China 1842 – part 12


Vol 15 No 7 February 15th 1842

The Canton Register has a series of letters this last few weeks concerning a group of young English cavalrymen who ride their horses furiously on the Campo at night. Two fell-off because of holes made in the road that unseated the riders. They suspect the holes had been made intentionally by Chinese villagers from the north side of the barrier gate.

On this assumption, the youths rode through the barrier into Heung Shan en masse the following night, entered a temple, destroyed furniture, damaged the surrounding residences and burnt a fisherman’s boat.

Vol 15 No 8 – 22nd February 1842

Lyall MP for the City of London, Sir George Larpent MP, Mr J Abel Smith MP and J Horsley Palmer (former Governor of the Bank of England) interviewed the Foreign Secretary Lord Aberdeen seeking for part of the $6 million ransom of Canton to be made available to opium scrip holders.

The ministry is advised that the ransom is a droit of the Crown.

Vol 15 No 10 – 8th March 1842

It is said that 30 Russian officers have arrived at Canton from Peking. One of them holds military rank of the 2nd or 3rd degree. Russian support for China against England is unsurprising and we think the British government should be prepared for a desperate struggle.

Vol 15 No 11 – 15th March 1842

Manackjee Cursetjee, the Parsee trader, is on tour of Europe before returning to India via Egypt. He has dined with Sir Robert Peel and is considered a learned man. He speaks several European languages.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Arrivals and departures:

James Matheson left China per Tartar 10th March for Singapore, Ceylon and Bombay. Before doing so he sent $5,000 to the Macau Governor Adriao Accacio da Silveira Pinto for “some purpose of public benevolence in recognition of the protection given to me and my countrymen during the war.”1

Another partner of J M & Co, Henry Wright, has also left on the Earl Grey.

Sir Gordon Bremer, Capt Charles Elliot and his wife and children, David Jardine and Dr Anderson arrived Falmouth 6th November per SS Great Liverpool.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

The Canton Register Editor’s eulogy to James Matheson:

The success which has attended British trade since June 1830 since it came to be mainly conducted outside the river is attributable to the firmness, perseverance, skill and unwearied industry of James Matheson.

The large import of tea this last two years is likewise mainly due to him, thereby allowing the British government to raise a good revenue and mitigate the imposition of new taxes. Her Majesty should note how deserving he is of some mark of appreciation.

The English and Parsee communities at Macau attended him to the water’s edge, a great mass of firecrackers was let-off. He embarked on the Company’s Steamer Ariadne at 10.30 am last Thursday and was conveyed to the clipper Tartar for the voyage to Bombay.

He expects to return in two years.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

The Chinese have taken some defensive measures:

  • A ship has been launched at Fah Tei, Honam Island of about 350 tons. Her hull is pierced for 26 guns. She is to be presented to the Provincial Government by the Hong merchants who financed her construction.
  • One large and two small paddleboats are being tested on the river at Canton. They are not mechanically-powered devices. The paddles are worked manually by winches and the boats make good progress against both wind and tide.
  • A list of new and refurbished forts and gun emplacements between Whampoa and Canton is also provided.
  • The Emperor has ordered the forts at the Bogue to be rebuilt and the work is expected to start soon.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

An unfortunate accident has occurred. A well-known opium broker in a Tanka boat was approaching one of the English receiving ships, which are now at Whampoa, but neglected to answer the watchman’s challenge. He was shot dead.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Long list of Royal Naval staff in China with brief biographies, inter alia Capt Smith of HMS Volage who partook in the occupation of Aden in 1839, which port was required as a coaling station for the new overland route.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Several rebellions in various Chinese provinces are rumoured.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Friend of China, 17th March – Three Hong merchants How Qua, Mow Qua and Poon Ki Qua have visited Macau. It is rumoured they have asked Pottinger about his attitude towards the recent Chinese seizure of a foreign boat. They are said to be asking ‘how much to close the matter?’

The war with China is not slowing the opium trade – 5,500 chests were sold at auction in the Exchange Hall, Calcutta on 4th January. Bihar averaged 787 Rupees, Benares 761 Rupees and total proceeds = £450,000 (NB – the Sterling figure appears excessive)

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

The people of Tinghai are not selling their produce to us and we take it by force. There have been several fights. They particularly resent our taking their buffalo which they need to plough their fields. The Chinese consider it cruel to kill a helpful and hard-working animal for food. Some Chinese have been killed protecting their property.

The mate of the Ernaad and a lascar have been murdered. All the marines on the Cornwallis were landed to oppose the populace who are clearly hostile to us.

Editor – First shooting a harmless opium broker on a Tanka boat at Hong Kong, now these deaths on Chusan – we risk being categorised as greedy barbarians.

Pottinger has declared Hong Kong and Tinghai free ports. No Customs, port duties or other charges may be levied. He notes that facilities for trade and its protection are also offered at Kulangsu Island off Amoy (Cantonese – Ko Long Tsui).

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Pirate numbers are increasing and a fleet has collected off the Praia Grande.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

Recent Peking Gazettes note receipt of Palmerston’s letter by the Court.

Vol 15 No 11 15th March 1842

The USS Constitution (Commodore Kearney) and USS Boston have arrived 22nd March from Manila.

Vol 15 No 11, 17th and 18th March 1842 Extraordinary:

Copied from the London Times & Chronicle:

Lindsay proposed to the Commons, Staunton seconding, that the opium merchants should be compensated from the ransom of Canton. Staunton mentioned the serious losses of the India merchants, some of whom had committed suicide.

Sir George Larpent hoped impecuniosity would not deter the government from compensating the merchants.

Sir Charles Napier thought Elliot’s agreement to surrender the opium had been obtained by duress and was invalid. The merchants should not have acted upon it.

Goulburn contrarily said Elliot had been persuaded by the merchants to give the pledge of compensation but the government did not think Elliot’s pledge was binding on it.2

Palmerston recalled that one of the objects of war was compensation for surrendered opium. He thought the legislators should await the end of war when an agreement for compensation could be wrung from the Chinese. He noted that the claims were vastly inflated.

M/s M Philips, W Jardine and J Abel Smith all pleaded for the merchants and the last-named regretted Goulburn’s assertion that whatever money could be got from China would first be applied to the costs of the expedition and only the balance distributed to the merchants.

Lord John Russell commended Lindsay to leave his motion with the government.

Lindsay asked for reassurance from government but Peel declined to provide it. He said the previous government had refused to pay but his own government would try to do so, subject to how much could be had from China. Lindsay then pressed the matter to a division in which he was defeated 87 – 37.

Canton Register editor – the London Times & Chronicle has concealed that part of Lindsay’s speech addressing the monstrous and already gratified claims of the American merchants. This cowardly cover-up by the leading Whig journal neatly condemns both the claimants and the payor.

Vol 15 No 12 – 22nd March 1842

The Spectator of 9th October 1841 contains a moderate opinion of Elliot’s management in Canton:

“ … the negligence which allowed the first misunderstanding to grow to a head, the blundering ignorance of the character of the people to be dealt with and the proper manner of dealing with them, which have characterised the whole transaction, render it impossible that the issue, under any circumstances, could have been materially different.

“All that was wanted was a safe and easy method of trading with China; but our great statesmen have made it what they call a ‘political question’; and John Bull, who has but a dim notion of what a ‘political question’ means, and a great admiration of everything he does not understand, stands listening with gaping wonderment while they talk him out of his money.”

Vol 15 No 12 22nd March 1842

  • 1,500 rifles have been sold by foreign traders to Canton officials. They were delivered from ships in Taipa Roads. Russian and French army officers are said to be providing this military assistance to the Canton authorities.
  • The Hong merchants have agreed that Customs duty on tea exports must be increased to recoup the $6 million ransom of Canton.

Vol 15 No 12 22nd March 1842

The Friend of China, the new paper being published in Hongkong every Thursday commencing 17th March, is owned by Mr White, an Alderman of the City of London, and edited by Rev J Lewis Shuck, an American Baptist missionary. This is the third local English-language paper. It has the support of the Hong Kong government.3

The Friend of China proposes to offer similar views to the Friend of India with which proprietors they have long been in communication. They have correspondents at Ningpo, Chusan and Amoy and expect to obtain copies of the Peking Gazettes regularly.

Corporate Subscribers to the Friend of China newspaper are:

Challaye & Co (French), Dent & Co. Ferguson Leighton & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, Gemmell & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, Holliday Wise & Co, Innes Fletcher & Co, Jardine Matheson & Co, Lindsay & Co, Turner & Co.(all British)


NB Hereafter articles from the Friend of China are mingled with the Canton Register in this chapter and may be distinguished from the heading.


Vol 15 No 12 – 22nd March 1842

The Friend of China of 31st March reports that Edward Law, Lord Ellenborough, son of the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench (born 1790 and succeeded to the title in 1818), has been appointed Governor-General of India and is instructed to settle the China question.

It has been said of Law ‘Whatever the peculiarities of the noble lord, he is not effeminate in mind’ … and … ‘as respects the commerce of the East, the noble lord is considered the best informed member of the upper house.’

As President of the Board of Control he sent a letter to the Indian government directing how a judge might be rendered amenable to any government purpose. He wrote “one just and upright man, shackled to two venal and corrupt ones, would become totally powerless.”

It is also said that “he affects an effeminate lisp amongst a thousand other affectations – he is the very emblem of foppery and self-conceit, and mars the natural advantages of his good appearance by the assiduity of his coxcombry.”

He was sworn in at East India House on 30th November 1841 and given a grand dinner at the London Tavern in the evening.

The Chairman was George Lyall MP for the City of London, former Chairman of the India Company. On the right sat the Duke of Wellington, Earl of Lincoln, 5th Earl De La Warr, Earl of Rosslyn, Sir Robert Peel MP (Prime Minister) and Henry Goulburn MP (Chancellor of the Exchequer). On the left sat the deputy Company chairman, Lord Wharncliffe, Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Haddington, Earl of Jersey, Lord Hill, Lord FitzGerald, etc.

Ellenborough told the assembly the one preparation he had for the job was having been placed in charge of the Board of Control 13 years before by the Duke of Wellington and he had continued to take the Duke’s advice.

He replaces the Earl of Auckland.

He says he will terminate the war in China with an honourable and durable peace; restore tranquillity to both banks of the Indus, give peace in which to create surplus revenue (‘the only true security for liberal honest government’, he said) and, by means of that surplus, to emulate the magnificent benevolence of the Mughal emperors, civilise the natives and elevate the people.

Vol 15 No 12 22nd March 1842

The 9th October 1841 edition of The Atlas contains an editorial lambasting Elliot in the now familiar terms. It is reproduced in this edition of the Canton Register but not here.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

Editorial : We have wasted two years. No more petty actions. They have cost 1,000 lives and obtained nothing. We should fight with vigour on the right scale.

The Chinese now know our fighting style; they are better prepared. What would have originally required 5,000 men now needs 10,000.

The Cantonese should be punished for violating the truce agreed with Elliot.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

The Hong Kong Gazette, the Government paper, is discontinued from today. Official notices will in future be made in the Friend of China.

  • Pottinger has proclaimed that the Hong merchants visited him in Macau. The meeting had nothing to do with the Chinese seizure of a boat as rumoured.
  • First newspaper adverts for wines and timber for ship- and house-building at Hong Kong in this issue.
  • Macau trade report – no demand for cotton; some Bengali supply bartered at equivalent of $12 per bale. Sharks Fin prices declining; fish maws are now mostly landed in Macau and are not going up to Canton
  • Riots in Hupeh are reported by Viceroy Yu Tai to the Emperor who says ‘let Te Shin, joint Commissioner in Canton, whilst retaining that post, speed to Hupeh and help Yu Tai put down the riots.’

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

Pottinger has proclaimed to the merchants of Hong Kong on 22nd March:

The Hong merchants have visited Macau to obtain agreement for the reconstruction of the fortifications at the Bogue and up the river to Whampoa.

I declined to see them but I sent Major Malcolm to advise them that all such works are not permitted and any rebuilding would cause a resumption of hostilities. I have asked the navy to watch and, by this notice, request the merchant shipping to report any construction seen.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

The Friend of China of 24th March has a report from its Ting Hai agent:

The Mariam has just arrived here from Chusan. Her officers report that an officer of the Ernaad has been murdered. The Ernaad is one of the India Company’s troop-ships. One of the Ernaad’s boats grounded and a second was sent to rescue it but failed. It remained on station to protect the first boat while the Chief Officer went into a nearby village with two Lascars to ask for help.

One Lascar returned wounded and reported the murder of the Mate. We assembled a party and entered the village discovering the Mate’s tortured body minus head and limbs. No trace of the other Lascar was found.

Two other sailors and some Chinese helpers have also disappeared recently. Some villagers have been arrested. Other residents are leaving Tinghai.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

An old edict of the To Kwong Emperor from 4th month (of the previous year) is copied from the Peking Gazettes. It refers to extensive rebellion in Hupeh Province and calls on the officials there to exterminate the rebels.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

A report of 1st September 41 from Egypt indicates Aden will be a new Gibraltar of the East. The Arabs have ruined the coffee trade of Mocha and Hodeida by overtaxing it.

The Company has also acquired Tajoum which is the only Abyssinian port from whence access to the interior may be had. Hitherto access had required the permission of the governor of Aden. All the ports along the west coast of the Red Sea are now under British influence and we can keep the French out. Mules, sheep and coffee are all available at very reasonable prices.

There is a large slave trade. The women are dark but comely, unlike the Africans (they are Somalis). Boys and women are cheaper than horses and mules.

If our influence predominates we can end this traffic.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

The fiscal reforms said to be intended by Sir Robert Peel in England are enlightened. We hope the Chinese – whose duty on tea is heavy – will take note. Meanwhile we hope the English tea duty will also be reduced.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

The outrage on the boat of the Morrison and the murder of one of its crew should cause the Americans to demand satisfaction of the Canton officials.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

The US frigate Constellation and corvette Boston have arrived in China.

Friend of China, 1st April 1842:

A large sale of c. 3,000 chests of Java tea is reported to have occurred at Rotterdam recently. Dutch tea was previously a curiosity but tasters say it is now comparable to China tea and about the same price.

The Dutch assert their production and manufacturing system makes their tea invulnerable to adulteration of superior grades with inferior.

Meanwhile, the production from Assam during the next four years is scheduled to be:









Thus the estimated quantity of Assam tea after four years is not 1/12th of today’s annual import in England.

Brazil tea is said to be very good but, if the officials can keep their hands in their pockets, there is no place cheaper than China. If there are free ports to the north later on, closer to the growing areas, they might provide a supply at even better rates.

The tea merchants in Java are delighted with the China war. Many Chinese merchants are in production there. The hills are well-suited for production of black teas. We hope the Assam crop can compete.

Friend of China, 1st April 1842:

Lancelot Dent has left China in the Ariel after a residence of 19 years. He arrived in Canton soon after the great fire of November 1822.

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

It is reported that Colonel de Jancigny the French Commercial Agent, and M Challaye the French Vice-Consul, had a meeting with the Imperial Commissioner Yih Shan and the Governor of Canton Kekung.

It was held at the country house of Tin Qua where they were entertained by the son of the late Hong merchant of that name.

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

Proclamation of Yiking, Tei Shun and Wan of 30th January printed in the Friend of China edition of 31st March:

“Some Chinese have been captured by the ‘black’ rebels (Indian troops) and have been dressed in foreign clothes. They have become unrecognisable.

“The ‘red’ barbarians (English) have also captured Chinese (villagers employed to carry ammunition, etc., for the army). Oppressed and forced to serve, they will no doubt be placed in the front line when battle is joined. If they retreat the barbarians will kill them.

“If the black rebels throw away their arms, kneel and submit, they will be spared. If they deliver a barbarian chief they will be rewarded with high office. If they deliver a common barbarian they will get money. If they deliver a foreign ship they will get its cargo.”

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

Public Notice of Pottinger published at Macau 12th August and recited in the Friend of China, 31st March 1842:

‘It is the Plenipotentiary’s intention to devote his undivided energies and thoughts to the primary object of securing a speedy and satisfactory close of the war, and that he can therefore allow no consideration connected with mercantile pursuits and other interests to interfere with the strong measures which he may find it necessary to authorise and adopt, towards the government and subjects of China, with a view to compelling an honourable and lasting peace.’

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

The British people must have their tea. The British government must have its £4 millions in duty. Capt Elliot honourably but fatally adhered to his instructions.

To gain much we must risk much or, as Nelson said, “death or Westminster Abbey.”

The finances of the British government are in a terrible state. If Pottinger can conclude the war soon he will merit a peerage.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

Three of the leading officers in the British force to fight in China are from the south of Ireland- Sir Hugh Gough, Capt Bouchier, Major Sargent.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

Rumour – During the last month the Canton authorities have been attacking piracy on the Pearl River. Over 100 offenders were caught of whom 44 were beheaded in one day. Since then 16 more have been decapitated. Rigorous measures continue.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

10th February – British positions in Ningpo have been attacked. 10,000 – 12,000 Chinese troops advanced to the south and west gates, got over the walls and penetrated to the market place where they were confronted and driven back.

250 Chinese dead were found in the city.

The 49th regiment went in pursuit. It was said that the Chinese military chest was captured and found to contain only $2,000. Prior to the attack its contents were paid-out to the Chinese troops at a rate of $3 or $4 inducement money per man depending on the nature of their duty. Many of the dead had as much, sometimes more, on their persons.

Some fire rafts were floated down the river and had to be towed away by the steamer Sesostris. A gun was brought down to the east suburb across the river and was fired on by the Modeste causing great damage.

A simultaneous attack on the north gate of Chinhae was driven off. 30 Chinese and 2 officials were killed in that rout. Fireboats were again floated down but went ashore and did no damage.

Earlier the Nemesis was sent to Taishan Island to investigate reports of troop movements there. Her boats entered a creek and were fired upon. The crew was landed to oppose the Chinese, killing 30 and wounding some others. The boats then located and fired some war-junks before returning to the Nemesis and thence to Chinhae.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

Intelligence from the Chinese army headquarters south of the Hangchow river speaks of the force being in a state of insubordination and lacking supplies.

The Emperor has ordered the local inhabitants to fund the war expenses but they are said to oppose making any further sacrifices.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

Trade note : Inventory of the contents of prize junks prior to sale revealed the presence of sarsaparilla which was sold at less than 6d per lb by the prize agent. It sells in London from 1/3d – 2/9d per lb.

To us it is known as a Brazilian product which we get from France after processing. Liquorice was also found on the junks. We get it from Sicily and Spain at £6-7 per cwt.

Vol 15 No 15 12th April 1842

Friend of China, 1st April – The trade between Kumaun and Chinese Tartary over the Himalayas is mostly cloth and grain. The return trade is predominately borax with some Chinese salt.

On the Indian side, the business is conducted by Almora merchants over the Juwahir, Dharma and Beeaus passes. The trade balance is 100% in favour of the Bhutan traders who bring the Chinese products over. When our war with China is over we should open free trade with Tartary.

Vol 15 No 15 12th April 1842

Elliot’s ransom of Canton is categorised by the British ministry as a droit of the Crown. It will not be available to settle our opium claims. Here is the correspondence revealing the government’s position. It is between the East India and China Association and the ministry:

To Henry Goulburn, Downing Street.

I am requested by the gentlemen who attended with me at an interview with Lord Aberdeen on 28th October 1841 to press the claims of the opium merchants in China. They wish to draw your attention to the money obtained by Capt Elliot which is now coming to England on HMS Conway.

My clients from Bengal and Bombay wish to know what part of the money will be applied to settlement of their claims.

Sgd J Horsley Palmer

Goulburn replied ‘no part’.

Canning later wrote to G de H Larpent, J Horsley Palmer, John Abel Smith and George Lyall, representatives of the claimants, that the Treasury believes the money was paid to relieve hostile pressure on the city of Canton and is accordingly a droit of the Crown.

Friend of China 14.3.42 edition

Pottinger announces that a force of 8,000 – 10,000 Chinese troops forming the garrison of Tse Ki, 20 miles from Ningpo, was defeated on 15 March. All their guns, small arms, stores, ammunition and equipment were seized.

The Chinese troops withdrew to entrenchments on lofty hills south and east of the city. These were steadily approached and finally taken, in some cases involving hand-to-hand combat.

The steamers Phlegathon and Nemesis steamed up the river towards the entrenched positions and destroyed a number of war-junks and fireboats. At least 1,000 Chinese were killed and many wounded.

The following day, after destroying the guns and burning the camp, the force moved 7 miles to Chongke Pass where the existing entrenched positions were found to have been evacuated. The trench works were destroyed, associated buildings fired and the troops then returned to Tse Ki and thence to Ningpo.

Friend of China 14.3.42 edition

A list of British officers to be commended for their part in the battles around Ningpo is provided (not reproduced)

Friend of China 14.3.42 edition

The USS Constellation has been invited to Whampoa for Admiral Kearney to interview Yih Shan. This is the first time a foreign warship has been invited into the river. Rev Bridgman is interpreting. Meanwhile the British ships Nimrod, Hooghly and Ariadne have also entered the river to check rumours of Chinese troops approaching south towards the Bogue.

Vol 15 No 16, 19th April 1842

A letter from Amoy dated 9th April says Chinese naval forces are gathering to attack the opium fleet anchored at Chimmo Bay (the Bay is north of Amoy and is used as a roadstead by the opium brigs) .

HMS Pylades has been sent to render assistance.

Vol 15 No 16, 19th April 1842

The Ann (Denham) has been lost on Taiwan. A large amount of treasure was on board. Capt Denham also had a passenger travelling with him named Robert Gully.

HMS Nimrod recently sailed along the west coast of the island searching for trace of the Nerbudda and her people, of whom nothing has been heard. She was fired upon but took ample vengeance.

Vol 15 No 16, 19th April 1842

Friend of China, 14th April – Admiral Parker has ordered his ships to seize all Chinese coasting junks except those trading between Fukien ports and the British Straits Settlements (Singapore, Malacca and Penang).

If the cargo is the usual mix of general goods it should be destroyed. If it is valuable it should be brought to Hong Kong and handed over to the naval Prize Agent.

Five naval officers have been appointed Prize Agents and, given the size of the Chinese coasting trade, the commissions they receive are expected to be huge.

