Europe in China/Chapter 11
Confirmation of the Cession of Hongkong,
1841 to 1843.
efore entering now upon the modern history of Hongkong, it is necessary briefly to sketch first of all the history of those political events which, directly connected with the Treaty of Chuenpi, and of the cession of Hongkong, brought about eventually the confirmation of the cession by the Treaty of Nanking (August 29, 1843). For the latter, though not alluding to any previous cession, was virtually but a ratification of the action taken by the representatives of the British Government in taking possession of Hongkong (January 26, 1841) under the Treaty of Chuenpi.
Up to the day when the Island of Hongkong was taken possession of, the Imperial Commissioner Kishen appears to have acted in perfect good faith, honestly determined to make peace and to abide by the promises he had made at Tientsin, and by the purport of the truce concluded by Eleepoo at Chusan and confirmed by his own Treaty of Chuenpi. But on the day when Sir J. J. Gordon Bremer took possession of Hongkong (January 20, 1841), believing, with Elliot, that an era of peace was now being inaugurated, Kishen received an Imperial Edict which virtually nullified the Tientsin promises, the Chusan truce and the Chuenpi Treaty, and indicated a complete reversal of that policy which had been initiated by the Emperor whilst the British fleet threatened Tientsin and Peking. The force of Lord Palmerston's arguments, as set forth in his dispatch, was in the fleet which presented the dispatch and not in the text of the latter. The order which Kishen now (January 20, 1841) received was, 'Let a large body of troops be assembled and let an awful display of celestial vengeance be made.'
With these orders in his pocket, Kishen went down next day (January 27, 1841) to the Second Bar Pagoda where, with beaming countenance and a pleasant smile on his lips, he held a levée and entertained Elliot and a select company of British officers at lunch, pretending the utmost cordiality and the frankest determination to carry out the stipulations of the Treaty of Chuenpi. Elliot and the British officers were all completely deceived. Whilst Kishen were pleasantly chatting with his guests near the Bogue, another Edict issued at Peking, in which the Emperor, referring to the proposed cession of a port, stated that a glance at these memorials filled him with indignation and grief, that Kishen had deceived him by soliciting as an Imperial favour what the barbarians demanded by force. One more chance was, however, given to Kishen, to amend his craven conduct, by driving off and destroying those foreigners: 'Let him proceed immediately to take command of all the officers and subalterns and lead them on to the extermination of these barbarians, thus hoping to atone for and save himself.' Other Edicts were issued within the next few days ordering the immediate recapture of Chusan, and the dispatch of picked veteran soldiers from Hupeh, Sszechuen and Kweichou to Canton. Three special Commissioners (Yikshan, Lung Wan and Yang Fang) were ordered to proceed to Canton to organize and superintend a war of unconditional extermination. No question of opium was now raised. The 'hateful brood of barbarians' were to be destroyed, one and all, by any means, foul or fair.
On the day when one of these Edicts was issued at Peking (January 30, 1841) and dispatched so as to reach Kishen in 12 days, Elliot issued a circular to Her Majesty's subjects in China stating that 'negotiations with the Imperial Commission proceed satisfactorily.' However, when Elliot had his next interview with Kishen (February 13, 1841), he had heard a whisper of the contents of the Edict which had reached Kishen two days before (February 11, 1841) and put a few searching questions to him. Meeting with evasive answers, Elliot found his worst suspicions confirmed, and prepared once more for war. Five days later (February 18, 1841) the Chinese themselves commenced hostilities by firing on a boat of the armed steamer Nemesis from a fort on Wangtong island. Next day the British squadron began to assemble at the Bogue. Kishen having formally declined to carry out the stipulations of the Chuenpi Treaty, war was declared, and the Cantonese Authorities commenced it by the issue of proclamations offering $50,000 for Elliot or any other 'rebellious ringleader' (February 25, 1841).
A landing having been effected by the English, beyond the reach of the Chinese guns, on South-Wangtong (February 25, 1841), a battery was erected there during the night, and at daybreak (February 26, 1841) commenced the Third Battle of the Bogue, by an attack on the batteries of North- Wangtong and Aneunghoi. In the space of a few hours the Chinese positions were carried, 300 guns spiked, 1,000 prisoners made in the forts, and about 250 Chinese killed and 102 wounded. Admiral Kwan, the descendant of the god of war, was among the killed. After compelling the prisoners to bury the dead, the victors allowed them all to depart in peace. Next day (February 27, 1841) the fleet proceeded to attack an entrenched camp, situated on the left bank of the river, just below Whampoa. It was defended by 100 pieces of artillery and garrisoned by 2,000 men of the elite of the Hunan troops, who offered a brave and determined resistance in a hand to hand fight. But British discipline and pluck scattered them and the camp was carried. An old British ship (Cambridge) which the Chinese had purchased under the name Chesapeake, and fitted out as a frigate, was also captured and blown up, after great slaughter.
As the troops advanced beyond Whampoa, destroying battery after battery, the European merchant ships came up to Whampoa apace and resumed trade on the day (March 1, 1841) when the fleet, by carrying the enemy's works at Liptak and Eshamei, approached Canton city. Major-General Sir Hugh Gough, having arrived (March 2, 1841), took command of the land forces, whilst Captain the Hon. Le Fleming Senhouse commanded the fleet as Senior Naval Officer, in the absence of Commodore Bremer. A masked battery on the N.E. end of Whampoa Island was carried (March 2, 1841) and when Liptak (Howqua's Folly) was occupied (March 8, 1841) by the advanced squadron, the Acting Prefect of Canton city (Yue Pao-shun) came with a flag of truce, begging for a suspension of hostilities for three days. Negotiations commenced but came to nothing. The armistice having expired at 11 a.m. on March 6, 1841, the works in advance of Howqua's Folly were captured at once. Elliot, seeing the city in the power of the fleet anchored close to its southern frontage, assumed that all opposition was now subdued, and issued forthwith a proclamation to the people (March 6, 1841) stating that the Emperor's bad advisers were responsible for the proceedings, that the war was with the Chinese Government, and that the people and the city would be spared, if trade were quietly resumed without further opposition.
