were little understood and punishment was light. Recently, it has spread throughout the country and the Emperor became angered. Last year he determined to end its importation. Before this initiative had developed into law, many smokers quit the habit but many more continued.

In the 3rd moon of this year the practice of surrendering fake opium and unused pipes was proscribed. The Emperor is determined and the tariff for offences has become very severe.

Now I hear there are some traitors amongst you who spread the word that opium proscription will not be pursued.

You should think carefully about this. These theatrical surrenders of purported pipes and fake opium paste have been discovered. You can no longer retain your broken-in pipes.12 We were hesitant to give clemency to those who made genuine surrenders. Can you be so deluded as to imagine that those of you surrendering fakes will be similarly treated? These rumours are spread by those who wish to re-establish the trade. Once they are caught they will be severely punished. As for those who dare to disobey the commands, they will bring punishment on their own heads. They are throwing away their lives and rushing into the embrace of death – how can they be so foolish?

I have received a command from the Imperial Privy Council containing a new law against opium trafficking. I now publish it with explanatory notes so all may perfectly understand. This Edict is to advise all of you – noblemen, officials, soldiers, policemen, merchants, students – so you will understand that the severity of the new law must entail an end to the consumption of opium in this country.

The opium seller will be decapitated. The smoker either quickly renounces or is strangled. If you persist with opium you will die. If you renounce it you will live. Humanity fears death and clings to life. Tremble at the penalty and flee from your crime.

Once the new law is promulgated its terms will govern all future cases. Do not delay. If you continue in crime you will forfeit all claim to pity after your death. Never say that you were not adequately warned.

The new law. Section 1 – opium refiners and wholesalers:

Whoever, as a Principal, uses the paraphernalia for cooking raw opium or buys opium from the foreigners for refining and wholesale shall be decapitated instanter. No authorisation from Peking beyond this law is required. The convict’s head will be stuck on a sharp pole and exposed at the seashore as a warning.

Whoever, as an Accomplice (boatmen, delivery coolies, receivers, advisers, co-workers, etc.), assists in importing opium shall be imprisoned while the Royal Warrant for strangulation is awaited. The property of convicted Accomplices will be sequestrated.

Any member of the Chinese armed forces who receives a bribe to permit opium importation, no matter what quantity, shall be strangled. He who permits its import without proof of receiving a bribe will be transported to Sinkiang.

Whoever conspires to refine opium for sale, the originator of the conspiracy will be treated as a Principal, above.

Whoever receives foreign opium for storage shall be treated as an Accomplice, above. Whoever stores opium on behalf of an arrested dealer will be punished one degree less severely than a Principal.

Whoever receives a bribe to release an opium offender from his custody will be punished as the opium offender would have been on conviction.

Whoever as gaoler supplies opium to his prisoners shall be transported to the most unhealthy regions of the Empire. Whoever as prison guard supplies opium to his prisoners will be transported to an unwholesome settlement.

Any soldier or policeman (or any of their hangers-on) who enters houses professing to search for opium and steals therein or extorts money or plants opium to support an allegation against the householder shall be transported to the most distant settlements. If the amount stolen exceeds 120 Taels he will imprisoned pending for authorisation of strangulation.

Everyone transported under this law will be excluded from the arrangements for indulgence in respect of dependant parents.

Sec 2 – Divan keepers and opium retailers:

Anyone keeping a divan and supplying his own opium to customers will, if a principal, be strangled immediately. His house will be confiscated to the state.

Landlords, accomplices and accessories shall be transported to Sinkiang as slaves of the army. Their real property will be confiscated.

Any soldier or policeman who protects a divan for reward shall be treated as a Principal, above.

Occupants of houses near a divan who know of its existence but fail to report, will receive 100 blows and be banished for three years. If they have received payment to conceal the divan they will be more heavily punished.

Anyone growing the opium poppy or selling the raw or refined product shall, if caught in the next 18 months, be strangled. Accomplices will be transported to the most unhealthy place. If his sales are small the principal shall be transported to Sinkiang as a slave of the soldiers and his accomplices transported 4,000 Li. If caught after 18 months both Principals and Accomplices will be strangled.

If any soldier or policeman accepts a bribe to protect growers he will be punished as a Principal.

Any landlord who lets a field or house for opium use or any boatman who knowingly transports the Drug shall, if the offence occurs within the next year, receive 100 blows and be transported 2,000 Li for three years. His fields, houses, boats, etc., will be confiscated.

If any dealer confesses his crime and gives information leading the arrest of other dealers, he shall be pardoned and his field, house, boat, etc., shall not be confiscated. But if the people implicated in his confession are not apprehended, although his crime is pardoned, his property will remain confiscated.13

The law against opium smoking will take effect in each province from the date this law is published. One year is allowed for smokers to renounce their habit. Whoever continues after that date will be strangled or beheaded as appropriate on conviction. If smokers are arrested before one year has elapsed they will receive 100 blows and transported 2,000 Li. If they do not reveal their supplier their punishment will be one degree heavier.

If the son or younger brother in a family be convicted of selling or smoking opium, the head of his family will also be punished.

If a Hong merchant does not follow the precedents, if he allows the ships he secures to loiter, he will receive 100 blows. Should he store opium it will be confiscated and he will be strangled.

If offenders stir up rebellion against executive officers, and three or more people oppose official action, the officers may use fire arms and the rioters will be held responsible for any deaths caused. The ring leaders will be immediately decapitated upon conviction and the other rioters strangled.

To enforce the proscriptions, every ten households will appoint a leader who will report the names and occupations of his group and disseminate information on opium offences. He must immediately report any under his charge who are opium sellers or smokers. If he is bribed to conceal evidence he will be severely punished.

Vol 12 No 32 – 6th August 1839

Asiatic Journal, January 1839:

Our relations with China are in jeopardy. The arrival of Admiral Maitland has alarmed the Chinese who have called for his immediate departure and issued orders prohibiting provisioning his ships.

A ferry boat was fired on by the Bogue forts and Elliot returned to Canton intent upon striking his flag in respect of the national insult whereupon the Viceroy apologised.

Vol 12 No 32 – 6th August 1839

Elliot’s notice to British citizens, 5th August, Macau:

A session of the British Court of Justice will be held on a British ship in Hong Kong harbour on 12th August.

Vol 12 No 32 – 6th August 1839

Malacca Weekly Register –The Canton newspapers did not report this circular of H M’s 2nd Commissioner but a friend of the Singapore Free Press Editor gave him a copy which he published 11th July. It indicates the measures Elliot proposed for the defence of Macau had the Chinese attacked:

Chuen Pi, 21st April aboard Louisa:

Johnstone proclaims he has received advice from Elliot dated 19th April that Lin proposes to attack Macau. All the ships at Chuen Pi that have completed their discharge of opium should sail to the Taipa anchorage where they will place themselves at the disposal of the Portuguese Governor to defend the enclave. Captains are reminded to always display respect to the Portuguese government.

Extract from the letter of the Singapore Free Press Editor’s friend (possibly a ship’s officer):

The Cowasjee Family (Stavers) has arrived at Singapore 11th June reporting trade at Canton has reopened and everything is as before except for the new opium regulations. 16 foreigners have been banished from China and are now in Macau with many of the other foreign merchants. The Americans remain at Canton transacting business. The Ariel (Warden) left Macau in early May with Elliot’s despatches for London. She has been told to await a reply.

Vol 12 No 32 – 6th August 1839

The British community at Macau has organised three days of pony races on 12th, 13th and 16th August. Elliot is the steward. W Leslie is Clerk of the Course (The races are later postponed to commence on 19th August).

The Canton Regatta Club will have races on 1st – 8th September at Hong Kong harbour (during the detention at the factories, the Chinese pulled-up the boats on the square where they were left on the British departure – this function is also postponed).

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

Proclamation of the Tso Tong of Macau, 15th August:

“The English ships have remained outside and the sailors have been going ashore at Hong Kong and causing disturbance. People have died and Elliot is ordered to surrender the murderer(s) for justice. He is also ordered to send the empty opium ships away – 12 of them still remain. Of those ordered away by the Emperor, only Dent’s ships have gone. The other traitorous foreigners keep their ships here spying around and Elliot does nothing to further the Imperial will.

“Now whether the English live on their ships at Hong Kong or reside at Macau their provisions are to be cut-off. The Portuguese at Macau and the merchants of other nationalities are not involved in this. The compradors and servants of the English have three days to withdraw their services and return to their homes.”

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

Elliot called a well-attended public meeting of the English mercantile community at Macau to consider the above Edict. A committee was appointed to identify the way forward.

Editorial – our provisions and servants are to be withdrawn for what? A Chinese was killed in a fight and the law demands ‘a life for a life’. In this case Elliot invited Lin to send an observer to the trial of the suspected murderer(s) (the purpose of convening a Court in Hong Kong above) and Lin responded by marching on Macau with a body of troops.

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

Readers are cautioned that the Portuguese sentry at the Praia Grande guard house has, for the last few days, commenced challenging people as they walk passed “who are you?’. The correct response is ‘amigo’. One mishap has already occurred in consequence of our ignorance.

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

The Regatta in Hong Kong harbour has commenced. We have a report dated 9th August from Hong Kong. Boats from the Hercules, Cambridge, Scaleby Castle, Fort William, Vansittart, Charles Forbes, Charles Malcolm, Cornwallis, Edmonstone, Caledonia, Isabella, Planter, Harlequin, John March, Carnatic, Sultana, Belhaven, Mermaid, Anna and the US ship Oneida competed.

A splendid ball and supper was provided on the Charles Forbes afterwards.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Editorial – The Tso Tong’s Edict against the British includes British Indians i.e. the Bombay Parsee community and the few Armenians. It is said the Canton Provincial Government has required the Portuguese governor of Macau to order his people to cease supplying provisions to the English. If Lin continues to starve us out he will end all prospect of renewed trade.

Once we are all aboard the fleet at Hong Kong we will have difficulty communicating with Elliot in Macau. The Chinese are unlikely to correspond with him if he joins us on the smuggling fleet in the outer waters.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Editorial – Yesterday three high officials arrived at Casa Branca and the Commissioner is expected there soon. There are over 200 Chinese troops and police assembled at Casa Branca. What are they doing so near the independent city of Macau? It is said many of the coolies entering Macau from Heung Shan are soldiers in disguise.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

The grand jurors empanelled at Hong Kong harbour on 12th August to hear the trial of three suspects in the Tsim Sha Tsui murder case are:

John Harvey Astell, William Bell, George T Braine, David L Burn, Wilkinson Dent (brother of Lancelot), Thomas Fox, Thomas Gemmell, Crawford Kerr, William P Livingston, James Matheson, Peter Scott, John Rickett, Dadabhoy Rustomjee, Dinshaw Furdonjee, Framjee Jamsetjee, Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee and Bomanjee Maneckjee.

Two indictments were presented.

The first was against a British seaman for the murder of Lam Wai Hei on 7th July at Tsim Sha Tsui village at the eastern end of the harbour. It was ignored by the jurors.

The second was against five sailors for riotous assembly at the same village, for entering private dwelling houses, for searching those houses, for assaulting and wounding the male and female occupants, young and old, and for destroying a temple outside the village. They were all convicted after hearing.

In his judgment Elliot said ‘I have sought for extenuating circumstances as you are all English Christians but I have found none. It was inexcusable negligence to permit such a large party ashore without an officer-in-charge, particularly in the present circumstances. Two named seamen will be imprisoned in some British gaol for three months and do hard labour. They are both fined £15 and will remain incarcerated until they pay. The other three are imprisoned for six months hard labour and are fined £20, sentences to commence from the date you are committed to prison.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Letter of Elliot to James Matheson, cc British Chamber members:

I attach a letter from Lord Palmerston dated 27th February concerning Hing Tai’s debts. Please note his Lordship’s concluding remarks and do nothing to complicate matters.

Attachment (extract only):

The Memorial of the British Merchants was received 12th October 1838. They request British government interference with the Chinese government. They want better terms for the settlement of their claims on insolvent Hongs than those yet on offer.

Yet from subsequent reports in the Canton newspapers, I see the merchants have already unilaterally made an adjustment of their claims with the Chinese. The agreed terms appear broadly similar to those on which they requested our help.

Is this correct?

If so, please impress upon the merchants of Canton that it is in their interests to never again petition for British interference with the Chinese government on trivial principles that they themselves are willing to abandon.

Editor – Elliot’s despatch was dated 29th March. Palmerston says he received it on 12th October. He replied on 27th February 1839. Eleven months is far too long. Palmerston is neglecting us. This is contemptuous indifference for Chinese affairs. We suspect had he not read of the settlement he would never have bothered to reply. A quick response might have prevented our present dilemma. We now require his prompt and decisive measures to obtain justice for us.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Copied from Canton Press of 17th August:

Commissioner Lin’s Proclamation dated 2nd August and posted at the Praia Grande Customs House:

I have ended unauthorised communication between Chinese and foreigners. The law permits foreigners to communicate with Hong merchants. For the daily requirements of the foreigners the law permits Hong merchants to appoint compradors to serve the foreigners. In this way there should be no fighting or quarrelling and tranquillity is preserved.

The Tung Che at Macau has reported that Elliot has written to him that ‘while your war-junks are anchored near the British fleet of Tsim Sha Tsui, it is difficult to get the necessary supplies from the local villagers.’ These war-junks are on preventive duty and are not required to prevent the foreign ships being supplied. We cherish men from afar and subdue their hearts with compassion for the most minute details of their welfare. Finding the foreigners are fearful of our war-junks, we ordered the preventive officers to withdraw their vessels to Sha Kok and have told the Wei Yuen to have Elliot reciprocate by removing the empty opium receiving ships and fixing a time limit for their departure.

We have already repeatedly invited the other merchant ships to come into the river for trade. They have not done so and their numbers at Hong Kong have progressively increased.

Subsequently, English sailors went ashore at Kowloon and got drunk and this culminated in their forcing an entrance to Tsim Sha Tsui village and killing Lam Wai Kei. This is extreme disobedience. The Sai Ngon heen held an Inquest and found many club wounds on Lam’s body. He arrested Lo San (transliteration of the western name Morrison) who came to offer a bribe to cover-up the affair. He seized the earnest money that Lo brought and the promissory note that Lo carried for the balance of the sum to be agreed. He reported that an English captain brought a foreign surgeon to treat the injured man. That surgeon took Lam to the beach but he died there. He identified the English captain as the master of the involved foreign sailors. The matter has been satisfactorily investigated and no further enquiry is necessary.
Elliot went himself to Tsim Sha Tsui to arrange the matter. He should produce the murderer immediately to forfeit his life according to law. This would be respectful and conform with the principles of justice. But Elliot has not surrendered the murderer. He refused to receive the lawful orders and blamed the Americans for the death. The American Consul Snow petitioned and strongly rejected Elliot’s charge as false. Elliot speaks of ‘killing by mistake’ and ‘supporting widows and orphans’ and other evasions to confuse and cover the real facts. He wants the murderer to escape leaving the shade of the deceased with unappeased vengeance. A public officer should not act so.

Had a Chinese killed a foreigner we would arrest the culprit and publicly execute him. Do you recall earlier this year when some Chinese soldiers landed at the Praia Grande and wounded a foreigner? Although that foreigner recovered, yet we severely punished the offender according to law. From the record we see in 1755 a Frenchman and a Chinese killed George Brown. The culprits were strangled. Since then there have been other cases. How can the foreigners say they are unaware of the law? He who kills must pay with his life.

The attempted cover-up reveals they knew what the consequences were. These are flagrant breaches of law. We will not permit foreigners to murder Chinese and escape the consequences. We cannot permit our people to have contact with you when you deny their legal redress?

The Wei Yuen reports there are daily upwards of 100 comprador’s boats at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and several shops in the village are selling rice wine and provisions to the foreigners. The war-junks will return to their stations off Tsim Sha Tsui to prevent Chinese shopmen from contacting foreigners. They will forbid foreign dealings to every Chinese in the locality and seize any disobedient provision boats.

This proclamation is to inform all foreigners that the real murderer must be surrendered for execution. Until then, we will not permit our people to supply provisions to you. Subsequent to the surrender of the murderer, provisions will be supplied in accordance with the law (see first paragraph). These clandestine dealings cause trouble and might involve foreigners in heavy penalties.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Stop Press – we have just heard that Commissioner Lin has arrived at Casa Branca and requested the English to either enter the river and reopen trade or leave Macau.

He has instructed that the Dutch and American communities be provided with provisions in stated quantities day-by-day to limit their ability to accumulate a surplus for the English. He has ordered all Portuguese menial servants to leave the service of the English.

Many war-junks and other boats have sailed over from Macau to Hong Kong.

We also hear the Hoppo has told Peking not to expect much revenue from trade this year. This hurried course of action by Lin is unprecedented. We can only retreat before his overpowering benevolence.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

Editorial – We apologise for recent delays to publication and the execrable quality of print. Our Chinese compositors and other employees have been withdrawn. The Portuguese replacements are unskilful. We will try to do better.

For the time being subscribers will please send their own servants to collect their copy of the paper. We can no longer provide a delivery service.

Vol 12 No 35 – 27th August 1839

Astell, the former member of the Company’s Select Committee, met with the Portuguese governor on Sunday 25th August and then circulated British subjects recommending they leave Macau by noon on Monday 26th August.

He fears an attack on our homes.

In consequence to his circular, many English assembled on the Praia Grande and spent the night there. Some were armed. In the morning they embarked on boats for the vessels at the Taipa anchorage.

On Sunday morning we learned of an attack on the Black Joke whilst sailing from Macau to Hong Kong. Mark Moss and the tindal Hassan survived.14

As I (Editor Slade) was one of the refugees leaving Macau and did not return from Hong Kong until mid-September, I have borrowed the following report from the Chinese Repository:

Many of the rumours circulating amongst the foreigners have proved untrue. We have tried to sort the truth out. A meeting of British merchants was held on 31st July at Elliot’s house in Macau to organise a British Chamber of Commerce but the only progress was to appoint James Matheson as provisional Chairman and Scott as provisional Secretary.

On 6th August the USS Columbia and USS John Adams left here for the Sandwich Islands. They have both suffered from sickness amongst their crews.

On 15th August all provisions to British subjects in Macau or aboard ships was stopped by the Chinese government.

On 16th August Elliot called a meeting and declared it was impossible for him to surrender any Briton to the Chinese government.

On 17th August the Chinese servants and compradors of English families left their employment and the interdiction on provisioning was recited. In a unique initiative, big-character placards containing the substance of the interdict were carried through the main streets and markets of Macau for the information of the inhabitants generally.

On 21st August Elliot’s following Public Notice was published:

“Commissioner Lin has ordered the Portuguese to cease serving and supplying the British community. I and the rest of the British Trade Commission establishment will embark this evening.

Those who wish to accompany me should note I will not leave Macau waters until the morning of 23rd August.”

On learning this, many families prepared to embark for Hong Kong but others found their Portuguese servants could still procure all the provisions they needed albeit at high prices. The increased costs relate to controlled supply of Chinese meat and vegetables coming across the barrier. Many of the poorer local people were affected.

On 23rd August, Elliot left for Hong Kong with his family and many others were ready to depart. The American Consul Snow who has lived in Macau since 25th May left on 22nd August for Canton where his nationals continue their residence and trade undisturbed.

On 24th August a small schooner (Black Joke) was boarded by Chinese whilst en route to Hong Kong from Macau. The evidence of the survivors and the ferocity of the attack suggest this was an act of piracy but the culprits remain to be identified. The Chinese Repository has the following information on the attack:

Evidence of the tindal (boatswain’s mate) Hassan:

“I left Macau in the Black Joke at 6am 24th August with seven Lascars and Mr Moss as passenger. The boat contained only personal baggage and stores which we had collected from Just’s house the night before. We anchored off Fan Lau, the southern tip of Lantau at 6pm for the night. I put out two lookouts who reported a sighting at 10pm. 5 – 6 boats full of people then came alongside. They set about attacking the occupants. I jumped overboard and held on to the rudder for half an hour while the attack continued. When it finished I got back on board. The Chinese had taken many (but not all) of the cargo boxes. Mr Moss told me the crew had been murdered and an attempt to set fire to the schooner with tarred rope, gunpowder and clothes had been made. Moss had extinguished that fire. Soon afterwards the Harriet passed and towed us back to the Taipa. A knife and the cap of a Chinese official were found on the boat.”

Evidence of the passenger Mark Moss:

“I was taking my personal and household property from Macau to Hong Kong on 23rd August. There was no merchandise on board except some books belonging to Just and myself. We anchored south of Lantau, dined and rested. At about 9pm I heard the Lascars crying their alarm call “wy lo”. I ran to the skylight and saw three guns loaded with burning charcoals fired at us. By the time I reached the deck three of the Lascars had been cut down. I was struck on the cheek and retreated below. I could hear the Chinese shouting “Da …. Da ….(strike!)” and on putting-out my head, I received a pike wound. The attackers got hold of me. My arm was cut three times as I tried to protect my head. They stripped off my clothes and plundered everywhere. They brought lights into the cabin and saw my finger ring. I gave it to them fearing they would cut off the digit. Another took my watch and called his friends to hold me down while he cut off my left ear and pushed it into my mouth. They knocked me about a bit and then brought a barrel of gunpowder into the cabin and lit it but it did not destroy the boat. I was made unconscious by the explosion and smoke. I crawled up to the deck and found no-one there. I called for the Lascars but no-one responded. Then I saw a rope moving at the stern and found the tindal had saved himself by hiding under the rudder. He came back aboard and later the Harriet (Capt Hall) arrived and rescued us.”

