« AnteriorContinua »
by other means. The enormity of the Ladrones' offence was brought home to them by their endeavouring to seize the four vessels bearing the tribute embassy from Siam, and the attempt would undoubtedly have succeeded but for the promptitude with which the Canton officials induced some English merchants to fit out one of their vessels to proceed against the marauders.
The cruise of the Mercury was remarkable in a small way, and recalls the naval adventures of an earlier era. The Ladrones were severely dealt with, the Siamese tribute was rescued from the robbers of the sea, and the credit of the Middle Kingdom was saved from a damaging admission of national weakness. The bribes of the Chinese then promoted discord in their ranks, and promises proved more effectual arguments than the swords of the Emperor's lieutenants. Internal dissension broke out. The chief of the Red division quarrelled with his comrade at the head of the Black, and, in a community addicted to violence, force was the only and simple remedy. The two divisions met in mortal combat. The waters of the Bogue were strewn with the wrecks of their war-junks, and the great power of the Ladrones, which had endured during the better part of ten years, was overthrown by their own acts. The Canton mandarins, cautious if not apathetic in attempting to crush a warlike association, were prompt in availing themselves of its disintegration to complete its overthrow. Two chiefs were received into the official service, and with them eight thousand of their followers were pardoned and returned to civil life. The junks were disarmed, the old rendezvous near Lantao was dominated by a Chinese fort, and there disappeared from the China coast a most formidable band of piratical rovers who, in the picturesque official language of a literary people, were designated “ the foam of the sea.”
The excitement raised in the Chinese mind by the military occupation in 1802 of Macao—the settlement which they had rented to the Portuguese—has been mentioned. allayed by the shortness of the stay of the English troops, but peremptory orders had been sent from Pekin to demand the instant withdrawal of the force. Six years later, the
EVENTS AT MACAO.
whole subject was again opened by the fresh occupation of Macao as a measure of protection against the French, and the correspondence assumed at once an angry tone. In the interval some communications had passed between the Governments of London and Pekin. A present had been sent to the minister Sung Tajin, one of the most enlightened men in the country, as a remembrance of his kindness to Lord Macartney's embassy, and a letter from Kiaking to George the Third had been duly received in England. The fate of Sung Tajin's present was not merely unfortunate ; it proved disastrous for that minister himself. ' It was haughtily returned to Canton, with a notification that a minister of the Emperor dare not so much as see a present from a foreigner. There can be no doubt that in this the Chinese were perfectly in the right, and only pursuing the same course as was the better tradition in Europe. The letter of Kiaking also was couched in terms of the most lofty condescension, not wholly out of place on the part of a potentate who ignored the whole universe outside his sphere, and who asked no favour of any foreign prince or people.
The nature of the position of the Portuguese at Macao had been made plain by the events of 1802. Although in their possession, the Chinese had established the fact that the Portuguese were only their tenants, and that Macao was an integral part of the Chinese Empire. Yet, notwithstanding this undoubted fact, the authorities in India resolved to repeat the mistake by sending another expedition to Macao, at the same time that Goa was occupied by an English force in order to defend them against any attack on the part of the French, Ill-judged as the step was as a measure of general policy, it was still more unfortunate in the way that it was carried out. A squadron was duly sent, under the command of Admiral Drury, and a small force landed to garrison Macao. But the Chinese were furious at this fresh interference with their rights. They withheld all supplies, ordered the suspension of trade, and refused to hold any communication whatever with the commander. Unfortunately, Admiral Drury entertained the opinion that a display of force would suffice to bring the Chinese to reason, and, in the persuasion
ras op caution sociation ration
into the followers cks wat rated by
troopa lemani er, the
that there was “nothing in his instructions to prevent his going to war with the Emperor of China,” he resolved to obtain by force an interview with the Viceroy of Kwantung With this end in view, after much useless discussion, he proceeded up the river to Canton, escorted by all the boats of the squadron. The Chinese had made every preparation in their power to resist this unwarrantable proceeding, and they had placed a line of junks across the river to bar further progress.
