The Administration of Sir John F. Davis.
May 8, 1844, to March 18, 1848.
t has been pointed out above what a serious error it was that was committed when the British Cabinet, sending out Lord Napier as the King's representative at Canton, associated him in office with men who had been trained in the East India Company's Canton school of truculent submission to Chinese mandarindom and who were looked upon by Chinese officials as contemptible traders. A similar mistake was made when Her Majesty's Government, looking out for a successor of Sir H. Pottinger, in that game of diplomacy with Chinese statesmen in which he had been so smartly duped, and in the government of a Colony established on the express principles of free trade, selected for this difficult post a gentleman who, as a former member of the East India Company's Select Committee at Macao and Canton, was altogether identified with the ideas of mingled servility, autocracy and monopoly as exemplified in the history of that Company. Mr. (subsequently, since July, 1845, Sir) John Francis Davis, Baronet, had indeed great experience of Chinese affairs. In his youth (1816 to 1817) he had served on the staff of Lord Amherst's mission to China. He had spent the best part of his life in the service of the Company in South China, bowing to Chinese officials and frowning upon European free traders, till he retired (January 21, 1835) in all the glory of a Chief Superintendent of Trade. He had meanwhile composed and published a work on 'China,' in two volumes, which is still recognized as one of the best descriptions of the Celestial Empire, and he posed now as a great sinologue and scholar. No doubt he knew the Chinese character and naturally he thought also he knew the typical British free trader, despoiled and despondent as the latter was (at the close of Sir H. Pottinger's administration), under the conviction that the free port of Hongkong had proved a commercial failure. If Sir Henry had been duped by the Chinese Mandarins in connection with his Supplementary Commercial Treaty, it was no doubt because he knew nothing of commerce and even less of Chinese. But here was Sir John, a China merchant and Chinese sinologue rolled in one. Who could be a better successor for Sir Henry? And as to the puzzle of Hongkong's commercial decay, why Sir John Davis understood it perfectly: the China Trade had reached its zenith under the regime of the East India Company, and where the Company could do no more, free trade was naturally bound to bring about a gradual diminution of the volume of trade. He understood it all: protection and monopoly was the remedy, and free traders must simply draw in their horns and learn to eat humble pie. His mission was to teach them to do that. And he did it—with what result, we shall see. But one thing more I have to add to these introductory remarks. Sir John Davis was not merely a scion in Chinese diplomacy and an exponent of British protectionism, but above all he was a scholar and a philanthropist: in this British Colony, placed at the very gates of China's antiquated semi-barbarism, he would demonstrate the kindlier humanities of British law and government and illustrate by the example of his administration the superiority of European learning and civilization.
Before Sir H. Pottinger left China, Sir John Davis, having entered (May 8, 1844) upon the duties of Superintendent of Trade under the Foreign Office, as well as upon those of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hongkong under the Colonial Office, had an opportunity to show off his diplomatic prowess by assisting his predecessor, at a meeting with Kiying (June 13, 1844), to try and persuade the latter to surrender, or make amends for, some of the advantages he had gained by his trickery in connection with the Supplementary Treaty of October 8, 1843. Two of the newly-arrived Colonial officials, the Hon. F. Bruce (Colonial Secretary) and M. Martin (Colonial Treasurer) assisted at the memorable interview. But Kiying was a match for them all, blandly explained away everything that seemed shady and conceded nothing. The fact was, the Pottinger Treaties had, as Sir John Bowring once put it (April 19, 1852), 'inflicted a deep wound upon the pride, but by no means altered the policy, of the Chinese Government.' The Treaty remained as it was, and our two diplomatists were reluctantly compelled to try and gloss things over by publishing a garbled account by a proclamation (July 10, 1844) and an imperfect translation (July 16, 1844), leaving it to the public to find out the mischievous provisions of the Treaty for themselves in course of time. An illustrative case soon occurred. On August 10, 1844, a Chinese junk, heavily armed and manned by a crew of 70 ruffians, but having no clearance papers as required by Article XIV of the Supplementary Treaty, ventured to drop anchor in Hongkong harbour. The junk had really come to frighten away or report upon any Chinese trading junks that might be in harbour. But the harbour police mistakenly suspecting her to be a piratical vessel, arrested her, and as there were doubts whether she was a trader without papers or a pirate, Sir John Davis ordered her to be delivered to the Kowloon Mandarin as having come into harbour without the clearance papers required by Treaty. This was the first and only case when the foolish concessions of the Supplementary Treaty, constituting the harbour police of Hongkong as underlings of the Chinese revenue preventive service, were acted upon by a benighted Hongkong governor. The denouement was too ridiculous: the junk turned out to be neither a trading nor a piratical craft but a Chinese revenue farmer's guardboat. However, the news got abroad that every Chinese trading junk, visiting Hongkong without those precious clearance papers, which no Chinese customs office would grant, was to be handed over by the British harbour police to the tender mercies of the Kowloon Mandarin. This contributed materially to injure the native commerce of the Colony and to keep away the junk trade for some time to come.
As Superintendent of Trade and Head of the Consular Service in China, Sir John Davis had to visit all the Treaty ports once a year, in order to inspect the Consulates and give the necessary directions. During his periodical absence from the Colony in connection with these duties, Major-General D'Aguilar used to administer the government of the Colony as Lieutenant-Governor. In the matter of the Supplementary Treaty, the mischievous provisions of which were condemned by Her Majesty's Government as much as by the community, Sir John had another interview with Kiying at the Bogue (April, 1846) but failed again to get any concession in favour of the Chinese trade of Hongkong. Nor did he succeed to wring from that astute diplomatist anything but vague promises as to granting British merchants in Canton the rights secured by the Nanking Treaty with reference to protection from mob violence, freedom of building residences on a separate concession, liberty to enter the city of Canton, or to make excursions inland. Again and again British subjects were assaulted at Canton and all he could get from Kiying was a series of specious pretexts for blaming British merchants for being so insolent as to ask for their rights or to expect exemption from molestation by mob violence. Sir John Davis used the hints of Kiying freely and, without rhyme or reason, accused the merchants of being the prime movers in all disturbances and made himself as much hated by the British community at Canton as he made himself, by his gullibility, ridiculous to Kiying, who, however, played the role of Sir John's very good friend and even came to visit him in Hongkong (November 22 to 25, 1845) when the compliment could be turned to good account. One thing, however, Sir John did succeed in obtaining from the Canton Authorities and that was the publication of a dispatch by the Provincial Treasurer of Canton, addressed (December 26, 1844) to the Hongkong Government, in which the former magnanimously renounced all claims to the land-tax of Hongkong and virtually admitted the sovereignty of Her Majesty over the whole Island. It was worth something, to be sure, to have this not merely stated in a Treaty, which most Chinese now regarded as waste paper, but actually acknowledged by a subordinate Chinese official. It was indeed a great deviation from the practice hitherto adopted by Chinese officers. For instance, on November 23, 1844, it was accidentally discovered that officers of the San-on District Magistrate openly collected at Stanley, as they bad all along been accustomed to do, the annual fishing tax of 400 cash per boat for the privilege (granted to 150 junks) of fishing in Hongkong waters. This was merely one of many cases shewing that the San-on Magistrate still considered Hongkong to be part and parcel of the Chinese dominions and all further doubts on the subject were removed by a case (November 14, 1846) in which Chinese officers boldly arrested some Chinese-British subjects within the Colony and carried them off by force.
Meanwhile the complaints of the Canton merchants as to the utter insecurity of life and property in Canton and as to the striking want of sympathy and energy displayed on their behalf by Sir John Davis, made themselves heard in England and as usual stirred Lord Palmerston's spirit. Two sailors of a British ship at Canton, strolling into the city, had been frightfully illtreated by a Canton mob in October, 1846. Sir John, as usual, instead of claiming redress at the hands of the Cantonese Authorities, ordered the Consul to fine the captain for turning the two seamen loose upon the populace and thereby causing a disturbance. In a dispatch to Lord Palmerston he casually alluded to the case as one of no importance, asking for no powers at all to proceed in the matter, but in reply he received the following stunning instructions. 'I have to instruct you,' wrote Lord Palmerston (January 12, 1847), 'to demand the punishment of the parties guilty of this outrage, and you will moreover inform the Chinese Authorities, in plain and distinct terms, that the British Government will not tolerate that a Chinese mob shall with impunity maltreat British subjects whenever they get them into their power, and that, if the Chinese Authorities will not by the exercise of their own authority punish and prevent such outrages, the British Government will be obliged to take the matter into their own hands.'