On 25th August a committee of British residents was repeatedly in session and it was finally agreed we should leave Macau. That evening it was rumoured that Chinese troops disguised as civilians were already in town and an attack was intended. This excited everyone but nothing actually happened.

On 26th August we embarked and most went direct to Hong Kong while some remained at the Taipa anchorage. The fleet of overcrowded small boats was an affecting spectacle as it moved slowly out of South Bay.

On 30th August the people at the Taipa anchorage also sailed to Hong Kong.

On 31st August the Harlequin and Austen, the last two British ships at Taipa, sailed to Hong Kong.

Vol 12 No 35 – 27th August 1839

Commissioner Lin has received new regulations from the Emperor in July concerning opium and has published them on 24th August. Barbarian ships that bring opium to China will be dealt with as follows:

  1. The principal will be instantly decapitated and his accomplices strangled. The cargo shall be confiscated.
  2. Those foreigners who give up their opium within the next 18 months will have their offence overlooked.
  3. Ships arriving without opium will report the fact and enter the river where they will be examined after which they may commence trade.
  4. Ships mistakenly bringing opium must entirely and voluntarily surrender it before they can enter the river for trade.
  5. Any ship that does not intend to enter the river must instantly depart to avoid any difficulties.
  6. The murderer of Lam Wai Hei must be surrendered. If the foreigners continue to protect him they also share in his crime.

“We call upon the foreigners with compassion to renovate their characters and comply with the law. If they continue to oppose and do whatever they think fit; if they delay and hanker to sail east and west selling opium, it will be clear that their hearts are not reformed and they will be sought out and eventually seized and punished. When they have been caught it will be too late to repent. They would do well to implicitly obey.”

Editorial – This edict confirms that China has determined to expunge the opium trade. As a despotic power it should succeed but it has not invariably been the case historically. The Chinese people have developed a taste for opium that is only moderated by fear of detection and execution. They have no hand in the making of law. This is tyranny. In placing opium use in the same serious category as murder and aggravated robbery the Chinese government has over-reached itself.

Vol 12 No 35 – 27th August 1839

The Tso Tong of Heung Shan and Tung Che of Macau have issued an order dated 21st August:

“The English have consistently opposed the government in everything. We are now ordered to cut off their provisions. The shopmen of Macau, the villagers of Shui Wei, Shan Chang, Wang Hea, Kei Ta, etc. (i.e. the villages between the Portuguese enclave and the Portas do Cerco), the market people and hawkers, are all forbidden to sell the smallest thing to them. The gentry of Macau and the constables have all been advised.

“Now we hear that boats from the neighbouring islands have been buying up all the available rice, chickens, ducks, fish, vegetables and other comestibles. The police and soldiers are to make secret enquiries and discover where all this food is going. If the English are stimulating the greed of these neighbouring boatmen, the latter should be made aware of the seriousness of their offence. If boatmen take food to the Taipa or Nine Islands or elsewhere for sale to the English they will be seized and heavily punished. If boatmen buy more than one catty of any food or more than one pint of rice they will also be heavily punished. Repentance will not help them.”

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Editorial – our absence from Macau since 26th August stopped publication of the Canton Register throughout September. This issue addresses what happened during that month. We will preface those events with details from Hong Kong since 7th July.

Readers may know that Captain Douglas of the Cambridge was appointed by Elliot to protect British shipping at Hong Kong. After the death of Lam Wai Hei on 7th July, Elliot requested us to be more circumspect and to prepare our defences. Social calls between the ships were stopped. People going ashore now go in groups.

On 12th July Capt Douglas published a reward of £200 for information leading the arrest of the murderer of Lam Wai Hei (provided he was an Englishman) and £100 for identification of the other rioters and their ring leaders. Commanders of ships were severely reprimanded for permitting their sailors ashore in large uncontrolled groups.

On 27th August Elliot reported the lives of English people were threatened and he had to protect the fleet from surprise attack. In the absence of any military authority he would assume it in addition to his civil duties.

On 3rd September, Commissioner Lin with the Viceroy and Governor visited Macau. The Portuguese put out an honour guard of 150 men and fired a 19 gun salute from the Monte Fort. The Bar Fort and St Pedro Fort later also fired 19 gun salutes. The major commanding the honour guard accepted 400 Taels of silver, 10 cows, 10 pigs, 6 baskets of flowers, 4 jars of wine, 2 tubs of sugar and 4 chests of tea from the Commissioner as gifts for his men. The Portuguese governor prepared a lavish lunch at Monte Fort (the Governor’s palace, his official residence, is in the fort) but the Commissioner declined to attend.

The Procurador met the Commissioner at the temple near the bar fort and found himself being questioned:

Q. ‘Do you know why I have come to Macau?’

A. ‘To stop the opium trade’;

Q. ‘If Portuguese again trade in opium will the Macau government surrender the culprits to China?’

A. ‘It is not possible to surrender a Portuguese to Chinese jurisdiction, whatever offence is alleged.’

In spite of this independent response, the Commissioner conferred the Chinese rank equivalent to the Kwongchow Foo on the Procurador. He then left the temple and passed along Beale’s Lane to the Praia Grande. He proceeded via Rua do Hospital to St Antonio’s Gate (the gate wherein he came) and left the enclave.

On 4th September Elliot and Captain Smith in the Louisa together with the schooner Pearl and the boats of the Cambridge and some other boats, sailed to Kowloon Bay village for provisions. Elliot is said to have hoisted the British flag and told the war-junks stationed there that it would remain hoisted as an invitation to villagers to bring provisions alongside. If no provisions were supplied he would deem it due to the presence of the war-junks and the flag would be pulled down signalling the start of an attack on the war-junks.

The villagers did indeed bring provisions to the shore but the war-junk officers would not permit any trade. Between 2 – 3 pm about 30-40 shots were fired by the British flotilla at the war-junks. Elliot used all the gunpowder on Louisa and sent a signal to the Fort William receiving ship to send its boats in assistance. The Louisa then sailed down on Kowloon village and three war-junks were driven ashore. A Chinese petty officer and two men were killed. Douglas and two of his crew were wounded.

Next morning many of the boats of the English fleet sailed on Kowloon village reportedly with the intention of destroying the fort but they unexpectedly changed their minds and returned to the shipping without firing a shot.15

On 12th September the Spanish brig Bilbaino was fired and burned whilst at anchor in Taipa Roads. According to the Canton Press of 14th September the ship had anchored in the Taipa at 5 am 12th September. Later some war-junks approached. On seeing this the watch officer ordered the Spanish flag hoisted. The war-junks then floated two lighted fire rafts towards the ship which the foreigners avoided by paying-out cable. The war-junks then attacked from ahead and astern using cannon while soldiers boarded the ship at the gangway. Most of the crew jumped overboard and were rescued by the Chinese attacking force. The ship was then plundered and fired. The Spanish Chief Officer was taken away with a chain around his neck. The Boatswain and five other crew were put ashore on a nearby island. 13 other crew were left in the ship’s longboat without oars or rudder. They were later rescued by a boat from the Bar Fort. Six others were saved and four more are detained by the Chinese with the Chief Mate. The Portuguese Governor subsequently approved publication of the following Edict:

“Chinese officials have burnt the Spanish brig Bilbaino on suspicion it contained opium. The Leal Senado has approved the use of an armed brig to cruise Taipa Roads to preserve order. Any ship with opium is commended to surrender its cargo to the armed brig. These regulations come into effect on 1st October.” Sgd Silveira, Pinto, Braga, Silva, Barretto, Leinos, Lima (all the Leal Senado members). 14th September.

On 10th September some officials with three Linguists came to Rev Bridgman and took him to the Bogue to interview the Wei Yuen, representing the Commissioner, reportedly to request the American to act as intermediary with the British. Bridgman returned to Macau two days later.

18th September was the Emperor’s birthday. The usual ceremonies were held. At a meeting with Portuguese officials, the Chinese said they hoped the difficulties with the English could be soon resolved.

On 24th September Elliot with Capt Smith of HMS Volage interviewed the Keunmin foo at the Portuguese governor’s house. According to the Canton Press the purpose was to seek for some means whereby British ships could offload. The Chinese require that no opium ship come near Chinese coasts; that the opium ships and the 16 banned foreigners leave and that the murderer of Lam Wai Hei be surrendered.16 On fulfilling these conditions the British shipping with legal cargo is welcome to resume trade at Whampoa.

Editor – while this is tempting, we must take a long view of our future China trade. We need the British government to intervene. Then it is conceivable that the Commissioner will remove the ban on the 16 men.

The boat of the Myram Dyaram was chased by Chinese war-junks through the Kap Soy Mun passage (Between Lantau and Ma Wan Islands). Captain MacDonnell of the Psyche was cut off from the shipping at Hong Kong by war-junks and fled to Macau which he reached next day. His crew had to drink seawater and were very tired. The boat departed Macau 6th September to return to Kap Soy Mun anchorage. On board were Capt MacDonnell, the Chief Officer and 11 other people. The boat never arrived. It is supposed they were captured by Chinese patrol boats in the estuary.

Lin’s proclamation to the Chinese people to resist English landing parties:

“The English are overbearingly proud and oppose Chinese law. The opium smugglers linger at Macau and the empty receiving ships stay nearby. Newly arrived ships bring opium and other goods and remain at Hong Kong unable to enter the river and offload. While there, they killed our Lam Wai Hei in a drunken brawl.

“We have repeatedly told Elliot to settle this matter but he opposes our authority. His contumacy and stiff-necked presumption is unsurpassed.

“We have accordingly instructed all local officers on land and sea to intercept any provisions being sold to the English so they may finally be brought to reason. The English are now living on their ships in Hong Kong harbour and it may be foreseen that they will sail along the coasts seeking for food and water. If they cannot buy supplies they may attempt to forcibly take them.

“This proclamation is to advise all the coastal people to form groups, buy weapons and defend themselves. If the foreigners come to trouble you, it is lawful for you to oppose them, fire upon them, drive them away or imprison them. They are few, you are many. But you may not take to your boats and go looking for trouble.” Sgd 31st August 1839

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Edict of Lin to the estuary pilots, 31st August:

“When the foreign ships come to the estuary, they are unfamiliar with all the rocks and shallows. They look for pilots amongst the fishermen and Tanka boatmen to help them. Those who do so will discover they lust after your daughters and will even require you to take them into the river. These are depraved people.

“The Keunmin foo at Macau has been ordered to cease providing licensed pilots to the English. He is also ordered to stop fishermen and Tanka boatmen providing such service to the English.

“If any of you accept money from the foreigners for pilotage you will be instantly beheaded and your head will be exposed at your village as a warning to your neighbours. If any of you sell provisions to the English he will be severely punished. Obey the law and preserve your lives.”

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Elliot’s order of 10th September:

In view of the disappearance of Capt MacDonnell together with his boat crew, all English ship commanders may not in future allow their boats to get out of sight. Anyone going ashore is advised to restrict their exercise to the beach and to return before dusk.

Sgd Elliot aboard Fort William at Hong Kong.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Public Notice of Capt H Smith of HMS Volage, 11th September:

In response to the withdrawal of provisions and the permission to Chinese villagers to attack our landing parties, Elliot has instructed me to blockade the river.

Foreign ships within the river or entering in the next six days are permitted but after six days no ship will be allowed to leave the river until my blockade is raised.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Elliot’s proclamation, 11th September:

“Commissioner Lin alleges some of the shipping at Hong Kong is engaged in selling opium. I am at this anchorage and I fly the national flag. I will not protect opium smugglers. The smugglers have put our lawful trade at risk and the Commissioner uses their actions to vindicate his.

“I now require the commanders of each ship that does not carry opium to attend me on board the Fort William within the next 48 hours and make Oath of the fact. I require all British ships engaged in opium trafficking to depart the China coast.”

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Capt Smith to Elliot, 11th September:

More war-junks have arrived in Kowloon Bay. The Hong Kong anchorage is assailable at many points. I commend you to move the shipping to the anchorage below Chuen Pi. At that location I can both blockade the river mouth and protect the ships.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Elliot to British ship commanders, 12th September:

Move your ships to the Lan Keet anchorage. Deep draught ships should remove to the anchorage south of Lantau.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Public Notice of Capt H Smith, 16th September:

Capt MacDonnell and his boat crew are safe. They have been arrested by the Chinese and we are negotiating for their release and the withdrawal of the calls to violence against us. The blockade will be postponed until those discussions are concluded.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Petition of the British merchants in Hong Kong harbour to Foreign Secretary Palmerston:

We wrote to you on 24th May about the outrages of the Chinese but their violence against us continues. Elliot surrendered our opium to them and ordered us to adjourn to Macau where we expected to continue trade under Portuguese protection until you responded. After three months at Macau we found Lin’s actions menacing and retired to our ships.

Our lives were threatened to secure the surrender of an alleged murderer for execution. He had been involved with other British and American sailors in a fight at Hong Kong. Elliot held a judicial hearing but was unable to fix the death on any British subject. Had we still been at Canton we fear we would again have been imprisoned to secure the surrender of the man.

We have been deprived of servants, food and residences without notice and had insufficient time to bring our necessaries with us. The Macau government at first offered to protect us then withdrew the offer. A British-owned ferry was boarded, five of the seven Lascars killed and an English passenger mutilated. The boat’s contents were looted.

We protested the Commissioner’s seizure of the property of our constituents in our previous memorial and asked you to display British power so the outrages might be redressed.

Sgd Dent & Co, Bell & Co, D & M Rustomjee, Fox Rawson & Co, Lindsay & Co, Dirom & Co, Gribble Hughes & Co, R Wise Holliday & Co, MacVicar & Co, Jardine Matheson & Co, Jamieson How & Co, Bomanjee Maneckjee, Framjee Jamsetjee, Cowasjee Shaporjee, Bujujee Sorabjee, Hormanjee Framjee, Cowasjee Saporjee Tabac, Burjorjee Maneckjee, Nasservanjee Bomanjee, Pestonjee Cowasjee, Cowasjee Pananjee, Eglinton MacLean & Co, W & T Gemmell & Co, Turner & Co, Cox & Anderson, A & D Furdoonjee, Daniell & Co.17

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

The Canton Press of 10th June published a copy of the Bombay Parsees petition to Lord Auckland, Governor General of India:

“We are owners of opium which our agents at Canton surrendered to Elliot, acting on behalf of the British government. Opium is important to the revenue of India. Everyone engaged in Indian trade is more or less involved in opium.

“You make it, we sell it.

“We want you to use your influence with the British government. Please ask London for a speedy resolution to the dispute with China.”

Sgd Framjee Cowasjee, Bomanjee Hormusjee, Jagonath Sankarsett, Kemachand Motidad, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Mohamed Ali Rogay, Pakjee Dadajee, Dadabhoy Pestonjee, Cursetjee Cowasjee, Cursetjee Ardaseer.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th 15th 22nd 29th September

Letter to the Editor of the Bengal Hurkaru, 20th May republished in the Bombay Times of 12th June:

Your correspondent Red Rover says Elliot was uninvolved in the opium trade. He discountenanced it and expressly disclaimed all involvement on the part of the British government. He withheld British protection from those continuing to smuggle.

If Elliot had not collected all the opium to himself then Red Rover’s view might be maintainable but Elliot’s agreement to indemnify the owners is clear protection of the trade. We could hardly claim compensation otherwise.

Elliot’s current policy of withholding protection is new. What we had initially was a stoppage of the illegal trade in compliance with a demand and on the faith of a promise.

In your own editorial you say Elliot’s proclamation of 18th December forbad the trade. You say compensation should not be paid as the property seized was contraband. You overlook that opium trade is permitted under English law.

Neither is it the case that the trade in opium to China is controlled on public policy grounds. On the contrary the trade saves England a huge sum that would otherwise be raised by taxation. It is public policy to promote the sale of opium and we have enacted laws to regulate its production and sale in India. Only in China is it illegal.

If the opium is seized while being smuggled into China it is rightly confiscated. In our case it was lost by obedience to an order of the Queen’s Representative. I indicated earlier that it is impossible to establish duress – the opium was on armed ships 80 miles from Canton and the Chinese have established a practice of never interfering with the receiving ships.

Did not the Portuguese opium merchant Pereira send away his ships Syed Khan and Poppy? Being Portuguese, he was not under Elliot’s control and the Chinese said nothing about it. It was clearly a voluntary surrender by the British.18

Further it is untrue to say the smugglers put foreign lives at risk. It was the British parliament, the cabinet and the Court of Company Directors who jeopardised the community.

For the benefit of the British Empire, the legislature was pleased to enact a law requiring the Company to abandon its commercial business in 1834 except the monopolies on salt and opium, which they were expressly permitted to continue operating.

Both commodities are produced cheaply and sold expensively. Opium produces about £1½ millions a year in revenue to the Indian government. This opium is exchanged in China for silver which in turn is used to buy tea. Britain gets £2 millions revenue (the new lower duty regime) on tea imports and no longer has to send bullion for its purchase.

The opium trader becomes a rich man if he gets 10% net profit on his opium sales (he invests his capital 2-3 times a year). The British government well knows it would not get a Rupee for its opium if the Chinese did not buy it. You should recall that when the Chinese market was over supplied and opium traders made losses, the Indian government gave them a discount after obtaining the approval of a cabinet minister.19 The real opium traders are the people who manufacture it, adjust its flavour to suit Chinese consumers, and auction it at enormous profits for its carriage to and sale in China.

Sgd Nomen

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Letter to the Editor of the Calcutta Englishman:

You said of my letter of 19th last month that I am an enemy of the opium trade and would like to see further losses to those engaged in it. That is unwarranted. The holders of opium will see the recent Chinese confiscation as a benefit to their trade.

The Chinese have again revealed they can enforce their law and maintain their dignity. It was not so long ago that the Emperor expelled the Catholics, and the Company’s factory was obliged to leave Canton at the time of Admiral Drury’s occupation of Macau. The Chinese have never distinguished between their public and private responsibilities – to that extent the seizures should have been anticipated.

Is there not a party in Canton known to Commissioner Lin as ‘the good foreigners’ (the Americans)? Do they not handle about one quarter of the value of British trade? If the English were expelled would they not profit by it? Is it so unthinkable that this party originated the squeeze we have just experienced and can we blame them? Is this party attempting to check-mate our China trade?

This is not a matter of anti-Americanism but a query on the games traders play. Would any one of the American traders at Canton die of grief if the English were expelled in perpetuity tomorrow? Washington Irving’s ‘Astoria’ contains a neat tale of a Scot and a Yankee and reveals that the idea of our expulsion has already arisen amongst Americans.20 The commercial spirit between nations is a part of human nature. Sgd “P”

Editor – “P” has hit the mark. The history of commerce is littered with black deeds. Shortly before the English left Macau one of them received a letter from an American friend at Canton reporting that the Hong merchants had told him they would henceforth only trade with Americans. Do the Hong merchants set the commercial policy of China? Does the American think we will tamely surrender our valuable trade? We doubt the Hong merchants have thought this through. British trade far outweighs all other China trade. The Hong merchants like us as much as any other foreign nation. They never lose money trading with us.

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Indian government letter reproduced in the Calcutta Englishman, 10th May and recited in the Bombay Times 1st June:

Readers will recall correspondence copied in this paper two years ago concerning refunds to Bengal opium buyers after China acted against the trade (Cohen’s case in about July 1837, which cost the Bengal government about 2 million Rupees in refunds). The Bengal Chamber thought the payments improper but the government went ahead anyway. In that vein we publish the following letter from Central Government, Fort William to Bombay Chamber, 22nd November 1837:

“I refer to my letter of 27th September and confirm this government’s view that the measures adopted towards Bengal opium speculators were warranted. We formally decline to provide any assurance to those involved in Malwa opium that we will not again act in similar fashion. The Bombay mercantile community should expect the Government of India to show consideration to those that so handsomely support its revenue.”

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

A Petition of British merchants at Calcutta to the Queen’s Privy Council, 12th July 1839:

We buy Bengal opium for sale in China. Bengal opium is a government monopoly. Opium trade has always been illegal in China but the people like it. With great ingenuity we have raised this trade to its present immense proportions. The British government of India has fostered the trade by consulting us on the preferences of the Chinese consumer; by compensating us when shipments were found to be inferior to the government guaranteed standard and by occasionally directly shipping opium itself to its agents in China in order to learn if new packing arrangements were acceptable to the dealers. On one occasion the opium was not approved in China and sold at a lower price. A draft was drawn on the Company for the balance and paid.

We append some statistics from the Bengal government’s Customs House listing the number of chests of Company opium exported in recent years:


1832 – 33

1833 – 34

1834 – 35

1835 – 36

1836 – 37

1837 – 38


Opium to China








Opium to others
















The 66,083 chests are expressly shown in the Calcutta Customs House record as shipped to China. It is clear that the government knew where its opium went and where its money came from.

The British parliament is aware that the revenue from opium produces £1 – 2 millions annually to Bengal and this money enables the shareholders of the Company to receive their great dividends and your government to guarantee the payment of these dividends under the new Charter.

The opium trade in China is a contraband trade which, as is invariably the case in such illegal enterprises, flourishes with the connivance of the authorities. The Edicts of the Emperor in Peking are as unavailing in Canton as the Berlin Decree of Napoleon was in Europe. It is generally supposed the Chinese government pursues a policy of low pay for its officials in the expectation they will look after themselves.