The prize agent at Hong Kong is Mr Whichelo, the purser of HMS Blenheim. He has advertised a quantity of Chinese copper cash for sale on 11.4.42 at 1,200 pieces for $1, about 70% of its commercial value.

Friend of China, 21st April 1842:

John Quincy Adams has expressed an opinion on the war we have with China. He says ‘The cause of war is the pretension on the part of the Chinese that in all their intercourse with other nations, political or commercial, their superiority must be implicitly acknowledged and manifested in humiliating forms.’4

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

The Anglona has arrived from Amoy. Its officers report the Sesostris steamer took a detachment of troops away to assist in the expected attack on Hangchow. The depleted force on Kulangsu of barely 300 men is threatened by increasing numbers of Chinese forces on the mainland opposite.

The ladies and heavy baggage have been embarked for safety. The Chinese have threatened to destroy the opium depot at Namoa and the Pylades has been sent there for its protection. Six merchant ships are in port but trade is dull.

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

Madame Tussauds Waxworks in London is displaying life-size replicas of Commissioner Lin and his wife, as modelled by a Chinese artist at Canton

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

Lancelot Dent has just left China for England. He was never a Hong Kong resident but we honour him. ‘… his unswerving integrity, charitable munificence and uniform kindness will be long cherished.’

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

At last colonial matters are receiving attention in London.

The Colonial Society has formed the Colonial Club and issues the Colonial Gazette.

Even Under Secretary of State Stephen might learn something.

Until now it has been true throughout Asia, as said by Sir Josiah Child in 1680 that:

‘… as to the laws of England they were wholly inapplicable to India; a heap of nonsense, compiled by a few ignorant country gentlemen, who hardly knew how to make laws for the good governance of their own families, much less for the regulation of companies and foreign commerce.’

Friend of China, 21st April 1842:

On 14th July a deputation from the Chartered Bank of Asia comprising Wm Jardine MP, John Campbell, Rogers, Anderson, Brooking, Capt John Hine, B Williams and Goldsworthy interviewed the Earl of Ripon of the Board of Trade.

They had previously interviewed officials of the Board of Control.

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

Pirates have not been deterred by the execution of many of their comrades and attacks continue in the estuary. A native passage boat was recently captured. Many of the crew were injured in its defence and were afterwards mutilated.

Friend of China, 21st April 1842:

Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy has been knighted by the Queen. M/s Jardine and Matheson have presented him with a silver service for 24 costing £3,000.

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

The Company’s warships Hooghly and Ariadne have returned from the river. General Burrell reports seeing no restoration of the forts up to the second bar.

Friend of China 21.4.42 edition

The brig Ann, with much specie on board, has been confirmed as wrecked on Taiwan. We hope the crew have not shared the fate of the Nerbudda crew.

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

The late James Innes’ ship Adventure, 143 tons, will be sold at auction ‘as is’ at Taipa Roads on 3rd May by the executors of his Estate.

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

Manackjee Cursetjee is returning to India via France, Italy and Egypt. He was well received at Paris and met the French King and Royal Family.

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

The correspondent of the London newspaper Times at St Petersburg says that since commencement of our war with China, trade between Russia and China has increased considerably.5

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

Mr Kennedy, formerly Editor of the Hull Advertiser, is appointed Consul to the Republic of Texas in Elliot’s stead. He sailed with his family from Liverpool in the RMS Arcadia.

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

The 2nd opium auction of this season has been held at Calcutta and produced the following average prices:



1,395 chests

590 chests

Average per chest 825 Rupees

Average per chest 810 Rupees

Vol 15 No 17, 26th April 1842

The Agra Ukbar, 3rd February – Zarawur Singh, the Sikh general who invaded Tibet, has been killed in battle by the Chinese. His hands and ears were cut off and sent to Lhasa. The 900 Sikh troops under his former command then made a treaty with China.

They gave up their arms and trusted to the Chinese general’s mercy. They were then released at the scene. About 130 have returned via Byansee Pass under the leadership of Bustee Ram. Another 40 are under medical treatment for frostbite.

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

3,000 reinforcements are coming from England for the China war as no more men can be spared from India. When the weather in the north of China becomes milder an assault on the capital will be possible. After garrisoning Hong Kong, Amoy, Chusan and Chinhae there will be only 5,000 men left for the attack.

The Chinese have had two years to learn our way in war and we have never had more apt and diligent students. No doubt the approaches to Peking will be well defended. If the Emperor goes on tour in Tartary as some say he will, what are we to do with Peking?

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

Ex-President John Quincy Adams is one of the few supporters of our war on China. His opinions have been published in the New York Herald:

“Britain has the righteous cause in this war. Opium is not the cause of war, it is the kow-tow – the arrogant pretensions of China that she will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind, not on terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms of the relationship between lord and vassal.

“The death of the gallant Napier was the first fruit of this bitter struggle. … what are the duties of the government and people of the USA resulting from the existing war between Great Britain and China?

“I remind you of the latest news we have – the ransom of Canton. When we remember the scornful refusal of Mr Astell from the gates of Canton in July 1834, bearing the letter of peace and friendship from Napier to the Viceroy of the two Provinces, and the contemptuous refusal to receive that letter itself, and compare it with the ransom of that same city in June 1841, we trace the whole line of connection between cause and effect…”

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

An Edict of the To Kwong Emperor concerning the Nerbudda has been received and translated:

“Ta Hung Ho, Commander-in-Chief of our Taiwan forces, and others have sunk a barbarian ship, seized barbarians and captured their guns. Barbarian ships have been coming and going at Taiwan since the 9th month in spite of righteous orders to prevent them.

At 5 am on the 11th day of the 10th month one sailed up to Sha Wan fort and commenced a bombardment. General Yeu Chin King, Tso Kin and others fired back and dismasted her. As she tried to leave she ran aground and broke up. Many barbarians fell in the water and were drowned. Some reached shore, stole a boat and tried to escape but Yeu caught them and put to death a great many black barbarians. Another officer put to sea and captured many black barbarians. He saw the white barbarians voluntarily jumping into the sea. The high officer Chin Tae then opened fire on a ship’s boat and sank it. He killed all the white barbarians and captured the blacks. Tso Kin also destroyed a boat, killed the whites and captured the blacks. He found a valuable chart.

And the result was … barbarians killed – 5 whites, 5 reds and 22 blacks; barbarians captured – 123 blacks; property captured – 10 large guns.

The Emperor replies:

“Ta Hung Ho may change his one-eyed peacock’s feather for the two-eyed flowery type. The Intendant of Circuit may in future wear a single flowery one. The merits of the other officers must be described to the high officers at Peking to assess their rewards. The wounded and killed must be listed and their families rewarded. The officers should remain in Taiwan and maintain preparedness.“

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

At April 1842 J M & Co were still storing their silver at Macau.

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

News from Ningpo – Several Europeans have been captured under the walls of the city and taken off. One was Sergeant Campbell of the 49th regiment. The Chinese can quickly amass such vast crowds that harassing attacks cannot be avoided. Our force is too small to retain Ningpo and no doubt its withdrawal to Chinhae will be declared a great Chinese victory.

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

The holders of Elliot’s receipts for surrendered opium have been complaining.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer says the ransom of Canton is a droit of the crown and may not be used to pay them off. Had government protested the bills as soon as they were known, that attitude might have been understandable but Elliot, whilst severely censured, was kept in office for a year after it was known how he had compromised the government.

Disclaimer and dismissal now is too late. The British ministry has to hope Pottinger can convince the Chinese to pay.

On the other hand, it is well known that the loss sustained at Commissioner Lin’s hands has been largely if not entirely made up by the windfall gains made by the smugglers since.

Vol 15 No 18, 3rd May 1842

One of the Hong merchants has presented the Emperor with a European schooner built at Canton by Chinese workmen. She carries 22 guns and has a coppered hull. Other warships are also being built.

Vol 15 No 18, 3rd May 1842

Friend of China, 28th April – The Chinese are different. They write with the wrong end of the quill; their books begin where ours end. Old men fly kites while little boys watch. They shave their heads instead of their faces. The men have longer finger nails than the women. Their dates are back to front. Their compass points to the south. Their directions are east north or west south instead of vice versa. When mourning they wear white instead of black. The corpse is carried to burial at great speed accompanied by deafening noise. When entertaining guests they wear hats while we take ours off. The left hand seat is the seat of honour at a feast. We wear pantaloons over stockings they wear stockings over pantaloons and display their garters. We keep our shoes black, they white. We strike our bells on the inside, they on the outside. The feathers in their hats hang down. They drink their wine hot.

Editor – Instead of getting drunk with wine they ethereally inhale the fumes of an agreeable exhilarant thus realising an oblivion of care and forgetfulness of sorrow at far less sacrifice of health.

Vol 15 No 18, 3rd May 1842

Thomas Gemmel of Glasgow and Canton, the proprietor of Gemmel & Co, has died at Gibraltar on his way home.

Friend of China 5.5.42 edition


  • Ningpo was fired before the British left. Hangchow fell four days after our force left Ningpo.
  • Charles Elliot has told the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Hong Kong can pay its own way as a colony. Pottinger has communicated with the Hong merchants through the medium of an eminent British merchant.
  • The Madras regiment refused to embark for service on the coast as the dependants of those who died on the Golconda got less compensation than those who died in battle.

Friend of China 12.5.42 edition

The Emperor of Japan has accepted the annual presents of the Dutch and last year (for the first time in three centuries) returned some very valuable presents of his own, including a set of gold chessmen studded with gems.

Friend of China 12.5.42 edition

Kin Yu Shing and other merchants of Sze Sho in Chekiang have donated 1,200,000 Taels to the Emperor to fight the barbarians.

Friend of China 12.5.42 edition


The original inhabitants of the island, judging from their manners and their facial appearance, appear descended from the northern Tartars. They live by fishing and the hunting and are almost completely naked. The Dutch arrived there in 1624 and settled a small island off the coast which they fortified (Fort Zeelandia at Anping, Tainan).

This small community developed a prosperous trade as, when the Tartars concurrently conquered China, many refugees fled the mainland and some of them came to Taiwan. It is estimated some 100,000 Chinese who supported the Ming took refuge on Taiwan in the late 1640’s.

They introduced sugar and rice cultivation and a flourishing trade developed between them and the ports of Fukien and Chekiang. Taiwan was soon being visited by trading junks from Java, Philippines, Siam and Japan. The Dutch benefited from this.

Friend of China 12.5.42 edition

British tea exports (lbs) from China, 1.7.41 – 30.4.42 (10 months):












Total black 22,132,000lbs



Total green 7,491,000lbs

Friend of China 12.5.42 edition

Mineral survey in China – The gold and silver supply is thought to come from the western provinces bordering on Tibet. We have found no trace of it along the coast – no mineral workings have been seen. Indeed, the igneous rocks along the east coast are unlikely to contain anything valuable. There may be some iron in the mountains but it is not being exploited so far as we could determine.

Coal was found to be mined in Tartary (39”10’N, 121”25’E) during Macartney’s expedition and another supply is available north west of Canton. The Tartary supply is superior and is sold at 160 cash per picul (133lbs) or approx 12/6d per ton.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

On 3rd May, a boat of the USS Constellation, whilst leading the frigate up the river and taking soundings etc., in answer to the Viceroy’s invitation to Canton, was fired upon by one of the forts with shot and forced to retire to the frigate.

No action was taken by the Americans but the Governor of Canton, when he was appraised of the matter, scolded the responsible army commander.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

Notice from Fort William (Calcutta):

The Queen has graciously approved six months full Batta for officers, soldiers and sailors of Her Majesty’s forces and the India Company’s forces in China, to be paid out of the ransom of Canton received in 1841. (Batta was an allowance to officers and men paid for the time they were in the field)

Any gratuities already paid will be deducted from the above.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

The late London firm of Magniac Smith and Co, having admitted Wm Jardine MP as a partner, is now renamed Magniac Jardine & Co.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy of Bombay has been made a knight by the Queen. This amiable and benevolent Parsee has been presented with a service of plate for 24 persons, of which the principal piece (a candelabra) is inscribed:

“presented to Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy of Bombay by Wm Jardine and James Matheson of Canton as a mark of their sincere friendship and to commemorate their admiration of his liberality in business, pure philanthropy and extensive benevolence.”

Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy will be remembered for relieving the inhabitants of Surat at the time of the great fire by distributing both food and clothing.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

Admiral Parker is promoted to Vice Admiral. His job in Asia is a Rear Admiral’s job and will henceforth be filled by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane (flagship Hastings, 74 guns) who becomes the new CinC of the East India fleet. But for continuity Parker is being kept on temporarily.

Vol 15 No 21, 24th May 1842

The American Commodore Kearney has had an interview with Viceroy Yih Shan

Vol 15 No 21, 24th May 1842

Friend of China, 5th May – The opium clipper Pantaloon has arrived with 300 chests for Hong Kong delivery and 300 for China. Opium is selling at Calcutta at 800 – 810 Rupees for Patna and 790-795 for Benares.

No change is expected until the accounts from China are received in Calcutta. These will show how the opium in the first auction fared.

Friend of China, 26th May 1842:

An editorial from the London press is recited:

The instructions that the new Plenipotentiary has received are as poor as those of the two Elliots. That they are working is solely due to the character of the men involved not the ministers instructing them. The makeshift, rub-on-anyhow, system of Lord Palmerston … required only the China war-and-no-war arrangements to put the copestone to its absurdities.

On the destruction of £3 million worth of opium he says

something wrong in China. Can’t tell what it is but something clearly wrong. Must have an expedition. Twill furnish good berths for a brother and cousin of Minto’s. I know nothing about the matter myself. They’ll find out when they get there. The India Company will fork out the money first, that will avoid having to tell parliament and ask for cash from them. China is too far off to make folks critical about a little blundering”.

This actually seems to embody the whole views of the previous Foreign Secretary … from commencement to the present hour. In England the most profound ignorance of the whole affair seems to have prevailed from the first – we are fighting about something; we are gaining victories; the tea trade has not been interrupted – this is all that is known.

Friend of China Editor – We are conducting a war little in the extreme. We are fighting at Chinhae and trading at Canton; capturing junks on the seas and bargaining with them in the river. The China expedition is a delusion unless it secures to us a lasting and honourable peace; and the attainment of this can only be hoped for by our permanently maintaining on the coasts of China the means of making war at the shortest notice.

Friend of China 26.5.42 edition

Editorial of Bombay Times on justification for war:

In China … a Guelph or a Bourbon has as good a right to the sovereignty as the present Tartar ruler – it is the right of the strong to govern over the unresisting. But besides the internal rights of an individual nation – which are in this case, and in this sense, non-existent – there is no principle of national jurisprudence more distinctly recognised than this: that no individual people on the face of the Earth is warranted to assume a position injurious or obnoxious to the great commonwealth of nations. No corporate community, however ample, or under whatsoever designation it may shelter itself, is entitled to obstruct the march of civilisation, or to mar the happiness or improvement of the vast family of man.

In this sense China has set herself up as an offence … which must be removed by force from the united movement of the great human family.

Friend of China 26.5.42 edition

Editorial – There are hundreds of places like Amoy and Chusan, where an easily defensible islet or peninsula might be maintained by a single regiment … to which inhabitants would flock to in thousands to colonise under the protection of our guns and our laws.

The Chinese people are … the most industrious and the most thoroughly imbued with the spirit of commercial enterprise … of any race. …. they need only to be saved from the abominable tyranny that enslaves and torments them.

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

Local mercantile news:

  • Dadabhoy Rustomjee is admitted to the partnership of Rustomjee Cowasjee & Co of Calcutta from 1st March 1842
  • Adolphus Sceates Drysdale is made a partner of Lindsay & Co from 1st July 1841

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

Mrs Gutzlaff left for New York on the Panama with 3 blind children and her assistant Ms Ritchie.

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

The Canton Register Editor is letting three en-suite rooms of a large house in Rua do Hospital, Macau

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

John Lee Scott, of the Kite, was captured near Chusan with Captain Anstruther and many others. They were held in wooden cages and displayed to the villagers. They were well fed. Some of Scott’s crew resisted capture and were beaten and killed.

Scott has now published his experiences on his return to England.6

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

The Chinese released the Madagascar’s crew and passengers in March 1842

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

Letter to the Canton Register Editor Slade from Mr Edmonds, an American:

The Company’s monopoly ceased in 1833. The British government has made several unsuccessful attempts to open relations with Peking. China is willing for trade to continue but wants no further connection. Under what law can we insist on a right to relations? What right would permit us to place a permanent representative in China against the will of the Chinese government.

The divine law requires us to love our neighbours, to do unto others as we would have them do to us. Would Britain tolerate a representative who was forced upon her? Would she willingly accept a man whose people were forcing opium on her citizens? Of course not. She already complains that her ambassadors, sent unilaterally to China, are not respected. She says it is an outrage to treat ambassadors thus, an offence against the rights of nations. The only right that Britain can claim is that of might over right. Eventually China, like India, will lay prostrate at her feet.

The British government knew about the illicit trade. It removed the Company’s restraint but not the opium trade. The efforts of a few right-minded traders (like Charles W King) failed to obtain a voluntary abandonment of the trade. As a last resort the Commissioner seized 20,000 chests about a third of which had been supplied by the Company. Now the British government demands indemnity for the seizure. I hope this is the last time that an indemnity for smugglers is demanded at the cannon’s mouth. The opium was handed over in April and the British merchants made their pledges to withdrew from opium trade. They then left Canton to Macau where they unilaterally withdrew their pledges and recommenced smuggling.

On 7th July a party of British sailors attacked Tsim Sha Tsui village looking for booze. They broke into houses, assaulted the inhabitants, wounded many people, including children and an old woman of 70 years and killed one man. In August Elliot held an ‘impartial’ trial of the culprits. None of the villagers, indeed no Chinese, was called to give evidence. No culprit was convicted of murder but some were of riot. They were sentenced to a few months imprisonment and fined a few dollars. Later in August the consequence of Elliot’s refusal to surrender the suspects became apparent. ….. remainder illegible.

Sgd Edmonds

Editor – this is effectively a complaint against the opinions of John Quincy Adams, not the British Government. He held that Chinese exclusiveness was ‘an outrage upon the rights of human nature’

Every paragraph contains errors. The opium was surrendered; the commissioner could not seize it. The British government demanded reparations for national wrongs not compensation for opium smugglers. The pledges given were on the understanding we could remove our opium not that it would be destroyed. The account of the 7th July affray is overdrawn as American involvement is not mentioned. The references to international law is inapplicable as China does not acknowledge it – she rules the World and does not allow the rights of others.

The Editor of the Bombay Times said ‘no individual people on the face of the earth is warranted to assume a position injurious or obnoxious to the great commonwealth of nations; no corporate community, however ample, or under whatever designation it may shelter itself, is entitled to obstruct the march of civilisation or to mar the happiness or improvement of the vast family of man. In this sense China has set herself up as the offender and stumbling block, which must be removed by force from the united movement of the great human family.’

The Canton Register approves this view.

The truth of the murder case is that Elliot wrote to the Keunmin Foo after many of the sailors had left China and others had died. The culprit could not be discovered. Ah Tom, the Linguist, hearing that a body had been discovered in HK harbour, said this would do for the murderer. Ah Tom discussed with the Keunmin foo and led Elliot to believe the Chinese side would accept that the body was that of the murderer.

Elliot wrote that the body indeed came from the Snarley Yow (Smolius), the crew of which ship were ashore at Tsim Sha Tsui that day, and that there was a rumour he had been the murderer. The Keunmin foo needed Elliot to provide clearer evidence, which Elliot did not have to offer.

All the English sailors known to have been involved, were examined by the magistrate before a jury. The prime suspect, a crewman of the Snarley Yow, was on the crew of the Portia. It was only two days after the fight, when the investigation had already been completed, that Elliot and Smith learned he had been earlier on the crew of Snarley Yow and was transferred to the Portia after the fight.

Some of the illegible parts of Edmunds’ letter may be inferred from Editor Slade’s continuing response below:

Editor – Gribble was arrested for firing at the Customs officers who came to search his boat for contraband. When the British army demanded his release he was freed.

When the British landed on Chusan on 5th July they destroyed everything they could not carry off. Eye-witnesses say first the British flag was raised then the whole town was plundered. The streets were littered with broken furniture, pictures and foodstuffs around the wounded bodies of the defending residents. Plunder continued for two days while the bodies remained unattended. The British General says ‘every protection was given to life and property’.

Edmunds’ offence is to believe the Chinese reports are true and the English reports untrue. He is anti-British.

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

Commercial traffic between Russia and China at Kyakhta has vastly increased since the beginning of the war. The Orthodox Christian mission sent last year to Peking was warmly received.

Has the refusal of the Chinese to negotiate with us been due to Russian influence?

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

Reports from Amoy dated 19th May 42 say our advance on Hangzhou has already commenced.

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

The French frigate Erigone and French man-of-war Favorite are coming to Chusan. Admiral la Place will lead the squadron into Chinese waters.

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

The Yangtse Kiang (Cantonese – Cheung Kong) has been surveyed for a long way up its course.

We evacuated the towns of Ningpo and Chinhae last week (7th May 42) and the Chinese re-entered and commenced punishing those inhabitants who had co-operated with us. Our troops are upset by the Chinese way in war – kidnapping and other annoyances.

Most of our deployable force (some 3,000 soldiers) was assembled at Chusan and left 13th May 42 for Chapu. The fall of Chapu is expected to be reported in 2-3 days. This is the largest port of Hangzhou and the centre of Japanese trade with China. It is closer to the sea than Kanfu, the ancient port of Hangzhou mentioned by the Arab travellers.

Here at Tinghai the shops are all open and well stocked. Kidnapping continues. Four days ago a foreign youth was abducted together with his horse. Capt Dennis has arrested 24 men, one with a blue button and queue, for kidnapping. We hope this will slow them down.

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

The Magicienne, an American ship sold to the Chinese government for war, now has all its guns mounted. We had expected American officers to drill the Chinese troops but that has not been reported.

