Imatges de pàgina

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.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


robbers, who richly deserved any punishment inflicted upon them.

An embassy having been decided upon, the next important point was to select the ambassador, and the choice fell upon Lord Amherst, a diplomatist of experience and a nobleman of distinguished parts. The embassy left England early in the year 1816, and reached the mouth of the Peiho in the month of August. The principles by which Lord Amherst intended to guide his action were those of “conciliation and compliment,” but it was clear to the experienced mind of Sir George Staunton that the embassy had arrived at a wrong moment to have much chance of effecting its object. The arrival at Tientsin was immediately followed by the commencement of the difficulties which, throughout the whole of the time Lord Amherst resided in China, continually presented themselves. It is certain that, but for some curiosity on the part of the Emperor to see these strange visitors, and a much stronger desire among some of the officials to receive the presents brought from Europe, the embassy would not have been allowed to land. It is not certain, also, how far the sentiment of vanity entered into their calculations; and, no doubt, if the British ambassador had consented to perform the prostration ceremony, he would have been received in audience, and the fact would have been duly chronicled to the glorification of the Middle Kingdom.

Lord Amherst and his companions were, after many altercations, permitted to proceed to Pekin on the understanding that the prostration ceremony would be dispensed with. The circumstances of the journey were little calculated to inspire much confidence as to the good results likely to accrue from an interview with the Emperor. The embassy was hurried along at a rapid rate without being allowed time for rest or refreshment; and when Lord Amherst had been led outside the city walls, and by a roundabout way to the Palace of Yuen-min-yuen, he was told that the Emperor awaited him in immediate audience. The plain truth, as was afterwards discovered, was that Kiaking had not been apprised of the approach of the English ambassador ; and when he learnt that he had actually arrived in his palace, he

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »