Chapter XVII - The First Foreign War
AT the very time that the Emperor Taoukwang, by the dismissal of the Portuguese astronomers at Pekin and by his general indifference to the foreign question, was showing that no concessions were to be expected from him, an unknown legislature at a remote distance from his capital was decreeing, in complete indifference to the susceptibilities of the occupant of the Dragon Throne, that trade with China might be pursued by any English subject. Up to the year 1834 trade with China had, by the royal charter, remained the monopoly of the East India Company; but when the charter was renewed in that year for a further period of twenty years, it was shorn of the last of its commercial privileges, and an immediate change became perceptible in the situation at Canton, which was the principal seat of the foreign trade. The withdrawal of the monopoly was dictated solely by English, and not Chinese, considerations. Far from facilitating trade with the Chinese, it tended to hinder and prevent its developing; for the Chinese officials had no objection to foreigners coming to Canton, and buying or selling articles of commerce, so long as they derived personal profit from the trade, and so long as the laws of the empire were not disputed or violated. The servants of the East India Company were content to adapt themselves to this view, and they might have carried on relations with the Hong merchants for an indefinite period, and without any more serious collision than occasional interruptions. Had the monopoly been renewed things would have been left in precisely the same position as when intercourse was first established, and trade might have continued within its old restricted limits. But the abolition of the monopoly and the opening of the trade created quite a new situation, and by intensifying the opposition of the Chinese government, paved the way to the only practicable solution of the question of foreign intercourse with China, which was that, however reluctantly she should consent to take her place in the family of nations.
The Chinese were not left long in doubt as to the significance of this change. In December, 1833, a royal commission was issued appointing Lord Napier chief superintendent of trade with China, and two assistants under him, of whom one was Sir John Davis. The Chinese had to some extent contributed to this appointment, the Hoppo at Canton having written that "in case of the dissolution of the Company it was incumbent on the British government to appoint a chief to come to Canton for the general management of commercial dealings, and to prevent affairs from going to confusion." But in this message the Hoppo seems to have expressed his own view rather than that of the Pekin government or the Canton viceroy; and certainly none of the Chinese were prepared to find substituted for "a chief of commercial dealings" an important commissioner clothed with all the authority of the British ruler. How very different was the idea formed of this functionary by the Chinese and English may be gathered from their official views of his work. What the Chinese thought has been told in the words of the Hoppo. Lord Palmerston was more precise from his point of view. His instruction to Lord Napier read, "Your lordship will announce your arrival at Canton by letter to the viceroy. In addition to the duty of protecting and fostering the trade at Canton, it will be one of your principal objects to ascertain whether it may not be practicable to extend that trade to other parts of the Chinese dominions. It is obvious that, with a view to the attainment of this object, the establishment of direct communication with the imperial court at Pekin would be most desirable." The two points of radical disagreement between these views were that the Chinese wished to deal with an official who thought exclusively of trade, whereas Lord Napier's task was not less diplomatic than commercial; and, secondly, that they expected him to carry on his business with the Hoppo, as the Company's agents had done, while Lord Napier was specially instructed to communicate with the viceroy, whom those agents had never dared to approach.
If it was thought that the Chinese would not realize all the significance of the change, those who held so slight an opinion of their clear- headedness were quickly undeceived. Lord Napier reached the Canton River in July, 1834, and he at once addressed a letter of courtesy to the viceroy announcing his arrival. The Chinese officers, after perusing it, refused to forward it to the viceroy, and returned it to Lord Napier. Such was the inauspicious commencement of the assumption of responsibility by the crown in China. The Chinese refused to have anything to do with Lord Napier, whom they described as "a barbarian eye," and they threatened the merchants with the immediate suspension of the trade. The viceroy issued an order forbidding the new superintendent to proceed to Canton, and commanding him to stay at Macao until he had applied in the prescribed form for permission to proceed up the river. But Lord Napier did not listen to these representations, nor did he condescend to delay his progress a moment at Macao. He proceeded up the river to Canton, but, although he succeeded in making his way to the English factory, it was only to find himself isolated, and that, in accordance with the viceroy's order, the Hoppo had interdicted all intercourse with the English. The Chinese declared that the national dignity was at stake, and so thoroughly did both officials and merchants harmonize that the English factory was at once deserted by all Chinese subjects, and even the servants left their employment. On his arrival at Canton, Lord Napier found himself confronted with the position that the Chinese authorities refused to have anything to do with him, and that his presence effectually debarred his countrymen from carrying on the trade, which it was his first duty to promote. At this conjuncture it happened that the Chinese had discovered what they thought to be a new grievance against the foreign traders in the steady efflux of silver as the natural consequence of the balance of trade being against China. In a report to the throne in 1833 it was stated that as much as 60,000,000 taels of silver, or $100,000,000, had been exported from China in the previous eleven years, and, as the Chinese of course made no allowance for the equivalent value imported into their country, this total seemed in their eyes an incredibly large sum to be lost from the national treasure. It will be easily understood that at this particular moment the foreign trade appeared to possess few advantages, and found few patrons among the Chinese people.
In meeting this opposition Lord Napier endeavored to combine courtesy and firmness. He wrote courteous and argumentative letters to the mandarins, combating their views, and insisting on his rights as a diplomatist to be received by the officials of the empire; and at the same time he issued a notice to the Chinese merchants which was full of threats and defiance. "The merchants of Great Britain," he said, "wish to trade with all China on principles of mutual benefit; they will never relax in their exertions till they gain a point of equal importance to both countries, and the viceroy will find it as easy to stop the current of the Canton River as to carry into effect the insane determinations of the Hong." This notice was naturally enough interpreted as a defiance by the viceroy, who placed the most severe restrictions he could on the trade, sent his troops into the foreign settlements to remove all Chinese servants, and ordered the Bogue forts to fire on any English ship that attempted to pass. The English merchants, alarmed at the situation, petitioned Lord Napier to allay the storm he had raised by retiring from Canton to Macao, and, harassed in mind and enfeebled in body, Lord Napier acquiesced in an arrangement that stultified all his former proceedings. The Chinese were naturally intoxicated by their triumph, which vindicated their principle that no English merchant or emissary should be allowed to come to Canton except by the viceroy's permit, granted only to the petition and on the guarantee of the Hong merchants. The viceroy had also carried his point of holding no intercourse with the English envoy, to whom he had written that "the great ministers of the Celestial Empire, unless with regard to affairs of going to court and carrying tribute, or in consequence of imperial commands, are not permitted to have interviews with outside barbarians." While the Chinese officials had been both consistent and successful, the new English superintendent of trade had been both inconsistent and discomfited. He had attempted to carry matters with a high hand and to coerce the mandarins, and he was compelled to show in the most public manner that he had failed by his retirement to Macao. He had even imperiled the continuance of the trade which he had come specially to promote, and all he could do to show his indignation was to make a futile protest against "this act of unprecedented tyranny and injustice." Very soon after Lord Napier's return to Macao he died, leaving to other hands the settlement of the difficult affair which neither his acts nor his language had simplified.
On Lord Napier's departure from Canton the restrictions placed on trade were removed, and the intercourse between the English and Chinese merchants of the Hong was resumed. But even then the mandarins refused to recognize the trade superintendents, and after a short time they issued certain regulations which had been specially submitted to and approved by the Emperor Taoukwang as the basis on which trade was to be conducted. These Regulations, eight in number, forbade foreign men-of-war to enter the inner seas, and enforced the old practice that all requests on the part of Europeans should be addressed through the Hong in the form of a petition. It therefore looked as if the Chinese had completely triumphed in carrying out their views, that the transfer of authority from the East India Company to the British crown, with the so-called opening of the trade, had effected no change in the situation, and that such commerce as was carried on should be as the Chinese dictated, and in accordance with their main idea, which was to "prevent the English establishing themselves permanently at Canton." The death of the Viceroy Loo and the familiarity resulting from increased intercourse resulted in some relaxation of these severe regulations, and at last, in March, 1837, nearly three years after Lord Napier's arrival in the Bogue, the new superintendent of trade, Captain Elliot, received, at his own request, permission through the Hong to proceed to Canton. The emperor passed a special edict authorizing Captain Elliot to reside in the factory at Canton, where he was to "control the merchants and seamen"; but it was also stipulated that he was to strictly abide by the old regulations, and not to rank above a supercargo. As Captain Elliot was the representative of a government not less proud or exacting than that of China, it was clear that these conditions could not be permanently enforced; and although he endeavored for a period to conciliate the Chinese and to obtain more favorable terms by concessions, there came a time when it was impossible to assent to the arrogant demands of the mandarins, and when resort became necessary to the ultima ratio regum. But for the first two critical years Captain Elliot pursued the same policy as Lord Napier, alternating concessions with threats, and, while vaunting the majesty of his sovereign, yielding to demands which were unreasonable and not to be endured.
