China 1842-1843 – part 13


Friend of China, 3.11.42 edition

The recent Russian commercial report has no information on the trade between Russia and China at Kyakhta beyond the bare assertion that 10 million lbs of Chinese tea is now imported into Russia via this route.

Friend of China 3.11.42 edition

The Imperial Commissioners are negotiating to reduce the reparations to be paid. Pottinger has agreed to reduce it by the amounts paid or promised to be paid at Shanghai and the other towns visited in the war – about $500,000.

There is also $500,000 raised from sale of prize property, mostly guns and copper cash seized at Ningpo.

Friend of China 3.11.42 edition

The Emperor has replied to the memorial of Ilipu, Liu Kin and Kiying concerning the agreed terms of peace. The term yee is used to describe us throughout.

He objects to the yee living at Fuk Chow and says he will provide some other town for them to reside. Otherwise he agrees everything.

Friend of China 3.11.42 edition

The Canton Press reports that sales of Patna at Whampoa and Canton are attracting $720 – $730 and sales up the coast are even cheaper. The 25th October edition of Prices Current says ‘opium – nothing doing, price nominal’.

We suppose the expected arrival of the Imperial Commissioners will cause a brief suspension of the trade to preserve the reputations of the Cantonese authorities.

Friend of China 3.11.42 edition

Imperial Edict, 6th September 42 – The objection to Fuk Chow as a port for British merchants to reside at with their families is withdrawn.

The Hong monopoly is ended and any one can trade with any one else, all parties being individually responsible. All the other treaty terms are agreed in this Edict. Whenever referring to the British, the Emperor uses the word ‘yee’ throughout.

The arrival of a French ‘barbarian eye’ named Jancigny is reported in the Peking Gazettes and Ilipu and others are ordered to discover what he wants.

Friend of China 10.11.42 edition

The identities of the first British Consuls have been announced:


Fuk Chow


Captain Balfour of the Madras Infantry

Rev Gutzlaff


Friend of China 10.11.42 edition

The residents of Canton have been surprised by the appearance of a group of English women. They are permitted to go there under the new regime.

Friend of China 10.11.42 edition

The Monthly Times says the 49th Regiment looted a stockpile of silver at Ningpo. The soldiers were scarcely able to lift their legs and shambled rather than walked to their quarters due to the weight of the metal.

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

Canton trade report – Lead is barely saleable at $4.25 per picul since the arrival of a large native shipment at $3.80. What with the native and the American supplies, we will soon be expelled from the lead market.

All the new silk has been sold at the new high prices and will likely sell at a loss in London. Buyers say they merely sought for return cargo. Reports from the South of France reveal 50,000 silk workers are unemployed due to over supply in European markets and consequent decline in silk value. Unless the Americans order more than usual of the raw silk, a lot of this surplus will end up in London and force prices down even more.

Money is scarce at Canton. Three months loans are 1% per month.

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

Canton news:

  • A few Englishmen from the factories, considering they were now protected by Treaty, recently thought to enter and walk through the city. They were mobbed and pelted by the residents.
  • Canton merchants in foreign trade say many of their number will move to the new treaty ports and try to resume their former control. The green tea men are proposing to move to Shanghai and will take a few Cantonese as interpreters. It looks as though much of next season’s tea will be shipped from northern ports.

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

For sale or exchange for a smaller vessel, 18.10.42:

The British barque Hygeia, 337 tons. Carries and sails well, in fine order. Well calculated as a receiving ship at one of the northern ports. Copper cladding, spars and rigging all nearly new.

Apply to Gideon Nye at Canton or C Fearon at Macau.

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

The following article appeared in the London Times of 4th August and seems to reflect public opinion in England:

“Reports of renewed fighting at Ningpo are coming in. 500 – 700 Chinese are said to have died whilst English losses are 3 killed and 40 wounded. An Imperial Commissioner Yang is said to be bringing an offer of $40,000,000 for expenses and opium indemnity and agreement to the cession of Hong Kong.

Having forced ourselves onto their shores and our commerce into their ports for our own, and strictly our own advantage; having encouraged the violation of their laws by our subjects, and that on no point of formal or ceremonial enactment, but in a manner affecting closely and deeply the well-being of the people; we proceed to take advantage of the mismanagement of our own people, and their rude way of enforcing substantial justice, to carry on not so much a war as a slaughter of this harmless people.

We insist on placing ourselves under their law – we quarrel with them because that law, which is thus of our seeking not their imposing. This is not correspondent with European notions of fairness, and we are now about to extract from the comparatively innocent party not only compensation for the arbitrary although substantially just punishment to which our merchants have been subjected, but a locus standi within their dominions from which, if the analogy of our past Indian policy has any significance, we can and probably shall extend first our influence and then our Empire over all such parts of His Celestial Majesty’s present dominions as may from time to time appear convenient.”

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

Straits Messenger – Fifteen MPs and several other interested parties presented a memorial to Peel yesterday concerning the injurious effect of opium smuggling upon the mercantile and manufacturing interests of Great Britain.

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

It is apparent that English opinion is no longer favourable to the opium smugglers. It dwells on the uncontested statement of Captain Elliot that within a few months of the opium surrender, the opium dealers had realised a larger amount of profit than the absolute value of the opium surrendered on the date of its confiscation.

This allegation will be much fortified by the enormous recent advance in prices, the profit from which will be mostly pocketed by the holders of opium scrip (the merchants who surrendered opium to Elliot last year).

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

The $21,000,000 extracted from the Manchu Emperor will be distributed by parliament. We do not know if any part will be paid to defray the opium scrip or the Hong merchants debts. We recall the amount of merchants’ debts is uncertain – the committee of investigation into Hing Tai’s debt (which had three British merchant creditors on it) found J M & Co’s claim for $2,500,000 overstated by 20% (Blue Book page 308).

The government that commenced the war called it a fight for equality. The present government calls it an opium war. On the opium scrip, it seems the country is in better financial state now and there is a possibility of claimants being paid, but we think they should not get more than $250 per chest.

The anti-opium lobby in parliament is getting stronger daily. George Thompson, the gifted anti-slavery apostle, is standing for the representation of Southampton and if elected will be a formidable protagonist with all his public support.1

Friend of China 17.11.42 edition

Letter to the Editor – Temporary buildings have been erected to the East of Canton city reportedly for the Imperial Commissioners to meet with Sir Henry. Will Her Majesty’s Plenipotentiary allow himself to be nosed about at the pleasure of the provincials? The time, place and manner of the meeting, it is to be hoped, will be dictated by Sir Henry to suit his own convenience, and he will not fail I trust to open, and to set open forever the gates of the provincial city, for the free ingress and egress of foreigners.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

Order of the Plenipotentiary, 14th November 42 on Queen, Chusan harbour:

No British merchant vessel may go to any of the ports just opened by treaty except Canton until the tariffs and scales of duties shall have been fixed and the consular officers appointed, at which time due notice will be given.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Many of those troops who fled from the barbarians at Chapu have been arrested and sent to the cold country (Ili). All the officers have been cashiered.
    The men who fought well have been rewarded.
    All the garrison died in the capture of Chapu or were wounded or missing. Their seals of office have disappeared. Replacement officers are to be posted there. The Treasurer of Chekiang is to make new seals of office for them. Two merchants of Shansi who contributed 40,000 Taels to the war effort are appointed as officials without office.
  • In Chekiang and Kiangsu the peasants fled from the barbarian soldiers and their fields have not been tilled. I remit the collection of this year’s revenue.
  • Flooding in the north of the Imperial homeland has caused hardship. Some high officers who were sent to report the disaster refused to list affected peoples’ names unless they were themselves first fed. The Emperor knows of these shameful acts. The offenders will be tried, disgraced and punished.
  • 2,000 fine horses are to be bought in Tartary and sent to Peking for the use of the Imperial cavalry regiments. Some wealthy officers in Tartary have offered 1,500 horses as a present. The Emperor demurred but His ministers insisted and He has now accepted but further gifts are inexpedient.
  • A Shensi merchant has been arrested for taking 4 catties of ginseng out of Peking. He has been sentenced to banishment at Ili.
  • Chin He of the Censorate has reported that some officers are releasing prisoners on payment of bribes by their friends. All suspected parties must be arrested.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

Canton trade report:

The Hoppo has announced reductions in the Consoo commission on tea (list provided in the newspaper).

The new duty is 6 Taels per chest instead of the 8 Taels last year. The new teas are selling at very high prices. 22 – 28 Taels was paid for 50 chops of congou. This quality of tea has hitherto been available after Lunar New Year at 12 – 13 Taels but has been brought down early this year. Foreign traders note the decrease in duty is more than offset by the increased price.

Cotton nankeens are the same. It is supposed the Chinese merchants are endeavouring to recover the losses they sustained in funding our ransom of Canton.

Some people are saying that J M & Co is using its great capital to buy more tea to maintain high prices. J M & Co is said to have a huge tea stock in London and wants to ensure the new crop is uncompetitive pricewise. At least the tea purchases should relieve the present high cost of money at Canton.

Opium stock is very large but prices are expected to go higher. Quoted prices are $785 for Patna, $740-750 for Benares and $580 for Malwa (for which there is a brisk demand and the stock has been much reduced). We hear some Patna was sold in both Hong Kong and Whampoa at $800.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

The Commissioners Kiying and Liu Kin have published the following:

  • The Chinese government will pay $2,000,000 to fully and finally discharge its liability for the Hong merchants’ debts. Thereafter all traders will be responsible for their own debts.
  • Only foreign merchant ships can visit the five ports not men-of-war.
  • England has agreed that China can rebuild and re-equip all forts as before.
  • English troops are requested not to fight with those Chinese who are unaware of the peace.
  • When the first year’s reparations instalment has been paid, the English warships will withdraw from the Yangtse River.
  • Any British officer who levies duties on Chinese shipping will be arrested.
  • Disputes between Chinese and English at the five ports are to be handled by their respective governments.
  • Chinese criminals in Hong Kong or on English ships will be surrendered.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

Spanish (Kings Carlos & Ferdinand olo head) dollars are at a 12% premium; Mexican dollars are at a 4% discount. Traders say they have equal value and this is merely caprice of the Chinese. We wonder if that is true?

Some of those silver coins remitted to the Bank of England (with Chinese chops on them) have been analysed and Mr MacCulloch reports some Mexican coins were found to contain a base metal core encased in silver. This must involve the Directors of one of the Mexican mints.

Dr Hort the US assayer at New Orleans says a large number of depreciated dollars are circulated there and are so well done that only experts can detect them. The inferior coins generally have the letter D embossed on them indicating they come from the Durango mint in Mexico. Of four specimens Hort recently assayed the fineness was 62.22, 72.22, 83.5 and 96.33.

It should not be surprising that the Chinese find Mexican dollars repugnant.

Friend of China 24.11.42 edition

The habit of the new Tory government (which opposed the war for factional reasons) of calling our recent war the Opium War is going to become fixed when they learn that on its cessation, the price we get for our opium doubled.

Friend of China, 24.11.42 edition

Wm Jardine attempted to start a Chartered Bank of Asia in China with headquarters in London. A prospectus requesting subscriptions was issued but those people who actively co-operated with Jardine in that proposal have been financially diminished by the recent commercial failures in Calcutta.2

If capitalists in London will not support a local bank because of the uncertainty of political affairs in China, the cession of Hong Kong now provides a guarantee of local security.

J M & Co (of which Jardine was so long the head) is now taking a lively interest in Hong Kong and we hope a bank will soon be established here.

Other banks are proposing to open branches here and one is the London Joint Stock Bank from amongst whose shareholders the new subscriptions for the Hong Kong branch are expected to come. This bank has an opulent body of shareholders, a nominal capital of £3,000,000 (£600,000 paid up). It has a guarantee fund which has now accumulated £100,000.

Editor – this joint-stock bank is operated in a business-like and prudent way.

Friend of China, 24.11.42 edition

At the Select Committee hearings into Russian trade in 1830, Mr Crawfurd said the export of Chinese tea to Russia at Kyakhta was 28 million lbs. He estimated the total value of imports and exports at £6 millions. We have now learned that many of the Shanghai merchants are doing business with the Russians at Kyakhta.

A Chinese at Canton who has been to Moscow and Novgorod has described the trade but his statements are mutually contradictory. The Cantonese says tea shipped at Mai Mai Chun (the Chinese town opposite Kyakhta) is only 14,000 boxes. These caravan teas are said to be of superior flavour. The tea is packed in paper, surrounded with bamboo leaves then inserted in a leaden canister and the whole contained in a wooden box. The Russians pay lower duties than we pay at Canton.

It seems to be purely a barter trade. The Russians bring furs and woollen goods and take away teas. There are no Hong merchants at Mai Mai Chun. Any Chinese can join the caravan going to Kyakhta.

The tea for this trade is received at Shanghai from Ningpo and Fukchow by sea and then sent up the Yellow River and Grand Canal to Tartary.

The Russian government is said to publish commercial information but we do not have a copy. If any local people have information on this subject please contact the Editor.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Officials and gentry in Szechuan have donated $170,000 for the support and encouragement of the army. The Emperor requests their names so he may grant them favours. Many other instances of people donating large sums to the Emperor are listed.
  • Robbery and kidnapping is a problem in Szechuan. The Governor has caught 10 robbers and seized arms and ammunition. They catch wealthy people and ransom them. The Emperor instructs the Szechuan officials to arrest all the robbers and seize their guns.
  • Another rebellion of barbarians in Szechuan has been crushed and the ring leaders arrested and executed.
  • A few months ago eleven provinces (not including Kwongtung) were ordered to make large quantities of copper cash and put it into circulation. Kweichow reports that silver continues at a high price and requests for a delay before any new copper cash is cast.
  • Mo Ying Yi, the Manchu general, recently inspected 60 large new cannons and 80,000 catties of cannon balls in Hupeh.
  • Chapu reports that the barbarians stole 8,000 Taels of silver and 23,000 copper cash from the treasury during their occupation.

Friend of China, 1.12.42 edition

Although the Russian Tsar has forbidden his traders to sell opium to Chinese at Kyakhta, yet it is coming into Chinese Tartary from Russian traders. Opium prices in North China are much higher than in the south or on the coast.

Opium of high quality is also widely cultivated on the southern foothills of the Himalayas and is introduced from there via Bhamo to Yunnan (this is the production of the Shan states). Turkey is said to be the best quality but is too strong for smoking and can only be used by those who are habituated.

The popular drug in north China is Malwa because of its lower price. We wonder if the Turkey supply is being blended with Malwa to give it a gentler effect and wider appeal?

If the Russians are bringing in Turkish opium to Tartary they could deliver it from Smyrna to Kyakhta for about 10d per lb (c. £6 per chest). With interest and usual commissions it could be made available at Kyakhta for about half the usual price of Malwa in North China. If it was made milder and used as an ingredient in cakes and biscuits, as Malwa is, it would suit the Chinese taste.

This could be done with Persian or Egyptian opium.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

A notice to all army units in the Two Kwong (not to be posted on walls) from Leung, chief magistrate of Nam Hoi county and Chang, chief magistrate of Poon Yu county:

The English barbarians caused disturbance and troops had to be summoned. Now peace has been established as before. All regular troops should disband and return to their native places. The scholars and elders are to ensure this is done so that trade and crafts can be resumed.’

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

Local news:

  • Sir Hugh Gough arrived on Ernaud at Hong Kong on 27th November from Kulangsu.
  • Yishan and Ilipu are expected to arrive in Canton in about a week
  • How Qua is repairing all the foreign factories. He says he will not rent-out the largest factory in case the Superintendent of British Trade wants it for an office.
  • Some foreigners have been into the walled city but were jostled and mobbed and did not enjoy the experience. Foreign ladies go up and down the river by boat. Now they can travel in sedan chairs, they are no longer exposed to public view and the consequent vile abuse.
  • The Viceroy is investigating the authorship of the placards around Canton calling on the people to take vengeance on the barbarians.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

Our Chinese Tea and Silk exports for October 42:

Tea = 999,719 lbs (Congou 80%, souchong 10% others 10%)

Silk = 567 bales.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

A correspondent has written to the Editor to dispute that Mexican dollars are worth less than Pilar dollars.

He says a famous house at Canton habitually converted tens of thousands of Mexicans into Pilars. We have queried some old Canton traders who confirm this was done for the benefit of all, to increase the circulating medium.

Although a certain house was for years suspected of this activity, it was only independently confirmed when the mob broke into the factories at the beginning of the recent war.

Our informant says he then saw the unremoved heavy parts of the coining press. The floor all round was strewn with empty dollar bags. He says we should not take him at his word but go to that factory near the creek and look for ourselves.

As the firm involved ranks with the Barings and Rothschilds of Europe we cannot name it.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

Trade staples:

  • Tea – now all this year’s best congous have been sold there is little activity on the medium and low qualities. London stock is large and a further duty reduction is hoped for. The next season is expected to involve 45,000,000 – 50,000,000 lbs. An eminent American firm has circulated a notice at Amoy indicating its interest to buy 10,000 packages of Fukien tea.
  • Cotton – The Parsees are forcing Surat cotton cloth onto the market in an attempt to revive their trade. Bombay demand for China produce has reduced with the available capital and left them short of cash.
  • Opium – Malwa is going off in large quantities at $580 – 590 ($20 less at Whampoa). The peace has fully re-established the pre-eminence of Canton as the main market for the Drug. Many of the native traders who left in fear have now returned. Patna is selling slowly for cash at $810 and on 30-day terms at $820. Benares is neglected at $765 cash or $775 on 30 days.
  • Money – Cash remains scarce and expensive with the Chinese. When the tea market gets going and the sellers have some cash it will replenish liquidity and improve the other trades. Mexican dollars are at 6% discount, Carlos & Ferdinand dollars at 11% premium, sycee at ¼% premium.

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

The salt trade in China:

Anyone who has been along the China coast or up a Chinese river is aware of the huge salt junks. The Pei Ho has enormous banks of salt at either side.

It is also well known that much of our contraband opium has historically been distributed by salt junks. Right now, looking at Hong Kong harbour, a fleet of salt junks can be seen moored in front of Jardine’s East Point opium godowns.3

When we note that salt fish and rice is such a popular Cantonese meal we think salt use in China might be higher than in Europe. France also makes a government monopoly of salt. Consumption is said to average 6½ kgs per person per year. In England it is 22lbs (10kgs) per person per year.

There is no doubt fossil salt can be found and mined in China but it is not exploited.4 We know there are salt springs in Szechuan that are used to make salt, but the Chinese supply mostly comes from evaporation of seawater. In China salt has always been a government monopoly. The Salt Commissioners are amongst the highest revenue officers in the land. The licensed salt merchants are amongst the richest in China. Chinese duty is about $9 per ton. If consumption in China is the same as France, the Chinese gabelle produces $18 millions in tax revenue each year. The main places for sea salt production are the island of Hainan and the coasts of Canton and Fukien. Tien Pak is one of the places where the salt is collected before shipping. The Chinese salt pans are about 50 feet square and usually paved with small red stones.

Salt smuggling is a popular occupation. In the Tai Tsing Lut Lei (laws and precedents of the Ching Dynasty) all the smuggled salt is given to the informer as reward whereas for all other smuggling crimes the informer only gets 30% of the goods. This suggests it must be a chronic offence.

Salt from evaporation of sea water is a big business in Bengal where it costs from half a rupee to 14 annas for a maund (80lbs). The monopoly that Warren Hastings established for the Company resells this at 6 – 8 times cost. The profit accruing to the Company in 1827 for Bengal only was 18,278,185 Rupees. The latest price for salt we have from Bengal is 14-15 rupees per Rash (400lbs). Three months ago it was 18-20 rupees.

In 1840-41 1,498 tons was exported to Singapore and the Straits for 6,316 Rupees.

It seems that Indian salt could be successfully traded to a free port like Hong Kong and we already have the example of coal from Liverpool which is exported and finds a market here in spite of the high freight cost. That shows that high weight / low value cargoes can be profitably freighted around the world.

In 1839 11,837,591 bushels (50lbs each) of salt were exported from England (declared value £218,907) of which half went to New England where the residents find it too cold to evaporate their own. The average costs of English salt is 14/- to 16/- per ton (that is an average of the three main types – white salt in squares 24/- per ton FOB, common white salt 17/6 and rock salt 10/-).

The brown sea salt sold in China costs the equivalent of £1. 7.6d per ton to the wholesaler here whereas the white salt is $3.50 per picul ($59 or c. £15 per ton).

Friend of China 1.12.42 edition

Letter to the Editor from John Ord, master of the foundered brig Liverpool:

My ship was wrecked at Chusan and I put the stores up for auction on behalf of the underwriters as is my duty. I invited all 60 ship masters from the fleet in port to attend but only 7 turned up. I offered a 115 fathom length of 1-1/8” chain and received a single bid of $80 from Captain Barratt. It was extremely low but I had to get on with the sale of the other stores and accepted.

Later I learned that Mr Giles Wade, master of H M Store Ship Thomas Coutts, had been bribed by Barratt to not bid for the chain and Wade had induced others not to bid as well knowing Barratt’s extreme need of it.

I am publishing this letter so people will know what happened.

Friend of China 6.12.42 extraordinary edition

H M Plenipotentiary reports that on arriving at Amoy he learned that over 100 British subjects on the ship Nerbudda and the brig Ann, which vessels were wrecked on Taiwan in September 41 and March 42 respectively, were put to death by Chinese officials on the instructions of the To Kwong Emperor. He has written to the Emperor in the following terms:

The people executed were not soldiers but camp followers and seamen. The ships are not ships of war and no arms or troops were carried on them. The occupants were individually unarmed. They had no means of defending themselves or attacking others. As distressed seamen they were entitled to protection.

The Plenipotentiary has learned that the representations made by the Taiwan officials on which the Emperor issued the orders for these executions were untrue.

The Taiwan officials reported that the ships had gone to the island with hostile intent. They had been defeated in battle and those officials requested for honours for so doing.

The Plenipotentiary has requested the Emperor for the degradation and condign punishment of the involved officials, the forfeiture of their property (which should be used in contribution to compensation due to the next-of-kin of the murdered foreigners).

Failing this, the Plenipotentiary believes the matter might become the cause of further misunderstanding or the renewal of hostilities thus involving the Chinese people in misery for the crimes of a few miscreants in power.