Friend of China 4.6.42 special edition

Her Majesty’s Plenipotentiary announces the capture of Chapu (now Zhapu, on the northern coast of Hangzhou Bay). He regrets we have sustained some killed and wounded. Much greater suffering fell on the Chinese soldiers and inhabitants. Many prisoners were taken initially but have since been handed back. Here are the commanders’ reports:

  • Naval report: Commanders Kellett and Collinson succeeded in sounding the waters at night and thus permitted, when the troops landed, the Modeste, Blonde and Cornwallis to approach close under the sea batteries comprising 42 guns along the hillside, and thronged with matchlock men and gingals. A few shots caused the Chinese force to retire and enabled the men of the Blonde and others to get ashore and take possession of the batteries before the mines in them could be sprung. The naval force then joined the land force on its approach to the city.Sgd. Adm Parker
  • Army report: On 17th May the fleet arrived and the attack was fixed for dawn 18th. The landing was easily accomplished and the principal defences taken by the naval force. We were on the walls by noon. The city was defended by 8,000 soldiers of whom about 1,700 were Manchu. We have buried 1,200 – 1,300 enemy soldiers. Few prisoners were taken on this occasion. 80 – 90 guns have been captured. We will keep the brass cannon and destroy the iron ones. Many gingals, matchlocks and bows and arrows have been seized. We have found a foundry, a gunpowder manufactory and several arsenals in the town which will all be destroyed. We lost 1 officer (Lt Col Tomlinson), 1 sergeant and 7 men; 7 officers (including Lt Col Mountain and Capt Campbell), 1 sergeant and 42 men have been wounded. 5-6 of the marines and seamen were also wounded. All the wounded officers and men and doing quite well. Sgd General Hugh Gough.

Friend of China 4.6.42 special edition

Chapu has had a Manchu garrison since commencement of the Ching dynasty. The soldiers in garrison killed their own wives and children before killing themselves – hence the high numbers of deaths. About 1,500 bodies were found and buried. Poisoning, hanging and drowning were the favoured methods of suicide. It was said by the Chinese that the Manchu’s cannot tolerate the disgrace of defeat. The ones who were self-immolated were all women and children.

Chapu is sited in very fertile country, the best we have seen to date.

Friend of China 9.6.42 edition

A woman’s life in China – In ancient times there were some female authors but today females are a secondary sex. Female children are not educated and cannot read or write. They are fit only for service. A daughter is commonly betrothed in infancy and meets her husband on the wedding day. A payment to the parents is given for her receipt.

Friend of China 9.6.42 edition


Commissioner Lin left last month to commence his banishment at Ili;

Kishen has been sent to Manchuria and Ilipu is in Chekiang.

Friend of China 9.6.42 edition

At Tientsin and all along the length of the Pei Ho to Peking are reported to be about 100 forts now and an great army of troops.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

The Friend of China of 9th June has considered the prevalence of smuggling:

Marjoribanks in his evidence to the Select Committee of the Commons said that when the Company’s monopoly was ended, the remaining trade would be solely a smuggling trade and there would be no legal trade in China.

The annual value of the opium trade is now estimated at $20,000,000 and this is all smuggled. In addition every sort of other item that we import to China is smuggled – even bulky commodities like saltpetre.

We think smuggling is not uncommon in the world.

The coasting trade of China is nearly free of all duties. The Chinese merchant takes advantage of this encouragement of domestic trade by clearing from Canton for say Hainan, but actually going to Siam or Cochin China. If he comes back a little late (compared with the declared trip to Hainan), he may be queried and obliged to bargain with the port authorities but he does not have to discharge at his home port. In this way the level of duty he pays is kept at a tolerable level.

This practice is adopted by the junk traffic to Hong Kong from whom we learned of it.7

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

20th April a night-soil boat was passing the west water gate of Ningpo when it struck the seawall and stove-in a panel revealing an Indian within. He was bound hand and foot and gagged. He was seen by one of our sentries who raised the alarm. He is the servant of one of our army officers.

The boatman revealed he was the 8th foreigner he had carried out of the town. He explained how the man-smuggling was conducted and a few more foreigners were then discovered being prepared for the voyage and saved. These captured men are people who wander away from the main body of the army and get kidnapped for reward. They are carried off to some secret location and used to bargain with us later.

Another gang of man-stealers was caught together with its apparent director – an official with a blue button – and all have been brought to and are imprisoned in Hong Kong. This Chinese way of fighting is unfair.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

HMS Calliope will sail for Calcutta soon with sycee to the value of $4 millions, part of the Canton ransom. Dents and Jardines are weighing and assaying the payment first, on behalf of Pottinger – it is over 110 tons of silver. The navy is charging 1% freight on the shipment. That goes to Capt Kuper as a perk of his job. Private merchants offered to carry the silver at half that price but their proposals were ignored.

The part of the ransom that has been paid in dollars (the first shipment was dollars sent by HMS Conway) was exchanged here for army and navy Bills on London. We suppose it was used to pay the troops. Capt Elliot gave the Paymasters a favourable exchange rate of 4/6d per dollar.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

The Bombay Times has recited a letter in the London Press dated 4th March:

Govt has published papers concerning the $6 million ransom of Canton. They are mainly letters from Elliot explaining the circumstances. Govt has decided the money belongs to the Crown. Nevertheless, part will be distributed to the force now in China; the rest will go to the Consolidated Fund.

Ministers wish to settle terms with China for a conclusion of the war before considering the opium claims. The scrip holders are not satisfied at the delay. They will bring the matter before the Commons by petitioning for recognition of their claims and, hopefully, partial payment.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

In late 1841 the Viceroy of Chekiang asked the Emperor to permit his manufacture of arms with which to fight the English. He says Chekiang exports its goods by sea through Ningpo and by land through Fukien to Kwongtung. It has always been a most wealthy province until the last ten-odd years. Since then the workers demand higher wages.8 We have few weapons and it has become more expensive to make them. He asks the Emperor to declare the wages payable for arms manufacture. Copper cash is still readily available and he expects no difficulty.

The Emperor replied on 31st December 1841 – consult with your colleagues and advise me.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

Yiking has reported the progress of the war to the Emperor who replies:

The barbarians have captured three cities and are again connecting with Chinese to spy on our Chinese troops. Chin Ping Kin and four other traitors have been caught and executed. Many barbarians have been captured.

The people should be brought to understand that the reason for their present calamities is the obedience they give to foreigners. They should regard all foreigners as enemies. Undated.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

Amoy is subordinate to Chuan Chow (Chin Chew in Western documents), which is at the head of a bay north of Amoy.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

W J Markwell has bought the North & South American Coffee House in the Canton factories and offers fine wines and the latest available newspapers to his patrons.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

A Chinese official who often visits the English army lines with information is called by our men Corporal White (he reportedly has a white button). He told us of Ilipu’s impending arrival at Chapu.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

The prize goods from China are to be sold at public auction in India by M/s Tulloh & Co. The Bengal Hurkaru says the army is pleased with the prospect.

Friend of China 16. 6.42 edition

The Long River (Cheung Kong):

The central course of the Yangtse Kiang (Cantonese – Cheung Kong) has been raised by silting and easily drains into canals to irrigate the lands to north and south. Together with the lower tributaries, it forms an extensive means of inland water communications. Its head waters are close to the sources of the Salween and Brahmaputra. Perhaps an inland water communication between India and China might be opened via the Cheung Kong.

The mouth is 20 miles wide. The cities along its banks are the richest in China. Soochow, the Chinese Arcadia, is the most beautiful of all Chinese cities. Shanghai is an important market. Both are connected to the Yangtse by rivers and canals.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

Imperial edict : we have had many confrontations with the rebellious English but only at Chusan did our forces fight well for 6 days and nights and kill many of the enemy. The officers are failing to arouse the ardour of their men and as a result they sometimes even run away. This is due to the lax indulgence of the high officers.

The Commander-in-Chief Yiking and the Joint Commissioners will investigate the battles and discover who were the first officers and soldiers to flee; then immediately inflict the punishment required under army law.

On the other hand, the deserving must be rewarded. Thus with bravery, intelligence and determination we will resist and exterminate the barbarous, murderous, crafty and covetous foe.

Whoever kills an English officer will get rewards over-stepping all usual bounds. Chulihang, a newly-appointed joint Commissioner brings gifts from the Emperor – 50 peacock feathers, 50 blue jay feathers, 40 thumb rings, 70 small swords, 75 flints, 60 buttons (6th rank) and 80 buttons (7th rank) – which will be given out as rewards for valour.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

Note from Chusan:

The authorities here have determined on a policy of kidnapping. When we catch the fellows our policy is to just administer corporal punishment and let them go so they are undeterred and immediately return to their old habits. If we can relate their activities to a house, we burn it down but that seldom happens and seems an undesirable form of retaliation.

Unfortunately the numbers of English here are few and we are blockaded by the Chinese on the landward side while at sea we cannot protect the native craft from pirates. Its the same at Amoy and Chinhae.

Our force has been quartered on Ningpo for 5 – 6 months. The city’s trade and prosperity has been ruined. Those natives who failed to remove their property in time now have to pay our men a ransom to get it out. All the fishermen in the river have to pay us a toll. We should have preferred to more completely subjugate Chusan and stayed there. Today an unarmed European cannot walk from the pier to Ningpo town in safety.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

In France, the ex French consul to Manila, M. Adolphe Barrot, predicted in November 1839 that the English in China would experience the passive resistance of the Chinese.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

The war party at Peking is broadly identified with the Manchu and the peace party with the Chinese.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

A strange effect of the China war has been the 30% increase in junk traffic from Chinese ports to Singapore. The reverse had been anticipated. This seems to be an effect of our naval commander’s exemption from seizure that he provided to Straits-bound traffic.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

Copies of this newspaper sent through the Hongkong Post Office to Macau are not being received by addressees in the British Commission.

Vol 15 No 25, 21st June 1842

The Canton Press has reported a new record in the cargo consolidation business at Lintin – a ship has arrived at Whampoa bringing a cargo of 50,000 bales of cotton!9

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

The channel into the Pei Ho is about 600 yards wide and 18 feet deep at low tide. The bar, formed where the river current meets the sea current, is composed of numerous sand banks all quite close to each other and an effective barrier to the passage of even small boats except at high water. Immediately within the bar the water deepens to about 4 fathoms and the river is about 500 yards wide. On the south bank is the village of Tangku in swampy ground covered with reeds (Tangku is now the bustling port of Tientsin). The river then meanders up to Taku and on to Tientsin. The distance by river is 80 miles but 40 miles ‘as the crow flies’.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Sir Robert Peel has told the Commons the China war will cost £1,400,000 (c. $6 millions – $800,000 more than estimated).

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Pursers in the Royal Navy are in future to be called paymasters.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

The Company’s cotton cultivation in Bengal is developing satisfactorily and we hope the better qualities of American fibre will be farmed there.

At Bombay the chief collector (Sassoon?) did not wish to bother with what has always been a native crop and at Madras a similar disinterest has arisen.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Letter to the Editor from a merchant at Canton 16th June 42:

….. as regards English smugglers, I saw a fleet of 10-12 sailing boats under the English flag at Whampoa. They are on good terms with the local villagers and completely ignored by the officials. I saw 5-6 other English ships, 2 U S warships, 2 U S merchantmen and an opium schooner Echo, said to belong to U S honorary Consul Delano, all at the Whampoa anchorage.

There were Chinese smugglers in vast numbers everywhere in fast crabs and scrambling dragons.

I also saw a nondescript boat with mat sails under the English flag, crewed by a cosmopolitan crew. A man on board identified himself as a comprador and said the boat was a free trader. It displayed two signs in Chinese – one offering opium per catty and the other soliciting cargo for the return journey to Hong Kong.

I counted 7 forts between Whampoa and the factories. The factories themselves are still half deserted and some are in ruins. There are 50-60 foreigners in Canton but much restricted. Only the American flag is flying. On a few days they are allowed to go to Fah Tei. The natives no longer molest foreigners in the streets. Business in their shops was brisk.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Commodore Kearney has left Canton for Chusan after apparently having a satisfactory visit. He is not saying what he achieved with the Chinese.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Editorial – Macau is useless because of Chinese sovereignty over the enclave and the shallow harbour which is only suitable for small ships. Three years rental of a house in Macau equates with the building cost of a similar place in Hong Kong.

Nevertheless, from a pamphlet “The Present Position and Prospects of the British Trade with China.” published in London in 1836 by James Matheson – ‘If Britain was to take control of Macau; garrison it with Bengal troops; declare it a free port – it would flourish because the Chinese are so fond of smuggling they would not hesitate to trade with foreigners if they could receive protection of their trade.’

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

The Glasgow East India Association (a sub-committee of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce) has memorialised Lord Melbourne about China:

“it would be of the greatest advantage to British Trade in that part of the world, were His Majesty’s government to obtain one or two islands as an emporium for commerce, free from the exactions, control or annoyance of the Chinese government.”

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

The 3rd opium auction of the season was held on 10th May at Calcutta. Sale proceeds, average prices per chest and freight costs were:

2,895 chests Bihar

1,165 Benares

Freight to China

Rupees 2,273,000

Rupees 895,625

Opium $8 –14 per c’st

average 785 Rupees

average 768 Rupees

c.f. Cotton bale $5 – 7

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Asiatic Journal, January 1842 edition:

When we have defeated China we must support the Ching dynasty. If the dynasty falls the country will be ungoverned and the French, Dutch, Americans etc., will partition it to set up their own enclaves at all the major ports. We Europeans will be in continual conflict with each other just as occurred in India.

To avoid this we should take no land from China and restrict our treaty terms to purely commercial matters. We only want to trade. The thing that ended the Company’s monopoly more than any other was the belief generated here in England by the free-traders that the Chinese people really wanted to trade with us and only government officials stood in the way.

If it now transpires that this belief, like so many of the stories from China, is untrue and we imperatively need fleets, garrisons and island bases to maintain our trade in safety. We must calculate very carefully whether the costs will not exceed the benefits.10

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Tea imports to London in the first quarter of 1842 are 6.6 million lbs (Q1, 1841 = 4 million lbs).

Deliveries in the same period are 8.5 million lbs (1841 = 8.6 million lbs) and stock remaining is 27.9 million lbs (1841 = 33.6 million lbs). Approximately 75% of each total is black and 25% green

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Died 4th April 1842 at his home in Fitzroy Square, London – Daniel Beale, eldest brother of the late Thomas Beale of Macau.

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

The Hunan troops garrisoning Canton have been fighting with Cantonese soldiers. On 19th June How Qua circulated a letter to all foreigners warning us that the Hunanese might have poisoned the wells at the rear of the city (from whence the Hong merchants draw water for the factories). He said about 20 Cantonese had been poisoned.

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

30 day sight Bills on the Company’s Treasury at Calcutta are freely available at 222 Company Rupees per $100 even for cut dollars.

Private Bills duplicate or improve the Company rates on Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. At Hong Kong, private merchants are giving 230 Rupees per 100 Dollars.

180 day Bills on London are selling at 4/8½d – 4/9d per dollar. Large sycee is at a 2% discount, small at 4%; Old head dollars are 10-11% premium.

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Adolphus S Drysdale was admitted a partner in Lindsay & Co w.e.f. 1st July 1841

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Monthly Times, Editorial of 4th April 1842:

The papers relating to the ransom of Canton on 27th May 1841 will provoke laughter, indigestion and, for Elliot, unmitigated contempt. The receipt is for $6 millions in money and securities.

The Treasury was so perplexed by this unexpected receipt it wrote to the Foreign Office on 2nd November 1841 asking what it was for. Lord Aberdeen perused Elliot’s papers and could find no hint. Canning wrote back “There is only one expression in these dispatches which has any bearing whatever on the point. Elliot had said the money was rather more than twice the duties paid to the Canton government for the season.” This seems to mean that the Hongs squeezed some $3 millions out of British trade during the year and Elliot, having got the city at his mercy, fined it double for the imposition.

Elliot then refers to the high quality of tea that was shipped in 1841. He treats with the Chinese about everything except peace. It is a perfect mercy to the nation that he is now safe in England. Here let us keep him – he is far too rare a specimen of us to part with again.

Fortunately for the Foreign Office, the late gallant and lamented Sir Humphrey Senhouse, to whose debilitated frame the disgraceful sale of Canton brought premature death, had been quite as much puzzled by the dollars on the ‘heights above Canton’ the day after the signature of the agreement … and had actually asked the Plenipotentiary (who sold Canton without mentioning it to his army and navy commanders who had the city at their mercy) the same question as the Treasury.

Senhouse’s letter to Elliot of 21st May assumed the payment was a settlement for a general peace and categorised it as a poor deal. Elliot replied that the payment was for the relief of the city and province from pressure. Elliot directed the ‘pressure’ and it seems to be his position that he sold its removal.

The Foreign Office accordingly replied to the Treasury enquiry in these terms and the ransom was categorised as a ‘droit of the Crown’ which in accordance with 1st and 2nd Victoria, Cap 2 must be credited to the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom under the control of parliament. The cash element of the payment is a little less that $3 millions and part of that has been authorisedly paid-out to the army for its services in China generally.

Elliot is left with a personal liability to Dent & Co to c. $60,000 for the extra opium he needed to surrender to Commissioner Lin. He reported this to London in June 1841 asking that part of the ransom be used to settle with Dent.

On 10th December 1841 Canning wrote Elliot outlining government’s opinion. The money belonged to government and was not available for the discharge of Elliot’s private debts. He recognised Elliot’s conviction that Dent’s claims were just but:

‘…. government cannot relieve you of the responsibility to discharge them. You may seek to bring the payment within the exception contained in 1st and 2nd Victoria Cap 2.’ Yours, etc.

Elliot also received £80,000+ from China as compensation for damage to the foreign factories.

Canton Register editorial – Elliot has neglected to tell the government that the offer to pay money to prevent further hostilities was first made by How Qua via Capt Eyres of HMS Modeste and £5 millions was the suggestion. When Eyres asked if £6 millions was available, How Qua said ‘can’. As soon as the proposal was brought to Elliot’s attention he grasped it with both hands.

He told government he maintained pressure on Canton to ensure the tea cargoes could leave without trouble. Once they were out of the river, he released the pressure. Well, in the four weeks following payment of the ransom, 24 ships sailed with tea, leaving 16 English vessels loading at Whampoa and at least 20 more at Hong Kong.

As regards the settlement for damage to the factories and the firing of the Bilbaino, the Chinese again themselves offered this on 24th May and made the offer conditional only on our claims being reasonable. The claims presented by the merchants were $329,710.40 and were paid without demur. There is no evidence that Elliot adjusted these claims to make them reasonable.

Finally, it is supposed locally that Elliot paid Dents for the 500 chests ex Emily Jane from the ransom proceeds because he feared the possibility of his arrest for debt by the Parsee merchant at Bombay who sold Dents the goods, if the opium he received on behalf of the Queen remained unpaid for.

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

On 28th April, Wm Jardine MP was elected a fellow of the Royal Botanic Society of London at Regent’s Park.

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

A Tagalog-speaking Filipino from Manila, one of the crew of an opium ship at Yankee Reach (at the top of Whampoa Reach), was ashore on Dane’s Island grazing on lychees that were then ripening on the trees when the farmer approached and warned him off.

The Filipino produced a knife and stabbed the farmer dead.

On 23rd June the Hong merchants called-in the foreign merchants at Canton to the Consoo House for an explanation. They propose to request Elliot to move the opium ships out of the river. This Filipino should be tried and, if guilty, hanged. The farmer is the second Chinese to be killed recently by crew of the opium ships. A severe example is required to deter them.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Edict of the To Kwong Emperor:

Lew Yun Ho reported that English rebels are causing depredations at Yu Yaou in Chekiang. The Chief Prison Officer Lin Chew Pang went to the barbarians and told them to go away. We order Yiking to investigate and report. Lin Chew Pang should be made chief magistrate. The rebels caused depredations at Yu Yaou and produced lawlessness and the magistrate, on hearing that the rebels were setting fire to dwellings, led his water police and domestic servants to board the barbarian sampan and remonstrate with the rebels. They then weighed anchor and sailed away.

Promote Lin Chew Pang to full chief magistrate and keep him in Chekiang until a vacancy arises. He is raised to the 6th rank in the army and allowed to wear a blue jay feather to arouse others to do their duty. Respect this

Editor: Perhaps the obstinate determination of the Emperor to continue this war is caused by his receipt of nonsensical intelligence such as that above. It would have been likely wiser of us to have approached Peking at the outset.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Report from the north of China:

Land communications in China are characterised by ubiquitous stream ditches and small canals and by narrow footpaths. The surprise is the size of the Chinese horses. We expected them to be small but they are as big as Arabs.

At Tientsin the countryside is flat. The town is built on a small rise at a confluence of rivers. The area supports a huge population both on land and in the river. The houses are neat and the land is assiduously tended in small plots. For the past few months the Chinese have been preparing earthworks and moving-in troops. The river ceases to be effected by tide about 30 miles above the city.

Barrow (of the Macartney embassy) estimated the floating population on the river in the c. 90 miles of tidal waters to be no less than 100,000. There were willows planted along the river banks with firs in front of the houses of rich men and temples. Beans, buckwheat and a type of nettle containing fibre for clothing were seen growing.

The great road to the capital lies across flat sandy land which is not much cultivated. The middle of the road for a width of about 15-20 feet is paved with granite blocks 6-16 feet long. The nearest mountains from whence these flagstones could have come are at the border with Manchuria 60 miles to the north. At either side of the paved road is a compacted mud track wide enough for carriages. In many places the great road is bordered by willows.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

We now have a force of 17,000 men confronting a dynasty that rules over an empire the size of Europe and contains a population equivalent to a third of the human race.

Success will be a demonstration of Bacon’s aphorism ‘knowledge is power’

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Editorial – The British Treasury has not approved Elliot’s use of part of the Canton ransom to pay Dent’s for their extra opium. The British commercial community is suffering from forged exchequer bills and surrendered opium and we expect better of Sir Robert Peel.

“A British agent like Elliot will be shunned as leading innocent and confiding merchants on to ruin.”

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

The following steamers belong to the India Company – Sesostris, Nemesis, Phlegathon, Pluto, Ariadne, Tenasserim, Auckland, Medusa, Proserphine, Hooghly and Queen. We hear the government of England is building 19 more steamers at various shipyards.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Chinese sugar is effectively barred from England by high duty. If it entered at the same duty as Indian sugar it would find a ready market. There is a large and inexpensive supply available in the Northern Chinese ports and it could be carried as a return cargo after cottons. The perfectly refined sugar from Chin Chew could be landed at London for 4d per lb.