On receipt of this dispatch Sir John Davis lost his head completely. He thought he had an opportunity now to steal a march upon the Chinese Authorities, to take them by surprise, to occupy Canton city by a sudden descent upon it with an armed force, and then to dictate his own terms as a triumphant conqueror. He consulted Major-General G. D'Aguilar, who reluctantly yielded to the Quixotic plan. An engineer officer went secretly to reconnoitre the Bogue Forts and reported them to be practically untenanted. So a force of 1,000 men was quietly mobilized, part of Lord Palmerston's dispatch was published on fools' day, and next morning (April 2, 1847) the expedition started with three men-of-war (H.M.S. Vulture, Pluto and Espiègle) and a chartered steamer (Corsair), the latter having on board Sir John, the Major-General with his staff and the Senior Naval Officer, Captain Macdougall. In the course of 36 hours this redoubtable force, waging a private war of Sir John's upon a defenceless and unwarned foe, captured all the principal forts in the Canton River without the loss of a man and, in spite of the fire of several batteries, spiked 879 guns. On April 3, 1847, the expedition dropped anchor at Canton abreast of the factories, and disembarked the troops, to the utter amazement of Kiying and the British community. The British Chamber of Commerce sent a deputation to Sir John to inquire what it all meant, but they were told by Consul Macgregor that Sir John had expressed no wish to see them. Kiying was blandly informed (April 4, 1847) of Sir John's tiemands and next day informed by an ultimatum that, unless these were granted at the interview for which he fixed the 6th April, the city of Canton would be bombarded and taken by assault. After some hesitation, Kiying at last consented to meet Sir John Davis (April 6), and, as usual, satisfied him with empty promises. He offered to let the British community buy or rent 50 acres on Honam island if the individual owners should be willing to sell. He further offered to open Canton city to foreigners on or about April 6, 1849, if it were practicable by that time, and to allow excursions into the country, also to let Europeans build a church near the factories and bury their dead at Whampoa. Meanwhile he secretly made his arrangements for an attack. But Sir John at once accepted the terms, though they virtually were below the level of what the Nanking Treaty had granted in 1842, and on April 8, 1847, the British expedition returned to Hongkong triumphantly, leaving Kiying to report to the Emperor that he detained Sir John in parleys whilst collecting and bringing up his army, but that Sir John precipitately fled to Hongkong as soon as he found himself threatened by the Chinese troops. The British communities at Canton and Hongkong were indignant at this wanton and bootless 'bucaneering expedition' which merely served to cause a sudden stagnation of the Canton trade, to render the lives and property of foreigners in Canton even less secure than before, and to make European views of state policy and international law ridiculous in the eyes of the Chinese. It seemed clear to them that Sir John Davis was even a worse failure as a diplomatist than Sir Henry Pottinger had been. Lord Palmerston, however, approved of Sir John's proceedings and so the matter rested for the time, the more so as Kiying treated Sir John's warlike frolic with silent contempt.
A few months afterwards, however, a new disturbance arose in Canton, and when Sir John Davis, none the wiser for his past experiences, meditated another military expedition against Canton, and induced Major-Oeneral D'Aguilar to write to Ceylon for re-inforcements, Sir G. Grey, delighted to have an opportunity of subverting Lord Palmerston's policy, peremptorily prohibited any further offensive operations to be undertaken against the Chinese without the previous sanction of Her Majesty's Government. At the same time Earl Grey censured the April expedition in plain terms. 'Although the late operations,' he wrote (September 22, 1847), 'were attended with immediate success, the risk of a second attempt of the same kind would far overbalance any advantage to be derived from such a step. If the conduct of the Chinese Authorities should unfortunately render another appeal to arms inevitable, it will be necessary that it should be made after due preparation and with the employment of such an amount of force as may afford just grounds for expecting that the objects which may be purposed by such a measure will be effectually accomplished without unnecessary loss.' It has been alleged that Sir John was so taken aback by this censure, that he forthwith resigned, but at the time when this dispatch was penned. Sir John Davis had already sent in his resignation which was unhesitatingly accepted (November 18, 1847). Sir John's term of the Superintendency of Trade closed with another sad outbreak of popular temper at Canton. Six young foreigners, visiting a village some three miles above Canton (December 5, 1847) were set upon by a mob, tortured and murdered in cold blood. When Kiying delayed punishment of the guilty. Sir J. Davis pluckily prepared for another armed demonstration (January 5, 1848). But as soon as Kiying found that Sir John had a squadron ready for action (February 17, 1848), he yielded and had some of the guilty parties executed near the village in question (Wongchukee) in the presence of a company of the 95th Kegiment, sent up for the purpose, from Hongkong, in H.M.S. Pluto.
Sir John Davis had an opportunity to distinguish himself as a diplomatist in another field. He was directed to arrange a commercial treaty with Annam. Had he been furnished with proper information, and especially with capable interpreters, there would have been a chance for him to do a great work for the expansion of British trade, opening new markets, new trade routes, tapping Yunnan and Kwangsi, and keeping the French out of Annam and Tungking. But being without any diplomatic link of connection whatever and having neither agent nor friend at the Annamese Court, where French influence was already at work to keep off British intervention, nor even a capable interpreter, he naturally failed as signally with the Annamese officials as he had failed with Chinese diplomatists. Leaving Hongkong on October 6, 1847, he in vain attempted to open up negotiations with the officials on the coast near Huéh. Every Annamese officer appealed to refused to take any message. Leaving a letter addressed to the sovereign of Annam deposited on the beach, he at last received a message by subordinate officials, declining all negotiation and refusing admittance to Huéh. Sir John gave up any further attempt to thwart French influence in Cochin-China and returned to Hongkong (October 30, 1847) disappointed.
Sir John's relations with the neighbouring Colony of Macao were peaceful but by no means of the happiest sort. As the fortunes of the Colony of Hongkong were visibly declining, the Macao Government thought there was a chance of retrieving the mistakes of the past and bringing back to Macao the discontented free traders of Hongkong as well as the American, Dutch, French and Parsee merchants established at Canton. Accordingly a decree was obtained at Lisbon (November 20, 1845) which, though far from being a complete free trade measure, reduced the harbour dues and custom house exactions to the lowest possible minimum and virtually made trade at Macao less cumbersome and more propitious than it was at Hongkong. The measure failed to re-establish the former fortunes of Macao: it came too late for that. But it contributed its quota towards a further diminution of the commerce of Hongkong and a considerable increase of the discontent felt by Hongkong merchants. An assault that was committed on Sir John Davis (April 11, 1845), whilst on a visit to Macao, was without any political significance, but indicative of that turbulent character of the Macao Chinese which was so fatally to manifest itself against the next Governor of Macao (Senhor Amaral) who, within a year after his arrival (April 18, 1846), ordering a road to be cut through the Campo and interfering thereby with Chinese graves, had subsequently to pay with his life for this disregard of Chinese religious superstition. In March, 1847, the prospects of Macao were as discouraging as those of Hongkong and a cession of Macao to France was talked of, but the movement, if it ever had any reality, came to nothing.
Turning now to Sir J. Davis' gubernatorial measures, we find that the expansion of the Civil Service and reforms in the constitution of the Councils occupied much of his time. He brought with him, on his arrival (May 7, 1844) a Colonial Secretary (Hon. F. Bruce), a Colonial Treasurer (M. Montgomery Martin), a Court Registrar (R. D. Cay), a Private Secretary (W. T. Mercer), an Auditor General (A. E. Shelley), a Civil Engineer (J. Pope, to whom we owe the designs of Government House, Colonial Offices, and Cathedral) and a warrant appointing Major Caine (the Chief Magistrate) as Sheriff and Provost Marshal of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice (J. W. Hulme) came a month later (June 9, 1844) and the first Hongkong Barrister (H. Ch. Sirr) arrived on July 1, 1844, but as the Colonial Office postponed the appointment of an Attorney General (P. I. Stirling) till August 5 and made some other important omissions, the Supreme Court could not be opened until October 1, 1844. Two years later (November 18, 1847) the present Court House was obtained by purchasing from Dent & Co. the so-called Exchange Building. The working of the Supreme Court, which held its first criminal sessions on October 2, 1814, was gradually perfected by a series of legislative enactments, dealing with the constitution of the Court (No. 6 of 1845 and 2 of 1846), trial by jury (No. 7 of 1845), criminal procedure (No. 8 of 1845 and 6 of 1816), summary jurisdiction (No. 9 of 1845), insolvency (No. 3 and 5 of 1846) and coroner's juries (No. 5 of 1847). A Vice-Admiralty Court was established (March 4, 1846) and held its first session on January 14, 1847. The division of the town into the present three districts (Sheungwan, Chungwan, Hawan), the lines of demarcation being Aberdeen Street in the West and Elliot's Vale (the present Glenealy ravine) in the East, dates from July 24, 1844, when the previously existing popular terms were officially adopted. By the opening of a new market (July 25, 1844) at Taipingshan, the congested state of the Chungwan and Sheungwan markets was considerably relieved. Owing to the dearth and high rents of houses suitable for Civil Servants, the Government provided (August 16, 1844) special Civil Service Buildings (now known as Albany) which were, however, later on (May 15, 1847) transferred to the Military Authorities. Two new offices were established by Sir J. Davis, viz. the office of Registrar General and Collector of the land-tax (S. Fearon) who commenced his duties on January, 1845, and the office of Marine Magistrate (March 15, 1845) the duties of which were, however, during Mr. W. Pedder's absence on leave, temporarily discharged by Mr. S. Fearon, whilst Mr. A. Lena acted as Harbour Master. A paid Coroner (Ch. G. Holdforth was substituted (October 11, 1845) for the popular voluntary Coroner (E. Farncomb) who had joined the opposition against certain Government measures. After various changes in the constitution of the Councils, and in spite of the continuous demands of the British community for adequate representation in the Legislative Council, at least through the nomination by the Crown of an equal number of official and unofficial Members, this burning question was temporarily decided by Sir John Davis refusing all popular representation. Warrants were issued (December 1, 1845) for the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonial Secretary and Police Magistrate to be Members of Executive Council, and for the Lieutenant-Governor, the Chief Justice and Attorney General to constitute, with the Governor, the Legislative Council of the Colony. For some inscrutable reason the Surveyor General's title was reduced to that of Colonial Surveyor (August 8, 1846) on the of the abolition of the office of Assistant Surveyor General, and by the amalgamation of the duties of Auditor and Colonial Secretary (September 15, 1840) the audit of local official accounts was reduced to a mere formality. These two measures were but equalled in want of foresight by the decision of the Military Authorities (March 8, 1847) to erect defensible barracks—'soldiers' grave-yards' they ought to have been called—at Stanley.