The export of sycee is also contraband but it is the currency of the country and is always demanded in payment for opium. China in fact has immense reserves of silver but permits mining in only a limited and highly restricted way to preserve what it conceives to be the national wealth. In the Chinese view of political economy, export of silver is equated with permanent loss. Recently silver mining has increased to replace the sycee exported by the opium trade but the penalty for exporting sycee is death. It is supposed that the drain of silver is the prime cause of Commissioner Lin’s recent activities at Canton.

This bullion export from the most populous and fertile empire in the World has served to cover vast tracts of British India with productive fields which in turn support an increasing and flourishing population. It has facilitated a great increase in English exports to India. In the Bombay Presidency, the revenue from opium exceeds the entire land revenue. This single commodity pays the £630,000 annual dividends to the Company’s shareholders and is alone capable of supplying the £2 millions necessary to administer all India annually.

We believe we have succinctly revealed the importance of the trade.

The late events in China will be well-known to you from other sources. Briefly, to save the lives and property of the foreign community at Canton, Elliot bought the entire stock of opium for the British government and ordered it all be delivered to the Chinese. The opium had hitherto been kept safe on ships at Hong Kong or Lintin or on the East Coast. As a result of this surrender, trade at Canton was reopened.

This action of Elliot’s saved the entire community from the sort of horrors previously experienced at Amboinya, Nagasaki, Calcutta and Manila. We expect the British government to ratify Elliot’s act and confirm it will compensate us even if the actual payment is delayed. We commend you to make payment through the Company’s Treasury at Calcutta. This will assist the Company in meeting the ‘home charges’.

We expect 5% per annum interest on our dues which are all from the 1836, 1837 or 1838 crop. Whether our future policy to China will be one of war or peace, our claims should be quickly settled. The profits of opium shippers have seldom exceeded 5 – 15% on the Bengal government’s auction price while the government as manufacturer has retained the bulk of profit. We will be recovering just a tiny part of the enormous revenue we have paid you in former years.

(Signatories unavailable)

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Letter to the Editor of the Englishman, 27th June 1839 – Elliot neglected only one thing. He should have tried a firm but respectful remonstrance with Commissioner Lin before surrendering the opium. Instead of remonstrating, Elliot appears to have been paralysed by Lin’s decisiveness. He should have warned him of England’s power. A proper representation of the likely consequences might well have given Lin pause for thought, especially if the American and Dutch consuls had joined in it.

Sgd ‘A Holder’

Canton Register Editor – Elliot’s instructions are secret. No-one knows if he remonstrated with the Commissioner, etc. Until his correspondence is published we cannot form an opinion.

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Ownership of the surrendered opium (in Chests of 1 picul each)

Jardine Matheson & Co

The Parsee merchants collectively

Dent & Co

Daniell & Co

Russell & Co

MacVicar & Co

Jardine Matheson (per Andrew Robertson)

Lindsay & Co

Gemmell & Co

Joseph de Souza (of Bombay)

Wetmore & Co

John Thacker

Turner & Co

J & W Cragg & Co

Eglinton MacLean & Co

Bell & Co

Edward Pereira

Fox Rawson & Co

Gibb Livingston & Co

Alexander Calder


Jamieson & How

James Starkey

A I Smith

Bibby Adam & Co

Eneas Fraser Jr



























Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Editorial on Elliot’s Notice to Ship Captains of 11th September:

Elliot’s interference last December was voluntary and not sought by the Canton government. Even had they asked for his interference, in the absence of a treaty between England and China, his actions were questionable. However his actions then were against the opium trade in the river where the Chinese had the power to enforce their law. The problem for the Chinese government was the willing complicity of the Canton officials.

Hong Kong harbour is beyond the reach of Chinese power and therefore Chinese law. It might fairly be considered international waters so far as Chinese and British power is concerned.21 So why did Elliot again do the bidding of the Chinese? He has never hitherto pretended he had the power to control the outside trade. On the contrary he expressly told the Chinese it was beyond his authority to intervene in it. He is himself violating Chinese law by flying the British flag in Hong Kong harbour. What authority does he have to control the illegal actions of others? Does not his situation in Hong Kong nullify all his orders to suppress opium trade (which is illegal only inside China)?

He has now imposed on the British ship commanders the sacred obligation of an Oath. The effect is likely to be to convince Lin that the trade is in full vigour at Hong Kong and that Elliot has the power to control it in spite of his frequent contrary assertions. If Elliot thinks there is opium trading at Hong Kong he should have struck his flag and gone elsewhere rather than alerting the Commissioner to the existence of a new market.

In his Edict of 31st August Commissioner Lin referred to ships arriving with opium and anchoring at Hong Kong. Perhaps opium is being traded at Hong Kong but Elliot should not be investigating what the Chinese are not complaining about. It is the Chinese government’s duty to enforce its laws and bring some substance to their claim of ruling the planet.

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

Edict of Tseang, the Keunmin foo of Macau, 18th September (copied from Canton Press):

Russell Sturgis and other Americans have petitioned that Elliot intends to blockade the river. They ask that their ships may sail directly into the river upon arrival and only be examined once inside the Bogue.

I have taken Commissioner Lin’s instructions. He says:

“When a ship arrives the law requires it to wait outside until it has been examined. Only after it is ascertained that the ship brings no contraband is it allowed in the river.

“Now who is Elliot that he can give orders to the ships of other nations? This is outrageous and inexcusable. I have ordered the soldiers throughout Kwangtung province to arrest Elliot on sight.

“The American request is granted but there must be extreme watchfulness against scheming foreigners. I have ordered the Admiral at the Bogue to place two ships alongside each American ship as it arrives and search for contraband and weapons. Once he is satisfied he may allow pilots to bring the ships up to Whampoa. They need not anchor within the chain passage so they can leave quickly.

“Transmit this to the Americans and issue an order to the other nations that they may act likewise.”

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

We have now learned why the Commissioner called Bridgman to interview. He wanted to know what news had been received from England. It seems he is aware of his danger. He should know that we are not mere animals as the censor Hew Kew previously characterised us.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

Letter to the Editor from Rev E C Bridgman. 10th October:

The questions I was asked at Chun How did not relate to news from England. It was actually almost exclusively directed towards the present difficulties. I had not expected the invitation but feel I should keep the subject matter confidential. I can say I was impressed by the strength of feeling against the opium trade. The Chinese believe that it must be destroyed before it destroys them.

Their great object is its utter extinction. Preservation of the peace appeared secondary and preservation of the foreign trade tertiary. Much understanding and information is required before an amicable settlement can be affected. Patience and forbearance are essential.

One thing is certain. If opium trade is continued it will be in direct opposition to the express Imperial will. How happy it would be if the growers, carriers and sellers of opium would substitute their Drug for the Ching King Mow Yih (correct and honourable trade) so future calamities may be avoided. There is a Chinese saying “Man against man is nothing, but Heaven against man leaves no ground to stand on” If this trade is continued it will be hazardous to us all. I hope for free, friendly, honourable and uninterrupted relations with China.

Vol 12 No 40 – 1st October 1839

On the evening of 15th September the cabin boy of the Chief Officer of the Mermaid was sent on an errand amongst the Chinese boats anchored along the Hong Kong waterfront. Four days later his corpse was seen floating in the harbour. It displayed numerous wounds from a sharp weapon and the marks around his neck suggest he had been strangled.

It is reprehensible that an English officer should have exposed this lad to danger particularly after the repeated public warnings of Elliot. It is worse if the disappearance was not reported until the body was found, as appears to be the case. This is the third case. Two other corpses have been retrieved from the harbour, one at beginning of September and again on 17th September.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

In the 17th September case, mentioned above, the Americans Shillaber and W C Hunter tell us (Editor Slade) that Elliot sent a letter to the Keunmin foo at Macau stating this corpse might be the murderer of Lam Wai Hei. The two Americans went into the Linguists’ room at Canton to see the original (they read Chinese) where the translator said Elliot could succeed in his plea only if he precisely stated it was the murderer, in which case the matter could easily be arranged. Shillaber has sent us a copy of the translation.

We have circulated it amongst the community in Hong Kong harbour but are reluctant to publish it and Shillaber has since indicated there is a mistake in it. We merely note that all the British rioters in the affray leading Lam’s death were brought to trial, none were missing, but the accused was not convicted. He is a crewman of the Snarley Yow (Smolius). The Jurors’ refusal to hear the case may have derived from the fact that the Snarley Yow was not in Hong Kong on 7th July (date of affray).

We think what may have happened is that the Chinese themselves originated this lie and Elliot wrote a letter to refute it. He certainly knew the corpse could not have been the body of the murderer. In passing we think it is utterly infra dig for our Representative to be communicating with petty officials in Macau.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

The Friend of India, 1st August, copied from the Singapore Free Press 12th September:

By the Lady Grant we have news from China up to 11th May. The opium stock has been surrendered but our losses will not end there. A new law is promulgated. Every foreigner bringing opium to China will be executed and his property confiscated. The determination of guilt will be made by the Chinese. This places the lives of every foreigner in the Canton factories hostage to the actions of the smugglers outside. They are particularly vulnerable to the opinions of the Hong merchants, Linguists, compradors and house servants.

Captain Elliot suspects this law to lead eventually to indiscriminate confiscation and massacre. Sixteen individuals, who were unilaterally deemed more guilty than the rest, were made captive as security for the delivery of the Drug. Some had never been involved in smuggling. This foretaste of Chinese recklessness reveals each foreign life will be in future at the mercy of every informer and enemy without the possibility of intervention by the foreigner’s own government. It means the end of foreign trade at Canton. In attacking the opium trade the Chinese have brought down the legal trade as well.

The Lady Grant reports that, at the time of her departure, the smuggling ships were preparing to trade up the east coast. They will be better prepared for fighting and will prosecute their business with new vigour. The first appearance of these ships along the east coast will doubtless be the cause of a new threat to the traders at Canton with confiscation of their property and possibly execution. Anyone in future who places his life and property in the hands of the Chinese will know what to expect. This is the belief of the foreign traders at Canton upon which they will base their future actions. The surrender of 20,000 chests will be seen as proof of Chinese superiority and future negotiations cannot be between equal parties.

Unless something new is done to restore our dignity, British trade cannot be revived. Perhaps the British government will demand reparations and, when they are refused, blockade Canton and disrupt the coastal trade. It is thought this might incite a general rebellion and thus bring the Chinese to terms. Any such negotiation should be on the agreed basis that both parties want the opium trade to end.

Opinion in England will be interesting when the news of first the opium surrender then the stoppage of tea supplies arrives there. The government will be appalled at the loss of revenue, the people at the loss of their ‘cup that cheers’ and a scapegoat will be sought. Then a succession of opium memorials will arrive. Indignant Englishman are likely to feel these opium smugglers have infuriated the Chinese government, denied England £2 – £3 millions in tea revenue, deprived the entire country of its national beverage, and now they petition for compensation in respect of their unholy business.

We will note that a Calcutta merchant has informed us that not all the Calcutta Chamber members subscribed to the memorial. Well, had they put their names to the published copy, we might have known it.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

Letter to the Calcutta Courier, 24th August – Were the Agents at Canton justified in surrendering the opium stock to Elliot? Until Elliot produces some satisfactory evidence that he was empowered to offer indemnity, it seems unlikely. Some construe the Company’s charter as countenancing the trade. They place blame on the government. I disagree.

The thing is – were the Agents aware that the opium would be seized if they did not surrender it? Subsequent initiatives by the Chinese suggest that they were. Had that occurred, the loss was final. But by surrendering their opium to Elliot, the Agents kept the possibility of compensation alive. They were considered obnoxious from their direct connection with the trade. The axe was suspended over them, they were singled out as the most culpable, and their acquiescence in the surrender is unsurprising. They were eased along this path by the hope of renewed trade that the Chinese offered. I think they all genuinely acted in what they thought to be the best interests of their constituents.

Whether Elliot exceeded his powers is less important than evaluating his actions in the light of the circumstances the foreigners found themselves in. I think the Chinese will likely be required to pay for this; not because they ended the smuggling, but because they insulted Elliot who was innocent of involvement. I believe the British government will ratify Elliot’s actions but the Chinese will have to pay for their impetuosity.

Whatever the Charter says about opium, I confidently believe the smugglers were trading at their own risk once the Drug had been proscribed. It is not appropriate for them to say that Bengal allured them into the trade by manufacturing and selling opium. The traders knew what they were buying. Their eyes were open. They knew the risks. Sgd “R”

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

Bombay Gazette, 1st July – The Portuguese have sent a completely new government to Goa (the last Viceroy has been assassinated). It comprises a Viceroy, a suite of secretaries and a regiment of 900 European troops to reinforce the existing garrison.

The cause of the change is said to be British complaints that marauding bands from Goa have been annoying our ally, the Rajah of Sawant Warree, by injuring his subjects. The British gave Portugal an ultimatum – either stop the incursions or Goa will be occupied.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

The Portuguese ship Anna was seized by HMS Volage in Hong Kong harbour for discrepancies in her papers. A lieutenant of HMS Volage visited the Macau governor on Sunday who provided sufficient information to obtain her release.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

The British merchants have met with Elliot at end-September to learn what progress he has made with Commissioner Lin. He laid a statement of his progress and copies of his correspondence before the meeting. No Public Notice will be given to the community at this stage.

Editorial – the prospects of renewed British trade are hopeless until the British government acts. Recall Elliot’s Notice of no confidence in the Canton government of 23rd March – he said peaceful relations were impossible until past and prospective problems had been satisfactorily resolved. The entire community endorsed his view and James Matheson returned our thanks. Elliot’s acceptance of our opium stock followed on 27th March. Arguably, he surrendered it to China under coercion. All the British and Parsee merchants then left Canton in pursuit of Elliot’s advice. If it is argued they were not forced to leave we should recall the Notice of 19th May ordering the officers and crews of British ships not to enter the river.

On 22nd May Elliot publicly said his attempts to negotiate a compromise had failed. On 23rd May we petitioned Palmerston that the New Regulations for trade would not provide security for our lives and property and requested British government interference to force a change. On 23rd June Elliot declared to Chinese officials in Macau that Britons would not return to Canton while it was unsafe and that we first required justice for all the insults etc., and a fair and honourable basis to trade. Finally last month we again petitioned Palmerston that we had retired to Macau to await the intervention of the British government.

We may also mention Lin’s Edict to Elliot, Snow and van Basel which quotes from a communication he received from one of those officials stating a wish that “they all should return home at the head of their people.” Lin disbelieved them and remarked that all the foreigners got huge advantages from China trade and might continue to do so if they obeyed the law. Is it not strange, according to Elliot, that merchants who left Canton should now wish to return under the New Regulations? Have we not witnessed the attempt to seize Capt MacMichael of the US ship Robert Fulton as hostage for the murderer of Lam Wai Hei and he is not even British. Have we forgotten the attack on the Black Joke? Forgiveness is a Christian virtue but we should learn from our experiences:

Be great in act as they have been in thought;
Let not the World see fear and sad distrust
Govern the motion of a merchant’s eye:
Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
Threaten the threat’ner, outface the brow
Of bragging Lin.
(The Editor’s improvement on Shakespeare in King John)

Any negotiation with Lin for renewal of trade now will be disastrous. We must consider the commercial interests of Britain and India. In a few weeks or months Lin will hear the voice of the British people. Then we will act in accordance with national policy. Until then – patience. If Lin or the Hongs want our renewed trade they may ask for it.

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

Nathan Dunn, who formerly headed a large trading firm here, took his immense collection of Chinese objets d’art back to America after nine years residence in China (c. 1828 – 37).

The Philadelphia Customs sought to tax the collection and it remained deteriorating in their storeroom for months but it was eventually released and is now displayed in a purpose-built structure on Ninth Street.

The saloon is 168’ x 70’ under a lofty ceiling supported by 22 pillars. This must be the largest Chinese collection in the World. Mr E C Wine of Philadelphia has written a book about it. It is a Lilliputian China.

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

Admiral Kwan has received instructions from Commissioner Lin and issued his own warning to the British, 23rd September:

“Elliot petitioned for permission to trade at Macau and we denied him. His conduct has since been outrageous. The receiving ships have not been sent away; the banished foreigners have not returned to their countries; one of his people has killed a Chinese and he refuses to surrender him to justice; he prevents the merchant ships from entering the river; he permits the sale of a new supply of opium along the Chinese coast; he has refused to receive all our Edicts; he led an attack on our national ships defending Kowloon, firing his guns and wounding our officers and seamen.

“On 14th September he went to Macau, begging the Portuguese to present his note to the Tung Che and Keunmin foo (Prefect) saying he only wanted peace and quiet. He rambled on incessantly without any hint of sincerity. On 16th September he returned to Hong Kong.

“Now our land and sea forces are assembled at the Bogue and I, Admiral Kwan, will fix a day to attack the English – they may not loiter at Tsim Sha Tsui selling opium.

“I am a descendant of Kwan Kung22 and I recognise Elliot as the ringleader of the criminals. Most of his people have probably been intimidated by him and I should commence the slaughter but I fear I may destroy the innocent with the guilty. I accordingly issue this heartfelt proclamation to the foreigners – if you have been banished from China by the Emperor or if you work on a receiving ship that has surrendered its opium, you must instantly leave. Those of you who have just arrived should carefully reflect how you can continue smuggling opium. Those of you who are honourable merchants should stay clear of the others and preserve your own lives.

“I tell you the truth like a mother to her child. Indeed it is not too late for even Elliot to recognise the error of his ways and repent. He may request for mercy and I will personally intercede on his behalf. But if you continue to oppose and indulge in foolish expectations, then the grandeur of our Empire will unite with Heaven and a terrible display of our majesty will be made known to you. We enjoy divine patronage and your Gods can avail you nothing. Attend to this carefully.”

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

Editorial – The Thomas Coutts (Warner) arrived from Bombay and Singapore on 12th October bringing a passenger – Mr James N Daniell. The Whampoa pilot was paid the same day and set off for the Bogue to get the Entry Certificate. If the supercargo and captain permit the ship to enter the river, their names will be indelibly disgraced for deserting our ‘united front’ for their own profit.

We regret to report that several other captains already at Hong Kong have petitioned Elliot to enter the river for trade.

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

Elliot’s correspondence with the Chinese appears to be secret only to his own countrymen. The Americans got a copy of the Keunmin foo’s reply to Elliot from How Qua. These Chinese Edicts routinely review the correspondent’s letter before detailing the reply. When Gemmell and Bell asked for a copy they were told to get it from Elliot.

Readers will remember we first learned of Elliot’s request to trade at Macau from the Hoppo’s reply of 9th June. It appears likely that the entire foreign community except the British have been aware of progress throughout his delicate discussions.

Public Notice of Elliot, 14th October:

I have agreed conditions with Commissioner Lin for opening trade at Chuen Pi. No-one will be required to sign a bond. To protect yourselves and your property, and to avoid prejudicing our overall national interests, I remind you of my instructions of 22nd May. I require all residents to read and explain this Notice to the commanders of their ships.

Editor – Kum Sing Mun would have been preferable.

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

A correspondent to the 12th October issue of the Canton Press has recommended invading China via its western provinces. This area has never been surveyed by us and he proposes to move an army of 50,000 through it! Perhaps he has it in mind to launch an attack from Silhet in Bengal, a mere 350 miles from Yunnan?

We can and do bring our ships all along the East Coast from whence we have access to the maritime provinces and, through the great rivers, to the central provinces as well. The theoretical possibility exists of our conquering all China south of the Yellow River, driving the Tartars back into Cathay and founding a new country but the method would differ from the proposals commended by the Canton Press’ correspondent.

Besides the conquest of China is not within the contemplation of any Englishman. We might accomplish the occupation of Taiwan or one of the smaller islands but that would be a hostile act. It is more straightforward to demand redress and reparations for insults given. We might endeavour to sow mistrust between the Emperor and his people to induce disorganisation leading to revolution and anarchy but that is more merciless than open war. We think sycee, silk and tea will be quite sufficient to pay our claims.

This letter to the Canton Press tends to deprecate the English as a nation of gain-seeking traders

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

Tseang, the Prefect of Macau based at Casa Branca, informs the Portuguese Procurador of Macau on 10th October that he received Elliot’s explanations on 6th October (about the proposed British trade at Chuen Pi) but they were confused and inscrutable and required elucidation. On receiving that elucidation he found it even more inscrutable than the original. Copies are attached for the Procurador’s information. He is to command Elliot to communicate with the Viceroy within three days to fix an interview:

Elliot requires a delay until the middle of the 12th Moon before responding to the order for his countrymen to sign bonds. Why does he wait? The inspection of the ship and the bonds of its captain and consignee may be done together. Then the ship may commence trade.

Those who object to the bond may anchor at Sha Kok for inspection. They will discharge all their cargo into lighters under supervision of an official who will then also inspect the ship. If opium is found the criminals will be punished, bond or no, and the ship and cargo confiscated. Ships found to be without opium may commence trade. Cargo owners who have signed the bond may take their cargo into port themselves or entrust it to the Hong merchants. Those who do not sign will be presumed smugglers and required to leave within three days. Such ships, if found remaining after three days, will be attacked.

Elliot should not make difficulties. Ships that have signed the bond will sign again on every subsequent visit. Those that do not sign will never be allowed to trade in the port. The New Regulations will be obeyed.

Commissioner Lin has long known where the murderer of Lam Wai Hei is hiding. Elliot was given ten days to conclude the case but he treats it with levity and his contempt is clear. In view of the bad weather he is allowed a further ten days. If Elliot continues with his foolishness, the Commissioner will unilaterally resolve the matter himself by seizing the ship’s owner, supercargo and crew for examination. When the murderer has been conclusively identified he will be punished and there will be no need for Elliot’s help.