Trade indeed did flourish all through this month in spite of the hostilities between the troops, the war being so far only a contest between the naval and military forces of the two countries. But the Chinese officials secretly continued their policy of extermination without flinching. Kishen was arrested by Imperial orders, loaded with chains and thus carried off from Canton (March 12, 1841) to be tried in Peking. On the same day, the first merchant ship, since the raising of the blockade, left Whampoa with a full cargo. Business continued to increase there steadily.
Observing, however, active preparations for a resumption of hostilities in the S.W. of Canton city, the British commanders resumed hostilities (March 13, 1841), when seven batteries, obstructing the inner passage (Taiwong-kau) from Macao to Canton, being armed with 105 cannons, were captured by the armed steamer Nemesis (Captain Hall), and the fort in the Macaopassage, near Canton, was captured by H.M.S. Calliope (Captain Herbert). A lull of quiet now ensued and lasted for a few days.
But on March 16, 1841, a flag of truce having been fired upon by the Chinese, the enemy's works on Fatee and Dutch Folly were attacked and captured and a large flotilla of war junks was destroyed. By this action the western as well as the southern portions of Canton city were brought under the guns of the squadron. The factories also were occupied by British troops (March 18, 1841) and the whole city was now at the mercy of Captain Elliot. But for the second time the city was spared, without a ransom, on condition that the hostile preparations should be discontinued and trade resumed. One of the newly appointed Special Imperial Commissioners, Yang Fang, who, to the chagrin of the Emperor, had boldly recommended that 'a haven for stowage should be allowed to the foreigners,' had already arrived in Canton. He now concluded with Elliot a formal Convention (March 30, 1841). The terms of this Convention were, (1) that the British ships of war remain near the factories, (2) that the Chinese discontinue further preparations for war, (3) that foreign merchants may at once return to the factories and that foreign ships may continue the legitimate trade at Whampao, paying the usual port charges and other duties to the Chinese Government. Yang Fang and the Viceroy (Eliang) issued forthwith a joint proclamation stating that Elliot had assured them that 'all he wanted was trade and nothing else.' Accordingly they exhorted the people, by all means to continue trading with foreigners without fear. At the same time the two officials reported to the Emperor, that Elliot, in saying all he wanted was trade and nothing else, had renounced his claim to Hongkong as well as his former demand of an indemnity for the opium surrendered to Lin, and that the British fleet would retire from Canton as soon as an Imperial Decree authorizing resumption of trade with the barbarians was received.
Things now appeared to go on quietly. The Chinese officials, however, continued their warlike preparations, and secretly stirred up the people to join in the war of extermination. The continuance of the trade kept them in funds. So the foundries at Fatshaii were working day and night, casting new cannons and turning out, under foreign superintendence, a number of five-ton guns, which were forthwith placed in position for an attack on the British fleet, but, in the absence of proper gun carriages, in a manner which left the guns unworkable. Masked batteries were also erected on the sly along the river front, and new fleets of war-junks and fire-ships were collected in the creeks connecting Fatshan with Canton.
Meanwhile, however, trade continued briskly as if all were peace, although a Mr. Field and two young officers of H.M.S. Blenheim were assassinated (March 20, 1841) on their way to Macao. Elliot himself took up once more his residence in the factories (April 5, 1841) where he had been a prisoner but a year before. He did so partly to disarm suspicion as to the good intentions of the English and partly to keep himself informed of what was going on in Canton city, where Lin was still residing as adviser of the Commissioners who were daily expected. As soon as Yikshan, the Chief of the Commission, arrived in Canton (April 14, 1841), together with Lung Wan, the second Commissioner, and the new Viceroy, Kikung, a secret conclave was held between them and Yang Fang, the third Commissioner, and Lin. They all agreed that Canton was defenceless, that there were not sufficient troops to dislodge the British from their present position, and that therefore they should all make a show of friendly relations until the British forces had left Canton, as they intended doing, to prosecute the war in the North, but that, as soon as the expedition had left, they would block up with piles and stone junks every single outlet of the Canton River and re-build every fort, ready to assume the offensive once more.
This scheme they confidentially reported forthwith to the Emperor. But Elliot, who generally had good information, heard something of this plan (May 14, 1841) and at once ordered the expedition, which was to have started for Amoy and Ningpo the next day (May 15, 1841), to be postponed indefinitely. H.M.S. Columbine also had brought news (May 10, 1841) that Eleepoo had, like Kishen, fallen into disgrace, and that Yuekien, one of the most violent enemies of the English, had replaced him as Imperial Commissioner at Ningpo.