The legislative labours of Sir John Davis commenced with the knotty problem of regulating the Chinese population. The humble attempt to control the Chinese in Hongkong quietly by means of their own elders on the basis of the Pocheung and Pokap system (Ordinance 13 to May 31, 1844) was one of the legacies handed over to Sir John Davis by his predecessor. Sir John Davis, however, disliked such a non-autocratic measure, having his own ideas on the subject. Although he got that Ordinance passed by the Council, he practically disregarded it and set to work to devise a measure of his own which, by means of registration, should immediately purge the Colony of the bad blood imported into it by the continuous influx of criminals from the neighbouring districts, as if registration would keep them away or reveal their habits. The cure proved to be worse than the evil.
On August 21, 1844, the Legislative Council, intending to check the indiscriminate influx into Hongkong of the scum of the population of the neighbouring mainland and at the same time anxious to avoid class legislation, passed a Bill to establish a registry of all the inhabitants of Hongkong without distinction of nationality. Neither the European nor the Chinese mercantile communities were consulted in the matter, nor was anything done, after passing the Bill, until Sir J. Davis returned (October 18, 1844) from a visit to the Consular ports, when the Ordinance was made public and it was notified that it was to come into force on 1st November. Then the European community woke up to the startling discovery that a poll-tax was to be levied not only on Chinese vagabonds but on all the inhabitants without exception, that all British residents, as well as Chinese, were to appear once every year before the Registrar General, answer questions as to birth, parentage, age, income and so forth, being liable to be deported if the answers were not satisfactory, and that the only distinction between a British merchant and a Chinese coolie was the enactment that the former should pay five dollars and the latter one dollar a year for his registration ticket. The reception by the British residents of such an Ordinance may well be imagined. They rose up like one man in wrathful indignation, feeling their personal self-respect, their national honour, the liberty of the subject trampled under foot even more ruthlessly than in the days of the Co-Hong bondage at Canton. Accordingly, the first Public Meeting of Hongkong was held (October 28, 1844) at the residence of Mr. A. Carter. This meeting, after unanimously condemning the Bill as iniquitous, unconstitutional and un-English in principle, appointed a Committee (J. D. Gibb, D. Matheson, S. Rawson, Pat. Dudgeon and A. Carter) to memorialize the Government accordingly. On the same day the Government published an obscurely-worded Chinese translation of the Ordinance which only added to the excitement and misunderstanding that prevailed among the Chinese, giving them the impression that the poll-tax to be levied from 1st November was monthly and not annual. 'The Celestials,' said the Friend of China a few days later, 'are a passive race and will bear squeezing to any ordinary extent, but when this blundering translation would squeeze one half of their monthly wages out of them, then they thought it was time to return to their own country, nor would we blame them had they left in a body.' On the 30th October there was a universal suspension of all forms of Chinese labour. The shops and markets were shut, cargo boats, coolies, domestic servants, all went on strike simultaneously and all business was at a standstill. The Chinese made preparations to desert Hongkong en masse on the next day, if the Government should enforce this law, but there was no rioting of any sort. At 4 p.m. the deputation of the European community waited on the Governor to present a Memorial dated October 30 and signed by 107 British subjects. This Memorial stated that the principles of the Ordinance were as unjust as they were arbitrary and unconstitutional, because taxing unrepresented British subjects in the most iniquitous of forms; that the provisions of the Ordinance violated the Treaty with China; that they interfered with labour and consequently with the prosperity of the Colony and that it would be found impracticable to work this Ordinance. Unaware at the time of the strong language of the Memorial, which was handed by the deputation to the Clerk of Councils, the Governor told them that the Ordinance would not be enforced for two or more months to come and that it would then be carried out but partially. Subsequently, however, the Memorial was returned to the Committee by the Clerk of Councils, as disapproved on the ground that the language of the Memorial was of a character directly opposed to respect for the constituted authorities of the Colony and it was requested that the document be properly worded. But before this message could be delivered, the Committee, observing the alarming state of affairs in town, had drafted a second Memorial, dated October 31, 1844, drawing attention to the suspension of all business and the stoppage of provisions, and begging that some official notification be immediately promulgated to allay the excitement prevailing among all classes. After forwarding this second Memorial, the Committee wrote to the Clerk of Councils, saying that the language of the first Memorial, though strong, represented their sentiments and was imperatively called for by the urgency of the occasion, but at the same time they disavowed the remotest intention of addressing the Governor in Council in any other than the most respectful terms. But this letter did not reach the Governor till 1st November. Meanwhile, in reply to the second Memorial, the Clerk of Councils informed the Committee (October 31) that, whereas all seditious rioting on the part of the Chinese had been easily suppressed, the Governor and Council were now prepared to receive properly-worded suggestions. Thereupon the Committee at once suggested (October 31) the ultimate abrogation of the Ordinance, but, as meanwhile an exodus of some 3,000 Chinese had taken place and business was for several days at a complete standstill, the Committee summoned another Public Meeting on Saturday, 2nd November. Before that meeting, the Committee received a letter from the Clerk of Councils (dated November 2, 1844) censuring the unbecoming reiteration in their last letter of those disrespectful sentiments and stating that, while the Committee continue to maintain such views, all further communication between the Government and the Committee must cease. At the same time an official notification (November 2, 1844) was issued in which the Governor, on the ground that the comprador of a leading firm was reported to have called a meeting of Chinese who used the same disrespectful language, accused the British community of 'having, by unworthy practices, tampered with an ignorant and unfortunate Chinese population by instigating them to passive resistance.' An enthusiastic Public Meeting, however, unanimously endorsed forthwith the procedure and the views of the Committee, as all residents looked upon the ticketing and labelling of British subjects as an inequitable if not iniquitous procedure. The speakers congratulated each other upon their escape from a system of petty tyranny which, however, they admitted was not really contemplated by Government in passing the objectionable Ordinance. A standing Committee was appointed to co-operate with the Government in remodelling the Ordinance, and the formation of a Chamber of Commerce was suggested. But a threat was also expressed that British merchants might return to Macao where, under a foreign flag, they would not be subjected to laws repugnant to their feelings and utterly opposed to the enjoyment of that personal freedom which was their inalienable birthright. One of the speakers quoted Blackstone's commentaries to prove that without representation there can be no legal taxation of British subjects. This made a great impression. Representative and municipal government was thenceforth frequently but vainly demanded. The Public Meeting having thus abstained from condemning the registration of Chinese and confined itself to a protest against the taxation connected with it and against the application of the proposed Ordinance to British subjects, 'as putting Europeans upon a par with the canaille of China,' there was a way open for reconciliation with the Government. Accordingly, on November 4, 1844, the standing Committee (T. A. Gibb, Don. Matheson and A. Carter) wrote to the Clerk of Councils expressing regret as to the strong language used by them and disavowing any motive of disrespect. Thereupon the Governor in Council, accepting this declaration, made his peace with the community. But the British residents of Canton (most of whom were representatives of firms established in Hongkong) sent to the Governor (November 6, 1844) a stately remonstrance, signed by W. Leslie, W. Bell and 38 other British subjects, recording 'their respectful but firm remonstrance against a measure unexampled in modern British legislation, fraught with great and certain mischief, calculated in no ordinary degree to interfere with and restrict ithe rights and liberties of Her Majesty's subjects, and utterly subversive of that confidence, cordiality and co-operation which ought to subsist between Governors and the Governed, and are so essential to the tranquillity and prosperity of every Colony, mid which, if forced into operation, will reduce apparently the Island of Hongkong to the level of a Penal Settlement.' It was also proposed in Hongkong to memorialize Her Majesty's Government to say that the Colonists had lost faith in the local Government. However, after a few days, moderate counsels prevailed, and the whole excitement gradually subsided. On November 13, 1844, the Legislative Council passed an amended Registration Ordinance (16 of 1844), applying registration only to the lowest classes, abandoning the idea of any poll-tax of Chinese residents, and exempting from registration all civil, military and naval employees, all members of the learned professions, merchants, shopkeepers, householders, tenants of Crown property and persons having an income of $500 a year. In fact, this Ordinance granted all that the British community had contended for, and if the Governor had consulted the leading merchants or allowed them representation in Council, the whole conflict between the community and the Government, and the defeat and consequent humiliation and degradation of the Government, in the eyes of the astounded Chinese population, would have been avoided. On January 1, 1845, this Ordinance came into force and worked so smoothly that, on December 31, 1840, it was possible to modify it (No. 7 of 1810) so as to provide also for a periodical census of the whole population.
