Europe in China/Chapter 19
The Interregnum of the Hon. W. T. Mercer and the Administration of Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell.
March 15, 1865, to April 22, 1872.
fter the departure of Sir H. Robinson (March 15, 1865) there ensued an interregnum, the government of the Colony being administered for a whole year by the former Colonial Secretary, the Hon. W. T. Mercer, who continued, with fidelity and ability, the policy of Sir H. Robinson. The work and events of this year, which was commercially and financially marked by a rapidly growing stagnation and depression, have been summarized by Mr. Mercer (May 30, 1866) in a dispatch published by Parliament. He stated,—that the Companies' Ordinance (1 of 1895) was the principal legal enactment of the year (1865), next to the series of Ordinances consolidating the criminal law for which the Colony was indebted to Judge Ball and Mr. Alexander; that the summer of 1865 was a specially unhealthy season, distinguished by much sickness and serious mortality, so much so that it attracted the attention of Parliament and occasioned the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the mortality of troops in China; that the water supply of the Colony, though materially improved, remained manifestly inadequate, requiring further provision to be made; that piracy was, in 1865, as rife as ever and likely to continue so until the Chinese Maritime Customs Service (under Sir R. Hart) could be induced to co-operate with the British Authorities for the suppression of piracy in Chinese waters; that the Indian contingent of the Hongkong Police Force had proved a failure but that the Superintendent of Police (Ch. May), who condemned the proposal of trying once more the Chinese Force, thought that the Indian Police had not had a fair trial; and, finally, that a deputation of Chinese merchants had urged upon Sir Rutherforth Alcock, H.M. Minister in China, when he passed through Hongkong in autumn 1865, that the support of H.M. Government should be given to Sir M. Stephenson's railway scheme (connecting Calcutta with Canton and Hongkong), but that the question, whether such a scheme would eventually benefit or injure the interests of Hongkong, was a knotty problem.
There is but one incident of this interregnum which requires detailed mention. A native of the Poon-yü District (E. of Canton city), carrying on business in Hongkong under the name How Hoi-low alias How Yu-teen, was claimed (April 21, 1865) by the Viceroy of Canton, in virtue of the Treaty of Tientsin, as having committed robberies in China. The Viceroy addressed the usual communication to the Governor (Mr. Mercer) and on 1st May, 1865, the accused was brought before the police magistrate (J. C. Whyte) under Ordinance 2, of 1852 (above mentioned), defended by counsel (E. H. Pollard) and committed to gaol pending reference to the Governor, a prima facie case having been clearly made out. Under the advice of the Attorney General (H. J. Ball), Mr. Mercer directed (May 3, 1865) the rendition of the prisoner who was forthwith handed over to the Chinese Authorities and executed in Canton in the usual manner by decapitation. On May 30th, 1865, the editor of the Daily Press, by his overland issue (Trade Report), gave currency to the allegation which had not been made at the trial, neither by the prisoner nor by his counsel, that the unfortunate man was neither robber nor pirate, but a political refugee, the veritable Taiping prince known as Mow Wang, that he was unjustly surrendered by the British Government and executed by the Chinese in a manner involving actual cannibalism. Although it was known at the time, and stated by a Canton journalist, that the real Mow Wang had, according to General Gordon's testimony, been murdered by the other Taiping Wangs on November 29th, 1863, previous to the surrender of Soochow, this sensational fiction found credence In England. The London Standard (July 22, 1865) took it up and the redoubtable Colonel Sykes, M.P., moved the House of Commons (February 8, 1866) to ask for the production of documents bearing on the subject, which were accordingly published (March 20, 1866). Although these documents clearly shewed the unfounded character of the allegations made against the Hongkong Government, the inquiry served a good purpose, as it directed the attention of H.M. Government to the fact that such renditions had all along been conducted by direct requests addressed by the Cantonese Authorities to the Hongkong Government and that the exclusion of any supervision, on the part of the British Consul at Canton, of the treatment accorded by the Chinese Mandarins to prisoners rendited by the Hongkong Government, exposed them to inhuman barbarities. Orders were therefore made by the Colonial Office, that thenceforth all communications between the Hongkong Government and the Chinese Authorities must, in every case, be conducted through H.M. Diplomatic Agent in China or through H.M. Consul (August 19, 1865), and further that no prisoners should thenceforth be surrendered by the Government of Hongkong to the Chinese Authorities unless guarantee be given that the rendited prisoner be not subjected to any torture (September 11, 1865).
But this interregnum was not merely a period of insignificant transition. Its real character was that of a woeful reaction and general disillusion. During Sir H. Robinson's administration, the Colony had taken a bound in advance, both in wealth and population, so sudden and so great, that now, in the face of an equally unexpected and extensive decline of its commerce, prosperity and finances, it was generally felt that Sir Hercules' system of administration required retrenchment and re-adaptation to vastly altered circumstances. As the financial sky became more and more overcast with clouds, even former admirers of Sir Hercules' policy admitted that he had taken too roseate a view of the resources of the Colony. Trade and commerce were now labouring under a heavy depression. The whole commercial world was passing through a crisis. Great houses were falling on all sides. Hongkong, connected now with every great bourse in the world, was suffering likewise and property was seriously depreciated. Credit became instable. Men were everywhere suspicious, unsettled in mind, getting irritable and economically severe. Yet great public works, the Praya, the new Gaol, the Mint, the Water-Works, the sea wall at Kowloon, commenced or constructed in a period of unexampled prosperity, had now to be carried on, completed or maintained, from the scanty resources of an impoverished and well-nigh insolvent Treasury. New laws were clearly needed for the regulation of the Chinese whose gambling habits were filling the streets with riot and honeycombing the Police Force with corruption. Crime was rampant and the gaols overflowing with prisoners. Piracy, flourishing as ever before, was believed to have not only its secret lairs among the low class of marine-store dealers but the support of wealthy Chinese firms and to enjoy the connivance of men in the Police Force. A sense of insecurity as to life and property was again, as in days gone by, taking possession of the public mind. The cry among the colonists now was for a strong and resolute Governor, one who would give his undivided attention to the needs and interests of the Colony and govern it accordingly, undeterred by what the foreign community of Hongkong now called 'the vicious system of colonial administration in vogue at home.' Sir J. Bowring, they said, had attended to everything under the sun except the government of the Island. Sir H. Robinson, they opined, had governed the Colony to please his masters in Downing Street and with a view to advance himself to a better appointment. And as to Mr. Mercer, everybody agreed that he deliberately 'let well enough alone.' The sort of man the colonists now desired for their next Governor was a dictator rather, with a strong mind and will, than a weak faddist or an obsequious henchman of the machine public. The cry was for a Cæsar.
As Providence would have it, it so happened that it was just such a man, a Cæsar every inch of him, that the Colonial Office, casting about for a successor to Sir Hercules, selected. The choice of H. M. Government fell (October 4, 1865) on Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell, an Irishman who had a splendid record of varied and long services to recommend him. He had entered Trinity College (Dublin) in 1880, gained honours both in classics and in science, and graduated B.A. (1835) and M.A. (1838), to which honours was added, later on, the degree of Hon. LL.D. (1844). Having been called to the bar both in Ireland (1838) and at Lincoln's Inn (1840), he was appointed Chief Justice of the Gambia (1843 to 1847). As Governor of the Gambia (1847 to 1851) he conducted several exploring expeditions in the interior of Africa, for which services he was created C.B. (1852). Sir R. G. MacDonnell next served (1852) as Governor of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. In 1855 he was created Knight Bachelor and appointed Captain-General and Governor-in-chief of South Australia, which government he held till March, 1862. After serving two years (1864 and 1865) as Governor of Nova Scotia, Sir Richard was promoted to the Governorship of Hongkong where he took over, on 11th March, 1866, the reins of office from the Administrator, the Hon. W. T. Mercer.
Within a few days after his arrival in the Colony, Sir Richard found himself painfully disillusioned. By his interviews with the officials in Downing Street, he had been led to believe that he would find in Hongkong a full treasury, a steadily increasing revenue, public works of all sorts finished or so nearly completed that little remained to be done, a Mint ready to commence operations and sure to pay well, and a competent official staff, purged by the labours of Sir Hercules of every taint of corruption. To his intense surprise and disappointment, Sir Richard found the position of affairs well-nigh reversed. The interregnum, rapidly developing the mischief which had secretly been brewing during the closing year of Sir H. Robinson's administration, had wrought an astounding transformation scene, of which the Colonial Office was as yet blissfully ignorant. For several months after this crushing revelation which burst upon him immediately upon his arrival, Sir Richard stayed his hand while he silently but deliberately went round, from one department to the other, probing by the most searching investigation the extent and nature of the mischief wrought. The colonists wondered and groaned owing to the Governor's seeming inactivity, whilst a wholesome fear was instilled in the minds of all officials by the Governor's repeated and most unexpected surprise visits, and by his minute questionings as to every financial, executive and administrative detail, such as had never been inquired into before. But when he once had satisfied himself as to the real position of affairs, he set to work as a determined reformer, launching one measure after the other, regardless of the hostile criticisms of local public opinion and impatient even of the restraints which successive Secretaries of State sought to put upon his dauntless energy. In the face of much opposition and suffering severe opprobrium on all sides, Sir Richard went on with his labours as a reformer, honestly and fearlessly striving to do right and content to be judged in the future when his measures would have produced their natural results. He had not to wait very long before the Hongkong public, abandoning their early prejudices, frankly recognized his worth. After four years' untiring exertions, reasons of health compelled him to ask for a furlough, intending to proceed only to Japan, where he had spent a few weeks in 1868 (October 29 to December 12) for a brief rest. But the Colonial Office thought it expedient that he should, by a visit to England, combine, with the object of recruiting his health, the pressing duty of explaining to the Secretary of State the grounds of his divergent policy, distasteful in some respects to the Colonial Office. When he was about to start on this trip to Japan and England (April 13, 1870), the community of Hongkong, having by this time taken the correct measure of their Governor's character and work, unanimously acknowledged that he had the true interests of the Colony at heart, according to his own views of what was best, and that he had, sincerely and in many respects most successfully, striven to administer the government and to legislate for the Colony's ultimate good and advancement, without fear or favour of the Colonial Office or of local opinion. It was publicly stated (April 5, 1870) even at that time that 'the measures which proved the most beneficial were precisely those on which he met (on the part of the public) with most difficulty.' At the meeting of the Legislative Council (March 30, 1870) previous to his departure, the Chief Justice (J. Smale) expressed the sentiments of the whole community when he eulogized the Governor on the great success obtained by his able and vigorous policy and stated that Lady MacDonnell had, by her urbanity of manner and kindness of heart in extending gentle courtesies to all, filled her exalted station so that no lady, who had ever presided at Government House, left the Colony more or more generally regretted than Lady MacDonnell. On the same occasion, the Hon. H. B. Gibb, speaking also on behalf of the other non-official Members of Council, endorsed the eulogy pronounced by the Chief Justice. During the absence of the Governor, MajorGeneral H. W. Whitfield, ably seconded by the Colonial Secretary (J. Gardiner Austin), administered the government of the Colony. Sir Richard returned to his post on 8th October, 1871, and remained at it to the close of his administration.
During his whole tenure of office, Sir Richard had no questions of a diplomatic nature to deal with, apart from those which grew out of Hongkong's relations with China. The first case of this class occurred immediately after the Governor's arrival, when the S.S. Prince Albert, owned by Kwok Acheung, the popular comprador of the P. & O. Company, was seized by the Chinese Customs officers (May 26, 1866) on the ground of her resorting to a port on the West Coast not opened by Treaty. Although Sir Richard, who considered the action of the Chinese officers to have been illegal, could do but little to obtain a modification of the sentence of confiscation, as H.M. Consul at Canton (D. B. Robertson) had acquiesced in that decision, yet he obtained the release of the vessel on payment of a fine of $4,000. But the spirit and energy which Sir Richard displayed on the occasion gained him considerable popularity. He was more successful in the case of the attempt made, in October, 1867, by the Canton cotton-dealers' guild, to remove the whole cotton trade from Hongkong to Canton. As soon as he had the facts before him, shewing that the Canton guild had made regulations imposing a system of fines on any Chinese merchants who should violate their prohibitions by buying cotton or cotton yarn in Hongkong, Sir Richard addressed, through the Consul, such strong remonstrances to the Viceroy of Canton, that the latter yielded and issued a proclamation (November 29, 1867) absolutely prohibiting the measures contemplated by the guild. With the same promptness and energy Sir Richard interfered at the close of the year 1871, when the Administrator of Chinese Customs (Hoppo) at Canton openly made a rule, on which he had secretly been acting for years, that all foreign-laden Chinese junks in South China, intending to sail for Hongkong from any Chinese port, must first report at Pakhoi or Canton before proceeding to Hongkong. This hostile attempt to confine the whole native coast trade between South China and Hongkong to dealings between Treaty ports and Hongkong was energetically taken up and seemingly defeated for the time by Sir Richard, before the Chamber of Commerce made any move in the matter.
But the principal tussle Sir Richard had with the Chinese Authorities was connected with a much more serious attempt made by the Mandarins to ruin the native junk trade of Hongkong. About October 15th, 1867, the steam-cruizers of the Canton Customs, aided by native gun-boats employed by the holders of Chinese monopolies at Canton (especially the salt and saltpetre farmers), commenced what was thenceforth known as the Blockade of Hongkong. These steam-cruizers and gun-boats patrolled day and night every outlet of the harbour and waters of Hongkong, boarded and searched every native junk leaving or entering, arrested every junk that had no proper papers and levied double duty in the case of goods shipped at Pakhoi or Canton for other Treaty ports by junks which en route touched at Hongkong. It was a movement which pretended to aim only at suppressing smuggling but which, in reality, operated as an extra tax on the legitimate junk trade of Hongkong. It served, indeed, to induce Chinese merchants in Hongkong to conduct their shipping business in foreign bottoms (exempt from this blockade) rather than by native junks, but, as foreign vessels were excluded from all but Treaty ports, this blockade tended to nullify the right of Chinese subjects residing in Hongkong to trade, by native junks, with the non-Treaty ports of their own country. In fact, this blockade served not only as an efficient check on smuggling, but as a simple means of compelling the junk trade of the Colony to pay double duty unless conducted viâ the two principal ports of South-China, Pakhoi and Canton. And this was the real purport of the measure: to effectually subordinate the native commerce of Hongkong to that of Canton for the injury of the former and the benefit of the latter port, and permanently to neutralise, so far as the junk trade of Hongkong was concerned, the freedom of the port.