Of the twelve receiving ships, four have left. Additionally, the Keih23 sailed this week and Elliot says the Hercules has been sold to Americans. He says three others are rotten and must be sold or broken-up. He says he does not know when the remaining three will sail. What kind of management is this? He will fix the date for their departure and report it. Moreover the Lord Amherst illegally entered the Macau Inner Harbour for refit and ignored repeated orders to leave. On completing the refit she went sailing around the outer waters, purportedly without cargo, clearly evidencing her intention to smuggle. Elliot must expel her or she will be attacked.

Of the sixteen proscribed foreigners, excluding those six who have already gone, Elliot says Dent, James Matheson, H Daniell, Inglis, Ilberry, Framjee, Dadabhoy, Stanford and Kan See (?) are willing to leave but have yet to fix a date. Another three – Bomanjee, D Matheson and Heerjeebhoy – request a delay. These banished foreigners are always delaying and never going. Bomanjee and the two other prominent smugglers cannot delay. We insist they return to their own countries. As regards Donald Matheson and Henry, whom Elliot says are uninvolved in the opium trade, we know Donald Matheson is a member of Jardine Matheson of which firm the Emperor has already been informed and the decree for Donald’s expulsion has already arrived. Henry’s case will be reviewed.

Concerning the power and authority of the British nation, which Elliot says is incomparable, we are unconcerned. Elliot should abstain from these gross ideas and confused expositions.

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

The Keunmin foo and Tso Tong of Macau proclaim to the Portuguese Vereadore that Elliot has presented a note requesting delayed departure of the banished foreigners and receiving ships. He says in six days he will determine the innocent from the guilty and he asks that the guilty might come to Macau to collect their belongings:

We requested the Commissioner and Viceroy for their instructions and on 29th September were ordered to have the twelve depraved foreigners come to Macau, collect their things and go away within six days. There may be no loitering and no-one may accompany the banished men to Macau. For the others we await Elliot’s performance of the orders whereafter the British may return to Macau. The Vereadore will request his Governor to cause Elliot to conform with these instructions.

On receipt of these orders the twelve namely James Matheson, young Matheson, Henry, young Jardine, Stanford, Ilberry, Dadabhoy, Heerjeebhoy, Framjee, Merwanjee, Kay (eleven names) should come from Hong Kong to Macau, collect their belongings and leave for their countries in six days. If any other person accompanies them he will be likewise banished. The remaining twelve receiving ships must likewise leave within six days.

When they have all gone the Vereadore will report the fact.

Vol 12 No 42 – 15th October 1839

The Keunmin foo and Tso Tong advise the Vereadore that Elliot yesterday asked the Portuguese governor if he (Elliot) might return to Macau and he then interviewed me the Keunmin foo on various matters.

I now (29th September) have the order of the Commissioner and Viceroy to the Vereadore that he request the Portuguese governor to send Silveira, a skilled businessman, to Tsim Sha Tsui to deliver their response to Elliot. Silveira should urge Elliot to work quickly and report progress.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

Notice – Eglinton MacLean & Co has been dissolved. A C MacLean will remain at Macau to wind-up the business and then leave for Bombay where he will establish a similar business, also connected with Robert Eglinton & Co of London and Eglinton McClure & Co of Calcutta. In his absence he will be represented by R H Hunter.

Sgd Robert Eglinton, Calcutta, 16th August.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

Departures per Good Success (for Manila?) 17th October – Mrs Gutzlaff, the two Misses Park, James and Donald Matheson, Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

Editorial – The London tea wholesalers have retained Algernon Sidney Thelwell MA of Trinity College, Cambridge to publish ‘the Iniquities of the Opium Trade’ to the British public.

On his first page Thelwell falls into error in advising his readers that the opium trade is the main cause of British exclusion from the China trade. Nothing could be more false.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

On 21st October a private meeting of British merchants with Elliot was held in his Macau house and it will continue today. They are discussing the conditions under which British trade will be conducted at Chuen Pi.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

The matter of Lam Wai Hei’s murder, and the American evidence reported in our 1st October issue, will not go away. We now submit the following from the highest and best authority:

“Elliot wrote to the Keunmin foo to report that many of the people conceivably involved in the affray had left China or died and it could not be ascertained whether the murderer had been amongst them.

On mentioning people already dead, the Linguist old Ah Tom was alerted and thought it offered an ideal way to gloss over the whole affair. The Keunmin foo appears to have initially encouraged the idea for Ah Tom, after interviewing him, came and asked about the man found dead in Hong Kong harbour. He led Elliot to believe that the Chinese officials believed the dead man was the murderer (i.e. that they wanted to close the matter as well). But when he took Elliot’s open letter to the Keunmin foo, and that officer saw Elliot would not be party to a lie, and in consideration of the precision of the Commissioner’s information, he told Ah Tom to take the letter back to Elliot. Ah Tom brought it back but after a few hours applied for it and kept it.

“All the English who were known to have been involved in the affray were examined but whether the murderer was English or American remained unknown. There are some grounds to suspect that both an Englishman and an American were jointly involved. The man who was accused was serving on the Portia but it was not until two days after his acquittal that Elliot and Capt Smith learned he had formerly served on the Snarley Yow.”24

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

Calcutta Courier, 21st August – One of Captain Elliot’s receipts for 5 chests of surrendered opium was put up for sale at auction here today by Jenkins Low & Co. There were many bids and the price rose from 20 rupees to a startling 365 Rupees per chest. Carr Tagore & Co are believed to have been the successful purchasers.

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

Asiatic Journal, June 1839 – The China trade is approaching a crisis. To return it to a secure basis, nothing more is required than for the foreign merchants to abjure the opium trade. It is proscribed by both the Chinese government and the British Trade Commissioner and is discountenanced by the better part of the mercantile community.

Unfortunately, the sordid views of those who extort a disgraceful profit from it are not to be thwarted by anything short of the expedient they propose to employ in continuing to introduce it – force.

Canton Register Extra – 23rd October 1839

This is an abstract of proceedings in the several meetings of Elliot, the British merchants and the Hong merchants at Macau that concluded yesterday afternoon. Elliot allowed two committee members of the British Chamber to peruse the documents and make this abstract.

Lin’s four conditions for resumption of British trade:

  • It appears Elliot is keeping the ships outside to continue the smuggling trade. If he wants to re-establish legal trade he must collect and surrender the new opium.
  • As Elliot cannot determine the identity of the murderer of Lam Wai Hei he should deliver all involved to the Canton authorities for examination. Only one will be held accountable for the death.
  • The banished smugglers and the opium receiving ships are to be sent away, failing which the ships may be burned and the banished men surrendered for trial.
  • The British merchant fleet at Hong Kong has recommenced distributing opium and was also responsible for the murder of Lam. Elliot is responsible for attacking the Chinese war-junks at Kowloon. Elliot says he awaits orders. When did he request instructions and when are they expected to arrive.

Elliot’s reply:

Having taken severe measures there should not be a catty of opium left. Elliot will not protect the opium trade. If he suspects a ship to have opium he will alert the Chinese and jointly make inspection. If opium is found he agrees to its seizure. If a ship conceals opium from him and it is discovered he will not protest that firm’s exclusion from China trade. He offers to collect signed declarations from the partners of each British firm attesting to their non-involvement in opium trade. He will not allow those who decline to make the declaration to reside or trade in China. The declarations will extend to everyone under the control of the firm. He will take the same declaration in Chinese and English from the commander and consignee of each arriving vessel (on the day of its arrival) that they bring no opium neither will they receive any. If any declines, he will prevent their trade.

Concerning the murder, he declares he has done his best to detect the crime but failed. He agrees to a joint investigation, congenial to the customs of both nations. He has offered a reward for identification of the man and he agrees, once found, that he be tried by the Chinese in accordance with English law.

He agrees to the expulsion of the banished smugglers and the opium ships but requests to await the winter monsoon for their departure. He appeals on behalf of Donald Matheson and Henry who are innocent.

He expects to receive the instructions of his government in four months. Until then the British shipping may not enter the river. He says it may be necessary to sell rather than remove some receiving ships – they are too old for a sea voyage.

He requests six days residence at Macau for the banishees prior to their departure. He says the drowned man found in Hong Kong harbour cannot be connected with the Tsim Sha Tsui murder. He appeals for the confidence of the Canton officials.

Commissioner’s response:

I know there is opium at Hong Kong. Elliot should collect and deliver it. If any is removed and later detected, all involved will be executed. If opium is taken up the coast the ship will be confiscated and its crew executed. When the opium on the ships has been surrendered, Chinese officers will search the vessels. British trade may then commence at Chuen Pi but not at Macau. Elliot must make all his people aware that opium offences carry the death penalty.

The murderer of Lam must be delivered.

The opium receiving ships must leave instanter. The banished men may spend six days at Macau prior to their departure. No other English are permitted to live there until these arrangements are concluded and agreed.

In addition, all the Chinese crewmen on English ships must be returned.25

Elliot may reply to this through the Keunmin foo.

Canton Register Extra – 23rd October 1839

Elliot’s Public Notice to British subjects, 21st October:

The Chinese can make whatever laws they like but enforcement rests on them. I have repeatedly raised the subject of their propensity for error (demonstrated by Chinese officials in the firing of the Bilbaino in the belief she was the British ship Virginia) to explain my refusal to allow British subjects to sign the requested bond. This is reinforced by the insistence with which the Chinese continue to press their demand for Lam’s murderer. This insistence may relate to a cultural difference and the difficulty this gives them in evaluating us. The insistence on a bond may relate to their recognition that consent should be an adequate defence to protests of foreign governments. These points cannot be conceded and would never be countenanced by the British people.

Canton Register Extra – 23rd October 1839

Elliot’s Public Notice to British subjects, 20th October – I have agreed with Commissioner Lin and Viceroy Tang on the following terms for renewed British trade:

  • The place of trade will be the anchorage between Chuen Pi and Ah Nung Hoy.
  • No bond is required but ships will be searched
  • All ships will pay the measurement fee, the pilots and linguists’ charges, as if they were at Whampoa.
  • Cargo will be off-loaded into lighters which will be subject to inspection.

Canton Register Extra – 23rd October 1839

Minutes of a meeting of the committee of British merchants with the Hong merchants at Elliot’s Macau residence:

The committee agreed with the Superintendent that a temporary market outside the river was desirable and that the shipping should not return to Whampoa for the time being. They reviewed the terms Elliot had sought from the Chinese and agreed they were appropriate. The arrangements were approved pending receipt of HM government’s instructions.

The committee concluded that their negotiations with the Hong merchants had been complicated by the Thomas Coutts (Warner) entering the river and its captain providing the bond. It felt the trade at Chuen Pi might have been arranged more quickly and foreseeable difficulties in its management obviated had Captain Warner remained loyal to the community.

Elliot’s arrangements are:

  • Chuen Pi had been provided for the market. It is exposed to wind and tide and offloading into lighters will often be hazardous. There are better anchorages nearby.
  • All the discharged and loaded cargo will be carried in Chinese lighters.
    The Hongs can provide 12 lighters a day to the outer market. They will charge 50 Taels per 240 bales Bengal or 210 bales Bombay cotton carried. The rates for other cargo would be proportionate and based on the tariff from 2nd bar. This will be c. 50% increase in local transit over Whampoa rates.
  • Goods for the river carriage Canton to Chuen Pi will be at the risk of the Hongs. The Chuen Pi / Canton carriage will be at the risk of the foreigners.
  • Weighing will be done shipside as at Whampoa
  • Goods unsold at Canton warehouses will be at the risk of owners who will also pay government duties. Duty payment on unsold goods cannot be delayed beyond 2½ months after delivery at Canton.
  • For convenience, the Hongs prefer that all of a ship’s cargo be sold to a single Hong but individual consignees may select their own Hong for sale of their goods (i.e. one Hong will discharge and load a ship, others may sell the cargo and the Hongs will sort the accounts out amongst themselves.)
  • Temporary warehouses ashore at Chuen Pi are disallowed.
  • The Chinese officials object to ships taking-on stone ballast at Chuen Pi. The foreigners said they could not otherwise fully unload. The matter remains under consideration of the Canton government. The Hongs agreed to make favourable representations.
  • Elliot has conceded the Chinese right to search. The Hongs said this will occur in the lighters during and after discharge. No search of the foreign ship after discharge will be required. The Hongs said search will be conducted in a co-operative way and no undue delay is intended or expected.
  • The temporary market is for the shipping already arrived and the facility will not be available to new arrivals. The committee prefer to continue the market until the British government’s instructions are received but they did not raise the subject with the Hongs intending to await the acceptability of the major points by the community before addressing the details.
  • Elliot agreed that if the merchants accepted the arrangements he would raise his embargo on British goods being sent to Canton. He extended the protection of the British government to such goods whilst in transit. The committee gave Elliot their opinion that the arrangements should not commence until the British were permitted back into Macau.

Sgd Henry Wright, George T Braine, William Wallace, Wilkinson Dent. (NB M/s Gibb and Burn were also asked to attend but declined)

Canton Register Extra – 23rd October 1839

At a subsequent meeting between the Committee and the Hongs it was confirmed in amendment of the above that one Hong would discharge an entire ship but consignees might select other Hongs to warehouse the goods.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Friend of India, 22nd August – We have news from China to end June. Elliot has gone to Macau where the Chinese have placarded him and he has answered them with a strong public response.

An attack was feared and the Cambridge was chartered as Guard Ship. The Chinese have issued two orders – one forbidding British trade at Macau and the other calling on the foreign shipping to either enter the river or depart.

Most astonishingly to the British merchants, the Commissioner is really destroying £2 millions of opium at a rate of 300 chests per day. This is so novel, unexpected and extremely foreign to the British character that we scarcely know what to think of it. The Chinese say the export of their circulating medium and a deficit in revenue are the causes of this unaccountable caprice. Some Christian missionary tracts were reportedly destroyed along with the Drug. An American merchant observed the destruction and seemed pleased that we English have been taught a moral lesson.

Chinese officials issue Edicts of superior morality for the record while accepting payment to permit opium smuggling. But when it came to the crunch they preferred the Emperor to our money. Last year Viceroy Tang was operating five smuggling boats at Canton while the Admiral was providing a similar service at Lintin. Government vessels almost monopolised deliveries from the receiving ships. Even when the foreign community was detained in the factories and the surrender of opium had commenced, revenue cruisers were still delivering opium to Macau. Some Chinese say Commissioner Lin’s family at Fuk Chow are notorious opium smugglers.

What is to be done? The Chinese want opium and the foreigners will sell it, at the point of a bayonet, if it is profitable. The power of addiction is greater than the power of the State. Since Lin destroyed British property at Chuen Pi, sales of the new crop are being made further down the estuary at $700 – 1,000 per chest. Obviously the trade will resume the moment Lin leaves Canton. But the New Regulations prevent the legal trade resuming. Few captains and consignees will volunteer to die and have their property confiscated if they or their crews / employees are caught smuggling opium in future.

If we could withdraw from trade for a year or two, we would both suffer but the Chinese would be forced to beg for its resumption. England would temporarily lose her sole source of tea and the immense revenue from it. The economic and social consequences for England would force her to regularise the situation regardless of the loss of national dignity. But if we withdrew, the Americans would consolidate their increasing share of the China trade making our later attempts at commercial recovery more difficult.

The only other option is war and a blockade of Canton but the Company’s military resources are already occupied fighting in Afghanistan. This is a crisis.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

The Times of London, 20th May – The state of affairs in China has been almost continually before us. The Chinese periodically suspend trade and they display ill-will to us. These things prevent the natural increase of trade that would normally be expected. We really do not know why it should be so but when enquiry is made it is invariably asserted that the English merchants are in the right and the Chinese officials are tyrannous and capricious.

We have recently seen a publication ‘The Iniquities of the Opium Trade with China’ which has been prepared and published by several East India tea merchants. This provides a novel view. Never, in the history of smuggling, has there been such an extensive trade as the opium trade at Canton. In spite of the heaviest penalties, the import of the Drug into China over the last 21 years has increased ten-fold. In 1836 there were 27,000 chests imported at a value of over £3½ millions. The Chinese complain that it is the English who exclusively grow and import the Drug to their country to debase their population, in spite of repeated prohibitions. Our countrymen avoid the risks of punishment to themselves by employing local distributors to smuggle the Drug over the last mile. The recent execution of one such smuggler in front of the British factory reveals where the Chinese believe culpability lies. They will at least insult us if they cannot punish us. This feeling is present in all China’s officials and is at the bottom of every quarrel we have.

The Chinese have hitherto seemed unable to stop the trade. We bribe their revenue officers and have established so bold and organised a smuggling system that it defies their laws. The system is described in a recent report to the Emperor – “carrying boats, called fast crabs or scrambling dragons, ply up and down the waterways. They are heavily armed and manned by scores of desperadoes. All the Customs Houses and military posts have been bribed but if the smugglers encounter opposition they resist. Slaughter and carnage ensue.”

The solution is legislation proscribing cultivation in India. The circumstances of the Indian ryot is after all nearly as bad as the Chinese consumer. Some low level of production should be continued for medical purposes. Limiting the area under cultivation is not a remedy. The spirit of free trade will find other sources beyond our immediate control.

Much of this Iniquities publication is biased but its overall thrust is undeniable. The Rev A S Thelwell (the compiler) should be congratulated.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

T Church, the British Resident at Singapore, has received a letter from the Sultan of Lombok. He published an extract from it to the Singapore mercantile community on 4th September:

“The use of opium has been proscribed on my island because of the trouble and disturbance it causes. If foreigners bring it after 1st January 1840 it will be confiscated and they will be fined double its value. Please publish this to your merchants.”

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Today HMS Volage, HMS Hyacinth and the cutter Louisa sailed to the Bogue reportedly to prevent the British ship Royal Saxon (Towns) from entering the river. Captain Towns has already signed the bond.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

The Chinese say James Daniell has signed the bond and applied for and received a permit to go to Canton. Daniell has declared to Elliot that he has no connection with the Thomas Coutts (Warner) or her cargo.

Local residents will recall it was Daniell’s intrigues with the Hong merchants, as a member of the Select in 1834, that undermined Napier’s attempts to make direct communication with the then Viceroy.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Editorial – the failure of Elliot’s negotiations for trade at Chuen Pi are not to be regretted for three reasons:

  1. Firstly, he planned to search our ships jointly with the Chinese and had agreed they might confiscate the ship and cargo if opium was found.
  2. Secondly, he planned to order us to declare we had no involvement in the opium trade and
  3. Thirdly, he required captains and consignees, on the day of arrival, to declare in Chinese and English that they brought no opium.

How can he assert these powers until the British parliament declares opium trading unlawful?

Anyway the arrangements for an outside trade were disgraceful. The measurement, pilotage and Linguist charges were to be paid as if we were at Whampoa although we had relinquished the protection of the port. British ships at Chuen Pi were to be searched by Chinese officials although they were on the high seas. These were unprecedentedly degrading concessions for a British national representative to make. The British government and people would never have approved them.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Local news:

  • The Thomas Coutts (Warner) at Whampoa has Chinese boats alongside. We are out of communication with the officers and crew. They are not allowed to leave the ship. Captain Warner has gone up to Canton.
  • Captain Towns is determined to take the Royal Saxon to Whampoa but he is delayed by Chinese reluctance to let him bring his wife along. He may now find the three ships blockading the river mouth are too much for him. Mrs Towns might also be reluctant to run a Royal Navy blockade.
  • Two Chinese boats have been seized in the river, one with 65 the other with 40 catties of opium on board. The crews have identified the ship they received the Drug from. Its name remains unknown but one of the boats had earlier been seen astern of the American ship Albion. The Commissioner will require the involved ship be burned and its officers and crew executed.
  • When Commissioner Lin first arrived opium was unsellable except at ruinous prices. A single chest now sells at between $2,000 – 3,000.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Editorial – some pseudo-moralists have urged the abandonment of the Bengal opium monopoly. No government has ever acted on such grounds. If the monopoly was abandoned, the Indian government would, at least temporarily, be financially crippled. It would be pragmatically possible only if Britain could be persuaded that the rest of the World would also abandon it.

Abandoning our Bengal opium revenue in India does not mean China would be free of the Drug. Production in Malwa, Turkey and Egypt will continue. Other countries would rush-in to fill the void. Which one of them could resist the uncountable profits?

When Britain organised the civilised nations of the world to proscribe slavery, did they perform their treaties with us, either in the letter or the spirit? Will America abandon slavery if we ask her nicely? Will Russia free the serfs or China outlaw infanticide?

Besides if we abandoned the trade now we would effectively be telling the Chinese that they were right all along. The fact is China cannot enforce her own laws. She should not legislate what she cannot enforce. Our opium revenue is indispensable to Bengal. We should never abandon it without a quid pro quo.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Editor Slade has been told the Bilbaino was destroyed on the direct instructions of Commissioner Lin. He was told she was the British ship Virginia. That ship last departed China on 6th May 1839 for Calcutta and has not yet returned. The Commissioner deputed a Muslim who is well known in Macau to accomplish the destruction.26 He in turn paid the man, who apparently volunteered, 200 Taels for a successful job. After setting the fire, the Muslim reported the fact to the Heung Shan heen who was reportedly shocked to discover saboteurs were active in his jurisdiction. He is reported to have told the Muslim that he knew the Bilbaino was innocent of any opium offences. She is a regular trader to / from Macau. The volunteer was sent to the Keunmin foo who required the pilot assigned to the Bilbaino to amend his report to show the ship was English.