The more produce we buy from China the more they can buy from us.

The quality of Chin Chew sugar is the same as cube sugar which retails from 10d to 1/- per lb., but the duty on Chinese sugar in Britain is 1/3d per lb. Raw sugar which we can deliver at 2d per lb carries a duty of 6d per lb.

So many countries are complaining about English sugar duties. If we press the government it could become one of our staple exports.

Peel’s new tariff is preferential on colonial products and discriminatory on others. Colonial duties are at 50% of foreign duties. Peel has collapsed before the West Indian sugar lobby.

The English import duty on opium is now 6d per lb on colonial and 1/- on foreign

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

A digest by the Dutch authorities concerning their Japanese trade was recently published in London. It seems the Japanese do not consume opium.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Matheson’s 1836 tract (see above) says the duty and extra charges on a picul of raw cotton in 1836 was 1½ Taels. Today, with the increases due to the ransom, the taxes total 20% of value.

Today’s ‘prices current’ for Macau and Canton show tea is cheaper in Macau than Canton; some types are 20% lower. If delivery is made here (Hong Kong) we can avoid all the Canton charges and the Chinese exporter can supply us at much lower rates. He cannot supply at that low price if he has to give delivery at Canton or Macau because of the extra costs he is liable to pay.11

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

Local corporate notices:

  • Henry Wright ceased to be a partner on 3rd June 1842 and William Stewart was admitted 1st July 1842. Sgd J M & Co
  • W R Talbot ceased to be a partner on 1st October 1841. Olyphant & Co
  • Wm Allinson and W Ross have established themselves as Allinson & Co at Macau on 1st May 1842

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

The London Post – Sir Robert Peel’s government has made Waghorn a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy as a reward for his perseverance in making possible the overland route via Egypt to the East (there is a state of him in Chatham, Kent where he came from).

In equity, the government’s belated action requires the East India Company and the mercantile community to similarly give him some mark of their appreciation in acknowledgement of their debt.

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

Bombay Gazette, 2nd May:

On 9th December the Manchu Emperor ordered his people resident in the coastal areas to retire inland and depend on their relatives and friends for sustenance. This was to deny their production and labour to the English armed forces on the coast.

Pottinger’s peace treaty includes a term which provides for an amnesty for those Chinese who assisted the British in war. These people would otherwise be considered traitors.

We have no right to dictate how the Emperor treats his people and Pottinger’s treaty clause is an infringement of the Emperor’s rights. It is reprehensible.

Our objects in China have been published. If they could have been obtained by treaty that would have been preferable but that was not on offer so we forced their concession – that is as far as it goes.

The way we did it was up to us and had nothing to do with the Emperor. He should not be required to ratify our acts after the event.

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

London Times, 22nd March 1842 – Lindsay has said in the Commons that he understands the British ministry has asked India to value the confiscated opium. The government wants to know the Company’s opinion on both whether the owners can claim compensation and, if so, how much.

Peel confirmed the request was made in December 1841. The Treasury asked India for an investigation of the actual value of all types of opium surrendered to Lin in March and April 1839, i.e. the market value in China at that time. A response was still awaited and Peel said it remained too early to address Lindsay’s question about compensation.

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

Letter to the Editor of the Times of London – both the last and present administrations said the expenses of our China expedition must be deducted from any compensation we receive from China before the opium claims can be considered.

The expedition to China was undertaken for stated purposes, the first of which was the insult to Elliot in detaining him. Indemnity for surrendered opium and security for future trade were our second and third objects.

The expedition would have to be funded whether opium had been surrendered or not – outrages cost money to adjust.

Elliot supposed the Canton ransom was money-on-account as he paid $60,000 of it to Dent for the opium he bought.

We East India merchants are happy that the army has received several months batta from the ransom but we feel the balance remaining is due to us.

Sgd A Resident, 23rd March

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

Edict of the To Kwong Emperor, Peking, 12th April 1842 – Yuen Fuh Seun, the heir apparent of Cochin China (Yuet Nam – the Mekong delta) has become King of his country.

Pao Ching, the Judge of Kwong Si Province, will convey My order for the investiture. I require the affair to be managed with decorum. Respect this.

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

Letter to the Editor of the Canton Register:

To all people interested in the opium shipping at Whampoa, competition is destroying our unanimity. The commanders of each vessel should recognise where his own interest truly lies.

The river trade requires our government to tacitly protect it to prevent the Canton authorities from acting against it, but now the smuggling fleet has become so large there is little China can do to tackle it. The manning and armaments of this fleet are prodigious. The commanders say that war justifies their resistance to Chinese authority.

If fire ships are sent against them the legal trade will suffer. That limits the Chinese response to an artillery attack from shore. However, if the Chinese erect shore batteries, it will earn a response from our military. For the same reason the Chinese are forbidden to rebuild the Bogue forts. Thus they have no control over their own river from its mouth to within 4-5 miles of Canton.

We should not be surprised that the Chinese consider this an Opium War.

We have no communications with the Canton government. They have no idea what we will permit them to do against the smuggling trade at Whampoa without earning our retaliation. The absence of any Chinese enforcement against the opium vessels reveals their expectation of our military intervention in such a case.

We should all recognise what sort of community we are creating in the river. These people are in competition with each other and rely on violence to achieve their ends. Many young Englishmen come to Canton in the undress uniform of naval officers and join the fleet out of romantic notions. They do not behave discreetly and are incapable of maintaining order:

  • Several traders at the Canton factories saw an opium boat at the Company’s Steps, manned by Malays with a European officer in charge. A chest of tea was brought down and the Customs official at the Steps attempted to prevent its being loaded to the boat. A scuffle ensued. A Malay drew a knife on the official to deter his intervention while the European himself loaded the chest. The officials were disgusted and indignant at this open smuggling. Had the quantity of tea been greater the official would have had no choice but to try and enforce the law – then what would have happened?
  • Two weeks ago some Malays (called Filipinos in the previous article) went to Dane’s Island. After harvesting the lychees they started on the poultry. The farmer tried to recover his property and was knifed through the back, the end of the blade protruding from his chest. He died a couple of days later. The villagers complained to the officials who called in the Hong merchants who compromised with the widow at $3,000 from the Consoo Fund – thus the legal trade underwrites the smugglers. The Hong merchants convened a meeting on 25th June to identify how they could protect themselves. They were only able to conclude that the legal trade should be separated from the smuggling trade.
  • A third case involves a number of ship commanders, from both the legal and smuggling fleets, who went ashore on Dane’s Island. Activated by a spirit of wantonness, these commanders took the image from the Chinese temple and threw it down a slope, shattering it. What would have been the response had it been a Hindu temple in Bengal? Would we not have to call-out the troops to protect ourselves from village anger? Imagine some foreigners doing this in an English church? What would you call it then?

Sgd Expedit, Canton 29th June 1842

Editor – the murder has been reported to Sir Thomas Cochrane who will take action accordingly.

Vol 15 No 28, 5th July 1842

The Blue Book that Palmerston published on China says it was the smugglers who persuaded Elliot to take their opium on behalf of the British Crown.

Goulburn should read again the evidence that Robert Inglis gave the Select Committee on the point. He said in a recent speech that ‘the opium was delivered up at the instance of Capt Elliot’.

The price of opium at Canton, Whampoa, Macau, Lintin, Hong Kong, Namoa, Chin Chew or any other market on the coast cannot relate to the indemnity now due.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Imperial Edict – Yiking has investigated and reported on the progress of the war, the capture of traitorous natives, their examination and accusations.

The barbarians are supported by traitors and have captured three cities. We are told that the rebel Pottinger attacked Chinhae last month but was shot dead by Ho Wan Fe. Later we heard it may not be true. Nevertheless, a barbarian chief named Pa was killed in the attack on Tse Ki and was buried at Ningpo where reports say the rebels mourned him.

Another barbarian, An Te Ne He, was wounded on the arm and a great chief was seriously wounded. Five ship loads of dead barbarians were taken back to Tinghai for burial.

The traitor Chin Pan Keung and four accomplices were captured and executed. Another barbarian chief was caught. Many well known rebels have been killed or died of their wounds. Many traitors have been captured by Yiking who found they have all been bribed by the rebels. This arouses my ire.

The people know the calamities we face and should try harder to defend. Yiking must exterminate the barbarians and capture the traitors. Let there be no delay until they are all completely removed. Respect this.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

The Peking Gazettes are privately-printed publications but widely read and never suppressed by the authorities. The people have full confidence in them. Under the influence of the Edicts published in them, many wealthy people have gone to the war zones with their fortunes to assist the country. Instead of victory the Chinese army has been repeatedly defeated. Instead of glory there is disgrace. The Nemesis, in its actions along the river above Canton last year, disposed of many such people but the Emperor’s tone continues militant and unyielding. We will keep our readers aware of His attitude.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

The Board of Revenue reports that 3,560,000 Taels (c. $5 millions) has been supplied for the war in Chekiang. It says this is enough for the moment but the army is now advancing to exterminate the barbarians and will need more.

The Board has consequently enacted that each Province must send 1,000,000 Taels. This excludes the 120,000 Taels previously raised in Chekiang which has already been spent.

This message is sent by ‘flying dispatch’ to each governor who will depute officers to bring the money to Kiangsu for the army in Chekiang.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Capt Campbell died nine days after receiving head wounds at Chapu during the assault.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Letter from Macau, 30th June 1842 – a three day revolution:

  • Day One – The governor was queried by the Court at Lisbon. Precise details of the complaint are unknown but he felt it appropriate to resign. The Leal Senado (loyal senate) requested him not to do so but he was determined.
  • Day Two – the garrison declined to submit to a civic triumvirate (as the temporary government of Judge, Bishop and General is called) and demanded a convocation of the Council General of Macau to ratify the governor’s past actions and urge him to stay. The troops assembled on the square before the Leal Senado, without orders from their commandant, and deployed two cannon with their matches lit. In this way, the Council General was persuaded to convoke an assembly the next day.
  • Day Three – it was realised the Council General ought to be presided over by the Judge, one of the civic triumvirate, but it was his complaint that caused the Lisbon government to over-rule the Governor’s acts and precipitate his resignation. The judge wisely felt unwell and took to his bed. The Governor took his place in Council and, despite his repeated protestations, was re-proclaimed Governor. The General Council then averred it would be solely responsible for its revolutionary act against the Portuguese Queen. The governor was touched by their support and consented to serve at which there was a tremendous outburst of warm feeling. He then returned to Government House escorted by all the notables of the enclave including most of his bitterest enemies. The troops illuminated their fort, the citizens set off fireworks and at 10pm that night order was restored.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Extract of letter from Chusan, 31 May 42:

We are waiting for reinforcements prior to going to Nanking. Governor-General Ellenborough has told Plenipotentiary Pottinger that war must be concluded this year.

If it cannot be done, he is to occupy a line of coast and hold it. The expedition will break up.

Letter from Kulangsu, 15 June:

Everything quiet

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

H H Lindsay (the former Company official, opium smuggler and now Member of Parliament) brought a motion before the House on 17th March to press the opium claims on to the British people to pay.

It should not have gone to a division and it was a measure of his inexperience to force it.

He knew the opinions of the party leaders and had secured the advocacy of the Times. It was ill-judged to then show the world that 87 out of 124 members present (70%) opposed him.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Editorial – Capt Elliot has been unduly censored for ransoming Canton. He acted consistently with the policy of his Whig employers but wrongly only because the ministry’s policy itself was wrong. This policy is being continued by his successor.

Canton remains open; the forts have been rebuilt (in violation of agreement); no progress in severing the fiscal from the international problem has been made.

If $6 million had been on offer for Ningpo would we not have taken it?

Vol 15 No 29, 12th July 1842

Local corporate notices:

  • John Dent was admitted a partner of Dent & Co. 1st July 1842
  • Capt Henry Gribble has resigned from Gribble Hughes & Co on 11th July. The business will be continued by W H Hughes.

Vol 15 No 29, 12th July 1842

Friend of China, 7th July – List of claimants for compensation (in silver dollars – about $300,000 in total) resulting from damage to personal effects at the Canton factories claimed to have been caused during the Chinese attack of 21 –24 May 1841. These are the claims mentioned above:12





















Hooker and Lane

Lindsay & Co

Gibb Livingston & Co

Bell & Co

W Henderson of Bell & Co

W & T Gemmell & Co

J Halbert

R Strachan

Dent & Co

Fox, Rawson & Co

Dirom & Co

MacVicar & Co

Innes, Fletcher Co

R Webster

M A McLeod

W Sprott Boyd

D Jardine

Jardine Matheson & Co

Holliday, Wise & Co

Joseph Henry

Joseph Coolidge

H J Reynvaan

Bovet, Brother and Co

J Ryan

Gideon Nye

M P Gutierres

E C Bridgman

W A Lawrence





























Vol 15 No 29, 12th July 1842

The French frigate La Favorite arrived 8th July from Pondicherry. USS Constellation and USS Boston remain here but will soon cruise to Hawaii.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The Emperor has ordered the construction of foundries and casting of cannon throughout the empire. The cannon are to be sent to Chekiang.
  • Hitherto each year He has given a pair of shoes to each Manchu army officer but this year only half will receive shoes.
  • The son of the late Yukien has been awarded a blue button.
  • Silver has become too expensive in Shansi. Copper cash will not be minted there for a year or two.
  • The Governor of Chih Li says more money is needed to strengthen fortifications east and west of Peking to check the wild barbarians (Cantonese – Yeah Yee).
  • The Governor of Chekiang has presented a list in four parts of civil and military officers who have served in Chekiang in the previous year – 1/ newly arrived, 2/ long employed 3/ expelled or transferred and 4/ dead.
  • In the Hupeh rebellion five months ago, several thousand rebels occupied Tung Sang and Sung Yang in the north-west. A large imperial army has now routed the rebels and recovered the cities. Many rebels were killed or wounded.
  • Part of central Asia north of Szechuan is in rebellion. The nomads have been incited by Muslims to throw off Chinese rule. An imperial army has executed the rebel chiefs and settled the people. A foreign barbarian surrendered and was permitted to remain.
  • A medicine shop in Canton burned down and four occupants died. The magistrate of the district (6th grade) is disgraced.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

Extract from the Chinese Repository:

In June 1840 when we first went north to obtain satisfaction, the coast was undefended and no guns were mounted on the forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho. The results of that expedition and the subsequent one are well known.

Now we are trying for the third time.

The Manchu general Kiying has been sent to the Pei Ho to improve the defences. With commissioner Ti Yi Shun, he has full powers to mobilise any number of troops from all the provinces.

At Chinhae a small garrison is maintained on Joss House Hill but we don’t know if the city has been recaptured or not. We hear that our soldiers can go into the town for provisions only in armed parties.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

We have the results of the 4th Calcutta opium auction on 23rd May 42 with the average prices obtained:



1,555 chests

900 chests

Average 840 Company Rupees

Average 803 Company Rupees

The Water Witch has 500 chests, Victoria 300, Clown 180 and they are all on their way. The remainder is expected to be shipped on John Brightman, Mermaid, Bengal Packet, Cowasjee Family, Framjee Cowasjee and Weraaff.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

Editorial : holders of opium scrip must ‘agitate, agitate, agitate,’ as O’Connell (the Irish patriot) would say, to keep their claims alive.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

A correspondent has enquired if Chinese cassia (an inexpensive type of cinnamon) was shipped from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom, would it be admitted at 1d per lb (the colonial rate) instead of 3d per lb (the foreign rate).

Editor – We believe the product must be both ‘produced in’ and ‘shipped from’ a British colony to attract the lower rate.

Vol 15, No 29 – 19th July 1842

By order of the executors of the estate of James Innes. For sale by public auction on board the vessel on 23rd July, the brig Adventure, 143 tons (290 tons gross) with all her stores, as is, at the Taipa anchorage. The sale is to close the accounts of the deceased and no reserve is placed on sale price.

Vol 15, No 29 – 19th July 1842

Three of the Company’s armed steamers have gone up the river to the opium fleet at Whampoa at the request of Sir Thomas Cochrane, who is aboard one of them.

He is pursuing an enquiry into the conduct of sailors on British ships.

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Na Yi King, the Viceroy of Chih Li Province, has asked for more officers’ quarters and soldiers’ barracks at Tientsin.
  • The Grand Lama of Tibet was supposed to come this year with the triennial tribute. Ming Po, Superintendent of Tributes, is directed to write to Tibet and say tribute is waived this time but the Lama should come three years hence.
  • A Kiu Jin graduate has been caught assisting a competitor in the Su Tsae exam (the highest literary exam) at Shansi Province. His name is struck from the civil list in disgrace.
  • The Emperor’s fifth daughter has attained 14 years. Two Privy Councillors should request officers of the eight banners in Manchuria to recommend nobles for her betrothal.
  • The Superintendent of Ordnance at Liaotung has requested the Emperor for the form of words to be engraved on cannons he produces. Cannons over 2,500 catties will be engraved with ‘defender of tranquillity’. Those of 1,000 – 1,500 catties will have ‘arouse to military duty’.
  • The drought in Peking requires a large number of Taoist priests to attend the Emperor at one of the Imperial temples while he kneels and prays for rain.
  • The old province of Hu Kuang was divided by the Kien Lung Emperor into Hu Peh and Hu Nan. The governor of these two provinces is incompetent and has been discharged by the Emperor. He is sent to Canton to assist in the military preparations.

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

Exports of tea and silk to United Kingdom from 1.7.41 – 30.6.42:

Black tea

Green tea



28,009,000 lbs

8,790,000 lbs


1,326 bales

of which, congou 24,500,000lbs.

Hyson, Skin, Twankey, gunpowder and Imperial.


Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

The Company’s armed steamer Memnon, with Adm Sir Thomas Cochrane, and HMS Cruizer and HMS Wolverine have left for a reconnaissance of the Canton River yesterday.

According to the Macau papers the smugglers at Whampoa have committed many atrocious acts under the British flag which, they say, should be investigated and punished without clemency.

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

The Editor says “Mr E G Wakefield is the discoverer of the modern system of colonisation.”

Wakefield says “what is it that prevents the free trade from spreading to the whole coast of China and increasing beyond an assignable limit? It is the political fears of the Chinese government. We should send another Embassy to Peking and this time it should be backed with armed ships. We should tell the Emperor of our conquests in India, frighten his officials with a display of power and, if necessary, by the use of force.

“This would calm the political fears of the Emperor.

“If we compel the officials to establish English trade in China, the Americans and other Europeans will demand equal access. The weakness of the Chinese government would be exposed to the people.

“As the people became familiar with the foreigners they might recognise the fairness of our system. The foreigners, it being their nature, would sooner or later request more privileges as they have always done in all the other countries around the world that they have colonised. They are far from home and the control of their own governments.

“The Chinese cannot resist our aggression, cannot prevent our interference between the officials and their people. Eventually there would be revolt and civil war. Then there would be territorial acquisitions, China would dissolve and become the battlefield of European powers.

“What has preserved China from the fate of India?

It has been the constant rejection of every attempt by foreigners to establish friendly relations. The fat Dutch ambassador Titsing crawled on all fours into the Imperial presence in vain. He beat his head on the ground nine times in vain. The self-abasement, rich presents, flattery, coaxing, prayers, lies and remonstrances of various European representatives to obtain a footing in China have all been in vain. China’s existence has been preserved by her rejection of foreign overtures of friendship.

“Break through that single barrier and the ruling dynasty will be swept away in a flood of internal revolt and foreign pretension.”

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

The word tobacco comes from the pipe used for its smoking which was said to the Spanish in Haiti to be called a tabaco. They confused the implement with the herb itself.

Friend of China, 21st July 1842:

The progress of the China war has been mentioned in the Commons. Peel says up to April 1842 the war has cost £1,123,000 and by April 1843 is estimated to have cost £1,500,000.

He has received £1,016,000 of the Canton ransom. Throughout hostilities, tea exports have continued and Peel no longer worries about receiving the tea duty.

He is believed to want the war ended during this campaign on the best available terms. At the least the new Plenipotentiary is to get an indemnity for expenses and retain Tinghai, Kulangsu and Hong Kong.

Friend of China, 21st July 1842:

Official British correspondence on Opium:

  1. Elliot to Palmerston, Macau January 1841 – I have received $4,900,000 from the Canton government. It is mainly in sycee and, from the marks on the boxes, is the proceeds of the Kwongtung Provincial land tax collection. I have also received $1,099,713 in securities.13 I have received and paid 17,750 Taels to Sr Halcon, the Spanish representative, in respect of the destruction of the Bilbaino. He accepted it in full settlement of his claims.
    I accepted the above securities instead of cash because the Hong merchants have been required by the government to themselves pay more than $1 million of the ransom (said to be outstanding duty) and a reduction of their capital to that extent would have damaged trade.
    The Kwongchow foo has given me his bond, with the responsibility of the Kwongtung government, to settle all additional claims connected with the destruction of the factories.
  2. C Trevelyan of the Treasury to Canning, 2nd November 1841 – Please ask Lord Aberdeen on what grounds the $6 millions was demanded by and paid to Elliot.
  3. Canning to the Treasury, 2nd November 1841 – Elliot’s dispatches give no explanation for the receipt of $6 millions. There is only one point contained in them which might be relevant. Alluding to the quantity of tea that had just been shipped from Canton, he says “the indemnity just recovered from the Chinese is perhaps rather more than double the charges and duties they received from the trade of the season.” I have seen copies of the correspondence between Senhouse and Elliot on the subject. In that Elliot said “the arrangement had reference only to the relief of the city and province of Canton from pressure” I enclose copies of the correspondence and of the agreement made by Elliot with the Chinese on 27th May


  • Senhouse to Elliot. I don’t know the local custom but the money appears to be a settlement for general peace rather than saving Canton from occupation. The authority given by the Imperial Commissioners to the Kwongchow foo says the English Plenipotentiary will observe a truce and make arrangements for peace. The Commissioners therefore appoint the foo to conduct the negotiations.
    The ransom arose when a Chinese officer came to the walls under a flag of truce and said they did not wish to fight any more and wished to meet the British chiefs. The articles under which the payment is made do not mention a ransom of Canton. Neither are the conditions confined to Kwongtung Province.
    On the contrary it is well-known that the Chinese authorities extended Your Excellency’s former declaration ‘that we only want trade’ to the further settlement of a definitive peace, although it appears from Your Excellency’s own understanding that the arrangement was limited to Canton. Commissioner Kwang in his private letter said ‘your nation wants nothing but trade’ and invited you to commence peace negotiations.
    The sum offered is similar to the sum already offered for the confiscated opium. By including the Bilbaino in the settlement, it might appear to an uninformed person that the arrangement was intended to be a general pacification (which would be a good deal for the Chinese considering our complaints) rather than an acknowledgement of the vanquished to the conqueror. I therefore beg, for the information of the army and navy commanders, to know if the arrangement is for a ransom of Canton to save it from legal warfare and irrelevant to the matters of remuneration, compensation and security for the future, so long mooted, or for other purposes.
    I ask this question to maintain the national honour and credit of the British flag, that the success of British arms in laying Canton at the feet of our Queen may not in future be questioned.
  • Elliot to Senhouse 2nd June – I don’t know why you wrote to me. The money was for the relief of pressure from Canton and its province. Had we continued to fight it would have caused great distress to the Chinese people in forgetfulness of Her Majesty’s gracious purposes and in defiance of the temper and feeling of the British nation upon all such subjects. The Bilbaino settlement was included in deference to the Spanish envoy who has long waited for it.