The balance of trade against China was the principal cause of the export of silver, and the balance of trade was only against China through the increasing import of opium. Without acquiescing in the least with the strong allegations of the anti-opium party, there is no reason to doubt that the excessive use of opium, especially in a crowded city like Canton, was attended with sufficient mischief to justify its official denunciation. The Pekin government may be so far credited with the honest intention to reduce the mischief and to prevent a bad habit from becoming more and more of a national vice, when they determined for far other reasons to place it in the front of their tirade against foreign trade generally. They soon found that it would be more convenient and more plausible to substitute the moral opposition to the opium traffic for the political disinclination to foreign intercourse in any form. They scarcely expected that in this project they would receive the assistance and co- operation of many of the Europeans themselves, who shared with them the opinion that opium was detestable, and its use or sale a mark of depravity.
In January, 1839, Taoukwang ordered Lin Tsihseu, viceroy of the double province of Houkwang and an official of high reputation, to proceed to Canton as Special Commissioner to report on the situation, and to propound the best remedy for the opium evil. At this moment the anti-opium party was supreme in the imperial council, and three Manchu princes were disgraced and banished from Pekin for indulging in the practice. The peremptory instructions given to Commissioner Lin, as he is historically known, were "to cut off the fountain of evil, and, if necessary for the attainment of his object, to sink his ships and break his caldrons, for the indignation of the great emperor has been fairly aroused at these wicked practices--of buying and selling and using opium--and that the hourly thought of his heart is to do away with them forever."
Before Lin reached Canton there had been frequent friction between Captain Elliot and the local mandarins, and more than one interruption of the trade. Less than six months after his installation at Canton his official relations were broken off, and he wrote home to his government a dispatch complaining of the difficulty of conducting any sort of amicable relations with the local mandarins, and indorsing the growing demand for the right of dealing direct with the Pekin government. Captain Elliot, acting under instructions from home, issued a public notice warning all English subjects to discontinue the illicit opium trade, and stating that "her Majesty's Government would not in any way interfere if the Chinese Government should think fit to seize and confiscate the same."
At this juncture Commissioner Lin, whose fervor and energy carried him away, appeared upon the scene, and, whereas a less capable or honest man would have come to an arrangement with Captain Elliot, his very ability and enthusiasm tended to complicate the situation and render a pacific solution unattainable. Commissioner Lin, on taking up his post, lost no time in showing that he was terribly in earnest; but both his language and his acts proved that he had a very much larger programme than was included in his propaganda against the opium traffic. He wished to achieve the complete humiliation of the foreigners, and nothing less would satisfy him. Within a week of his arrival at Canton he issued an edict denouncing the opium trade; throwing all the blame for it on the English, and asserting what was absolutely untrue; viz., that "the laws of England prohibited the smoking of opium, and adjudged the user to death." The language of the edict was unfriendly and offensive. The Europeans were stigmatized as a barbarous people, who thought only of trade and of making their way by stealth into the Flowery Land. At the same time that he issued this edict he gave peremptory orders that no foreigner was to leave Canton or Macao until the opium question had been settled to his satisfaction. Even then English merchants and officials, who felt no great sympathy with the opium traffic, saw that these proceedings indicated an intention to put down the trade in other articles, and to render the position of foreigners untenable. Lin's demands culminated in the request for all stores of opium to be surrendered to him within three days. By the efforts of some of the merchants about a thousand chests were collected and handed over to the Chinese for destruction; but this did not satisfy Lin, who collected a large rabble force, encamped it outside the settlement, and threatened to carry the place by storm. In this crisis Captain Elliot, who had declared that his confidence in the justice and good faith of the provincial government was destroyed, and who had even drawn up a scheme for concentrating all his forces at Hongkong, called upon all the English merchants to surrender to him, for paramount considerations of the lives and property of every one concerned, all the stores of opium in their possession. More than 20,000 chests, of an estimated value of $10,000,000, were placed at his disposal, and in due course handed over by him to Commissioner Lin for destruction. This task was performed at Chuenpee, when the opium was placed in trenches, then mixed with salt and lime, and finally poured off into the sea. After this very considerable triumph, Lin wrote a letter to Queen Victoria--whose reign has witnessed the most critical periods of the China question and its satisfactory settlement--calling upon her Majesty to interdict the trade in opium forever. The letter was as offensive in its tone as it was weak in argument, and no answer was vouchsafed to it. Before any reply could be given, the situation, moreover, had developed into one of open hostilities.
But great as were the concessions made by Captain Elliot, in consequence of the threatening attitude of Commissioner Lin, the Chinese were not satisfied, and made fresh and more exacting demands of those who had been weak enough to make any concession at all. They reasserted their old pretension that Europeans in China must be subject to her laws, and as the sale of opium was a penal offense they claimed the right to punish those Englishmen who had been connected with the traffic. They accordingly drew up a list of sixteen of the principal merchants, some of whom had never had anything to do with opium, and they announced their intention to arrest them and to punish them with death. Not only did Commissioner Lin and the Canton authorities claim the right to condemn and punish British subjects, but they showed in the most insolent manner that they would take away their liberty and lives on the flimsiest and falsest pretext. Captain Elliot, weak and yielding as he was on many points, declared that "this law is incompatible with safe or honorable continuance at Canton." Apparently the Chinese authorities acted on the assumption that so long as there remained even one offending European the mass of his countrymen ought to be hindered in their avocations, and consequently petty restrictions and provocations continued to be enforced. Then Captain Elliot, seeing that the situation was hopeless and that there was no sign of improvement, took the bold, or at least the pronounced, step of ordering all British subjects to leave Canton or to stay at their own peril. It was on this occasion that he explained away, or put a new interpretation on, his action with regard to the opium surrendered for destruction, which most of the merchants thought represented an irrecoverable loss. It will be best to give the precise words used in his notice of the 22d of May, 1839. "Acting on behalf of her Majesty's Government in a momentous emergency, he has, in the first place, to signify that the demand he recently made to her Majesty's subjects for the surrender of British-owned opium under their control had no special reference to the circumstances of that property; but (beyond the actual pressure of necessity) that demand was founded on the principle that these violent compulsory measures being utterly unjust per se and of general application for the enforced surrender of any other property, or of human life, or for the constraint of any unsuitable terms or concessions, it became highly necessary to vest and leave the right of exacting effectual security and full indemnity for every loss directly in the queen." Unfortunately, Captain Elliot's language at the time of the surrender of the opium had undoubtedly led to the conclusion that he sympathized with Commissioner Lin, and that he took the same view as the Chinese officials of the moral iniquity of selling or using opium. The whole mercantile community adopted Captain Elliot's counsel, and the English factory at Canton, which had existed for nearly two hundred years, was abandoned. At the same time a memorial was sent home begging the government to protect the English merchants in China against "a capricious and corrupt government," and demanding compensation for the $10,000,000 worth of opium destroyed by Commissioner Lin. Pending the reply of the home government to that appeal, nothing could be more complete than the triumph of Commissioner Lin. The Emperor Taoukwang rewarded him with the important viceroyship of the Two Kiang, the seat of which administration is at Nankin.