Sr Gabriel de Yruretagotena, formerly the Spanish Consul and the only person in Macau capable of representing the country, wrote to Commissioner Lin but his letters were withheld at the Keunmin foo’s office. Eventually Morrison translated Yruretagotena’s despatch and sent it to the Hong merchants who forwarded it to Lin. The Commissioner’s initial response was to order the Portuguese to arrest the ex-Consul for involvement in the opium trade and send him to Canton for examination.

The Don is determined to have justice and is collecting statements from all the foreign authorities at Macau to establish the Spanish ownership and innocent employment of the Bilbaino.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Public Notice of Elliot, 26th October – The Commissioner and Viceroy have today breached their agreement to trade outside the river by demanding the surrender of the murderer of Lam Wai Hei as a pre-condition for the entry of all British non-opium ships into the river and the provision of bonds by their captains voluntarily submitting to execution for any opium discovered. Failing compliance all British shipping is to leave in three days.

All captains of British ships will read this order to their crews. They are to sail to Cheung Sha Wan (Kwai Chung Bay) and anchor.27

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

A similar letter from Elliot to Capt Smith of HMS Volage is published requiring the naval officer to do what he can to blockade the river. Elliot attributes the hardened Chinese terms to the entry of the Thomas Coutts (Warner). He speculates that the Chinese may want hostages to enforce their demand for the bond.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

From Capt Smith of HMS Volage to all Captains, officers and crews of British ships, 27th October – You are warned not to enter the river. Do not put yourselves or your property under Chinese control.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Four Edicts of Prefect (Tung Che) Yu and Keunmin foo Tseang of Macau.

1st Edict:

“Together with the Hong merchants we required Elliot and the foreign merchants to provide bonds and come to Whampoa. The Hong merchants reported that the foreigners were reluctant to comply but were willing to go to Ah Nung Hoy and submit to the removal and search of their cargoes there. We have now received instructions from the Imperial Commissioner on their application:

“When I first issued my commands on 20th September, I set three precedent conditions for the foreigners to fulfil – surrender their opium, surrender the murderer and send away the store ships and banishees. Any ship complying with these requirements would receive favours.

“The foreigners say there is no more opium to surrender and they are sending the store ships and smugglers away but they have not given-up the murderer. Even if the foreigners merely give the required bonds, it might be possible to allow them time to arrange these three matters, but at present they are far from compliance. I cannot yet permit their renewed trade.

“On 9th October I allowed some modification in light of the protracted delay that the shipping had experienced but I clearly warned that it would not apply to any other ships that might arrive subsequently. Those new ships were required to give the bond or go away. Now the foreigners say that all the ships, both newly arrived and already here, decline to provide the bond. They continue to sell opium. Of what use can the (arrangements for an outside market and) searching of cargo be in such circumstances. Equally their request to be permitted back into Macau cannot be considered until the necessary conditions are complied with.

“The Prefect and Keunmin foo are ordered to liaise with the naval commodore of Heung Shan, with my deputy Lee Suk, and urge the Portuguese to together drive out any foreigners from Macau. They are not allowed to stay there. Cargo ships that decline to give the bond today must be asked if they will give it on their next visit. If they are willing to provide it, they should await the time for searching. If they are unwilling to give the bond, now or later, they must go away within three days.

“As regards the murderer, Elliot is to send me the five men he tried for the affray. If he does not do so I will order my forces to attack his until he surrenders the murderer to justice. At the same time we will seek out and arrest all those traitorous Chinese on the foreign ships. Once the foreigners have been brought to submission, it will be time to consider the trade regulations. I have sworn to the Emperor to expunge the opium trade and will leave no trace of it that might grow into renewed smuggling.”

We have also received a response from Viceroy Tang, 26th October.

2nd Edict:

“Elliot and all the foreigners went to Macau and met with the Hong merchants who informed them of the difficulties of working cargo (at Ah Nung Hoy). Elliot orders them to stay out of the river and they obey him. When Daniell gave them his contrary opinion, they still supported Elliot. The purpose of the bond before coming in to Whampoa is to end the opium trade. If they will not give it, there is nothing more to say. If they complete the bond and eschew opium trade, they have nothing to fear. Foreigners trading lawfully will not be troubled.

“Regarding the discharge and search of cargo, it will be difficult and dangerous at Ah Nung Hoy and that place cannot be more than a temporary mart.

“Recently we received reports from Kwanghai on the west coast and from both Pinghai and Keishi on the east coast that foreign ships have come. It appears the English fleet at Hong Kong, expecting to trade at Ah Nung Hoy after their cargo has been searched, have sent away their opium to sell along the Chinese coast. There is no difference whether they sell opium in Hong Kong or elsewhere. Whether you sign the bond or not, whether you permit your ship to be searched or not, any foreigners dealing in opium will be executed, wherever they deal in it. There can be no indulgence. These considerations must be impressed upon the foreigners.”

On receiving these commands we (Tung Che and Keunmin Foo) announce the three precedent conditions must be met before trade can recommence, whether it be temporarily at Ah Nung Hoy as a concession, or permanently at Whampoa. At present, none of the new opium has been surrendered, the murderer has not been handed over, at least one of the banishees – Stanford – remains, two store ships – Ruparell and Jane – still remain and the three old store ships claimed to be rotten – Austen, Thistle and Coral – have all sailed to Hong Kong harbour. This delay is unwarranted.

Merchant ships giving the bond may apply to come to Whampoa for trade. This is to prevent the introduction of opium. As the foreigners appear unclear about this, orders were issued confirming, if opium was imported, that only the involved foreigner(s) would be executed. The others would not be punished in order to maintain the principle of distinguishing the good from the bad. The proposals for cargo and ship searching were drafted at Elliot’s request as an alternative to the bond, pending for receipt of his government’s instructions to him. This was our indulgence to those ships and cargoes that had waited so long to discharge. It was not a change in the law but solely a practical method of limiting deterioration of their cargo.

It now appears that Elliot’s talk of awaiting instructions is untrue. If it were true, how can the Thomas Coutts give the bond and enter the river? Is the ship and crew not English like Elliot? It is quite clear that the Captain of Thomas Coutts, confident he brought no opium, had no hesitation in signing the bond and allowing his ship to be searched, whereafter she received her Port Entry certificate and came up to Whampoa. This is how all you English should behave but Elliot has deceived you.

There must be one or two amongst you with the intelligence to see what is going on. Elliot has sought to substitute the bond for a search in the hope of preserving the opium trade along the coast. He does not know that wherever opium is found it will be seized, the importing foreigner identified and his execution scheduled. How can he suppose that, by submitting to search, he can evade the rest of the Regulations. Cargo ships without opium on board may safely execute the bond. Cargo ships with opium have already broken the law, whether they sign the bond or not, and the operators will be heavily punished. The confiscation of ships and cargo and the execution of foreigners applies only to those who bring opium.

Those merchants who deal honourably have nothing to fear. Elliot’s alternative of trading temporarily at Ah Nung Hoy, offloading into lighters and searching the ships and cargoes there, is a risky operation certain to result on losses. Is it not easier to sign the bond?

The three precedent points must be complied with before any consideration can be given to the English returning to Macau. Some have nevertheless illegally returned with their families and orders have been given to the Heung Shan officials and others to expel them. Elliot should obey the law, deliver the murderer, send away the banishees and store ships. Then, on giving the bond as Captain Warner has done, the English ships may come to Whampoa. If they will not give the bond, they have three days to leave, the foreigners and their women together, without their indulgence in wild expectations or in the hope that delay may change their situation. We await Elliot’s report.

Yu and Tseang to Elliot – The Commissioner has sent us copies of your two recent communications. Here is his reply.

3rd Edict:

“Elliot proposes that each ship give an undertaking not to bring opium to which he will add his own bond. Thereafter the cargo will be searched and trade commenced. I supposed him to be sincere and indicated that those foreign ships signing the undertaking would not be searched. It was a compromise offered in good faith. Elliot then alluded to smuggling by crew members, seeking thereby to preserve an avenue for the future re-introduction of opium to China. We recognised it was imperative that we be strict and would probably have to execute one or two foreigners before the others would obey the law. How can they expect to receive permits for trade before the regulations are agreed? Why should we hurry when Elliot has delayed for half a year and allowed the foreign goods to deteriorate and go mouldy? Why does he now request for permits to trade? You officials at Heung Shan and Macau have not enquired into this.

“The English in Hong Kong harbour are trans-shipping their goods to the Americans to bring into port. This American service must be stopped. I estimate the thorough search of each ship will average 5 days. If there are 40 ships it will take 200 days. Until searching is concluded the English cannot return to Macau nor may they receive provisions. In such circumstances what need can they have for servants and compradors (Elliot’s reasons for going to Macau)? They just have to give the bonds and everything will resume as normal. The Thomas Coutts has entered port; Daniell has permission to come to Canton. Why do the others not emulate them?

“I have gone over this matter in detail on two former occasions and still my advice is ignored. You officials are required to expel the English from Macau. Until they sign the bond they can be allowed no indulgence.”

Yu and Tseang to the American Fok Wang (Forbes).

4th Edict:

You wish to buy an Indian receiving ship to bring cargo to Whampoa and have applied for permission. We have received the Commissioner’s order as follows:

“The Indian receiving ship Mermaid has been used to store opium for six years. It surrendered its opium this Spring and should have immediately returned home. The owners have delayed and it is unsure if they have resumed their former occupation. Although the ship has now been sold to Delano it is still necessary to search her. Delano has bought cotton and other cargo from the Charles Grant (an English ship) and has applied for a Port Entry certificate to bring it to Whampoa. This is all potentially doubtful and I cannot readily sanction it. After the surrender of the opium, all foreign cargo-owners were required to sign bonds voluntarily submitting to death if they brought opium and to the confiscation of their ship and cargo. Then on 11th June the Americans commenced entering port before the final draft of the New Regulations had been completed. The terms of the bond they signed are not precise but they have continued in use. Now the New Regulations are fixed and foreigners bringing opium to China are required to be executed (principals beheaded, accessories strangled) and the ship and cargo confiscated. Warner and Daniell have complied and resumed trade. Clearly they are honourable people and have been treated with kindness. As these men have provided the requisite bond it is equitably necessary for the Americans to do likewise. Hereafter all arriving American ships will give the same bond before entering the river. Delano’s new ship cannot enter until he provides the bond, particularly as she was formerly an opium ship and her present cargo comes from India.

“Elliot has requested the country ships be searched. If their cargo is trans-shipped to Americans, it is necessary to search them as well. All must sign the bond before they can enter the river. If they do not do so they must remain outside (the Ah Nung Hoy market) and submit to search etc. The Americans may not circumvent the law by this trans-shipment business. The naval commander will send war-junks from Sha Kok to the Mermaid to obtain Forbes’ bond. She may then come to Macau, subject to any requirements the Viceroy and Hoppo might have. These commands should be enjoined on all the foreigners and the Hong merchants for their obedience.”

We have accordingly given orders to all the Americans and the Hong merchants for their obedience. When this order reaches Elliot it is his duty to obey. All the cargo ships will provide the bond before coming to Whampoa. Then everything will resume normally. This is much more straightforward than Elliot’s Ah Nung Hoy proposal. There shall be no more transhipping of English cargoes to Americans to import. If the bonds are not given, those English who have returned to Macau must immediately leave or they will be seized and investigated.

Dated 26th October.

Draft copy of the Bonds:

Captain ….. of the English merchant ship …., for himself and his officers and crew, and ship’s consignee ….., for himself, his partners and employees (all must sign), pledge that their ship brings ……. (types of cargo) to Canton for trade and carries no opium. If any opium is found they agree to surrender its owner to the Chinese government for execution and to surrender their ship and cargo for confiscation.

Captain …. of the ship …. (….. flag) carrying cargo consigned to ….. certifies my ship brings …… for trade at Canton. I, my officers and crew, will obey the new law and not bring opium. If opium is found I will surrender its owner for execution and permit my ship and cargo to be confiscated. (Appended are the names of the Captain, officers and crew.)

Translated by Commissioner Lin’s English translators.

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Proclamation of Commissioner Lin dated 9th October (This is the Commissioner’s compromise, copied from Canton Press of 26th October):

“The English ships have not entered port for a long time. The people on board live in unpleasant circumstances. Elliot has requested us to search the ships, specifying each by name, and offers his bond that they carry no opium. This is appropriate conduct and we reciprocate with kindness. Every ship providing the required bond is welcome to come in and trade as usual. No searching is required unless they decline to give the bond in which case they must come to Chuen Pi for search.

“In that case the following procedure will be adopted. The cargo owner will discharge his entire cargo into lighters alongside. Officials will examine each parcel as it is reloaded to the ship. If opium is found, the owner will be executed and all the other cargo will be confiscated. If no opium is found she may come up to Whampoa for trade. If she does not wish to enter the river she may trade at Chuen Pi but the measurement, pilotage and Linguist’s fees will still be payable as though she was at Whampoa. The foreigners may take their own goods to Canton or have a Hong merchant do it for them.

“If a ship declines to either sign the bond or submit to searching, it will be deemed an opium ship and must leave in three days. If it remains after three days it will be attacked. The searching required under this law will be done by the officials personally, they may not delegate, to ensure that no opium gets through and no innocent lighterman is accused.

“The responsibility to surrender the murderer rests on Elliot alone and no other ship or person is involved. These clear distinctions are to ease Elliot’s path and help him distinguish the good from the bad amongst his people, so that the latter cannot involve the former in their guilt. Thereafter every ship coming to Canton to trade, no matter it has given a bond or been searched on this occasion, will give another bond for each visit in the form provided. In future, if the bond is not given or if its wording is changed, the ship will not be permitted to trade and if there is any further procrastination, she will be destroyed.

“You should know that we will not tolerate any further opium smuggling. Abandon all your wild ideas of sudden windfall profits or you will pay the supreme penalty of the law. It will then be too late to repent. There will be no further warnings.”

Vol 12 No 44 – 29th October 1839

Leung, the Si Ngon heen, and Lai, commander of the Ta Pang garrison (responsible for Lintin, Hong Kong and the eastern side of the estuary), have received a communication from Elliot:

“I only want peace. I have so informed the high officials and received their reply. I hope we can arrange matters. But there are people spreading false reports and I request your repudiation of them.”

They reply 12th October that they have received the instructions of the Commissioner:

“All foreigners should know that the fire rafts were prepared against them because they opposed the laws and tried to continue selling opium. We had no choice but to take protective measures. If you will stop selling opium, give the bond, enter the river and deliver the murderer, you will be treated with compassion. You just have to abandon your opium business, then you can resume legal trade.

“The banishees and store ships must go, the murderer must be surrendered, and thus our differences are entirely settled. If you continue to procrastinate and smuggle then the full extent of all the evil results are unforeseeable. You should choose between happiness and misery. It is up to you. We must have an indication of your intentions before we can finalise our own opinions.”

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

On the evening of 3rd November we heard that hostilities between China and England had commenced.28 There has been an action at the Bogue but no details are available.

The boats of H M Ships arrived off the Praia Grande that evening to take off any Englishmen who felt their residence in the Portuguese city might be imperilled (Editor – there are about fifty left). This is a bit surprising for if we go to war with China, we will have to occupy Macau as a base from which to fight.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Letter to the Editor – Mr Stephens of New York has published details of his travels in Russia. There are similarities between Russia and China. One is in the extent of bribery that occurs. The Chinese officials are shamelessly corrupt from top to bottom. It is unsurprising that opium is still being sold on the east coast on a payment of $50 per chest to the local official. Most of these corrupt payments are required in Fukien, where Commissioner Lin comes from. The place is only three day’s sail away.

Stephens reports a story of Russian bribery involving a French employee of that government. The Frenchman was so poorly paid that he had difficulty sustaining himself but he declined to solicit bribes until necessity drove him to it. He then became rather proficient at it until the time came when he was reported and charged for the offence. In answer to the charge he replied “I take, you take, he takes, we take, you take, they take”.

I mentioned this to a Chinese friend who was completely delighted with it and thought it entirely applicable to his own country. Sgd ‘S’

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Editorial – Our publication of Elliot’s proposed outside trade at Chuen Pi has caused consternation amongst the British merchants. They complain the increased fees, the increased fire risk (formerly borne entirely by the Hongs), the need to pay duty whether the goods still exist or have been burned, the increased sea risks of having lighters working outside the river, the extra costs of river transit, the increased exposure to pilferage, etc.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Editorial – Elliot’s ‘Battle of Kowloon Bay’ was a mismanaged affair. If he had contemplated the least requirement for force he should have called HMS Volage to accompany him. If the Chinese had seen her guns trained upon them, there would have been no resistance. He should have started at dawn, not 2 pm. The late start gave no time to finished the war-junks off before dusk. Why was not the cutter Louisa prepared for action? She had to be hauled out under Chinese fire to fill cartridges. Why were the troops, junks and guns not captured and the Kowloon City fort destroyed? Only Elliot has the answers.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Edict to Elliot from Yu, magistrate of Lin Chow, and Tseang, Keung min foo of Macau, 26th October:

Elliot has received our government orders but says that until they have been translated and distributed amongst his people, and their responses obtained, he cannot reply officially.

Concerning the murder of Lam Wai Hei the culprit remains unknown. Five men who were involved in the fight have been tried and will be sent back to their country to undergo their sentences.

The orders of the high officers are important and should be quickly translated so everyone may know them and give obedience.

We have repeatedly asked for the surrender of the murderer but Elliot has prevaricated. Consequently the supply of provisions to the English in Macau has been interrupted to focus their attention on this point. Elliot arrested five men but failed to identify the murderer. He respectfully invited Chinese officials to attend his legal proceedings but the process unaccountably failed. On 23rd October the high officials learned from Elliot that the five men he arrested comprise all the English involved in the affray. Accordingly, the murderer must be one of them. We have reported this to the Emperor. We instructed Elliot to deliver the five men to us that we might discover which one is to atone with his life. It will not be difficult to identify him. If Elliot releases these five men he will commit an offence under our law and may himself be arrested and tried.

We received this order and employed a merchant who speaks the foreign language (Silveira, a member of the Leal Senado) to communicate its contents to Elliot and urge him to deliver the five men for justice. Why has he ignored the order? Elliot’s handling of this matter show he is screening the murderer. He holds the office of a foreign magistrate. He should know the law – ‘whoever kills another will pay with his own life’. Foreigners who come to stay in China should obey Chinese law. It is particularly important in this case because the facts have already been reported to the Emperor who requires to know of progress. We accordingly again order Elliot to surrender the murderer today and give a true account of those five men – their names and ships – and properly submit to our directions.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Edict of San, the chief officer of Heung Shan, Tseang the keunmin foo of Macau and Pang, assistant magistrate, 27th October:

The English barbarians have obstinately disobeyed the laws and brought themselves into disfavour with the high officials who have personally visited Heung Shan and ordered that no provisions be supplied to the English and their entire community be expelled. We hope these acts will create the appropriate contrition and repentance amongst the English and arouse their sense of moral propriety.

Recently Elliot asked to return briefly to Macau to meet with the Hong merchants and finalise the arrangements for renewed trade. We obtained permission for him and the English merchants to come. But he still refuses to have his people sign the bonds, he still retains the murderer and he has still not expelled all the banished merchants and store ships. Now we are ordered to have the soldiers advance on the British and arrest them and to rigorously cut off provisions to the English.

This edict is addressed to all the shopkeepers, hawkers and other Macau residents. You are not allowed to sell anything to the British. If any one of you has any dealings with them you will be arrested and your life and those of all your relatives will be endangered. Any Chinese, male or female, resorting to the house of a Briton will be arrested and tried. The Portuguese and the other national groups may continue to live normally. This is to show the British the discrimination that is applied to them. You shopkeepers should not be confused about this.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Letter to the Editor – your September issue was biased. Elliot’s actions are diametrically opposed to the interests of the British mercantile community yet you find no fault in them. I am British and I have an opinion on the ‘Kowloon Bay’ affair. From 7th July to 4th September Elliot’s regulations were inconsistent and absurd but the worst matter was the 4th September battle.

You have made several important criticisms but the most important one is missing – HMS Volage did sail against the war-junks but they were not driven ashore as you published. HMS Volage did not fire a shot. Ask Elliot why. Elliot’s order was to board and cut-out the junks. In conformity, Capt Douglas of the Cambridge commanded one of the boarding boats and attacked but failed. He was beaten off. Several other boats were coming to Douglas’ help and I witnessed Capt Jauncey (in one of them) call upon him to renew the attack but he retreated. With the leader retreating, the others did so also. Then the recall order was given and all the boats returned to Hong Kong. That was the end of the first day.

The boats of the fleet promptly obeyed Elliot’s order to advance the following morning to avenge the previous day’s defeat. They pulled on their oars before dawn in order to arrive at Kowloon Bay early but were again ordered back to the contempt and disgust of their crews. This was glaring mismanagement. Had the boats been left to themselves they would have procured the redress that was required. These are not just my opinions. All the fleet except a certain clique hold them.

We have stained the bright flag of old England. Elliot may have been wrong to order the attack but having done so he should have prosecuted it at all hazard. The junks should have been cut-out and burned, the fort dismantled. Our representative and our flag had been fired upon. Sgd Zosteria

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Letter to the Editor – You published Zosteria’s prejudicial account of the 4th September affair in Kowloon Bay. Please insert this correction:

At 3pm that day Captain Parry told me the junks and fort were attacking Elliot in the cutter. I had no orders to act but I assembled some volunteers and manned a boat to assist. On arrival I was surprised that, although many boats had preceded mine, none was to be seen.

I passed under the cutter’s stern and Elliot told me to drive the junks on shore. I drove one on shore and the other two anchored inside of her under the battery. I was assisted by the Captain and four men in the John Marsh’s boat. I returned to the cutter, my boat severely damaged and my crew and I all injured.