It was a clever scheme, this blockade of Hongkong. And the credit (or discredit) of having devised and suggested it, and demonstrated its justification on the basis of international law, to the great delectation of Viceroy Jui, belongs to the British Consul of Canton, Mr. D. B. Robertson, on whom, as the irony of fate would have it, H.M. Government bestowed the honour of the knighthood. This was meant as a reward for his subservience to the short-sighted pro-Chinese policy of the Foreign Office, which Sir Rutherford Alcock initiated in China but which in this case served to give to the prestige and prosperity of Hongkong the heaviest blow it has ever received at the hand of its enemies.
In the face of the support thus given, by H.M. representatives in China, to the blockade of the port, Sir Richard could not do much beyond protesting against a measure which, at best, combined summum jus with summa injuria. He ascertained, however, that the measure, as originally formulated (July 1, 1868), aimed at levying, on Chinese shipping resorting to Hongkong, a special war-tax, called Li-kin, which amounted in the case of opium to taels 16 per chest, and that this Li-kin tax was to be collected outside the harbour of Hongkong, at Kapshuimoon in the west, at Kowloon city in the north, and at Fattauchau, just outside the Lyeemoon in the East. When Sir Richard discovered that these blockade stations levied, in addition to the fixed tax on opium which he did not object to, also undefined duties on goods of all sort (food stuffs excluded) when carried by native junks, he pressed the Chinese Authorities for a copy of their tariff. But they neither could nor would fix a tariff, as various monopolies farmed out and sublet to individual were mixed up in the matter with provincial and Imperial interests, and as it suited the interests of a corrupt system of irregular levies better not to be tied down to a fixed tariff. Sir Richard then strengthened his water police force and obtained a steam launch, Blanche, to assist the Colonial junk or gun-boat, Victoria, in patrolling the waters of Hongkong to prevent trespass. Moreover, he refused to allow any Chinese gun-boat or cruizer to anchor in the harbour unless flying a recognized official flag. The Chinese Authorities yielded this point and adopted first a triangular flag (October, 1868), then provisionally a square (March 19, 1869), and finally a yellow triangular flag with the emblem of a flying dragon.
The interference with the legitimate native trade in foreign goods, resulting from the Customs Blockade of Hongkong, aroused a considerable commotion in the Colony. A universally signed protest, in form of a Memorial to the Secretary of State, was presented to the Governor (July 20, 1868). Fresh excitement arose when it became known (July 24, 1868) that the Viceroy of Canton had opened in Hongkong an opium tax station in charge of a well-known resident (Ho A-loi) and when a salt revenue station and other offices, opened in town by the officers of the Li-kin stations, were discovered, disclosing a regular organisation intended to collect in Hongkong all the various taxes demanded at those stations and to issue passes in Hongkong under the seal of the Chinese Government. Sir Richard immediately suppressed every such office that was discovered. On February 15th, 1869, the Assistant-Harbourmaster (A. Lister) reported that 'certain branches of commerce had not yet recovered from the panic into which they were thrown by the attempt, in October and November (1868), on the part of the Canton Customs to stop the whole trade in foreign goods by Chinese bottoms to any other place than Canton.' The Harbourmaster's report for 1869 shewed a falling off of 2,222 junks, equal to 113,252 tons, owing to the blockade. But after a few years the Chinese merchants, recognizing the helplessness of the case, and the retribution awaiting them if they made any complaints, submitted to these oppressive exactions and found it to be to their own interest and convenience to obtain passes in town, at the secret taxing offices which continued to flourish on the sly, rather than risk the delay and uncertainty of payments made at the outside stations.
That this blockade scheme aimed at destroying the freedom of the port as well as the junk-trade of the Colony, appeared very clearly from a proposal, which originated with one of the Commissioners of the Chinese Customs Service (Th. Dick), but which was sternly rejected by Sir Richard. It was proposed, that an export duty should be levied in Hongkong, by a Branch of the Chinese Customs Service, upon the opium (and in course of time, no doubt, upon all other goods) re-shipped in Hongkong by junks, the Colony retaining a certain portion of the revenue as commission for so collecting it. The strongest opponent of the blockade was the Hon. Ph. Ryrie who, as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce (September 12, 1871), stated that there could be no question as to the illegality of the action taken by the Chinese officials which, in point of fact, almost amounted to an act of armed hostility against the Colony. Mr. Ryrie strongly protested against the inaction of the Home Authorities in this Imperial question. He also caused the publication of a letter addressed to the Chamber by Baron de Meritens, formerly a Commissioner of the Chinese Customs, stating—that arresting, on the high seas, vessels leaving Hongkong was contrary to the law of nations, that the Viceroy was acting with reluctance under orders sent him from Peking, that Sir Richard's objections continued in all their force, and that the appointment of a Chinese Customs Collector (or Consul) in Hongkong, who would certainly act as a spy, would be subversive of the independence of the Colony. But in spite of the Governor's opposition to the blockade, and notwithstanding repeated Memorials presented to H. M. Government by the community and the Chamber of Commerce, the working of those Chinese blockade stations continued and constituted thenceforth a chronic source of discontent ever wrangling in the minds of both native and foreign merchants.
Another important diplomatic question arose in connection with those Li-kin stations. In passing through Hongkong (December, 1869, and January, 1870), Sir Rutherford Alcock, then H.M. Minister in China, urged the members of the Chamber of Commerce to submit to the appointment of a Chinese Consul in Hongkong. This measure he declared to be the only satisfactory solution of the difficulties standing in the way of a fulfilment of the popular desire for an abolition of the Li-kin stations in the immediate vicinity of Hongkong, and the only means of bringing about a permanent arrangement of commercial relations, between the Hongkong Authorities and the Chinese Government, such as would rest on a solid basis of mutual respect and reciprocal advantage. Sir R. Alcock, who was in this matter the innocent dupe of the cunning Viceroy, and who did not disguise his monstrous opinion that 'Hongkong is confessedly a great smuggling depot,' failed to convince the colonists that 'the appointment of a Chinese Consul in Hongkong would simply protect that commerce in the Colony which is legitimate and discourage that which is contraband.' The subsequent history of the blockade shewed that Sir R. Alcock had entirely misconceived the policy of the Chinese Authorities, who had no intention of withdrawing their Customs stations in response to any concession whatsoever. Sir R. Alcock's suggestion, made by him after several interviews with the Viceroy (December 27 and 29, 1869), and with the approval of the latter, that at first a foreign officer of Sir R. Hart's staff should be appointed Consul in Hongkong, until Chinese officers could be educated in the duties and extent of Consular power, did not remove the radical objections which the colonists almost unanimously entertained against the proposed measure. These objections, which Sir R. Alcock denominated 'fears more or less chimerical and exaggerated,' were embodied by the Hongkong community in a Memorial addressed to Earl Clarendon (January, 1870), and consisted principally in the solemn conviction, entertained by Europeans and Chinese alike, that under existing circumstances the power which a Chinese Consul would gain over the local Chinese population would constitute a veritable imperium in imperio and subject the native community to an intolerable system of official espionage and to the insatiable rapacity of a corrupt mandarindom. Although Earl Clarendon sided with Sir R. Alcock on the main points of the dispute, and sanctioned his concluding with the Chinese Government a Convention providing for a Chinese Consulate in Hongkong, Sir Richard, who strongly supported the Memorial of the community, succeeded in convincing H. M. Government that the fears of the community were anything but chimerical and rested on a solid foundation. Although the blockade was never abated, the question of a Chinese Consulate in Hongkong remained shelved.
Another diplomatic question agitated for some time (1867 to 1870) the mind of the mercantile community. But Sir Richard had comparatively little to do with it, as it concerned Sir R. Alcock (and since 1870 Sir Th. Wade) and the Foreign Office rather than the Government of Hongkong or the Colonial Office. This was the question of Treaty Revision which arose from a provision contained in Article XXVII. of the Tientsin Treaty making the tariff and commercial articles of this Treaty (confirmed by the Peking Convention of October 24, 1860) subject, after the lapse of ten years, to further revision at the request of either of the two contracting parties. Sir R. Alcock accordingly issued, in spring 1867, to the British communities of the Treaty ports in China, an invitation to forward to him, through their respective Consuls, suggestions as to the proposed rectification of and deficiencies of the Tientsin Treaty. The Hongkong Chamber of Commerce, having received a similar invitation, resolved (July 16, 1867) to proceed by memorializing the Governor rather than Sir R. Alcock whom, at that time already, they knew to be as unfriendly to the interests of the Colony as Lord Elgin had been. A Committee, appointed by the Chamber, presented accordingly to Sir Richard a Memorial on the illegal transit duties and other exactions imposed by the Chinese Authorities, in contravention of the Treaty, on British goods en route in the interior of China. In addition to this public Memorial, the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Co. presented (December, 1869) a separate Memorial dealing very frankly with the regulations of the opium traffic and other grievances. When it became known, at the close of the year 1869, that the Chinese Authorities proposed to include in the revised Treaty Regulations a provision to the effect that native produce shipped from Hongkong to a Treaty port should not be protected by the clause which protected goods, sent inland from Treaty ports, against inland taxation, the Chamber of Commerce once more (January, 1870) memorialized H.M. Government, representing that this measure placed Hongkong at a great disadvantage compared with Chinese Treaty ports. However, the whole project of Treaty Revision had eventually to be dropped.
In spite of the hostile attitude which the Chinese Government during this period assumed towards the Colony, the Chinese Tartar General (Chang Shan), when visiting Hongkong (October 27, 1871) in one of the blockade cruizers (Ping-chau-hoi), accompanied by two Commissioners of Customs (E. C. Bowra and Viscomte d'Arnaux de Limoges) was most honourably received and most hospitably entertained, in the absence of the Governor, by the Lieutenant-Governor (W. Whitfield). For the first time a Chinese gun-vessel saluted, in due foreign style, the port, the British flag and the Vice-Admiral (Sir H. Kellett) and received the corresponding salutes in Hongkong.
In May, 1868, Sir Richard, who had no diplomatic connection with any other foreign power, received at the hands of special Annamese ambassadors, sent to Hongkong for the purpose, the thanks of the native Government of Cochin-China for his humane intervention, made on their behalf with the Government of Macao. In May, 1867, it had become known in Hongkong that a number of Cochin-Chinese junks, conveying tribute to Annam, had been captured by Chinese pirates who sold the tribute bearers, with their escort and junk crews, to Macao coolie barracoons. Thanks to the intervention of Sir Richard, these people were forthwith liberated by the Portuguese Governor (Admiral de Souza) and the Hongkong community readily subscribed the funds required to send the unfortunate captives back to their native country.
Sir R. MacDonnell did not materially modify or augment the organisation of the Civil Service. But, with a view to retrenchment, he repeatedly applied, when suitable vacancies occurred, the principle of plurality of offices. One characteristic of his regime was the preference he invariably gave to those Cadets whom he found serviceable for the aims of his vigorous policy and amenable to his austere discipline which required, however, much patience on the part of his subordinates as he ruthlessly sent back official reports, to be amended, again and again, till they agreed with his views. Another feature of his administration was the increased authority and importance with which he invested the Registrar General's office, so long as the first of the Cadets (C. C. Smith), who in most things was his right-hand man, held that office. The number of Cadets had, before his arrival, been increased (August 9, 1865), by the appointment of Mr. A. Lister and Mr. J. Russell, and they were without much delay employed by him to fill important offices, the former being sent to the Harbour Office and the latter, who also acted as his Private Secretary, to the Magistracy.
The first popular measure introduced by the Governor was a revision of the constitution of the Legislative Council. The need for such a revision had made itself felt both by the Colonial Office and by the community when the Colonial Treasurer (F. H. Forth) had to be censured (March, 1866) under the then already existing rules, for having seconded (September 23, 1865) a motion of an unofficial Member (Th. Sutherland) to the effect that the item of $92,000 for the Military Contribution be struck out of the Estimates until the profits of the Mint are in excess of the amount required. There being only three unofficial against seven official Members in the Council, the community argued that, as official Members were thenceforth compelled either to resign or to vote in favour of every Government measure, the unofficial Members were virtually powerless unless the constitution of the Council was modified to suit the new rules. On the first opportunity (August 27, 1869), Sir Richard gave to Mr. Rowett a seat vacated by Judge Ball, so that there were then on the Council six officials and four members of the community (H. B. Gibb, W. Keswick, J. B. Taylor, R. Rowett) beside the Governor who had, however, both an ordinary and a casting vote.
Sir Richard was at all times well able to keep his Council in hand, and the Registrar General (being on the Council in some acting capacity or other) ably seconded him in the task. Sir Richard was an excellent speaker and keen debater, always terribly in earnest and thoroughly master of whatever subject he took up, and to this was added the weight of his stern personality and a fixed determination to conquer every obstacle. He had but one encounter with the unofficial Members when they, led by the Hon. W. Keswick (September 30, 1869), boldly attacked the Governor's creation of a special savings and excess account. They protested against a manipulation of the public accounts, seemingly intended to enable the Governor to expend public money without the knowledge and consent of the Legislature. The Hon. C. C. Smith, then Acting Colonial Secretary, argued, however, that so long as money voted by the Council was applied to the same kind of object as that for which it was originally intended, it was immaterial whether the particular object on which it was spent had been mentioned in the vote or not. A few years later, during the absence of the Governor, the Hon. Ph. Ryrie entered into a positive conflict with the Government. Having heard that an important document, bearing on the blockade question, had found its way from the office of the unpopular Registrar General (C. C. Smith) into the hands of the Chinese Customs officers, Mr. Ryrie (September 22, 1871) asked in Council for information on the subject. Mr. C. C. Smith, then sitting as Acting Colonial Treasurer, treated Mr. Ryrie's remarks as involving a charge against himself and retorted with some vehemence. Mr. Keswick supported his colleague by criticizing the plurality of the Registrar General's functions and demanded that the duties of his office should be defined. At the next meeting (October 18, 1871) the discussion was renewed and some days later the Colonial Secretary (J. Gardiner Austin) wrote to Mr. Ryrie, formally calling upon him to substantiate his charge against the Registrar General. In reply, Mr. Ryrie, who had all along contended that he preferred no charge but merely asked for information, now demanded that at next Council meeting a protest should be heard against the invasion of privilege involved in requesting him to explain out of the Council room what he had said in it. At the next meeting Mr. Ryrie gave notice of his protest but no discussion was allowed. Seeing in the whole affair an illustration of the old grievance of defective representation in Council, the public now stigmatized the action of the Lieutenant-Governor (W. Whitfield) in deferring the debate, as an unwarrantable attempt to burke free discussion. On November 15, 1871, Mr. Ryrie's protest, concerning the breach of privilege of which he complained, was read in Council and recorded in the minutes. Mr. Ryrie justly contended that freedom of speech in Council was absolutely necessary.