The Agreement of 27th May:

1. It is required that the three Imperial Commissioners and all the troops not from Canton province quit the city within six days and remove to a distance of at least 60 miles.

2. $6 million will be paid in one week for the use of the English Crown. $1 million will be paid before sunset today.

3. British troops will remain in their positions but no additional preparations will be made. If the whole sum remains unpaid after 7 days it will increase to $7 millions, if unpaid within fourteen days $8 millions, 20 days $9 millions. When completely paid, the British force will retire outside the Bogue and all fortifications in the river will be restored to China but are not to be rearmed until all matters in dispute have been settled.

4. Losses in connection with the destruction of the Bilbaino to be paid within a week.

5. The Kwongchow foo will produce full powers from the three Commissioners bearing their seals to conclude these arrangements on their behalf.

More correspondence:

Canning to Treasury, 12 November 1841:

I attach two dispatches from Elliot, late Superintendent of British Trade in China. They deal with his arrangements for the transmission of the money to England and his deal with Dents. The latter papers reveal Elliot allowed Dents to deduct from sums owing to Chinese, who were part contributors to the $6 millions, the sum of £63,651.18.4d being the face value of Treasury Bills given by Elliot to Dents for opium bought from them in order to make-up the amount required to be surrendered. The Bills were refused by the Treasury in December 1839.

Elliot to Palmerston, 6th July 1841:

I attach my letter to the Governor-General of India explaining why I am remitting the Chinese bullion to Calcutta.
I also attach copies of my letters to J M & Co and Dents concerning remittance of the balance left here. I have to go north to fight the war so I have left the remittance in the hands of those private merchants.

(recited in Bengal Hurkaru, 31st May 1842)14

Vol 15, No 30, 26th July 1842

It is reported that the Provincial Government is about to permit the residence of foreign females at Canton.

Vol 15, No 30, 26th July 1842

British arms have carried Shanghai.

Lt Hewitt of the marine detachment on HMS Blonde was beheaded by a round shot. Lay the naturalist and interpreter was wounded in the face by shrapnel.

The Chinese have paddle-wheels on some of their war-junks, two fore and two aft, but the means of their operation is unknown to us.

The Chinese expect us to ransom Nanking too. Ilipu has sent an order from there to Sam Qua the Hong merchant and How Qua’s son to come to Nanking to assist.

Vol 15, No 30, 26th July 1842

Edict of the To Kwong Emperor dated 5th June:

“Opium poison flowed into China and I instructed the people three times not to use it. The foreigners brought it and they traded at Canton so I gave special orders to Lin Tsih Tseu to manage the matter. The foreigners obeyed the restraint and bound themselves by Oaths not to trade in opium.

“When Lin destroyed the opium, Elliot complained. Lin was banished but Elliot sneaked into Ting Hai and seized the town. He then went to Tien Tsin and delivered a petition.

“I favour all countries equally. I did not cut-off his country’s trade but instructed Kishen to go to Canton, talk with Elliot and manage the affair. Meanwhile Ilipu in Chekiang rescued Anstruther and many others from death. When the English withdrew from Ting Hai we returned Anstruther et al to them.

“But the English are crafty and their appetite was not satisfied. Although they understood Kishen’s pacific intentions, they attacked Chuen Pi and Tai Kok Tau, killing many Chinese. They ravaged the coast.

“The cause of all this is the selfish selling of opium by the foreigners. Elliot begged for favours while plotting secretly. Those who turn their backs on truth make all Our favours useless. Both Heaven and Earth are indignant and I sent my soldiers to settle the matter.

“These are the real circumstances.

“When General Yiking arrived at Canton, the foreigners were spying everywhere. Elliot was thinking about trade and the desire of his people for profit. He begged that the debts of the Hong merchants be paid. We received this information sincerely and without ill-feeling. If Elliot received profit he said he would make peace and not go to other places or cause disturbance. On this account I ungrudgingly bestowed a favour on him ($6 million).

“This doltish fool of a hateful race thought to rival the Son of Heaven. But in consideration of My people in the maritime provinces, I complied with the force of circumstances. Who could imagine that Elliot would seek to deceive Heaven and oppose reason? Having been satisfied at Canton he created disturbance in Fukien and Chekiang. Tinghai was again invaded and occupied. My minister Yukien was killed in defence of his country. Elliot’s crimes are numberless. I then sent General Yiking to exterminate the English. They retired from Ningpo but laid waste to Chapu.

“Elliot went to Chekiang for more plunder for the sustenance of his army. His iniquities are complete and no respite will be granted him by Heaven. When Heaven sees the deeds of the barbarians they shall surely be exterminated – what crimes have My people committed that they should be so ill-used? I am filled with anxiety that Elliot remains in my country and I cannot rescue my subjects. I blame myself for being unequal to my duties. I call on all my officials to save the people and deal tirelessly with this emergency.

“The power of host (Emperor) and guest (Elliot)15 is not comparable. The difference in our populations is immense. He has discovered the wealth of Our country and availed himself of an opportunity to take some forcibly but what conceivable difficulty could we have in conquering him? The rebellious disposition of the foreigners is unique.

“My troops are quite unlike theirs. Chinese traitors assist the foreigners due to their poverty. The distress of their situation and the prospect of greed held out by the foreigners has deceived them into co-operating. They have robbed to feed their families. The foreigners send them first to the cities they wish to plunder to spy and many of them have (been caught and) forfeited their lives. When the foreigners retired these Chinese accomplices were placed in the rear and many were again caught and executed. Yet Our people are disposed to goodness and know how to repent and return to their allegiance.

“I am your Emperor appointed by Heaven. If you can understand this Edict you will not in future be troubled by great affairs. Had I been careless and not prohibited opium, I should have been disrespectful of my father from whom I received the government of this Empire and I should have failed to preserve the lives of my people. It was an act of justice to ban opium.

“Now the traitors and the foreigners are murdering and plundering, all you officials who have received My favour must exert yourselves and manifest the Heavenly principles – explain the law, incite the valiant, reward the brave. For those soldiers who retreat and fear, execute them without mercy.

“If this Edict is obeyed what can there be that we cannot do? Bad managers like Lin and Kishen have been dismissed. If they atone for their failure with courage they may be excused. If they again fail, ruin my people, connive with the foreigners, they will be treated severely without any trace of indulgence. China has many brave men to recover the cities, guard the passes, burn the foreign ships and seize the rebel leaders. Tell the foreigners to instruct the English that it is not too late to repent, to do meritorious deeds and in due course recover the Imperial favour. The first thing is to ban opium to save your lives. You officials must think in an orderly way how to exclude the worthless barbarians, sweep them into the ocean and restore the tranquillity of the Empire.

“A special Edict. Let it be made known far and near. Respect this.”

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

War news – After destroying the batteries, magazines, foundries, barracks and ordnance captured at Chapu, the troops were re-embarked on 23rd May and taken to the Rugged Islands arriving 29th May where they remained until 13th June.

They then crossed the Yangtse bar (which had been previously surveyed and buoyed) and entered the river and travelled up to the mouth of the Woosung.

Here 3 miles of fortifications, supported by two strong forts and breastworks, have been put up to defend both rivers. The Chinese force was estimated at 20,000 men. The Chinese permitted a close reconnaissance by two steamers on 14th and allowed the boats to put down buoys marking the positions to the men-of-war for their attack. A daybreak 16th June the ships moved into position.

An officer on the Blonde was killed by one of the first balls. The Chinese batteries opened fire which was not returned until the British ships were in position. At 7.30 am all the small ships were in and the Cornwallis opened fire. The continuous barrage continued until about 8.30 am by which time the fortifications were mostly abandoned.

The Chinese rate of fire necessarily slowed and seamen (blue jackets) and marines were landed who beat along the river bank and took possession of the fortifications. A group of 30 blue jackets pressed inland and, encountering 2,000 Chinese troops, withdrew back to the river bank. The allied troops were then landed and led off in all directions but could not engage an enemy force.

253 mostly heavy guns were seized (42 brass), some over 11 feet long. They had been improved from the guns previously used against us by the provision of pivot carriages of a new and efficient construction and with bamboo sights.

The naval force lost 2 men killed and 24 wounded. The land forces did not have casualties. Indeed allied casualties were unexpectedly light.

The Blonde had 14 shot in her hull, Sesostris 11 and the other steamers more or less. This was because of their close proximity to the batteries. The enemy appeared to lose about 80 killed and a proportionate number wounded. (However a party which went ashore to Woosung examined the fortifications, whilst they were being plundered by villagers, found only 16 Chinese bodies. Some were badly burned and others mutilated by cannon shot. This party entered the village of Woosung on 20th June finding some humble people with throats cut. They assumed it was done by the looters.)

On 17th June some light steamers advanced up the Woosung River and found an abandoned battery of 55 guns (17 brass). On the 19th this force approached Shanghai meeting two more batteries which opened fire but the gunners withdrew when the ships answered with a broadside. There was an expectation amongst the troops that Shanghai would be ransomed like Canton. The batteries were then taken and found to contain 48 guns (17 brass). The troops came up and were landed on 19th and Shanghai was occupied that evening. It was found to be nearly as large as Ningpo and very pretty.

The public buildings were destroyed. Native plunderers could not be dissuaded even when our troops were nearby. They attacked the pawn shops first. A few of the early British soldiers got some jewelry and gold but most had been removed before their arrival, the looters and residents having fled on their approach. The contents of the government granary was distributed to the population.

The Admiral came on 20th and patrolled 50 miles beyond Shanghai finding two more batteries each of four heavy guns.

On the evening of 20th Mr Carter, 2nd mate and four lascars who had disappeared in a jolly boat during the night of 11th, reappeared with an amazing tale.

The astonishing total of 361 guns were seized of which 76 were brass. Several of these were new with the characters ‘subduer of barbarians’ on them. One very large cannon was called ‘barbarian’

The Chinese officers avowed an indirect attempt to treat and released 16 prisoners (Europeans and Indians) as an earnest. These were men who had previously been kidnapped at Ningpo, Tinghai, etc. As the offer did not contain an agreement to submit it was declined.

No ransom was obtained for Shanghai. The troops were embarked on 23rd

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

14th July USS Constellation and USS Boston returned to the Macau anchorage at Taipa Roads.

18th July French corvette La Favorite arrived Macau; 20th left for the East Coast.

The Company’s armed iron steamer Ariadne has been lost at Chusan. It was sent to the mouth of the Yangtse to discover the location of a rock at the river mouth and unfortunately ran over it making six holes in her hull causing her rapid foundering.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

In the 2nd June edition we noted a rumour that silk was smuggled to Canton on US ships.

This is now thought to be a malicious reference to the USS Constellation’s visit to Whampoa, in which case it is untrue.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

Editor: Shanghai is the port of Soochow. It is about 20 miles up the Woosung River (named for the village at its mouth). Lindsay, on his Lord Amherst voyage, says:

1/ the river is easily navigable,

2/ the yellow nankeen cotton is grown along its banks and

3/ in the course of a seven day visit, 400 junks were seen to enter the river (each 100 – 400 tons).

Gutzlaff later visited in the Sylph and saw 1,000 junks moored in the river opposite the city.

Commerce with Japan, Thailand, Philippines and the Eastern islands is done from Shanghai. It also has a large coasting trade with Chapu, etc. It is about the same size as Fuk Chow and is next in commercial importance to Canton.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

  • Local Chinese warn us the area around Peking has been extensively mined.
  • A steam communication between China the Straits and India should be started and will be profitable. If the Spanish and Dutch would link up sailings from Manila and Batavia with Singapore it will be marvellous.

    In England there are now over 1,100 steam ships.

Canton Register Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

The London season has been very gay this year and a grand fancy dress ball for 1,500 guests was attended by the Queen (as Queen Philippa) and Prince Albert (as the Black Prince).

Capt Elliot appeared in a superb Chinese costume as Commissioner Lin.

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

Sir George G de H Larpent, the East India trader, has ‘retired’ from the representation (MP) of Nottingham

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

1.2 million lbs of tea has been offered at the tea auctions in London and has depressed prices. Only 600,000 lbs was sold. Over 28 million pounds remains in stock.

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

Proclamation issued by the inhabitants of the 36 villages of Ting Hai (posted on the city walls 28th May 1842):

Yesterday a French frigate arrived. The French are simple, diligent and faithful people. We told them the English spread opium all over the country for profit. The French said they had withheld their assistance from the English because their cause was unjust.

This proclamation is to inform all inhabitants not to injure Frenchmen or damage their ships. Disobedience will merit the punishment decreed for those who unjustly ill-treat an innocent.

But the English should not be permitted to stay and a day must be fixed for their removal from land and sea

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

Notice of Cecille, Chevalier d’Honneur, etc., dated 21st June on board French frigate L’Erigone at Chusan:

The proclamation posted at Ting Hai may induce Chinese into believing France will assist China against the English. Do not be misled. French purposes in the China Seas are pacific. We are here to observe the conflict and protect French interests. France is at peace with both England and China. We will not be involved in the war.

We hope the Emperor, learning more correctly the friendship and power of the European nations, will consent to bring China into the great family of nations.

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

Mr Laurence Peel (the younger brother of Robert Peel), Chief Justice of Calcutta, has been knighted.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The improvement to the banks of the Yellow River is complete and it should not flood again soon.
  • The revenue from Kiang Nan (mainly from salt, trade and land) is deficient this year. The Provincial Governor will tender the shortfall immediately. The Kiang Nan Hoppo is disgraced.
  • Barbarian bandits in Szechuan Province are disaffecting the people. The Emperor blames his army officers for lack of diligence.
  • Three divisions of troops have been called from Tientsin to be reviewed by the Emperor. He is satisfied and has promoted some officers and distributed money amongst the soldiers.
  • Yiking has reported the loss of Chapu. The Emperor attributes it to a lack of preparation. Yiking, Wan Wei, Tih Yee Shun and Lu Yun O are all to be punished with extreme rigour.
  • Yu Poo Yun commander of the Imperial armies in Chekiang is to be arrested and brought in chains to Peking. He failed to defeat the barbarians. All officers who ran away are to be arrested and executed.
  • The Canton Hoppo reports that the Provincial Treasurer has lent government money to Hong Merchants at interest but they are all in arrears and he needs the money to fund important government works. The Emperor commands the Viceroy and Governor to investigate and recover the money immediately.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

The recent typhoon at Calcutta caused 6 million rupees of damage. 41 pukka and 367 tiled buildings were destroyed. 625 boats are lost. Of the trading ships 3 are lost, 10 blown ashore and 28 seriously damaged.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Repair of the foreign factories has commenced in Canton.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

How Qua and his son Sam Qua are ordered North by the officials to assist in negotiations with Pottinger16

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Chusan Island is very beautiful but Tinghai is not. It is about a mile inland surrounded by a strong bastioned wall. The filth and squalor contrast with the usual Chinese town.

Although we have possessed the town for 12 months all of us still necessarily go about armed to the teeth.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Peel says Captain Elliot is to be British Consul to Texas, which country has just been re-invaded by Mexico. He left England on 1st June.

Peel told the house:

‘without giving any opinion on the conduct or character of Capt Elliot during the occupancy of his difficult and embarrassing position at Canton’, he nevertheless was disposed from his intercourse with him since he returned home, ‘to repose the highest confidence in his integrity and ability.’

However the determination of the UK government to keep Hong Kong is nothing to do with Elliot. It has been settled upon for some months and only war prevents it being announced.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

London Post – Sir Robert Peel has made a statement to the Commons about Elliot:

“I place every confidence in his integrity and his ability to perform his functions …. There is nothing, either in his conduct or his correspondence, to make me doubt that full confidence might be placed in his integrity and efficiency.”

Editor – then why did Lords John Russell, Palmerston and his own relative Minto recall him?

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

40,000 emigrants were sent to New South Wales from United Kingdom last year.17

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

12 flat-bottomed boats are being fitted out for our expedition in China.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

Bombay Courier, 4th June 1842 – Friends and constituents of James Matheson held a meeting at Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy’s house within Bombay fort where Bomanjee Hormusjee read the following address to Matheson during his brief visit:

“Whether we regard him in a commercial or philanthropic light, he merits our esteem and admiration. It is upon such characters that our commercial greatness is based. His liberality and munificence first originated the epithet ‘merchant prince’. We wish him a full recovery of his health and happiness in his native land.

“You have been a firm friend of the merchants of Bombay through dangerous and difficult times. It is nearly three years since the regular trade at Canton was disrupted. Your firmness, skill and perseverance has maintained our imports and exports. When £2 millions was withdrawn from Indian capital by the surrender of the opium to Elliot we were paralysed until you generously provided advances for both the relief of your constituents in India and for us to carry on our China trade under foreign flags which you arranged at your own great risk and responsibility.

“We could not ourselves have conceived of such a plan and our ships would have remained outside with their cotton cargoes rotting and with them our fortunes.

“We want you to know how much we admire your judgment and determination. To remember your Bombay friends we have asked Magniac Jardine & Co to present you on arrival in England with a valuable service of plate.”

Matheson replied:

“My services were nothing more than what a commercial agent should do for his constituents. That you consider them worthy of distinction reveals your own kindness and generosity. It was your liberal confidence in our firm when things did not always go perfectly that strengthened our hand as Agents. From our long experience of your style we were able to act as we did when Captain Elliot suspended British trade in 1839.

“I think you have over-rated the value of those services – we simply did for you what we would have done for ourselves. As the emergency was extraordinary, we adopted extraordinary remedies.”

80 Parsee merchants subscribed to the silver plate. Its worth 15,469 Rupees.

Canton Register Editor – We credited Matheson as the first Englishman to act with enterprise and determination during the crisis of 1839-40. He sustained English and Indian trade through that difficult time. The use of foreign flags was opposed by part of the Bombay press but Matheson pressed ahead.

The benefits to Matheson since March 1839 have been immense. He worked under the political mismanagement of Elliot and under the difficulties of war with China. J M & Co have provided the British government with almost its entire revenue from tea.

It is a distinct pleasure to see that Matheson’s worth is finally recognised elsewhere. He founded this newspaper in November 1827. In March 1842 we honoured his career here.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

A high official at Peking, who is a Christian, has written to a priest in Macau reporting that the capital has been surrounded by Manchu troops for the last two years. Their pay is long in arrears, the Treasury is empty and they have been deserting in their hundreds to return to their fields and sow. He says if the English were to march on Peking now, they could take the capital without a shot.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

A service of silver plate has been presented to both Commander William Warren of HMS Hyacinth and Captain Henry Smith, now of HMS Druid, by young Jardine, Inglis and other merchants, on behalf of all the China traders, for their assistance during events in the 1839 / 40 season.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

An Imperial Edict of 4th June lists honours for various Hong merchants.

Friend of China 11.8.42 edition

Extracts of the Peking Gazettes:

  • Yiking reports a victory over the barbarians at Ting Hai on 14th April. 20 large fire rafts set fire to four barbarian ships. One was sunk and tens of other ships’s were damaged. Two steamers were destroyed. The Imperial troops entered the city and killed 300 – 400 barbarians.
  • The Governor of Kiangsu reports Shanghai was attacked at 6 am on 16th June. One official and several tens of soldiers were killed. Many houses were broken down and burned. Three barbarian ships were destroyed. Several tens of rebels were killed and wounded. The Governor of Shanghai regrets his failure and offers himself for punishment.

Friend of China 11.8.42 edition

The final (5th) opium auction of the year occurred on 27th June at Calcutta. 2,921 chests of Patna and 1,138 of Benares were sold for an average Rupees 881 (Patna) and Rupees 831 (Benares) per chest respectively (producing totally 3.5 million Rupees).

Stock remaining in the godown at Calcutta is new Patna 4,249 chests, Benares 2,058. Old Patna 20, Old Benares none.

Vol 15, No 33, 16th August 1842

Here are some other old documents. It was rumoured that the military and naval commanders no longer accept the orders of Plenipotentiary Elliot and the war was being directed from Downing Street. We fear Sir Robert Peel has been deluded by Capt Elliot, whose integrity and efficiency he has publicly honoured. We received papers presented to both Houses by the East India and China Association and published most of them in our 26th July edition. Here are the rest:

Elliot to Pam 26th June 1841 – I attach copy correspondence and remark that I drew the Bills in question in excessively difficult circumstances in the belief that, had I refused, a serious commercial crisis would have occurred in India and perhaps in England. The opium sellers have promised to limit their claims to the value of these Bills. I understand the position that H M Govt has taken but, in justice to myself, I believe my highest duty was to prevent excessive public inconvenience. Mischief was prevented and I hope you will consider the matter in that light.


Dent to Elliot 5th June 1841 – On 11th May we wrote to advise you that the Bills to £63,265.18.4d were dishonoured by the Treasury on presentation. Our London agents have now written that the government continues to repudiate the Bills and the Agents have drawn on our account in settlement to preserve our Company’s honour.

The funds we maintain in England are quantified in accordance with our business requirements and not for the discharge of dishonoured Bills. You counselled us to endorse the Bills under the promise contained in your letter of 1st January last. The matter has seriously depleted our London resources.