On the Nerbudda were 271 people – 29 Europeans, 2 Manilamen and 243 Indians (c. 170 camp followers and 70 seamen). The ship went aground and all these 240 Indians on board were abandoned by the master and officers of the ship and by an officer and his small detachment of soldiers who were proceeding to join the expedition. Thus all the 29 Europeans plus 2 Manilamen and 3 Indians left on the ship’s boats. The Indian camp followers and seamen remained on the ship for 5 days. It had worked over the reef and entered the calm waters within Keelung Bay. They then made rafts and went ashore in small groups. The natives were already lining the shore and watching. Some Indians were drowned getting ashore, others were killed by plunderers as soon as they reached shallow water. All who got ashore were stripped naked, made prisoners, placed in heavy irons, separated into small parties and marched to town where they were kept in separate prisons for 11 months. They were then taken in sedan chairs to the plain in front of the main town of Taiwan (Tai Pei) and all except the two leaders were beheaded in the presence of local authorities.

After peace was announced, the two Indian leaders were returned to the British settlement at Kulangsu and reported the facts.

On the Ann were 57 people – 14 Europeans / Americans, 4 Portuguese /Malays, 5 Chinese and 34 Indians. The vessel was travelling from Chusan to Macau in March 1842. At midnight she grounded at high tide on the north west coast of Taiwan and was left high and dry. All the occupants left at daybreak the next morning.

They stole a Chinese junk nearby intending to escape but the waves and wind were too strong to get off the shore. They were then surrounded by a host of Chinese who had been accumulating around them at a distance all morning. No shooting or resistance was offered to the Chinese.

These people were then stripped naked and marched 90 miles to the capital city. 2 died of cold en route. Several others collapsed from exposure and had to be carried by the other prisoners. At the town they were separated into small parties, placed in prisons and chained. After this, there was little opportunity for communication, but it appears on the limited available information that all were given a minimum of food and treated barbarously. After 7 months only 9 remained alive – 6 Europeans / Americans, 2 Chinese and 1 Indian plus the two leaders of the Indians from the Nerbudda.

The two Chinese were told they would be pardoned if they entered the service of the Taiwan government but were kept with the other prisoners to obtain information. These 11 men learned from the Chinese that the other Ann survivors had been executed on or about 13th August at the place where the Nerbudda survivors had been beheaded.

Eight of the survivors from the Ann were delivered to Kulangsu on board the Calliope after peace was declared. It is unknown why these survivors were spared. The Plenipotentiary assumes they were thought to be the leaders. One of the survivors is Gully, a British merchant who was returning from the north to Macau as a passenger on the Ann. The other survivors are 5 Europeans, 1 Indian and 1 Chinese. The second Chinese is said to have chosen to remain in Taiwan.

Thus 237 people from Nerbudda and 46 from Ann have perished from ill-treatment or starvation or execution. These atrocious and appalling facts are not to be questioned or refuted. The Plenipotentiary trusts that the Emperor will make the atonement required to avert further evils.

Friend of China 8.12.42 edition

Commerce in Shanghai:

Of the coastal marts, Shanghai is said to rank next to Canton in commercial importance. J F Davis says in his book that Fuk Chow and Shanghai are the best ports for British trade.

Shanghai is important for raw silk. This has hardly been traded at Canton in the last three years as it has become too expensive. The export duty on Chinese silk is prohibitive as well but sooner or later this is a commodity that will be shipped. There is also a chance that Bengal raw silk can find a market in China.

As regards processed silk, the manufacturers at Shanghai are more skilful than the Canton weavers and their products are thought superior by the Chinese themselves.

The enormous black tea trade with Russia involves Shanghai. There are also green teas sold there which are like those at Ningpo. Black teas are as good as at Fuk Chow.

The entire dried rhubarb-root import to England in 1839 was 118,469 lbs but Shanghai will permit us access to the Russian rhubarb supply. We first knew of rhubarb from the Russians and they bring it to trade at Kyakhta. Their variety commands double the usual price. The best sort of Russian rhubarb is grown in Tartary.

The expensive furs – sable, ermine, black and silver fox, sea otter and fiery fox – are in demand in China. (fiery fox is caught along the North Eastern coast of Asia and is the standard-of-value in much of that area). Lamb’s skin might sell well too. Although the Chinese are great exporters of furs they are also importers of certain types.

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Many Fukien officials have donated money to the Emperor for the war.
  • The Governor of Shansi reports many officials and common men have donated money to the war and it is at his disposal.
  • The merchants of Hangchow have made a valuable collection of cloth and clothing for the Emperor’s birthday. The city mayor Lung Wei says owing to the destruction of Chinkiang by the barbarians he must find another route to send it to Peking. The Emperor says presents need not be sent this year.
  • Army paymaster Pin Sze Yum reports the cost of the army in Chekiang alone for the 7 months preceding the peace was 980,000 Taels ($1,300,000)
  • Four chief magistrates in Kiangsu have been disgraced for not collecting the revenue.
  • Many robberies and murders have occurred around Peking. Men were sent out to catch them but returned empty handed after two months. The Emperor is displeased.
  • The Governor of Kwongtung complains the money ‘lent’ to the Hong and Salt merchants (the Canton ransom) has still not been returned. The Emperor directs the magistrates of Nam Hoi and Poon Yu (West and East of the river delta) to collect the money immediately.
  • Riots continue in several provinces. Some local civil servants have been disgraced and dismissed for not effectively dealing with it. The worst problems were in the wealthy province of Hupeh and were compounded by flooding.
  • The Viceroy of Hupeh and Hunan has sent in a long list of officers who helped quell the rebellion in Hupeh. The Emperor orders that they all be promoted.

Editor – it is strange that although peace has been declared large sums of money continue to be donated to the war.

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

Riot at Canton, November 1842:

The commander of the ship Fort William (G B Hogg) anchored at Whampoa, permitted a large group of Lascar seamen to go unsupervised to Canton for rest & recreation. His ship is not distributing opium and there should be no connection of this riot to the Drug although she might have some small amounts on board for crew trade.

The Fort William is employed in the transhipment trade for evasion of port charges. Whilst she is only capable of loading 6,000 bales of cotton for an ocean voyage she sometimes delivers 30,000 bales up the river from Lintin. This is hardly smuggling but just the regular form of trade these days. It is neither disgraceful nor disreputable in this part of the world and the Chinese authorities would not cause trouble over such a small thing.

The cause of the riot therefore should not be linked to either opium or smuggling.

The Lascars bought some goods for shipment back to the Fort William but had not paid for them and were accordingly refused the chow-chow chop to take them aboard the ferry-boat. As their departure at about 1400 hrs Wednesday (7th December) was delayed by the Customs officers at the factories, one of the Lascars drew a knife and wounded an officer in the shoulder. All the Chinese officials were incensed and unitedly drove-off the Lascars who retreated into the Creek Hong (the Fort William is J M & Co’s ship) for refuge.

The numbers of Chinese rapidly increased, considerable anger was expressed and at about 5 pm Creek Hong was set on fire. Some Chinese troops and the municipal authorities responded to the alarm but were sent away by the crowd.

The Americans gallantly defended their adjacent hong (the Dutch Hong) on behalf of their British principals, whose goods were stored inside. They barricaded their doors and windows and had a good supply of fire arms. The major losers will be the British merchants whose stock was in Dutch Hong. Perhaps the American commodore will demand satisfaction and indemnity on his next visit and some recompense will become available to British traders.

The obloquy heaped on Elliot for previously interfering on behalf of foreign merchants should be sufficient warning to Sir Henry not to interfere on this occasion.

Contrarily, this is an ideal opportunity to remind readers of the Plenipotentiary’s Macau Notification in which he expressly warned merchants against putting their persons or property in the power of the Chinese authorities until all differences had been settled.

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

Editorial on Extra-territoriality:

Pottinger must ensure that no European is handed over to the Chinese for examination and trial. If a European is accused of offending against Chinese law he must be tried by Europeans.

In 1815 the President of the Select Committee wrote to the Chairman of the Court of Directors:

There is in fact no charge, of whatever nature it might be, whether of treason against the state, or a violation of the laws of the Empire, that Chun Qua may not procure to be alleged against any member of this Select Committee; and with the same facility, by means of the bamboo or torture, any number of witnesses may be brought forward to attest to the truth of the accusation.”

If that was the state of affairs when the potent India Company represented British traders, it may be expected that their recent defeat in war will cause the Chinese to feel especial hatred of the British and make the provision of justice in a Chinese tribunal unattainable. The late manifesto of the gentry of Canton is a sure indicator of popular feeling towards us at present.5

The new Consuls must have judicial powers like our consuls in the Levant which system on the whole works well. Urquhart, the British expert on Turkey, has warned us that consular judicial power has produced much mischief. Allowing for Urquhart’s Turkish predilections we think McCulloch has it right when he says “we doubt whether they (the judicial powers) could be dispensed with in a country so peculiarly situated (Turkey).” With much stronger reason we hold them to be absolutely indispensable in China.

James Matheson agrees. We have cited his pamphlet previously and he has always been right. He urges the adoption of a similar plan. He says the representatives of Christian powers in Turkey have long exercised a nearly similar jurisdiction to that recommended here. For very many years he says no such thing as an execution of a ‘Frank’ (ferenghi) under Turkish law had occurred in the Levant, where offenders are passed to their own Consuls to mete-out punishment if the offence be light; or send them home to be tried by the laws of their country, if serious.

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

The Chinese authorities seem to be sincere in their wish to get along with us everywhere except in Canton. We can rely on their exercising jurisdiction over their own people in respect of offences against the persons and property of foreigners, indeed we will probably be calling for mitigation rather than stricter enforcement.

The most interesting area for Hong Kong people is in offences against the fiscal laws of China. The import and sale of opium in China is a capital offence. Some people even say the Chinese are well within their rights to execute an opium smuggler regardless of his nationality. We deny that assertion as the punishment does not fit the crime.

Matheson cites Vattel (a venerable European authority on international law) in putting the case most forcibly. Lord Mansfield (a British judge) used to say ‘There is no magic in words. We must recollect that the Law of Nations is but the just and rational application of the law of nature to the affairs and conduct of nations.’

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

Letter to the Editor – Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee was so impressed with the services of Dr Anderson of the Foreign Hospital in Macau that on 23rd June 1841 he donated $12,000 to the doctor’s philanthropic objects. He deposited the money with Jardine Matheson and Co for the relief of people who were presently dependant on the hospital.

The management of the funds is in the hands of three people – James Matheson, J Robert Morrison and the doctor – and they are empowered to appropriate the whole amount to the founding of a hospital for foreign seamen at Hong Kong or elsewhere along the China coast.

Anderson reported receipt of the donation to Elliot when he was Chief Superintendent of Trade. Elliot replied on 1st July 41 acknowledging receipt of a copy of Rustomjee’s letter. We then awaited government allotting a site for the hospital and this has since been done by Pottinger.

The home government donated a further $12,000 to the building costs etc. A public subscription collected about $6,000 more. Two months ago we started building. We asked J M & Co for the money and they said Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee is indebted to them in respect of his trade and they have appropriated his donation in liquidation of their debt. The present partners assert that Rustomjee recognised his debt and made the donation solely to embarrass J M & Co.

Had James Matheson still been here this dispute would never have arisen. Indeed he probably would have doubled the contribution. The opium trade has never been as prosperous as it is now and the profit on 40 chests would more than cover the expense.6

Sgd., LT, Macau.

Friend of China 15.12.42 edition

The Editor has received new information on the Canton Riot:

The Canton population has been swelled by large numbers of disbanded Provincial troops. Their ringleaders were men who had passed Provincial examinations and had buttons and temporary employment. With the peace, they have lost both their office and appointment. The Kwangtung government is operating under severe financial restraint temporarily.

These men previously had a common purpose and worked together. They talk patriotically, venerate the old ways and despise the English. They object to foreign ladies coming to Canton and to Europeans building houses anywhere in China. There are thought to be about 40,000 of them. They put placards on the walls and importune the Governor to join their meetings which, because of their great numbers, he feels obliged to attend.

The Creek Hong was ruined in the riots before the war and had then been assigned to the serangs of the country ships as their abode and for their personal trade. As it provided a place to stay overnight, it allured the crews of country ships and they have been coming up to Canton in greater numbers this last two months to take advantage of the facility. Their behaviour has usually been poor and Canton residents have been repeatedly annoyed. On Wednesday some 200 of them congregated within Canton city and many were drunk.

The Chinese say the lascars bought chow chow goods. The shipment was sent-off to their ship but some other purchases were not taxable at the chow chow rate and could not be shipped on the same terms. The lascars nevertheless insisted the shopman do so. The Chinese suppose the vast numbers of lascars permitted to come-up that day revealed an intention of their ships’ officers to intimidate the shopmen, indeed some of the lascars were dressed in sepoy uniforms and were quarrelsome all morning.

By about 2.30 pm the Indians had been sufficiently confrontational to cause Chinese youths to assemble at Hog Lane. The battle that subsequently occurred was confined to the area between that Lane and the Creek. Neither those European merchants who were present nor their factories were harmed. By 3.30 pm the lascars had been defeated and had retreated into the Creek Hong while the Chinese regrouped at the bottom of Hog Lane.

Although hostilities were concluded, the numbers of Chinese continued to increase and soon after Europeans found themselves being pelted with stones. Then the entrance to the Company’s garden nearest to Hog Lane was broken down and the crowd used the door-battens to break down the adjacent garden wall. Most foreigners expected it would not go beyond the breaking of a few windows as all the factories in the New British Hong were then being put in order and the hall was being prepared for Sir Henry’s visit, so lots of Chinese artisans were working there. However the new target was precisely the British Hong.

A few minutes later a vigorous attack was made on No 1 British Hong (the front block of the Hong facing the square) which the mob entered by the windows. It was feared they intended to capture the two English ladies residing there but the women had already been removed by the back door as soon as the garden gate was attacked. They had taken refuge in another hong. The attack was so sudden that most residents assumed it had been successful and the ladies captured. Neither residents nor domestics of British Hong had time to save a single article beyond what they wore.

Some foreign residents petitioned the Hong merchants for soldiers but those merchants’ appeal to the officials failed as government supposed the force it could quickly assemble was too small to be effective. The official referred the application to the Kwong Heep who in turn applied to the Governor as he believed it would be necessary to take life to restore order and that could only be done with the Governor’s consent. The Kwong Heep with the Kwongchow Foo and the Nam Hoi heen and 300 soldiers then arrived and fired in the air. That was sufficient to disperse the crowd although the chairs of the three officials commanding the force were broken and they themselves were pelted. The officials took refuge in the Consoo House guarded by the soldiers.

At about 5 pm the mob set fire to the hall in the British Hong and commenced attacking the factories east of Hog Lane (the New English [ex-Company], Dutch and Creek Hongs). They were more concerned to destroy than to loot. The No 1 English Hong, next to and in the same row as the Hall, caught fire and the Hong merchants sent their own engines to extinguish the flames but the mob would not permit extinguishment saying all the factories east of Hog Lane (where the British firms were concentrated) must be destroyed. If any other Hongs were fired they would allow them to be extinguished. All three factories were looted except the Dutch which had an immense amount of silver in its treasury. It was accordingly bravely defended until 11pm when falling short of ammunition and surrounded by flames, the residents abandoned it.

The residents of the factories to the west of Hog Lane found the square blocked-off and had to look after themselves. Those between Hog Lane and Old China Street could not go out with the mob frantic before their doors. They took to the roofs intending to climb across to the back streets.

Those residents to the east of these hongs were led by the Hong merchants to the west and left by boat to spend the night in the brothels of Shameen.

Some others took refuge in Ming Qua’s hong. Fortunately the immense fund of dollars under the embers in Dutch Hong diverted the attention of the mob.

The political intentions of the riot were satisfied by the fire but the bad characters who always attend such affairs were there for loot and stayed on until 2 am when they started to disperse. As the riot was concluding, the Kwong Heep came back with his unit and dispersed the late leavers.

Some foreigners paid high prices for a boat passage to Whampoa and one says an offer to pay $300 to travel across the river to Honam was refused. Chinese officials prevented the fast boats to Macau from departing that night.

The fire continued to burn through all the next day. On the 9th December Sir Hugh Gough arrived off the factories in the Steamer Prosperpine and called-up 2,000 troops from Hong Kong. The square was in the control of Chinese soldiers who have encamped upon it but they offered to co-operate with Sir Hugh. The back streets behind the factories, where the silversmiths are concentrated, are very crowded and foreigners cannot go into them.

Some traders are still shipping off teas.

A petition has been sent to the Kwongtung Governor apparently on behalf of the Cantonese people-at-large saying ‘if he be firm they will support him in the war against the British’.

How Qua is aware of the commercial possibilities of the situation. The foreigners have taken a huge amount of his money recently and he has quadrupled the rent on the factories that remain habitable. He has had some horrendous unforeseeable debts thrust upon him.

On 8th December, before Gough’s arrival, two of the rioters were brought into the square and executed. Some more have been arrested and may share the same fate.

Dated 12.12.42 at Whampoa

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Translation of an invitation circulated extensively around Kwongtung:

On 2nd December 1842 the gentry, elders and patriots of the whole province, together with patriotic gentlemen from all the 18 provinces, are invited to assemble at the Ming Yun Hall of the Fu Hiu Temple in Canton to consider the proper defences against the English barbarians.

At noon patriotic scholars will assemble at the Kwongchow Fu Hiu Temple and worship the sages. They will then adjourn to the Ming Yun Hall to deliberate on the regulation of defence against barbarians.

It is requested that each attendee put his views in writing and submit them to the Ming Yun Hall. Thus we can prepare without anxiety for the future.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Extract from the Peking Gazettes:

Kin Ling Yin has submitted drawings of various ships to the court with recommendations to increase the numbers of efficient fighting ships in the Chinese forces.

The Emperor has sent the drawings to Commissioner Yishan at Canton to construct such ships if he thinks feasible. Yishan has replied that only the foreign types of ship are suitable for fighting. He recalls the information of the officers of the ships USS Constitution and Boston when they visited Whampoa and proposes that those ships be the models for the future Chinese navy.

The Emperor accordingly orders that ships be built of the recommended types using the finest materials. However, the ships are needed immediately and we cannot conveniently wait for them to be built.

The Emperor orders the Hong merchants to buy suitable ships from the foreigners. At the same time the Hong merchants should buy the strongest materials for our own subsequent ship building.

Yishan reports that one ship has been completed at Canton and is able to go out to sea. Two more are on the stocks.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Immediately before the riots, the Following edict was published at Canton by Kekung, Vice President of the Board of War and Viceroy of the Two Kwong:

The people of Canton dwell in houses close together. The risk of fire is great from lawless incendiaries scheming for opportunities to loot, disregarding the lives of the people. This is in opposition to every principal of Heaven.

Laws exist and will be enforced. For the information of the literary and military officers, soldiers, people, officials and police runners, they should note that wherever there may be any of those incendiary vagabonds, let them be instantly arrested and handed over to the authorities to be judged, etc.“

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Editorial – The Canton Register really went overboard in its reporting of the riots in England.

Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham have all been the scene of popular disturbances recently but no-one imputes the cause to our national character. Had the Canton populace really sought to kill the barbarians they would have succeeded. That they did not permits the inference that they had no such intention. Indeed several Europeans were able to safely walk through the square very soon after the riots and our tea trade was not for an instant interrupted.

Jardine (now the Honourable MP for Ashburton) in his farewell address at the subscription dinner given to him in Canton by the British, American and Parsee merchants said:

“I have been a long time in this country and I have a few words to say in its favour; here we find our persons more efficiently protected by laws than in many other parts of the world; in China a foreigner can go to sleep with his windows open without being in dread either of his life or property which are well guarded by the most watchful and excellent police: but both are periled with little or no protection in many other states.”

We think Jardine was right and the Editor of the Canton Register wrong. As James Matheson has perceptively said:

‘the grievous humiliations and ruinous exactions to which the English were exposed at Canton were in reality self-imposed.’

Chinese reluctance to see us living in their backyard is understandable given our past conduct towards other residents of Asia, Africa and the Americas. The outraged nationalism and inveterate prejudices of the Chinese do not yet equal the Sacheverell tumults or high church riots of English history.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

All the present contracts for teas are being made under Protest as the buyers allege they should not have to pay the 6 Taels duty that is due under the old tariff. They are necessarily unwilling to await the publication of the new tariff.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Editor – We congratulate the Plenipotentiary on resisting the importunate queue of British merchants and Hong Kong officials who begged him to send troops to Canton at the time of the recent riots.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Letter to the Editor – It is a shame the peace treaty does not permit a British Minister to reside at Peking. All the Provincial governors have agents in the capital to care for their interests. Provincial officials cannot be relied upon to tell the truth – the reports from Taiwan concerning the Nerbudda and Ann illustrate that as well as anything. All the countries of Asia are run from the centre.

The Emperor should be pleased to be able to inform himself properly and avoid sustaining a further blot on his reign. He is reported to have said peace should be established on such a secure footing that the obligations of both parties may be distinctly understood and that no opening be left for a future rupture.

The Plenipotentiary has wide discretionary powers. He should use them to advance the interests of Britain.

Sgd Observer, Montpelier, 23rd December 42

Editor – this was considered and rejected previously. The Chinese themselves were appalled at the prospect. The presence of a British Minister would attract French, American and Russian Ministers and indubitably result in intrigue.

The integrity of the Chinese Empire might be damaged by the collision of a handful of foreign diplomatists.

We can get the real information to the Emperor by gunboat from Hong Kong to Nanking or Tientsin. Nothing has been lost.

Friend of China 22.12.42 edition

Editorial – The opium fleet at Whampoa is reportedly to be ordered out of the river before Pottinger goes up to Canton so he does not have to pass it en route to meet the Imperial Commissioners.

This is no good.

Great Britain would never have become Great if it was not for smuggling. The French ‘continental system’ could not have been beaten without smugglers. Was it not English smugglers who broke the power of Spain in South America? Our chaps were always in league with the natives there to overthrow the tyranny of Spanish colonial administrations.

If the opium fleet is to be driven out, why not drive out all the other merchant vessels as well? Opium is smuggled openly. The sneaky evasions of port dues which occur by trans-shipping vast quantities of goods at night, in which trade all the other shipping is involved, is also illegal.

