Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

enGLISH TRY TO TRADE AT AMOY AND NiNGPO. 449

5s. per pound, was laid upon tea imported into England; and the principal articles of export are stated to have been wrought silks of every kind, porcelain, lackered-ware, a good quantity of fine tea, some fans and screens. Ten years after, the Court of Directors sent out a consul’s commission to the chief supercargo, who at that time was Mr. Catchpoole, which constituted him, during their pleasure, king's minister or consul, for the whole empire of China and the adjacent islands. In 1701, an attempt was made by him to open a trade, and he obtained permission to send ships to Chusan or Ningpo ; an investment in three vessels, worth £101,300, was accordingly sent, but he found the exactions of the government so grievous, and the monopoly of the merchants so oppressive, that the adventure proved a great loss, and the traders were compelled to withdraw. The Company’s hopes of trade at that port must, however, have been great, for their investment to Amoy that year was only £34,400, and to Canton, £40,800; Catchpoole also established a factory at Pulo Condore, in 1702, which had been taken by the English, and a fort erected the year before ; this island lies off the coast of Cochinchina, and was a place resorted to by Chinese junks bound to the Archipelago and Siam. The whole concern, however, experienced a tragical end in 1705, when the Malays rose upon the English and murdered them all, and afterwards burned the factory. The Cochinchinese are said to have instigated this treacherous attack, to regain the island, which was claimed by them. The trade at Amoy was continued for many years after the greater part of it had centred in Canton, for in 1723, Captain Alexander Hamilton, who wrote a “New Account of the East Indies,” loaded there. The distance between the ports of Canton, Amoy, and Ningpo, and the difficulties attending the navigation up the Formosa channel, as well as the losses and exactions at the two latter places, probably combined to induce the Company to withdraw from them. The extortions and grievances suffered by the traders at Canton, were increased in 1702 by the appointment of an individual, who alone had the right of trading with them, and of farming it out to those who had the means of doing so. The trade seems hardly, even at this time, to have taken a regular form, but by 1720, the number and value of the annual commodities had so much increased that the Chinese established a uniform duty of four per cent. on all goods, and appointed a

body of native merchants, who, for the privilege of trading with foreigners, became security for their payment of duties and good behavior. The duty on imports was also increased to about 16 per cent., and a heavy fee demanded of purveyors before they could supply ships with provisions, besides a heavy measurement duty and present to the collector of customs. These exactions seemed likely to increase unless a stand was taken against them, and the English succeeded in resisting this combination of the native merchants to monopolize the trade. This was done by a united appeal to the governor in person in 1728, yet the relief was only temporary, for the plan was so effectual and convenient for the government, that the co-hong was erelong re-established as the only medium through which the foreign trade could be conducted. An additional duty of 10 per cent. was added on all exports, which no efforts were effectual in removing, until the accession of Kienlung in 1736. This apparently suicidal practice of levying export duties is, in China, really a continuation of the internal excise or transit duties, paid upon goods exported in native vessels as well as foreign. The emperor, in taking off the newly imposed duty of ten per cent., required that the merchants should hear the act of grace read upon their knees; but the foreigners all met in a body, and each one agreed on his honor not to submit to this slavish posture, nor make any concession or proposal of accommodation without acquainting the rest. The emperor also required the delivery of all the arms on board ship, a demand afterwards waived on the payment of about £2000. The hong-merchants shortly became the only medium of communication with the government, themselves being the exactors of the duties and contrivers of the grievances, and when complaints were made, the judges of the equity of their own acts. In 1734, only one English ship came to Canton, and one was sent to Amoy, but the extortions there were greater than at the other port, and she withdrew. Two years after, another attempt was made at Ningpo, where the authorities were so imperious and obstinate, and the place promised so little in the way of trade, that the ship returned to Canton, where she found that the recent duty of ten per cent. on imports, and the present formerly exacted, had both been taken off. This present, or cumshaw as it is called, was demanded, however, by the local authorities, and paid ; but it cannot now be ascertained