An outgrowth of the mistaken autocratic attitude which Sir John Davis assumed towards the community was the severity with which he enforced (since July 25, 1844) the ejectment of house owners to make room for new improvements, and particularly his Martial Law Ordinance (20 of 1844) which he passed through Legislative Council on November 20, 1844, in order to give the Executive the power of declaring the Island to be under martial law without the concurrence of that Council. Never in the whole history of Hongkong was there, nor is there ever likely to be, any need for such a drastic measure. The characteristic attitude towards any enlightened and strong government, which Chinese residing on British soil display in every part of the world, gives a complete denial to the supposition which called forth this enactment. Yet the accomplished sinologue misread the character of the Chinese so completely that he passed this Bill which, when it became known to the Chinese that Her Majesty's Government curtly disallowed it, only served to lower him in the eyes of the Chinese people as a defeated would-be autocrat.
But there is worse to tell. Mandarin misrule of the neighbouring provinces of China had at this time reached such a pitch that throughout South China the population was honeycombed with secret political societies, the principal of which was called the Triad Society. The aim of these secret associations was to act on the first suitable occasion upon the recognized right of rebellion, a right plainly taught in the authorized national school-books. To drive out the Manchus and to reestablish a Chinese dynasty, was the secret desire of almost every energetic Chinaman unconnected with mandarindom. When the first mutterings of the coming storm of the Taiping Rebellion, which in the providence of God was destined to ire-establish the waning fortunes of Hongkong, were observed by the Cantonese Authorities, they shrewdly availed themselves of the known fact, that the Chinese in Hongkong were as much influenced by that secret political propaganda as those in the interior of China, to strike another blow at the success of Hongkong as a Colony for Chinese. So they persuaded Sir J. Davis into passing an Ordinance (No. 1 of 1845) the effect of which was that the Hongkong Police should search out and arrest political refugees as being members of the Triad and other secret societies, who, after a term of imprisonment, should be branded each on the cheek and then be deported to Chinese territory where of course the Mandarins would forthwith arrest, torture and execute them. That a British Governor should ever have enacted such a monstrously barbaric and un-English law is hardly credible. It is a strange fact that with all his experience of Chinese, philanthropic Sir John Davis allowed himself to be so duped by Chinese diplomatists as to become the unconscious tool of Mandarin oppression in its worst form. It was not merely an unwise disregard of the sound principle formulated by Gladstone, that 'England never makes laws to benefit the internal condition of any other State'; it was not merely a drastic denial of the world-wide assumption that British soil is a safe refuge from political tyranny and oppression; but it was also a positive assertion, in the face of all China, that Hongkong Governors would pledge themselves to co-operate with the Manchu conquerors of China in arresting, imprisoning, branding on the cheek (as the life-long mark of the outlaw) and delivering into the hands of Mandarins for execution any hapless Chinese patriot that should be fool enough to put his foot on British soil. By order of the Home Government this barbaric Ordinance (No. 1 of 1845) was modified nine months later (October 20, 1845) by substituting, in an amendment (No. 12 of 1845), branding under the arm for that mark on the cheek which would have made reform even in the case of a criminal absolutely impossible.
Not quite so bad, but based on an equal ignorance of the utter inapplicability of European enactments to the peculiar features of the social and political organism of China, was the interference with local Chinese bond-servitude which Sir H. Pottinger had attempted in his Slavery Ordinance (No. 1 of 1844), the disallowance of which Sir John Davis had now (January 24, 1845) to proclaim. He announced by a proclamation that the said Ordinance was null and void, and gave notice 'that the Acts of Parliament for the abolition of slave trade and slavery extend by their own proper force and authority to Hongkong, and that these Acts will be enforced by all Her Majesty's officers civil and military within the Colony.' The secretly underlying insinuation that Hongkong bond-servitude belongs to the category of slavery as defined by the Slave-trade Acts was a pure fiction, put forward only to gloss over the defeat of the Government in attempting to meddle with Chinese national customs. The general question as to what English laws were in force in Hongkong was dealt with by Ordinance (August 19, 1845, and May 6, 1846) when it was laid down somewhat vaguely that all laws of England that existed when Hongkong first obtained a local legislature (April 5, 1843) should be deemed in force in the Colony 'when applicable.'
Unfortunate as the Governor was as a legislator, riding rough-shod over the whole community, both European and Chinese, he was even more unfortunate in his dealings with the local representatives of British judicature. From the time of the arrival of the Chief Justice (J. W. Hulme) and the establishment of a Supreme Court, there was a standing feud between the Governor and the Chief Justice. It arose first of all out of the mistaken view of their position, adopted by the local Police Magistrates (Major Caine and Mr. Hillier) who supposed themselves to be rather executive officers under the direct orders and control of the Governor, than independent expositors of the law. The Chief Justice did not conceal from the Governor his disapproval of this anomalous connection existing between the Magistrates and the Head of the Executive. The result was for the first few years merely a straining of the relations between the Chief Justice on the one hand and the Governor and the Magistrates on the other hand. Soon the community began to take sides with the former against the latter. Great indignation was expressed by the whole British community when the Police Magistrates, at the order of the Governor who appeared to be simply desirous of obliging the Macao Governor by complying with an informal request of the latter, signed a warrant (August 25, 1846) for the arrest and extradition, without any prima facie evidence, of three Portuguese gentlemen, who, after being sent to Macao as prisoners by a British gunboat (H.M.S. Young Hebe) were, when tried at Macao, found not guilty in the suit (a civil one) which they had sought to postpone by coming to Hongkong. A similar case occurred soon after (October 23, 1846), when some Portuguese slaves, vainly supposing that British Slavery Acts were in force in Hongkong (for others than Chinese), fled to the Colony. Their masters, however, brought against them, in Macao, a charge of theft. Although there was no extradition treaty to rely on, the Macao Governor forthwith requested Sir John Davis to extradite those slaves, and as the Magistrates again complied, without the formality of a trial, with the orders of the Governor, the latter forthwith informed Senhor Amaral, that the slaves were in custody and would be delivered on application. Soon after this, the conflict between the Governor and the Chief Justice became more pointed. A prominent British merchant at Canton, Mr. Ch. Sp. Compton, happened one day (July 4, 1846) to overturn a huckster's stall, obstructing one of the Factory lanes, and two days afterwards he pushed a coolie out of his way, telling Consul Macgregor, who was close by, that he had done so. On July 8, 1846, one of those periodical riots occurred for which Canton mobs were notorious. Three months later, the Consul informed Mr. Compton that Sir John Davis, as Superintendent of Trade, had (without trial) fined him £45 for upsetting a huckster's stall, intimating that this circumstance had caused the riot of 8th July. Further, on November 12, 1840, a local paper published a dispatch by Sir J. Davis to Kiying, in which Mr. Compton was referred to as 'the exciter of the riots.' As the whole European community of Canton supported Mr. Compton in his contention that the Canton riots had no connection with his doings, Mr. Compton appealed to the Supreme Court against Sir John Davis' sentence. Chief Justice Hulme tried the case, and, on giving judgment in favour of appellant, pronounced the sentence of the Consul (i.e. the decision of Sir John Davis) as 'unjust, excessive and illegal' and as 'evincing a total disregard for all forms of law and for law itself.' Moreover, the Chief Justice added that 'in this first Consular appeal case the whole proceedings were so irregular as to render all that occurred a perfect nullity.' The whole British community applauded this decision, but the Governor interpreted it as a personal affront. At the same time the differences between the Chief Justice and the Magistrates became accentuated. On October 27, 1846, a typical case was tried in the Supreme Court and attracted general attention. Two Chinese junks had collided in the harbour, and as the junk which was manifestly at fault attempted to sail away, the crew of the injured junk fired their muskets to attract attention. A police boat, supposing the runaway junk to be a pirate, fired into her and in the mêlée 5 men were drowned and 13 captured. The Police Magistrate, dealing with the case in his usual off-hand manner, flogged the 13 men and then handed them over to the Kowloon Mandarin to be further dealt with. But the Coroner's jury, after three days' investigation, returned a verdict of manslaughter against the Police and (by implication) declared the innocence of the 13 men who had been flogged and deported by the magistrate. The Supreme Court now set aside the verdict on the ground of the irregularity of the whole proceedings, the prisoners having been sworn to the truth of their depositions, thus making them to incriminate themselves. The community, convinced for some time past that a reform in the Police Court personnel was needed, drew the conclusion that Magistrates should have a legal training. The following day (October 28, 1846) another case, heard in the Supreme Court, strongly confirmed them in this conclusion. The Magistrate had sentenced nine men to three months' imprisonment on a charge of intent to commit a felony, but when, on appeal to the Supreme Court, the intent of felony was clearly disproved, the Magistrate explained to the Chief Justice that he, in reality, had