The merchants say they have no choice in the matter of trans-shipment as a leading firm does it and they have to follow its example to compete on price. All this cheating is possible because of the venality of local officials. It has always been so and it cannot be stopped. The only practical remedy is to reduce Customs and port duties to a level at which it would no longer make economic sense to smuggle, i.e. to a level less than the bribes paid to connive at it.7

Obviously the home government knows what its doing even if those who deprecate smuggling do not. We recall it singled out Jeejeebhoy from the millions of other Indians to be the sole recipient of a knighthood. His enormous fortune was amassed almost entirely from smuggling.

Friend of China 29.12.42 edition

Extract of the Peking Gazettes:

  1. The Emperor has proclaimed that he requires the high officials of Chekiang, Fukien and Kiang Nan Provinces to use their best efforts to ensure friendly relations between barbarians and Chinese while doing trade. They should make known and explain the usages and customs of China to the barbarians as only by compliance therewith can peace be maintained with the people.
  2. An office near the palace was robbed and the official’s gold instruments of office worth $200 were stolen. He is to replace them at his own expense.
  3. Kekung, Viceroy of the Two Kwong, says he has arrested many robbers and three of his high officers should be commended
  4. Kiying is to become Viceroy of the Two Kwong. Ilipu is to be High Commissioner and Commander of the Manchu forces at Canton. Kiying will deliver Ilipu’s seals and he need not come to Peking but may go directly with flying dispatch to Canton. His troops are disbanded.
  5. Hwang Yin Tung, literary chancellor of Kiangsu, and Han Ling of the 4th military division, will accompany Ilipu and help him. The command of Chapu which Ilipu held temporarily devolves on Tiu Yee Shun.
  6. Woo Wan Yung, Governor of Kwong Si, has sent $80,000 from his officials as a patriotic donation to the Emperor. The donors are to be promoted for their selfless zeal.
  7. A district magistrate in Kiangsu ordered a prisoner beaten until he died. The facts of the case are as follows – two neighbours disagreed. One then dug up and scattered the bones of the other’s late father. The aggrieved son complained to the Magistrate who refused to accept the case. The complainant insisted the Magistrate attend to the matter. The Magistrate was incensed by this importunity and had the young man repeatedly flogged until he died. His relatives closed-up their house and made the long journey to Peking to appeal to the Emperor. The Board of Punishments investigated the facts. The Magistrate is now irrevocably and permanently deprived of office; he is disgraced and retired from the civil service.
  8. Liu Kin, governor of Chekiang, reminds the Imperial court of the voluntary donations from officials and people of Chekiang during the late war and recommends the Emperor’s compassionate consideration.

Editor’s note – many of the recent gazettes have been filled with dismissals, promotions, new appointments and changes of officers of various grades throughout the 18 provinces. Most of the promotions appear connected with the late war.

Friend of China 29.12.42 edition

Letter from Canton – Everything is quiet although Chinese soldiers are still encamped in front of the factories. Business has not been affected except opium. Preparations are in hand to again rebuild the factories and the Company’s garden wall is already under construction. Some new foreigners have arrived to reside here.

Friend of China 29.12.42 edition

Most of the transports that brought the English regiments to China together with the men-of-war sailed from Hong Kong on 20th December 1842 for Calcutta via Singapore.

Friend of China 29.12.42 edition

Letter of 12th December 42 to Sir Hugh Gough for the Plenipotentiary:

We the British merchants of Canton believe the recent riots were supported by Provincial officials at high level and the evidence of our belief is the failure of the authorities to deal with the riots expeditiously. We want HMS Prosperine to remain anchored in front of the factories until you can assure our security.

Sgd Dent & Co, Turner & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, Lindsay & Co (pp Wm Fryer), Fox Rawson & Co (pp E A Staple), Dirom & Co (pp W Potter), Bell & Co (pp J Mackrill Smith), C S Compton, Henry Gribble.

Sir Hugh’s reply of 13th December 42:

I have been here five days protecting you while an answer comes to my request to the Plenipotentiary for 2,000 troops for your defence. I have to leave now but it seems there will be no more trouble. I will leave HMS Prosperine stationed here. The Kwong Heep told me on 9th December that he wants peace. Be on your guard and forbear from provocation while you await Pottinger’s advice.

Merchants’ letter of 13th December 42 to Pottinger:

The attack was planned and the rioters were organised. It would have occurred sooner or later whether there had been an affray with the lascars or not. The local authorities were unwilling to protect us until after considerable damage and injury had been caused. Part of the populace is hostile to the English and directs the hoi polloi.

We have to stay here or British business will go to the Americans. We need proper protection and the Chinese are reluctant to provide it. Please instruct the naval and military commanders to give us an adequate force.

Sgd Dent & Co, Turner & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, C S Compton, Wm Fryer, Bell & Co (p Mackrill Smith), E A Staple, D Potter, W C leGeyt, Jas Hulbert, Framjee Jamsetjee, Pestonjee Cowasjee, Hormusjee Framjee, Pestonjee Mervanjee & Co, Jummojee Nasservanjee, Ruttonjee Framjee, Burjorjee Sorabjee.

Pottinger’s reply (edited):

“Sir Hugh reports that 170 lascars started the trouble. They went from the Fort William (G B Hogg) to Canton on leave without supervision. They were fighting with the Chinese all day and winning until the evening. Then they fell back into a Hong which was burnt by the mob.

“Merchants should look after their crews. Only you merchants say the Canton authorities delayed taking action. All other sources say they were customarily diligent. The hostility of the Cantonese commenced in the recent war and no doubt relates to ill-treatment or mismanagement during that time. What have you merchants done to dissipate and assuage it?

I will content myself by asking you, collectively and individually, whether, with your admitted knowledge of the hostile feelings of certain classes at Canton, coupled with the influence which you declare you believe those classes to be able to exercise over the people, and bearing in mind your recorded belief that sooner or later an outbreak would take place, you to whom this letter is particularly addressed together with all other foreigners whether subjects of England or not, can stand forward and conscientiously assert that you have studied the complexion of the times, that you have in any single iota or circumstance striven to aid me in my arrangements as the humble and zealous instrument of the government whose protection has been extended to you in an unparalleled degree, and which I may add you are always ready to claim and expect, by endeavouring to dissipate and soothe the very excitement and irritation of which you so loudly complain.

….. I presume you will now be ready to allow that it would have been better had you gone on as in past time quietly and unobtrusively with your mercantile pursuits until it was announced to you that the provisions of the recent treaty were to be considered in full force. Even in the most civilised parts of the globe, such a course would have been equally advisable and expedient; and how much more so does it appear needed with a jealous, arrogant and unapproachable government like that of China, which we have for ages allowed and almost encouraged to treat us as human beings of a lower grade.”8

Friend of China 29.12.42 edition

Bishop of Calcutta’s sermon on peace with China, given at Penang on 12th October 42:

China is far from England; its rulers are unacquainted with the rules of war we adopt in England; the Emperor was kept unaware of both the Europeans’ complaints and the suffering of his people.

China’s attempts to stop the sale of opium caused her to break the conventions of English law and thus the war commenced.

The peace is amazingly good. Not only do we have peace but we have received the island of Hong Kong, extra ports in which to do business and an indemnity for expenses. Now the Chinese feel humiliated and resentful but later they will see the benefits of having a connection with European knowledge.

Friend of China 5.1.43 edition

A long reply has been received from the merchants at Canton to Pottinger’s stinging rebuke (see 29th December 1842 edition).

Briefly, they say they are right and he is wrong. They demand their letter be sent to London so the ministry knows their grievance. All the Parsees declined to sign this letter – it is only the 10 British merchants who are pressing for a continuation of violence.

Friend of China 5.1.43 edition

Canton trade report:

  • Patna $780, Benares $750, Malwa $590 but trade is slowing as the Imperial Commissioners approach nearer to Canton.
  • Exchange rate is 4/9d to the Spanish Dollar; Mexican dollars are at 5½% discount, Sycee is 1½% premium.
  • The Plenipotentiary’s proposals for the revised tariff remain unknown to the merchants at Canton.9
  • People implicated in the riots are being arrested daily. Dealers in second-hand European furniture and the like are hiding their stock for fear they will be accused of receiving property stolen from the factories in the riot. Some foreigners have been offered full indemnity by officials but they must await Pottinger’s formal response on behalf of the community as a whole.
  • Canton high officials have been told by Peking to buy 6-7 steamers. It has been suggested amongst the foreign community that the Queen should gift one free to the Emperor once everything has been amicably arranged.

Friend of China 5.1.43 edition

Editorial: Capt Charles Elliot said it was wholly impossible to command the respect or obedience of the British merchants at Canton unless he was armed with an authority to deport and an adequate force to ensure compliance. He said their utter lawlessness was induced by the contraband trade in opium. He urged these opinions on the home government with some slight effect.

The necessity for force against British merchants was illustrated by their causative role in the December 1842 Canton riot and by the many British subjects who are in Canton today in spite of the new Plenipotentiary’s repeated advice to stay away.

But we don’t want the Company’s army providing the force. We want Hong Kong to be a Crown Colony like Ceylon so we can avoid the baneful influence of the Company.

Friend of China 12.1.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Kekung and Leung, respectively the Viceroy of the Two Kwong and Governor of Kwongtung, have censured the two officials who permitted the Ming Lun Hall to be used to promote contention with the English barbarians. A week after the Ming Lun assembly, the riots in the factories occurred. The officials warn that should another turbulent assembly be held in the Hall, which is reserved for consulting about justice and doctrine, the two officers-in-charge will be held responsible and will bear the consequences.
  • The coast of Fukien has long been infested with bandits who bribe the officials not to interfere in their nefarious smuggling business. Now a delegation of ordinary people has arrived at Peking to complain and a minister has agreed to raise the matter with the Emperor on their behalf.
  • The Board of Punishments has convicted Yishan, Yiking and others of stupidity and cowardice in permitting the English to win the war. It considers them worthy of death. The Emperor orders they be arrested and brought to Peking in chains to await the order for their execution
  • Liu Kin asks that duty on ships and cargo in Kiangsu be remitted this year as the merchants have been ruined by the war. The Emperor agrees
  • Hai Ling was the General in command of the Chinkiang garrison who committed suicide on its capture. Soon after his death, the Censor Wang said Hai Ling did not die by suicide. Wang says he was such a bad man that the citizens rose up and killed him. The Emperor asked Kiying to investigate and he has now reported that Wang was misled.

Friend of China 12.1.43 edition

Bengal Opium Auctions for 1842, in chests:




Total Sold


Comparative figures for the 1841 season are 13,014 Patna and 5,348 Benares

Friend of China 12.1.43 edition

Pottinger, in a note to British merchants at Macau dated 28th December 42, professes to hold a slight hope that the Emperor might still permit the import of opium by barter. He requests their advice on the tariff to be negotiated with the Imperial Commissioners who are now arriving.

Friend of China 12.1.43 edition

In a letter dated 13th September 42 to Pottinger, the Imperial Commissioners have revealed that the Customs duties applicable to imports and exports in China have historically been published in a book which is available at every Customs House and the old foreign traders at Canton know all about it.10 As the items that the English bring are seldom traded in the new ports, they suggest the Canton Customs Tariff be copied at those places.

The Commissioners suppose that all bribes were solicited by underlings – they do not admit the foreigners’ allegation of ships immobilised with sails removed until extra payments are made. They say ‘when we create a Customs House it has certain expenses. The clerks and writers employed therein must eat and need a little money to support themselves … and these expenses will have to be agreed with the Viceroys and Governors of the provinces in which the new ports exist and who are responsible to pay them, but they will not comprise 3 or 4 times the official duty as you (Sir Henry) say was customarily paid at Canton. If extortions and augmentations amount to 3 or 4 times the duty, the case should be referred to the Viceroy or Hoppo to distinguish which charge should be retained and which abolished.

Pottinger says the great evil at Canton was permitting local officers to arbitrarily adjust Customs duties for each individual case. That must be avoided in future.11

Friend of China 12.1.43 edition

The Editor has published a copy of the ‘just discovered’ Chinese Customs tariff. It shows that even after Peel’s late modifications in England, that country still does not have as mild a tax regime as the formal Chinese one here. We note rice and other foods carry little or no duty.

The merchants say a 15% ad valorem duty on opium would extinguish the opium smuggling trade as the operators allege the costs of bribes and clandestine transport exceed 15%. If 40,000 chests at $450 were imported under a 15% ad valorem duty a huge new revenue of $2.7 millions would double the Emperor’s usual annual receipts from foreign trade.12

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Liu Kin has been disgraced. The Emperor accused him of neglect and ignorance in allowing the barbarians to invade his Provinces. He is ordered to the capital to stand trial. Kiying is to ensure this order is carried out.
  • The officials and merchants of Hunan continue to donate money to the Emperor to fight the war.
  • The Emperor praises the officers of troops at Tientsin for preventing the barbarians from entering that town during the war.
  • The natives of Taiwan (the Polynesian-types in the mountains and on the east coast, the original occupants) attacked some Chinese forts and caused disturbance but the soldiers captured about 200 of them which terminated the uprising. The officials request the Emperor for promotion and favours.
  • A man has been arrested for smuggling 50 catties of sam shoo into Peking. The police took him to the Customs who awarded him 80 strokes but the punishment was applied so severely that he died.
  • The literati of Kwong Si have donated money for the construction of a literary hall in Kweilin. The Emperor is pleased and has awarded them favours.

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

Chinese sugar supply to Bombay which used to be 15-25% of total supply to that place has recently increased to 30% in 1840 / 41 and 40% in 1841 / 42.

The supply of sugar candy (Cantonese: bing tong) to Bombay, which is in slightly smaller quantities, is almost exclusively from China.

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

HMS Prosperine on her return from Canton struck and sunk a salt junk at the Bogue. The Chinese crew was rescued.

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

The Editor regrets to report that the Plenipotentiary will not publish the terms of the commercial treaty until it has been ratified. This means that by the time we learn its detailed terms it will be too late for us to remove ambiguities and improve details. All we know is in Article 10 of the peace treaty – a fair and regular tariff will be agreed.

We wish to suggest that the Treaty of 1838 with Turkey be used as a template concerning the duties payable by Chinese growers of produce for export.

By Article 4 of that treaty it was agreed with the Ottoman Porte that Turkish farmers of opium and silk could export their goods free of all internal duties to a British ship and only pay a 9% ad valorem duty when the cargo was loaded.

Experienced assessors have been employed on 14 year terms to fix the values of Turkish produce although the British Treaty has a clause requiring the values be re-assessed after 7 years.

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

On the subject of opium, we had hoped it would be legalised but the Emperor has decapitated so many opium wholesalers and retailers and repeated his prohibition so frequently that he cannot now resile.

Article 2D of the peace treaty makes the new British consuls responsible to see the British merchant pays the just revenues of the Chinese government. But England has consistently failed to prevent smuggling into its own country – how will it control our expert British smugglers in Chinese ports?

The Plenipotentiary also says laws forbidding the export of some goods must be annulled. He was probably thinking of the proscription on shipping teas from Fuk Chow but what about the proscription on the export of silver or the limit on the export of silk?

We resent being confined to a small area of each treaty port. The Chinese equate us with the lepers in their cities, who are similarly restricted. This focuses on our difference and flavours the Chinese attitude to us. They characterise us as immoral and mischievous people.

Friend of China 21.1.43 special edition

We have received copies of the correspondence between the British merchants and the Plenipotentiary (see 26th January 43 edition) concerning the terms they require in the commercial treaty:

Pottinger to the Merchants, dated Macau 28.12.42:

Here are copies of articles 2, 5 and 10 of the treaty together with copies of correspondence with the Imperial Commissioners so far. They concern trade. Please give me your written submissions for the new tariff.

The merchants convened a meeting on 31st December 42 at Dent and Co’s house in Macau. Mr Alexander Matheson proposed they act collectively and ballot a committee. This was elected at Macau on 6th January 43 and the members are – A Matheson, George T Braine, Wm Thompson, D. L Burn, W P Livingston.

The merchants then replied on 6.1.43:

May we have a translation of the Imperial Customs tariff? On the system of duty, we prefer to await the arrival of the Chinese negotiators and see what principles they propose to found future trade.

Pottinger replied 7th January 43:

Proceed with whatever information you already have and apply your experience to draft a concise report of alterations you require to the present system and the tariff and duties (including anchorage fees) that you want in the future.

If your wants are similar to the Chinese wants (which proposals are also to be based on the present system), I can then conclude the matter in your favour without further help.

Merchants’ reply 13.1.43:

We cannot form an opinion without knowing the Imperial Customs duties. We were never able to discover that before. We heard they are very moderate but they are swelled by a variety of additional charges only some of which may be regular.

For example the imperial duty on tea is officially said to be 2 mace per picul but this is raised by local charges to 1 Tael, 2 mace and 4 candareens while for several years the actual payment including the Consoo charge has been between 2½ – 8½ Taels per picul.

As the Hong merchants are to be abolished, the entire basis to trade will be changed. Hitherto the Hong merchants did everything for us and we only knew the total amounts to pay. They are the landlords of the factories in which we live and of the warehouses in which our goods are stored. There is accordingly a ‘more fundamental system’ to be established before we can talk about Customs duties. If we are to consider this now, we should see the rest of the treaty to see how far the ‘system’ has to be changed.

Pottinger’s reply 15th January 43:

I only want you to give me a statement of the tariff duties you are willing to pay without any reference to what the Chinese may themselves be preparing and I am disappointed to find you reluctant.

In offering you the chance to tell me what system of charges would be convivial to you, I though I was giving you what you have always wanted.

Concerning trade in Canton after the Hong is abolished it will be as you wish it to be – like trade in other parts of the World. It is improper to make trade at Canton different to trade at the other treaty ports. However, when I have seen Ilipu I will let you know the Chinese position.

My present intention is to ‘leave the commerce totally unshackled by rules beyond those providing for a tariff and scale of duties, including anchorage fees, etc.’13

Editorial – It is regrettable that the merchants’ committee cannot provide anything better than that shown in their correspondence. British government officials have all along said they would act like that. This abrupt expression of mercantile disinterest has left us all wholly unprepared.

In their petition to the King of 9th December 31 the merchants asked that the Chief Superintendent of Trade communicate with the merchants in China as they have the experience to direct him.

Matheson’s pamphlet says the Hong merchants are illiquid if not bankrupt. He complains of arbitrary duties (for example baled raw cotton is 0.2054 Taels per picul on the published tariff but 1½ Taels in fact).

His pamphlet appends memorials from British Chambers of Commerce.

Liverpool Chamber complains of arbitrary duties and the Hong merchant restriction. All goods must be passed out of the owner’s custody and control to the impoverished Hong merchant.

Glasgow Chamber says it is impossible to check what the Hong merchant does with the goods. The Hong merchant is responsible to the Chinese government for payment of many duties and thus it fears the goods in his possession might be forfeit for non-payment although they still belong to the foreigner.

Friend of China 19.1.43 edition

The Bombay Courier has reported the facts of a commercial case before the High Court there.

Capt McIntyre of the Ardaseer verbally agreed to sell 50 chests of opium at $450 per chest COD to Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee. The goods were to be delivered to Capt Lyons of Heerjeebhoy’s receiving ship at Tung Ku (now called Lung Kwu) a few hour’s sail from Macau.

Heerjeebhoy gave McIntyre a sealed letter for Lyons which he told McIntyre was an instruction to deliver the cash or a like amount of securities on receiving the opium. Lyons however said the letter only mentioned he should receive the opium.

McIntyre waited six days at Tung Ku for Lyons to get confirmation from Heerjeebhoy in Macau but no clarification could be obtained. McIntyre then sailed back to Macau and told Heerjeebhoy he had not delivered the cargo because Lyons declined to pay, and he sold his opium to others.

It was said in evidence that it is the custom of the opium trade that goods are paid for at the latest on delivery and frequently earlier. It seems that both custom and the verbal contract support Capt McIntyre.

On McIntyre’s next visit to Macau he was seized by soldiers and forced to give bail to appear before the Portuguese judge the following Monday and answer a complaint of Heerjeebhoy. The Judge unilaterally nominated Mr W Sprott Boyd as arbitrator for Heerjeebhoy and required McIntyre to give security to abide by Boyd’s award on pain of punishment. McIntyre Protested the court had no jurisdiction and specifically protested the appointment of Sprott Boyd, whom he said was Heerjeebhoy’s partner in opium business. Heerjeebhoy told the Court he must have Boyd and no other arbitrator and the Judge then over-ruled McIntyre’s Protests. The Judge ordered McIntyre to name his own arbitrator before he could leave the Court and the Captain did so, again under Protest, paid his bail as security for the award and left both the court and Macau.

During his absence from the enclave, the joint arbitrators made an award of $700 ($14 per chest) in favour of Heerjeebhoy for loss of profit and it was paid by MacIntyre’s agent.

After judgement was obtained, Heerjeebhoy left Macau and McIntyre did not find him until he sailed his ship to Bombay. Whilst there he heard Heerjeebhoy was in town but would soon return to China as a passenger on the Inglis. He then commenced this action for a Writ of Ne Exeat Regno to prevent Heerjeebhoy from leaving the jurisdiction until the dispute was settled. McIntyre alleges that Heerjeebhoy had no cause of action against him. He alleges the Portuguese Judge, Heerjeebhoy and Sprott-Boyd had conspired to defraud him.


The Court must consider if it can deprive a party of the results of a decision reached in a foreign jurisdiction. It might do so, and it notes that the debt was paid by McIntyre’s agent at Macau and not by McIntyre himself who has accordingly as yet sustained no loss.

It accepts Captain Elliot’s note in evidence that Macau has no jurisdiction over Britons and both plaintiff & defendant are British.

It then granted McIntyre’s application for a Writ on the grounds of ‘want of jurisdiction’ and ‘fraud’.

Friend of China 9.2.43 edition

Edict of High Commissioner Ilipu:

Now we have peace with the English we should set aside past enmity and so remove the root of future quarrels. But there was a riot in Canton and lives were lost on both sides. Foolish people became the tools of lawless men to loot and plunder.

The High Commissioner knows the gentry and scholars around Canton have formed a society called the Spirit and Loyalty Society and have presented themselves to him for the purpose of waging war. This is directly opposed to the wish of the Emperor.

The Cantonese are unyielding people, lovers of propriety, valiant in a just cause, their word is their bond even to the extent of giving their lives. They often act without regard to the consequences and are quickly roused to violence.

Lately the patriotic men whom the gentry banded together to burn the foreign factories were used as cover by others. The gentry did not exercise due care nor consider the consequences of their deeds.

