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NATURE OF CHINESE SUPREMACY. 525
as carried on by a Christian power like Great Britain against a pagan monarch, who had vainly endeavored to put down a vice so hurtful to his people. The war was looked upon in this light by the Chinese. On the other hand, the war was felt by every one in China, to involve far higher principles than the mere recovery of the opium; and if it was really so by the English ministry, they would have done well to have alluded to them. The reiterated demands of the commissioner for the murderer of Lin Weihs, though told that he could not be found, was only one form of the supremacy the Chinese arrogantly assumed over other nations. In all their intercourse with their fellow-men, they maintained a haughty, patronizing, unfair, and contemptuous position, which left no alternative but withdrawal from their shores, or a humiliating submission that no one, feeling the least independence, could endure. Not unjustly proud of their country in comparison to those around it, her emperor, her rulers and her people, all believed her to be impregnably strong, portentously awful, and immensely rich in learning, power, wealth and territory. None of them imagined they could learn or gain anything from other nations; for the “outside barbarians” were dependent for their health and food upon the rhubarb, tea, and silks of the Inner Land. They had had, indeed, bad specimens of western power, knowledge, and people, but there were equal opportunities for them to have learned the truth on these points. The reception of the religion of the Bible, the varied useful branches of science, and the many mechanical arts known in western lands, with the free passage of their own people abroad, were all forbidden to the millions of China by their supercilious rulers; and they thereby compelled to remain the slaves of debasing superstitions, ignorant of common science, and deprived of everything which Christian benevolence, philanthropy, and knowledge could and wished to impart to them. This assumption of supremacy, and a real impression of its propriety, was a higher wall around them than their long pile of stones; it not only led them to restrict foreign intercourse, but enabled them to carry it out in the most thorough manner, except in the single article of opium. Force seemed to be the only effectual destroyer of such a barrier (though other means had never been thoroughly tried), and in this view, the war may be said to have been necessary to compel the Chinese government to receive western powers as its equals or at least.” make it treat their subjects as well as it did its own people. There was little hope of an adjustment of difficulties until the Chinese were compelled to abandon this erroneous assumption; the conviction that it was unjust, unfounded, and foolish in itself could safely be left to the gradual influences of religion and knowledge. The report of the debate in the British parliament on this momentous question, hardly contains a single reference to this feature of the Chinese government. It turned almost wholly upon the opium trade, and whether the hostilities had not proceeded from the want of foresight and precaution on the part of her majesty's ministers. The speeches all showed ignorance of both principles and facts; Sir James Graham asserted that the governors of Canton had sanctioned the trade; and Sir G. Staunton that it would not be safe for British power in India, if these insults were not checked, and that the Chinese had far exceeded in their recent efforts the previous acknowledged laws of the land ' Dr. Lushington maintained that the connivance of the local rulers acquitted the smugglers; while Sir John Hobhouse truly stated the reason why the government had done nothing to stop the opium trade, was that it was profitable; and Lord Melbourne, with still more fairness, said, “We possess immense territories peculiarly fitted for raising opium, and though he would wish that the government were not so directly concerned in the traffic, he was not prepared to pledge himself to relinquish it.” The Duke of Wellington thought the Chinese government was insincere in its efforts, and therefore deserved little sympathy; and Lord Ellenborough spoke of the million and a half sterling revenue “derived from foreigners,” which if the opium monopoly was given up and its cultivation abandoned, they must seek elsewhere. No one advocated war on the ground that the opium had been seized, but the majority were in favor of letting it go on because it was begun. This debate was, in fact, a remarkable instance of the way in which a moral question is blinked even by the most conscientious persons, when politics or interest come athwart its course. No declaration of war was ever published by Queen Victoria, further than an order in council to the admiralty, in which it was recited that “satisfaction and reparation for the late injurious proceedings of certain officers of the emperor of China against certain of our
ENGLISH REASONS FOR WAGING THE WAr. 527
officers and subjects shall be demanded from the Chinese government;” the object of this order was, chiefly, to direct concerning the disposal of such ships, vessels, and cargoes belonging to the Chinese as might be seized. Perhaps the formality of a declaration of war against a nation which knew nothing of the law of nations was not necessary, but if a minister plenipotentiary from Peking had been present at the debate in Parliament in April, 1840, he would have declared the proceedings of his government strangely misrepresented. It is to be hoped the day is not distant when there will be such a minister at St. James, as well as at all other Christian courts.