But the limit of endurance had been reached, and the British government was on the point of taking decisive action at the very moment when the Chinese triumph seemed most complete and unthreatened. Even before the action of the home authorities was known in the Bogue the situation had become critical, and the sailors in particular had thrown off all restraint. Frequent collisions occurred between them and the foreigners, and in one of them a Chinaman was killed. Commissioner Lin characterized this act as "going to the extreme of disobedience to the laws," and demanded the surrender of the sailor who committed the act, so that a life might be given for a life. This demand was flatly refused, and in consequence of the measures taken by the Chinese at Lin's direction to prevent all supplies reaching the English, Captain Elliot felt bound to remove his residence from Macao to Hongkong. The Chinese called out all their armed forces, and incited their people along the Canton River to attack the foreigners wherever found. An official notice said, "Produce arms and weapons; join together the stoutest of your villagers, and thus be prepared to defend yourselves. If any of the said foreigners be found going on shore to cause trouble, all and every of the people are permitted to fire upon them, to withstand and drive them back, or to make prisoners of them." This appeal to a force which the Chinese did not possess was an act of indiscretion that betrayed an overweening confidence or a singular depth of ignorance. When the mandarins refused to supply the ships with water and other necessaries they carried their animosity to a length which the English naval officers at once defined as a declaration of open hostilities. They retaliated by ordering their men to seize by force whatever was necessary, and thus began a state of things which may be termed one of absolute warfare. The two men-of-war on the station had several encounters with the forts in the Bogue, and on November 3, 1839, they fought a regular engagement with a Chinese fleet of twenty-nine junks off Chuenpee. The Chinese showed more courage than skill, and four of their junks were sunk. It is worth noting that the English sailors pronounced both their guns and their powder to be excellent. While this action deterred the Chinese fleet from coming to close quarters, it also imbittered the contest, and there was no longer room to doubt that if the Chinese were to be brought to take a more reasonable view of foreign trade it would have to be by the disagreeable lesson of force. And at the end of 1839 the Chinese were fully convinced that they had the power to carry out their will and to keep the European nations out of their country by the strong hand.
A short time after the action at Chuenpee an Englishman named Mr. Gribble was seized by the Canton officials and thrown into prison. The English men-of-war went up the river as far as the Bogue forts, which they threatened to bombard unless he was released; and, after considerable discussion, Mr. Gribble was set free, mainly because the Chinese heard of the large force that was on its way from England. Before that armament arrived the Emperor Taoukwang had committed himself still further to a policy of hostility. A report of the fight at Chuenpee was duly submitted to him, but the affair was represented as a very creditable one for his commander, and as a Chinese victory. The misled monarch at once conferred a high honor on his admiral, and commanded his officers at Canton "to at once put a stop to the trade of the English nation." This had, practically speaking, been already accomplished, and the English merchants had taken refuge at Macao or in their ships anchored at Hongkong.
Before describing the military operations now about to take place, a survey may conveniently be taken of events since the abolition of the monopoly, and it may be pardonable to employ the language formerly used. From an impartial review of the facts, and divesting our minds, so far as is humanly possible, of the prejudice of accepted political opinions, and of conviction as to the hurtful or innocent character of opium in the mixture as smoked by the Chinese, it cannot be contended that the course pursued by Lord Napier and Captain Elliot, and particularly by the latter, was either prudent in itself or calculated to promote the advantage and reputation of England. Captain Elliot's proceedings were marked by the inconsistency that springs from ignorance. The more influential English merchants, touched by the appeal to their moral sentiment, or impressed by the depravity of large classes of the Canton population, of which the practice of opium-smoking was rather the mark than the cause, set their faces against the traffic in this article, and repudiated all sympathy and participation in it. The various foreign publications, whether they received their inspirations from Mr. Gutzlaff or not matters little, differed on most points, but were agreed on this, that the trade in opium was morally indefensible, and that we were bound, not only by our own interests, but in virtue of the common obligations of humanity, to cease to hold all connection with it. Those who had surrendered their stores of opium at the request of Captain Elliot held that their claim for compensation was valid, in the first place, against the English government alone. They had given them up for the service of the country at the request of the queen's representative, and, considering the line which Captain Elliot had taken, many believed that it would be quite impossible for the English government to put forward any demand upon the government of China. The ten million dollars, according to these large-hearted and unreflecting moralists, would have to be sacrificed by the people of England in the cause of humanity, to which they had given so much by emancipating the slaves, and the revenue of India should, for the future, be poorer by the amount that used to pay the dividend of the great Company! The Chinese authorities could not help being encouraged in their opinions and course of proceeding by the attitude of the English. Their most sweeping denunciations of the iniquity of the opium traffic elicited a murmur of approval from the most influential among the foreigners. No European stood up to say that their allegations as to the evil of using opium were baseless and absurd. What is more, no one thought it. Had the Chinese made sufficient use of this identity of views, and shown a desire to facilitate trade in the so-called innocent and legitimate articles, there is little doubt that the opium traffic would have been reduced to very small dimensions, because there would have been no rupture. But the action of Commissioner Lin revealed the truth that the Chinese were not to be satisfied with a single triumph. The more easily they obtained their objects in the opium matter the more anxious did they become to impress the foreigners with a sense of their inferiority, and to force them to accept the most onerous and unjust conditions for the sake of a continuance of the trade. None the less, Captain Elliot went out of his way to tie his own hands, and to bind his own government, so far as he could, to co-operate with the emperor's officials in the suppression of the opium traffic. That this is no random assertion may be judged from the following official notice, issued several months after the surrender of the stores of opium. In this Captain Elliot announced that "Her Majesty's flag does not fly in the protection of a traffic declared illegal by the emperor, and, therefore, whenever a vessel is suspected of having opium on board Captain Elliot will take care that the officers of his establishment shall accompany the Chinese officers in their search, and that if, after strict investigation, opium shall be found, he will offer no objection to the seizure and confiscation of the cargo."
The British expedition arrived at the mouth of the Canton River in the month of June, 1840. It consisted of 4,000 troops on board twenty-five transports, with a convoy of fifteen men-of-war. If it was thought that this considerable force would attain its objects without fighting and merely by making a demonstration, the expectation was rudely disappointed. The reply of Commissioner Lin was to place a reward on the person of all Englishmen, and to offer $20,000 for the destruction of an English man-of- war. The English fleet replied to this hostile step by instituting a close blockade at the mouth of the river, which was not an ineffectual retort. Sir Gordon Bremer, the commander of the first part of the expedition, came promptly to the decision that it would be well to extend the sphere of his operations, and he accordingly sailed northward with a portion of his force to occupy the island of Chusan, which had witnessed some of the earliest operations of the East India Company two centuries before. The capture of Chusan presented no difficulties to a well-equipped force, yet the fidelity of its garrison and inhabitants calls for notice as a striking instance of patriotism. The officials at Tinghai, the capital of Chusan, refused to surrender, as their duty to their emperor would not admit of their giving up one of his possessions. It was their duty to fight, and although they admitted resistance to be useless, they refused to yield, save to force. The English commander reluctantly ordered a bombardment, and after a few hours the Chinese defenses were demolished, and Tinghai was occupied. Chusan remained in our possession as a base of operations during the greater part of the war, but its insalubrity rather dissipated the reputation it had acquired as an advantageous and well- placed station for operations on the coast of China. Almost at the same time as the attack on Chusan, hostilities were recommenced against the Chinese on the Canton River, in consequence of the carrying off of a British subject, Mr. Vincent Stanton, from Macao. The barrier forts were attacked by two English men-of-war and two smaller vessels. After a heavy bombardment, a force of marines and blue-jackets was landed, and the Chinese positions carried. The forts and barracks were destroyed, and Mr. Stanton released. Then it was said that "China must either bend or break," for the hour of English forbearance had passed away, and unless China could vindicate her policy by force of arms there was no longer any doubt that she would have to give way.