All rash appeals to arms and to violence are like this.

In addition to what I told those gentry who came to me, I will now make the matter lucidly clear and distinct for their warning and admonition.

You must follow the commands of the Emperor and give no cause for further hostilities. You think you act loyally but opposing the Emperor is disloyal. Withstanding the enemy is patriotic but causing renewed war is unpatriotic. You gentry have read the sacred books and understand reason – you should explain to the people that arson and looting are not the acts of righteous men.

We have agreed with the English that in future they will not insult or injure our people and we will not disturb or molest them. Do not frustrate the High Commissioners’ good intentions with strife.

Tremble and obey, do not oppose.

Friend of China, 9.2.43 edition

Extract from the Friend of India – It was the British parliament that authorised the Company to monopolise the cultivation of opium well knowing that the success of the monopoly depended on the Drug being successfully, albeit illegally, introduced into China.

The Emperor sought to preserve his people from the Drug; we insisted and deemed the confiscation of our smuggling stock an illegal act. The only realistic and honest explanation for the late war is our greed.

Friend of China 9.2.43 edition

A new newspaper is on sale in Macau called Aurora Macaense. Its not very interesting but we learned from it that under the new Portuguese Constitution, Macau and all other Portuguese colonies are represented in the Cortes at Lisbon. France is about to copy this and England should do the same.

The Macao Leal Senado have decided to send a delegation (of the Procurador and two Senators) to Canton to wait on Ilipu and present him with the wishes of the people of Macau for terms of trade with China. Apparently they want their Procurador to hold the same functions as our Chief Superintendent of Trade.

Friend of China 9.2.43 edition

We hear the Count of Patti Menton, late French consul to Damascus, is being transferred to Canton.14 M Challaye is recalled to France.

Friend of China 9.2.43 edition

Letter of Ilipu to Pottinger:

In the recent treaty it was agreed to fix a reasonable tariff. I find that we already have a reasonable tariff for import / exports but over the years the Hong merchants have added charge upon charge until they amount in some cases to several times the tariff dues.

I have asked the Hoppo to prepare a complete return of approved Imperial tariff dues and I hereby ask the British Plenipotentiary for the same so the two lists can be compared.

Friend of China 16.2.43 edition

Edict of the Imperial Privy Council at Peking to Ilipu, dated 24th December 42:

Pottinger complained to Kiying about the massacre of Britons at Taiwan. The Emperor accepts a responsibility for all people (including foreigners) whether inside or outside China.

He hereby instructs Ilipu to tell Pottinger that the Viceroy of Fukien and Chekiang Provinces has been ordered to Taiwan to make enquiries. If Ta Kung Ah (the Fukien official in charge of Taiwan) beheaded distressed British seamen instead of soldiers, as he reported, he will be punished with rigorous severity.

This Council notes Pottinger’s objection to the Emperor’s unlimited assertion of responsibility for foreigners. He says that Queen Victoria acknowledges no superior but God and that the dignity, the power and the universal benevolence of Her Majesty are known to be second to none on Earth and are only equalled by H M’s good faith and studious anxiety to fulfil her royal promises and engagements.15

Friend of China 16.2.43 edition

Mr Wise of the London newspaper The Sun reports on China. He says the Emperor decided to break with England and opium provided the pretext and opportunity to do so.

Mr Wise knows the Russians already have a representative in Peking and thinks England should have one too.16

Friend of China 16.2.43 edition

Report from Canton:

  • The Bogue forts are being restored.
  • A Spanish brig from Manila has arrived at Whampoa and is unloading ship-building timber on account of the Chinese government. Orders have reportedly been sent to America for the provision of high quality guns for the forts.
  • All importing of foreign goods except opium is slow. The Hong merchants have plenty of money and accordingly will not negotiate much on tea prices. Some silk has arrived – altogether 400-500 bales are expected.
  • The Hong merchants reportedly wish to control business at the new treaty ports and are considering how to do so.

Friend of China 16.2.43 edition

From the Inverness Courier – James Matheson arrived at Achany, Lairg, Sutherlandshire from China on 14th September 1842 (left Hong Kong in March 1842) with his brother Major Matheson of the Company’s army.

On arriving at the River Shin, where his lands meets those of the Duke of Sutherland, he was met by the people of Lairg. He alighted from his carriage and walked the final 3-4 miles to his mansion to the accompaniment of pipes. He there received a welcome address and the procession then circled the green in front of the house. Lunch and dancing ensued. Later a dinner was also provided. The numbers were about 200 people. Fires were lit on 12 peaks surrounding the house, each within about 3 miles of it.

Friend of China 23.2.43 edition

The Governor-General of India has published a report of the Company’s Secret Department dated 14.10.42:

Within two months of the arrival of reinforcements from India and England the war in China has been concluded. This was the third campaign.

The Emperor had to yield to save the internal trade of China from ruin, his Imperial capital from capture and his Empire from dissolution.

A Dragon device wearing Imperial crown is to be added to the appointments of the 2nd and 6th Regiments of Madras Native Infantry, the rifle company of the 36th Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry and any other units that Sir Hugh Gough commends should be so recognised.

The 2nd and 6th Regiments will have this golden dragon wearing an Imperial crown on their colours. Every man will receive a silver campaign medal with the Queen’s head and 1842 on one side and the dragon with Imperial crown on the obverse.

Friend of China 23.2.43 edition

Local news:

  • Our Hong Kong racecourse should be ready for Spring 1844 and it will be a lot better than the races we have hitherto had in Macau.
  • The British merchants who are advising the Plenipotentiary on the terms of trade, say they wish to continue trade at Canton under the old terms until 1st July 44, except for paying the Consoo charge.
    Pottinger says he will shape the commercial treaty accordingly if the Chinese government and Hong merchants also agree. He says the Consoo charge is unnecessary for the Hong merchants to make the $3 million payment due from them but they might need it to meet other demands made on them.

Friend of China 23.2.43 edition

Letter from Chusan:

Gutzlaff is here, waiting for his port to open to take-up his Consular duties. He has been talking with Chinese residents and says some tell him that the Emperor is again preparing for war.

Friend of China 23.2.43 edition

Madras Spectator reports the average FOB values of opium exported to China:

36 / 37
37 / 38
38 / 39
39 / 40
16,952,711 Rupees (av for each of the 3 years)
10,332,215 Rupees

Friend of China 23.2.43 edition

The Friend of India reports on 26th November 42 notwithstanding that the ransom of Canton was said to represent an indemnity for seized opium (and therefore recoverable from the Home Government), one of Capt Elliot’s opium receipts for forty chests was sold at the Calcutta Exchange yesterday for 440 Rupees per chest.

Friend of China 2.3.43 edition

The Red Rover has just arrived with an account of the first opium sales of this year:



1425 – 1525 Rupees

1265 – 1500 Rupees

average 1450 Rupees

average 1283 Rupees

The Ariel and Poppy sailed the same day with part of the auctioned opium and are expected to arrive here by the hour.

Friend of China 2.3.43 edition

The Admiral was on his way to Fuk Chow in HMS Phlegathon when she struck a submerged rock just outside the port and would have sunk had she not been constructed with watertight compartments.

He sent Lt Coverly and Dr Playfair to explain his delay. They report that Fuk Chow is a friendly place – nice food and nice people.

Friend of China 2.3.43 edition

Letter to the editor – The Canton Register Editor has published his remarks on the Co-Hong in an extra. On merits, it would normally be ignored except that it represents the view of a famous house. Large parts of his article are lifted verbatim from Morrison’s Chinese Commercial Guide.

For years past the Canton Register has blamed the Hong merchants for everything. Well, now they are finally removed from trade, what is everyone going to think when they read the pet organ of the largest smuggling house in China trade say:

the old system had a beneficial influence on the foreign trade for the safety and protection of foreigners, civil and commercial, from acts of violence and fraud on the part of the natives; that the debts owing by the Hong merchants have been generally paid in the long run’ and more of the same.

The Canton Register Editor proposes a joint stock company to replace the Hongs! His justification is that the continuance of the Company monopoly was the only adequate response to cope with the extortions of the Hongs.17 Compare this with all his earlier complaints about, and abuse of, the Hongs.

Sgd. Mercator

Friend of China 2.3.43 extraordinary edition

This extraordinary edition is solely to publish an embarrassing confusion concerning repayment of the Hong debts which we quantified at $3,000,000.

Pottinger to the British merchants, 26th February 43:

I had originally intended to support your plan for the recovery of the Hong debts but when I drafted the treaty I discovered the abolition of the Hong merchants necessarily involved the abolition of the Consoo Fund which those merchants intended to use to discharge their debts. I necessarily included the $3 millions separately.

The first instalment fell due for payment in January 43 but I have not heard from you whether it has been received.

Amongst the letters and papers you have just sent me is a translation of a letter from the Imperial Commissioner which says the Hongs have collectively already paid $500,000 of this debt. You asked me not to acknowledge receipt of this until you told me to do so.

On 19 February you told me Ilipu was anxious for a reply so I wrote him saying I had been expecting his officer at Macau but will now send a steamer to Whampoa to collect the $500,000 back to Macau or Hong Kong for counting, whereafter a receipt will be issued.

I now hear that the money mentioned as paid by the Imperial Commissioner is the first tranche of the repayment of $3,000,000 and that a sum of $500,000 has been received by you and divided amongst your group, many of which beneficiaries are people whose claims have not previously been intimated, included or approved in the list of claimants.

I hope you have not so divided and distributed the money as it will add to the confusion that pervades the matter of the debts. There must be considerable doubt of the veracity of any debts which have not received prior approval from the British government. It is my intention to not pay anything further until all claims are assessed. We have until mid summer, when the second tranche is due, to sort it out.

The Co-Hong’s input is important as they know who has debts and who does not, but perhaps that memory may now be faulty.

My wishes are that:

1/ you send me the individual receipts you have taken for the $500,000 (should anyone decline they will be excluded from further dividends)

2/ procure a list of debts from the Co-Hong, which I understand are listed in the Consoo Fund books. This latter need not be detailed – just the amounts of debt, amount already paid and balance.

3/ any new claimants will have to submit claims and should be aware that discrepancies will be investigated.

Finally, I remind you that it is for the claimants to prove their claims. Any undocumented or doubtful claims will be referred back to the Treasury for consideration. Sgd Pottinger.

Friend of China 9.3.43 edition

Recent news from Canton:

  • High Commissioner Ilipu died suddenly on 4th March evening after a dinner at Pun Ki Qua’s. Perhaps Kiying, a near relative of the Emperor will be re-appointed to succeed him? Pottinger has already written saying he will travel north if it will speed a conclusion to negotiations.
  • Concerning the Lintin to Whampoa trans-shipment service, the Canton Register reports that junks on the Yangtse often carry opium in chests in their holds without any attempt at concealment. Is it really necessary for the foreign merchants at Whampoa to import and export their piece goods under cargoes of rice to evade payment of duty?

Friend of China 9.3.43 edition

The Singapore Free Press opines that Canton officials would be well within their rights to complain of foreign smuggling at Canton and suspend negotiations for a commercial treaty.

It is said that, on the documents, one ship lands the cargoes of 6 – 7 ships (to pay for only one measurement fee, one Linguist, etc).

British merchants conniving and participating in the practice are disgraceful, the Free Press Editor says. It is a robbery of the Chinese government.

We hear the Plenipotentiary has found out and is said to disapprove.

Friend of China 9.3.43 edition

Chinese Junk trade at Singapore

This has now been entirely diverted to Singapore from its former historical destination of Malacca. The freight that the junk masters are charging in Singapore is very high. No doubt we could ship Straits produce to China, particularly the northern ports, at cheaper rates. Singapore’s import / export figures in Spanish Dollars are:


1839 / 40

1840 / 41

SGP Imports from China



SGP Exports to China



Exports to China are mostly Straits tin, pepper, rattan, betelnut, beche de mer, birds’ nests and trans-shipped western goods, primarily cotton and opium.

This year only 50 Bugis craft reached Singapore owing to heavy weather and 200 put into Surabaya instead where the Dutch made them very welcome by permitting them to land and sell their goods free of duty. The Dutch have already sent a shipment of trepang and other Bugis produce to China.

Friend of China 9.3.43 edition

The Friend of India – Our dispute with China has unexpectedly been brought to an early conclusion. It is rare to achieve a peace treaty after a war so humiliating to one side. We are glad this war, which arose from our own cupidity, has ended. Trade will be re-established on a firmer basis and with the largest, most industrious, Empire under the sun.

The tariff now being negotiated by Pottinger may compensate for the six prohibitive tariffs promulgated against England by her European neighbours and America.

Warren Hastings, when arraigned at the bar of Parliament, boasted that while the then Ministry was losing an Empire in America, he had founded one in India. It should be equally the boast of Pottinger that while our friends and neighbours are excluding our manufactures from their homes, he is opening a boundless market to them amongst the Chinese.

It is gratifying to have China, comprising a third of the human race, brought within the pale of relations …. and the active and ingenious mind of the Chinese placed in intimate contact with the European mind.

Friend of China, 9.3.43 edition

The celebrated French poet and Deputy, de la Martine, has commented on the Opium War:

‘You say that England outrages the universe to force her markets? I neither accuse nor excuse England … yet I may assert that a wide difference exists in the conquests made by the industrial principle – however violent and unjust they be – and those consummated by a brute and military system.

‘Where conquering Rome trod she left a desert. What have Tyre, Carthage and England left? Colonies, people, civilisation, new groupings of consumers and producers.

‘Unjust as the … Opium War may be, if we raise our thoughts to the philosophic height of historic reason, is no justification to be found? Who knows but the first shot fired … hath burst asunder the portals of a new world? Who knows that it has linked in one communion four hundred million active Chinamen with Europe.? If so, how vast a future opens on us, gentlemen.’

‘What great effects from trivial causes spring:

  • In 1668 a few grains of tea was brought to the Governor-General of the Indies and today entire fleets are employed in furnishing its consumption to England, Russia, Germany, the mighty exchange of two worlds.
  • Forty years since they presented a cotton plant to the Egyptian Pasha … one half of Mediterranean navigation bears the cotton of the Nile into Europe.
  • Fifty years since an English machinist discovered the incalculable force of expansion, the steam engine was invented.

‘What results Gentlemen from these three coincident industrial facts occurring in the same age? A second creation of the geographical, political, moral and commercial world. The extremes of the Earth have approached; languages, races, interests, religions have been fused. The result for all humanity has been an increase of force and unity that only God can compute. In short these result from a certain and nigh future, the realisation of that Chimera of all conquerors and all creeds – universal monarchy: but at the time, the monarchy of intellect, commerce, industry and thought.’

Friend of China 16.3.43 edition

The first opium sale of this year at Calcutta has produced a profit of £500,000 to the India Company.

The Aurora Macaense reports Red Rover brought 680 chests, Poppy 330 chests, Ariel 400 chests and Rob Roy (hourly expected) 480. They say the quality is poorer than last year and, although each chest already weighs 5-6 catties less than when shipped, the opium still remains damp.

The high water-content has caused new Patna to be marked-down at $700 – 710 while old is $735-750. Old Benares is $690-700. The total new opium expected (by the middle of the month) is about 1,500-1,600 chests and should not have much effect on the market. No other supply is expected in the near future as the auction was ringed by Calcutta speculators who will not ship to China until prices are firmer. However Holmes & Co’s review of the Calcutta market says some lots have changed hands since the auction at more or less the same prices. They forecast a downward tendency on prices at this stage of the harvest.

Friend of China 16.3.43 edition

Aurora Macaense reports that Sr Brazilho Breduet sued Teresa (a local Macanese Christian) for $17 which he paid her to buy her son. The boy ran off when mistreated a few months after purchase and was found with his mother. In the circumstances, she refused to return him to Breduet.

Award – Teresa to repay $17 to Sr Breduet within 6 months.

Friend of China 23.3.43 edition

Colonial Magazine – Now we have peace in China, the main question is not which is the best port for buying teas and silks but which is the largest market for our excess industrial production.

It will doubtless be Shanghai. From there, via rivers and canals, the whole of China is open.

Friend of China, 23.3.43 edition

Singapore Free Press, 25.2.43 – The joy in London at the good news from Afghanistan and China has not been so great since the French were defeated at Waterloo.

Queen Victoria has awarded KGCB’s (Knight Grand Commander of the Bath) for services rendered by Pottinger and Parker in China and Pollock and Nott in Afghanistan. Sir Hugh Gough is made a baronet. Bouchier gets a KCB. The paper has a long list of other awards and promotions.

Friend of China 23.3.43 edition

Editorial – The South American states have little to export except silver and this is what they mainly use to fund their foreign trade.

China also has gold and silver mines in abundance. If the Chinese stimulated production they could rapidly increase trade volume.

Friend of China 23.3.43 edition

The Examiner – Thoughts on the war and the peace. The Opium War is the first war we have fought that has turned a profit. The indemnity of $21 millions plus the Canton ransom of $6 millions produces the equivalent of £7 million at the current exchange rate.

China’s annual revenue is £12 millions mostly in goods so this will take time for her to pay. The bulk of repayments will fall on the rich provinces. These contain the coastal towns we trade with.18 She has been at war with us for three years which has reduced her production and income.

The Chinese make unwise and impractical laws and thus encourage smuggling. They must accept the consequences of brisk smuggling, loss of revenue and demoralisation. In England we assess £800 – £1,200 Customs duty per case of brandy or tobacco and that punitive duty creates a considerable smuggling trade in these items. We do not ask the French and American smugglers to desist – they would laugh at us.19 If we are to run a preventive service for China we will have 1,600 miles of coast to protect and, in the event of our failure, the opium trade would pass to the Americans, French and Dutch.

China excluding Tartary and dependencies had a population of 358 millions in the last census of 1813.

British exports are woollens, cottons, cotton yarn and metals. The trade volume equates with about 20% of our export trade to America. China pays for this in tea and raw silk. They choose not to produce a surplus of rice, sugar, corn, cotton, timber, fruits, wine, coffee for export but pay their trade deficit with specie.20 This has been the shape of trade ever since opium sales took-off. In some years the specie exports exceed £2 millions. They seem able to produce as much tea and silk as we can take but we cannot sell more of those commodities in England so long as the high import duty remains. We need to enlarge the domestic tea market – that means reducing the duty so ordinary people can partake more. Then we can pay for increased exports from China.

Friend of China, 23.3.43 edition

The Glasgow East India Association, a sub-committee of the Chamber of Commerce, has memorialised the British Treasury as follows:

British exports to China are £1.2 millions p a. Chinese exports to Britain are £4 millions p a. The balance is the Indian trade in opium £3 millions and cotton £1 million. This produces an adverse balance for the UK that we settle in bullion. Analysing this triangular trade:

  • Opium and cotton demand is fixed.
  • All the miscellaneous items have fixed demand.
  • Chinese silk cannot compete with Italian.
  • Tea imports are limited by high sale prices and cannot increase.

We cannot sell any more to China because although it is a huge country with a huge population they don’t have the extra goods to barter for ours.

British tea duty is 200% of CIF cost. The duty falls disproportionately on the poor who are both the largest consumers and the buyers of the cheaper types of tea (the duty is proportionately reduced for higher priced teas).

This duty limits our tea imports and consequently our exports of manufactures to China. Now we have access to the port nearest the tea growing centre we can expect tea prices to decrease by reduced inland freight and avoidance of Canton squeezes.

We should respond by decreasing the UK duty thus stimulating demand for British exports.

Friend of China, 30.3.43 edition

Editorial – The Glasgow East India Association wants the duty on black tea halved. They say it would cause only a brief drop in the revenue and that would be partially offset by the increased consumption of sugar that would accompany increased consumption of tea.

It says this is the only way that trade with China can be increased.

It says it is England that has opened the market by the valour of her arms and she now stands to lose the advantage to other countries unless she acts quickly.

The Times of London took up the same cry on the basis that the present duty on popular congou is 200% while the duty on the expensive qualities is 50%

Friend of China, 30.3.43 edition

The Great Seal of England was affixed on 31st December 1842 to the treaty made with the Celestial Empire. The seal is enclosed in a handsome silver box and both are contained in an elegant case covered with crimson velvet. It is being brought back to China by Major (now Colonel) Malcolm.

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

Some British merchants are demanding exorbitant compensation for damages sustained in the December 1842 riots at the factories. We believe the Chinese will pay any amount demanded by the Plenipotentiary but, equitably, our claims should be carefully scrutinised first.

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

Capt Anderson of HMS Pylades has been awarded £20 per head prize money on the 52 ‘pirates’ he killed at Chusan roads on 31st July 1842. A similar number escaped.

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

The Semarang (26) has been commissioned to make a hydrographical survey of the coast of Japan and neighbouring islands under Capt Belcher.

Previously the Morrison took shipwrecked Japanese sailors back to Japan but failed to develop this opportunity into opening the country to our trade. Those Japanese had to be brought back to, and still remain in, Macau. We hope they soon get another chance to go home.

The Chinese Repository says 14 Japanese sailors have been rescued during the last seven years.

The last ship (from Mazatlan) brought shipwrecked Japanese seamen who were astonished to find countrymen they knew in Macau.

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

Uncertainty at Canton is reducing. It had been feared the speculators and importers of tea in London, on hearing of the peace, would ruin the market by off-loading excessive stock. Now it seems it is not as bad as anticipated.

Also the foreign merchants at Canton, who have been awaiting the opening of northern ports for trade, now realise it will not happen this season. They are accordingly reconciled to placing their orders in Canton for another year.

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

The Times of London has expressed its satisfaction at the ending of the war. It says:

‘the gains are ill-gotten and may share the fate of many similar acquisitions, but on the credit side, we shall no longer be sickened at the sight of the successors-in-arms to those who stemmed the tide of battle at Albuera or Waterloo, sweeping away with cannon shot or bayonet charges, crowds of poor pigtailed people; and read after a day of this slaughter, that a corporal and half a dozen privates, comprise the entire loss of the British army.’

Speaking of our future prospects and improved position in China, the Times says:

‘something of European law and regularity will be infused into those perplexing and irregular relations to which in part we owe the late contest.’

Friend of China 30.3.43 edition

The Paris newspaper La Presse categorises our China war as unjust but says:

‘the English are immutable in their policy. In all their arrangements with foreign nations we find the same prevailing principles. They incessantly seize upon the best positions throughout the globe (Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Cape of Good Hope, Singapore, etc.).