sentenced the prisoners under the Vagrants' Act of George IV. This practice of the Magistrates had often been complained of by the public, and the Chief Justice now severely reprimanded the Magistrate for sentencing the men under an Act which had locally been superseded by Ordinance 14 of 1845 and discharged the prisoners forthwith. When, some time later, the Chief Justice complained to the Governor that the Magistrates appeared to pass sentence in cases which ought to have been remitted to the Supreme Court, the two Magistrates commenced systematically to commit for trial at the Supreme Court the most trivial offences. This became so painfully evident during the criminal session of February, 14th to 19th, 1847, that the jurors addressed a formal complaint to the Court of having their time wasted on cases of petty larceny which ought to have been summarily dealt with by the Magistrates. The Chief Justice agreed with them and addressed the Government accordingly. During the same sessions it was stated in evidence that the Police, who had refused to protect a citizen against an assault by a soldier, had been ordered by the Government not to interfere with soldiers, and that a general order was read in barracks informing the soldiers of the instructions given to the Police. The Chief Justice, commenting adversely on this point, remarked that the general order referred to was waste paper, as only an Act of Parliament could exempt soldiers from being amenable to the civil authorities. The Adjutant General thereupon wrote to the papers denying that any such general order had been issued, but the truth soon leaked out, viz. that, what the evidence before the Court had referred to as a general order, was a speech addressed to the regiment by the Major-General. After this the relations between the Governor and the Chief Justice became marked by personalities. On April 16, 1847, the Governor had an altercation with the Chief Justice, as the former claimed the right to fix the sittings of the Vice-Admiralty Court for any day he pleased, and as the latter claimed that he should be addressed as His Lordship, which title the Governor refused to allow. It was stated that the Governor had threatened the Chief Justice with suspension. A lull now ensued, but on November 22, 1847, the Chief Justice was tried by the Executive Council on certain charges of private misconduct winch, it appeared, Sir John Davis had detailed in a confidential communication to Lord Palmerston. The latter, disregarding the private character of the document, had sent it to the Colonial Office, which forthwith ordered an Executive Council inquiry into the charges as formulated in the Governor's original letter. Major-General D'Aguilar, as Lieutenant-Governor, protested indignantly against the whole inquiry. Two members of the Council (Major Caine and Mr. Johnston) gave evidence in support of the charges, but all the other witnesses exonerated the Chief Justice. Nevertheless the Governor in Council pronounced his suspension from office. The moment this became known in town, the whole British community (apart from the officials) called and left their cards at the Chief Justice's residence. Once more, as in the registration days, a unanimous outcry of indignation was raised against the Government. Three days later, the local solicitors (N. D'E. Parker, R. Coley, W. Gaskell, P. C. McSwyney, and E. Farncombe) presented to the Chief Justice (November 25. 1847) an address denouncing the Governor's action as an 'attack of enmity,' and a gold snuffbox bearing the inscription indignante invidia florebit justus. Later on (November 30, 1847) the community presented a sympathizing address signed by 116 residents, and on December 2, 1847, all the special jurors addressed the Chief Justice, expressing their respect for his character and their sympathy and regret with reference to his suspension and temporary retirement. By this time the Governor had already sent in his resignation and the dispatch accepting it (dated November 18, 1847) was then on its way. The news of the Governor's resignation having been accepted served to blunt the edge of popular excitement and the Colonial Office, which considered the charges not proved, immediately removed the suspension and reinstated the Chief Justice.
In his endeavours to improve the revenues of the Colony, which naturally constitute one of the most anxious cares of a Colonial Governor, Sir John Davis ran counter to the deepest feelings and most inveterate principles of the mercantile community. Whilst the mercantile community contended that Hongkong was simply a depot for the neighbouring coasts, a mere post for general influence and for the protection of the general trade in the China Seas, benefitting Imperial rather than local interests, and that therefore Great Britain ought naturally to bear the greater share in the expenses of the Colonial establishment, Sir John Davis acted on the assumption that Hongkong was a Colony in the ordinary sense and should not only bear the whole burden of its own civil government but contribute also, as soon as possible, towards the military expenses of the Empire. Whilst the merchants therefore still looked to free trade principles to further the growth of Hongkong, Sir JohnDavis thought only of license-fees, farms and monopolies. Compromise or reconciliation was out of the question. Free trade was officially derided, and protection gained the ascendancy. On the day when Sir John announced his fatal intention of extending registration to all the inhabitants of the Colony in the interest of good order (July 24, 1841), he declared also his determination to establish a quarry farm, a salt farm and an opium farm for the purpose of raising a revenue, and on the day when he passed his obnoxious Martial Law Ordinance (November 20, 1844), he launched his first Revenue Ordinance (No. 21 of 1844) by licensing the retail of salt and levying a duty of 2½ per cent. on all goods sold by auction. In connection with these purposes he regulated also local weights and measures (No. 22 of 1844). The British community growled at the auction duty (though on January 15, 1845, it was decided to remit it in certain cases), derided the salt and opium farms, and made fun of the tax imposed on marriage licenses, coupling them with the new burial and tombstone fees (January 15, 1845). The quarry farm yielded (September 1, 1845) only £702. When the Governor (February 23 and May 23, 1845), proceeded to introduce police rates (Ordinance 2 of 1845) and to ascertain the rateable value of all house property, the merchants declared the ruin of Hongkong to be complete and began to talk seditiously of united resistance. So great was the popular excitement that the Governor became afraid and announced his willingness to reduce the assessment made by the two official valuators (Tarrant and Pope) by 40 per cent. (July 14, 1840). In spite of this concession the leading paper of the Colony declared this tax to be a most tyrannical and intolerable encroachment upon the rights of the inhabitants, because passed by a Council in which the community was not represented. However the Ordinance received Her Majesty's consent (December 25, 1845), and the people soon learned to submit to it gracefully. Not satisfied with the financial results of these measures. Sir John added, by Ordinances 3 and 4 of 1845, duties on the retail of tobacco and fermented liquors (July 7, 1845). So great was his craving for monopolies that he persisted in farming out the monopoly of fishing in Hongkong waters, though it brought in only 17 shillings for the year 1845. His great grief and trouble was 'the total absence of a custom house establishment' in the free port of Hongkong. He was decidedly of opinion that, as most of the available spots for building purposes had already been disposed of (thanks to the gambling mania which his predecessor and himself had unconsciously fostered), no great expansion of the land revenue could be looked for in the future. Consequently he turned his attention to licenses and excise farms and among these he commended to Her Majesty's Government the opium farm as being 'the most productive source of revenue and one that should increase with, the progress of the place.'
When the Legislative Council passed the first Hongkong Opium Ordinance (November 20, 1844), the Colonial Treasurer, R. M. Martin, strongly protested against this Government measure on the ground that private vice should not be made a source of public revenue. Finding his protest disregarded, he forthwith applied for leave of absence. When this application was refused, he resigned his office and returned to England (July 12, 1845), where he thenceforth laboured, with a pen dipped in gall, to prove that Hongkong, whose majestic peak he compared with a decayed Stilton cheese and whose charming surroundings he likened to the back of a negro streaked with leprosy, was an utter failure, and that the Colony ought to be removed to Chusan.
The exclusive privilege of selling opium in quantities less than a chest for consumption in the Colony, was put up to auction (February 20, 1844), and notwithstanding the machinations of a ring of Chinese opium dealers, purchased by an Englishman (G. Duddell) at a monthly rental of $720. But the purchaser soon found himself outwitted by the Chinese who, taking advantage of the loose wording of the Ordinance, openly retailed opium in the Colony 'for exportation' and gained the protection of the Court in doing so. The faulty Ordinance was thereupon amended (July 12, 1845) and the opium farm put up to auction again (August 1, 1845) when it was bought by a Chinese syndicate for $1,710 a month. Next year, a re-sale having been offered (May 24, 1846), further powers were demanded by the farmers; the monopoly was once more offered for sale (June 30, 1846), but no bids were made to obtain further concessions. At last the farm was sold (July 2, 1846) at the reduced rate of $1,560 a month. However, it soon became apparent that the powers extorted by the farmers, who employed constables and even an armed cruizer for the protection of their revenue, seriously interfered with the legitimate junk trade and the freedom of the port. Even the Chinese themselves petitioned the Governor (January 27, 1847) for the abolition of the opium monopoly. The Governor hesitated and substituted licences for this troublesome opium farm (August 1, 1847) after it had yielded £4,118 in 1846, and £3,188 in 1847. It is remarkable that this first experiment in opium farming at once brought to the surface the evils which ever afterwards characterized the system in Hongkong, viz. unscrupulous circumvention of the law, organized withholding of a just rental and vexatious interference with the native trade and with the freedom of the port.
