Imatges de pàgina
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drawn from the lowest orders of the people, and from the most profligate temples and monasteries of the Buddhist religion.

The evil example of futile rebellion had been followed by those who had nothing to lose in the great sea-ports and places of trade. For that hour the teaching of the Triad Society, active since the beginning of the century, and drawing to itself the association of the once popular Waterlily sect, had long been preparing the way. When the successes of the Taepings showed that the authorities could be defeated, and when the charm of the Emperor's majesty, already undermined by a disastrous foreign war, was fully dissipated, it was no longer reasonable to hope that the lawless and disaffected would not make their effort to share in the plunder of the rich ; to have held back would to their minds have only been to lose their share of the spoil. Therefore, there were the risings that have been described, having the one grand object of the Taepings, and the only one that they attained, viz. that their wealthier countrymen formed a fit object of plunder. We have seen how painfully slow was the reassertion of Imperial authority in the case of the rioters in or near the Treaty Ports; it could not but prove still more protracted over the bolder and more numerous Taepings. But the events at Amoy, Shanghai, and Canton helped to strip the Taeping movement of its delusive character as being an aid to Christianity ; although the barbarous cruelty of some of the Imperial officers unfortunately stifled the sympathy that was beginning to rise towards their cause among Europeans.

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THE home difficulties of the Chinese Government could not avert the perils that necessarily accrued from the many unsettled points in connection with the foreign intercourse. The Pekin authorities still disdained to hold any direct communication with the European Powers. The Canton viceroy was deputed both to control the trade at Canton and to direct such official intercourse as could not be avoided with the Chief Superintendent at Hongkong. His voice decided all questions at the other Treaty Ports with the exception of Shanghai, where the Intendant of the Susungtai district was invested with plenary powers.

But even at Canton the English representative was not admitted within the city walls. Such interviews as were granted and were in themselves unavoidable were held at some spot outside the limits of the city of Canton, which was matter of arrangement on each occasion. When it is remembered that as far back as the year 1840 it had been laid down as absolutely necessary to the harmony of relations between the two peoples that there should be some channel of direct communication with the Pekin Government, and that in the year of Hienfung's accession to the throne the matter had not advanced in any appreciable degree towards solution, it will be difficult to maintain that the question was in a satisfactory condition, or that there was any better guarantee for the continuation of peace than the forbearance of the Europeans, disappointed in their expectations by the results of the last war and exasperated by the persistent finesse and

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ever-ready literary skill of the mandarins to thwart their views, and to continually remind them that in the eyes of their great and all-powerful sovereign these matters of trade and of diplomatic intercourse were not worthy of a moment's consideration.

There were many reasons for objecting to an arrangement which prevented England and the other chief States of Europe from being diplomatically represented at the Chinese capital besides the fact that it argued a position of inferiority. In the interests of China herself it was matter of regret that the Emperor and his responsible advisers should have no real knowledge of the wishes, power, and intentions of the great trading nations of the West. Had there been greater knowledge there must have been fewer mistakes, and many unpleasant passages in Anglo-Chinese history would not have had to be written. For not only were Hienfung and his ministers, when neither Keying nor Keshen succeeded in finding the way to their master's favour, completely ignorant of the character and capacity of Europeans, but they were dependent for their information upon men who had every motive to conceal the truth and to report what was most flattering to themselves. The Viceroy at Canton, so long as he avoided an absolute rupture, might pursue the most dictatorial course he pleased; the more dictatorial it was, the greater emphasis with which he dwelt on the inferiority of the outer barbarians, the nearer would it accord with the traditional claims of the Chinese ruler. There was grave danger in such an arrangement, no matter who the Viceroy might be, but it became perceptibly greater when the wielder of that authority happened to be a zealot such as Lin, a truculent minister like Su, or a boaster as in the case of Yeh.