‘The island of Hongkong was long coveted by the English. It is the best situation in the Chinese seas; It is an inestimable advanced post in the southern archipelago.

‘For these reasons England takes possession of it.’

With regards to the conditions of peace La Presse adds:

‘this is a great, a magnificent success – a success which does honour to our civilisation, to the age we live in and particularly to the people who have extorted it from the pusillanimity of the authorities of the Celestial Empire.’

Friend of China, 30.3.43 supplement

The Spectator comments – The French newspapers regard the forced peace with China on broad and abstract principles. They see it as a European matter and claim a right to share in the ingress to China. Never before has the wealth and intelligence of Europe had such a vast field opened before them. Some of our neighbours seem angered by the energy of the Anglo-Saxon race. Partitioned or ‘regenerated’ China henceforth enters upon a new existence. It now only awaits the opening of Japan to permit Europeanism to encircle the globe.

Friend of China 30.3.43 supplement

Letter to the Editor from L complaining Pottinger is not settling the merchants’ claims for compensation from the Canton riot quickly enough.

L says he knows ‘the Chinese offered to pay them immediately but Pottinger has done nothing.’

Friend of China, 30.3.43 edition

London news – Five brass cannon seized from the Chinese in the late war have been installed in the Tower of London. Four are very elegant workmanship and large calibre.

Friend of China, 30.3.43 supplement

At a Privy Council held at Windsor on 4.12.42 (or 4.1.43), an order was passed directing the removal of H M’s Vice Admiralty and other Courts from Canton to Hongkong.

Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition

Pottinger’s letter to the British merchants, dated 30th March 43:

Concerning claimants to Hing Tai Hong’s debts of 1837, an officer of the British government will be deputed to Canton for the purpose of paying a dividend on these debts.

Pottinger’s letter to the merchants of 31st March 43:

Concerning claimants to the debts of King Qua and Mow Qua, claims will be paid proportionately from the money received from the Provincial government of Canton under the treaty. The Hing Tai Hong debts will also be paid.

When the capital element of King Qua’s debt is paid-off, arrangements will be made for discharging the interest.

On Mow Qua’s debt some creditors have just obtained payment of interest for a year when it should have been only for 8 months. The excess will be written back and deducted from their next instalment.

There are additionally debts of $7,820 on Mow Qua’s account that are disputed. Balfour (the new consul at Shanghai) is coming to Canton to settle these debts. He will finally adjust them either amicably or by arbitration.

There remain some debts on the Co-Hong that have not been agreed and debts on individual Chinese shopmen that are not the responsibility of the Hong Merchants. These are still under consideration and I merely remind you that, at English Law, it is for the claimant to prove his debt.

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

Extract from a letter of Gutzlaff to James Matheson in Glasgow, dated Nanking, 10th September 42:

1/ The French offered their mediation in our dispute with China but peace had already been agreed.

2/ Capt Cecille of the Erigone witnessed the treaty signing at Nanking but it seems he was not able to make anything of it as the Chinese were anxious that no other nation should share in the privileges that England had obtained.

3/ Treasurer Kwang, who will arrange the revision of the tariff, has asked for details of the volumes of trade in each commodity.

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

There is a notional trade in Irish linen to be done. The junks of the northern ports have cotton cloth sails, not the mat sails of the southern provinces. Unbleached canvas or coarse Irish linen would be suitable for this purpose if dyed with Cutch to preserve it against rotting.21

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

On news of the agreed peace with China, Turkish opium in London went up from 6/6d to 10/- per lb (c. $270 or 540 Rupees per chest).

When Elliot’s (unratified) peace agreement arrived, the price at Smyrna rose 20% but when that agreement was repudiated the price dropped back 7%.

This year’s Turkish crop is estimated at 315,000lbs (c. 2,400 piculs or chests) or rather less than 1/17th of annual Chinese consumption. One third of this crop is already sold in advance. From recent information we have seen, it appears that Turkish opium can now be loaded FOB Suez at between 9/- and 11/4d per lb.22

Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition

Russian trade with China:

The figures have historically been unreliable. The Times now says it is worth 4 million Roubles (including contraband). The silver rouble is worth 3/3d whilst the paper rouble is down to 11d.

The Government Gazette issued at St Petersburg reports the 1841 trade at 8 million silver roubles (£1,250,000), attributing the increase to ‘the extraordinary development of trade with China this year’.

Russia now has a large body of expatriate English artisans (encouraged to emigrate from home, where wages are fixed and by our restrictive policy on the export of weaving and stamping machinery). They manufacture woollen cloth at prices that well compete with the English supply.

A translation of Dr Pallas and M Muller’s work ‘The Conquest of Siberia’ contains a detailed account of Russian commerce with China. It started in 17th century when the Russians were spreading east along the Amur and subduing the Tongusian tribes as they went. This eventually brought the two Empires into contact and a regular treaty was signed in 1689. This allowed the Russians permanent trade with China but denied them navigation on the Amur. Considerable disputes arose and in 1728 a new Treaty of Kyakhta was made which delineates the relationship up to today.

The Treaty of Kyakhta allows one Russian caravan to go to Peking every three years. The caravan should have less than 200 people. On arriving at the frontier it should await an escort. Trade is allowed at the frontier towns of Kyakhta and Tuenchaitu. It is entirely a barter trade as the Russians are prohibited to export their silver rouble. The Russians bring their goods to Kyakhta. The Chinese merchants examine and agree a price. The goods are sealed. Both parties go to Mai Mai Chun on the Chinese side of the border where the Chinese goods are stored. The Russian picks what he wants to the agreed value of his export and leaves a confederate to guard his selection. When the Russian goods have been delivered, he returns with the Chinese merchant and his goods to Kyakhta.

Furs from Siberia and the North Pacific islands are the most important Russian exports, supplemented by foreign furs imported at St Petersburg. The Russians also export cloth – coarse Russian cloth and finer Prussian, English and French material, mostly camlets, white flannel, coarse linen and velvet. They also trade in leather, glassware, cattle, hunting dogs, tin and talc.

The Chinese supply raw and manufactured silk, cotton, teas, porcelain, furniture and toys, artificial flowers, tiger and panther skins, rubies, canes, tobacco, rhubarb and musk. Furs in Siberia have little value (the cost of their land transport back to European Russia is enormous) so Russia is happy to get anything for them. Only the very special furs would be worth transporting but there are few people in Russia who can afford them so, all in all, it makes sense to sell everything taken from Siberia in China. Many of the things they buy from China are much cheaper than the equivalent item from Europe. This year’s trade volume, excluding contraband, is calculated at 2,868,333 silver Roubles.

Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition

Colonial Gazette (Another percipient offering from R Montgomery Martin):

The willingness of the Chinese Imperial government to buy peace will create disaffection throughout the Empire.23 The continued British occupation of the Chusan Group and Kulangsu (the island in Amoy’s harbour) for performance of agreed terms likewise.

The mere presence of a British force in Hong Kong will persuade governors of distant provinces to assume a deportment verging upon independence. The spirit of insubordination in China is enlivened by the treaty. Our political residents (to reside in the new ports) will be constantly involved in intrigue. Our relations with China remain as unsettled as ever.

The opium trade is not mentioned in the treaty. China forbids it while India cannot do without it. This peace can only be an armistice. It gives us an opportunity of shaping our course anew and acting more wisely and honestly in time to come.

In future, continental European and American diplomacy will complicate our relationship. French and American men-of-war have already shown themselves in Chinese waters. These nations will insist on an equal footing with England. History teaches us that interference in the domestic affairs of other nations is usually done out of dread at what a neighbour might do if we fail to interfere. For the French and American diplomats, our mere presence in China will be an irresistible inducement to involve themselves in the intrigues of the country and while they are busy in the south, we may be sure Russia will not be idle in the north.

The acquisition of Hong Kong and the entry of Consuls to treaty ports is but the first step in a repeat of the dance of the French and the English in India but it will involve a greater number of contestants this time with greater resources, skill and pride.

China can provide tea, silk, cotton and porcelain. The last two items we have now learned to produce better and cheaper ourselves. Where is the great increase in trade going to come from? Already goods in this country which might find a market in China are increasing in price on the possibility.

We may soon return to the position at the time the South American markets were opened to us, when British goods littering the wharves of Rio de Janeiro, were so cheap as to not be worth the cost of warehousing. Is this going to happen again so soon? Great expectations – lavish credit – busy factories – mushrooming profits for banks and companies – dreams of el Dorado – then the crash.

Once hostilities commenced, relations could never be re-established in the old way. Now they will be more complex and on a greater scale. If the China market is well regulated and the treaty terms are performed smoothly, there may be a real extension of trade.

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

We have a copy of Bombay Prices Current for 11th February 43:

Malwa opium is selling at 910 – 950 Rupees per chest. So far this season 400 chests have been sold but most of these were old stock. The Company’s official Bombay opium trading account reveals 27,062 chests were imported from Malwa between 3.11.41 – 7.2.43 and 20,970 chests were exported under the pass system between 22.10.42 – 7.2.43. The latter figure includes an opening balance of 2,000 chests from last year.

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

The Colonial Gazette proposes that Sir Henry Pottinger’s force in China should proceed to Japan and open that country to our trade as well.

It says the massacre of English sailors shipwrecked on the Japanese coast has been a long-standing insult.

Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition

Court of Common Pleas, reported by the Monthly Times:

In the case of Evans and Another v Hutton, the Plaintiffs claim Capt Elliot had no power to declare war on the Chinese which was the only reason to prevent landing of their goods at Whampoa.

Elliot’s powers were contained in authorising acts of the 2nd and 3rd of William IV which gave authority to the Superintendent at Canton. No power of declaring war is listed.

The Defendant ship-owner Hutton admits he brought a shipment of Plaintiff’s goods to Canton but was prevented from landing them by order of Capt Elliot, the Chief Superintendent of British Trade and British Representative at Canton, who prohibited all off-loading from British ships due to hostile relations with the Chinese authorities at that time.

His Defence is consequently that his agreement to ship was frustrated by Elliot and he was not responsible to the Plaintiffs.

Judgment for the Plaintiff – Elliot’s action was ultra vires.

Friend of China 6.4.43 edition

John H Larkins a partner in the firm Fletcher Larkins and Company died of smallpox after a few days illness at Macau, 30th March 43.

Friend of China 8.4.43 special edition

The whole edition deals with rates of postage from China to India and beyond to Europe and America.

Friend of China, 11.4.43 edition

Napoleon’s opinion on China (from O’Meara’s Voice from St Helena)

L’Emperor said ‘If I had sent an embassy like Lord Amherst’s I should have told the ambassador to follow the custom of the country. For not kow-towing you have lost their friendship and their trade’.

O’Meara said ‘we can force them to trade’.

Napoleon replied ‘If you war with China it will be the worst thing you have done for many years. At first you will succeed, take their vessels, destroy their cities, etc., but you would soon teach them their own strength. They would defend themselves and try to equal you. They will build ships and put guns in them. They will get ship-builders from France and America and, in time, they will beat you’.

Friend of China, 11.4.43 edition

Spectator – Now England has a base in China, the Chinese will be able to see these strange European people up close.

They will note their ships are teetotal but some of them bring opium; the ship now bringing missionaries to denounce gambling has a snooker table on board for the 98th regiment in Hong Kong.

Friend of China 13.4.43 edition

Letter to the Editor from a British army officer in the Amoy garrison:

Kulangsu Island (Cantonese – Ko Long Tsui) is coming along fine. The old village has been razed and replaced with European dwellings for the officers, barracks for the men and a parade ground. We also have a really good market supplying all the daily vegetables.

These improvements are due to the exertions of Capt H…..ll who has also built a fine road around that side of the island facing Amoy. It is sufficient for three men to ride abreast. A beautiful little theatre has also been completed. A racquets court of stately dimensions is presently under construction.

At Lunar New Year we were all invited over to the mainland by a Chinese businessman for a feast of great magnificence.

Friend of China 13.4.43 edition

Historical China Market exports 1830

Editor – In 1830 British free traders had 50% of the China trade and the India Company and the Americans, etc., had the rest. In tea exports the following statistics should guide:

Ship registry
30 mill lbs
7 mill lbs
2½ mill lbs
2 mill lbs
1 mill lbs

British exports to China in 1830 were 50% woollens, 25% cottons and 25% metals & others. American exports 50% cotton, 25% woollens and 25% others. Indian exports were £2 million of opium plus £1 million of cotton, tin and pepper.

Chinese exports to England, America etc., are insufficient to pay for the imports.

Northern Chinese exports into Mongolia and Russia are extensive (5½ million lbs of tea via Kyakhta to Russia annually) but no figure for exports up the Yangtse into Sinkiang is available.

The Russian traveller Timkowski has written recently about his journey from Kyakhta south to Ulan Bator and Kalgan (near Peking) in October and November. At Urgha he met several caravans of some 40 camels each, carrying tea to Ulliasutai. He then met numerous caravans with 200+ cars of fine black tea for Kyakhta. At Kalgan he learned the trade warehouse at Kyakhta has adjacent stables for 2,000 camels. On his return journey to the north in July he found the tea caravans were just as frequent.

Timkowski travelled along the one major road north of the great wall but there is another equally good road that is also used for trade. It runs along the course of the Yellow River west to Lanchow and thence to Kashgar in the south and Urumchi and Kuldja (I Ning) in the north. The Russians sell furs but cannot themselves supply enough for Chinese demand and import the balance, mostly from American trade to the Baltic, to get the quantity of tea they need. The Chinese would prefer to take silver for the balance but the Russians are forbidden by law to export it.

From trade with the Mongols, the Chinese get cattle from Central Asia, ginseng from Manchuria, rhubarb from the upper Yellow River, some domestic manufactures and re-exports of European goods. Tea exported into Central Asia is said to be an inferior type, commonly tile tea, but is very popular.

There used to be a substantial import of American furs at Petersburg to support the Russian trade but the stock of game in the North West of America (from the Columbia River territory) is reducing. The Americans have been somewhat successful in substituting a thick form of woollen cloth (duffel, a Belgian invention) which is cheaper and acceptable. Game is decreasing in Siberia as well and we English may have a chance to bring our own woollens to the north China market for sale from the new treaty ports.24

Friend of China 20.4.43 edition

Pottinger to Kekung, Viceroy of Canton, 13th April 43:

A very extensive system of smuggling in and out of Canton is practiced by foreign traders with the connivance of the city Customs House. This diminishes legal trade and Chinese revenue.

I do not approve of it.

Smuggling is at variance with the intentions and wishes of the British government. I shall be happy to provide whatever assistance I can to your Excellency in its suppression.

I have mentioned to the Imperial Commissioners that suppression must involve the co-operation of the Customs House. No British officers or people can be employed in it. Although I deplore smuggling, the remedy is really in your hands not mine.

Public Proclamation of Pottinger, 15.4.43:

Attached is my letter to Viceroy Kekung in Canton. I do not yet know the names and nationalities of the firms and their staff involved in this shameless and disreputable system of wholesale smuggling which, so long as it is overlooked, will sap and destroy the legal trade and nullify all my efforts to place the regular trade on a proper footing.

I hope to soon receive the identities of the people involved and I will certainly publish them so the public can gauge their merit. I hope, with the arrival of Ilipu’s replacement, that a means will be devised to bring all parties to account for their share in the transactions which have obliged me to make this Proclamation.

I advised you beforehand that I will give the fullest extent of aid to the Chinese authorities to eradicate this smuggling trade and to remove British smugglers and their ships from the river and from Hong Kong.

Friend of China 20.4.43 edition

The following claims in Spanish Dollars for compensation due to losses sustained during the attack on the foreign factories at Canton have been assessed by the Hong Kong government, as British representative:


Bell & Company

Dirom & Company

Gemmell & Company

Gibb Livingston & Co

Jamieson and How

Jardine Matheson & Co

McVicar & Company

Turner & Company

Mr Barnett

Mr Baynes

Mr Burns

Mr Compton

Mr Hughes

Mr Larkins

Mr Major

Mr McKean

Mr Ponder























42, 073.99
































Friend of China 20.4.43 edition

We previously mentioned flax from which the beautiful Chinese grass cloth (ma bo) is made. The import of flax and hemp (mainly from Russia) last year into England was worth about double the import of tea.

Flax imports, and the British linen trade generally, is increasing (18,000 tons of flax were imported in 1825; 61 million yards of linen were manufactured in 1838).

Fukien is famous for its flax – it makes the best linen in China.26

Friend of China 20.4.43 edition

The few steamers that ply between Hong Kong and the treaty ports will ensure that the Chinese keep up their end of the treaty. They transmit mails and official communications as well as carry passengers.

Hong Kong to Amoy is 270 miles (1½ day’s steaming); Amoy to Fuk Chow 150 miles (1 short day’s run); Fuk Chow to Ningpo 300 miles (2 short day’s run) and Ningpo to Shanghai 100 miles (½ day’s run). A mail run would take c. 5 days while direct steaming Shanghai / Hong Kong is 4 days.

Friend of China 20.4.43 edition

Canton Prices Current:

Patna Old
Patna New
$680-685 per chest

Tea exports from Canton for the 9 months to end March 1843:

22,500,000 lbs
2,000,000 lbs
1,500,000 lbs
1,000,000 lbs

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

Letter to the Editor from Observer, a British merchant visiting Canton, dated 10.4.43:

Foreigners are still prohibited from entering Canton city itself but I walked around the suburbs. The children called me fan kwai and when I looked at them they drew their fingers across their necks in a significant way but they were all quite playful. Chinese soldiers and officers pass you without attending to you. The shopkeepers are always friendly and polite.

This absence of offensiveness after our harsh demands on the Emperor is surprising.

The Cantonese are hard working commercial people devoid of national prejudices. They do not display any trace of the anti-social behaviour of the Hindu or the bigotry of the Muslim. They do display a boundless curiosity and continually crowd round one.

The troops at Canton are all local men, poorly armed with bows and rusty matchlocks. They look inefficient which is a concern. They do not appear capable of preventing the destruction of the British factory as occurred recently.

Whilst the soldiers appear unwarlike, the police are efficient. Although the foreign factories are closely surrounded by Chinese houses, they remain robbery free. The espionage system in despotic states like China permits the police to attain a greater efficiency than in a democracy.

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

Letter to the Editor – The Peking Government has an indisputable right to prohibit the trade in opium. Our notorious and systematic smuggling defies every just idea of international law. I do not expect Britain to upkeep a preventive fleet but its not enough for our Plenipotentiary to say he does not sympathise with the smugglers. He should make a formal complaint to the Chinese government to ensure they know the smugglers have no official support and no formal assistance to evade punishment.

I am not reproaching those concerned with what has hitherto occurred. China would not admit that national duties are reciprocal as we do, but the treaty puts duties on both sides and provides us with an opportunity to recommence our relationship on a basis of justice.

It is impossible for China to prevent smuggling. The demand for opium that has already been created, the length of the coast and the low pay of her officials all ensure it cannot be stopped.

I think we should produce a paper in Chinese that sets out the facts of the case and hopefully the Emperor will be encouraged to legalise opium imports.

Friend of China, 27.4.43 edition

The Times of London, 3.12.42 – The peace treaty with China contains no word about opium. The Chinese wished to include it but the British negotiators declined. No doubt they felt that each nation must enforce its own fiscal arrangements as best it can.

It is reasonable for the Manchu Emperor to request that British traders obey the laws of China. Our approach has been to decline responsibility for our merchants on the one hand whilst on the other, we naturally abstain from enforcing the regulations of the country with which we trade on our people.

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

Excerpt from Cotterell’s Recollections of Siberia, 1840-41

Mai Mai Chun (on the Chinese side of the frontier facing Kyakhta) is a rectangular hamlet surrounded by a wooden wall with two streets that cross each other at right angles. The four gates are at the compass points. The streets are narrow and two camels can barely pass each other.

The houses are small. Their roofs are very low and made of wood covered with turf. There are no windows on the side facing the street. They each have two rooms – one is the shop where goods are stored and the other is for living. On the side remote from the street, the windows are covered with oiled paper. The houses are clean, the wooden furniture is good. They are heated by stoves like Russian houses. In spite of this they are very cold.

There are about 1,500 male inhabitants. Women are not allowed but a few Mongolian females may occasionally be seen.

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

The senior British naval officer at Chusan has seized three British ships at Woosung. They were said to be contravening the proclamation of the Plenipotentiary dated 14th November last i.e. …. requiring that no British merchant vessel go to any of the ports just opened by treaty except Canton until the tariffs and scales of duties have been fixed and the consular officers appointed – at which time due notice will be given.

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

Pottinger’s public disapproval of smuggling has stung the British merchants. They say they deprecate the system at Whampoa (which the Friend of China reported last week) but they have no choice but to partake in order to remain competitive.

They say it was not them but the Americans who started the smuggling system that Sir Henry now condemns. That allegation has been robustly contradicted.

We hope Sir Henry will follow through with his threat and publish the names of the people and firms involved in the Whampoa smuggling market but this will indubitably be a list of names of all the foreign community trading in China.

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

The traders have a legitimate grievance – port dues are paid simply for access to trade; the estuary is not buoyed or lighted, neither is the river. Pottinger said in his letter to Ilipu that he thought port dues should be very light.

But the British Government would be wise to demonstrate it does not approve the shenanigans in the river. Pottinger has necessarily objected to the entire mercantile community. As a result, the British component in the Hong Kong community has withdrawn its co-operation from him. This will delay settlement of the commercial treaty.

Pottinger was wrong to say he would deny protection to smugglers in Hong Kong. This island is a free port and there can be no smuggling in it.

If we forbade smuggling at Gibraltar, it would bring all trade there to an end. The same would happen here. Smuggling is not new. The Select Committee reported even cheap and bulky things like saltpetre are smuggled and it has been going on for 20 years since that report. The experts said smuggling would increase and Charles Marjoribanks, a long-time resident of Canton, noted that when the Company’s monopoly was ended there would remain only the smuggling trade. He predicted that the legitimate trade would end. All acquainted with the China-trade agreed, owing to the exactions on it at Canton which since that time have greatly increased.27

Friend of China 27.4.43 edition

Trade Report from Canton:

Very little trade is being done. Common teas are still expensive. Opium is not selling much – a few chests of Malwa sold at $530 recently which pushed asking prices up to $580-585 but there was no subsequent trade. Business in the north is also slow. The Compton and Anonyma are expected to depart shortly with opium cargoes for northern ports which will further reduce prices.