The revenues of the Colony improved considerably under the Governor's assiduous care. By enforcing the recovery of arrears of rent on land and buildings, the income of the Colony was raised, at a bound, from £9,534 in 1844, to £22,242 in 1845. The opium farm caused the revenue of 1846 to mount up to £27,842 and by charging higher fees on boat registry (Ordinance 7 of 1846) the revenue of 1847 came to £31,078. On the other hand the attention paid to public works caused the expenditure to rise, from £49,901 in 1845, to £66,726 in 1846. But it was reduced again in 1847 to £50,959.
What assisted the Governor in his efforts to improve the finances of the Colony, in spite of the fearful odds that were against him, was the fact that, though the foreign trade was stagnating, the native junk trade held its own, and that the population of the Colony, though decimated by removals to the Treaty ports of China, remained for several years wonderfully steady. During the three years from 1845 to 1847, the population numbered respectively 23,748, 22,453, and 23,872 souls. In the year 1848, the population was indeed reduced to 21,514 persons. But the Governor attributed this decrease, not to the alleged decay of local commerce, but to a more careful registration 'which, while giving a truer account of the actual number, relieved the Colony from those who hung loose on and only applied for registration tickets to make a bad use of them.'
In his efforts to repress crime, Sir J. Davis found himself handicapped, like every successive Governor of Hongkong, by the continuous influx of criminals from the neighbouring mainland of China, by the untrustworthiness and inactivity of native constables, by the dissolute character of European sailors or soldiers enlisted in the local Police Force, who were ignorant of the native language and consequently dependent on truculent native interpreters, by the costliness of importing trained British constables, and finally by the inherent inapplicability to Asiatics of British laws and British modes of punishment. Sir J. Davis was, however, fortunate in obtaining (September 6, 1844), from London, the services of an Inspector of the Metropolitan Police, Ch. May, who did the best possible with the imperfect material supplied to him and reorganized the Police Force of Hongkong on the model of the Irish Constabulary with due adaptations to local circumstances. With the aim of suppressing the system of private night-watchmen, kept by every European house-owner on the model of the old practice in vogue in the Canton and Macao days, Major-General D'Aguilar (acting as Lieutenant-Governor in the temporary absence of Sir J. Davis) passed (September 11, 1844) the unpopular 'Bamboo Ordinance' (17 of 1844) prohibiting the use of the bamboo-drums by which those watchmen used to make night hideous in order to prove (not merely to their employers as the Ordinance alleged) that they were on the alert. But whilst securing by this premature measure the peace and quiet of the town during the night, he rather encouraged, in the absence of an efficient Police Force, nightly depredations by native burglars.
Highway robberies and burglaries continued to be of almost daily occurrence. Government House was once more robbed (July 16, 1844) and some of the Governor's valuables carried off. No house in the Colony was safe without armed watchmen and no one ventured out after dark except revolver in hand. The Police Magistrate issued (August 25, 1846) a notice warning residents 'not to go beyond the limits of the town singly nor even in parties unless armed.' In 1847 European householders were ordered to supplement the imperfect street-lighting system by suspending lamps before the doors of their houses. The Police Force possessed as yet neither the training nor the moral tone that would have inspired the community with confidence and prevented collusion between native constables and criminals. As to the latter it seemed as if English law, though ever so severely administered, was unable to provide penalties sufficiently deterrent. Flogging was indeed resorted to very freely and even for comparatively shadowy offences such as vagrancy. The House of Commons occupied itself, rather needlessly, with this point (in autumn, 1846) at the motion of Dr. Bowring, the Member for Bolton, who drew the attention of the Ministry to the allegation that 54 natives had been flogged in Hongkong in one day for not having tickets of registration. The consequence was that the criminals of Hongkong had an easier time for a few months, as public flogging was suspended from January 23 to May 8, 1847.
The most predominant form of crime at this period was piracy. The whole coast-line of the Canton and Fohkien provinces was virtually under the control of a piratical confederacy under the leadership of Cheung Shap-ng-tsai and Chui A-pou, to whom trading and fishing junks had to pay regular black-mail. The waters of the Colony swarmed with pirates, and Hongkong-registered junks were, on escaping the pirates and entering the Canton River, subjected to all sorts of lawless plunderings on the part of the crews of the gunboats under the orders of the Canton revenue farmers. Hence the peaceful trading junk of this period had to sail heavily armed, so much so that there was frequently nothing but the cargo to distinguish a trading junk from a pirate. The worst feature of the case was the fact that lawless European seamen occasionally enlisted in the service of the native pirates and that the leaders of piratical fleets made Hongkong their headquarters, where native marine-storekeepers not only supplied them with arms and ammunition and disposed of their booty, but furnished them also, through well-paid spies in mercantile offices and Government departments, with information as to the shipments of valuable cargo and particularly as to the movements of the Police and of British gunboats. A Colonial gunboat, manned by the Police, was procured (June 5, 1846) to cruize in the waters of the Colony and did some little service until the vessel was wrecked (September 1, 1848). Deportation of convicted criminals inspired the Chinese with no terror, as it offered innumerable chances of eventual escape. The last convict ship of this period, the 'General Wood,' which sailed for Penang on January 2, 1848, was piratically taken possession of by the convicts most of whom made good their escape.
The European commerce of the Colony appeared to decline or to stagnate during this administration. The trade in Indian opium, driven away from Hongkong by the measures of Sir H. Pottinger, was for some time conducted at Whampoa and, on being forced away thence, by a crusade instituted through the Canton Consuls at the instance of the Canton monopolists of the sulphur trade, took refuge at Kapsingmoon near Macao. The Kapsingmoon anchorage being unsafe during the N.E. monsoon, the Hongkong merchants were hoping to procure the return of the trade to their port, when the establishment of an opium farm by Sir J. Davis frustrated their design. Arrangements had been made by some merchants to introduce silk-weaving establishments into the Colony, but the scheme was abandoned in despair when it became apparent that the Governor, with his passion for fiscal exactions, would certainly tax the looms. Competition and trade rivalries, between the merchants established in the Treaty ports of China and those who remained at Hongkong, became intensified by bitter feelings of jealousy. It was publicly stated (August 1, 1846) that Canton merchants had been for some time instructing their correspondents in England to stipulate that vessels by which they shipped goods for the different Treaty ports of China should first come to Whampoa and there discharge goods for Canton before proceeding to Hongkong. In retaliation for this measure, and in their despair at seeing free trade principles overwhelmed by a flood of Government monopolies, Hongkong merchants now broke faith with the established free trade creed of their predecessors and began themselves to look out for protectionist measures to re-establish the decaying commerce of the Colony. Free trade was now looked upon as a bright dream of the past, and it was seriously proposed to agitate, as Captain Elliot had done in June 1841, for an Act of Parliament declaring that for ten years all teas shipped at Hongkong would be protected in Great Britain by a differential duty of one penny per pound on congous and twopence on the finer sorts. This scheme was urged upon the Secretary of State by Hongkong merchants residing in London, and several letters appeared in the Times (December 9 and 24, 1846) advocating the imposition of a differential duty of twopence farthing on all teas shipped at Hongkong. The sinister expectation of the promoters of this measure avowedly was that 'the death-blow would be struck to the trade of Canton' (and Foochow). Of course this fratricidal plan of reviving the commerce of Hongkong by killing that of Canton (or any other Treaty port) had no chance of even a hearing in a Parliament the previously divided counsels of which had just converged towards the adoption, from a conscientious recognition of economic truths, of positive free trade principles by the abrogation of the corn laws (June 25, 1846). Lord Stanley emphatically refused (September 4, 1846) to entertain the proposal of a differential duty. As a last refuge, the community addressed (February 27, 1848) a Memorial to Earl Grey praying for a reduction or abolition of the land rent. They were informed in reply (July 17, 1848) that Earl Grey was willing to extend the terms of the leases or even to grant them in perpetuity.
The fact of a serious decline having overtaken the European commerce of Hongkong gradually forced itself upon public recognition and was interpreted by extremists to involve the Colony in absolute ruin. On August 13, 1845, all the leading British firms (31 in number) memorialized Lord Stanley on the subject. Sir J. Davis viewed their statements as gross exaggerations and replied by a series of arguments propounded by the Acting Colonial Secretary (W. Caine). Thereupon a deputation (A. Matheson, G. T. Braine, Gilbert Smith, and Crawford Kerr) presented (August 29, 1845) a second Memorial, in the course of which they stated that 'Hongkong has no trade at all and is the mere place of residence of Government and its officers with a few British merchants and a very scanty and poor population.' The Governor remained unconvinced, and later on (January 6, 1846) published an exhaustive trade report from the pen of Dr. Gützlaff, intended to refute the allegations of the local merchants, who, however, disputed the correctness of Dr. Gützlaff's statistics. This official report contains a rather remarkable admission of the failure of Sir H. Pottinger's commercial policy, in stating that 'in spite of the discouragement afforded by the Supplementary Treaty, the Chinese trade appears to be rather on the increase.' The dispute was continued in the home papers and on April 6, 1846, the Times gave expression to the melancholy views of the European community in the following words. 'Hongkong has quite lost taste as a place for mercantile operations. Many of the merchants have already abandoned the Island. Since the beginning of the present year two firms have given up their establishments, two more of old standing have expressed their 'determination to quit the Colony, and two others are hesitating about following their example or at most of leaving a clerk in possession to forward goods or letters.' The climax was reached when an American contributor to the Economist (August 8, 1846) incisively declared that 'Hongkong is nothing now but a depot for a few opium smugglers, soldiers, officers and menof-war's men.' These sensational statements, however, represented merely the feelings of disappointment aroused by a natural but unusually prolonged period of depression consequent upon previous unnatural inflation. While friends and foes of the Colony debated the extent and causes of its rain, Hongkong itself stood smiling like Patience on a monument bearing the bold legend 'Resurgam.'