On perceiving these signs of hostility, Admiral Drury sent a fresh request to the mandarin's yamen for an interview, with a threat that unless it was conceded within half an hour he would force his way into Canton. Whether the Chinese detected some infirmity of purpose in the language of the commander, or whether they were resolved to brave the worst, they did not deign to send a reply. The fated half-hour passed; but instead of Admiral Drury ordering his boats to attack, he adopted the safer course of retiring. A similarly ignominious method of proceeding was adopted on several later occasions; but, towards inducing the Chinese to alter their manners, neither Admiral Drury's threats nor his concessions availed anything. A pagoda was erected at Canton to celebrate the repulse of the English, and after a three months' unnecessary and inglorious occupation of Macao that port was evacuated, and Admiral Drury returned with his ships to India. The Chinese were satisfied with having carried their point, and thereupon allowed the reopening of the trade. Their national self-esteem and their confidence in their ruler rose immensely when they could feel that the Edict of their Emperor on this very subject had been realized to the letter by the course of events.
It must not be supposed that there was on this occasion, or, indeed, at any time, a disposition on the part of the Chinese or their Government to show favour to one European nation more than another, or to refuse to the English at Canton what was conceded to other people at different places. The policy of the Empire has always been consistent, and it was then the same at all points, to exclude foreign trade and to keep away from the Emperor's presence the pretensions of those rulers who claimed to rank on an equality with him.
REBUFF TO RUSSIA.
Had Kiaking possessed incorrupt officials, and shown himself something of the indomitable vigour of his predecessor, China might have remained to this day as forbidden a land to European inquisitiveness as some of her tributary States still
But the self-seeking mandarins at Canton opened the door to the outer peoples, and although many rebuffs were experienced in their attempt to gain a footing in the country, the ultimate success of their project was ensured by the political weakness and disunion of China herself.
During the interval between the first and second occupations of Macao, the Russians despatched an embassy to Pekin : but it did not succeed in accomplishing its object. It left Russia in the year 1805, and it appears to have been arranged on a scale of unusual magnificence. Count Goloyken, one of the highest dignitaries of the Russian Court, was specially selected as ambassador, and a large number of costly presents were entrusted to him for the Chinese Emperor. After encountering weather of exceptional severity, he reached the vicinity of the Great Wall, where the objections of the Chinese officials took the place of the obstacles of Nature ; and of the two they speedily proved themselves the more formidable. The delays for reference to Pekin soon resulted in a refusal to allow the embassy to pass within the Wall unless the Russian envoy pledged himself to perform the prostration ceremony.
This Count Goloyken, encouraged by the indulgence shown to Lord Macartney, strenuously refused to do, whereupon he was curtly informed that it would be well for him to return as quickly as possible to his own country, for his journey had already been over-prolonged.
Disappointed at this ending of a mission that had been prepared with much care and at considerable outlay, the Russian Government turned an ear to the representations of their naval officer, Krusenstern, that it would be wise to open a trade with Canton like other European countries. The attempt was made with two ships, which found no difficulty in disposing of their cargoes; but the appearance of a new foreign people at Canton raised fresh apprehensions in the mind of the Pekin Government. An edict was at once issued, ordering that “all vessels belonging to any other nation than
was confidently anticipated that the Government would succeed.
By a singular coincidence the second British embassy to Pekin was, like the first, contemporaneous with a disturbed state of things in the Himalayan country of Nepaul. Lord Macartney, it will be remembered, reached the capital at a time when the Chinese, having concluded a brilliant campaign, were congratulating themselves on the addition of one feudatory the more to their Empire, at the same time that they felt genuine gratification in having afforded timely protection to their unoffending and ill-provided subjects of Tibet. When Lord Amherst was on his journey to the China coast, an English general was on the point of bringing to a victorious termination operations that had been in progress during three years for the chastisement of the same offenders, the Goorkhas of Nepaul. That war had been, in more than one respect, singular in the military annals of British India. It began in the year 1814, and, whether the cause was the difficulty of the country, or the incapacity of their commander, the English troops met with several slight reverses, and were constrained to admit the valour of their opponents and the first inconstancy of fortune in India. A new commander and fresh troops promptly asserted the natural superiority of English power ; but another year, and one memorable in the records of English victory, had to pass away before the result was rendered assured. Sir David Ochterlony's brilliant tactics formed no unworthy counterpart of those triumphant at Waterloo. But the Goorkhas were not finally brought to their knees until the year 1816, when a force of nearly 50,000 men in all, assembled under the Company's flag, had arrived within three days' march of the capital, Khatmandoo. The aid of the Chinese had been implored, but neither from the Amban at Lhasa, nor from the Viceroy of Szchuen, nor from the Emperor in Pekin, did the Nepaulese get the smallest grain of comfort. They were told that they were a race of
his undertaking, he managed, at great personal risk, to make his way across the Himalayas into Tibet. He resided at the capital of the Dalai Lama during the greater part of the year 1812, and remains to the present time the only Englishman who has ever visited Lhasa.