Restrictions PLACED ON TRADe. 451

whether it was then applied to the support of the foundling hospi. tal and poor asylum, as was ascertained to be the case in 1832. In 1736, the number of ships at Canton was four English, two French, two Dutch, one Dane and one Swedish vessel; the Portuguese ships had been restricted to Macao before this date. The trade now profitable to both parties, had become regular, and the demand in Europe for tea and other articles of Chinese manufacture constantly increasing. Commodore Anson arrived at Macao in 1742, and as the Centurion was the first British man-of-war which had visited China, his decided conduct in refusing to leave the river until provisions were furnished, and his determination in seeking an interview with the governor, no doubt had a good effect. A mixture of decision and kindness, such as that exhibited by Anson, when demanding only what was in itself right, and backed by an array of force not lightly to be trifled with or incensed, has always proved the most successful way of dealing with the Chinese, who on their part need instruction as well as intimidation. The constant presence of a ship of war on the coast of China would perhaps have saved foreigners much of the personal vexations, and prevented many of the imposts upon trade, which the history of foreign intercourse exhibits, making it in fact little better than a recital of annoyances on the part of a government, too ignorant and proud to understand its own true interests, and recriminations on the part of a few traders, unable to do more than protest against them. In consequence of the exactions of the government, and the success of the co-hong in preventing all direct intercourse between the foreigners and local authorities, the attempt was again made to trade at Amoy and Ningpo. The Hardwicke was sent to Amoy in 1744, and obliged to return without a cargo. Messrs. Flint and Harrison were dispatched to Ningpo in 1755, and were well received; but when the ship Holderness subsequently came to trade, it was with difficulty she procured a cargo, and an imperial edict was promulgated soon after restricting all foreign ships to Canton. In 1759, the factory occupied by foreigners at Ningpo was demolished, and regulations issued forbidding natives supplying their ships with provisions; so that Mr. Flint, who repaired there that year was unable to do anything towards restoring the trade. This gentleman was a person of uncommon perseverance and talents, and had mastered the difficulties of the Chinese language, so as to act as interpreter at Canton twelve years before he was sent on this mission. “The ungrateful return which his energy and exertions in their service met with from his employers,” justly observes Sir John Davis, “ was such as tended in all probability, more than any other cause, to discourage his successors from undertaking so laborious, unprofitable, and even hazardous work of supererogation.” On his arrival at Ningpo, Mr. Flint, finding it useless to attempt anything there, proceeded in a native vessel to Tientsin, from whence he succeeded in making his case known to the emperor. A commissioner was deputed to accompany him overland to Canton, and there sit in judgment on the collector of customs. Mr. Flint proceeded to the English factory soon after his arrival, and the foreigners of all nations assembled before the commissioner, who informed them that the hoppo had been superseded, and all duties remitted over 6 per cent. on goods, and the cumshaw and tonnage dues on ships. The sequel of Mr. Flint's enterprise was too unfortunate, and the mode the Chinese took to bring it about too characteristic, to be omitted.

“It proved, however, that these fair appearances were destined only to be the prelude to a storm. Some days afterward, the governor desired to see Mr. Flint for the purpose of communicating the emperor's orders, and was accompanied by the council of his countrymen. When the party had reached the palace, the hong-merchants proposed their going in one at a time, but they insisted on proceeding together; and on Mr. Flint being called for, they were received at the first gate, and ushered through two courts with seeming complaisance by the officers in waiting; but on arriving at the gate of the inner court, they were hurried, and even forced into the governor's presence, where a struggle ensued with their brutal conductors to force them to do homage after the Chinese fashion until they were overpowered and thrown down. Seeing their determination not to submit to these base humiliations, the governor ordered the people to desist; and then telling Mr. Flint to advance, he pointed to an order, which he called the emperor's edict, for his banishment to Macao, and subsequent departure for England, on account of his endeavoring to open a trade at Ningpo, contrary to orders from Peking. He added that the native who had written the petition in Chinese was to be beheaded that day, for traitorously encouraging foreigners, which was performed on a man quite innocent of what these officers were pleased to call a crime. Mr. Flint was soon after conveyed to Tsienshan, a place near Macao, called Casa

TREATMENT OF MIR. FLINT. 453

Branca by the Portuguese, where he was imprisoned two years and a half, and then sent to England.”—Davis' Chinese, Vol. I., p. 64.

Mr. Flint stated to the Company that a fee of £250 to the governor would set him at liberty, but they contented themselves with a petition. The punishment Mr. Flint received from the Chinese for this attempt to break their laws, would not have been considered as unmerited or unjust in any other country, but the neglect of the Company to procure the liberation of one who had suffered so much to serve them, reflects the greatest reproach upon them.

The whole history of the foreign trade with China, up to 1840, is a melancholy and curious chapter in national intercourse; for it is, after all, the daily and constant concerns of traffic, and not treaties or ambassies, which constitute national dealings with such a people. The grievances complained of, were delay in loading ships, and plunder of goods on their transit to Canton ; the injurious proclamations annually put up by the government, accusing foreigners of horrible crimes; the extortions of the underlings of office; and the difficulty of access to the high authorities. The hong-merchants, from their position as sole traders and interpreters between the two parties, were able to delude both to a considerable extent; though, being made responsible for the acts and payments of the foreigners, over whom they could exercise only a partial surveillance, rendered their situation by no means pleasant. The rule on which the Chinese government proceeded in its dealings with foreigners has been thus translated by Prémare: “The barbarians are like beasts, and not to be ruled on the same principles as citizens. Were any one to attempt controlling them by the great maxims of reason, it would tend to nothing but confusion. The ancient kings well understood this, and accordingly ruled barbarians by misrule: therefore, to rule barbarians by misrule is the true and best way of ruling them.” The same rule in regard to foreign traders was virtually acted on in England, during the reign of Henry VII., and the ideas of their power over those who visit their shores, among the Chinese, are not unlike those which prevailed in Europe before the Reformation. The Chinese, at first, feared and respected those who came to their shores, and whom they saw to be their superiors in the art of war, and spirit of enterprise; and if means and con

« EdellinenJatka »