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that a Consul's commission was sent out to the chief of the Company's council; nor does any notice appear on the records of this having been subsequently recalled. They say,
we have obtained a commission from his Majesty to constitute you, and those who shall be hereafter appointed by us, as our President in China, to be the King's Minister or Consul for the English nation, with all powers requisite thereunto.” The Court of Directors appear to have been unaware of this when, in 1832, they denied that their President was any other than a Company's representative; indeed, it was very correctly observed in Parliament, with reference to this proceeding of the Court, that the complete powers with which the Legislature had vested the Chief in China over all British subjects, seemed alone to give him a national character.
From the beginning of the century until 1727, many very severe grievances were suffered at Canton, and, although the trade continued to proceed, it was with frequent interruptions. In that year we find that an exemption was required by the English from various extortions; among others, a total charge of 16 per cent. on the trade; heavy taxes on the compradors, or purveyors for supplying the ships; and what was called the present of 1,950 taëls, in addition to the measurage, or port fee, 'For some time the local government had attempted to invest a single individual, called “the Emperor's merchant," with the exclusive right of conducting the European com
This monster in trade,” however, (as he is very properly termed on the records,) was soon obligeci to allow others to participate. The Hong merchants then endeavoured to establish a hong, or united firm, among themselves. The supercargoes upon this declined trading until the combination was dissolved, and a representation to the Viceroy was at length successful in removing it. On their declaring, moreover, that they should be obliged to proceed to Amoy,
HEAVY CHARGES ON TRADE.
or some other port, unless the heavy charges on their trade were remitted, the Hoppo promised them redress. Notwithstanding this, in the following year of 1728, an additional duty of 10 per cent. was laid on all exports to Europe, and the remonstrances of the English merchants proved unavailing.
From what appears to have transpired relative to this 10 per cent. duty, it seems clear that raw produce has, from the very first, found a better market at Canton than manufactures. It is observed on the records, “ a duty of 10 per cent. hath really been paid by the merchants to the Hoppo on all goods sold to the Europe ships for some years past, though, at he same time, the country* ships remain free. At length one of the merchants gave this reason, which they hold as a very just one, that the Hoppo, for several years past, observing that a considerable duty arose to the Emperor upon goods imported by the country ships, (the raw produce of India and the Straits,) and that the Europe ships brought few or none, he fixed that rate upon the merchants for all goods sold by them to the Europe ships.” The great industry and ingenuity of the Chinese causes them to turn nearly all raw produce to good account; while the peculiarities of their national customs and tastes, added to the obstacles of both law and prejudice against European productions of art, render these far less acceptable in general.
In 1734 only one ship, the Harrison, was sent to Canton, simply on account of the high duties and extortions. An attempt, however, was made at Amoy, in the ship Grafton. The history of the negotiations at that place affords a notable specimen of Chinese rapacity and faithlessness. After spending months in the fruitless endeavour to obtain reasonable terms from the mandarins, they were compelled at length
* Those from India,
to take their departure for Canton, principally because they could not get liberty to trade with
any persons but those who were leagued with the man darins, one of whom was always stationed over them in the house they had rented on shore. In addition to the regular duties, which were very high, there was an extra charge of 20 per cent. for the Hoppo. “ The ignorance of the Amoy merchants (it is observed), and the little encouragement they gave us, makes us almost despair of doing any business at that place." In 1736 the ship Normanton proceeded to Ningpo, and strenuous efforts were made to open a trade there, unfettered by the oppressions they had suffered formerly in the neighbouring island of Chusan; but they found the mandarins very imperious and obstinate, insisting, as a necessary preliminary, on the surrender of their arms and ammunition. There moreover appeared few inducements to trade; for the record observes, “it seems rather to have been, than to be, a place of great commerce.” It is probable that this, with other parts of China, had suffered by the Tartar invasion.
After wasting nearly two months in fruitless attempts to procure a fair trade, the Normanton sailed for Canton : on arriving there it was found that the Emperor Kienloong, who had just succeeded to the throne, had remitted the duty of 10 per cent., as well as the present of 1,550 taëls, leaving that portion of the portcharges only which is called the measurage*. When the edict ordering this remission was to be read in the Imperial Hall of Audience, the Hong merchants informed the different European traders “ that they must prostrate themselves, kneeling on both their knees.” Suspecting that the merchants endeavoured to make us believe this, in order that by our com
* Notwithstanding this, the provincial government contrived to exact the present to its full amount until 1829, when a trifling reduction was made in it.