When we moved out of gunshot, several boats came up. One had 5-6 captains in her, swollen with brandy, with varying opinions on what was to be done. One carried a sword longer than he was himself and proclaimed his valour. Why did he not lead his dinner party to destroy the battery and fire the junks? The latter might easily have been achieved by lighting his breath.

Row, row brothers, row,
But not so fast,
We shall be there too soon.
Let’s see the battle past,
And then we’ll quit Kowloon.

Had I not been there the British flag would have been disgraced with a vengeance.

Sgd Captain J A Douglas, Cambridge, 20th November

Vol 14 No 24 – 15th June 1841

Editorial on Elliot’s Battle of Kowloon Bay – the action at Kowloon should never be mentioned by any Englishman who has a feeling for the justice, moderation and honour of his country.

Nevertheless, some Englishmen performed efficiently. The schooner Pearl (Reddie) behaved best and bore the brunt of the fighting.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Copied from the Canton Press 27th October – Yu, prefect of Nan Hiung Chow, and Tseang, Keunmin foo of Macau, communicate a despatch from Commissioner Lin to the Portuguese Procurador:

Elliot and the foreign merchants have been a second time to Macau for discussions and the Hong merchants have explicitly explained, for their own good, the difficulties of trading at Chuen Pi. Daniell who was first to sign the bond has counselled the other foreigners. Why does no-one listen to him? It is because Elliot objects and the opium smugglers obey him.

Commissioner Lin has already said the foreigners must sign the bond without which they may not trade. Ships that remain without signing the bond are to be burned. Do the foreigners wish to trade or not? Daniell was 4th supercargo of the last Select Committee of the Company and his authority equals that of Elliot. Why have the British not signed the bond like Daniell but contrarily followed Elliot’s orders.

Foreigners who bring opium will be executed. If you do not bring opium you have nothing to fear. In the proposed ‘outside trade’, cargo was to be discharged at Chuen Pi and the amount getting water-damaged would have been enormous. Foreigners who have genuinely foregone trade in opium would clearly prefer to sign the bond. Those who continue to sell opium would not dare to do so. This is how the good and the bad can be distinguished.

Commissioner Lin knows the ships at Tsim Sha Tsui are continually sending schooners east and west to sell opium. Four foreign ships have been reported and three more are on the west coast near Pien Hae. There must be others. Selling opium on the east and west coasts is the same as selling it here, so they object to signing the bond. They say they prefer to have their ships searched instead of signing the bond but once these schooners on the coast are seized and the senders identified, it will be too late for excuses that the ship has already been searched (after the opium was removed).

We accordingly ask you again – what do you want? If you merchants comply with the law and only Elliot opposes it, he will be arrested and taken before the Commissioner to explain himself. Speedily obey.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Yu, prefect of Nan Hiung Chow, and Tseang, Keunmin foo of Macau, communicate another despatch from the Commissioner, 27th October:

I have received replies from the officials. The Weiyuen and Keunmin foo ask to be relieved of their commissions (in shame at failure). The English ask to be allowed to return to Macau.

The bond must first be signed. If officials cannot encourage the foreigners to sign the bond, the requisitions of the Weiyuen and Keunmin foo cannot be granted and the English may not return to Macau.

The Keunmin foo says the Royal Saxon has arrived. The admiral will send officers to obtain signatures to the bond. This will demonstrate that it is not the foreigners who are incapable of comprehension but that the orders are not being enjoined upon them with sufficient energy. The English have been ordered out of Macau. Why do they apply to live there again? They say all the negotiations are completed but have they signed the bond? Have they surrendered the murderer? Expel the English from Macau without any more delay.

On receipt of the Commissioner’s order we wrote to Elliot requiring his prompt obedience. We said, if he continues to disobey, we will lose patience with him. We are assembling troops to seize the English and we have requested the Procurador to obtain the Portuguese Governor’s assistance.

Vol 12 No 45 – 5th November 1839

Hui, vice-Admiral of Heung Shan, and Tseang, Keunmin foo of Macau, inform the Portuguese Procurador, 28th October:

The Commissioner has sent us an instruction.

“The English have disobeyed the laws. They have screened the murderer from justice and continue to sell opium. They and their families are to be expelled from Macau. After they have exactly obeyed the law they may return. The Commissioner has already ordered MacLean and Allport and their families to be removed. Now the garrison at Sai Ngon county (Kowloon City) reports that on 17th October HMS Volage with Elliot and his family and two other schooners all went to Macau. This is unprecedented disobedience. 600 troops have been sent to station themselves at the barrier. If necessary they will enter Macau and expel Elliot and the English. The English must sign the bond and surrender the murderer before they may return to Macau.”

Having received this instruction and aware that Elliot is delaying compliance with the law, we are required to bring troops into Macau to expel the British. At the same time we order the Procurador to inform the Governor of our intentions and request his co-operation.

Vol 12 No 46 – 12th November 1839

The ‘Battle of the Bogue’ – An action between HMS Volage and HMS Hyacinth and 29 war junks, copied from the Canton Press of 9th November.

Voltaire said in respect of the English Admiral Byng that the British make their admirals fight by shooting them when they do not. This is also the Chinese system:

HMS Volage and Hyacinth left Macau on 28th October for the Bogue. They arrived on the morning of 2nd November (after five days). Capt Smith sent a message to Commissioner Lin, care of the Chuen Pi forts, that he cease threatening to burn and destroy the English shipping at Hong Kong and allow them to remain there until the orders of the British government are received or until some arrangement for the discharge of their cargoes had been made. He said, if the threats were not withdrawn, he would defend the lives and property of the English.

The Chinese requested that the two warships move away from the Bogue and Smith dropped down about 3 miles to await a reply. The following morning the message was returned unopened and unanswered and 29 war junks were seen coming down on the two ships. Some of the junks had as many as 16 guns and none had less than 8 guns. Smith sent a message to the Chinese Admiral to not come too near or he would view it as a hostile act and defend himself. The Admiral replied that Smith must do as he thought fit and he demanded the surrender of the murderer.

The junks continued to approach and Smith fired a shot across the Admiral’s bows. This was answered by four other junks. The Admiral acquitted himself well and displayed considerable personal courage. When his junk was sunk he transferred to another at which time he appeared to have been wounded. The Chinese fought bravely but their gunnery was poor and few of their shots hit the British ships. There was some damage to HMS Hyacinth’s rigging and one British sailor was injured. Chinese losses were said to be substantial.

In the early evening, the two frigates arrived back in Macau and anchored in the roads. Captains Elliot & Smith and Interpreter Morrison came ashore. They reported the results of the battle to the 40 – 50 English residents still remaining in Macau and recommended they all embark immediately before the Chinese took reprisals. Most of the remaining English left Macau the following morning for Hong Kong, escorted by HMS Volage, leaving very few British behind. The Hyacinth sailed for Hong Kong on Thursday 7th November.

Meanwhile the troops sent to the barrier north of the Macau peninsula, whom we reported last week, remained quietly in their tents.

It is difficult to understand why the Chinese admiral chose to attack. The previous brush at Kowloon Bay involved the cutter Louisa and the schooner Pearl fighting three junks and the Kowloon fort. It is rumoured the Chinese reports on that action may have caused a reader to confuse the cutter and schooner with the two frigates. But this should not have misled an Admiral. His tactics were reportedly not to fight a gun battle but to bring his junks along either side of a British ship, board her and cut down her sails and masts.

The American merchantman Morea passed between the fleets during the battle on her way up to Whampoa. A passenger has told us the destruction of the Chinese war-junks was complete. Huge crowds were gathered along the coast to watch and the battlements of the forts were filled with spectators. The battle occurred opposite the small fort at the southern-most point of Anson’s Bay.

Vol 12 No 46 – 12th November 1839

Commissioner Lin’s edict, 5th November:

The naval officers have seized Wong Tin Wah (alias Wong Min Shing), Tang Shan Tak, Tang Yiu Shing and Tang Yiu Tak. They have also caught the rebels Pang Yick Hoi and Ko Yiu Chu. All these men have been delivered to us by the Admiral. They have now been tried.

Wong Tin Wah confessed to connections with foreigners. He has been arrested before but the foreigners interfered with the arresting officers and facilitated his escape. Tang Shan Tak visited the foreign ships in Hong Kong harbour and bought opium to smuggle into China. Pang Yik Hoi was also an opium buyer from the ships at Hong Kong. These are serious offences under the new regulations and require decapitation. Take them to the market place and execute them.29 Their heads will be exposed as a warning to others. They will be paraded around Macau, Hong Kong, Whampoa and the Ladrones, suspended from poles so all may see.

We now call on you all to reform and pursue only legitimate trades for your livelihood. Do not break the law. If you connect with the foreigners seeking profit from opium you may involve yourselves in death. All you people dealing in opium, Chinese or foreigner, will be decapitated under the new law. There can be no hint of forgiveness.

Editor – Three heads have been exposed in cages near the bar fort in Macau. It is supposed they belong to these ‘traitorous natives’ who dealt in opium and are the subject of this edict.

Vol 12 No 47 – 19th November 1839

Letter from ship captains at Hong Kong harbour to Elliot, 13th September:

We protest moving our ships from the Hong Kong anchorage. There is a risk of typhoons. You recommend the anchorage south of Lintin which has the draft necessary for heavy ships but it is too exposed. Ships small enough to anchor at Lankeet are at risk as the watering places are on running streams that may be poisoned and the anchorage is particularly exposed to risks from fire rafts and from the Chinese sinking junks in the access / egress channel. We beg to remain here in Hong Kong harbour.

Sgd W Morgan Scaleby Castle, Thomas Wills Charles Forbes, I Page Sultana, J Lyon Sir Charles Malcolm, Wm Fraser Good Success, F McQueen Vansittart, James Clarke Cornwallis, James Scott Earl of Clare, E Evans Shah Allum, W C Lugrin Aliet Rahaman, Charles Leibechwager Charlotte

Elliot to the ship captains, 17th September:

There is no immediate necessity for a move. I mentioned the anchorage south of Lintin because it is the usual anchorage for outside trade. I was concerned about your insurance policies. In my opinion the best anchorage now is at Cheung Sha Wan.

Public Notice of Elliot dated 26th October:

All British shipping is to move to Cheung Sha Wan. (Other details of this Notice are unavailable.)

Ship captains to Elliot dated 28th October:

You say the Hong Kong anchorage is exposed to attack by fire rafts and junks. We wish to enumerate the advantages of Hong Kong over Cheung Sha Wan:

  • The tides at Cheung Sha Wan are stronger and more regular than Hong Kong. They afford better conditions for floating fire rafts down onto us. Shipping anchored in Hong Kong harbour is immune to fire raft attacks.
  • Trans-shipping cargo at Hong Kong is easier than at Cheung Sha Wan
  • Water and provisions are readily obtainable here but may not be at Cheung Sha Wan.

We prefer to remain here under the protection of the frigates unless you have other reasons for the move. We think such a large fleet should not be moved without some explanation

Sgd W Morgan Scaleby Castle, Thomas Wills Charles Forbes, I Page Sultana, J Lyon Sir Charles Malcolm, Wm Fraser Good Success, F McQueen Vansittart, James Clarke Cornwallis, James Scott Earl of Clare, E Evans Shah Allum, W C Lugrin Aliet Rahaman, Charles Leibechwager Charlotte, M Crawford Belhaven, John V Griffith Ann, John Robertson John O’Gaunt, George Creighton Cordelia, Thomas Green Triumph, Thomas Wright Giraffe, Richard Almsley Queen Mab, John McCutcheon Jean, James Laird Carnatic, W Pitcairn Charles Grant, Archibald Reid Toby, Oliver Cunningham John Horton, George J Airey Mangalore, D Gurdyne Hannah, J F Burn Caledonia, W Butler Ruparell, J Hawkins John Marsh, W Peerson Masda, A W Clarke Athletic, H Hall Alexander Baring, Wm Clark Jose, James Petrie Staines Castle, G E Hogg Fort William, Donald Stewart Helen Stewart, Hickman Fairie Queen, D S Gallie Rustomjee Cowasjee.

Elliot to the Captains 8th November:

Public considerations require the removal to Cheung Sha Wan. Convenience of commerce is secondary to security. In my opinion Cheung Sha Wan is better.

British merchants to Elliot 9th November:

35 ship captains have told you Hong Kong is a superior anchorage to Cheung Sha Wan. We merchants and underwriters concur. The Chinese can attack us wherever we are anchored. If we leave Hong Kong harbour the Chinese may occupy it and deny its use to us when the summer monsoon returns and there is no finer anchorage to be found locally. Please instruct the frigates to protect us here at Hong Kong.

Sgd 11 British firms, 2 individuals, 2 Parsee firms and 5 Parsee merchants.

Elliot to the merchants, 11th November:

I first recommended and later ordered you to shift to Cheung Sha Wan. It was not a casual decision. I require the move in the public interest. It will not be difficult to find another anchorage when the summer monsoon returns. I am always willing to entertain your opinions but I require you to move to Cheung Sha Wan.

Vol 12 No 47 – 19th November 1839

Editorial – Elliot is responsible to government and parliament but English institutions guarantee free speech and ministers should not act in opposition to the public will. Convenience of commerce is the primary consideration here. We do not know what these ‘public considerations’ can be that appear to have ousted commercial convenience as the primary one. There is no advantage in moving to Cheung Sha Wan. The ships will have to be anchored further apart and time will be lost communicating by boat. Elliot says he knows best. His job is to promote and protect British trade.

On the night of Monday 11th November the Chinese commenced a cannonade of the eastern end of Hong Kong harbour from midnight to dawn. Ships anchored inshore shifted further out. Only one remained and the shots passed harmlessly between its masts. No other annoyance occurred.

On Wednesday 13th November the Charles Forbes (Wills) and some other ships shifted to Cheung Sha Wan together with HMS Hyacinth. The removal of the frigate alarmed the rest of the shipping which then followed the Charles Forbes and by Wednesday afternoon only 9 ships remained at Hong Kong. Meanwhile the Chinese had erected batteries on Tsim Sha Tsui hill and at 5pm Wednesday they commenced firing from four places. The General Wood (an opium ship) had to shift and by 14th November the entire fleet was at Cheung Sha Wan.

Prior to leaving Hong Kong some men had gone ashore and were attacked. One was wounded. On returning to their ships, one captain opened fire on Tsim Sha Tsui village but was ordered to stop by Capt Warren of HMS Hyacinth. The Chinese guns were later carried away.

Vol 12 No 47 – 19th November 1839

Editorial – The attack on the schooner Black Joke has erroneously been attributed to pirates instead of the Chinese government. It was just like the attack on the Bilbaino for which Lin rewarded the arsonist with 200 Taels. Recently one of the Linguists, in the hearing of some British merchants on the Praia Grande, wondered “why is the Commissioner so adamant the Lam Wai Hei murderer be surrendered, when he himself has caused the death of six Lascars and rewarded the men who did it?” When the Britons approached the Linguist and said they believed the attack was the work of pirates, that Linguist scoffed, saying all Canton knew the truth.

How can we negotiate with Lin until his role in this attack has been ascertained. We cannot recommence trade until this attack has been disowned by the Chinese government.

Vol 12 No 47 – 19th November 1839

Canton Press, 16th November – The country ship Surda is reportedly wrecked on Hainan Island. Elliot sent the Psyche (MacDonnell) to give relief. She left on Thursday in convoy with a Chinese junk from Macau which is looking for the Portuguese brig Caçador which was wrecked near the same spot. Mr Thom is interpreter and is believed to be representing Lloyd’s, the insurance market.

Vol 12 No 47 – 19th November 1839

Letter to the Editor, 15th November – Shortly after Elliot’s ‘Battle of Kowloon Bay’, one of HMS Volage’s boats was fired upon by the Chinese. Has any attempt been made to get satisfaction for this outrage?

Smith’s blockade of the river at Elliot’s insistence and its immediate withdrawal are characteristic of Elliot’s policy. He takes measures one week and nullifies them the next. Had the blockade been continued no Englishman could have entered the river and disgraced our name. Neither would we have lost such a huge sum to the Americans for trans-shipment services.

Elliot should never have commenced his negotiations with Lin. He was seduced by Dent’s party into doing so. Fortunately he has since atoned with the destruction of the war-junks. He must in future avoid the influence of both the English (Dents) and the Scottish (Jardines) parties. He must use his own judgment.

His course is clear. He must prevent British ships entering the river, reject all communications with the Chinese and await receipt of his instructions. If he can make an effective blockade, I recommend it. China must be brought to respect the power of England at the point of a bayonet. Sgd Zosteria

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Notice – Patrick Francis Robertson (of Turner & Co) and Wm Jardine, both in Europe and James Matheson in Macau are appointed executors of Richard Turner’s estate. All persons having claims or debts for the estate should report them to Turner & Co for me.

Sgd James Matheson at Macau, 22nd November30

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Notice – George Harvey Vachell MA, chaplain to HM Commission, died on board the Inglis two days after his departure from China. He was the best reader of the Church of England service we ever heard.

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Editorial on the Battle of the Bogue – Admiral Kwan put an extra 250 men on board each of his junks in addition to the usual crew of 100. The extras were mainly farmers and mechanics. They were to board the English frigates and cut their rigging etc. We suppose there must have been 8,000 men on those 29 junks. We do not include the crews of the rowing boats that were to tow the fire junks and burn the English ships.

Had the Admiral been successful, Lin had a junk standing-by to bring him to the scene. Then Captains Elliot, Smith and Warren would have been taken in triumph to Peking and cut to pieces under the Emperor’s benevolent gaze.

We hear Lin reported 8 killed and 16 wounded on his junks. He said the slaughter on our frigates was immense.

The Hong merchants have since renewed their entreaties for the British shipping to go to Whampoa.

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Commissioner Lin proclaims he has received the Imperial will:

If the bonds are given by the ships and can be depended upon, then the existing evils will be removed. If the bonds are not given it will be permitted to use violence and stop the foreigners’ trade forever.”

The Keunmin foo of Macau reported that Elliot offered a bond for trading. We relied on this proposal, assuming it to be genuine. We petitioned the Emperor for permission and he has now granted it. But he knows the foreigners vacillate and has provided for that contingency in his authorisation. Now the foreigners have again become disobedient and refused to give the bond.

We must accordingly obey the Imperial command and bring an end to English trade, excluding that of Warner and Towns (masters of Thomas Coutts and Royal Saxon). Those English pursuing legal and honourable trade are allowed to continue it. We have reported to the Emperor that all other English trade with China is stopped in perpetuity.

This proclamation is to all the officials, Hong merchants, Linguists and pilots to know that after the port is closed to the British, all further trade with English and Indian ships is forbidden. Merchants of any other nationality who give the bond are welcome. Thus a distinction is made between the good and the bad.

It will not be permitted to bring English or Indian goods in other ships and import them under false names. Anyone doing so will have his own trade likewise extinguished forever. In this way we obey the Emperor, cut off the opium and warn foreigners against vacillation.

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

The government of Singapore in response to the ‘expulsion of the English from Macau’ on 26th August is said to have prohibited Portuguese nationals from landing there. They may be contemplating the expulsion of those already in residence. The same measures are expected throughout British India.

Editor – we were not expelled from Macau. We left fearing Chinese reprisals for the Chinese naval defeat by HMS Volage and in consideration of the danger we were exposing the Portuguese to. It was feared there would be another Liampo or Chinchew (references to earlier Portuguese expulsions).

Vol 12 No 48 – 26th November 1839

Tseang, keung min foo of Macau and others proclaim that the coastal villages are inhabited by fishermen. I find some of their boats have long hulls and many oars (‘fast crabs’). They can be rowed quickly and carry guns. These are not fishing boats; they are pirates’ boats. Recently there have been many complaints of piracy.

We now issue our commands to seize these boats and deliver the occupants to justice. You coastal villagers should engage in honest pursuits. You may not sail about in these fast boats with guns. Anyone building this kind of boat also commits an offence. There will be no indulgence. The law will take its course. 18th November

Editor – this reveals the disorganisation that this previously prosperous province has sunk to. Edicts only get published when the problem has already reached an alarming scale. The inhabitants have turned to piracy to obtain their subsistence. This is because they have no income since the stoppage of our trade. The Chinese officials may despise trade but its absence has destabilised the Province. If this continues it will be a repeat of the rampant piracy of 1808

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Letter to the Editor of the Bombay Times, 4th September 1839 – you published a letter from Canton dated 15th July 1837 in your last issue. That writer’s forecast of the present difficulties in China did not require much insight. All the elements that have contributed to the trouble were already extant. What the Chinese have done is what they always do – stop trade. We have allowed them to dictate things because we have patiently borne their insults too long. Because we did not complain, they say we accepted the situation for decades and it is therefore clear we submitted to their system.

We never forced opium on the Chinese. They found they liked it and wanted more and even the officials indulged in the trade. Indeed, if the Chinese had not found that silver was ‘leaking out’, they would still be unconcerned. The strength of the Chinese system is in bluster – it is a perfect paper monarchy, an Empire of Edicts. The time for forbearance is past. One armed steamer would tame their insolence. Then we can put our trade on a satisfactory basis. We must use violence to show them our power. Sgd Pedro Branca.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Colombo Observer, 15th August – The Governor-General has ordered the troopship Jupiter to remain at Trincomalee. The Conway is ordered to Rangoon to tell the Admiral that his services are not required in India and he may go to China and take such measures as he thinks fit.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

London commercial information – Improvement in the price of teas at the latest sales has continued. 31,000 packages were offered for sale today (15th July). Only 1,300 were withdrawn. The quality of cheaper teas has improved, the finer ones are unchanged.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

The British ships Triumph, Cambridge and Sir Charles Malcolm have been sold to Americans. What will happen to the Cambridge’s guns?31

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

It is rumoured the port of Canton will be closed for all foreign trade from 6th December. The Americans have petitioned for its continuance. The Hong merchants have also asked that it might continue. It is said the trans-shipment trade at Cheung Sha Wan is the cause of the closure.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Captain Robert Scott’s (Abercrombie Robinson) public letter to Elliot, 20th November:

I am ordered to deliver my cargo to Whampoa. I can delay no longer. If I sail to Whampoa will you try to stop me?