Elliot was waiting for the Chinese to strike the first blow. But when he found that the Shameen battery, which had been carried and dismantled in March, was about to be re-armed, he called upon the Cantonese Authorities to stop this and every other warlike movement at once. Finding that they evaded his demands. Captain Elliot forthwith (May 17, 1841) sent for troops from Hongkong. Next day (March 18, 1841), the British forces (consisting of 2,600 combatants) started from Hongkong for Canton, leaving but a small portion of the 37th Madras Native Infantry to protect the settlement at Hongkong. The Cantonese Authorities meanwhile continued to pretend friendly feelings, whilst heavy masses of picked troops from other provinces were daily pouring into the city. To mislead Elliot and the foreign merchants, the Acting Prefect issued (May 20, 1841) a proclamation urging the people, who were leaving the city in large numbers in dread of the approaching conflict, to remain quiet in their lawful pursuits and to continue trade with foreigners without alarm or suspicion. Unbeknown to Yang Fang, who as an experienced soldier knew the strength of the British forces and accordingly counselled patience, Yikshan made secret arrangements for a simultaneous night-attack on the British fleet, by means of fire-ships. Elliot received information of the proposed movement and immediately issued a circular (March 21, 1841) warning Her Majesty's subjects and all other foreign merchants in the factories to retire from Canton before sunset. At 11 p.m. the attack commenced from the western fort (Saipaotoi) near Shameen, where a new five-ton gun had been mounted. A series of fire-boats came suddenly, with the tide, down upon the British ships. The crews of these fire-ships carried stink-pots and fire-balls and were armed with long boarding pikes. The moment the first of these fire-ships were hailed and fired into by the British sentries, the Chinese forts and masked batteries along the river front opened fire on the British ships anchored in the river and the Hunan and Szechuen troops attacked the untenanted factories and plundered them. Yang Fang only heard of the attack when it had commenced. He stamped and swore, but it was too late. The attack entirely miscarried, because the British ships were all on the alert and prepared for it. They immediately poured shot and shell into the fire-ships, the moment they came within easy range, and then turned their guns on the batteries which were speedily silenced. Next morning all the Chinese batteries within range of the ships were carried by assault and a flotilla of over 100 war-junks and fire-ships was captured and burned (May 22, 1841). The next two days the British forces prepared for a concerted attack on Canton city. On May 24, 1841, after firing a royal salute in honour of Her Majesty's birthday, the afternoon was spent in collecting large numbers of barges for the transport of the troops in shallow water, in replying to occasional shots fired from masked batteries in the suburbs, and in moving troops to their appointed stations. In the evening, nearly 2,000 men were conveyed in large covered barges, collected by Captain Belcher, up the northern branch of the river from Shameen towards the North-west gate of the city. After landing, near the village of Tsinghoi, the guns and artillery during the night, and reconnoitring the neighbourhood at daybreak, a start was made, under the command of Major-General Burrell, at 9 a.m. (May 25, 1841). The troops marched across the swampy paddy-fields in the direction of the North-west gate, driving the village volunteers before them, attacked and carried at the point of the bayonet the four outlying forts outside that and the North gate, and took by assault, though not without considerable loss of men and officers, a strongly entrenched camp which was protected by the guns on the city walls. At the same time an attack was made on the southern suburbs. Major Pratt, with the Cameronians, took possession of the factories, whilst the ships in the river bombarded the Tartar General's head-quarters.
Yikshan and Yang Fang were entirely disconcerted by these movements. They had not expected the city to be attacked in the North-west, where its fortifications were strongest, but had prepared for an assault in the South and especially in the East. The bombardment also caused a great panic in the city, while the Chinese five-ton guns could not be brought to bear upon the British ships so as to reply to their fire.
The following day (May 26, 1841) the rain poured down in torrents and put almost a stop to the movements of both sides. The British troops were waiting for fresh supplies of guns and ammunition, but before nightfall all preparations for the assault of the city walls were completed and fifteen pieces of artillery in position before the northern gates. Next morning (May 27, 1841), at the very moment when the attack was going to be sounded, a sudden stop was put to the movement of the troops, to their intense disappointment. The news came that Elliot had concluded a treaty of peace. This Treaty of Canton, arranged between Elliot, Yikshan and Kikung (May 27, 1841) was based on the following stipulations, viz. (1) that the Tartar troops and the braves from the other provinces (between whom and the volunteers there was a deadly feud), amounting to about 35,000 men, should immediately evacuate the city without display of banners; (2) that the Imperial Commissioners should leave the city within six days and proceed to a distance of at least 60 miles; (3) that the British forces would not leave Canton nor retire beyond the Bogue, until the following payments had been made, viz. $6,000,000 as a ransom of the city to be paid within one week, $300,000 compensation for the pillage of the factories, $10,000 for Mr. Moss and the other sufferers by the attack on the British schooner Black Joke, and $25,000 for the owners of the Spanish brig Bilbaino; (4) that a promise be given, not to re-arm any of the fortified places at the Bogue or inside the river, and to stop all further warlike preparations until affairs should be settled between the two nations; (5) that trade should at once be resumed at Canton and Whampoa.
It will be noticed that Elliot did not expressly include among the stipulations of this Treaty either the confirmation of the cession of Hongkong (which, he no doubt supposed,, required no further confirmation), or compensation for the opium surrendered to Lin (which he considered settled by his drafts on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury). As to a war indemnity, he no doubt reserved that for the reckoning yet to be made with the Imperial Government, the real instigators of the war. The Manchu Annals incorrectly state that Elliot demanded and obtained 'the opium money' in addition to a 'war indemnity,' and make the further doubtful assertion that Elliot first proposed to Yikshan to exchange Tsimshatsui and Kowloon for the Island of Hongkong, but that, when Yikshan pointed out that the Emperor had not yet been invited to agree to the cession of Hongkong, Elliot consented to let the question of Hongkong stand over for discussion (with the Imperial Government). The Annalist accordingly blames the Commissioners for omitting, in their reports to the Throne, all reference to the payment of the opium indemnity and to the cession of Hongkong.
The advantages gained by this ten days' campaign and the consequent Treaty of Canton were very great. The removal from the scene of those troops which alone had stood the British fire, and which had drawn upon themselves the ill-feeling of the Cantonese so as to cause danger of civil war in the city, was a decided advantage. The expulsion of the Imperial Commissioners, who had been the prime movers in all hostilities, was calculated to make them comparatively harmless, while the temporary crippling of the provincial exchequer deprived them, at least for a time, of the sinews of war. But the greatest advantage gained by the Canton Treaty was the speedy termination of the campaign which, within a few weeks after the first blow was struck, set the British troops free, just when the summer was coming on, to operate in the North.
On the day after the conclusion of peace (May 28, 1841), it happened that the third company of the 37th Madras Native Infantry, under Lieutenant Hadfield and two subalterns, Devereux and Berkeley, having lost their way, were surrounded, late in the evening and far from the main body, by masses of Chinese volunteers. Seeing that the muskets of the company (none of which had percussion locks), being soaked with the rain, persistently missed fire, these volunteers attacked our men with long spears and pruning hooks, against which the bayonets were at a fearful disadvantage. But there this little company of sepoys, between fifty and sixty strong, stood undaunted for several hours, formed in square, unable to fire their muskets, but bravely repelling the continued attacks of some two thousand Chinese until at last two companies of Royal Marines came to the rescue and scattered the volunteers. Yet the rescued company lost only one man killed (hacked to pieces in their sight) and fifteen (including Ensign Berkeley) wounded. This rencontre, between that one company of Madras Native Infantry and a few thousand volunteers near the village of Samyuenli, was vastly exaggerated by the Chinese officials and reported to the Emperor in glowing colours as 'the Battle of Samyuen Village,' whereupon the Emperor sarcastically remarked that the Canton yokels appeared to have accomplished more than the whole of the regular armies of China. These remarks of the Emperor gave subsequently an immense impetus to the Fatshan-Canton volunteer movement.