Sir Richard's financial measures were the source of both the greatest trouble and the greatest triumph of his administration. For some time before his arrival, the Colony had been steadily dropping from a state of comparative affluence into a condition of growing insolvency. At the beginning of the year 1865, the Treasury accounts shewed a surplus of assets (over liabilities) amounting to $298,000. At the commencement of the next year (1866) this surplus was reduced to $184,000, and in January, 1867, there was but an imaginary surplus of $24,000 made up in part by a stock of $60,000 in unavailable coins (bronze cents and mils) which no creditor could have been compelled to accept. The Colony was therefore practically insolvent. Moreover, the expenditure had for some time gone on increasing in proportion as the revenues continued to diminish. In the year 1865, during the interregnum of Mr. Mercer, the expenditure exceeded the revenue by $94,361, and in 1866, when Sir Richard had just stepped in, by $167,877. But now a change came. Sir Richard at once reduced the expenditure from $936,954 in the previous year (1866) to $730,916, though not without leaving for a while the Military Contribution in arrear. At the same time (1867) the revenue was permanently raised, by means of Sir Richard's Stamp Ordinance, which came into operation at the close of the year (October 9, 1867). Therewith the finances of the Colony began to right themselves slowly, though at this very time the commercial depression, which had made itself felt in 1866, had been much aggravated and the tradal interests of the Colony were passing through a crisis such as had never before occurred in the history of the Colony. The expenditure of the year 1867 was kept within the limits of the revenue to the extent of $128,584 and next year (1868) to the extent of $142,794, though in the latter year all the arrears of the Military Contribution were paid off. The revenue of the year 1868 amounted to the astounding sum of $1,134,105 and yielded, as the expenditure stood at $991,811, a surplus of $140,000. Instead of rejoicing over this result, the mercantile community, engulfed at the time in a slough of despond, expressed great dissatisfaction at the heaviness of the taxation and pointed with groans to the yield of the Stamp Ordinance which had taken $101,000 out of the pockets of the- merchants in that one year. The revenue of 1869 shewed an apparent decrease of £43,811 as compared with 1868, but in reality there was some increase, as credit was erroneously taken in 1868 for £55,660 gambling revenue which had to be refunded. In 1870 the revenue decreased slightly (by £1,791) and somewhat more in 1871 (by £14,711). But Sir Richard could boast of having so regulated the finances, that, during a period of unexampled commercial disasters in China, the Colony emerged from a state of insolvency to one of assured financial stability, without leaving a single claim unsatisfied or borrowing a fraction from the Special Fund which had unavoidably accrued from the gambling licences.
It has already been shewn that this financial success was achieved principally by means of the Stamp Ordinance (12 of 1866). When Sir Richard first announced (August, 1866) his intention of introducing a Stamp Act, the foreign community seemed to be rather at a loss, at first, what to think of the measure. But when the second reading of the Bill was carried in Council (September, 1866), one local paper (China Mail) boldly supported the principle of the Bill, whilst another paper (Daily Press) opposed it and complained that the Bill was hurried through whilst the unofficial Members of Council were ignorant of its contents and bearings. A public meeting was held (September, 1866) and, in pursuance of the resolutions passed, a Memorial protesting against the confirmation of the proposed Ordinance was accordingly signed by almost every firm in the Colony. The principal objections which the foreign community had against the Bill consisted in the following allegations, (1) that stamps would seriously obstruct commerce, a surmise which subsequently proved unfounded; (2) that the measure was of such an expansive character as to encourage extravagance on the part of the Government, an imputation born of distrust which subsequent events contradicted; (3) that the incidence of this form of taxation would fall principally on foreign commerce, whilst the Chinese would manage to evade it. The force of this latter allegation, which appears to have been a correct forecast of the subsequent working of the Stamp Ordinance, was enhanced by the statement, which was made in a public paper at the time, that, as things then stood, the Chinese community were taxed $4 per head, and the British and foreign community $250 per head. Although Sir Richard willingly modified details of the Bill to meet minor objections of the community, he failed to give satisfaction, as a strong majority of the public objected to the Bill in toto. A second public meeting was held, resulting in the presentation of another Memorial condemnatory of the whole measure. When it was announced (early in March, 1867) that H. M. Government had ratified the Bill, the temper of the community was aroused and Sir Richard was publicly accused (March 15, 1867) of having induced Lord Carnarvon to believe that the Governor's arguments had reconciled the community to an impost which, ill reality, was all but unanimously felt to be deeply injurious to the true interests of the Colony. However, by the time the Stamp Ordinance came into operation (October 9, 1867), the feeling of the community, though maintaining strong objections to the measure and subsequently re-iterating its condemnation of it by another public meeting (March 17, 1868), had changed, so far as the Governor's connection with the Ordinance was concerned. It was then generally believed that the Stamp Ordinance would never have been brought into operation if the Governor had been allowed free hand in his dealing with the gambling problem, and that the determination of H. M. Government to insist, in spite of all arguments and remonstrances, upon the payment of the Military Contribution, had made the enforcement of the Stamp Ordinance a matter of sheer necessity. By order of Sir Richard, several prosecutions were instituted with a view to compel the Chinese population to comply, in some measure, with the provisions of the Stamp Ordinance. These prosecutions, however, served only to invigorate the general dissatisfaction felt with the working of this measure. With the exception of receipts to be given to foreigners, Chinese tradesmen and merchants disregarded the Ordinance and stamped commercial documents only in cases in which they apprehended the possibility of litigation. Anxious to improve the working of the Ordinance, Sir Richard appointed (March, 1868) a Commission and invited the public to bring before that Commission their complaints against the operation of the Ordinance and suggestions for its improvement. The Chamber of Commerce accordingly passed (April, 1868) a series of resolutions which were forwarded to the Commissioners. In pursuance of their recommendations, the Stamp Ordinance was subsequently amended (May 23, and November 21, 1868) and the community, finding eventually that the Ordinance did not materially injure the prosperity of the trade of the Colony, became in course of time reconciled with this measure which has ever since proved to be one of the most important sources of revenue.
It is necessary in this connection to refer to the measures adopted by Sir Richard for the regulation of Chinese gambling houses, as these measures, though originally projected rather as a solution of an intricate social problem and as a preventive of corruption in the Police Force, resulted in a considerable augmentation of the Colony's temporary and special revenues. The administration of Sir R. MacDonnell is, indeed, specially distinguished by the fearless attempt he made, in bold defiance of public opinion and official restraints, to solve the problem, which had troubled all his predecessors in office, connected with the well-known Chinese mania for gambling. This national vice, like opium smoking and prostitution, but more widespread and powerful than either, is rooted in an ineradicable, because congenital, disease of the Chinese social organism. Sir Richard was quite right in stating that the passion for gambling, as observed in European nations, is nothing compared with the same craving as it appears among all classes of Chinese, and that in Hongkong it presents, through the corruption of the Police Force, necessarily resulting from a legal prohibition of it, a problem which it is easy to ignore but, for a Governor, imperative to solve in some form or other. It has been mentioned above that Sir J. Bowring, the first Governor who recognized the importance of the problem, proposed to deal with it by licensing, as in Macao, a few gaming houses and enlisting thereby the interests of the licensees in the suppression of all unlicensed houses. From a remark in one of Sir Richard's dispatches, it would seem that Sir H. Robinson shared the views of Sir J. Bowring. But neither of them succeeded in obtaining the sanction of H. M. Government for so daring an innovation. Sir R. MacDonnell, before resorting to this policy which he knew to be not only repugnant to the feelings of H. M. Government and condemned by several successive Secretaries of State, but likely to arouse strong opposition on the part of public opinion in England, did his very best, while sounding the Colonial Office on the subject of licensing, to purify the police and to suppress all gambling houses by the strongest measures of discipline and legislation. As soon as he had, by personal investigation, ascertained the seriousness and extent of the evil, and the nature of the difficulties which stood in the way of its abatement, he set to work to weed the Police Force of its suspects and to inspire the remainder with a wholesome terror of his determination to bring to book every defaulter. For a time the corrupt members of the Force dared not take bribes and the keepers of gambling houses curtailed their operations and redoubled their precautions. Sir Richard soon added legislative to his executive and detective measures. He had not been many months in the Colony, before he introduced an amended Registration Ordinance (7 of 1866) with many novel and important provisions. Amongst them was the application of the principle of vicarious responsibility, making registered householders responsible for the payment of fines incurred by residents or lodgers in houses for certain offences, more especially gambling, but giving householders a remedy over against the original offenders if they could catch them. The Chinese householders considered this essentially Chinese principle a great hardship, and the managers of gambling associations were so driven into a corner that they offered the Governor first $200,000 and then $365,000 per annum for a licence to open a limited number of gaming houses. They shewed thereby what an immense sum they could afford to spend on bribing the Police if measures of repression were continued. Sir Richard, however, continued his policy of repression which at first seemed so effective that, on January 7, 1867, he reported to the Earl of Carnarvon, that the Police Force was greatly improved, that crime was more rare than it had ever been, that a prospect was beginning to open of almost suppressing gambling, that gambling was already diminished to less than one-fifth of the amount at which he had found it, that for many weeks past none of the Police had received any regular allowances from the gambling societies, but that street gambling still continued, and that, unless the Police continued their vigilance, the evil would again break out as before. But hardly had a week passed, after this roseate report was dispatched, when circumstances came to his knowledge which caused him to report (January 14, 1867) that the progress made by the Police in suppressing gambling was not so great as he had thought. Three months later (April 29, 1867), he had further to report that circumstances had led to a partial renewal of the old demoralisation among the Police. On May 9, 1867, Sir Richard found that he had come to the end of his resources and that he had failed. On that day he informed the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, that he now saw no reasonable grounds for expecting that the Government could ever succeed in suppressing gambling in Hongkong and that the present mode of dealing with it (by prohibition) is destructive of the morals of the Police and ineffective for the purpose sought.
Sir Richard now determined to try the system of licensing a small number of gaming houses with a view to control gambling and suppress it by degrees. He had thought of it before. As early as August, 1866, he had privately sounded the Members of Council with regard to the draft of an Ordinance (8 of 1866) entitled 'for the maintenance of order and cleanliness' but containing provisions for the regulation (i.e. licensing) of gaming houses, which, he hoped, would obviate the necessity of resorting to the Stamp Ordinance then under discussion. This was the bait offered to the unofficial Members of Council. By their taking it, they were deprived of their freedom of action in relation to both Ordinances. On 28th August, 1866, Sir Richard, in forwarding to the Earl of Carnarvon the draft of Ordinance 8 of 1866 (for the maintenance of order and cleanliness), proposed that the Governor in Council should be authorized 'to adopt a system hitherto discountenanced by H.M. Government and derive a large revenue from the alteration.' He added that the Members of Council all advocate such change of system both as a police and a revenue measure.' Instead of sending to the Governor the reply which had been given to Sir J. Bowring when he made the same proposal, the Earl of Carnarvon, admitting that the case of Hongkong was peculiar and justified exceptional measures, approved of Sir Richard's proposal of bringing a limited number of gaming houses under the control of the police, by licensing them, with a view to the eventual suppression of all gambling. He added, however, one all-important, and to Sir Richard disastrous, condition, viz. that the licence fees must not be farmed out but treated as matters of police and by no means as revenue. Sir Richard forthwith set to work to remove or circumvent this condition, not because revenue was his real object but because the Chinese farmers of the gaming licence would, if paying a heavy fee, be compelled by their own interests to form a detective police for the suppression of all unlicensed gambling, and these detectives would then co-operate with the Police Force for the arrest and detention of dangerous characters who flock to gambling houses as moths to the light. Accordingly he informed the Earl of Carnarvon (January 14, 1867) that it would be impossible to proceed by any other mode than farming the licence for establishing gaming houses, because in no other way could the Government secure Chinese co-operation, and he suggested to leave to the Governor in Council a discretion to exercise his powers under the Ordinance as circumstances might render expedient. As regards the financial aspects of the measure, which were so distasteful to H. M. Government, he further stated (May 9, 1867) that any pecuniary advantage, which the Colony might derive from the change, ought not for a moment be regarded as his motive for introducing it, but that a sum exceeding $200,000 per annum could easily be derived from that source, and, if the Mint were closed, the Colony would then be able to resume payment of its Military Contribution and also to dispense with the Stamp Act.
Meanwhile, however, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos had succeeded to the Earl of Carnarvon, and he, while fully concurring in his predecessor's instructions, abstained from entering into any discussion of the Governor's arguments, gave no discretionary power to the Governor such as he sought, and expressly declined (April 1, 1867) to sanction the farming system. Subsequently he specified (July 18, 1867) that the licence fees should be limited to an amount covering police arrangements connected with the system. It was on this basis that the Duke informed Sir Richard (August 28, 1867) that Her Majesty had graciously confirmed and allowed the proposed Ordinance (8 of 1866, now re-enacted as 9 of 1867) for the maintenance of order and cleanliness.
Now it must be pointed out that, up to July, 1867, the Hongkong community, though well aware that the Governor had energetically attempted to suppress gambling and to purge out corruption in the Police Force and that he had failed, knew nothing of the Governor's secret discussions with his Council nor of the sanction given by the Earl of Carnarvon and by the Duke of Buckingham to the proposed licensing of gaming houses. Moreover, those paragraphs of Ordinance 9 of 1867 which gave the Governor power to make regulations for 'the better limitation and control of gambling' were so worded that the uninitiated reader would not suspect, what the Council and the Secretary of State well knew, viz., that gambling was to be regulated and suppressed, by licensing it, under this Ordinance.
As soon as Sir Richard learned by telegraph that Ordinance 9 of 1867 would be confirmed, he disclosed his scheme (July 10, 1867) to the public, arranged forthwith the licensing of eleven gaming houses (afterwards increased to sixteen) and opened them on 15th September, 1867. The revenue from the licences, distasteful to the Governor himself but an indispensable concomitant of his scheme, had to be segregated, by order of H.M. Government, in a distinct Special Fund, which amounted to $155,000 on 23rd May, 1868, to $221,733 on 28th June, 1869, and to $277,334 on 31st December, 1869. The Government gaming houses were at first open to all except women, but foreigners were not allowed to play. After some time, none but Chinese and Malays were admitted (July 27, 1868). Then it became expedient to exclude Chinese servants, shroffs, cashiers and bill collectors (September 16, 1868). Sir Richard closely watched the returns of crime and honestly believed that his system, of providing a vent for the irrepressible Chinese passion for gambling, was steadily reducing crime in the Colony. Numbers of dangerous characters, long wanted by the police or released from gaol and deported on condition of their never returning to the Colony, were arrested at the gaming houses. He reported (March 6, 1869) that the good results of the licensing system included complete extinction of improper relations between the police and the gambling societies, extraordinary diminution of theft among servants, and effectual aid given by the licensees in apprehending dangerous characters. He also demonstrated by statistics that a general diminution of crime had taken place in the Colony since the opening of the gaming houses.