While these preliminary military events were occurring, the diplomatic side of the question was also in evidence. Lord Palmerston had written a letter stating in categorical language what he expected at the hands of the Chinese government, and he had directed that it should be delivered into nobody else's hands but the responsible ministers of the Emperor Taoukwang. The primary task of the English expedition was to give this dispatch to some high Chinese official who seemed competent to convey it to Pekin. This task proved one of unexpected difficulty, for the mandarins, basing their refusal on the strict letter of their duty, which forbade them to hold any intercourse with foreigners, returned the document, and declared that they could not receive it. This happened at Amoy and again at Ningpo, and the occupation of Chusan did not bring our authorities any nearer to realizing their mission. Baffled in these attempts, the fleet sailed north for the mouth of the Peiho, when at last Lord Palmerston's letter was accepted by Keshen, the viceroy of the province, and duly forwarded by him to Pekin. The arrival of the English fleet awoke the Chinese court for the time being from its indifference, and Taoukwang not merely ordered that the fleet should be provided with all the supplies it needed, but appointed Keshen High Commissioner for the conclusion of an amicable arrangement. The difficulty thus seemed in a fair way toward settlement, but as a matter of fact it was only at its commencement, for the wiles of Chinese diplomacy are infinite and were then only partially understood. Keshen was remarkable for his astuteness and for the yielding exterior which covered a purpose of iron, and in the English political officer, the Captain Elliot of Canton, he did not find an opponent worthy of his steel. Although experience had shown how great were the delays of negotiation at Canton, and how inaccessible were the local officials, Captain Elliot allowed himself to be persuaded that the best place to carry on negotiations was at that city, and after a brief delay the fleet was withdrawn from the Peiho and all the advantages of the alarm created by its presence at Pekin were surrendered. Relieved by the departure of the foreign ships, Taoukwang sent orders for the dispatch of forces from the inland provinces, so that he might be able to resume the struggle with the English under more favorable conditions, and at the same time he hastened to relieve his overcharged feelings by punishing the man whom he regarded as responsible for his misfortunes and humiliation. The full weight of the imperial wrath fell on Commissioner Lin, who from the position of the foremost official in China fell at a stroke of the vermilion pencil to a public criminal arraigned before the Board of Punishments to receive his deserts. He was stripped of all his offices, and ordered to proceed to Pekin, where, however, his life was spared.
Keshen arrived at Canton on November 29, 1840, but his dispatch to the emperor explaining the position he found there shows that his view of the situation did not differ materially from that of Lin. "Night and day I have considered and examined the state of our relations with the English. At first moved by the benevolence of his Majesty and the severity of the laws, they surrendered the opium. Commissioner Lin commanded them to give bonds that they would never more deal in opium--a most excellent plan for securing future good conduct. This the English refused to give, and then they trifled with the laws, and so obstinate were their dispositions that they could not be made to submit. Hence it becomes necessary to soothe and admonish them with sound instruction, so as to cause them to change their mien and purify their hearts, after which it will not be too late to renew their commerce. It behooves me to instruct and persuade them so that their good consciences may be restored, and they reduced to submission." The language of this document showed that the highest Chinese officers still believed that the English would accept trade facilities as a favor, that they would be treated de haut en bas, and that China possessed the power to make good her lofty pretensions. China had learned nothing from her military mishaps at Canton, Amoy, and Chusan, and from the appearance of an English fleet in the Gulf of Pechihli. Keshen had gained a breathing space by procrastination in the north, and he resorted to the same tactics at Canton. Days expanded into weeks, and at last orders were issued for an advance up the Canton River, as it had become evident that the Chinese were not only bent on an obstructive policy, but were making energetic efforts to assemble a large army. On January 7, 1841, orders were consequently issued for an immediate attack on the Bogue forts, which had been placed in a state of defense, and which were manned by large numbers of Chinese. Fortunately for us, the Chinese possessed a very rudimentary knowledge of the art of war, and showed no capacity to take advantage of the strength of their position and forts, or even of their excellent guns. The troops were landed on the coast in the early morning to operate on the flank and rear of the forts at Chuenpee. The advance squadron, under Captain, afterward Sir Thomas, Herbert, was to engage the same forts in front, while the remainder of the fleet proceeded to attack the stockades on the adjoining island of Taikok. The land force of 1,500 men and three guns had not proceeded far along the coast before it came across a strongly intrenched camp in addition to the Chuenpee forts, with several thousand troops and many guns in position. After a sharp cannonade the forts were carried at a rush, and a formidable army was driven ignominiously out of its intrenchments with hardly any loss to the assailants. The forts at Taikok were destroyed by the fire of the ships, and their guns spiked and garrisons routed by storming parties. In all, the Chinese lost 500 killed, besides an incalculable number of wounded, and many junks. The Chinese showed some courage as well as incompetence, and the English officers described their defense as "obstinate and honorable."
The capture of the Bogue forts produced immediate and important consequences. Keshen at once begged a cessation of hostilities, and offered terms which conceded everything we had demanded. These were the payment of a large indemnity, the cession of Hongkong, and the right to hold official communication with the central government. In accordance with these preliminary articles, Hongkong was proclaimed, on January 29, 1841, a British possession, and the troops evacuated Chusan to garrison the new station. It was not considered at the time that the acquisition was of much importance, and no one would have predicted for it the brilliant and prosperous position it has since attained. But the promises given by Keshen were merely to gain time and to extricate him from a very embarrassing situation. The morrow of what seemed a signal reverse was marked by the issue of an imperial notice, breathing a more defiant tone than ever. Taoukwang declared, in this edict, that he was resolved "to destroy and wash the foreigners away without remorse," and he denounced the English by name as "staying themselves upon their pride of power and fierce strength." He, therefore, called upon his officers to proceed with courage and energy, so that "the rebellious foreigners might give up their ringleaders, to be sent encaged to Pekin, to receive the utmost retribution of the laws." So long as the sovereign held such opinions as these it was evident that no arrangement could endure. The Chinese did not admit the principle of equality in their dealings with the English, and this was the main point in contention, far more than the alleged evils of the opium traffic. So long as Taoukwang and his ministers held the opinions which they did not hesitate to express, a friendly intercourse was impossible. There was no practical alternative between withdrawing from the country altogether and leaving the Chinese in undisturbed seclusion, or forcing their government to recognize a common humanity and an equality in national privileges.
It is not surprising that under these circumstances the suspension of hostilities proved of brief duration. The conflict was hastened by the removal of Keshen from his post, in consequence of his having reported that he considered the Chinese forces unequal to the task of opposing the English. His candor in recognizing facts did him credit, while it cost him his position; and his successor, Eleang, was compelled to take an opposite view, and to attempt something to justify it. Eleang refused to ratify the convention signed by Keshen, and, on February 25, the English commander ordered an attack on the inner line of forts which guarded the approaches to Canton. After a brief engagement, the really formidable lines of Anunghoy, with 200 guns in position, were carried at a nominal loss. The many other positions of the Chinese, up to Whampoa, were occupied in succession; and on March 1 the English squadron drew up off Howqua's Folly, in Whampoa Reach, at the very gateway of Canton. On the following day the dashing Sir Hugh Gough arrived to take the supreme direction of the English forces. After these further reverses, the Chinese again begged a suspension of hostilities, and an armistice for a few days was granted. The local authorities were on the horns of a dilemma. They saw the futility of a struggle with the English, and the Cantonese had to bear all the suffering for the obstinacy of the Pekin government; but, on the other hand, no one dared to propose concession to Taoukwang, who, confident of his power, and ignorant of the extent of his misfortunes, breathed nothing but defiance. After a few days' delay, it became clear that the Cantonese had neither the will nor the power to conclude a definite arrangement, and consequently their city was attacked with as much forbearance as possible. The fort called Dutch Folly was captured, and the outer line of defenses was taken possession of, but no attempt was made to occupy the city itself. Sir Hugh Gough stated, in a public notice, that the city was spared because the queen had desired that all peaceful people should be tenderly considered. The first English successes had entailed the disgrace of Lin, the second were not less fatal to Keshen. Keshen was arraigned before the Board at Pekin, his valuable property was escheated to the crown, and he himself sentenced to decapitation, which was commuted to banishment to Tibet, where he succeeded in amassing a fresh fortune. The success of the English was proclaimed by the merchants re-occupying their factories on March 18, 1841, exactly two years after Lin's first fiery edict against opium. It was a strange feature in this struggle that the instant they did so the Chinese merchants resumed trade with undiminished ardor and cordiality. The officials even showed an inclination to follow their example, when they learned that Taoukwang refused to listen to any conclusive peace, and that his policy was still one of expelling the foreigners. To carry out his views, the emperor sent a new commission of three members to Canton, and it was their studious avoidance of all communication with the English authorities that again aroused suspicion as to the Chinese not being sincere in their assent to the convention which had saved Canton from an English occupation. Taoukwang was ignorant of the success of his enemy, and his commissioners, sent to achieve what Lin and Keshen had failed to do, were fully resolved not to recognize the position which the English had obtained by force of arms, or to admit that it was likely to prove enduring. This confidence was increased by the continuous arrival of fresh troops, until at last there were 50,000 men in the neighborhood of Canton, and all seemed ready to tempt the fortune of war again, and to make another effort to expel the hated foreigner. The measure of Taoukwang's animosity may be taken by his threatening to punish with death any one who suggested making peace with the barbarians.