Five months later (October 30, 1841), Her Majesty the Queen expressed her entire approbation of the operations against Canton, but Captain Elliot, to whom the credit of the conclusion of the Treaty is due, appears to have received neither approbation nor thanks at the hands of his country. His Treaty of Chuenpi, by which he gained the territory of Hongkong for Her Majesty's possession, remained ignored by both Governments. The six million dollars which he recovered by his Canton Treaty 'in diminution of the just claims of Her Majesty's Government,' and which covered the amount of the bills drawn by him on Her Majesty's Treasury in payment of the opium surrendered to Lin, was not applied to that purpose, but his bills were left dishonoured and the opium compensation question allowed to stand over for some years longer, while Her Majesty immediately allowed twelve months' full batta to the naval and military forces in China out of those six million dollars.
Elliot may have been to blame for the trust he reposed in Kishen's willingness or ability to carry out the stipulations of the Chuenpi Treaty, for the haste with which he withdrew the British troops from Chusan (though the frightful mortality rate which reigned there may be his excuse), and for his omission to secure the approval of the Emperor before thus carrying out his part of the stipulations. But such errors of judgment ought to have been balanced by the consideration of the many years' faithful and approved service which he had rendered to his country under the most harassing and painful circumstances, and by the heroism he displayed in hurrying to the rescue of his imprisoned countrymen at the risk of his life in 1839. All honour is due to the memory of brave Captain Elliot.
Strange to say, Commodore Bremer returned (June 18, 1841) from Calcutta with the news that he had been appointed Joint Plenipotentiary, though, if telegraphic communication had then existed, Elliot would have been informed long before (May 14, 1841) that both he and Bremer had already been superseded. A few weeks after Commodore Bremer's return, he was, together with Captain Elliot, shipwrecked in the great typhoon (July 21, 1841) and they escaped but by a hair's breadth capture and probable assassination by Chinese pirates or soldiers. Captain Elliot left China for Europe (August 24, 1841) disappointed and unjustly dishonoured, together with Commodore Bremer. There is a singular coincidence in the fact that the fate of Sir George Robinson, who first recommended the annexation of Hongkong officially, and who was curtly recalled for it, befell also the man who, against his own will perhaps, had procured the formal cession of Hongkong.
Sir Henry Pottinger, Baronet, a Major-General in the East India Company's service, had been selected (May 15, 1841) to be Her Majesty's Sole Plenipotentiary and Minister Extraordinary, to proceed to China on a special mission to the Chinese Government. He had, at the same time, been commissioned to act as Chief Superintendent of the trade of Her Majesty's subjects with that country and invested with full power to negotiate and conclude a Treaty for the arrangement of the differences subsisting between Great Britain and China. For the latter purpose, Major-General Sir Hugh Gough and Admiral Sir William Parker were associated with him as respective Commanders-in-chief of the military and naval forces in China. Sir H. Pottinger having arrived at Macao (August 10, 1841) together with Sir W. Parker, by the steam-frigate Sesostris, and called on Governor Pinto, held forthwith several conferences with Captain Elliot, Sir Hugh Gough and Mr. A. R. Johnston. He next dispatched (August 13, 1841) his Secretary, Major Malcolm, to Canton, to deliver to the Imperial Commissioners and to the Viceroy dispatches announcing his arrival as Sole Plenipotentiary, and warning the Chinese Authorities that the slightest infringement of the terms of the truce, concluded by the Treaty of Canton, would lead to an instant renewal of hostilities in the Canton Province.
The arrival of these dispatches, and the plain warning thus given to the Chinese Authorities, caused great excitement at Canton. The literati and gentry viewed the attitude of superiority and the tone of undisguised severity, which Sir H. Pottinger had adopted in these dispatches, so utterly at variance with the polite and humbly respectful style of Elliot's communications, as a studied insult and unbearable disgrace. The popular feeling, thus aroused, vented itself at the next public examination of graduates (September 16, 1841), when the Acting Prefect (Yü Pao-shun) was hooted by the students and driven out of the examination hall as a public traitor. The people now made common cause with their officials, though they hated them, and the officials, egged on by the literati to defy Sir H. Pottinger's warning, waited only for a diminution of the forces at Hongkong when they're-built most of the forts inside the Bogue. But when they attempted (September, 1841) to re-arm the Wangtong forts, close to the Bogue, H.M.S. Royalist, forming part of the small squadron under the command of Captain Nias (of H.M.S. Herald), immediately destroyed the works without ado.
On the day of his arrival at Macao (August 10, 1841), Sir H. Pottinger issued a Gazette Extraordinary to inform Her Majesty's subjects at Macao and Hongkong of his appointment and the nature of his commission. Two days later he intimated (August 12, 1841) that the primary object of his mission was to secure a speedy and satisfactory close of the war, and that no consideration of mercantile interests would be allowed to interfere with that object. In the same notification he referred to 'the well-understood perfidy and bad faith' of the Cantonese Authorities, and warned British subjects of a probable interruption of the present truce, cautioning them against putting themselves or their property in the power of the Chinese officials. As to the occupation of Hongkong, Sir H. Pottinger stated, at the close of this notification, that the arrangements made by his predecessor with reference to Hongkong should remain in force 'until the pleasure of Her Majesty regarding that Island and those arrangements should be received.' These words plainly intimated that the Chuenpi Treaty and the cession of Hongkong, and especially the act of formally taking possession of the Island in the name of Her Majesty, had so far been neither disapproved nor formally approved by Her Majesty's Government. Things were left in statu quo and that meant, to all practical intents and purposes, tacit provisional confirmation of the cession of Hongkong.