The clipper Ariel, dispatched by Captain Elliot on his release from Canton, returned in April, 1840, announcing the determination of the British government to appeal to arms in case the emperor refused to settle the difficulties without bloodshed. The Chinese apparently foresaw the coming struggle, and began to collect troops and repair their forts; and Lin, now governor-general of Kwangtung, purchased the Chesapeake, a large ship, and appointed an intendant of circuit near Macao, to guard the coasts. The English residents had mostly returned to Macao by the month of January, and carried on their trade under neutral flags. No further efforts were made to annoy them, and since the stoppage of their trade in December, Lin had no wish to increase his difficulties by fruitless endeavors to harass them. He, however, wrote two official letters to Queen Victoria, desiring her assistance in putting down the opium trade, in which the peculiar ideas of his countrymen, respecting their own importance, and their position among the nations of the earth, were singularly exhibited.* Notwithstanding the causes of complaint he had against the English, and Captain Elliot in particular, he behaved kindly to the surviving crew of the Sunda, an English vessel wrecked on Haiman, and sent them on their arrival at Canton, to their countryinen.
• Chinese Repository, Vol. VIII., pp. 9–12,497–503.
THE advance of the English forces arrived off Macao, June 22d, 1841, when Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer published a notice of the blockade of the port of Canton. The Americans had already informed Lin of this intention, and requested that all their ships arriving before it was laid on, might be allowed to come directly into port; he replied in his edict, granting their petition, “that it was an egregious mistake, analogous to an audacious falsehood, that the English contemplate putting on a blockade.” Captain Elliot also issued a manifesto to the people generally, setting forth the grievances suffered by the English at the hands of Lin and his colleagues during the past year, and stating that no harm would come to them while pursuing their peaceful occupations, for the quarrel was entirely between the two governments, and the Queen had deputed high officers to make known the truth to the Emperor. Sir Gordon moved northward in the Wellesley, 74, his fleet consisting of five ships, three steamers, and twenty-one transports; and on anchoring in the harbor of Tinghai, July 4th, sent a summons to surrender the town and island, stating the grounds of the attack. The Chinese officers in command of the place and its defences, though confessing their inability to cope with such a force, declared they should do their best; and during the night placed the town and shipping in the best position for defence. They complained of the hardship of being made answerable for wrongs done at Canton, upon which the blow should properly fall, and not upon those who had never injured the English. It was a sad interview for them, and the peril of their position was more fully seen when they had gone aboard the Wellesley. On Sunday, July 5th, the Commodore's ship fired at the tower, which was answered by the junks and batteries, when the broadsides from all the vessels opened, and in a few minutes silenced them; about 3000 men then landed, and took up a posi
CAPTURE OF TINGHAI. 529
tion commanding the town, whose walls were seen to be filled with troops. A few shells were thrown into it, but the attack was delayed till the next morning, by which time most of the citizens and troops had evacuated it, and possession was taken without resistance. Many of the principal Chinese officers were killed, which disheartened their troops, already sufficiently dispirited at seeing the force brought against them; the English had few or none wounded. The respectable inhabitants went across to Ningpo, or scattered themselves over the island. General Burrell was appointed governor. On the 6th, Admiral G. Elliot, and Captain Elliot, joint pleni. potentiaries, arrived at Chusan, in the Melville, 74. They sent a copy of Lord Palmerston's letter to the emperor, setting forth the grounds of complaint, to the authorities at Amoy and Ningpo, for them to forward it to Peking; both of whom declined taking the responsibility. The visit to these two cities showed that the Chinese were preparing for defence, by arming the forts, making rafts, and posting troops. The prefect of Ningpo, within whose jurisdiction Tinghai lies, took measures to prevent the people of Chusan from “aiding and comforting” their conquerors, by sending police-runners to the various villages to mark those who supplied them, who seized a purveyor from Canton. An erroneous idea, that the Chinese people wished to throw off the Manchu yoke, and a desire to conciliate the islanders, led the English to take less stringent measures for supplying themselves with provisions, than they otherwise would. A small party was sent to recapture the purveyor, but its unsuccessful trip over the island showed the unwillingness of the people to have anything to do with their invaders, while their dread was increased by the arrest of several village elders. Mr. Gutzlaff was stationed at Chusan, and did his best to reassure the people, stating the peaceful desires of the English; but they, judging European warfare by their own usages, knew no alternative between complete subjugation by force, and continued hostilities as they had power and opportunity. As he went around exhorting them to act peaceably, some of them asked him, “If you are so desirous of peace, why did you come here at all?” After arranging the government of the island, stationing the troops on shore, and blockading Amoy and Ningpo, and the mouths of the Min and Yangtsz’kiang, the two plenipotentiaries VOL. II. 24