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ten years. This immense debt was paid at once out of the indemnity received for the war.
The Consoo fund, whence such large sums were drawn in the liquidation of debts incurred by ruined or dishonest merchants, was derived from charges amounting to about three per cent., laid by the body of Hong merchants on foreign exports and imports; and hence it became a severe burden on the fair trade of Canton. Instead of being allowed to terminate with the liquidation of the debts for which they were first levied, it seems that these charges continued in full force, and served to meet the increased demands of the government on the Consoo. Under these circumstances, there could be no room for surprise at the pertinacity with which the provincial authorities supported a monopoly so profitable and convenient to themselves ; and by means of which they could benefit at the expense of Europeans, without coming into direct collision with a race who were not disposed to accord those acts of deference and homage so grateful to the pride of Chinese rulers.
But, in addition to the duties levied, the port-charges and other expenses attending shipping in the river were extremely heavy. The old routine of a vessel's arrival, and her preliminary arrangements, were as follows. On nearing the coast from the southward, the Ladrones, two small but lofty islands, was first made. A point lying southeast of Macao, called Cabrita by the Portuguese, was then passed; and off the town is an exposed anchorage of from three to four fathoms. Ships sent their boats ashore at Macao for a Chinese pilot, who was not often procured until the next morning; and therefore, when the weather was bad, vessels ran up at once to Lintin for shelter. The charts constructed at the charge of the East India Company afforded ample directions for piloting a ship to Whampoa ; and the pilots were only fishermen, employed by those who understood nothing of the business themselves, but who took out a government licence, and who thus enjoyed a monopoly in return for the responsibilities which they incurred; for, if a ship misbehaved the pilot was bambooed. Without a pilot no merchantman was allowed to pass the batteries at the entrance of the river.
On anchoring at Whampoa, about ten miles below Canton, two boats from the officers of the local authorities hooked on astern of each ship. It was their business to act as spies on the vessel, and to prevent smuggling and other illegalities. A comprador, or purveyor of provisions, was generally hired ; but a fee of fifty dollars was in any case paid, to meet the extortions of the mandarins. It is stated in the Chinese Commercial Guide of that time, that, when a shipmaster or supercargo did not hire a factory at Canton, the further sum of ninety-six dollars was disbursed, to pay the demand of the custom-house people for a house comprador. In some cases this was paid by the security-merchant of the ship, and he found means of reimbursing himself in his transactions with the agent or master of the vessel. This security-merchant was always one of the Hongists, held responsible for the payment of all fees and duties connected with the ship, as well as for the conduct of every European or other foreigneron board. These details are interesting, as they show what we gained by the war, and will one day be scarcely credited.
Another functionary remains to be mentioned, under the name of linguist, who seemed to be so called rather on account of the absence, than the presence, of those accomplishments which are usually implied by the term ; for these persons could not write English at all, and spoke it scarcely intelligibly. “ The linguists (observed the Commercial Guide), like the Hong merchants, are obliged to pay largely for their licences, and are besides liable to heavy exactions, chiefly from the underlings of office, as the Hong merchants are the prey of the higher officers. They also have the same difficulty in obtaining leave to retire from business, though in a less degree. The Hong merchants are required to be sureties for the linguists before the latter can obtain their licences. The business of the linguists is to procure permits for delivering or shipping cargo, to transact all affairs with the custom-house, and to keep accounts of the duties and port-charges ; and every ship is compelled to pay 173 dollars, or about 401., as a fee to its own linguist. Some time after reaching Whampoa, each vessel is measured by the Hoppo's officers, for the levying of the port-charges. On a ship of 850 tons, these charges, in addition to the various disburse. ments above stated, amount altogether to nearly 5000 dollars, or between 8001. and 10001. sterling."
It is clear that such heavy exactions must have held out the strongest inducements to all ships, but especially small ones, on which they fell the heaviest, to evade them if possible; and to the influence of this cause, joined to the contraband nature of the opium-trade, was to be ascribed the rapid growth of the smuggling dépôt at Lintin, which commenced about the year 1822. As if to give an additional impulse to the increase of this smuggling station, the Chinese government, in consequence of the scarcity of rice in 1825, enacted that ships bringing rice, and no other goods, should be exempted from the portcharges at Whampoa. Vessels accordingly stationed themselves at Lintin, below the mouth of the river, laden with rice, which they sold in sufficient quantities to other vessels newly arrived to exempt them from those portcharges; while the real cargoes were either left at
Lintin to be smuggled in, or put on board other ships which filled themselves up entirely on freight for Whampoa. It is clear that this extraordinary advantage in favour of rice must have operated against the importation of foreign manufactures in fair trade.
Cargo-boat. It was observed at Canton, soon after the commencement of this strange system, that, “if the illegal commerce should continue to increase, through the abilities of the natives as smugglers, and the extreme corruption of the lowest custom-house officers, whose duty it is to put them down, there is every probability that the illicit traffic in this country will arrive at a height to interfere most materially with the revenues derived from foreign trade, and the emoluments which the government have previously obtained from it. Cargoes are now constantly carried down in ships from Whampoa to other ships, at an appointed rendezvous among the islands, where the goods are transshipped, and all port-charges thus evaded by the vessel which receives them. Under any other
than the existing system (in 1826) it may be supposed that the trade to China would become nearly a smuggling traffic altogether, until the government of the country were compelled to resort to extreme measures for the protection of its own interests.” After the opening of the trade the experiment began to have a fair trial. The provincial authorities in 1834 betrayed considerable alarm at the increase of the smuggling system at Lintin, and this alarm was no doubt founded, first, in the evils arising from the lawless, independent, and violent habits which such a system engendered ; and, secondly, in the prospect of a decrease or annihilation of the revenue derived from the fair trade.
The Chinese Commercial Guide' printed about that time observed, “The opening of the China trade to British shipping will probably, so long as the present vexatious restrictions continue in force at Whampoa, lead to such an increased amount of general trade at Lintin as to require dépôts for other goods besides opium. Such goods are now brought to Lintin by vessels not entering the port; and by vessels which, to avoid the measurement and other charges, enter as rice-ships. These goods are variously disposed of, some being sold to the native smugglers outside, and some brought to Whampoa in other foreign vessels.” It was the universal corruption of the government officers of Canton, in the article of opium, that made it so difficult to stop the rest of the contraband trade near that port. On other parts of the coast the attempts to smuggle were not often successful. The ‘Commercial Guide' observed, “ The control of the government over the people is too oppressive to permit them to run the risk of purchasing except where they can obtain large profits. Hence opium is chiefly in demand; while even rice, though carried to the thickly-peopled and almost