On August 21, 1841, the expedition started from Hongkong, the ships being all cleared for action. A descent was made first upon Amoy. The forts, town and citadel of Amoy, together with the fortified island of Kulangsoo, were captured (August 26, 1841). Leaving a small garrison at Amoy, the expedition proceeded to Chusan, where Tinghai fell into the hands of the English after a noble resistance (October 1, 1841). In taking possession again of the whole island of Chusan, Sir H. Pottinger notified (October 2, 1841), by a public circular, that under no circumstances would Chusan be restored again to the Chinese Government, until the whole of the demands of England (as previously made at Tientsin) were not only complied with but carried into full effect. The fortified towns of Chinhai (October 10, 1841) and Ningpo (October 13, 1841) were next occupied. At Chinhai a most obstinate resistance was offered by the Chinese troops. When the Imperial Commissioner Yue-kien, who had previously tortured and murdered an English prisoner (Captain Stead), saw that all was lost, he committed suicide rather than surrender himself into the hands of the English. The transport Nerhudda having been wrecked on the Formosan coast (September 26, 1841), nearly the whole of the crew and passengers were murdered by Chinese officials in prison. The same scenes occurred after the wreck of the British brig Anne. These dastardly deeds, for which a Manchu Brigadier called Tahunga was chiefly responsible, were reported to the Emperor, and gloated over all through the Empire as great victories gained in battle, and Tahunga was promoted in consequence. On receiving the news of the fall of Tinghai, Chinhai and Ningpo, the Emperor immediately ordered the defences of Tientsin and Taku to be strengthened (November 1, 1841) and a])pealed to the whole nation to rise against the English and continue unsparingly the war of extermination (November 15, 1841). Kishe nwas now pardoned and called into service again as assistant to Yikking, who was dispatched (December 1, 1841) as Imperial Commissioner to recover Chinhai at any cost.
A lull now ensued in the proceedings. The Chinese felt that the supremacy of China over the rest of the world was at stake and carefully prepared for the struggle which was to decide the question for ever. The British expedition also was waiting for reinforcements, as sickness had made great havoc among the troops. Sir H. Pottinger meanwhile returned to Hongkong and Macao where he learned that the Cantonese had, for months past, been straining every nerve to prepare for an early renewal of hostilities. The Imperial Commissioner Yikshan had enrolled (October 8, 1841) large bodies of paid village volunteers for the defence of Canton city, to the great annoyance of the citizens. Stoneboats had been scuttled at Howqua's Folly and in Blenheim Reach, to obstruct access to Canton. The Chinese gunpowder factories—one of which, near Canton city, blew up by accident (January 12, 1842)—were working extra time. The cannon foundries at Fatshan were turning out superior kinds of brass guns of a foreign pattern. Six new forts had been constructed under foreign advice, and an army of 30,000 men was under instruction in the use of musket and bayonet. Sir H. Pottinger stopped the seizure of Chinese vessels which had been ordered by the officer (Captain Nias) who, after the death at Hongkong of Sir Humphrey Le Fleming Senhouse (June 13, 1841), had succeeded to the post of Senior Naval Officer. But Sir H. Pottinger at the same time warned the Cantonese Authorities repeatedly that the least attempt to rebuild the Bogue Forts would bring upon Canton a most severe chastisement.
During the month of March, 1842, the struggle was to be renewed. For months previous to that date the Provincial Authorities up and down the coast made extensive preparations with a view to resume the combat, in March, by simultaneous attacks upon the British positions at Hongkong, Chinhai and Ningpo.
As to Hongkong, it appears from Chinese records that Yikshan had secretly reported to the Emperor, that Hongkong had but a feeble garrison of Indian troops, and that among the large Chinese population that had flocked to that Colony, he had secured the services of 3,000 Chinese residents of Hongkong: who had promised to rise against the foreigners at the proper time, whilst the remainder of Chinese residing in the Colony were all desirous to return to their Chinese allegiance. To provide a popular leader for this movement, the Emperor selected. Kiying for the purpose of organizing a sudden massacre of all foreigners at Hongkong. At the same time, a Censor, Soo Ting-kwai, reported to the Throne, that the moment was propitious for a general attack on the British positions in China, because the Nepaulese had commenced war against them in India and the British commanders in China had thereby been compelled to send many of their ships to India to rescue their countrymen there. Kiying was accordingly ordered by the Emperor to proceed immediately to Canton, with a view to direct the attack to be made on Hongkong, but soon after he had started he was recalled again, because the Emperor had learned that Nanking was threatened by the British forces. The preconcerted attack on the British positions at Ningpo and Chinhai was now made at once (March 10, 1842) but failed. Not only were the assaults immediately repelled, but the British forces now resumed the offensive, capturing the district cities of Tszeki (March 15, 1842) and Chapu (May 18, 1842) and moving northward in the direction of Nanking. Through the recall of Kiying and the advance of the British forces, the intended rising in Hongkong came to nothing. Rumours of a proposed attack on Hongkong were repeatedly referred to in the local papers (April 21 and July 28, 1842) but found no credence among the European community. Nevertheless Admiral Cochrane and General Burrell deemed it prudent (about the middle of July) to make a counter-demonstration by proceeding with a small squadron up the Canton River as far as Whampoa. This measure had the desired effect. But the British residents of Hongkong never knew what a serious danger they had escaped.
Yikshan and the Viceroy of Canton commenced (since February, 1842) negotiations with the French, or, if the Manchu Annals (partly translated by Mr. E. H. Parker) are to be trusted, had offers to build war-ships for use against the English thrust upon them. Yikshan and Kikung had several interviews with M. de Challaye, the French Consul at Canton, and Colonel de Jancigny (the latter having just arrived on a commercial mission to China). Possibly, the aim of M. de Challaye was merely to tender the mediation of the French Government with a view to arrange terms of peace, whilst M. de Jancigny was looking for orders for French manufacturers of warlike stores. Yikshan reported to the Emperor the offers of assistance he had received from the French, but added, 'the enemy's designs are unfathomable and possibly they are really assisting the English in an underhand way and acting as spies on us for them.' The Manchu Annalist further states that 'the French hung on from February to June (1842) awaiting our commands and at last, in June, proceeded to Wusung, but the English were already far up the Yangtsze.' But, whilst the Cantonese officials distrusted this first syndicate represented by Colonel de Jancigny, a wealthy private citizen of Canton, Poon Sze-shing, received permission from the Emperor to employ Colonel de Jancigny to order out from France a number of war vessels, guns, and torpedoes (then quite a novelty), for use against the English, and to re-organize, with de Jancigny's advice, the whole Cantonese navy.