As regards the native trade of Hongkong, there were distinct signs visible in 1846 of a speedy revival. Junks from Pakhoi, Hoihow and Tinpak, in the south-west, commenced in 1840 a prosperous trade with Hongkong. The fact that the Chinese Mandarins dared not, or on account of the piratical fleets could not, stop this trade, combined with the rising faith in the power of Great Britain, produced by the repeated humiliations which Sir J. Davis had inflicted on Kiying, now gave currency to the belief that Chinese merchants residing in Hongkong need not confine their operations (by means of native junks) to the Treaty ports of China. Thenceforth Chinese subjects established in the Colony rejoiced in, and commercially took all the advantages of, the double status of residing under British rule and protection without forfeiting their privileges as natives of China. Canton native merchants now took to visiting the auction rooms of Hongkong and began, for fear of pirates, to charter small European sailing vessels (mostly German or Danish) for the carrying on of their own coasting trade With the Treaty ports on the east coast. Fleets of Chinese trading junks also occasionally engaged small English steamers to convoy them as a protection against pirates. Thus the reviving native trade reacted as a fillip upon the stagnating European commerce of the Colony.
Communication with Canton was at this period a source of much trouble to British merchants. Endeavours which had been made, by Mr. Donald Matheson in 1845 and by Mr. A. Campbell in 1847, to persuade the directors of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to connect their monthly mail steamers to Hongkong by a branch line with Canton, failed to have any effect till the close of the year 1848, when it was too late. Meanwhile some sixty merchants had made an arrangement with the owners of the S.S. Corsair to carry their mails to Canton for a monthly subsidy of £150. In 1847 the Postmaster insisted on the steamer's carrying 'and delivering' Post Office letters for Canton at twopence each. When the captain of the Corsair refused to deliver the letters to the addressees on the ground that there was no Post Office in Canton, Sir J. Davis ordered legal proceedings to be instituted, which resulted (February 23, 1847) in the infliction of a fine of £100. Although the verdict (based on an Imperial Act) was accompanied by a recommendation that the fine be remitted, the Governor declined to exercise his prerogative in the case. The British community, feeling themselves once more sorely aggrieved, addressed their complaints to the Postmaster General in London, and resolved to help themselves by establishing a Hongkong and Canton Steamboat Company as a joint-stock enterprise.
Sir J. Davis boldly attempted to reform the currency of the Colony without consulting the mercantile community. Sir H. Pottinger had, as mentioned above, fixed the value of the East India Company's rupees in relation to dollars and cash (March 29, 1842) and declared the dollar to be the standard medium in commercial transactions unless it were otherwise specified (April 27, 1842). Sir J. Davis now issued a proclamation (May 1, 1845) which cancelled the foregoing' proclamations and ordained that the following; coins should thenceforth constitute a legal tender of payment in Hongkong, viz. (1) the gold, silver and copper coins of the United Kingdom, (2) gold mohur at 29s. 2d., (3) Spanish, Mexican or South-American dollars at 4s. 2d., (4) rupees at 1s. 10d., (5) cash at the rate of 280 cash to one shilling. This attempt to establish a uniform gold standard in Hongkong was received by the community with blank astonishment. But it did not affect trade in any way, because there was no demand for gold, whilst silver, coined and uncoined, passed current in the Colony by weight. Consequently Indian and British silver coins were, irrespective of their Sterling value, taken weight for weight with old chopped dollars. But the proclamation did affect official salaries and payments to Government. An attempt was also made in 1846 to introduce a sufficient quantity of British coins to compete with Mexican and Spanish dollars. At the close of the year, the Deputy-Commissary General presented to the Governor a very favourable report on the British coin sent out by the Treasury. He stated that it had proved extremely useful for small payments, that even the Chinese brought dollars to be exchanged for Sterling, and that he had applied for more to be sent out to the amount of £10,000. Subsequent experience, however, contradicted the hopes entertained as to the success of a British currency in China and the dollar continued to reign supreme.
Among the more hopeful symptoms of local commerce at this period may be mentioned the establishment (in April, 1845) of a branch of the Oriental Bank Corporation, which put in circulation in 1847, though as yet unchartered, over $56,000 worth of bank-notes, to the great relief of local trade. The appointment of three Consular officers is another noteworthy feature. Mr. F. T. Bush acted (since November 12, 1845) as Consul for the United States, Mr. J. Bard (since March 11, 1847) as Consul for Denmark, and Mr. F. J. de Paiva (since March 12, 1847) as Consul for Portugal.
In the interest of sanitation, an Ordinance was passed (December 26, 1845) enforcing a modicum of order and cleanliness. The deadly Wongnaichung Valley (Happy Valley) was drained (April 23, 1845) and the cultivation of rice there forbidden. Otherwise sanitation and cleanliness were left to take care of themselves. The period of Sir J. Davis' administration stands out, however, very favourably so far as mortality returns are concerned. The Colonial Surgeon, Dr. W. Morrison, who succeeded Dr. Peter Young on November 15, 1847, gave the death rate of the whole population in 1847 as 1·14 per cent. and that of the Europeans alone (June 1, 1847, to May 31, 1848) at 5·65 per cent., not including deaths from accidents which brought up the mortality of Europeans to 6·25 per cent. Compared with 1843, when the return gave the European mortality as 22·00 per cent., this was of course a great improvement. Fever was the most fatal malady in 1844 and dysentery in 1845. Among the European troops the improvement was, thanks to the new Barracks and Hospitals, the erection of which General D'Aguilar ordered on his own responsibility, even more striking. In 1843 the death rate among European soldiers was 22·20 and in 1845 it was 13·25 per cent. In the year 1845 the rate fell to 8·50 and in 1847 to 4·00 per cent. Strange to say, the Indian troops suffered during this period more than the Europeans. In 1847 the deaths among the Madras sepoys amounted to 9·25 per cent. It may be mentioned, in this connection, that on March 8, 1848, the first surgical operation performed in Hongkong with the use of chloroform (by Dr. Harland of the Seamen's Hospital) was reported as a great novelty.
Sir J. Davis was the first Governor of Hongkong that took a lively interest in the promotion of both religion and education. To promote the better observance of Sunday, he issued (June 28, 1844) a notification ordering strict observation of a Sunday rest to be included in all contracts for public works. This regulation, enforcing entire cessation of labour on Sundays so far as the Public Works Department was concerned, received the full approval of the Colonial Office (October 8, 1844). Sir John was also supposed to be engaged in wringing from an unwilling Home Government their consent to the early erection of the Colonial Church. Yet building operations were unaccountably delayed from October, 1843, to October, 1846. Great was, therefore, the indignation felt in Hongkong when it became known, through a private letter of Mr. Gladstone (of June 27, 1846), that 'the cause of the delay in the erection of a suitable Church at Hongkong has been the want of any estimate transmitted from the Colony, for without this preliminary step the Treasury will not grant the public money.' It was not till March 11, 1847, that, as stated in a pompous Latin inscription on a brass plate inserted in the foundation stone, 'The corner stone of this Church, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, and destined for the worship of Almighty God, was laid by Lord J. F. Davis, Baronet, a Legate of the British Queen in China and bedecked with proconsular dignity, on the fifth day of the Ides of March in the tenth year of Queen Victoria, A.D. 1847.' At a meeting of contributors to the Colonial Church fund (April 12, 1847) an additional subscription was raised bringing up the fund to £1,888 and Government now doubled this sum. Two Trustees (Wilkinson Dent and T. D. Neave) were elected by the subscribers, and four others by the Government. During the progress of the building, services were held at the present Court House opposite the Club. A Union Chapel, in connection with the London Mission, and intended for services in the English and Chinese languages, was built in the present Hollywood Road, in spring 1845, by means of a public subscription raised (September 1), 1844) by Dr. Legge. In 1847 and 1848 meetings for Presbyterian worship were held every Sunday in a bungalow immediately behind the present Club House. A mortuary chapel was erected, in 1845, in the new cemetery in the Happy Valley.