The first disclosure of this remarkable scheme (July 10, 1867) took the whole Colony by surprise. The few Members of Council, who had been initiated into the secret, had kept the secret faithfully from the public whom they were supposed to represent. Sir Richard reported (July 20, 1867) that the new arrangement had met with the general if not unanimous concurrence of the community, with the exception of 'a few gentlemen of the clerical profession who felt it their duty to protest.' As to the unofficial Members of Council, Sir Richard stated (October 15, 1867) that the testimony of every one of them had from the first been in favour of the measure with the exception of one acting Member' (F. Parry). The principal opponent of the measure was the Rev. F. S. Turner, of the London Mission, who wrote some stirring letters to the papers, published a pamphlet for distribution in England, and induced four other missionaries (Ch. J. Warren, J. Piper, R. Lechler, J. Loercher) and the Minister of Union Church (D. B. Morris) to join in the Crusade. These objectors, thenceforth known as 'the moral six,' presented to the Governor (July 24, 1867) a brief Memorial, complaining that the measure had been introduced in an underhand and un-English way, and that it was calculated to lead to a large increase of gambling. The Memorialists further alleged that the measure was objectionable to a large section of the Chinese community, and illegal by both British and Chinese law. They finally averred that the Government had no right to countenance and sanction vice. The Registrar General (C. C. Smith) had to do his best, by means of a contemptuous reply he sent to the missionaries in the Governor's name, to refute their arguments. He also wrote reports supporting the Governor's contention that the system had produced good results and gained the approval of the Chinese community. Sir Richard attributed at first no importance to the opposition of the missionaries, and the Duke of Buckingham also declined (September 26, 1867) to express any opinion on their Memorial, merely asking the Governor to report more fully. But the moral six, undismayed by the apathy of the community and the Secretary of State, appealed to the home country in a manner which speedily influenced the British press, re-echoed in Parliament and caused Sir Richard to complain (January 30, 1868) that those clerical gentlemen had elsewhere gone the length of enforcing their reasoning by designating him Anti-Christ and accusing him of wilful untruthfulness. Subsequently, when public opinion in Hongkong also commenced to turn against his scheme (May 23, 1868), Sir Richard at last combatted the position of the moral six as that of a lazy and easily satisfied morality which folds its arms and, while doing nothing to repress acknowledged evils and nurseries of crime, cries out against the Government attempting at least to control the evil which cannot be repressed, arguing that the Government is bound rather to ignore the existence of the vice than to control what is irrepressible. There was much truth in this remark.
Meanwhile, however, the protest of the moral six had aroused public opinion at home, stirred up the Social Science Association and made itself heard in the only place where Colonial protests, if based on a genuine grievance, produce a tangible effect, viz. in Parliament. As to the action of the Social Science Association little need be said. That Society disgraced itself in the matter by becoming the unconscious tool of the two men who, in Sir J. Bowring's time, had poisoned the social life of the Colony, viz. the former Attorney General and the former editor of the Daily Press. These two men, having learned that the victim of their animosities, the Registrar General of Sir J. Bowring's time, was the officially recognized agent and adviser of the licensees in Hongkong, receiving from them a handsome salary ($20,000 during the first year), managed to renew their persecution by assailing Sir Richard's policy under the aegis of the Social Science Association. At an interview which Earl Granville granted (March 27, 1869) to a deputation of that Society, the former Attorney General, who actually introduced the deputation, and the former editor of the Daily Press were the principal speakers. They suggested, as if Sir Richard had not tried this very principle and failed, that the only way to enforce any laws against gambling houses was by enforcing the Chinese laws of collective and mutual responsibility by means of the tithing (Kap) and the hundred (Pao), institutions which had been recognized by the Hongkong Legislature in Ordinances passed between the years 1844 and 1857, but never put into execution. However, this interview and the several Memorials presented by the Secretaries of the Association (August 1, 1868, and January 14, 1869), as also Sir Richard's official reply (October 20, 1868) which the Secretary of State declined to forward, as immaterial, had no effect whatever. The remarks of the Duke of Buckingham on the subject are rather instructive as to the importance which the Colonial Office generally attaches to Memorials. He told Sir Richard (December 8, 1868) that, though he might properly defend himself and his Government from accusations made in Parliament, or which have been officially made, it was hardly necessary for him to do so in the case of a private Society.
As to the parliamentary debates on the subject of the Hongkong gambling houses, they did not contribute any real help towards a better solution of the important social problem involved. For a general understanding of Sir Richard's disinterested effort to seek a solution of it, even at the risk of the bitterest obloquy, it was rather helpful that the official documents, bearing on the whole question, from the time of Sir J. Bowring down to Sir Richard's latest dispatch, were printed and published (June 15, 1868 and August 9, 1869) at the request of Parliament.
The only serious difficulties which Sir Richard encountered arose out of his relations with the successive Secretaries of State. Shortly after Sir Richard had opened licensed gaming houses, the Duke of Buckingham expressed his surprise (October 14, 1867) that reports were reaching him from several quarters to the effect that the licence fees were being made a source of revenue. That the Duke had imperfectly understood Sir Richard's policy appeared clearly from a statement which he made in the House of Lords when he said (December 3, 1867) that 'Sir Richard did not propose to put gambling houses down but to obtain a large revenue from them and to extirpate the evil in a very short time.' Sir Richard had to explain his aims more fully, but when the Duke, who was about to vacate his office, at last grasped the real drift of Sir Richard's policy, he used rather strong language (December 2, 1868), expressed his 'entire disapproval of the proceedings' and threatened 'to stop the licensing altogether.' Sir Richard naturally considered himself unfairly treated and. in writing to the Duke's successor (Earl Granville), referred (March 6, 1869) to the Duke's dispatch as containing 'sweeping comments which implied a general censure on the Hongkong Government.' But this made matters worse. Earl Granville now, standing up for his predecessor, censured Sir Richard (May 1, 1869) for the peculiarly unbecoming tone of his remarks. The embroglio became intensified when Earl Granville complained (October 7, 1869), in view of Sir Richard's independence of action, that the clearest instructions addressed to him seemed insufficient to prevent misunderstanding, and actually threatened Sir Richard by saying (October 8, 1869) that he would view very seriously any further attempt to escape from a strict execution of his instructions. Later on (January 7, 1870) Earl Granville again censured Sir Richard for unwarrantably assuming that he (the Secretary of State) would sanction the proposal to charge against the Special Fund all expenditure of the Colony on police and education in excess of a fixed normal standard. The Governor was sternly ordered to repay into the Special Fund all unauthorized appropriations, amounting to $129,701, and was compelled thereby to sell the Colonial gun-boat and to devise other forms of retrenchment to the great dismay of the Colony.
The differences between Sir Richard and his superiors in Downing Street admitted of no compromise and his whole scheme was wrecked thereby. He had thought only of securing the co-operation of the Chinese licensees to suppress crime and to prevent the corruption of the police. They had been thinking only of their inability to defend in Parliament the raising of any revenue from vice. What Sir Richard fought for, was the farming system. What they objected to, was the raising of a revenue. 'Let the money be thrown into the sea as soon as it is paid, but do not let the hold which it gives the Government over the licensees be abandoned.' These words, addressed by Sir Richard to the Duke of Buckingham (January 30, 1868), contain the true key to an understanding of his policy. But, although in truth the raising of a revenue and not the use of it was the backbone of his scheme, yet the mere raising of a revenue from vice was the exact point in which the Earl of Carnarvon, the Duke of Buckingham and Earl Granville saw the real gravamen of the charges brought against Sir Richard by the opponents of his scheme. Moreover, having once raised a revenue from the gaming houses, Sir Richard did not throw the money into the sea, nor would he meekly submit, when ordered to segregate it in the Special Fund, and keep his hands off it. On the contrary, having deliberately deviated from his instructions by farming out the licences, he persistently sought to wring from the Authorities in Downing Street admissions which, when read in the light of his suggestions, which often were left uncontradicted, seemed to sanction the application of the gambling revenue to all sorts of purposes such as served to ameliorate the condition of the Chinese population. It was this persistent determination, to have his own way in dealing with the Special Fund, that irritated his superiors and produced the above mentioned mutual misunderstanding.
When his relations with the Colonial Office became thus positively strained. Sir Richard's one desire was 'finality and positive explicitness of instructions' (March 7, 1870). His health was worn out by the struggle. Accordingly he decided to avail himself of the sick-leave he had obtained and returned, by way of Japan and San Francisco, to Europe in order to make, in personal conference with the Secretary of State, a final effort to save his measure from failure (April 12, 1870).
As soon as he had left the Colony, the revulsion of public feeling which, since 1868, had gradually turned against Sir Richard's policy, gathered strength for a general condemnation of it. As early as April 2, 1868, some of the leading merchants (Ph. Ryrie, J. B. Taylor, E. A. Hitchcock, R. Rowett, J. Lapraik), who had originally favoured the Governor's scheme, publicly stated, at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, that the system was working an incalculable amount of harm, and that the principal Chinese merchants were of the same opinion. Nothing further, however, came of this movement. But when the Governor had departed, the Chief Justice (J. Smale) commenced to denounce the Governor's policy from the Bench. He finally formulated his complaints in communications addressed to the Colonial Secretary (August 8, 1870, and February 10, 1871), alleging that the severe enactments passed by Parliament since 1843 had never been made law in the Colony; that within the years 1867 and 1868 over $10,674,740 had been staked and lost at the Government gaming houses; that, instead of decreasing gambling, the Government measure had greatly increased the vice; that it caused and fostered very serious crimes and that suicides had been traced to it; that a tone of dishonesty had been engendered by the gaming houses in petty tradesmen and that this tone had demoralised the police; that as gambling is a crime in China as well as in England, the actual licensing of it lowers the prestige of the British Government in China. The Chief Justice submitted also a draft Bill for the repression of gambling, but the Attorney General (J. Pauncefote) considered it so severe that no person in the Colony would be safe from its terrible pains and penalties. The Lieutenant-Governor (H. W. Whitfield) also took sides with the opponents of Sir Richard's measure. He was anxious to close the gambling houses and frankly told Earl Kimberley so (August 29, 1870). He explained that, as their maintenance failed, in his opinion, to check crime, he saw no reason why the Colony should have all the odium of a pernicious system attached to it, whilst it was debarred from the application of the accruing funds which would be of lasting benefit to public institutions generally and more especially to those connected with the Chinese. Inferring from the tenor of the entire correspondence with the Colonial Office, that no more acceptable action could be taken in the Colony than to put a stop to the legalisation of public gambling, Major-General Whitfield took it upon himself, with the approval of the Executive Council, to give notice (August 17, 1870) to the licensees of his intention to close the gaming houses on 1st January, 1871. In Hongkong every one thought the matter settled. But the Earl of Kimberley telegraphically countermanded this measure and informed the gallant General that an officer in temporary administration of the Government should not take upon himself to depart, without express directions from the Secretary of State, from the policy of the Governor whose place he occupies. Accordingly, the licensing system continued for another year, the monopoly being sold by auction (January 12, 1871) for $15,000 a month. But this roused the community to make a new effort. Believing that licensed gambling was affecting the Colony injuriously, that none of the boasted decrease of crime was attributable to the licensing system, and that the Police Force was quite competent to repress gambling so far that it could only be carried on in secret haunts, but ignoring the corruption of the police arising from such action, the Chamber of Commerce sent in a Memorial to the Secretary of State (January 10, 1871) praying that the licensing system be discontinued. In addition to this official document, signed by the Chairman (Ph. Ryrie), Vice-Chairman (A. Limeneen) and Secretary (N. Blakeman) and endorsed by 40 Members, Dr. Legge and Mr. David Welsh presented a further Memorial, bearing 316 signatures and representing every class of society, to express the community's protest against Sir Richard's scheme. Even the Chinese community, well knowing that the Registrar General (C. C. Smith) was the strongest supporter and defender of the system, presented him with a Memorial strongly condemning it. These popular demonstrations were immediately followed up by the Chief Justice with a judicial declaration (February, 1871) to the effect that, in the absence of a special Ordinance, the licensing of gaming houses in the Colony was illegal. More effectual was a renewal of the agitation in England, when the House of Commons, at the motion of Mr. Bowring, asked (March 31, 1871) for the production of further documents on the gambling house licensing system, which were accordingly published (July 24, 1871). To all the Memorials of the people of Hongkong the Earl of Kimberley returned the laconic reply that, on the return of Sir R. MacDonnell to the Colony, instructions would be given him to consider the whole matter with a view to the termination of the system of licensing gaming houses. Sir Richard's fight was over. The battle was lost. But, though the system was abandoned immediately after the Governor's return (December 8, 1871), no positive gain resulted from the abolition of the gaming houses. Gambling and police corruption continued thenceforth unchecked. The Government thereafter simply ignored the problem which is still waiting for a master hand to solve it.
Allusion has already been made to another, exclusively financial, question which also troubled Sir Richard's administration as a legacy of the past, viz. the Mint established by his predecessor, Sir H. Robinson. When the Mint was first opened (April 7, 1866), it had already cost $400,000. and an additional annual expenditure of $70,000 was required for its maintenance, at a time when the Colony was virtually insolvent. An unusually low rate of exchange told at once unfavourably against the Mint's prospects. The Chinese were prejudiced against the new dollar by the false rumour that chopping the Queen's coin would involve liability to criminal procedure. Hence the local demand for minting operations was so small that it appeared to the Governor to be incommensurate with the working expenditure of the establishment. The Mint actually earned from May, 1866, to February, 1868, only about $20,000 in seignorage. Sir Richard, foreseeing this unsatisfactory result and pressed by financial difficulties, appointed a Commission (October, 1866) to inquire into the working of the Mint. The report presented by the Commissioners (January 1, 1867) was greatly discouraging, as they merely recommended to keep the Mint open for twelve months longer on the ground that the arrangements made with the Mint staff, regarding compensation in the event of the establishment being broken up, would anyhow make it just as expensive for the Colony to close the Mint at once as to keep it at work for another year. Six months later (August, 1867) when the Legislative Council considered the estimates of the Colony, it was considered necessary to reduce the estimate of seignorage, likely to accrue from the Mint in 1868, from $40,000 to $15,000. The Lords of the Treasury were consulted as to the advisability of continuing the working of the Mint under these circumstances, and in February, 1868, Sir Richard received, by telegram, authority to close it. All the Bank managers were invited to attend a meeting of the Executive Council and to advise the Government as to the continuance of the Mint under some arrangement or other. But they had neither encouragement nor advice to offer. Sir Richard then (March, 1868) sought to move the local Banks to take over the Mint and to work it for their own profit under Government supervision. The terms proposed by one Bank, which alone made an offer, did not come up to the Governor's expectations. Accordingly the Mint was closed, the machinery sold (June, 1868) for $60,000 to the Japanese Government, and the buildings and ground were disposed of, for the purposes of a sugar refinery, to Jardine, Matheson & Co., for $65,000. The Colony realized thus a total of $125,000 as the result of an outlay which, even three years before, amounted to half a million dollars.