The coming difficulty had been long foreseen. From the first there had been a want of cordiality on the part of the Chinese officials that augured ill for either the harmony or the durability of the relations. In 1848 Mr. Bonham's pro. position that the Viceroy should place some of his subordinates in communication with the secretaries at Hongkong had been curtly declined. It was followed in a few months

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by the shelving of the question of opening the gates of Canton; and to postpone the settlement of a question with the Chinese has been shown over and over again to mean its abandonment, or at least the resumption of the discussion at the very beginning. The English Government in 1849, out of consideration for the strong statement of the Chinese authorities that they were unable to restrain the turbulent Cantonese, had consented to put off the execution of Keying's agreement until a more favourable opportunity. The Chinese officials placed but one interpretation on this proceeding, and that was that the right had been finally waived and withdrawn.*

The position of the English Government on the question was diametrically opposed to that taken up by the Canton Yamen. With the former the question of the right entrance into Canton was only in abeyance until the favourable moment arrived to enforce it, and Lord Palmerston laid down this view very clearly in his despatches to the Governor of Hongkong. But if it was a question of right, it was also

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Viceroy Su completely ignored the whole affair of Keying's promise even in 1848: “As to entrance into the city-Since the various nations have traded in Canton, none of the officers or merchants of their respective countries had ever any business requiring their going into the city. When our Government concluded a Treaty of Peace with your honourable nation, no entrance into the city was stipulated. Natives and foreigners lived previously peacefully together, and the commerce was in a flourishing condition. When, however, the entrance into the city became subsequently a subject of discussion, all the inhabitants entertained fears and suspicion ; the merchants were, on this account, hampered, and their trade gradually dwindled away. The late Imperial Commissioner Keying, therefore, ordered some deputed officers and the local authorities to take proper steps for quieting the populace, and fortunately no disturbance ensued. If we now again enter upon the previous consultations about it, the public will, as before, feel fear and annoyance, goods will become unsaleable, and very great obstacles accrue to the trade. The British merchants have traversed a wide ocean, and should they have come here in order to enter the city? The entrance into the city is moreover in reality injurious, and no way advantageous to English merchants. Why should, then, by the useless entrance into the city, the commerce, their original object, be lost?”—China Papers, 1857, p. 150. It will be observed that in this document there is not a single word of reference to the pledge given by Keying that the gates should be opened in April, 1849.

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one in hardly a less degree of convenience. And it was admitted that, although there was no doubt as to the concession having been made by the Chinese Government, it remained a matter of questionable policy whether it was advisable to insist on the compliance with a diplomatic stipulation if it was clear that compliance could only be secured by resorting to violence and at the cost of constant friction. The question had to be discussed, therefore, not so much on its merits as with regard to its practical consequences, * for already it was becoming clear that to yield to the Chinese on one point meant to set a precedent of concession that could not fail to be very inconvenient and in the end attended with many dangers.

No other conclusion can be drawn from the despatches of Lord Palmerston and Sir George Bonham than that they were both most anxious to avoid all occasion of serious disagreement with China. In the interest of peace itself they were desirous to obtain the fulfilment of the pledges made by the responsible Chinese officials, and they never failed to realize that the objections of the Canton Viceroy to execute

* Mr. Bonham wrote as follows to Lord Palmerston on October 23rd, 1848 : "If the gates of Canton can only be opened by the force of arms, the consequences of such a step become a matter for deep consideration. I am thoroughly persuaded that the populace and the braves' of the adjacent country will join heartily in resisting our approach, and the result will be that we should require a very respectable force to gain our point, for the opposition will be infinitely greater than it was in 1841, when the troops and mandarins were in the first instance its only defenders. A military operation of this nature would, under the most favourable circumstances, not only for a time put a stop to all trade, but it would furthermore require a very long period to elapse before confidence would be restored. This would cause much loss to the native as well as to our own merchants, and operate most detrimentally on our revenues at home.” Lord Palmerston stated in reply to this letter that the entrance into Canton was “a privilege which we have indeed a right to demand, but which we could scarcely enjoy with security or advantage if we were to succeed in enforcing it by arms. It may be true that the Chinese might be encouraged, by their success in evading compliance with their engagements in this matter, to attempt to violate other engagements; but this consideration does not seem to me to be sufficient to determine Her Majesty's Government to put the issue of peace and war upon this particular point."

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