[Illustration: CANTON--THE FLOWER PAGODA]
While the merchants were actively engaged in their commercial operations, and the English officers in conducting negotiations with a functionary who had no authority, and who was only put forward to amuse them, the Chinese were busily employed in completing their warlike preparations, which at the same time they kept as secret as possible, in the hope of taking the English by surprise. But it was impossible for such extensive preparations to be made without their creating some stir, and the standing aloof of the commissioners was in itself ground of suspicion. Suspicion became certainty when, on Captain Elliot paying a visit to the prefect in the city, he was received in a disrespectful manner by the mandarins and insulted in the streets by the crowd. He at once acquainted Sir Hugh Gough, who was at Hongkong, with the occurrence, and issued a notice, on May 21, 1841, advising all foreigners to leave Canton that day. This notice was not a day too soon, for, during the night, the Chinese made a desperate attempt to carry out their scheme. The batteries which they had secretly erected at various points in the city and along the river banks began to bombard the factories and the ships at the same time that fire- rafts were sent against the latter in the hope of causing a conflagration. Fortunately the Chinese were completely baffled, with heavy loss to themselves and none to the English; and during the following day the English assumed the offensive, and with such effect that all the Chinese batteries were destroyed, together with forty war-junks. The only exploit on which the Chinese could compliment themselves was that they had sacked and gutted the English factory. This incident made it clearer than ever that the Chinese government would only be amenable to force, and that it was absolutely necessary to inflict some weighty punishment on the Chinese leaders at Canton, who had made so bad a return for the moderation shown them and their city, and who had evidently no intention of complying with the arrangement to which they had been a party.
Sir Hugh Gough arrived at Canton with all his forces on May 24, and on the following morning the attack commenced with the advance of the fleet up the Macao passage, and with the landing of bodies of troops at different points which appeared well suited for turning the Chinese position and attacking the gates of Canton. The Chinese did not molest the troops in landing, which was fortunate, as the operation proved exceedingly difficult and occupied more than a whole day. The Chinese had taken up a strong position on the hills lying north of the city, and they showed considerable judgment in their selection, and no small skill in strengthening their ground by a line of forts. The Chinese were said to be full of confidence in their ability to reverse the previous fortune of the war, and they fought with considerable confidence, while the turbulent Cantonese populace waited impatiently on the walls to take advantage of the first symptoms of defeat among the English troops. The English army, divided into two columns of nearly 2,000 men each, with a strong artillery force of seven guns, four howitzers, five mortars, and fifty-two rockets, advanced on the Chinese intrenchments across paddy fields, rendered more difficult of passage by numerous burial-grounds. The obstacles were considerable and the progress was slow, but the Chinese did not attempt any opposition. Then the battle began with the bombardment of the Chinese lines, and after an hour it seemed as if the Chinese had had enough of this and were preparing for flight, when a general advance was ordered. But the Chinese thought better of their intention or their movement was misunderstood, for when the English streamed up the hill to attack them they stood to their guns and presented a brave front. Three of their forts were carried with little or no loss, but at the fourth they offered a stubborn if ill-directed resistance. Even then the engagement was not over, for the Chinese rallied in an intrenched camp one mile in the rear of the forts, and, rendered confident by their numbers, they resolved to make a fresh stand, and hurled defiance at the foreigners. The English troops never halted in their advance, and, led by the 18th or Royal Irish, they carried the intrenchment at a rush and put the whole Chinese army to flight. The English lost seventy killed and wounded, the Chinese losses were never accurately known. It was arranged that Canton was to be stormed on the following day, but a terrific hurricane and deluge of rain prevented all military movements on May 26, and, as it proved, saved the city from attack. Once more Chinese diplomacy came to the relief of Chinese arms. To save Canton the mandarins were quite prepared to make every concession, if they only attached a temporary significance to their language, and they employed the whole of that lucky wet day in getting round Captain Elliot, who once more allowed himself to place faith in the promises of the Chinese. The result of this was seen on the 27th, when, just as Sir Hugh Gough was giving orders for the assault, he received a message from Captain Elliot stating that the Chinese had come to terms and that all hostilities were to be suspended. The terms the Chinese had agreed to in a few hours were that the commissioners and all the troops should retire to a distance of sixty miles from Canton, and that $6,000,000 should be paid "for the use of the English crown."
Five of the $6,000,000 had been handed over to Captain Elliot, and amicable relations had been established with the city authorities, when the imperial commissioners, either alarmed at the penalties their failure entailed, or encouraged to believe in the renewed chances of success from the impotence into which the English troops might have sunk, made a sudden attempt to surprise Sir Hugh Gough's camp and to retrieve a succession of disasters at a single stroke. The project was not without a chance of success, but it required prompt action and no hesitation in coming to close quarters--the two qualifications in which the Chinese were most deficient. So it was on this occasion. Ten or fifteen thousand Chinese braves suddenly appeared on the hills about two miles north of the English camp; but instead of seizing the opportunity created by the surprise at their sudden appearance and at the breach of armistice, and delivering home their attack, they merely waved their banners and uttered threats of defiance. They stood their ground for some time in face of the rifle and artillery fire opened upon them, and then they kept up a sort of running fight for three miles as they were pursued by the English. They did not suffer any serious loss, and when the English troops retired in consequence of a heavy storm they became in turn the pursuers and inflicted a few casualties. The advantages they obtained were due to the terrific weather more than to their courage, but one party of Madras sepoys lost its way, and was surrounded by so overwhelming a number of Chinese that they would have been annihilated but that their absence was fortunately discovered and a rescuing party of marines, armed with the new percussion gun, which was to a great degree secure against the weather, went out to their assistance. They found the sepoys, under their two English officers, drawn up in a square firing as best they could and presenting a bold front to the foe--"many of the sepoys, after extracting the wet cartridge very deliberately, tore their pocket handkerchiefs or lining from their turbans and, baling water with their hands into the barrel of their pieces, washed and dried them, thus enabling them to fire an occasional volley." Out of sixty sepoys one was killed and fourteen wounded. After this Sir Hugh Gough threatened to bombard Canton if there were any more attacks on his camp, and they at once ceased, and when the whole of the indemnity was paid the English troops were withdrawn, leaving Canton as it was, for a second time "a record of British magnanimity and forbearance."