Elliot’s reply, 20th November:

The frigates will bar access to the river to British shipping, if necessary by force. Please remain where you are.

Editor – there has been no Public Notice that Canton is closed to Britons. The British shipping has stayed out because Commissioner Lin demands the murderer of Lam Wai Hei for execution. In his order of 24th August he held us all responsible for the death. In reply to Elliot’s proposal for reopened trade, Lin said “The murderer must be delivered. Delay will bring about your extermination”

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

In response to the Rev A S Thelwell’s diatribe against opium we have pleasure in publishing the legislature’s opinions of a decade ago, from the 1830 Select Committee (Houses of Parliament) Report on Opium:

There is an immense smuggling trade to China to the injury of the Hong merchants. Mainly opium is involved. It is bought at the Company sales in India and imported to China in Country and American ships. It is prohibited in China on moral grounds. The prohibition is frequently recited but is disregarded by both the people and the officials charged with its enforcement. The officials receive large bribes from the smugglers. The India Company’s staff know what occurs but they are expressly forbidden to deal in the Drug (page 10).

The trade has greatly increased of late. It is conducted by British and American private merchants. It has unbalanced the commercial relationship and many ships return from China in ballast bringing only Bills on India or gold / silver. The export of gold / silver from China requires a licence which is occasionally granted for foreign silver coins but never for sycee. Nevertheless, both are constantly exported from China by the private traders to India. The amount of silver exported considerably exceeds the amount of dollars imported.

The Bengal opium monopoly produces a revenue of 8½ million Sicca Rupees (c. £1 million) each year. This is three times the cost of the opium. The high cost falls upon the Chinese consumer not the Indian national, and is accordingly unobjectionable domestically. It is too great a revenue for the Company’s government to abandon. Besides the present means of collection, there are four alternative possibilities. We might additionally assess land under poppy cultivation; we might assess a duty on the crop when ready for harvest; we might put an excise duty on the poppy juice when collected and / or we might put a Customs duty on its export.

Although monopoly production allows a lack of economy and restricts the employment of free capital, it does not seem too objectionable when considering its effects on the revenue. But the revenue is precarious because we cannot exclusively control either production or consumption. The monopoly is already damaged by the competing product from Malwa where quantity and quality improves annually and supply attracts enhanced prices. This already reduces the Bengal revenue. It is clear we cannot rely on opium permanently and we may soon have to substitute a free trade production regime with the Company obtaining its compensation from an export duty.

India also receives opium revenue from the transit of Malwa through Bombay. We abandoned our attempt to monopolise this trade two years ago and substituted the transit duty which has been satisfactory. Prior to the transit pass arrangements, 70% of Malwa opium was taken to Damaun and only 30% came through Bombay. Latest reports suggest 90% comes through Bombay and 10% through Damaun. Although we are making a good revenue on Malwa it must be recalled that it vies with Bengal opium for its market.

Editor – readers will note that the principal consideration of the representatives of the British people was the financial one. On this basis it was decided to continue opium production. Now the Emperor, Commissioner Lin, Olyphant & Co, Rev Medhurst and Rev Thelwell all demand coercive measures to crush the trade.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Editorial – After the love of honour and glory, the Captains of HM ships’ next love is convoying smuggled treasure from the West Coast of America (the Peruvian and Mexican bullion supply). It is done with the sanction of the British government and is important to commerce. If smuggling from a country is compatible with honour, what about smuggling to a country (with the consent of one’s legislature, of course)? No difference?

Well, we hear certain Royal Naval officers stigmatise their merchant marine brethren for smuggling opium to China. This opium trade is sanctioned by the British parliament and fundamentally important to British Indian revenue. We are not talking about morality.

Captain Smith of HMS Volage has views on the opium trade. He objects the numbers of guns on our opium ships. He may not know that Elliot ordered us to prepare to resist every act of aggression in his circular of 22nd March. That order remains unrescinded.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Viceroy Tang and Governor Iliang proclaim that robberies must stop so the merchants may be pacified and the roads cleared. On the waterways east of Macau are many gangs of ruffians who personate officials, pretend to search for opium and take every opportunity to rob the merchant boats. Although we protect merchants we cannot overlook robbers, in whom some slight trace of humanity remains, merely awaiting to be rekindled by repentance.

All along the river from Sam Shui to Nam Hung are bandits who rob the merchants’ boats. If this can occur on the North River how much worse will be the occurrences on the others? All officials must strenuously exert themselves. The civil and military magistrates must examine and seize.

The merchants are not without fault. On arrival at the Customs House they must await inspection. If bandits stop them at other places, pretending to search for opium, they should seize them and deliver them for punishment. If the bandits use weapons, it is lawful for the merchants to beat them to death. But if the merchants are persuaded by this proclamation to smuggle opium, they should beware of our secret spies and if they smuggle and resist their pursuers and beat people to death, they will themselves be executed.

You vagabonds should give up your crimes. If you do not die in the execution of them you will eventually die as a legal punishment. What use will your stolen wealth be then? Cleanse your hearts, purify your minds and become good men.

Vol 12 No 49 – 3rd December 1839

Peking Gazettes – The Emperor to his civil service:

Hwang Tseo Tsze prayed for rigorous measures against opium. The provincial officials were asked for their opinions. Their memorials have arrived. I have commanded my cabinet and privy council.

Opium imports have daily increased. The poppy is cultivated even within China. The military and civil officers use it. They try a bit, then a bit more; an experiment becomes a habit, and they finally squander all they have, being unable to reform. The source of this foul opium must be cut off before its use becomes universal.

I have agonised as to how to put a stop to it. I tell you all again that the punishments are intended to transmute your unstable drug habits into permanent and natural drug-free habits. The sale of opium along the sea coast is the prime cause of the problem. You smokers of opium cannot subdue your habit for even a day but no forbearance can be shown to you. Judicial execution or personal reformation are your only escapes.

I will overlook the past and how this problem assumed its present intractable state. The laws have been established to arouse the Heavenly principles in all men. You must end your habit. There can be no indulgence.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Palmerston to G G de H Larpent, East India and China Association, 29th January 1839:

Thank you for your letter of 26th December 1838. I have not received Elliot’s report on Hing Tai’s bankruptcy but from the Canton newspapers I see the creditors have continued negotiations after petitioning HBM Government in March (1838).

I can confirm that this ministry does not consider the kow-tow an appropriate ceremony for a British representative.

I can also confirm that no legislative amendment to the China Courts Act is under consideration.

Editor – the last two paragraphs will please our readers.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Notice – Robert Wise has ceased his interest in our group from 1st July 1839. On that day John Wise and Robert James Farbridge were admitted as partners. We will in future trade as Holliday Wise & Co at Canton and Manila and as Wise Farbridge & Co at Liverpool and Manchester.

Sgd Robert Wise, Holliday & Co, Cheung Sha Wan anchorage, 28th November 1839.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

To let for six months – a floor in a house in Rua do Hospital as a self-contained apartment suitable for a single Englishman. Apply Antonio J H de Carvalho, Jr

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Departures – J A Daniell left for Bombay on Fort William. J H Astell, the Company’s Agent, left on the same ship for Singapore.

Editor – we congratulate the free trade community on the retirement of the last lingering Company Agents in China.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

It is reported that a high official has arrived at Canton to assist Commissioner Lin. He was the Manchu-General in 1834 when Napier was here.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

The Leal Senado at Macau has received several edicts from Commissioner Lin but their contents are unknown. Yesterday the Portuguese governor visited the Macau forts and ordered a double supply of ammunition for each. Some Chinese troops landed in Macau yesterday. Some military tents are again pitched at the barrier. Capts Elliot and Smith have gone over in the Louisa.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Canton news – We hear the Chekiang and Fukien fleets are ordered to Canton to attack us. Smith has issued an order to the British shipping to prepare for a defensive action.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Editorial – The Chinese Repository says ‘great damage has been done by England and China on each other’. Well, we cannot imagine what charge the Chinese can bring home against us! If this is a reference to the opium trade, the Chinese government and all foreign nations have been a party to it, but foremost is the Chinese government without which connivance we could never have developed it so far.

The desire and ability of other nations to ‘damage’ China has only been limited by their lesser power. The leading English houses dealing in Indian trade could not have abandoned opium without its having a deleterious effect on all their other business (i.e. their customers preferred a one-stop shop in the Agency style of business).

The Americans had no such excuse. They have sought to extend their opium connections in India. The agent of, and a partner in, one of the leading American houses whilst in Bombay for his house ‘on business’, mentioned the close connection his firm had with How Qua which, he said, considerably lessened the risks with the Chinese government of their dealing in opium, comparative to other houses.

It should also be recalled that the English, unlike the Americans, do not smuggle the Drug – Chinese do. We just bring it nearby for them to carry over the frontier. Smuggling means defrauding the revenue. Introducing contraband goods is only a secondary meaning.

Accordingly, one American merchant (Charles W King), who is known to smuggle camlets and furs into China and cassia out of China by connivance with several of the Linguists, is a real smuggler although he is better known here for his anti-opium views.

Finally, we will say that a principal merchant of London has laid it down as a maxim that ‘whatever is commercially right cannot be morally wrong.’

This nonsense about ‘damage’ in the Chinese Repository and Canton Press should be treated cautiously. The Repository Editor is an American; the Canton Press Editor comes from Hamburg.

On the contrary, rather than us damaging them, the Chinese have been doing considerable damage to us since our trade with them commenced – Government extortion caused the bankruptcy of successive Hongs; insolent Edicts insulted us daily; Napier’s treatment – these and many other insults required national interference even before Commissioner Lin arrived.

Since then Lin’s proceedings from last March until the present – his coercion of the Portuguese government of Macau to expel us, his piratical attack on the schooner Black Joke;32 his proclamation of 31st August calling on the people to shoot at us and make us prisoners; his destruction of the Bilbaino; his attack on British warships on 3rd November and on merchant ships on 11th – 13th November; his order to the Leal Senado proscribing trade with the English – these are all injustices that we cannot submit to.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

We hear from Cheung Sha Wan that the trans-shipment trade is buoyant. An American ship which entered the river a few days ago with 5,000 bales of cotton has offered to return to Cheung Sha Wan and again re-enter with another 5,000 bales of cotton or anything else. The Commissioner’s proscription on trans-shipment has become a boost to American trade. The Americans are now asking $7 per bale to carry Bengal cotton and $8 to carry Bombay and this is just for the river transit from Cheung Sha Wan to Whampoa! When notice of Capt Smith’s impending blockade was given, the price went up to $9 – $10, conditional on receiving the entire consignment.

Moreover trans-shipment cotton is not being weighed at Whampoa on discharge. There are going to be some magnificent disputes over short-weight and responsibility for it. It would be very difficult to reliably weigh at Cheung Sha Wan but why is it not done on the American ship at Whampoa? Something is going on. The Americans should be answerable for all shortage.

The American traders have rather lost their benign reputation. Insatiable greed and a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude have replaced their former liberality. They know we are in their power and they exult in it. This attitude extends to minor matters. Our expulsion from Macau on 26th August was marked by American indifference (with one notable exception). They obtained provisions solely for their own ships. They did not offer to care for our deserted homes. They would not buy things for us. One American lady took charge of an Englishwoman’s cow but then returned it because it was an English breed and English property and the increased fodder she was buying would bring suspicion on her.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Loss of the Sunda (Greig):

Captain Greig, another deck officer, the doctor and 12 men have survived and been brought back by the Chinese from Hainan to Canton.

The ship had been anchored at St Johns Island (San Chuan) with the Syed Khan.33 On 5th October a gale arose and the Sunda was blown down to Hainan where the ship grounded on 12th October.

Mr Mrs MacPherson and their infant were washed off the poop. Mr Ilberry, the Macpherson’s maid and some of the crew also drowned trying to get ashore. Capt Greig and the others got ashore safely.

After a couple of days, the weather abated and Greig found the ship’s boat had washed ashore. He used it to get back on board to save the treasure. He got some boxes on deck and sent the boat back for assistance but it was swamped in the surf and could not be refloated. That evening the storm suddenly recommenced and those on board had to get ashore any way they could. Mr Newbury was lost in the attempt. Fifteen survived, seventeen perished.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Edict of Commissioner Lin, 26th November:

I have previously reported the Emperor’s will concerning the foreign trade. He wisely foresaw that the foreigners would wriggle before signing the bond. I have now cut off English trade with the exception of the Thomas Coutts and Royal Saxon which captains have honourably signed the bond.

English trade will end forever on 6th December. All officials and foreigners are hereby informed. None of them may do any further trade with the English or English country ships.

The other nations, who have signed the bond, may continue their trade but they must not clandestinely conduct English trade or bring English cargoes. If they do, their own trade will be likewise cut off. This is to give effect to the Emperor’s will to end the opium trade and to provide a lucid warning to the rest of the foreign traders. It is not an ordinary matter.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Edict of Tseang, Keunmin foo of Macau et al, 5th December:

It is reported that rebellious vagabonds, with connections to the foreign ships, have enticed Chinese to go to foreign countries. They give a small advance of wages and ship them off with a promise to find work for them. Payments is extorted from them for their passage and food and they arrive in debt and perish in a foreign land. How can our people be so foolish.

The time is approaching when the foreign ships all depart and the police must be vigilant. You brokers who secretly engage Chinese to work in foreign lands must stop. You villagers who covet gain and listen to them must obey the law. If you are caught you will be handed over to the magistrates and charged with unlawful connection with foreigners. Then it will be difficult to protect your lives.

Vol 12 No 50 – 10th December 1839

Letter of 47 British subjects to Elliot, 4th November:

Two days ago we discovered a fort is being built at the east end of the bay near the entrance to the Kowloon passage. Last night when some of us were taking an evening stroll on the beach near the usual landing place, we were attacked by armed soldiers from this new fort. They tried to carry us off and, failing in that, they attacked us with their weapons. Some of us were injured. We request you take immediate steps to protect us.

Elliot’s reply to Wilkinson Dent et al:

I have passed your letter to Captain Smith and now have his reply. I have repeatedly ordered those British ships not involved in opium trade to remove to Cheung Sha Wan. Capt Smith leaves a warship permanently on station there. I am sorry to hear one of your group was injured, but I feel it a matter for congratulations that no more serious injury was sustained. This is not a matter that requires urgent measures. I commend you, whilst any ships remain in Hong Kong harbour, to cease your visits ashore during the present state of affairs.

Vol 12 No 51 – 17th December 1839

To let – a fine house on the Praia de Mandoco, Macau. Apply A A de Mello.

Vol 12 No 51 – 17th December 1839

Spoof translation of an ‘Edict’ by a friend of the Editor:

A minister of the Court has taken over the management of the provincial riches. In pursuit of his sacred virtue, in order to keep the people alive, he executes them. He makes changes and removes profits. The country is ruined, life is barely supportable, even fire and flood visit.

The sycee has gone to barbarian countries through our own negligence. Opium smoke has spread through the Customs Houses and ferries. I will save you from it. I will execute the criminals and indulge the innocent.

How did it happen? The sailors in the warjunks have been imbued with the spirit of the Tanka. They seize and squander the people’s wealth. They collect bribes and buy rank with them. Their corruption brings promotion. Everywhere self-interest is practised, regardless of the law, public officers are involved. I have taxed the corrupt officers of their bribes but they can scarcely escape death. The gaols are over-filled and the people are unemployed and in rebellion.

Formerly the opium trade was under control of the corrupt officials, now the Drug enters all along the sea frontier uncontrolled.” Etc…….

Vol 12 No 51 – 17th December 1839

Letter to the Editor of Bombay Times – Religion has the strongest hold on men’s minds. We should occupy Tibet and secure Lhasa and the high priests to whom the Chinese Emperors, at the inauguration of the infant Dalai Lama, give unequivocal respect.

Now Afghanistan is settled, we should use our army to chastise Nepal and send the expedition on to Tibet. This will provide an important line on the Chinese frontier. I append an extract from Vol 1 of Asiatic Researches. Sgd An anti-Celestial, 13th September 1839.

Extract – “Early in 1784 the Emperor sent ambassadors to the monastery of Teeshoo Lomboo (Lama) to represent His support on the assumption of office of the new Lama. The celebrations lasted for days. The Dalai Lama made offerings on the first day, the Chinese Viceroy on the second, the Chinese General on the third, then numerous other Lamas. Etc”34

Vol 12 No 51 – 17th December 1839

Letters to the Editor:

  1. You defame the American community too much. I know an American family which formerly lived with an English family in Macau and, since the expulsion of the English, the tables have been reversed. Another American family took the property of an English family into their care and saw them off when they left Macau. Many commissions have been performed by Americans for English ladies. One of the English commission staff has been housed more than once with an American family. All these Americans risk censure by the Chinese, their servants being withdrawn and their provisions cut off. I am sure there are more examples. We are brothers. We wish you success in equitably adjusting the present differences with China. Sgd An American, 11th December 1839
  2. I regret the article in your last number generated prejudice between English and Americans. It was a biased article. You say the Americans withheld assistance from the English when they were expelled on 26th August. There are only a few American families in Macau. Many are caring for English people or property. One is accommodating an entire English family. … middle of letter is illegible … One is caring for three English ladies, their protector having fled the Chinese. I believe every American offered to take care of English houses and property during your absence. I know an American lady who has been executing the commissions of an English lady for 4-5 months and recently assumed the same duties for other English women. I have myself supplied provisions to English and I offered my help to you personally Mr Slade when you complained your staff had left you. The Captain of an English ship (just sailed for Manila) and his wife lived for 9 days with American hosts and others received similar offers. There are a long list of English supporters amongst the American community at Macau. Sgd An American

Vol 12 No 51 – 17th December 1839

Peking Gazettes:

  • An opium smuggler has been arrested at Tientsin and decapitated under the new Law.
  • Several officials are being tried for involvement in opium smuggling but so far all have escaped punishment.
  • The Emperor has severely warned the officials in Yunnan to ensure opium is not introduced across their border.
  • The provinces annually send rice tribute to Peking. 6,000 junks are employed each carrying 2,000 – 3,000 piculs. The tribute is sent via the Grand Canal. This stupendous work of Kubilai has become silted and the responsible officials are required to repair it with their own money. This effectively means the local people will have to work for nothing or pay-off in lieu. One official has ‘lost’ much rice and is required to make restitution. He says he cannot afford to do so. There is invariable shrinkage of the rice tribute due to thieving sailors. They are permitted a small share but they take as much as possible. When passing through Tientsin, the grain fleet was seen to have 10-15 people on each junk. This city teems with hawkers who buy Indian goods and take them to the interior for sale. They seldom pay duty and make huge profits.
  • There are repeated complaints of shortage of money (silver). Editor – China needs paper money and a national debt.
  • Someone has been cutting down the trees planted around the Imperial mausoleums. Graves are sacred, most particularly the Emperor’s. No arrests have been made.
  • Fearful robberies are reported in S W Fukien and the officials have been demoted for failure to detect them. Their replacements are required to be more zealous.

Vol 12 No 51 – 24th December 1839

Departures – M J Senn van Basel left China for Batavia per George Washington a few weeks ago.

Vol 12 No 51 – 24th December 1839

House of Lords, 1st August 1839 – Lord Ellenborough told the House that the Chinese government has determined to end the opium trade and has despatched an Imperial Commissioner to Canton with full powers to effect that end. That Commissioner told the British merchants that their former offences would be forgiven but they must stop all future opium trade. He required an engagement from each trader that he would not deal in opium again and he required the surrender of the entire opium supply to him for destruction. To get his way, he cordoned-off the British factory and prevented provisions being supplied. Elliot came up from Macau but was also detained. Elliot then required the British merchants to surrender their opium to him on behalf of the British government and he in turn surrendered it to the Chinese government. He gave a promise of indemnification to the British merchants. 20,000+ chests were surrendered, worth over £2 millions. Will the British government sanction Elliot’s actions?

Ellenborough believes, as a general principle, that any civil officer is obliged to disregard his personal safety in the same way as a military officer.

In consequence of the Commissioner’s action, the trade in opium was nearly at an end. India obtains £1 – 2 millions in revenue from opium sales each year. The cessation of the opium trade to China would reduce our ability to import tea, and the smaller quantities we could afford to buy in China would become more expensive to consumers in England.

Ellenborough was not surprised at the Chinese action and found the Chinese Commissioner’s proclamation very able. He wished the government would publish the despatches it had received from Elliot.

Viscount Melbourne, for the government, said no despatches on the subject had been received and he would have to await receipt of information before replying.

Lord Ellenborough said his source was the published newspapers from Canton and he had no doubt of their veracity.