You hold our six months Sight note for $542,000 Spanish in redemption of several orders of ours on various Chinese merchants paid by them in liquidation of their share of the government demand for $6 millions. The provision of such a large sum within such a short period is inconvenient. It would relieve us if you would pay this obligation subject to a reduction of £63,265.18.4d less the damages legally enforceable on returned Bills for places East of the Cape.18

Our private business is inconvenienced by involvement in a matter for the general benefit of trade. The assurance of your anxiety to relieve us from pressure, contained in your referenced letter, induces us to trust to your help.

Elliot to Dents, 6th June 1841 – You are fully entitled to make payment of your promissory note to $542,000 subject to reduction for the disputed Treasury Bills. I am ready to accept responsibility for that transaction.

I am less certain of the position with respect to damages for repudiation. Please pend this matter for the consideration of the home government.

Please give me your renewed note at six months, dated to ensure receipt of replies from England before it falls due.

Elliot to Lord Aberdeen, 25 November 1841 (Elliot is now living at 53 Cadogan Place) I attach my account as Chief Superintendent with the Joint Plenipotentiaries under the agreement of 27th May 1841. The money was paid to me because payments to UK from China must be made by the Superintendent and the Plenipotentiaries themselves had no staff to handle the matter.

The supporting vouchers were unavailable when I left China due to pressure of business. I have also made some alterations to the account for clarity since returning to England. I mention this because there may be some difference between my account and the supportings, when they are received from China. I accept my continued responsibility until those documents are available and are submitted.

Sir Henry Pottinger told me he would not disturb my arrangements for remittances pending instructions from London. I therefore presume the balance will continue to diminish by purchase of Government Bills on England and Company Bills on Calcutta.

Elliot’s account is reproduced in the paper showing where the money came from and went to and which ships carried it, etc.

Vol 15, No 33, 16th August 1842

The Viceroy of the Two Kwong, the Governor of Kwongtung and other high officials have all been degraded but retained in office. We have not yet seen the Edict but our informant is reliable. Its a strange reward for their diligent collection of Customs revenues which must have increased this year.

Some foreigners asked the Imperial Commissioners to permit Europeans to live in Canton and were refused. It was foolish to ask the General of defeated troops and the Governor of a ransomed city for such permission.

How Qua’s grandson and Sam Qua have returned from Soo Chow. We did not ask for a ransom of that city and Ilipu found them of no use for any other purpose. He was reprimanded for asking for them in the first place.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The Revenue Officers of Chekiang have lost some papers and cannot remit the Provincial revenue to Peking. The Board of Revenue solicits the Emperor to have the matter investigated by the Board of Punishments. He agrees.
  • Many people have come forward with donations for the war. The Board of Rites (‘Board of Appointments’ in the article) is ordered to propose suitable favours for their patriotism.
  • Ilipu, late High Commissioner in Chekiang, is reduced to 4th rank and will serve as acting assistant to the Commandant General of Chapu.
  • Niu Keen, governor of Kiang Nan has reported the fall of Woosung. Three barbarian ships were sunk and many rebels were killed. General Chun Hwa Ching fell while leading the army forward. (English records also note he met death bravely leading his forces). The Emperor orders 1,000 Taels towards his funeral. An ancestral temple is to be erected and all his children will be promoted. The Governor is to investigate all other officers and men who fell.
  • On 11th March 42 a barbarian ship with three boats in tow tried to enter Tu Te Kung in Chang Hwa district of Taiwan (i.e. midway on the west coast). The ship had three masts. The officers prepared to attack but the barbarians detected their presence and tried to escape. The ship then ran aground on a submerged rock and the troops made a vigorous attack. Many foreigners jumped overboard and were drowned. One white and several tens of black barbarians were killed. Some white, red and black barbarians were captured along with traitorous Cantonese. Some rifles and swords on board came from Ningpo. It is supposed the ship was travelling from Ningpo to Canton. The Emperor expresses satisfaction and offers rewards.
  • Five soldiers, who were alleged to have been the first to flee when British forces landed at the Bogue and thus encouraged all the others to run away, have been identified and sentenced to live the remainder of their short lives at Ili where they will perform continual and distressing toil.

Editor Shuck – it is well known amongst British soldiers that the first to flee were boatloads of officers who have now successfully manipulated the enquiry so as to implicate a few of their men.

The Emperor has learned that Yishan the Manchu General, Kekung the Viceroy and Leung the Governor did not report fully on events in Canton. He has ordered that any delinquency should be rigorously investigated by the Board of Punishments.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

Letter to the Editor concerning Chinese and Sikhs in Tibet:

Chinese troops are in Heoondes. They were sent from Lhasa to drive out the Sikhs. They have moved on to Gartok and are invading Ladakh just beyond the Kumaon (now Ishkuman) frontier.

They have garrisoned Tuklakoth (which controls one of the Beeaus passes), Gartok and Dapa. The Sikhs are holding out within their forts but the general countryside is controlled by the Tibetan force. The Chinese government has promised support and a contingent of Imperial troops is now at Guinak and at Yarkand. If they continue towards the frontier there will be a protracted struggle. The Nepalese are maintaining a strict neutrality.

The Sikhs have sent a force under Bustee Ram to relieve the Ladakh forts. Once the Chinese are out of their own territory it is thought they will probably not do well and might be defeated.

The Sikhs regret invading Tibet and are now ready to guarantee its independence and to confine themselves within Ladakh. Indeed the Rajah of Ladakh may already be a Chinese prisoner or ally.

There are five passes through the Himalayas at this area – two in Gurhwal and three in Kumaon which all lead steeply up to the crest then gently descend into Tartary.

The passes from Simla are useless – one has to cross pass after pass before reaching the rugged tableland.

The passes at Kumaon are the grandest of all along the Himalayas. The Kali River is more magnificent than the Ganges or Sutlej and where it debouches from the hills at Burm Deo it is majestic.

The Nynee Tal (lake) in Kumaon is very beautiful. In April and May every shrub in the valley is in flower and the hillsides are crimson with rhododendrons.

I am mentioning all this because the determination of the dispute will conceivably be in English hands. Either the Sikhs will ask us to help them or, when we make peace with China, we might ask them to withdraw.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

London newspapers report that railways are being considered for India. A circular line Calcutta – Madras – Bombay – Agra – Calcutta is estimated to cost £6,000,000.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

The Peruvian will depart shortly for England. This is interesting because 150 tons of her tea cargo was loaded along the coast and hence is being shipped free of Canton export duty.

The precise saving has not been revealed but the shipper indicates his future purchases will not be made in Canton.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

A joint petition of sundry British merchants to the Canton Viceroy requesting to bring their wives to Canton has been summarily rejected.

With Ilipu’s dismissal, the two Hong Merchants who were sent North are now returning to the South.

Canton Register Vol 15 No 34 – 23rd August 1842

Sir Robert Peel has asked for a tax on everybody’s income because of the costs of war in Afghanistan and China. The deficit due to tariff reform is not his only reason.

Concerning the China war it is a just war, because the Queen’s representative was imprisoned with the merchants, £2 millions of opium was confiscated, and the imprisonment and confiscation was done in a treacherous manner.

England does not make war frivolously.

The Tory wars against the liberties of France and America cost us £700 millions (the War against Napoleon and the War of 1812) and have given us an inheritance of £25 millions in taxes each year merely to pay interest on the loans.19 Whether war with China is just or unjust, it is the policy of both parties, Whig and Tory. It is true that a cabinet minister (Sir James Graham) harangued against it whilst in opposition but he was snubbed by the highest authority in his own party and kept quiet thereafter.

The Tory party has since made the Chinese war its own. They continue the same people in authority in China and leave them with the same instructions. If they are right, now they are in power, they must have been merely factious when in opposition. That is their predicament.

What is this war that calls for fresh pecuniary sacrifice? According to Sir Robert, the charge is $400,000 for each of the three years – about three days expenditure in the years at the end of the wars with Napoleon and America.

Vol 15 No 34 – 23rd August 1842

Sir Robert Peel has expressed his confidence in Capt Elliot and deemed him suitable as our national representative to the Republic of Texas. We wish to review his activities leading the opium surrender to China to illustrate the factual background to Sir Robert’s decision. Our information is from the Blue Book:

On 22nd March Elliot petitioned Lin from Macau and apologised for the written translation of his wishes if it did not comply with Chinese usages – a complete dereliction of his instructions from the Foreign Office. (The translator was Gutzlaff)

On 23rd March he issued a public notice at Macau referring to ‘the immediate and inevitable preliminary act of declared war’.

Elliot arrived at Canton at about 6 pm on 24th March 1839. He told Pam in his letter of 6th April that his arrival was ‘at the risk of his life’. Capt Elliot is a post captain and implicit in that rank is the fact that his life is devoted to the service of his Sovereign. It is unique for Capt Elliot to adduce this ‘risk’ in his formal correspondence. In point of fact his life was at no greater risk that the sailors manning HMS Larne’s jolly-boat, or the Netherlands Consul Senn van Basel or young Adam Elmslie, a youth in his teens (he was the Secretary of the British Trade Commission).

The next day Elliot wrote the Governor of Canton for passports. That same day, before he got an answer, and before he had spoken with the English community at Canton, he wrote again to the Governor requesting an officer be deputed to negotiate with him for the peaceful conclusion of all matters in dispute. He offered to submit to the restraints then in effect on the foreign community at Canton and would not call-up the boats from Whampoa in defence of the foreigners. He said he always desired to fulfil the pleasure of the Viceroy, which desire appears to have been in total opposition to the desires of the trading community at Canton. He offered his sincere efforts to fulfil the pleasure of the Emperor in so far as it was in his power to do so as soon as it was made known to him. Finally he asks that his earlier application for passports be returned, presumably to conceal its existence from his masters.

Thus Elliot formally requested for Imperial and Provincial commands without a word to his countrymen and without a hint of demur at Lin’s request for surrender of the opium, which Elliot later called ‘public robbery’ and ‘wanton violence.’ Commissioner Lin replied that a reiteration of his commands of 18th March was unnecessary. This Edict was to the Hong merchants for the instruction of the foreigners and the foreign merchants had replied before Elliot arrived at Canton. Lin added that, in light of Elliot’s offer, he had merely to lay the commands on Elliot to arrange the surrender of opium and provision of bonds. Lin recognised the confrontational possibilities of his commands and wrote that ‘if Elliot has anything to offer in entreaty or mitigation, provided it is reasonable, I will grant it.’

This is the man who the evening before (on 24th March) made that well-known public address to the community at Canton.

All this was hidden from the foreign community which assumed, when the notice of 27th March was published, that Lin had made an awful threat to Elliot in response to his request for passports; that he was prepared to act unless the opium was instantly surrendered. Well, now we know that Elliot was never under any such threat. He was never coerced into exceeding his powers. On 2nd April Lin prescribed the terms for the opium surrender. If any delay, after three days the water supply to the factories will be stopped, three more days and the food supply will be halted, three more days and the law will be enforced unilaterally. This last threat Elliot understood as personal to him for next day (3rd April) in his public notice he implied that the Commissioner would execute him after such delay.

We have previously criticised Commissioner Lin for reporting to the Emperor that the opium surrender was voluntary. It now transpires that it was. On 21st March the merchants had themselves surrendered 1,000 chests. Then Elliot says he is ‘sincerely anxious to fulfil the pleasure of the Emperor, as far as it may be in my power, and as soon as it is authentically made known to me’ and ‘I have the honour to receive for the first time Your Excellency’s commands, issued for the Emperor, to deliver the opium in the possession of British subjects’.

When we complained of the attack on the Black Joke, Elliot acquitted the officials of complicity and wondered who the real culprits were. We now have a Chinese report on the event. It says ‘an English barbarian boat was seen spying about the Tiger’s Mouth20 and was fired upon by Wong Chung, who killed more than ten men ….’ Elliot said one thing to Pam and another to Commissioner Lin, despite having a statement of facts from Alex Jardine.

On 27th March Lin replied to Elliot ‘in obedience to the commands, you agree to deliver the opium. This manifests a respectful sense of duty.’

Elliot wrote on 26th March ‘I received your letter between 5 – 7 am. You say:

I came to Canton on 24th March and presented an address at 1 am on 25th March and a clear reply was given to me. Then between 1 – 3 pm I presented another address requesting indulgences that are difficult to grant yet. I sent you a copy of the foreign address which you have considered. I asked that an intermediary be appointed for discussions. You sent four legal officers – Choo, Lu, Fu and Chang – to the Consoo House to meet with me. Then you sent the three heads of department – territorial, judicial and fiscal – to the new city (the extension south of the old city wall – between it and the river) to await information on developments in the discussions. But no foreigner came to attend the meeting. You ask “What sort of conduct is this?”

‘You say I have presented two addresses in one day, neither of which refers to the prevention of opium importing or to the progress of its surrender, as though our detention was unrelated to it. You say ‘Had you been ready to instruct the foreigners to surrender their opium, I (Lin) should have praised you extravagantly. Even had you not instructed them to surrender etc., it might have been understandable, but you have contrarily sought to induce the foreigners to escape from Canton. Would I not be acting reasonably if I withdrew the compradors and launched an enquiry as to how you came to Canton? The offence of resistance to our law is now deflected from Dent towards Elliot. Even if I indulge you, I can still stop your country’s trade. Your merchants have profited from China for two centuries. If they find their profits stopped as a result of your acts, will your people indulge you as I am willing to do? In former times, when officers were sent to command your people, they several times inflicted the ultimate punishment on them. Have you not heard about that?’

Continued in Vol 15 No 35, 30th August 1842 with evidence from the parliamentary Select Committee.

Evidence of Mr Inglis:

…. illegible … He (Elliot) called for Mr Elmslie to copy his demand on the merchants to deliver their opium. I begged him not to commit himself until he had slept on it. He agreed and it was not copied out until early the next morning. Then it was distributed very early. It required the merchants to surrender their stock by 6 pm that day (26th March). It has been said that the merchants and Elliot together concocted this order. That is why I have detailed the only part of the transaction that I was privy to. I do not know about any thing else.


Q. Do you think Elliot consulted others?

A. I am sure he consulted James Matheson because he was the most involved.

Q. (Lord Sandon) – You say Elliot had decided on the surrender before he left Macau?

A. Yes.

Q. (chairman) – Did you talk with anyone else about the surrender on 26th?

A. No.

Q. (Buller) If Elliot had asked for the opium without offering a guarantee, would it have been surrendered?

A. No.

Evidence of Alexander Matheson:

Q. (Buller) – Was James Matheson consulted by Elliot about the surrender.

A. No.

Q. Did you think Elliot was empowered to receive the opium?

A. He said he had powers which could not be revealed.

Q. (G Staunton) From your knowledge of Elliot, would he assert a power he did not possess.

A. No.

Q. (G Grey) Were you apprehensive of what the Chinese might do to enforce the surrender?

A. There’s no saying what they might have done but I was not apprehensive of violence being used.

Q. Do you still hold that view?

A. I doubt the Chinese would have killed anyone, but had they done so, it would have been Elliot.

Q. (Buller) Could the English have resisted the Chinese demand?

A. We could send the opium away. What could the Chinese do to stop it?

Q. (Staunton) Do you think better terms were possible.

A. We might have got away with surrendering 2,000 – 3,000 chests not 20,000.

Evidence of Capt John Thackerey:

Elliot arrived Canton in the evening of Sunday 24th March. He assembled the community in the Company’s Hall and read them the Proclamation he had made in Macau a few days previously. He said he had prepared it a month or two previously…. Illegible …

Evidence of W Jardine 14th May:

Q In your experience was there any danger to life or property arising from Lin’s Edict demanding the opium?

A. Certainly not. If there had been more resistance then, the subsequent British response need not have been so severe.

Q You think they would have continued the policy of treating the foreigners with fairness?

A. I had no fear they would take my property from me without payment. It would have been difficult to fix the price. But I had no doubt they would have paid for anything they made me surrender to them.

Q (G Grey) Do you mean to say Lin did not earnestly wish to put down the opium trade?

A. He was earnest but he would not have adopted the means he did if he had not found us yielding. Elliot had required Britons to prepare to move their property into ships (Reliance, Orwell & George IV, etc.) at Whampoa to move it to Macau and give him a list of all our claims on Chinese subjects and claims for damage resulting from Chinese actions. He had given notice that Macau had pledged to protect Britons so long as they obeyed Chinese laws. Most especially he had warned Britons that any violent measures taken by Britain could not be prejudiced by Britons continuing to live at Canton, which was on their own responsibility. Finally he gave notice that if the requested passports were delayed beyond the three days after his application was delivered to Lin, he would conclude the community was being detained to force them to make unsuitable concessions and terms (by the restraint of their persons, the violent seizure of their property or the execution of those Chinese associated with the foreigners, etc).

When Elliot finished reading this notice, he said he had always been prepared to act in concert with China so long as their proposals were moderate and just. It was with these views that he had interfered with the opium smuggling at Whampoa. He had been expecting a crisis for some months past since the Chinese government attempted the execution of a Chinese in the square on 12th December and actually carried out another on 25th February. Those events had shaken his confidence and caused him to determine on a course of action. He said “thank God we have a British warship outside commanded by a British captain” He considered he was only doing his duty to protect British subjects. (remainder illegible)

Vol 15 No 36 – 6th September 1842


Goulburn had the audacity to tell the House of Commons that Elliot was persuaded by the urgency of the merchants to give the assurance now relied upon. It was patently untrue for what body of men could suppose that a British representative had the power to give that assurance (of compensation).

What is more shocking is that Lindsay, Staunton, Jardine and Larpent, all MPs and present in the House, did not contradict Goulburn.

Peel spoke of Elliot’s ability, efficiency and integrity. Well, where could those qualities have been evinced except as Superintendent of Trade in China? Is it possible that Elliot bamboozled Peel? No doubt Elliot told him, as he told us, and we all laughed at him, that it was to his (Elliot’s) credit alone that the tea was sent home in 1839 / 40 and 1840 / 41.

Peel should have recalled Elliot’s opposition to the opium trade. His absurd interference in opium trading in the river in December 1838. That opium was made by the Company who were paying 2/3rds of Elliot’s enormous salary. While this war in China continues, Peel should realise that Elliot has been the curse of his country. He lied to Lord Aberdeen in his letter of 25th January 1842 when he said ‘by 18th May the trade of the season was fairly off’ and ‘…though the trade of the season had been sent home ….’ when on that day a total of 36 English ships remained at Whampoa and Hong Kong.

Elliot also told ministers, who should have known better, that the trading season commenced in November or December. He must have been referring to trade at the time of the Company. At that time actually, the arrival of the direct ships was always looked for after 12th August. In fact since commencement of free-trade in 1834, business continues throughout the year and teas arrive in Britain much earlier than before. Elliot also informed Lin that Queen Victoria knew only of the legal trade. The Duke revealed this untruth as we published in our issue of 8th September 1840.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The Emperor says some robbers were long ago caught at Jehol (the site of His summer palace in the Manchu homeland). They were imprisoned and have since died. The Magistrate in charge is ordered to be examined for allowing prisoners to remain in prison so long without trial.
  • The drought in Peking continues. The Emperor has ordered more sacrifices. He will himself pray with many Taoist and Buddhist priests.
  • Floods in Anhwei have caused suffering. One month’s supply of free rice is to be given to the needy from the government granaries.
  • Silver has become too expensive in Fukien and the casting of copper cash is accordingly to cease.
  • Ta Hung Ho commander of Taiwan begs for more soldiers. He has attacked and sunk a barbarian ship and expects revenge attacks. Her Majesty’s sends more officers and men and 300,000 Taels.
  • The English were routed at Ningpo and Ting Hai after 400 – 500 barbarians were killed in the Chinese advance and several of their ships sunk.
  • The Emperor has heard that the merchants of Canton are exporting saltpetre (an ingredient in gunpowder and a regular import of the foreign trade but contraband in China, both for import and export). The governor is to make rigorous examination and arrest anyone for exporting even the smallest quantity.
  • Yishan has asked for rewards for the gentry of Canton who have donated money for the war. The Emperor requires a list of names and amounts of their donations. He will give favours and honours to each.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

The Straits Messenger has an article saying Ningpo has been evacuated, Ting Hai deserted, and the Chinese permitted back into both places. Previously Pottinger said he would retain Chusan (the Messenger has confused Chinhae with Ting Hai).

British merchants at Canton are appalled that resources are being frittered away. If this is the way we fight it will take 10 years to conclude the war. Now reinforcements have arrived in China we hope something effective will be done.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

Letter from American missionaries following the troops in China:

The English General left Ningpo on 7th May with a small detachment remaining at Chinhae. Pottinger went to Hong Kong and stayed there from 1st February 42 until mid June when sufficient reinforcements had arrived to contemplate the continuance of hostilities. We missionaries will watch this third campaign with interest. We will be great beneficiaries of China’s conquest.

The Reverends Abeel and Boone went to Kulangsu Island (off Amoy) in February and are making good contacts although they would probably not be welcome if the English forces left. Boone came back in April to collect his wife and children. He was accompanied on his return by McBryde and his family and Dr Cumming of Georgia. Abeel does a Sunday service in Chinese and gets an average 25 people in his congregation. Cumming uses medicine to make contacts (like the Jesuits had earlier done in Peking ) and encourages his patients to attend Christian service.

Milne left for Chusan in February. Dr Lockhart might join him later.

Shuck is living in Hong Kong and Roberts is at Stanley. Roberts conducts service on Sunday in Chinese. He recently baptised his first convert. Before the English arrived, Stanley was the biggest Hong Kong village but now it has greatly reduced to only about 1,200 people.

Bridgman has returned to Hong Kong. In April he went with Commodore Kearney to Whampoa in USS Constellation for 2 months (to await an Imperial response). The Commodore’s mission was to settle differences with the Chinese and the impression he made should be beneficial.

Reverend Lowrie from New York arrived in May. Reverend Dean and family arrived from Bangkok having found the weather there too hot for them.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

We previously reported the Peruvian had loaded 150 tons of tea from the coast. An influential subscriber says several tea cargoes from the coast have already been exported to Britain.

The balance of the Peruvian’s cargo was teas transhipped from a British ship at Amoy, that great emporium of the black tea district, and this was the first black tea imported other than from Canton.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

All the analyses of tea so far have been unsatisfactory. Dr Ure says the most dependable researcher is Sir Humphrey Davy but he says ‘chemical analysis has not yet identified that principle in tea, to which its exciting property is due’ We hope this point will be elucidated soon

Vol 15 No 35 – 30th August 1842

Friend of China, 25th August – extract from Peking Gazettes:

Yishan has asked for rewards for the gentry of Canton who have donated money for the war. The Emperor asks for a list of names and amounts and will give favours and honours to each.