After this trade reverted to its former footing, and by the Canton convention, signed by the imperial commissioners in July, 1841, the English obtained all the privileges they could hope for from the local authorities. But it was essentially a truce, not a treaty, and the great point of direct intercourse with the central government was no nearer settlement than ever. At this moment Sir Henry Pottinger arrived as Plenipotentiary from England, and he at once set himself to obtaining a formal recognition from the Pekin executive of his position and the admission of his right to address them on diplomatic business. With the view of pressing this matter on the attention of Taoukwang, who personally had not deviated from his original attitude of emphatic hostility, Sir Henry Pottinger sailed northward with the fleet and a large portion of the land forces about the end of August. The important seaport of Amoy was attacked and taken after what was called "a short but animated resistance." This town is situated on an island, the largest of a group lying at the entrance to the estuary of Lungkiang, and it has long been famous as a convenient port and flourishing place of trade. The Chinese had raised a rampart of 1,100 yards in length, and this they had armed with ninety guns, while a battery of forty-two guns protected its flank. Kulangsu was also fortified, and the Chinese had placed in all 500 guns in position. They believed in the impregnability of Amoy, and it was allowed that no inconsiderable skill as well as great expense had been devoted to the strengthening of the place. When the English fleet arrived off the port the Chinese sent a flag of truce to demand what it wanted, and they were informed the surrender of the town. The necessity for this measure would be hard to justify, especially as we were nominally at peace with China, for the people of Amoy had inflicted no injury on our trade, and their chastisement would not bring us any nearer to Pekin. Nor was the occupation of Amoy necessary on military grounds. It was strong only for itself, and its capture had no important consequences. As the Chinese determined to resist the English, the fleet engaged the batteries, and the Chinese, standing to their guns "right manfully," only abandoned their position when they found their rear threatened by a landing party. Then, after a faint resistance, the Chinese sought safety in flight, but some of their officers, preferring death to dishonor, committed suicide, one of them being seen to walk calmly into the sea and drown himself in face of both armies. The capture of Amoy followed.
As the authorities at Amoy refused to hold any intercourse with the English, the achievement remained barren of any useful consequence, and after leaving a small garrison on Kulangsu, and three warships in the roadstead, the English expedition continued its northern course. After being scattered by a storm in the perilous Formosa channel, the fleet reunited off Ningpo, whence it proceeded to attack Chusan for a second time. The Chinese defended Tinghai, the capital, with great resolution. At this place General Keo, the chief naval and military commander, was killed, and all his officers, sticking to him to the last, also fell with him. Their conduct in fact was noble; nothing could have surpassed it. On the reoccupation of Chusan, which it was decided to retain until a formal treaty had been concluded with the emperor, Sir Henry Pottinger issued a proclamation to the effect that years might elapse before that place would be restored to the emperor's authority, and many persons wished that it should be permanently annexed as the best base for commercial operations in China. A garrison of 400 men was left at Tinghai, and then the expedition proceeded to attack Chinhai on the mainland, where the Chinese had made every preparation to offer a strenuous resistance. The Chinese suffered the most signal defeat and the greatest loss they had yet incurred during the war. The victory at Chinhai was followed by the unopposed occupation of the important city of Ningpo, where the inhabitants shut themselves up in their houses, and wrote on their doors "Submissive People." Ningpo was put to ransom and the authorities informed that unless they paid the sum within a certain time their city would be handed over to pillage and destruction. As the Pekin government had made no sign of giving in, it was felt that no occasion ought to be lost of overawing the Chinese, and compelling them to admit that any further prolongation of the struggle would be hopeless. The arrival of further troops and warships from Europe enabled the English commanders to adopt a more determined and uncompromising attitude, and the capture of Ningpo would have been followed up at once but for the disastrous events in Afghanistan, which distracted attention from the Chinese question, and delayed its settlement. It was hoped, however, that the continued occupation of Amoy, Chusan and Ningpo would cause sufficient pressure on the Pekin government to induce it to yield all that was demanded.
These anticipations were not fulfilled, for neither the swift-recurring visitation of disaster nor the waning resources of the imperial government in both men and treasure, could shake the fixed hostility of Taoukwang or induce him to abate his proud pretensions. Minister after minister passed into disgrace and exile. Misfortune shared the same fate as incompetence, and the more the embarrassments of the state increased the heavier fell the hand of the ruler and the verdict of the Board of Punishments upon beaten generals and unsuccessful statesmen. The period of inaction which followed the occupation of Ningpo no doubt encouraged the emperor to think that the foreigners were exhausted, or that they had reached the end of their successes, and he ordered increased efforts to be made to bring up troops, and to strengthen the approaches to Pekin. The first proof of his returning spirit was shown in March, 1842, when the Chinese attempted to seize Ningpo by a coup de main. Suddenly, and without warning, a force of between ten and twelve thousand men appeared at daybreak outside the south and west gates of Ningpo, and many of them succeeded in making their way over the walls and gaining the center of the town; but, instead of proving the path to victory, this advance resulted in the complete overthrow of the Chinese. Attacked by artillery and foot in the market-place they were almost annihilated, and the great Chinese attack on Ningpo resulted in a fiasco. Similar but less vigorous attacks were made about the same time on Chinhai and Chusan, but they were both repulsed with heavy loss to the Chinese. In consequence of these attacks and the improved position in Afghanistan it was decided to again assume the offensive, and to break up the hostile army at Hangchow, of which the body that attacked Ningpo was the advanced guard. Sir Hugh Gough commanded the operations in person, and he had the co-operation of a naval force under Sir William Parker. The first action took place outside Tszeki, a small place ten miles from Ningpo, where the Chinese fancied they occupied an exceedingly strong position. But careful inspection showed it to be radically faulty. Their lines covered part of the Segaou hills, but their left was commanded by some higher hills on the right of the English position, and the Chinese left again commanded their own right. It was evident, therefore, that the capture of the left wing of the Chinese encampment would entail the surrender or evacuation of the rest. The difficulties of the ground caused a greater delay in the advance than had been expected, and the assault had to be delivered along the whole line, as it was becoming obvious that the Chinese were growing more confident, and, consequently, more to be feared from the delay in attacking them. The assault was made with the impetuosity good troops always show in attacking inferior ones, no matter how great the disparity of numbers; and here the Chinese were driven out of their position--although they stood their ground in a creditable manner--and chased over the hills down to the rice fields below. The Chinese loss was over a thousand killed, including many of the Imperial Guard, of whom 500 were present, and whom Sir Hugh Gough described as "remarkably fine men," while the English had six killed and thirty-seven wounded. For the moment it was intended to follow up this victory by an attack on the city of Hangchow, the famous Kincsay of medieval travelers; but the arrival of fresh instructions gave a complete turn to the whole war.