These intrigues were, however, too late in the field. Whilst the Cantonese were wasting public and private funds in purchasing new and expensive munitions of war, the English expedition in Central China made a speedy end of the war. After the fall of Wusung (June 16, 1842) and Shanghai (June 19, 1842) the Chinese Commissioners offered terms of peace. Sir H. Pottinger, who had rejoined the expedition (June 22, 1842), informed them what the demands of England were, but declined entering upon any negotiations with the Commissioners until they had received the authority of the Emperor to concede those demands. Sir H. Pottinger also issued a public proclamation (July 5, 1842) in which he informed the Chinese people of the real points at issue between England and China. This proclamation brought forward four complaints and three demands. The complaints were, (1) that, whilst English merchants had for two centuries patiently suffered continuous ill-treatment at the hands of Cantonese officials, this systematic ill-usage exceeded all bounds when Commissioner Lin, in 1839, instead of seizing the actual offenders, Chinese and foreign, implicated in the opium traffic, forcibly confined an English officer and English merchants and threatened them with death, so as to extort from them what opium there might be in China at that time, in order to gain favour with the Emperor; (2) that the Ministers at Peking, 'men without truth or good faith,' after concluding a truce and sending Kishen to Canton to arrange terms of peace, suddenly changed their minds, replaced Kishen by Yikshan and commenced a war of extermination, thus compelling the English to take the Bogue Forts, to bring Canton itself to submission, and to take from it a ransom for the punishment of such ill faith; (3) that the High Commissioner Yuekien and other high officers, like Tahunga, had tortured and killed shipwrecked Englishmen, reporting such brutal outrages committed on defenceless individuals to the Emperor as victories gained in battle; and finally (4) that the Cantonese Authorities, seeking to confine to themselves the profits of the foreign trade and extorting, through the Hong Merchants, illegal payments from the foreign merchants, disguised everything under false statements to the Emperor. The demands which the English nation was thus in justice entitled to make were (1) compensation for losses and expenses, (2) a friendly and becoming intercourse on terms of equality between officers of the two countries, and (3) the cession of insular territory for commerce and for the residence of merchants and as a security and guarantee against future renewal of offensive acts.
This appeal to the conscience of the nation, and this impeachment of the Manchu Government at the bar of public opinion in China, had a very great effect. It was, as many Chinese themselves acknowledged, a truthful exposition of the real issue of the conflict between China and England, caused by the treatment accorded to foreigners at the hands of Chinese officials, who acted on the supposition of China's absolute supremacy and in defiance of international equality. Moreover, this proclamation, whilst justifying the cession of Hongkong and the occupation of Chusan, gave to the opium question that accidental and extraneous position which it really occupied in the history of this first Anglo-Chinese war.
Whilst the British forces were steadily advancing towards Chinkiang and Nanking, the minds of the Chinese officials and people in the North were filled with dread. The superiority of British strategy, arms and discipline, over the best Chinese military resources and efforts, were painfully obvious to the whole nation. All through the maritime provinces, public opinion now began to turn in favour of making peace with the English, the people having to their surprise noticed that the English confined their warlike operations to retributive dealings with the Government troops and spared the people themselves as much as possible. Yikshan now wrote to the Emperor that the Cantonese were all in league with the foreigners. A feeling of despair began to take possession of the statesmen, officials and military leaders of China, and a positive panic fell on them when a total eclipse of the sun, the usual presage, according to Chinese superstition, of national disaster, occurred (July 8, 1842) during the advance of the English fleet on Nanking. With the capture of Chinkiang (July 21, 1842) the key to the Grand Canal, the principal channel of the food supply of North-China, fell into the hands of the English. Kiying, Eleepoo and Niu Kien now (July 22, 1842) offered terms of peace again, but were once more told to go and get first of all the Emperor's approval of the British demands as a whole, and then they might come and discuss details. The expedition steadily continued its onward move towards Nanking. On August 9, 1842, the troops were landed a few miles from Nanking, a reconnaissance was made, and two days later everything was in readiness for an assault on Nanking city (August 11, 1842), when an armistice was applied for and granted for the purpose of obtaining the Emperor's sanction of the formulated British demands, in order to conclude on that basis a formal treaty of peace. The stipulations were forwarded (August 13, 1842) to Peking by special messenger, and, on his return with the Emperor's approval, the Treaty of Nanking, between Her Majesty the Queen of England by Sir H. Pottinger on the one side, and the Emperor of China by the Commissioners Kiying, Eleepoo and Niu Kien on the other side, was solemnly concluded (August 29, 1842). Major Malcolm started next day for London, with one copy of the Treaty, to lose no time in obtaining Her Majesty's signature, whilst another copy was immediately forwarded to Peking; and returned thence with the Emperor's signature a fortnight later (September 15, 1842).
The demands agreed to by the Treaty of Nanking were: (1) peace and friendship between China and England; (2) the opening of five ports, Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo, and Shanghai, for the residence of British merchants, and their families, under the extra-territorial jurisdiction of British; Consular officers; (3) the cession of Hongkong; (4) payment of an opium indemnity of six million dollars; (5) payment of the Hong Merchants' debts, amounting to three million dollars; (G) payment of twelve million dollars war expenses; (7) all payments to be made, with interest at 5 per cent., within fixed: periods; (8) release of all prisoners of war; (9) a general amnesty in favour of all Chinese who had served the English during the war; (10) a fair and regular tariff of export and import duties and transit charges; (11) fixed terms of equality to be used in official correspondence; (12) withdrawal of British troops from Nanking, Chinkiang, Chinhai, Chusan, and Kulangsoo on certain conditions; (13) ratifications of the Treaty to be exchanged as soon as possible. This Treaty is more noteworthy for the stipulations omitted than for those included in it. The prohibition or legalisation of the opium trade was not referred to. The war had not been undertaken for the sake of opium. China was therefore justly left free to settle the opium question at her own sweet will. More remarkable is the omission tosecure for Chinese settlers on Hongkong freedom of commercial intercourse with the mainland of China, in the sense of the Foreign Office instructions of February 3, 1841. Mandarindom was left unaccountably free to make or mar the fortunes of Hongkong as a settlement for Chinese.