In addition to the three Anglo-Chinese Schools (the Morrison Institution on Morrison Hill, the Anglo-Chinese College of the London Mission and St. Paul's College) started under the preceding administration, a number of smaller Schools was. established under the fostering care of Sir J. Davis. An 'English Children's School' was opened, in 1845, by the Colonial Chaplain (V. Stanton), and in emulation of it the Propaganda Society started at once a similar School for Roman Catholic children, which was, however, discontinued in 1847. For the benefit of the Chinese population, which had at this period nine Confucian Schools at work, the Governor devised, early in 1847, in imitation of the English religious education grants then hotly discussed in Parliament, a Government Grant-in-Aid Scheme to provide non-compulsory religious education in Chinese Schools under the direction of an Educational Committee (gazetted on December 6, 1847), consisting of the Police Magistrate, the Colonial Chaplain and the Registrar General. That Sir J. Davis was to some extent a religious visionary, may be inferred from a dispatch (March 13, 1847) in which he commended his scheme to the Colonial Office by saying that, 'If these Schools were eventually placed in charge of native Christian teachers, bred up by the Protestant Missionaries, it would afford the most rational prospect of converting the native population of the Island.' Sancta simplicitas!
The social and general progress of the Colony during this period centered principally in the year 1845. The erection in 1844 of the Seamen's Hospital (September 30, 1844) and the formation of an Amateur Dramatic Corps (December 18, 1844) were succeeded by the following events of the fruitful year 1845, viz. the first issue of the China Mail newspaper (February 20), the completion of a carriage road round the Happy Valley (March 1), establishment of an Ice House Company (April 17),. building of a Picnic House at Little Hongkong (April 26), establishment of a, Medico-Chirurgical Society (May 13), organisation of Freemasonry and starting of Zetland Lodge (June 18 and December 8), commencement of a monthly line of mail steamers by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (August 1) and completion of a temporary Government House (November 1). The Hongkong Club, also planned in 1845, was opened on May 26, 1846, in a stately building erected, opposite the new Court House, at a cost of £15,000 by G. Strachan with funds provided by shareholders who. appointed a Board of Trustees as a Standing Committee of the Club. Resident members were to be admitted by ballot and required to pay an entrance fee ($30) and a monthly subscription ($4). A fund for the relief of sick and destitute foreigners was established by a public meeting (July 13, 1846) which passed the remarkable resolution that 'the term foreigner shall include natives of every country except China.' This public sanction of the local use of the word foreigner was dictated by common sense yielding to the force of a usage which dated from the time when Englishmen were residing, as foreigners, in Canton and Macao. At a meeting of the above-mentioned Medical Society (January 5, 1847), it was proposed to establish a Philosophical Society for China, and this proposal resulted in the organisation (January 15, 1847) of a China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in Hongkong, under the presidency of Sir J. Davis. A public subscription was started (May 24, 1847) for the relief of destitution in Ireland and Scotland and realised £1,000.
At the close of the year 1840 and throughout the early part of the following year, dissensions were rife among the officers and civil employees of the garrison. Court-martials were frequent and differences arose even between the officers constituting the Court and Major-General D'Aguilar. Local society, centering still in the grandees of the mercantile community, took a lively interest in the matter adverse to the General, who, as he resented the criticisms of civilians, was at this time as much detested by the community as the Governor himself. But the animosities thus aroused speedily died away. Before the close of the year the breach was healed. The ceremony of presenting new colours to the 95th Regiment (February 17, 1848), on which occasion the General's successor, Major-General Staveley, took over the command of the garrison, was a sort of public festival of reconciliation in which the leading merchants took an active part by presenting to General D'Aguilar a laudatory address of farewell. Next week the community enthusiastically took the General to its bosom again, by a stately banquet given in his honour (February 24, 1848). The day before the great reconciliation scene, the leading merchants presented also a public address to the Senior Naval Officer, Captain MacQuhae, on his departure from the station. What gave a piquant zest to these demonstrations of popular affection for the departing commanding officers of the Army and Navy, was the underlying thought of the difference with which the Governor's impending departure was to be treated by the community.
When the time came for Sir J. Davis to embark (March 30, 1848) on his homeward voyage, the community, with stolid apathy, watched from a distance the salutes fired, the faint cheer of a few devoted friends, the yards manned by the mail steamer. But there was no public address, no banquet, no popular farewell. The leading paper of the Colony gave voice to the feelings of the public by stating that Sir John 'was not only unpopular from his official acts but unfit for a Colonial Government by his personal demeanour and disposition,' and, with sarcastic allusion to the Governor's fondness for the Latin tongue, closed its valedictory oration with this caustic farewell, 'Exi, mi fili, et vide quam minima sapientia mundus hic regitur'!
Conscious, no doubt, of having manfully and patiently done his duty, according to his lights, by his God and his country, and viewing the mercantile community as blinded by prejudice and passion, Sir J. Davis could well afford to smile at all this badinage. But he had suffered the mortification, nearly a year before his return to England, of seeing the whole of his administrative policy inquired into, held up to the public gaze, and solemnly condemned by higher authorities than the Hongkong merchants.
A Parliamentary Committee was appointed (in March, 1847) to inquire into British commercial relations with China. Mr. R. M. Martin, of course, came once more to the front. According to him, Sir J. Davis erred, first, in raising undue expectations of the future of Hongkong by assuring Her Majesty's Government that Hongkong would be the Carthage of the East, that its population would equal that of ancient Rome, and that commercially Hongkong would ultimately supersede Canton. He further erred, according to Mr. Martin, in that he, having raised such expectations, endeavoured by measures forced upon the Colony to fulfil his predictions. 'The constant endeavour to realize those expectations led ta a continued system of taxation, an unfortunate desire for legislation, and an unnecessarily expensive system of government. This produced irritation on the part of the merchants who, smarting under their losses, felt more irritable at every transaction; and thus there has been produced an unfortunate state of. feeling between the community and the Governor.' Mr. Martin thought that Sir J. Davis would have exercised a sound discretion if he had represented to Her Majesty's Government that it was not possible to raise a revenue without diminishing the commerce or injuring the merchants in their endeavours to make the place more available for trade.
But a more serious and weighty condemnation of the policy maintained by Sir J. Davis, is contained in the evidence given before that Select Committee of the House of Commons and particularly in the final report of the Committee. Whilst Mr. Martin's criticisms, particularly as embodied in his famous report of July 24, 1844, were too sweeping to carry conviction and have in part been contradicted by the events of history, the evidence given by Mr. A. Matheson, whilst freely exposing the evil results of Sir J. Davis' policy, bore the stamp of a mature and sober judgment, and contained, moreover, a prophecy which history has fulfilled. 'The whole of the British merchants,' said Mr. A. Matheson (May 4, 1847), 'would abandon Hongkong, were it not for the very large sums they had sunk in buildings in the early days of the Colony and which they were reluctant to abandon, though I believe doing so would have been the wisest course and will certainly be the course adopted unless under a change of policy the prosperity of the place revives. … Let perpetual leases be granted at a moderate ground rent (say £20 or so for a sea frontage lot and £2 for a suburban lot) and let the revenue thus levied be applied exclusively to the maintenance of an efficient Police Force, leaving the other expenses to be borne by the nation, and I feel convinced that in the course of a few years Hongkong will take a new turn and become one of our most flourishing as well as valuable possessions.'
The final report of this Parliamentary Committee, though not mentioning Sir J. Davis, and aiming at reform rather than criticism, condemned his administrative policy in toto. 'In addition to natural and necessary disadvantages, Hongkong appears to have laboured under others, created by a system of monopolies and farms and petty regulations peculiarly unsuited to its position and prejudicial to its progress. These seem to have arisen partly from an attempt to struggle with the difficulties of establishing order and security in the midst of the vagabond and piratical population which frequent its waters and infest its coasts: and partly from a desire to raise a revenue in the Island in some degree adequate to the maintenance of its civil Government. To this latter object, however, we think it unwise to sacrifice the real interests of the settlement, which can only prosper under the greatest amount of freedom of intercourse and traffic which is consistent with the engagements of treaties and internal order; nor do we think it right that the burden of maintaining that which is rather a post for general influence and the protection of the general trade in the China Seas than a colony in the ordinary sense, should be thrown in any great degree on the merchants or other persons who may be resident upon it. To the revision of the whole system we would call the early attention of the Government, as well as to that of the establishment of the Settlement which we cannot but think has been placed on a footing of needless expense.' The Committee finally pressed upon the Government the acceptance of the following positive recommendations, viz. (1) that regular post-office communication by steamboats be established from Hongkong to Canton and northern ports; (2) that the dependence of the Governor on both the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office be simplified; (3) that a short Code of Law be substituted for the present system of general references to the laws of England; (4) that draft ordinances and regulations be published for three or six months before they are enacted; (5) that a share in the administration of the ordinary and local affairs of the Island be given, by some system of municipal government, to the British residents; and (6) that facilities be given in Hongkong for the acquisition of the Chinese language and encouragement to Schools for the Chinese.
No one ever discerned with greater clearness Hongkong's true path to higher destinies, than this Parliamentary Committee.
After his retirement from the Governorship of Hongkong, Sir John Davis was honoured by being appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire (in 1852), a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (June 14, 1854), and a Doctor of Civil Law of Oxford (June 21, 1876). He died on November 13, 1890, in his ninety-sixth year, full of days and ripe for glory.