Editor – this is unsatisfactory. The important China news has had little effect on the government. The imprisonment of the foreign community, then of Elliot, and the surrender of the opium were all known to Viscount Melbourne. He should have been indignant. He is probably ignorant of the opium trade but he should have known that the opium was the property of the British government when it was surrendered – it was widely published in the Canton newspapers. The City has been alarmed and the Viscount did nothing to assuage their concerns. This does not bode well for our prospects of compensation. Compensation is, of course, a matter for parliament but the Viscount should have revealed that Lin ordered Elliot to surrender the property under threat. This coercion caused Elliot to collect the stocks and surrender them. The surrender occurred nine months ago; we have a fast overland mail via Alexandria but still we have heard nothing. The Viscount says Elliot’s despatches have not yet arrived. This is neglect of our national interests in China and India.

Vol 12 No 51 – 24th December 1839

Copy of a Notice posted in the North and South American Coffeehouse in London:

Patrons are informed that China trade is stopped and all the British merchants have been made prisoner.”

A city correspondent says “a strong sensation has been created by the news. We have a letter dated 7th April from Canton:

A Commissioner has arrived from Peking to end the opium trade. He detained all the foreign residents, including Elliot, to procure the surrender of the opium stock. He deprived them of food and water for a few days until Elliot ordered the British to surrender their opium to him. Elliot guaranteed payment for it.’

Another source (a Queen’s messenger arriving from France) says Elliot and the merchants have been released but the opium has not been returned. We hear several British ships left Canton in ballast and the price of tea in London has accordingly risen.

Another letter says three Chinese involved in opium trade have been strangled. Business is paralysed.

Vol 12 No 52 – 31st December 1839

Editor’s recapitulation of events throughout 1839:

1st January We learned the anti-opium party had gained the ascendancy at Peking; three princes were punished for smoking; Hsu Nai Tsi was dismissed from government service, and provincial government proposals for future action were received and considered. Locally, the Nam Hoi heen published a cure for opium addiction.
3rd January Lin was appointed Imperial Commissioner.
7th January The Nam Hoi heen was ordered by Viceroy Tang to admonish all smokers to give-up the habit. A police search for opium in Canton houses commenced. The residents quickly barricaded their streets to search the policemen before they searched the houses.
10th January The Viceroy issued an Edict against ships bringing opium to Whampoa, saying they would be sent back to their own countries. Another Edict required Hong merchants to secure those ships at Whampoa.
14th January The Co-Hong paid the first tranche (4%) of King Qua’s debt.
16th January The Hongs proposed a new form of bond to prevent opium and silver smuggling.
22nd January Several foreign ferry boats were licensed to carry mail and passengers between Macau and Canton
23rd January A dispatch from the Board of War contained an Imperial Edict of 3rd January appointing Lin as Imperial Commissioner to Canton. The Viceroy and Governor published Lin’s imminent arrival and threatened stoppage of trade unless the opium and store ships were removed.
27th January A regulation limiting the debts of any one Hong merchant to 100,000 Taels was ordered to be engraved in stone and erected at the foreign factories.
1st February All the back doors of the foreign factories were bricked-up.
3rd February The schooner Attaran (Jackson) foundered near Nanping Island, west of Macau, with the loss of 130 chests of opium.
4th February Elliot published rules for the establishment of a marine police force. The Grain Commissioner Chow Tien Tse published his advice on arresting the ‘opium plague’. The Co-Hong paid a 3% dividend on Hing Tai’s debt.
16th February The Nam Hoi heen held an inquest at the Ophthalmic Hospital into the death of a Chinese patient.
26th February A Chinese opium smuggler was strangled in front of the foreign factories. All foreign flags were struck in protest.
28th February British merchants requested Elliot to retain HMS Larne in China.
7th March Elliot ordered all British-owned unlicensed ferry boats to leave the river.
10th March Commissioner Lin arrived in Canton and took up residence in one of the collegiate halls.
11th March A boat of the St Vincent at Whampoa was struck and sunk by a passing Chinese lighter. Nine crew were lost.
18th March Commissioner Lin issued two Edicts, one to the Hongs and the other to the foreigners. The latter required all opium to be surrendered and all foreigners to make a bond not to trade in opium on pain of death. Past opium offences of people complying with the order were to be remitted. The Consoo Fund paid the Canton Register for 800 copies of the English translation (by Thom) of this Edict.
19th March The Hoppo banned foreigners at Canton from going to Macau. The passage boat Snipe was stopped at the Bogue forts for alleged smuggling. She was taken to Canton and broken-up.
21st March Communications between Canton and Whampoa were stopped. Chinese troops assembled near the factories and along the river. The General Chamber of Commerce proposed to surrender 1,037 chests.
22nd March The Commissioner invited Dent to interview him in the city. Elliot ordered all British shipping to rendezvous at Hong Kong and prepare to defend themselves.
23rd March The Hong merchants attended the factories, the two senior ones in chains, and implored Dent to attend the Commissioner in the City. M/s Inglis, Slade, Thom and Fearon attended instead. Elliot ordered all British subjects to prepare to remove from Canton.
24th March Elliot arrived Canton, hoisted the British flag over the British factory (now called the British Consulate), and personally brought Dent there. He called a public meeting. All Chinese servants were withdrawn and food supply was stopped. A triple cordon of boats appeared along the river off the factories. Elliot demanded passports to leave. The foreigners individually pledged themselves not to again deal in opium or introduce it into China.
26th March The Commissioner published four reasons for the immediate surrender of the opium. The Portuguese governor ordered all opium at Macau to be loaded on ships and removed.
27th March Elliot required all opium to be surrendered to him.
28th March An Edict to the foreign consuls required them to obtain and surrender the opium in their nationals’ possession.
3rd April Arrangements for the delivery of the opium at Chuen Pi were agreed. Johnstone and Thom left for Macau and took the opportunity of taking out letters from the detained foreign community.
7th April Johnstone arrived Macau and sailed in the Louisa to the Bogue. Sales of opium resumed.
9th April Foreign merchants and provincial officials met all day at the Consoo House to agree terms of the bond. Discussions continued to nearly midnight without agreement.
10th April The Hoppo first and later the Commissioner and Viceroy went to the Bogue to observe the surrender of opium.
12th April Johnstone reported the delivery of 650 chests at Chuen Pi.
15th April Elliot published a tender for the charter of a British clipper to take despatches to Calcutta (but actually for London).
19th April The Prefect of Canton ordered the return of the servants and compradors to the foreign factories. Several orders were issued by high officials for the early completion of the bonds, to evidence respect of Chinese law.
20th April Half the opium had been delivered by this day. Further deliveries were halted pending for resumption of the ferry service as agreed and reopening of trade.
4th May Orders were published permitting ferries to run and trade to resume. Sixteen named foreigners were required to remain in Canton until further notice.
5th May The triple cordon of boats along the river was removed. Part of the guard surrounding the factories was removed.
6th May The ferry boats left Canton for Whampoa and Macau with about 50 foreign passengers.
8th May The Commissioner allowed the request of the foreign consuls to lead their nationals and ships home, but warned that none would be allowed to return.
14th May The Kwangtung government ordered the streets through the factories, except Old China Street, to be closed and the shopmen within them to remove.
19th May Elliot ordered all British nationals, ships and property to not enter the river. The Kwangtung government ordered that all foreign ships be measured before entering port. Several ships in Taipa roads were later boarded and measured.
21st May The delivery of opium at Chuen Pi was completed at 2 am. It was all stored at Chun How at the creek east of the Bogue.
22nd May Elliot published his complaints against Commissioner Lin and reiterated that British nationals and property should remain outside the river. He warned Britons residents at Canton to leave before or at the same time he did.
23rd May Ten of the sixteen proscribed foreigners, before leaving Canton, were required to sign bonds that they would not again come to China. Some had already given bonds. British merchants petitioned Palmerston. Commissioner Lin was formally appointed Viceroy of Leung Kiang (The Two Kiang – comprising Kiangsi, Kiang Nan and Anhwei Provinces). The American Consul P W Snow left Canton for Macau via the inner passage.
24th May Elliot and several British merchants left Canton at 5 pm.
27th May USS Columbia arrived from Singapore. She was later joined by the sloop John Adams. The Emperor ordered that the surrendered opium (plus 8 chests surrendered by a merchant outside the river) be destroyed and that all local inhabitants be invited to watch. HMS Larne sailed from Macau.
30th May Dent’s clipper Ariel won Elliot’s tender for charter and left Macau with despatches for London.
1st June The numbers of foreigners in the factories is now 25 of whom only very few are British or British Indian (Parsee).
5th June Commissioner Lin ordered all foreign shipping at Taipa Roads to enter port or depart.
11th June An American captain signed the bond and took his ship into the river. Other American ships soon followed.
12th June British merchants met at Macau and issued a statement regretting the intention of those Britons preparing to send their ships and cargo into the river.
14th June An Edict invited foreigners to bring their ships in for trade.
16th June The last British ship at Whampoa, Ann Jane, received Port Clearance and sailed with a full cargo for England.
17th June The American C W King, Rev Bridgman and others visited Chun How in the Morrison to observe the destruction of the opium.
21st June Elliot published a paper deploring the Commissioner’s call to the British community to ignore his (Elliot’s) orders.
23rd June The Hoppo issued the New Trade Regulations containing the final draft of the bond. It was signed by those American captains entering the river. Some Chinese Customs officers were seized and detained on board the British shipping at Hong Kong harbour where trade in opium continued.
27th June The terraces on the roofs of all the foreign factories were removed by the owners (the Hong merchants) on the order of the city magistrate, who objected to foreigners overlooking the City.
5th July Commissioner Lin and the other high officials visited the factories. The Tsim Sha Tsui villager Lam Wai Hei was killed in an affray with foreigners at the beach in front of his village.
10th – 15th July Correspondence between Elliot and the British merchants concerning the appropriate scale of demurrage on delayed ships.
26th July Rules of Court published for the Criminal and Admiralty jurisdictions of the British Court in China.
3rd August Some British merchants met at Macau to establish a British Chamber of Commerce. A provisional Chamber was formed.
5th August Elliot notified the date for the first session of the criminal court.
6th August USS Columbia and John Adams sailed for Hawaii.
12th August First session of the British Court in Hong Kong harbour.
15th August All food supplies to the British community at Macau were interdicted by Commissioner Lin.
17th August Elliot convened a meeting of British subjects at Macau.
18th August The order withdrawing food supply and personal services to British merchants in Macau was recited. The servants all left their employment.
21st August Elliot invoked the safety of continuing Portuguese occupation of Macau as reason to quit the enclave this evening.
22nd August The American Consul P W Snow left Macau to resume his duties in Canton.
24th August The British schooner Black Joke was attacked off Lantau and many Lascar crewmen killed.
25th August A meeting of British residents in Macau resolved to quit the enclave tomorrow.
26th August Most British subjects left Macau this afternoon, except a few invalids and the honorary Prussian Consul.35 Chinese troops are encamped at the barrier and about 30% of the Chinese population have left Macau.
30th August HMS Volage arrived Taipa Roads. HMS Hyacinth arrived a few days later.
31st August A proclamation to the Chinese to arm themselves and resist any English smugglers landing along the coast.
3rd September The Commissioner visited Macau and was escorted across the barrier by inter alia Portuguese troops.
4th September Elliot’s ‘Battle of Kowloon Bay’.
6th September Commissioner Lin deplores the violence at Tsim Sha Tsui on 4th August and British non-compliance with his order to surrender the murderer of Lam Wai Hei. He authorises all Chinese to seize and kill any English found ashore.
8th September The Hoppo visited Macau this morning. Trade between Macau and Canton was then resumed.
10th September Rev Bridgman was called to Chun How to interview the Commissioner. He returned 12th September.
12th September The Spanish ship Bilbaino was burned in the Taipa anchorage. The Chief Officer was taken to Canton and cangued.
14th September The Macanese Leal Senado ordered an armed boat to patrol Taipa roads and prevent the entry of any opium ships after 1st October.
24th September Elliot interviewed the Keunmin foo (Prefect) of Macau to agree arrangements for temporary trade outside the river pending for his receipt of instructions from London.
9th October The Commissioner proclaimed that so long as opium continued to be imported, he would continue to act against it.
12th October The British ship Sunda was wrecked off Hainan whilst trading on the coast. Several crew and all the passengers and cargo were lost.
15th October Elliot notified his agreement to the Commissioner’s conditions for temporary trade outside the river. Capt Warner of the British ship Thomas Coutts signed the new bond and entered the river.
20th October Elliot published the conditions for trade at Chuen Pi.
22nd October Minutes of meetings between British merchants and Hong merchants for the outside trade at Chuen Pi were published at Macau.
26th October Elliot publicly complained the Commissioner’s understanding of the trade conditions at Chuen Pi differed from his own. He concluded that Commissioner Lin had broken his word.
27th October The provincial government published its receipt of information that opium sales have resumed on the east and west coasts. It threatened to imprison the British merchants if they continue to flout the law.
28th October Another edict declares 600 troops have been assembled at the barrier north of Macau and the English are to be permanently driven out of that enclave unless their ships enter port to trade and the murderer of Lam Wai Hei is surrendered to justice.
3rd November The ‘Battle of the Bogue,’ followed by cannonades and sniping on the British merchant fleet in Hong Kong harbour. Elliot orders the fleet to shift to Cheung Sha Wan but the merchants are reluctant, saying cargo movements at Hong Kong are relatively safe whilst Cheung Sha Wan is less so.
20th November Elliot announces a naval blockade of the river.
26th November Commissioner Lin permits British merchants until 6th December to enter the river and resume trade. In event of non-acceptance, only the Thomas Coutts and Royal Saxon will be allowed future trade. A huge trans-shipment trade from British ships to American and other ships has commenced in Hong Kong harbour.
3rd December The Dutch Consul M J Senn van Basel left Macau for Batavia.
6th December Astell, the Company’s Agent to Macau and Canton, closed the Company’s office and left China.
8th December The first survivors of the Portuguese ship Caçador (wrecked off Hainan) are returned to Macau via Canton. Others soon follow.
16th December Elliot requests the Commissioner for undisturbed residence at Macau for the British community.
18th December The Commissioner formally forbids the entry of British goods to Whampoa in other nations’ ships.
26th December Capt Gribble was captured off the Cheung Sha Wan anchorage by the Chinese coastguard and taken to Canton.36
29th December HMS Volage and Hyacinth cruised to the Bogue to inquire concerning Gribble’s safety.37

Vol 12 No 52 – 31st December 1839

Bombay Times, 5th October – The Bombay Chamber of Commerce has received a reply from Admiral Maitland to their request for his intervention with the Chinese. The Admiral says ‘apart from the unprecedented measures adopted by the Chinese for the surrender of opium, no further aggression has been committed’. He attributed the dispute to the unwarranted activities of some British traders. He deplores any dispute with the Chinese but cannot act without both instructions from London and reinforcements to give effect to those instructions.

He personally thought redress was due for the imprisonment and threatened execution of Elliot and the other Britons but believed that the Chinese would not have so acted if the traders had been more prudent. He declined to send a fleet to China to act ‘energetically’ without explicit instructions.

Concerning our request for the return of HMS Larne to China, he considered the warship had remained as long as Elliot required it and departed only after the community had been freed. He noted the American Commodore had likewise not intervened and had informed Capt Blake (of HMS Larne) that conditions were such he would also shortly leave China. Before learning of the dispute, the Admiral had already dispatched HMS Volage to visit China and reassure the British community by her presence. She should have arrived in mid-August and since then HMS Hyacinth had also been sent.

Editor – Maitland is right. It was the affray at Tsim Sha Tsui that caused the Chinese to expel us from Macau and withdraw our provisions and servants. If it had not occurred we would not have the expense of trans-shipping our cargoes (and a good part of our profits) to the Americans.

Vol 12 No 52 – 31st December 1839

Editorial – We advise Elliot that he has no prospect of equalling the Chinese in negotiating technique. He should go to Manila or Singapore until his instructions arrive and stop causing us difficulties.



1 Another anomaly revealing conditions were not as unpleasant as recorded in the histories – the provincial government lets foreigners in and out of the factories!

2 Elliot’s objection is primarily the inclusion of the relatives of Wm Jardine and James Matheson amongst the list of ‘inveterate opium smugglers.’ Andrew Jardine and Alexander Matheson are young partners in the firm since respectively 1835 and 1838 and are necessarily opium traders. I Matheson is still a clerk and Donald Matheson, who has not yet arrived, is proscribed as soon as he lands. These two are novice traders. The inappropriate name may be Stanford.

3 The last paragraph is clearly wrong – a confusion of the store ships (which have their masts removed and deck covered) with the trans-shipment trade.

4 This is Dent’s clipper, normally trading Calcutta / Singapore / Canton, but now chartered to the British Commissioner. It was first reported to be chartered to take dispatches to Calcutta but is now said to be sailing to Suez for the overland route.

5 The many Americans at Canton are handling the trans-shipment trade from Hong Kong harbour. They are effectively conducting all the foreign trade at Canton.

6 Thus commences the high point of American trade at Canton with British cargo trans-shipped to American vessels in Hong Kong for the river carriage to Whampoa.

7 This diminishes the Editor’s (and Elliot’s) prior assertions that it is the crews who would be under threat of execution.

8 But not in British India.

9 ‘Nomen’ seems likely to be a Company employee. His final paragraph expresses the Company’s basic philosophy of government – that everyone should fear it.

10 L’Esperance is the ship specified in Commissioner Lin’s Edict above as authorised to leave China.

11 It had hitherto been assumed that the only English language presses in China were those of the newspapers and the British Commissioner Elliot.

12 The pipe stems are commonly bamboo which absorbs opium resin with use. This is said to enhance the flavour of the smoke and makes the pipe valuable.

13 There are additional provisions for street and area representatives. These are elected by their neighbours, registered with government, and liaise with officials on behalf of their neighbourhood. They are also supposed to report opium activity in their area or face punishment.

14 The Black Joke is the ferry belonging to the Frenchman Just that was previously detected smuggling in the river.

15 Elliot’s ‘Battle of Kowloon Bay’ is reported more fully below.

16 Lam Wai Hei is the Cantonese romanisation of Lin Weihe (Mandarin).

17 The signatories include all the merchants – 16 firms and 10 Parsees. Commissioner Lin’s policy has put the British traders in fear and united the factions.

18 Pereira & Co is the major Portuguese business. One of the partners is F J de Payva, of the former leading Macau firm ‘the Widow Payva & Sons’. It is absolutely likely that Pereira & Co responded to the instructions of the Portuguese Governor of Macau that were issued the day before Elliot’s call for the surrender of British opium to him and required only that any opium be removed from Macau.

19 A reference to Cohen’s case in the Opium chapter. The cabinet member is unidentified but presumably is Hobhouse, then President of the Board of Control.

20 A fictional tale of 1836 inter alia about John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company and the early China trade.

21 A Chinese battery is constructed on Observatory Hill in Tsim Sha Tsui and the British shipping in Hong Kong harbour has to remove to Lankeet and Lung Kwu.

22 Kwan was a 2nd century general of the Kingdom of Wu. He was elevated to God of War for his martial and honourable qualities and is still revered. He is one of the great heroes of the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’.

23 The Chinese authorities identify ships by the Captain’s name. This is Kay, captain of the Hooghly two years before and now commanding a receiving ship.

24 The crew of Snarley Yow (Smolius) were ashore at the time of the affray. The Portia was not in Hong Kong harbour at that time. The Portia crewman who was charged with murder had formerly been on articles on the Snarley Yow but this was unknown to Capts Elliot and Smith at the time.

25 An additional term to the three formerly published and an astute but impossible one – it is Chinese crew on the coastal smuggling ships that fix all the business.

26 A reference to the Muslim Wong Ching who is described above in connection with the opium destruction at Chun How.

27 The Tsim Sha Tsui anchorage is deemed too exposed to attack by the Chinese. There is plenty of fresh water at Cheung Sha Wan.

28 Overlooking Elliot’s “Battle of Kowloon Bay” on 4th September

29 Public executions in China and England have long stopped but I heard from friends that it recently (1980s) occurred in Wai Chow that convictions were handed down publicly in parks. The entrances were closed and those within the park are invited to listen to the judgment.

30 James Matheson was one of very few Englishmen who remained in Macau throughout the confrontation, protected by the Portuguese Governor.

31 This 900 ton ex-warship had been sold cheap by Captain Douglas to Warren Delano II, renamed Chesapeake, and on-sold to the Hongs for Commissioner Lin who towed her below Whampoa, lined her decks with cannon, flew flags from the masts with the character for ‘courage’ on them and gave the river smugglers pause.

At the end of February 1841 men of the paddle steamer Nemesis boarded and burned her in the course of the British attack on Canton.

32 The Editor repeatedly asserts this piracy was done by government officials, based on the boat’s former employment as a smuggler which was known to the Chinese and the discovery of an official’s hat on board after the attack.

33 San Chuan Island – the 16th century trading depot of the Arabs and Portuguese for the China smuggling trade. The original Catholic church remains in good order on a hill over the bay. The island has now (1830s) become an opium distribution centre.

34 It was the early Ching emperors who cultivated the Tibet connection after the Mongoloid tribes on the Chinese frontiers adopted Tibetan Lama Buddhism. It was seen as a means to pacify Chinese neighbours. The letter writer is suggesting Britain should do something similar.

35 A function of the Jardine Matheson group. Beale, Magniac and now Matheson have been successively honorary Consul for Denmark and / or Prussia to obtain diplomatic cover for their activities. It circumvented Company control before 1834. A Consul is empowered to issue his national Bills, to register and deregister ships and authorise change of ships’ names.

36 Gribble formerly commanded the Marquis Camden until 1838 when he became a partner in Gribble Hughes & Co. The reason for his arrest and detention is not clear.

37 And to protest Commissioner Lin’s invitation to the British to come in and trade which is in opposition to Elliot’s order to stay out of the river.

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