Little permanent good had been effected by these successful operations on the coast, and Taoukwang was still as resolute as ever in his hostility; nor is there any reason to suppose that the capture of Hangchow, or any other of the coast towns, would have caused a material change in the situation. The credit of initiating the policy which brought the Chinese government to its knees belongs exclusively to Lord Ellenborough, then governor-general of India. He detected the futility of operations along the coast, and he suggested that the great waterway of the Yangtsekiang, perfectly navigable for warships up to the immediate neighborhood of Nankin, provided the means of coercing the Chinese, and effecting the objects which the English Government had in view. The English expedition, strongly re-enforced from India, then abandoned Ningpo and Chinhai, and, proceeding north, began the final operations of the war with an attack on Chapoo, where the Chinese had made extensive measures of defense. Chapoo was the port appointed for trade with Japan, and the Chinese had collected there a very considerable force from the levies of Chekiang, which ex- Commissioner Lin had been largely instrumental in raising. Sir Hugh Gough attacked Chapoo with 2,000 men, and the main body of the Chinese was routed without much difficulty, but 300 desperate men shut themselves up in a walled inclosure, and made an obstinate resistance. They held out until three-fourths of them were slain, when the survivors, seventy-five wounded men, accepted the quarter offered them from the first. The English lost ten killed and fifty-five wounded, and the Chinese more than a thousand. After this the expedition proceeded northward for the Great River, and it was found necessary to attack Woosung, the port of Shanghai, en route. This place was also strongly fortified with as many as 175 guns in position, but the chief difficulty in attacking it lay in that of approach, as the channel had first to be sounded, and then the sailing ships towed into position by the steamers. Twelve vessels were in this manner placed broadside to the batteries on land, a position which obviously they could not have maintained against a force of anything like equal strength; but they succeeded in silencing the Chinese batteries with comparatively little loss, and then the English army was landed without opposition. Shanghai is situated sixteen miles up the Woosung River, and while part of the force proceeded up the river another marched overland. Both columns arrived together, and the disheartened Chinese evacuated Shanghai after firing one or two random shots. No attempt was made to retain Shanghai, and the expedition re-embarked, and proceeded to attack Chankiang or Chinkiangfoo, a town on the southern bank of the Yangtsekiang, and at the northern entrance of the southern branch of the Great Canal. This town has always been a place of great celebrity, both strategically and commercially, for not merely does it hold a very strong position with regard to the Canal, but it forms, with the Golden and Silver Islands, the principal barrier in the path of those attempting to reach Nankin. At this point Sir Hugh Gough was re-enforced by the 98th Regiment, under Colonel Colin Campbell. The difficulties of navigation and the size of the fleet, which now reached seventy vessels, caused a delay in the operations, and it was not until the latter end of July, or more than a month after the occupation of Shanghai, that the English reached Chinkiangfoo, where, strangely enough, there seemed to be no military preparations whatever. A careful reconnaissance revealed the presence of three strong encampments at some distance from the town, and the first operation was to carry them, and to prevent their garrisons joining such forces as might still remain in the city. This attack was intrusted to Lord Saltoun's brigade, which was composed of two Scotch regiments and portions of two native regiments, with only three guns. The opposition was almost insignificant, and the three camps were carried with comparatively little loss and their garrisons scattered in all directions. At the same time the remainder of the force assaulted the city, which was surrounded by a high wall and a deep moat. Some delay was caused by these obstacles, but at last the western gate was blown in by Captain Pears, of the Engineers, and at the same moment the walls were escaladed at two different points, and the English troops, streaming in on three sides, fairly surrounded a considerable portion of the garrison, who retired into a detached work, where they perished to the last man either by our fire or in the flames of the houses which were ignited partly by themselves and partly by the fire of our soldiers. The resistance did not stop here, for the Tartar or inner city was resolutely defended by the Manchus, and owing to the intense heat the Europeans would have been glad of a rest; but, as the Manchus kept up a galling fire, Sir Hugh Gough felt bound to order an immediate assault before the enemy grew too daring. The fight was renewed, and the Tartars were driven back at all points; but the English troops were so exhausted that they could not press home this advantage. The interval thus gained was employed by the Manchus, not in making good their escape, but in securing their military honor by first massacring their women and children, and then committing suicide. It must be remembered that these were not Chinese, but Manchu Tartars of the dominant race.
The losses of the English army at this battle--40 killed, and 130 wounded --were heavy, and they were increased by several deaths caused by the heat and exhaustion of the day. The Chinese, or rather the Tartars, never fought better, and it appears from a document discovered afterward that if Hailing's recommendations had been followed, and if he had been properly supported, the capture of Chinkiangfoo would have been even more difficult and costly than it proved.
Some delay at Chinkiangfoo was rendered necessary by the exhaustion of the troops and by the number of sick and wounded; but a week after the capture of that place in the manner described the arrangements for the further advance on Nankin were completed. A small garrison was left in an encampment on a height commanding the entrance to the Canal; but there was little reason to apprehend any fresh attack, as the lesson of Chinkiangfoo had been a terrible one. That city lay beneath the English camp like a vast charnel house, its half-burned buildings filled with the self- immolated Tartars who had preferred honor to life; and so thickly strewn were these and so intense the heat that the days passed away without the ability to give them burial, until at last it became absolutely impossible to render the last kind office to a gallant foe. Despite the greatest precautions of the English authorities, Chinkiangfoo became the source of pestilence, and an outbreak of cholera caused more serious loss in the English camp than befell the main force intrusted with the capture of Nankin. Contrary winds delayed the progress of the English fleet, and it was not until the fifth of August, more than a fortnight after the battle at Chinkiangfoo, that it appeared off Nankin, the second city in reputation and historical importance of the empire, with one million inhabitants and a garrison of 15,000 men, of whom two-thirds were Manchus. The walls were twenty miles in length, and hindered, more than they promoted, an efficient defense; and the difficulties of the surrounding country, covered with the debris of the buildings which constituted the larger cities of Nankin at an earlier period of history, helped the assailing party more than they did the defenders. Sir Hugh Gough drew up an admirable plan for capturing this vast and not defenseless city with his force of 5,000 men, and there is no reason to doubt that he would have been completely successful; but by this the backbone of the Chinese government had been broken, and even the proud and obstinate Taoukwang was compelled to admit that it was imperative to come to terms with the English, and to make some concessions in order to get rid of them.
The minister Elepoo, who once enjoyed the closest intimacy with Taoukwang, and who was the leader of the Peace party, which desired the cessation of an unequal struggle, had begun informal negotiations several months before they proved successful at Nankin. He omitted no opportunity of learning the views of the English officers, and what was the minimum of concession on which a stable peace could be based. He had endeavored also to give something of a generous character to the struggle, and he had more than once proved himself a courteous as well as a gallant foe. After the capture of Chapoo and Woosung he sent back several officers and men who had at different times been taken prisoners by the Chinese, and he expressed at the same time the desire that the war should end. Sir Henry Pottinger's reply to this letter was to inquire if he was empowered by the emperor to negotiate. If he had received this authority the English plenipotentiary would be very happy to discuss any matter with him, but if not the operations of war must proceed. At that moment Elepoo had not the requisite authority to negotiate, and the war went on until the victorious English troops were beneath the walls of Nankin. At the same time as these pourparlers were held with Elepoo at Woosung, Sir Henry Pottinger issued a proclamation to the Chinese stating what the British Government required to be done. In this document the equality of all nations as members of the same human family was pointed out, and the right to hold friendly intercourse insisted on as a matter of duty and common obligation. Sir Henry said that "England, coming from the utmost west, has held intercourse with China in this utmost east for more than two centuries past, and during this time the English have suffered ill-treatment from the Chinese officials, who, regarding themselves as powerful and us as weak, have thus dared to commit injustice." Then followed a list of the many high-handed acts of Commissioner Lin and his successors. The Chinese, plainly speaking, had sought to maintain their exclusiveness and to live outside the comity of nations, and they had not the power to attain their wish. Therefore they were compelled to listen to and to accept the terms of the English plenipotentiary, which were as follows:--The emperor was first of all to appoint a high officer with full powers to negotiate and conclude arrangements on his own responsibility, when hostilities would be suspended. The three principal points on which these negotiations were to be based were compensation for losses and expenses, a friendly and becoming intercourse on terms of equality between officers of the two countries, and the cession of insular territory for commerce and for the residence of merchants, and as a security and guarantee against the future renewal of offensive acts. The first step toward the acceptance of these terms was taken when an imperial commission was formed of three members, Keying, Elepoo, and Niu Kien, viceroy of the Two Kiang; and to the last named, as governor of the provinces most affected, fell the task of writing the first diplomatic communication of a satisfactory character from the Chinese government to the English plenipotentiary. This letter was important for more reasons than its being of a conciliatory nature. It held out to a certain extent a hand of friendship, and it also sought to assign an origin to the conflict, and Niu Kien could find nothing more handy or convenient than opium, which thus came to give its name to the whole war. With regard to the Chinese reverses, Niu Kien, while admitting them, explained that "as the central nation had enjoyed peace for a long time the Chinese were not prepared for attacking and fighting, which had led to this accumulation of insult and disgrace." In a later communication Niu Kien admitted that "the English at Canton had been exposed to insults and extortions for a series of years, and that steps should be taken to insure in future that the people of your honorable nation might carry on their commerce to advantage, and not receive injury thereby." These documents showed that the Chinese were at last willing to abandon the old and impossible principle of superiority over other nations, for which they had so long contended; and with the withdrawal of this pretension negotiations for the conclusion of a stable peace became at once possible and of hopeful augury.