It could not be expected that an administration so crippled in respect of funds would do much in the sphere of public works. Sir Richard displayed in this respect also his energy and readiness of resource and did what was possible under the circumstances. He secured the erection of several new police stations and had all police establishments on the Island connected by telegraph lines. He had hoped to be allowed to draw on the Special Fund for this expenditure as well as for the fitting out of a steam-gunboat, but permission was refused, and the cost of these undertakings had to be provided from the ordinary revenue. He had been anxious to erect a new Hospital and a new Court House, but the funds at his disposal, over-strained by the Military Contribution, had to be husbanded to supply the most pressing needs of repairs of public buildings, roads and bridges, and water-works. During the year 1869, the Governor spent £39,959 on public works, and nearly half of that sum was devoted to water-works. On 17th September, 1869, he stated that a further sum of £19,600 was required for the extension of the Pokfulam reservoir and for repairs of the dam, but that the work was only half completed. He explained, that the original estimate of the. work was $100,000, whereas it would now cost double, and that the history of these water-works shewed how heavily the Colony may lose, when attempting the most necessary public works, by the incompetence of its employees, and how seldom the most obvious deficiencies of such persons can restrain them from projecting schemes beyond their strength. For these reasons, Sir Richard had obtained from England the services of a specially competent engineer (T. Kydd) who acted as Superintendent of Water-works and would have re-constructed also the Praya wall, if the marine-lot holders had not proved so obstreperous. A typhoon having demolished the frail Praya wall (August 8, 1867), Sir Richard determined to rebuild the whole Praya in a substantial manner. But unfortunately he encountered, on the part of the lot-holders, the same unflinching opposition which defeated the efforts of his predecessors, Sir J. Bowring and Sir H. Robinson. Sir Richard nevertheless renewed the combat. As the Military Contribution absorbed available funds, he informed the lot-holders concerned in the ruins of the Praya, that they must contribute a fair and reasonable proportion towards the cost of rebuilding the sea-wall of their respective lots. When they refused this request, he invited them to a conference with the Colonial Secretary (C. C. Smith), who informed them (November 2, 1867) that the Attorney General had given an opinion to the effect that each lot-holder was, by virtue of the wording of his lease, under a legal liability to provide for the maintenance of the sea-wall. The lot-holders, who previous to the conference had agreed (October 29, 1867) to resist the demand and came armed with legal opinions, contended that the clause in question had reference to roads, drains, &c. within their respective lots and not to the Praya wall; that, when the first sea-wall was built, they had paid the expenses on the distinct understanding that the subsequent maintenance was to be a burden on the Colony; that they were not answerable for the defective condition of the wall nor bound to repair it. The conference broke up in confusion. Sir Richard sent the lot-holders a letter (November 19, 1867) arguing that it was their fault that the former wall was badly built and that the construction of an insufficient wall had not relieved them of their original obligation. When this proved fruitless, he ordered legal proceedings to be instituted. A test case was selected and a marine-lot holder (R. G. Webster) was sued in Court for the cost of rebuilding his part of the Praya Wall. 'The great Praya case,' as it was called, was tried before a special jury (R. Lyall, G. F. Weller, A. Coxon, E. Mellish, J. Arnold, J. M. Vickers, C. Mackintosh) and the verdict was given for the defendant (February 7, 1868) to the great discomfiture of the Governor. The decision was based on the view taken by the Chief Justice that, under the terms of his lease, the defendant was bound to repair all public quays piers and roadways in or 'requisite to the premises,' but that the sea-wall was not requisite to the defendant's premises.
The legislative work of this period was largely occupied with matters affecting police and crime, commerce and emigration, and the government of the Chinese population, all of which are referred to elsewhere. A few ordinances of general interest were introduced by Sir Richard such as regulated the Fire Brigade (4 of 1868), the preservation of birds (1 of 1870), and the Public Gardens (8 of 1870). Improvements in the administration of justice received a large share of Sir Richard's attention. Ordinances were passed modifying the law of jurors and juries (7 of 1868), criminal law procedure (2 of 1869 and 3 of 1872), promissory oaths (4 of 1869), the administration of the estates of deceased persons (9 of 1870), the enrolment of barristers and attornies (3 of 1871), Court vacation (1 of 1869), and so forth. But the most important measure, yet one that was two years later repealed by Sir Richard's successor, was Ordinance 1 of 1871, which regulated the procedure of the Summary Jurisdiction Court by providing that cases, involving sums over $500 and under $2000, might be heard, with a jury, by the Chief Justice sitting in Supreme Court in Summary Jurisdiction. Two interesting decisions were given during this period. In the case Regina v. Souza, Sir J. Smale laid it down (July, 1869) that no criminal action can be instituted in Hongkong for the publication of a libel against an undistinguished foreigner resident out of the Colony. And in the case of the Nouvelle Penelope, a French coolie ship which, having sailed from Macao, was seized by the coolies under the leadership of one Kwok Asing, who murdered the captain and crew and fled to Hongkong, Sir J. Smale ruled that the offence was committed against France, that the ship was a slave ship, and that the murders committed with the object of regaining liberty were no crime. The administration of justice was, during this period, frequently disfigured by unseemly disputes between the Chief Justice (J. Smale) and the senior Queen's Counsel (E. H. Pollard). These disputes culminated in a painful scene (July 2, 1867) when Mr. Pollard was lectured and pronounced guilty of six distinct contempts of court, fined $200 and suspended from practice for fourteen days. The tone and manner in which the Chief Justice on this occasion addressed the troublesome but highly popular barrister, whom he kept standing before him while he lectured him, aroused the indignation of the whole community. The fine was forthwith provided for by a public subscription list, signed by more than a hundred persons of all classes of local society. Mr. Pollard appealed to the Governor who declined to interfere and advised him to petition Her Majesty the Queen. In August, 1868, the decision of the Privy Council was received, indicating a complete defeat of the Chief Justice, as not one of the six acts charged against Mr. Pollard was held to amount to contempt of court. The fine was remitted and the sentence reversed, but the Chief Justice was not silenced but continued the legal warfare in a more subdued form.
The Police Force was during this period subjected to the closest scrutiny it ever received and to severe criticisms on the part of both the Governor and Chief Justice, and by the community. It has been mentioned above that Sir Richard, after satisfying himself by personal investigations of the inefficiency and corrupt character of the Force, attempted, in 1866 and 1867, to purify and reform the corps by disciplinarian measures and failed. On 29th October, 1867, he assured the Secretary of State that he did not remember to have seen in any Colony a body of men so ineffective in proportion to the number, or so corrupt generally, as the Police Force which he found in Hongkong, and which then consisted of 89 Europeans, 377 Indians (chiefly Bombay sepoys) and 132 Chinese. But, after introducing the system of licensing gaming houses, Sir Richard reported, in 1869, that the Police Force had been greatly reformed by virtue of this measure. No doubt, there was a marked improvement, noticeable in 1868 and 1869. But it seems probable that this improvement was not so much due to the licensing of gaming houses, which of course vastly diminished bribery, as to Sir Richard's searching surveillance of the personal affairs of the police officers and his daily vigilance in ascertaining the steps taken in all special cases for the detection of crime, and in the second instance to the several measures he introduced with a view to police reform. These measures consisted of the substitution of Scotch for English and Sikh for Bombay constables; the appointment of a Deputy Superintendent of Police conversant with Hindostanee (C. V. Creagh); the allowance, out of the Special Fund, of $20,000 per annum for good conduct pay; the classification of the Chinese contingent, opening up to Chinese constables the prospect of promotion (March 1, 1870); the increase of police stations and their interconnection by telegraph; the establishment of the Police School (1869) and the encouragement thereby given to Sikhs and Chinese to learn English. The establishment of a separate Naval Yard Police under the exclusive control of the Admiralty (by Ordinances 2 and 13 of 1867) was also an improvement. Up to March 30, 1870, when Sir Richard produced statistics shewing increased efficiency of the Police Force, the public were satisfied that great improvements had been made, and sided with the Captain Superintendent of Police (W. M. Deane) when he energetically rebutted (September 15, 1869), as wanton distortion of statistics, the disparaging remarks, as to the inferiority of the Hongkong Police to that of Shanghai, made by the Secretary of the Municipal Council of Shanghai (A. J. Johnston) in a letter to the London & China Express (July 8, 1869). But that the reform of the Hongkong Police was principally due to Sir Richard's personal vigilance, may be inferred from the fact that as soon as he left the Colony on furlough (April 12, 1870) complaints of the demoralisation of the police recommenced, both on the part of the Chief Justice and on the part of the public. When the Police Report for 1869 was published (April 11, 1870), declaring the establishment of a detective force to be impracticable, public opinion read it as indicating that bribery rather than any other difficulty stood in the way of detecting crime. The action of the Chief Justice also incited public dissatisfaction with the organisation of the police. By his remonstrances, addressed to the Government, he secured the offer of substantial encouragement to police officers willing to acquire a knowledge of the Chinese language (May, 1870), but he failed in his crusade against the separate control exercised by the Registrar General over a distinct force of 69 district watchmen. The unofficial Members of Council also expressed their dissatisfaction with the police and asked that a Commission of Inquiry be appointed, whereupon the Chief Justice laid on the table of the Legislative Council (November, 1870) a memorandum inveighing against the inefficiency and corruption of the Force and suggesting that, to avoid the constant friction between the Superintendent of Police and the Registrar General, the district watchmen be embodied in the Police Force under one head. The Chief Justice continued his adverse criticisms of the Police in 1871, and the community sided with him in the matter. The general dissatisfaction with the organisation of the Police Force rose to the highest pitch when a greatly popular public officer (G. L. Tomlin) was robbed and knocked down on a public road close to the Central Police Station (August 28, 1871). A deputation of unofficial Justices of the Peace waited forthwith on the Lieutenant-Governor (H. W. Whitfield) and urged him to take immediate steps to improve the Police Force. Major-General Whitfield's reply, referring to 40 additional constables having been ordered from Glasgow and promising that Sir Richard would, on his return, deal with the question of police reforms, was viewed by the public as a mere evasion of the points insisted on by the whole community, viz. that an efficient head should be provided for the Police Force which they considered to be in a disorganized state and that a Commission should be appointed without delay to inquire into be real causes of the defective state of the Force. A public meeting (September, 1871), attended by upwards of 350 residents, gave expression to the general sense of insecurity under which the community laboured, and to their strong disapprobation of the neglect which, it was alleged, had characterized the action of the Executive with regard to the police. A Memorial was forwarded to the Colonial Office, praying for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry. Before Earl Kimberley's reply, negativing this request, reached the Colony, Sir Richard had, immediately upon his return, appointed (December, 1871) a Commission according to the wishes of the community (T. C. Hayllar, W. Keswick, F. W. Mitchell, F. Stewart, H. Lowcock, W. Lemann, George Falconer, and A. Lister). One of the principal subjects of inquiry was the question whether the plan of divided authority, by leaving the district watchmen under the separate control of the Registrar General, should be continued. It was principally on this point that the views of the Commission and of the Governor were divided, and the bifurcation had to continue. Whilst leaving a reform of the police to his successor, Sir Richard started, before leaving the Colony, what was virtually a new department for the suppression of gambling, by relieving the Police Force from this duty and handing it over to personal efforts to be made by two former Cadets, the Registrar General and the Superintendent of Police. This appointment of two gentlemen detectives, with which was connected a handsome remuneration, was viewed by the community as a mere excuse for filling the pockets of the Governor's 'boys.'
Sir Richard's energy and severity as a disciplinarian was bound to exercise a deterrent influence as regards crime. There never was any Governor in Hongkong who inspired the criminal classes with such a genuine dread of his personal vigilance and of his measures. They soon found that the licensed, gaming houses were a trap set to catch thorn and it became quickly known that confinement in gaol was now a real punishment. But the most marked effect attached to those measures of Sir Richard's administration by which he applied whipping and solitary confinement to cases of armed or violent assault, kidnapping and child-stealing (Ordinances 12 of 1865 and 3 of 1868) and to criminals returning from deportation (Ordinance 7 of 1870). Compelled by financial considerations to abandon the newly built gaol on Stonecutters' Island, he brought all prisoners under a uniformly rigorous system of discipline in Victoria Gaol, reduced the dietary scale, made gaol labour more severe, and ordered gaol offences to be punished with the cat instead of the rattan. By these measures he made imprisonment a real deterrent. He was so determined to keep the number of prisoners within the limits of the accommodation afforded by the old gaol, that he resorted to and, when checked by the Colonial Office, persevered in the application of other measures which were evidently illegal. In autumn 1866, he introduced a system under which prisoners were induced to petition, that they might be liberated on condition of their voluntarily submitting to be branded and deported with the understanding that, if they were thereafter again found in the Colony, they would be liable to be flogged by order of a Magistrate and remitted to their original sentence. He sought to give to this system a colour of legality by that Ordinance 8 of 1866 (for the maintenance of order and cleanliness) which has been referred to above, in connection with the equally illegal system of licensing gaming houses. When this Ordinance (in its original form) was disapproved by H.M. Government, Sir Richard abandoned the system of bringing branded and deported criminals, who returned to the Colony, before a Magistrate, but continued the original system of branding and deporting prisoners, before the expiration of their sentences, in accordance with those illegal engagements voluntarily entered into by prisoners and ratified in each case by the Executive Council. Criminals thus liberated and deported were, on being found again in the Colony, remitted to their original sentences and then flogged in gaol as a matter of gaol discipline. This system was continued until 25th May, 1870. It has been alleged that this rigorous system of branding, deporting and flogging was applied also to hundreds of prisoners convicted merely of being suspicious characters, rogues and vagabonds, and that the Colony was thus delivered of the very class of men whose habitual occupation, as professional touts, trainers, aidors and abettors of criminals, formed the hotbed of prospective crime.
This severely deterrent treatment of Chinese criminals met with the unqualified approval of the community. The Chinese and European residents as well as the unofficial Members of Council (September 11, 1871) gave at sundry times expression to their conviction of the absolute necessity of such measures in order to make Hongkong and its humane gaol less attractive and comfortable for the gaol birds of Canton. That experienced police officer and magistrate, Ch. May, gave it as his opinion that 'corporal punishment is absolutely requisite for the wellbeing of the Colony.'
That these measures, initiated by Sir Richard, served to diminish crime for the time, seems incontrovertible. An immediate decrease in kidnapping offences was specially noticeable, as 68 such cases occurred in 1867, 53 cases in 1868 and only 7 cases in 1869. Comparing the six months ending on December 31st, 1865, with the six months ending December 31st, 1869, it is seen that serious offences decreased by 51 per cent. and minor offences by 45 per cent. during these four years. In comparison with the year 1868, the criminal statistics of 1869 show a decrease of 22.6 per cent. in serious and of 18.4 per cent. in minor offences, or a decrease altogether of 1,104 cases, the total having been 5,705 cases in 1868, and 4,601 cases in 1869. The number of prisoners committed to gaol was steadily reduced, year by year, from 6,246 in 1865, to 3,059 in 1869. The Chief Justice (J. Smale) who did not approve of the Governor's illegal measures, made, on 19th March, 1870, the following remarks in addressing a jury. 'Some years since, the calendar was on an average very large. Life and property were insecure. Robbery with violence on land, piracies on the sea, were frequent. They are now more rare. Something is due to the firmness and good sense of juries; but more is due to the energy of the Executive of which, constituted as the Colony is, the Governor is the life and the soul.'