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

Viceroy Kekung has replied to Pottinger on the Plenipotentiary’s concern at bribery of Customs staff. He says:

“The Hoppo’s clerks and followers accept bribes and connive at smuggling. I have told him so. Some example of severity might cleanse this fountain of evil. Some English merchants may be honest but in every ten there are one or two who are given to deceit.

“The Plenipotentiary does not support them and I never suspected he did. Still it is difficult for a single person to superintend so much.

“Now we are united in friendship, his diligence will be more stringent and English merchants will not be able to listen to the seductions of the Hoppo’s clerks and followers.

“We are making a new tariff. I hope the Plenipotentiary will give us his proposals for rules to prevent these abuses.”

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

Editorial – Kekung’s letter to Pottinger seems to put the duty to stop smuggling on the Plenipotentiary. As Kekung is a senior Chinese official we need to explain our view of this to him immediately and make sure he has no doubt of the western attitude to this situation.

One of our interpreters recently told a London audience that he had explained McCulloch’s political economy to several Chinese officials. If so, it should be possible to explain where lies the responsibility for enforcement of fiscal law.

We expect, as things stand, that the Chinese officials, having experienced the military force at Pottinger’s command, will assume he can stop the smuggling with ease if he wishes to do so. They might think that, as he does not stop it, he condones it.

Smuggling results from the rapaciousness and fatuity of the government rather than impatience of taxation on the part of the governed.

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

Peking Gazettes:

  • Kiying is appointed Imperial Commissioner. He will go to Canton and manage affairs there.
  • Pi Chang will take acting charge of the Viceroyalty of the Two Kwong. Until he arrives Sun Shen Pao will be in charge.

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

The annual consumption of tea in England is now reported to have reached 36 million lbs costing £9 millions of which £3½ millions is Customs duty.28

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

The French warship Erigone (Cecille) left Macau on 5 May for Cochin China. The King of that country is at war with Siam over Cambodia and has seized five French missionaries and condemned them to death. Cecille is to procure their release or get satisfaction for their martyrdom.

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

Editorial – our late war was too brief, our battles too localised to make the Chinese generally aware of their inferiority in fighting. Experience tells us that the pettiest Rajah in India is seldom impressed with the first drubbing he gets from the Company’s army.

We expect another war with China will be required sooner or later to establish that the first result was not a fluke. Once the Chinese can accommodate their military inferiority, they will start to make progress, so another war should be a welcome development.

In hard work, cheerful obedience, tact and courage, the Chinese worker is far better than any other Asiatic. If subjected to European discipline he would rival the Indian sepoy as a soldier. With a small personal supply of rice and salt the Chinese soldier travels the magnificent inland waterways of China and can be made available anywhere in the Empire.

If the To Kwong Emperor’s successor was concerned to make changes in his country there is nothing he may not do – Europe might again tremble at the approach of Mongol hordes.

Friend of China 4.5.43 edition

Trade report from Canton – Tea stocks are down, prices are up. Unless the Chinese bring a load of rubbish onto the market to make up quantities (like the Portuguese do at Macau), the total tea trade this season will only be about 45 million lbs.

Friend of China 11.4.43 edition

Glasgow Courier – The James Campbell has sailed from Broomielaw (on the Clyde) for Hong Kong. She is the first ship to sail direct from Scotland and she is completely full of cargo.

Friend of China 11.4.43 edition

Monthly Times – London has asked Pottinger to remain in China and appoint the necessary consuls. He has been told he might go to Peking and promote the benefits of British representation there to the Emperor

Friend of China 11.4.43 edition

According to the London papers, a Mr MacDonald Stephenson has addressed a letter to the Chinese authorities in Peking asking to become the Chinese ambassador in London.29

Friend of China 11.4.43 edition

The U S President (John Tyler) has asked Congress for funds to send a Commissioner to China to care for American traders and watch over their interests.

He purports to believe that the ports opened to British traders are not opened to Americans. (quote “it cannot be but interesting … to ascertain whether these other ports now open to British commerce are to remain shut nevertheless against the commerce of the United States” unquote)

Friend of China 18.5.43 edition

Report from our correspondent at Ningpo:

This city is situated in the centre of a large valley formed by the confluence of two rivers. The surrounding mountains are often snow covered in winter. The sole pagoda in the town provides a fine view of the valley which is criss-crossed with canals.

The government officers and merchants are kind and hospitable beyond all our expectations. They are as curious about us as we they. The merchants are keen for trade and appear to be doing a considerable business already – the town seems quite prosperous. They have allotted a site on the western river for the British factory and it is a good place.

Most of the traffic on the river brings soft pine logs. No hard wood is available yet.

All the dealers here have large stocks of Russian woollens. The cloth is a weave, 67½ inches wide, costing from 180 cash to $1 per cubit (15″). It is both cheap and durable and available in various qualities.

Castor oil is used as a varnish and sells at $6 per picul – its medical use is unrecognised by the Chinese here.

White lead at $15 per picul is used as a cosmetic.

Principal imports appear to be rice, sugar, timber, pepper, rattan, paper, tobacco, crockery, salt.

There are two Customs Houses – one for likin on goods arriving by land, the other for maritime Customs. The local officials say they will waive duty payments by the British until the tariff has been agreed. There is said to be an inland route from here to Canton, mainly by canal, which takes 30 days.

Opium – Malwa is $345 and Patna $750. A large stock is on hand and many suppliers are in this market. There is a slight demand for the more popular Malwa because of its low price.

Trade is said to be slow for the time of year and the merchants blame the Emperor. There is a shortage of silver but He does not permit opening the mines. Gold is often tendered in exchange these days instead of silver.

As Englishmen, we considered the Yangtse River was shut to us until the treaty negotiations had been concluded but two months ago two opium ships arrived, one from each of the two leading firms (Dents and J M & Co), and the captains presumed they should not be interfered with. They moored under the ruined batteries in full sight of Ning Po town to conduct their business. The civil authorities complained. The senior British naval officer ordered them to leave and reported his action to the Chinese side. At about the same time the steamer HMS Vixon arrived preparatory to a survey up the Yangtse River and both opium ships followed it into the river. It looked as though the Royal Navy was protecting the opium trade. This is neither wise nor honourable. Sgd Nauticus

Friend of China 18.5.43 edition

Note from St Petersburg:

During England’s war with China, the tea supply to Kyakhta was greatly increased but now peace has been declared it is expected to return to normal quantities and prices are expected to increase.

At the trade fair at Nishny Novogorod (Gorkiy) in 1842 there were 4,500 more chests of tea than in 1841 and half the supply remained unsold at the end.

Of the Ziegl Thee (so-called because of its cake form) which the Siberian & Central Asian nomads and poor European Russians like to drink, 6,000 chests were brought to the fair and all were sold out.

Friend of China 18.5.43 edition

The P&O Shipping Company has offered to provide a steamship ferry from Far East to India if it is allowed to monopolise the mail contract.

We have discussed this with an expert and we believe there should be two routes – Calcutta/ China and Bombay/ Madras/ China.

The steamer from Suez leaves on the 24th of each month.

The steamer from Calcutta leaves on the 14th of each month.

The Bombay / Suez steamer leaves Suez on 24th and Bombay on the 1st arriving back at Suez on about 8th each month.

P&O propose that the China steamer should leave Bombay on 10th, arrive Colombo on 15th collect the mail left by the direct Suez / Calcutta steamer, leave on 17th for Trincomalee and arrive Madras 19th. Leaving that port on 21st, arrive Penang 28th and Singapore 2nd.

The Calcutta/Suez steamer arrives Calcutta 18th so Calcutta / China steamer should leave Calcutta on about 21st, Maulmein 24th, Penang 28th, Singapore 2nd.

The steamer leaving Vina on 18th – 20th each month arrives Singapore 30th, leaving 2nd, Penang 4th, Maulmein 7th, Calcutta 11th in time to connect with the steamer to Suez on 14th.

(The Editor thus works out a complex inter-linking schedule for the entire Far Eastern service.)

If P&O carry cargo they could easily attract some of the opium traffic. Also about £4 millions in treasure is repatriated from the Far East each year – P&O could get most of this. The present freight rate for silver / gold is 1% of value.

In the winter monsoon the steamers should go via Palawan or Celebes Sea and Manila. In the summer monsoon they should sail down the western side of the China Sea.

Friend of China 25.5.43 edition

When a party is voted into power it should forget partisan issues and take the interests of the whole country as the basis to its policy. This comment is excited by a Tory article in the British press.

It attributes the cause of our war with China to the clamour raised against the Company’s trade monopoly prior to 1834. Palmerston is ridiculed for selecting a bed chamber lord (Napier) to be Chief Superintendent of Trade. Napier is reproached for not living at the Company’s Factory but with an opium smuggler.30

Concerning Elliot, it says he went out with Napier and some other Scotsmen. He won the opposition of the Canton authorities by defying their regulations and then brought on the war.

Both Napier and Elliot are said to have thrown themselves into the arms of the smugglers. Elliot took one of the opium smugglers out of the custody of the Canton authorities and, purportedly to save his life, surrendered the entire supply, pledging the Queen to recompense its owners. The opium traders were ecstatic at Elliot’s agreement to buy their stock in a market that had been totally collapsed by Chinese law enforcement.

The Tory author then examines the course of the war. He alleges a British surgeon collected a crate of minute feet from the deceased Manchu ladies of Chinkiang. A British craniologist beheaded several Chinese corpses and took their heads away as well.31

Friend of China, 25.5.43 edition

Editorial – Opium was smuggled into China under the Company’s reign but the Select Committee took no notice of it, deeming it a Chinese affair. Now under the new system of Consuls, we believe the British government should take no cognizance of the trade either.

In England we receive a river of illicit gin from Holland, illicit brandy from France, illicit tobacco from America and none of those three countries have any duty to England to police the smuggling or try to prevent it – it is solely a duty falling on the English Customs.

Britain maintains a preventive force of 500 naval officers and 25,000 men to prevent smuggling along its coasts.

Friend of China 25.5.43 edition

The unfriendly disposition of the Cantonese towards us is increasing. A few days ago there was a fire in Honam opposite the factories and many people arriving off the ferry took the opportunity of their access into the square to pelt the foreigners.32

Trade is slow but much tea has been shipped. The volume will exceed 50 million lbs for the first time this season. Not much silk is coming down.

Friend of China 25.5.43 edition

East India & China Association letter to Robert Peel MP of 3rd December 1842:

There is something missing from the Plenipotentiary’s treaty:

  • Our members want to own land in China to build their own factories. They want their wives and families to reside with them. They want to deal directly with Chinese people without any intermediary.
  • Previously our National Representatives (the Select) were honorary and were merchants day-to-day. The Chinese treated them as merchants. Now they will really represent the Crown.

The Chinese have always assessed traders as the lowest class of people.
The function of Consul and trader should be separated and there should be a chief Consul at Peking. Only thus can the oppressions and infractions on the trade be curtailed. We expect those oppressions and infractions to resume once the impression of recent events wears off.

Sgd George G de H Larpent, Chairman.

(Peel replied that he had forwarded this letter to his Foreign Minister, Lord Aberdeen. Another letter of the East India & China Association on the same subject was sent direct to Aberdeen on 31st December.)

Friend of China 25.5.43 supplement

The opium schooner Ariel (managed by Dent & Co and flying the American flag) has been seized at Amoy by Commodore Kearney of the USS Constitution, commanding the U S East India Squadron, for breach of American navigation laws.

At the time of its arrest the Ariel had $150,000 on board being proceeds of trade and it is expected this will also be liable to confiscation. Commodore Kearney has since published a note at Amoy dated 18th May 1843:

“Persons shipping goods along the China Coast should not patronise any opium ship sailing under the American flag.”

Friend of China 1.6.43 edition

A copy of Commodore Kearney’s letter to the Ariel’s Captain has been made available to the Editor.

He says the schooner Ariel is not privileged to wear the American flag. Her crew are discharged and a crew from United States Navy has replaced them until 6 am 19th May when her usual captain may resume command but the American flag is not again to be hoisted.

The naval officers have seized the papers of the vessel and sealed them in an envelope which will be delivered to the U S Honorary Consul at Macau.

The ship will be sailed direct to Macau and may leave that port and avoid capture only when it has clear documentation permitting it to fly the American flag.

The merchant James P Sturgis, U S Honorary Consul at Macau, has publicly declared he is unaware of any deficiency in the Ariel’s papers.

Editor – This appears to be a belated action taken under the advice which Kearney gave last year when he told the community that “the U S Government does not sanction the smuggling of opium on this coast under the American flag, in violation of the laws of China.”

The employment of American-flag vessels in the opium trade has greatly increased since then, so its not surprising he has at last taken action.

Under the U S Constitution we would have thought the Commodore had no more right to interfere with U S citizens in the opium trade than Pottinger has with British citizens.

Consider the recent instruction of the Plenipotentiary to Capt Hope, commanding the British squadron at Chusan who was ordered to release the opium vessels he had arrested for contravening Pottinger’s order not to enter the new treaty ports until the commercial treaty has been concluded.

We wonder if Kearney’s action is intended to conciliate Chinese officials now a U S ambassador is on his way. We don’t mind if the Americans are going to put down the opium trade.

Perhaps it is a quid pro quo for Britain putting down the slave trade.

Friend of China 1.6.43 edition

Extract from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The insurgencies in Anhui and Kiangsu are being suppressed and numerous efficient officers are decorated.
  • The people of Chih Li are to have their tax remitted this year as they have experienced drought and flood and their crops are ruined.

Friend of China, 8.6.43 edition

The March overland mail brings news from Europe:

  • William Jardine MP has died.
  • The opium trade is finally engaging the attention of the British public.
  • People who are bona fide holders of forged exchequer bills have been paid; the holders of Elliot’s genuine opium scrip have not.33

Friend of China 8.6.43 edition

Mr J S Case has opened the British Hotel in Canton for families and parties. It is at 2 Po Shan Hong in the Canton factories. European servants are always in attendance.

Friend of China 8.6.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • The Treasurer of the Privy Council reports that the arrears of taxes up to the 15th year of the To Kwong Emperor’s reign (1837) amount to 25,003,000 Taels of silver (£8 millions) of which 19,906,500 Taels accumulated in the 2 years 1836-37. He says he cannot refund the expenses of the war and maintain the army and navy unless Viceroys and Governors pay their back taxes.
  • Kiying and others report the need for a change in military discipline. The Military Board at Peking will immediately inspect all firearms and give directions. It will dispatch the following (named) officers to the Provinces to do the same. All soldiers and sailors will practice with muskets and cannons. Every year there will be four inspections made by the Viceroy or Provincial Governor in 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th months. Shooting competitions will be held and whoever excels will be sent to the Emperor for reward. The basic cannon of the army is to be the ‘eighteen’. Any officers who do not display perfect knowledge will be degraded. These changes are especially to be followed in Shantung, Kiangsu, Chekiang and Kwangtung (the coastal provinces excluding Fukien)

Friend of China 8.6.43 edition

Challaye, the French consul (still resident in Hong Kong), has donated several issues of the Annales Maritimes et Coloniales to the Friend of China Editor.

In them is an interesting account of the visit of the French corvette Danaide (de Rosamel) to Hong Kong in 1841. Capt de Rosamel was a French observer of the war. Here is an extract from his report:

The extracts appear over several editions starting with the 13th July 1843 …..

At Amoy the English flag was flying on Kulangsu Island when I arrived. Eight days previous the English ships had made a cannonade and the troops disembarked. The Chinese made a feeble defence and lost many soldiers. The troops occupied the town for three days but it is said only public establishments were pillaged and private property was respected.

Amoy was supposed by the Chinese to be a redoubt. They had concentrated forces there and the foundry made 30 – 40 brass cannon and some iron ones in less than a year. They had so buried these pieces in protective earthworks that it was impossible to aim them properly. As the English infantry approached, each piece was abandoned after two or three shots. Then there was a slaughter, with the sepoys killing the fleeing unarmed Chinese – the English lost 2 killed; the Chinese 800.

As the British troops landed, all the senior Chinese officers left and they were followed by their juniors and the merchants of the town. This left only the common soldiers and the hoi polloi. There is a great naval base at Amoy and the Chinese Admiral’s yamen contained a large supply of stores. A great fleet of war-junks was captured.

After three days of looting, the town was abandoned and the island of Kulangsu garrisoned with 400 – 500 men. Some cannons and mortars were pointed from the island at the town but no further violence was done.

The island is well cultivated and contains many good houses. A horrible pillage of the village on the island was done but the English say it was not them but the work of Chinese plunderers. Now there is some trade in provisions but both sides are quite reserved.

The port was blockaded by Capt Smith in HMS Druid (42) with HMS Pylades (18) and HMS Algerine (10). A large junk fleet was in harbour. These ships have all been numbered and Smith sent patrols amongst them to avoid surprises (he fears fire ships). Capt Smith was very helpful to me and has offered all sorts of stores as well as the use of his charts of the northern waters. I mention this in view of the offence given to the officers of La Danaide at the taking of Chinhae and afterwards.

Amoy appears to be a first class commercial town. The quay is nearly 2 miles long with a causeway of smooth stones to load / unload goods at low water. It was packed with junks. A rude careening dock was being used for junks up to 300 – 400 tons. A chain of small hills between the town and the anchorage prevents a complete view. There are said to be 70,000 – 80,000 inhabitants.

Manila used to have the honour of free trade with Amoy. A Spanish captain told me they abandoned the trade because there were disasters every year. I wonder how they could have disasters every year unless they anchored outside the port. With proper precautions inside there was hardly a possibility of an accident. I suspect it was Spanish laziness that caused the abandonment of this privilege.34 I have heard the Manila people are frightened to navigate the China coast beyond Macau.

Amoy harbour is large. The entrance is easy and within there is 9 –10 fathoms. I bought 2 oxen and some fowls for $14. Fresh water was difficult to get and tasted bad. The market remains closed but the Fukienese love of trade and the absence of officials makes me expect it will be opened very soon.

Chimmo (Chin Men; Que Moy), N E of Amoy, is a little town with a good port open to the east. It is the distribution centre for opium. The foreign ships here are like floating warehouses. They only trade on the nearby coast and one has been anchored here for 18 months. They are supplied by clippers. The sailors dare not land – all sales are made on board, often at night. The captain of one hulk told me business was slow but I am told everyone who puts capital into opium business makes a fortune. Later when I went north I found every port had some of these opium hulks in it. The captains carefully conceal their knowledge of the beautiful and numerous ports along this coast.

Chusan (Chou Shan Tao; Ting Hai Heen) was taken on 29th or 30th September 1841. The fleet sustained a long battery from 45 – 50 guns but they had little to do (i.e. the shooting was ineffective). The troops disembarked and attacked the Chinese positions on a hill. The Chinese were brave but unskilful. One English ensign was killed and some soldiers wounded. When the English got a detachment around the Chinese rear, they threw down their arms and fled. Then the troops scaled the walls of the undefended town of Ting Hai and occupied it. This was the hardest battle the English have yet had. They lost 5 (2 killed and 3 died of wounds) plus 20-25 wounded. The Chinese loss was 400 – 500 dead. Abandoned by the English scarcely a year before, the Chinese had secured the place well in the short time available. A cannon foundry had produced 20-30 brass cannons modelled on a fine European gun taken from a wreck. The gun carriages were improved and the garrison only lacked courageous leadership. Unfortunately the chief civil officer, who had sworn to the Emperor to exterminate the barbarians, took flight at the commencement of the affair. The soldiers without leaders waited for the enemy and fired their matchlocks two or three times then turned their backs on the shower of English balls falling on them.

Chusan is not beautiful and the port is difficult to get in and out of. Ting Hai is a walled town encircled by rivers, a mile from the sea. It is very unhealthy as the first occupation proved. The only interesting structure in the town is a pagoda with some grotesque statues within. The English troops are bivouacked in the pagoda and temples where they destroy everything. The most amazing thing, so far as the Chinese were concerned, was to see one temple turned into a magazine and another made the quarters of Sir Hugh Gough!

After taking the town, the English shut the gates and did not permit any Chinese to leave for 3 days. They hoped to force them to communicate and, in the meantime, to show that by paying for everything, there was nothing to fear. When I arrived, a few days after the start of the occupation, some merchants had resumed trade but not many. The town is poor and appears to be mainly a military post. After its occupation it is only used as a haven for the ships-of-war from whence they could launch an attack on Chih Li (if that is their plan).

The English found a huge store of grain at Ting Hai which they bartered for cattle and other provisions. They also found stores of powder, small arms and iron cannon which they destroyed. They took 20-25 brass cannon for their own use.

There is a story being told about the previous (Elliot’s) occupation. After the English evacuated Chusan, the Chinese disinterred the bodies of some 300 – 350 troops who had died of fever and made trophies of their bones, sending them to the interior as proof of a brilliant victory.

During the evening that I arrived, the Admiral returned from a reconnaissance of Ningpo and its river. The day after tomorrow an attack will be made on Chinhae, the fortified town commanding the river mouth, and the transports are preparing to quit Chusan tomorrow.

Continued in 20th July edition ….

Chinhae was defended by 15,000 men and enjoyed huge resources and good fortifications but fell after a few hours fighting to about 1,500 British troops. I cannot explain the apparent cowardice of the Chinese. All animals defend themselves from danger but not these people. The attitudes of submission, of crawling and prostrating are vile to me. Having seen the capture of Chinhae, I suspect one European regiment could march from Canton to Peking and take all the places in between without losing a man because the army officers fly before them and, once they have gone, the people deal with the enemy as though they are friends. The official responsible for Chinhae told the Emperor that he would send him a mattress made of the tanned skins of English soldiers. In his house the British found a copy of a memorial he had already written to the Emperor noting the English had appeared and he had driven them off and they had disappeared (this must be an allusion to the steamer that did the reconnaissance a few days before the attack, at which time a few cannon shots were exchanged). This official ran off at the commencement of the attack and later poisoned himself at Ningpo.

Chinhae is deemed important because it has a cannon foundry and factories for the manufacture of all sorts of arms. The climate is far healthier than Chusan where the English lost so many men to sickness in the first campaign. The Chinese cannon factories are as large as our French ones but they differ in the process of manufacture – the Chinese ream out the bore with a rasp whereas we drill ours.

They were also making gun carriages at Chinhae but these, whilst beautifully made, were useless as there were no wedges. The cannon had to be fixed in position and could not be elevated.