Vol 15 No 35 – 30th August 1842

The interest in this firm of the late James Innes ceased on 30th June 1841. John Henry Larkins was admitted to the partnership on 1st July 1842. Our firm will in future be called Fletcher Larkins & Co.

Sgd Innes Fletcher & Co.


Hereafter, all entries are from the Friend of China.


Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The leader of the rebellion in Hupeh has been arrested, taken in chains to Peking and executed. There are continuing insurrections in other provinces notably Shantung and all along the borders.
  • Some officers of archery regiments are ineffective archers. At a recent examination two officers were disgraced for unskilled shooting. All must practice.
  • All the officers of Shantung, Hunan, Kiangsu and Anhwei are to be examined in tactics and field manoeuvres. Any failures are to be cashiered. These are the provinces that face the barbarians and their armies must be totally effective.
  • A military officer in Kiangsu (where the English have been fighting) says he is sick but the Emperor suspects he is scared. He is to be disgraced.
  • The list of officers who sank the barbarian ship in Taiwan and killed its crew has been received. They are to receive high praise, peacocks feathers and buttons.
  • Some high officials from Kiangsu are transferred to the army in Shantung
  • The grain tribute from the southern provinces is late. The governors of Chih Li and Shantung are to go and find it (an apparent reference to the British blockade of the Grand Canal).
  • Rebellion has occurred in two places in Taiwan. The leaders have been caught and executed, their followers have been put in fear and peace is restored. His Majesty offers favours and promotions to the responsible officers.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

Although Yishan and his colleagues made an agreement with Elliot last year not to rebuild the defences on the Canton River they were contrarily ordered by the Emperor to do so and necessarily had to resile from their agreement with us.

Now from Canton to the Bogue the defences are stronger than before. We should have destroyed the new forts as soon as we knew of them. The foreign merchants who have gone up to Canton are truly in the hands of the Chinese.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

From the Friend of India – 4,052 chests were sold at yesterday’s opium auction averaging 860 Rupees per chest and producing totally 3,500,000 Rupees for the Company.

No doubt the war in China will procure an indemnity to the traders for the opium confiscated by Lin but its value has already been more than recovered in the higher prices pertaining as a result of the temporary shortage.

Add to that the windfall profits during the war (auction cost + freight has been less than 50% of sale price) and it becomes quite likely that the Chinese have already paid all the costs of this war in the opium they have bought during its continuance.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

It is public knowledge that part of the $6,000,000 ransom of Canton was paid out of money due to the Emperor. $4,000,000 was already packed in chests labelled Land Tax and addressed to the Imperial Treasury but was delivered piecemeal to us instead.

The reduced Canton revenue from trade has provoked enquiry (the supposed loans by the Canton Treasurer to the Hong merchants, mentioned above).

The Canton officials are concealing the fact of the ransom from the Emperor. They are now consequently in disgrace for not remitting the revenue. The costs of war are obliging the Emperor to collect his receivables everywhere.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

Many of the English traders, who have been doing business through the intermediary of American firms as their nominees, are finally coming out to trade on their own account again.

Several factories are being repaired. J M & Co are moving into one of the largest. The smuggling of all sorts of imports and exports has become commonplace and the opium fleet at Whampoa is now in danger of being out-numbered by the ships smuggling other dutiable goods.

This must lead to a collision with the provincial authorities eventually but no doubt only after the English forces have been withdrawn and disbanded.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

  • Yishan has fortified the river above Whampoa and is believed to be now preparing to repair and re-equip the Bogue forts.
  • Our troops on Kulangsu Island are in bad health with much malaria but the officers and missionaries seem to be unaffected. The Cambrian has captured several pirate boats which action has been applauded by the Amoy residents.
  • There is a large meat and vegetable market on Kulangsu each morning which removes to Amoy each afternoon. It does huge business.

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

The great Ningpo bell that was looted from Ningpo and sent to Calcutta on the Marian has been found abandoned in the yards at Kiddapore. The government is said to intend to melt it down.

That would be quintessentially barbarous and we protest its destruction. Its dates, devices and inscriptions are important and should be preserved. It should be in a museum not a scrapyard.21

Friend of China 1.9.42 edition

Letter from Chusan – We have hamged three Chinese for attempted kidnapping of Sepoys. The on-lookers showed no emotion but the executions were poorly done – one fellow was struggling and jerking for over 20 minutes.

The Ariadne appears to be not salvageable. The surveyor had a look at her in the long boat where she lay but suspects she will fall to pieces if he brings her up.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Ilipu is restored to his former rank but continues in his lowly job.
  • Chun Hwa Ching was killed by barbarians at Woosung. The Emperor appoints Twan Yung Fuh to replace him. Twan’s place as General of the Kwong Si army is assumed by Chalipo.
  • Many robberies are occurring in Peking. The culprits enter through the roof and injure occupants with swords as well as stealing valuable property.
  • A memorialist has asked the Emperor to appoint many troops to guard the powder magazines around Peking.
  • Many robberies are occurring in Kwong Si and some thieves, who had been arrested, have escaped from prison. The responsible provincial officer is disgraced and if he does not catch the escapees soon he will be further punished.
  • Many grain junks have arrived at Peking. Pun To the grain commissioner of Kiangsu is promoted to salt commissioner of Kwongtung.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

Last week we mentioned the Friend of India’s comments on our war. We agree. Nothing short of a demonstration of power in front of Peking will bring the Son of Heaven to terms. The lack of information from the war is disturbing.

It is rumoured the operations are directed from Downing Street hence the delays.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

Notice, 10th June 1842 – Mr William Wardorf Shaw has retired from the partnership of Dunnett Shaw and Company of Penang and Moulmein and of Buchanan and Co of Glasgow.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

British traders are all following J M & Co back to Canton although this is dangerous for them and against the express directions of the Plenipotentiary. The river forts are being re-armed and, whilst trade is active at Canton, we are at war in the north.

We think the traders should continue to entrust their trade to a neutral power like Portugal for a little longer. If they are kidnapped for ransom they have no one to blame but themselves.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

Editorial – Canton officials have agreed to issue chops for foreigners travelling to the shipping at Whampoa. There is no restriction on the kind of boat used for ferry. This is a great concession which will benefit the smuggling trade. It might cause difficulty later.

At present Kwongtung provincial government boats carry opium from Whampoa to Canton at $15 per chest (about 3% of value). This monopoly will be broken by the new ferry arrangements.

The payment of most Port Entry fees and Customs duty has ceased and everything is being smuggled these days. All the cassia and Canton raw silk exports are coming out duty-free.

To make up for the shortfall the Hoppo has increased duty on tea to 4½d per lb. This has consequently enhanced the demand for tea-trade on the East Coast.

We do hope that English traders will exhibit a determination not to return to Canton but will continue to develop their trade here (in Hong Kong).

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

A visitor travelling up the river would be astonished at the size of the smuggling fleet at Whampoa. It is the result of vicious commercial regulation. It does not signify depravity of the traders but folly of the legislators.

Every country has some traders smuggling goods to others.

France, Belgium and Holland permit their smugglers to England to hold tobacco, spirits and silks in bond so they do not commit part of their capital in import duty. The English Customs estimate they spend £500,000 on preventive work and still lose £1,500,000 in duty each year due to these activities of continental neighbours.

In return English traders smuggle yarns and other things to Europe in even greater quantities. We have endless examples from history that cheap goods will always get a market whatever penalties or prohibitions exist. The Spanish attempted to control the markets of South America by making smuggling a capital offence but even that failed.

The Americans now seem to think that England should agree with China not to smuggle. This will never happen. If we did so the trade would immediately be lost to other countries. Gibraltar is a base for smuggling cottons and cigars into Spain. Hong Kong will perform a similar role in respect of China.22

Governments need to recognise that there is an upper limit on duties. Exceed it and it becomes commercially preferable to smuggle. The way to get more revenue out of trade is to increase it, not increase the taxes on it.

As Adam Smith said:

“to pretend to have any scruples about buying smuggled goods would be regarded as one of those pedantic pieces of hypocrisy which instead of gaining credit with anybody seems only to expose the person who affects to practise them to the suspicion of his being a greater knave than most of his neighbours.”

The popular feeling is that the smuggler promotes social advancement and happiness of mankind at large.

Friend of China 8.9.42 edition

There have been several local marine casualties recently. The Chusan ran onto submerged rocks three times and lost part of her false keel; the Brig Brigand went aground at Taipa, the opium schooner Mavis was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike.

Friend of China, 8th September 1842

Editorial – Although Yishan and his colleagues made an agreement with Elliot last year not to rebuild the defences on the Canton River they have since been ordered by the Emperor to do so. The defences from Canton to the Bogue are stronger than before.

We should have destroyed the new forts as soon as we knew of them. Now the foreign residents at Canton are in the hands of the Chinese as Pottinger foresaw and warned against.

Friend of China 10.9.42 special edition

Pottinger’s Proclamation of 5th July 42 in Chinese to the Chinese people at the time of his arrival in the Yangtse River:

The English have traded with China for two centuries. Chinese officials have ill-treated us, regarding themselves as powerful and the English as weak. We bore this treatment until 1839 when the To Kwong Emperor acted to prohibit opium import and sent Lin to Canton. He was unable to seize the offenders and, instead of consulting with the representatives of the foreign countries, he imprisoned the British representative Elliot and his people and threatened them with death. Lin wanted to seize what opium the British possessed to gain favour with his Emperor and Elliot recognising the danger of the situation ordered the merchants to give him what he wanted.

This was the first great offence.

Because of this and numerous subsequent acts of injustice, the British sovereign empowered the two Elliots to settle the matter. Admiral Elliot was empowered to seize an island, obtain an admission of error and agreement to redress. If justice and recompense was not offered then the claims were to be enforced by war. The admiral went to the Pei Ho and gave a letter from the minister of England (Palmerston) to the minister of China (Kishen). Kishen replied that the dispute involved Canton and should be settled at Canton. The English officers, desiring peace, agreed and went to Canton and discussed settlement there with Kishen frequently and arrangements were continuing when ministers at Peking induced the Emperor to have Kishen recalled and Yishan was sent in his place to fight a war. The English then took the defences on the Canton River from Bocca Tigris to Canton to bring Yishan to submission and take a ransom in punishment of bad faith.

This was the second great offence.

The High Commissioner Yukien and other High Officers of the several provinces, when they found English people shipwrecked on their coasts, or where English people had been induced by evil men to come onto the shore, they put these people to a tyrannical and cruel death, telling the Emperor they had won a battle and seized these vessels and captured these prisoners.

Thus did:

  • Yukien report the circumstances of the English occupation of Chusan;
  • Yishan report the destruction of many English vessels;
  • Governor Yen Pe Tao report the recovery of Amoy in battle;
  • The Prefect (Taotai) of Taiwan report a victory over the English in battle (when he had captured the shipwrecked crew of an English ship), and
  • General Yiking report the destruction of many English vessels and the killing of a multitude of English at Chusan when no vessel was damaged nor any soldier killed. These multiple false statements misled the Emperor and prevented peace.

This was the third great offence.

Concerning trade, the English used to buy and sell everywhere (before 1760) but the officers at Canton sought to keep the profits to themselves and induced the Emperor to restrict trade to that port and further restrict it to 13 Hong merchants forbidding talk with any other but the Hong merchants and the government Linguists. Thus did Provincial officials control the trade, extorting as they pleased and concealing the true state of affairs from the Emperor.

This was the fourth great offence.

There are many other grievances that will not be enumerated but which have collectively excited the wrath of the foreigners. Because of this the English Queen has sent Pottinger to get redress and satisfaction. When this is obtained the former state of friendly relations will be renewed. The English will continue to fight until the Emperor appoints high officers with full powers to negotiate a peace. The ingredients for peace are:

  • Compensation for losses and expenses.
  • Friendly and becoming intercourse on terms of equality between officers of the two countries.
  • Cession of an island for commerce and the residence of the foreigners, which will be a security and guarantee against renewal of future hostile action.

Agreement to these three primary points will permit discussion of the ancillary points. This Notice is published so the Chinese people will know why an English army has come.

Friend of China 10.9.42 special edition

The expedition was detained at Woosung by weather and other things until 6th July 42. It then proceeded up the Yangtse river. On 14th July it passed a military position on some hills and two batteries of totally 13 guns opened fire. The fire was returned, a force was landed and the guns, batteries and military buildings destroyed. The main fleet was retarded by adverse winds but some ships were assisted up river to Golden Island by the steamers. The fleet assembled there on 20th July and anchored abreast of Chinkiang (130 miles in 14 days from Woosung. The river current was often 5 knots per hour and the fleet had to anchor overnight).

A reconnaissance was done that evening and the troops disembarked the following morning. It was then believed that the majority of the Chinese troops (estimated at 1,500 – 3,000) were in a camp in the hills above the river about 3 miles away. The forces were separated into three brigades. The right (under Major General Lord Saltoun) and centre (under Major General Bartley) cut between the camp and city to prevent soldiers escaping. The left brigade (Major General Scheodde) landed facing the city and was ordered to escalade the north wall.

The centre brigade was to escalade the south wall once it had completed its earlier duty.

The Chinese troops in the hills fired 3-4 very long range volleys with gingals and matchlocks and then dispersed over the countryside which is jungly.

It then became apparent that the Tartar garrison intended to defend the city. They opened an incessant fire of cannon, gingals, matchlocks, muskets and wall pieces. The steam frigate Auckland threw some shells amongst the enemy on the walls with admirable precision but had to cease fire as the left brigade was advancing on the walls so fast. They escaladed the wall which was defended with great spirit. The Tartars disputed every inch of the ramparts. Their good local knowledge enabled them to gall our troops whilst screening their own. The centre brigade was delayed entering the city due to delay in finding a bridge across the Grand Canal (which flows along the western side of Chinkiang, between the suburbs and the walled city). They then blew-up one of the gates and entered.

Even then, with this reinforcement and bodies of marines and sailors, the opposition continued stubborn and the contest continued for hours. It was late afternoon when the Manchu garrison suddenly disappeared. It was surmised they had then thrown away their arms and uniforms and disguised themselves as residents.

Chinkiang is four miles in circumference, walls in excellent repair, parapet thick and solid (only cannon shot could effect it), pierced with narrow embrasures and loopholes, and flanked at a variety of places with transverse walls. The garrison numbers are unknown but estimated by us as at least 3,000. Of these, 40 officers and 1,000 men were killed.

The Manchu General retired to his house and had his servants fire it. He sat on his chair and died in the flames. His private secretary was found concealed in a garden the following day and he identified the corpse.

We suffered some serious losses in this engagement. A strong garrison will be installed and the remainder of the force will move up to Nanking about 40 miles further on and 3 miles from the river.

Capt Collinson who had done such valuable surveying work over the years was killed in this engagement. Deaths army – 33 (3 officers), navy – 3 (1 officer). Wounded and missing army – 112, navy – 21.

Friend of China 15.9.42 edition

Letter from a participant: All the way up river we met no traffic coming down. All the small vessels had fled into the side streams and canals. This war has providentially shown what steam can accomplish. We can navigate on internal waters and this river goes right up to Kokonor and Tibet, more or less to our Indian possessions.

The Manchu at Chinkiang fought well. When they considered they had lost, they killed their wives and families and committed suicide. This self-immolation is dreadful. Fifty times the number who killed themselves at Chapu have done so here.

Chinkiang contains 200,000 – 300,000 people and it was looted very thoroughly by our troops. We all got a lot of plunder but not many jewels or valuable ornaments were found. As much of the loot as could be collected off our red coats was accumulated and sold at a public auction.

Scheodde’s escalade was said to be the prettiest anyone had seen. Cadell was first on the wall (20-30 feet high) and was wounded. General Bartley’s brigade lined the banks of the canal and sniped at every face that showed itself at an embrasure. The Manchu fought tenaciously. The Madras sappers under Capt Pears blew up a gate. He and Lt Rundell fixed the bags and in an instant the entire gate was in pieces. At the same moment the building above it was fired by a rocket.

It was after the town had been taken that our principal losses occurred. It was so hot, hotter even than when we were at Canton, that 2 officers and 20 men of the 98th Regiment died of sunstroke. We fired the public buildings and were preparing to quarter for the night when a hidden party of the enemy emerged and killed 2 men and wounded 8 of the 49th Regiment. In fact desultory shooting continued throughout the night. At 10 am the next morning a boat of the Blonde with 2 officers went up the canal to the bridge to the west gate and was fired on and sunk by the enemy.

Golden Island is the prettiest thing we have seen in China. It has a 7 storey gilded pagoda, not in the best condition, but very picturesque and intended as a residence for the priests attached to it.

On 20th August the Imperial Commissioners Ilipu, Niu and Kiang with naval and military officers were taken on the Nemesis to visit the Plenipotentiary on the Cornwallis. The envoy and his suite dressed splendidly and greeted the group with a salute from the marine guard. The band played the national anthem. They were taken to the state cabin where a buffet was available which they seemed to enjoy. They asked to inspect the ship and were taken all over. They were astonished at the number of guns

On 24th August the Plenipotentiary and his officers returned their visit. They were received in a joss-house outside the city and given a salute of 3 guns and guard of honour and band. Unarmed Manchu troops aligned the route to the joss-house where we were met at the door by Ilipu, the Manchu General and the Provincial governor. A buffet and sam shoo were provided.

On 28th August it was rumoured the Plenipotentiary has received a complimentary letter from the Emperor. The Emperor was satisfied that the agreement has awaited his own assent and signature. He acceded to every demand. He bridled a little at opening Fuk Chow and allowing foreigners to live there but agreed. He acknowledged our claim to equality and directed that the first payment be made. He directed his Commissioners to ensure the treaty is drawn up meticulously to avoid all ambiguities and permit eternal peace.

On 29th August peace was declared. There was a royal salute from Cornwallis with the Chinese Imperial dragon flag flying on the main and our Union flag on the mizzen.

On 30th August we remained anchored off Nanking. We definitely have peace. We are told we will leave the river by 10th September. It seems little time is required to fix all arrangements. Looking forward to roast beef and plum pudding at Christmas.

31st August – what will the world say? We have dictated a peace here at Nanking without going to Peking. We never imagined the Manchu would buckle so quickly. When I left you at Hong Kong you said we would meet again either in 6 months or two years. I thought it would be the latter. Pottinger insisted on a formal ratification of the agreement by the Emperor and notice of its completion arrived on 29th August. Major Malcolm is bringing the actual document back to England and it looks as though it will arrive concurrent with the news of our victory.

The walls of Nanking are 20 miles around and 40 – 70 feet high. The streets are broad and dirty just like the other towns we have seen. The porcelain tower is in good repair. 500 years have not reduced the brightness of its colours which are burned into the tiles.

Our force has lost a good many men to cholera.

The commercial treaty will not be done yet. We hear there is no provision for a bonding system which should have been insisted upon. Perhaps it will yet be conceded if we demand it. We suppose Pottinger will convene a meeting of merchants to get the precise requirements before making the commercial arrangements.

Friend of China 15.9.42 edition

We hear the To Kwong Emperor’s objection to Fuk Chow being a treaty port was due to the importunities of those Peking officials representing the Canton merchants. Their concern is for the tea supply, the basis to their export tax revenue. The town is on the Min River and provides direct access to the Wu Yi Hills where the best black tea is grown which comprises 80% of the entire tea export every year. This is seen as a threat to the price of congou – the most popular export tea – which we now suppose to come from Wu Yi. Our largest ships can approach along the Min River to within 10 miles of the city.

Our best knowledge of Fuk Chow is from the voyage of the Lord Amherst in 1832. Lindsay (now MP for Sandwich) said it has a population of 400,000 and a size about 2/3rds the size of Canton. Hitherto the Wu Yi teas have been carried overland to Canton adding greatly to their cost. The export of tea from Fuk Chow has been formerly contraband to protect the Canton merchants. Tobacco is another large export of this port.

We hear Pottinger convinced the Chinese officials of the impossibility of prohibiting opium. They asked him to have the UK government stop Englishmen trading in it. Pottinger replied that the British government could do so but he supposed that the business would then pass to the Americans and others who could not resist such a valuable trade. This would not help the Emperor at all. It is expected that the import and use of opium will be allowed on payment of a small duty of up to 5%.

Friend of China 22.9.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Liu Yun Oh the governor of Chekiang says he cannot raise the usual revenue this year due to floods, to the war and to the consequent flight of his inhabitants who have not cultivated their fields. He asks that the Collector of Customs encourage the people to return.
  • The salt merchants of Chekiang have advanced 500,000 Taels to help finance the war and expel the barbarians. The Emperor requires their names so he may award favours.
  • The Canton triumvirate – Imperial Commissioner Yishan, Governor Kekung and assistant Governor Leung – have been found guilty by the Board of Punishments for false reports about the situation at the Bogue and Canton. They are disgraced but retained in office to retrieve their honour.
  • The Governor of Fukien requests for an Admiral. The Emperor has transferred one from Chekiang.
  • Tientsin is assessed to be not properly defended and many officials are posted there to assist in military duties.
  • The Governor of Kweichow Province reports that robberies and murders are frequent in some parts of his Province and requests the disgrace of the officers in charge of those districts.
  • A censor reports many robberies and murders in Shensi due to the negligence of officials.

Friend of China 22.9.42 edition

  • Major Malcolm passed through Hong Kong on 24th August with despatches for UK. He is said to be carrying the Emperor’s ratified copy of the treaty. He will travel on the steamer Auckland via Aden and the overland route at Suez. He will return in about 6 months with the Queen’s signature added.
  • The first $6 millions has been collected. The Blonde is to take $3 millions, Modeste and Columbine $800,000 each, the Clio $100,000 and the Herald $1,000,000, all to Calcutta. The Endymion is going to Bombay. The Calliope will come here with a portion of the treasure.
  • The Imperial Commissioners have offered to accompany Pottinger to each treaty port to ensure the arrangements are made properly. They are exhibiting the utmost good faith.
  • How Qua has heard from his son in Peking that peace is restored and the Hong merchants’ monopoly is finished. He has ceased operations.
  • All the captured junks have been restored and trading on the Yangtse with us has recommenced.
  • The Calliope is to proceed to Taiwan and rescue Mr Gully and the remaining crew of the Ann. The Emperor ordered their release when peace terms were agreed.
  • More or less the entire 98th Regiment is sick
  • Commander Kearney is proposing to again take the USS Constellation to Whampoa and demand the same privileges for America that we have won. We also hear that several American merchants now intend to reside in Hong Kong.

