Abbildungen der Seite



pliance we might be brought down to the same servile level with themselves; considering, also, that the posture insisted on is such a mark of abject submission as we never pay to our own sovereigns in Europe, we unaniinously agreed that we should dishonour ourselves and our countries in complying with it. Being apprehensive that they (the Hong merchants) might succeed in their design of weakening us, by creating in us mutual suspicions and jealousies, we met in a body, and, by unanimous agreement, gave our solemn words of honour that none of us would submit to the slavish posture required, nor make any concession or proposal of accommodation separately, without first acquainting all the rest." It was fortunate for them that they never prostrated themselves, for more substantial concessions would very soon have been demanded, had they gone through this form of allegiance and fealty. It seems that in that year (just a century since) the total number of European ships at Canton was ten, viz., four English, two French, two Dutch, one Dane, and one Swede.

At the close of 1741 his Majesty's ship Centurion, under the command of Commodore Anson, arrived off Macao, in the prosecution of her voyage round the world, being the first British man-of-war that visíted China. The interesting details of that ship's stay are well given in the popular history of the voyage, and familiar to most readers. After being hove down and repaired, the Centurion put to sea, and succeeded in capturing the Acapulco ship, with its valuable freight of treasure, with which she proceeded again to the Canton river, being in want of provisions. The Commodore on his arrival was subjected, as usual, to numberless vexatious delays; and the following passages occur on the manuscript proceedings : A new difficulty was now started, that Mr. Anson, being lodged at Mr. Townsend's, must

first go to Macao; for if he remained in the house after Mr. Townsend left it, the Hong merchants said they should of course become security for him to the mandarins; and should Mr. Anson take a Spanish ship near Macao, on the coast, they would then be made answerable for the damages, and perhaps lose their heads. Mr. Anson declared he did not want any person to be security for him, but told them that unless he got some provisions he would not stir out of Canton, for he had not five days' bread on board his ship... We assembled the merchants the third time, to persuade them, if possible, to prevail with the mandarins to grant Mr. Anson a general chop for all the necessaries he wants. They informed us, the mandarins had such a strange notion of a ship which went about the world seeking other ships in order to take them, that they could not be brought to hear reason on that head.” At length the merchants became so uneasy at the Commodore's stay in Canton, that they suffered a purveyor to ship the provisions without the inspection of the Custom-house.

The loss of the Acapulco ship led the Spaniards, in 1744, to fit out several vessels for the annoyance of our China trade; and when the Hardwicke East Indiaman arrived off the coast, a note was delivered, by means of a Chinese boat, to say that three Spanish ships were lying off Macao to intercept her: the Hardwicke accordingly sailed away for Amoy. There, however, the mandarins insisted on the ship's proceeding into the inner harbour without any previous conditions, as well as delivering up all arms and ammunition. The merchants showed no disposition to trade, and, in fact, there seemed little to trade with. Accordingly, after fifteen days of ineffectual trial, the ship was compelled to proceed to India against the monsoon, without a single article of cargo! Nor was condition of the trade much better at Canton. The extortions increased in spite



of all attempts at representation on the part of the supercargoes. The Hong merchants used every endeavour, and at length succeeded in preventing the access of Europeans to the officers of Government, finding that by that means they could exercise their impositions on both with the greater success and impunity. To the foreigners they alleged, that the mandarins were the authors of all the exactions on the trade; to the mandarins, that the foreigners were of so barbarous and fierce a temper, as to be incapable of listening to reason. The records observe, that “ ever since they carried their point of preventing all intercourse between the Europeans and mandarins, they have imposed upon both in their turns, and put the trade of this place upon such a footing as without redress will render it impracticable to Europeans.” In these difficult times it was that Mr. Flint, a person of uncommon talents and merit, contrived to master the difficulties of the Chinese language; but the ungrateful return which his energy and exertions in their service met with from his employers was such, as tended, in all probability more than any other cause, to discourage his successors from undertaking so laborious, unprofitable, and even hazardous a work of supererogation. We find Mr. Flint acting as interpreter in 1747, and he soon had to perform a very prominent part in China, as will appear hereafter.

The grievances suffered by our trade led to a remonstrance, in which the principal points were, the delay in unloading the ships; the plunder of goods on the river; the injurious affiches annually put up by the Government, accusing the foreigners of horrible crimes, and intended to expose them to the contempt of the populace; the extortions, under false pretexts, of the inferior officers; and the difficulty of access to the mandarins. The ships were detained outside in 4, until the Viceroy had


[ocr errors]

promised to attend to these various complaints : but little was ultimately gained. It is to be apprehended that the want of union among the Europeans had, as usual, the effect of frustrating their attempts at redress. “ Some gentlemen," it is observed, of opinion that we ought to make a stand; and as, by arguing the case, we seemed to be the farther from a determination, we parted without any resolve, except that every man would do as he liked best.” This certainly was not the way to succeed with the Chinese. The animosities which prevailed between the English and French were productive of much trouble to both; and to such a height did the disorders arrive at Whampoa, between the crews of the different nations on shore, that an English sailor was at length shot by some of the French officers, and another taken prisoner; which was immediately followed by a letter addressed to the English supercargoes from

Le Conseil de direction de Canton, representant la nation Française à la Chine.” The Chinese magistrate held an inquest at Whampoa, and desired the French, in the first place, to give up their prisoner, which they did, alleging, however, that the English had commenced the disturbance, by attacking their people. As the Frenchman fired a musket, of which he had deliberately gone in quest, it was plainly nothing better than a murder; and the English sailors were so exasperated, that there seemed to be no way of preventing their doing themselves justice, but to demand justice from the Chinese Government. The Viceroy stopped the trade until they should give up the criminal; and somebody was at length seized by the Chinese and taken into the city, confessing himself the guilty person. He was liberated the following year by order of the Emperor, on occasion of a general act of grace; and, as a means of preenting further disturbances

Whampoa, Dane's



Island was allotted to the English, and French Island to the French sailors, for their recreation.

In 1755, Messrs. Harrison and Flint were despatched to Ningpo, with the view of re-establishing a trade there if possible. On their arrival, they were well received, and the charges and customs appeared considerably lower than at Canton. The Fooyuen, or Deputy-Governor, was so desirous of giving them encouragement, that he conceded almost all the articles in their memorial: in so doing, however, he appeared to have exceeded his power; for when the ship Holdernesse subsequently proceeded to Ningpo to take advantage of this apparent opening, the Viceroy, who was then in the province, sent an order for all the great guns, small arms, and ammunition to be taken out of the ship, and the same duties to be paid as at Canton. Though the Fooyuen could not act directly against this order, he did not comply with it, but sent it straight up to Peking, with an account of what he had done, thereby putting it out of the Viceroy's power, as well as his own, to make an absolute decision in the interim. As it would have been the end of September before an answer could possibly arrive from Peking, the mandarins agreed to begin business, provided that half the guns and ammunition were delivered. Twelve great guns were accordingly given up, and the ships unloaded: the Holdernesse, however, paid to the mandarins 2,000 taëls, and the other charges and duties proved double those at Canton, while no residence was allowed on shore. The objection made by the Government to a trade at Ningpo was “the loss of revenue to the Emperor, accruing from overland carriage of tea and other goods to Canton;" the very circumstance, of course, which enhanced the prices of those goods to the European purchaser. On their departure from Ningpo, the supercargoes were formally acquainted

« ZurückWeiter »