The first step of the Chinese commissioners was to draw up a memorial for presentation to the emperor, asking his sanction of the arrangement they suggested. In this document they covered the whole ground of the dispute, and stated in clear and unmistakable language what the English demanded, and they did not shrink from recommending compliance with their terms. Keying and his colleagues put the only two alternatives with great cogency. Which will be the heavier calamity, they said, to pay the English the sum of money they demand (21,000,000 dollars, made up as follows: Six million for the destroyed opium, 3,000,000 for the debts of the Hong merchants, and 12,000,000 for the expenses of the war), or that they should continue those military operations which seemed irresistible, and from which China had suffered so grievously? Even if the latter alternative were faced and the war continued, the evil day would only be put off. The army expenses would be very great, the indemnity would be increased in amount, and after all there would be only "the name of fighting without the hope of victory." Similar arguments were used with regard to the cession of Hongkong, and the right of trading at five of the principal ports. The English no doubt demanded more than they ought, but what was the use of arguing with them, as they were masters of the situation? Moreover, some solace might be gathered in the midst of affliction from the fact that the English were willing to pay certain duties on their commerce which would in the end repay the war indemnity, and contribute to "the expenditure of the imperial family." With regard to the question of ceremonial intercourse on a footing of equality, they declared that it might be "unreservedly granted." The reply of Taoukwang to this memorial was given in an edict of considerable length, and he therein assented to all the views and suggestions of the commissioners, while he imposed on Keying alone the responsibility of making all the arrangements for paying the large indemnity. All the preliminaries for signing a treaty of peace had therefore been arranged before the English forces reached Nankin, and as the Chinese commissioners were sincere in their desire for peace, and as the emperor had sanctioned all the necessary arrangements, there was no reason to apprehend any delay, and much less a breakdown of the negotiations.
It was arranged that the treaty should be signed on board a British man- of-war, and the Chinese commissioners were invited to pay a visit for the purpose to the "Cornwallis," the flagship of the admiral. The event came off on the 20th of August, 1842, and the scene was sufficiently interesting, if not imposing. The long line of English warships and transports, drawn up opposite to and within short range of the lofty walls of Nankin; the land forces so disposed on the raised causeways on shore as to give them every facility of approach to the city gates, while leaving it doubtful to the last which gate would be the real object of attack; and then the six small Chinese boats, gayly decorated with flags, bearing the imperial commissioners and their attendants, to sign for the first time in history a treaty of defeat with a foreign power. The commissioners were dressed in their plainest clothes, as they explained, because imperial commissioners are supposed to proceed in haste about their business, and have no time to waste on their persons, but there is reason to believe that they thought such clothing best consorted with the inauspicious character for China of the occasion. The ceremony passed off without a hitch, and four days later Sir Henry Pottinger paid the Chinese officers a return visit, when he was received by them in a temple outside the city walls. A third and more formal reception was held on the 26th of August in the College Hall, in the center of Nankin, when Sir Henry Pottinger, twenty officers, and an escort of native cavalry rode through the streets of one of the most famous cities of China. It was noted at the time that on this date an event of great importance had happened in each of the three previous years. On the 26th of August, 1839, Lin had expelled the English from Macao, in 1840 the British fleet anchored off the Peiho, and in 1841 Amoy was captured. Three days after this reception the treaty itself was signed on board the "Cornwallis," when Keying and his colleagues again attended for the purpose. The act of signing was celebrated by a royal salute of twenty-one guns, and the hoisting of the standards of England and China at the masthead of the man-of-war. The Emperor Taoukwang ratified the treaty with commendable dispatch, and the only incident to mar the cordiality of the last scene in this part of the story of Anglo-Chinese relations was the barbarous and inexcusable injury inflicted by a party of English officers and soldiers on the famous Porcelain Tower, which was one of the finest specimens of Chinese art, having been built 400 years before at great expense and the labor of twenty years.
The ports in addition to Canton to be opened to trade were Shanghai, Ningpo, Amoy and Foochow, but these were not to be opened until a tariff had been drawn up and consular officers appointed. As the installments of the indemnity were paid the troops and fleet were withdrawn, but a garrison was left for some time in Chusan and Kulangsu, the island off Amoy. The attack and massacre of some shipwrecked crews on the coast of Formosa gave the Chinese government an occasion of showing how marked a change had come over its policy. An investigation was at once ordered, the guilty officials were punished, and the emperor declared, "We will not allow that, because the representation came from outside foreigners, it should be carelessly cast aside without investigation. Our own subjects and foreigners, ministers and people, should all alike understand that it is our high desire to act with even-handed and perfect justice." Sir Henry Pottinger's task was only half performed until he had drawn up the tariff and installed consular officers in the new treaty ports. Elepoo was appointed to represent China in the tariff negotiations, and Canton was selected as the most convenient place for discussing the matter. Within two months of the resumption of negotiations they seemed on the point of a satisfactory termination, when the death of Elepoo, the most sincere and straightforward of all the Chinese officials, caused a delay in the matter. Elepoo was a member of the Manchu imperial family, being descended from one of the brothers of Yung Ching, who had been banished by that ruler and reinstated by Keen Lung. That the Pekin government did not wish to make his death an excuse for backing out of the arrangement was shown by the prompt appointment of Keying as his successor. At this stage of the question the opium difficulty again rose up as of the first importance in reference to the settlement of the commercial tariff. The main point was whether opium was to appear in the tariff at all or to be relegated to the category of contraband articles. Sir Henry Pottinger disclaimed all sympathy with the traffic, and was quite willing that it should be declared illicit; but at the same time he stated that the responsibility of putting it down must rest with the Chinese themselves. The Chinese were not willing to accept this responsibility, and said that "if the supervision of the English representatives was not perfect, there will be less or more of smuggling." Keying paid Sir Henry Pottinger a ceremonious visit at Hongkong on the 2eth of June, 1843, and within one month of that day the commercial treaty was signed. Sir Henry issued a public proclamation calling upon British subjects to faithfully conform with its provisions, and stating that he would adopt the most stringent and decided measures against any offending persons. On his side Keying published a notification that "trade at the five treaty ports was open to the men from afar." The only weak point in the commercial treaty was that it contained no reference to opium. Sir Henry Pottinger failed to obtain the assent of the Chinese government to its legalization, and he refused to undertake the responsibility of a preventive service in China, but at the same time he publicly stated that the "traffic in opium was illegal and contraband by the laws and imperial edicts of China." Those who looked further ahead realized that the treaty of Nankin, by leaving unsettled the main point in the controversy and the primary cause of difference, could not be considered a final solution of the problem of foreign intercourse with China. The opium question remained over to again disturb the harmony of our relations.
As has been said before, it would be taking a narrow view of the question to affirm that opium was the principal object at stake during this war. The real point was whether the Chinese government could be allowed the possession of rights which were unrecognized in the law of nations and which rendered the continuance of intercourse with foreigners an impossibility. What China sought to retain was never claimed by any other nation, and could only have been established by extraordinary military power. When people talk, therefore, of the injustice of this war as another instance of the triumph of might over right, they should recollect that China in the first place was wrong in claiming an impossible position in the family of nations. We cannot doubt that if the acts of Commissioner Lin had been condoned the lives of all Europeans would have been at the mercy of a system which recognizes no gradation in crime, which affords many facilities for the manufacture of false evidence, and which inflicts punishment altogether in excess of the fault. It is gratifying to find that many unprejudiced persons declared at the time that the war which resulted in the Nankin treaty was a just one, and so eminent an authority on international law as John Quincy Adams drew up an elaborate treatise to show that "Britain had the righteous cause against China." We may leave the scene of contest and turn from the record of an unequal war with the reflection that the results of the struggle were to be good. However inadequately the work of far-seeing statesmanship may have been performed in 1842, enough was done to make present friendship possible and a better understanding between two great governing peoples a matter of hope and not desponding expectancy.