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LORD ELGIN'S MISSION TO CHINA AND

AND JAPAN.*

LORD Elgin's mission to the courts of they have seen with more apropos. He Pekin and Yedo has been extremely for- visited the steppes of Southern Russia tunate in its historiographer; and al- and the arsenal of Sebastopol, before the though these volumes have not the pre

Crimean war.

He has explored the distensions of the stately quartos which tant confines of Minnesota in the Western recorded the embassies of Lord Macart- World, and the Caucasian tributaries of ney and Lord Amherst to the Court of the Euxine in the East. Attached as he China, they are infinitely more agreeable, was to the personal service of our late from a more familiar admixture of per. ambassador to China, conversant with his sonal adventure, and from the increased political designs, and an eye-witness of all knowledge we have now acquired of the that occurred in this strange medley of habits of these singular nations. Few men peace and war, no one could be better of our time have seen more of the globe qualified to preserve the record of this than Mr. Oliphant, or have described what mission. Several circumstances conspired

to give Lord Elgin and his suite greater

opportunities of exploring some of the * Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's Mission to China and Japan in the years 1857, 1858, and 1859. great lines of river communication in By LAURENCE OLIPHANT, Esq., Private Secretary to China than ever were enjoyed before; the Lord Elgin. 2 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh. 1860. successful excursion of the ambassador to VOL. XLIX.-NO. 4

29

Japan is beyond all comparison the most compelled to abandon all the forts in the curious and important addition yet made Canton river, except one at Macao, to to our imperfect knowledge of that most write to India for five thousand troops, remarkable country; and although we are and to wait for instructions from England. afraid it can not be said that Lord Elgin's Such was the state of our affairs in China treaties have permanently established our when the House of Commons engaged in relations with the furthest empires of the that most discreditable debate on Mr. East on a secure and peaceful footing, Cobden's motion; and when, in fact, had there is no doubt that the narrative of his the exact truth been known, every Englordship’s proceedings is highly instructive lishman would have agreed that we must as to the best mode of conducting them above all things rescue our countrymen hereafter.

from so dangerous and ignominious a poThe spring of the year 1857 was a crisis sition. This state of affairs had not much of no common danger to many of the altered when Lord Elgin reached China; most important interests of this country in nor could it materially improve for some Asia ; and those who for the purpose of a considerable time afterwards, because in factious attack on the Ministry of the day, the interval the Indian mutiny drew to lent themselves to a false cry of “justice itself, as to some great maelstrom, the to China” were, as it has since turned out, interest and the available resources of the as ignorant of the real situation of our British Empire. With the utmost judgcountrymen at Canton at that moment, as ment, resolution, and disinterestedness, they necessarily were of the terrific tem- Lord Elgin at once diverted the forces on pest which was about to sweep over Bri- their way to China, and sent them to Caltish India in the summer of the same year. cutta, where they powerfully contributed In truth, a series of untoward events had to restore our authority in the Lower contributed to extinguish the respect felt Provinces of Bengal. He himself followed by the Chinese authorities for the power in the Shannon, and that magnificent which fourteen years before had extorted frigate, with her intrepid commander, from them the treaty of Nankin. All ex. William Peel, was thus withdrawn from perience has proved that our treaties with the Chinese expedition altogether; and, China cease to be worth more than the in short, many weary months elapsed be paper on which they are written from the fore it was possible to assume the attitude moment that the Chinese think they can and language of a British plenipotentiary be evaded with impunity; and whatever at Canton. That these things were not may be thought of the legal merits of the unknown to the Chinese, appears from the “lorcha” question, Sir John Bowring and draft of a report from Yeh himself to the Mr. Parkes were perfectly right in the Emperor, which was probably sent about conclusion at which they arrived, that the commencement of December, 1857. British interests in Canton could no longer The paper was found among those capbe sacrificed with impunity to the arro-tured in Yeh's yamun, on the last day of gance and obstinacy of Commissioner the year, and it deserves to be quoted as Yeh. Unfortunately their judgment was a specimen of that mixture of fact and not equally correct as to the means at fiction, good sense and puerility, which their disposal for enforcing their demands. commonly occur in Chinese state docuThe result showed that Yeh was perfectly ments. It also throws some light on the able to resist them. A reward of thirty, Chinese notions of French interference. and afterwards of a hundred, dollars was offered for the head of every Englishman. that the English barbarians, troubled at home,

(Yeh, etc.) presents a Memorial to the effect Mr. Cowper was kidnapped from Wham- and pressed with daily increasing urgency by poa; the Thistle, postal steamer, was other nations from without, will hardly attempt seized, and eleven persons murdered ; any thing further; that they are reported to supplies were interdicted ; trade was have had several consultations upon the opening stopped ; an attempt was made to poison of trade, and earnestly desire the suggestion of the whole foreign community at Hong- some means to that end; that in consequence Kong; the very urchins in the street,

of the English chief not returned to Canton. A says Mr. Oliphant, considered a Briton á

respectful memorial (of which particulars) he

forwards by courier, at the rate of six hundred fit subject for “chaff,” while their respect-li a day, and looking upward, solicits the sacred able parents took a mercenary view of his glance thereon. beads; and at length the Admiral was “On the sixth of the ninth moon, (twenty

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