Imatges de pÓgina

reigning Emperor been a man as liberal in his views and as independent of his surroundings as Keen Lung. The friendly relations between the two courts established by Lord Macartney might have gone on increasing, the wars with England in the time of Taokwang and Hienfung might never have come to pass, and China might have been opened to foreign intercourse a hundred years sooner. Though this is not the place to pass in review the different high appointments held by Lord Macartney at home and in the colonies, yet I cannot close this short resumé of his career without alluding to his disinterestedness and high principle. When Governor of Madras he set an example of honesty and uncorruptibility--not common in India at the time when the custom was for officials to shake the pagoda tree and get rich. The well-disguised bribes which it was the custom of the native princes to present to Europeans of position, and which they always retained for their personal benefit, were by Lord Macartney placed in the public treasury to be sold for the public advantage. His conduct in this respect excited the surprise of Hyder Ali, and extorted from him the exclamation, so honourable to Lord Macartney, “I cannot understand this new governor; money seems to have no attractions for


The reception that awaited it afforded every reason for gratification, and much cause to hope that the ends for which the embassy had been despatched would be successfully attained. After Lord Macartney left the man-of war, he and his party were conveyed with all attention and ceremony up the Peiho to the capital. Visits of ceremony were paid and returned with the Viceroy of Pechihli, and some of the other principal mandarins. At Tientsin they were even accorded the unusual honour of a military salute. A missionary wrote from Pekin to Lord Macartney to say that the Emperor had shown "marks of great satisfaction” at the news of his approach, and the instructions sent by Keen Lung to facilitate the movements of the British mission were too clear and emphatic to be disregarded. The embassy was detained some time in Pekin, and for a moment it seemed as if a period of vexatious delay would herald the discomfiture of



the mission. Fortunately, when affairs appeared to be most unsatisfactory, a message arrived from Jehol, whither Keen Lung had retired, to inquire after the health of the ambassador, and to invite him to pay him a visit at his hunting-place beyond the Wall.

Lord Macartney, with his retinue and the guard allotted to his person, proceeded there in compliance with the invitation, and travelling in an English carriage, he reached Jehol in due course. Although the Emperor and his principal minister were in favour of conceding the English some, if not all, of the privileges they demanded, a very strong party, headed by the victorious general Sund Fo, who had been appointed Viceroy of Kwantung, were not only unfriendly to all foreign intercourse, but inimical to any with England in particular. However, notwithstanding their efforts to render the mission abortive, the Emperor resolved to receive the British envoy in audience, and the interview duly took place in a tent specially erected for the ceremony in the gardens of the palace. A second interview was held, and then the embassy returned to Pekin, whence it made its way overland to Canton. The dislike of the mandarins, which had been only partially concealed during the residence at Jehol, broke out more unequivocally after its departure, and during their return to Canton the English ambassador and his suite suffered considerable inconvenience at the hands of officials, who took their cue from the general Sund Fo, whose Nepaulese laurels had been won at the cost of an irrevocable enmity to the English. Beyond receiving from the lips of the Emperor an assurance that he reciprocated “the friendly sentiments of His Britannic Majesty," no practical results followed from Lord Macartney's embassy, successful though it was in so far as its reception was concerned. Keen Lung's advanced age left him neither the inclination nor the power to go very closely into the question of the policy or impolicy of cultivating closer relations with the foreign race which asserted the supremacy of the seas, and which had already subjected one Asiatic empire to its sway. That question had to be left for his successors; but at the least it may be said that Keen Lung did nothing to retard the establishment of cordial and

peaceful relations with the countries of the West. In almost the last year of his reign he gave this country some ground for hoping for an assured diplomatic position at Pekin by his flattering and favourable reception of Lord Macartney's embassy.

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At the very time that the British embassy was residing at Pekin and Jehol, the Emperor Keen Lung announced his intention of abdicating in the event of his living to witness the sixtieth year of his accession to the throne. Three years after the departure of Lord Macartney the auspicious event came to pass, and the Emperor therefore retired to one of his palaces, and caused his son Kiaking to be proclaimed in his place. Keen Lung survived his abdication about three years, dying in 1799 at the extremely advanced age of nearly ninety. During these last few years of his long and eventful reign he enjoyed the internal peace and assured tranquillity which were the just guerdon of his previous labours. Freed from the responsibility of the direct exercise of power, he was also able to guide his successor aright in the task of governing the Empire ; but no stronger inducement or incentive could be found for a ruler to do his best in the work of administration than the example left by the Emperor Keen Lung. The energy with which that sovereign threw himself into the settlement of external difficulties, and with which he grappled with questions of foreign policy, showed that he would not rest satisfied with either partial success or meagre results. It formed part of the natural character of the man, and was equally conspicuous in matters of domestic policy as in his foreign relations.

Good government is not an achievement that can be easily performed, even when the sovereign has to facilitate his task and to assist his efforts a model constitution and an incorrupt civil service. In China, where the whole responsibility is thrown upon the Emperor, it is one of unusual difficulty. But for the admirable conduct of the people it would be a task almost impossible to accomplish, aş the peculation prevailing among the ill-paid and loosely controlled mandarins has long reached a serious pass. Whether Keen Lung himself was fully aware or not of the extent to which the corruption had spread appears doubtful ; but his principal ministers * were perfectly cognisant of it. But while the evils and inconveniences of this seem to have been fully admitted, nobody possessed either the will or the resolution to attempt to grapple with the difficulty, so as to effectually cure the evil and to remove the great blot which used to and still does mar the symmetry of the Chinese system of administration.

The growth of the population had been quite extraordinary during the reign of Keen Lung. Within the space of fifty years it appears to have almost doubled ; but this astonishing increase, while affording strong evidence of the tranquillity and prosperity prevailing throughout the realm, was also accompanied by its necessary and inseparable penalty in a country dependent on its own resources, which, moreover, suffered periodically from visitations of drought and floods. On several occasions, especially towards the end of Keen Lung's reign, the northern provinces were desolated by the ravages of famine, which depopulated in the course of a few weeks districts as large as English counties, and paralysed all the efforts of the local authorities. The Emperor ordered the gratuitous distribution of grain usual under such circumstances; but the remedy applied proved but imperfect, both

* The strongest testimony of this was given by a high Chinese minister to Monseigneur de Caradre (quoted in “Nouvelles des Missions Orientales,” tom. i. pp. 90-91), who asked whether there was not some way of putting a stop to these privations and exactions. “It is impossible," replied the mandarin ; "the Emperor himself cannot do it, the evil is too widespread. He will, no doubt, send to the scene of these disorders mandarins clothed with all his authority ; but they will only commit still greater exactions, and the inferior mandarins, in order to be left undisturbed, will offer them presents. The Emperor will be told that all is well, while everything is really wrong, and while the poor people are being oppressed."

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