Whilst negotiating the provisions contained in the third article of the foregoing Treaty, Sir H. Pottinger was informed by the Commissioners, that the cession of Hongkong had some time ago been approved by the Emperor, and needed no further confirmation. Sir H. Pottinger, however, wished the cession of Hongkong to be discussed de novo, and informed the Commissioners, as he himself subsequently (January 21, 1843) stated in writing to a Committee of British merchants, that, 'the British Government holding Hongkong could not in any way disadvantageously affect the external commerce of China, because the English Government had no intention of levying any kind of duties there,' and that 'Hongkong was merely to be looked upon as a sort of bonded warehouse in which merchants could deposit their goods in safety until it should suit their purposes to sell them to native Chinese dealers or to send them to a port or place in China for sale.'
This is a point of considerable importance, as it indicates that the free-port character of Hongkong was the preliminary understanding on which the third article of the Nanking Treaty and the cession of Hongkong to the British Crown was now based. The future discontinuance or continuance of the freedom of the port of Hongkong is therefore by no means an open question left to the discretion of the Colonial or Imperial British Governments, but the latter is absolutely bound by the Nanking Treaty, as negotiated by Sir H. Pottinger, to maintain the freedom of the port from all export or import duties of any sort.
It was on this understanding that the Chinese Government issued, with Sir H. Pottinger's express approval, an edict allowing free and unrestricted intercourse to all vessels from treaty ports in China to Hongkong, and vice versâ, on payment of the export or import duties, as well as anchorage or harbour charges, legally due at the ports to which goods may be carried or from which they may be shipped within the Chinese Empire. The Chinese Government having thus acted on the promise of Sir H. Pottinger that Hongkong should remain a free port, the British Government would seem to be bound in good faith to maintain the freedom of the port inviolate.
The Article referring to the cession of Hongkong runs thus: 'It being obviously necessary, and desirable, that British subjects should have some port whereat they may careen and refit their ships when required and keep stores for that purpose, His Majesty the Emperor of China cedes to Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., the Island of Hongkong, to be possessed in perpetuity by Her Britannic Majesty, her Heirs and Successors, and to be governed by such laws and regulations as Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, &c., shall see fit to direct.' The reason here given why Hongkong should be ceded is rather curious. It appears to be rather Elliot's than Pottinger's view of the raison d'être of a British possession called Hongkong. We should not be surprised to find that the English rendering of this third Article of the Nanking Treaty is a literal translation of the Chinese text of the corresponding Article of the Chuenpi Treaty. If it was 'obviously' necessary in 1843, that English merchants should have dockyards and dockyard stores in a separate locality on the Chinese coast, it is very strange that Lord Palmerston and the Cabinet, that Parliament and the nation, could not be brought to see it, though the Mathesons, and Stauntons, and Robinsons and others did everything to demonstrate that necessity and desirability from 1833 to 1836. Moreover, it was obviously a sort of bonded warehouse, with dwelling houses, out of the reach of the avarice, corruption and oppression of Chinese officials that was needed, far more than dockyards and dockyard stores. And it was a Colony rather than a mere trade station or dockyard that Hongkong had become by the time, when this curious third Article of the Nanking Treaty was drafted.
Chastised and humbled as China was by the terms of the Treaty of Nanking, one might suppose that now at last the Chinese had been taught to surrender, once for all, their claim of supremacy over all foreign nations. But the popular Chinese theory, that 'as there is but one sun in the heavens, so there can be but one supreme ruler over all under heaven,' which proposition all mankind ought indeed to be ready to assent to in a religious sense, was so ingrained in the diplomatic mind and language of China, in the sense of China's political supremacy, that, within four months after the conclusion of the Nanking Treaty, the Emperor issued an Edict (December 24, 1842), ordering Eleepoo 'to meet Pottinger and immediately explain to him that the Celestial Dynasty has for its principle, in governing all foreigners without its pale, to look upon them with the same feeling of universal benevolence with which she looks upon her own children.' To this non plus ultra of diplomatic cant—for cant it seemed to be in view of the Emperor's rejoicing over the destruction of life caused in Hongkong by the typhoon, and in view of the wholesale murders committed by Tahunga and approved by the Emperor—Sir H. Pottinger replied in good earnest. He at once informed the Emperor, that his Royal Mistress, the Queen of England, 'acknowledges no superior or governor but God, and that the dignity, the power, and the universal benevolence of Her Majesty are known to-be second to none on earth and are only equalled by Her Majesty's good faith and studious anxiety to fulfil her Royal promises and engagements.' After this castigation, thus quietly administered by Sir H. Pottinger, the Chinese officials were not only careful to exclude from diplomatic correspondence their usual stock phrases of Chinese political supremacy, but the Yiceroy Kikung actually employed the phrase 'the two countries' which, in Elliot's time had provoked the ire and sarcasm of Viceroy Tang, and wrote to Pottinger (April 16, 1843) frankly admitting that 'the two countries are now united in friendship.'
The news of the conclusion of the Nanking Treaty was received throughout China with a sigh of intense relief. Everywhere the preparations for war were immediately discontinued. In fact the official measures taken everywhere along the coast indicated plainly that the Provincial Authorities were sincerely determined to abide by and carry out the provisions of the Treaty in good faith. In Canton, the militia was disbanded (October 13, 1842) and all temporary forts were dismantled. There was indeed a brief popular outburst of excitement in Canton (November, 1842), when it was rumoured that building lots in the Honan suburbs would be appropriated for dwelling houses for foreign merchants and their families. and a mob made an attack upon the factories and partially burned them (December 7, 1842). But the excitement was all over the very next day, when Sir Hugh Gough went up to Canton to investigate the state of things. Within a fortnight after this ebullition of popular temper, it was so evident that China meant to abide by the Nanking Treaty, that the military and naval forces were sent back to England, and over 50 transports and ships of war left Hongkong harbour (December 20, 1842) homeward bound. The war was over. The piping times of peace had come, and now it was the mission of Hongkong to smooth down the animosities of the past and to cement friendship between the two countries in the future.