With regard to the repression of piracy, also. Sir Richard scored an undoubted success. By the time of his arrival in the Colony, piracy was a matter of almost weekly occurrence, not only interfering with the native junk trade and small European coasting vessels, but frequently also causing the loss of many lives. The measures taken by the British Naval Authorities, for whom Sir Richard secured the co-operation of the steamcruizers of the Chinese Customs, were viewed by the public as inefficient or, when successful, as suspicious. Individual naval officers, as for instance the commander of H.M.S. Bouncer who captured, with the assistance of Chinese revenue cruizers, over 30 piratical junks in the gulf of Tungking (June 9 to July 27, 1869), were much applauded. Nevertheless the impression gained ground, that frequently British gunboats were induced by Chinese officials to treat, as pirates, vessels and men whose guilt amounted at the worst only to attempts at smuggling or resisting the illegal exactions of the rapacious revenue officers of China. This allegation was particularly made, but without clear proof, with regard to the proceedings of H.M.S. Algerine (June, 1868). The most effective measure that was ever launched against piracy in South-China was that (Ordinance 9 of 1866 and 12 of 1867) by which Sir Richard brought under surveillance and severe restrictions the haunts and stores established in the Colony by the aidors and abettors of piracy, and particularly the native dealers in marine stores. Next in effectiveness ranks Sir Richard's Junk Ordinance (1 of 1868) which amalgamated, with the preceding measure, some stringent regulations providing that all native vessels (junks) should report arrival at the Harbour Office, take out an anchorage permit by payment of a fee (subsequently remitted) and obtain clearance papers before sailing. For the same purpose of repressing piracy, measures were taken by the Governor (Ordinance 2 of 1868 and 2 of 1870), to provide, in conjunction with similar measures to be enacted in Canton by the Chinese Authorities, the disarmament of all Chinese trading and fishing junks. But as the Viceroy of Canton, who at first had promised to issue the same order, failed to do so and, when questioned, declared it impossible to enforce such a law, the measure was abandoned. Another measure devised by Sir Richard proved a great help towards suppressing piracy, viz. the establishment of a combination of Harbour Office and Police Office duties, entrusted to the Police Inspectors at Yaumati, Aberdeen, Stanley, Shaukiwan and at East Point (Whitfield Station).
The good results of the foregoing measures were obvious. From September, 1866, to October 1867 not one piratical attack on European vessels occurred and out of 18 cases of piracy reported by Chinese junk owners, most were comparatively trivial. During the two years immediately preceding 1st January, 1867, no fewer than 92 men were tried for piracy, attended in most cases with violence or murder, whereas during the two years (1867 and 1868), immediately following, only 15 men were tried for that crime, and not one single trial for piracy took place during the years 1869 and 1870.
Commerce in the Far East had, at the beginning of this period, received an extraordinary impetus through the opening of the Suez Canal (April 10, 1865), which filled the godowns of Hongkong and the Treaty ports to overflowing, increased the volume and revolutionized the methods of trade, without however increasing its profitableness. In the year 1866, the foreign trade with China amounted to nearly £95,000,000. The share of Great Britain in that trade amounted to no less than £71,518,723 or nearly 63 per cent. of the whole, and for this colossal trade, to which must be added the Colony's trade with Japan, amounting in 1867 to £6,000,000, Hongkong now served as the principal emporium.
The history of local commerce during this period commenced indeed with good omens for the future. The spirit of enterprise and competition was still lively and inapprehensive of the approaching commercial depression. The formation of the Union Dock Company, the first that was registered (July 31, 1865) under the new Companies' Ordinance, with a capital of $500,000, (consisting of 500 shares of $1,000 each, was speedily followed up (October 11, 1866) by the formation of the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company, which purchased the dock properties of Messrs. Douglas Lapraik and Th. Sutherland, with a capital of $750,000 in 1,500 shares of $500 each, the Hon. J. Whittall noting as chairman of the directors and Mr. J. Lapraik as secretary. The new dock at Aberdeen, named after Admiral Hope, was opened on June 15th, 1867. A third new enterprise was started by the formation (October 19, 1865) of the Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Company, with a capital of $750,000 divided into 7,500 shares of $100 each. The principal promoter of this association, which purchased the popular American river-steamers Kinshan, White Cloud and Fire Dart, was Mr. Douglas Lapraik by his attorney J. Lapraik. The other directors of the new Company were Messrs. J. J. dos Remedios, A. E. Vaucher, A. Sassoon, R. Solomon, D. Ruttunjee, and Bapoorjee Pallunjee Ranjee. The new Company met indeed with competitors but succeeded (August, 1866) in buying them out, and as the river-steamers had been allowed (since April, 1866) by the Chinese Authorities to land and take in cargo and passengers at Chuenpi (below Whampoa), it was thought that a new important outlet for trade had been secured. The shareholders of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank felt confident of coming prosperity when they resolved (February, 1866) to convert the new Bank into a corporation by charter. The new Royal Mint of Hongkong was also opened with some hope of success (May 1, 1866). Trade with Japan received a real and permanent stimulus by the establishment in Japan of bonded warehouses and a liberal tariff (July, 1866). The old Californian trade likewise expanded through arrangements made about this time by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in San Francisco to connect that port with Hongkong by a regular line of large and fast steamers, the first of which, the Colorado, arrived in Hongkong on January 31st, 1867. A Hotel Company was formed in January and commenced operations in July, 1867.
On the other hand, at the beginning of the year 1860, complaints were heard of increasing commercial depression in some branches of business. It was felt by many, that a serious financial crisis was approaching from abroad. In April, 1866, it was further stated that British vessels sailing from Hongkong had practically lost their hold on the trade along the coast of China, as among 20 European vessels engaged in this trade only 3 were British. The general gloom was intensified when the Agra Bank and the Commercial Bank suspended payment (June, 1866). In November, 1866, dulness was reported to reign in most branches of local trade and in December great anxiety prevailed in the Colony as to the stability of a number of local firms. The old and popular firm of Dent & Co. suspended payment on 1st January, 1867. The failure of Lyall, Still & Co. and some smaller firms followed soon after. In March, 1867, a panic seemed to be impending. There was a general lack of confidence in all mercantile branches. Even the scrip of the prosperous Hongkong & Shanghai Bank began and continued for some time to droop, although the directors denied (March 15, 1867) under threat of prosecution the reports current as to the cause of it, and declared (August 28, 1867), after providing for the losses entailed by the failure of Dent & Co., a dividend of 6 per cent. for the half year. This period of commercial stagnation was extraordinarily prolonged, as it continued from 1866 until the fall of the year 1869.
Meanwhile the temper of the community vented itself in complaints. In 1867 people commenced to lay the blame for the depression of trade on Sir Richard's legislative measures, ignoring the fact that a contemporaneous depression existed elsewhere and in places which were not in any way affected by local legislation. Various causes, however, added fuel to the irritation which naturally increased as the commercial atmosphere became more and more enveloped in gloom. Complaints were made as to the mode of levying local rates and taxes in advance and on the tenants themselves instead of the landlords (January, 1867). The Formosan camphor trade was seriously interfered with by illegal exactions and by monopolies claimed by the Chinese Mandarins, and Sir Richard's remonstrances proved fruitless. The Canton Customs Blockade was hampering many branches of local trade (since October, 1867) and Sir Richard appeared to be powerless to do anything more than writing protests. The Stamp Ordinance was considered to press unfairly on the European merchants and the doubts entertained at first, owing to the intricacies of its provisions and penalties, as to the question what stamps were to be affixed to or impressed upon certain documents, operated as a source of frequent perplexity and worry (November, 1867). As things went from bad to worse in 1868, merchants began to talk of the impending ruin of Hongkong and to blame Sir Richard for it. It was seriously proposed to demand the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the working of certain Ordinances injurious to the commerce of Hongkong. In the piece goods trade there were also special complaints of that mildew in cotton goods which, for many years thereafter, caused much trouble and irritation, and which was believed to be caused by fraudulent sizing (March, 1869). Sir Richard himself also had as much to worry him, as the merchants. The covert hostility of the Cantonese Authorities, encouraged by H. M. Minister in Peking, the growing displeasure with which successive Secretaries of State in Downing Street viewed his attempt at solving the gambling problem, and the local unpopularity of all his best measures, must have had a depressing effect upon Sir Richard's nervous temperament. It was tantalizing to have in the Special Fund a remedy at hand for the distressed state of the Colonial finances and yet to be forbidden to touch it. On 7th July, 1869, seeing no signs yet of the better times that were coming for Hongkong, he wrote to Earl Granville saying that 'the circumstances of the Colony in the present decline of commercial prosperity, following on the serious depression which had prevailed for several years, rendered it extremely unlikely that the Executive, without aid from some unusual source, could increase or maintain an increased expenditure.'
However, towards the close of the year 1869, a gradual improvement, which had set in for some time, became visible. That the shipping trade of the Colony greatly increased in 1869, is clear from the excess, over 1868, of 45 British ships, measuring 41,615 tons and of 135 foreign vessels (Chinese excepted) measuring 95,230 tons. This large increase of shipping business was evidently due to extended traffic between the Colony and Australia, the United States, the Philippine Islands and Japan, while trade with British India remained about the same as before. Of a daily average of 107 vessels in port in 1869, fully 18 per cent. were steamers. The doubling of the number of the steamers of the Messageries Impériales and the Pacific Mail Company, and the formation of two additional local Steamship Companies, left no doubt of the undiminished importance of the Colony in connection with the trade of China and Japan.
With the commencement of the year 1870, the long continued commercial crisis was felt to be over, and the pent up energies of local enterprise burst forth anew. The Chamber of Commerce interested itself in Baron von Richthofen's exploration of Western China (December, 1869) and sent (February, 1870) a commercial explorer of their own (M. Moss) to ascertain the commercial capabilities of the West River (Canton to Nanningfu). Mr. Moss travelled through Kwangtung and Kwangsi into Yunnan, but his report was not encouraging. The Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company, under the direction of Mr. W. Keswick, amalgamated with itself the older Union Dock Company under the direction of Captain J. B. Endicott (March 8, 1870), and increased its capital to one million dollars. The Indo-Chinese Sugar Company was formed (April 28, 1870) to purchase a crushing factory at Saigon and to erect mills at various places in Cochin-China and in China. Two new Insurance Companies having been started in February, 1870, Chinese merchants established, in April, 1870, an Insurance Company of their own, the shares of which could be held only by Chinese. The sliipping returns of the year 1870 shewed an increase of 2,433 vessels with a carrying capacity of 311,025 tons. Nevertheless there were, at the close of the year 1870, many who took a despondent view of the future of Hongkong as compared with that of Shanghai. The general China trade, it was said, was now developing in magnitude corresponding to the diminution of profits in the case of individuals. Having no power of expansion, the Hongkong trade was more keenly affected by this reduction in profitableness, caused by the natural working of increased competition. With so few outlets to trade and these obstructed, as to the junk trade, by the Chinese Customs Blockade, Hongkong now possessed but small opportunities of extending its trade with regard to imports into China. Hence the inference was drawn that the commercial importance of the Colony must thereafter decline very materially in comparison with that of Shanghai.
Commercial enterprise, however, continued to develop. The Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Company once more bought out competing interlopers in the river trade by the purchase of the steamships Spec and Spark (June 1, 1871). Great improvements were made in telegraphic communication with other countries. Direct communication was established with Shanghai (May 26, 1871), with New York and London (June 9, 1871), and with Saigon and Singapore (August 1, 1871). To utilize pier and godown properties at Wantsai, the Hongkong Wharf and Godown Company was formed (August 1, 1871) ignoring the fact that the increased facilities of telegraphic communication with Europe tended to diminish the need for godown storage.
The emigration question, viewed in the light of the Macao coolie trade, occupied the minds of the residents off and on throughout the term of this administration. This question took a definite shape on the passing of the Hongkong Emigration Ordinance (6 of 1867), when the Chief Justice (J. Smale) conjointly with one of the unofficial Members of Council (J. Whittall) pleaded in Council and memorialized the Secretary of State (July 27, 1867) to the effect that contract emigration from Hongkong should be entirely prohibited, on the ground that the Macao coolie trade, conducted under emigration laws similar to those of Hongkong, had developed into a veritable slave trade. Sir Richard opposed the two enthusiasts, and stated that the Hongkong Council could not run counter to Imperial legislation (18 & 19 Vict. ch. 104) under which the local Chinese Passengers Act of 1855 had been framed. The whole mercantile community considered this agitation against the local coolie trade extremely ill-judged, as no one pretended that coolie emigration from Hongkong was conducted in any sense on slave-trading principles. Fresh discussions arose when Sir Richard published (July 4, 1867) a refutation of the arguments advanced by those twoMembers of Council, and especially when the horrors connected with numerous mutinies on Macao coolie ships filled the public papers and engaged, in a few instances, also the attention of the Government and the Supreme Court of Hongkong in connection with the ships Marie Therese (March 21, 1868), Frederic (October 19, 1869), and especially in connection with the above mentioned Kwok Asing case (February 15, to April 5, 1871). The net result of all these discussions was the general conviction that the methods by which coolies are collected in the interior and brought to Hongkong for shipment, though free from the evils attaching to the crimping system of the Macao coolie trade, necessitated the strictest surveillance of all contract emigration, and some thought that even the new Hongkong Emigration Ordinance (12 of 1868) was insufficient, though it provided for the punishment of persons improperly obtaining emigrants, as long as contract emigration to nonBritish ports was allowed. More stringent regulations were made by the Governor in Council (July 6, 1869), but on 19th October, 1869, Earl Granville informed the Governor that he concurred with Earl Clarendon and the Emigration Commissioners, that contract emigration from Hongkong should be strictly confined to emigration to British Colonies. Sir Richard accordingly passed through Legislative Council (March 30, 1870) a Bill giving the Governor power to make such regulations with regard to emigration as he may think proper under instructions from the Colonial Office. Sir Richard stated on this occasion that he personally deprecated the entire abolition of contract emigration to foreign countries which under existing instructions he would be obliged to effect, but that his instructions were peremptory. Later on, difficulties were made by the Colonial Secretary (in the absence of Sir Richard) even as to shipping coolies by the Pacific mail steamers, as it was stated (October lo, 1871) that the Colonial Office instructions prohibited emigration, whether under actual or merely implied contract, to any non-British country. The U.S. Minister, the Hon. W. H. Seward, passing through Hongkong in January, 1871, held a reception at the U.S. Consulate, when he gave it as his opinion that Chinese emigration to the United States is desirable as tending to the advancement of western civilization in China, and that by this means enterprises, such as railways and mining operations, will be introduced into China, and excessive emigration to America stopped, so soon as the Chinese labourers will be able to find in their own country that employment which now induces them to go abroad. Mr. Seward's influence caused emigration from Hongkong to California to expand considerably during the next few years.
The Chinese commerce of Hongkong rapidly expanded at the beginning (1865 to 1868) of this period at the expense of the Canton trade which then laboured under illegal exactions, made by the Mandarins and their favoured monopolists, which caused even the manufacture of vermilion and the clarifying of ginseng to be removed from Canton to Hongkong. Even in the piece goods trade, a very large business was now done in Hongkong, particularly in cotton fabrics, the goods being sent into the interior of the Canton Province without passing through or near Canton, and at Canton itself the import of piece goods fell entirely into the hands of Chinese who came down to Hongkong to buy. The rice trade also was driven away from Canton by the exaction of tonnage dues and thenceforth entirely conducted in Hongkong whence the rice was sent to Canton in junks. Opium was at this time shipped less to Canton, and chiefly to Kongmoon, Samshui and Sheklung, where lower duties were levied than in Canton. Likewise also the numerous small ports between Swatow and Hongkong were supplied from Hongkong with opium by junks which had to pay a duty of 20 taels at those intermediate ports, whilst at Swatow 30 taels import duty and 10 taels Li-kin had to be paid. This was not a smuggling trade but a judicious avoidance of a port (Canton) where extra charges were made. But it was the resultant expansion of the Hongkong junk trade, coupled with the simultaneous decline of the Canton trade, that induced the Cantonese Authorities to establish the Customs Blockade of Hongkong in order to levy here those extra charges and thus to force the junk trade back into its former channel for the benefit of Canton.
The result was striking. At the close of the year 1868, a sudden depression, which reached its height in 1869, came over the native trade of Hongkong. The cotton dealers of Hongkong exported in 1869 only 110,000 bales in place of 200,000 exported in 1868. No more than 335,000 piculs of rice passed through the Colony in 1869. The sugar trade also shewed a considerable decline. The market compradors reported sales amounting, in 1869, to $146,000 against $165,000 in the previous year. The salt fish trade continued on the decline which had set in from the moment when the Customs Blockade commenced. The rent of Chinese houses fell in 1869 about 25 per cent. and some 250 business houses in the principal streets stood, empty and unoccupied. Nevertheless the reviving energies of foreign commerce in 1870 appeared to stimulate also the native trade of Hongkong, which recovered slowly from the injuries inflicted upon it by the Chinese Customs Blockade.
In the government of the Chinese population, Sir Richard systematically gave to the Registrar General the most extensive powers. But he took a personal interest in every detail, probed the correctness of translations of petitions and notifications, watched with eagle's eye the editing of the Chinese issue of the Government Gazette and inquired into the ins and outs of every complaint made by the Chinese. He occasionally, but sparingly, received Chinese deputations, argued with them in a stately way and took infinite pains in controverting their arguments, both orally and in print, and repeatedly made semi-mutinous deputations confess that their objections to his measures were based on misunderstanding or imperfect translation and invariably sent them away crestfallen. It was by these methods that he averted serious impending strikes in connection with the new Registration and Junk Ordinances (6 and 7 of 1866) in September, 1866 and in January, 1867. It has been mentioned above that the Junk Ordinance did excellent service towards the repression of piracy. The Registration Ordinance also worked satisfactorily and 663 householders were speedily registered under it, but the provisions regarding the registration of Chinese servants were viewed by European employers as useless and irksome and soon became a dead letter. In 1869, the Chinese inhabitants of several districts in town, acting on the provisions of the Registration Ordinance, recommended a body of men as district watchmen to be paid for by themselves. The duties of these special Chinese constables, under the sole direction of the Registrar General, were connected exclusively with the Chinese portion of the city. The Registrar General reported, year by year, favourably on the working of this special body of police. But the system caused friction between the Registrar General and the Superintendent of Police, particularly in connection with the permits issued for religious ceremonies, which, by their accompanying noise, created a nuisance, at night-time, to European residents and caused objections disregarded by the district watchmen but upheld by the police.
The absence of a mortuary for Chinese and of a hospital conducted in consonance with Chinese ideas of therapeutics, caused the local compradors, merchants and shopkeepers to establish (in 1867) what they called the I-tsze. Their aim was not charitable, but rather to have a place where dying business-employees might be deposited, to avoid the troublous rites and ceremonies connected with death, and where encoffined bodies might be stored awaiting removal to the mainland. This institution was established, in the centre of Taipingshan. unbeknown to the Government. In May, 1869, accident led to the discovery that sick persons were dumped there and left to die like dogs, untended and uncared for, except that there were coffins ready for them. When the foreign community raised an outcry, the Chinese came forward with liberal subscriptions towards the erection of a Chinese Hospital, and, as it was a clear case for the application of the Special Fund, Sir Richard at once offered a grant of $15,000 in addition to a free site near Possession Point. The I-tsze was forthwith converted into a temporary hospital conducted on Chinese principles, as nearly all Chinese in the Colony would rather die like dogs than enter the Government Civil Hospital. It was originally proposed that the piece of land granted by Government should be vested in trustees and that the permanent hospital, to be built there, should be carried on under a trustdeed. But the Attorney General (J. Pauncefote) wisely suggested to form a corporation which would build and manage the hospital through a board of Chinese directors under proper supervision by the Government. Thus the Tungwa Hospital was established by Ordinance (3 of 1870) as an eleemosynary corporation. By the special order of Sir Richard, a provision was included in this Ordinance to make sure that, if the corporation should fail to carry out in a satisfactory manner the objects and purposes of the Ordinance, the incorporation should be repealed and the property of the hospital, subject to the payment of debts, should then vest in the Crown. The new hospital was speedily erected and opened by Sir Richard on February 14, 1872, when he announced that the Government had voted (out of the Special Fund) a further sum of $115,000 for the purposes of the hospital. He also praised the Chinese for their liberality in guaranteeing annual subscriptions to the extent of $7,000, but warned them that, if any abuses should creep in, the Government would take the management of the hospital out of their hands. This was a fair specimen of Sir Richard's way of dealing with the Chinese community. He invariably treated them with unwearied consideration but with rigid strictness. The result was that, by the time of Sir Richard's departure, his administration left upon the Chinese people rather a favourable impression. Though they dreaded him at first as a stern disciplinarian, they always respected him and finally he became rather a popular hero in their eyes.
The population of Hongkong increased, during this administration, from 117,471 souls in the year 1866 to 124,198 in the year 1871. But this is no progress when it is compared with the state of the population (125,504) in the year 1865, and indicates that the general influence of Sir Richard's administration did not tend to encourage Chinese to settle in Hongkong.
The sanitation of the Colony was at a low ebb in January, 1866, when the mortality among the troops reached an extraordinary rate, supposed to be caused by the severe night duties thrown upon European soldiers in consequence of the withdrawal of Indian regiments. Hongkong, once more, gained an unenviable notoriety through exaggerative descriptions of the insalubrity of its climate published in home papers in 1866 and 1867, and particularly in the Times and in the Army & Navy Gazette. In April, 1869, it was locally reported that the sanitary conditions had been steadily improving and that, with the exception of the case of the troops, the rate of mortality among European residents had steadily decreased since 1863. Indeed a table of the mortality of Hongkong inhabitants from 1858 to 1868 shewed that in no year registered had the mortality been so low (2 per cent.) among Europeans as during the year 1869. The Colonial Surgeon, in Ins report for 1869, reported a rise in the death rate, which he ascribed to the longer duration of the summer heat, but declared Hongkong to be remarkably healthy for the tropics. Great importance was now attached to the extension of afforestation coupled with the unsparing removal of all undergrowth. Carbolic acid was freely used to disinfect drains. The sudden and startling death of a number of prominent members of the foreign community, gave to the year 1870 the aspect of a specially unhealthy year. It was pointed out that in the early part of summer and up to 3rd August, 1870, there was an unusually small rainfall, and an unusual increase of fever, accompanied by a tendency to relapse which caused great prostration and in some cases assumed the character of typhus. Most practitioners attributed the cause to earth cutting on the hill sides. Dr. J. T. Murray, however, persisted in tracing the disease to the paucity of rain but he also complained that the drains of the town remained what they ever had been (in the absence of rain), the source of disease, and urged that they be run out into deep water and frequently flushed. An epidemic of smallpox having broken out in December 1870, and the temporary matsheds erected near the Civil Hospital being overcrowded (January, 1871), the deserted Gaol-buildings on Stonecutters' Island were converted into a smallpox hospital which answered all expectations. Among 101 cases treated (73 civilians and 28 soldiers), there were only 9 deaths.
The subject of contagious disease engaged Sir Richard's attention soon after his arrival. He found fault with the C.D. Ordinance of 1858, as its penal provisions were directed exclusively against indoor prostitution, also against the keepers of illicit establishments only and not against the inmates. Believing that the existing system failed to check disease, Sir Richard forthwith inaugurated a more vigorous policy. A new Ordinance, passed on 23rd July, 1867, subjected accordingly both the keepers and the inmates of unlicensed houses to fine and imprisonment, prohibited solicitation in the streets, extended the application of medical examination and detention in the Lock Hospital, gave the Police power to break into suspected houses without a warrant, and conferred upon the Registrar General judicial as well as executive powers, in order to remove prosecutions under the Ordinance from the publicity of the Police Court. It was, however, again found impracticable to bring the inmates, of establishments intended for the use of Chinese only, under periodical medical examination. Moreover, it was now found impossible to carry out this vigorous policy effectively without extensive employment of paid informers, and this proved in after years to be a serious flaw in the system. Public feeling on the subject of C. D. Acts was by this time undergoing a change in England, where the conviction of the necessity of extending the powers of the Imperial Act, on which the Hongkong Ordinance of 1867 had been founded, was steadily gaining ground. In Hongkong there was at this time, amongst those who interested themselves in public affairs, no general feeling for or against the working of Sir Richard's new Ordinance, but the magisterial functions now exercised, as it were in secret, by the Registrar General, were looked upon by some of the unofficial Members of Council as a source of mischief. Dr. R. Young, in charge of the Lock Hospital with a daily average of 34 in-patients, reported favourably on the working of the Ordinance (10 of 1867). That the type of disease had gradually become more amenable to treatment, appeared from the fact that the average number of days, during which patients were detained in hospital, was reduced in 1871 to a shorter period than had ever been reached during the 14 years of the hospital's existence. Surgeons, well qualified to give an opinion, testified in 1871 that at this time there was no place in the East so free from syphilitic disease as Hongkong.
During the interregnum of the Hon. W. T. Mercer some important events took place in the sphere of education. The premature death of Miss Baxter (June 30, 1865) was a great loss for Hongkong, but the Baxter Schools were continued, first by Miss Oxlad and then by Miss Johnstone, on whom Miss Baxter's mantle had evidently fallen. The establishment, by Bishop Raimondi, of a large and distinctly commercial School (St. Saviour's College) brought into play a healthy emulation between the principal local schools, and this competition acted thenceforth as a prominent factor in the educational movement of the Colony. Another important event of the interregnum was the extinction of the Board of Education and the appointment (June 24, 1865), at the suggestion of Dr. Legge, of Dr. Stewart as Head of the Education Department, having under his direction both the Central School and the outside Government Schools, then 14 in number but increased to 25 schools by the end of this period. Dr. Stewart urged upon the Government (in 1865 and in 1871) the introduction of an education tax and a compulsory school-attendance law, but neither Mr. Mercer nor Sir Richard would consent to such a measure. The Central School, which had hitherto received only Chinese boys, was thrown open by Sir Richard (in 1866) to boys of all nationalities. The new Bishop, Dr. Alford, engaged in a controversy with Dr. Stewart by opposing the system of secular or, as he called it, godless education in Government Schools, but without avail. St. Paul's College, having lost its funds by the failure of Dent & Co., had to be closed in 1867, and, when an attempt to re-open it in 1868 failed, the College was absorbed (in 1869) in the Diocesan Orphanage. The Morrison Education Society was also deprived of its funds by the failure of Dent & Co. and handed over its library, together with a painting of Chinnery's (representing Dr. Morrison) and a bust of the Hon. H. R. Morrison, to the City Hall Library as a free gift for the use of the public (March 30, 1869).
Bishop Smith having resigned, the Rev. Ch. R. Alford, M.A., was appointed by Letters Patent (January 14, 1867) Lord Bishop of the See of Victoria and Warden (for the Church Missionary Society) of St. Paul's College. The new Bishop appointed the Colonial Chaplain (W. R. Beach) as residentiary Canon of St. John's Cathedral. Bishop Alford did much to cement good understanding between the clergy and the missionaries of all persuasions and exercised upon the general community a powerful influence for good. For the benefit of the funds of the British and Foreign Bible Society, he organised a local Auxiliary (H. Laurence, Hon. Secretary). Sir Richard MacDonnell, who withal was a religious character, repeatedly presided at the meetings of this Society and occasionally gave, as for instance on 1st February, 1869, a powerful address in support of its aims. On the other hand, the Bishop, though in friendly relations with Sir Richard, did not shrink from passing the very next day (February 2, 1869) the strongest public condemnation on the Governor's system of licensing gaming houses and on the provisions of his Contagious Diseases Ordinance. The principal relic of Bishop Alford's work in the Colony is St. Peter's Church. At the suggestion of one of the Trustees of Sailors' Home (Captain Thomsett), weekly services for seamen had been organized at the Home in 1866. Soon after his arrived, Bishop Alford proposed the erection of a church for seamen, and secured from the Trustees the grant of a portion of their ground for the purpose. During a visit to England in 1870, Bishop Alford further secured from some Society a donation of £500 and the promise of an annual contribution towards the salary of a seamen's chaplain. On his return to Hongkong (March, 1871), he appealed to the public for subscriptions. The family of the late Mr. Margesson (lost at sea) donated £300, the Governor made a grant of $2,500, the community subscribed liberally, the Trustees of St. John's Cathedral gave a spare bell, and the building was rapidly pushed on. On 22nd March, 1871, the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Alford and on 14th January, 1872, the new church, dedicated to St. Peter, was opened (in the absence of the Bishop) by the Rev. J. Piper. Bishop Alford was equally successful in his efforts to arouse public interest in the improvement of St. John's Cathedral. The Hon. F. Parry donated a peal of bells which were rung for the first time on the new-year's eve of 31st December, 1869. By a public subscription, yielding $3,000 and forthwith doubled by the Government, Bishop Alford secured also the erection of a new chancel (November 29, 1870), which was enriched by the erection of a memorial window by the executors of the late Douglas Lapraik. But the tower of St. John's Cathedral was left as before waiting for its spire. Sir Richard made, shortly before he left the Colony, an order (February, 1872) to the effect that no fees whatever should be charged for any ecclesiastical service connected with St. John's Cathedral.
The principal events of the social life of this period were the festivities connected with the visit to Hongkong of H.R.H. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and particularly the opening of the new City Hall, the foundation stone of which had been laid on 23rd February, 1867, by Sir R. MacDonnell. For weeks, preparations had been made for the Duke's reception, on the basis of a programme devised by Sir Richard and published in the Government Gazette. From the moment when H.M.S. Galatea arrived (October 31, 1869) with the Duke on board, until 16th November, when he finally left the Colony, Hongkong society, both foreign and Chinese, was revelling in incessant festivities. Immediately on his arrival, the Duke landed privately and dined at Government House with the Governor and Admiral Keppel, his former chief. Next evening he privately attended a dinner given by the Hon. W. Keswick at the mansion of Jardine, Matheson & Co., and then inspected incognito the illuminations, fire works and dragon processions, which kept the whole town in a blaze of light till the early morning. On 2nd November, three hours before the time fixed for the official landing of the Duke, Admiral the Hon. Sir H. Keppel, K.C.B., whom the Colony had honoured with a farewell-banquet as the embodiment of the true British policy in China, having to leave for England, came down at 8 a.m. to embark at Murray Pier, when, to his surprise, he found there a barge manned by the officers of the Galatea who rowed him to the mail steamer, the Duke himself at the stroke oar and Commodore Oliver J. Jones acting as coxswain. At 11 a.m. the Duke landed with due ceremony at Pedder's Wharf, attended by Sir H. Kellett and his two equerries. Sir Richard, having formally bid him welcome, conducted him in great state to the City Hall which the Duke opened and inspected. Some 300 gentlemen were then introduced to the Duke, who graciously replied also to four addresses presented to him, viz. by Mr. Th. Pyke for the general community, by Mr. D. Ruttunjee for the Parsee merchants, and by Chinese deputies of the native merchants and Government schoolmasters, whose gorgeous uniforms and elaborate kotows gave to the scene a picturesque Oriental colouring. In the evening the Duke was present at a banquet given at Government House and followed by a reception held by Lady MacDonnell. On 3rd November, the Duke drove out with the Governor to the Happy Valley, and attended in the evening the first performances given, at the new City Hall Theatre, by the Amateur Dramatic Corps and by the members of the German Club Concordia. A grand ball held next day at the City Hall, and a magnificent performance given, on the following day, by Chinese actors at the Tunghing theatre and followed by a Chinese dinner, concluded the first part of the programme. Whilst the Duke paid a visit to Canton and Macao, by means of the river-steamer Kinshan which the H. C. & M. Steamboat Company had placed at his disposal, the Chinese festivities and dragon processions continued in Hongkong. After his return (9th November), the Duke visited Major-General Whitfield who was laid up with sickness, dined with Colonel Milles and the officers of the 75th Regiment and subsequently with Commodore Jones. He further attended two more banquets and public receptions at Government House, received two additional addresses (by the clergy and the masters of the mercantile marine), attended a cricket match, took part in a game at bowls at the Oriental Bowling Alley, acted as conductor of the orchestra at a theatrical performance given by the officers of the Galatea in the City Hall Theatre, entertained the Governor and Lady MacDonnell on board his ship, and finally laid, immediately before his departure, the first stone of the new chancel of St. John's Cathedral (November, 16th). The Duke's courtesy and gracious bearing on every occasion won for him the greatest popularity, whilst the success which attended all the festivities given in his honour was a source of much pride and pleasure to the whole community.
Among the many signs of healthy social life and progress manifested during this period stands out prominently the formation (November 12, 1867) of the Association for securing Parliamentary influence on behalf of the Colony. It was hoped that relief might by this means, rather than by appeals to the Colonial Office, be obtained for the most pressing grievances, under which the community laboured. Mr. A. P. Sinnett acted as secretary for the society until July, 1868. On 23rd December, 1867, a meeting of the Association adopted a Memorial to be presented to the House of Commons. It was a forcible protest against the levy of the Military Contribution. During the following year the influence of the Association was strengthened by the formation in London (April, 1868) of a corresponding Association of former colonists, and the Hongkong Association received some recognition by a Committee of the Legislative Council, consulting the Association in the matter of the Building Ordinance then under discussion. However, the Petition to the House of Commons fell to the ground owing to the inaction of the London branch of the Association. Moreover, the action of the local Association was paralysed for the time (July 8, 1869) by internal dissensions as to the question whether the scope of the Association was confined to local grievances or included the general tenor of British policy in China and Japan. Another semi-political but less aspiring association was that formed by Mr. W. N. Middleton, and supported by other talented local artists (Mr. J. B. Coughtrie and Mr. E. Beart), who humorously but most effectively criticized and caricatured, to the intense amusement of the community, local politics and manners, celebrities and oddities, by means of the China Punchy published at irregular intervals from 28th May, 1867, until 28th May, 1868. In the Public Gardens, where the Parsee community erected a handsome Bandstand, great improvements were made by the new Curator (Ch. Ford) and public interest was enlisted for the time in the management of the Gardens (January 10, 1872) by withdrawing the Gardens and Afforestation Department from the supervision of the Surveyor General and placing it under a representative Advisory Committee. The re-opening of the Seamen's Hospital which Jardine, Matheson & Co. (May, 1866) had rebuilt at a cost of $30,000, the transformation of the old Victoria Library and Reading Rooms into a Club (August 15, 1871) thenceforth known as Victoria Club, and the short-lived attempt to establish a public refuge for the destitute and for discharged prisoners (May, 1871), were also indications of a healthy public spirit. On the other hand, the collapse of the Volunteer Corps, which had to be disbanded (June 1, 1866) owing to the non-attendance of its members, has also to be recorded, but had perhaps a deeper source in the commercial crisis which just then paralysed local activities.
The establishment of a Swimming Bath (June, 1866), of ocean yacht races (December, 1868) and of bicycle races (February 15, 1870), provided new incentives and facilities for public recreation. Complaints were made at the Wongnaichung races of March, 1869, that the Americans present forsook the Grand Stand for the superior attractions of a private shed belonging to the leading American firms (Russell & Co. and A. Heard & Co.). But harmony was soon restored. On 28th February, 1870, an address signed by the entire community was presented to Admiral Rowan in command of the U. S. Asiatic Squadron, to express the sympathy universally felt in the Colony with the sufferers from the shipwreck of the U. S. Corvette Oneida in the gulf of Yeddo, caused by collision with the P. & O. S. S. Bombay on 24th January, 1870. The departure of the U. S. flagship Delaware (June 19, 1870), the officers of which had been general favourites in local society, was much regretted. The anniversary of Washington's birthday was celebrated (March, 1871) by the whole foreign community as the guests of the officers of the U. S. S. Colorado who enlivened their entertainment by an improvised regatta.
The German community was, in 1870 and 1871, much exercised by the successive events of the Franco-German war. Large sums were collected in Hongkong and forwarded for the relief of the sick and wounded of both belligerents. At one single concert (December, 1870) a sum of $2,000 was raised. The China Mail was for some time ostracized by the German residents who saw uufairness in the unfriendly criticisms which the editor passed on the measures taken by Germany after the battle of Sedan. The restoration of peace was celebrated (March, 1871) by a public banquet. In November, 1871, the German Club raised, by a concert, a considerable sum in aid of the relief fund which was organized in Hongkong as soon as the news of the great conflagration at Chicago was received. The new building erected for the German Club in Wyndham Street, a line structure of Gothic design, was opened on 2nd February, 1872. About the same time, a collection was organized for the foundation of a new library at Strassburg (February 8, 1872) and a considerable number of Chinese works, including some rare manuscripts from Formosa, were secured for the new library.
Among the minor events of the social life of this period may be chronicled the dedication of the new Masonic Hall (December 27, 1865), a public farewell dinner given to Dr. Kane (May, 1867), the opening of the new Hongkong Hotel building (February 29, 1868), the arrival of the Austro-Hungarian expedition under Admiral Baron Petz, with Professor Scherzer (June, 1869), the public dinner given to Commodore Jones (April, 1870), the arrival of Mr. George Francis Train (September 3, 1870), a series of public lectures given by Dr. Legge on Confucianism and by Dr. Eitel on Buddhism (December, 1870 to February, 1871), the celebration of Beethoven's centenary by a concert given in the City Hall (December 20, 1870), the arrival of the Hon. Mrs. Yelverton (Lady Avanmore) from San Francisco (September 15, 1871), and a public lecture on Knox by Dr. Legge (December, 1871).
Fifteen different countries were by this time represented in Hongkong by officially recognized Consuls, viz.: Austria by G. von Overbeck (March 10, 1867); Belgium by H. Nicaise (August 29, 1871); Denmark, Sweden and Norway by G. J. Helland (December 26, 1865); France by H. du Chesne (January 14, 1865); Germany by A. Eimbke (August 7, 1869); Italy and Hawaii by W. Keswick (April 28, 1868, and April 10, 1869); the Netherlands by L. Beyer (June 4, 1870); Portugal by J. J. dos Remedios (January 10, 1872); Russia by J. Heard (April 16, 1862); Siam by J. Fraser (May 26, 1868); Spain by F. Ortuño (February 11, 1867); the United States by Lieutenant-Colonel Moulding, succeeded by D. H. Bailey (October 21, 1870).
As regards public calamities, the period of Sir Richard's administration is characterized by an extraordinary frequency of serious typhoons. On 30th June, 1865, a typhoon, which did comparatively little damage in the Colony, engulfed two Hongkong steamers, Corea and Chanticleer, which had left Swatow on that day for Hongkong in company and disappeared, leaving no trace behind. The edge of a typhoon touched Hongkong on 7th July, 1866, and did considerable damage. During the next year (1867), three successive typhoons (8th August, 8th September, and 1st October) caused serious disasters both ashore and afloat, particularly the first of them, by which four large vessels in harbour were driven on shore, two sunk, and innumerable junks wrecked. On 26th September, 1870, great damage to life and property was occasioned by a typhoon, the Praya Wall was broken up in places, the S.S. Walter and a yacht were sunk, and on board the junks whose wrecks covered the Praya hundreds of lives were lost. The same scenes were enacted on 2nd September, 1871, when, beside the injuries caused to houses in town, many vessels in harbour were damaged or stranded, and the French barque Nancy and the German barque Hans became total wrecks. Few conflagrations occurred during this period, but one of them (November 28, 1867) was of extraordinary magnitude, as nearly 500 houses were destroyed. The year (1867) in which this disaster occurred, and which is also marked by the occurrence of three serious typhoons, is further distinguished by a gunpowder explosion and by two serious landslips. On 17th January, 1867, the barque Themis was lying near Stonecutters' Island alongside the powder-hulk Zephyr, which had 200,000 pounds of gunpowder on board, and a gang of coolies was at work moving barrels of powder, when suddenly an explosion occurred which blew both vessels to pieces, caused the death of some forty persons, and shook most houses in town. In the month of October, two landslips took place, one destroying the gas mains at Westpoint and leaving the whole Colony in darkness for one night, while the other converted a row of eight Chinese houses at Taipingshan into a heap of ruins, involving also the loss of some lives, whereupon a jury blamed the Surveyor General for not having foreseen the accident. On 8th May, 1870, the singular spectacle occurred of a vessel, the Dunmail, sailing into harbour and being wrecked in the act of anchoring within a few hundred yards from the Docks, on the rocks near Hunghom.
The obituary of this period is particularly distinguished by the death, at Headquarter House, of Mrs. Brunker (July 1, 1868) and Major-General Brunker (March 23, 1869), and further includes the names of Mrs. Smale (October, 1868), Assistant Surveyor-General Clark (October, 1868), Mr. Margesson (July, 1869); G. J. Barber, R.N. (December 28, 1869), Dr. A Cochran (March 7, 1870), H. P. Austin (September 14, 1870), Mrs. Kresser (September, 1870), Captain J. B. Endicott (November 6, 1870), Th. Donaldson (November, 1870), J. Donoval, Electrician of the Telegraph Company (February 9, 1871), F. T. Hazeland, Crown Solicitor (February 21, 1871), Bishop Smith, who died in England (December 14, 1871), and Mrs. Hugh Hughes (January 5, 1872).
By the time when Sir Richard's term of administration came to an end, in April 1872, the whole community of Hongkong sincerely regretted his departure. Besides a farewell-dinner given in his honour by the members of the Civil Service (April 5), the foreign community gave him a magnificent banquet (April 9), and the Chinese merchants presented a grandiloquent but genuine laudatory address (April 11) together with a Memorial against the coolie trade. Sir Richard left the Colony on 11th April, 1872, by French mail-steamer, having for his fellow-passengers the Portuguese Governor of Macao and the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippine Islands. After his return to England, he retired from the service, occupied himself for some years with various literary studies and died on 5th February, 1881.
That Sir R. MacDonnell had understood the real position and needs of the Colony better than most of its Governors, appears clearly from the following extracts taken from one of his published dispatches (October 29, 1867). 'The circumstances of the Colony of Hongkong are so entirely exceptional and peculiar, that it is difficult for the Executive to derive from the experience of other Colonies, or the precedents established by the practice and traditions of Europe, any adequate system for its government and legislation … I would advocate the policy of leaving the Colony as far as possible the liberty to expend, on local improvements and works, all the available public income that can be raised from the community for these purposes, because the prestige and the preference given to it, as a depot, depends greatly on the advantages, as a residence and as a convenient depot, which it may continue to offer … I should gladly see more activity in making sanitary improvements and in rendering the loading and discharge of vessels more easy and less expensive than at present.'
The general feeling of the community, at the time of Sir Richard's final departure, was—that he was an emphatically sincere and, though a stern character, by no means an acrid man; that he was an able ruler, one of the most able, if not the best, of Hongkong's Governors; that he failed to please everybody because he, on principle, strove to do only what he himself thought best in the interests of the Colony, without fear or favour of any man; that he improved the police, the roads and the waterworks of the Colony; that he was not only careful in the management of the Colonial finances but established prosperity in place of positive insolvency; that he succeeded where every preceding Governor had failed, viz., in suppressing the local haunts and resources of piracy; that he knew how to govern the Chinese and gave them their proper subordinate place; that the best and most popular trait of his administration was the true English jealousy with which he guarded the honour and position of the Colony, the freedom of the port and its tradal interests, against Hongkong's enemies, both Chinese and British. In short, the verdict of the community on the value of Sir R. MacDonnell's administration may be summed up in the words of Shakespeare: Here goes a Caesar! When comes such an other?