The quantity of small arms, arrows, bows, swords and the like that filled the pagoda was astonishing. The English destroyed everything except 20-30 brass cannon which they took on board their own ships. I saw a few English soldiers drunk on sam shoo and out of control but the larger houses on the outskirts of town had nothing left by their owners to loot and generally the soldiers did not do well. The pillaging was not organised and the army police were diverted in preventing the actions of the Chinese mob. The main concern of General Gough before leaving was to destroy all the arms – after all he was leaving 300-400 men in charge of a town of 25,000 residents.

Then a typically English problem arose. The English are cruel in battle and do not spare even those who flee from them but afterwards they are too lenient. Apparently the Plenipotentiary wanted to be tough but Gough and Parker disagreed. Now they have this doubt whether they can hold the town against the residents should they become boisterous.

After Chinhae, four steamers, the corvette Modeste and two brigs-of-war arrived before Ningpo. The English troops on board, numbering 1,000 – 1,200, were landed and the city, containing 200,000+ men was taken without a blow being struck. The officials of Ningpo had used the three days between the capture of Chinhae and the arrival of the British at Ningpo to remove everything of value. The merchants had also removed their stock and treasure so the eventual loot from this huge town produced only $100,000 – $200,000. The warehouses were all found to be empty.

To repair this disappointment to the men, Admiral Parker took his steamers straight up the river 40 miles more to the town of Yu Yaou. He entered this without resistance but found only poor and trembling wretches and all the shops and houses had been shut up. It is said to be a rich city of 40,000. A stone bridge across the river prevented the steamers from proceeding any further inland and, after two days search of the vicinity of Yu Yaou, the party returned empty-handed to Ningpo. On the return downstream the local population came out in huge numbers to line the banks of the river and watch as the foreigners passed.

At Ningpo arrangements were made to trade with the bigger merchants but the valuable items from their shops had been removed. Obviously they are not yet confident of British treatment of them. Many insisted that the English not abandon the area saying if they did and the civil servants returned they would certainly be executed. This assurance could not be given and those traders accordingly did not open their shops.

The insurmountable problem for the English is in finding an official who is agreeable to administering the town at their direction – someone who would act for the English but from whom the populace would accept orders. No officials remained in the town and the merchants lack the prestige to take command. By that time, only the houses of the officials had been pillaged by the mob and the merchants had not yet been violated but so many places remained closed that it appeared only a matter of time before order broke down completely.

Could the English soldiery control the situation? Every time a soldier walked down a street all the Chinese bowed down and touched the ground with their heads as he passed. Of the attacking force of 1,200, 400 were sailors and had returned to their ships. The remaining force of 800 seemed too few. The mob was assessed to be 80,000 – 100,000 wretches of the worst type (the town is very large). It was beyond the ability of the soldiers to police it, which had to be done by the Chinese themselves. Pottinger had three interpreters (one for him and one each for the Admiral and the General). They understood the ‘mandarin-speak’ but not the Ningpo dialect. He himself could not be involved as he had determined to speak only to an envoy from Peking, so the other two had to do all the work. As the Emperor had nothing to say to him, Pottinger was pretty free at that time.

It would be valuable to assess the extent of injury that the English were able to effect by their occupation of Amoy, Chusan, Chinhae and Ningpo. The part of Fukien and Chekiang that they effected contains about 25 – 30 millions. This huge population was inconvenienced by 2,500 – 3,000 foreign troops.

Continued in the 17th August edition

To occupy the 500 – 600 troops during the winter it was generally believed that an expedition would go to Hang Chow Foo and ransom it. A steamer had already reconnoitred the river (the Cheng Tang Kong). Hangchow seems to be a very commercial town able to pay a heavy contribution.

Such a victory might have helped to open the eyes of the Emperor and persuaded him to stop the calamities that pressed upon his Provinces wherever the enemy landed. After this expedition the troops would still have to wait for reinforcements before attempting Peking in April or May. Instead of proceeding to Peking, an expedition into the Yangtse to Nanking was proposed as the steamers could certainly get there. If they took Nanking they could command the Grand Canal and all the interior commerce of the Empire. That would induce the Emperor to treat. This plan required nothing more than a few additional steamers. The Yangtse is deep and navigation is easy whereas the Gulf of Peh Chih Li is shallow and the Peh Ho is difficult to navigate. Anyway the Emperor would flee on the approach of foreign troops. It was thought a blow against the commerce of the Empire incidentally providing a threat of famine to Peking might be more effective.

The English officers said they wanted only reparation for past injury and freedom of commerce in a few ports for all. This may have been the original intention but events seem to have made them change the plan. Now no-one knows what the Plenipotentiary will do. He bides his time.

The illusion of Chinese power has been blown away. Perhaps Britain did not intend the permanent conquest of China but when the cabinet learns the facility with which the armies of Amoy, Chusan, Ningpo and Chinhae were dispersed, without considering the other captured towns, and when they learn how many Chinese have asked for British protection, how readily they submit and how easily they are governed, they might consider sending troops and ships to consolidate their power at the centre of this vast nation. It presents so many military and commercial advantages.

Such a conquest would cause a great revolution in China but the people are so fond of wealth that they could not long refuse to join in the trade with their new conquerors. As certainly as opium has burst all the fetters that civil servants and Emperor have placed upon it, so would British woollens, cottons and other manufactures find their way throughout the Empire. For the Chinese, finding a direct opening for their teas and silk etc., without sending them cheaply to Canton, relieved of the despotism and spoliation of the officials, there is little doubt they would soon cast off their aversion to strangers and enter into relations.

It is my private opinion that England will be unable to resist this opportunity.

As regards Chusan, I am sure the English will retain it until the treaties are ratified. The Emperor is a fool. The longer he delays the worse his position becomes. No wonder the Chinese isolate themselves from foreigners. Had the Europeans, particularly the English, known how easy they are to overcome, they would not have endured the humiliations at Canton. It is not astonishing that for all the long time that the Company held the monopoly of trade there was no serious disturbance. Obviously their interest dictated patience and resignation.

The war would not have broken out if China had not acknowledged the representatives of other powers whilst ignoring the official English agent at Canton, the Chief Superintendent of Trade. The English were right not to wait until they had been overwhelmed with humiliation.

Now the first step has been taken. The Emperor will have to submit and open ports. The choice is an interminable war, the loss of his Empire and the ruin of his people. Will our own (French) commerce have to retire from China? It is so trivial, not because of the Chinese system but our own disinterest. The only article we have to compete with England is woollen cloth and that can only be sold in the north. European woollens were unavailable at Ningpo, Chusan and Chinhae but the natives wanted them. They often stopped me and touched my clothes in ecstasy at the texture, apparently desirous of having it. In winter they wear silk and quilted cotton but winter is severe and they have no wool. M. Barrot has already reported the qualities, sizes and colours that the Chinese prefer and which the English supply. I do not know if the same taste prevails in the north but as their garments appear the same I suppose the dimensions of cloth should also be the same.

Friend of China 8.6.43 edition

Amoy Trade report – Rice was up to $3 per picul but has since declined to $2 owing to huge shipments arrived from Taiwan. The high prices also induced shipments from Manila and Java which are daily expected. As at Ningpo, the trade custom in Amoy is to sell rice in piculs, not of 100 catties as is usual, but piculs of 135 or 140 catties. This explains the apparent difference between Taiwan rice and British imports.

Sandalwood, rattans, pepper, woollens and cottons are all trading slowly. 3-4 chests of opium are sold a day – new Patna $780, old $760, Benares $740, Malwa $620. The opium depot for Amoy is located in Chimmo Bay.

Friend of China 8.6.43 edition

Captain Hope of the Royal Navy is coming south in HMS Thalia to Hong Kong to be tried (it is said) for being so naive as to have prevented opium vessels from approaching unopened Chinese ports, believing, as the Editor says, ‘that Pottinger’s November proclamation was something more than a Chinese Edict.’


Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

Canton Trade Report, from our American correspondent at the factories:

Tea sales for the season until end-May were 47 million lbs and several ships are still waiting to load – the year’s total should reach nearly 50 millions.

Silks – no sales.

Opium has been brisk but prices down – Patna $630, Benares $620, Malwa $530. Some people says prices are depressed by Kiying’s arrival, others that importers are pressing sales while demand remains good.

Exchange Rates – Mexican dollars are at 7½% discount; Ferdinand dollars are at par, Carolus are 6-7% premium, sycee is 1.8% discount.

Our correspondent says:

‘Despite the denunciations of your Plenipotentiary, our systemised system of regular irregularity, which he does not appreciate or understand, is going on as comfortably as could be expected or desired. The greater part of imports and exports do not pay duty; neither do they pay the arbitrary exactions of before; nor do the ships pay a port charge – how can they afford to at the present low freight rates? We do not think this is smuggling as it has the sanction and connivance of the local authorities and I can tell you that the price of transit from Whampoa to Canton in the best Provincial government boats has fallen to $12 – 15 per opium chest depending on the quantity (i.e. large shipment = lower freight). 3 – 4 government boats come down every morning and lie abreast of the opium fleet. These are the new boats that were recently built to prevent piracy and are all newly painted and look very pretty. Trade is very regular and quiet. The moderate freight rate agreed with the officials is sufficiently low to ensure we do not employ smuggling boats of our own or use our foreign craft so there is no fear of any disturbances.35

The arrival of Kiying means the new tariff should be concluded very soon as we hear its terms have already been agreed amongst our merchants and he only has to sign it. Some say it will come into effect perhaps as early as 1st August 43 but I myself think it will have to go to Peking for ratification. The traders are beginning to get edgy over the new tariff – you can imagine how galling it would be to load a cargo of teas liable to 6 Taels duty (today’s rate) only to find it was 2-3 Taels tomorrow.

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

Under the provisions of the Act to Regulate the Trade to India and China, 1833, the then King-in-Council prohibited British subjects from resorting to Chinese ports other than those opened by treaty or occupied by British forces. Any breach of the Order-in-Council attracts fines of up to £100 or imprisonment for up to 3 months.

Major Malcolm, on his way home with the ratified treaty, told the Indian press that Pottinger had said he intended to confiscate English ships visiting any other than the five ports and he would confiscate opium ships wherever he found them.

When the British merchants in India heard that they thought it incredible and did not repeat it – now it seems to have been true. Later the policy was confirmed in the newspaper The Examiner, reportedly by John Crawfurd the late governor of Singapore and historian of Eastern seas, but we still could not believe it.

It seems England is now to provide a coast guard service to China!

Editor – this legal provision is likely to transfer a valuable trade to foreign-flag ships but we hear it said that the English smugglers are boasting that they will continue their trade, then sail to Hong Kong, lay an information against themselves before the Magistrate, surrender and admit their offence, pay the fine and do it all over again – such is the profit they are guaranteed.

It seems the home government is unaware of the astonishing changes that have occurred in the China-trade since the end of the Company’s monopoly nearly ten years ago.

Friend of China, 15.6.43 Supplement

Article in The Examiner – Major Malcolm, whilst on the Auckland, told fellow passengers that the Emperor sent a message to Pottinger that, to get the treaty ratified more quickly, he should prohibit English ships importing opium to the five ports. He says Pottinger agreed.

In 1814 its import was stimulated by the partial opening in trade between India and Europe and again in 1834 by the abandonment of the Company’s monopoly. It was after this last event that the Chinese government became alarmed.

The Chinese have been using opium, mainly from India, for three centuries and for 250 years it was legal to do so. About 50 years ago it became contraband.

Although proscribed it has been the most flourishing part of the Empire’s foreign trade and was consumed throughout the country. Civil, military, naval and police officers all connived. Even the Viceroys of the Two Kwong, either themselves or through their nearest relatives, connived in its smuggled import. The only difference was that the revenue on opium went into the pockets of the Provincial officials while the revenue on other goods went to the Emperor.

Under the new treaty, opium smuggling will continue at five points instead of one. Lintins will develop at each new port.

The India Board (of which Sir Robert Peel, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretaries of State are members) will encourage the trade as vital to the Indian revenue. One of the members (in his capacity as Foreign Secretary) will denounce it as illegal and immoral. He will write to China asseverating good faith. At the suggestion of the Admiralty, the Foreign Secretary will require the seizure and confiscation of British ships carrying opium in the five ports, and the trade will go on more briskly than ever. The Chinese will say we act out a dishonest charade and try to deceive them. Even the adroit Sir Robert Peel will not know how to handle this.

If Sir Henry really has made the alleged promise to the Chinese government, he is a fool. He should rather have broken off negotiations. The Emperor should have been commended to receive the greater revenue. Britain cannot do coast guard for China.

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

Lord John Russell has questioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer concerning a Petition he received from the merchants of Bombay querying the delay in payment of indemnity for surrendered opium (Elliot’s opium scrip).

The Chancellor had formerly said that enquiry was being made in India and China as to the value of the surrendered opium. Russell asked if it had been done. The Chancellor said enquiries were still proceeding but, in any event, he could not do anything for the merchants until the ratified treaties are exchanged. Then whatever conditions are contained in the treaty would be fulfilled. (i.e. the ministry will ensure China pays before agreeing to compensate the merchants)

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

The tone of many recent issues reveals an unmitigated hatred of the English and a horror of the late war which the Peking papers are communicating to the entire population. All Gazettes are full of warlike recommendations. Last week we mentioned one such notice.

This week there are three Gazettes recommending strengthening the gunpowder formula. There are several officials reports on how to cast guns in the English style. Several officers are disgraced because cannon cast under their supervision burst in testing and injured by-standers.

Editor – It is rumoured locally that Russell and Co have received an order for muskets and heavy guns. Pottinger and others say there is no prospect of renewed fighting but the Emperor is working through all of his naval, army and civil officers who came up against us in the late war and lost. He is punishing them all, even those of the highest rank. Yishan and Niu Kien (both Manchu) are sentenced to death.

Yu Poo Yun (a Chinese) has already been beheaded. He was General of the Chekiang Chinese army and defended his Province as best he could. Our own officers noted his bravery during the capture of Chinhae. His son petitioned the Emperor to be allowed to die in the place of his father and was denied. The Emperor says Yu Poo Yun’s crime was too heavy for mitigation. He urged the boy to repel the barbarians should they again attack the land.

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

Report from Canton: A fleet of 150 pirate ships has assembled in the Ladrones. They defy the authorities and predate on all the passing native craft. Recently they captured the Lung Mun magistrate. He is the official responsible for security of the Bogue.

They confiscated his seals and sent his ears to Canton with a demand for $60,000 ransom. The Canton officials counter-offered $3,000 but this was found to be on the low-side as it is said the Heen is now dead. Foreign ships have not so far been attacked.

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

The Friend of India says Capt Warden of the steamer Queen has presented the Bishop of Calcutta with a very large iron bell that he looted from Ningpo. The Bishop accepted it for the new Calcutta cathedral.

Friend of China 15.6.43 edition

The Singapore Free Press says it is a wonder that the Plenipotentiary took so long to ‘discover the disgraceful smuggling that has been carried on to such a large extent and in so barefaced a way in China’. He has not retarded or refused to complete the final arrangements under the treaty. That shows the British are anxious to bring it into operation. As he has called smuggling to the attention of the Chinese government it may soon be ended. We expect British merchants involved in this business will be anxious to withdraw, to prevent their names being published to the world as Sir Henry threatens to do.

Friend of China 15.6.43 Supplement

A selection of biographies of army officers who served with distinction in China

Friend of China 15.6.43 Supplement

The opium trade will be an embarrassment in our relations with China.

On the one hand we have the merchant smugglers saying that until opium is legalised they cannot have a good trade relationship with China. They claim to be apprehensive because the Plenipotentiary has not mentioned the trade in the treaty (‘ominous silence’ they call it) and the Hong merchants expect smuggling to continue as before, as indeed it is.

On the other hand the Chambers of Commerce of Lancashire and Yorkshire do not want legalisation as they say it is a greater evil than smuggling. They expect legalisation will entirely exclude British manufactures from China. They suppose British textiles can only be sold in China by forcing them on the market in part payment for teas. If opium is legal, they fear it will substitute for their cloth and be bartered for tea.

We think the British government should let the Chinese deal with opium as best they can and simply try to discourage the traders from dealing in it. Sir Henry had it in his power to dictate treaty terms to the Chinese. His ‘ominous silence’ must have resulted from official instructions. If so, we hope that the opium traders can be checked and prevented from disturbing the good understanding that is possible between China and Britain.

Friend of China 22.6.43 edition

Canton trade report:

Everything is dull except opium which is improving. The Hong merchants say the new tariff will be promulgated and effective within two months. They say the duty on tea will be 2 Taels.

Friend of China 22.6.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

Ching Kee Pin, the Admiral of Fukien Province, has memorialised the Emperor that now the barbarian quarrel is concluded, the people should be trained in war and a new stronger gunpowder formulated. He says the city of Hangchow is famous for its gunpowder and the people everywhere should emulate that formulation. He says the saltpetre must be completely dry and the sulphur pure.

Admiral Ching says the old system of crushing the chemicals with pestle and mortar is inefficient. What is needed is a bullock-powered mill. Then instead of three men producing 15 catties of powder a day as at present, they will each produce 100 catties a day. All that is needed is 1 – 2 prefects to ensure everything is done properly.

Admiral Ching notes that barbarian cannon are too short compared with Chinese cannon. If China buys English powder and uses it in her Chinese cannon it will propel a shot much further than an English cannon (about 250 koongs i.e. c. ½ mile) because of the longer barrel.

(Editor – Dr Ure says there is very little difference between Chinese and English gunpowder. China uses 75 parts saltpetre, 14½ charcoal and 10 sulphur while England uses 65 parts nitre, 15 charcoal and 10 sulphur. The difference lies in the storage – the Chinese gunpowder has an uneven grain and feels wet. When burned it exudes a fouler smell than English powder.

The Editor also notes that Admiral Ching at no time mentions charcoal as an ingredient of gunpowder. Finally he notes that Dr Ure has said that reducing the sulphur content makes a more forceful explosion – a powder of 12% charcoal and 12% sulphur threw a shot half the distance of a powder of 9% sulphur and 15% charcoal. By experiment it was found that charcoal makes gunpowder burn best with the least residuum.

The Chinese government routinely pays money to the forts and armies and ships to buy their own gunpowder rather than supplying it itself. This is a likely source of trouble. Also they commonly use pine wood  (shan tan) for charcoal but recently have changed to rattan (tung tan).

Friend of China 22.6.43 edition

The Water Witch (Reynell), arrived 18th June 43, and has provided accounts of the latest opium auctions at Calcutta. 2,035 chests of Patna fetched an average 1,247 Rupees while 1,100 chests of Benares produced 1,137 Rupees on average (sale proceeds – c. 3.8 million Rupees).

Subsequently the Red Rover arrived from China and rates increased a further 90 Rupees per chest. The auctioned opium is being shipped per Pelorus and Marquis of Hastings whilst John Brightman will sail for the Straits.

Editor – A letter from our correspondent at Singapore dated 14.6.43 says opium prices at Calcutta have increased. On 12.5.43 Patna sold at 1,425 Rupees. At Singapore on 14.6.43 Patna was $660 and Benares $640-645.

Friend of China 29.6.43 edition

The House of Commons debated the opium trade on 4th April 43 on Lord Ashley’s motion and we now have a report of proceedings:

Ashley made out a complete case against the Company by citing the much-loved Lt Colonel Tod (at the time of Warren Hastings’ acquisition of the opium monopoly):

‘No sooner was it promulgated that the Company’s Sahib was contractor-general for opium, than Princes and peasants, nay, even the very scavengers, dabbled in the speculation.

All Malwa was thrown into a fervent like Dutch tulip mania: the most fraudulent transfers and purchases were effected by men who had not a seed of opium in their possession. In a variety of ways, the local government has extended the cultivation of the Drug. They allowed the District Collectors a percentage of the sale proceeds in Calcutta upon the surplus produced, over and above what was produced by their predecessors’.

Editor – “We hope the noble Lord will never relax in his efforts until the detestable opium monopoly of the company is abolished.

The other part of Ashley’s speech about smuggling opium into China was full of egregious errors

Editor – I have been sending the Lord regular advices which apparently he has not read.

For example Lord Ashley said the Baptist Missionary Society is sending its missionaries to China under American aegis, as England’s reputation is irrevocably sullied by opium. He said the Baptist Missionary Society had voted £500 to donate to the Americans to propagate the Baptist faith.

Editor: This is terrible – Commodore Kearney may have repudiated the opium trade but Americans practise domestic slavery to save money! If the profits on opium had gone to replenish the American exchequer, we suspect the Commodore would not have said a word. The amount of American shipping and capital invested in opium trade is huge. Between U S and British opium smugglers, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Mr Bingham Baring told the Commons that the entire Royal Navy with the Emperor’s coastguard fleet would be inadequate to prevent the trade. France operates a restrictive trade policy like China and employs 20,000 men on Douane excluding its maritime force, and it is still insufficient. If China did the same, even if the civil servants were not venal, it would be ineffective.

Editor – The way the smuggling works in China is unlike the way of the rest of the world. The ship lies off the coast and it is the Chinese who come on board to pay for the cargo and tally it over the side before smuggling it into their own country. Whenever a foreign ship enters a port or cove along the east coast, natives always row out and ask for opium.

One of the things that annoyed Pottinger when he was sailing north for the war was the common occurrence, whenever HMS Queen put in to a bay or port, of his being asked to sell opium.

There should be no doubt that control of the trade rests with the Chinese. When they take strong measures, as with Commissioner Lin, they can succeed. He made opium unsellable and valueless.

The Friend of China abhors opium and alcohol for the same reason. British fiscal regulation (both excise and the Corn Laws) is immoral.

The report on the Commons debate is then resumed ……

Sir George Staunton said ‘should the Emperor seek to legalise the trade he will not sit on his throne another month.’

Editor – Staunton is quite right. China does not levy a duty on vice like Europe. The Imperial statesmen say a duty on opium is an approval of its use. Chinese government is honourable government – they cannot licence depravity like us.

Mr Hogg has lived long in India and was a Director of the India Company. All that poor man could say in his speech was to apologise for the infamous monopoly.

H H Lindsay’s speech (he is an ex-Company officer, then opium smuggler and MP) was frequently interrupted and did not get the attention it deserved. He was heard to quote Dr Colledge (Doctor to the India Company’s factory at the time of Napier) who says opium smoking is good for you.