Friend of China 22.9.42 edition

Letter from a participant in the war:

This troublesome and inglorious war has at last been brought to a close. The duplicity of the Chinese had suggested it would continue much longer. The last battle at Chinkiang was a great surprise. The garrison exhibited determination and uncommon bravery. As the city was taken by storm, little mercy was shown to property. Looting continued and after two days the town contained nothing of value.

It is apparently customary for Manchu troops to commit suicide after losing a battle. They killed their women and children first. Hardly a house was entered that did not contain a body. The ponds, wells and water courses are blocked up with putrid corpses. The smell was terrible and cholera started on the third day of our occupation.

The 98th Regiment suffered badly. 6 men died in the field from sun stroke, 10 more shortly afterwards. In one week 60 men were dead from the sun or the cholera. A large proportion of the 98th Regiment’s casualties was amongst the officers. Lt Gibbons was shot through the lungs.

Friend of China 6.10.42 edition

London Monthly Mail – synopsis of the 6th July 42 edition:

  • Total payments to the India Company for reimbursement of its costs in the China War now stand at £572,000.
  • The British government intends to keep a military establishment of 10,000 men in China.
  • Capt Elliot has left England for Texas to become British Consul-General.

Friend of China 6.10.42 edition

The Singapore Free Press says a steamer service will be introduced from that port to Calcutta and back. Our merchants should start a service from Hong Kong to Singapore to connect with it.

The home government also needs a monthly service via Bombay to Hong Kong and the new consular ports in China.

J M & Co previously brought out a steamer and has since ordered two more. When the first steamer arrived it threatened to cause a stoppage of trade but times change and we think the Chinese authorities will now permit passage on the river. Having said that J M & Co has not said if the steamers are for the river or the coast.

Friend of China 6.10.42 edition

The announcement of peace is certain to cause a large quantity of English manufactures to be sent here for sale in China. How are the Chinese going to pay for them? In tea of course. But it is our belief that the tea market cannot be increased until the import duty on it in England is reduced. Our present exports to England are almost double the 1800 figures but in consideration of the increased British population over the same period, consumption of our exports from China has actually diminished.

In 1801 the coffee duty was 1/6d per lb and imports to UK were 750,000 lbs. In 1830 the duty was 6d per lb and imports were 14,920,000 lbs. Peel has now further reduced the coffee duty to 4d per lb and the market will no doubt grow proportionately. The coffee habit has reduced the market for tea. London coffee shop proprietors in evidence to a House Select Committee reported they sell 1/3rd tea to 2/3 rds coffee. Great Britain and Ireland (pop – 27 millions) consume 12,000 tons of coffee.

The USA and Canada (pop – 20 millions) are also great tea drinkers but use 30,000 tons of coffee each year. We must reduce the tea duty.

NB – British Customs duty is keeping tea imports constant. Opium sales in China continually increase. The trade balance is represented by silver exports from China. The tendency of British fiscal policy is to remove silver from China.

Friend of China 6.10.42 edition

The grievous problem in all British colonies is the lack of labour. The West Indian colonies get their labour supply from West Africa. Mauritius has workers from India. Now a Colonial Immigration Bill has been passed in London.

New South Wales and the Cape of Good Hope are suffering. The Cape gave public thanks to the naval officer who delivered the crews of captured slavers there, such is their need for labour.

One of the companies trading in China has offered to supply Mr Brooke with up to 3,000 workers for Borneo if he (Brooke) can obtain permission for their immigration.

We could easily provide Australia with Chinese labour at a lower rate than the hill coolies they presently import from India.

Chinese coolies are more clever and diligent than Indians. Singapore attests to what a Chinese community can attain under European direction. The benefits of Chinese emigration to Java are well known. Chinese coolies have many skills and are needed in all European colonies. The intended colonisation of Moreton Bay will need coolies for the sugar cane and other tropical crops. The Chinese are particularly adept in this. Their market gardening skills would be of immense advantage around Sydney to the rest of the residents there.

The Cantonese are also skilful fishermen.

The Canadians are just settling the Columbia River valley in Oregon and need men for ‘actual occupancy’.23 We can supply Chinese settlers. The Hudson’s Bay Company has two steamers on the west coast which could bring the coolies in. The weather is said to be very comfortable and all our familiar fruits grow better there than at home. It is also the case that it only requires a 50 mile canal to link the Columbia to the Missouri and open a route into central North America. The advantages Great Britain can derive in colonising Oregon are apparent.

London is now planning a colony on the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands which will be benefited by the proposed French colony on the nearby Marquesas.

China and Japan will be dominated by one or other of the Anglo Saxon races, England or America, and it just depends which takes the necessary measures first. The Americans are well aware of this as has been stated by General Jackson their incumbent President. We should take note and not permit Oregon to become another Texas.

Friend of China, 6.10.42 edition

Merchants and manufacturers have addressed Peel about the China trade. They have finally realised they were duped by the China-traders. They say as opium sales increased, British exports of cottons and woollens declined. They link the two trends and ask that the Company be prohibited both from growing opium itself and from allowing Malwa opium, produced in numerous native states, to pass through its territories.

The foreign merchants at Canton cannot get a better return on their capital than with opium, although market fluctuations have ruined many investors. For those few British firms with ‘connections’ in China it has been advantageous but they are a minority.

The other foreigners engaged in the honourable China commerce are prejudiced by the presence of these people.

Friend of China 13.10.42 edition

Edict of the To Kwong Emperor:

Kiying and Tse Chin have reported a battle at Chinkiang. They say the barbarian ships came suddenly. The Chinese great guns killed several tens of barbarians and many more fell into the river. The rebels landed on the northwest coast and Tse Chin met them as they landed. Pao Chu Hung shot 10 great guns and killed a barbarian chief in red clothes. The officers and men unitedly exerted themselves and slew 300 barbarians as they were manually dragging their guns up the river banks.

The rebels made a diversionary attack on the north gate but we checked them. The rebels then split their forces and attacked the south-west gate entering the city and setting fires. We tried to extinguish the flames but traitorous natives spread the fire and wounded our troops, blocking the streets so we could not advance. The enemy thus occupied the city.

We engaged them for 7 or 8 days and nights but our force became broken-up and could not be reassembled to preserve the city. The whole body of our troops in the city has been lost.

Let Kiying investigate and make a full report. He who killed the barbarian chief will receive promotion and a button. Those who failed in their duty will be punished.

Friend of China, 13.10.42 edition

The community of foreign merchants at Canton is very satisfied with the peace treaty. It is understood that all foreigners will have the same rights and privileges at treaty ports as the British.

The Hong merchants are taciturn and well understand and regret the effect of the impending changes. Very little trade is being done.

The official Imperial duties on imports have been published and they are surprisingly light. Had the Hoppo only collected the official duty last season we would have paid £36,000 on cotton imports instead of £144,000. On tea exports we would have paid £150,000 instead of £700,000.

If the Plenipotentiary made out an account of the whole foreign trade for the last say seven years showing the real duty and the actually paid duty it might convince even the Emperor in Peking of the impolicy of the present system.

Friend of China 13.10.42 edition

It is widely expected that America will soon send a diplomatic envoy to Canton. It is interesting to know how he will represent himself. ‘President’ translates as inferior to the common King (the four-stroke Wong) in Chinese.

In the translation of Lord Amherst’s credentials, the Manchu Emperor was styled as senior brother to our King instead of brother or cousin as would be common in Europe but that term still upset His officials.

Dr Morrison has done well to remind us that names and titles are very important in China. Vigilance will be necessary to secure the 7th article of the treaty agreeing ‘perfect equality’.

Friend of China 13.10.42 edition

The Hoppo of Canton complained at end September against the smuggling of woollen clothes and camlets by people he calls Kan Sheung (abandoned merchants). It is said this activity has drastically reduced Customs revenue.

We also report an Edict definitely issued by the Emperor and commanding the release of all English prisoners in Chinese hands.

Friend of China 13.10.42 edition

The $3,400,000 that was abstracted locally from the Imperial land revenue to pay Elliot’s Canton ransom has again been requested by Peking. The balance of $2,600,000 was mainly extorted from the Hong merchants.

To preserve Peking’s ignorance of the true state of affairs, the provincial Governor told the Emperor that the English rebels had so crippled trade that they had been forced to advance the revenue receipts to the Hong merchants to maintain them in business. Now the Emperor demands his money and the Canton officials can only turn to the Hong merchants again.

This $3,400,000 is in addition to $3,000,000 demanded by Pottinger at Nanking to settle the debts of the old bankrupt Hong merchants. Their monopoly was finally of more benefit to the officials than the Hongs themselves. Such a fate could happen to any trader in this country. It can only be paid by a tax on the foreign trade.

In Canton there are two classes of people – plunderers and plundered. The renewed squeeze on the Hong merchants, who are already substantially indebted to us, reduces their ability to repay. The whole Canton system enhances the costs of exports and diminishes the cash available for imports. These two features have already reimbursed the Canton ransom to China.

The additional payment of $21,000,000 required under the treaty will no doubt also be fixed on us foreign traders if the present extortion of $3,400,000 is permitted to proceed.

The Consoo fund has already been abolished. The Hong merchants will declare themselves bankrupt and the settlement of the treaty indemnity will become the last, the greatest, the most glorious squeeze of all squeezes.

We had not expected the officials at Canton to derogate from their national agreement so soon after the peace and the treaty obligation to place trade on a sound footing. We hope the Plenipotentiary will frustrate this nefarious scheme of the Canton officials.

Friend of China 13.10.42 edition

Tea export statistics to UK:

1841 31 million pounds;

1842 42 million pounds

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

A Chinese document is circulating in Canton. It says information was received on 12th September 42 about the peace terms agreed by Pottinger. It then recited the terms with accuracy.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

All those people who used to oppose the opium trade are now convinced that it is impossible for China to prevent smuggling and they accordingly believe its import and sale should be legalised.

They are suggesting an import duty of 15% but we have heard that the costs of smuggling have become so low on the increased volume that anything over 5% would not be effective.

Opium must be legalised before the trading arrangements between China and England can be placed on a firm footing.

The recent enormous increase in the opium trade is attributed to an expectation amongst the Chinese that it will be legalised. The Plenipotentiary is silent which suggests the matter is not yet settled but we hope he will convince the Imperial Commissioners when they arrive in Canton for the commercial negotiations.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

The controls on the export of raw silk are absurd. There should not be a 100 picul limit per ship – it is meaningless. The export duty is too high. Traders say it equates with about 1/- to 1/6d per pound or 9% ad valorem.

Italian silk exports are very lightly taxed thus disabling us from competing with them.

For silk piece goods there is a British imperial preference tax of 25% in favour of Indian silks that kills the China trade.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

The Hoppo has told the Hong Merchants that the Emperor would like to receive a piece of jade of about $70,000 value. The Cantonese call this Fei Tsui Yuk because it resembles the changeable plumage of a small green parrot. It is highly prized by Chinese and is used to make armlets and rings.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

Several chops of new silk have arrived at Canton and the Tsat Lee (best quality) is selling at $470 a bale (picul). This is much higher than expected. About 1,000 bales have been bought and half will be shipped on the Helen Steward.

Some inferior Tai Saam has been sold at the previous rates.

The European silk market might be difficult this year as both the French and Italian supplies are said to be abundant. No profit will be had from this trade. The high Canton prices have been set by the Co-Hong cartel as a step towards reducing their immense debts.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

No tea business has been done formally since we heard about the peace agreement but smuggling is continuing actively. We suppose the legal trade is waiting for the commercial treaty and the establishment of a new tariff of duties. We doubt it will be possible to bring all the tea we need from the other coastal ports – that will have to await the next season.

The early new season teas are believed to already be on their way to Canton. Congou is expected to cost 15 Taels. There is some expectation that the tea export this year will be very big to maximise funds in Canton for debt relief and to settle the Emperor’s requirements.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

A muster of Russian woollen cloth has been obtained at Nanking where they are retailed. The piecegoods are imported over the land frontier at Kyakhta. They would immediately be replaced by British woollens if it was not for the imposition of internal transit dues on our products.24

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

Imperial Commissioner Yishan and the Governor of Canton have issued a proclamation on 3rd September listing all the people who donated funds for the war against the English and the honours they have received from the Emperor.

The rich gentry of the Two Kwong are commended to donate more to uphold the dignity of the Dragon throne.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

The Commodore of the U S Squadron has sent a note to the Viceroy of Canton requesting he forward a memorial to the Emperor.

The memorial is said to request the same privileges for U S citizens as are now enjoyed by Englishmen as a result of the war and the peace treaty terms.

We have no doubt that it is the wish of the British government that all countries should be on an equal footing in the China Trade as this is apparent from the establishment of Hong Kong as a free port and the invitation to nationals of all countries to come here. The days of monopoly, exclusion and non-competition are a thing of the past.

Friend of China 20.10.42 edition

Americans have started shipping U S cottons to China and their product is preferred in the Northern ports. Our Indian manufacturers will have to attend more closely to the quality of their products. They are dreaming about replacing America in the British market tomorrow while they are losing the Chinese market today.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The grain harvest in Kweichow Province this year has been very good and ten new granaries are being built to store the surplus.
  • Diligent revenue collection in Chekiang has produced 220,000 Taels and 25,000 piculs of rice
  • The officials in Manchuria have sent 1,550 horses to Peking as a present to the Emperor.
  • A traveller north of the great wall was stopped at a military post and his bundle found to contain some opium. He said he was from Shensi and carrying it for a friend. He has been sent to Peking for punishment.
  • There is a famine in Kiangsu and the neighbouring provinces have been ordered to remit supplies
  • Governor Kekung of Canton learned that two junks had been seized by pirates and sent his naval officers to apprehend the culprits. After two months they had still not succeeded. He asks that the officers be disgraced and the Emperor agrees.
  • Liu Kin the governor of Kiangsu reports that hundreds of English barbarians came to Sungkiang, south of Shanghai, entered the public offices, broke open the treasury and took all the money. They plundered the public granary, set fire to buildings and left just as the local militia was arriving to catch them. The governor complains the laxness of the officials in charge of Sungkiang. The Emperor says they will be held responsible.
  • The Viceroy of Fukien and Chekiang Provinces requests the triennial review of the army be postponed until matters with the barbarians have been concluded.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

Letter of Sir Henry Pottinger to the commanders of the land and sea forces:

I have to inform your Excellencies that the Abbot of the Chinese monastery attached to the porcelain tower (about 1 – 2 miles outside the gates of Nanking on the south side) has this morning waited on me to complain that large parties of European officers and sailors yesterday visited the Tower and employed themselves by cutting-off portions of the building, including the josses and other figures and carrying them away.

The Abbot states that on one occasion there could not have been less than forty men so employed and that the destruction of the tower caused such excitement amongst the local people that a vast crowd collected who appeared at one time disposed to intervene to prevent this disgraceful dilapidation.

It is unnecessary for me to dilate on the serious public effect that must result from these outrages to say nothing of the regret that all thoughtful persons must feel at the wanton destruction of a building of such celebrity.”

Editor – the porcelain tower is 10 storeys and 300 feet high. It is composed of white tiles 6″ wide and 12″ long. The inside walls are gilded with figures upon them. The gilt contains an oil that gives a lustre never seen by westerners before. The tower is octagonal and mainly built of stone. It was constructed 500 years ago in the Ming dynasty for the Yongle Emperor.

From the top you can see all of Nanking. The city was clearly once grand but it appears to be already crumbling. The Manchu part of the city is like a citadel.

By the bye, there are many thousands of Muslims in Nanking who openly profess their religion but know very little about it. Any one of them will sell his Koran for a pittance. Only one in a hundred can read the Book.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

It is rumoured that some Chuan Chow men in Macau have applied to buy a Spanish brig intending to use her on the opium trade at Amoy. This is an encouraging sign of the times.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

The Viceroy has responded to Commodore Kearney’s enquiry. The privileges extended to the English will be available to all foreigners trading with China. This will be formally confirmed after the arrival of the Imperial Commissioners.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

Canton officials have obliged How Qua to sign a memorial to the Emperor saying the $6 million ransom was actually a settlement of the old Hong bankruptcy debts. The other Hong merchants had to follow his lead and also sign. They say they are now called upon to pay the balance of the ransom that they did not pay before.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

Canton Trade report:

Tea is arriving in Canton but there are no buyers as we expect a material reduction on the export duty of 8 Taels per picul. This year’s crop is very big, particularly Congou. Every chop is 600 – 800 chests and 800 chops are expected (about 33,000 tons – improbably large).

The northern ports are expected to be a source of common tea this year, of the ‘cargo’ type. At 10 – 12 Taels these will turn a good profit.

Foreign buyers are also holding back in the silk market. We hear from the north that excellent Tsat Lee silks are selling at one of the treaty ports at $330 and ordinary Tai Saam at $270. This is much less than the prices in Canton. It looks as though Canton will lose its dominance in the silk market.

There are 91,497 bales of Indian cotton overhanging the local market and trade is slow with prices same as last season.

Friend of China 27.10.42 edition

Kidnapping has recommenced at Chusan. Capt Wellesley and Lieutenant Shadwell narrowly escaped being carried off. Unfortunately the Chinese villagers do not apparently know that the war is over. They are curious about everything and need a newspaper.



1 Matheson lived in Macau during the period of British exclusion at Hong Kong harbour until his departure from China.

2 Goulburn takes the ministry line. His information appears in the Canton Register only on this occasion. Whether the smugglers influenced Elliot as Goulburn says or Elliot thought-up the plan as he himself says, the result is the same.

3 See the Hong Kong chapter for development of that island as a foreign base.

4 The pragmatic son of the illustratious John Adams. The achievement of China that J Q Adams did not recognise was the settlement of social order on an equitable and honourable basis, something Americans prior to the War of 1812 had understood. Acceptance of this settlement permitted entrée to Chinese society. Non-acceptance caused the situation the English merchants were in. The foreign traders repudiated the social structure and relied on the failure of many Chinese civil servants to resist bribery to evidence it was inappropriate.

5 The trade is over the land frontier south of Lake Baikal. On the Russian side is the village of Kyakhta and on the Chinese side is Mai Mai Chun, literally the buying and selling place. They are separated by a stream. The terms of trade were contained in a treaty done in 1727. Another frontier trading post lay between Hailar in Manchuria and Chita in Siberia.

The volume of tea traded into Russia in the years prior to the Opium War was c. 25% of British purchases at Canton but the quality of the overland supply was such that each infusion required only half the tea used in British blends.

NB – The trade routes at Kuldja (I Ning) and Chuguchak (Ta Cheng) in Sinkiang only formally opened in 1850s.

6 The book “After the wreck of the Kite” has long been out of print but was recently (2010) digitalised and published by Google.

7 The Editor’s example may be unlikely as it requires outright lying by the junk-master but there is certainly a long history of smuggling in the European trade to China since it was first transacted on St John’s Island (San Chuan) in 17th century.

8 Payments required in the market in copper cash have increased due to copper’s relative fall in value comparative to silver which has been increasingly exported. This has diminished the buying power of wage-earners.

9 By consolidating the cargo of many ships the Port Entry fees are diminished. This cargo represents about ten ocean-going ship-loads. It is substantially deck cargo.

10 This last sentence is eerily prescient. Thirty years later, in 1870s, the British Treasury official Malet wrote Alcock, then British Ambassador to China, that if a balance sheet was ever drawn-up, it would be a nice question what colour the bottom line would be. The benefits of China-trade went to the merchants involved in it whilst the costs of fleet, army and administrators were charged to the British people.

11 Recalling that the Arabs from Malacca and the early Portuguese traded at San Chuan (St John’s) and less at Canton, it is intended that Hong Kong will become a latter-day St John’s Island.

12 These appear to be most of the claims mentioned earlier that How Qua settled ‘as presented’.

13 Dent’s note to the Hongs for $120,000; Dent’s six month Bills to the Plenipotentiary (6% interest payable) to $542,000; Gideon Nye’s and Turner & Co’s notes to the Hongs for totally $58,713.29; six week bonds from How Qua paying 6% p a to $379,000 and cash $287.

14 See 16th August 1842 edition for the remainder of the correspondence.

15 A reference to the Buddha’s analysis of existence according to the Chan school (Japanese Zen). That which stays (innate awareness or pure consciousness) is the host, permanent and immutable, whilst that which comes and goes (intellectual subject / object thinking) is the guest.

16 In a later report the men ordered North are revealed to be How Qua’s grandson and Sam Qua.

17 £3.2 million in passages to the India Company if it maintained the former £80 rate for transport of each prisoner – see an article in 25th January 1823 edition of Bombay Courier in the Europe chapter. However, this article refers to emigrants rather than prisoners. It was noted in the Europe chapter that prisoners returned to UK on completion of their sentences often voluntarily went straight back.

18 The Law Merchant of the China coast sets the penalty for dishonouring a Bill at 25% ad valorem.

19 The residual effect of defeating democracy in France and USA. By using debt-based finance as the route to victory, UK must hereafter pursue the policies of its merchants. To ensure other governments are equally restrained, it embarks on a policy of financial loans to the world at large which soon brings most countries into debt.

20 James Matheson mudded the waters with his unsolicited opinion that the attack on Black Joke was the work of pirates. The schooner was attacked south of Lantau 65 kms from the Tiger’s Mouth but the death of ten men adequately establishes it is the same event.

21 It became part of the British Museum’s collection of Chinese artefacts.

22 And the Bahamas smuggled alcohol to the United States during Prohibition, Trinidad smuggled into South America, Jamaica into Central America, Channel Islands into France, Heligoland into Germany, Gibraltar into Spain. The list is long.

23 ‘Actual occupancy’ is the European test of ownership and sovereignty that is said to represent the Law of Nations (International Law). It explains the rush of Americans to Oregon Territory when its ownership was claimed by several countries.

24 Perhaps the earliest statement of the later complaint of the foreigners against Likin, the transit tax.

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