Sir H. Pottinger at once set to work (January, 1843) to complete the remainder of his successful diplomatic mission, by settling the details of tariff duties and trade regulations. For this purpose he had frequent consultations with a representative Committee of British merchants consisting of Messrs. A. Matheson, G. T. Braine, W. Thomson, D. L. Burn, and W. P. Livingston. After the death of Eleepoo (March 4, 1843), Kiying was appointed Chief of the Imperial Commission, and it was at once foreseen that he would heartily work together with Pottinger in settling all details. The Viceroy of Canton (Kikung) also kept up friendly relations and cordially accepted Pottinger's offer (April 16, 1843) to co-operate with him in putting down the wholesale smuggling (partly in English craft) then going on, with the connivance of the Hoppo's underlings (as the Viceroy himself admitted), on the Canton River. Previous to Kiying's arrival, the two other members of the Imperial Commission, Wang An-tung and Hienling, visited Hongkong (May 11, 1843) were freely introduced to Hongkong society, dined twice with Sir H. Pottinger, drove out in a carriage (the first that passed the gap) to the Happy Valley, spent an evening at the Morrison Education Society's Institution (on Morrison Hill), attended a parade of artillery under Major Knowles, witnessed the investiture of Sir W. Parker, by Sir H. Pottinger, as Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, and returned to Canton thoroughly charmed with English civilization. Immediately after Kiying's arrival (June 4, 1843), Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, who had meanwhile returned from London with Her Majesty's signature and the Great Seal of England affixed to the Nanking Treaty, proceeded to Canton (June 6, 1843) and invited Kiying to exchange the ratifications of the Treaty at Hongkong. Kiying acceded to the request, repaired to Hongkong (June 23, 1843), with Hienling and Wang An-tung, and the exchange of ratifications was solemnly performed (June 26, 1843) at Government House (then situated on the spur above the Gaol). A guard of honour was in attendance, a large number of residents was present, and at the moment when the ratifications were exchanged, a royal salute was fired and responded to from the forts and shipping. Next, Her Majesty's Proclamation, declaring Hongkong to be a possession of the British Crown, was read by Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, in the presence of the Imperial Commissioners. Subsequently, Kiying having retired, the Royal Warrant was read, appointing Sir H. Pottinger Governor of Hongkong and its Dependencies. A large dinner party, given in the evening, concluded the festivities.
Four months afterwards a Supplementary Treaty, concluded by Sir H. Pottinger and the Imperial Commissioners, was signed (October 8, 1843) at the Bogue (Foomoonchai), by Kiying and Sir H. Pottinger on behalf of their Majesties, the Emperor of China and the Queen of England. Besides providing all the detailed trade-regulations to be observed at the five open portsof China, this Supplementary Treaty, the stipulations of which were to be as binding and of the same efficacy as if they had been inserted in the original Treaty of Nanking, contains several articles specially referring to Hongkong.
The extradition of criminals was provided for by Article IX, which stipulated that all Chinese criminals and offenders against the law, who may flee to Hongkong or to British ships of war or to British merchantmen for refuge, should be delivered up on proof or admission of their guilt. Article XIV provided, for the purpose of effectually preventing piracy and smuggling, that an officer of the British Government should examine the registers and passes of all Chinese vessels visiting Hongkong to buy or sell, and that any Chinese vessel arriving in Hongkong without such register or pass should be considered an unauthorized or smuggling vessel, forbidden to trade, and to be reported to the Chinese Authorities. Article XV provided for the recovery of debts, incurred by Chinese residents of Hongkong, through the English Court of Justice, or, if the debtor should flee into Chinese territory, through the British Consul at an open Treaty port. Article XVI provided that the Hoppo of Canton should furnish the corresponding British officer in Hongkong with monthly returns of passes granted to Chinese vessels to visit Hongkong, and that the British officer in Hongkong should forward similar monthly returns to the Hoppo. Article XVII provided for small craft plying between Hongkong, Canton and Macao, being exempt from all port charges if they carried only passengers, letters or baggage, to the exclusion of all dutiable articles. Those of the foregoing articles, which referred to a British officer doing in Hongkong the work of the Chinese revenue preventive service, and which would have practically confined Chinese trade with Hongkong to trade between the five open ports and Hongkong, were disapproved by the Home Government as much as by the local mercantile community. No such British officer was ever appointed, and fifteen years later (June 26, 1858) the whole Supplementary Treaty was formally abrogated. The object aimed at by those two Articles (XIV and XVI), the Chinese Government sought later on to attain by the so-called Custom's Blockade of Hongkong, and the duties, assigned by those two Articles to a British officer, are at the present day discharged by the English staff of the Kowloon Imperial Maritime Customs Office, established in Hongkong.
As regards that Article of the Nanking Treaty which provided for the payment by the Chinese Government of an opium indemnity amounting to six million dollars, the London Gazette of August 25, 1843, gave notice to those entitled to compensation, being holders of the certificates given, in 1839, by Captain Elliot for British-owned opium, that they might apply, on or after August 80, 1843, for payment at the Treasury Chambers, at the following rates, per chest, viz.: Patna, £66 7s. 7½d.; Malwa, £64 11s. 2d.; Benares, £61 11s. 3½d.; and Turkey, £43 3s. 5d. This arrangement, based on the average prices realized in Canton daring 78 days, from September 11 to November 27, 1838, caused much dissatisfaction, as it was alleged that the merchants thus received, after four years' delay, scarcely one half of what they originally had paid for the opium directly to the East India Company, besides losing four years' interest on their capital. But on the other side it might have been urged, that, at the time when the opium was taken possession of by Commissioner Lin, the market was overstocked, sales impossible, and, if Lin had not destroyed the opium but returned it to the merchants, they could not have sold it for anything like what they finally received for it.