Lord Sandon’s morality (MP for Liverpool) sickened Peel who rebuked him.

Editor – Sandon’s most active constituency supporters made their money slaving. The best speech was Peel’s.


“Now with regard to the interdiction of the illegal traffic, that subject has occupied the attention, not only of the present, but of the late government, who gave instructions to Sir Henry Pottinger on the subject which her Majesty’s present government have renewed.

“And who is Sir Henry Pottinger and what is the course he was directed to follow? What was the spirit of the last communication which has been blamed by the noble lord, the MP for Liverpool? What was his feelings and dispositions towards the people of China? Did he not stand almost alone there, and has he not given proof that he is a man in whom the House of Commons may confide?

“He has been instructed to represent to the Chinese government, not, I admit, the attempted impossibility of interdicting altogether the importation of opium into China, but such a respectful representation as may conduce friendly relations and an advantageous understanding upon the subject of revenue; and if the Chinese Government can be persuaded to look at the question in the way in which European Governments regards similar questions, namely, with respect to the means for the prohibition of smuggling, an amicable arrangement may be agreed upon.

“The importance of the subject is my excuse for reading from the last instructions sent out to Sir Henry dated 29th December 1842, to prove that Her Majesty’s Government have not been indifferent to these matters, and that they are fully aware of the evils with which it may be pregnant to the honour and character of this country, as well as to the employment and safety of the great capital presently involved in the trade.

“On the date mentioned Lord Aberdeen wrote this dispatch:

‘Whatever may be the result of your endeavours to prevail upon the Chinese Government to legalise the sale of opium, it will be right that her Majesty’s servants in China should hold themselves aloof from all connexion with so discreditable a traffic.

‘The British merchant, who may be a smuggler, must receive no protection or support in the prosecution of his illegal sale and he must be made aware that he will have to take the consequences of his own conduct. Her Majesty’s Government have not the power to put a stop to this trade on the part of the British smuggler; but they may impede it in some degree by preventing Hong Kong and its waters from being used as a port by the British smuggler, as a starting point for his illegal acts.

‘That is to say, when Hongkong is ceded, until then the smuggling of opium cannot be prevented there; but as soon as it is ceded, you will have power to prevent the importation of opium into Hong Kong for the purpose of its exportation into China.’

“Now I think I have proved to the satisfaction of the House that this important subject has not escaped the attention of Her Majesty’s Government. Considering the present state of affairs, and the negotiations which are pending, I think it much better that the whole matter be left in the hands of the Government, rather than the House should come to a vote which might defeat the very object of the motion. So much for the illegal traffic.”


Editor – The immoralities encouraged in India are balanced by the affectation of virtue in China. The only virtue here derives from Lord Aberdeen’s intended prohibition of storing opium on Hong Kong island. Pottinger’s practical sagacity will find that measure preposterous in a free port as Hong Kong has been declared to be.

J M & Co, who have spent over $250,000 erecting buildings at East Point, say they will remain at Macau if opium cannot be stored in Hong Kong and many other smugglers will follow their example.

Everything that A R Johnstone, Caine and Capt Mylius (the three people to whom the success of the new colony is attributable, according to the Editor) have achieved here could have only resulted in getting a few refugees and settlers to supply the garrison and men-of-war. People who have invested heavily in Hong Kong have a reasonable ground for complaint, he concludes.

Friend of China 29.6.43 edition

Canton trade report from our correspondent:

  • Cotton – dull; cotton twist (in low singles) – good; long-cloth – no stock, only smuggled long-cloth (delivered from ‘outside men’ in Hong Kong ). Long Ells – slow as many of the smugglers have been caught. (Editor – long cloth is exclusively smuggled these days).
  • Other Piecegoods – An enormous stock is in the storeships at Whampoa but the Chuan Chow men and elsewhere up the coast are not buying temporarily in expectation of a direct supply. Prices at Amoy, etc., might be better soon. The sincerity of the Provincial Government’s attempt to stop smuggling can be gauged by the Hoppo’s ability to catch the smugglers of long ells but not of opium although they both use the same type of smuggling craft.
  • Tea – 70 chops of congou and very little else remain in stock here. Prices are moderate. The new tariff rumoured on tea exports is thought to be 4 Taels a picul. Considering the loss of weight on purchase and the expenses of the Hongs, this is thought by the merchants to not be a sufficient reduction. One house has bought tea and is storing it in the Hongs although they have a half-laden ship at Whampoa that could take it to London – they must expect an early reduction of duty and are delaying export to take advantage of it.

Friend of China 29.6.43 edition

Elliott’s Opium scrip:

Amongst the papers presented to parliament was Pottinger’s report on the value of opium at the time of its confiscation. He says it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory basis on which to value it. Captain Elliott said £45 per chest was enough. Lord Ellenborough said £40 was about right. The government seems persuaded to use the rate adopted by the Supreme Court at Calcutta in da Souza’s case of £40 per chest.

Editor – Justice requires that up to $250 (£60) per chest should be awarded.

Friend of China 6.7.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  • Proclamation of Kiying to the inhabitants of Kwongtung:

“The Cantonese are famous for their hard work and business acumen which is shown in the wealth and population of their province. They have well-treated the foreigners who come here to trade. For 200 years the English have come and brought wealth. Recently we had a war, the Emperor was moved to compassion, and wants to satisfy the foreigners and thus continue the wealth of the Cantonese.
“But some troublemakers from Chekiang have been stirring up the people for personal reasons. Chien Kang the leader has been arrested and will be punished. His recommendation to take up arms and expel the barbarians is not what the Emperor wants.

“You must obey the Emperor and honour your superiors.

“The English are now permitted to trade in five ports and you Cantonese fear you will have less business. Are you not on the direct road to all those other ports? The foreigners will still come to Canton first. If you deal honourably with them, why should they spend more time travelling to the north. It costs money to go further. The foreigner comes only for profit. He will not leave the ripe for the unripe.

“Don’t make trouble; trade with the foreigners as you used to. The Emperor sent me to tell you. Be happy, the English will throng to Canton and you will be rich.”

  • Lu Yun Ko has memorialised the Emperor that an official who was previously degraded for want of zeal in suppressing the opium trade, has since distinguished himself in the war with the barbarians at Chekiang. He asks he be restored to his former rank.
  • The magistrate of Chapu requests 289 new soldiers to fill vacancies in the army since the late war. (Editor – This must be the extent of that city’s losses due to battle.)
  • A Viceroy is under investigation. He executed a policeman by lowering him into boiling oil. The policeman had reportedly accused and arrested an innocent man and procured the Viceroy’s warrant for his execution. The Viceroy then discovered he had put the wrong man to death and punished the policeman. It is now alleged that the late policeman had the right man after all and the Viceroy had been misinformed by one of the policeman’s enemies.
  • A lengthy report to the Emperor notes the disappearance, discovered at stock-taking, of 9,250,000 Taels of silver (about 350 tons) from the national treasury. Some of the royal family are said to be implicated. An investigation is underway.

Editor – this gazette is dated ten weeks ago. The Emperor was then still hostile to opium.

There is a rumour that the Emperor has allowed provincial officials to close their eyes to the opium trade at the five ports. This would explain both the immunity of the opium ships moored at Shanghai and the open manner in which opium is landed, sold and smoked in Canton. Both occur in the presence of officials. It is through fear of provoking another war that the Emperor feels unable to enforce his own proscription.

A Cantonese opium smoker now resident in Hong Kong tells me that prior to the arrival of Commissioner Lin, opium was widely grown around Shiu Kwan in the north of Kwongtung and in many other Provinces. There were no large suppliers – just a myriad small farmers each growing a few plants and selling the inspissated juice. Thus the Chinese supply was prepared by the user himself and was always a rather crude affair – inadequately dried, rank, harsh and ill-flavoured. Apparently opium, when smoked new, causes a headache and a disagreeable sensation quite unlike the euphoric experience of the matured product. The Chinese farmer cannot afford to keep his poppy sap twelve months to mature. He cannot afford to keep any of his produce after he harvests it. He sells or barters it straight away for his daily necessaries.

Friend of China 6.7.43 edition

Canton trade report, dated 2.7.43:

Cotton has dropped in price. It is said the Hong merchants are forcing their Chinese cotton buyers to pay-up in order to settle the official demand for $1,500,000 for the remaining arrears of the land tax. Others say it is due to foreign merchants forcing supplies onto a soft market. Both reasons are likely contributing to the market softness.

Both the Canton ransom and the war indemnity will be paid from exactions on the foreign trade unless we are alert when negotiating the tariff.

All the Hong merchants except How Qua agree to waive the Consoo charge on tea. People say he is opposed because he has just loaded a big consignment on the Paul Jones for Boston on his own account and he wants it sold before any news of a price adjustment can affect the market there.

Insiders suppose he might have an even deeper motive.

All merchants at Canton are dissatisfied with the lack of progress in settling the tariff but they generally fear superior Chinese negotiating ability will make the terms less favourable to us than might be expected in the circumstances.

Trans-shipment at Whampoa to avoid port entry charges has temporarily ceased. Likewise all smuggling in ships’ boats is being done in native craft.

Friend of China 13.7.43 edition

News from the London papers:

  • On 11th April 43 there was a sale of tea in London by the Assam Company. They had 131 packages of assorted home-grown teas – bohea, campoi, congou, souchong and pekoe. The green teas were improved.
  • Lord John Russell has delivered a provisional notice of thanks to Pottinger in the House of Commons but no date has been set to formalise it.

Friend of China 13.7.43 edition

Editorial – On the one hand the Imperial Commissioners are being very friendly and giving every indication they wish to have good relations with us. On the other the Court at Peking appears hostile.

Now the Chinese Repository has published a list of events from the Peking Gazettes, compiled by our foremost sinologist, that seems to confirm the real feeling towards us is one of hatred.

  • Concerning the Ann and Nerbudda massacres, the officer in command of Taiwan and the Intendant who assented to the executions were ordered to Peking for trial, but the Chi Foo, who was present throughout and did not object, has been promoted to Intendant to replace the second indicted man.The Emperor’s phraseology in ordering the two men to Peking is said by our expert to reveal irritation at being required to act in compliance with barbarian wishes.
  • Niu Kien is condemned to death for failing to resist the British with the batteries at Woosung.
  • The beheading of Yu Poo Yun has been mentioned before.
  • Now the son of the late Commander in Chief of the Chekiang armies, the official who died well in the initial assault, has been awarded all his father’s honours. Even the officer’s adopted son has received honours.

It cannot be disguised that public opinion is against us in China and few Chinese believe that they have really been beaten. They attribute defeat to the cowardice and venality of the army officers who obliged the Emperor to submit to us and they think it can only be temporary. The people expect the Emperor to abrogate his agreement when the country is strong again.

We should be firm but strictly correct in our dealings with China. By a sedulous policy of conciliation we may avoid further trouble if we are lucky.

Friend of China 13.7.43 edition

Canton trade report:

  • How Qua is buying up the available supply of Mexican and South American silver dollar coins which, before he started, were trading at 8% discount to face value. He will use them at par value to settle his share of the war indemnity. None of the factories are fully habitable but How Qua will not rebuild further until he signs a tenant and the new rents are exorbitant. They far exceed the already excessive rates pre-war.
  • The Americans have taken a leading role in the repairs at the Canton factories and the Company’s Garden looks very fine again. Upon its opening, some young British traders climbed the trees and jumped off into the river fully clothed, some smoking cigars as they did so. The river is muddy and smelly and the repository of all sorts of filth. Its amusing to hear of it, but it will incite the contempt of the Chinese.

Friend of China 13.7.43 edition

Extracts from the Peking Gazettes:

  1. There are long lists of voluntary contributions of money donated to the Emperor to fight the barbarians. These aggregate to huge sums. All the donors are rewarded by the Emperor for their devotion and loyalty. One high officer, in submitting the long list of donors from his Province ‘for the Imperial glance,’ asks the Emperor to record his approbation for the scholars and devoted people who have dedicated their lives and property to his service. The Emperor in turn requests a list of the towns and villages contributing, so some special mark of favour can be bestowed on them.
  2. Yiking who was degraded after his previous dealings with the English has again received official employment. Kishen, who lost his wealth and rank in the same way, has been re-employed. A censor has complained about this:

He says the people love truth and virtue; they hate iniquity and falsehood – vox populi vox Dei. When the barbarians caused trouble, the civil and military officers ran away. They should fear the Emperor more than the English. Better risk life in battle than death in flight. The barbarians left in Autumn 1842 but the Emperor remains upset.

Yu Poo Yun was executed on 24th day of 12th moon, a well merited punishment. But his crime was exceeded by Yiking, Kishen, Woo We and others. The people suspect they have been spared because they are Manchus while Yu Poo Yun was Chinese.

Kishen was the first to run away. This example demoralised everyone. He must be degraded to the lowest rank and never again employed. The secret of right governance is knowing when and how to reward and when and how to punish.

  1. Another censor complains that the disbanded armies have in part become bands of robbers. An official was caught by ex-soldiers and his insignia, baggage and money (valued totally at 3,000 Taels) was taken. Other junior officials, on the pretext of searching for opium, disrupt the trade in goods passing likin stations and plunder the shops and warehouses of merchants.
  2. Shansi is permitted to coin some copper as they have not done so for 10 years. The present exchange rate is 1,440 – 1,450 cash per Tael. There are six furnaces at the Shansi mint and each can produce 17,400,000 cash a year. Only four will be needed for a year’s production (the authorised quantity is 60,000,000+ cash) The composition of the cash is a stated mixture of copper, zinc and lead.

Friend of China 13.7.43 edition

The Canton Official Intelligencer says the Viceroy witnessed the testing of a mine at Fah Tei, called ‘the underwater cannon’. After igniting the fuse, it does not explode for a long time. This delay permits it to be placed under the ships of the barbarians.

Editor – It is clear that the Chinese are paying increased attention to warlike activities and they will break with us as soon as they think they can do so successfully.

1 He failed at Southampton but was later elected for Tower Hamlets in 1847.

2 Calcutta and Bombay merchants were devalued by war in Afghanistan and China while the smugglers at Canton did very well – swings and roundabouts. It was the loss of the silver proceeds of 1839 opium sales at Bombay and Calcutta that upset the British Indian economy, inducing a local recession and causing the bankruptcy of many famous Agency Houses. In this respect Commissioner Lin’s efforts at Canton were partially successful, just not in the way he intended.

The London Joint Stock Bank referred to at the end of this article was established in 1836 and was an early incarnation of the Midland Bank which more recently became HSBC.

3 Salt is an Imperial monopoly. Its production and sale is controlled by government. Salt Commissioners have their own fleet of vessels for its transport. They are indulged by other officials and use their boats for private purposes. The western smugglers employed the boats of both the Salt Commissioner and the Manchu General for smuggling of contraband and dutiable goods.

4 The Shansi supply, which has been mined since Roman times, is as yet unknown to the Editor.

5 A reference to the manifesto posted in the Ming Lun Hall in late 1842 calling on the righteous people of Canton to defend themselves and oppose the British. It appears below in the 22nd December edition of Friend of China newspaper. A prior and similar Proclamation is in the 15th June 1841 edition. Note that the foreigners expect the Chinese to respond as they themselves would respond if the positions were reversed.

6 This appears to suggest the profit per chest at December 1842 was $300.

7 This is the weakness of those governments that fail to win the cooperation of their commercial classes; it is the reason that the extent of tax on commerce is set by the merchants themselves. Governments operate nationally; merchants internationally.

8 This is the second overt failure of Pottinger in the merchants’ eyes. He is supposed to protect and support British commerce and they feel he should do as they say. When he eventually takes ship to return to Britain he is treated like Elliot – all marks of respect are withheld. The next Governor (Davis) got the same treatment. These merchants are unwilling to be governed. Like the crews of trading ships mentioned earlier in this chapter, they dictate the extent of their obedience to government.

9 This note from a merchant in Canton seems to suggest that he expects Pottinger to fix the terms of trade, independently of the merchants themselves. It reveals their irritation and possibly their ignorance. Nearly all the experienced merchants have been banished or died and those remaining have little knowledge of the tariff as British trade is mostly smuggled.

10 Readers will recall it was reproduced in detail in the Canton Register edition of 26th December 1833 above. The difficulty is that brokers who wholesale the foreigners’ goods need to find their merchant in the factories and he accordingly stays in his office at all hours; the foreigners consequently rarely attend at Customs inspections; they employ a minimal staff to reduce both the costs and the spread of information and profits. They routinely trust the Hong merchant to arrange things with the Customs and the low number of disputes suggests the Hongs do a good job. The British merchants’ habitual complaints about Hong merchants seems to be more form than substance. The difficulty for the new foreign traders now is that the experienced men have mostly been deported.

11 It may be inferred from this that the published Customs tariff is the nett amount payable to the Emperor, subject only to those grossed-up annual amounts for payment that are agreed between the high Provincial officials and Peking, and which would appear to represent the minimum due to central government annually. The foreign traders found the formal tariff inscrutable, but it is apparent that the Arabs, Parsees, Muslims, Armenians, etc., even the Portuguese, did not share this problem, which accordingly seems to represent a British cultural difficulty.

12 Details of the tariff are recited above. A useful figure for bribes paid by the foreigners was the Poon Yu heen’s estimate of $400,000 – $500,000 a year in 1822 (11 – 14 tons of silver) when he blew the whistle on the trade at Whampoa and Macau. Annual sales at that time were c. 5,000 chests and business was profitable.

13 The decisive merchants, leaders of the British community and members of ‘The Club’ were all banished by Commissioner Lin. Some others died unexpectedly. These new chaps know little of former practice and have not considered the Customs tariff as relevant to their trade, which is entirely a smuggling trade for their imports, hence their reluctance to commit to a reasonable agreement. As they say ‘… the Hong merchants did everything for us.”

The old system that had operated pre-war was for the British ship captain to chose his security merchant and Hong merchant (commonly the same person), pay all his charges and pass the whole of his legal import cargo, commonly metals and cotton, into that merchant’s warehouse. They agreed the values in terms of teas and silks for export

In effect the British importer was isolated from his market by the Hong merchant who acted for him with diligence and energy. The British ship captain discussed the market, negotiated new business, went to the Company’s mess or the British hotel while his Hong merchant liaised with the Hoppo and made all arrangements. The Hong merchant thus became the man blamed for everything for providing this unique and comprehensive service.

Nevertheless, the Hong merchant himself could not escape the demands of the Hoppo and his men. Most Hong merchants accordingly professed themselves to be constantly on the verge of bankruptcy, exactly like the India Company’s relationship with the British government. The only exception was the Hong merchant who had reliable foreigners acting for him as his nominees, such as J P Cushing’s service for How Qua. Overseas income from foreign trade could be hidden from the Hoppo.

The effect of this one-stop-shop service was to leave the foreigners ignorant of the details of Chinese terms on their own trade. Along with the banishments, and the fact that most foreign imports were being smuggled, I believe explains the childish response Pottinger received from the merchants.

14 The man who fomented the anti-Jewish riots in Syria

15 The execution of the people on Ann and Nerbudda henceforth appear in the Friend of China paper as the Formosa Massacre.

16 This opinion must be derived from the wording of some of the later Edicts of the To Kwong Emperor after he had agreed to expel the English.

17 A trite reversal of the historical relationship. The Hongs were originally licensed to provide a united response to the monopoly companies of Europe.

18 Reviewing the trading history, there is a probability British traders will be required to pay enhanced prices for exports to enable China to satisfy Her Majesty’s Government, at least in so far as trade is not smuggled. War reparations go to the army and government; future trading profits to the merchants, and the costs of fleets and garrisons will be picked-up by the British consumer as tax liability in England. I believe it was this feature of imperial policy that diminished the Empire – the British citizen got a few good speeches and songs and the pleasure of the reputation for ‘top dog’ country but paid a heavy tax. Talleyrand calculated relative tax rates after Waterloo and determined France and America paid a fifth of the British rate. Ultimately the British citizen could not afford it.

19 The inability of Western countries to co-operate is axiomatic of the chosen system of government – see the Europe chapter for myriad examples.

20 A bit of role reversal – the smuggling of one picul of opium returns half a picul of silver. There is no western interest in developing trade in other products. This is an Anglocentric view. It overlooks the triangular nature of China-trade.

21 Cutch dye is prepared from the fruit of the betelnut tree Acacia catechu which was widely grown in Kerala Province of India at this time.

22 Loading at Suez suggests this is more likely Egyptian opium, not the Turkish supply which normally comes through Smyrna. The quantity is huge, an approximate doubling of the Turkish harvest in 10-15 years. That seems to confirm a suspicion that the various supplies from eastern Mediterranean have been mingled. Of this amount, UK annual demand for the home market  is about 80,000 – 100,000 lbs (the third mentioned as sold in advance) leaving the balance for supply elsewhere.

23 Ching policy always rated internal rebellion as more threatening than external invasion.

24 No mention here of the alleged Central Asian trade in opium mentioned at the end of 1842.

25 I guess the rejection of the bulk of these claims follows Pottinger’s indication that claimants must prove their loss.

26 Swatow lace continues to be one of China’s famous international brands.

27 This is precisely what infuriates the British merchant. He lends (illegally) to the small Hong merchants at high rates and thus compromises that man to smuggle his goods to evade duties, both initiatives intended to maximise profits, but the Canton system has enabled the combined Hongs to recover their resultant losses in additional duties on future Chinese exports of tea and silk, for which commodities the foreigner trader has created no competitive source in order to preserve his monopoly.

28 This is an approximation of gross wholesale price to the retailing blenders.

29 This may be Rowland MacDonald Stephenson, the promoter of British railway technology in India.

30 A reference to Dr Colledge putting the feverish Napier into James Innes’ apartment in the Creek Hong which was said to be cooler.

31 This sort of activity fed a fire of frightful but popular beliefs that developed about foreigners.

32 The Canton pier of the Honam ferry is at the sea front of the foreign factories.

33 See the Europe chapter under entries for Friend of China, 21st April 1842 for more information on forged Exchequer Bills.

34 Or one of the periodic massacres of the Fukienese community at Manila causing Spanish fear of a revenge attack. In any event, Chinese trade with the Philippines became entirely under Chinese control at beginning of 19th century. The only Spanish going to Amoy thereafter were employed as representatives of the flag on opium brigs.

35 No doubt a contributing cause to the incidence of piracy – the coastal villagers have been excluded from opium distribution.

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